Previous Previous Table of Contents Table of Contents Next Next

T H E S A I N T S ' H E R A L D

November 13, 1934

The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith (1832-1914)

Edited by his daughter Mary Audentia Smith Anderson

Chapter 1 continued--


Mother made no objection to our visiting the Huntington children until she learned by some means that Allen was in the habit of taking his father's gun out with him when we were over there. Being fearful some accident might happen by which some of us might lose our lives or be crippled, she bade us stay away from the Huntington house, explaining as she did so that she did not think Allen with his rifle a safe companion for little children.

The game was fascinating, however, and I soon wandered over to the Huntington home again. Returning rather late, I was questioned by Mother, and had to admit that I had been out with the boys among the hazel brush, hunting for rabbits, and that Allen had carried the rifle. Thereupon, with the aid of a ready hazel switch, she promptly administered punishment.

But the end was not yet. The next morning she said to Frederick and me--her command being upon me especially, since I was the older--"Joseph, I will not say you must not go to Mrs. Huntington's today, but I will say that if you do go I shall punish you when you return. It is a dangerous thing to play with Allen when he carries the rifle, and I am not going to be responsible for any harm that may come. So just remember what I tell you."

Again, either forgetful or neglectful of the mandate, I ventured into the forbidden region and spent a portion of the day with the Huntington boys in the hazel brush after rabbits, staying late enough in the afternoon to see the little animals at play on the hillside and to hear the crack of the rifle.

When I returned home Mother had company at supper and nothing was said to me about my visit to the Huntingtons; hence I went to bed thinking it had escaped my mother's notice and that I was safe from punishment. However, after the guests departed, I discovered my error, for Mother found me and I received the punishment she had promised, applied vigorously enough to make me feel sorry I had undressed as I went to bed!

When morning came Mother repeated her charge, saying, "I will not say you shall not go to play with the Huntington boys while their mother allows Allen to take his father's gun with him to play; but if you do go, I will punish you; and I shall punish you harder and harder until you stop."

Once more the allure of the pastime seemed stronger than my mother's counsel and her efforts to deter me, and again I went to the Huntington's and spent the day with the boys and their rifle. When I returned my mother punished me with such decidedly increased severity that I--well, comment is needless! I did not go again, for I found that my mother was indeed a woman of her word.

Whether or not George Cleveland and his wife were members of the church at the time we sojourned with them and before Father and Uncle Hyrum reached us there I do not know. It is certain they received the refugees from Missouri with kindly welcome and, so far as Mother and her children were concerned, gave them excellent care. I remember him as a middle-sized man, with a kind face and soft, even voice. I do not remember hearing him speak harshly or exhibit any temper or impatience. His wife was a fine-looking woman, approaching middle age, and well qualified for the cares and labors of a farmer's wife.

The winter passed away and Mother heard from Father at intervals more or less extended, until April 22, 1839, when he and Uncle Hyrum reached Quincy and their waiting families after an escape from the unlawful custody of men who conducted them about from one county to another on an unsigned mittimus.


I recall but few incidents of the journey from Quincy to Commerce in Hancock County, some fifty miles up the river. I do remember that we stopped on the way at what I now believe was the Morley settlement near Lima. The record shows that Father and his family left Quincy, May 9, arrived at Commerce the following day, and moved into a log house which is yet standing. This was known as the Hugh White residence and it was from Mr. White that Father purchased it and the farm..

It could not have been long after this that Grandfather Joseph Smith and Grandmother Lucy Smith reached the place and were for a time located nearby. In fact, I remember two places where Grandfather and Grandmother lived. One was a small log house on the west side of the frame attachment to the block house built originally for purposes of safety as well as dwelling--for Indians were still occupying the districts east and west of the Mississippi. The other was but a few rods away, across the main street, and was a double house with a half story above. My memory of dates is so imperfect that I cannot now say just when they occupied these homes. I do remember that he died while they were living in the double log house on the east side of Main Street, on the northwest corner of the block in which the Nauvoo House stands and across Water Street, south, from the Nauvoo Mansion.

With him at the time of his passing were Grandmother and their daughters Sophronia and Lucy, the latter of whom in the summer preceding had become the wife of Arthur Milliken. An incident connected with the event fixes the memory of these in my mind. I was in the habit of running in and out of their place as I did my own home, and was there when the folks were absorbed in grief over his passing. Aunt Lucy found fault with me because I was tearless, and upbraided me, saying I was too hard-hearted to cry. I resented this and denied the accusation. When she asked me if I didn't feel bad about Grandfather's dying I said, "Yes, I do feel bad, for I will miss my grandfather; but you have said he is better off, his sufferings ended, and that he is in heaven where he will have no more pain and trouble. So why should I cry about that? I can't; and I don't see how anyone can!"

It was my first acquaintance with death that I can remember. It was a good many years after that when Grandmother died, and then also, a man grown, I could shed no tears.

Another instance fixes in memory the residence of Grandfather. It occurred one Sunday when the folks were at meeting on the hillside. The house was entered and two dollars, a pair of spectacles, and a Bible were stolen. A young man by the name of Allred, some seventeen or eighteen years old, and a boy some younger were convicted of this theft and Allred paid the penalty by breaking stone upon the road, a ball and chain attached to one of his legs. The burden of our Sunday school teacher's admonishments to his class for some time thereafter was in regard to the wickedness of stealing, holding up as a warning the fate of this young man. I knew Allred quite well and believe that he behaved himself afterwards. He removed in the fall or winter of 1846-7 when "the exodus" took place.

We were comfortably located in our log house. I recall there was a spring nearby from which we obtained our drinking water. It issued out from under the hillside on the bank of the river, not far from a large oak tree which stood for many years after the city was evacuated by the Saints.

The Hugh White farm was a veritable plantation. There were the usual adjuncts of a log smoke house and a log stable, besides the double log house referred to in which Grandfather Smith had lived. Between our house and the water there was on the bank of the river a small log building consisting of one room with a cellar underneath. It had evidently been occupied by someone dependent for work upon the family that had lived in the main building. Not far from the latter and yet within the bounds of the farm there was quite an area of land which was shallow in soil, and covered a loose limestone formation. Though a veritable swamp this land remained for some years as pasturage for our cows.

When Father came to Quincy from his imprisonment in Missouri he brought with him a fine saddle horse--a dark chestnut sorrel stallion, named Medley, which he had obtained from the men who guarded them at the time of their escape. From circumstances which I remember in connection therewith I have reason to believe it had been purchased at a good figure. Whether or not Uncle Hyrum had also secured a horse I cannot now say, but I remember that after the passage of some time, two men came to the house to see Father, one of whom was named John Brassfield. I understood at the time that these men had come for the purpose of collecting the amount of the bribe for which they had allowed the prisoners to escape. I cannot fix this date in memory other than to say it was after the erection of what was called the Red Brick Store, located in the west end of the block on which our house stood.

I remember hearing at the time that the amount of money to be paid these men was eight hundred dollars, and that the horse Father had used was to be replaced by another. I remember the cream-colored or "clay-bank" horse which Father purchased from one Amos Davis for the purpose of turning over to those men from Missouri. They were closeted with Father and one or two others for the afternoon and part of the evening, and departed the next day.

This house into which we moved on reaching Commerce was located about three-quarters of a mile down the river from Commerce Landing, a point where a number of houses, warehouses, and stores had been built. Standing close upon the bank of the river, which at this point ran almost due east, our little house occupied a very handsome site, and was the central habitation of a farm of one hundred and thirty-five acres, purchased, as I have stated, from the "river man" named Hugh White.

The times were busy ones. The winter had not proved, for all its afflictions, too severe for the many Saints who came into the place to secure locations and to build shelters for their families. A period of great activity ensued, and history shows that among the buildings erected at the settlement called Commerce there were three frame houses, one of stone, and two of blocks. This town was located at a point on the river known as Upper Landing, for the reason that at low water in the river the landings further down became impracticable for use.

A little way below Commerce began what was known as the Des Moines Rapids, or "lower rapids." They extended down the river for a distance of twelve miles and ended at Keokuk on the Iowa side. Halfway down from this upper landing stood the residence of Doctor Isaac Galland, a two-story house in excellent condition. A little over a quarter of a mile farther down was the group of houses on the Hugh White farm, among them the one which had become our home. About the same distance still farther down, and east of our home, was the farm of Davidson Hibbard.

I do not remember the names of many of these settlers nor very much of the details of the influx of the Saints, the laying out of the city, and the bustle and confusion attendant thereupon. There existed among the people a community of interest of such a character that with the excellent natural resources of the place, timber in plenty, and friendly help at hand, there was little real suffering. Outside of those afflictions which resulted from the privations to which they had been subjected during the persecutions in Missouri and those they had encountered in their flight from that State in the inclement weather of winter and early spring, those who reached Hancock County were fairly comfortable and happy.

Spring soon brought its ever-recurring hope and promise and, being by nature industrious and by necessity compelled to seek support from the soil, a great deal was done by the settlers that first summer toward making themselves self-sustaining.

In the fall an organization of branch, or stake, or central place of gathering was effected. William Marks was made President and members of a High Council were appointed. Father made arrangements to visit Washington, the capital of the United States, for he, Sidney Rigdon, Elias Higbee, and others were commissioned by a conference of the people to present to Congress the matter of the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, lay before that body their claims for indemnity, and ask for redress of wrong and remuneration for losses sustained by individuals in the persecutions they had suffered under the exterminating order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs.


It was during Father's absence on this matter of business that the severest trial of the season was put upon my mother. The breaking up of the ground, the exhalations from the swamp, the insufficient supply of good water, and the privations usual to pioneering resulted in an epidemic of malarial fever which took the forms of chills, chill-fever, and ague. Many were ill. I remember that Mother filled her house with the sick who were brought to her from near and far, giving them shelter, treatment, and nursing care. When the house over-flowed she stretched out in the yard east of the house the tent which had served us as a shelter on our journey to Nauvoo.

There were days during this time when our house was thus made into a hospital that there was no one to carry water to the fever-burned patients but myself--then about seven years old. I used to trudge up and down the hill between the house and the spring, carrying a small bucket and making the trip frequently in order that the water might be cool for those who drank of it.

There was among the patients a young fellow by the name of John Huntington, son of Father Huntington who married the widow of Edward Partridge--the Bishop who had died of a broken heart through the persecutions in Missouri. The Huntington family had raised that summer, among other things, some long-necked gourds, sometimes called calabashes. From one of these John had fashioned a drinking cup with a handle, but of course did not bring it with him when he was conveyed, ill, to Mother's "hospital." In the paroxysms of his chills he would lie with his head and body covered, shivering from head to foot. As I brought water to his bedside and offered it to him he snarled out, "Why don't you put the handle in?"

Not understanding, I thought he was out of his head, and since he was such a big, strong fellow, I was a little afraid of him. I called to Mother, busy preparing food and other attentions for the sick. She came and asked what he wanted. When he said he wanted a drink she answered, "Well, Joseph is here with the water; why don't you drink?" At this he again mumbled something about putting the handle in.

Mother took hold of the bed cover and turned it down so she could see his face, and said, "Why, John! What is the matter with you?" He looked a bit sheepish and said, "Oh, I just forgot. I thought I was at home," and then told us about the gourd-dipper. He had bored a hole through the end of the handle in such a way that when they brought him water they would just lift the edge of his cover slightly and push the handle of the gourd in to him. This he would place in his mouth and drink, without having to be uncovered in his chills. It was a plausible contrivance and the explanation proved he was in his right mind. We thought his ingenious expedient a good one; the gourd was secured and often used thereafter.

This same John Huntington went west at the general migration of those who followed Brigham Young, but after a time he became disgusted with what he saw and heard there. He returned to northern New York where he had been raised and from whence his family had come first to Missouri and then to Illinois. I met him in Nauvoo on this return journey to the east. He was dressed in rather rough clothing, having tramped with an occasional lift nearly the entire distance from Utah. He had nothing but the clothes he wore, a cup made from a coconut shell which hung to the strap with which he was belted, and a common butcher knife. He had one dollar in money, I believe, in addition to the above-named possessions.

(To be continued.)

Previous Previous Table of Contents Table of Contents Next Next