Home | Section 105 | Joseph Smith-Orthography | Oliver Cowdery-Address in the Messenger and Advocate | Oliver Cowdery-We Believe | Wilford Woodruff-Zion's Camp | Wilford Woodruff-Mission to the Southern States

Wilford Woodruff-Mission to the Southern States


A Prayerful Ambition to Preach.—Departure on Mission to Southern States.—Traveling without Purse or Scrip.—Treatment Received from Minister.—Tribulations.—A remarkable Dream.—Its Fulfillment.—Preaching in Memphis.—Ordained an Elder.—Successful Labors.—Ordained a Seventy.—A Mob Court.—Return to Kirtland.

After Wilford Woodruff received the gospel, he felt an intense desire to deliver in turn the same message that had brought him such joy, such assurance, such satisfaction in the service of the Master. The message that came to him was the most glorious event of his life, and it is quite natural that he should wish to be a messenger of the same divine truth to others. The talents with which he had been endowed by his Maker awakened within him those hopes, aspirations, and ambitions that were in harmony with those gifts which were peculiar to the man. His talents made him pre-eminently a messenger of salvation to the world. It is no wonder that he was prompted by a heartfelt desire to bestow upon others that which had come with such joy and with such abundance to him.

He wanted to go on a mission, but felt that he should be called, and yet he sincerely believed that the Lord would prompt those whose duty it was to bestow upon him such an honor, such a privilege. He retired to the woods in prayer. There upon his knees in humility and childlike simplicity, he told the Lord his wishes and his hopes. He asked Him, if it was within His holy will, that the way might be opened for him to preach the gospel in the world. "Before I arose from my knees," he says, "the spirit of the Lord rested upon me and bore witness that my prayer was heard and should be answered upon my head. I arose very happy and walked through thick woods about forty rods into an open road. As I entered the roadway, I met Judge Elias Higbee. Brother Hibgee was a high priest and a very faithful man, one of the noblest men of God in the last days. I had associated with him daily, but never mentioned to him my desire to preach the gospel. To my surprise, as soon as I approached him he said: 'Brother Wilford, the spirit of the Lord tells me that you should be ordained to go and preach the gospel.'"

A few days later, on the 5th of November, 1834, by vote of the branch of the Church at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Wilford Woodruff was ordained a priest by Simeon Carter who also ordained Stephen Winchester and Heman Hyde at the same meeting. He received his license and by appointment of Bishop Partridge was assigned to Arkansas and Tennessee. In eight days he left to perform his mission, to be one of the very foremost in introducing the gospel into the Southern States—a section of the Union where, since then, so many thousands have received the gospel and have been gathered to Zion. His faith had been great. The spirit of the Lord rested upon him and his prayers were promptly answered.

His stay in Missouri after his arrival there with Zion's Camp was not of long duration. The Saints had been driven from Jackson County and were busily occupied in building up new communities in other counties. He was then a young man without a family, and though actively engaged in every kind of work peculiar to the conditions of those times, he was free for almost any kind of service that might be required of him. The spirit of the man, however, was that of the missionary; and the spirit was so strong within him that he found satisfaction only when the opportunity came to give expression to his fellow-men of the testimony which had brought such consolation to his own life.

"The law of God to us in those days," says Wilford in his journal, "was to go without purse or scrip. Our journey lay through Jackson County, from which the Saints had just been driven, and it was dangerous for a Mormon to be found in that part of the state. We put some Books of Mormon and some clothing into our valises, strapped these on our backs, and started on foot. We crossed the ferry into Jackson County, and went through it. In some instances the Lord preserved us, as it were by miracle, from the mob. We dared not go to houses and get food, so we picked and ate raw corn, slept on the ground, and did any way we could until we got out of the county.

"We dared not preach while in that county, and we did little preaching in the state of Missouri. The first time I attempted to preach was on Sunday, in a tavern, in the early part of December,1834. It was snowing at the time, and the room was full of people. As I commenced to speak, the landlord opened the door, and the snow blew on the people; when I inquired the object of having the door opened in a snowstorm, he informed me he wanted some light on the subject. I found that it was the custom of the country. How much good I did in that sermon I never knew, and probably never shall know until I meet that congregation in judgment.

"In the southern part of Missouri and the northern part of Arkansas, in 1834, there were very few inhabitants. We visited a place called Harmony Mission, on the Osage River, one of the most crooked rivers in the West. This mission was kept by a Presbyterian minister and his family. We arrived there on Sunday night at sunset. We had walked all day without anything to eat, and were very hungry and tired. Neither the minister nor his wife would give us anything to eat, or let us stay over night, because we were Mormons, and the only chance we had was to go twelve miles farther down the river, to an Osage Indian trading post kept by a Frenchman named Jereu; and the wicked priest who would not give us a piece of bread lied to us about the road, and sent us across the swamp, where we wallowed knee-deep in mud and water till ten o'clock at night, in trying to follow the crooked river. We then left the swamp and put out into the prairie, to lie in the grass for the night.

"When we got out of the swamp, we heard an Indian drumming on a tin pail and singing. It was very dark, but we traveled toward the noise, and when we drew near the Indian camp quite a number of large Indian dogs came out to meet us. They smelled us, but did not bark or bite. Soon we were surrounded by Osage Indians, and were kindly received by Mr. Jereu and his wife who was an Indian. She gave us an excellent supper and a good bed, which we were thankful for after the fatigue of the day.

"As I laid my head upon my pillow, I felt to thank God from the bottom of my heart for the exchange from the barbarous treatment of a civilized Presbyterian priest to the humane, kind, and generous treatment of the savage Osage Indians. May God reward them both according to their deserts!

"We arose in the morning, after a good night's rest. I was somewhat lame, from wading in the swamp the night before. We had a good breakfast. Mr. Jereu sent an Indian to see us across the river, and informed us that it was sixty miles to the nearest settlement of either white or red men.

"We were too bashful to ask for anything to take with us to eat; so we crossed the river and started on our day's journey of sixty miles without a morsel of food of any kind. We started about sunrise and crossed a thirty-mile prairie, apparently as level as a house floor, without shrub or water. We arrived at timber about two o'clock in the afternoon.

"As we approached the timber, a large black bear came out towards us. We were not afraid of him, for we were on the Lord's business, and had not mocked God's prophets as did the forty-two wicked children who said to Elisha, 'Go up thou bald head,' for which they were torn by bears. When the bear got within eight rods of us he sat on his haunches, looked at us a moment, and ran away; and we went on our way rejoicing.

"We had to travel in the night, which was cloudy and very dark, so we had great difficulty to keep the road. Soon a large drove of wolves gathered around, and followed us. They came very close, and at times it seemed as though they would eat us up. We had materials for striking a light, and at ten o'clock, not knowing where we were, and the wolves becoming so bold. we thought it wisdom to make a fire; so we stopped and gathered a lot of oak limbs that lay on the ground, and lit them, and as our fire began to burn the wolves left us.

"As we were about to lay down on the ground—for we had no blankets—we heard a dog bark. My companion said it was a wolf; I said it was a dog; but soon we heard a cowbell. Then we each took a firebrand, went about a quarter of a mile, and found the house, which was sixty miles from where we started that morning. It was an old log cabin, about twelve feet square, with no door, but an old blanket was hung up in the door-way. There was no furniture except one bedstead, upon which lay a woman, several children, and several small dogs.

"A man lay on the bare floor with his feet to the fireplace, and all were asleep. I went in and spoke to the man, but did not wake him. I stepped up to him, and laid my hand on his shoulder. The moment he felt the weight of my hand he jumped to his feet and ran around the room as though he were frightened; but he was quieted when we informed him we were friends. The cause of his fright was that he had shot a panther a few nights before, and he thought its mate had jumped upon him. He asked us what we wanted; we told him we wished to stop with him all night, and would like something to eat. He informed us we might lie on the floor as he did, but that he had not a mouthful for us to eat, as he had to depend on his gun to get breakfast for his family in the morning. So we lay on the bare floor, and slept through a long, rainy night, which was pretty hard after walking sixty miles without anything to eat. That was the hardest day's work of my life. The man's name was Williams. He was in the mob in Jackson County; and after the Saints were driven out, he, with many others, went south.

"We got up in the morning and walked in the rain twelve miles to the house of a man named Bemon, who was also one of the mob from Jackson County. The family were about to sit down to breakfast as we came in. In those days it was the custom of the Missourians to ask you to eat even though they were hostile to you; so he asked us to take breakfast, and we were very glad of the invitation. He knew we were Mormons; and as soon as we began to eat, he began to swear about the Mormons. He had a large platter of bacon and eggs, and plenty of bread on the table, and his swearing did not hinder our eating, for the harder he swore the harder we ate, until we got our stomachs full; then we arose from the table, took our hats, and thanked him for our breakfast. The last we heard of him he was still swearing. I trust the Lord will reward him for our breakfast.

"In the early days of the Church, it was a great treat to an elder in his travels through the country to find a Mormon; it was so with us. We were hardly in Arkansas when we heard of a family named Akeman. They were in Jackson County in the persecutions. Some of the sons had been tied up there and whipped on their bare backs, with hickory switches, by the mob. We heard of their living on Petit Jean River, in the Arkansas Territory, and we went a long way to visit them.

"Recently there had been heavy rains, and a creek that we had to cross was swollen to a rapid stream of eight rods in width. There was no person living nearer than two miles from the crossing, and no boat. The people living at the last house on the road, some three miles from the crossing said we would have to tarry till the water fell before we could cross. Feeling to trust in God, we did not stop. Just as we arrived at the rolling flood, a negro, on a powerful horse, entered the stream on the opposite side and rode through it. On making our wants known to him, he took us, one at a time, behind him and carried us safely over, and we went on our way rejoicing.

"We arrived that night within five miles of Mr. Akeman's, and were kindly entertained by a stranger. During the night I had the following dream: I thought an angel came to us, and told us we were commanded of the Lord to follow a certain straight path, which was pointed out to us, let it lead us wherever it might. After we had walked in it awhile we came to the door of a house, which was in the line of a high wall running north and south, so that we could not go around. I opened the door and saw the room was filled with large serpents, and I shuddered at the sight. My companion said he would not go into the room for fear of the serpents. I told him I would try to go through the room though they killed me, for the Lord commanded it. As I stepped into the room the serpents coiled themselves up, and raised their heads some two feet from the floor, to spring at me. There was one much larger than the rest, in the center of the room, which raised his head nearly as high as mine and made a spring at me. At that instant I felt as though nothing but the power of God could save me, and I stood still. Just before the serpent reached me he dropped dead at my feet; all the rest dropped dead, swelled up, turned black, bust open, took fire and were consumed before my eyes, and we went through the room unharmed, thanking God for our deliverance.

"I awoke in the morning and pondered upon the dream. We took breakfast, and started on our journey on Sunday morning to visit Mr. Akeman. I related to my companion my dream, and told him we should see something strange. We had great anticipations of meeting Mr. Akeman, supposing him to be a member of the Church. When we arrived at his house, he received us very coldly, and we soon found that he had apostatized. He brought railing accusations against the Book of Mormon and the authorities of the Church.

"Word was sent through all the settlements on the river for twenty miles that two Mormon preachers were in the place. A mob was soon raised, and warning sent to us to leave immediately or we would be tarred and feathered, ridden on a rail, and hanged. I soon saw who the serpents were. My companion wanted to leave; I told him, no. I would stay and see my dream fulfilled.

"There was an old gentleman and lady named Hubbel, who had read the Book of Mormon and believed. Father Hubbel came to see us, and invited us to make our home with him while we stayed in the place. We did so, and labored for him some three weeks with our axes, clearing land, while we were waiting to see the salvation of God.

"February 14th, 1835, was an important day to me. In company with Brother Brown, I took my axe went into the woods to help Brother Hubbel clear some land. We chopped till 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The spirit of the Lord came upon me like a rushing of mighty wind. The voice of the spirit said, 'Go up again and visit Mr. Akeman and again bear testimony to him of the truth of the Book of Mormon and of the work of God.' I marveled at this and told Brother Brown what the spirit said to me. He replied that I might go if I wished to do so, but that he would not go. I carried my ax to the house and walked up to Mr. Akeman's about one and a half miles through a pleasant grove. While on my way I reflected upon this strange operation of the spirit within me. I was in a deep, gloomy frame of mind and thought. As I approached the house I saw the door open and Mr. Akeman walking the floor. I felt particularly impressed to ask if he was well. He said he never felt better in health. I told him I had come to bear testimony again to him of the truth of the Book of Mormon and of the work of God and of the danger of opposing that work. He was soon filled with wrath and indignation and he opposed me in the strongest terms and raged against the leaders of the Church. My mouth was more closed up than ever before. I felt that the house was filled with devils and with an awful darkness. I felt norrible. I did not understand why the Lord should send me into the midst of such spirits to bear testimony of his work. I felt very strange. My tongue seemed glued to my mouth. I could not speak. I arose to my feet to leave the house. I felt as though the floor moved under my feet and when I stepped upon the ground I felt as though I was surrounded by evil spirits. I had a desire to flee as Lot did when he went out of Sodom, without looking behind me. Mr. Akeman followed me out of the door and kept within about four rods of me. Neither of us spoke a word. I knew he was following, but when he was about four rods from the house, the strange feeling left me. When Mr. Akeman reached the place where my feelings so instantly changed, he fell dead at my feet as though he had been struck with a thunderbolt from heaven. I heard him fall to the earth, but I did not look behind me. His daughter stood in the doorway and saw him fall. She fainted and fell at about the same time. Neither of them spoke a word that I could hear. I continued to walk down to Mr. Hubbel's as fast as I could, meditating all the while upon the strange dealings of God with me. I still did not know that Mr. Akeman was dead. I arrived at Mr. Hubbel's just at dark in a peculiar state of mind. Supper was ready. We all sat down to the table. The blessing was asked, and I took up my knife and fork and began to eat, when I heard a horse coming up on the full ran. I dropped my knife and fork and listened. A man rode up to our door and cried out: 'Mr. Akeman is dead. I want you to go there immediately.' In a moment my eyes were opened, so that I understood the whole matter. I felt satisfied with the dealings of God with me in calling me to go and warn him. As soon as his daughter, who fell to the ground about the same time, came to her senses, she ran to her nearest brother and gave the alarm.

"We walked up to Mr. Akeman's house as soon as we could. When we arrived there, we found all his sons in the house around his body wailing in an awful manner. He was naturally a large man, but his body was swollen to a great extent. It appeared as though his skin were ready to burst open. He was black as an African. We at once went to work and made a large box in which to put him. I continued to think of my dream, which I had had some time before the events here related took place.

"His family, as well as ourselves, felt it was the judgment of God upon him. I preached his funeral sermon. Many of the mob died suddenly. We stayed about two weeks after Akeman's death and preached, baptized Mr. Hubbel and his wife, and then continued on our journey.

"We concluded to go down the Arkansas River and cross into Tennessee. We could not get passage on the boat, because of the low water; so we went on the bank of the river and cut down a sound cottonwood tree, three feet through, and cut off a twelve foot length from the butt end; in two days we dug out a canoe. We made a pair of oars and a rudder, and on the 11th day of March, 1835, we launched our canoe, and commenced our voyage down the Arkansas River, without provisions.

"The first day we sailed twenty-five miles, and stopped at night with a poor family who lived on the bank of the river. These kind folks gave us supper and breakfast, and, in the morning, gave us johnny-cake and a piece of pork to take with us on our journey. We traveled about fifty miles that day, and at night stopped at an old tavern, in a village called Cadron, which was deserted because it was believed to be haunted by evil spirits. We made a fire in the tavern, roasted a piece of our pork, ate our supper, said our prayers, went into a chamber, lay down on the bare floor, and were soon asleep. I dreamed I was at my father's house in a good feather bed, and I had a good night's rest. When I awoke the bed vanished, and I found myself on the bare floor and well rested, not having been troubled with evil spirits or anything else.

"We thanked the Lord for His goodness to us, ate the remainder of our provisions, and continued our journey down the river to Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, which then consisted of only a few cabins. After visiting the place, we crossed the river and tied up our canoe, which had carried us safely one hundred and fifty miles. We then took the old military road leading from Little Rock to Memphis, Tennessee. This road lay through swamps, and was covered with mud and water most of the way for one hundred and seventy miles. We walked forty miles in a day, through mud and water knee-deep.

"On the 24th of March, after traveling some ten miles through mud, I was made lame with a sharp pain in my knee, and sat down on a log. My companion, who was anxious to get to his home in Kirtland, left me sitting in an alligator swamp. I did not see him again for two years. I knelt down in the mud and prayed, and the Lord healed me and I went on my way rejoicing.

"On the 27th of March I arrived at Memphis, weary and hungry. I went to the best tavern in the place, kept by Mr. Josiah Jackson. I told him I was a stranger and had no money, and asked him if he would keep me over night. He inquired what my business was, and I told him I was a preacher of the gospel. He laughed and said that I did not look much like a preacher. I did not blame him, as most of the preachers he ever had been acquainted with rode on fine horses or in fine carriages, dressed in broadcloth, had large salaries, and would likely see this whole world sink to perdition before they would wade through one hundred and seventy miles of mud to save the people.

"The landlord wanted a little fun, so said he would keep me if I would preach. He wanted to see if I could preach. I must confess that by this time I became a little mischievous, and pleaded with him not to set me preaching. The more I pleaded to be excused the more determined Mr. Jackson was that I should preach. He took my valise, and the landlady got me a good supper. I sat down in a large hall to eat. Before I got through, the room began to be filled by some of the rich and fashionable people of Memphis, dressed in their broadcloth and silk, while my appearance was such as you can imagine, after traveling through the mud as I had done. When I had finished eating, the table was carried out of the room over the heads of the people. I was placed in the corner of the room, with a stand having a Bible, hymn book, and candle on it, hemmed in by a dozen men, with the landlord in the center.

"There were present some five hundreds persons, who had come together, not to hear a gospel sermon, but to have some fun. I read a hymn, and asked them to sing. Not a soul would sing a word. I told them I had not the gift of singing; but with the help of the Lord, I would both pray and preach. I knelt down to pray, and the men around me dropped on their knees. I prayed to the Lord to give me His spirit and to show me the hearts of the people. I promised the Lord, in my prayer, that I would deliver to that congregation whatever He would give to me. I arose and spoke one hour and a half, and it was one of the best sermons of my life. The lives of the congregation were open to the vision of my mind, and I told them of their wicked deeds and the reward they would obtain. The men who surrounded me dropped their heads. Three minutes after I closed, I was the only person in the room.

"Soon I was shown to a bed, in a room adjoining a large one in which were assembled many of the men whom I had been preaching to. I could hear their conversation. One man said he would like to know how that Mormon boy knew of their past lives. In a little while they got to disputing about some doctrinal point. One suggested calling me to decide the point. The landlord said, 'No; we have had enough for once.' In the morning, I had a good breakfast. The landlord said if I came that way again to stop at his house, and stay as long as I might choose.

"After leaving Memphis, I traveled through the country to Benton County, and preached on the way, as I had opportunity. I stopped one night with a Squire Hardman, an Episcopalian. Most of the night was spent by the family in music and dancing. In the morning, at the breakfast table, Mr. Hardman asked me if we believed in music and dancing. I told him we did not really consider them essential to salvation. He said he did, and therefore should not join our Church.

"On the 4th of April, 1835, I had the happy privilege of meeting Elder Warren Parrish at the house of Brother Frye. He had been preaching in that part of Tennessee, in company with David W. Patten, and had baptized a number of persons and organized several small branches. Brother Patten had returned home, and Brother Parrish was laboring alone. I joined him in the ministry, and we labored together three months and nineteen days, when he was called to Kirtland. During the time we were together, we traveled through several counties in Tennessee for the distance of seven hundred and sixty miles, and preached the gospel daily, as we had opportunity. We baptized some twenty persons.

"By the counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, Elder Parrish ordained me an elder, and left me to take charge of the branches that had been raised up in that neighborhood. As soon as I was left alone I extended my circuit and labors. For a season I had large congregations; many seemed to believe, and I baptized a number.

"On the 15th of August I had an appointment at the house of Brother Taylor, the step-father of Abraham O. Smoot. I had to cross Bloody River, which I had to swim, in consequence of heavy rains. While crossing, my horse became entangled in a tree-top, and almost drowned; but I succeeded in getting him loose. We swam to the shore separately. He reached the shore first, and waited till I came out. I got into the saddle, went on my way in good spirits, and had a good meeting.

"On the 20th of October I baptized three Campbellities, one of whom was a deacon. I then rode twelve miles to Mr. Green wood's, who was eighty years old, and had been a soldier under General Washington. His wife, who was ninety-three years old, I found quite smart, and busy carding wool. I preached at their house and baptized both of them.

"On the following day I preached at the house of Benjamin L. Clapp, and baptized seven Campbellites and one Baptist. On the 16th of November, I preached at Brother Camp's, and baptized three. On the day following, it being Sunday, I preached again at Brother Clapp's, and baptized five.

"At the close of the meeting I mounted my horse to ride to Clark's River, in company with Seth Utley, four other brethren, and two sisters. The distance was twenty miles. We came to a stream which was so swollen by rains that we could not cross without swimming our horses. To swim would not be safe for the women, so we went up the stream to find a ford. In the attempt we were overtaken by a severe storm of wind and rain, lost our way in the darkness, and wandered through creeks and mud. But the Lord does not forsake His Saints in any of their troubles. While we were in the woods suffering under the blast of the storm, groping like the blind for the wall, a bright light suddenly shone around us, and revealed to us our dangerous situation on the edge of a gulf. The light continued with us until we found the road; we then went on our way rejoicing, though the darkness returned and the rain continued. We reached Brother Henry Thomas' in safety about nine o'clock at night, having been five hours in the storm, and forded streams many times. None of us felt to complain, but were thankful to God for His preserving care. On the following day I preached at Damon Creek, and organized a branch called Damon Creek Branch, and ordained Daniel Thomas a teacher.

"On the 19th of December I again preached at the house of Brother Clapp, and baptized five persons; one was a Campbellite preacher. On the following day I preached at the house of Brother Henry Thomas, when a mob of about fifty persons collected, headed by a Baptist preacher, who, after asking one question, advised the mob not to lay hands on any man on account of his principles. The advice was good and well taken. At the close of the meeting I baptized three persons, one seventy-eight years old.

"This brings the year 1835 to a close—the first year of my mission—during which time I had traveled three thousand two hundred and forty-eight miles, held one hundred and seventy meetings, baptized forty-three persons—three of whom were Campbellite preachers—assisted Elder Parrish to baptize twenty more, confirmed thirty-five, organized three branches, ordained two teachers and one deacon, procured thirty subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate, one hundred and seventy-three signers to the petition to the governor of Missouri for redress of wrongs done the Saints in Jackson County, had three mobs rise against me—but was not harmed—wrote eighteen letters, received ten, and, finally, closed the labors of the year 1835 by eating johnny cake, butter and honey, at Brother A. O. Smoot's.

"I spent the fore part of January, 1836, (the weather being very cold), at the house of A. O. Smoot, in Kentucky, studying Kirkham's English Grammar. I continued to travel and preach in Kentucky and Tennessee and baptized all that would believe my testimony. On the 26th of February we held a conference at the house of Brother Lewis Clapp (father of B. L. Clapp). There were represented one hundred and three members in that mission. I ordained A. O. Smoot and Benjamin Boyston elders, and Daniel Thomas and Benjamin L. Clapp priests. I also ordained one teacher and two deacons.

"After conference I took Brothers Smoot and Clapp with me to preach. The former traveled with me constantly till the 21st of April, when we had the privilege of meeting with Elder David W. Patten, who had come direct from Kirtland, and who had been ordained one of the Twelve Apostles. It was a happy meeting. He gave us an account of the endowments at Kirtland, the glorious blessings received, the ministration of angels, the organization of the Twelve Apostles and seventies, and informed me that I was appointed a member of the second quorum of seventy. All this was glorious news to me, and caused my heart to rejoice. On the 27th of May were were joined by Elder Warren Parrish, direct from Kirtland, We had a happy time together.

"On the 28th, we held a conference at Brother Seth Utley's, where were represented all the branches of the Church in the South. On the 31st of May I was ordained a member of the second quorum of seventy, under the hands of David W. Patten and Warren Parrish. At the close of the conference we separated for a short time. Elders Patten and Parrish labored in Tennessee, Brother Smoot and myself in Kentucky. On the 9th of June we all met at Damon Creek Branch, where Brother Patten baptized two. One was Father Henry Thomas, who had been a revolutionary war soldier under General Washington, and was father of Daniel and Henry Thomas.

"A warrant was issued, on the oath of a priest, against D. W. Patten, W. Parrish and myself. We were accused in the warrant of the great 'crime' of testifying that Christ would come in this generation, and that we promised the Holy Ghost to those whom we baptized. Brothers Patten and Parrish were taken on the 19th of June. I, being in another county, escaped arrest. The brethren were put under two thousand dollars bonds to appear at court. Albert Petty and Seth Utley were their bondsmen. They were tried on the 22nd of June. They pleaded their own cause. Although men came forward and testified that they did receive the Holy Ghost after they were baptized, the brethren were condemned; but finally were released by paying the expenses of the mob court.

"One peculiar circumstance was connected with this trial by a mob court, which was armed to the teeth. When the trial was through, the people were not willing to permit more than one to speak. Warren Parrish had said a few words, and they were not willing to let David Patten say anything; but he, feeling the injustice of the court, and being filled with the power of God, arose to his feet and delivered a speech of about twenty minutes, holding them spell-bound while he told them of their wickedness and of the abominations they were guilty of, also of the curse of God that awaited them, if they did not repent, and for taking up two harmless, inoffensive men for preaching the gospel of Christ. When he had got through his speech the judge said, 'You must be armed with secret weapons, or you would not talk in this fearless manner to an armed court.' Brother Patten replied, 'I have weapons that you know not of, and they are given me of God, for He gives me all the power I have.' The judge seemed willing to get rid of them upon almost any terms, and offered to dismiss them if their friends would pay the costs, which the brethren present freely offered to do.

"When the two were released, they mounted their horses and rode a mile to Seth Utley's; but as soon as they had left, the court became ashamed that they had been let go so easily, and the whole mob mounted their horses to follow them to Utley's. One of the Saints, seeing the state of affairs, went on before the mob to notify the brethren, so that they had time to ride into the woods near by. They traveled along about three miles to Brother Albert Petty's, and went to bed. The night was dark, and they fell asleep, but Brother Patten was warned in a dream to get up and flee, as the mob soon would be there. They both arose, saddled their animals, and rode into the adjoining county. The house they had just left was soon surrounded by the mob, but the brethren escaped through the mercy of God.

"I was invited to hold a meeting at a Baptist meetinghouse; this was on the 27th of June. On my arrival I met a large congregation, but, on commencing services, Parson Browning ordered the meeting to be closed. I told the people I had come ten miles to preach the gospel to them, and was willing to stand in a cart, on a pile of wood, on a fence, or any other place they would appoint, to have that privilege. One man said he owned the fence and land in front of the meetinghouse, and we might use both, for he did not believe Mormonism would hurt either. So the congregation crossed the road, took down the fence and made seats of it, and I preached to them one hour and a half. At the close, Mr. Randoph Alexander bore testimony to the truth of what had been said. He invited me home with him, bought a Book of Mormon and was baptized, and I organized a branch in that place.

"On the 18th of July, Brother A. O. Smoot and I arrived at a ferry on the Tennessee River, and, as the ferryman was not at home, the woman kindly gave us permission to use the ferryboat. We led our horses on board, and took the oars to row across the river. Brother Smoot never had used an oar, and I had not done so for some years, so we made awkward work of it. Soon he broke one oar, and I let another fall overboard, which left us only one broken oar to get to shore with. We narrowly escaped running into a steamboat. We struck shore half a mile below the landing place, tied up the boat, jumped on the bank with our horses, and went on our way with blistered hands, thankful to get off so well.

"On Sunday, the 31st of July, A. O. Smoot and I preached at Mr. David Crider's, Weakley County, Tennessee. After the meeting, Mr. Crider was baptized. A mob gathered and threatened us, and poisoned our horses, so that the one I rode, belonging to Samuel West, died a few days after. This horse had carried me thousands of miles while preaching the gospel.

"I continued to travel with Brothers Smoot, Patten, and Parrish in Tennessee and Kentucky, and we baptized all who would receive our testimony. On the 2nd day of December we held a general conference at Damon Creek Branch. Elder Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Twelve Apostles, presided. All the branches in Tennessee and Kentucky were represented. Brothers Randolph Alexander, Benjamin L. Clapp, and Johnson F. Lane were ordained elders, and Lindsay Bradey was ordained to the lesser priesthood. I assisted President Marsh to obtain fifteen hundred dollars from the Southern brethren to enter land in Missouri for the Church. The brethren made me a present of fifty dollars, which I sent by President Marsh to enter forty acres of land for me. Elder Smoot and I were released from the Southern mission, with permission to go to Kirtland."

During his mission, Wilford Woodruff organized a company of Saints, and went with them a short distance, starting them on the way to Zion—a portion of the work of gathering in which he did so much subsequently, both in the United States and Great Britain. Most of his travels for over two years had been on foot. Since leaving Richland, New York, he had journeyed over six thousand miles. Under his administration the sick were healed, mobacrats were destroyed by the power of God, light from heaven had been sent in the darkness of the night to lead him from a lost condition in the forest and to save him from being dashed to pieces over a rocky percipice, other miracles were wrought, and Wilford Woodruff, in his early youth and manhood, had become in a marked degree a choice witness for God and for the divine mission of Joseph Smith, the Prophet.

Let it be remembered, too, that to enjoy all this power it was not necessary to be an apostle, a patriarch, a high priest, or a seventy. For the greater part of his mission, Wilford Woodruff was only a priest after the order of Aaron. Like John the Baptist, he magnified his calling; his soul was in the work; he loved his fellowbeings, and yearned for their salvation. His whole experience is a striking lesson worthy of being learned, and an example to be followed profitably by all the young men and elders of Israel. More than once, thousands of the Saints have heard Wilford Woodruff say in assemblies of worship that in all his life he never had enjoyed more of the spirit and power of God than when he was a priest doing missionary work in the Southern States.

His first mission being completed, he approached the city of the Saints—Kirtland—whence he had departed over two years previously. "The Temple of the Lord," says he, "came in sight—first in importance to our vision. I truly rejoiced when the House of the Lord rose into view as we drew near to this Stake of Zion. It was the first time I had seen the Temple of God—the first Temple built in this generation. After my long absence, I rejoiced greatly to strike hands with the Prophet Joseph, and with many others engaged in rolling on the mighty work of the Lord in the last days.

"Two years and a half had elapsed," he writes further, "since I left Kirtland with my brethren in poverty to go up to visit our brethren in tribulation in Zion. The Saints at Kirtland were then poor, despised, and looked upon by the pomp of Babylon with disdain, and people watched with eager eyes to behold them sink into forgetfulness. But what a change has come! Now I behold a cheerfulness beaming from every countenance, and the scenes around indicate prosperity. The noise of the ax and the hammer, the stir of their bank and market, and especially the presence of the House of God, speak in language loud as thunder that the Saints will have a city in spite of all the false prophets of Baal, and in spite of even earth and hell combined, because God is with them, and His Temple stands in honor of His Kingdom, while Babylon begins to wonder and soon will perish."

Wilford Woodruff, His Life and Labors Matthias F. Cowley