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Lucy Mack Smith-The Death of Joseph Smith Sr.


WE SPENT the evening after we arrived in Quincy in relating our adventures and escapes, while making our exit from the land of Missouri, and the following circumstance, during our evening's conversation, was related by Samuel, who, in company with a number of others, fled for his life before the enemy:

He said that they traveled the most secluded route that they could find, as they considered it unsafe to be seen by the inhabitants of the country. Game being very scarce, they soon lacked for provisions and finally ran out altogether; yet they pursued their journey, until they became so weak that they could proceed no further. They then held a council in which Samuel was appointed to receive the word of the Lord and they united in prayer to God, that he would make known to them the means and time of their deliverance.

After a short supplication, it was manifested to Samuel that they might obtain sustenance by traveling a short distance in a certain direction. This he made known to the company and immediately set out with two others in quest of the promised food. After traveling a short time, they came to an Indian wigwam and made known to the Indians by signs that they were hungry. Upon this the squaw, with all possible speed, baked them some cakes and gave each of them two; after which she sent the same number to those who remained in the woods, giving them to understand that she would send more but she had very little flour and her papooses would be hungry.

From this time onward the brethren succeeded in getting food sufficient to sustain them so that none of them perished.

In a few days Samuel moved his family to another house, and we were then less crowded. Soon after he left, Lucy was taken violently ill and for several days she refused to take any kind of nourishment whatever. I had not long the privilege of taking care of her, as I was shortly seized with the cholera myself, and, although I suffered dreadfully with the cramp, which usually attends this disease, it was nothing in comparison to another pain, which operated upon the marrow of my bones. It seemed sometimes as though it would almost burst the bones themselves asunder.

Everything that could be obtained which was considered good for such diseases was administered in my case, but without effect. At length we applied to a young botanic physician, who gave me some herb tea that relieved me immediately.

During my sickness Samuel brought Lucy downstairs several times in his arms to see me, as they did not expect me to live any length of time and they were willing that she should be gratified. When I recovered I found that she had taken nothing but ice water while I was sick, but her fever was broken, and, by careful nursing, she was soon able to walk about.

Whilst we were sick the ladies of Quincy sent us every delicacy which the city afforded; in fact, we were surrounded with the kindest of neighbors. One Mr. Messer and family, in particular, sought every opportunity to oblige us while we remained in the place.

Previous to our sickness in Quincy, my husband sent Brother Lamoreaux to Missouri, under strict instructions to see Joseph and Hyrum, or find out where they were before he should return. About the time that Lucy began to walk about a little, Brother Partridge and Brother Morley came to our house from Lima to see if Brother Lamoreaux had either written or returned. When they came we had heard nothing of him, but while they were with us he arrived in Quincy and sent us word that he had seen neither Joseph nor Hyrum. At this information Brother Partridge was in despair and said that when another messenger was to be sent, he would go himself, as he was instructed. I listened to him some time in silence; at last the Spirit, which had so often comforted my heart, again spoke peace to my soul, and gave me an assurance that I should see my sons before the night should again close over my head. "Brother Partridge," I exclaimed, in tears of joys, "I shall see Joseph and Hyrum before tomorrow night." "No, mother Smith," said he, "I am perfectly discouraged; I don't believe we shall ever see them again in the world. At any rate, do not flatter yourself that they will be here as soon as that, for I tell you that you will be disappointed. I have always believed you before, but I cannot see any prospect of this prophecy being fulfilled, but if it is so, I will never dispute your word again." I asked him if he would stay in town long enough to prove my sayings whether they were true or false. He promised to do so. Brothers Partridge and Morley soon afterwards left the house in order to get further information upon the subject.

After falling asleep that night I saw my sons in vision. They were upon the prairie traveling, and seemed very tired and hungry. They had but one horse. I saw them stop and tie him to the stump of a burnt sapling, then lie down upon the ground to rest themselves; and they looked so pale and faint that it distressed me. I sprang up and said to my husband, "Oh, Mr. Smith, I can see Joseph and Hyrum, and they are so weak they can hardly stand. Now they are lying alseep on the cold ground! Oh, how I wish that I could give them something to eat!"

Mr. Smith begged me to be quiet, saying that I was nervous; but it was impossible for me to rest—they were still before my eyes—I saw them lie there full two hours; then one of them went away to get something to eat, but not succeeding, they traveled on. This time Hyrum rode and Joseph walked by his side, holding himself up by the stirrup leather. I saw him reel with weakness, but could render him no assistance. My soul was grieved; I rose from my bed and spent the remainder of the night in walking the floor.

The next day I made preparations to receive my sons, confident that the poor, afflicted wanderers would arrive at home before sunset. Sometime in the afternoon, Lucy and I were coming downstairs—she was before me. When she came to the bottom of the steps she sprang forward and exclaimed, "There is Brother Baldwin. My brothers—where are they?" This was Caleb Baldwin, who was imprisoned with them. He told us that Joseph and Hyrum were then crossing the river and would soon be in Quincy. Lucy, hearing this, ran to carry the tidings to Hyrum's family, but the excitement was not sufficient to keep up her strength. When she came to the door she fell prostrate. After recovering a little, she communicated the welcome news.

When Hyrum and Joseph landed, they went immediately to see their families, and the next day, they, together with their wives and the rest of our connections, visited us. The Quincy Grays also came to our house and saluted my sons in the most polite manner. During the afternoon, I asked Joseph and Hyrum, in the presence of the company, if they were not on the prairie the night previous in the situation which I have already related. They replied in the affirmative. I then asked Brother Partridge if he believed what I told him two days before. He answered that he would forever after that time acknowledge me to be a true prophetess. The day passed pleasantly and my sons returned to their homes, happy in their freedom and the society of their friends.

In a short time after Joseph and Hyrum landed in Illinois, 1 George Miller, who is now the second Bishop of the Church, came and informed us that he had a quantity of land in his possession; also, that upon this land were a number of log houses which the brethren might occupy if they chose, and that he would charge them nothing for the use of them, unless it would be to repair them a little, as they needed something of this kind.

My sons were pleased with this offer and Samuel, Don Carlos, and W. J. Salisbury, renting some land of him, moved upon his premises as soon as preparations could be made for their families.

pp. 257-261


IN THE spring of 1839, Joseph and Hyrum made a purchase of a tract of land in Commerce, 1 of one Mr. White, and after moving their families thither, sent Brother Jacob G. Bigler back for Mr. Smith and myself.

When our good friend, Mr. Messer, learned that we were about leaving Quincy, he came and spent a whole day with us. The next day we set out for Commerce. After proceeding about ten miles, our carriage broke down, and, although my husband was quite sick, we were compelled to remain in the sun at least three hours before another vehicle could be procured. After this we started on, and soon arrived at Bear Creek, below Lima. We found this stream so high that it was dangerous to ford, especially for those who were unacquainted with the crossing place, but, fortunately, we took the right direction, and, with much difficulty, succeeded in getting across. That night we stayed with Sister Lawrence and the next day arrived in Commerce, where we found our children in good health.

We moved into a small room attached to the house in which Joseph was living. Here we might have enjoyed ourselves but Mr. Smith continued to sink, his health constantly failing, until we found that medicine was of no benefit to him.

As the season advanced, the brethren began to feel the effects of the hardships which they had endured, and also the unhealthiness of the climate in which we were then situated. They came down with the agues and bilious fevers to such an extent that there were whole families in which not one was able to help himself to a drink of cold water. Among the sick were Hyrum and his family, also my daughter Lucy. Joseph and Emma, seeing the distress, commenced taking the sick into their own house, with the view of taking care of them and making them more comfortable. This they continued to do until their house became so crowded that they were compelled to spread a tent for that part of the family who were still on their feet, in order to make room in the house for the sick. During this time of distress, Silas Smith, my husband's brother, came up from Pike county, Illinois, to consult with Mr. Smith in relation to some Church business and returned with the intention of bringing his family hither, but was taken sick and died before he could accomplish it and we never saw him again. My son William also came from Plymouth about this time and informed us that our provisions and furniture all had been destroyed in Missouri by the mob. When he returned home he took Lovina, Hyrum's eldest daughter, with him, hoping, as she was sick, that the ride would be a benefit to her. In this he was disappointed, for she grew worse instead of better so that in a short time he considered it necessary to send for her father as she was not expected to live. As her father was not able to sit up when the messenger arrived, myself and Lucy went in his stead. On our arrival at Plymouth we found Lovina better, and she continued to mend until she regained her health. But the ague took a fresh hold on Lucy, and she remained completely under the power of the disease until the sickness in Commerce had so abated that Joseph was able to make us a visit.

When he arrived, Lucy was lying upstairs in a high fever. Upon hearing his voice below, she sprang from her bed and flew downstairs as though she was altogether well, and was so rejoiced to hear that her relatives were all still living and in better health than when she left them, that the excitement performed an entire cure. She soon regained her strength and we returned home.

It now became necessary for Joseph to take a journey to the city of Washington, for he had been commanded of the Lord, while in prison, to pray for redress at the feet of the President, as well as Congress, when his family should be so situated that he could leave home.

Accordingly, Joseph started, in company with Sidney Rigdon, Elias Higbee, Dr. Foster and Porter Rockwell, to fulfill this injunction. 2 After arriving in Washington, Joseph and Sidney 3 waited upon his Excellency Martin Van Buren, but it was some time before they had an opportunity of laying their grievances before him; however, they at length succeeded in getting his attention. After listening to the entire history of the oppression and abuse, which we had received at the hands of our enemies, he replied, "Gentlemen, your cause is just; but I can do nothing for you!"

The matter was, however, laid before Congress. They, too, concluded that our cause was just, but that they could do nothing for us as Missouri was a sovereign, independent state; and that the "Mormons" might appeal to her for redress, for, in their opinion, she neither wanted the power nor lacked the disposition to redress the wrongs of her own citizens. During Joseph's absence, Mr. Smith was at times very weak and coughed dreadfully, so that some nights we had to lift him out of bed. On one occasion of this kind he expressed a fear that he should die with me alone. I told him that this would not be the case, for it was impressed upon my mind that, when he died, he would have his children around him. This comforted him much for he was very anxious to live until Joseph should return, that he might bless him again before he should die.

This was in the winter of 1840. Before spring he got some better so that he was able to walk about a little and attend a few blessing meetings, in one of which he blessed Mrs. Page, the wife of one of the Twelve, and a young woman whom Brother Page had baptized and confirmed on Bear Creek but a few days previous. In blessing the latter, Mr. Smith repeated a prophecy which had been pronounced upon her head in her confirmation, as precisely as though he had been present when it was uttered, stating that the Spirit testified that these things had been predicted upon her head in her confirmation, which very much surprised her, as she knew that he had not received any intimation of the same, except by the Spirit of God.

In March, 1840, Joseph returned from the city of Washington. At this time Mr. Smith had suffered a relapse and was confined to his bed. On Joseph's arrival, he administered to him, and, for a short time, my husband was better. In the ensuing April a Conference was held in Nauvoo (formerly Commerce) during which the result of Joseph's mission to Washington was made known to the brethren; who, after hearing that their petition was rejected, concluded, as they had now tried every court which was accessible to them on earth, to lay their case before the Court of Heaven, and leave it in the hands of the great God.

Joseph, soon after his arrival, had a house built for us near his own, and one that was more commodious than that which we previously occupied.

When the heat of the ensuing summer came on, my husband's health began to decline more rapidly than before. This was perhaps caused, in part, by the renewal of the Missouri persecutions, for our sons were now demanded of the authorities of Illinois, as fugitives from justice. In consequence of which they were compelled to absent themselves from the city until the writs which were issued for their arrest, were returned.

About this time John C. Bennett came into the city and undertook to devise a scheme whereby Joseph and Hyrum, besides other brethren who were persecuted in like manner, might remain at home in peace. I do not know what he did, I only know that he seemed to be engaged in the law, as well as the gospel. My heart was then too full of anxiety about my husband for me to inquire much into matters which I did not understand; however, the result was Joseph returned from Iowa.

On the evening of his return my husband commenced vomiting blood. I sent immediately for Joseph and Hyrum, who, as soon as they came, gave him something that alleviated his distress. This was on Saturday night. The next morning Joseph came in and told his father that he should not be troubled any more for the present with the Missourians, "and," said he, "I can now stay with you as much as you wish." After which he informed his father that it was then the privilege of the Saints to be baptized for the dead. These two facts Mr. Smith was delighted to hear and requested that Joseph should be baptized for Alvin immediately; and, as he expected to live but a short time, desired that his children would stay with him as much as they could consistently.

They were all with him, except Catherine, who was detained from coming by a sick husband. Mr. Smith being apprised of this, sent Arthur Millikin, who, but a short time previous, was married to our youngest daughter, 4 after Catherine and her children; but, before he went, my husband blessed him, fearing that it would be too late when he returned. He took Arthur by the hand and said:

"'My son, I have given you my youngest, darling child, and will you be kind to her?' 'Yes, father,' he replied, 'I will.' 'Arthur,' he continued, 'you shall be blessed, and you shall be great in the eyes of the Lord; and if you will be faithful, you shall have all the desires of your heart in righteousness. Now, I want you to go after my daughter Catharine, 5 for I know, that because of the faithfulness of your heart, you will not come back without her.'"

Arthur then left, and my husband next addressed himself to me:

"Mother, do you not know, that you are the mother of as great a family as ever lived upon the earth? The world loves its own, but it does not love us. It hates us because we are not of the world; therefore, all its malice is poured out upon us, and they seek to take away our lives. When I look upon my children, and realize that although they were raised up to do the Lord's work, yet they must pass through scenes of trouble and affliction as long as they live upon the earth; and I dread to leave them surrounded by enemies."

At this Hyrum bent over his father and said: "Father, if you are taken away, will you not intercede for us at the throne of grace, that our enemies may not have so much power over us?" He then laid his hands upon Hyrum's head and said:

"My son, Hyrum, I seal upon your head your patriarchal blessing, which I placed upon your head before, for that shall be verified. In addition to this, I now give you my dying blessing. You shall have a season of peace, so that you shall have sufficient rest to accomplish the work which God has given you to do. You shall be as firm as the pillars of heaven unto the end of your days. I now seal upon your head the patriarchal power, and you shall bless the people. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. Amen."

To Joseph he said:

'Joseph, my son, you are called to a high and holy calling. You are even called to do the work of the Lord. Hold out faithful and you shall be blest and your children after you. You shall even live to finish your work.' At this Joseph cried out, weeping, 'Oh! my father, shall I?' 'Yes,' said his father, 'you shall live to lay out the plan of all the work which God has given you to do. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. I also confirm your former blessing upon your head; for it shall be fulfilled. Even so. Amen.'"

To Samuel he said:

"Samuel, you have been a faithful and obedient son. By your faithfulness you have brought many into the Church. The Lord has seen your diligence, and you are blessed, in that he has never chastised you, but has called you home to rest; and there is a crown laid up for you, which shall grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.

"When the Lord called you, he said, 'Samuel, I have seen thy suffering, and heard thy cries, and beheld thy faithfulness; thy skirts are clear from the blood of this generation.' Because of these things I seal upon your head all the blessings which I have heretofore pronounced upon you; and this my dying blessing, I now seal upon you. Even so. Amen."

To William he said:

"William, my son, thou hast been faithful in declaring the word, even before the Church was organized. Thou hast been sick, yet thou hast traveled to warn the people. And when thou couldst not walk, thou didst sit by the wayside and call upon the Lord, until he provided a way for thee to be carried. Thou wast sick and afflicted, when thou wast away from thy father's house, and no one knew it to assist thee in thy afflictions; but the Lord did see the honesty of thine heart, and thou wast blessed in thy mission. William, thou shalt be blest, and thy voice shall be heard in distant lands, from place to place, and they shall regard thy teachings. Thou shalt be like a roaring lion in the forest, for they shall hearken and hear thee. And thou shalt be the means of bringing many sheaves to Zion, and thou shalt be great in the eyes of many, and they shall call thee blessed, and I will bless thee, and thy children after thee. And the blessings which I sealed upon thy head before, I now confirm again, and thy days shall be many, thou shalt do a great work, and live as long as thou desirest life. Even so. Amen."

To Don Carlos he said:

"Carlos, my darling son, when I blessed thee thy blessing was never written, and I could not get it done, but now I want you to get my book, which contains the blessings of my family. Take your pen and fill out all those parts of your blessing which were not written. You shall have the Spirit of the Lord and be able to fill up all the vacancies which were left by Oliver when he wrote it. You shall be great in the sight of the Lord, for he sees and knows the integrity of your heart, and you shall be blessed; all that know you shall bless you. Your wife and your children shall also be blessed, and you shall live to fulfill all that the Lord has sent you to do. Even so. Amen."

To Sophronia he said:

"Sophronia, my oldest daughter, thou hadst sickness when thou wast young, and thy parents did cry over thee, to have the Lord spare thy life. Thou didst see trouble and sorrow, but thy troubles shall be lessened, for thou hast been faithful in helping thy father and thy mother in the work of the Lord. And thou shalt be blessed, and the blessings of heaven shall rest down upon thee. Thy last days shall be thy best. Although thou shalt see trouble, sorrow and mourning, thou shalt be comforted, and the Lord will lift thee up, and bless thee and thy family, and thou shalt live as long as thou desirest life. This dying blessing I pronounce and seal upon thy head, with thine other blessings. Even so. Amen."

After this he rested for some time, and then said:

"Catharine has been a sorrowful child, trouble has she seen, the Lord has looked down upon her and seen her patience, and has heard her cries. She shall be comforted when her days of sorrow are ended, then shall the Lord look down upon her and she shall have the comforts of life, and the good things of the world, then shall she rise up, and defend her cause. She shall live to raise up her family; and in time her sufferings shall be over, for the day is coming when the patient shall receive their reward. Then she shall rise over her enemies, and shall have horses and land, and things around her to make her heart glad. I, in this dying blessing, confirm her patriarchal blessing upon her head, and she shall receive eternal life. Even so. Amen."

To Lucy he said:

"Lucy, thou art my youngest child, my darling. And the Lord gave thee unto us to be a comfort and a blessing to us in our old age, therefore, thou must take good care of thy mother. Thou art innocent, and thy heart is right before the Lord. Thou has been with us through all the persecution; thou hast seen nothing but persecution, sickness and trouble, except when the Lord hath cheered our hearts. If thou wilt continue faithful, thou shalt be blest with a house and land; thou shalt have food and raiment, and no more be persecuted and driven, as thou hast hitherto been. Now, continue faithful, and thou shalt live long and be blessed, and thou shalt receive a reward in heaven. This dying blessing, and also thy patriarchal blessing, I seal upon thy head in the name of Jesus. Even so. Amen."

After this he spoke to me again, and said:

"'Mother, do you not know, that you are one of the most singular women in the world?' 'No,' I replied, 'I do not.' 'Well I do,' he continued, 'you have brought up my children for me by the fireside, and when I was gone from home, you comforted them. You have brought up all my children, and could always comfort them when I could not. We have often wished that we might both die at the same time, but you must not desire to die when I do, for you must stay to comfort the children when I am gone. So do not mourn, but try to be comforted. Your last days shall be your best days, as to being driven, for you shall have more power over your enemies than you have had. Again I say, be comforted.'"

He then paused for some time, being exhausted. After which he said, in a tone of surprise, "I can see and hear, as well as ever I could." (A second pause of considerable length.) "I see Alvin." (Third pause.) "I shall live seven or eight minutes." Then straightening himself, he laid his hands together; after which he began to breathe shorter, and in about eight minutes his breath stopped, without even a struggle or a sigh, and his spirit took its flight for the regions where the justified ones rest from their labors. He departed so calmly, that, for some time, we could not believe but that he would breathe again.

Catharine did not arrive until the evening of the second day; still we were compelled to attend to his obsequies the day after his decease, or run the risk of seeing Joseph and Hyrum torn from their father's corpse before it was interred, and carried away by their enemies to prison. After we had deposited his last remains in their narrow house, my sons fled from the city and I returned to my desolate home; and I then thought that the greatest grief which it was possible for me to feel had fallen upon me in the death of my beloved husband. Although that portion of my life which lay before me, seemed to be a lonesome, trackless waste, yet I did not think that I could possibly find, in traveling over it, a sorrow more searching, or a calamity more dreadful, than the present. But, as I hasten to the end of my story, the reader will be able to form an opinion with regard to the correctness of my conclusion.

pp. 261-270