Philo Dibble's Narrative
Dibble, Philo, 1806-1895. Autobiography (1806—c. 1843)
Faith Promoting Series
"Early Scenes in Church History," Four Faith Promoting Classics 1880
Reprinted: Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968, pp. 74-96
I am the second son of Orator and Bulah Dibble born June 6, 1806, at Peru, Pittsfield County, Massachusetts. When I was quite young my father removed to the town of Granby, where he died when I was ten years old, leaving my mother with 9 children. My elder brother Philander, and I were taken by one Captain Apollos Phelps, living at Suffield, Connecticut, to raise until we were 21 years old, he having no children of his own, morally speaking he was a good man, and taught us good principles, and treated us as though we were his own sons.
I remained with him 4 or 5 months after I became of age, when I resolved to travel. I then visited Boston, Mass. and its harbor, and saw the ship "Java," that was fitted out with 600 soldiers to protect the merchants against the pirates. I also visited several islands and many of the surrounding towns and then returned to Suffield, where I became acquainted with Miss Celia Kent, daughter of Benajah Kent, of Suffield, and married her, the Rev. Calvin Phileo performing the ceremony. I was then 23 years of age.
My wife having some property in Ohio, we sold our possessions in Connecticut and removed to that port.
While crossing Lake Erie from Buffalo to Fairport, we encountered a terrible storm, and our destruction seemed imminent, but through an overruling Providence we were saved and landed safely. We passed through Chardon, Ohio, and located 3 miles west of that city, at a place called King Street, which was within 5 miles of Kirtland. I there purchased a farm and entered into the business of buying and selling wild lands.
One morning I was standing at my gate when 2 men drove up in a two-horse wagon, and asked me to get in and go home with them, about quarter of a mile distant. On the way, one asked me if I heard the news, and informed me that four men had come to Kirtland with a golden Bible and one of them had seen an angel. They laughed and ridiculed the idea, but I did not feel inclined to make light of such a subject. I made no reply, but thought that if angels had administered to the children of men again, I was glad of it; I was afraid, however, that it was not true. On my return home I told my wife what I had heard.
The next day I was intending to go 50 miles south to the town of Suffield, Ohio, to pay some taxes, but my wife thinking that 1 or 2 days would not make much difference, proposed that we should hunt up those strange men in Kirtland.
The next day I joined another man and his wife, and started for Kirtland. When we arrived there, the men we were seeking had gone to the town of Mayfield, but were to return to Kirtland the next day. The following morning, I hitched up my carriage and again drove to Kirtland one of my neighbors accompanying us with his team and family. On arriving there, we were introduced to Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Parley P. Pratt. I remained with them all day, and became convinced that they were sincere in their professions. I asked Oliver what repentance consisted of, and he replied, "Forsaking sin and yielding obedience to the gospel!"
That evening he preached at Brother Isaac Morley's and bore his testimony to the administration of an angel at noonday. He then dwelt upon the subject of repentance and baptism and the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, and promised that all who embraced these principles with honesty of heart should receive a testimony. He also requested all who wished to be baptized to make it manifest by arising. Five persons, among whom were William Cahoon and myself arose. I then made preparations for baptism by borrowing a suit of clothes. My wife thought I was too hasty, and said if I would wait a while perhaps she would go along with me. She was a Baptist by persuasion. I paid no heed to her, but went forthwith and was baptized by Parley P. Pratt. This was on the sixteenth of October, 1830. When I came out of the water, I knew that I had been born of water and of the spirit, for my mind was illuminated with the Holy Ghost.
I spent that evening at Dr. F. E. William's. While in bed that night, I felt what appeared to be a hand upon my left shoulder and a sensation like fibers of fire immediately enveloped my body. It passed from my right shoulder across my breast to my left shoulder, it then struck me on my collar bone and to the pit of my stomach, after which it left me. I was enveloped in a heavenly influence, and could not sleep for joy. The next morning I started home a happy man.
All my neighbors were anxious to know the results of my visit to Kirtland, and I was visited by two Campbellite preachers, named respectively, Scott and Williams, one of whom remarked, "Mr. Dibble, I understand you have joined the Mormons. What reason have you to believe they have the truth?
I told them, "The scriptures point to such a work, which should come forth." He then asked me where I found it. I took the Bible and opened it where it speaks of truth springing out of the earth, and righteousness looking down from above. He read it and handed it to the other preacher. They made no comments.
I bore my testimony to them of what I had received, and Mr. Scott said, "I don't doubt, Mr. Dibble, that you have received all you say, because you are honest, but they are impostors." I then asked Mr. Scott if he believed the Lord would bless the labors of a false prophet, to which they did not stop to reply but left, and told the people it was no use talking to me.
One of my neighbors came to me and said, "We have sent a man down to New York to find out the truth of this work, and he is a man who will not lie. If he returns and says it is false, will you believe him?" I told him I would believe the truth, and asked him if that man (whose name was Edward Partridge) should come back and say it was false if he would believe him.
He replied, "Yes; for he is a man who will not lie for his right arm!" I then added, "If he says it is true, will you then believe him?" To which he reluctantly replied that he would.
Shortly after this, however, when Brother Partridge wrote back and said that he had been baptized, and was then preaching the gospel, this man shunned me, and for a long time afterwards gave me no chance to talk with him. But when we met, I asked him what he thought of Brother Partridge, and he replied that he was honest, but had been deceived.
The four missionaries who had visited Kirtland proceeded on westward to the borders of the Lamanites, in Jackson County, Missouri, on the mission to which they had been called by revelation through Joseph the Prophet, leaving the few converts they had made to themselves. Meetings were held occasionally by the members of the Church in Kirtland, all of which I attended. All manner of spirits were there made manifest, and no one to detect them. Many persons were operated upon in a strange manner, and I was impressed that the spirits which inspired them were from the evil one.
At a meeting held one evening at Brother Whitney's, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God filled the house and rested upon all the congregation to overflowing, little children not excepted. Prophesying and singing the songs of Zion were indulged in until morning. Brother Whitney, who had not then yielded obedience to the gospel, was convinced of the truth, and shortly after was baptized.
I will here observe that about the time which I write, there were many signs and wonders seen in the heavens above and in the earth beneath in the region of Kirtland, both by saints and strangers. A pillar of light was seen every evening for more than a month hovering over the place where we did our baptizing. One evening also, as Brother William Blakesley and I were returning home from meeting, we observed that it was unusually light, even for moonlight, but, on reflection, we found the moon was not seen that night.
Although it was cloudy, it was as light as noonday, and we could seemingly see a tree farther that night than we could in the daytime.
Soon after this, Joseph, with his father's family, came to Kirtland, and said the Lord had sent him there, and he or the devil would have to leave.
This was the first time I had beheld Joseph. After he arrived, the false spirits, which had been operating through the members of the Church, ceased for a while.
I held myself in readiness to assist the Smith family with my means or my personal services as they might require, as they were financially poor. They were living on a farm owned by F. G. Williams, in Kirtland, upon which there was a debt of $400 due, which had to be paid within a stated period of time or the farm would revert to its former owner.
Joseph Cole, who was required to save this amount to save the farm, said he could not do so, for his wife held the money and she didn't belong to the church. Being present with Joseph when the subject came up, I said to him, "I can raise the money!" and he replied that if I would, I should be blessed.
I explained to him how I would have to raise the money. I owned 1,200 acres of land lying 20 miles south of Elyria, which was worth three dollars per acre. In order to raise the money then I would have to sell a portion of it for one dollar and twenty five cents per acre, and I accordingly did so and paid Joseph the $400.
When Joseph came to Kirtland his fame spread far and wide. There was a woman living in the town of Hiram, 40 miles from Kirtland, who had a crooked arm, which she had not been able to use for a long period. She persuaded her husband, whose name was Johnson, to take her to Kirtland to get her arm healed.
I saw them as they passed my house on their way. She went to Joseph and requested him to heal her. Joseph asked her if she believed the Lord was able to make him an instrument in healing her arm. She said she believed the Lord was able to heal her arm.
Joseph put her off till the next morning, when he met her at Brother Whitney's house. There were eight persons present, one a Methodist preacher, and one a doctor. Joseph took her by the hand, prayed in silence a moment, pronounced her arm whole, in the name of Jesus Christ, and turned and left the room.
The preacher asked her if her arm was whole, and she straightened it out and replied, "It's as good as the other." The question was then asked if it would remain whole. Joseph hearing this, answered and said, "It is as good as the other, and as liable to accident as the other."
The doctor who witnessed this miracle came to my house the next morning and related the circumstance to me. He attempted to account for it by his false philosophy, saying that Joseph took her by the hand and seemed to be in prayer, and pronounced her arm whole in the name of Jesus Christ, which excited her and started perspiration, and that relaxed the cords of her arm.
I subsequently rented my farm and devoted all my time to the interest of the church, holding myself in readiness to take Joseph wherever he wished to go.
On invitation of Father Johnson, of Hiram, Joseph removed his family to his home, to translate the New Testament. This was in the year 1831.
At this time Sidney Rigdon was left to preside at Kirtland and frequently preached to us. Upon one occasion he said they keys of the kingdom had been taken from us. On hearing this, many of his hearers wept, and when someone undertook to dismiss the meeting by prayer, he said praying would do them no good, and the meeting broke up in confusion.
Brother Hyrum came to my house the next morning and told me all about it, and said it was false, and that they keys of the kingdom were still with us. He wanted my carriage and horses to go to the town of Hiram and bring Joseph. The word went abroad among the people immediately that Sidney was going to expose Mormonism.
Joseph came up to Kirtland a few days afterwards and held a meeting in a large barn. Nearly all the inhabitants of Kirtland turned out to hear him. The barn was filled with people, and others, unable to get inside, stood around the doors as far as they could hear.
Joseph arose in our midst and spoke in mighty power, saying, "I can contend with wicked men and devils, yes with angels. No power can pluck those keys from me, except the power that gave them to me; that was Peter, James, and John. But for what Sidney has done, the devil shall handle him as one man handles another."
Thomas B. Marsh's wife went from the meeting and told Sidney what Joseph had said, and he replied: "Is it possible that I have been so deceived? But if Joseph says so, it is so."
About three weeks after this Sidney was lying on his bed alone. An unseen power lifted him from his bed, threw him across the room, and tossed him from one side of the room to the other. The noise being heard in the adjoining room, his family went in to see what was the matter, and found him going from one side of the room to the other, from the effects of which Sidney was laid up for 5 or 6 weeks. Thus was Joseph's prediction in regard to him verified.
When Joseph was ready to go back to Hiram, I took him in my carriage. Soon afterwards I had occasion to visit Hiram again. On my way there I was persuaded to stop at the Hulet settlement and attend a meeting. When I arrived at Father Johnson's the next morning, Joseph and Sidney had just finished washing up from being tarred and feathered the night before. Joseph said to Sidney: "We can now go on our missions to Jackson County." (alluding to a commandment given them while they were translating, but which they concluded not to attend to until they had finished that work.) I felt to regret very much that I had not been with them the evening before, but it was perhaps providential that I was not. On a subsequent visit to Hiram, I arrived at Father Johnson's just as Joseph and Sidney were coming out of the vision alluded to in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, in which mention is made of the three degrees of glories. Joseph wore black clothes, but at this time seemed to be dressed in an element of glorious white, and his face shone as if it were transparent, but I did not see the same glory attending Sidney. Joseph appeared as strong as a lion, but Sidney seemed as weak as water, and Joseph, noticing his condition smiled and said, "Brother Sidney is not as used to it as I am."
In 1832, I sold my possessions in Ohio, and we being called upon by Joseph to advance monies to purchase the land in Jackson County, I paid $50 for that purpose, and also gave Brother Parley P. Pratt $50 dollars to assist him as a pioneer. I was then called on for money to be placed in the hands of brother Whitney and Gilbert, who were going to New York to purchase goods to take up to Jackson County, and gave them $300.
I joined in with a company led by Brother Thomas B. Marsh, and arrived in Independence, Jackson County, on the tenth of November. I remained in Independence until spring and then moved to the Whitmer Settlement, farther west, where I built a house, fenced 20 acres of land, and put in a garden.
In the fall of 1833, a sectarian preacher by the name of McCoy came to the Whitmer settlement where I was living to buy up all the guns he could, representing that he wanted them for the Indians. We suspected no trouble, and quite a number of us sold our guns to him. The sequel of this action was, however, soon apparent to us, for rumors soon reached us of mobs assembling and threats being made to drive us from the county.
When the mob first began to gather and threaten us, I was selected to go to another county and buy powder and lead. The brethren gave me the privilege of choosing a man to go with me. I took with me a man by the name of John Poorman. We thought we were good for four of the mob. We went to the town of Liberty, Clay County, and purchased the ammunition and returned safely.
Soon after I returned, a mob of about 150 came upon us in the dead hours of the night, tore down a number of our houses and whipped and abused several of our brethren. I was aroused from my sleep by the noise caused by the falling houses, and had barely time to escape to the woods with my wife and 2 children when they reached my house and proceeded to break in the door and tear the roof off. I was some distance away from where the whipping occurred, but I heard the blows of heavy ox goads upon the backs
of my brethren distinctly. The mob also swore they would tear down our grist mill, which was situated at the Colesville Branch, about three miles from the settlement, and lest they should really do so, and as it were the only means we had of getting our grain ground, we were counseled to gather there and defend it. We accordingly proceeded there the next morning. The following night two men came into our camp, pretending they wanted to hire some men to work for them. Brother Parley ordered them to be taken prisoners, when one of them struck him with a glancing blow on the head with his gun, inflicting a severe wound. We then disarmed them and kept them as prisoners until morning when we gave them back their arms and let them go.
The next day we heard firing down in the Whitmer settlement, and 17 of our brethren volunteered to go down and see what it meant. Brother George Beebe was one of these volunteers and also one of the men who was whipped the night previous. (Brother Beebe carried the marks of the whipping to his grave, as the brethren who laid him out at the time of his death, in Dec. 1881 at Provo, Utah County, can testify.) When these 17 men arrived at the settlement, the mob came against them and took some prisoners. Brother David Whitmer brought us the news of this and said, "Every man go, and every man take a man."
We all responded and met the mob in battle, in which I was wounded with an ounce ball and 2 buck shot, all entering my body just at the right side of my navel. The mob were finally routed, and the brethren chased them a mile away. Several others of the brethren were also shot, and one, named Barber, was mortally wounded. After the battle was over, some of the brethren went to administer to him, but he objected to their praying that he might live, and asked them if they could not see the angels present. He said the room was full of them, and his greatest anxiety was for his friends to see what he saw, until he breathed his last, which occurred at 3 o'clock in the morning.
A young lawyer named Brazill, who came into Independence and wanted to make himself conspicuous, joined the mob, and swore he would wade in blood up to his chin.
He was shot with 2 balls through his head; and never spoke again. There was another man whose name I fail to remember, that lived on the Big Blue, who made a similar boast. He was also taken at his word. His chin was shot off, or so badly fractured by a ball that he was forced to have it amputated, but lived and recovered, though he was a horrible sight afterwards.
After the battle I took my gun and powder horn and started for home. When I got about half way, I became faint and thirsty. I wanted to stop at Brother Whitmer's to lay down. The house, however, was full of women and children, and they were so frightened that they objected to my entering, as the mob had threatened that wherever they found a wounded man, they would kill men, women, and children. I continued on and arrived home, or rather at a house in the field that the mob had not torn down, which was near my own home. Then I found my wife and two children, and a number of their women who had assembled. I told them I was shot and wanted to lie down. They got me on the bed, but on thinking of what the mob had said, became frightened, and assisted me upstairs. I told them, however, that I could not stay there, my pain was so great. They then got me down stairs again, and my wife went out to see if she could find any of the brethren. In searching for them, she got lost in the woods and was gone 2 hours, but learned that all the brethren had gone to the Colesville Branch, 3 miles distant, taking all the wounded with them save myself.
The next morning I was taken farther off from the road that I might be concealed from the mob. I bled inwardly until my body was filled with blood, and remained in this condition until the next day at 5 p.m. I was then examined by a surgeon who was in the Black Hawk War, and who said that he had seen a great many men wounded, but never saw one wounded as I was that ever lived. He pronounced me a dead man.
David Whitmer, however, sent me word that I should live and not die, but I could see no possible chance to recover. After the surgeon had left me, Brother Newell Knight came to see me, and sat down on the side of my bed. He laid his right hand on my head, but never spoke. I felt the Spirit resting upon me, and I knew immediately that I was going to be healed. It seemed to form like a ring under the skin, and followed down my body. When the ring came to the wound, another ring formed around the first bullet hole, also the second and third. Then a ring formed on each shoulder and on each hip, and followed down to the ends of my fingers and toes and left me. I immediately arose and discharged three quarts of blood or more, with some pieces of my clothes that had been driven into my body by the bullets. I then dressed myself and went outdoors and saw the falling of the stars, which so encouraged the saints and frightened their enemies. It was one of the grandest sights I ever beheld. From that time not a drop of blood came from me and I never afterwards felt the slightest pain or inconvenience from wounds except that I was somewhat weak from the loss of blood.
The next day I walked around the field, and the day following I mounted a horse and rode eight miles, and went three miles on foot. The night of the battle many of the women and children ran into the woods. One sister, not being able to take all of her children with her; left her little boy four years old in a corn shock, where he remained until morning. Some went out on the burnt prairie. The mob gathered and swore they would go and massacre them. When they got ready to go, the heavens were lit up with the falling stars. This brought to us a perfect redemption at that time.
The night of the battle, the mob took all my household furniture, and after my recovery I crossed the river to Clay county, leaving behind me a drove of hogs, 3 cows, and all my crops, which I never recovered.
In Clay county I enjoyed some rest from persecution, and had 2 children born to me, Emma and Philo Jr. I was there when Zion's Camp came up. I met them on Fishing River. There the power of the Lord was manifested by His sending a thunder storm, which raised Fishing River 10 feet higher than it was ever known to rise before. I saw the cloud coming up in the west when I was 10 miles from Fishing River in the middle of the afternoon. As it moved on eastwardly, it increased in size and in blackness, and when it got over the camp it stopped, and in the night rain and hail poured down in torrents and the lightning flashed from the cloud continuously for three hours.
Just before night, two men came into camp and asked where Mr. Smith was. Joseph said, "I am the man." They then advised him to disband his camp, "for," said they, "the mobs are gathering, and there won't be one of you left tomorrow morning!" Joseph smiled, and said, "I guess not." Seeing that Joseph did not believe what they came to tell him, they went off vexed.
We learned afterwards that the hail was so heavy on the mob, that they were forced to seek shelter, and the leader of them swore he would never go against the Mormons again.
Zion's Camp was disbanded on Fishing River. The leading men of Liberty being desirous for peace, called a meeting and invited our leading men to meet with them, which they did. They told our committee that if they could have peace, we should have a county to ourselves, and if we had not money enough to buy out the old settlers of Caldwell county, they would lend us money to buy them out.
This settled our difficulties at that time. In the meantime a conference was held in Liberty, Clay county, at which I was ordained a teacher under the hands of David Whitmer.
We then commenced settling Caldwell county, to which I removed, built a house, entered 720 acres of land and bought a lot in town. I also entered land for many of the brethren, and for this purpose had to go the distance of 80 miles where the land office was located.
On my return home, when I got to Liberty, midway between Lexington and Far West, I concluded I would travel from there home by night, as it was very warm during the day. The road led through a strip of timber for four miles, and after that across a prairie for 20 miles.
When I had traveled about two-thirds of the way across the prairie, riding on horseback, I heard the cooing of the prairie hens. I looked northward and saw, apparently with my natural vision, a beautiful city, the streets of which ran north and south. I also knew there were streets running east and west, but could not trace them with my eyes for the buildings. The walks on each side of the streets were as white as marble, and the trees on the outer side of the marble walks had the appearance of locust trees in autumn. This city was in view for about an hour and a half as near as I could judge, as I traveled along. When I began to descend towards the Crooked River the timber through which I passed hid the city from my view. Every block in this mighty city had 16 spires, four on each corner, each block being built in the form of a hollow square, within which I seemed to know that the gardens of the inhabitants were located. The corner buildings on which the spires rested were larger and higher than the others, and the several blocks were uniformly alike. The beauty and grandeur of the scene I cannot describe. While viewing the city, the buildings appeared to be transparent. I could not discern the inmates, but I appeared to understand that they could discern what passed outside.
Whether this was a city that has been or is to be I cannot tell. It extended as far north as Adam-ondi-Ahman, a distance of about 28 miles. Whatever is revealed to us by the Holy Ghost will never be forgotten.
Part of Zion's Camp went back to Kirtland, and also Brother Joseph, but in consequence of the mobs and apostates, the church organization in Kirtland was broken up. Some of the apostates left Kirtland and came up to Far West. They called meetings and told the people that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet, and they were determined to put David Whitmer in his place. Some of the brethren, including the president of the branch I lived in, fell in with the views of the apostates. I being a teacher in the branch, took up a labor with them, first going to our president and taking with me a deacon. Our president said if he had got to become an enemy to David to be a friend to Joseph, he could not be a friend to Joseph. He then called the branch together in order to put me out of office as a teacher, but the branch sustained me. He afterwards cited me to appear for trial before Bishop Partridge, who gave me 2 weeks to make satisfaction, and I appealed my case to the High Council, who decided there was no cause of action.
Joseph and family soon arrived in Far West. Soon after a regiment was organized by W. W. Phelps, George M. Hinckle, Lyman Wight, and Reed Peck, they having received their commissions from the governor. An election of officers was called and G. W. Robinson was elected Colonel, I Lieutenant Colonel and Seymour Brunson, Major.
While celebrating the Fourth of July at Far West, there came up a thunder shower, and the lightning struck our liberty pole and slivered it to pieces. Joseph walked around on the splinters and said, "As that pole splintered, so shall the nations of the earth be!"
When the trouble with the mob commenced, Colonel Robinson took about half of the force to Adam-ondi-Ahman to defend that place. Joseph, Hyrum, and Sidney, also went with them, leaving me in command at Far West. The detachment returned in about four days.
A few days afterwards Joseph Smith and I took a walk out upon the prairie, and in the course of our conversation, I suggested to him to send for General Atchinson to defend him in the suit they brought against him, as he was in command of the third division of the militia of the state of Missouri and was a lawyer and a friend to law. Joseph made no reply, but turned back immediately to Far West, and a man was selected, with the best horse to be found, to go to Liberty for General Atchinson.
The next day General Atchinson came to Far West with a hundred men and camped a little north of town.
On consulting with Joseph Smith, Atchinson told him that he did not want anyone to go with them to his trial, which was to take place midway between Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman. Joseph at first hesitated about agreeing to this, but Atchinson reassured him by saying, "My life for yours."
When they had arrived at the place of trial, quite a number of the mob had gathered, and on seeing Joseph commenced to curse and swear. Atchinson, however, checked them by saying, "Hold on boys, if you fire the first gun there will not be one of you left!"
Joseph was cleared and came away unmolested. Soon afterwards the Governor, thinking Atchinson was too friendly towards the saints, took his command from him and placed General Clark in command of the militia.
Shortly before Far West was besieged, I was taken sick, and Colonel Hinkle came into military command under his old commission. I gave up my horse, saddle, and bridle, and also my rifle and sword for Brother Lysander Gee to use in defense of our city.
While General Clark's army came up to Far West, Colonel Hinkle betrayed the first presidency of the church into their hands for $750. Then Joseph and Hyrum, Sidney, and Lyman Wight were taken by the mob, who held a court martial over them and sentenced them to be shot the next morning at 8 o'clock on the public square. Lyman Wight told them to "Shoot and be damned." Generals Atchinson and Doniphan immediately rebelled against the decision, and Doniphan said if men were murdered in cold blood, he would withdraw his troops, which he did. General Atchinson then went to Liberty and gave a public dinner, and delivered a speech, in which he said, "If the governor does not restore my commission to me, I will kill him, so help me God!" On hearing this the audience became so enthusiastic that they took him upon their shoulders and carried him around the public square.
After the surrender of Far West, the mob sent officers to get me, but finding I was sick, they went back and so reported. They came the third time and swore they would have me if they had to take me on a bed. I lived one and a half miles west of the town, and told my folks if they could dress me and help me on my horse, I would undertake to leave for Quincy. A young man named Joel Miles was to go with me to help me off and on my horse. Leaving Far West on my left, I arrived at Quincy unmolested.
I will here digress from my narrative, and state that while I was at Far West the battle of Crooked River occurred, in which David W. Patten was killed, also the massacre at Haun's Mill. Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message. I should also have mentioned that while at Far West an election was held to elect an assessor. Issac Higbee, myself and a Missourian were the candidates. The brethren held a caucus meeting and advised one of us to withdraw our name lest the Missourian might gain the election, and proposed that Higbee and I cast lots for it. Two tickets were put into a hat for us to draw from. There was a large crowd gathered around and Joseph Smith among them. He said, "I am going to prophesy that Philo will get it." Sure enough, I drew it.
On my arrival in Quincy, knowing that our people would soon be flocking there in great numbers to cross the river, I rented the ferry at $9 per day for 30 days. I ran the boat about 10 days and ferried the saints across on their own terms, and still made money at it. Some of the brethren, however, on arriving assumed the right to dictate me, and wanted that I should give up the ferry into their hands. The man who owned it said if I would give it up he would release me from paying the day's rent, which I agreed to,
supposing it would go into the hands of the brethren...but when I gave up the papers to him, he informed the brethren that they must pay him full fare or else make boats and ferry themselves at half price. This caused a great deal of extra and unnecessary expense to our people.
Before I left Far West, I made arrangements with a man to bring my family through to Quincy, for which I paid him $60 in gold on their arrival.
In the spring of 1839, Sidney Rigdon came to me and said he knew of a man who owned a farm 3 miles east of Quincy and wanted to rent it to some good man whom he could recommend, and that I could have the chance. I gladly accepted the offer and rented the farm of 200 acres.
I took 4 other brethren, Simeon Crandall and three of his sons, to help me carry on the farm, and we raised a heavy crop, which took us all the fall and winter to market.
While living upon this farm, I was taken sick. Doctor Williams attended me, and after a while he said he could do no more for me. I then called for the Elders to administer to me and brothers A. J. Stewart, his brother Levi, and Brother Killian were called in but before they arrived Mr. Robbins, of whom I rented the farm, called to see me. He declared that I might possibly live till three o'clock but could not live till morning. When the Elders administered to me Brother Killian being mouth, I was in bed. He poured the oil on my forehead and I jumped right out of bed and put on my clothes. On hearing that Robbins was going to Quincy in the morning, I walked up to his house, three quarters of a mile and went with him in his carriage to Quincy, remained all day, and returned with him at night.
Some of my gentile neighbors wishing to learn about Mormonism, sent to Quincy for Brother John D. Greene to come out and preach to them. When he came, he called at my house and wanted to know of me what subject he had better treat upon. I told him were I in his place I should speak on the resurrection of the dead, which he did. There was a large congregation of members of various denominations present. They were so well pleased with Brother Greene's remarks, that they would not let him off until he left another appointment to preach. Brother Greene agreed. Before the appointed time arrived, however, Brother Greene was taken sick and could not come. A large congregation had gathered at the appointed place and only 3 Elders present, A.J. Stewart, his brother Levi, and myself.
Seeing the situation of things, we consulted together as to what should be done, when Brother A. J. Stewart said he would undertake to fill Brother Greene's appointment, but that if he got baulked we must help him out. I remarked I could not preach, if I did it would only be like a sectarian telling his experience, but said, "I will do the singing." Which I did.
Brother Stewart arose, opened the Bible and tried to read but had to spell his words, and broke down and said that some of the brethren would take up the subject and go on with it. He then called on me. I arose to speak. The Holy Ghost came down and enveloped me, and I spoke for over two hours. When I found the Spirit leaving me I thought it time to close, and told my hearers it was the first time I had spoken to a public congregation.
A Brother Mills who was present, felt so well that he went home with me, and declared that I had delivered the greatest discourse he had ever heard. Said I, "Brother Mills, I don't know what I have said. It was not me, it was the Lord."
In the spring of 1840, I removed to Nauvoo, then called Commerce, which had been appointed by Joseph for the gathering place. During the next year my wife died, and left me with five children, 2 daughters and 3 sons. I concluded to get my children homes and then travel and preach the gospel; but when I had obtained homes for them I found I had not only lost my wife, but also my children, and they had not only lost their mother but also their father and each other's society.
On the eleventh of February 1841, I married a second wife—a widow Smith of Philadelphia, who was living in the family of the Prophet.
He performed the ceremony at his house, and Sister Emma Smith insisted upon getting a wedding supper for us. It was a splendid affair and quite a large party of our friends were assembled.
I then rented a house of Hyrum Kimball on the river bank for $10 per month and kept a warehouse, and also boarders for a bakery. While there in business, I saw in vision my grave before me for two weeks; it mattered not whether my eyes were open or shut, it was there, and I saw no way of escape. One day Brother Joseph came and took dinner with us, and as we arose from the table I walked out upon the porch and sat down on a bench. Joseph and my wife followed me, and came before me and said, "Philo, you must get away from here or you will die, as sure as God spoke by my mouth!" He turned then to my wife and said: "And you will hardly escape by the skin of your teeth."
I immediately stepped into Joseph's carriage and rode with him to the south part of town and rented another place, after which, I settled up my business as fast as I could, and made arrangements to remove. Many hearing of Joseph's prediction about me, said if they had been in my place they would have remained where I was and tested the truth of it, but I assured them if they had been in my place they would have done as I did.
After I had settled my business and removed my family, we were one day at Joseph's house, when he said to my wife: "You didn't believe what I told Philo the other day. Now, I will tell you what the Lord told me; He told me to go tell Philo to come away from there, and if he obeyed he should live; and if he disobeyed he should die, and I didn't want to see you a widow so soon again. If Philo had remained there 14 days longer, he would have been a corpse."
One night Joseph came to my house about 12 o'clock and called me up. I immediately went out to see what was wanted. We went across the street to James Allred's and called him up, and we three went back to Joseph's house. On the way he told us that a flat boat with about 30 men had landed just below his house, and that he had overheard some of their conversation. They had made arrangements to kidnap him that night and sink him in the river. Brother Allred and I went down to the river; but they must have seen
Joseph's movements as we found nothing of them, although we got up some more of the brethren and searched up and down the river.
When Joseph and Emma were preparing to go up the river to Dixon, to make a visit with some of her connections, I was at their house. The night before they started, I had a dream, in which I saw Joseph taken prisoner and guarded by two men, who after a while left Joseph in Nauvoo and went off cursing and swearing. The next morning I related my dream to Joseph; he listened to me but made no reply.
While visiting Dixon he was taken prisoner by a sheriff of Missouri and an officer of Illinois, but instead of getting him over into Missouri as they had planned to, he was brought to Nauvoo. There they left Joseph and went off cursing and swearing, just as I had heard them in my dream.
When on the advice of the prophet, I quit my situation on the river, my wife felt so badly at the loss of my business prospects that she said we might as well die by the sword as by famine. I asked her if she thought it would be worse for us temporally to obey the word of the Lord. I prophesied that before the year would pass away it would be better for us than if we had remained there.
William Pratt had 3 city lots upon which he was owing a debt of $100, and said if I would raise the money, I might have my choice of the three. I raised the money all but $3 but was at loss to know how to get the balance. It was a hard time to borrow money. On my way to Brother Pratt's, I picked up $3 in the street, Brother Stephen Goddard being with me at the time.
I then took the $3 bills which I found to Bishop Whitney's and requested him to take the number of it, and if an owner came for it to say that I would refund it to him, but that I wanted the use of it a few days. I soon sold the lot for $400 and then asked my wife if my prophecy was not fulfilled.
One of my neighbors, a Brother James Moses, who lived across the street from me, was taken sick, and for six weeks was not able to speak above his breath. I went occasionally to see him, and one day while there, Brother Bills and I were asked by Sister Moses to administer to him, which we did. She then asked us what we thought of him, and I replied that I had no testimony that he would live or that he would die; but she might as well pour water upon fire to make it burn as to give him medicine. This offended her, as she had a doctor by the name of Green attending him, and we left.
Soon after this, Brother Kimball (one of the apostles) was called to administer to him, when Sister Moses asked him what he thought of her husband's condition, he replied in the very words that I had used, but advised them to hold on to him. Brother Bills and I happening to call in again to see him, we were asked if we would join him. I consented and stepped up to the bed to put some oil on his forehead, but felt impressed to stop and say that he was possessed of evil spirits, and that they would kill him if they were not cast out before morning. He then commenced raving and might have been heard across the street.
The Twelve Apostles were sent for and three of them came, Brother W. Richards being mouth in prayer, as we knelt in the room. After prayer, Brother Richards went to the bed, and, in the name of Jesus Christ, commanded the evil spirits to leave him and leave the house, which they did instantly, and Brother Moses became rational. He afterwards told us all about his feelings while the evil spirits had afflicted him, and that he was as sore as a boil all over from the effects of what he had passed through.
When Joseph first came to Nauvoo, then Commerce, a Mr. White, living there, proffered to sell him his farm for $2,500, $500 of the amount to be paid down, and the balance one year from that time. Joseph and the brethren were talking about this offer when some of them said, "We can't buy it, for we lack the money." Joseph took out his purse, and, emptying out its contents, offered a half dollar to one of the brethren, which he declined accepting, but Joseph urged him to take it, and then gave each of the other brethren a similar amount, which left him with out any. Addressing the brethren, he then said, "Now you all have money, and I have none, but the time will come when I will have money and you will have none!" He then said to Bishop Knight, "You go back and buy the farm!"
Brother Knight went to White, but learned from him that he had raised the price $100, and returned to Joseph without closing the bargain. Joseph again sent him with instructions to purchase, but Brother Knight, finding that White had raised the price still another $100, again returned without purchasing. For the third time Joseph commanded him to go and buy the farm, and charged him not to come back till he had done so.
When Bishop Knight got back to White, he had raised another $100 on the place, making the whole amount $2,800. However, the bargain was closed and the obligations drawn up, but how the money was going to be raised neither Brother Knight nor the other brethren could see. The next morning Joseph and several of the brethren went down to Mr. White's to sign the agreement and make the first payment of the land. A table was brought out with the papers upon it, and Joseph signed them, moved back from the table and sat with his head down, as if in thought for a moment. Just then a man drove up in a carriage and asked if Mr. Smith was there. Joseph hearing it, got up and went to the door. The man said, "Good morning, Mr. Smith, I am on a speculation today. I want to buy some land, and thought I would come and see you." Joseph then pointed around where his land lay but the man said: "I can't go with you today to see the land. Do you want any money this morning?"
Joseph replied he would like some, and when the stranger asked "How much?" he told him $500.
The man walked into the house with Joseph, emptied a small sack of gold on the table, and counted out that amount. He then handed to Joseph another $300 saying: "Mr. Smith, I make you a present of this!"
After this transpired, Joseph laughed at the brethren and said, "You trusted in money; but I trusted in God. Now I have money; and you have none."