Brigham Young Sees a Vision of the Salt Lake Valley

The advance company of pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on 22 July 1847 and immediately set up a crude irrigation system to flood the land and prepare for planting. On 24 July, Brigham Young and the rear company arrived at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Wilford Woodruff drove President Young in his carriage. They looked to the future as they gazed over the valley. Wilford Woodruff wrote, “Thoughts of pleasing meditations ran in rapid succession through our minds while we contemplated that not many years that the House of GOD would stand upon the top of the mountains while the valleys would be converted into orchard, vineyard, gardens and fields by the inhabitants of Zion and the standard be unfurled for the nations to gather there to.” Brigham Young said he was satisfied with the appearance of the valley as a “resting place for the Saints and was amply repaid for his journey.” 21

On a later occasion, Wilford Woodruff explained that when they came out of the canyon he turned the carriage so that President Young could see the whole valley. “While gazing upon the scene before us, he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said, ‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.’” 22

22. In “Pioneers’ Day,” Deseret Evening News, 26 July 1880, p. 2.

Brigham Young Confirms His Vision upon Arrival in the Salt Lake Valley

The advance company of pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on 22 July 1847 and immediately set up a crude irrigation system to flood the land and prepare for planting. On 24 July, Brigham Young and the rear company arrived at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Wilford Woodruff drove President Young in his carriage. They looked to the future as they gazed over the valley. Wilford Woodruff wrote, “Thoughts of pleasing meditations ran in rapid succession through our minds while we contemplated that not many years that the House of GOD would stand upon the top of the mountains while the valleys would be converted into orchard, vineyard, gardens and fields by the inhabitants of Zion and the standard be unfurled for the nations to gather there to.” Brigham Young said he was satisfied with the appearance of the valley as a “resting place for the Saints and was amply repaid for his journey.” 21

On a later occasion, Wilford Woodruff explained that when they came out of the canyon he turned the carriage so that President Young could see the whole valley. “While gazing upon the scene before us, he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said, ‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.’” 22

22. In “Pioneers’ Day,” Deseret Evening News, 26 July 1880, p. 2.

Intimations of the Martyrdom by Apostles Abroad

At the time of the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the Apostles were located in various parts of the country.

Brigham Young, Orson Hyde, and Wilford Woodruff were in Boston.

Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight had left Philadelphia and were traveling to New York. William Smith at some point joined them, and they continued to Boston for an appointed conference that was held on 29 June. Seven members of the Twelve were present at the conference—Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, William Smith, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, and Lyman Wight.

Parley P. Pratt was returning to Nauvoo and was on a canal boat between Utica and Buffalo, New York.

George A. Smith was staying with members of the Church near Jacksonburg, Michigan.

Amasa Lyman was in Cincinnati.

The location of Orson Pratt on 27 June is not known, but on 29 June he attended the conference in Boston, so he must have been fairly close to Boston on the day of the Martyrdom.

John E. Page had been in Pittsburgh, where he edited and published the Gospel Light from June 1843 to May 1844. His exact location is not known, but in all probability he was in Pittsburgh or the surrounding area.

John Taylor and Willard Richards were in Carthage.

On the day of the Martyrdom, members of the Twelve were depressed and melancholic without knowing why. Elders Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight were traveling between Philadelphia and New York City when Elder Kimball felt mournful, as if he had just lost a friend. In Boston, Orson Hyde was examining maps in the hall rented by the Church when he felt a heavy and sorrowful spirit come upon him. Tears ran down his cheeks as he turned from the maps and paced the floor. In Michigan, George A. Smith was plagued with a depressed spirit and foreboding thoughts all day long. When he retired to bed he could not sleep. He said that “Once it seemed to him that some fiend whispered in his ear, ‘Joseph and Hyrum are dead; ain’t you glad of it?’” 5

5. History of the Church, 7:133; see also pp. 132–33.

Two days before the Martyrdom, Parley P. Pratt was moved upon by the Spirit to start home from New York State and coincidentally met his brother William on a canal boat on the day of the tragedy. Parley wrote that as they talked, “a strange and solemn awe came over me, as if the powers of hell were let loose. I was so overwhelmed with sorrow I could hardly speak. . . . ‘Let us observe an entire and solemn silence, for this is a dark day, and the hour of triumph for the powers of darkness. O, how sensible I am of the spirit of murder which seems to prevade the whole land.’” 6

6. Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Classics in Mormon Literature series (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), p. 292.

In sorrow Elder Pratt walked 105 miles across the plains of Illinois, hardly able to eat or sleep, wondering how he should “meet the entire community bowed down with grief and unutterable sorrow.” He prayed for assistance. “On a sudden the Spirit of God came upon me, and filled my heart with joy and gladness indescribable; and while the spirit of revelation glowed in my bosom with as visible a warmth and gladness as if it were fire. The Spirit said unto me: . . . ‘Go and say unto my people in Nauvoo, that they shall continue to pursue their daily duties and take care of themselves, and make no movement in Church government to reorganize or alter anything until the return of the remainder of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. But exhort them that they continue to build the House of the Lord which I have commanded them to build in Nauvoo.’” 8 Arriving in Nauvoo on 8 July, Parley helped Elders Richards and Taylor keep order in the stricken community.

George A. Smith learned of the Martyrdom from a newspaper account in Michigan on 13 July. At first he thought it a hoax, but when the report was confirmed, he hastened home with his three missionary companions. Overcome by worry and fatigue, he broke out in hives over his entire body. He could not even eat, but he traveled on, arriving in Nauvoo on 27 July. Soon he was meeting in council with the three Apostles already there. 9

In Boston rumors of Joseph Smith’s death began on 9 July. 10 During the week before confirmation came from family letters and more complete newspaper accounts, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Orson Pratt struggled within themselves about what the terrible news meant. Brigham recorded in his journal, “The first thing which I thought of was, whether Joseph had taken the keys of the kingdom with him from the earth; brother Orson Pratt sat on my left; we were both leaning back on our chairs. Bringing my hand down on my knee, I said the keys of the kingdom are right here with the Church.” 11

Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, and Lyman Wight contacted each other, joined together, and hastened home by railway, stagecoach, boat, and buggy. Subsequent events proved the wisdom of their haste. They arrived in Nauvoo the evening of 6 August. Wilford Woodruff recorded his feelings:

“When we landed in the city there was a deep gloom seemed to rest over the City of Nauvoo which we never experienced before.

“. . . We were received with gladness by the Saints throughout the city. They felt like sheep without a shepherd, as being without a father, as their head had been taken away.” 12

12. Wilford Woodruff Journals, 6–7 Aug. 1844, LDS Historical Department, Salt Lake City; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized.

Missionary Success of Wilford Woodruff in England

Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor, the first of the Twelve to arrive in England, hastened to Church headquarters in Preston to meet with the mission presidency. There they decided to separate; Elder Taylor returned to Liverpool with Joseph Fielding, and Elder Woodruff traveled south with Theodore Turley to the Staffordshire Potteries, so called because of the industry carried on there.

In the Potteries, Elder Woodruff successfully organized several branches in the small towns of the area and placed Elder Turley in charge of them. In March, Wilford was inspired to go further south to Herefordshire, accompanied by one of his converts, William Benbow. They contacted William’s brother and sister-in-law, John and Jane Benbow, and a group of six hundred people who had formed their own religious society called the United Brethren. Eventually the leader of the group, Thomas Kington, and all but one of the six hundred members accepted the restored gospel and were baptized. Hundreds of others in the vicinity also joined the Church.

Although the work prospered, success did not come without opposition. A local constable was sent to arrest Elder Woodruff for preaching without a license, but instead he was baptized following an inspiring sermon. On another occasion, two clerks sent to discover what Wilford was teaching were both baptized. The clergy in the area finally wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, requesting that he use his influence to ban the Mormons from Britain. Recognizing the laws of religious tolerance in the nation, the archbishop counseled the ministers to solve the problem themselves by becoming more dedicated pastors. Instead the clergy preached anti-Mormon sermons and agitated the local press to harass the Latter-day Saints.

Opposition grew as the Church prospered in the area. While preaching in the village of Hawcross, Wilford Woodruff was surrounded by a hostile mob. When some of the villagers requested baptism, Wilford told them that if they had faith enough to be baptized, he had sufficient faith to administer the ordinance, in spite of the threatened physical violence. The small group walked down to a pond and was soon surrounded by a mob armed with stones. Wilford Woodruff reported, “I walked into the water with my mind stayed on God and baptized five persons while they were pelting my body with stones, one of which hit me on the head and came very near knocking me down.” 10

On another occasion the minister in the village of Dymock led a mob of over fifty men in stoning the house where the Saints were holding a prayer meeting. Although such experiences were relatively rare in Britain, they reminded Elder Woodruff that there was strong opposition to the restored gospel.

Through the efforts of Wilford Woodruff and others, some eighteen hundred people were converted in the three-county area of Hereford, Worcester, and Gloucester. Visiting the market town of Ledbury, Elder Woodruff was invited by the Baptist minister to preach to his congregation. Afterward the minister and several of the congregation requested baptism. On another occasion, while he was baptizing, some ministers rode up in a wagon, gratefully accepted baptism, and went on their way rejoicing. Reflecting on this extraordinary period of his life, Wilford Woodruff wrote, “The whole history of this Herefordshire mission shows the importance of listening to the still small voice of the spirit of God, and the revelations of the Holy Ghost. The people were praying for light and truth, and the Lord sent me to them.” 11

11. In Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, p. 118.

A synopsis of Wilford Woodruff’s travels and labors in 1840. 9

Traveled 4,469 miles
Held 230 meetings
Established preaching 53 places
Planted 47 churches
which included 1,500 Saints
28 elders 110 priests
24 teachers 10 deacons
Attended conferences 14
Baptized 336 persons
which included 57 preachers
2 clerks of the Church of England
Assisted in the baptism 86 others
Confirmed 420
Assisted in confirmation 50 others
Ordained 18 elders
97 priests
34 teachers
1 deacon
Blessed 120 children
Administered unto 120 sick persons
Assisted in procuring 1,000 pounds sterling for printing Millennial Star, three thousand copies of Latter-day Saints hymns, and five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon
Assisted in emigrating 200 Saints to America
Wrote 200 letters
Received 112 letters
Mobs came against me 4

Joseph Identifies the Skeletal Remains of Zelph, a Lamanite Warrior

On 2 June 1834 the army crossed the Illinois River at Phillips Ferry. The Prophet and a few others walked along the bluffs and found a huge mound with human bones scattered about and what appeared to be the remains of three ancient altars. A hole was dug and a large human skeleton was discovered with a stone arrowhead between its ribs. As the brethren left the hill, the Prophet inquired of the Lord and learned in an open vision that the remains were those of a man named Zelph, a former Lamanite warrior chieftain who was killed “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.” 19

19. History of the Church, 2:80.

The published history of Zion’s Camp gives an account of the bones of a man which we dug out of a mound. His name was Zelph. The Lord showed the Prophet the history of the man in a vision. The arrow, by which he was killed, was found among his bones. One of his thigh bones was broken by a stone slung in battle. The bone was put into my wagon, and I carried it to Clay County, Missouri, and buried it in the earth.

Wilford Woodruf, Leaves From My Journal, p. 11