Letter from Heber C. Kimball, 9 July 1840

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, England,)
July 9th, 1840)
Dear Brother Joseph,
I now embrace this opportunity of writing this epistle to you in order to give you a sketch of my travels since I left you, and of the progress of the work of God in this land, together with the signs of the times and of the conflicts which I and my brethren have endured during our journey to this land. You very well remember the time and situation in which we left our homes;— and I started together. We were both very sick and we likewise left our families very sick. Not being well able to travel brother Bently took us on our way fifteen miles to brother Duel’s [Osmyn Duell’s]. This was on the 18th of September, we tarried at brother Duel’s house overnight and next day he took us to . Another brother volunteered there, and the same day took us on our way as far as which is fifty miles from . When we arrived at in consequence of the fatigues of the journey I was taken with the chill fever again at the sisters Pitkin’s:— after being there one or two days, I then went to Doctor Staley’s and remained under the care of Sister Staley and her daughter until the 25th, my pain and afflictions were very severe. I received great kindness from them and also from the Sisters Pitkin; and I pray that the Lord may abundantly bless them, and administer comfort and blessings to them in every time of need; ’s health was very poor in deed; he was not able to sit up but a little while at a time. While we were at Brothers , , and overtook us, they being also considerably sick and very feeble. The saints at were kind and administered to our wants and assissted us on our journey. My sorrow was great on leaving as well as on leaving , to see so many of our brethren sick and dying in consequence of being driven and being exposed to hunger and cold.
We all left on the 25th, Brother took and as far as Brother ’s distance about 9 miles, Brothers , , and had a horse and wagon of their own to help them on their way. left us and predicted many things which should come to pass, left his blessing with us and bid us farewell. May God bless him and save him in [p. 859] his kingdom. Next day took us, and carried us to ’s: while on the road the chills came upon me again, and I suffered much pain and fatigue. When we got there we found sick in bed, and the other brethren not much better. Next day took us on our journey about twenty-five miles; to the place where resided, at the town of Pitsfield. The other brethren left us at Brother Wilber’s and took another road.
Next day carried us about four miles to another town where your Uncle resided, we arrived a few days after his death. Next day Brother Rogers carried us to Morgan county, town of Winchester. to the house of Roswell Murray my father-in-law, where we found two of ’s brothers and one sister; and other brethren of the church who had been scattered into that part from . These brethren had been stripped of their property and smitten &c. yet we found them in comfortable circumstances, rejoicing in God.
From thence Brother carried us to the town of , distance twelve miles; my father-in-law went with us on a visit to his friends in the east. The next day the brethren at carried us to a distance of about forty miles:—this was on the 5th of October. Here we again met with Brothers , , and ; at this place was taken sick, we remained here until the 11th, then the brethren there gave us a horse and fitted up a wagon, and putting both horses to the wagon we all started together: they also gave us some money to assist us on our journey.— We continued on our journey five or six days until we arrived at on the banks of Wabash river on the 17th, during this time our axle tree broke twice, and we had to suffer hunger in consequence of having to cross large prairies, and the food we got was altogether johnny-cake, and corn dodger, and poor bacon. I was very sick during most part of this journey; sometimes I thought I scarcely could live. We put up at Doctor Modiset’s. I was here taken out of the wagon and laid upon the bed; the doctor, his wife, and were obliged to watch almost all the night in order to keep a breath of life in me. Next morning the brethren came to us: my feelings were for them to go on their journey and leave me and with me. I requested them to lay their hands on me and pray for me, which they did previous to their departure. I was then not able to sit up: they left us in tears, some of them not expecting to behold my face again. In about an hour after the brethren departed I arose from my bed; and in a few days we started on our journey. The doctor took us in his carriage and carried us twenty miles. Then we were taken by Doctor [Lenox] Knight to Pleasant Garden about four miles further.
After tarrying there a few days carried us ten miles to a brother’s house.— Next day the brother took us on our journey fifteen miles to the town Bellville. A storm arose which obliged us to put up here. was taken very sick and was obliged to go to bed: we tarried until the next morning. The landlord and landlady were very kind to us and received our testimony: and I think I never saw better feelings towards us as a people than was manifested in this place, being southern people, and may the Lord bless them and gather out his elect. The next day we took coach leaving some of the people in tears. We continued on our journey mostly night and day until we arrived at on November 3rd, where we again overtook Brothers , , and and my father-in-law. This reminded me of a prediction which I delivered on the morning they left us, viz. that we would get to before they would: same day we proceeded to .
The brethren had taken up on the road where he had been confined by sickness. When we got to being overcome by the fatigues of our journey, we were most of us taken sick again with the chill fever, some of us were confined to our beds.— We remained there until the 22nd: some one of us preached in the every Sabbath during our stay there. We found the saints in a rather dis-organized state and disagreed, dwelling upon things that were past and finding fault, We found some few that were very kind to us and administered to us in our sickness, others felt disposed to cast reflections upon us, saying that our sickness came upon us in consequence of our unrighteousness; and when the brethren were suffering keenly from the effects of fatigue and sickness: these things were heaped upon them in an unfeeling manner, and when we were preparing to start on our journey, they would not administer to our wants nor help us on our journey, saying that they did not believe we were sent of God, and casting many other reflections upon us (that is many of them,) if it were necessary I could mention names. May the Lord bless and preserve those who did minister to our necessities, for the time will come when they shall be rewarded for their deeds of kindness. On the 22nd, we left for . We did not sail from this place until the 26th on ac [p. 860]count of a heavy snow storm on the lake. On the 27th we arrived at . On the 28th the brethren left me at Byron eight miles east of Batavia and pursued their course to the east, I stayed to visit my friends at Byron,
Next day I took cars for the city of , and found one of my sisters there. Taking a violent cold I was confined here about a week During this time I stayed one night with Brother , he lives two miles from the city. He was glad to see me, and inquired much about you and the rest of the brethren: he seemed to be firm in the faith of the gospel and has much love for his brethren. then took me in his wagon and carried me to Victor within twelve or fourteen miles of the place where you obtained the record of the Book of Mormon. I remained there until about the tenth of February, preached in Victor twice, baptised three, one of them was my ’s brother and his wife. The snow continued about three feet deep while I was there, being very cold and blustering. There is much good feeling towards us as a poople [people] in that region.
I took coach at for , being short of money to pay my expenses I was confined to one meal a day. When I got to , the North river being froze up, I went part of the way on the ice on runners, and part of the way by land on wheels. When we went to Jersey city, (as we went up on that side,) the coachman not being willing to fulfil his engagement and take us over to . and I being destitute of money, I mentioned it to the passengers and a gentleman put his hand in his pocket and gave me a quarter dollar. Then, when we got to the Ferry, the ferryman wanted six-pence more each; not having any, it prompted me to pray to the Lord to blind his eyes so that he might overlook me, it was even so; so we see that God will hear prayer when we call upon him for small things. We went across the river and put up at the Hotel, where I pawned my trunk for my supper and breakfast.
Next morning I went in pursuit of the brethren, being Sabbath day morning. The first one I met with was Elder , I then found Elders and , and the rest of the brethren; and if I ever felt to praise God it was then, to get in company with my brethren again. I went with the brethren to meeting and my wants were made known, and I received means to redeem my trunk. The rest of the brethren were in similar circumstances with myself, having come into the in like manner. When we arrived there we found the saints faithful, but not many adding. We concluded it best to lift up our voices and preach the gospel, and in about two or three weeks, there was upwards of forty added. These together with the other saints administered to our wants and provided for us provisions, bedding and money to go to .
I never saw greater kindness than was manifested towards us in , , and other places: and I feel to bless them in the name of the Lord, that his peace shall rest upon them. On the 9th day of March, six of us went aboard the ship Patrick Henry, viz: , , , , and ; many of the saints went along with us to the ship’s side, where we bade them farewell. We set sail the same day and on the 6th day of April, we landed at , in tolerable health,
During our passage over we had two very heavy gales; the ship’s mate said he had not seen such for fifteen years back: the ship’s crew was kind to us. We remained in until the 9th in company with who had been there a short time and raised a small church.
On the 9th we took cars for , where in a short time we found Elders , , and well and in good spirits promulgating the gospel through the towns and cities. Their joy was great to see us, yea, beyond measure; they had often longed to see us and prayed that the Lord would send us unto them, the saints universally were rejoiced to see us and the news of our arrival spread far and near in a short time. Our enemies had reproached the saints and boasted, because (they said) we should never return; and in fact it was believed amongst the enemies that we should no more return. The saints had been troubled some on this account, and consequently their joy was greatly increased to see my face again, and still more to see some of my brethren with me,
Many blessings were poured upon us from all quarters, especially from those who were baptized before we left ; we also found that those who had joined the church since that time, joined in the theme of rejoicing, and hailed us with a hearty welcome. As soon as the general bustle was subsided the Twelve met in council and organized themselves, and ordained into the quorum.—Then on the 15th, the churches met in conference in the cock-pit at ; the total number of members represented was one thousand six hundred and seventy-one; the churches all in good standing, excepting two. From that conference the brethren separated to different [p. 861] parts of the country, some going north, some east, some west, and others south. I remained visiting the old churches in order to strengthen and organize, and build them up; I continued in this way until about the first of July.
During this period many were baptised amongst the old churches, and even some who had been cut off from the church, returned and mourned that they had suffered themselves to be overcome. I always was received with the greatest joy, wherever I went, in fact, it has been a general time of rejoicing amongst us. You would be astonished to witness the anxiety which is manifested for the well-being of the saints in ; and for your own welfare and your counsellors; and for the high council, and all the elders, bishops, and officers; and also, to see the interest manifested amongst them for the saints in , while we have related to them their sufferings, during the late persecution; and notwithstanding we have kept nothing back of the sufferings of the saints in , yet, it is astonishing to see the universal anxiety there is manifest amongst the saints here to get away to the land of promise and help to build up Zion. As soon as we can possibly get them baptised they immediately begin to want to go to , for they declare that that is Zion. Many of the saints are realizing the gifts of the spirit, many speak in tongues, others interpret, some prophecy, and others have the gift of healing.
The work is rolling on as you will see by the number that were baptized since the last conference. We held our last conference on the 6th of July, in the Carpenter’s Hall, . The number of members then represented was two thousand five hundred and thirteen. There was also stated to be fifty nine elders, one hundred and twenty-two priests, sixty-one teachers, and thirteen deacons; these all in good standing. Before the conference was closed the called for volunteers to go and preach the gospel; when the number manifested was ascertained to be about twenty-eight, who are immediately going forth; some are gone and the others will speedily follow.
Brothers , , and expect to start for in about three weeks. is going to assist in the printing while he goes to after his family. will remain in the regions round about here until the next conference and will assist some in the office. Elder is laboring in . Elder is laboring in Edinburgh, Scotland. Brothers and are going to Scotland. Brothers [Alexander] Wright and [Samuel] Mulliner are already there. Elder is going to Bedford, and Elder is going to Birmingham.
I would now say that a large company of the saints are preparing to start for this fall. And Elder is appointed to go with them. Many of the churches that I have been amongst are preparing to move off next spring: they are selling their property and settling up their affairs and expect to move off in churches early in the spring. I would also say, that the way is opening for the gospel into Ireland: one brother has been ordained and expects to go there directly; many that have been baptised have friends there. One brother has enlisted into the army; Elders and ordained him an elder, and he is gone into the army: we have lately received a letter from him and he is now lifting up his voice in the army.
With regard to the state of the we may say it is bad indeed: trade appears to be growing worse, in fact, many branches of it is almost at a stand, and not expected much to improve for some months. Thousands are out of employ, and we may safely say that there are thousands famishing for want of bread: we often see in the streets whole families begging for bread; and in many instances some respectable looking characters may be seen singing through the streets to obtain a little bread; it is truly heart rending to see so many small children, nearly naked, going from house to house begging. This scene of things is passing before our eyes daily, and we look upon it with sorrow and regret: at the same time it is that which is spoken of by the mouth of the prophets, and we feel to pray without ceasing that God may roll on his work, and restore that which is lost and establish peace, and that the knowledge of God may cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
We hear of wars and rumors of wars all around, and we can truly say according to the revelations, that God is about to come out of his hiding place and vex the nations of the earth in consequence of the wicked stewards not being willing to administer justice to the saints of God in and elsewhere.
I will now give you an extract from the “Northern Star” headed, “Distress of the people of Ireland.” “It would be impossible to find words to describe to you the state of the people throughout the provinces for want of food. Potatoes have mounted up to eight pence per fourteen pounds generally; in some places they are ten pence to one shilling, and the contrast of employment is distressing in the extreme. You are long aware from official ta [p. 862]bles laid before the house of Commons, that the average price of labor in Ireland, for thirty or forty weeks in the year, is eight pence per day, for an able-bodied man; for the remainder of the season, principally during the summer months, one-fourth of the entire population are blank idle.
[“]Now, observe, a stone (fourteen pounds) of potatoes will hardly give a man, his wife, and four or five children (many of them have ten children) one meal in the day. A stone of potatoes is eight pence to one shilling at present; where then are this vast population to be fed from? Nothing short of the miraculous interference of heaven can save them. Hunger has driven them already to attack the flour and provision stores in Limerick, Ennis, Galway, Menreagh, Killaloe, and at several other places along the banks of the Shannon. Upon one occasion they attacked a boat taking in oats intended for the English market; this they instantly seized, and distributed its contents, six hundred sacks, in small parcels amongst the vast multitude. In every case there was no appearance of drunkenness, but there was every appearance of hunger. Yet while all this is going on, we perceive your bishops and princes, your lords and ladies squandering away thousands upon thousands in idle luxury in , that enormous den. Dare we contemplate the end?”—Dublin correspondent of the Manchester Advertiser.
These things are coming upon the inhabitants, yet they are blind and cannot see it: they appear to exult over the saints, and when a few fine days come (which are indeed scarce) they cry out to the saints, “where is your famines, pestilences, and judgments you have predicted;” we tell them to wait a little while and they shall see them, and then they shall know that we have told the truth. And now after all these things which I have seen, together with the toils, fatigues, labors, pains, and sufferings, which I have endured; I have never had one discouraging moment, nor felt the least dismayed; but with an unshaken confidence I have pressed my way forward, and am still determined to pursue the same path, looking forward to the recompense of reward; and these are the feelings of my brethren as far as I have knowledge; they are in good spirits and we have had a season of rejoicing together for the past few days. Since we came into this land there has been six conferences of the church in different parts to do the business of the church; and there has not been hitherto in all our proceedings, the least discordant voice, and we feel as though God was with us indeed, and does bless us and our labors.
A short time ago I went in company with to Burnley, a large town, to visit a church. Having a desire to go down into a coal-pit; I went to the master and told him that I was from and had a desire to go down into the pit. He consented and fitted us out in colliers clothes, and then let us down the shaft to the depth of one hundred and seventy-four yards or five hundred and twenty-two feet. We then took a course and went from the shaft something more than nine hundred yards, and in this place there was about one hundred men and boys laboring, and six horses which drawed the coal from different parts of the mine to the shaft. Burnley is the place where the Danes assembled, when they conquered ; and took the men captive, and took their women to wife. These women entered into a secret combination with each other and appointing a night they slew the Danes and liberated their own husbands.
I must now close my correspondence for the present, and I desire that you would give my love to President , and to your and , and to all your friends; to Bishops , , and ; and to the high council; and to all the elders and saints in Zion; and especially to yourself and family. The brethren all send their love to you and the saints. Please to remember me to my dear and children. wishes to be remembered to you and all the saints. This from your friend and well wisher in the new and everlasting covenant.
To Mr. Joseph Smith, Jr. [p. 863]