From Nauvoo, Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley was a 1,297-mile trek.
“We each can learn much from the early pioneers, whose struggles and heartaches were met with resolute courage and an abiding faith in a living God. I think that there is not a member of this Church today who has not been touched by the accounts of the early pioneers. Those who did so much for the good of all surely had as their objective to inspire faith.” __Thomas S Monson
As a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Don and Ann Wagstaff, a senior couple from Salt Lake City were serving a mission in Hagerstown, Maryland where I lived. I said Heavenly Father sent them there just for me as they were a real source of strength and example. They spent time at my place where she would bring loaves of her delicious homemade bread. Ann brought her wheat grinder and dough mixer with them so she could continue making her wheat bread.
I had just gone through a divorce after twenty-one years of marriage and four kids, which was a very traumatic experience. One day I received a letter from Elder Wagstaff calling me a Pioneer. I wish I still had that beautiful letter.
I used to wish I could have had a rich heritage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I enjoy reading about the challenging lives and experiences of those early members and the unthinkable hardships, and persecutions they endured.
“War clouds began again to lower with dark, and threatening aspect. Those who had combined against the laws in the adjoining counties had long watched our increasing power and prosperity with jealousy, and with greedy and avaricious eyes. It was a common boast that, as soon as we had completed our extensive improvements, and made a plentiful crop, they would drive us from the State, and once more enrich themselves with the spoils.” (Parley P Pratt) For these and other reasons, violence erupted that eventually resulted in the expulsion of the entire Church from the state of Missouri.
On October 27, 1838, Governor Lilburn Boggs issued his infamous extermination order. To his military leaders, it decreed, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good.”
Latter-day Saints long remembered the persecutions they experienced and the unwillingness of government authorities either to protect them or to prosecute their attackers. They often lamented that they experienced religious persecution in a land that promised religious freedom.
During November 1838, Latter-day Saint settlements in Caldwell and Daviess counties endured a military occupation (Their weapons were confiscated). “We were not permitted to leave Far West,” Anson Call said, “only to get our firewood. We had not the privilege of hunting our cattle and horses.” Newel Knight noted that because the Saints were unarmed, they became prey for small parties of armed men “insulting our women, driving off our stock, and plundering.” To him “it seemed as though all hell was aroused to do us injury.” Newel’s cousin Reed Peck said that “some horses, wagons and much other property were stolen from the Mormons by some of the militia who were villains enough to plunder.” By late November, most crops around Far West were unharvested, and potatoes still in the ground were “froze solid.” Soldiers “rifled” through homes, Albert Rockwood said, and “our sheep & hogs, & horses [are] drove off before our eyes by the Missourians who come in small companies well armed.”
Far West was ill-equipped to become a refugee center for Saints displaced by Missouri militia. Food was scarce, and housing inadequate. Those coming from outside Far West suffered because as John Greene wrote, “we have been robbed of our corn, wheat, horses, cattle, cows, hogs, wearing apparel, houses, and homes, and indeed, of all that renders life tolerable.” On November 9 the Missouri Republican Daily reported that the Saints’ situation was “a case of great difficulty” because “they are generally poor” and facing starvation. “And where shall they be sent?” the newspaper asked. “Their numbers exceed 5,000 people—without any means and literally beggars—to be thrust upon the charities of Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin.” Joseph Holbrook, thirty-two, said his wife Nancy “had very poor health” that fall and winter because of being exposed to “inclement weather by having to remove from place to place as our house had been burned and we were yet left to seek a home whenever our friends could accommodate us and for my safety.” Saints “in flourishing condition but a few months before,” he said, “were now destitute. I could have commanded some two thousand dollars but now I had only 1 yoke of old oxen and 2 cows left.”
Newel Knight had a wagon but no team. So, he said, “Sold my cook stove and the only cow the mob had not killed.” With that money, he hired a man with a team to drive him, Lydia, and their three children east. They pulled out of Far West on February 18, leaving behind a house and farm. At times, deep snows rubbed their wagon hubs during the journey. In intense cold, Lydia recalled, they sometimes scraped away snow beside the wagon so they could put down their beds at night. At Huntsville, the driver said his horses could not go on, so the Knights unhitched the wagon and camped. Newel prayed for help, for “I knew not how to extricate myself but as I had never been forsaken by my Heavenly Father I committed myself and family into his care.” For a week they were stranded, but finally, a man asked his son to drive the Knights the rest of the way.
*Newel Knight and Lydia Goldthwaite were my husband’s 3rd Great Grandparents.
Anson Call’s father, Cyril Call was the first in their family to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Cyril Call’s father Joseph was a Baptist preacher. I wanted to share with you a little about Cyril Call’s good life. He is also a relative of my husband.
In 1831, at age 46, Cyril was visited by Mormon missionaries. He believed their message and was baptized in October of that year by Elder John Murdock. Cyril’s grandson, Benjamin C. Call wrote the following about his grandfather: “To become a convert to an unpopular religion, whose leaders were severely persecuted and members as well, requires great stamina and bravery. Cyril Call met the challenge and duties of life with rare courage and fidelity. There was not the slightest trace of hypocrisy or cowardice in his whole make-up. He stood for principle and had great faith in the religion he had espoused. It was while they lived near Kirtland that Cyril and his family became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He loved the prophet in scriptural measure, heaped up, pressed down and running over, and Joseph Smith loved him.
On account of the persecutions of the Mormons in Ohio, he and two of his sons went to Missouri in the spring of 1838 and were with the saints and Zion’s Camp. He purchased land near Far West and returned to Ohio to get his family. The Missourians in the meantime had started their persecutions of the Saints so he remained on the Illinois side of the river locating near Warsaw. It was here, in the fall of 1845, that his home was visited by a mob.
Cyril’s son Omer often told the story of the burning of their home near Warsaw, Illinois, to his children. His daughter Esther composed this poem about it when she was a young girl:
And now you want a story
One that Grandpa always tells
About the Mormon people
That’s the one he knows so well.
I was once a little chatterer
With blue eyes and golden hair
I had all a small boy wanted
I was free from every care.
We lived wealthy in the city
Many friends and neighbors near,
Yes, our home was nicely furnished
And we thought our way was clear.
But we heard of the young boy prophet,
And the plates that he had found
Father went to hear his preaching,
And he loved the very sound.
He at once believed the story,
Told us all he knew ’twas true.
And from that very moment,
Many friends we loved withdrew.
Now we could not understand it.
We were scoffed at in the street
And we felt so very lonely,
For a friend we’d never meet.
And one day we got a notice,
Father wasn’t wanted more
In the office where he’d labored
Many days and years before.
Now our home and all was taken,
And we knew not where to stay
So we got our team and wagon
And the city left that day.
We found land that was not taken
But ’twas covered o’er with sage
And each one worked late and early
And our hands were all engaged.
Soon we had a little cabin
That we now could call our own.
And a place was plowed and furrowed
Where the small seeds could be sown.
So we worked and toiled all summer
No one ever thought to cheat
For he knew the fall was coming
And the food we’d need to eat.
Now the hardest time was over
And my brother Anson said
He would go from home to labor
And in that way earn his bread.
One night we sat round the fireplace,
Something like you children do
Only not so snug and cozy
For the country then was new.
We were startled, someone’s knocking
Whispered mother very low,
And my father stepping forward
Opened wide the rough made door.
And a large, well-dressed man entered
Mr. Call, now have no fear
You’re a man we all think lots of
You’re a man we all need here.
All you need to do is sign this
Or else, now say that you know
Joe Smith is not a prophet
And you do not need to go.
For the mob will be upon you
It is furious with rage
It takes all that lies before it
Everything within its gaze.
Do you see the burning dwellings?
In the distance out that way
This will be exactly like it,
In an hour, now come do say.
Father stamped his foot in anger,
Let them come. I still will say
He’s a prophet true and faithful
And I know it every day.
Then my friend you’d better travel
For before five hours have gone
This house and all your ownings
Will be burnt down to the ground.
Then we gathered things around us,
For we knew he told us right
To the corn field we now journeyed
For a long and dreaded night.
Dear mother was weak and weary
And her bed we knelt around.
Breathlessly we shook and trembled
For well we heard a sound.
It was footsteps coming nearer
In the cornfield now it came
Father, Father, was the calling
But he answered not the same.
Mother woke and heard the calling
She knew well it was her son Anson
And she spoke in tones of anguish,
“Answer him so he can come.”
He was frightened and he murmured
In a tone so soft and slow,
“Are all here and out of danger?”
“Yes,” my mother answered low.
“Oh, the mob with rage is furious
List, their curses can be heard.
See, our home in flames is rising
Like a full-fledged winged bird.”
And we prayed and watched and waited
Breathlessly around the bed.
Till the flames died down in quiet
And my mother raised her head.
And then we stayed in the cornfield
Until after dark next night
When we drove into Nauvoo
Ready for the Westward flight.
We found our friends already
To leave their homes for the west
Where, we looked for, prayed for and found it
Shelter, freedom and rest.
I’d like to read some excerpts from a Eulogy of Cyril given by Benjamin C. Call, his grandson: “Cyril met the vicissitudes of life with rare courage and fidelity. He was honest and knowingly did wrong to no man. He had great faith in a religion to which he became converted while in middle life. He had no ambition for high office but acted his part upon an obscure stage at a time when men holding high positions in the Church turned traitor to their leader. No trumpet or fame or words of great praise cheered him in his onerous and hazardous tasks…. We owe our ancestors a debt of gratitude which we can never repay except by being model, upright and God-fearing citizens. The self-sacrificing devotion and courageous deed of Cyril and Sally Tiffany Call, their sons, and daughters have seldom been surpassed in the History of the Mormon Church. When the Calls meet in distant ages to do honor to their ancestors, they will be able to say: “There were great giants in the earth in those days and the Calls will be known among them.” “Tell your children of it, and let their children tell their children and their children another generation.” (Joel 1:3) “It has been said, ‘They who do not remember and revere their ancestors who have done worthy deeds, are not likely to leave a posterity that will be worthy of being remembered.”
I know this is quite a long post but this is one of my favorite subjects, history of the early years of those precious people whose testimonies were unwavering in the face of unbelievable circumstances. I am enjoying the fruits of their labors living in the shadows of these awesome Rocky Mountains.
So, in doing my family history I have discovered that I do indeed have ancestors who were members of the Restored Church of Christ. Namely, John Judd and Rhoda Shepherd who were my 4th Great Grand Uncle and Aunt. John and Rhoda moved from Wilkes County, North Carolina to Ohio sometime in 1827 or 1828 where they became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I do not have pictures of John and Rhoda but I do have pictures of three of their daughters, Elizabeth, Mary, and Margaret.
Alvin Thomas Winegar born 13 May 1816 German, Chenango, New York. Died 12 Jun 1874 Salt Lake City, Utah. Mary Judd born 26 Jul 1817 Reddies River, Wilkes, North Carolina. Died 26 Apr 1886 Salt Lake City, Utah. I was so excited to find you 🙂
L-R: Elizabeth Judd born 1805 Reddies River, Wilkes, North Carolina. Died 1886 Atchison, Kansas. Elizabeth Judd married William McQueen Welch 1823 in North Carolina. Margaret Judd born 1822 Reddies River, Wilkes, North Carolina and died 1893 Harrison, Iowa. Margaret Judd married Eller Stoker 1839 in Van Buren, Iowa.
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