An 1830 Healing
June 24, 2013 2 Comments
Late accounts of early Mormon events can be problematic, but sometimes compelling. Here is one passed along to the Church Historian in October 1857. You’ll notice the name of a tragic figure in the report, though she is not the central figure in the story:
Notes of a conversation which took place at Harris, Texas in the month of February 1857.
Clinton Harris, Principal Proprietor of the Harrisburg and Orton Railroad in Texas, made the following statement in the presence of William Gamall, James Gamall, Elinor McLean and Doctor Blank of Ucten, vix:–
That Joseph Smith in the 1830 called upon him and invited him to go down and see them baptize, saying “Come Clint, go down and see us baptize,”— Clinton answered, “I cannot walk for I have had a fever sore on my leg for many years.” Joseph replied, “Come go down, are you going to be lame all your days, come start and go down, and you’ll do well enough.”— Clinton started straightened his leg and could walk and has been able to walk ever since.— This Clinton is one of the wealthiest men in Texas.—
Doctor Blank said “O, that is nothing, it is all owing to Mesmerism,” Clinton replied, “Not so Sir, he (Joseph Smith) never touched me, and I verily believe I should have been a cripple unto this day had I not been healed at that time. I believe in Mormonism tho’ I am not a Mormon.”—
Dewitt Clinton Harris (1814-1861) was born in Seneca County near Waterloo, NY. Moved to Texas in 1833. The railroad was probably the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad.
Stories of healing associated with baptism in some way are fairly frequent, enough so that Latter-day Saints took up the practice of baptism for healing purposes. On the practice, see Jonathan Stapley and Kristine Wright, “They Shall be Made Whole: A History of Baptism for Health,” Journal of Mormon History,34 (2008).