Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home, Part 1–The News

This is a series of five posts, which constitute excerpts from Wilford Woodruff’s journal beginning July 9, 1844 and covers the following month. Wilford hears rumors of the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, finally news from trusted friends of its truth. The apostles gather from their different locations in the east, and make their way home to Nauvoo. This is Wilford’s account of that time.

July 9th 1844 I left Scarboro in the morning in company with Father Carter & Elder M. Holmes & rode to Portland, & dined with Ezra Carter & made preperations to take the steam boat in the evening for Thomastown & fox Islands.

But about 2 oclok P.M. We obtained the Boston Times of July 9th Containing the solumn & awful information of the Death of President Joseph Smith the Prophet Seer & Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Also the Death of Hiram Smith his brother the Patriarch of Said Church. They were shot dead in Cartha[ge] jail by a company of anti mormons & a guard that Governor Ford placed over them 200 men American citizens painted like indians.

Great excitement Prevailed & it was expected that the Nauvoo Legion would be exasperated & avenge their Blood, by rushing to battle against the Govonor & his guard that was camped 7 miles from Nauvoo & also against Carthage & Warsaw & the whole Country was rushing to arms & could not tell whare it would stop. The families of warsaw had gone to Quincy. The bells of the town were ringing & men were Called to arms, but where the end would be time alone must detirmin. The foregoing items I draw from the papers. We shall look for terrible accounts each day untill the Close of the Seene

We also recieved a hand bill in the evening Concerning the mob war excitement &c in philadelphia which was tremendious. In fact the nation seems to be ripe for Judgment.

I spent the night with Sister Foss. I lade hands upon her & asked the Lord to Bless her. She felt Sorrowful about affairs in the west. Felt anxious about Phebe and the Children. My prayer is that God will prepare our minds for the worst & that we may maintain our integrity untill death, that we may overcome as Jesus has overcome.

I took out the letter from Portland P.O. that I sent to Mrs Woodruff on the 8th & Br Elbridge Tufts wrote to his Brother in Law Nathan Pinkham of Quincy Ill. to take his family in Charge if they were breaking up & removeing from Nauvoo. I also requested him to take Charge of my family if they needed the favor. He keeps tavern by the side of the quincy house. Distance of the day 20 miles.

10th I walked to Father Carters & spent the fore noon. Dined with them & took the parting hand with them, & rode with Sister Foss & Calvin & Br Tufts to Saco. Called upon Sister Rhoda. Luther was from home. Much anxiety was manifest about Phebe.

I here took the Cars for Boston. Arived at 9 oclock with Elder Stodard. Distance 100 miles. Sister Foss gave me $1 Calvin 50 cts Rhoda Scammans $2.50 cts to help bear my expenses home. I had to pay $2.75 cts to Boston.

11th All accounts from the west Confirm the report of the Death of the Prophet & Patriarch of the Church viz. Joseph & Hiram Smith & some reports say that Elders Richards & Phelps were killed & others Contradict it.

I wrote a letter to Mrs Woodruff & sent by Elder Stodard. I also sent by him the letter I took out of the Portland P.O. Br Stodard started for New York. He let me have: 8 Hymn Books 40 $3.20
6 Priesthood 20 $1.20
Total $4.40

I spent the fore part of the day at Br MeAllisters. Several Elders were present who felt to mourn the death of the Prophet & Patriarch.

I attended meeting in the evening with the Saints in Boston. They felt to mourn the loss of the prophet & Patriarch of the Church, yet they were strengthend in the faith & we had a good time. I spent the night at Br Phelps.

12th I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Prophet giving a word of exhortation to the Saints abroad, to maintain their integrity & keep the faith and Patience of the Saints untill death. The accounts still Continue to Confirm the death of the Prophet and Patriarch to be a cold Blooded murder.

2 Responses to Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home, Part 1–The News

  1. ricke says:

    It’s remarkable they could feel strengthened in the faith and have a good time. I’m sure that meant they felt the Spirit, but I wonder if the way forward was as clear at that point to WW as it apparently was to BY.

  2. WVS says:

    I think BY saw JS as a great prophet, and an ineffective leader. Even though he understood that leadership and prophetic charisma was what kept JS in front.

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