The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding
Contributor: Thorsted Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Joseph Fielding, 1797-1863
Church Archives cited in "Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding"
Transcribed and edited by Andrew F. Ehat
BYU Studies 19 (Winter 1979)
Source: Joseph Fielding, Diary (1843-1846), Church Archives in "They Might Have Known That He Was Not a Fallen Prophet"--The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding," transcribed and edited by Andrew F. Ehat, BYU Studies 19 (Winter 1979). Selected footnote references or summaries of some footnotes have been inserted in the text in brackets.
THE NAUVOO JOURNAL OF JOSEPH FIELDING
Nauvoo, December 1843
It is now two years since I came to this place and since I wrote any by way of journal. The reasons for this neglect are my being so thronged in providing for my family and the inconvenience under which I have labored, and as to myself I have had but little to write.
[Joseph Fielding was born at Honidon, Bedfordshire, England, 26 March 1797 and emigrated to Canada in 1832. After settling near Toronto, he met Parley P. Pratt in 1836 and joined the Church in 1837. Following his conversion, he served as a missionary in England and then moved to Nauvoo.]
I landed in New Orleans early in November 1841 at the head of about 200 Saints having had peace and a good passage, but at this place I had a fall from a bridge, or wharf nearly 10 feet onto the hard ground, which broke one or two of my ribs and hurt my knee very much. I had just been to charter a steamboat and was returning to the ship. This fall was the severest hurt I had ever sustained. I felt determined to make but little of it, but it was long before I could rise from my bed by myself, but the master of the boat was very kind letting me occupy one of the state rooms for myself and family.
We reached St. Louis in eight days. Here we saw some poor faithless Saints, something like spider webs set to catch flies. They came to us with fair words as our best friends, but their council was that of enemies, but did not prevail to stay any of our company, except two. Most of them had been to Nauvoo but had not faith enough to live there.
We took a boat to Warsaw, the water being too low to admit the boat further. On our way there, on Sunday, at Brother G. Miller's request, I again spoke to the people. Till we landed there (at Warsaw) the weather was fine but while we waited the coming of some of the Twelve, the weather broke and the winter set in with a snow storm, so that in two or three days we came to Nauvoo in a sleigh. Some of our company came on feeling anxious to see this place and the Prophet. The council of our brethren of the Twelve, Brother Willard Richards and others, was that some of us should stop at Warsaw thinking at that time of forming a branch there. Accordingly, some remained there, but afterwards that place was given up on account of the unfriendly disposition of the people there.
We paid Lorenzo Young for four dollars brought us to Nauvoo. The day was very cold. As we rode over the prairie we were compelled at times to get out and walk to warm ourselves, but it was with great pain that I got off and on the sleigh on account of my hurt. Brother Lorenzo Young had kindly taken me and my family to his house soon after we landed in Warsaw. He and his wife were very kind to us.
When we came within two miles of our journey's end, we began to see the effects of that industry for which the Saints are so remarkable: fences of rails and of pickets, houses and gardens on the edge of the prairie, such as we had not before seen. This said Brother Young, is Nauvoo, but we had two miles to go yet, so extensive had this settlement of the Saints become in so short a time! We soon passed the sacred place and foundation of the temple. The arches of the vault windows were not all finished. The sight of this though by the light of the moon only gave me peculiar feelings. The idea that it was done at the special command of the Almighty was a new thing in this age. It seemed to fill the mind with solemnity and to give a sacredness to the whole place.
How many houses of God as they were called have I seen in building, but there is none in the whole world except the one in Kirtland [temple] and this one [Nauvoo temple] that was built at the command of God [D&C 88:119; 124:27]. This thought at once leads the mind back through the long darkness which has covered the earth since the days of the apostles, wherein God has not spoken to men either by visions or by dreams, or by Urim or by prophets. The seers and prophets have been covered and to the promises of God, that he would renew the covenant, gather Israel, and establish his kingdom on the earth, no more to be destroyed.
We soon reached the house of my sister, now Widow Thompson. Her husband, R. B. Thompson, had departed this life in the August of that year. In expectation of my coming he had prepared a house for me, but had not finished it and instead of finding in him a friend, on my arrival I found a widow that stood in need of a friend. I was still so unwell as not to be able to cut the smallest stick and business was then dull and but little to do, and I, with my family, found myself in but poor circumstances, not having had money sufficient to bring me here.
As soon as I could, I began to busy myself in doing little things for my sister and when the river had frozen, I got an ax and went onto the island to cut wood, for I could not live in idleness, but it was as much as I could well do to cross the river and return, with pain and weariness. I cut three or four cords but before I could get it sold or get it away, it was taken away, so my labor was vain.
I wrought some days for Brother Hyrum [Smith] who proposed to let me have some of his land to farm on shares, he to find a team, etc. and have half the produce, and as nothing better opened for me, I undertook this, and on the first of April, 1842, we left Sister Thompson's and went to live in a small log house near the land I had to occupy. For labor done for Brother Hyrum, he furnished us with some flour and pork. We soon began to plant potatoes, beans, etc. and thought that with care and economy we would do until we could have corn of our own. Brother Hyrum found my team with corn, etc. until we got some of our own.
It was late when I began to plough. The work was bad and far off from the house (i.e.) the further part of it, and the plough was bad, and I must say I felt discouraged at having thus to begin the world again as we say, in such different circumstances to what I was in when I left it to go to England. I sowed eight acres with oats which grew finely but as it was late when they were sown, rain came on just as they got ripe and beat them down so my half did not pay me for trouble in gathering them.
But early in summer, we received a loan of money to some amount from my wife's brother, George Greenwood in England, entirely unasked for and unlooked for, and soon after another sum of the same amount, in all several hundred dollars. At first we felt troubled at this, not knowing how we could lay it out so as to secure it to him who sent it, but it was in great kindness that he sent it and in mercy that the Lord led him to send it, for we should have been poorly off if it had not been so.
With this I purchased 20 acres of land on the prairie in its wild state at eight dollars per acre with a tax title. I engaged a brother in the Church to furnish me 1200 rails for fencing it at three dollars per 100 to be good ones, and delivered on the land, and to be paid for in cash, which is not common here. Some of the money I paid beforehand, but the rails were far from being good ones. At this I felt grieved and refused to pay the same brother for two or three days work done for me by his lad and oxen. At this he felt aggrieved. I told him if two men would look at the rails and should then say that I ought to pay him, I would do it at once, but this he would not allow and so the matter stands. I soon after bought other rails (far better) at two dollars to be paid in only part cash. This I think was the first thing in which I ever differed with a brother.
There being some demur about the title of my land, I did not begin to build upon it that year, but continued on Brother Hyrum's land another year, but the question about the title being settled, in the year 1843 I got a house up on the land and dug a good well 21 feet deep and got abundance of good water, and towards the summer got into it for want of more means. I had some difficulty in getting it so that we could live in it.
I had lent 20 dollars to the Committee of the Nauvoo House the year before to be returned at the time I should need it, in lumber, but this was not to be obtained, so I had to get brick to fill in my frame. This was a loss to me. This is nothing strange for there seems to be a power or influence exerted against everything the Saints take in hand to do but we felt thankful to get into our new house even before the doors or windows were fixed. We soon found it far more comfortable than the old log house and we spent the winter comfortably.
On the 20th of July, 1843, our son was born whom we named Heber for so it was spoken before by the Apostle Heber C. Kimball , that this should be the name of our firstborn son, and that he should be a mighty man and a prophet. Soon after his birth, I asked Brother Hyrum Smith to bless him but he told me to do it myself and the Spirit should come upon me to bless him with great blessings. I did so, Brother William Moss joining with me, and truly the Spirit of God was with us, to confirm upon him all that Elder Kimball had spoken. Several were present and we were all melted into tenderness and tears before the Lord. Hitherto I have not transgressed against God so that I feel to claim for myself and my family all the blessings promised.
In the spring of this year, 1843, our Prophet Joseph Smith was seized while on a visit to his wife's relatives by two men having a bill against him from the governor of Missouri. They dragged him from his family, got him into a carriage with the design of taking him at once to Missouri, but the Lord delivered him. The driver would stop at Dixon to feed his horses, and so the matter got out and the people were ready to deliver him. He then got a writ against the two men for their unlawfully taking him (i.e.) by threat of arms, and by a writ of Habeas Corpus obtained right to have his own case tried at the nearest Municipal Court.
All started to go to some certain place, I forget the name, but in a short time they were met by a company of the Saints, 50 of whom had been dispatched from Nauvoo mounted on horses and privately armed. When our Prophet saw them, he told those with him he was [mayor of?] Nauvoo, and seeing such a company of his friends, his persecutors durst make no resistance. A little before they reached here they were met by our band and hundreds of others in haste to congratulate our beloved head and leader on his escape from the hands of the wicked. I suppose so great tokens of respect and honor had never before been manifested towards him, and although it was attended with considerable expense, yet it was a day of great rejoicing with us, to see our beloved Prophet instead of being taken a prisoner into the hands of those that thirsted for his blood, riding on his horse, his brother on one side and his wife on the other, and hundreds or thousands of his friends and a band of music in full play, as though he had been a mighty monarch returning from some glorious victory, and all this in the sight of his enemies. (This is according to the best of my knowledge).
Several events have transpired which I have not stated, but will merely record, such as the apostasy of John C. Bennett. No description of this man's character could be too bad. He was a vile man. Some trouble about Orson Pratt arising from said Bennett's crime come with his wife, Elder Hyde's return from Jerusalem, Elder Parley P. Pratt's return from England, Porter Rockwell taken prisoner to Missouri on a charge of having been bribed by Joseph Smith to kill Boggs, [former] governor of Missouri, and his return home. Brother Joseph, sought for by the enemies on the same charge, was hid for some time. Nightly watch set for the safety of the city, two steam mills built and many large houses.
Many have joined the Masonic institution. This seems to have been a stepping stone or preparation for something else, the true origin of Masonry. This I have also seen and rejoice in it. This winter there was much preaching through the city, much said on the subject of the coming or spirit of Elijah. There has been great light poured out upon the Saints of late, and a great spirit of hearing. I have been called to preach several times and felt much of the spirit. In general I have felt well, increasing in light and knowledge and also in joy, having the good will and confidence of my brethren and feeling myself to be one with them. In these things I feel myself blessed and honored.
On the 7th, same , of March a meeting was called and several addresses delivered by the Prophet and others on some evils in the city. Several received a severe exposure in the Church and out. Of the latter was the brother of R. D. Foster. He asked in the congregation if Mr. Hyrum Smith alluded to him in his remarks, but did not get a direct answer. He then asked Mr. Joseph Smith if he meant him. Brother Joseph Smith asked why he thought so, but he repeated the question and said if you will not hear me, you soon shall hear from me. Did you allude to me? When Brother Joseph Smith answered, you say it, and bid the officers to take him and fine [him] 5 or 10 dollars I forget which. His Brother R. D. [Foster] then spoke to justify him and clear him of censure, and after exchanging a few words, Brother Joseph Smith told him to hold his tongue or he would fine him too. Thus it ended for the time, but the reproof and exposure which he and several others had received stirred up feelings that could not be suppressed.
A few weeks after this, our Prophet told us from the stand, by the wall of the partly built [Nauvoo] temple, that a conspiracy was formed by the two Fosters, the Laws, C. Higby, and J. H. Jackson and others against himself and all the Smiths. By some of them it was declared that there should not be one of the Smith family alive in a few weeks. Many accusations and threats of this kind were uttered. All this the Prophet had had from a Mr. Heaton and another. The testimony was credible. They had formed a caucus and had invited others to join it but much of this was found to be the false statement of the said Joseph H. Jackson, who proved to be as corrupt and guilty as a man could well be. Yet it was partly true. I do not know to what extent. But this I do know. Jackson quickly left the place and William Law, his brother Wilson Law, the former one of the first presidency, and the latter major general of the legion of the city. R. D. Foster and others revolted from the Church, saying that Joseph was fallen, the same as all the apostates have said, such as Parish, Cowdery, Harris and Russell, etc. They formed a church of themselves, appointed one as their prophet or head and held meetings in the house of the Laws, got up all the affidavits they could, especially from the sisters against the conduct of the Prophet, to publish to the world.
They object to the doctrine of plurality of wives and of gods. I was present when the two [William and Wilson Law] Laws, the wife of William and R. D. Foster, were cut off from the Church. The feeling as to their conduct was very unanimous except that Brother [William] Marks did not raise his hand against Sister Law. Their principle charge against Joseph is that he has and seeks to obtain other women or wives and has taught the same to others who have done the same.
As to me, I have evidence enough that Joseph is not fallen. I have seen him after giving as I before said, the origin of Masonry, organize the kingdom of God on the earth and am myself a member of it. In this I feel myself highly honored but I feel grieved that at this time of the greatest light and the greatest glory and honor, men of so much knowledge and understanding should cut themselves off.
April 6, 1844, our annual conference began and continued four days. Joseph's discourse on the origin of man, the nature of God and the resurrection were the most interesting matters of this time and any one that could not see in him the spirit of inspiration of God must be dark. They might have known that he was not a fallen prophet, even if they thought he was fallen. Elder Rigdon also spoke of persecution he and Joseph passed through at the commencement of the work. Many were appointed to go out through this nation, particularly on the subject of the electing of Joseph to the presidency of the United States.
I have attended the Grand Council [Council of Fifty], as I will call it. Elder Woodworth has returned from Texas. The prospect of our obtaining room to form a colony there is fair.
At the last Grand Council I attended, William and Wilson Law, R. D. Foster and those in connection with them were by the voice of the council delivered up to the buffetings of Satan, after having been visited in all kindness by two of the brethren. On Sunday, the 13th of May, Joseph spoke on the gospel of the kingdom and showed that when God set up his kingdom on the earth, Satan always set up his in opposition, alluding to apostasy at this time. Working in this place, I never felt more delighted with his discourse than at this time. It put me in mind of Herod when they said at his oration, it is the voice of a God and not of a man. The circumstances were widely different, he also spoke some on the resurrection.
The same day, I and my wife attended the Grand Quorum [consisting of those who received their endowments from Joseph Smith] as I shall call it, when William Smith and Almon Babbitt were taken into it in the legal form 17th of May. A convention was held here on the subject of Joseph's election. Several false charges were brought against Joseph and sworn to by William Law, Foster and others. On Sunday, 26th, Joseph [See HC 6:363-67.] spoke of it in the congregation and showed them to be perjured men. Plainly thus he is still harassed by his false friends, his Brutus. [See HC 6:386-97.]
June 12, 1844, as to myself I seem to have but little to write. I am employed in cultivating my little farm for the support of myself and family, have had nearly half of it to plant twice with Indian corn owing to the wetness of the season. Much of the first planting was destroyed. I have labored hard to keep the land dry.
Now and then I go to lay my hands on the sick, in which I take pleasure and I mostly get a blessing. I often preach to my wife and endeavor to inspire her with faith. Her mind has been troubled at some things in the Church, the subject of spiritual wives [See T&S 5 (15 November 1844):715 for possible interpretation of his understanding of "spiritual wives."] so much talked about at this time, and other things, an expression of Elder Lyman Wight's that if a woman complained of being insulted by any man, she ought to be set down as a strumpet, on the ground that no man would do it unless she gave him some liberty. This she knew to be a false notion from her own experience. In this she is correct. The expression of Brother Wight was spoken publicly in our hearing and she thinks it hard if a female is to be insulted as she has been and to have no redress. I take it as an instance of man's weakness to hold forth such a sentiment and for the elders to smile at it is no proof of their approval of it, but I see nothing in all that is going on that troubles me at all. But the way in which subjects for the celestial kingdom are selected is not understood, or not considered. I do not boast, but I am thankful for the ideas which God has given me on this subject, and long to teach the same to others, but I have but little chance of doing it but to my wife. I believe that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, and all is well.
I tell my wife I mean to hold on to the truth at any cost and the greatest cost would be to lose her, but her unbelief shall not stop us. I feel as though I can in spite of this bear her along. Our children are healthy and in every way promising, and we hope they will be in glory in a future day.
The subject of the apostasy of William Law and others has caused some little excitement. They lately purchased a press, etc. and printed the first numbers of the "Nauvoo Expositor" which was designed to publish all they could find against Joseph and others, but this first number was of such a kind that the city council on mature deliberation according to the law of the land, condemned the press and paper and ordered the whole to be burned, which was accordingly done on the 10th of this month, June,  but the party made no resistance.
June 22nd , an order came from the governor at Carthage for Joseph, Hyrum and the rest of the city council to appear at Carthage or rather, they were informed of this by letter by two or three who went there to see him. The prospect now looked very dark and threatening and they were much perplexed and after holding council together most of the night, Joseph and Hyrum and one or two more left the city before day. Early in the day a company of men arrived with an order from the governor, but as they could not be found, all but one of them returned, leaving one to see if they could be found and would go. They were found by the brethren but they refused to go. The prospect however was so dark, and seemed to threaten the entire destruction of our city, the governor saying if they refused to go, our city stood upon kegs of gun powder and a small spark would blow it up, and the officers saying that we should be put under martial law until they should be delivered up, if it took three years. These things together with a recollection of the horrid scenes of Missouri and also a firm trust that God would deliver them, induced many of the Saints and of Joseph's friends to wish them to go. Yet it was some time before they consented, which they finally did.
On Monday morning, Joseph, his brother Hyrum, Willard Richards, John Taylor, the only two of the Twelve at home, with several others, started for Carthage, of course with solemn feelings, and it appears that Joseph in particular anticipated the fatal result in part, but said he wished at any rate that Hyrum might be saved to stand in his place. He expressed himself to this effect, that he should die for this people, and if so, he should be murdered in cold blood. Sometime before they reached Carthage, they met a company of men with orders from the governor of the state to take our public arms, i.e., the arms belonging to the state. The captain of this company was polite and friendly and gave the strongest assurances of their safety and it was agreed upon that the brethren return with them to Nauvoo.
I was down in the city when they came in, and was in Brother Hyrum's company. In his own house, he was in better spirits by far than when he left. He told me he thought that all things would go well, etc. and as soon as the arms could be collected, they again took their leave of their wives and families, alas for the last time, and came to Carthage (from henceforth of cursed memory).
The governor, it appears, treated them respectfully and took them to his own lodgings until as he said, for fear of the people he desisted and after having had a trial in part, they were unexpectedly and unlawfully thrust into the jail. They went to Carthage on Monday evening, the 24th of June, 1844. On Thursday, the governor left them and with a company of men, came to Nauvoo, having left a guard at the jail, but of the Carthage Greys who had just before been in a state of mutiny. Yet as all the troops had pledged themselves to the governor to abide by the laws, these were entrusted with the care of the prisoners.
It seems that a party of the mob had come to Golding's Point [located between Nauvoo and Carthage] on their way to Nauvoo, and that messengers were sent to them to order them to disperse. At this, their leader, Colonel [Levi] Williams ordered all who were not willing to go to Carthage and kill the Smiths to lay down their arms, and the rest to step out together, saying now is the time or never. This was soon done, and the murderers disguised themselves by blacking their faces and started on their way to shed blood, and came to the place about 5 o'clock in the evening of the 27th [June, 1844].
A young man named [William M.] Daniels, who had given up his gun, went with them, as he said to see what they would do, and was an eye witness to all that passed. He heard Wills say he had shot Hyrum. This Wills was one of the company of Saints (an Irish man) who came with me from England with his wife and two children. He was an elder in the Church. It is understood that he received a wound in the arm from a bullet by Brother Joseph. It took his wrist and ran up by the bone, of which wound he soon after died. A ball passed through the door and entered Brother Hyrum on one side of his nose just below his eye, when he exclaimed, "I'm a dead man," and fell, at which Joseph cried out to Hyrum. As he lay, another entered under his chin.
Brother John Taylor attempted to get out a back window, but a ball met him, which it seems threw him back into the room, owing to its taking his watch which beat in the watch, thereby giving the exact time at which it occurred. He had received four balls before he was taken by Brother Willard Richards and put under the bed. He suffered much but survived, a living martyr. Joseph too endeavored to escape by the same window but the mob quickly met him there. He fell from the window and was taken by the mob and was set against the well curb and four men shot him in the upper part of his body. Williams then said take his head off, but at this moment as Daniels states, a light shone between Joseph and the mob which so affected them that they had no power to touch him and the four men dropped their arms and had to be carried off by their companions. The whole then ran off, leaving their victims weltering in their blood. Thus the earth was once more stained with the blood of the Saints, even the anointed servants of God and their blood echoes the cry of former Saints for vengeance to be taken on the wicked that the earth may be cleansed from the blood of the righteous. [This account of the "wondrous light" cited from the writings of William M. Daniels was never accepted in official Church accounts and has been rejected by many historians. See Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), p. 90 fn. 60.)
Their bodies were washed from blood and put into boxes and the next day were conveyed in two wagons under a guard to Nauvoo. This was the most solemn sight that my eyes ever beheld. I had often read of the martyrs of old, but now here I saw two of the greatest of men who sealed the truth which they had held and taught with their blood. Is this an earnest of what has to take place in this Last Dispensation? Is the blood of the sheep again to be shed like that of the shepherd as in former days? Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from us, but if not, let thy will be done and let us be strengthened to endure to the end.
Joseph and Hyrum Smith were of large stature, well proportioned and had a noble appearance, and this appearance was by no means lost in death, as they lay side by side, for what can make men more noble than to hold the truth of God against his own interest (temporally) to be at war with the world, for the salvation of the upright in heart, and finally seal that truth with their blood. When I think of them and write of them, I feel as though I want to ask their forgiveness that I have not mourned for them more deeply. Joseph had been brought before rulers and judges scores of times, but was never convicted of any crime, neither Hyrum, and although the governor said the burning of the printing press was unlawful, yet the persecutors said they knew the law would not reach him, but powder and ball would, so that they justly are ranked with the martyrs of Jesus Christ.
My consolation in the midst of this affair was that all had been done. Joseph and Hyrum had done all that they could have done and the foundation of the great work of the last days was laid so that it could be finished by the Twelve Apostles who had been instructed in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth.
Some also besides the Twelve had received their endowment, which was expected at the completion of the [Nauvoo] temple. [In addition to most of the Twelve apostles, about 25 males and 32 females had received their endowment during the lifetime of Joseph Smith.] I, myself, and my wife had had this privilege granted us in part. I also believed that as Joseph was the only one that had the keys of the priesthood of the kingdom of God on the earth since the days of Peter and the other apostles, he must not only minister the same on earth, but also to the whole world of spirits who departed from this life in the time of the broken covenant, even as Jesus did to those before him to the flood, that those who had died without the priesthood must remain so until it should be restored to the earth, but it is necessary that they as well as we who are now alive should be made acquainted with the ordinances, signs and tokens of the priesthood and the terms of admission into the kingdom in order that they may come forth with those who have received it here, so that Joseph was as much needed there as here, and perhaps more so.
These reflections in a great measure took off the edge of the grief that I might else have felt, for I thought that he had so fulfilled his own purposes, and I felt willing to say amen to it. Their wives had been [sealed to] them on account of certain principles that had been revealed through Joseph. This seemed to make their lives a [blank space] to them. It seems as though the Lord had pushed things forward rather prematurely on account of the shortness of Joseph's time. I allude in particular to the doctrine of women being sealed to men for eternity. It seems that several have had women sealed to them, and it appears in general to have given great offense to the wife. In some instances their anger and resentment have risen to a very high pitch, saying it is abomination, whoredom, etc. This is a strong charge against Joseph especially, and Hyrum and now as they are gone it is aimed at the Twelve.
A passage in the Book of Mormon [Jacob 2:23-30.] is quoted in opposition to this doctrine where it says that a man should have but one wife and no concubines. I feel sorry for our women for it is plain that if this be of God as I believe it to be, their conduct in the matter is very wrong, and but for the sealing power and ordinance by which they are sealed to their husbands, many would cut themselves off from the kingdom. My wife is much opposed to it. I desire to do the will of God and to obtain all the glory I can. Some say that it was because of this abomination that Joseph and Hyrum were cut off. I understand that a man's dominion will be as God's is, over his own creatures and the more numerous they, the greater his dominion. But how true that straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and the eternal duration of lives and few there be that go in thereat. [This reference is in harmony with the doctrine found in D&C 132:22 and supports the concept that Joseph Smith taught this doctrine.]
Not long after the death of these men, Elder Sidney Rigdon who had long been one of Joseph's counsellors came here from Pittsburgh and informed the Saints that he had an important vision after long and earnest inquiry of the Lord, in which it was shown him that Joseph had died holding the key of this kingdom, that he still held it, and would continue to do in eternity. That we are a people must build up the kingdom to Joseph. If we did not, we should be damned and that he himself stood next in authority and he was in haste to get the assent of the Saints in this matter. As he said he must be in Pittsburgh in a short time, this all seemed right to some, but many felt as though it was not the voice of the Spirit. I felt doubtful about it partly because I considered he had not been faithful in his office a long time and partly because the Spirit did not bear witness to it. But there was a general desire that the Twelve might come home first, i.e. before they gave a decision on the subject and so it came to pass which soon gave a new face to things.
A meeting was called and Rigdon again addressed us, but seemed to have no liberty or power, after which Elder Brigham Young spoke to the people. He said he saw here a hurrying spirit, showed the true organization of the Church and called a meeting again when all the quorums of the Church should be placed in proper order. He said that if the people wished Elder Rigdon to be their guardian and leader, they were quite at liberty to take him, but it must be passed in a regular and legal manner, by the separate quorums.
He had much liberty and the power of the Spirit in speaking and at the said meeting, he showed that Rigdon, if he were to take his place as counsellor to Joseph, he must go beyond the veil where he was gone, and the Saints soon began to see how things were and that the Twelve must now hold the keys of power and authority according to the revelation which says the Twelve are equal with the first presidency. [See HC 7:232-41.] Before this he asked the Church if they wished to choose themselves a guardian, but they did not raise their hands, and it was now no hard thing determining who should lead the Church. It was also shown that Joseph had told the Twelve after he had instructed them in all things that on them would rest the responsibility and the care of the Church in case he should be taken away. They invited Rigdon to their council but he did not attend and he soon began to use threatening language against the Twelve, Joseph, etc. to say that he had known for some years that Joseph had not been led by the spirit of God [and gave this] as the reason why he did not attend with him as his counsellor, he soon so far committed himself that his license was demanded by the Twelve, but he refused to give it up. He seemed in no haste now to get to Pittsburgh, but labored hard to raise a party to himself and succeeded in some degree. Some few cleaved to him, and were in a short time cut off from the Church along with him. Among the [party] were Samuel Bennett, Leonard Soby, Samuel James, William Cottier, etc.
When Rigdon had thus selected a party, they held meetings and he taught them those things which he had learned in the quorum, as it is called, i.e. a company on whom Joseph had conferred the endowment, being clothed in garments and received the last instructions that Joseph could give them, being washed and anointed, etc. These things were to be kept sacred, as it was not to become a general thing until the temple be finished. Rigdon was admitted there a short time before these troubles took place, almost the last to be admitted, and when he became thus cut off if not before, he began to teach those things to his party and to ordain them prophets, priests and kings, though it appears that he obtained some things from William Marks, one of the quorum and the president of this stake, but he and his party soon left Nauvoo and went to Pittsburgh where they began to publish a paper chiefly to expose the corruptions of the Church. But I soon began to hear but little of them, so I leave them for the present.
[The specific charge against Sidney Rigdon at his excommunication trial, 8 September 1844, was that he had administered the highest ordinances of the Temple to individuals when he had not received them himself. See Brigham Young's statement of the charge in T&S 5 (15 September 1844):;648. On 2 September 1844, Sidney Rigdon taught "that it was not necessary to build the Temple--that it never would be built--that God had rejected the Church." See Speech of Orson Hyde, Delivered before the High Priests' Quorum, April 27th, 1845, p. 17.]
It seems that Joseph had not looked upon Rigdon as his counsellor for a long time, yet as the Church with Brother Hyrum seemed willing to continue him in that office, he was not openly dismissed therefrom. Joseph said he had carried him until he was [sick] of it. He wanted one that would stand by him in danger and peril and at all times, but it appears that Joseph had chosen Brother Hyrum and Amasa Lyman in the stead of Rigdon and William Law.
In October (1844) a conference was held and was very numerously attended. Much instruction was given by Elder Brigham Young on the priesthood, etc. and the high priests were appointed to seek out new locations, i.e. many of them, all through the country, and make gatherings of people. Together they came forward readily in expectation of going out at once but Brother Young told us they need not be in a hurry about it, and it appears they will not go out until the temple is finished, but he felt a burden on him and he wished to get it off. I never attended a better conference for union and business. A number of seventies were also organized and a good feeling prevailed. The Saints had all through the scenes which had transpired since the death of our brethren been strongly exhorted to refrain from a spirit or conduct of revenge and Brother Richards had pledged his life that there should be no revenge taken on our part, and it had been carefully observed.
But when Elder Lyman Wight came home from Washington where he and Elder Kimball had gone on the business of Joseph's election as president, he began to exclaim against the governor, calling him a little pusillanimous devil, and said that Joseph was pleading with God for his damnation, said curse the temple, and represented matters as though Nauvoo was of no importance any longer. And as Joseph had given Bishop George Miller the liberty to locate the Black River Company, i.e., those men who had been cutting pine for the temple, according to their discretion. He [Lyman Wight] got them and what he could besides with all the means he could muster and left this place and went up the river to locate there. He seemed to consider that we were too corrupt for them to keep the commandments of God amongst us. This is stated by one of his party. His conduct was contrary to the mind of the rest of the Twelve and was reproved by them. He left us and took all he could of men and means just at a time when it was necessary to stand firmly together. But at the conference several bore witness to his excellent properties and he was continued in his place as one of the Twelve in Brother David Patten's stead. James Emmett also led off a small party. I know not whither. These with Rigdon's party besides other individuals, has caused some to say that Nauvoo has had a mighty puke and it is the bad stuff that is thrown up.
Soon after the death of Joseph and Hyrum the building of the [Nauvoo] temple was resumed with great vigor and proceeded more rapidly than it ever had before so that before the next winter, all the faces of the capitals were up and all but six of windows turned, so that we began to feel encouraged and to anticipate the completion of the work of which Joseph laid the foundation. The work of building houses also in the city has of late gone [well], and our city is becoming large and populous. We have also obtained more arms to defend ourselves with and many of our men are diligently learning the use of the sword.
1846, January 4. Since the death of Joseph and Hyrum, the building of the [Nauvoo] temple has gone on rapidly and contrary to the expectation and prophecy of Sidney Rigdon and others. The roof has been put on, the spire put up and beautifully ornamented. The temple is indeed a noble structure, and I suppose the architects of our day know not of what order to call it, Gothic, Doric, Corinthian or what. I call it heavenly. The upper room is finished and about the beginning of December it was dedicated and the Twelve began to give to the Saints their endowment. On the 5th of December , I entered it for the first time and I truly felt as though I had gotten out of the world and on Friday, the 12th, I and my wife received our endowment, having formerly received it in the days of Joseph and Hyrum, but it is now given in a more perfect manner because of better convenience.
[Footnote 77. "Temple ordinances were administered during the lifetime of Joseph Smith in four locations: Joseph Smith's first home in Nauvoo--the `Old Homestead,' the Mansion House, Brigham Young's home, and the `Red Brick' store. In the first three locations, available space restricted the ordinances. In the `Red Brick' store (the first place where temple ordinances were administered), the large open upper floor of the store was set up as Joseph envisioned the interior of a temple should be. Using canvas, he had the room partitioned into several sections representing the stages of man's progression from his creation to his future possible place in the Celestial Kingdom. [See HC 5:1-2.] . . .Both Brigham Young and Lucius N. Scovil report that Joseph Smith was concerned that the size of the upper room of the store prevented him from presenting a perfect representation of the interior of endowment rooms for a temple. However, in the Nauvoo Temple, where there was two-and-a-half times more floor space than in the store, Joseph Fielding asserts that the additional space gave `better convenience' in presenting the ordinances."]
The Twelve are very strict in attending to the true and proper form. On Sunday, the 21st, 986 had received their endowment.
["Actually by 21 December 1845, only 564 persons had received their endowments. It was not until after activities of Thursday, 26 December, that 986 had received ordinances. Fielding was present at the meeting of the 21st and was probably present at the meeting held the 28th when he heard the figure, but when writing in his journal a week later, Sunday, 4 January 1846, he most likely projected the number back to 21 December."]
My sister, Mercy R. Thompson, is regularly employed there washing, etc.
At this time, strong attempts are making to take the Twelve. It seems as though earth and hell are mad to see the work of the priesthood proceeding so rapidly. The United States Marshall has been here for some time searching and laying in wait for the Twelve and some others. He searched the [Nauvoo] temple through but in vain. The brethren have had to disguise themselves and conceal themselves to escape them. The charge is treason. You may see the Twelve, etc. wherever they go with six shooter pistols in their pockets, but thus far they have been preserved and are ministering in the [Nauvoo] temple and teaching the way of life and salvation.
Many hands are employed in the lower parts of the [Nauvoo] temple. The font also is about finished and ready for use. The Saints at the same time are organized into companies and are preparing to leave Nauvoo for some unknown location in the west, having been compelled to promise to leave our homes and our [Nauvoo] temple, whether we can dispose of them or not in the coming spring by the Gentiles around us and the nation sanction their proceedings. And the Church is hastening to finish the [Nauvoo] temple before we leave.
James Emmett a short time ago, came to Nauvoo and was taken into the Church again and Brothers Sherwood and John Fullmer were sent out to his company 600 miles from this place to instruct them and baptize them if they desired it, which they did. They and Lyman Wight and his company are daily remembered here by the Saints before the Lord. Elder Wilford Woodruff and the Saints in England are also remembered before the Lord. About two months ago, Brother Turley was taken on a charge of bogus making at Alton, was kept four or five weeks in a wretched condition in irons, was then taken to Springfield, tried, and let to bail until next June, but pursued before.
On the 3rd of January, 1846, Mary Ann received her endowment in the [Nauvoo] temple. Friday, the 23rd of January, 1846, we were sealed in the temple by Heber C. Kimball and on the same day we were also anointed by Parley P. Pratt.
[Footnote 80: "The lower two floors of the Nauvoo Temple were solemn assembly rooms nearly equivalent in design to the Kirtland Temple. There was a basement floor which included the baptismal font used in performing baptisms for the dead. Work continued on these lower floors even after the exodus began. The [Nauvoo] Temple was completed for a private dedication 30 April 1846 and for a public dedication 1 May 1846--dedications where the Saints expressed their final devotion in building the Temple which the Lord had commanded, but which they would never fully use.]
Monday, 26 [January 1846], our four children were washed, anointed and sealed to Joseph and Hannah Fielding. And we (Joseph and Hannah) were sealed to Hyrum Smith for time and eternity by Elders Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.
[Footnote 88: Since Joseph and Hannah's four children were born to them before their marriage was sealed by the power of the holy priesthood, it was, according to Mormon doctrine, necessary for their children to be sealed to them for eternity as if they had been born under the promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These blessings pronounced by the priesthood were not promised by ministers nor civil authorities authorized to perform marriages."]
[Footnote 89: "As Joseph nd Hannah's children needed to be sealed to their parents, so also Joseph and Hannah needed to be sealed to `parents' who were worthy of the sealing ordinances. Since Joseph's parents were not members of the Church, he elected to be sealed to Hyrum Smith, his brother-in-law and deceased Patriarch to the Church. The `Law of Adoption' that operated to establish the Patriarchal Order was intended to connect all families who would be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom back to Adam, the first man."]
Our four children are Rachel, born at Preston, county of Lancaster, England, on the 27th of June, 1839; Ellen, born in Preston aforesaid on the 9th of February, 1841; Heber born in Nauvoo on the 20th of July, 1843; and Joseph born at Nauvoo on the 13th of July, 1846 [13 June 1845].
January 29, 1846. Last eve called at the [Nauvoo] temple. Many were receiving their endowment and numbers waiting to be sealed. All things dark around us. It is generally expected the county is to be put under martial law. Affidavits have been made at Washington by Rigdon or William Smith and Adams or all that we intend to go and bring on the Indians against the government and the design is to prevent our going by putting us under martial law and to hem us in on all sides and then to torment us with writs, etc. It is hard to think of our brethren leaving us while everything is going so well, especially in the [Nauvoo] temple.
February 18 . For about the last two weeks, the Saints have been busily crossing the Mississippi River with their wagons, etc. and having a great deal of public property, such as cannons, guns and other weapons, and ammunition, printing press and other mechanical and farming implements, and the Church records, etc. seed spring wheat, also intending if possible to put it into the ground in the spring. These, with a suitable supply of provisions, at least as far as possible for such an unknown journey, have taken all the teams that could be mustered both horses and oxen. I suppose they have over 200 teams. They cross the river in flat boats. They have about 1 1/2 mile to go on the water and it is hard work to row them across the stream. The wind has often been too strong for them and they were obliged to wait. I suppose by this time they are all on the other side.
Six days ago I went over to see the camp which is five or six miles from the river. The campground is by Sugar Creek where they have plenty of wood and water, a good place for such a purpose. On the night of the 13th, the snow fell and covered the ground and the 14th was a very rough day, snowing all the day long. I felt much for them. Some had tents and some wagon covers and some, neither of them. This day is also rough, snowing all the day from the north, but it is not very cold, when I think that men, with some women and children, should be so exposed.
The camp traveled slowly, the road being bad and weather rough and cold, sometimes having to put eight or ten yoke of oxen to a wagon until they came to what they called Garden Grove, about [blank] miles from Nauvoo where they commenced plowing and planting and after staying there a while, the greater part of them moved on a distance of [blank] miles, where they arrived in time to put in other crops, some of which came to perfection, but some did not. They fenced in a large field, having Grand River as a fence on the west side. This place they called Pisgah. Both of these places seem to have been very sickly and have proved to be the home of many of the Saints. Many of them are there, mingled with the dust. Before they had time to reap the fruit of their labors, the main part of the camp again moved westward until they crossed the Missouri River, about three miles from which they encamped and went to work at getting hay for the winter and in the fall of the year, they moved onto the bank of the river.
They had been compelled to barter their property, horses, harness, beds and clothing, etc. to the Missourians for provisions, and made great sacrifices. Brother Samuel Bent was left as president in Garden Grove and Brother Charles C. Rich in Pisgah, but during the summer, the former was called home, having done his work, I believe to the satisfaction of all the Saints. He had long been president of the high council and the latter was general of the Nauvoo Legion, a man of unblemished character.
But to return to Nauvoo where I spent the summer  for want of means to get away, I sold my house and twenty acres of land for 200 dollars in trade, taking two horses, a wagon, a coat cloth, and a few (4 1/2 dollars) in cash. The land was in good cultivation, 120 rods of good rail fence, a frame house 16 feet by 24, filled in with bricks, a pretty garden, a number of apple trees, and peach trees, just ready to bear fruit, and an excellent well 21 feet deep, not two miles from the [Nauvoo] temple. I paid for the land in its wild state, 160 dollars, built the house, etc., so that the price of the whole would not nearly pay the cost.
One of the horses I took for the place I soon found to be balky and I only got in trade for her a small yoke of young oxen. The last harvest we had in Nauvoo was uncommonly great, the land in general bringing forth in abundance as much as 60 bushels of corn to the acre. I had about 600 bushels on 10 acres. In short, the whole place was as the garden of the Lord for fruitfulness. This was of course a great blessing to the Saints, but still it made the sacrifice appear the greater.
Soon after I sold my place I removed my family and goods to the house on my sister's farm called Brother Hyrum's where my sister thought of planting some grain but we found it to be useless and I did not so much as plant the smallest garden stuff.
The enemies all around were breathing out threatenings against the Saints until at one time as eight men were reaping wheat for one of the members of the Church (Siro Davis) [Amos Davis] about 12 miles from Nauvoo, a company of about 80 armed men in carriages and on horses came upon them, took them one by one a short distance to the place where one of their friends had been killed the year before and they supposed, of course, the Saints had killed him, and there gave each of them a severe whipping and took some of their guns off and broke others of them. The eight made the best of their way to Nauvoo and as soon as they had made the matter known, the new citizens (they being the officers of the city) in union with the Saints, determined at once to endeavor to bring the ringleaders of the mob to justice and the next day towards evening, a posse left Nauvoo and went to the house of Captain McCalla in the night and took him and two others and a gun which they found in his house which they had taken from the eight men and brought them home to Nauvoo to take their trial. But in a few days we were informed that the mob had kidnapped four of our brethren and one of the new citizens, five in all, and that they had them in a place called Pontoosuc, 14 miles off.
The Sunday after, about 50 horse and footmen, armed, formed a posse, left Nauvoo in the evening, traveled in the night and came to Pontoosuc by daylight in the morning. I was one of them. The first thing we saw was a couple of mounted men as a picket guard. Some of our party chased them for some distance. One of them sprang through the brush and got into the field, but the other they pursued and overtook him. He said there were about as many of them together in the village as there were of us. A little before we came to the place, we saw men's heads starting up in the brush wood on the side of the road, and we could not tell how many there might be concealed. We halted and Brother William Anderson, the captain of the posse, called out and told them his authority. He had been legally authorized and sent with a posse to apprehend such as were not subject to law.
We had been very private about coming to this place, but still our coming was expected there, and just as we got to the village, we were in loud voices commanded to halt and we beheld a body of men partly concealed in the brush. Some of the foremost of them called out to us to halt or they would instantly fire upon us. We were then within gunshot of them. Each of us had his gun cocked and ready to return the fire if they fired, but William Cutler, one of our captains, told them our authority, etc. and no gun was fired. Some of them were very mad and swore bitterly, and we began taking some of them prisoners and finally we took 14 of them and after searching several of the houses to find the captives, we brought them to Nauvoo. On the way we were joined by a small company who had left Nauvoo in the morning to come to our assistance if we should need it. We brought them to Nauvoo and there was some rejoicing in the city. The next day we went off in a posse in search of the captives or those that took them, but the former were taken off by those that held them, for fear we should find them. At the time we went to Pontoosuc they had them within hearing of us, a little out of the village, but on finding that we were there, they marched them off. But we found their stuff, a double horse wagon containing flour, etc. belonging to Phineas Young, who was on his way home from the mill, and a buggy. These we took home. The names of the captives were Phineas Young and Brigham, his son, James Standing, [Richard] Ballantyne and [blank line].
When we then went out in a posse it put all of them in fear and we could scarcely find a man at his home by day or by night. We did not return home until Saturday evening, but our labor was in vain. The mob party took every way they could to deceive us and lead us on the wrong track, as we learned afterwards. They were taken from place to place every day through the woods, etc., having eight men to guard them, who hurried through the woods, some of them being sick with ague, but they were often told that if they faltered or stopped, they would instantly shoot them. Several times they had fixed a time and place to do it and were on the point of it, but were prevented through fear through the mercy of God.
We searched for them all this week and most of the next week, going as far as 30 or more miles, sometimes going all night, and sometimes with but little to eat. Our horses were much reduced, and we were weary. This was just in wheat harvest and so much were the people in fear of us that many large fields of wheat were destroyed for want of cutting, for they durst not be seen, but some of them said they would wait upon until after harvest.
After being in captivity over two weeks, they all returned safely home, being let go by a fresh guard to whom they had committed the old ones attended a meeting in Carthage. They were gladly received home to their wives and friends. Indeed it was far more than we expected ever to see them again.
Not long after this the mob began to collect and to threaten us with destruction, first at Golding's Point to the number of 200 or 300, from whence they dispersed through fear, but soon began to gather again near Carthage, where they lay encamped a number of weeks to the north of 900 as far as I can gather, until early in September  . They marched into Nauvoo.
My two Sisters Smith and Thompson and myself with our families had just gotten over the Mississippi River with all our goods except two boat loads before they came in contact with the citizens. They came and encamped on the farm that I had just left. They took this course to avoid any ambushment that might be laid for them. From thence they sent balls into the city, but before they came near the [Nauvoo] temple, they were met and repulsed. But I shall not attempt to record the whole of that scene of outrage. The poor Saints had to flee, sick or well. They hastened to the river but the citizens judged it not best to let men leave when they were so much needed, but the sick, the women and children got over as fast as they could. I went down to the bank of the river and found many of the Saints in distress. Some had left their goods and were destitute of food and clothing. Others had left their husbands in the battle. The cannons roared tremendously on both sides for several days, but the mob as it seems to me, found themselves losers and a plan was gotten up to prevent their own destruction.
A committee came from Quincy professing to be friends to both sides, and proposed to put a stop to the fighting on terms which the Saints thought it best to accept as the mob increased daily and they, the few Saints, (I suppose not more in numbers than 150), were almost forsaken of the new citizens. The number slain of the mob is not well known, but it is probable that 150 fell in battle [This estimate that is probably too high. The mob reported that 12 were wounded and that only one died.] and although their numbers was so great and that of the Saints so small, the former said to be not less than 1100 yet but three of the Saints were slain, Brother Anderson and his son, and a Brother Norris. This is truly surprising.
The terms of peace were of course such as would suit the such as would suit the mob, and as soon as the Saints had agreed to lay down their arms, they had to flee but many of the arms were taken from them. The mob found themselves in possession of the city and they proceeded to capture, rob, and plunder in the most fiendlike and unlawful manner. They rendezvoused in the [Nauvoo] temple. We had guarded it by night and day, a long time feeling unwilling to leave it in their hands, but they now had it to themselves. They even preached in it and cursed the Saints, but did no great damage to it, thinking it would add to the value of their property. They treated the Saints with various kinds of indignity, some they pushed over the river in haste. Some they took and tried. Some they baptized, etc., but in the midst of this, some more humane from Quincy brought up a quantity of clothing and provisions for the poor, as they got over the river where the poor Saints were in great numbers. Here also the Lord sent upon them as it were a shower of quails. They came in vast flocks. Many came into the houses where the Saints were, settled on the tables, and the floor and even on their laps, so that they caught as many as they pleased. Thus the Lord was mindful of his people, and it was truly a matter of astonishment that in all this persecution, etc., only three of our brethren lost their lives.
The trustees still stayed in the city, viz., John S. Fullmer, Almon Babbitt, and Joseph L. Heywood. As soon as this unlawful proceeding was stayed, we (my sisters and myself) started on the way to the camp of the Saints, having nine wagons, six of them Sister Smith's, one Sister Thompson's, and two my own. In Sister Smith's family, six men, five women, besides one sister that came with her four children. Sister Thompson, one little girl. In my family, two men, two women and five children, and we had together besides our teams, 21 loose cattle, as cows, etc., 43 sheep . . .
Contributor: Thorsted Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
(written by Iva P. Hunt, great-granddaughter)
Joseph Fielding was born in Honidon, Bedfordshire, England, on March 26, 1797. He was the fourth child, also the fourth son of John and Rachel Ibbotson Fielding, who were originally from Halifax, Yorkshire, England. Eight children were born to this couple.
The Fielding family was well respected in their community because of their industry, integrity and honesty. They were devoutly religious and firm in their convictions.
Joseph, at the age of thirty-five, having never married, came to America to try to better his future. He arrived in Canada in 1832, and obtained a farm near Toronto. Here he was joined by his sister, Mercy Rachel and later by their sister, Mary.
Living in Toronto at this time was another Englishman by the name of John Taylor, a machinist. He felt a strong urge to come to Canada to preach, entertaining a strong conviction that some day he would find a church that would baptize in immersion, bestow the Holy Ghost and have Apostles as the church did when the Savior organized it in that day on earth. He drew quite a following who felt as he did, and among this group, were Joseph Fielding and his two sisters. They were known as “the Dissenters.” They prayed continuously that if this church was on the earth, God would lead them to it or send a messenger to them.
Neither Joseph Fielding nor John Taylor had the least idea that their lives were destined to be associated together in the struggle to establish this true church in these the last days, and that John Taylor would later become an Apostle and President of this church they so earnestly sought.
In April 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio, Brother Heber C. Kimball and several other brethren, went to the home of Parley P. Pratt, whose wife was seriously ill. While there, a spirit of prophecy inspired Brother Kimball to give the Pratts a wonderful blessing and promise. This good couple had been married many years, but had no children. Brother Kimball promised them a son, saying his name should be Parley. Then he continued as follows:
“Thou shalt go to upper Canada, even to the City of Toronto, the capitol, and there thou shalt find a people prepared for the fullness of the Gospel and they shall receive thee and thou shalt organize the church among them and it shall spread thence into the regions round about and many shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth and shall be filled with joy; and from the things growing from this mission, shall the fullness of the gospel spread into England and cause a great work to be done in this land.”
These prophecies were truly fulfilled. Brother Pratt immediately prepared and left for this mission in April, 1836. He reached the town of Hamilton with no money with which to buy his passage across the lake to Toronto. So he went to a near-by woods and prayed earnestly to the Lord to open up the way for him to cross to Toronto and perform his mission.
Upon returning to town, he began conversing with some people and almost immediately, a total stranger approached Brother Pratt, asked his name, where he was going and if he needed money. After a short conversation, the stranger gave Brother Pratt $1.00 and a note of introduction to John Taylor of Toronto. This kindness made it possible for Brother Pratt to get to Toronto and to reach the home of John Taylor and his family before night.
He was kindly received by John Taylor and this family was extremely interested in Bother Pratt’s message, and treated him with every courtesy. A few days later Mr. Taylor sent a message to his friends, the Fieldings, to make arrangements for a meeting for Mr. Pratt to preach to all in that neighborhood.
When Mr. Pratt and Mr. Taylor arrived late that afternoon at the Fielding home, the two Fielding sisters slipped out the back door and went over to the neighbors to avoid meeting this missionary. John Taylor asked Joseph to go get his sisters and bring them back because he wanted them all to attend the meeting and hear Mr. Pratt preach. Many who attended were baptized by Brother Pratt into the church, in a creek near the Fielding home. Joseph, Mercy Rachel, and Mary Fielding were baptized on 21 May 1836.
True to Brother Kimball’s prediction, there were many in Toronto and vicinity who were baptized and a branch of the Church was organized and when Brother Pratt returned to Ohio that fall, John Taylor was left in charge of the church.
In the spring of 1837, Brother Pratt was sent back to Canada by Joseph Smith, to visit the Saints and confer with the brethren there about missionary work in England. As a result four men were called to go the England as missionaries. These men were English emigrants and all had written to family and friends about this new Gospel, thus laying the ground work for the preaching of the Gospel in England.
Joseph Fielding was ordained a priest in April 1837, by Parley P. Pratt and was called to act as a guide and counselor for this missionary group when they left. After joining the church, the Fieldings made a trip to meet the Prophet. So when Joseph was called on this mission, they sold their property in Canada and moved to Kirtland before Joseph was to leave.
When this group of men left Kirtland, a group of church leaders and the two Fielding sisters accompanied them as far as Fairport. On parting, Mary Fielding left a $10.00 bill in Brother Kimball’s hand. This money provided the means for the two apostles to pay their passage to New York City.
Enroute to New York, the two apostles met the three missionaries from Canada and they sailed for Liverpool, England, July 1, 1837, on the ship Garrick. Upon arriving in England, they went to Preston where Joseph Fielding’s brother James lived. They attended church in Vauxhall Chapel on July 23, 1837, and following the service, Reverend James Fielding announced that some missionaries from America would preach in that chapel that afternoon. The brethren were very pleasantly surprised and welcomed this opportunity.
Brother Heber C. Kimball preached the first sermon of the restored gospel in England, at this meeting. Brother Orson Hyde bore his testimony. Another meeting was held that evening in this chapel and Elder Goodson preached and Joseph Fielding bore his testimony. Reverent James Fielding offered his chapel for the following Wednesday evening, but after this meeting the use of this church was denied the missionaries because most of Reverent Fielding’s congregation were joining this new gospel, others were investigating. So many were baptized, that his flocks were all about to desert his congregation.
Joseph’s sisters, Ann (Mrs. Timothy Mattews) and Martha (Mrs. Peter Watson) were sure as were their two brothers, James and Thomas, that Brother Joseph had come under some evil influence and begged him to forsake this new religion. Joseph in turn tried to teach the gospel to them, but they refused to listen. James Fielding became a bitter enemy of the church and refused later even to write to his brother Joseph and the two sisters who had embraced the gospel. Branches of the church were organized and by the spring of 1838 the two apostles decided to return home. Local brethren were chosen to preside over these branches, and Joseph Fielding was ordained a High Priest and set apart to preside over the English Mission, with Willard Richards and William Clayton as counselors. Joseph had been ordained an Elder on October 28, 1837, soon after this missionary group arrived in England.
One evening, before the apostles left for America, the brethren were seated together ready to start a meeting when Brother Heber CF. Kimball said to Joseph Fielding, “I will baptize your wife here in England before I leave, and I will know when I see her.” Not long after this prediction was made, as the Elders were quietly seated, just before a meeting began, they noticed a very striking young woman entered the room alone and was seated in the back of the hall. Immediately Brother Kimball whispered to Joseph, “There is you wife.”
True to the prediction Joseph and Hannah were married shortly thereafter, on June 11, 1838, in Preston, Lancashire, England.
When the eight apostles came to England in the early 1840, Joseph was sent to Liverpool with his beloved friend, John Taylor, who had been ordained an apostle before leaving for his mission. Here these two missionaries converted about 30 people in a few weeks time. Converts increased in this area so rapidly that the mission headquarters were established in Liverpool where it remained for many years.
During the years Joseph had been in England on this mission—a great many changes had taken place in the Church and among his family and friends. His sister Mary had married the Prophet Joseph Smith’s brother, Hyrum Smith, and taken the responsibility of caring for his five motherless children, and had two of her own, Joseph Fielding, and Martha Ann. She had suffered many hardships and been driven from one place to another by mobs.
His sister, Mercy Rachel had married Robert Thompson and had a little daughter and was a widow. Her husband was scribe or secretary for the Prophet for some time, also the Church Recorder at the time of his death, 27 August, 1841.
When Joseph went to England in 1837, the body of the church was in Kirtland, Ohio. Soon after this, the Saints were persecuted and driven out of Kirtland and had moved to Jackson County into other locations in Missouri. Far West became the central gathering place for the Saints and a second temple was started here. But enemies increased and persecutions became even bitterer until the people fled to Commerce, Illinois, later called Nauvoo. Here a third temple was under construction.
The church had suffered a wave of apostasy. Many in high positions of authority had fallen away and left the church. But will all the persecutions and apostasy, the numbers in the church had increased greatly since Joseph became a member.
Joseph was released from his mission in 1841, and he and his little family sailed for America on September 12, 1841. He was in charge of the company of Saints who came, being over two hundred in number. They left Liverpool on the ship Tyrean bound for New Orleans and Nauvoo, via the Mississippi River.
Joseph and Hannah and their two little daughters arrived in Nauvoo in November, 1841 to be welcomed by sisters Mary, and Mercy Rachel and many friends. Joseph immediately began providing a home for his family. Being a farmer, he obtained a small farm bordering Nauvoo, but the family lived in Nauvoo most of the time. Through prayer and great faith, this family was blessed. They were so thankful for the gospel and to be with the main body of the church. They made many friends, among them the Prophet Joseph Smith, and they associated together in their homes. Little Rachel never forgot sitting on the lap of the prophet or when he held her braids and played horse with her using her braids as reins. She was five years old the day the mob killed her Uncle Hyrum and the prophet Joseph Smith, but her mother did not tell Rachel about this terrible thing until the next day. She well remembered the grief of their family and the Saints over this tragedy and the great fear they had of their enemies.
Two more children were born in Nauvoo: Heber, born 20 July 1843, and Joseph, born 13 July 1845. Soon after getting established in Nauvoo, Joseph married a second wife. She was an English widow, Mary Ann (Peak) Greenhalch. Their first child, Mary Ann was born 22 March 1846.
The Saints struggled desperately to finish the temple after the death of their Prophet and his brother. Persecution increased. Some baptisms were performed for the dead in the temple as soon as the basement was finished. It was dedicated for this purpose. Before this, a few baptism for the dead had been performed the Mississippi River, but no more were done after the temple font was received.
When the Nauvoo temple was finally dedicated, Joseph and Hannah received their endowments (on December 10 1845. This was the first day temple endowments were ever performed in a temple in this Dispensation. They and their children were sealed January 26, 1846 for time and eternity.
Persecution became so bitter that President Brigham Young advised the Saints to prepare to flee to the Rocky Mountains. They had labored and sacrificed so much to build this beautiful and sacred temple, and then to be driven from their homes, beautiful city and temple was almost more than the Saints could stand to do.
Church authorities left and went to establish what became known as Winter Quarters in Iowa as a temporary gathering place for the Saints where final preparations could be made for the trek west.
Joseph Fielding and his two families, his two widowed sisters and their families left Nauvoo in August 1846, and crossed the river into the River Bottoms where they camped. Two days later Nauvoo was bombarded and fire resulted.
Some members of the Prophet’s family and others tried to persuade Mary Fielding Smith to remain in Nauvoo under some promise for protection, but her love of the gospel and her family, and her confidence in church leadership, was too strong for outside influence to affect her decision to move west.
Under the most trying conditions, this little group with many others, made their way to Winter Quarters where they remained until the spring of 1848. While living here two sons were born to Joseph: Hannah, son Hyrum Thomas was born 29 March, 1847, and died 4 Aug 1847. Mary Ann’s son, John Hyrum)born in Sept 1847 and died 16 Sept 1848, Just before they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.
During the winter of 1847, Joseph and his sister Mary Smith made two trips to St. Joseph, Missouri, to purchase supplies and equipment for their trip west. (Story of finding Oxen)
Finally the day arrived for them to start west. The Fielding group was assigned to a company whose captain opposed having two widows, the Fielding sisters, in his group to worry about. However nothing could discourage them in making this trip. If their faith and endurance had not been so strong, this family group might never have reached Salt Lake Valley. Once one of Mary Smith’s oxen lay down and was about to die, but Joseph and another man administered to the ox and the animal arose and continued on the journey.
It was a sad experience for Joseph and Mary Ann to have their little year-old son die and they had to bury him along the way, especially when they were so near their journey’s end. They entered the valley on September 23, 1848, just one week after their child died. One of the Fielding group’s oxen strayed, and they had to find it. The captain of the group refused to wait for them. But after they found the oxen and started on their way, they passed their group because the captain’s wagon had broken down. Joseph asked if they should wait for them, but Mary was firm. They hadn’t waited for them, so they wouldn’t wait for the group.
Joseph’s family and his sister’s family located at East Mill Creek and took up farming land there. Shelter was their first concern. Fencing property and preparing land to plant in the spring was a real task, but regardless of this first hard winter, the Lord blessed them all and they survived the hardships.
On 20 May, 1849, Joseph and Hannah welcomed another daughter into their humble home. Hannah Alice was the first family member born in the Valley. She died when about eight years old on April 8, 1857. Another daughter, Josephine, was born to Mary Ann on January 7, 1849.
Joseph’s sister Mary Smith died 11 September, 1852, after a long illness. Joseph mourned the loss of his lovely sister and felt responsible for her two children, Joseph Fielding Smith and his sister Martha Ann, who were about the same ages as his two oldest daughters.
On November 2 1862, Ellen Fielding, the second daughter married William Burton as his second wife. Shortly after this, William and Joseph Fielding were walking to Kaysville, and Joseph told his son-in-law that he hoped his youngest daughter, Sarah Ann, could some day find as good a husband as her two older sisters had done. Little did he know that in the not too distant future Sarah would become Will Burton’s third wife.
Joseph started to build a new house on his farm near a beautiful stream of water, but he never did get it finished. He took ill very suddenly and died on December 19, 1863, at the age of sixty-six years. He had married two wives, had ten children, passed through much persecution in Nauvoo, suffered much from hardships crossing the plains, and pioneering in Utah, all after the age of forty years. No doubt his great responsibilities, and hardships at this time of life had helped to hasten his death.
He was a very quiet and modest person. He did not like to be in the public eye. He was a very humble man and had great faith and a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Being a kind and helpful man, he was always helping his neighbor or others, but did it very quietly.
President Joseph F. Smith once said of him, “My Uncle Joseph Fielding was not the kind of man to seek fame or notoriety by getting his name on the front pages of a newspaper. He was a very quiet humble man, very thoughtful and considerate of others and forever engaged in doing kind acts for those who needed a helping hand. In fact, I don’t think a more kindly, thoughtful man ever lived than my Uncle Joseph Fielding.”
Joseph Fielding wrote several volumes of a diary and they had much church history in them. They are deposited in the L>D>S> Church Historian’s office