For more great stories about Joseph Smith, see Mark McConkie's new book Remembering Joseph—the most complete collection of reminiscences of the Prophet ever made.
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Charles Henry Stoddard
Upon retiring one evening, in a lean-to attached to a building which was partly vacant and partly used for storage purposes, the lad was awakened by conversation being held in the vacant portions of the building. This building was a rendezvous of the bitter apostates and enemies of the Prophet among whom was William Law, who seemed to be a ringleader. The lad listened thru a hole in the leg structure thru which light was also emerging, and learned that these men were plotting against the Prophet's life. He heard Law tell this group of apostates that he would have Charles clean, oil and load his gun which was one of his regular duties. After the group had disbanded and had all left the building, the lad dressed and hurried to the home of the Prophet and told him all that he had seen and heard and asked the Prophet what he should do. The Prophet told him to return and act as nothing had happened, and to do as his employer requested, and admonished him to load the gun well. He told the boy that they could not hurt him until his time had arrived. The boy did as requested. The next morning Mr. Law requested him to clean, oil, and load his six-shooter, which was faithfully done as the Prophet advised. When the opportune time arrived, Law aimed the revolver at the Prophet with the intention of killing him. He pulled the trigger but the gun misfired as did all of the other five loads in the six-shooter. He cursed because the gun did not discharge, and blamed the boy for not loading the weapon properly. The boy replied that he had done it to the best of his ability. Law then aimed at a post and all six loads were discharged.
"Hannah Rebecca Larson Stoddard, Affidavit, Oct. 15, 1949," LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.
At Nauvoo, he saw the Prophet Joseph Smith many times on a beautiful white horse. They were staying with an aunt, (Mrs. Redfield), and saw a little calf for the first time. They went out to pet and examine the animal, but it became frightened and broke the rope. Time and again Schuyler got it into a corner, but each time it came near Adelaide [his younger sister], she became frightened and ran in the opposite direction. Finally Schuyler lost his temper and shouted: "You darn fool! Why don't you head it?" At that moment Joseph Smith happened to be riding by. He got off his horse, tied up the calf, and then petting Adelaide on the head, said, "You are not a little fool, are you sissy?" He never even looked at Schuyler. This was a lesson the boy never forgot. Often in his later years, he related the story to his grandchildren, and his eyes always filled with tears.
"Biography of Schuyler Everett," Holograph on microfilm, Utah Historic Records Survey, Federal Writers' Project (WPA), Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
I was present when the Prophet preached his last sermon from the house top near the Mansion. It was a frame building put up to the Square and a place floored over for him to stand on I do not think it was ever taken down. It was too powerful. He called on the thunder and lightening, then angels for to witness, and going through the motions, drawing his sword if so and so was done it should not be sheathed again until vengeance was taken on the wicked. There was a tall man standing behind me sobbing and crying. When I turned around to look at him [he] said he would never fight against the Mormons more, no never. He was a stranger to me. The Prophet used to hold meetings in a log house of his sometimes twice a week I do not remember missing one when I had a chance.
"Autobiography of Charles Lambert (1816-1892)," LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 8-16. Spelling and punctuation have been modernized.
Another man, who was nine years old shortly before Joseph Smith was killed, related this account: It was Temple Tithing Day (they had two tithings in Nauvoo, the regular tithing on one's increase or earnings, and the other on time, so that each person was expected to work every tenth day on the temple without pay). This boy's father had hitched his team to his wagon and with his son had gone to the quarry to load a large stone into the wagon; then, they started for the temple. Pulling out of the quarry with its stone floor was no problem, but when they started across the "Flat" their wagon became stuck in a mud hole. The father whipped the horses and they lurched forward against their collars, but this sudden pull merely jiggled the wagon and made it sink a bit deeper in the mire. The father handed the reins to his son telling him to stay with the team while he went up to the temple and secured someone to come down with a team or two of oxen and pull his wagon out of the mud.
His father had just stepped off the wagon when a man walking along the side of the street (where they had planned sidewalks, but had not yet constructed them) called to him and said, "I see you are having trouble, Brother Bybee."
"Yes," replied the latter, "I'm going to the temple to get someone to pull me out."
The man waded into the mud and said to the father, "Brother Bybee, you get by that left rear wheel and put your right shoulder under a spoke. I'll get my left shoulder under a spoke of the right wheel." Then to the nine year old boy he said: "Get your whip ready and when I say 'Lift, we'll lift with our shoulders, and don't you spare the horseflesh."
So saying, each in position, the man said "Lift." Each did his part. The horses jumped at the sting of the whip, the wagon moved a bit, and the horses were able to keep it going. After going about a hundred feet onto dry ground the boy let the team rest. The two men caught up with the wagon and as Brother Bybee climbed up to the driver's seat and took the reins from his son, the father called out, "Thank you, Brother Joseph."
The boy had been greatly impressed that a prophet of the Lord, probably on his way to pay his temple tithing in labor, was not above wading in mud halfway to his knees and getting his shoulder covered with mud to help another man in distress.
T. Edgar Lyon, "Recollections of 'Old Nauvooers': Memories from Oral History," BYU Studies 18, no. 2 (winter 1977-1978): 147.
I then returned to the mansion of the Prophet and after a short conversation with the bartender, who I afterwards learned was Oren [Orrin] Porter Rockwell, to my great satisfaction, I saw Petingale [Pettingill] and five others about to enter the building. After greeting my old friends heartily, I was introduced to the Prophet, whose mild and penetrating glance denoted great depth of tough and extensive forethought. While standing before his penetrating gaze, he seemed to read the very recesses of my heart. A thousand thoughts passed through my mind. I had been permitted by the great author of my being to behold with my natural eyes, a prophet of the living God when millions had died without that privilege, and to grasp his hand in mine, was a privilege that in early days, I did not expect to enjoy. I seemed to be transfigured before him. I gazed with wonder at his person and listened with delight to the sound of his voice. I had this privilege both in public and private at that time and afterwards. Though, in after years, I may become cast away, the impression made upon my mind at this introduction can never be erased. The feeling which passed over me at this time is impressed upon me as indelibly and lasting as though it were written with an iron pen upon the tablets of my heart. My very destiny seemed to be interwoven with his. I loved his company; the sound of his voice was music to my ears. His counsels were good and his acts were exemplary and worthy of imitation. His theological reasoning was of God.
In his domestic circle, he was mild and forbearing, but resolute, and determined in the accomplishment of God's work, although opposed by the combined powers of earth. He gathered his thousands around him and planted a great city which was to be the foundation of a mighty empire and consecrated it to God as the land of Zion. At the same time, he endured the most unparalleled persecution of any man in the history of our country. Like one of old, the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. With a mind that disdained to confine itself to the old beaten track of religious rites and ceremonies, he burst asunder the chains which for ages past had held in bondage the nations of the earth. He soared aloft and brought to light the hidden treasure of the Almighty.
"Gilbert Belnap Autobiography," BYU Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah, 30-32
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