Sunday, August 11, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #33 President Brigham Young Leads the Saints

I have prepared another lesson about the miracles of the Mormon migration, with an accompanying PowerPoint. That lesson is available at this link.

Scrap of paper at each place
6 pint jars with the following amounts of M&Ms (or other small items) in them: 14, 117, 195, 197, 351, 410
Write names on board: John Brown, James Brown, Hark Lay, Oscar Crosby, Green Flake

Note:  The succession of Church leadership will be address in Lesson #37: “We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet”


When the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed, most of the apostles were on missions to the eastern United States, including Parley P. Pratt. The only two in Illinois were Willard Richards and John Taylor, both of whom had been with Joseph and Hyrum at Carthage. Parley was the first to return, having been “constrained by the Spirit” to head back to Nauvoo from New York before he had planned to. While on a canal boat, enroute,

“…a strange and solemn awe came over me, as if the powers of hell were let loose. I was so overwhelmed with sorrow I could hardly speakI was so over-whelmed with sorrow I could hardly speak; and after pacing the deck for some time in silence, I turned to my brother William and exclaimed—'Brother William, this is a dark hour; the powers of darkness seem to triumph, and the spirit of murder is abroad in the land, and it controls the hearts of the American people, and a vast majority of them sanction the killing of the innocent.' …This was June 27th, 1844, in the afternoon, and as near as I can judge, it was the same hour that the Carthage mob were shedding the blood of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and John Taylor, near one thousand miles distant.”

All of the other members of the quorum reported feeling a terrible sadness on that day. In Wisconsin, passengers boarded the boat Parley was on, gloating over the news that Joseph and Hyrum had been killed. When Parley got off in Chicago, he found a great hubbub as the press was issuing extras “announcing the triumph of the murderous mob in killing the Smiths.”

“I felt so weighed down with sorrow and the powers of darkness that it was painful for me to…speak to any one, or even to try to eat or sleep. I really felt that if it had been my own family who had died, and our beloved Prophet been spared alive, I could have borne it…I had loved Joseph with a warmth of affection indescribable for about 14 years. I had associated with him in private and in public, in travels and at home, in joy and sorrow, in honor and dishonor, in adversity of every kind…But now he was gone to the invisible world, and we and the Church of the Saints were left to mourn in sorrow and without the presence of our beloved founder and Prophet.

“As I walked along over the plains of Illinois, lonely and solitary, I reflected as follows: …in a day or two I shall be there. How shall I meet the sorrowing widows and orphans? How shall I meet the aged and widowed mother…? How shall I console and advise 25,000 people who will throng about me in tears, and in the absence of my President and the older members of the now-presiding council, will ask counsel at my hands? …When I could endure it no longer, I cried aloud, saying: O Lord! In the name of Jesus Christ I pray Thee, show me what these things mean, and what I shall say to Thy people? On a sudden the Spirit of God came upon me, and filled my heart with joy and gladness indescribable, and while the spirit of revelation glowed in my bosom with as visible a warmth and gladness as if it were fire, the Spirit said unto me: ‘Lift up your head and rejoice; for behold! It is well with my servants Joseph and Hyrum…Go and say unto my people in Nauvoo, that they shall continue to pursue their daily duties and take care of themselves, and make no movement in Church government to reorganize or alter anything until the return of the remainder of the Quorum of the Twelve. But exhort them that they continue to build the House of the Lord…’
“This information caused my bosom to burn with joy and gladness and I was comforted above measure; all my sorrow seemed in a moment to be lifted as a burden from my back.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 292-294) (A timeline of Parley's life with brief and interesting notes is available at Jared Pratt Family Website.)

At a time of great trial, the commandment to Parley was to “lift up your head and rejoice,” and the comforting presence of the Spirit made it possible to obey that commandment. “Lift” is a verb, requiring action. To lift your head would imply that you would be looking upward, towards heaven, or seeing with an eternal perspective. It would also imply that you would be looking forward at what to do next, rather than backward in regret. When you lift up your head symbolically, rejoicing then will naturally follow.


Candy Jars Guessing Game:  Ask class members to write on their paper scraps how many times they think the words below are found in the scriptures. Then tell them the jars of M&Ms correspond to each word. The closest guess to each word count wins the jar with that number of M&Ms.  For extra insight into latter-day church history, I have included in parentheses how many of those are found in the D&C.

Sad/Sadness --13 (1 in D&C)
Sorrow--195 (8 in D&C*)
Weep--117 (9 in D&C**)
Glad/Gladness—197 (21 in D&C)
Joy—351 (34 in D&C)
Rejoice—410 (42 in D&C)

*Half of these refer to the wicked. The others counsel saints regarding sorrow, promise no sorrow, or are prayers offered in behalf of the sorrowing saints.
**One of these 9 refers to weeping for joy. 7 of them refer to the wicked.

The message is clear: The gospel is a message of gladness.

2 Nephi 2:25 – “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” Ours is a doctrine of rejoicing.

D&C 133:42-44 – “O Lord, thou shalt come down to make thy name known to thine adversaries, and all nations shall tremble at thy presence— When thou doest terrible things, things they look not for; Yea, when thou comest down, and the mountains flow down at thy presence, thou shalt meet him who rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, who remembereth thee in thy ways.” This scripture gives a definition of saints caught up to meet Christ in the last days:  They are 1) rejoicing, 2) working righteousness, 3) remembering Christ and his ways.

D&C 112:4 – “Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face; and thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.” This scripture implies that you must be of good cheer to be a missionary.

D&C 107:22-24 – “Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church. The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling. And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.”  This revelation told the saints that the Quorum of Twelve Apostles had all the authority needed to run the Church in Joseph's absence.


And so Brigham Young led the saints west. Although he fully intended to make the trek in 1846, they actually began April 8, 1847, for reasons noted below.

Brigham Young started out from Winter Quarters with 143 men, 3 women and 2 children, but he ended up in the Salt Lake Valley with more than that, and it has to do with some amazing converts from a largely unproductive mission to the Southern States. This is their very little-known (although well-documented) story and it’s very interesting to hear.

In 1843, John Brown, a convert from Tennessee who had gathered to Nauvoo, was called on a mission to the South. Generally speaking, the South was very infertile ground for missionary work, but in one place, he and the other missionaries found a motherlode: Monroe County, Mississippi. 150-200 people were converted, most of them related to each other. John married one of them.

He was called back to Nauvoo after the martyrdom to work on the Temple. When the 1846 exodus began, John was sent back to Mississippi to gather the saints there into the fold and help them cross the plains. He left for Mississippi (a 1,000-mile trip) in January in snow and storm. He collected 43 people and 19 wagons and they left their homes on April 8th. His father-in-law, William Crosby, led the train.

In Independence, they heard wild rumors about Mormons committing atrocities on the Oregon Trail, so they assumed the saints had gone west. They joined with a six-wagon party of Oregon Trailers at Independence and picked up a few other Latter-day Saints and headed out across the plains to meet  Brigham Young. They got to the Platte River and there was no Brigham Young. They stopped for one day to think it over, and decided he must have gone on and they pressed full speed ahead to catch up. They suffered all kinds of difficulties, but made it nearly halfway to the Great Basin before they found out that there were no Mormons ahead of them on the trail (Leonard J. Arrington, “Mississippi Mormons,” Ensign, June 1977; also Richard E. Bennett, We’ll Find the Place, p. 172-173).

Now, of course, Brigham Young had fully intended to go west that year, 1846, in an advance wagon train, but the saints didn't want him to leave them; they tried to keep up with him, and by doing so, they slowed him greatly. “Our president don’t stick [hesitate] at anything that tends to advance the gathering of Israel, or promote the cause of Zion in these last days,” wrote Thomas Bullock, clerk to the twelve. “He sleeps with one eye open and one foot out of bed, and when anything is wanted, he is on hand and his counselors are all of one heart with him in all things” (quoted in Richard E. Bennett, We’ll Find the Place, p. 59). Brigham and the other leaders, Heber C. Kimball, etc., had a year’s supply of food in their wagons, but it was quickly depleted since many others had not taken that counsel in their zeal. In addition, the terribly muddy weather slowed their travel unbelievably. The Mormon Battalion had been called up for a year’s duty, and the use of the funds they would be paid for their service would be very beneficial to the trek.  So they had camped at Winter Quarters, with groups of saints strung out in encampments all along the trail in Iowa.

So when John Brown and his company were beyond Chimney Rock, they met John Richards (pronounce REE-shaw), a French trapper who told them there were no Mormons on the trail ahead. They decided to winter on the trail rather than go back. John Richards invited them to stay at Fort Pueblo, Colorado with him. Fort Pueblo was occupied by 6-8 mountain men and their Spanish and Indian wives. The Mormons built a little community of log homes outside the church/school. With their Southern gentility, they hosted dances there and invited the mountain men, but they didn’t forget to be missionaries: When the mountain men arrived to dance with the fair Southern belles, they found they had to listen to a gospel sermon first! 

John Brown headed back east to meet with President Young and reached Winter Quarters in October. That same month, 154 Mormon Battalion members, discharged because of illness, arrived from the southwest to winter at Fort Pueblo. Their captain was none other than another of the missionaries who had converted many of the Mississippi saints, James Brown. They built 18 more cabins for the Battalion.

Arriving back at Winter Quarters, John Brown received word from Brigham Young not to bring the whole group that year but to handpick a few men to join Brigham’s vanguard company which would be traveling west that spring. So John headed south, in January again, where he picked 4 white men and 4 black slaves. Two of the black men died along the way (Arrington). The two remaining were brothers Oscar Crosby, 32, and Hark Lay, 22. They had different last names because they had different masters. Oscar “belonged” to John’s father-in-law, William Crosby, and had been converted through James Brown’s missionary efforts (the Battalion Leader). William Crosby had shared the gospel with the Lays, Hark’s masters (Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray, One More River to Cross, p. 257).

At Winter Quarters, the two were joined by another black slave, 19-year-old Green Flake, who was a friend of theirs, and had gone to Nauvoo with his master, James Flake. Green had been baptized at the age of 16 by John Brown. “It may strike you as funny that a Brown baptized a black named Green, but that’s how it was—colorful.” (Young/Gray,  p. 249)

Green Flake remained a faithful Latter-day Saint
all his life 

At this point I need to interject that some of the early saints felt that slave-owning was acceptable if the slaves (or what they euphemistically called “colored servants”) were treated kindly, since there was counsel in the Bible on how slaves and masters should treat each other. It was a confusing time in the pre-Emancipation Proclamation United States in that respect. Utah was not a state, and was neither slave nor free.

Actually, it was quite remarkable for that time that the missionaries even taught the gospel to some slaves, considering them children of God. Sadly they generally were not considered as quite the same class, though, even after they joined the church. For instance, while white saints were called by their last names (Sister Smith), black saints were called by their first (Sister Jane), following the manner of address given to slaves. Still, many Church members loved their “servants” almost as dearly as family members.

When Green Flake’s master left the south for Nauvoo upon his baptism, he offered freedom to all of his slaves, but Green chose to remain with him as a slave, along with two of his friends. Later in life, Green Flake became a (free) servant of Brigham Young’s (Young/Gray, p. 256).

Hark, true to his name, had a beautiful singing voice, and he and Green would often sing together. The Negro Spirituals floated across the plains, along with “Come, Come, Ye Saints?” Hark would also dance a mean jig to the music of the fiddle playing in the evenings (Young/Gray).  

The names of Green Flake, Hark Lay and Oscar Crosby are immortalized as members of the first Mormon pioneer company on the Brigham Young monument which was first displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair (Wikipedia) and now resides in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah at the intersection of Main and South Temple Streets.

Brigham Young's wagon train left Winter Quarters on April 8, 1847, and reached Fort Laramie on June 3. Seventeen of the Pueblo saints had been there waiting and watching for them for 2 weeks and were ecstatic to recognize from a distance the apostles leading the wagon train. Apostle Amasa Lyman was sent to gather up the rest of the members still in Pueblo and bring them to the Great Basin. The body of Mississippi saints arrived in Salt Lake 5 days after Brigham Young’s vanguard group, but the three black men were in Brigham Young's party.  The main group arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 22, and Brigham (since he was in the sick group that went a little slower) on July 24 (now celebrated as a state holiday, Pioneer Day).

After helping plant and build and settle, John Brown and his party headed back east on August 26 to get the rest of the Mississippi Saints, traveling with Brigham Young as far as Winter Quarters. Once again, John Brown arrived in Mississippi in the dead of winter--December this time--and immediately made preparations to cross the plains for the fifth time in less than two years. He and his converts left Mississippi on March 10, 1848. There were 13 families, including 56 white saints and 34 black. They arrived in Salt Lake City in October, bringing the total population of the Valley to about 200 white and 37 black Mississippi saints.

The first Mormon community in Utah outside of Salt Lake City was settled by these saints. It was called Cottonwood and is presently called Holladay after one of the Mississippians who was bishop there. In March of 1851, the Mississippi saints were sent to colonize Southern California with Charles Rich. They founded the city of San Bernadino. Later, many of them helped colonize Southern Utah and Arizona as well.

The Mississippi saints were classy, as well as being hard workers. They raised the level of frontier society with their Southern drawl, hospitality and etiquette. They were also excellent record keepers and even recorded funny incidents. “One of the children at the school in San Bernardino asked the teacher how to spell rat. The teacher replied ‘R-A-T.’ The child said, ‘I don’t mean mousy rat. Anybody knows how to spell that! What I mean is like in “do it rat now!”’”

Very likely the first black teacher of white children in the United States was a Mormon, Alive Rowan, who taught in Riverside, California, and was the daughter of two of the slaves who had come west with John Brown (Arrington).


The road west was rough for the Mormon pioneers, no doubt. But “while many wept at the inexplicable tragedy of it all, others chose deliberately to wear a happier face.  ‘How can I go without you?’ inquired Irene Hascall of her non-supportive parents in New England. “Or how can you stay behind?...Do not worry anything about it, there will be some way.  I suppose father would not like to travel across the Rocky Mountains but I should think he might like it real well for he can hunt all the way. I think probably [we] will cross the Rocky Mountains to a healthier climate. What good times we will have journeying and pitching our tents like the Israelites” (Bennett, p. 23). Irene was a happy camper.

Helen Mar Whitney was buoyed by the beauties of nature as she trekked.  “This day the sky was cloudless and beautiful, and I was happy…Our tent was pitched on a gentle slope, and below, some distance away, was a crystal stream of water babbling over the rocks down through a little grove of trees and willows, where I accompanied [my husband] Horace the next day, Sunday, to fish, taking along our books to read.  This was his favorite pastime, and in which he indulged every opportunity.  This was the most delightful spot we had seen, the whole landscape around us was lovely, they called it rolling prairie, and it had such a variety of hills and dales, all dressed anew in their bright velvety robes of spring.

“The first morning I took an early stroll to enjoy the scene, and I was almost enchanted as I stood there alone gazing at the glorious sight as the sun was peeping over the hills—and to lend more to the scene of enchantment here came a beautiful fawn and also an antelope, skipping fearlessly over hill and dale and out of sight, with naught to disturb them nor the peace and tranquility of my thoughts…” (Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman’s View,p. 363-364).

Once Irene Hascall arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, she wrote to her parents again, “This is our place of residence.  It is in the midst of the rocky mountains surrounded on every side by impassable mountains and just one passage in and another on the west side which will not take much labor to stop an army of ten thousand.  Now let the mobbers rage.  The Lord has provided this place for us and if we are faithful the trouble and calamities of the Gentile nation will not harm.” [Truer words were never spoken, as the expulsion from Missouri completely removed the saints, both black and white, from the one of the greatest hotbeds of destruction in the Civil War.  For a fascinating tangent, see The Civil War in Missouri and Illinois.]  “When all is past we will step forth from our hiding place…I wish you would come and stay with us.  You would if you could see the future” (Bennett, p. 351).

Parley P. Pratt chose joy and the presence of the Spirit at the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, when he was “weighed down as it were unto death.”

Hark Lee and Green Flake sang and danced their way across the plains, though they were slaves.

Helen Mar Whitney chose to rejoice in nature, rather than whine about sore feet.

We would do well to carry the optimism after tragedy that these saints possessed.  Paraphrasing the words of Irene Hascall, “[We] would if [we] could see the future.”


Paul said...

This is great! I'd never heard any of this information before, and I don't think it's widely known.

Unknown said...

Nancy, could you please tell me where you got the information for your M&M jars? Are these words used in all the standard works?
I want to do this tomorrow. Just wanted to recheck to see where the information came from.
Knowing my class they will start counting.............! True! HA!

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

I just did a search on the computerized scriptures. The first number is the total in all the standard works. The number in parentheses is a subset of the first number, counting those that are found in the D&C
Hope I answered in time!

Unknown said...

You did! Thanks! I'm using the M&m's for "Faith in Every Footstep!" Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

This is way different than the lesson manual materials. I think it is wise to stick to the materials provided, the church does a great job of providing enough information and references.

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

It is meant to be "way different than the lesson manual materials."
From the blog description at the top of the page: "This blog provides supplementary material for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lessons to enhance personal understanding or family study. It is not an official Church site, nor is it endorsed by the Church, but simply represents the personal research and testimony of the author."
That said, I was actually asked to be on a sub-committee for the Church Curriculum Committee a few years ago because a member of the Committee was a reader of this blog, and that was a delightful experience.

Mickey Wood said...

Mickey Wood, Thanks so much for your so interesting supplement. I am from Ms and there is a new Branch in Smithville, a small town in Monroe county and they are so proud of it.