August Lenz

In the years 1914 and 1915 I was laboring as a missionary in Germany.

There has always been a law in that country to the effect that everybody must register his name at the nearest Police Office. It seems that much of the work that is done here in the Town or Municipal Office is done there by the Police Department. Any Stranger, be they Foreigners or German born, when travelling in Germany, was required to go to the nearest Office, show his passport, and tell them his business and address; and when he desired to leave again for some other place, he must go again and tell them his new destination and receive a transfer which tells the Police of the new town who and what he is.

No doubt this law has its good points; but it was too bothersome for the strangers, especially for Americans and Canadians who liked to do as they pleased without asking anyone’s permission or consent.

The laws of Germany also allowed religious freedom for everybody; for Germany was the country, where, through Martin Luther, religious freedom was first established.

This freedom did not extend to the Mormon Missionaries, however, for the only information than German Police had about them was that they were after their best looking women to export them to the Mormon harams in America, but since they cannot prosecute them according to the law without evidence – which they did not have – the only way they can protect their women was to banish the missionaries from the country as “Undesirable foreigners”, which did not require any process of law.

For that reason the missionaries, in order to labor in Germany, would secure “Bootleg Lodgings” and stay as long as they were not caught; when caught, they would be fined and sometimes imprisoned, and then were escorted to the train and told never to come back. The Landlords were also fined for failing to report new lodgers. But, or course, the missionaries always paid their fines.

Now I have been in Germany a long time, laboring in three different cities: Mannheim, Herne, in Prussia, where no missionary had ever been able to stay two weeks, and in Hamburg.

In Herne, I have spent six weeks, which was a record, and I am satisfied I could have stayed there indefinitely in spite of one or two narrow escapes, and notwithstanding I could not obtain any lodgings. The Saints were all spied up on, and the outsiders who had harbored missionaries in the past, had been caught before and threatened with more serious punishment if caught again, which is scared them plenty. So I was forced to lodge in the meeting hall, where I slept on two rows of chairs hold together, and with my overcoat for my bedding. This suit of me fine.  I slept good, and dodging the police was a great sport; in fact, after I left there and did not have to dodge then anymore I felt that there was something I was missing. I will here relate an incident felt how I evaded an officer, or rather, what may have been an officer.

The Police Force of Herne was considered to be the most intolerant to ward Mormon Missionaries of any city in Germany. No American Missionary had ever been able to stay there even in two weeks without getting caught, fined, and deported.

The saints here numbered about 60 souls are, including the children, and were presided over by a very efficient President, Brother Krefter.

Herne is not so beautiful a city as are other cities in Germany being situated, as it is, in the center of a coal mining district, not so far from Essen. There were several City Parks, however, which made up for the deficiency of beauty in the rest of the city, easily accessible for everybody; one in particular being more beautiful than the others; and enclosed with a 10 foot high iron fence, that seemed to be closed part of the time.

When I was first sent to Herne I called upon the Branch President, Brother Krefter first, and he warned me the Police would find me quick if I lived in the City; as he gave me the address of a member of the Church who lived in and outlying town called Toutoburgia, an hours walk. Which by the way, was the Battle Field where the Roman Legions suffered the greatest defeat by the Germans under Herman, or Arminius, something like 2000 years ago.

As it turned out, I had not left Brother Krefter’s house more than an hour when a Detective came and asked where the new Mormon missionary was lodged. Brother Krefter gave him evasive answers; but the policeman told him it was no use to hide me, because there was some locate me the same as they had found all the others. He visited in all the other church members, but, of course, they had not been informed about me.

“Bible Class” was held every Wednesday evening, and I attended the same day.  All the saints were there present out of curiosity to see the new missionary the Police man had told them about.  A good way to get out 100% attendance, with the Police obligingly helping.

The door was locked during the exercises, and I sat in the body of the hall instead of on the stand.  One Brother sat at the light switch to turn it off instantly if trouble came. No disturbance was made however.

After the meeting was over the door was unlocked, and Brother Krefter’s daughter was the first to go out; but immediately returned and reported the Police were outside waiting. The light went out at once, and the Brethren, in a body with me in their midst, made a rush for the street, and we then scattered in all directions, some going one way, and some another and in the midst of it all the Police did not know which one to take. I went in the opposite way I had to go, crossed a vacant lot into a back alley, and from there through another vacant lot into another street, where I took a handy Street Car to the outside of town.

Missionaries, as a rule, are dressed in the finest American made suits by which they could be distinguished a long way off, and were easily picked off by the Police. But as for me, I wore German made clothes of the plainest of material and cut; and so escaped their notice. I always left my lodgings early in the morning and did not go back till late at night, and so escaped the notice of the neighbors who might have been curious. In this way I got along most excellently, because the people I did my work among did not know the police would like to make my acquaintance, and there was only one Pastor who ever threatened to have me arrested, and that only for the reason that I was working among his flock, leaving tracts and books. A Book of Mormon I had loaned to one of his members got into his hands, and he let it be known to me that he would like to meet me.

I called upon him, and he received me very courteously and polite. A young boy, hardly twently years old, perhaps could be converted and rescued from the grasp of Satan and the wide open portals of hell, and made into a useful Christian. But that bashful and tongue tied young boy had a way of asking questions that he could not answer at a moment’s notice, and mentioning principles of the gospel of which he had never even heard of. And the less he could answer the more his affability and courteousness disappeared until he jumped up off his seat and yelled: “What’s a young fellow like you, who is not yet dry behind the ears, trying to teach me? Me, who has studied the scriptures all his life and graduated from the University before you was born?” Jerking open the front door he yelled: “Get out before I call the Police!”

Nevertheless, I gained a number of very good friends from among his flock. But one day, after leaving that district, while on my way home, it seemed to me that I had noticed the same man several times, and I wondered if perhaps he was following me. I stopped and looked into a store window, and out of the corner of my eyes saw him do the same far down the street. I walked slowly on and after a time I repeated the performance, which he also did, although he was now on the other side of the street.

It had always been the practice of the police when they spotted a missionary, to follow him home and then arrest him and his landlord also, and I wondered if this was not also something similar. But I was not taking chances.

So to evade him I made for this nearby park of which I referred to above, and I climbed a tree which grew outside of the fence and walk surrounding the Park, climbed out on a limb, and dropped myself down inside the gate on the opposite side; but as I turned the last bend approaching the gate I saw two things at once, one was a large sign which read: “Park closed to the Public; Trespassers will be prosecuted according to law.” And the other thing I saw was a group of workmen standing in the gateway.

They saw me the same time I saw them, and under these conditions I could not very well retreat; so I brazenly walked right up to them as though I owned the property, and politely raising my hat, I said: “Good evening, men, it’s a nice day.” And I edged my way between them.

I proceeded on my way leisurely, but judging by the way they looked and acted, they were undecided as to my authority for me being there, whether I might be a new Officer or Inspector; or merely a trespasser, or whether they should call a Policeman or let me go. After I reached a safe distance I looked back, and there in the gateway the men still stood there as I had left them, they had not moved an inch, still gazing after me.

I lived with the family in Teutoburgia only a short time, because I was afraid I might get them into trouble, and so moved into the Meeting Hall where I made my bed on two rows of chairs as stated before. There I was a burden to no one, which suited me fine. I was young and tough, and I did not even wish for a better bed, and it never cost me a cent, which was a big consideration for me in that time.

But eventually the Mission President, Hyrum Valentyne, and the European President, Apostle Hyrum M Smith came visiting the branches which were in that part of Germany and when someone told them I slept on chairs they thought that was too great a hardship, and they transferred me to the city of Hamburg, where the Police were not so severe, and it would be easier to get accommodations, as there were over seven hundred members there.

I had spent six weeks in Herne, which was a record, and I am satisfied I could have stayed there much longer.

Soon after I became located in Hamburg, the First Great War broke out. War conditions made it necessary to call out of Germany all the Missionaries. The Registration laws were immediately made stricter, and all regulations were tightened up, and crossing the border was now impossible without a Passport. And as it happened, I did not have one. I was under legal age when I went over. And before the Wat anyone could travel anywhere without them. The law required it, but it was never enforced so I could not leave Germany with the others, and I became the only Mormon Missionary actively laboring in all of Germany.

Several, being Germany subjects, were drafted into the Army, and one was in hiding to avoid the drafting, living secretly with the Saints until one of the Members doing Border Guard duty, smuggled him into Holland.

My money was deposited here in Canada, and was sent to me as I needed it. So the Mission President advised me to use the tithing money the Saints paid in and reimburse the church after I got home. But the enemies of the Church sometimes accused the Missionaries of appropriating the tithing money of the Saints as their own pay; and as I did not want them to have that advantage over me, and as I always admired the old missionaries who had the faith to go into a strange country to preach the gospel without purse or script I decided to do the same. But what decided me the most was that commandment in Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 saying: “Let no man among you… from this hour take purse or script, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the Kingdom.”

This made a very strong impression upon me, and I decided I had better obey. This, however, was not so courageous as it might seem, because I expected to be among the Saints wherever I went, and they had often invited me to dinner or supper, and these initiations, coming several times a week, had been the means of keeping me in good condition, for I had not the money to buy much fancy food. I had lived mostly on bread and water, and if I felt especially affluent, I would buy a dried and smoked fish, called “Bucklings” which could be bought for one half cent in our money. Luxuries were out of the question, except for a movie show about once a month or even less. Anyone who ever had to get along on ten dollars a month, paying for room, buying all the clothes, books, and Gospel tracts besides paying travelling expenses out of it will realize that I had to be more than a little stingy with my resources. But through all this time nobody ever gave me any money, which was not expected, of course.

I merely mention these facts to show the contrast to how I lived when I trusted in money to be my stay and my staff: to show how changed my condition was after I made up my mind to trust in the Lord for it, and to do His work in His own appointed way. I never told any man I was broke, and I never asked anybody for anything, yet I could not have possibly used all the food that was offered me. I was also offered Theater and Grand Opera tickets, but I had to decline all of these because I was too busy and occupied with my work to make use of them. I never got through before midnight, but mostly much later. For it now became my duty to travel to the branches to reorganize them whenever they were dissolved through military drafts, and to organize Sunday Schools and Relief Societies. I would have to appoint and ordain all the officers in these various organizations, and instruct them in their duties and the keeping of the records. And there were always a flock of children to be blessed, and most of the soldiers going to the wars required me to lay my hands upon their heads and give them a blessing. Beside all of that there were always a lot of investigators who had many questions saved up to be answered. So, all in all, I was kept busy enough to keep out of mischief. But most interesting of all was the fact that I was always supplied with all the money I needed. And never more than I needed every day and never less than I needed.

This had never happened before that anybody gave me money, but now people would come to shake hands with me and leave money in my hand. And I would go to put on my coat and find money in the pockets that somebody had put there secretly. But always just enough, and never too much. And since I travelled a good deal from branch to branch and from city to city I used considerable. Quite remarkable also was the fact that Passports and Identification cards were inspected frequently; I was never required to produce any.

My duties also required that I call and ordain officers and teachers for the organizations in the branches of people I had never seen before. But I would call a testimony meeting, and then I knew everyone’s gifts and abilities and their suitabilities for the various offices. I could even read the thought of their hearts and knew what everyone would do under any given condition. I thought I was using ordinary judgement, yet after it was all over and I was not under spiritual stress any more I marveled about it many times, knowing that I did not have that judgment normally, but had special discernment given me.

The Mission President was still located in Basle, Switzerland, a neutral country during the war. And as the laws in Germany dealing with strangers and registration became more strictly enforced, he became extrememly worried about me and what would become of me if I was caught, and in the war hysteria I might easily be suspected and shot for a spy, and as I was from an enemy country my chances might not be good at all.

He knew I was born in Switzerland, and he tried to obtain citizenship papers for me from there, but he could accomplish nothing at all. So when all else failed he wrote to me and told me of the efforts he had made in my behalf. He said he could not sleep at nights anymore because of it, and he ordered me to see the Swiss Consul about it in Hamburg, and see if he could get the papers for me.

I was having a glorious time and never had a moments worry over anything, and I wanted to stay there for the duration, as I had nothing here to come back to; but the President’s letter was an order and had to be obeyed. Consequently I went to see the Consul and told him my whole story. He asked me if I had any way of proving myself a Swiss subject, but this I could not do. But after talking it over for a while he told me it was absolutely out of the question for me to go on as I was without complying with the law, but to give me any help he had to have some substantial evidence that I really was a Swiss. This I could not do, and so he had no power. But out of the kindness of his heart he offered to help me even by endangering his own position. So he gave me a writing which stated that I had proven myself a Swiss subject, and that my passport was sent for, and he recommended me to the authorities as a good man, asking them to register me on the strength of that in the meanwhile.

“Now,” he said, “be careful and do not get me into trouble by telling them that you have no proof of being a Swiss.”

“But,” I answered, “what can I tell them if they ask me about it and demand to see that proof?”

Said he, “They have no right to ask that, for this writing bears the stamp of the Swiss consulate, and they have not right to question that.”

That sounded well and good, but I had my doubts about it, and as a parting shot he added; “Now be sure and register immediately, these people are on the prod, and they will stand for no fooling.”

But I had experienced no inconveniences, and being young and careless, and I did not take the matter so seriously, and I did not attend to it till the next day.

The following day I went to the nearest Police office from my lodging and presented my letter from the Consul, and applied for registration.

The officer in charge took it for granted that I had just arrived in the City. He looked at the date and straightway exploded, “Didn’t you know that you are supposed to register within six hours when you arrive here?”

I thought I might be wise to go along with his conclusions. I answered “No, how should I know about your laws here?”

“Where are you from?” He wanted to know. “From America,” I answered him. I did not want him to know that I came from Canada, an enemy country. And I did not lie to him here either, since Canada is in America, and America is a big place. But it led him to believe I came from the United States, which at that time was still a neutral country.

“But nobody comes from America now,” he said. “But I came over before the war started,” said I.

“And where,” said he, “have you been since then?”

I still did not want to lie to him, and all I could tell him was that I had been in Herne before I came to Hamburg, which was true, even if it was slightly misleading. “If you were in Herne, you must have been registered there, so where is your transfer?”

Well, I had never been registered, and therefore I did not know that I needed a transfer. So I was stumped, but assuming a stupid look, which was quite natural to me, I told him I did not think I needed it anymore and threw it away. “Why,” he said, “you travel around in the world like a Mutton.”

That was my first lie, but I had to tell several more to help that one out.

Proceding with the interrogation, he said: This letter from your Consul states that you proved yourself a Swiss subject, how did you do that?”

“Oh,” I said airily, “by letters, birth certificate, and so forth.”

“Well, let me see them,” he demanded. “I left them home, the Consul said this letter was all I needed to register.”

“No,” he said, “I have to have all the facts concerned, and your passport, and your transfer from Herne in particular. I will give you time to telegraph to Herne and have those papers forwarded immediately. In the meantime, don’t you leave your lodging at any time, we may want you at a moment’s notice. But you can answer some more of these questions…. What are you here for?”

“Visiting, sight seeing…”


“Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” If I had told him I was a Mormon he would have smelled a rat immediately, but I knew he did not know what that meant. And I did not want to deny my religion.

“Well,” he said, “what religion is that?”

“That is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”

“Well,” he roared, “I want to know what Church that is.”

I replied I had told him twice, so what more could I do?

Well, he said he wanted to know if that was Catholic or Protestant.

I thought I saw an opportunity to take his mind off a painful subject, as well as a dangerous one, and immediately tried to lead him off on a discussion of religion, and I told him it was neither the one nor the other, but it was the original gospel of Jesus Christ that had now been restored after two thousand years of Apostasy.

But he was not interested, and he said: “Oh, some new damned American sect, I suppose.”

He wanted to know all about my Father and Mother, their birth placed, occupation, and all about them. It seemed he asked me a hundred questions. He finally told me I could go for now, but I must stay at home and be available at all times, and I must telegraph to Herne for my transfer at once.

Well, I was not yet stood up against a stonewall and shot, but the Cat was out of the bag, as the saying goes. The Police knew now that somebody suspicious to watch out for, they had my name and address, and description, and it was only a matter of about three days and they would have me.  Then they would tell me that as a Minister of the Gospel I came all the way from America to tell the people to be truthful, when I, myself, told more lies than any of them. And anything that I did would reflect upon all other Missionaries that would be sent there, and I did not want to bring disgrace upon them of the church. I had broken the law of the land by living there without registering and it was up to me to take the consequences. Anyhow, I would probably be sent to a Concentration Camp till the end of the war, and I probably could do missionary work there, among the Prisoners of War.

So I set my house in order, as the saying goes, I finished out my records, and sent in my reports to Mission Headquarters, packed a suitcase with Books and Tracts and the next day went straight to Police Headquarters and asked to see the Chief of Police, who there is called “Police President.”

I told him whole story, holding back nothing, even told him that I had lied to his subordinate the day before. He was a gray haired man of perhaps sixty five or seventy years of age.

He reached up in a pigeon hole in his desk and pulled down several large sheets of paper covered with writing, and asked if that was the conversation I had with his subordinate. I admitted that it was. My deception was too clumsy. They had sent in a report at once to have me investigated.

“Why,” he asked, “do you Mormons never comply with the law? I have been in this position for twenty years and have handled a lot of you fellows, and there was not one of you who ever registered.”

I considered I was in trouble now anyhow, and it would probably hurt no worse to be hanged for a wolf than to be hanged for a lamb, and there was something on my mind I thought he should know, and I told him that the laws of Germany allowed religious freedom for everybody, and that gave us the right to preach the gospel there without interference from the Police Force. We believed we were sent of God for that purpose and we considered it a great responsibility. The Police were supposed to be guided by the law; but we find that they exceed their authority by arresting, and fining and deporting us contrary to the law. And because they had no lawful charge against them they write in their passports that they are undesirable foreigners, for which they have not the slightest excuse. That makes the Police the real lawbreakers, and to fulfill the mission bound upon us we are forced to live in hiding, and do not register according to the law.

He leaned back in his chair and listened to me as if half amused till I got through. “Say,” he said, “how do you Mormons make your living?”

He was under the impression that we were white slavers getting their best looking women for the Mormon Harems in Utah, and getting paid for that.

But I told him that we did not make a living, and we received no kind of pay for anything we did, and that we paid our own way out of our own pockets that some had independent means, and others were supported by their relatives at home. In my own case, I informed him; I had worked hard as a common laborer for three years and saved up enough money to go with. I also explained to him that in our church the poor and the rich had the same chance to obtain heavenly blessings, I told him also that we were supposed to go without purse or script, but that would give the Police too much excuse for their actions, and so we did the next best thing by supplying our own way.

There was something in that that interested him deeply, and he asked if I could prove what I had just said.

Now at this time I had been without purse and script for a long time, but did not see fit to tell him that, but I had an old statement in my purse that said I had money deposited at Mission Headquarters, and that so much was sent to me every month, and books and tracts were all charged against that account. This satisfied him and he began to ask me questions about the gospel. And this soon developed into an extremely spirited Gospel Conversation. He knew his bible like an expert, and because I discussed those things every day I could match everything he knew.

This lasted for perhaps two hours when a Policeman entered and reminded him of some other appointment that he had. So he turned to me and said: “Well, that will be all.”

All this time I was all keyed up to be a blessed martyr, and expected any moment a number of Policemen to rush in and handcuff me, and drag me off to some dark and gloomy prison cell in the best approved movie style; and to be so casually dismissed kind of knocked the wind out of me. I felt like an overinflated balloon that had burst into nothing.

“Well,” I asked, “what are you going to do with me?”

“Oh,” he said in a very kind and fatherly tone of voice: “If I want you again I will let you know.”

Sometime later I received a visitor from a Detective who told me in the politest terms that all he came for was corroboration that I really was a Missionary. It was their duty to make sure of those things, and not that they doubted my word. He said there were thousands of spies in the country and it was the duty of the Police to prevent them from being the means of destroying their soldiers at the front. This made it necessary for them to be severe sometimes, which could not be helped; and although stern, they did not wish to be unkind, although their severity gave the German Police a bad name among foreigners.

Of course, I could easily prove that I was a missionary, and I never heard from them again for quite a while, when I received a note, asking me to see the Police President.

He said that if my case had not been entered into the records, he could have let me off free. But as it was, he was compelled to impose a fine upon me and the very least he could make that fine was three marks, which is seventy five cents in our money, and an equal amount to the Land Lady where I kept a room.

But soon after that, to my regret, the Swiss Consul succeeded in obtaining Swiss Citizen Papers for me which permitted him to give me a Passport to travel with. And as the order from the Church President was for all Missionaries in Germany to come back, that included me, and my time was about up anyway, and I could do nothing to change it.

The Mission President asked me in particular to be sure and not leave any debts behind, to pay them all out of the tithing fund, and send in the account to his office.

It must have surprised him greatly to learn that I did not owe anybody not even his office, because after he returned home he preached about it in conference in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

This ended the best time of my life.



The manifestations of the power of God were very abundant in those days so much so that I did not make a record of them. It seemed a matter of course that the sick were healed and other miraculous things came to pass, not only in my own work, but among the Saints generally. Like for an example the Brother who prayed that he did not have to war and live among a lot of rough and godless companions. When he was on the way to be examined for Physical fitness he felt a great pain in his knee, and the doctor pronounced him unfit for military duty. As soon as he got home he felt fine again and the pain never returned.

But there were a few of my experiences that stand out from the others that I want to write down here.

It was in Mannheim that was my first Mission Field that I made the acquaintance of a middle aged lady while tracting. I told her that I represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a missionary and that I desired to explain the Gospel to her. She immediately invited me into her parlor, and after making me comfortable asked that I explain a dream to her that she had when she was a very young girl. She said that in that dream she was told that the gathering of Ephraim was also her salvation.

She asked her Minister to explain that to her, but he could not. Then she made it a point to ask every Minister of the gospel she could reach ever since then, and now she was asking me.

Now the subject of the gathering had always been of great interest to me, and so I was fairly well prepared to answer it for her.

I explained to her that Abraham, because of his great righteousness became the friend of God, and God made him the Father of all men in all ages of the world who lived the fullness of the gospel. And that all nations would inherit the Priesthood and become a holy Nation, and all other nations would have to receive the ordinances of the gospel through his descendants, and from no one else.

His grandson, Jacob, continued in that covenant, and he raised twelve sons who became the nation of Israel, the chosen people.

In every family the First Born Son was sacred to God and became the spiritual leader of his brothers. That was why they placed so much importance on the rights of the First born in Bible times, like the story of Jacob and Esau.

One of Jacob’s sons was sold into slavery into Egypt by his brothers, but he became a great and important man there. And he saved not only the Egyptians from starvation, but his father’s family also.

Now Jacob’s two oldest sons sinned grievously, and Reuben became unworthy of the right of the First born, so Jacob adopted the two younger sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, to take the place of Reuben and Simeon.

Ephraim, though the younger, became the firstborn in Jacob’s family and the leader of the whole nation of Israel. Genesis 48:14-20

Long after, after Solomon died, the nation of Israel divided up and became to nations, called Judah, and Israel. The Jews have been among us all this time, but the nations of Israel is lost to the world, and has disappeared. But there were many individuals who got separated from the main body, and are among all the nations of the earth, unaware of their ancestry.

But God promised to gather together all of Israel again in the last days of the world. Most of the Prophets of the Bible have prophesied about this gathering. To Ezekiel God showed in vision a valley full of thousands of dead men’s bones which were brought together and became living people again, and in the same way would Israel be brought together again and become a great nation.

And in that time there would be  a book that would come from the tribe of Judah, and which is our Bible and there would be another book of Joseph, in the hands of Ephraim, and these two books would be put together to become one book in their hands.

Moses also prophesied that Ephraim would be gathered first and be like the horns of a Unicorn to push together the other tribes of Israel. Deuteronomy 33:13

Now in these last days the Lord has restored the original Gospel that Jesus Christ taught and the Apostles, and of which we had the account in the Bible, and He has given us another sacred record to place with the Bible. They both agree perfectly and build each other up and make one holy book between them. And wherever a descendant of Ephraim is found, the Lord gives him a light and understanding which other people do not have, and they may also recognize the truth; but few do, and they can be adopted in through the principles of the gospel. And it is this tribe which now is gathering, and it actually has the book of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim the same as God told Ephraim so long ago.

And the Lord has appointed places where Ephraim can gather together and become one nation, and there they can be preserved from the terrible judgements that are coming upon the earth in these days.

She later told me that when I told her these things it seemed to her that she had known them before, but had forgotten them; but recognized them again as I told about them.

But as I related them to her, her eyes shone with eagerness to know, and could tell that she believed them all.

And I thought it a good time to tell her of the first principles of the gospel, of faith, repentance, and baptism. But all her life she had been a staunch member of her church, and her old religion was rooted deeply in her, and she opposed me fiercely every step of the way, and finally lost her self-control and ordered me out of the house.

But after a while she cooled off and started to think of things more calmly, and remembered I was the only one who could explain her dream. And thinking of the rest, she belatedly found that I had been right about every point; and she wanted very badly to make amends.

But where could I be found? And had she foolishly thrown away her salvation?

The gospel tracts I had given her would have given her my address, but in her anger she had burned them up. She felt so bad and penitent that she could not eat or sleep. She then prayed continually for the Lord to send me back to her and give her another chance.

Then she had another dream. And in that dream she was preparing dinner, when she looked at the clock. It was ten minutes to ten when the doorbell rang, and it was me.

I had not been offended as she thought. I had often been told off and was pretty well used to it. I made those rounds every week on the same day. And every round I crossed off all the numbers where I was sure my efforts were useless. But I had not given her up at all. I rang the bell, and found another one of her dreams had been fulfilled.

From there on she was fully converted and wanted to be baptized immediately, but I counseled her to wait a while and make perfectly sure and learn more of the gospel, because it was a serious thing to do, and she must expect to meet much opposition from her relations and friends.

I did not have the privilege of baptizing her, because I was transferred just then to another field of labor. But one day there came over me a burning sensation of inexpressible joy and happiness that made me feel that if heaven was anything like that it was worth all the scarified and trouble that a man s=could undergo to get there. I had felt that feeling before, but never to such an extreme degree. I had not done anything unusual, just followed the usual – everyday routine. But soon after I received a letter from this sister, showing that she was baptized at the same time I received that feeling. And it made me feel good to think that when God gave her that dream long before, perhaps, before I was born, that he must have known by whom the answer would be given. And it was a testimony to me that my priesthood was also connected up with the powers of heaven.

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In Hamburg there was a Society of highly educated people, most of whom were professional men and women of Lawyers, Professors, Doctors etc., and they called themselves the “Warheit Ligs”, which could be interpreted as a Society for the study of truth. They met every Wednesday evening to study and question of new discoveries in Science, religion, or politics; in fact, everything that was new and not fully understood. They had about fifty members.

The procedure at their meeting was, first: To discuss problems which had been left over from former meetings, or had been left for analyzing or further substantiation. Then one of their numbers or some outsider with a new idea or theory would explain the new subject, after which followed a period when everyone could ask questions or contest the issue.

One of our Church Members had got into a discussion on religion with one of their numbers and told him the Mormon Elders were well versed in religion, more so than the Ministers of the Gospel they were acquainted with; and this brought about an invitation for the Branch President to attend one of their meetings. And this Branch President, Brother Bray, invited me to go along, which I did.

The President of the Ligs was an eminent doctor, and a Swiss, and therefore a countryman of mine. He gave us a very warm welcoming address. He said they had heard nothing but bad about the Mormons, but they were not people who judged anything by appearance or hearsay which might be nothing but slander, but they probed down deep into every question to determine its true value, and that is how they would appraise anything that we had to offer them.

He said they expected us to explain some of the principles of our gospel to them, but would warn us before we ever started that the questioning in the discussion that followed would be very severe and merciless, and if we were not prepared to stand up under it, it would be better not to start at all. He also said that they did not want us to revert to any point we could not answer in the first place and had been disposed of.

We agreed to those conditions, and at my suggestion we decided to take the Articles of Faith in their row. And I was appointed to take the first article the following week.

Then their regular exercise commenced. They discussed some obscure point of the theory of Evolution, which I did not know anything about. I knew Brother Brey was a very smart man, but as he took part in the discussion he astonished me greatly in his knowledge of the subject. He quoted their own books to prove the error of that theory and point out its weaknesses.

The members of the Ligs were equally impressed with him, and it may have been a desire to bolster our esteem that they started discussing some former scientific experiments by which they had photographed prayers, and had determined by scientific means that the spirits of men existed before they were born into this world.

But when Brother Brey explained to them the doctrine of Pre-existence and showed that it had been taught in the Bible thousands of years ago they were almost open mouthed for astonishment.

The following Wednesday it was my turn. I had made no special study or preparation. I discussed the Godhead and personality of God nearly every day with ordinary people that had ordinary ideas; and I never suspected that there were extraordinary people with extraordinary ideas on this or any other religious subjects.

But these people had studied this subject of the personality of God on and off for several years without coming to any definite conclusions. They could detect the existence of intelligence in nature and in the wonders of Astronomy and other sciences which proved there was some sort of an overruling power, but beyond that they could not go. And the religions of the day did nothing but confuse any intelligent conclusions. But they were willing to give me a try.

I spoke for perhaps twenty minutes or half an hour explaining the subject. Then followed the discussion. They had studied this matter from the standpoint of religion, of spiritualism, of philosophy, and theosophy, and brought up the doctrines of transmigration of souls or re-incarnation. And most of them were arguments I never dreamed existed. And they came at me from every side and direction at once like a machine gun barrage.

But once a great patriarch, Brother Henry Hinman, of Cardston, had told me that the Lord would make me powerful in His hands in defending the principles of truth and righteousness, and my enemies would have no power over me to confound me, or to bring me to naught.

And on that same evening that promise was gloriously fulfilled .the powers of my mind were stepped up and greatly increased and I felt intelligence all though me. And a heavenly joy and great glory that can only come by the Holy Ghost filled my heart, and I felt as though I could overcome all the wisdom and learning of the whole world. And having possessed that feeling I can easily understand the spirit that little David possessed when he stood up against the Giant Goliath with nothing but a sling in his hands.

And I answered every question as fast as it was flung at me. And apparently they were the right answers, because they seemed to be satisfied with them.

And here is a point that I hesitate to write about. I remember it because it has caused me to wonder about it many times since then. On that occasion, before he could open his mouth to ask it, I would give him the answer. At that time I took it as a matter of course. Even now a conversation might take some definite turn that would provoke an interest in some definite point. And I may have considered that in the same way. I have tried to remember just how I did feel about it at the time, but the nearest I can come to it is that I never thought about it at all. But when the stress of the events of that time had worn off and I did not have that gift anymore it has caused me profound wonder at the things I had done, and I realized it had been the gift of the Spirit.

The President of the Ligs knew by my accent that I was a Swiss, and as soon as the meeting was dismissed he rushed up to me and put his arms around my shoulders, and he said: “Countryman, I am proud of you, a young man like you to be able to stand up against all these learned Gentlemen, these gray haired gentlemen who have tried their best to confuse you, and you have convinced us. You Mormons must have some good schools over there in America.”

I told him that the Mormons did, but that I had never attended any of them, that I had very little schooling, and that I was a laborer here.

I could tell by his face that was hard for him to believe all at once, but just then he was called away as his wife came and made the same remarks as the President had made. But the Branch President told her that that had not been my own wisdom or power, but that was the power given to all the servants of God engaged in His business.

I would have been glad to have followed up their meetings, but my Passport arrived, and I was informed that all ships would stop sailing on the Ocean because of an intensified submarine action.

Not all my experiences were serious, however. One in particular was even funny. In the City of Hamburg there lived a very grand old man, named Brother Eitner. He had been a member of the Church for about fifty years, and he had had some very interesting experiences in that times. And I visited him every chance I had to hear him tell about them, and we got to be very good friends.

He resembled another very grand old man on my acquaintance, both in person and in spirit. I speak of Patriarch Henry Hinman, of Cardston. Both were big, tall men with long beards; which probably made their faces look similar more than if they had been clean shaven. But Brother Eitner was stone blind, and his faithful old wife looked after him. I had just returned from an extended trip to some other branches and took advantage of a fine evening to visit him.

As I entered his room he asked me to take my shoes off. I did so and he asked me to pass them to him. He took them from me, and in the same motion passed them on to the wife and told her to take them around the corner to the shoemaker and have time resoled. And she was gone with them before I could collect my wits. When it dawned on me that I was now shoeless for several days, and the next day was Sunday, with many meetings and much business to attend.

Then he reached under the couch he sat on and pulled out the biggest pair of shoes I had ever seen, and he told me to wear them while mine were getting fixed. I was vividly reminded of a popular song of those days which said: “Herring boxes without topses were the shoes for Clementine.” I do not think I was very vain, as vanity goes among young men. In fact, believe I can truthfully say that I had less than most of them; but I had a secret opinion that my feet were almost as ornamental as they were useful, and wearing those shoes would surely hide that fact from other people.

When I left the old man I went to a picture show to hide till dark, and then followed the back alleys to my lodgings.

Sunday morning I had to attend a teacher’s meeting before the regular Sunday School took up. I wasn’t real early to avoid meeting people on the street. The only suit of clothes I had left was a very stylish one I had bought from a departing Missionary for the last ten dollars I owned. It was American style and stood out among the other men’s clothes like a rose among the daisies. And as the people passed me by they did take notice from my face downward. But I would be past them by the time their eyes reached my shoes, and I did not have the nerve to look around to see if their faces took on a merrier expression.

In church I kept between the benches to hide my feet and never dared to go out in the open, especially when some pretty girls came to shake my hand and tell me how they admired me because I was the only shepherd who did not run away when the wolves approached.

But my real torture came in the evening meeting. There were possibly more than six or more hundred people in that congregation. Sunday night meetings were always very spirited, and there was wonderful music and singing, and therefore always well attended, not only by the Saints, but usually a lot of investigators as well.

There was a platform at eye level of the congregation, where the Presidency sat, and there I had to sit also. The pulpit stood at the center and to one side of it was little table behind which the Presidency sat facing the congregation. Under this table was a strip of narrow carpet.

I quietly lifted this carpet with my feet and leaned it against a table leg and hid my feet behind it. But after a while the President got to moving his feet around and noticed the carpet sticking up and promptly knocked it down. I immediately put it down again, only to have him flatten it out some more. We kept that up all through the exercises. The only relief I had was when I was called on to address the congregation, when I could stand behind the pulpit.

I am a very bad speaker and always cut my speeches short; but his time I really did try to draw it out a long time.

A boy’s vanity probably exaggerated the ridiculousness of the experience and perhaps the people were too polite and kind hearted to notice visibly, but nobody made any snide remarks about my king-size shoes.

Looking back upon this experience from the distance of many years my judgement would be that my embarrassment came mostly from youthful vanity, which is deplorable; yet I am also proud that it never even occurred to me to flunk my responsibility and ask to be excused from attending those meetings.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Most of the German brethren that were called to the War Front came to me for a blessing.

I would lay my hands upon their heads and invoke a blessing and the protection of God upon them.

One young man came to me and told me that he had no wish to take human lives, but he was drafted and could not help himself; and he expected to be entrained for the War Front that same night.

In blessing him I promised him that so long as he lived the gospel and deport himself like a Saint he would be protected from all harm.

To everybody’s surprise he was back in meeting the following Sunday and told of his experience

He said the train he was riding pulled right up to the eastern battle font and they were ordered to attack an enemy position. But that position was stronger than what was expected, and well defended, and ll his comrades around him were fallen and he was all alone. His own uniform was pierced with a number of bullets, but his person was untouched.

But he did not wat to advance all alone, and no orders were given to retreat, so he prayed to the Lord to let him be wounded bad enough to allow him the excuse to stop and lay down. And immediately he received a light flesh wound in the fleshy part of his leg, which would not cripple him any.

Soon after he was sent to the western front; and it was not long after when I heard that he received a wound in his trigger finger which might incapacitate him for a frontline soldier. But I never learned the details as I never saw him again.

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My Story: Melva C. Lenz Harker

Melva C HarkerI, (like Nephi of old) was born of goodly parents, August Lenz and Della Casson Cahoon Lenz, on June 16, 1920. I was born second to the oldest into a family of twelve girls and no boys. My sisters were Lottie, Helen, Myrtle, Irma, Joyce, Ireta, Ruth, Ruby, Rachel, Marrietta, and Hazel. I was born in Cardston, Alberta at the home of my Grandmother Cahoon.

The early parts of my childhood was spent in the areas of Cardston and Boundary Creek (Seden). Later on, we moved to a farm five miles from the town of Hill Spring, Alberta. This is where I grew up and spent the major part of my life as a child and teenager, until I was married October 6, 1937 to Marvin Evan Harker.

My very first recollection of being alive was when I was not quite one year old (according to my mother). My parents went on a fishing trip to the mountains to Belly River Lakes, near Waterton Lakes. Fishing was one of the few forms of diversion from the heavy labours of making a living they had. They would go as far as possible in the wagon, then they would put saddles on the horses and go the rest of the way by horseback. On this particular occasion, my Uncle Cordon Cahoon was with them and he volunteered to carry me on his horse. There was a place where a bridge over a little brook was made with poles and the horse seemingly about to go through terrified me and I screamed so loudly it frightened the horses. When they came to the falls he decided I would be less frightened if he waded across. When he was about half way, he fell in with me in his arms and nearly drowned the both of us. It took my Dad and Mother and some very skillful manouvering to get us out. I guess that is why some bridges are still terrifying to me. I always cross bridges with caution.

My first recollection of walking was when we lived in Seden near Boundary Creek and I was trying to catch our cat. My older sister came to help me- The cat would dart from side to side, and then in desperation would turn back and run between her legs to get away.

When we moved to Spring Hill my Dad set up a tent to live in until we could get our house moved. The wind blew so hard it blew our tent down and broke all the nice dishes my mother owned. For many years we only had tin and enameled dishes to eat on (the indestructible kind).

Life on the farm was hard and difficult. My dad witched two wells and struck water. Digging them was very hard and they were quite far from the house and were deep. Every drop of water had to be carried in buckets and heated on the stove. There was nothing but harsh home made soap to cut the grease on dishes, therefore a heavy film stayed on all the dishes until it was wiped off. Our washing facilities was an old tub and heavy wash board that we scrubbed the clothes on, and one boiler to heat the water; one boiler to heat the water and boil the white clothes in after they were as clean as we could get them on a scrub board. When we got a metal plunger to punch the clothes in the soapy water, we felt we had a great luxury. We would heat the water in the boiler and add lye to cause the hard water to curdle and come to the top, skim it off and add our strong lye soap to get any kind of a suds at all. We scrubbed clothes everyday in order to keep our large family in clothes.

Washing became a pleasure when Lottie and I were old enough to hook up a team of horses, take our clothes and go to the river, and get 40 gallons at a time of nice soft river water, where a few steps were as far as it had to be carried. Then we would bring the wet clothes back and hang them on the clothes line.

That was only one of the arduous tasks of life on the farm. As we got older the older girls had to take up the place of boys to help my dad with the farming. We were up at 5:00 o’clock in the morning everyday. Before we left for school, the cattle, horses and pigs had to be fed and watered and the cows milked. My dad would get up early and be in the field by daylight. Then, we had to quickly get read for school, harness a team of horses and drive five miles to school.

In the winter we went by sleigh and in the bitter sub-zero weather we were often frost bitten by the time we got there. We were often late and in trouble with the teacher in spite of it. When spring came we sometimes rode saddled horses or walked.

I think the only reason the teachers tolerated us at all was because our marks were good. We were either first of second in our class standing throughout our school years, and I might add- “very well behaved.” If we had not been, we knew we would not only be in trouble at school–but in worse trouble at home. When darkness came we had a candle, or coal oil lamp to see with. This is what we studied by also.

My Dad went to bed at dark and was always up at daylight. He believed firmly–“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man, healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He could see no difference between men and women on the score. My mother worked very hard also. In spite of the fact that she usually had a baby and two other small children to care for. While we were at school she did a lot of the gardening by herself, until the garden was up big enough to see good/ Then, gardening became part of our chores also. When the vegetables were big enough to sell, we would prepare them for my Uncle Jake Lenz to take them to Waterton to sell. That provided us with a little cash to exist and buy shoes and clothes etc. which my mother could not make for us. Also, the flour and sugar could not be made at home. Most of our clothes were made out of flour and sugar sacks. It was difficult for us to always look on the bright side of life as we grew older; especially when we would see our friends and neighbors pass our place to go to Waterton on holidays and Saturdays and still be happy to be down on our hands and knees pulling out weeds or hoeing the garden.

One time my mother became very ill and had to go to the hospital. The doctors said she had a very bad heart. She had Inflamatory Rhuematism also. They felt that she could not live more than a few months. She was 37 years old. My father had us all fast and then he asked the Lord to spare her life, and make her well enough to come home and be with us as a family. Two days later she came home. Her heart lasted until she was 80 years old. They taught us the meaning of living all the ten commandments by precept and example, the importance of daily prayer in our lives.

As I grew older, I found it was quite easy to make friends, especially among the boys. I was at the age that found me quite attracted to them. Having been brought up very, very, protected in a family of all girls, boys presented a mysterious fascination for me. I never thought of my Dad being even of the male species–but only as my father. I had wished so many times for a brother. Then, I realized that the only brother I would ever have was our older brother, Jesus Christ, and I could fully put my faith and trust in “Him.” Whenever I went out with friends or on dates I always asked for His influence to guide and direct my every word and my every action. I felt His spirit very close to me. It was a great protection throughout the tender years of my growing up especially. Throughout my entire life the Comforter has born witness to me of the love my Father In Heaven and my older brother, Jesus Christ. Their concern in my behalf, and their love for me has been my shield and my protection during times of serious sickness, distress and heartache. I have many friends and beautiful memories as lasting, and special as they were then. My friends then are still my friends now. By following the counsel and advice of the prophets and church leaders throughout those years in regarding conduct especially in dating and friendships, I testify of the truthfulness and wisdom their counsel to everyone who may chance to read this.

I attended public school and High School at Hill Spring. Grade XI was the highest grade taught. While attending Grade IX, Undine Caldwell the Grade I teacher became ill and asked special permission for me to take over her teaching assignment. I was the Grade I teacher for sic months. I took my Grade IX assignments home each day. It was a highlight of my High School years. I was still able to keep my first place standing in the Grade IX class.

Because of finances I was not able to continue on to higher academic learning but since that time I have endeavored to learn and achieve something of value each year. I completed a Dressmaking course by correspondence with a 90% average upon completion.

Each opportunity I have had to be of service to the church, I have studied something to improve my ability to be capable of better service; to learn duties then act with all diligence. Some of the positions of trust which I have been given have been Choir Leader, M.I.A. President, Primary President, Secretary to M.I.A., Beehive, Mia Maid, and M Men Gleaner leaders. Teacher in all the Primary Classes, Sunday School Teacher of every class except adults, Junior Sunday School coordinator, Music Leader and Organist in the Relief Society, visiting teacher–in fact many opportunities I have had to serve, of which I enjoyed.

Besides the above my daughter Barbara and I taught dancing for eleven years. I did most of the choreography and Barbara did the dancing. I have also studied music on my own and taught classes in Nutrition at the Drug and Alcohol abuse centre. I spent one memorable summer as a Matron and advisor to eighty-one girls at the Banff School of Fine Arts.

On October 6, 1937 I was married to Marvin Evan Harker in the Alberta Temple in Cardston by Joseph Y. Card. Our life together has not been uneventful–far from it. For seven years we thought we may never have any children of our own, then in 1943 Marvin was born. What a choice spirit he was. He was the first male member of my family and the first grandson by the name of Harker in the Harker family. It was a great occasion for all of us. He looked like his dad. However, he was alone and very lonely. He often cried, “I have nobody to play with. Seven ears later Barbara Lynne was born. She was truly beautiful and a special spirit too. She was also very lonely. We decided we had room in our hearts and in our home for more children, and being as the doctors said we would never have any more of our own. We decided to adopt twins if we could, so they would not have to grow up lonely, like Marvin and Barbara were. That is what we did. Four years later we received the happy and exciting news that two beautiful babies were available to us if we wanted them. Of course we did! They even had similar features of our other children and fit right into our hearts, and home, and family. They were beautiful and very special to us. I knew that this was the way Our Heavenly Father wanted this situation to be, and that they were to be ours for eternity. We named them Leanne Undine, and Lonnie Eugene. Five years later we were shocked and happily suprised by the arrival of another choice spirit. Because of the happiness and joy she brought with her, we all decided that she should be named Melodee Rae. She was truly a choice spirit too, and has put a song in each of our lives and hearts ever since. I know each of these children were supposed to be mine to love, to teach and to care for–not only by my choice but by there choice also, in a pre-existence where we lived with our Father in Heaven. Because of them I have been blessed abundantly. I know that I am alive even today because of my children and their desperate need for me. A miracle has been performed in my behalf. My husband is special beyond description and has treated me like a Queen. He is choice above all others. I am so blessed!

Although life has been a struggle financially, my family has attained wealth untold in the things that cannot be purchased with money. As one very wealthy millionaire put it: tell Mr. Harker I have traveled the world over and all men are looking for what he already has; he is the wealthiest man I know. He has more wealth than millions times millions times millions.

Throughout my life my path has crossed that of some very great people. I have made beautiful lasting friendships with old people, children, middle aged and young people of many nationalities and walks of life.

The last twenty years we have been very closely associated with missionaries. We have many choice young men and women fro all over the world in our home often. We have had very many beautiful experiences and memories of these lovely young people, who call us Mom and Dad Harker. Memories that fill our hearts and lives to the point that there is no room left for loneliness, boredom and morbid thoughts. We managed a Motel for nine years, and met many people of all walks of life there also.

While at the motel we contributed in a small way in bringing seven complete families into the church. Hopefully, we have been a little help to the missionaries who have come our way. They have blessed our lives by teaching many lessons in our home, and teaching my family also at the same time. Missionary work is very close to my heart. I am in the process of compiling a book of faith promoting experiences we have had that have deeply touched our lives. I would like to mention briefly one of them. In the year of 1967 my husband was in a car accident. It was felt by specialists that perhaps he might never walk again, and quite definitely that he would never work again. We moved to Cardston where I could find work. A few months later it was discovered that my body was full of cancer and my life hung on a thread. Marvin was married and gone. Barbara was about to enter university. Melodee was five years ole and Leanne and Lonnie were nine years old.

We had sold our backhoe business and that, with what we had managed to save was practically gone. Barbara was asked to manage a motel. When she left for university, I took over where she left off.

Evan was in the Lethbridge Hospital at the time. We had an Indian girl Bernice, who was Barbara’s age living with us at the time. one night a young man came to the Motel. When he signed the card to register for a room I noticed that he was the Head of the Indian Association for Alberta. At the same time Bernice came in and whispered something in my ear. I smiled at her and spoke to her. The interest in that, was quite evident. Then he noticed the picture of the Cardston Temple that was hanging in my office–this caught his eye and he said, “What is that building? I have been driving around for hours trying to decide why it touched my heart so deeply. Maybe it is the way the four winds hit it but there is something about that building that really stirs my heart, and I don’t know what it is.” So I asked if he would like to go to the information centre. He excitedly said, “Yes I would love to go.” I did not realize that the information bureau was closed during the winter at that time. I told him to be ready at 7:00 p.m. and come over, and that I would have someone there to take him. I set about making repeated phone calls to various church officials in order to find someone to open the Information Bureau. Then I tried to find someone to take him. I made between twenty-five and thirty calls without success. It seemed I was batting my head against a brick wall. I wondered why I felt it ws so important, so I went to the phone and called the mission president, President Espenshied. I told him about an Indian man who was the head of the Indian Association of Alberta and how he showed intense interest in the Temple. I asked him id he might be anyone of importance to him.

President Espenshied said, “Well, I guess he is. Do all you can with him Sister Harker. Find the most eloquent speaker in Cardston and send with him. We have been fasting and praying for months that we might find someone to help us to get missionaries on the reserves in Alberta. While you are at it make an appointment with him for me on Friday. There is a meeting of all the chiefs in Gleichen.”

In spite of all our efforts to find someone to take him, we were totally unsuccessful so the only alternative was for me to take him myself. I left word with Bernice to find the Elders and send them up. They came alright and introduced themselves as Elder Kime and Elder Johnson. Then they had to leave for an appointment. Brother Pitcher and I went through the information Bureau with him. On the way home he asked for a Book of Mormon. Then he said, “Elders,–what is an Elder?”

I told him they were choice young men of the church, who come on their own time, their own money, and teach people to have a happier life and home. They teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I asked if he wold like to meet the man in charge of all the Elders in Alberta. He said he would love to. I told him his name was President Espenshied, and if he was going to the chiefs meeting on Friday, in Gleichan, he would love to meet him. When he answered in the affirmative I said, “I will write his name in your Book of Mormon.” On the Friday President Espenchied was there, Harold Cardinal arrived. Without even acknowledging his own friends, he went straight to President Espenshied’s car and held out his hand and introduced himself. Then he invited him into their meetings. The minutes were read stating that no white man would be permitted in their meetings. Then he asked President Espenshied if he would like to speak to them. President Espenshied told them about the book of Mormon, and asked permission to have Elders on each of the reserves. Every chief gave his written consent. That is how the Elders got on the reserves in Alberta.

My experiences managing motels lasted nine years, and was very inspirational, and rewarding. My association with people, has attributed much to my still being here.

(Signed) Melva Harker

History of Reynolds Cahoon


reynolds_cahoonOn Wednesday, May 1, 1861, The Deseret News Weekly published the following announcement:

“Died – at 12 o’clock noon on Monday, April 29, 1861, of dropsy, at his residence in South Cottonwood Ward, Reynolds Cahoon … has fought the good fight. Has kept the faith, and died in the hope of a glorious resurrection.”

Who was this relatively obscure man whose life spanned nearly 70 years? Many times, inconspicuous in history’s on Mormonism, Reynolds Cahoon seemed to have been involved in the crucial developments of the Mormon Church. Reynolds served at least seven missions before 1834, having such companions as Samuel and Hyrum Smith, David Patton, Thomas B Marsh, David Whitmer and Orson Pratt. He was a builder and was on the committees for the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples, as well as in many other buildings the saints erected. He was a counselor to the bishop of Kirtland and later served in the presidencies of the Eartland, Adam-ondi-Ahman and Zarahemla Stakes. He was a charter member of the ill-fated Kirtland Safety Society, a captain of the Missouri “Danite” band, A member of “ the council of 50” and also belonged to Joseph Smith’s elite “Quorum of the Anointed.” He was notably involved in the events of the “final crossing” of Joseph Smith that, many believed, lead to Smith’s untimely death at Carthage, Illinois. He followed it Brigham Young west and continued involvement in the building projects, as well as serving As a counselor in the Stake High Priests quorum until his death. Two days, the biographies of more popular Mormons have overshadowed the names of the less known but equally significant at intrepid men and women.  The focus of this paper is to provide a glimpse of Reynolds Cahoon up through the Kirtland period.

As early as 1788, William and Mehitable Cahoon had it moved to Eastern New York and resided in the township of Cambridge, Washington County. This was the place of verse for all seven of their children.  Reynolds, the second child, was born on the 30th of April, 1790.

Twenty years later we find Reynolds Cahoon in Newport, Herkimer County, New York, west of his birthplace.  It was here that he married Thirza Stiles on the 11th day of December, 1810.

The following year, Reynolds Cahoon and his new bride left New York and moved to Hapersfield, Ashtabula County, Ohio. And by October 25th, 1811, they had purchased 50 acres of land for $300 and undoubtedly began the tiresome task of clearing.

The township of Harpersfield, in 1811, relatively primitive virgin soil and most of the homes in the area consisted of log cabins. It was most likely in one of these log cabins of five children.  William Farrington was the first born, next was Lerona Eliza, then Ptdaski Stephen, followed by Daniel Stiles, and last, while in Harpersfield, was Andrew.

In August 1812, Reynolds was called to serve in the war up 1812.  His service in the war was short lived in that he only serving 14 days before receiving and honorable discharge. Reynold’s son , William, later reminisced: “ my father…  was called by the government of the United States to go to Buffalo, New York to assist in driving the British from Buffalo, who had crossed Lake Erie from Canada and burn the city.  Upon arriving at Erie, they found that the British had crossed back over the lake and he was released and returned home again to work on his farm…”

By 1825, the Cahoon family moved to 30 miles farther west, near the town of Kirtland, where Reynolds commenced farming, and worked on the construction of a home for his family, as well as a home for his father, William, who had arrived in the area in 1822. It up here in-that Reynolds became an active at resident and, within two years of his arrival, he was listed as a trustee of Kirtland.

In the autumn of 1829, Reynolds moved his family into the town of Kirtland, and began the business of tanning leather, in connection with his boot and shoe making enterprise, which proved to be quite as successful, as was stated by his son William, “In this business he was much prospered and accumulated quite considerable property.”

On September 30, 1830, Reynolds and Thirza added a second daughter to their family, Julia Amina.

Earlier in that same month, in the township of Fayette, and new religious sect met in conference to transact business for a new Church. This organization, later to be known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon Church, was less than six months old.  At this conference a revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to the “second elder,” Oliver Cowdery. Cowdery, probably Mormonism’s most eloquent speaker at the time, was instructed to “…take they journey among the Lamanites… declaring my gospel.” So he was to take with him Peter Whitmer Jr.  And in October, 2 more missionaries were added, Parley P Pratt and Ziba Peterson. It appears that these men did not leave New York until at least October 17, 1830.  After a short stop in Buffalo, the four missionaries continued their journey until their own rival in Ohio where they preached as they traveled through Ashtabula and other counties in northeastern Ohio.  The missionaries arrived in the Kirtland area “ about the last of October” or “the first of November.” In less than four weeks, the missionaries had converted approximately 130 persons, including Reynolds Cahoon and members of his family.

Speaking of his father’s conversion, William wrote: “During this time of great star was created about a ‘Golden Bible’ or Book of Mormon.  He soon became satisfied that the book was a divine origin, and that god had commenced this great and marvelous work as was spoken of by the inspired men of former days. He soon was baptized, October 12, 1830…  He was baptized by Parley P Pratt…” The baptismal date must be in error, since the missionaries had not left New York until after the recorded date that William provided.

This was the beginning of a long hard journey for Reynolds and his family. A journey that would bring much happiness, as well as hardships and trials.  With this religious inception, Reynolds devotion to the Mormon Church and its theology would be irreversible.

Reynolds, unlike most new male converts, was ordained to a priesthood office within six months of his baptism. In March 1831, Sidney Rigdon ordained of Reynolds and elder.  Then on June 3, the first day of a three-day priesthood conference held in Kirtland, Reynolds was ordained by Joseph Smith to the High Priesthood.  On the evening of June 6th, after the conference that adjourned, a revelation was given directing 14 pair of missionaries.  Reynolds Cahoon and Samuel Smith, Joseph Smith’s younger brother, were one pair that received instruction to take their “journey to the land of Missouri.”

The mission of traveling 1000 miles from Kirtland to Independence, Missouri was quite a task for Reynolds.  By this time, Reynolds was accustomed to missions, having preached in many of the towns around Kirtland, but this would be the most extended journey thus far. At the time of this mission to “Zion,” Samuel was 23 years of age and Reynolds was 41.  Reynolds left the house and his wife Thirza and their six children. Reynolds kept a journal of his early missions and tension and making entries until late 1832.  Reynolds and Samuel Smith departed shortly after the revelation was received, leaving Kirtland on June 9, 1831.  The trip was not easy for Reynolds and his young companion, and by July 14, they have run out of money as Reynolds recorded, “paid for our lodging, to the last money we had.” Reynolds continues, “We travelled on, not knowing what the day would bring forth… the people requested us to stop and preach… We found people very anxious to know the truths…  And we held many meetings on our westward journey.” During the rest of the trip they were “enduring much for the want of food and rest.” But they continued their journey across Illinois, and then traveled through misery, reaching a Lexington on the 4th of August. From there they traveled the last few miles into Independence.

Although they missed the dedication of the land of Zion of the temple site, which all current and prior to their arrival, Reynolds and describe his feelings as, “my mortal eyes beheld great and marvelous things such as I had never expected to see in this world…” The two men spent a number of days in Jackson County, “engaged in exploring that region of country,” then “the Lord commanded us to return home to our families.” After a memorable journey through Missouri they crossed Illinois and traveled through Indianapolis, walking much of the way on the “a national road” that was under construction.  While traveling on this road they found some of the workers willing to hold camp meetings where the missionaries could preach.

Reynolds must have been overjoyed to be back home after nearly four months of travelling.  But his joy it was curtailed with the news that his 11-month-old daughter, Julia Amina, had passed away four weeks earlier, on September 1.

Within two weeks of his return, Reynolds attended a conference in Hiram, Ohio, located approximately 30 miles south of Kirtland, At the John Johnson home.  While there, he was appointed to travel with David Whitmer and instruct the branches of the church on how to conduct meetings, as well as “obtain means” so that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon could continue the new translation of the Bible.

On the November 9, 1831, Reynolds and David Whitmer set out on their appointed mission to obtain money and property to aloud Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to finish the new translation of the bible.  They stopped again in Hiram to attend another set of conferences.

It appeared that the rest of November and most of December was spent in fulfilling missions by visiting the saints and obtaining what “means” they could. Reynolds was also involved in ordinations and other church business.

On the 1st of January, 1832 Reynolds was appointed to travel and answer charges leveled against the church by Ezra Booth, the first Mormon apostate.  On his return, Reynolds received a new companion, Orson Pratt. On this mission, Reynolds and Pratt were to visit the doubting members.  They visited the Saints in Painsville, Cardon, and Kirtland and found several members who had transgressed the laws of God and thus were excommunicated.

After Reynolds returned with Pratt, he was paired up with Thomas B Marsh to visit some of the branches west of Kirtland. Leaving on January 13, they visited the towns of Orange, Warrensville, Amherst, and others. In the meeting, Reynolds noted, that through the course of a meeting the branch “lifted their hands against some of their members.” Those members were visited and the next evening some of them were “cut off.”

On the 10th of February, Reynolds and Hiram Smith were set apart as counselors to the newly called bishop, Newel K Whitney. It was also decided at this meeting that several families should be “placed in a situation” so they might be able to sustain themselves as much as possible, and not be a burden to each other.  As a bishopric, they met often to discuss problems of the Saints and to consider how they should provide for the poor and needy.” And they also visited and “laid hands on the sick” at the council those who are in need of support.

During the spring of 1832, Reynolds and his family spent time plowing their land and planting corn. The remainder of 1832, Reynolds spent visiting branches of the church, and when appropriate, he gave saints “a recommendation to go to Zion.” He also was involved with Hiram Smith in managing accounts of stewardships according to the wants and needs of church members. Reynolds, as a member of the Kirtland bishopric, not only help in the management and distribution of goods, but also participated in the stewardship program.

In November 1832, Reynolds left Kirtland to serve in the eastern states on a mission with David Patton, and for a period of time, his son William travel with them, “preaching and baptizing in several places.” It was while on this mission that Reynolds was involved in the conversion of a family that would become very close friends to the Cahoon’s. While preaching near Orleans, New York, the missionaries converted the Alpheus Cutler family. Reynolds returned home in February, 1833 only to leave a short time later to travel east with David Patten.

In early May 1833, at a conference of High Priests, it was voted by the voice of the conference that Reynolds, Hiram Smith and Jared Carter should be appointed as a committee to obtain that means whereby buildings for the First Presidency, a school house, and a “house for printing” could be built.  Reynolds would later receive an inheritance or property adjacent to the temple lot as a result of his work on the committee. But within a month the committee’s building responsibilities or expanded to include a house of God. Of this committee, Heber C. Kimball observed, “these menus every exertion in their power to forward the work.”

Early in the month of June, Reynolds, Joseph and Hiram Smith, Brigham and Lorenzo Young left town in search of a quarry where stones could be found to be used on the temple walls. They were able to locate a suitable quarry about 2 miles south of the temple site where they loaded a wagon and returned to the temple lot.” The offense was taken down and Hiram Smith took a scythe and cut down the standing wheat, after which he and Reynolds began digging, by hand, a trench for the temple.  Six weeks later, on July 23, Reynolds met at the temple site and with 23 other priesthood holders, divided up in groups of six, each group layed one of the cornerstones.

During the winter of 1833-34, Reynolds and his family were not only busy with work on the temple, but they were also trying to build a new home for themselves, perhaps to create a larger living space for a growing family, as Thirza was pregnant again.  Not only did Reynolds children help with the construction of a new home, but Reynolds offered much needed work to a very poor and destitute Brigham Young that had just arrived in Kirtland. Young leader related that he was so impoverished that he had to borrow some boots and pants, have had no winter clothing except a three or four year old home coat.  Brigham Young related what it was like working for Reynolds:

I had worked through the winter was not the least prospect of getting 25 cents for my winters work.  I told brother [Reynolds] Cahoon I would work whether I could get anything for it or not…  I gained Brother Cahoon’s heart to the degree that if he received anything He always came to me, and said, ‘Brother Brigham, I have so and so, and I will divide it with you.’ Brother William F Cahoon and I kept working at the house until his father got into it.  When he had finished the house, he had paid me all that was coming to me.”

In May of 1834, Reynolds and Thirza watched as the oldest son, William, joined a Mormon army. This army had been commanded by revelation to help the members of the church in Missouri, who had over the past 10 months, been driven from their homes in Jackson County by non-Mormons of the area.

While her son William was in Missouri, Thirza gave birth to her seventh child, another boy, born on July 26, 1834. Shortly after this child was born, Reynolds saw Joseph Smith passed by their home and invited him in.  He asked the prophet to bless and name his new son. Joseph complied and gave the instant the name of Mahonri Moriancumer.  After the blessing, Joseph delay the baby on the bed, and turning to Reynolds he stated, “That name I have given your son is the name of the Brother of Jared; the lord has just shown (revealed) it to me.”

Life was a mixed blessing for the Cahoon family while living in Kirtland.  Once the temple construction had commenced, Reynolds spent most of his time in directing the finances along with the rest of the committee. Thirza did her share of personal sacrifice by taking in temple workers as boarders. One such a boarder described his experience while living with the Cahoons by stating, “It was a fine family and enjoyed myself in their society.”

Like most parents, Reynolds and Thirza have their problems raising children, and teaching them was a struggle for Reynolds and Thirza throughout their lives. The year of 1835 must have been particularly difficult for them as parents, four on August 10, the Kirtland High Council was called together to hear a complaint from Joseph Smith against Reynolds.  That charge as stated that Reynolds had “failed to do his duty in correcting his children, and instructing them in the way of truth and righteousness…” The Council agreed with Joseph Smith and approved the decision to have Reynolds make a public acknowledgment before the Church. Reynolds confessed his error and promised to make a confession to the church.

Apparently this did not resolve the problems that Reynolds and Thirza were having, because in less than three months, on November 1, of revelation was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith that stated, “Verily thus saith the Lord unto me, His servant, Joseph Smith, Jun. – Mine anger is kindled against my servant Reynolds Cahoon, because of his iniquities, his covetous and dishonest principles in himself and family, and he doth not purge them away and set his house in order.  Therefore, if he repent not, chastisement awaiteth him, even as it seemeth good in my sight, therefore goal and declare unto him these words.” The Prophet went “immediately” to Reynolds to deliver the revelation.  Reynolds acknowledged that what the lord hath spoken was true, and according to Joseph Smith he “expressed much humility.”

As a result of Reynolds labor and devotions to building the temple, he, along with others, received a “ blessing.” But working on that building committee was not a simple task.  Reynolds and the other committee members were in constant turmoil over providing for the needs of all those involved in the temple construction, as well as Saints a king and the items from the Kirtland store.

Reynolds continued to supervise the collection and distribution of contributions for the temple construction. Whenever conferences were held, the saints in the different branches were asked to assist in building the House of the Lord and missionaries were sent on missions to help raise money.  But, in spite of all the fundraising, during the three years that it took to build the Temple, the church was in class and financial distress.  Finally, the sacrifice paid off and the Kirtland temple was ready to be dedicated. It has been estimated that the temple caused the saints from $40,000 to $60,000 to build.

With the opening of the year 1836, of the Kirtland temple and the “endowment of power” promised them from on high.

The dedication of the temple was set for Sunday, the 27th of March. More than 1000 saints met at the temple for the dedicatory services, and because of space limitations, almost half of them had to be turned away. Reynolds was present and seated on the stand for this momentous occasion.

Before long, and the environment around Kirtland with began to sour.  The financial problems of the saints increased, especially after the temple was dedicated. Did the nation’s dropped off dramatically after the dedication, and at a time when the debts of the church continued to increase. Realizing the church had a cash-flow problem, the leaders decided to open a bank and thereby converting into cash some of the assets that the church and its members had acquired. In November, 1836, church leaders drew up articles for a bank, but much to their dismay, the charter was refused. Consequently, they organized a private joint-stock company of which they named, the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company. On January 2, 1837, Reynolds signed as a witness to adopt the articles of agreement for the Kirtland Safety Society and the company opened its doors for business. Reynolds was not only a charter member of the company, but he was a major stockholder. Within three weeks the Kirtland Safety Society began to have serious problems, it was announced that the company would no longer redeem its notes with specie. Within six months, Joseph Smith resigned as an officer, and in less than a year from its inception, the company closed its doors. There were many reasons for the failure of the company.  It devastated many of the Saints, including the Cahoon families.

It was during this period of economic distress that many members of this infant church apostatized. As a result of extreme financial difficulties the Kirtland bishopric, which at this time included Reynolds, Newel K Whitney and Vinson Knight, sent out a plea for this saints to pay their tithes. Along with these economic problems, some of the leaders were all closed to what they felt was an increasing concentration of authority at the top. In 1837-38, twenty-eight suits were brought against leaders of the church, including Reynolds. As the dissension and violence increased so did the pressure for the Cahoons to leave Kirtland.

During the winter of 1837-8, Reynolds received a new calling as a member of the Stake Presidency of Kirtland.  He served with William Marks and John Smith. This experience may have helped prepare Reynolds, for later he would be called to serve and two other Stake Presidencies.

By spring of 1838, any protection from local government officials had almost disappeared, when most faithful latter-day saints, including Reynolds, were removed from office. It was at this time that Reynolds and his family decided they could no longer stay in Kirtland. Tensions had increased between the faithful saints and those that had dissented.  Internal strife and persecution from non-Mormons forced the Cahoon’s to leave Ohio and travel to Missouri. They must have also had a very difficult time leaving the temple that had been the focus of the entire Cahoon family for the previous five years. The families packed up all their earthly belongings and left their comfortable homes behind.  William tells of the Cahoon departure:

In the spring of 1838, I with my family and my father, Reynolds and his family went from Kirtland to Missouri… I left behind me add good lot all paid for, for which I labored very hard to get, also a good seven-room house well-furnished and owned by myself… I could not dispose of it, so I turned the key and locked the door and left it, and from that day to this, I have not received anything for my property which is in the hands of strangers. However, we left it and went on our journey, pitching tents for a house.

Although the Cahoons may have thought that leaving Kirtland was the end of an era of sacrifice and spiritual feasting, they soon found out that their stay in Kirtland was just the appetizer.


In the spring of 1838 Reynolds his wife and family travel to Missouri, leaving behind their property and all they possessed in the hands of enemies and strangers.

Joseph Smith writes:

“Monday, June 7, 1838.  I visited with Elders Reynolds Cahoon and Parley P Pratt who had this day arrived in Far West, the former from Kirtland and the latter from New York where he had been preaching for some time and our hearts were made glad with the pleasing intelligences of the gathering of the Saints from all parts of the earth.

Tuesday 8th – I spent day with Elder Rigdon in visiting Elder Cahoon at the place he had selected for his residence and in attending to some of our private, personal affairs.

June 28th – At conference of Elders and members of the Church was held in this place today for the purpose of organizing this Stake, called Adam-ondi-Ahman.”

At this conference… “It was then moved, seconded and carried By the unanimous voice of the assembly, that John Smith should act as President of the Stake, Reynolds Cahoon was unanimously chosen first counselor and Lyman Wight, second counselor…  President john Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Lyman Wight then made some remarks…  After singing the well-known hymn ‘Adam-ondi-Ahman’ the meeting closed by prayer by President Cahoon.

Adam-ondi-Ahman is located immediately on the north side of Grand River, Davies County Missouri, and about twenty-five miles north of Far West and about eighty miles north of Indepenence.  It is an elevated spot of ground which makes the place as healthful as any part of the United States.  Overlooking the river and country roundabout, it is certainly a beautiful location. It is here the Mormons gathered by the hundreds; it sprung up overnight. Originally, it was called Spring Hill but Joseph named it Adam-ondi-Ahman as instructed by the Lord. “Because” he said, “It is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people for the Ancient of Days shall set, as spoken of by Daniel, the prophet.”

This town that was in making rapid progress when the Saints saw forming again, those elements which is threatened their peace. It is small wonder that righteous anger flushed their cheeks and alleged then instinctively to form the resolution, “that they would submit no more to such acts of despoliation, injustice and outrage.”

It was this sense of outraged injustice and inhumanity which led to the deliverance of the noted oration by Sidney Rigdon at Far West on Wednesday, July 4, 1838 in the course of which, there was expressed as strong determination to know more submit quietly to mob violence at acts of pillage.


A procession which comprised the infantry (militia), the Patriarchs, the President, Vice-President, Orator, Twelve Apostles , other officers and LDS members commenced their march at 10 o’clock a.m. They formed a circle around and the excavation and this day, July 4, 1838, the site for the temple at Far West was dedicated.

Thus, the Saints spent the day celebrating the Declaration of Independence.  Joseph Smith was president of the day, Hiram Smith, vice-president, and Reynolds Cahoon, acted as Chief Marshal.

The oration given by Sidney Rigdon proved to be very damaging and a potent factor against the Saints in the subsequent movements of their enemies.

In August 1838, which finally resulted in the exile of the Mormons from the state of Missouri. Their enemies of August 6, organized with a determination to prevent the Mormons from voting – the most sacred rite of American citizenship. The Mormons fought with desperate courage and not at last, overpowered my numbers, they withdrew to their homes.

Some of the leading citizens called upon the prophets and together they agreed to hold a conference at Adam-ondi-Ahman on August 9th. Both parties met in friendly counsel and entered into a covenant of peace to preserve each other’s rights and to stand in each others defense. For the saints, such men as Lyman Wight, Reynolds Cahoon, and others gave their pledge. The settlers were well represented and made their solemn promise.

In spite of the “pledge of peace,” Governor Boggs issued an “Order of Extermination” of the Mormons and an armed mob came upon them which resulted in that terrible massacre of Haun’s Mill. Without any notice of this order to the Mormons, this mob tore down and destroyed their homes, shot their animals, and killed their men, women and children.

At Haun’s Mill many were massacred.  At Far West and other settlements they were forced to move out on the snow-covered prairies. They appealed to the Missouri legislature for protection, but there was a few towns gesture. Their unexpected haste in leaving, the lack of preparation and the inclement weather soon resulted in widespread suffering with epidemics and a considerable loss of life.  Property valued at two million dollars was destroyed or confiscated. This was the beginning of the story of the trek of our ancestors, the Mormon pioneers.

Reynolds Cahoon and his son of William F tell us of the inhumanity to them and the outrages that “shock all nature and defy all description.” Realizing that it is contrary to the gospel for man to take vengeance into his own hands, they resigned themselves to whatever should follow, and it was not until a more positive and official testimony was wanted by the authorities at Washington, that their leader, Joseph Smith advised the saints to defend themselves by ” gathering together and knowledge of all the facts, sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of Missouri” and submit them to the highest tribunal.

The falsehoods promulgated against the Saints had blinded many honest men and women have for their sakes, the truth should be made known and then people of Missouri will someday be glad to make whenever amends they can for the wrongs suffered in that state, not because anybody will endeavor to compel them to do so, but because they will this team get a privilege to obliterate these mistakes of the past. Then the facts will be considered important and it should be on the record.  William F Cahoon made an affidavit of the “Missouri Wrongs.”

As the Mormons moved out of Missouri, those of the Mormon leaders who had escaped imprisonment or death struck if a course back across the state of Illinois.  Welcome word came that food, clothing, friendship and shelter awaited the refugees at Quincy. The Cahoon families were among those who found refuge there.


Fifty miles up the Mississippi River from Quincy, Illinois and a beautiful, green rolling ridge overlooked the mile-wide Father of Waters. At the foot of the ridge lay a low, level swamp land. This boggy, black-soiled peninsula pushed westward two miles into the path of the oncoming river. This forced the Mississippi to make along, lazy hairpin detour thereby surrounding the peninsula on three sides with its swirling, silt-laden waters. The Mormons learned that this swamp land was for sale and the terms were good. Obviously, it was not a likely site on which to build a city but because of the people’s poverty there was scarcely no alternative. Joseph Smith arrived from Missouri after six months of abuse as a political prisoner. He looked over the marshland and decided that “with a little hard work” they would make it both healthful and habitable. They gave it the name of Nauvoo, the Hebrew term meaning “Beautiful Place.”

Here at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, our Mormon Pioneers settled and out of this swamp in that horseshoe bend of the Mississippi sprang up the largest city in the state of Illinois. In five years its population was 20,000 and more settlers arriving every day.

On January 19, 1841, came a command from the Lord “… I command you, all My Saints, to build a house unto Me… For a baptismal font there is not on the earth, that they, My Saints, may be baptized for those who are dead – for this ordinance belongeth to My house, and cannot be acceptable to Me, only days of your poverty wherein ye are not able to build the house unto Me.”

Reynolds Cahoon, who had been off a shaving as a counselor over the Branch in Iowa, was called to Nauvoo in October 1840 two assists in the superintendency of building a second great “House of the Lord.” Less than four months after the revelation was received, the cornerstones were named for the temple (April 6, 1841).

As may be supposed, the efforts in executing the great task placed upon the building committee did not always meet with the individual likes and dislikes of the people of Nauvoo. The burden was heavy and the difficulties, many. We find complaints at times, such as “Pulaski Cahoon was never appointed boss over the stone cutters shop… not all the sons of Reynolds Cahoon have paid their tithing… William F Cahoon has paid all his tithing, but some of the others have not…” etc.

The people were poor, but they labored diligently. That they were diligent in their efforts, is amply attested by history which tells us that this structure cost more than one million dollars. The Saints were poor and much of the time during its course of construction, they were harassed by their enemies. On many occasions, the members of the committee were called from their labors to the defense of their Prophet and at times they traveled day and night protecting themselves from the mobs. Quoting from the words of President Brigham Young: “This edifice was raised by the aid of a sword in one hand, trowel and hammer in the other, firearms at hand, a strong band of police, and the blessings of heaven.”

The Latter-day Saints were a happy people and welcomed their days of rejoicing together. They were loves of music. In 1841 the Nauvoo Brass Band was organized and several of Reynolds’ sons were members of that band.

The Prophet Joseph Smith had written many letters and petitions to the authorities of the United States relating to the sufferings of the people in Missouri, telling them that many had lost their lives and many had been robbed of an immense amount of property, and that in vain they had sought redress by all constitutional, legal and honorable means.

At a meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo, December 7, 1843, WW Phelps, Reynolds Cahoon and Hosea Stout were appointed to draft the preamble and resolutions. These resolutions were to be directed to the Governor of Missouri and to various authorities of the states of the United States, reciting the persecutions of the people of Nauvoo relative to the demanding of the body of Joseph Smith, as well as the common, cruel practice of kidnapping citizens of Illinois and forcing them across the Mississippi River and incarcerating them in dungeons or prisons in Missouri.

In her book “Reynolds Cahoon and His Stalwart Sons,” Stella Shurleff gives a detailed account of the last few days of the life of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and of Reynolds involvement with the Smith family. In one of the last entries written by Joseph Smith in his own journal, dated June 22, 1844 …  About 7:00 PM I requested Reynolds Cahoon and Alpheus Cutler to stand guard at the Mansion, and not admit any stranger inside the house. I asked O. P. Rockwell if he would go with me a short journey and he replied he would …

… About 9:00 PM Hyrum came out of the Mansion House and gave his hand to Reynolds Cahoon saying, “A company of men are seeking to kill my Brother Joseph and the Lord has warned him to flee to the Rocky Mountains to save his life.  Goodbye, Brother Cahoon, we shall see you again.” In a few minutes Joseph came from his family, his tears were flowing fast.  He held his handkerchief to his face and followed his brother Hyrum without uttering a word.

  1. P. Rockwell rowed the skiff which was so leaky then a cat Joseph, Hyrum and Doctor Richards busy bailing out the water with their boots and shoes to prevent it from sinking. Sunday the 23rd, they arrived on the Iowa side of the river. They sent Rockwell to Nauvoo with instructions to return the next night with horses for Joseph and Hyrum and pass them over the river and they would be ready to start for the Great Basin in the Rocky Mountains.

About 9:00, Brother Bernheisel crossed over the river and Reynolds Cahoon also went to visit Joseph to explain to him as requested, regarding the governor’s a letter.  A posse had arrived in Nauvoo to arrest Joseph, but as they did not find him, they started back. In a letter written by Joseph to Emma Smith, his wife, he calls the place “Safety.”

At 1:00 PM Emma sent Rockwell to Joseph, requesting him to entreat Joseph to come back. Reynolds Cahoon accompanied him with a letter which Emma insisted that Joseph should come back. She also insisted that Reynolds Cahoon use every persuasion with Joseph to come back and give himself up. L. D. Wassan and Hyrum Kimball they were like wise persuaded by Emma to induce Joseph and Hyrum to start back to Nauvoo. These men went to Joseph as true friends to explain to him the Governor’s letter and to deliver the message to him from his wife, Emma. Reynolds Cahoon informed Joseph what the troops intended to do and urged him to give himself up in-as-much as the Governor had pledged his faith and the faith of the State to protect him while he underwent our legal and a fair trial. After much persuasion, Joseph decided to return to another, saying – “If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself”… And after studying a few moments Joseph said to Hyrum, “If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered”… then after a short pause, Joseph told Cahoon to request Captain Davis to have his boat ready at half-past five to cross them over the river.

We must conclude that Reynolds Cahoon was in Carthage when Joseph and Hyrum as the record states: “Joseph instructed Cahoon to return to Nauvoo with all haste and fetch a number of documents for the promised trial” and to further substantiate this fact, we are told that “Elder Cahoon returned (to Nauvoo) from Carthage for some papers. It appears that Reynolds did not go back to Carthage again this time; he sent these papers out by O. P. Rockwell. Just three months after the death of Joseph and Hyrum, Reynolds and several other Latter-day Saint men were “illegally arrested for treason” and forced to go to trial at Carthage.  Since the court was not ready for trial, the company proceeded to the jail where Joseph and Hyrum were martyred.

Reynolds returned to the Court House where, with Daniel Spencer, Orson Spencer, brothers Richards, Taylor, Phelps, Rich, Cutler, Scott, Hunter and Clayton, they were put under arrest and taken to Justice Barnes’ office. Here they were put under examination and asked if they wanted witnesses subpoenaed.  The reply, “No.”

DeBackman, the person who made the affidavit on which the writ was issued, made his appearance. Upon being sworn and asked if he personally knew the defendants or any of them, he answered that he did not and stated that he made the affidavit upon the strength of the rumors which he heard at the time and because of his great prejudice against the Mormons. He believed these reports and if think that the Mormon leaders were guilty of treason.

The examination was held before Justice Barnes, assists by Justice Bedell.  The court, according to law, dismissed the case and at 3:00 PM Reynolds and his friends started on their return home from Carthage.

At Malcomb, the people were under considerable excitement.  No friendly hand was offered them; only threats were used against them in the most lawless manner.  Reynolds tells the following:

“We found it altogether imprudent to let ourselves be seen, in the hospital threatened us saying, if they would ‘butt us out of town.’ After dinner we returned to a private room upstairs where we witnessed the increased state of excitement. We were waited on by a committee sent to confer with us and this committee expressed an unqualified terms of their entire disapprobation of the annoyance and pledged themselves to see us protected … their pledge was met and we arrived home safely.”


Obedient to the commandment, the Temple was completed.  It was dedicated quietly on April 30, 1846 by Joseph Young, brother of Brigham Young, and publicly on May 1, 1846 by Orson Hyde. Their zeal and sacrifices had not gone unrewarded, for from the date of December 10, 1845, when the Temple was closed for ordinance work, more than 5500 endowments had been given in the Nauvoo Temple. On December 10 and 11, 1845, Thirza and Reynolds Cahoon received their endowments. Reynolds and Thirza were sealed in “Celestial Marriage” in the Nauvoo Temple at 7:10 pm January 16, 1846 by President Brigham Young.

Reynolds Cahoon was one of the twenty Elders who went with President Brigham Young to the attic of the Temple in Nauvoo early that Sunday morning of November 30, 1845 and prayed that the Lord would hear their prayers and deliver them from their enemies until they had accomplished His Will in His House. They asked for blessings on their families and that the Lord would lead them to a land of peace.

Brigham Young ordered the evacuation of Nauvoo and the month of February, 1846 found the Mormons in full flight across the frozen crust of the Mississippi River headed toward the unknown west and the setting sun. Although the flight from Nauvoo was a retreat in disorder, Brigham Young rallied the pioneers at Sugar Creek, 7 miles west of the Mississippi River.  It was here on February 5, that Brigham organize them into “the Camps of Israel,” in captains of tens, fifties and hundreds.


On March 9, 1846, the Cahoon family left their beautiful city.  Reynolds and Brother Cutler were given instructions to “roll out their companies as quick as possible.” During the journey on March 14, Reynolds was thrown from his wagon, dislocating his shoulder.  William F and Daniel S Cahoon, sons of Reynolds, left with their wives and families.  They were members of the Nauvoo Brass band and traveled with the band, playing and numerous concerts throughout the various settlements of the Middle West to earn funds to help the migration.


On May 8, the Cahoon family arrived at Garden Grove, where they met their son, and brother, Andrew. He had been carrying mail for the pioneers between Nauvoo and Garden Grove. The ferryboat was completed June 29 and the next day Brigham Young and others of the advancing party crossed the Missouri River. July 6, the Camps of A Cutler and Reynolds Cahoon were about 3 miles from mount Pisgah and not until about three weeks later do we find them, “On the flats wanting to cross the Missouri; several are sickly. The hill on the west side of the river being very abrupt and steep, it required a doubling of teams and every man is requested to turn out with teams and help these people.

Bridges have been washed out, they have encountered great rains, and the progress very much retarded. It required the entire spring, summer and fall of 1846 for the main camps to cross Iowa and reached the river.  Brigham Young concluded they must make a temporary haven.  It was in September that the site was selected on the west side of the river and named Winter Quarters.

In December, Winter Quarters consisted of 3483 people living in 548 log houses, 83 sod houses or dugouts. On June 1, 1953, 106 years after the arrival of the pioneers at Winter Quarters an important ceremony marked the dedication of a bridge, honoring these brave Mormon Pioneers – a majestic bridge spanning the Missouri river at Omaha at almost the exact location of the Old Ferry Crossing.  The North Omaha Bridge Commission name of this branch, the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Bridge. Dr Karren, chairman of the commission wrote: ‘The commission and the people of Omaha feel they have been greatly honored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith and giving approval to the name.”

Reynolds proved himself to be not only a great architect and builder but also indeed, a shrewd business man capable of engineering many complex problems. This is evidenced by the numerous financial difficulties he assisted in solving for his church and people. For instance, in the year 1846, it is recorded that he was “appointed to borrow money from certain individuals which is necessary to be pain on corn contracts. He is instructed to build a bridge, the contract to be paid in corn,” and again, “the Council in December voted that he be placed on a committee of three to build a House for the Omaha’s.”

January 25, 1847, Brigham Young organized his company. I. Morley was nominated president with Reynolds Cahoon and John Young as counselors, each as Captains of 100.  Winter Quarters was to be stockade, guards to be kept and the women, whose husbands were in the army, were not to be emigrated until after the pioneers.

May 19, 1848 was probably the happiest day in many, many long months for the family of Reynolds Cahoon, for on this day, into their camp at Winter Quarters their son Andrew arrived from a foreign mission and it lets him were the saints from Scotland, about 120 new Mormon emigrants. It was in Scotland that Andrew met the Carruth family where he and Mary Carruth were married.  Margaret and Janet were sisters of Mary, and on the advice of Brigham Young, Andrew was married to Margaret and Janet Carruth on the evening of July 17, 1848 by Brigham Young. The history of the Cahoon and Carruth families from this time until they arrive in the valley of Salt Lake his without particular event. Reynolds is speaker at the meeting July 21.  Many times they have difficulty with their cattle, mixing in various herds; many times their wagons are held fast in the rugged mountain passes.  At such times, “the boys put their shoulders to the wheels and helped each other out” … August 3, Captain Cahoon crossed the ravine up the Platte Valley. August 8th, Cahoon’s company ascended the hill and journeyed through the valley of the Sweetwater.

August 8, Cahoon’s company ascended the hill and journeyed toward Mineral Springs.  August 9 a very cold morning, Captain Cahoon gathered his cattle and resumed the journey through the long valley of the Sweetwater. September 12 President Young is about 2 miles in advance and President Kimball is at Fort Bridger.

They continue to journey through the long vale, over hard roads and through barren sagebrush.  September 13, Morley’s camp started first… Cahoon’s next; they crossed the Muddy Fork.  The mountains in the distance are covered with snow.

Margaret Carruth Cahoon says, “We arrived in Salt Lake Valley in the evening of September 23, 1848, which was about one year later than the first pioneers of July 24, 1847.” The families of William F and Daniel S Cahoon did not arrive in Salt Lake Valley until September 24, 1849.


The following stories pertain to certain activities and the life of Reynolds from the time he entered Salt Lake Valley until his death in 1861.  He continued to occupy many important positions in his Church and country; ever loyal to his convictions of the truthfulness of the Gospel principles of the Latter-day Saints Church.  He was affectionately called “Father Cahoon” and truly loved by all who knew him. He mingled with his people in all their political, religious and social affairs. In their festivities, he was honored on all occasions. He occupied the position of Counselor of the High Priest Quorum until his death. He gave counsel, instructed, led and guided his family, friends and loved ones, whenever the occasion presented itself.

The particular events of the next few months are firefly related – Reynolds taking a leading discussion in many problems such as keeping canyons and roads in repair, managing the Church Farm, acting as judge or counter of game for the extermination of ravens, hawks, wolves, foxes, etc. He is also appointed on the committee to erect a building for an “armory.” He is speaker at the general conference and at each conference is sustained as First Council to the High Priest Quorum.

On April 6 in the year 1851 at the general conference, the motion was read and carried by acclamation. “A motion to build at a Temple to the Name of the Lord Our God, in Salt Lake City, Utah.”

No definite information is given us as to the exact part Reynolds took in a building of the Salt Lake Temple. We know that he did the labor many years here; that he was present at the conference is discussing plans for its erection and with the same energetic he manifested in the infant days of the Church when he was one of the committee for the construction of the former Temples, he now appealed to the saints in Salt Lake to assist in building this temple.  He delivered them any Sermons and the Tabernacle when the Utah Legislature met December 12, 1853, the House of Representatives appointed him Sergeant-at-Arms.

Reynolds Cahoon was the first and only private owner of the lots were the Great Salt Lake Theatre was built. The location was the corner of First South and State Street, comprising a large portion of that block. One day Brigham Young came to Reynolds and said, “Brother Cahoon we need your lots, we must build a theatre.”

No doubt there were mingled thoughts in the minds of Reynolds and Thirza.  These lots were probably the only property they now owned. They were very valuable lots in the heart of Salt Lake City. Reynolds and Thirza had given everything from worldly value they had ever possessed to their Church. They had dedicated every moment of their lives for the Gospel’s sake.  When they left their beautiful cities of Kirtland and Nauvoo, their homes and property were left behind and many times they have said. “We have given all to God.”

Now they aged and could no longer do hard, laborious work for their own maintenance more for their Church. No, there were many things Thirza and Reynolds could not do to help build a city of Zion in the Desert, but they do to own this fine property just where this majestic “Play House” it could be erected, where drama of such magnitude as had never yet been dreamed of, would respond to spiritual tutorship under inspired leaders.

“Yes,” they are reasoned, “these lots can perform a mission for us, and ‘Give or Sell’ our Church shall have them. So on April 23, 1860, history tells us Reynolds Cahoon that conveyed his property to Brigham Young for the purpose of erecting the Salt Lake Theatre.

When we ponder on the value of this piece of property today, we may well remark,” sold or gave.” Let us relate the incident as grandmother Margaret Cahoon, one of Andrew’s lovely wives, has written it:

“During the year 1860-61, Andrew’s father, Reynolds sold his lots to President Young to build a theatre on. For his payment he received a number of oxen, wagon, cows and merchandise, etc. He also had a debt paid he owed in the tithing office which was several hundred dollars. He was well satisfied with the pay as he thought he got a big price for it.”

After the sale of the property, Reynolds and Thirza move to South Cottonwood (now Murray), Salt Lake Country, Utah. Here they I lived with their son, Andrew, who provided and cared for them until the time of their death. They both died at South Cottonwood, Reynolds dying April 29, 1861, and Thirza November 20, 1866.

At this date (September 1993) we would estimate that they have more than 20,000 descendants, who honor and respect them for their courage during perilous times, their faith and loyalty to their Church and to their God, for the sacrifices they made it so unselfishly, for the love they had for family and friends.  What a wonderful heritage they have left us!

NOTE: This history was written by Doug Cahoon and can be found in the book Reynolds Cahoon: Roots and Branches.