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IN this chapter we give biographies of those who were chosen apostles subsequently to the choosing of the first seven, and prior to the closing of this volume, except that of President W. W. Blair, whose biography appears with the First Presidency in chapter 37. Had we succeeded in getting another year of history in this volume, there would have been six more to add to this list who must now be reserved for volume 4, viz.: W. H. Kelley, James Caffall, J. H. Lake, T. W. Smith, Z. H. Gurley, Jr., and J. R. Lambert.
Samuel Powers was born near Brockville, Ontario, December 17, 1819. He was married to Miss Maria M. Moulton, near Orono, Ontario, January 26, 1842. Nine children were born as the result of this union, four sons and five daughters. Five children are yet living, one son and four daughters, viz.: Ambrose Calvin, of Beloit, Wisconsin; Julia Maria, now Mrs. Elmer E. Nye, of Los Angeles, California; Mary Dorilla, now Mrs. Jerome Terwilliger, of Clinton, Iowa; Nellie Salena, now Mrs. Louis E. Hills, of Marion, Iowa; and Ella Salena, now Mrs. George M. Cator, of Marion, Iowa. The last two are twins. Those dead are the eldest two, Edwin and Dorwin (twins), who lived but about two weeks; Clarence Samuel, the fourth child, who died when nearly nine months old; and Adelina Rebecca, the fifth child, who died in February, 1888, the wife of Edward D. Connor, of Clinton, Iowa.
Either before or after marriage, we are not informed which, Mr. and Mrs. Powers united with the Christian Church, then known as Disciples. Shortly after marriage they heard an Elder Savage, of the Latter Day Saints,
preach, and Mrs. Powers, who is yet alive, and residing with her daughter, Mrs. Cator, at Marion, Iowa, says: "Both believed that it was the doctrine as Christ taught it."
The daughter writes, under date of January 7, 1900, as follows: "Mother cannot remember why they did not obey it then. Possibly the death of Joseph and the breaking up of the church shortly after may have influenced them. They left Canada and moved to Wisconsin, in 1848, settling on a farm near Beloit, where they lived until father's death. Several families of saints lived near them, viz.: Henry Pease, Jason W. Briggs, Ed. Briggs, and others."
Elder Powers was early in the movement to reorganize the church, having united with the church in 1852, both he and his wife being baptized by Elder Z. H. Gurley. He related to a friend that this action was not taken until after a severe sickness, during which he was made to understand that there was no hope for him except in obeying that which he had been convinced for years was the truth.
In 1854, be was ordained a seventy by J. W. Briggs, Z. H. Gurley, and Reuben Newkirk. This office he held for one year.
At the April General Conference of 1855, Samuel Powers and David Newkirk were ordained apostles to fill vacancies in the Quorum of Twelve occasioned by the expulsion of H. H. Deam and John Cunningham, which occurred at the Semiannual Conference in October, 1854. Samuel Powers was ordained an apostle under the hands of J. W. Briggs, D. B. Rasey, and Z. H. Gurley. For the remainder of his life he was prominently and zealously connected with the church, and did much missionary work. He was present at the April conference of 1860, and assisted in the ordination of President Joseph Smith. His death occurred at his home near Beloit, Wisconsin, February 16, 1873.
His daughter pays the following tribute to his worth: "We know that he was faithful unto death. His only regret on his deathbed was that he had not given more of his time to God's work. He was a kind and loving husband and father. I feel that he hastened his death by working to care for his family and preaching whenever he could; but
if so he gave his life in a good cause and I, as his daughter, rejoice in the gospel that he loved."
At the time of his death the Saints' Herald contained the. following tribute from the pen of its editor, Joseph Smith: "Brother Powers was one of the best and ablest men of the church; or in the northwest. A man full of the tenderest solicitude for the good of the human race; loving and kind. His rest must needs be glorious."
His faithful wife still survives him. Her daughter writes of her as follows: "Mother is seventy-six years old, and since a hard sick spell two years ago has not been able to walk, or to sit up for more than a few moments at a time, but she is as patient and faithful as a saint should be. Her memory is quite good, and she has always been strong in her belief of the restored gospel."
David Newkirk was a brother of Reuben Newkirk, whose biography is contained in this volume. He was born in the State of Ohio; the exact date is unknown to us. About 1849 he was married to Miss Rosanna Robs; but of the children born to them we have no information. He, also, was a miner, and with his brother spent much of his life in the lead mines of southern Wisconsin. He also heard the doctrine of the church at the same time that his brother did, and was baptized by Elder H. P. Brown, about 1851, having prior to that time belonged to the Presbyterian Church. He was one of the signers of the protest spoken of in the biography of Elder Z. H. Gurley, page 745. He was therefore one of the first to prepare the way for the Reorganization. At the April Conference of 1853 he was ordained a seventy, and occupied in this position until April, 1855, when he and Samuel Powers were chosen and ordained to fill vacancies in the Quorum of Twelve occasioned by the expulsion of H. H. Deam and John Cunningham.
David Newkirk was ordained an apostle under the hands of J. W. Briggs, D. B. Rasey, and Z. H. Gurley. He occupied this position for about ten years, being dropped for inactivity, April 7, 1865. Although not zealous in his ministerial
work, and hence unacceptable in the position occupied, we have heard of no other complaint or charge against him.
James Blakeslee was born in Milton, Chittenden County, Vermont, July 18, 1802. He received the gospel as taught by the Latter Day Saints when he was thirty-one years old, and was baptized at Ellisburgh, Jefferson County, New York, by Elder David W. Patten, on July 19, 1833. The next day he was ordained a priest by Elder Patten.
In the spring of 1834, he was ordained an elder, by Elder Thomas Dutcher. In the office of elder he labored diligently for about six years; and then by direction of President Joseph Smith he was ordained a seventy in the autumn of 1840, under the hands of Brigham Young. The Times and Seasons, volume 5, page 543, contains a notice of the expulsion of James Blakesley, with others, from the church. This is supposed to be the same person, though the name is spelled differently. The notice reads as follows: "At a meeting of the High Council, in the city of Nauvoo, this 18th day of May, 1844. Resolved, that James Blakesley, Francis M. Higbee, Charles Ivans, and Austin Cowles, be cut off from this church for apostasy.
"GEORGE W. HARRIS, President pro tem.
"JOSEPH M. COLE, Clerk pro tem."
The next account that we have seen of Elder Blakeslee was after the death of Joseph Smith, when he supported the claims of Sidney Rigdon. At the annual conference held by the adherents of Rigdon, at Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], Pennsylvania, in April, 1845, Elder Blakeslee was selected as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and was also made a member of the quorum of seventy-three.
On June 21, 1845, he wrote to the Messenger and Advocate (Rigdon's organ), from West Buffalo, Iowa, where he was laboring in connection with George M. Hinkle in the interests of Rigdon's kingdom. Another communication, July 29, 1845, to the same paper, gave account of labor done in Iowa, and in Mercer County, Illinois.
On September 27, 1845, he wrote a communication for the Messenger and Advocate giving a detailed account of his family in West Buffalo, Iowa, September 9, under the care of Elder Harvey Whitlock, and making a trip by water, via St. Louis, Missouri, and Cincinnati to Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], where he met Elder Rigdon and other church leaders, and seemed well pleased with the movement. On October 6 and following days he was in attendance at the Rigdonite conference held in Philadelphia. On October 15, 1845, he was preaching to large audiences at Athensville, near Philadelphia. This is the last trace that we have found of him in connection with Rigdon. How long he remained in fellowship with that organization we cannot tell.
On November 6, 1847, he wrote a communication to the Gospel Herald, from Voree, Wisconsin, from which we extract the following: "Myself and family are all well as usual, and have planted ourselves in this place, among the few who adhere to the law of God and desire to keep the commandments of the Most High, and we greatly rejoice in God our Savior that we have not been left in darkness to follow those who have adopted false principles and wicked practices to their own destruction. But that the Lord in his mercy has been pleased to gather us to this place, where his saints enjoy peace and rest according to the promise of the Lord. We arrived here on the 4th day of July last as poor as ever. But you know the poor have the promise of the kingdom of heaven, and that is just what we are after. . . I have traveled and preached most of my time for the last fourteen years, and now I am so poor as to this world's goods, and my children so far in the rear in their education, that I am under the necessity of staying at home and laboring with all my might to feed, clothe, and educate them, and this with my own hands, and which I am willing to do."
He evidently did not remain at home long, for on February 10, 1848, he wrote a letter from Elgin, Illinois, to the Gospel Herald, which was published on the 17th of the same month. This letter indicates that he was then in sympathy with Strang, and that he had been doing missionary work for some time previous to the writing in the interests of
Strang's organization. At the April conference of 1849, held at Voree, Wisconsin, he was ordained an apostle, under the hands of J. J. Strang and others, and was also appointed, with J. J. Strang and J. E. Page, "a committee to draw up in order the laws concerning the authority, order, and prerogatives and relations of the priesthood." That he was a very active and zealous man is evident from the record gleaned from the publications of the time. On May 6, 1849, he was on Beaver Island, Lake Michigan, where he assisted J. J. Strang and others in exploring the island.
He left Beaver Island on the 11th, and on the 22d, he was at Ithaca, Ohio, having preached there and at Lewisburg. Soon after, he was at Dayton, Ohio. June 19, he was at Georgetown, Ohio, and back to Lewisburg on the 23d, and Ithaca the 25th. July 6 to 9 he was in attendance at a conference on Beaver Island, where he received a unanimous vote of confidence. At this conference he was appointed a mission to the state of Ohio, and on the 22d, he wrote on board the canal boat Empire, thirty-three miles from Toledo, Ohio. September 8 and 9 he was at a conference held at St. James, Beaver Island. October 5 to 8 he was at a conference in the city of New York, when he took an active part in the commendation of Sunday schools. At this conference he was appointed to go to New Bedford, Massachusetts.
On March 24, 1850, he wrote from "Big Bend of Fox River, Kane County, Illinois," saying: "My health is poor, and has been for the last six or seven months, and which was the reason, in part, of my coming home last fall. My health while in the east was very poor, and I thought best to come home. On arriving home, or where my family was, I found them in want of my presence. The most of them, with myself, have been sick the past winter. But I have held meetings in Batavia, and in the region round about, as far as I was able."
The tenor of this letter indicates that he was still strongly imbued with the spirit of the movement under Strang, yet we have noticed nothing further from him in connection with this movement. How long he continued with Strang we have not been able to determine. Nor do we know just
when he united with the Reorganization. The first mention we have seen of him was when he attended the Annual Conference of 1858. He was thereafter recognized as an elder, and at the Semiannual Conference of that year he was appointed to a mission.
On April 6, 1860, he was chosen one of the presidents of Seventy, and ordained by Elders William Marks and Z. H. Gurley.
On the 6th of October, 1860, at the Semiannual Conference held near Sandwich, Illinois, he was chosen to a position in the Quorum of the Twelve, and ordained an apostle under the hands of Apostles Z. H. Gurley and W. W. Blair. At this conference he was sent on a mission to Kirtland, Ohio. He retained his position in the Quorum of Twelve, making a record for faithfulness and diligence unto the end of his life. He died at Batavia, Illinois, December 18, 1866.
In his obituary published in the editorial column of the Saints' Herald for January 1, 1867, President Smith said of him:-
"Although the fact of the death of this eminent and good man is recorded in the few lines usually used, we shall not feel satisfied unless we give it a more prominent notice than those few worn words will give. . . . His goodness of heart, his unfailing faith, and his untiring energy and zeal, endeared him to the people of God, and caused him to be called from one station of usefulness to the cause to another, until, as an especial witness, he has carried the banner of King Emanuel for the last six years allotted to him on earth, and went to his rest while in the service of his Master, his armor of righteousness on, and his weapons of warfare still in his hands.
"As a preacher, Elder Blakeslee had few equals and fewer superiors, and for the steadiness of purpose with which he preached, and the integrity of his testimony has never been surpassed. Albeit his light was not so noted for its brilliancy, as for the remarkable steadiness with which it burned.
"We are assured that his dying testimony was what his living words had always been: 'I know that my Redeemer
liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.'"
We have made considerable effort to get some record of his family, but have failed to obtain it.
John Shippy, son of Thomas Shippy and Frances (McLeish) Shippy, and grandson of Zebulun Shippy, was born January 26, 1823, in Vienna, Elgin County, Ontario. He was the sixth of a family of fourteen children. His father being a Baptist preacher, he was brought up in that faith. When he was about four years old his father moved to Kent County, Ontario.
Elder Shippy informed us that his earliest recollections are of this place. Of this he says: "Things yet fresh in memory pass before my eyes, and things occurring all along the line of youth life causes my heart to swell with feelings of emotion of childhood, and my soul rejoices in God my Savior, who has prolonged my life till now. I also thank him for bringing me into the world by honest parents, who I believe were strictly Christians, so far as they were taught."
Here John began to attend school, and recalls many reminiscences of his school days, for which we have not space here. When he was about eight years of age his father bought an uncultivated tract of land on the shore of Lake Erie, in Raleigh township. Here Mr. Shippy and his sons felled the forest trees, and by dint of effort opened up a farm and built a home.
The most of the few settlers who professed religion in this new country were of the Methodist and Baptist faith. In a log schoolhouse, erected by joint effort, they held their religious service, each organization holding on alternate Sundays. In this house they held a union Sunday school, in which John received many religions impressions which opened his mind to wider research.
About this time he saw a remarkable vision or dream, which opened to his mind the doctrine, to which he had before been a stranger, of the final restoration of the earth,
and its ultimate occupancy by the saints of God. Shortly after this he went to Kingsville, where his second sister, Amy, then Mrs. David Osburn, resided. Here he attended normal school. At this place, in the autumn of 1837, he first heard the doctrine taught by the Latter Day Saints, through Elder John Landers, whose cousin, Richard Harrington, was the Baptist minister of the place.
The doctrine taught by Elder Landers agreeing with his former vision, he accepted it; but being a minor, and not having the consent of his parents, he did not embrace it, though a branch was raised up there through the efforts of Elders Landers, B. C. Ellsworth, and others.
In the fall of 1839 he returned home, and in the spring of 1840 his father gave him his time, and he started for Illinois, where he had an uncle living; but hearing of some Shippys in Laporte County, Indiana, he sought them, finding a Mr. Hosea Shippy and family. He had been working by the way and did not arrive there until the autumn of 1841. These Shippys were supposed to be distant relatives, but the exact relationship was not traceable.
On December 28, 1841, he was married to Sophronia, the youngest daughter of Hosea Shippy, who was then the widow of Harvey Lemon. In the autumn of 1842 he was baptized by a young elder by the name of George W. Chase, who visited the neighborhood. After this he had another remarkable vision or dream, in which his future work, and the future of the church were pointed out.
In the spring of 1843, there being no branch where he resided, he went to Chicago, Illinois, and united with a branch then existing at that place. At Chicago he was ordained a priest by John Cairns. From there he went to Nauvoo, on foot, visiting by the way his sister Rhoda, at Princeton, and Elder John Landers, at Walnut Grove.
Arriving at Nauvoo, he put up at the Nauvoo Mansion, and became acquainted with Joseph Smith. He also had many long and interesting interviews with Lucy Smith, the Prophet's mother, regarding her early experiences in the church.
While at Nauvoo he was ordained to the office of elder, under the hands of Willard Richards and others. He relates that he was directed by Joseph Smith to go into the missionary field, and to choose his field. He chose to go to Canada, and went back to the place of his birth and began his ministerial labor there. He baptized several in that neighborhood, including his brother Benjamin. Ordained one Erie Wells a priest, and left him in charge. Then he moved on to other fields.
He and U. C. H. Nickerson finally became associates in labor, and they were laboring together at Port Rowen when the news of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith reached them.
They took counsel together, and Elder Shippy says: "We then agreed to tell the saints and elders when they interrogated us on who the leader of the church would be, that our advice was for every officer of the church to stand right where he was when Joseph was slain, and let every one build on the foundation already laid," etc. With this understanding they continued preaching, until the December following, when he returned to his home in Indiana. In his absence from home a branch had been raised up within about forty or fifty miles, by Elder F. D. Richards. Here Elder Shippy began laboring, finding the branch almost broken up by removals to Nauvoo. In connection with an Elder Samuel Pratt, Elder Shippy soon revived the work and reorganized it under the name of "Hog Creek branch." Elder Shippy was its president, E. J. Whitney priest, and Elder Pratt acting teacher. To this branch he removed his wife; and soon after had the pleasure of baptizing her, according to a promise made him by Joseph Smith while at Nauvoo.
In this vicinity he labored until the spring of 1847, when he, in company with E. J. Whitney and wife, went by team to Voree, Wisconsin, to investigate the claims of J. J. Strang. They arrived there about ten days before the opening of the General Conference on April. 6, 1847. At this conference he united with Strang, on his original baptism, and was ordained a seventy, and appointed with U. C. H. Nickerson
and J. M. Adams a mission to "The Camp of Israel."
On April 20, 1847, he and Nickerson started, going by way of Nauvoo, thence followed "the track of the Brighamite Camp" to Chariton River, where Elder Nickerson tarried with relatives while Elder Shippy went on to Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah, persuading the fleeing host to return and go to Voree. They succeeded in turning some back, and on July 17, 1847, arrived at Voree with a company of twenty persons, seven wagons, fifty head of cattle, and five horses.
After returning from this mission Elder Shippy returned to Indiana and removed his family to Voree. He remained in Voree for about one year, when he took a mission to Canada. He was at Port Rowen, Canada West, on March 23, 1849; but a letter published in the Gospel Herald for June 28, 1849, indicates that he had returned home.
In 1849 he removed his family to Canada. On February 26, 1850, he was at Port Rowen, Canada. He continued to labor in the interest of the Strang movement during the lifetime of Strang, removing to Beaver Island in the spring of 1856. Though not present at the time of the assassination, he arrived before Strang was removed from Beaver Island, and examined his wounds.
After the death of Strang he left the island with the exodus. Landing at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he left his family there and went to Voree, where he found that Strang had died without appointing a successor. He then removed his family to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and went into the restaurant business. Subsequently he removed to Montrose, Iowa, and commenced the practice of medicine, where he remained until he went to Sandwich, Illinois, in the summer of 1860, and united with the Reorganization.
He informs us that he was first received by vote but was subsequently baptized by Elder George Rarick, and reordained an elder by George Rarick and I. L. Rogers. On October 6, 1860, he was ordained an apostle by Apostles Z. H. Gurley and W. W. Blair, and received into the Quorum of the Twelve. He was for several years a zealous missionary
and remained in the Quorum of the Twelve until the spring of 1868, when he was cut off from the church. Subsequently he was rebaptized, and later reordained an elder. Since which he has officiated in that capacity. He is still living, and resides at Lamoni, Iowa.
EDMUND C. BRIGGS.
We regret to say that though the work has been delayed for several weeks waiting for the autobiography of Elder E. C. Briggs which he had promised to furnish us it is not yet in hand, and we must go to press without it. This is especially to be regretted because of the important links which his experience furnishes in the history of the Reorganization as he was the pioneer general missionary of the Reorganization, one of the special messengers sent by the early movers in the cause to Joseph Smith, and the first missionary intrusted by the Reorganization to represent it in Utah. Perhaps these valuable items of history may be furnished by Elder Briggs for a future volume of the History.-H. C. S.
Elder Josiah Ells, son of Thomas and Hannah Ells, was born March 4, 1806, at Lewis, County of Essex, England. While yet in his minority he left his father's house, and at the age of twenty united with the Methodist Church. At the age of twenty-four he was licensed by the Methodists as a local preacher. In 1831 he emigrated to the United States, and located in Philadelphia, where he again preached for the Methodists. In 1835 he removed to Monmouth County, New Jersey, where, in 1838, he first heard the doctrine taught by the Latter Day Saints, from Elders Benjamin Winchester and Orson Pratt. After a thorough investigation, including the reading of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, he was baptized on October 1, 1838, by Elder Benjamin Winchester, in Upper Freehold township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Others in the same neighborhood were soon after baptized, and in the December following a branch was organized, and Josiah Ells was ordained and chosen presiding elder.
On January 1, 1840, he for the first time met Joseph Smith the Seer, while the prophet was on his mission to Washington City and the east to seek redress for the wrongs suffered by the Saints in Missouri. He heard the prophet relate his early experiences, visions, being visited by angels, etc. He relates that Joseph Smith while on this visit preached at a place called Cook's Mills, and "with much power, warning the inhabitants of the nation against shedding the blood of the Saints, and the consequence to themselves and the entire nation, unless they desisted," saying that "'they should see blood and much sorrow.'"
At the instance of the prophet, Elder Ells went to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he arrived about April 1, 1840. In June of the same year he was chosen by Joseph Smith to conduct a discussion at Quincy, Illinois, with the Rev. Dr. Nelson, president of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Quincy. 1 Of this debate Elder Ells wrote as follows: "The challenge being accepted, to my surprise I was designated to respond. Some forty or fifty persons went down. As the idea had gone abroad that Dr. Nelson had challenged the Prophet, there were many present-clergymen of all denominations, and Governor of the State (Carlin). I do not remember the words of the propositions we agreed upon. . . . The Doctor became confused, and his friends advised him to desist. He remarked that his opponent had treated him courteously, and stepped down. The Seer got upon the stand and challenged any of the clergymen present to continue the discussion, but none responded. The Spirit of God through the weak had silenced the worldly wise."
The following relation of events connected with the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, written by Elder Ells, will be instructive:-
"At the time the prophet delivered himself up to State authorities then at Carthage, I went out with the party, an I was present with the party when Captain Dunn with his cavalry troop came with a requisition from the Governor to
1This was Dr. David Nelson, the author of the well-known work entitled, "The Cause and Cure of Infidelity."
deliver up the State arms, declaring that if that was done it would satisfy the old settlers of the county. Joseph asked Dunn if he had any orders to protect him agreeable to the promise of the Governor. He said he had not, but he would as far as his arm could,-he would protect him anywhere in the county. The Prophet said he asked the protection not because he was afraid of justice, but he was afraid of the assembled mob. He further told Captain Dunn that the citizens of Nauvoo would not surrender the arms to him, but he would return and request them to do so. That was the cause of the Seer's return to the city. Hyrum Smith and myself had ridden together from the city, conversing respecting the outlook. He said: 'It is the darkest day the church has ever seen.' Being a warm day, we turned off from the road to obtain some water to drink, which we obtained, and Joseph left his party on the road and came over to where we were, and it was then that Joseph told Hyrum: 'We must go and lay our heads on the sod, or they will go into the city and murder the women and children.' It was during this conversation that Captain Dunn with his troop came in sight. He halted his troop, and came over by himself to Joseph, when the above-named conversation occurred.
"A few days after the assassination, I was requested to go to Carthage with Dr. Samuel Bennett to bring home John Taylor, as he feared they would kill him. No marvel; he was fearfully wounded in legs and arms. The citizens of Carthage were very reluctant to have him removed. They feared that Carthage would in the event of his removal be destroyed. However, we put a bed upon a sled and brought him home in tolerably easy condition. I would here remark that, notwithstanding my midnight journey to Carthage to serve him, when I met him in Salt Lake City he would not speak beyond, 'How do you do, sir?'"
Of general conditions, and his own feelings after the martyrdom, he states:-
"At the death of the prophet I supposed that the church was rejected as a church; but what the effect of the rejection was, neither I nor any person with whom I conversed
seemed to apprehend. Had the true state of the case been understood, the many aspirants to Moses' seat would have had but few followers. I can see clearly now that blindness had smitten Israel upon that subject, for they were groping for a leader like blind men for a wall."
Elder Ells relates that while these conditions were obtaining he conversed on the situation with a Mr. Parish, who said: "If the Twelve go to hell I will go with them." Some years afterwards he was assassinated at Springville, Utah.
Elder Ells cast his lot with Sidney Rigdon; but of this movement he says: "On my arrival at Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], after leaving Nauvoo, I found Rigdon had changed his program, and intended to act for himself, renouncing the proposed guardianship for Joseph. I hesitated, but the darkness consequent upon the rejection enveloped me in its folds."
At the general conference, held in April, 1845, by Rigdon and his adherents, Josiah Ells was chosen one of the Twelve Apostles, and was also made a member of the Quorum of Seventy-three; but we have seen no indication that he was ever very active or zealous in this cause.
Elder Ells continues his narrative as follows: "From that time until the year 1860 we remained in the dark. In the beginning of that year several of the old saints met several times to hold religious meetings, and converse upon the past, and interchange opinions regarding the future. Upon one of these occasions, when speaking, the Spirit came upon me, and I testified that before long we should learn something respecting the kingdom-the object which we sought. Some few weeks afterwards, W. W. Blair came bringing the tidings that an organization had been effected by some of the saints, that Joseph, the eldest son of the Seer, had been chosen, and he had accepted the Presidency of the same. From previous manifestations, myself and wife were disposed to believe the tidings; but it seemed as if we were the only ones at that time who were so inclined. I appointed a meeting in view of the subject, but no person attended for
several weeks. My wife, self, and one other met, when one and then another of the old saints met with us until they became satisfied of the probability of the right in the case. Such was the beginning of the branch of the Reorganized Church in Pittsburg [Pittsburgh] and vicinity."
From this time Elder Ells was identified with the Reorganization, and soon became one of its leading ministers. At the Annual Conference held in April, 1865, at Plano, Illinois, he and Elder Charles Derry were chosen and ordained Apostles to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve occasioned by the rejection of D. B. Rasey and David Newkirk. He occupied in this office faithfully the remainder of his life, doing missionary work in various parts of the United States and in Europe.
He died at Wheeling, West Virginia, October 15, 1885. At the next meeting of his Quorum, held at Lamoni, Iowa, in April, 1886, the Quorum passed the following: "Whereas, since our last session of conference, death has entered our ranks, and stricken down our venerable brother and fellow-laborer, Josiah Ells, as a tribute of respect we offer the following: While with profound reverence and respect to God, and a desire to exhibit a becoming resignation to the dispensation of his providence, we nevertheless are made to feel sad at the loss of so worthy and able an exponent of the faith, who through long and tedious years, and life's changing scenes, stood unyielding to opposing powers brought to bear against the latter-day work.
"During his earthly career he bore the cross as a noble soldier, evincing by precept and by example a virtue and love for equity and truth equaled by few and surpassed by none. In his death we lose a wise and able counselor, and the church a faithful, competent, and worthy representative. Let his name be kept in memory as one of earth's noblest men"
Elder Ells married in early life, but in a sketch written by himself, from which we have gleaned much of this information, though he several times mentions his wife, he gives no account of the event.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DERRY, WRITTEN AT THE
REQUEST OF THE HISTORIAN.
Charles Derry, the second and youngest son of Charles Derry and Amelia Littley Derry, was born on the 25th day of July, 1826, in the parish of Bloxwick, and county of Stafford, England. His father died seven months prior to his birth, leaving the widow and one babe, George Derry, who was one year and five months old, besides the unborn subject of this sketch. Mother being very poor, was compelled to seek employment; and after my birth was compelled to separate the children, placing George in the care of her aged parents, Daniel and Rebekah Littley; and at the age of ten weeks I was placed in the care of an aunt; but at the age of three weeks, mother felt it her duty to dedicate me to the Lord, as Hannah of old did the young child Samuel, that I might be in the service of the Lord so long as I should live.
My mother told me this, and of my earliest history, after I had become a man, and presented to her the gospel in its fullness, which she gladly obeyed. She declared that she never doubted God's acceptance of the gift, no matter how wayward and willful I proved to be; and from my earliest recollection, I am satisfied I never was an angel, but was as full of the old Adamic nature as boys generally are. But mother was a God-fearing woman, and constantly bore her children's names before Him who has said, "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me." She fully trusted in Him.
Mother had secured a position as housekeeper for a wealthy bachelor farmer, with a determination to remain single until her boys were able to care for themselves. This pledge she faithfully kept, and remained in this position sixteen years, sustaining her children and aiding her aged mother, who during this time had become a widow.
When I was about three years old I was placed in grandmother's care; and as soon as I was able to go I was sent to the common school, until I was nine years old, after which I went to work until I was ten, then mother gave me six
months more schooling, after which I obtained a place on the farm with my mother, and was under her care until I was nearly thirteen, when I wickedly rebelled and ran away, and thus ungratefully caused her much sorrow. This was the only time, since I was ten weeks old, that I had been under her care. I was afterwards apprenticed to learn the blacksmithing trade, mother paying my employer a bonus of ten pounds sterling, and agreeing to clothe me while my employer furnished me board, lodging, and shoes until I was twenty-one years old. Here I remained during eight years, which time I felt the oppressor's rod very severely, which did not improve my nature at all; yet all this time there was a constant feeling in my soul that I ought to serve the Lord; and I tried to do so, but my daily surroundings were of such a nature that I had to fight against tremendous odds. At the age of seventeen I joined the "Freewill Baptist Church," determined to serve the Lord. I chose that church because I thought they came nearer the scriptural order than any other.
About this time the Reverend Samuel Jackson, minister of the Independent Church, formed a theological class to study "divinity," and as it was open for all, I joined it. In a short time the minister offered to send me to college, to fit me for the ministry; but my employers had claim upon my labor until I was twenty-one, hence I could not accept his kind offer.
At nineteen I heard of the Latter Day Saints. I went to hear them, not expecting to hear any good; but to my surprise I found they believed and taught the word as found in the Bible. There was one utterance made that conflicted with my Baptist proclivities; the preacher said, "The Baptists have no authority to baptize." This was too much; I left.
After I was of age and free from the bonds of my apprenticeship, I went to the town where mother lived. She was then married again. I obtained employment at my trade, and boarded with mother. Here I heard a discussion between a Methodist preacher and a Latter Day Saint. I became convinced of the truth after prayerful and diligent
investigation, and on the 3d day of October, 1847, I was buried with Christ in baptism for the remission of my sins. I received the witness of the Holy Spirit that my offering was accepted of God, and my cup of joy was full. I had given myself unreservedly unto the Lord.
About three months from that time I was called into the ministry, ordained an elder, and sent out into the world without purse or scrip, to preach the gospel of Christ. Among the rest I preached it to my mother, and baptized and confirmed her, and soon afterwards my brother George. After traveling something over a year, I married Miss Alice Stokes, the eldest daughter of Joseph and Alice Stokes, of West Bromwich, England. She was a member of the church, and had been since prior to the death of the Martyr, and a devoted handmaid of the Lord, as all her after life proved. With the full understanding that my lifework must be in the ministry (for to that end I had consecrated myself, come weal or woe, prosperity or adversity) she gladly united her destiny with mine, to be a help meet in the labor of faith and love. And truly has she proved a help meet, enduring poverty and the contempt of the world without a murmur, always encouraging me in the great battle of truth.
To cement our union, came two sweet babes; the first in the year 1850, and the last in the year 1852, which pledges of our love always proved a source of joy. My traveling deprived her and them of my society, but never were hearts more firmly blended in one than ours; and when the curse, polygamy, came, it was not allowed to disturb our union, nor was any intruder permitted to step in between us. It is true we were at a loss to know of its real origin, and were puzzled by the fact that it had been practiced by some of the patriarchs and kings whose memories we had learned to revere; but we determined to wait the arbitrament of time, and seek guidance from on high.
My labors in England, were in the counties of Stafford, Warwick, Worcester, Shropshire, Montgomery, Flint, and Lincoln, with occasional visits to Liverpool and London; and in 1854, being counseled by the then church authorities,
we bade adieu to our native land and wended our way to the "Valley of the Mountains."
On this journey my loved companion sickened and died, and I was left alone with my two little babes, Alice being four years old, and George Nephi two. When I reached our destination I was like a lone sheep on the mountains, with my two little lambs bleating at my side, without home or means, and friends very few and far between. In this condition I besought the Lord to give me a companion who would be a mother to my babes. Nor did I seek in vain. God heard my prayer, and sent me a companion, young and beautiful, whom I had never seen or heard of until I proposed to her to become my wife and a mother to my little ones, describing my helpless condition. I had not been without offers; but I failed to see in those who volunteered the characteristics that would qualify them to be mothers to my children; but here I seemed to recognize those qualities, and urged my suit, nor was it denied. And after forty-two years of experience with my present companion, I am proud to say my reading of character was not at fault, for she has proved to me and mine all that my heart could desire; and here I acknowledge the faithfulness of him who said, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God." Faithful in the observance of duty, patient in privation and poverty such as must come to every traveling elder's wife, and zealous for the cause of truth, she has always aided and encouraged me in the arduous and unenviable task of a traveling minister. And when the great awards are meted out, not the least will fall into the hands and rest upon the heads of these quiet, unobtrusive, but self-sacrificing women.
Having had the opportunity of learning by observation the workings of polygamy, where it had full sway, we became satisfied that it had its origin in lust, and pandered to the flesh, instead of bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and we were satisfied it was not of God. And while the revelation of this fact brought sorrow to our minds, and grief more poignant than death, we sadly turned our backs upon the Utah Church, utterly at a loss to know where to find the
rest our weary souls needed. Sectarianism in all its forms was too much like Isaiah's bed, "Too short for a man to stretch himself on, and the covering too narrow for a man to wrap himself in."
We left Utah in 1859, and came to Nebraska by ox team, and found a temporary home with my brother, who, with our mother, had come thus far on their way to Utah, but had been induced by letters from me and the influence of other friends to stay there. I soon heard of the Reorganized Church, but I feared, at first, it was another move of Brigham Young to capture those whom he called apostates, but upon receiving a number of the Saints' Herald, I was satisfied there was no connection between the Reorganized Church and that of Brigham. Moreover, the Spirit of God began to work with me, and I was drawn to him, remembering the evidences he had given me of his love, and his power that had attended my ministry, and I determined to find the Reorganization.
Accordingly, in the last days of February, 1861, I left my family in a little cabin in Dodge County, Nebraska, and with the snow eighteen inches deep on the level, and a few cookies in a small sack, I started for Iowa. After traveling about seventy-five miles, I found Elders W. W. Blair and E. C. Briggs, and after a proper investigation of the claims of the Reorganized Church I was again buried with Christ in baptism, in Farm Creek, Mills County, Iowa, and was again ordained an elder, during the ordinance of confirmation by Elder Blair. This was early in March, 1861. I returned to Nebraska by the kind aid of Philip Gatrost, who took me with his team to where I had left my family, and he brought myself and family into Pottawattamie County, Iowa, where I found a temporary home among the Saints of God.
I was again called into the traveling ministry and labored in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska until the fall of 1862. In that time I was called to the office of a Seventy, and in October of that year I was appointed on a mission to England, in connection with Elder J. W. Briggs, of the Quorum of the Twelve. On December 6 of that year I started on
that mission, as I had always gone, without purse and scrip, leaving my family in a little log cabin belonging to William Brittain, near Glenwood, Mills County, Iowa, the following named brethren pledging themselves to see that my family should not suffer: Jairus M. Putney, William Brittain, John Leeka, Elijah Gaylord, Noah Green, John Pack, and Joseph Craven, and right nobly did they keep their pledge.
I reached Liverpool, February 4, 1863. Jason W. Briggs and Jeremiah Jeremiah came to England about the 15th of May, 1863, and found me at West Bromwich on the 16th. We labored in unity until the month of June, 1864, when I returned or started home to my family, by sailing vessel, from Liverpool, and arrived at home on the 6th of September of the same year.
On the lst of November I removed my family from western Iowa, and started to Nauvoo, Illinois, where we remained until the spring conference of 1865, and on the 30th of November, Brethren A. H. Smith and George Redfield fetched us from Montrose to Nauvoo, and we were kindly entertained by Alexander and wife that night.
Just prior to the General Conference in April, 1865, President Joseph Smith came to my house to inquire if I was going to the conference at Plano. I replied, "I cannot go; I have not the means."
He then said, "If I consider it of so much importance for you to go as to pay your expenses, will you go?"
I answered, "Certainly." He then gave me ten dollars. I went to conference. Three brethren were appointed to select two for ordination into the Quorum of the Twelve. Bro. Josiah Ells was one selected, and I was the other; and, believing that the call was of God, I accepted and was ordained. That night I slept with Joseph and he remarked, "Now I know why it was that I could not come to conference without you," referring to my ordination.
I served in that capacity until the General Conference of 1870, in Plano, when I resigned my position as an apostle, and requested the church to permit me to be simply an elder, for I felt that in that office was all the priesthood I was qualified to hold. After long and anxious deliberation,
the conference granted my request and accepted my resignation, but they retained me in the High Priests' Quorum, in which capacity I have served until the present. After the death of Bro. Isaac Sheen I was appointed and ordained president of that quorum.
I am now seventy years of age, but my love for the cause does not lessen; but rather my desire to serve God increases with my years, and I desire to keep firm hold of the gospel plow until the Master shall say, "It is enough." 1
1 At the General Conference of 1890, held at Lamoni, Iowa, Elder Derry was chosen and ordained a member of the High Council. The above sketch was written about four years ago. He is now seventy-four years old, but still laboring in the ministry as his strength permits. He yet retains his positions as President of the High Priests' Quorum and a member of the High Council. Since his connection with the Reorganization his ministerial work has been performed in the States of Iowa, Nebraska, Dakotas, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, and Idaho; and in England and Wales. He now resides at Woodbine, Iowa. His wife still lives, and together they are spending their old age in the memory of a well-spent life.
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