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T H E S A I N T S ' H E R A L D
November 20, 1934
The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith (1832-1914)
Edited by his daughter Mary Audentia Smith Anderson
Chapter 1 continued--
He went to Watertown, New York, met some of his family, and remained there during the rest of his life. He was a man of ingenuity; had invented a system of stencils which, with other notions, he used to sell. Together with some teaching of penmanship these sales afforded him such income as he needed. I corresponded with him for quite a number of years. He married at Watertown but I never heard anything about his family after his death.
Mother had ten or twelve patients that fall, for whom she cared principally by the labor of her own hands, although we children including our sister Julia, who was quite small for her age, tried to help her as best we could. She managed to keep well herself, and to live through the strenuous trial. In the language of the Scripture, "not one was lost," nor did she or her children suffer—a gratifying result chiefly attributable to her wise care and excellent administration of affairs.
Whether at that time or later I cannot say, but there came from the East—New York, I think—an allopathic doctor by the name of John M. Bernhisel. He was old enough to be gray and partially bald, a bachelor, an excellent and skillful physician, and very successful in treating the malarial diseases which were then quite prevalent. The flat lying between the main street and the river a few blocks north of us was quite swampy, and there were other places similar. The people who settled in such localities or along the river were subject to swamp-fever, chill-fever, or fever-and-ague. While proving serious in some cases, the affliction could usually be overcome by proper care and an obedience to the directions of a physician in regard to diet. Often, however, it lingered quite a long while before completely eradicated.
I have a distinct recollection of having chill-fever. I also remember the remedies I took for it, among them some pills called Sappington's Pills. They were evidently made of wood-fibers covered with a coating which was bitter to the taste. A treatment curious enough to provoke a smile now was in use at that time. These "cleansing" pills were given, and a short time before the next chill was due the patient was required to take a remedy called Dover's Powders. This -was followed by drinking a strong concoction of what was called "store tea." Looking back at it now it seems that, when faith failed, people resorted to many strange remedies—things which would now be considered futile if not absolutely dangerous to the life of the patient.
Two instances in my experience with this disease come to mind. One occurred after Father's death. I was slowly recovering from an attack of the fever and wanted something or other. There was no one about the house but Mother, so I called her. When she failed to answer, I seemed to get frantic, and got right out of bed. I was not strong enough to stand, however. My head whirled and I fell to the floor, calling out loudly as I did so.
Mother hurried to me, helped me back into bed, and told me I should not be so foolish, explaining that she had her work to do in addition to waiting on me, and that if she couldn't come at once I should be patient and remember that she would do what she could for me just as soon as she could. The lesson was a good one and I took it to heart.
In two or three days I seemed to be well enough to go out into the yard. It was a fine, sunny day in the fall. A new fence had been built across the lot, extending down towards the stable and dividing the garden from the dooryard. It was an ordinary post-and-board fence, with a board nailed on the top, flat-wise. I mounted this fence and undertook to walk this flat board. As might be expected I fell, struck a pile of rails that were stacked against the fence, and rolled to the ground. Getting to my feet I started to the house, but before I could reach it I began shaking from head to foot with a severe attack of ague. Some time elapsed after that before I again reached a state of convalescence.
At another and considerably later time, I had an attack which hung on persistently, in spite of all the remedies administered to relieve me. A couple of men "from off the river" came along, one of whom gave the name of Joseph Smith, a clerk on the steamer Tempest. They asked for a horse and buggy to convey them up to the hill portion of the city. Though we were keeping a hotel we did not run a livery, but we did have a mare called Cleopatra. She had been used by some of the young men during the trouble of '46, and had lately been ill. We had no buggy of our own, but there was one in the barn which belonged to a transient traveler.
At the earnest importunities of these men, who said they just wished to go up to the hill and back, and relying on their promise that they would drive the convalescent mare carefully and return her at noon, I obeyed Mother's direction, harnessed Cleopatra, and hitched her to the buggy. The young men drove away, but when noon arrived, they did not! In the afternoon I saw the mare hitched in front of a grocery-saloon kept by an Englishman named Hanna. It was located on the west side of Main Street, on the second block north of the Mansion House.
Not feeling well myself, I sent Wesley Knight, an assistant we had about the hotel and stable, to see about the animal. Presently he returned with the report that the men would be down in a few minutes. For some reason I felt mistrustful, so took a stroll up toward the saloon. Just before I reached it those two men, accompanied by another, came out, jumped into the buggy, put whip to the mare, and raced down the hill. As they passed me I shook my fist at them and shouted that they could just send the horse back, for it wouldn't be safe or healthy for them to bring her back! I was furiously angry! Just closing my fifteenth year and being a rather lusty fellow for my age, I fancy they were inclined to view my threat with respect, for they did indeed send the animal back by someone else and never even returned to pay for her use.
I got this benefit out of the incident, however: my anger and indignation were so great I found myself entirely relieved of my attack of ague! The reader may think these statements very curious, but nevertheless they are true; a jar received in a fall from a fence brought on one siege of chill-fever, and getting extremely angry had the surprising effect of curing me of another!
These are all quite trivial incidents, but they have in a sense left an impression upon my life. The gradual disappearance of wild soil, the cultivation of gardens and fields, and clearing the swamps of brush finally resulted in establishing on a firmer basis the health of the inhabitants of Nauvoo.
Bits of Memory
Bits of memory about some of our neighbors in those early days come to view. Hugh White, from whom Father purchased the farm, had married a daughter of Davidson Hibbard who lived but a little farther down the river. At the time we moved in, however, his family was broken up through the desertion of his wife. She became the wife of someone else, lived in the South a while, and then came back to Nauvoo after abandoning her second husband. She may have contracted other alliances, one of which I think was with Porter Rockwell, but she finally married a man by the name of Tilton, with whom she was living at the time of her death. She was quite a beautiful woman; lived for a time in the house built by Orson Hyde and later farther down Main Street in a frame building remodeled by a brother from Saint Louis, by the name of Shaw. Her given name was Emmeline, and when she died after her successive ventures in the matrimonial market—lonely, unfortunate. and unhappy—she left an adopted daughter who became quite an estimable citizen of the place.
Davidson Hibbard was a very kindly man whose family consisted of his wife, a son William, and the three daughters, Elvira, Emmeline, and Lovina. Elvira became the wife of Doctor Weld, a physician of the old or allopathic school and the first one I remember as being a practitioner in the place. Afterwards Elvira left Doctor Weld and became the wife of Amos Davis. Again she changed her partner and married Putnam Yates. Deserting him she took up her fortunes with a fourth man by the name of Peter (or Pierre) Helm, with whom she lived until her death.
Mr. Hibbard's youngest daughter married Milton M. Morrill, a relative of the Honorable Morrill of Maine—of tariff memory, if my recollections are correct. She was a woman of good character, maintained an excellent reputation, and was one of the leading ladies of Nauvoo. She may be living now, in the city or its vicinity, with sons and daughters. Her husband, when she married him, was a young lawyer from the East, who pitched his legal fortunes at Nauvoo and became one of the leading lawyers and politicians of the County, on the Democratic side of the political fence. He was sent to the Legislature once, but finally became too fond of his cups, wasted his wife's patrimony as well as his own earnings, and died a drunkard.
Besides his widow he left two sons, Ernest and Milton, and a daughter—a very pretty young woman. The oldest son, I believe, escaped the snares of intoxication under which his father had gone down. I have lost track of the younger one, but recall an occasion when, visiting a place of resort with Mr. Morrill on a matter of business connected with a suit before me as Justice of the Peace, I saw the boy sitting at a table playing cards with a companion, glasses of whiskey standing about on the table. As we passed Mr. Morrill said, "Why, Milton, what are you doing here ? I thought you were at work."
The lad looked up, shame-faced, but answered nothing. As we passed out, Mr. Morrill expressed regret at finding his son in such a place and in such employment. I suggested, "What could you expect, Mr. Morrill, from the example you have set the boy?" And with a sigh he answered, "Yes, Joseph; I know it."
Mr. Morrill became identified with a good many events and occurrences connected with our family after my mother's second marriage, as will appear later on. In passing I may say that the example set in the community by Mr. Morrill was one of the things that made me a temperance lecturer. He was a man of brilliant intellect, an excellent lawyer, and a good pleader at the bar and before a jury, although he became a bit unscrupulous about the methods he employed in his practice before the courts. I will not say that those methods were dishonest in the strict sense of the term but rather that they were in a measure "tricks of the trade" which to me seemed unjustifiable. Intoxicating liquors often turn otherwise excellent men into questionable paths.
Farmer Hibbard was among the first acquaintances we made upon moving to the Hugh White farm. Soon after we came Mother purchased a cow from him and it became largely my task to look after it. I well remember the appearance of this cow and her disposition, which was very erratic. She was very hard to milk and, becoming tired with my efforts to do so, would break away from me and run back home to Mr. Hibbard's place. Once I chased her back twice before I succeeded in getting her milked, after which we tied her up at milking time. We retained her for many years, notwithstanding the frequent trouble she gave us in various ways.
The acquaintance early formed with Mr. Hibbard and his family continued pleasantly through the years. He was often called Deaf Hibbard, because of the apparent difficulty of his hearing. The illness which finally ended his life lasted for several months and those in attendance upon him became somewhat worn and weary. I was requested to visit him and wait upon him, as he had inquired at times for me and said he would like to see me.
One day I sat by his side outdoors, as he lay on a mattress in the shade of the house to escape the heat indoors. He seemed to be asleep and I read as I watched with him. Suddenly he turned and said, "Come here, Joseph."
I went over close to him and he asked, in a low voice, "Is there anyone near?" I said, "No, Mr. Hibbard," speaking in the loud tone I had been in the habit of using when addressing him.
Very soberly he said, "Joseph, I can hear you very well. When there is no one near you needn't speak so loud to me. When somebody is about, then speak loud."
I sat by his side for an hour in easy conversation carried on in ordinary tones. He told me much of his life, assured me of his regard and interest in me, and said he hoped I would live to be a good and useful man. I did not ask him for an explanation concerning his supposed deafness, for I thought I understood it. His wife was an arrant scold, and he had evidently quite early concluded it was better to go through life with the reputation of being a deaf man than to be worried by her scolding. I had been present on occasions when she was storming, and had noticed the quiet demeanor of the man, as if he did not hear her. I concluded he had been shamming for a good many years. I never betrayed his confidence, either by failing to address him loudly when others were present or forgetting to address him quietly when we were alone.
His son William grew up a wild, rollicking young man, full of frolic and fun, but given to drink. Many a time I saw him going home from town, racing his horse to keep ahead of the marshal. Several times I remember he was arrested and fined, until his father's patience and kindness were severely tried. During the gold excitement in California in '49 and '50 he left Nauvoo for the gold mines. He succeeded in getting through to California, but there, unfortunately and evidently in a drunken frolic, he stole a horse. Under the regulations of the mining country at that time such an act was considered a grave crime and punishable by death.
The usual vigilante court was summoned, he was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to die. The court gave him his choice between hanging or being shot. He chose the latter, sold his head to a rising young doctor for a quart of whiskey, which he promptly drank and in the stupor that followed paid the penalty adjudged against him.
He left a wife and son in Nauvoo. The wife married secondly, Isaac Saunders. The son, William by name, grew up in the community, kept away from the dram-shop, studied law, and achieved the reputation of a good citizen. He married the daughter of Bryant Whitfield, for a long time constable in Nauvoo, and died in middle life, having maintained his integrity and honor as a man to the last.
Chapter 2—School Days
The first teacher with whom I recollect studying was Miss Julia Durfee, daughter of a church member by the name of Jabez Durfee. She and her sister Servilla were employed by my mother, the former as a seamstress and the latter as a maid-of-all-work. Not having enough work in the sewing line to occupy all of Miss Durfee's time and attention Mother thought it prudent to have her assist in our education, and my sister Julia and I were placed under her care for this purpose. Thus our earliest instruction was received in the home.
There was no public school in Nauvoo at the time nor until after the city was incorporated. Even then I think several more years elapsed before the public school system of the state became so far perfected that there were established schools of that sort. At all events, it was Miss Durfee who, for a stipend, taught us in our home the fundamentals of what education we were afterwards able to acquire.
The arrangement with Miss Durfee evidently did not continue long, for what reason I do not know, and my next recollection of lessons takes in a school held in the little log building on the riverbank, under the big walnut tree. This school was taught by a Miss (or Mrs.) Wheeler, who afterwards, I believe, became a Mrs. Olney. So many Saints had moved in during the fall of 1839 and the summer of 1840 that it became impracticable to continue the plan of teaching children in their homes.
(To be continued.)
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