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Title: A Mormon Visitation
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In a preceding sketch of this series I have told at some length of the unusual religious spirit in the territory east of Attica, of the important part it had in the growth of this section, and of the numerous men of ability that it produced. Because of its strong religious character it was frequently the scene of efforts at proselyting. One of these notable because of the prominence of the leader, who was no less that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonish itself. His visitation to this section occurred in the late thirties, when the church was but a few years old, and it is a fact, tho not generally known, that many men that afterwards became prominent in the organization were gathered from the Wabash Valley.

The Mormon Church- or, as it is often known, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints- was instituted by Joseph Smith, Jr. at Fayette, Seneca county, N.Y. in 1830. On account of persecution in that vicinity the Mormons began to move westward and within the year they began to locate in Jackson county, Missouri. That county was extremely Democratic and the Mormons did not believe in human slavery. The Democracy of Missouri would not tolerate nay religion taht would openly advocate the cause of negro slavery, and in 1833, for no other reason, they drove these new immigrants from their midst. Some of them stopt in Clay county for awhiel but in 1838 Governor Boggs of Missourt, a very earnest advocate of negro slavery, issued an order of expulsion against them.

During this troublous period Smith made numerous journeys into the older settled district and on one of these came into this action. He was accompanied by Sidneyy Rogdon, on of his influential followers, and they held meetings in many sections of Fountain and Vermillion counties. On this journey they many converts, some of them from among the best of those sturdy old pioneer families. They made many converts in Troy, Wabash and Fulton townships and in Davis township. In was inthe meetings in Davis that Joseph Smith made his strongest efforts.

This series of meetings was held in a schoolhouse that stood just back of where Salem church now stands in what is now the Salem cemetery. There Smith and Rigdon held forth for some time and lined up about fifty followers, about thirty of whom went with them to Missouri. Andrew Wilson was one of these converts but he did not leave Fountain county. Samuel Trollinger was another. The latter owned about a thousand acres of land comprising the old James Williams farm,a nd the Washburn farm now belonging to John T. Nixon and counted among the best tracts of land in the county. Others were Simeon nad Joseph Curtis, and two families of Harriers, all of them respectalbe citizens and well-to-do. Three young men named Lancaster were also among those who espoused the Mormon faith. Samuel Trollinger and Simeon Curtis became Mormon elders and engaged in the ministry, and went thru all the persecutions visited upon the sect in Missouri and Illinois.

While the Davis township meetings were in progress an incident occurred that caused much comment thruout the vicinity and possibly had some effect in weakening the influence of the new sect. A man named Dolyhide lived about a mile from the place where the meetings were held. He was badly crippled with rheumatism, his limbs being drawn and twisted from the effects of the disease. The Mormons preacht faith healing by the laying on of hands, the gift of tongues, the unction of the Holy Spirit and other things preacht and practised by the early Christian church, just as many other Christian denominations still do. Dolyhide was taken to the meeting, professed convertion and was baptised as a Mormon. The preachers laid hands on him and held a prayer service for him but Dolyhide was not cured, perhaps not much benefited. Those who were opposed to Mormonism seized upon this incident and it has been handed down in local history as the principal reason why the Mormon influence waned in that community. This is hardly just to the Mormons for it they are to be condemned for failure to receive answer to their prayers surely the same rule should be applied to every other denomination.

After the Mormons were expelled from Missouri they crossed back into Illinois and founded the city of Nauvoo, over which Smith had extraordinary civl and ecclesiastical authority, very much like that a Fountain county man, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, now exercises over Zion City in northern Illinois. It was to Nauvoo that the converts from this vicinity went and by 1840 it is said that in the neighborhood of three hundred from the Wabsh Valley had joined the colony, at least fifty of these being from Davis township.

The city of Nauvoo flourished and soon there were more than two thousand houses nad there was under construction a beautiful temple built along the plans that Smith claimed had been given him in a vision in 1844. A discontented member of the church issued a newspaper at Nauvoo assailing the prophet and threatening to expose alleged immortalities and misdeeds. The City Council passed an ordinance declaring the printing office a nuisance and it was destroyed by officers of the law. Smith was blamed for this and a warrant was issed for his arrest. He was taken to Carthage and on June 27, 1844 a mob, including members of other Christian denominations, attacked the jail, over-powered the guards, killed Smith and his brother Hiram and wounded several others. So-called Christians for nineteen hundred years have put to death and tortured by every known means those who did not believe as they believed even tho they all professed to be following the teachings of the same Christ.

After the death fo Smith Brigham Young became the head of the Mormons and he was a man of great executive ability.

In the winder of 1846 Nauvoo was again attackt by those who loved the Lord more than their fellow men and the Mormons were driven out. Even women and children were driven from their homes in the dead of winter and were forced to cross the Mississippi river on the ice. Many of the men were killed in defense of their families. They went from the Nauvoo to Council Bluffs, Iowa and from there to Salt Lake City.

Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Mormon church and the man whose manifesto abolisht polygamy among the Saints, was related to the Wooddruffs in Davis township. The three Lancaster brothers and many others that joined the church in Davis township, became prominent in the work and extension of the Mormon church.

After they reached Salt Lake many missionaries were sent to various parts of the world and their growth had been steady. When they moved to Salt Lake City they moved out of the United States and into old Mexico and they adopted polygamy under the Mexican government. After the Mexican war the border lines of the United States were extended southward and they found themselves again residents of the United States. The church claims a membership of over three hundred thousand and has flourishing communities in other countries besides the United States. Among the missionaries and most active members often appear the names of families who joined them while Joseph Smith was proselyting in Vermillion and Fountain counties in the Wabash Valley.

I am not a Mormon, neither do I believe in polygamy, but I do believe that we should all be tolerant. The story of the Mormons, no difference how black it may be, cannot be lookt at from any angle that it is not more beautiful than the story of the persecutions that were inflicted on those people by those who disagreed with them in religion in every community in which they have lived.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001104
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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