A Great Patriotic Story On America’s Birth week
In his autobiography, pioneer Lewis Barney records an incident that happened as a result of a member trying to get Saints in Iowa to sell their property and move to Nauvoo.
There was an elder by the name of James Carl. He had formerly been a Methodist preacher and very enthusiastic. He got the whole branch excited in relation to the judgments of God that was to precede the coming of the Messiah. He made the members of the branch believe that these instructions were to take place almost immediately, and that our land would be of no benefit to us. But I still opposed selling. This same James Carl had visited a small branch about 30 miles up the river and raised an excitement in the settlement. The inhabitants being very much enraged in consequence of his preaching false doctrine. So Alva Tippits was appointed to that mission. He invited me and Benjamin Leyland to accompany him up there. James Carl also went along, intruding himself on the company.
On arriving at the place, we found the citizens very much exasperated and forbid the branch holding any more meetings. Alva Tippits called a council of the elders to decide what to do. And it was agreed to appoint a meeting the next day at 12 o’clock. The appointed time arrived and the house filled up for the meeting.
The opening services being concluded Brother Leyland arose to speak to the people, when announcement was given that the mob was coming. There were about 40 of them armed with clubs and bowie knives and pistols. They marched upon the door full of rage, cursing and swearing and damning old Joe Smith and the Mormons, brandishing their clubs and knives in the air. At this the congregation became frightened, the women and children were crying screaming, and then all rushed out the back door as the mob were coming in the front door. Leyland stopped preaching. James Carl crouched up in the corner under the desk and Leyland followed suit. This left Brother Tippits and myself to face the music. The house being filled with an infuriated mob. I sprang upon one of the benches and said,
“Gentlemen don’t be excited. I am an American citizen and I presume you are also Americans. We enjoy the liberty, the rights and privileges that our fathers fought for in the Revolutionary war and many of them laid down their lives to secure us the privilege we now enjoy, or living on our farms and pleasant houses unmolested. I was a volunteer in the Blackhawk war and ventured my life to reach this country, the Iowa Territory, from the hands of the Indians, even this land on which you have your homes. My father also was a volunteer in the War of 1812 and ventured his life for the protection of our liberties. My grandfather was a commander on the seas and commanded a large fleet and fought one of the most decisive battles in the Revolutionary War. We as American citizens are enjoying the fruits of their sufferings and labors. We wish you to enjoy the privileges of living on your farms unmolested. We have not come here out of any evil motives. We believe in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. We came here to have a visit with the folks up here and to have a little meeting. Now I ask you kindly if you have any objections to our having a little prayer meeting this evening? And as far as the Mormons are concerned you will never be disturbed in the enjoyment of your homes and your rights and privileges. And after our meeting we will return to our homes.”
They listened to my remarks with marked attention. The captain of the mob stepped upon a bench and said,
“That does not agree with the ideas we have heard about the Mormons. We believe them to be the most wicked, corrupt, scoundrels that live upon the earth. And as to your believing the Bible, you are as far from it as the East to the West. We want no more Mormon meetings in our settlement. Yet, I don’t know that I have any objections to your having a meeting this evening.”
He then asked his company if they were willing that we should have a meeting to which they agreed. So they went to their homes. And then Leyland and Carl crawled out from under the desk. Appointment was given out for a meeting that evening.
The time came, the house was crowed, and among the audience was the mob. The meeting opened, the privilege was given for anyone to speak that wished to. Several of the brethren bore testimony to the truth of Mormonism. Some of the sisters spoke in tongues. Also some of the brethren spoke in tongues and prophesied. We had a splendid meeting. I was moved upon to speak in a language unknown to me. At this the Captain of the mob got up and said no one could deny but that was a pure language, but how do we know but that they have learned that language. There was the most strict attention paid to everything that was said. The meeting was dismissed and the best to feelings enjoyed by all, both Saints and mob.
Autobiography of Lewis Barney, http://www.boap.org/
(A) The Tabernacle
On July 4th of 1887, fireworks at Temple Square set the roof of the Tabernacle on fire, but little damage is done.
Richard Neitzel Holzpfel et al., On This Day In The Church (Salt Lake City: Eagle Gate, 2000), 133.
I don’t know if this is the same fire or the Tabernacle suffered damage from a second July fire.
On a hot July afternoon, George Albert Smith was sitting with his good friend Lucy Woodruff (who would later become his future wife) in a hammock on his grandparents’ porch. As the two were talking, they noticed a large paper hot air balloon, lit by a candle, floating overhead, heading straight for the Tabernacle. The young couple watched as the balloon hit the Tabernacle roof. The candle ignited the paper in a rush of flames and started a fire. George told the watchman to call the fire department, then ran to Temple Square. The large wooden gates were locked, so George and several others broke the gate open, and everyone worked together to douse the flames. Luckily, the fire only burned a six-foot hole in the roof. In a few more minutes the whole building could have been destroyed.
Brian and Petera Kelly, Illustrated History of the Church (American Fork: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2008), 435.