While the Saints were on the trail west, it was necessary for them to guard their livestock in makeshift corrals. Natives were high on the list, but what else where they guarding their livestock from?
From the life of Edward Hunter: I succeeded in business beyond my expectation. I attended different places of worship and sustained all sects in the right to worship God in their own way, but could not connect myself with any. I was called on to give the privilege to have erected on my land, on the site of an old school house which had burned down a house for educational purposes and also for holding meetings. I agreed to give the land for ninety-nine years and help build the house, if they would allow all persons and persuasions to meet in it to worship God. This was particularly stated in the articles of agreement, and a good house was built called the West Nantmeal Seminary. My sister, living in my family, was a great reader of the Scriptures and would often say, ‘how is it we cannot join any of the professions of the day.’ I would tell her they were hewing out cisterns that would not hold water; that the history of sectarianism was one scene of bloodshed and strife, but we would look on and see if they could make anything else out of it.” Such was the state of his mind on the subject of religion, when, in the spring of 1839, he heard of a strange sect called “Mormons,” some of those preachers, traveling through that region, had learned of the west Nantmeal Seminary and taken steps to procure the hall for the purpose of holding meetings. Immediately a tumult was raised, and it was declared by some of the leading residents that it would not do to have the “Mormons” there. “Why?” inquired Mr. Hunter. “Oh, that’s it?” said the honest, independent farmer, his democratic blood beginning to boil. “When I gave the lease for that land and helped to build that house, it was particularly agreed and stated in the lease that people of every religion should have the privilege of meeting there to worship God. Now, those Mormons are going to have their rights, or else the lease is out and I’ll take the Seminary.” This determined speech brought the bigots to their senses, and no further objection was raised. Soon after that Mr. Hunter, hearing that a “Mormon” Elder was going to preach at a place called Locust Grove, a few miles away, and that he was liable to be baldy treated, mounted his horse and rode over to the meeting for the express purpose of seeing that the stranger was not imposed upon. The Elder’s name was Elijah H. Davis. “He was a humble young man,” said the Bishop, “the first one that I was impressed was sent of God. I was sitting By Dr. Griffith, our representative. Robert Johnson, one of the trustees, addressing the Eder, said: ‘I wish you would say something about the Atonement.’ He spoke well on the subject, but before he was through Johnson interrupted him and ordered him to quit preaching. I sprang up and said: ‘He is a stranger and shall have justice shown him and be respected; we will hear him and then hear you speak.’ I was informed that there were many present opposed to the ‘Mormons,’ but I resolved as I lived that Mr. Davis should be protected, if I had to meet the rabble on their own ground. I kept my eye on them and determined to stand by him at the risk of person and property. I had friends, though, Mr. Davis had none. Mr. J. though Mr. Davis had none. Mr. J. Johnson, brother to Robert Johnson came to me and I was going out and apologized for his brother’s conduct. I walked out of the crowd, got on my horse and rode home alone.” On reaching home and retiring for the night, he lay awake for some time meditating on what had taken place. “My reflections were,” says he, “why have I taken such a decided stand for those strangers, and I asked the Lord: ‘Are those Mormons thy servants?’ Instantly, a light came in the room at the top of the door, so great that I could not endure it. I covered my head with the bed-clothes and turned over to the wall. I had exerted my mind and body much that day and soon fell asleep.” Mr. Hunter’s house, from that time forth, was a home for all “Mormon Elders traveling in that vicinity. During the winter of 1839-40, he was honored by a personal visit from the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was on his way back from Washington, after presenting to Pres. Van Buren the memorial of his people’s grievances, and invoking, in vain, governmental protection for the Latter-day Saints, recently driven out of Missouri. Joseph preached at the Seminary and spent several days with Mr. Hunter before proceeding westward. Oct. 8, 1840, Edward Hunter was baptized by Elder Orson Hyde, then on his way to Palestine, and soon after received a visit from Elder Hyrum Smith, the Prophet’s brother.
Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1901) 1: 228-229.