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Daniel D.McArthur, 1820-1856

Autobiography (1820-1846)
typescript, HBLL


I, Mr. Daniel D. McArthur, son of Duncan and Susan McArthur, was born April the 8th, 1820, in the town of Holland, Erie County, state of New York on Cosenover Creek under, or at the base of a large hill which was one mile to its summit, called by the inhabitants Vermont Hill. (My father was born in the state of New Hampshire, mother in the state of Vermont.) When I was one year old, my parents sold out and in company with my grandfather McKeen and his family who was my mother's father, moved to the state of Pennsylvania, Scrubgrass County, on the Allegheny River, fifty miles above Pittsburgh; bought a farm and resided there until the fall of 1825 and then in company with my grandfather McKeen, sold out again and removed back to the state of New York, Erie County, town of Holland. Father bought a farm and went, as he said, preparing to reside on this place during his life. Things were in a prospering condition with him until the winter of 1829 when he was stricken with the rheumatism which caused his right hip to be drawn out of joint and confined him to his bed the remainder of the winter. In the spring when he got so that he could rise from his bed, he was obliged to use crutches to get about with and could not do much work for two years. This, with a continual doctor bill accumulating upon his hands caused him to have to sell out his farm to pay off the debts which had accumulated upon him.

He then moved his family upon Vermont Hill and rented a place for one year, this being the spring of 1831. In the winter following, he bought another small farm and moved onto it, which was only half mile distance. All things seeming to prosper with him, he resided there until the spring of 1833, then sold out again and bought another farm on Hunter's Creek, a distance of two miles (I might say that in the summer of 1831, my mother sent me to chop her some wood and while chopping, an apple tree standing before me, my ax hit it, which caused it to glance, and it struck my right foot on the instep and cut it pretty much off, which caused me to pretty much lose the use of my toes.) On this farm my father commenced again to settle down for life. This was a new place, had no orchard on it, and things in a rough state, he went to work building fences and putting up buildings and clearing off more land. He set out an orchard covering five acres of ground of the choicest kind of fruit trees which he had reserved in a nursery which he planted on the first farm he bought after he returned from Pennsylvania. These trees were said to be as fine a trees as ever was planted out in an orchard. He also fenced in a garden covering about one acre of land and in it planted out some of the choicest kinds of damson plum trees, some yellow and blue, which grew to a very large size, also a large quantity of currants of different kinds, and also a large number of peach trees, and on this farm he resided until the fall of 1836.

In the spring of 1838, my father and mother embraced what is called Mormonism, that is, they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which caused them to become a cast-away by all their friends and neighbors, save the few who had joined the same profession. My father was ordained an elder and was appointed by the servants of God to take charge of the few Saints who stepped forward in the midst of opposition and embraced the true gospel of Jesus Christ which was revealed from heaven to Joseph Smith the prophet of the true and living God who received his first vision in the spring of 1820, being a little over 14 years of age. In the fall of 1823 he received another vision. He (Joseph Smith) was born 23rd December 1805, Sharon, Winsor County, Vermont, and in the fall of 1824, he had another visit with the angel Moroni. This angel continued to visit Joseph Smith every fall until 1827 and then delivered the gold plates to him and from them he translated the Book of Mormon, though the Book of Mormon does not contain nearly all the matter that was engraven on the plates which he, Joseph, received from the angel.

The Lord continued to bless Joseph so that he was able to withstand all opposition and on the 17th day of April, 1829, he commenced to translate from the plates the Book of Mormon with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery; they continued to translate until the 15th of May following. On this day they commenced to translate the words of Jesus of the words contained in the gospel of Christ where it said that baptism by immersion was for the remission of sins. This subject striking their minds sensibly caused them to have a desire within them to retire into some secluded place and call upon the Lord to enlighten them more fully upon that subject. Consequently, they went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord to reveal unto them the truth in the case in regard to these words which were engraven on the plates. While thus engaged praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light and having laid his hands upon them, he ordained them saying unto them, "Upon you, my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron which holds the keys of the ministering of angels and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on them hereafter, and he commanded them to go and be baptized and gave directions that Joseph should baptize Oliver Cowdery and afterwards that Oliver should baptize Joseph.

Accordingly, they went and were baptized. Joseph baptized Oliver first, and afterwards Oliver baptized Joseph, after which Joseph laid his hands upon Oliver's head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood and afterwards, Oliver laid his hands on Joseph and ordained him to the same priesthood for so they were commanded.

The messenger who visited them on that occasion and conferred that priesthood upon them said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the testament, and that he acted under the directions of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchizedek, which priesthood he said should in due time be conferred on them, and that Joseph should be called the first elder and Oliver the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that they were baptized and ordained under the hands of the messenger.

Immediately upon their coming up out of the water, after they had been baptized, they experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had Joseph baptized Oliver Cowdery than the Holy Ghost fell upon him and he stood up and prophesied many things which would shortly come to pass. And again so soon as Joseph had been baptized by Oliver, he also had the spirit of prophecy, then, standing up, he prophesied concerning the rise of the Church and many other things connected with the Church and this generation of the children of men.

They were filled with the Holy Ghost and rejoiced in the God of their salvation.

Their minds being not enlightened, they began to have the scriptures laid open to their understanding and the true meaning of their more mysterious passages revealed unto them in a manner which they never could attain to previously, nor even before had a thought of. In the meantime, they were forced to keep secret the circumstances of their having been baptized and having received the priesthood, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. They had been threatened with being mobbed from time to time and this too, by professors of religion, and their intentions of mobbing them were only counteracted by the influence of Joseph's wife's father's family under divine providence who had become very friendly to him and who were opposed to mobs and were willing that they should be allowed to continue the works of translation without interruption and therefore offered and promised them protection from all unlawful proceedings as far as in them lay. Hence they continued the work of translation until the Book of Mormon was finished.

After having said so much about the rise of the Church, which my folks joined, I shall continue my history interwoven with my father's so far as I can remember. As I have previously said, my father was appointed to preside over the few Saints who had embraced the gospel of Jesus. He continued to do this until the fall of 1836, preaching the gospel and baptizing all that desired it at his hands. He then sold out again and in the month of June he took his family and started for the state of Missouri, Caldwell County, at which place he arrived sometime in September. About this time, persecution was raging against the Saints to a pretty high pitch. It was for this reason that we were obliged to leave Kirtland, Ohio, and while we were on our way from Kirtland to Missouri, we were told by men and women that we would not be permitted to reside long in that state, and when we had gotten into the state we were met by an armed mob who told us that we would catch Hell in a short time which caused the hearts of some of the Saints who were along to feel quite faint. We were traveling in a large camp, 550 of us, when we started from Kirtland; men, women, and children, being the first camp of the kind that the Saints had undertaken. But the Saints continued to pray unto God to cause the hearts of the people of Missouri to be softened toward them and to open up the way that they might get through in safety, which He did for all those who continued to persevere their travels. Some few stopped at Haun's Mill thinking that they would be safer there, but this proved to be a mistake for 18 of them were brutally murdered by a mob and were buried in a well without coffins or grave clothes. But those who continued their journey, as I have stated, reached Far West, Caldwell County, sometime in September and then were sent by the Prophet Joseph to Daviess County more than a day or two before we commenced to build a city to be called Adam-ondi-Ahman. Some of us cut house logs, others hauled them to the spot and others put them up, and so by doing, a city sprang up in a very short time, and while we were busy building and providing for the winter, the mob was busily engaged in preparing to come against us and kill and drive us from the state. They came around the Saints pretending to be very friendly and wished to sell the Saints their corn fields, that is, the corn as it stood in the fields, and take the Saints' horses, oxen, wagons, and cows in exchange, which privilege the Saints were much pleased with. Hence, they disposed of many of their teams and property in that way, not thinking of the desires of the Missourians. But as quick as the mob got all they could from the Saints, they packed up their duds as much as possible with their families and commenced moving off into other counties to get them out of the way so that they might consolidate themselves into an armed body and come against the Saints and drive them off their possessions and not only get the property back again which they had sold to the Saints, but everything else that the Saints possessed, if possible.

So in the course of a few days, the word came that there was an armed mob collected for the purpose of driving the Mormons out of the state of Missouri. This move caused the Saints to feel strange and in some instances very much cast down. But knowing that they were engaged in the work of God, they felt to rely wholly on Him for their protection and deliverance, and to the joy of their hearts, they found that the Lord was on their side although they were compelled to leave the state. The mob came on filled with madness, expecting to drive everything before them, but with the power of God resting on the Saints, they went out to meet the mob and beat them every time, although the mob succeeded in burning their own horses, thinking by this move to raise the huge cry that the Mormons were burning all that lay before them, and so have all the state to turn and help them carry out their Hellish desires which they succeeded in doing. But before they got themselves formed into a legalized mob by the governor of the state, they were met by the elders of Israel with such power that they could not stand before me, nor never would until doomsday, if they had not come out as a militia ordered by the governor of the state. At this time I was in my eighteenth year and it was the first time that I had shouldered my gun and stepped forth in the defense of Zion. My first expedition out to meet the enemy was under the command of Elder Dunham which was in the months of October and November. We expected to come in contact with the mob, but did not, as they kept out of our way save two men who were with a four-horse team. They plead their innocence and said that they had never done anything against the Saints and wished to have the privilege of moving their mother out of the county in peace, which privilege was granted them by Captain Dunham, but a more frightened man than one of them was, I never saw.

The mob got themselves a cannon and were on their way to Adam-ondi-Ahman when they were met by David Patten, one of the Twelve Apostles, with a small company who put them to flight, and David got the cannon. They thought to hide it so that Mormons could not find it but in this thing they were most awfully mistaken in, for the Lord was with David and his boys. The mob hid the cannon in the road, thinking by riding their horses over it they might deceive somebody, but when the Mormon boys found that the mob had fled in every direction, some through the corn fields and some never stopping to untie their holsters, but cut them loose and got out of sight as best they could, concluded that it was best to look about and see what was left after the flight. They soon found some cannon balls and shortly a keg of powder and then the cannon stalk wagon and harness, and of course, they expected the barrel next, and while looking for it there was an old sow walking about. She went to the middle of the road and went to digging the ground up hog fashion. Low and behold there lay the old barrel. Of course, the boys had some little shouting over it when they found it. They soon loaded it up and started for Adam-ondi-Ahman, and while on their way back, one of the mob came up thinking that he was entering the right crowd but found his mistake after it was too late. So David thought, as he was in no doubt, it would be right to invite him to ride. Consequently, he got straddle of the cannon and rode into the city bearing the resemblance of a prisoner.

When the Mormon boys got into Adam-ondi-Ahman, it was in the dead of the night, but the news soon went the rounds that the cannon was taken from the mob which caused them to rejoice that the Lord had heard their prayers. So it was concluded by Joseph the Prophet and the brethren to take the cannon in the morning up on a hill to the place where old father Adam blessed his sons and fire off a few rounds. Consequently, as soon as the sun rose in the morning, the Saints collected on the spot and the cannon was prepared and loaded and fired three times, and every time it was discharged, the Saints took off their hats and shouted hosannah to God and the Lamb. Three times the report was heard twenty-five miles distinctly. This did not put a stop to the raging of the mob in the least, for they continued to collect in armed bodies for the purpose of coming against the Saints but could not prevail nary time nor would they have, if they had not the governor at their head. His name was Boggs, and this being their position, they came at last in a large body from six to seven thousand. All the while they were preparing to come against the Saints, we were making every preparation to give them fits, if it was the will of God, in both Daviess County and Caldwell County (the name of the city of Caldwell County was Far West.) This was the place the mob wished to subdue first, so most of the brethren that lived in Daviess County or in the city of Adam-ondi-Ahman went to Far West to help to strengthen that place as much as possible against the legalized mob.

The brethren in Far West tore down their log houses and laid the logs together so that they formed a breast-work around a part of the city and made every other preparation that was in their power. The few that were left in Adam-ondi-Ahman united together with a full determination to stand together until the last minute and then strike. They went to work and stalked the old cannon over anew, for the stalk that the mob had was nothing but an old trough dug out of a large tree. We loaded it with old pieces of iron and links of chains, and in this position we remained under arms day and night until the mob came, for we did not know the hour they might come.

At last the word came down from Far West to us in Adam-ondi-Ahman that the mob had taken Far West upon the grounds that they were called out by the governor of the state, for Joseph was bound not to oppose the legal authority of the state. When the mob came in sight of Far West, they formed themselves into a line of battle also and went out to meet the mob. Then seeing that their numbers did not daunt the Saints in the least, but that if they continued a battle was surely pending, called a half and sent a flag of truce and with it stating that they were legally called out into the field by the governor of the state, and that they had come to make peace not war. So some of our brethren went down into their camp to see what was wanted, and they wanted Brother Joseph, Hyrum and others, and officers pledged their words that these men should be protected and dealt with according to law. The mob did not know Brother Joseph or Hyrum or any of the rest of those whom they wanted. But Colonel Hinkle, not having the real Mormon grit, came out and betrayed the Prophet and his brethren to the mob, and when the mob got Brother Joseph and his brethren they used them as mean as the very devils in Hell could make them, cussed them in all intents and purposes, held a court martial and passed a sentence upon them to be shot the next morning at 9 o'clock.

But by the providence of God this horrid deed did not take place, but the mob would not let them go, and after getting us, or the Saints, into their grasps by their lying deceit, they then gave up or laid down their arms all the time pretending to be our friends. They were going to do that which was right, but as quick as the Saints laid down their arms and the mob had gotten possession of them, they went to stealing everything they could lay their hands hold of, break locks to stables, and take out the Saints' horses and ride them off and would shoot down the oxen and the cows and cut out enough for their breakfast and let the cost lay for the dogs. They would also shoot down all the fat hogs they could find and go into the houses of the Saints and abuse the women and every damned mean thing that man could think of they were up to, but none of this until they had gotten our arms into their possession. They would throw down the fences around the farms and turn their horses into them and let all the cattle into them that might chance to come along.

After they had taken Far West, they came down to Daviess County (Adam-ondi-Ahman) and compelled us few that were there to submit to the same acts of cruelty.

When they came to Adam-ondi-Ahman they ordered Renalds [Reynolds] Cahoon (as he was the chief officer) to cause the brethren to fall into ranks with all their arms, and after the Saints had obeyed these orders, they were then ordered by the mob to march about onto a small prairie which laid a little north of the city. After arriving on the spot, we were then ordered to form into a hollow square single file and to turn our faces inwards. After which being accomplished, they then formed a hollow square around us and then gave the orders for us to ground arms, which we did, laying the muzzles inwards. When this was done, a voice around the square from the mob said that now is the time we could give the damned Mormons hell, and I thought that then was the time that the Mormons could give them the fits, but nothing was said by the Saints. After all this was done, they opened a gap in one corner of their square and ordered us to reduce the square and fall into single file and march out. This done without a word, the mob then followed after. We were marched along side a fence and ten men of us were dropped in a corner of the fence in several places until we were all distributed, and then they placed six of the mob over each mess of us until all were supplied with a guard, and from this guard the Saints received all kinds of abuse, some had the guns of the mob cocked and muzzle placed at their breasts with a threat from the mob that they would make two holes through them quicker than God Almighty could make them. This I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.

While they had us confined in this kind of a way, the balance of the mob was ransacking the Saints' houses, barns, stables and fields, stealing all they could lay their hands on. They would break locks to barns and take every horse they could find. After they had kept us under guard from noon until night, they then placed a guard around the city and released us to go to our homes after they had stolen all that they could lay their hands upon. The mob took up their camp quarters in the city and stayed several days, and while in camp they made it a practice to shoot down all the hogs that came by their camps, also oxen and cows. I saw them load their gun and shoot at a four-year-old steer and break his hind leg and then stand and shout and holler like so many savages, notwithstanding in the time they had made a bull pen and caused us to go into it and then had a platform made for us to go up one by one and sign away all our property to them to defray the expenses they might be put to by exterminating us from the state in case we were not out of the state in ninety days, for that was the set time for us to be out of the state, and at the same time, shooting down all the oxen they could get at and doing all they could to prevent us from getting out of the state at the set time. But by the exertion of Brother Brigham Young and his brethren, through the influence of the spirit of God resting upon them and the Saints, the Saints were able to leave the state in time.

After the fuss was settled in Daviess County, the Saints all moved up to Far West, Caldwell County to the time they were permitted to stay in the state. So my father, after moving into the above county, went to work and put himself up a log house to stay in through the winter by the side of a small stream called Log Creek. Here my father stayed until March 1839, and while here my little sister, Annica, got burned to death by her clothes catching a fire which broke out from a little playhouse that she and her little playmates had built under a large white oak tree.

In the month of February, I left the state of Missouri in company with Perry Green Session and family, and were also in company with several other families. When we left Far West, the mob would not give us but five cents for a bushel of corn, but when we got away a few miles, they charged us 75 cents for a bushel of corn. At this time I was quite destitute for clothing. I was obliged to wear summer clothing through the winter on the account of being on the tramp from the state of Ohio to the state of Missouri, and after arriving in this state, the mob was so hostile I could not get any work to do to earn any clothing, and when I got to Quincy, Illinois, I was almost naked, but when I got here I soon got work and rigged myself out with comfortable clothing. We landed in Carthage in March 1839, the city where the prophet of God was slain by the mob from hell.

In the month of March, my father and family left the state of Missouri and landed in Quincy, Illinois, the first of April 1839. He moved his family out east of Quincy thirteen miles. He was then called by the authorities of the Church to go on a mission to the eastern states to preach the gospel and bring souls to the knowledge of the plan of salvation. He was gone on this mission 18 months. While gone, he baptized upwards of 20 souls into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He traveled in the state of New York, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. After he left home, I left Carthage, Hancock County, and went to help support the family in Adams County, Illinois, and while my father was gone we prospered in everything we sought out hands to do.

When father left, we had but two cows and when he returned we had two yoke of oxen, three cows, and the herd of young stock, and instead of having grain to buy as we had when he left, we had 75 bushels of wheat and 500 bushels of corn on hand, and nine hogs, with plenty of clothing to do us for the present. We numbered ten in the family. I continued to reside at home until June 14, 1841, on which day I took to myself a wife by the name of Cordelia Clark, daughter of Joseph and Philinday Clark, born in the state of New York 1825. We lived together three years or until June 14, 1844. On this day she died. December 23, 1842, she bore to me a son; we called his name Andrew, he being a year and a half old when his mother died, his grandmother took him home to live with her.

In the spring of 1841 I was ordained to the office of a priest and in the fall of 1844, I was ordained a seventy in the Tenth Quorum of Seventies, A.P. Rockwood being the senior president of the quorum.

At this time I sold out my small possessions in Adams County and moved to the city of Nauvoo, and at this time there was great sorrow in the hearts of the Saints, for on the 27th day of June [1844] the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum the Patriarch, were murdered by a ruthless mob while they were in Carthage Jail under the pledge of the governor of the state of Illinois for their safe protection. But instead of them being protected from their enemies, they were left to be butchered by a hellish mob who came like demons from the lower regions with their faces painted, broke the jail door open and fired into the room where servants of God were confined, killing Brother Hyrum on the spot. Brother Joseph received a couple of balls in his body. He then leaped from the window and was seized by the mob and sought up by the side of the well curb and received two balls more in his body which caused him to yield up the ghost. Brother John Taylor being in the same room, received four balls from their guns, one ball entering his hip and tearing it most awfully. One struck him on his watch which was in his vest pocket, it being the only thing that saved his life. Brother Willard Richards was in the same room at the same time but did not receive a single ball. This, as stated above, caused the Saints to experience deep sorrow, for they all loved dearly these men of God for such they were.

In the spring of 1842, my father and family moved from Adams County to Nauvoo where they could enjoy the society of those whom they loved.

On the 14th day of December 1845, I married Matilda Caroline Fuller, who was born in the town of Providence, Saratoga County, state of New York, on the first day of May 1820, daughter of Edward and Hannah Fuller. We were married by the Patriarch John Smith, uncle to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Father Fuller made a good supper for the invited on the occasion. We had a fine dance after the supper was over. All felt well.

On the first of February 1846, I and my wife went into the temple and received our washings and annointings, and on the same day after we had gotten our endowments, we went to the sealing room, and I had Matilda Caroline Fuller sealed to me for time and all eternity by President Willard Richards over the altar prepared for that purpose. I also had Cordelia Clark, my first wife who was dead, sealed to me.

Persecution continuing to rage against the Church at Nauvoo, the Saints were compelled to leave their homes and flee to the wilderness for safety. Consequently, on the 20th of February 1846, myself and family in company with my father-in-law and his family with a host of the brethren and sisters left our homes and crossed the Mississippi River and took up our march for the west, not knowing where we were going.