« PreviousContinue »
On April 13, 1837, he married Phebe W. Carter, at the house of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was to have performed the ceremony but was prevented by a mob who sought his life. Elder Frederick G. Williams officiated in his stead. Next day Brother and Sister Woodruff received their patriarchal blessings under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sen.
On May 5th, he was impressed to go to Fox Islands to preach the gospel. He had never been there, but mentioning the matter to Elders Sidney Rigdon and Heber C. Kimball, they encouraged him to go, and in company with Jonathan H. Hale and Milton Holmes, he left Kirtland May 31st, 1837. Arriving in Canada they attended a conference of ten branches June roth, when Elder Woodruff, with Elder William Draper, ordained seven elders, nine priests, eleven teachers and five deacons. With three other Elders, he laid hands on a woman possessed with an evil spirit, part of the time dumb, the devil was cast out, she was healed and went on her way rejoicing. Many sick persons were also healed under his administration.
He then went to Albany and walked to Farmington, arriving at his father's house July 6th. He was kindly received, and on July 12th, after preaching in a school house at West Avon, he baptized his uncle Ozem Woodruff, his aunt and cousin John. This fulfilled a dream he had when ten years
He afterwards preached in the Methodist Church in Farmington, his father and his family being present. On the 21st, he sent his wife by stage to New Rowley, Massachusetts, and started out on the hot, sultry day to walk there himself. He arrived there in two days and a half, having walked 136 miles.
After visiting his wife's relatives in Scarborough, Maine, , he and Elder Jonathan H. Hale started for Fox Islands, walking to Portland and going by steamer 85 miles to Owl's Head. Having no means to go farther, they went on a hill and prayed to the Lord to open their way. A sloop came into the harbor, and the captain agreed to take them to North Fox Island, where they landed at 2 a. m., August 20th, and wandered over the rocks and bushes until they found shelter. It being Sunday morning, they applied to the pastor of the only church there for permission to preach. Elder Woodruff delivered the first discourse ever preached by the elders on those Islands. They preached every day and succeeded in baptizing a great number of persons. They visited several of the Islands, and Elder Hale returned to Kirtland, October gth. Brother Woodruff labored alone during the winter of 1837-38, preaching, baptizing and withstanding mobs. He
preached also in a number of towns in Maine, and at Hampden ordained James Townsend an elder.
He returned to Fox Islands, but being warned by the Lord to leave for a season and take a western mission, he left on April 28th for Scarborough and thence to Boston. He preached at a number of places in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey; then returned to his father's house, where he commenced preaching again, and on July 1, 1838, baptized his father, step-mother, sister Eunice, cousin Seth, Aunt Anpa Cosett and a Methodist class-leader pamed Dwight Webster. This fulfilled the promise of Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr., that he should bring his father's household into the kingdom of God. After organizing a branch of the church and visiting his wife in Scarborough, he returned to Fox Islands, where on August gth he learned that he had been appointed to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve, and that he was to prepare to take a mission to England in the spring.
He then visited all the Saints on the Islands, and called on them to move with him to Missouri. Brother Nathaniel Thomas promised to furnish means to help all the poor Saints who desired to go. He advised them to start not later than September ist, but they did not arrive at Scarborough, where Elder Woodruff was visiting, until October 3rd, when they all started to travel from Maine to Missouri, 2,000 miles, with teams through rain, mud, frost and snow. They arrived in Sangamon, Illinois, Dec. 19th, where he labored all winter for the support of his family. On March 17, 1839, having reached Quincy the day before, he had an interview with Elders Brigham Young and John Taylor, and afterwards went to Far West and met with the Twelve on the temple block there, where April 26th, he was ordained one of the Twelve Apostles, Brigham Young being mouth. Returning to Quincy, he met President Joseph Smith May 3rd, who had just escaped from his enemies in Missouri. He was with the Prophet Joseph in July, at the time when he healed so many of the sick who were at the door of death. Being requested to go three miles to heal two small children, and not having time to go, the Prophet gave Brother Woodruff a red silk handkerchief, telling him to go and lay hands on the children, wipe their faces with the handkerchief and they should be healed, but to keep the handkerchief to be ever a league between them. Brother Woodruff did as he was told and the children were healed. This was on July 22nd. He kept the handkerchief all his life.
On August 8th, although sick with chills and fever, his family also being sick and with only four days' provisions on
hand, he blessed them and started on his mission to England, President B. Young rowing him across the Mississippi. The Prophet Joseph said to him: “Go ahead in the name of the Lord, and you shall be healed and blessed on your mission." After visiting his father at Farmington, he went to New York, and on December 19th, with Elders John Taylor and Theodore Turley, he sailed for Liverpool, and landed January 20, 1840, in good health and spirits. He was appointed to labor in the Staffordshire Potteries. Calling at Manchester on the way, where there was a branch of 164 members, he administered to a woman possessed of the devil, raging and foaming, taking four men to hold her. The evil spirit was cast out, and she arose and praised the Lord. He spent forty days in the Potteries, preaching, baptizing, confirming and blessing children.
On March ist, while preaching to a large gathering in Hanley, it was revealed to him that this would be his last sermon in the Potteries for many days. He announced this to the meeting. He had appointments out for a week, but appointed Brother Alfred Cordon to fill them, then went before the Lord and asked him where he should go. The Spirit answered, “Go to the south." He did so, and arriving in Herefordshire, found a society called “United Brethren," numbering about 600 members and fifty preachers. They were prepared for the reception of the Gospel, so that hearing his testimony, they came forward and in thirty days he baptized 160, forty-eight of whom were preachers, including their presiding elder, Thomas Kington. Three clerks of the Church of England were sent by their ministers to see what he was doing, and he baptized them, also a constable who came to arrest him.
Learning that Elder Brigham Young and five others of the Twelve had arrived in England, he went to Preston and attended a conference with them. Returning to Herefordshire, he was accompanied by Elder Brigham Young and was afterwards joined by Elder Willard Richards. Brother Young remained 27 days, then went to Manchester. Brother Woodruff, with his brethren, spent seven months in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and baptized over 1,800 persons, with 200 preachers of various denominations.
On August 18th, 1840, he went to London and labored with Elders Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith, spending a little over five months, where they established a church.
After attending all the general conferences in England, he sailed for New York April 20th, arriving May 20th, 1841. He visited his family at Scarborough, returned to New York, and started for Nauvoo, via the Lakes, but was wrecked on
Lake Michigan. He reached Nauvoo in safety October 6th, 1841, where he spent the winter laboring for a living, attending meetings and councils, and on July 7th, 1843, started on a mission with Elders Brigham Young and George A. Smith through the Eastern States, to collect funds for the Temple and Nauvoo House. He was chosen a member of the city council. Being in charge of the business department of the printing office in Nauvoo, he purchased a large supply of materials for the office, and spent the winter in Nauvoo, when he received his endowments, and January 20th, 1844, turned over the business of the Times and Seasons into the hands of Elder John Taylor.
On May 9th, 1844, he parted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, who blessed him and bid him God speed on his mission through the Eastern States.
In company with Elders George A. Smith, Jedediah M. Grant and Ezra Thayer, he traveled and preached through Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
He met with the Twelve in Boston, June 27th, and then went to Maine. At Portland, when about to step on board a steamer bound for Fox Islands, he saw an account of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The Spirit bore witness to him that it was true. He returned to Boston, and with the members of the Twelve who were there, went to Nauvoo, arriving on the 6th of August.
A council of the Apostles was held on the same day and Wilford Woodruff was appointed to preside over the European mission. He left Nauvoo to go to England on August 28th, but did not arrive until January 3, 1845, when he at once took charge of the affairs of the Church in Europe. After a prosperous mission, Brother Woodruff left Liverpool January 22nd, 1846, to join the body of the Church then arranging to move to the Rocky Mountains. He reached Nauvoo in safety, and preached to the Saints in the Temple, May ioth. Leaving Nauvoo with a company of Saints, he stopped at Mount Pisgah, a temporary settlement 172 miles from Nauvoo. Under the counsel of President Brigham Young, a number of volunteers for the Mormon Battalion were enrolled, and Elder Woodruff, with a company went on and joined the camp of the Saints at Council Bluffs. He remained with the Camp of Israel during the winter with the Apostles at Winter Quarters, and labored with his accustomed energy to provide for his family.
When the Pioneers were organized to cross the plains in April, 1847, Wilford Woodruff was appointed captain of the first ten. He arrived with the Pioneers on July 24, 1847, President Brigham Young, who was sick, riding in Brother Woodruff's carriage. He went to work at once planting some
potatoes which he had brought with him from the east. July 26th, with President Young and others, he climbed the hills to the point now called Ensign Peak, and went thence to the Warm Springs. He was also with the first company that visited the shores of the Great Salt Lake and proceeded into Tooele Valley, and thence going southward, viewed from a high ridge for the first time Utah Lake. He assisted in laying out Salt Lake City and erecting the Old Fort. He built two rooms of logs, with poles for rafters, willows for roof, and earth for shingles.
On August 26th, 1847, he started with President Brigham Young and five other Apostles in a company of 108 men, with thirty-six wagons and about 100 horses and mules, on a return trip to Winter Quarters, which they reached October 31st, and were received with great joy. Brother Woodruff was present at the council of the Apostles held in Winter Quarters, December 5th, when Brigham Young was chosen President of the church, with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his Counselors. Also at the conference held in the log tabernacle, on the east side of the Missouri river, when the First Presidency were sustained by vote of the people. In the spring of 1848 he was sent on a mission to the Eastern States, which he faithfully filled, and reached Salt Lake City on his return in 1850. He was elected a member of the Senate of the General Assembly of Deseret, which met December 3rd, 1850. He applied himself to manual labors for the support of his family, and was active in the councils of the Church. In 1852 he went with President Young on an exploring expedition to Southern Utah. In 1853, in company with Elder Orson Pratt, he gathered a number of families to strengthen the settlements in Tooele County. September 13th, 1855, the Horticultural Society was organized in Salt Lake City, and he was chosen its president. His residence was in the Fourteenth Ward, Salt Lake City, but he traveled in company with President Young and the Apostles extensively, assisting in the establishment and location of new settlements, and was engaged in the duties of his Apostleship and also as a member of the Legislative Assembly, a position he occupied for twenty years in the Council and one year in the House. He was also for many years president of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society. He officiated in the Endowment House on frequent occasions, and at the General Conference, October 6th, 1856, he was appointed assistant Historian.
He occupied this position until he was appointed Historian and General Recorder of the Church in October, 1875, continuing in that office until April, 1889. He was specially