Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“They Must Needs Be Chastened and
Tried, Even as Abraham”
The Saints settle in Jackson County, Missouri, and are later driven out.
The Lord instructs the Saints who were driven from Jackson County.
Zion's Camp is organized and marches to Missouri.
The Lord reveals that His people must "wait for a little season for the
redemption of Zion."
A study of this lesson will help us learn about the early Saints’ efforts to
establish the city of Zion in Missouri and to encourage us to help build Zion
Scripture references for study:
105; Our Heritage,
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 27 Handout (PDF)
On Friday, June 3, 1831, a special conference of elders was convened in
The day after this conference the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation
wherein he was instructed by the Lord, "I,
the Lord, will make known unto you what I will that ye shall do from this
time until the next conference, which shall be held in Missouri, upon the
land which I will consecrate unto my people, which are a remnant of Jacob,
and those who are heirs according to the covenant. Wherefore, verily
I say unto you, let my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon take
their journey as soon as preparations can be made to leave their homes,
and journey to the land of Missouri" (D&C 52:2-3).
Prior to this time the New York Saints had moved to Kirtland and the surrounding
area. The Colesville Saints settled on land near Thompson, Ohio,
which had been consecrated by Leman Copley. After returning from
his mission to the Shakers (near Cleveland), Copley revoked his consecration
and let it be known that the Colesville Saints were no longer welcome on
- Newel Knight traveled to Kirtland, arriving in time for the June conference. Newel asked the Prophet what the Colesville Saints should do. The
Prophet inquired of the Lord and received the revelation known as
Among other things, these Saints were commanded to move west to Missouri
(D&C 54:7-8). After receiving this revelation, Newel Knight wrote:
now understood that this was not the land of our inheritance--the land
of promise, for it was made known in a revelation, that Missouri was the
place chosen for the gathering of the Church, and several were called to
lead the way to that state.
"A revelation was
also given concerning the gathering, on the receipt of which we, who constituted
the Colesville branch, immediately set to preparing for our journey, and
on the third day of June, I took passage with the Colesville company at
Wellsville, Ohio." (Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p182)
Several days after the Colesville Saints began their journey west, Joseph
Smith and a number of others left Kirtland for Missouri. They arrived
in Missouri in mid July.
On July 20, the Prophet received another revelation regarding the land
of Missouri: "Hearken, O ye elders of my
church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together,
according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri,
which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering
of the saints. Wherefore, this is the
land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion. And thus saith the Lord
your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place
which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the
temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse."
The Lord appointed Missouri as the gathering place for the Saints, with
Independence as the center place. This is the place which Moroni
wrote about hundreds of years earlier: "Wherefore,
the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it
shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy
city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall
no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away"
(Ether 13:8). What an exciting thing it must have been for these
early members to participate in the beginnings of the new Jerusalem.
July 25: The Colesville Saints arrived in the land of Zion. This was the first branch of the Church to migrate to Zion.
They did not settle in Independence, but continued as a group to Kaw Township,
a sparsely populated area twelve miles southwest of Independence.
They settled along the Big Blue River which separated Missouri from the
Indian territory to the west.
On August 2, Joseph, Sidney, and ten other brethren assisted the Colesville
Branch in laying the first log for a house as a foundation of Zion. These
twelve men laid this first log in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Sidney Rigdon was appointed by the Lord to dedicate and consecrate the
land for the gathering of the Saints.
Sidney then offered the dedicatory prayer and then declared, "I
now pronounce this land consecrated and dedicated unto the Lord for a possession
and inheritance for the Saints, and for all the faithful servants of the
Lord to the remotest ages of time. In the name of Jesus Christ, having
authority from Him. Amen." (HC, 1:196)
August 3: Eight of the brethren returned to Independence.
They gathered at the ten acre plot where the temple would be built.
- Joseph laid a stone at the southeast corner for the contemplated temple.
- Joseph then dedicated the spot for the building of the temple.
- Sidney dedicated the land where the city of Zion was to stand.
After returning to Kirtland, the Lord instructed Joseph: "And
now, behold, this is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints,
that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not
in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence."
By 1832 there were more than 800 Saints gathered into five branches in Independence and the surrounding areas of Jackson County.
In May 1832, Bishop Edward Partridge, bishop in Zion, dedicated the
printing office run by W.W. Phelps. The first publication of the Church,
the Evening and Morning Star, came off the press in June 1832.
It was here that Phelps began the task of printing 3,000 copies of the
Book of Commandments (the earliest version of the Doctrine and Covenants).
Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, and W.W. Phelps reviewed and prepared the
revelations for publication.
The Saints in Zion were bound by the law of consecration - they consecrated
their money and possessions toward the purchase of land.
This consecration was not compulsory, yet failure to comply erased the
offenders' names from the records of the Church.
Migration during the spring of 1833 raised the total membership of the
Church in Missouri to near 1200.
During the summer of 1833 the ten settlements in Zion were organized into
branches with a president over each.
The Saints and their Missouri neighbors:
When the Saints first arrived in Jackson County they did not warrant much
attention from their Missouri neighbors. They were just a few more immigrants.
As the Saints began to increase in number, the Missourians became
concerned about the beliefs of the Church and their increasing political
The concept of "Zion" was a major factor in arousing the Missourians against
Discord among the Saints.
Many Saints were striving toward the ideal of Zion. Still
there was discord among some.
A few were disappointed the Prophet had not moved to Zion and began to criticize
There were those who were jealous of those who remained in Kirtland to
live near the Prophet.
Some elders and high priests ignored the authority of those in charge and
took it upon themselves to set the branches in order.
Almost every branch had problems:
One branch was disrupted by the teachings of the Hulet brothers who taught
that "the devil and his angels and the sons of perdition should be restored"
In the Colesville branch, Newel Knight's aunt contradicted a revelation
for the temporal welfare of Zion. Discord rocked this branch before priesthood
leaders were successful in rebuking this spirit.
Joseph wrote a letter reproving the saints: "If
Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved in all things, in His
sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel
is gathered. Wo unto them that are at ease in Zion.... Our hearts
our greatly grieved at the spirit...the very spirit which is wasting the
strength of Zion like a pestilence." (HC, 1:316-317)
A council of high priests in Kirtland appointed Hyrum Smith and Orson Hyde
to write another letter of reproof: "Repent, repent,
or Zion must suffer, for the scourge and judgment must come upon her"
This letter was read to the members in all the branches and had some effect.
A solemn assembly was called at which sincere and humble repentance was
manifested. A letter was sent to the authorities in Kirtland expressing
the Saints' repentance and determination to keep God's commandments in
The Lord revealed to the Prophet in March 1833: "I
say unto you that your brethren in Zion begin to repent, and the angels
rejoice over them" (D&C 90:34).
All was not entirely well. The Lord continued: "Nevertheless,
I am not well pleased with many things; and I am not well pleased with
my servant William E. McLellin, neither with my servant Sidney Gilbert;
and the bishop also, and others have many things to repent of. But
verily I say unto you, that I, the Lord, will contend with Zion, and plead
with her strong ones, and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean
before me." (D&C 90:35-36)
Tribulations in Zion.
In April 1833 a mob of 300 men met in Independence to consult on ways to
expel the Mormons from Jackson County.
Church leaders gathered and prayed. The mob could not agree upon
a plan of action. The mob became drunk and broke up in "a regular
Missouri row" (HC, 1:342).
On July 1, 1833 the Reverend Benton Pixley penned a slanderous tract entitled
"Beware of False Prophets".
He read this to the residents of each house in Jackson County "to incense
the inhabitants against the Church, to mob them and drive them away"
Others joined Pixley in a published statement: "The Mormons are
the common enemies of mankind and ought to be destroyed" (HC, 1:392).
By the middle of July the Saints became aware of The Secret Constitution.
This document was signed by many notables in Jackson County.
It declared that the Mormons had become so obnoxious to the old settlers
that civil law was insufficient to deal against this evil.
The signers intended to rid themselves of these objectionable Mormons "peaceably
if we can, forcibly if we must" (HC, 1:374).
On July 20th, five hundred men met at the courthouse in Independence. A
committee was formed and they drafted a report. It declared five
restrictions on the Mormons:
In the future, no Mormon could move and settle in the county.
The Mormons already in the county should pledge to move out of the county
as soon as they can sell their property and conclude business. They
would be left unmolested if they did so.
That the editor of the Evening and Morning Star discontinue publication
and close his office. All other Mormon businesses in Jackson County
were to discontinue operation. If they failed to comply, measures
would be taken in order to close those businesses.
Mormon leaders were to use their influence to stop further migration and
encourage the Saints to comply with the above items.
Those who failed to respond were to be severely dealt with.
The crowd at the courthouse approved of these restrictions and appointed
a committee of twelve to visit the Mormon leaders.
The committee was authorized to tell the Mormons that the mob would adopt
rigid means of forcing the Mormons to leave the county.
The local Church leaders (W.W. Phelps, Edward Partridge, A. Sidney Gilbert,
John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and John Whitmer) asked for three months to
consider the proposition and consult with leaders in Ohio.
Ten days were asked for and that was denied.
They were granted 15 minutes to make a decision.
The committee returned to the courthouse and a resolution was passed that
the Star printing office should be razed to the ground and the type and
The mob then proceeding to the printing office and house of William W.
One of the mob slipped out and warned Phelps about the mob.
He hitched a team to a wagon and assisted Sister Phelps and her sick baby
into the seat. He encouraged them to get as far away, as fast as
William W. Phelps also escaped and hid.
The mob entered the living quarters of the Phelps and threw the furniture
in the yard.
They rushed upstairs and threw the press out the window, destroyed the
type, and burned most of the written revelations, bookwork, and papers.
They then demolished the brick structure.
John Taylor risked his life to retrieve some unbound copies of the Book
of Commandments from a stable where they had been dumped.
Two teenage girls also saved a few copies from a pile of papers that were
to be burned. These two girls rushed out, filled their aprons with the
books, and fled to a corn field nearby. Some of the mob saw them and yelled
for them to halt. One of the girls wrote: "But
we ran as fast as we could. Two of them started after us. Seeing
a gap in a fence, we entered into a large cornfield, laid the papers on
the ground, and hid them with our persons. The corn was from five
to six feet high, and very thick; they hunted around considerable, and
came very near to us but did not find us." (Joseph Smith &
The Restoration, p.251)
The mob then destroyed the store of Gilbert, Whitney, and Company. The mob stopped when Gilbert assured the mob that the goods would be packed
by July 23rd.
They then broke into the houses of the Saints, searching for the leading
elders. They caught Bishop Partridge and Charles Allen and dragged
them a half mile to the public square where they were given two alternatives:
deny the Book of Mormon or consent to leave the county. They would
consent to neither.
Bishop Partridge and Allen were stripped and then tarred and feathered.
Partridge and Allen endured this indignity with such resignation and meekness
that the mob seemed to become ashamed and they permitted these brethren
to retire in silence.
One of those encouraging and supporting the mob secretly was the lieutenant
governor, Lilburn W. Boggs.
Oliver Cowdery was dispatched immediately back to Ohio to inform the Prophet
and secure his counsel. Oliver arrived in Kirtland on August 21.
Section 97 was given to the Prophet on August 2, 1833. This revelation
was given nineteen days before Oliver arrived in Kirtland with details
of the tribulations in Zion.
Speaking of the school in Zion, the Lord said: "...there
are those that must needs be chastened, and their works shall be made known.
The ax is laid at the root of the trees; and every tree that bringeth not
forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. I, the Lord,
have spoken it." (D&C 97:6-7)
The Saints were instructed to build a temple in Zion, to contribute to
it by a tithing, and to do it speedily (see
"And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she
shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great,
and very terrible. And the nations of the earth shall honor her,
and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot
fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand
of the Lord is there" (D&C 97:18-19).
Parley P. Pratt: "This revelation was not complied
with by the leaders of the Church in Missouri, as a whole.... Therefore,
the threatened judgment was poured out to the uttermost, as the history
of the five following years will show." (Autobiography of Parley
P. Pratt, p77)
Joseph Smith: "July, which once dawned upon
the virtue and independence of the United States, now dawned upon the savage
barbarity and mobocracy of Missouri." (HC, 1:372)
On July 23rd a mob of 500 men rushed into Independence searching for the
To preserve the lives of the Saints, Edward Partridge, W.W. Phelps, Isaac
Morley, A. Sidney Gilbert, John Whitmer, and John Corrill offered themselves
as a ransom, even to be scourged unto death if necessary.
The mobbers scoffed at this brave offer and demanded that the Saints leave
the county or die.
The elders agreed to the demands by stating that they would leave on January
1, 1834 and no later than April 1834.
In September 1833, Orson Hyde and John Gould arrived in Independence with
instructions from the Prophet.
The Saints in Zion were not to dispose of their property or move, except
for the few brethren who had signed the agreement to do so.
The revelation in
Section 98 was read to the afflicted Saints.
They were reminded in this revelation to abide by the nation's constitutional
law, to repent, and to bear their persecutions patiently.
Orson Hyde and William W. Phelps petitioned the governor of Missouri, Daniel
Dunklin, for redress. They requested that the governor raise sufficient
troops to help the Saints defend themselves.
The governor advised the Saints to make their case in the courts in the
district where the Saints resided. The governor said if the courts failed,
he would take steps to enforce the law.
The problem was that many of the court officials were part of the mob or
sympathetic to it.
October 31: A mob of fifty men rode upon the Whitmer branch threatening
the Saints. They demolished ten houses and unroofed another thirteen.
Several fled into the woods to escape capture.
Some of the men were caught and whipped with heavy ox goads.
November 1: The mob threw bricks at Mormon homes and began to tear
down the Gilbert and Whitney store.
A number of brethren hearing of the destruction, raced to the defense of
The mob fled, but a Richard McCarty was caught throwing bricks at the doors
and windows. He was seized and taken before the justice of the peace.
The following day, some of the brethren were arrested for catching McCarty
in the act of destroying the store.
November 2: The mob went after the small Mormon settlement on the
Big Blue River.
Brother David Bennett, who was ill, was dragged out of his house and beaten.
Some of the brethren attempted to defend the settlement and there was gunfire. One Missourian was wounded in the thigh.
The mobbers threatened to kill every Mormon.
November 4: 100 men led by a James Campbell took possession of the
Church owned ferry on the Big Blue River.
They then rode to the Whitmer settlement where they tore down houses and
turned horses into the corn fields.
David Whitmer ran to the gristmill and alerted about 30 men that were standing
There was a skirmish between the mobbers and these Mormons. Two of
the mobbers were killed. The mob made a disorganized retreat.
The mob outnumbered the Mormons by more than two to one and had three times
as many firearms.
According to George A. Smith, Truman Brace (known as Father Brace), a revolutionary
war veteran and ventriloquist, threw his voice from tree to tree making
the mobbers believe that the woods were full of Mormons, thus helping cause
their retreat. (Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p261)
Andrew Barber, a Mormon, was mortally wounded and became the first man
in this dispensation to be martyred for the gospel.
Philo Dibble was shot in the abdomen and was attended to by a surgeon who
pronounced him dead.
Brother Dibble wrote: "After the surgeon had left
me, Brother Newel Knight came to see me, and sat down on the side of my
bed. He laid his right hand on my head, but never spoke. I felt the Spirit
resting upon me at the crown of my head before his hand touched me, and
I knew immediately that I was going to be healed. It seemed to form like
a ring under the skin, and followed down my body. When the ring came to
the wound, another ring formed around the first bullet hole, also the second
and third. Then a ring formed on each shoulder and on each hip, and followed
down to the ends of my fingers and toes and left me. I immediately arose
and discharged three quarts of blood or more, with some pieces of my clothes
that had been driven into my body by the bullets. I then dressed myself
and went outdoors and saw the falling of the stars, which so encouraged
the Saints and frightened their enemies. It was one of the grandest sights
I ever beheld. From that time not a drop of blood came from me and I never
afterwards felt the slightest pain or inconvenience from my wounds, except
that I was somewhat weak from the loss of blood. The next day I walked
around the field, and the day following I mounted a horse and rode eight
miles, and went three miles on foot." (Ibid., p262-263)
The following day, rumors regarding an uprising of the Mormons and their
joining with the Indians began to spread through the county.
Armed men began to crowd into Independence. Lieutenant Governor Boggs
called out the state militia.
Colonel Pitcher demanded that the Mormons give up their arms and turn over
the men engaged in the battle above the Blue River to be tried for murder.
Lyman Wight refused to give up arms unless Pitcher disarmed the mob.
Pitcher agreed and the Mormons turned over forty-nine guns and a pistol. Some of the brethren involved in the battle also gave themselves up.
The day after the Mormons surrendered their firearms, the mobbers were
once again turned loose. They burst into houses frightening the women
and children. The Mormons were warned to get out of the county or their
houses would be torn down and they would be massacred by nightfall.
The Mormons began fleeing from their Missouri enemies on November 5th and
One company of 190, comprised of women and children, and three decrepit
men, were driven thirty miles over a burned prairie with light snow. They left bloodstains from their lacerated feet.
By November 7 the banks of the Missouri were lined with the Mormon exiles. It was disorganized group
of parents, children, and spouses looking for
missing family members.
Wrote Newel Knight:: "Thus homeless, and without
means of taking much to sustain them did the whole Church in Jackson County
flee before the mob, and at night those who went to the river camped in
the rain which poured down in torrents; the frail mother, the helpless
infant, the sick and the dying, all alike without the means to shelter
themselves from the storm." (Ibid., 265)
Wrote Parley P. Pratt: "In short, every member
of the society was driven from the county, and fields of corn were plundered
and destroyed. Stacks of wheat were burned--household goods plundered,
and improvements and every kind of property lost, and at length no less
than two hundred and three houses burned." (History of
Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons, p.23)
A thousand Saints were driven from their homes in Jackson County during
the early winter of 1833.
They crossed the Missouri River where they were treated with kindness by
the citizens of Clay County.
They allowed the Mormons to occupy every vacant cabin and build sheds for
In December, the Prophet received letters from Bishop Partridge, John Corrill,
and William W. Phelps about the Jackson County expulsion.
On December 10th the Prophet sent a letter of encouragement, comfort, and
sympathy to the Saints.
December 16, 1833, the Prophet received the revelation contained in
101 at Kirtland, Ohio.
The Saints who came to Missouri had hoped to build Zion. When they were
driven out of Jackson County in November 1833, this hope was shattered.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE TO BE AMONG THEM?
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE DONE WHEN YOU WERE CAST OUT?
WHAT SELF SEARCHING QUESTIONS MIGHT YOU HAVE ASKED?
WHY DID GOD PERMIT THE SAINTS TO BE DRIVEN FROM JACKSON COUNTY?
"Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren
who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of
their inheritance—I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon
them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions"
"...even many, but not all; they
were found transgressors, therefore they must needs be chastened"
"And that those who call themselves after my name
might be chastened for a little season with a sore and grievous chastisement,
they did not hearken altogether unto the precepts and commandments
I gave unto them" (D&C 103:4).
D&C 101:6-8. Transgressions committed by the Missouri
WHAT TRANSGRESSIONS HAD THE SAINTS COMMITTED?
WHY DOES THE LORD CHASTEN AND TRY HIS PEOPLE?
D&C 101:4-5. Those who cannot endure chastening cannot
President George Q. Cannon: "Here comes
the command of God to this man [Abraham] who has been taught so scrupulously
about the sinfulness of murder and human sacrifice, to do these very things.
Now, why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what
his future would be and that he would be the father of an innumerable posterity,
he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake; for
He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do [Abr. 1:22-23] ; but
the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to
attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is
why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge for He knows all
things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do.
But He tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves, for it is
most important that a man should know himself. He required Abraham to submit
to this trial because he intended to give him glory, exaltation and honor;
He intended to make him a king and a priest, to share with Himself the
glory, power and dominion which He exercised." (CR,
April 1899, pp66-67)
"Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning
Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God. Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children
are scattered" (D&C 101:16-17).
Words of comfort regarding the future destiny of Zion.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP ESTABLISH ZION?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "May I suggest
three fundamental things we must do if we are to 'bring again Zion,'
three things for which we who labor for Zion must commit ourselves.
"First, we must eliminate the individual tendency
to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the
"Second, we must cooperate completely and work
in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions
and unity in our actions....
"Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice
whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a 'broken heart
and a contrite spirit.' We follow this by giving our best effort in our
assigned fields of labor and callings. We learn our duty and execute it
fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon
by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp363-364)
President Spencer W. Kimball: "Zion can
be built up only among those who are the pure in heart, not a people torn
by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people. Not a people
who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense
of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion is not
things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind
and sanctify the heart." (Ibid., p363)
The Lord gives instructions as to how to proceed with the problems in Missouri:
"And again I say unto you, those who have been
scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to
importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed
as rulers and are in authority over you--According to the laws and constitution
of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained
for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy
principles" (D&C 101:76-77).
The Lord continues to instruct the Saints to act within the law. That in itself must have been a great test of patience considering the
actions of the Missouri mobbers.
- How would you feel if a mob had burned you out of your home?
- How would you feel if your feet were frozen and cut after crossing crusty
Governor Dunklin did little to help the Saints gain redress. Elder B.H. Roberts: "The determination of the
mob to resist the law was stronger than the determination of the state
officers to execute it and make it honorable" (CHC, 1:335)
A conference was held on New Year's Day 1834, at the home of Parley P. Pratt
in Liberty, Missouri. Parley Pratt and Lyman Wight volunteered to
journey to Ohio and counsel with Joseph about measures to be taken
for the relief or restoration of the Missouri Saints.
Section 103 was given to the Prophet on February 24, 1834, in Kirtland. It was a response to the concerns of the Saints regarding the Missouri
problem and their desire to assist in the redemption of Zion.
February 1834: Joseph heard the report of the Missouri Saints expulsion
and suffering. He declared that he was going to Zion to assist in its redemption.
He asked for volunteers and forty offered to go and assist the Prophet.
The March West.
The Lord once again addresses the question as to why the Saints were driven
from Jackson County:
To allow the enemies of the Saints to "fill up the measure of their
iniquities" (D&C 103:3).
The Saints were to be "chastened for a little season...because they
did not" obey the commandments of the Lord (D&C 103:4).
"Therefore let my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. say
unto the strength of my house, my young men and the middle aged—Gather
yourselves together unto the land of Zion, upon the land which I have bought
with money that has been consecrated unto me. And let all the churches
send up wise men with their moneys, and purchase lands even as I have commanded
them." (D&C 103:22-23)
This was a call from the Lord for what came to be known as Zion's Camp.
Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt, and Lyman Wight were instructed to obtain
companies of men to go up to the land of Zion, preferably 500 men (D&C
They were not to go up to the land of Zion until they had obtained at least
100 men (D&C 103:34).
Zion's Camp did not seem to achieve much benefit for the Saints in Missouri.
With wagons loaded with relief items for the Missouri Saints, Zion's Camp
left Kirtland on May 5 (1834) and journeyed to New Portage, Ohio.
The camp was organized by the Prophet on May 7 with 130 men divided into
companies of twelve with a captain over each. Additional recruits were
added along the way finally bringing the number to 205.
Zion's Camp left New Portage on May 8 to begin the 900 mile journey.
Some important participants: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley
P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith.
Reveille was sounded at 4:00 AM and each man was to pray at that time and
before he retired.
Members of the camp were not to divulge their identity.
They even went so far as to preach Protestant sermons on the Sabbath when
they were in populated areas.
Walking from 20-40 miles a day left the men's feet blistered and their
stockings wet with blood. Heber Kimball had a team and wagon of his
own; yet he walked most of the journey, letting the lame and footsore ride
in his stead. Seeing the Prophet limping with sore feet, he frequently
invited him to ride.
An unruly spirit developed among many members of the camp. On June 3 the
Prophet spoke to the Camp during the noon hour and exhorted them to faithfulness.
He delivered the following prophecy: "...a scourge
would come upon the camp in consequence of the fractious and unruly spirits
that appeared among them, and they should die like sheep with the rot;
still if they would repent and humble themselves before the Lord, the scourge,
in a great measure, might be turned away; but, as the Lord lives, the members
of this camp will suffer for giving way to their unruly temper"
There were enemies of the Saints along the route, but the record of the
camp is emphatic concerning "the presence of angels while on the march
to Missouri." The chronicle of the camp states that
saw them" (Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p282).
After crossing the Mississippi, Parley Pratt and Orson Hyde were sent as
delegates to Governor Dunklin of Missouri.
Dunklin admitted the justice of their demands but feared that an effort
reestablish them by military force would excite civil war and deluge the
whole state with blood.
The governor's advice was, for the sake of peace, to sell their lands and
not try to repossess them.
On June 19, after a day of difficulties, the little army camped on an elevated
piece of land between the Big and Little Fishing rivers.
Joseph Smith: "As we halted and were making
preparations for the night, five men armed with guns rode into our camp,
and told us we should 'see hell before morning;' and their accompanying
oaths partook of all the malice of demons" (HC, 2:103). They boasted that
sixty men were riding out from Richmond and another
seventy from Clay county to join about 200 from Jackson county.
Heber C. Kimball wrote: "The whole county was
in a rage against us, and nothing but the power of God could save us"
(Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp52-53).
Shortly after the five men left, a storm arose with tremendous fury. Wind, rain, and hail struck a mob of
forty men within two miles of Zion's
Camp. The following morning, the mob in their soaked condition returned
to their homes. Joseph Smith: "Very little
hail fell in our camp, but from half a mile to a mile around, the stones
or lumps of ice cut down the crops of corn and vegetation generally, even
cutting limbs from trees, while the trees, themselves were twisted into
withes by the wind" (HC, 2:104-105)
On June 22 the sheriff of Clay County rode out to the camp and asked the
Prophet what their intentions were. He said they were bringing help
and supplies for their stricken brethren. They brought firearms for
On June 24, not far from Liberty, the camp had stopped in a woodland
near Sidney Gilbert's home. That night cholera broke out among the camp.
Sixty-eight members of the Camp were attacked and fourteen of them died.
Heber C. Kimball wrote in his journal: "The destroyer
came upon us as we had been warned by the servant of God. About 12 o'clock
at night we began to hear the cries of those who had been seized. Even
those on guard fell with their guns in their hands, and we had to exert
ourselves considerably to attend to the sick, for they were stricken on
every hand. Thus it continued until morning, when the camp was separated
into several little bands and dispersed among the brethren....
"While Brother Luke Johnson was digging, the
cholera attacked him with cramping and blindness. Brother Brigham laid
hold of him and pulled him out of the grave, and shook him about, talked
to and prayed for him, and exhorted him to jump about and exercise himself,
when it would leave him for a few moments, then it would attack him again;
and thus we had the greatest difficulty to keep the destroyer from laying
us low. Soon after we returned another brother was taken from our little
band; thus it continued until five our of ten were taken away.
"After burying these five brethren, I was seized
by the hand of the destroyer as I went in the woods to pray. I was instantly
struck blind, and saw no way whereby I could free myself from the disease,
only by jumping and thrashing myself about, until my sight returned to
me and my blood began to circulate in my veins. I started and ran some
distance, and by this means, through the help of God, I was enabled to
extricate myself from the grasp of death. This circumstance took place
in a piece of woods behind Brother Gilbert's house." (Life of
Heber C. Kimball, p59, 61)
On July 3, 1834, the Prophet organized a high council in Clay County and
set the affairs of the church in order. Shortly thereafter Lyman Wight
was sent out to discharge the members of Zion's Camp, thus ending the expedition
of Israel's army for the redemption of Zion.
Section 105 was given to the Prophet while at Fishing River, Missouri,
on June 22, 1834.
WHY DID THE LORD AUTHORIZE THIS MISSION? WHAT PURPOSES DID IT SERVE?
According to Wilford Woodruff the participants "gained
an experience that we never could have gained in any other way. We had
the privilege of beholding the face of the prophet, and we had the privilege
of traveling a thousand miles with him, and seeing the workings of the
Spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and
the fulfillment of those revelations.... Had I not gone up with Zion's
camp I should not have been [President of the Church] today."
Soon after the seventies were organized, Joseph Smith told the elders in
Kirtland: "Brethren, some of you are angry with
me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did
not want you to fight. He could not organize His kingdom with twelve men
to open the Gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men
under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless He took them from
a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a
sacrifice as did Abraham. Now the Lord has got His Twelve and His Seventy." (HC,
As I reviewed the history of this time
I was touched by what the Saints endured. Little did they know that
this was only the beginning of trials. I have tried to mentally put
myself into their circumstances. What if it was me, my wife, and
my family who had struggled to carve a farm in the wilderness and to
build a home? This was hard work. How would I feel if mobbers
attacked my home, burned it, and then drove me and my family into a cold
winter day? How could I endure such? This was the plight of
the Jackson County Saints.
The Lord instructs the Saints as to why the building of the city of Zion will
"But behold, they have not learned to be obedient
to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner
of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the
poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required
by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by
the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot
receive her unto myself." (D&C 105:3-5)
The building of Zion postponed:
"Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions
of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a
little season for the redemption of Zion—That they themselves may be prepared,
and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and
know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require
at their hands." (D&C 105:9-10)
These Saints were aware of the prophecies, both ancient
and modern, about the building of the new Jerusalem, Zion. They must
have been excited to participate in the fulfillment of these great prophecies. Maybe they became a little prideful about it and neglected their most important
duties as Saints. The Lord subsequently stated that Zion could only
be built upon the "principles of the law of the celestial kingdom." The Saints of that time, and all subsequent generations, needed to learn
that lesson. This will be a great and marvelous city that will be
instrumental in the final gathering in of Israel and ushering in the millennial
reign of our Lord and Master. The Lord must have a people that are
prepared to live his law in order to participate in the construction of this great
Are we prepared? That is a question each of us
must ask of ourselves and counsel with the Lord. I believe that as
the Saints are prepared to give up the things of the world and live a higher
law, then the time will come and we will go forward to build the center
stake of Zion.
For additional information see
The Acceptable Offering of Zion's Camp and
Waiting for the Word of the Lord at LDS.org.
Also, see the video
Zion's Camp at LDS.org.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the experiences of the Saints in Jackson County.
What can you do in your life and in your family to further the cause of Zion?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.
Conference Reports (CR).
History of the Church (HC).
History of Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons
by Parley P. Pratt.
Joseph Smith and the Restoration by Ivan J. Barrett.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
Page created by: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please E-Mail comments.
Changes last made on:
04 July 2017