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The Trail Ran East
from Council Bluffs:

Mormons Who Made it So Far,
Then Left for Wisconsin and Michigan

A paper prepared for the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association
Omaha, Nebraska, May 23, 1997

Preliminary Draft Version
Not to Be Circulated, Cited or Quoted
Without Written Permission of the Author
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Slide 1

Slide 2 When most Mormons in Council Bluffs, Iowa were busily engaged outfitting companies for the emigration to the Rocky Mountains, there was an occasional ruckus about an outsider preaching "a Mormon stronghold" in a wilderness more unusual than the West—a call for emigration back over the Great Lakes to a forested island paradise—and the renewal of the 1844 Mormon succession debate. Slide 3 An early Mormon broadside published at Council Bluffs said: "Notice is hereby given that Elder Warren Post will deliver a lecture concerning the Prophetic Succession, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, on Sunday the 11th of March, A. D. 1855, commencing at 11 o'clock A.M., in the Court House, in Council Bluffs City."(1) Warren Post was no ordinary Mormon, but was a foreign Apostle for James J. Strang's Kingdom of God, and an eyewitness to some unearthed plates nobody in Council Bluffs had ever heard about. This paper will present a unique multi-cultural view of Mormonism. Strang's organization was not an "Apostate movement," for Strang was an earnest preacher who never withdrew from any church nor "deserted or departed" from any Mormon doctrine he once believed—the defining elements of apostasy. Strang was just a different type of faithful Mormon, and is best appreciated as a significant parallel in Mormon culture and social behavior. His successes in Council Bluffs underscore that perception.

Slide 4 Strang was a former New York lawyer, who in 1843 had resettled with his relatives in the Midwest—they had been the first Mormon settlers in Wisconsin in 1835. In February 1844 he traveled on foot nearly three hundred miles to stay in the Mansion House with Joseph and Emma Smith at Nauvoo, Illinois. He was baptized by Joseph, and ordained by Hyrum Smith, and like other well-educated converts he was warmly ennobled by the Smiths. John C. Bennett, William Law, and George Miller, as other examples, rose to instant heights in the Nauvoo hierarchy. Strang's arrival was in the midst of Smith's search for new sites to which communities of Mormons could gather. Strang provided counsel to Joseph and Hyrum on the original expedition of twenty-five explorers to the West. Meanwhile, Lyman Wight and George Miller were up in another region of Wisconsin, but encouraging Joseph to settle in Texas. Independently, Orson Hyde was reporting from Washington, D.C., also urging the Texas choice or Oregon.(2) Slide 5 Joseph asked Parley P. Pratt to search out a location northeast of Nauvoo, and Pratt suggested the Illinois cities of Peoria, Norway, or Chicago, shown on the map. Notice the linguistic parallels in the missions of Pratt and Strang. Pratt wrote to the First Presidency from Chicago as follows:

I write at this time to call your attention to this part of our State, or the part between Nauvoo and this place: as affording every facility for Settlement and Stakes of Zion. . . .The country between this and Peoria, 150 miles, is composed mostly of Rich, Dry, Rolling, and Healthy Prairies most beautifully watered with Durable Streams and Rivers, and will, so far as can be ascertained from the appearance, and the history of the past, be one of the healthyest [sic] co[u]nt[r]ies in the world, and certainly it is the most productive and pleasant. . . . I would earnestly sugjest the propriety of appointing those three towns as Stakes, or at least some Location in the vicinnity of each.(3)

In March 1844, Strang returned home to Burlington, shown on the map in southeastern Wisconsin, and could not have known the contents of Pratt's confidential April 1844 letter when he later claimed that Joseph directed him to make his own investigation of Wisconsin to the northeast of Nauvoo. Strang reminisced in the third person:

At this time much was said of the necessities of the Saints, for want of a suitable country for settlement, . . . and the prophet Joseph asked counsel of James J. Strang . . . in regard to many countries, especially California, New Mexico and Oregon, And he advised an exploration of those countries for determining what facilities for settlement they offered and gave much information in regard to them . . . He also advised a settlement of the saints to be formed immediately in Wisconsin . . . because the climate of Nauvoo is unfavorable to health of such . . . It was enjoined upon James J. Strang by Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Sidney Ridgon to return to Wisconsin and make more full examinations of the country with direct reference to the advantages it might offer to the Saints, and to write the results of that examination . . . [Strang replied] recommending a gathering in Wisconsin and counseled the selection of country on the White River as the place for planting a Stake of Zion.(4)

Slide 6 When Joseph and Hyrum were killed on 27 June 1844, Strang claimed that Joseph had already responded to the report in a letter from Joseph dated 18 June 1844, and named a new stake in Wisconsin, thereafter called Voree. Strang liberally interpreted Joseph's letter, such that since he was directed to plant a Stake of Zion in Wisconsin, Joseph therefore meant for him to lead the church after his death. There are indirect inferences in the letter, such as God revealing his will to Strang for the whole church. Some historians believe that the letter is authentic, while most have hastily dismissed it. Whatever its merits, those who rejected it in 1844 did not do so because of its unidentified hand, which is likewise not the subject of this paper.

Slide 7 This ephemeral imprint from 1855 appeared a decade too late, for the presidential continuum issue was resolved for most Mormons at Nauvoo on 8 August 1844, with Brigham Young's folk-style transfiguration. The polemic continued in Council Bluffs only because Strang never revisited Nauvoo. In 1846 Young had asked, rhetorically, "If Mr. Strang had received his appointment from Joseph, why did he not come here upon the death of Joseph and take charge of the church, and lead them to Voree?" Slide 8 Indeed, Strang was not present in Nauvoo when Brigham was on stage with Joseph's mantle—but Young was not in Nauvoo either just three days earlier, when Strang made his succession bid in the Great Lakes countryside where he hoped to find the Twelve returning from the East. However, the Twelve passed by Strang and left him in a hopeless campaign to regain Mormon converts.

Slide 9 Smith had purportedly mailed the "Letter of Appointment" to Strang on 19 June 1844, and on 20 June summoned Young to return from Boston. At Burlington, Wisconsin, Strang received his letter from Smith on 9 July, the same day that the news of Smith's assassination reached Young in Boston. Young took fifteen days to decide that he was needed immediately in Nauvoo, and Strang took seventeen days to decide to intercept Young along the way. What Strang did not anticipate was Young's traveling purse, for although he was a carpenter turned unpaid missionary, Young (and those of the Twelve that accompanied him) raced back to Nauvoo by train, steam boat, and stagecoach. Slide 10 The route of the Twelve is shown on the map in red, as they went from Boston to Albany, Troy, Schenectady, and Buffalo, N.Y. by train; Fairport, Cleveland, and Sandusky, Ohio by steam boat; Detroit, Mackinac, Milwaukee, Racine, and Chicago by steam boat; Galena by stage coach; seven miles down the Galena River and then down the Mississippi to Nauvoo. Strang, however, set out on foot, stopping nearly every night with scattered Mormons on the route. The path of Strang is shown on the map in blue. By the time Strang had gone three hundred miles from Burlington, Wisconsin, through Chicago, La Porte, Indiana, and into Florence, Michigan, Young and his companions were within a day of Nauvoo, and about to complete their 1,973 mile journey in less than fourteen days, or about 140 miles per day. Strang had traveled ten days, or thirty miles of walking per day. Defending his priesthood after the Florence conference slowed him down from his destination of Buffalo, N.Y., and he ended his search at Sandusky, Ohio. The route of Strang from Florence to Sandusky is shown on the map in purple. At Sandusky, he likely learned that the Twelve had already passed through both ports, Buffalo and Sandusky. The route of Strang home through the port of Kenosha, Wisconsin is shown on the map in yellow. More than one month behind Young, Strang left Sandusky about 30 August.(5) He probably died without knowing that the Twelve had landed briefly in his home county of Racine, Wisconsin and that his whole journey might have been averted.

What is most striking about the preaching by Warren Post in Council Bluffs, is that it was not in the neighborhood that Strang is recognized to have made his inroads. Slide 11 Strang's strengths were Illinois, Michigan, and New York state, and the cities of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. He even possessed the Kirtland Temple for a time, when this woodcut was made. The total number of people who at one time or another affiliated with Strang is about thirteen thousand, not five hundred to two thousand as variously estimated by other historians (my research has produced the names of more than two thousand heads of households). Slide 12 This map shows light blue markers at the locations of Strang's districts or conferences. These are not branches or scattered members, but nearly concentrations of membership, perhaps averaging one hundred members at each location. I have not included any broad districts such as "Northeastern Wisconsin" or "Southern Illinois," but points of high density. Notice the number around Chicago; Detroit; and Jefferson County, N.Y., and in the eastern seaboard cities that I already mentioned.

Slide 13 The best scholars already recognize that Strang was one of the factors that made Young flee from Nauvoo—but none seem to have realized that Strang's influence followed Young right through Iowa. There were four phases to the chasing of Young to Utah. First, Young lost a major company in northeastern Illinois in the Norwegian settlements. Second, Young lost ground right in Nauvoo during January and February 1846. Third, Young was unable to keep Strang's best missionaries from coming right into the "Camp of Israel"after it had moved across Iowa. Fourth, Young was unable to prevent Strang's missionaries from working in Council Bluffs and Nebraska during the 1850s.

Slide 14 In January 1846, Young sent Reuben Miller from Nauvoo to the Fox River region of northeastern Illinois, to get a company for the western camp and to debate Strang. When he encountered Strang, Miller not only lost the debate, but gave up and joined the fold, together with most of the concentrated branches in the region.(6) Miller affirmed to thousands of Mormons that he "knew by revelation, by the Holy Ghost, and by the power of God that James J. Strang was a prophet and the appointed successor." Strang made him the president of the Voree stake.(7) That same month, Isaac Paden, president of the branch at Knoxville, Illinois, wrote to Young concerned that "the principle part" of his branch had rejected the Twelve and the western expedition. "Many of them are filled with the notion that J. Strang is the man to lead the Church. . . . I am convinced that Strang under the present situation of the church will cause the greatest split that ever has been made."(8) Less than a month later Paden himself acknowledged Strang as a prophet. Strang later made him the presiding high priest over the "district of Nauvoo and southern Illinois."(9)

Slide 15 Young and those of the Twelve who associated with him labored tirelessly to discredit Strang in Nauvoo. There were claims made that Strang was excommunicated by Crandall Dunn at the Florence, Michigan conference on 5 August 1844, though his partner Norton Jacob contradicts that account even as a critic of Strang.(10) There was also a summary excommunication notice published in the Times and Seasons on 26 August 1844, but that was just a public announcement of the action already thought to have been taken.(11) On 1 February 1846 Strang was supposedly excommunicated one more time without a trial, but again Young said it was just a "sanction" or reaffirmation of a previous action.(12) Each procedure lacked any summons, testimony, defense, or decision. Orson Hyde then chastised Strang in an officially printed broadside revelation: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches."(13) In case all the public denouncements were insufficient, Young, Hyde, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards all shared a frequent expression: "Let Strangism alone, it is not worth the skin of a fart."—of course the Journal History revised that statement—"it is not worth the skin of a flea."(14)

Slide 16 On 15 January 1846, the new church headquarters at Voree sent Moses Smith with other emissaries to Nauvoo.(15) Upon their arrival, they attempted to read an announcement about the emigration to Wisconsin. Local Illinois newspapers report that when they attempted to read, Young and his adherents opposed them. They were "surrounded by a mob who attempted to drive them from the city. Whereupon a row ensued, in which clubs were used freely. The Twelve-ites gained the victory and drove their opponents from the ground."(16) According to George Miller, Young laid a plan with Hosea Stout, his police captain. Stout was "to contrive a row to take place in the Temple, and have me called in to appease the rowdies, and Stout was to be there in readiness to kill me." The row occurred as predicted. Stout called Miller in to calm the turmoil, but the mob wanted Moses Smith, and allowed Miller to escape.(17) From Moses Smith's vantage point, Young sent an officer of the police to disperse the crowds listening to Smith. "This order being disregarded, a mob crowded around, headed by an officer of police, armed with knives and pistols, threatening their lives and endeavoring to seize them." They fled to safety at a more faithful member's house.(18)

Still, Strang made significant inroads at Nauvoo. Isaac C. Haight recorded on 8 March 1846, even after the third attempt to excommunicate Strang, "[M]any are turning away from the church and from the Twelve apostles to follow a new Prophet that has risen up pretending to receive his appointment by Joseph before his death and then confirmed by the visitation of an Angel who gave him the Urim and Thummin by which he discovered some plates, etc.(19)

Slide 17 There is little wonder as to why Strang gained converts easily when he could reach them. Strang could gain the fascination of every living Book of Mormon witness and the family of Joseph Smith too, through his close duplication of every task of a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator—this diary extract of Warren Post contains his testimony that the brass plates weighed six pounds—and Strang had a knack for immediate fulfillment. In its 15 June 1848 issue, Strang's Gospel Herald said that he had "some prophecies out, of Indian hostilities against the western camp."(20) On exactly the same day, six hundred miles away, the first Mormon shootings by Indians were reported at Cedar Creek, Nebraska. Thomas Ricks was shot in the back with a ball and two buckshot, and Howard Egan was shot in the wrist. Four Indians were killed by the Mormons.(21) Strang's "Letter of Appointment" and brass plates have been passed over as clever schemes by Strang—but if this was duplicity, then his traveling pace must have been getting quicker. He probably never knew his prediction had been fulfilled and recorded in the diaries of emigrants he did not meet.

Slide 18 Even before creating a missionary system, Strang had supporters across Iowa. Daniel Carpenter visited Voree from Porter County. John M. Downton and Dwight Webster were at Burlington, Iowa "balking at going to Utah," and addressing "brother Strang, the prophet." Nearby, A. P. Ringer was softened by John E. Page's advocacy of Strang. Others left the camp independently of any knowledge of Strang, but encountered his other converts along the way. George Miller had left Young's camp and gone to Texas, before discovering Strang and relocating to Michigan. Clark L. Whitney had left Council Bluffs for Missouri, and was intercepted by George Miller traveling from Texas to Beaver Island.(22) What to do about the widening rift in the church became a subject of great controversy on both sides, until Strang issued the following prophecy:

Trouble not yourselves any more concerning those who have been driven out of my city, and gone into the wilderness. For in the day that they fled to the wilderness where I had not told them to go, and were cast out of my holy city, which they had polluted, and from their habitations round about; even in that very day were they rejected of me. For with much long suffering and patience had I waited on them, and warned them, and sent my servants unto them, and with judgments had rebuked them; and they would not return unto me. And all their usurpations and lyings and false teachings have been an abomination unto me, and a stink in my nostrils; and their unlawful administrations have been as naught before me; and therein have I judged them with grievous sickness and sore judgments; therefore are they utterly cast out.

Slide 19 Strang made that prediction of grievous sickness on 8 July 1846 with no environmental knowledge of the imminent calamity of eight hundred deaths at Winter Quarters in a single year, beginning the next month in August 1846 (by the way, in twelve years of Strang's presidency there was not a single outbreak of disease or exposure in any of his settlements). Strang called for continuing to appeal to those who would listen.

On 9 April 1847, Strang's general conference at Voree directed his best missionaries to "take a mission for the camp of Israel." Uriel C. H. Nickerson and John Shippy set out from Voree on 20 April 1847. Nickerson's selection was deliberate, for on 6 February 1847 his well-respected father Feeman Nickerson had died as a result of exposure in the camp. The two missionaries went to Nauvoo and visited the temple, then took the trail west through Iowa. After their arrival, Uriel and Shippy reported back to Strang that they "saw" one-fourth of the camp die off. By 20 July 1847, the two were back in Voree with a twenty-two returned emigrants, including Freeman's widow.

Slide 20 The success of that short mission created a template that was followed in annual winter missions from Strang's headquarters. Elders from Beaver Island lived by logging their land for steamboat wood export, then planting summer crops on the cleared land—and by summer fishing and coopering for salted fish export. The hardships of settling the island from 1847 to 1856 required that they be present in the summer, but not in the winter. Thus, beginning in 1847, nearly every elder left the Island for an annual winter mission lasting five months. Slide 21 But the decision to turn so many missions westward did not occur until after John W. Grierson, a Seventy "late from Council Bluffs," was converted in Washington, D.C. on 11 November 1849.(23) If emigrants were leaving the Council Bluffs and making it to missionaries so far east, it was time to send the missionaries to them in Council Bluffs.

Slide 22 In the late fall of 1851, George Miller, and Anson W. Prindle; Samuel P. Bacon and L.D. Hickey, the best missionaries in Strang's fold, took a mission to Council Bluffs. Bacon and Hickey reported that they were mistreated by Orson Hyde. They arrived back on Beaver Island late on 25 June 1852, but they brought with them forty-three converts. They included John A. Davis and a Mrs. Young, whom Hickey sealed to each other after their arrival on the island.

Slide 23 After the success of Hickey and Bacon, on 10 July 1852, Strang "reorganized" the quorum of Seventy, and sent a "large mission" to Iowa, and one to Illinois, and another to Wisconsin. Those were summer missions. Hickey returned from Council Bluffs on 17 October 1852 with a second party for the year. Strang sent two less experienced missionaries, Thomas Derby and L. D. Tubbs, both newly ordained Seventies. Tubbs also repeated with a summer mission to these "middle states" in 1853, and was rewarded by the appointment as an apostle in the summer of 1855.(24)

In June 1854, Hickey and Pierce brought forty-eight emigrants from Iowa to Beaver Island, along with nine teams of horses, and "a considerable quantity of stock, provisions, etc." The horses were important to logging and farming on the island. By 1854, there were more subscribers to the Northern Islander at Council Bluffs than at any other place off of the island, and they included Phillip Gartrost, Lewis Jackson, Joseph K. Kane, Abram Rose, and Jacob Stokes.(25)

Slide 24 During L. D. Hickey's mission in Kanesville, he converted Samuel S. Thornton and his wife H. Jane Hickenlooper. Thornton related for his wife: "It was impressed upon her mind that if we did not go to Beaver Island that she would die in a short time." Hickey came along and independently made the same statement. The Thorntons were already disillusioned because Orson Hyde had directed them to move from Council Bluffs to settle in Kanesville by revelation, with the prophecy that they would be blessed. They became embittered because other officials afterwards ordered them to gather to Salt Lake City immediately.(26) Another family that appeared on Beaver Island for the first time on 17 August 1854 was a shoemaker named Joseph T. Pendleton, and his wife Mary E. Pendleton. Their seven month-old daughter is recorded as having died at Winter Quarters on 11 August 1847, and a young son's death probably occurred along the westward trail.(27)

Slide 25 Warren Post, who published the broadside with which I opened my presentation, was sent on an earlier mission to Council Bluffs in July 1852, which failed. James J. Strang addressed "Elder Warren Post, In Jail, Rockford, Ill." Post had landed at Racine, and had passed through Voree as witness to baptisms for the dead. At Rockford, he was accused of being a counterfeiter and lock picker, rather than a Mormon preacher. After a preliminary hearing, he was bound over and held until a September trial. Slide 26 Strang encouraged Post: "Such malicious prosecutions fall heavy on us, because though you will be discharged beyond a question, it is attended with much loss and expense." He doubtlessly referred to the arrest two years earlier of ninety-nine Mormons who were all acquitted. He concluded: "There must have been a most determined resolution to spite the Mormons, or they would not have detained you on such slight pretenses." It was a recurring theme among the Great Lakes Mormons.(28)

Slide 27 Post corresponded with his wife, Deborah, in several sad letters in my own collection. Giving her the first news of his imprisonment, he closed his letter:

Now dear wife, don't lay these things to heart; but remember it is better to suffer for well doing than for evil doing. I want you to write immediately & let me know how you prosper, I trust I shall be set at liberty in Sept. Now may the God of Israel bless you with peace of mind, with health, also the little ones, and with food & raiment, this shall ever be my prayer. Give my respects unto all that love the appearing of the Lord Jesus . . . . I shall be home by the time I expected too, but my mission is of another kind, & such an one as the Holy Ghost witnesseth, that in every city, bonds and afflictions abide me. I remain your affectionate husband forever.(29)

Deborah responded in the following extracts:

Dear husband, must I address you for the first time within the dreary walls of a lonesome prison. I received your letter yesterday. It gave me great joy and great grief also, but I will try to compose myself as well as I can . . . I have had great peace of mind until I heard of your confinement, Warren. Would to God that you was free or that I could suffer with you. May the will of God be done in all things and not mine, fore he is able to deliver you from bonds and imprisonments. Every request of yours I trust will be granted to you for you are not without friends in this place. . . . Now the time seems long since I have seen you. Nothing could be so much to my comfort in this world as your presence. . . . Warren, I want you to write to me and let me know how you fare. I trust you will not have to stay in that place long. Be comforted with these few words from me, your loving wife. May the God of heaven shower down his choicest blessings upon you, who is free from every crime. I remain your affectionate wife forever.(30)

Slide 28 Post received a second chance at a Council Bluffs mission in the 1854-1855 season. In his manuscript diary "Travels of Warren Post," in my private collection, he provides the only comprehensive account of a Beaver Islander's mission to Council Bluffs. I will read a few extracts for you to enjoy the character of his mission:

On the 30th of November I left Beaver Harbor in company with Simon Dyke, Sen., Isaac Kendall, Asa C. B. Field, James Hutchins, David Alvord, & Wesley Horton, for the winter mission . . . [skipping ahead] The 3rd was still more unfavorable than any time previous & about the middle of the day it became very squally & the waves ran higher than I ever saw them before. About 3:00 p.m. we had a complete hurricane & the lake seemed to be vast mountains & valleys, & every appearance indicated our inevitable destruction, only for the assurance that God would deliver us from the violence of the waves. . . . [skipping ahead] Bro. Hutchins, Dyke, Alvord & myself left Chicago on the morning train, 2nd class cars. Hutchins & Alvord left us at La Salle about midday, & Br. Dyke & myself reached Rock Island at 9:00 p.m. on the morning of the 6th. We left Rock Island & with some difficulty crossed the River & went our way towards Iowa City . . . [skipping ahead] By taking a cross cut traveled 2 miles out of our way making 30 miles traveled with blistered feet, but the weather for a few days past has been beautiful & the roads as good as they possibly could be . . . [skipping ahead] Mon. 18th we traveled 10 miles & called at Mr. Wheeler's & took dinner. We are now in Potawatamie Co. . . .

Slide 29 By 28 January 1855, Post wrote a letter to Deborah, in my collection, saying he and Simon Dyke "already have the promise of three families to go with us to the Island in the spring, if they can sell & get means to go with . . . we are well used so far & find labors enough for twenty Elders in this place. We have not yet traveled over half of the ground we expect to pass over yet."(31) It was on this trip that Post later published his broadside Notice, and then went to Paradise, Iowa.(32)

Slide 30 In 1853 Strang sent out twenty-six missionaries; in 1854, he sent fifty-three. In 1855, he sent out between forty-four and fifty missions, and each elder was armed with freshly printed copies of Strang's capstone Prophetic Controversy, printed on the Beaver Island press so late as November while the missionaries waited to depart. I have located the destinations of thirty-three of the elders from 1855. Slide 31 This map shows blue figures indicating the number of missionaries sent by Strang to each state in 1849, before he permanently moved the seat of his first presidency to Beaver Island, and set up the kingdom in July 1850. The figures in red indicate the number of missionaries he sent to each state during the 1855-1856 missionary season, the last one before Strang's assassination.

In that final year, there were missionaries sent to Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi River, including Marvin M. Aldrich, Jr., William J. Clark, and John S. Comstock. Joseph T. Pendleton and Isaac Pierce were sent on a mission to Missouri and Iowa. Marvin M. Aldrich, Sr. went so far as Nebraska, where he was joined by Pierce. In 1856, the first train across the Mississippi River at Rock Island bridge made going farther west in a single season easier than before. Pierce said he "could not draw the Brighamite elders into a discussion at Council Bluffs" but he called the place "Council Bluff region old mission ground, with a prospect of a larger gathering from there than any former year."(33) On 1 May 1856 a "Bro. Thompson had arrived with a small company from Council Bluff region, with more expected when the spring emigration to that country allows them to sell claims.(34) On 9 May 1856, Joseph T. Pendleton had arrived, with a large amount of flour, meal, horses, cattle, and different persons.(35)

Slide 32 While Strang enjoyed these moderate successes in the United States, most of Brigham Young's emigrants were coming from England and not the old preaching grounds in America. In contrast, Strang's only missionaries to England were Martin Harris, Lester Brooks, and William Capner, who were appointed to go there together on 14 August 1846 and were already returned on 10 February 1847. The announcement that Harris was going to England sent Orson Hyde rushing ahead to preempt him—Hyde took over the Millennial Star and published some twenty-four pages of ridicule and accusations against Strang, Harris, and Brooks—but especially Harris. "It is not the first time the Lord chose a wicked man as a witness," wrote Hyde.(36) He said the British leaders "made Strangism look so contemptibly mean, that Martin publically denied being sent by Strang, or being in any way, connected with him."(37) Actually, church leaders had rejected Harris' message without giving him a chance to speak, and "he went out into the street, and began to proclaim the corruption of the Twelve . . . two policemen came and very gently took hold of each arm and led Martin away to the Lock-up."(38) After returning to America, Harris fell to pieces and claimed that "Joseph went to the devil as soon as he would not let him rule, for the Lord showed him one hundred times as much as he did Joseph."(39) Isaac Haven and his family were the only British emigrants in Voree, and on Beaver Island there was only one English family, an "old bachelor and a widowed sister."(40) Clearly Strang had failed in England—the Mormons in Europe were converted by the Twelve, not a First Presidency.

Slide 33 By that time all Mormon emigration through the states came through New Orleans and up the Mississippi River, bypassing all of Strang's missionaries in the northeast. However, in the 1855-1856 season before Strang's assassination, the Liverpool emigrants began for the first time to land again at New York, Philadelphia, and Boston—with a railroad finally to Iowa, and the rest of their journey by new handcarts. L. D. Tubbs and Lovell Kidder took a mission to Syracuse, Ohio, where they unexpectedly found a company of Mormons from England and Wales, "who had not learned the true way, but were led away after Brigham Young." Most of them "embraced the truth" and emigrated to Beaver Island. The Northern Islander said of them, "We regard their access as the beginning of an excellent work."(41)

Slide 34 Two months later, the Beaver Islanders were given two insurmountable crises—the simultaneous assassination of Strang and banishment from the Great Lakes region—two tribulations which can only be understood by imagining the 1839 expulsion from Missouri and the 1844 martyrdom of Joseph Smith having occurred together. The church did not dwindle, but was scattered instantaneously. Near extinction for the Great Lakes Mormons today is more a result of social happenstance than any merits of Mormon succession claims. Most Mormons did not reject James J. Strang—they simply never heard of him.

Slide 35

 

Partial Endnotes in Preliminary Version

1. Warren Post, Notice! [Council Bluffs, Ia.: 11 March 1855].

2. Lyman Wight and George Miller to the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve, 15 February 1844; Orson Hyde to the Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 25 and 30 April 1844; and Parley P. Pratt to Joseph Smith and the Twelve, 19 April 1844; all in the Joseph Smith Papers.

3. Parley P. Pratt to Joseph Smith and the Twelve, 19 April 1844.

4. Chronicles of Voree, 6-9.

5. The steam route from Sandusky to Racine and Chicago took the Twelve six days. The journey from Florence, Michigan to Sandusky, Ohio was less than a five-day walk for Strang, and allowing a day to arrange for steam boat transportation, it leaving eighteen days unaccounted for.

6. Chronicles of Voee, 50.

7. Zion's Reveille, 2 (14 January 1847): [54-55], Gospel Herald, 3 (15 June 1848): 50.

8. Isaac Paden to Brigham Young, 26 January 1846, Brigham Young Papers. See also Isaac Paden to James J. Strang, 17 May 1846, James J. Strang papers.

9. Chronicles of Voree, 60 and 140.

10. Millennial Star, 6 (15 October 1846): 93.

11. Times and Seasons, 5 (2 September 1844): 631.

12. Personal History of Warren Post, 6.

13. Orson Hyde, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches (Nauvoo, Ill.: 14 March 1846).

14. Willard Richard Diary, 23 February 1846; Brigham Young to Orson Hyde, 16 March 1846, Brigham Young Papers; Journal History, 16 March 1846.

15. Chronicles of Voree, 15 January 1846.

16. Burlington [Iowa] Hawkeye, 12 February 1846.

17. Miller, 1 July 1855.

18. Voree Gospel Herald, 14 June 1849.

19. Biographical Sketch and Diary of Isaac Chauncey Haight, 1813-1862, Copied by the Brigham Young University Library, 1940, 26.

20. Gospel Herald, 3 (15 June 1848): 50, printed on 4 July.

21. Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press and Utah State Historical Society, 1964), 315.

22. Beaver Island Record, 63; and alphabetical census of deaths at Winter Quarters provided by Visitor's Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Florence, Nebraska.

23. Gospel Herald, 4 (29 November 1849): 795.

24. Beaver Island Record, 41.

25. Northern Islander, 8 June 1854.

26. Northern Islander, 16 August 1855.

27. Northern Islander, 17 August 1854; Beaver Island Record, 62; and alphabetical census of deaths at Winter Quarters provided by Visitor's Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Florence, Nebraska.

28. James J. Strang to Warren Post, 16 August 1852.

29. Warren Post to Deborah Post, 21 July 1852.

30. Deborah Post to Warren Post, 10 August 1852.

31. Warren Post to Deborah Post, 28 January 1855.

32. Original manuscript journal, description of item offered for sale by Edward Eberstadt & Sons, 135: 584.

33. Northern Islander, 1 May 1856.

34. Northern Islander, 1 May 1856.

35. Northern Islander, 22 May 1856.

36. Millennial Star, 8 (15 November 1846): 124.

37. Millennial Star, 8 (20 November 1846): 137.

38. Millennial Star, 8 (15 November 1846): 128.

39. Zion's Reveille, 2 (11 March 1847): 36.

40. Gospel Herald, 3 (2 November 1848): 176; Northern Islander, 11 October 1855.

41. Northern Islander, 1 May 1856.
 

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