Mormon History

Ezra Booth Letter #5 - 1831

The Ohio Star - November 10, 1831


              Nelson, Portage Co. Nov. 7, 1831.


In my last letter I gave you a faint representation of the event which transpired, and the circumstances which attended the meeting of the Mormonite Conference. Though many stumbled, yet none irrecoverably fell. Another grand object was presented, and the attention was somewhat diverted from those scenes of disappointment, through which we had recently passed. The tour to Missouri revived the sinking expectations, and gave new energy to faith and hope. In that distant region, anticipation was to be realized in full, and the objects of faith, and hope, were to become the objects of knowledge and fruition. A commandment was received, and Elders were directed to take their journey for the "promised land." They were commanded to go two by two, with the exception of Smith, Rigdon, Harris, and Partridge; and it was designed that these should find an easier method of transporting themselves, than to travel that distance on foot. They were careful to make suitable provision for themselves, both in money and other articles, that while on their journey, they might carry the appearance of gentlemen filling some important stations in life: while many, who were destined to travel on foot with packs upon their backs, were so fired with the ardor of enthusiasm, that they supposed they could travel to Missouri, with but little or no money. These carried the appearance, and were justly entitled to the character of beggars, for when the little money they took with them was expended, they subsisted by begging, until they arrived to their journey's end.

Being myself one of the number selected to perform the journey by land, and not being much accustomed to travel on foot, I hesitated for a while; but believing it to be the will of God, I resolved on an unreserved surrender of myself to the work, and on the 15th of June, in company with the one appointed to travel with me, took up my line of march for Missouri. I do not design to trouble you with a relation of particulars, but will observe, that after I left the north part of the State of Ohio, I made a speedy and a prosperous journey to Missouri. I preached twice in Ohio, thrice in Indiana, once in Illinois, and once in Missouri. We were commanded to preach by the spirit, and my impressions were, that farther to the westward, I should enjoy more of the spirit's influence; and though I travelled one thousand miles to the west, my anticipations, in this respect, were never realized. I seldom ever proclaimed Mormonism with that liberty, which I enjoyed in my public exercises, while a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. I supposed that at some future time, the spirit would endow me with the power to preach with an unusual degree of liberty. That period has never arrived, and I am persuaded it never will, and I now sincerely desire the spirit of truth to direct my pen, while I endeavor to expose the errors and absurdities of the system I then advocated.

When we arrived at the place to which our mission destined us, we perceived, to our mortification, that disappointment, instead of being confined to the State of Ohio, had journeyed thither, and had arrived before us. We would gladly here have avoided an interview with this, our old companion; but this was impossible, she met us, and stared us in the face which way soever we turned, nor was it possible to look her out of countenance, or put the blush upon her pallid features, or expel her from our society. Some were for making the best of her they could; but for myself, I resolved that she should be expelled, or at any rate, that her visits should be less frequent, or I would abandon the habitation entirely.

When we commenced our journey for Missouri, we expected an "effectual door" would be opened, to proclaim the new system of faith, in that region; and that those who were ordained to the gift of tongues, would have an opportunity to display their supernatural talent, in communicating to the Indians, in their own dialect. Some who were ordained to this office, absolutely knew that through this medium, they should gain access to the Natives, and I will venture to say, I know, that their success will be similar to that of their predecessor, Oliver Cowdrey, who stated that he was endowed with the same foreknowledge. But the event has proved his presumption false. For more than two weeks, while I remained there, the disposition of the Elders appeared to be averse to preaching, either to the white or red people, and indeed, adverse circumstances prevented it.

We expected to assemble together in conference, according to commandment, and the Lord would signally display his power, for the confirmation of our faith; but we commenced our journey home, before most of the Elders arrived. It is true, a conference was held, but it was considered so unimportant, that myself and another man were permitted to be absent, for the purpose of procuring the means of conveyance down the river. We expected to find a large Church, which Smith said, was revealed to him in a vision, Oliver had raised up there. This large Church was found to consist of three or four females.

We expected to witness the exercise of those miraculous gifts, to which some were ordained while in the State of Ohio. But the same difficulty, the same want of faith among the people, which counteracted them here, prevailed there; consequently, no miracles could be wrought. We expected to see the foundation of the City and Temple laid; and this we were permitted to see, and it was in fact a curiosity, but not worth going to Missouri to witness. The honor of consecrating the land, &c. was conferred on Mr. Rigdon. The commandment reads thus: "let my servant Sidney consecrate and dedicate the land, and the spot for the Temple" -- again, "Behold I give unto my servant Sidney a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known to him by the spirit, and a subscription to be presented to the Churches, to obtain money to purchase lands, for an inheritance for the children of God: for behold the Lord willeth that his Disciples, and the children of men should open their hearts, to purchase this whole region of country, lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood." The childish exultation of the Mormonite leaders, while they echoed and re-echoed, "the Lord has given us this whole region of country;" "this whole region of country is ours;" when it was manifest, agreeable to the commandment, that the gift was only to be obtained, by purchasing it with money at a dear rate, and that, in order to save themselves the trouble of "the shedding of blood," would, under other circumstances, have been truly diverting. But when viewing it as an instance of a deep-laid scheme, and the cunning artifice of crafty impostors, designed to allure the credulous and the unsuspecting, into a state of unqualified vassalage, it presented a melancholy picture of the direful depravity of the human heart, while destitute of those virtues, inculcated in the Gospel of the blessed Redeemer.

It was conjectured by the inhabitants of Jackson County, that the Mormonites, as a body are wealthy, and many of them entertain fears, that next December, when the list of the land is exposed for sale, they will out-bid others, and establish themselves as the most powerful body in the County. But they may dismiss their fears in this respect; for the Mormonites as a body, are comparatively poor, and destined so to remain, until they pursue a different course as it relates to economy and industry, from what they have hitherto pursued. There were ten families, which came by water, landed there the day on which I arrived; and all the land which the Bishop said they had means to purchase, was less than thirty acres to the family; and thirty acres in that country, is little enough for wood and timber land; as fifteen acres upon an average here, are worth thirty there. Neither need they fear that the Mormonites, were they so disposed, will obtain the possession of their lands "by shedding of blood," until the spirit selects more courageous leaders than Smith and Rigdon.

Yours affectionately,                     
                                      EZRA BOOTH.