Letter from Orson Hyde, 28 September 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

N. J. Sept. 28, 1840.
Dear Brethren.
I left at the latter part of August, and came on up the Ohio river as far as Wellsburgh, Va. I stopped with father James, who received and entertained me with great kindness and hospitality. He and his daughter, a very fine amiable young lady, were keeping house together; and very pleasantly situated on the delightful banks of the beautiful Ohio. Here I preached twice and three persons.— Had a very pleasant visit with a brother of ’s; came on by stage and Steam Boats to : from thence took the canal to Leechburgh, where I stopped and preached to a small number of saints, raised up by the instrumentality of father Nickerson—all in good spirits. As I left this place, about 9 o’clock in the morning, the most remarkable phenomenon occured in the heavens that I ever witnessed. There appeared two bright and luminous bodies, one on the north, and the other on the south side of the sun: in length about ten yards, inclining to a circle resembling a Rainbow, about fifty yards distant from the sun; apparently east of the sun, about twenty-five yards, was a body of light as briliant, almost, as the sun itself; and on the west, a great distance from the sun, appeared a white simi-circle passing half way round the horizon, and another crossing it at right angles, exhibiting a scenery of the sublimest kind. It was a great wonder to the passengers on board the boat. Put this with the fact that the Jews are [p. 104 [204]] home, and also, that all Europe is in commotion, and on the eve of breaking out in open hostilities; and also, the tree of liberty which has long flourished in the Republican soil of , has been girdled, and her green foliage which has shielded and protected the sons of oppression from the scorching rays of despotic power, already begins to wither like the accursed fig-tree. What language do these speak to the saints? “lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth near.”
I came on and met with the saints in , Pa. and labored there about one week with , where we added six to their number.— is a kind hearted faithful laborer in the vineyard, his blessings are great. As the evening Sunbeams tinge the distant landscapes with a golden hue, so his name shall reflect honor upon those with whom he may be connected in the bonds of the covenant. is a good yoke-fellow with him. I preached about one week in and twelve.— Came on to this place with brothers and and held a two days meeting at which sixteen were baptized, baptism administered by . There is truly a great prospect here.— If three or four , like unto Br. , could be sent here, great good would undoubtedly be done. would be welcomed by hundreds to this country again, will he not come? It requires good faithful and able men here, and every where else. Br. Ivins will give you more particulars about the people in this country. I shall return to in a few days where I expect to meet , and then, if the Lord will, after holding a few meetings in this country, we shall proceed on to , there take ship and sail over the seas. We were in hopes of sailing earlier: but it has been impossible to get away from the people any sooner. I have a great desire that some able defenders of the faith, should be sent into this country. There are many populous towns and cities here, and we want men who are able to stand up and declare the whole counsel of God.
I have preached this day to a large audience in the woods. At our meeting was an old gentleman who accused me of lying in my preaching, and interrupted the discourse. He was so badly intoxicated that he could not tell a lie from a bottle of rum. He was soon taken off the ground by the civil authority. Here we had a fair specimen of the depravity of that spirit and heart that oppose the work of God. The minister in the pulpit, the profane person, the thief, the liar, and the drunkard wallowing in filth and mire, all join to put down the truth and accuse the servants of the Lord of lying, etc. What an honorable, worthy and pious company, they, all actuated by one spirit, serving one Master, traveling the same road, and going to the same hell!! If ever there was a time when the trump of repentance ought to be sounded in the ears of sectarian priests and drunkards, it is now. But the day is at hand when these agents of the lower house” will be called in, and the truth of Heaven roll forth in glory and fill the whole earth. Roll on thy kingdom, O Lord! Hasten thou the day when truth shall triumph in the earth. Brethren, God bless you all. pray for us, and we will do the same for you.
Farewell.
. [p. 105 [205]]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Possibly Lewis James, a Wellsburg, Virginia, resident and a member of the church who had served a proselytizing mission in Pennsylvania in June. Alternatively, Hyde may have stayed with William James and his daughter Eliza, who also lived in Wellsburg. (Snow, Journal, 28 Apr. 1840, 74–75; “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:206; Erastus Snow, Nauvoo, IL, 31 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:221; 1840 U.S. Census, Wellsburg, Brooke Co., VA, 229; Reader, Diary, [2]; Reader, Autobiography, 2.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.

    Reader, Samuel James. Diary, 1853–1913. Samuel James Reader, Papers, 1853–1914. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka. Portions available at kshs.org.

    Reader, Samuel. Autobiography, 1849–1864. Samuel James Reader, Papers, 1853–1914. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka. Available at kshs.org.

  2. 2

    Probably Carvel Rigdon, who lived in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. (1840 U.S. Census, Upper St. Clair Township, Allegheny Co., PA, 128.)  

    Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.

  3. 3

    The church branch in Leechburgh, Pennsylvania, reported between thirty and forty members “in good standing” at a conference in Chester County on 18 July 1840. (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:206.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  4. 4

    Probably Freeman Nickerson, who spent winter 1838–1839 in Pennsylvania while moving west with his family. (Historian’s Office, Obituary Notices of Distinguished Persons, 1854–1872, 45–46.)  

    Historian’s Office. Obituary Notices of Distinguished Persons, 1854–1872. CHL. MS 3449.

  5. 5

    Hyde was referring to escalating European tensions relating to the Egyptian-Ottoman War. Over the preceding decades, Muhammad (Mehmet) Ali Pasha of Egypt had been continually expanding his control of Ottoman territory through successive military campaigns. By 1840 the Ottoman Empire was on the brink of total defeat by Muhammad Ali, and on 15 July 1840, Britain, Russia, Prussia, and the Austrian Empire signed a treaty called the Convention of London. This treaty offered support to the Ottoman Empire provided that Muhammad Ali accept permanent control of Egypt, Sudan, and the Eyalet of Acre and that these territories remain officially part of the Ottoman Empire. Disagreement within the European nations about how to handle the situation, in addition to the threat of France entering the conflict in support of Muhammad Ali, resulted in the tensions Hyde described. After Muhammad Ali refused to accept the terms of the treaty, British and Austrian military forces moved against Muhammad Ali’s troops in Syria and Alexandria in September 1840—shortly before Hyde wrote this letter. (Bartle, “Bowring and the Near Eastern Crisis of 1838–1840,” 761–774; Karsh and Karsh, Empires of the Sand, 36–38.)  

    Bartle, G. F. “Bowring and the Near Eastern Crisis of 1838–1840.” English Historical Review 79, no. 313 (Oct. 1964): 761–774.

    Karsh, Efraim, and Inari Karsh. Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789–1923. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

  6. 6

    See Matthew 21:19–21.  

  7. 7

    See Luke 21:28.  

  8. 8

    Probably the Brandywine branch of the church—located in West Nantmeal, Chester County, Pennsylvania—where Lorenzo Barnes presided over a conference on 18 July 1840. The Brandywine branch was a large congregation, reporting 107 members “in good standing.” (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:206.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  9. 9

    In September 1838, Barnes was appointed by the high council at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, to serve a mission to the southern and eastern United States. He built up the branch of the church in Chester County in 1839 and 1840. (JS History, vol. B-1, addenda, 7; Lorenzo Barnes, Wilmington, DE, 8 Sept. 1839, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:27–28; Lorenzo Barnes, Philadelphia, PA, 5 May 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, June 1840, 1:117.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  10. 10

    Snow left Nauvoo on 28 April 1840 for a proselytizing mission to the eastern United States. He returned to Nauvoo by the end of October 1840. (Erastus Snow, Nauvoo, IL, 31 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:221.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  11. 11

    Hyde described these baptisms of sixteen new church members as occurring in “this place,” implying Burlington County, from where he was writing the letter. However, Snow recorded in his journal that he “went with elders Orson Hyde and Barns to cream rid[g]e Monmouth Co New Jersey where we held a meeting 3 days and baptised 16 persons.” (Snow, Journal, 1838–1841, 91.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

  12. 12

    James began his proselytizing mission on 15 May 1839 and spent at least the next four months traveling through the eastern United States, primarily in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and also in Pennsylvania and New York. (Samuel James, ca. 9 Aug. 1839, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:44–45; John P. Greene, Monmouth Co., NJ, 10 Sept. 1839, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:28.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  13. 13

    Probably Charles or James Ivins, brothers who lived in New Jersey. Charles was a member of a committee to raise funds in the area to assist with church publications. (Parley P. Pratt et al., New York City, NY, to “the Church of Jesus Christ,” Commerce, IL, 19 Feb. 1840, in Times and Seasons, Mar. 1840, 1:70–71.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  14. 14

    Hyde apparently returned to Chester County, where he had spent a week prior to traveling to Philadelphia. Edward Hunter later reported being baptized by Hyde at his home in West Nantmeal on 8 October 1840. (Hunter, Edward Hunter, 52–53.)  

    Hunter, William E. Edward Hunter: Faithful Steward. [Salt Lake City]: Mrs. William E. Hunter, 1970.

  15. 15

    Five days earlier, Page wrote that he believed Hyde was already in New York. (Letter from John E. Page, 23 Sept. 1840.)  

  16. 16

    At a “Special Conference” of the church in Nauvoo in April 1842, during which Page was reprimanded for separating from Hyde and therefore not journeying with him to Europe and the Holy Land, Page said that the original plan was to set sail on 25 July 1840 but that local church members pressured Hyde and Page to linger, delaying their departure. (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1842, 3:761–762.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  17. 17

    In a letter dated 31 October 1840, Snow wrote of the local population’s interest in hearing sermons: “Calls for preaching are very numerous, and indeed, all eastern Pennsylvania is literally crying out ‘come and help us,’ ‘send us preachers,’ &c. and on the other side of the Delaware it is the same. Prospects are very flattering through all that country.” (Erastus Snow, Nauvoo, IL, 31 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:221.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.