Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Luman Shurtliff, 1807-1884 and his meeting Hiram Dayton in Kirtland, Ohio

Luman Shurtliff, 1807-1884 Met Hiram Dayton

Autobiography (1807-1847)
"Biographical Sketch of the Life of Luman Andros Shurtliff," typescript, HBLL


We see a journal entry.  

I promised the Lord if he would show me the way and give me knowledge of the true gospel, I would preach it as long as I lived. In the sincerity of my heart, I made this covenant time and again.
One morning in August, 1836, I told my wife I thought I would make a trip to Kirtland, the seat of Mormonism and see if I could find out the truth or falsity of this doctrine from there.
I started on my journey on foot, and when I called on my folks in Franklin and told my relatives that I was going to Kirtland, my folks were silent, except father, and he said he was glad I was going, for Mormonism had troubled me for a long time and he hoped I would be satisfied. This somewhat encouraged me. After I had spent a few days in Franklin, I went to Kirtland.
I was a stranger there except for a Mr. Packard who had been at my house in Franklin, but I knew nothing of where he lived. As I passed the Kirtland Temple, I inquired of some boys for Noah Packard. They said they were his boys and would go with me to their home.
Mr. Packard was gone on a mission. Mrs. Packard was a cousin of mine by marriage, but I had never seen her. She received me very kindly, but as soon as I sat down in the house, I began to feel miserable. A fear or dread came upon me. We had some conversation, and at bedtime she called on me to pray. I had made it my practice not to excuse myself when called upon to perform any act of Christianity. We knelt down and I tried to pray but that prayer I could not finish and could think of nothing. My pride was humbled; this made me feel horrible in the extreme.
Sleep did not trouble me much that night. This was Friday evening.
The next morning I was up early and looked over the city of the Mormons. In the afternoon a funeral sermon was delivered in the temple by Jared Carter, a smart speaker, but I learned nothing in particular. The fact was the horizon of my mind was so obscured by clouds of darkness and doubt of long standing that I could see nothing as I ought.
The evil spirit came upon me and had that power over me that at times I would shake like a man with the ague. At another time I would be standing on some emenance [?] weeping like a whipped child, and knew no reason why; then lost in meditation, wandering about the city like a man of little sense.
While in this situation, my tormentor whispered in my mind and said my little boy Lewis was dead and if I did not go home immediately he would be buried and I would not see him more. I then called to mind that the babe was not quite well the morning I left as usual. This strengthened or confirmed the whispering of that spirit and in spite of all my effort to the contrary, it much troubled my mind.
My leg had been crippled for four years now, and began to trouble me more than common. I stated previously that I did much hunting and killed many deer. In the fall of 1832, one morning when the first snows fell, I walked out to kill a deer and had not walked far when I saw a splendid buck. I shot him and when skinning one of his legs, my knife which was sharp pointed, slipped and the point stuck in the joint of my left knee. Then I thought nothing of it, and when through dressing the deer, I went home in considerable pain.
When I got home my wife said, "You have killed a deer, but I was afraid something had happened to you." I replied, "I killed a deer and crippled myself." Why I said this I did not know; I did not think it would injure me. After this I suffered a great deal and sometimes I would be confined to my bed for weeks together. Every effort to cure it was made but it did no good. Surgeons had decided the knife had tapped the joint and the oil oozed out. At best, I could walk with difficulty.
Well, I was in Kirtland with this leg and it was getting worse fast, and it appeared if I stayed a day or so, I might be obliged to stay some time, and if my boy was dead, I might see him no more.
Thus, Saturday night found me a poor miserable man. Sunday I went to meeting. There I found a man by the name of Hyrum Daton [Hiram Dayton] with whom I had a slight acquaintance some years before. I told him I had come to Kirtland to learn the truth of Mormonism, and I had learned nothing new. I should return tomorrow and trouble my head no more about Mormonism. Yet, I would like to see and have a chat with some of the leading men before I left. Mr. Daton [Dayton] kindly offered to go with me to Brother David Whitmer and give me an introduction to him. As all of the higher officers were absent, I thought this would be my best way of learning what I wanted to know, and as Mr. Whitmer was one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, I thought I could learn something.
We walked to Mr. Whitmer's. I got the necessary introduction and took dinner and spent the afternoon in hearing him relate things about the angel showing him the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. I also asked him all the questions I had a wish to ask. I had read and heard it all and learned nothing new.
When tired of sitting, we walked out to where we could overlook the flats, where I told him briefly in as few words as possible, my belief and unbelief. I said I did believe the gospel they preached as far as I read it in the Bible, but I could not say that I believed that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a true prophet of God for I did not. Neither did I believe the Book of Mormon to be a revelation from God for I did not. Then facing him I said, "Now you know what I believe and what I do not believe, and if you think I am a fit subject for baptism, I am ready to go to the water; if not, I intend to start home tomorrow and never trouble my head any more about Mormonism."
Mr. Whitmer was silent a few seconds and then replied, "I will go to the water and baptize you or get one of my quorum to do it." On the way to the river, he called on Sylvester Smith and at sunset Sunday, August 21, 1836, I was baptized a member of the Church. David Whitmer confirmed me.
I felt very comfortable and at ease. I slept well that night and in the morning I went to the office and bought a Book of Mormon and started home. I had not traveled far when my leg became worse and the pain severe. I had to walk slow. Upon reflection I saw it must be three or four days before I could get home, and if my boy was sick, he might die.
I knew my neighbors would ask me questions a soon as I got home, and what could I tell them? I could tell them I had been baptized and confirmed a member of the Church and what evidence have I obtained more than I had years ago? Not any. Have I received the Holy Ghost since I was baptized? No. No more than when I was baptized before. Did I believe the Book of Mormon? No. No more than I did four years ago. Do I believe that Joseph Smith, Jr. is a prophet of God? No, I do not. At this I was shocked at my situation and began to call on the Lord in earnest.
While I was praying, something came on my head resembling cold water and passed gradually down through my whole system, removing all pain, and made me a sound man from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.
As soon as this was passed, I heard a sweet melodious voice about me say, "Joseph Smith, Jr. is a prophet of the Most High God, raised up for the restoration of Israel in these last days, and the Book of Mormon which you hold under your arm is true and brought forth for the restoration of the scattered remnants of Jacob."
As this passed off, I cast my eyes to the south. A little way from me I saw my wife standing with my little boy sitting on her left arm with the right arm on her left shoulder and with her right hand pointing to me as if she was saying, "See father, there is father." They both were well and all right. This passed, I was in the road, a sound man, praising God.
After a few miles I began to think what I would say to my neighbors when I got home. I would tell them I knew the Mormon doctrine was true and I had seen and knew much and could do something great. I did not look to God for his aid and help but was boasting in my knowledge and strength. A disagreeable feeling began to come over me and when I comprehended the boasting spirit I had received, I humbled myself before God and after some time, obtained forgiveness and by this learned a useful lesson.
On arriving home, I found all well and I thanked God continually for his forbearance and great mercy and long suffering in sparing my life to the present time, even after I had rejected the testimony that I had asked of him and at last, after four years, condescended to make known to me the trust of that great work, healed my body that I might labor in this great work. Thanks be to God for his goodness to me!
My neighbors were as still as a summer's morning. I had been a cripple there with them three years and they knew and saw it. I was now among them, sound and a healthy man. I was weighed down with sorrow and fettered with affliction. I now rejoiced in the Lord and my soul was full of joy, and my neighbors seemed to mourn.

The middle of September [1836], myself and family went to Franklin on a visit. While there, Brother Noah Packard came and my wife, Eunice was baptized on the 20th of September, 1836, and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the forepart of December [1836] I felt anxious to go to Kirtland. For several days, it bore heavily on my mind. About the 10th of December, I started and when I arrived, I found there was to be a conference of elders on the 15th. On the 14th I was in the temple and had some conversation with Father Smith, the Prophet's father.

On the 15th of December [1836] I attended the elder's conference. In the evening, my name was called for an ordination. Father Smith asked if the candidate was a brother he conversed with in the [Kirtland] temple the day before, if so ordain him. I replied, "I saw him in the temple yesterday." Joseph, the Prophet said, "Ordain him, and send him home to preach in his neighborhood." I was ordained an elder about 10 o'clock that night by the presidency of the elder's quorum.

On my return home I called at my brother Selah's. I tried to teach him Mormonism but he forbade it. I then called on my wife's brother, Lester Gaylord, and gave them instructions which were gladly received. After a few hours, I left them and before I saw them again, they were baptized.

That evening I took supper at a cousin's of mine, had a cup of tea which I drank freely. The next morning I was quite unwell but started home. I grew worse fast and had a sick day but did not know the cause. Near night it came to my mind that I should keep the Word of Wisdom, which I had not done and that was the cause of my sickness. When I understood this, I humbled myself before God and asked his forgiveness. I soon got well and resolved in my mind I would keep the Word of Wisdom henceforth, which I have done strictly since.

On the 8th of January, 1837, I started out to preach the gospel in my neighborhood in Sullivan, Lorain County. This I did on every occasion possible. I conversed with and taught the principles of the gospel of my friends, neighbors, and relatives. I attended religious gatherings called by ministers of other churches and called some meetings myself. On these occasions, I frequently got an opportunity to speak on Mormonism. I converted and baptized many persons.

In the spring of 1837, I felt the spirit of gathering, but not to Kirtland, for I did not wish to go there, but my mind was to gather with the Saints in Missouri. I offered my farm for sale and soon found that by dividing it and selling it to three different men and dividing the amount into three yearly payments, I could sell immediately, which I did, and sold my stock and other property at auction on a credit of six months. My object in selling on credit was that I could sell for more, and so could go to Missouri and make a permanent home. After I settled up my affairs I bought a village lot with a house on it and some fruit trees, for which I was to lay brick. I moved into it with the intention of working at brick laying summers, and in the winters make boots and shoes and trade in any property I could make a profit on to support my family, and when my money was collected for my farm and stock, move my family to Missouri.
I planted my lot to garden vegetables, hired my cow pastured and went to work laying brick.
There were no brick layers in town except myself so I had most of the work to do. There was plenty of lumber, but no rock in this country and good facilities for making brick. Men wishing to build good houses would dig into the earth about six feet, and the size of the house, then put in one story of brick, using this story for kitchens, cellars, butries, etc., raising it two or three feet above the top of the earth, then putting on a frame at any height they chose, beginning their chimneys on the bottom of the cellar and running up 40 or 50 feet with two or three tiers of fireplaces in one chimney. I had all the work I could do and was very happy.

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