Autobiography of Levi Hancock, 1803-1882
My father, Thomas Hancock, born 20 Nov. 1763, son of Thomas Hancock and Jemima Wright. My mother Amy Ward was born Feb 29, 1769, daughter of General Jacob Ward and Irene Jones.
|Elijah||born 21, Sept. 1786|
|Thomas||born 25, Jan. 1788|
|Clarissa||born 3, Sept. 1790|
|Alvah||born 19, Apr. 1796|
|Solomon||born 15, Aug. 1793|
|Joseph||born 18, Mar. 1800|
|Levi W.||born 7, Apr. 1803|
|Sarah (Sally)||born 18, June 1805|
|Amy||(lived only 2 years; died 9 Sept 1809)|
I was born in the town of Old Springfield, Massachusetts, on the seventh day of April in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and three. I was the seventh child of Thomas and Amy Hancock.
My father started from York state with his wife and seven children and settled down in what was called Bristol, and stayed there two years. We then moved to Pitts town where we stayed for one year. He worked for a Mr. Allcotts, later going to a Mr. Perry in the same town, in Ontario County.
The first of my remembrance is back to the summer of 1805, a man by the name of Poas took me on his lap and opened the spelling book and showed me the round letters and I said they were O8’s. This could have been baby talk but the man thought I was smart.
At the age of four I began to call upon the Lord seriously. My mother was a praying woman and trusted the Lord to hear and answer her prayers. She often told me I must love God, or he would let the devil have me; this would frighten me so much I could not sleep nights. I would have her tell me about the damned souls in Hell and how they had to be in a lake of fire and they could not die. This wrought such a serious impression upon my mind I was likely to be distracted before I made it known, at last I broke out after I had laid all night without sleep and said, “Mother, must I die?” “Yes,” she said. Then I said, “I wish I had not been made.” “Why?” said mother. I said, “Because I am afraid I shall not be saved.” “Oh my goodness,” said an old woman sitting in the corner, “can it be possible that a child at the age of four thinks on future state and I now so far advanced in life and just ready to fall in the grave, I scarcely ever thought of God. What will become of me?” Much was said concerning me and my attitude toward the Lord.
Soon after this we moved a short distance into Bloomfield, to my brother-in-laws, Samuel Alger, my father had gotten home from his farm and moved us all here in Ontario Country, the town of Wolcott, is fifty miles in the country, joining in Lake Ontario. In the fall he returned while mother was milking the cows and said he had bought a small farm near my uncle Ward Jacobs and would move there in the winter following. I was in my fifth year.
We made preparation for moving and at the appointed time started out by staying at Samuel Alger’s. My father prepared to take the near cut and cross the Bays on the ice, as it was near the last of December and very cold. We got to Big Sadus and then put up for the night. Next morning Father took an ax and went to try the ice ahead of the team. We came near the bank and in went the sleigh, how excited we all were, we came very near losing it. We saw men on the bank looking at us and at that time, I remember my thoughts, “If you were like my father you would come and help get this sleigh out and onto land.” But father being very active worked with the teamster and soon unloaded us children and a few other things to make the load lighter so as to be able to get it out and ascend to the bank. It wasn’t long until we came to a house and for the first time in my life I saw some negroes. There were three or four. One black man was called Saul and a women called Caroline were owned by a Mr. Adams. I used to like to hear Saul talk. He would motion how he had to suffer with the cold and how his master would abuse him. He wished he had been white as I was and my brother Joseph. Saul’s master died and he used to tell us, “He had gone down but that he was going up.”
We stayed at his place until about the middle of winter when Silas Munsel, who had married my cousin, Dolly Ward, came and moved us to my uncle Jacob Wards, here we remained until spring. We then moved onto a farm my father had rented of a man by the name of Woodruff. It was here that we all took sick with the Ague and fever. It was during this time when we were all in the house, which was made of round logs, the door facing west, we were aroused by the sound of a noise like a musket being shot at the north west corner of the house, we all ran to see what it was and nothing could be seen. One week from that day my father’s mother died. It was said by all that this noise must have been the sign of her death. However, my father was stripped of his tender mother, who had brought up three sons. Two had fallen in the Revolutionary War. My father was the youngest. He went to enlist and gave his name to fight for his country. “How, can I spare my last son,” cried my grandmother, “he is all my dependance.” Now the news went to General Washington and in his kindness he said, “I cannot rob her of her remaining son. Here take the boy you have done enough.” I learned of this from my parents.
Since my grandmother’s death, which was about the time of green roasting corn, A.D. 1809, many a time have I been to her grave, upon top of a high hill, under a green Beech tree which leans over her grave west. I think of her when alive and how she used to say, “come Levi, let’s take the basket and go get some chips.” I was near her height when I was six years and four months old. It was said, that she was the smallest woman in stature known in the country round and about. And I often heard it remarked, “although she is so small, she had been mother to good stout men.” I know my father was strong for he has been known to stand in a half bushel and throw 1/2 bushel of wheat on his back. It was once proved to me for I saw him do it as he tended the grist mill. He was 5 feet nine inches high, very large about the bust, dark eyes, black hair and rarely ever known to lose his temper. Indeed he was called the best dispositioned man in all the country. Three times he was obliged to fight, never was whipped once in the city of Boston. He fought a sailor, a boxer and called the bully of three rebels, who had challenged the place. My father was known to be the stoutest man then so fight he must. He said “No, I will treat,” offering the glass, it was knocked out of my fathers hand by the sailor. The third blow my father gave him, he gave up, whipped.
Then one time he was struck in a store or struck at by a man who got his pay on the spot. The next time he was in a tavern where a fellow threw my uncle out the door, then said to my father “now you must go. . .” “No,” said my father, “I hired this room for the night.” But the man said, “you shall go”, and took a hold of him when the squabble began. He brought my father to the floor but soon found himself whipped hoarsely. This statement came from those acquainted with father, for he would never tell what he had done for he didn’t like to hear a man boast or brag.
Now to return to the year of 1809 while we were living at the Woodruff house, as we called it. My grandmother had been dead a few days, my baby sister was very sick with the fever. Father and mother were sitting by the bed pondering in their hearts what course to take to obtain a comfortable living for their children when their attention was aroused by the sound of three strokes made on the floor. It was like a whip stalk laid on the floor, heavy, three times. “There,” said mother, “one more from the family must go.” In three days our baby sister Amy died, on September, 1809 just two years and one day old. I tried to follow them to the grave to bury her but couldn’t go for I had the Ague and fever, so I sat down on the ground to rest a while before trying to go back to the house. After sometime down on the ground I finally made it back and laid down on the bed, where I stayed until I was better.
The Presbyterian Minister preached the funeral sermon. When he first saw the baby my mother said to him, “I want you to tell me what you think about the child? Do you think she will be saved?”
The minister said, “I cannot tell, it depends wholly on this, has it been baptized or not?” Mother said, “I have not had a chance to have it done.” He said “Amen,” “The state of your child is very uncertain.” At these words, my mother’s countenance fell. Mother was broken hearted and took to the Bible reading most of the time. She was sick from the shock of this minister. Mother was unable to keep house, so father did the cooking and my brother, Solomon tried to do the washings. I remember one time he put some flannels into some lye as mother did the linens and cottons, he boiled them all to soap. It taught him a lesson not to boil woolens in lye.
About this time my father moved on his farm where he had cleared off a small piece and sowed it to timothy grass. Here he and his boys went to work. I was only seven years old at this time and as was the custom, I was put to be out in the spring, to help out all I could. Mother was still ill and father had to do most of the work as well as go half a mile to his work, there labor all day and then to go home at night to help.
In the year 1810 mother got some better and would talk to me of Jesus Christ. (I would hear observations about the Presbyterian minister whose name was Benjamin Bell.) I recollect one day I said, “It was a pity that there had not been a (Zebub) put to the end of his name, which caused quite a laugh.
Just before I went to live out, I had a curious dream: One night before going to bed Mother and I had been discussing the Bible and the teaching of Jesus. I dreamed He came to me and said He was my Lord and presented me with a white decanter and said, “drink of this, it is for you.” It appeared to be white liquid matter and when I tasted it, it ran through me like oil and filled me with the love of God until I felt so satisfied. It cast out all fear of death. I looked and saw a dark colored bottle in his other hand, and I asked him if he would let me taste of it. He handed it to me but I only took a drop for it was the most bitter of anything I had ever tasted or heard of. I awoke with a start and found it only a dream. I told mother and she told the other boys. “Oh, the little Christian,” said one. “There goes a little Christian,” said another. For awhile they tormented me over and over. For awhile I didn’t understand what they meant and supposed they were calling me something mean. I got mad and asked what they meant. “Why, you have got religion,” said one. “You lie,” said I, “you have got all my good feelings,” and then fled.
About this time father gave me a whipping for the first time. I had taken a board he had hewed out and had sawed it and made a swinging board. Father had other plans of making me a sled without my knowledge. He inquired about the board, and one of the boys said I had made a swinging board out of it. He took a little stick and gave me three blows. It grieved me so I wouldn’t show up until night. By short breath I thought I deserved it and would try not to offend him again.
My mother grew worse and I was put out to a man by the name of Eliason Tupper and his wife Lucy. The winter now is past and spring has come at last, the flowers and grass are beginning to show and are beautiful. Again I must change my home, about the first of May my brother Solomon came and got me and I went to live with them where I was received kindly. One of the young men tried to scare me by saying he would open my neck as I had caught cold and had a bad cough. They would not let me lay down when I was sick, so I grieved and wished I was back home with my father. I sat up until I was well and he sent me to school to Miss Polly Woodruff long enough to learn the letters. I had to do all the chores in the fall. They let me go home for awhile then I came back and chopped all his firewood through the winter all but the large logs. Sometimes I would be sent on errands near my fathers place and I would have to stop and see him. It would seem like the sun would go down as fast again as any other time. The man would need me and give me the beech rod, but the next time I was sent close to home I would stop and see Father but I would not stop long as I knew I should get a whipping.
After winter I had to go and trim the hemlocks where the man was chopping trees until the summer came, when I had better times and he moved back on his old farm. After he had finished his job of clearing the land that he had taken of Mr. Johnathan Melvin, the richest man in the place at that time. It has now gotten to be warm weather and in the year of 1811 about this time there began to be considerable said about the war. It was said that the British had been fighting one of the American Rebels and the United States was going to war. The name of the American Rebel was “Littlebelt” and war was the cry all season.
The president’s message demanding the United States to put into armor and attitude demanded by the criers and corresponding with the National spirit and respectation was the cry and soon came the news of some battles that had been fought. Men who witnessed when the battle was over, that the imagination cannot conceive the awful spectacle presented on board the ships. Bloody limbs and men dead or dying, some groaning and screaming in distress. This produced a terror in some minds, while some were boasting what the Americans could do. Those battles took place on or about the year 1811.
Winter came cold and dreary. I then had returned to my father’s house, my mother had been sent to my sister Clarrisa’s who had married some six years ago to a Mr. Samuel Alger. Mother was getting better and soon returned home and all things looked flourishing. Spring came with all its loveliness.
My mother used to pray a great deal and one night she came to my room and said, “I shall never have to worry again.” “Why?” asked father. “The Lord has made it known to me,” she said. “How did he make it known to you,” my father questioned her. “I went out after it had thundered and lightened, I asked the Lord to let a certain light appear on the ground in a certain place, if all was well with my child, and it came and then went away. Then appeared again. I asked if she was saved to show it again. It came as I desired so I know all is well and I shall never worry again.”
Mother then stated many things she remembered. While in Bloomfield a man tried to force her and she fought him with all her might. My brother Thomas heard of this and swore he would nearly kill him and what he did with him I never knew.
All summer nothing was heard of but war with Britain. We heard that Thomas had enlisted and was marching toward Kingston, sorrow and dismay was depicted in many families. Bad news came of how Hull had surrendered to the British. We all kept at our labors through the summer and in the fall we heard that the Americans were taken prisoners, and that my brother Thomas was among them. The battle was on the 12th of October, 1812.
Soon there came news that the British had landed at Port Bay. The people were called to go and defend the place.
My father played the fife. Andrew Woodruff played the drums. Our merchant by the name of Obadiah Adams said he would furnish provisions, whiskey and team and follow after them.
Father played the tune called “Baltimore” the British retreated and there was no fight. Father came home with the rest of the people and said the merchant didn’t go after all and wouldn’t give them liquor. The people were quite angry, I learned. The soldiers had marched all day without any refreshments.
About this time my uncle Jacob Ward and Silas Munsel sold their farms and moved about one mile and half west. They began to improve their land, working long hard hours. I went to Bristol to live. My father continued to live on our first farm and in the fall I returned and remained for awhile. I decided to study surgery and become a doctor and went to live where I could go to school. But for some cause my father called me home where I remained during the war winter. During this winter I made mortar and mended the doctors house so he lived well for the winter. He gave me a little along but as he was about as destitute as I was it was very little.
In 1813 Father had taken a job clearing land for Mr. Odgood Church. There was ten acres and he got $12.00 an acre. It was about two miles from home. Solomon, Alvah and Joseph helped Father and I had to carry their dinner every day when it was not too cold. Provisions were scarce and when they had gotten the chopping done, they had to work at home. Spring was again here so part of the time he worked on our farm and the rest of the time we worked at long railing.
This summer my father gave Alvah, Joseph and myself a small piece of land each, to see which could raise the most and take the best care of it. We all raised a good crop and secured it well calculating to sell it and get us something to please our notions but for some cause the colts got into my corn and covered it with their dung. One day there came a young man in the house to inquire about some corn. I told him I had a new kind of corn I would sell him. He wanted to know what kind. I told him I called it cold corn. By this time Father began to laugh. The man wondering what it was all about. When father told him he had a hearty laugh too. After this for a long time when I met anyone I was asked if I had sold all of my new kind of corn.
That summer while we were all making hay I heard a man call “Uncle Tom” meaning father, as most everyone called him “Uncle Tom”, who knew him, both old and young. The second time he called “Uncle Tom”, father looked up and lo and behold, there was a Mr. Stratten, one of our old neighbors who lived in Bristol, Ontario County. I have brought Thomas along said he . . . no person can imagine how we all felt except those who have experienced the same thing. We dropped our work and ran to him, as tickled as a puppy. We got hold of him, father could hardly speak. . .Mother took hold of his hand. “Why Thomas, you are alive. We heard you were dead. I never expected to see you again.” Then Father began to inquire about the war. Under all the excitement he told us all how he came to enlist and was forced to camp over into Canada and fight. He had been taken prisoner and had sailed down the Lake Ontario then down the St. Lawrence into the Atlantic, then to the United States and exchanged. He said he was tired of war. He told of his narrow escape from the Indians before he was taken. He had brought along a lovely looking wife about sixteen years old. He also had his violin he called “Bostonrattle.” All men who heard him play said they never heard such music. He had the touch of the master. All his tales filled us with horror of war. We had heard the cannons on Lake Ontario and I think in the month of August following there was considerable skirmishing.
My father had now finished the job of clearing the land and we could rest a little. Although our farm was not paid for, a man by the name of David Earn offered to swap land with us. He had the same number of acres and equally as good. Father made the trade and agreed to leave in the winter.
The war continued and near the first of October perhaps the fifth, Commodore Chancy fought and took seven of the British Squadron. I heard the cannons roar through the hold action. This is all the battles I heard except when Osweg was burned which was about 14 miles off. Often the news would come different actions by sea and land until winter closed the scene.
We now prepared to change our place and leave the land we had labored to clear in order to see our food. It was here I had spent many joyful days with the children. I stood by the window and saw my uncle Jacob Ward’s house in the Thunderstorm knocked down by lightning. In a few days my uncle left there, and soon after I had the pleasing dream and tasted the white oil from that white decanter from the lovely hand of the person who presented it.
In January 1813 we got our new farm and truly it was a lovely place. There were apples, peaches, cherries and other trees aplenty. But, how changed the scene was this year, instead of bread as we have been used to, we have nothing but cowslips for greens in April without meat or bread. Flour could not be had at any price and the corn was cut off by the frost. We had potatoes tops then pigweeds. All summer was a famine. I recollect my mother went to a Mr. Planks who owned a grist mill and the old lady sent a loaf of bread home to the children. We each had a small piece, it tasted better than anything I ever ate save the sweet liquid of my dream.
This summer my brother Solomon had bought a piece of land near the lake and was to work clearing it up. We got out of provisions and a young man by the name of George Omstead went to him and took half of all the flour he could raise about fifty pounds. He said he would not see him go hungry and gave it to Solomon, they used to be playmates. He would take nothing for it for their hearts had been knit together while young. They used to whistle together, until Solomon joined the Methodist Church. He once played the violin, he had bought it from my brother Elijah in about the year of 1811 and had learned to play a few tunes on it. Soon after mother got well he used to talk to her and he became quite serious and took to singing. He learned many religious songs and it was thought a sin to play a violin. He told his experience at a Methodist meeting where a young woman by the name of Naby Bunce shouted and shouted, “Glory to God we have got a fiddler.” He then came home and thanked Father for his kindness and said he hoped from this time on he should serve God and talked swell to his brothers. He told us to be good children. He then took his violin and broke it and burned it. The following summer he went to Bristol, Ontario County. I went with him and stayed through the summer, returning in the fall of 1814.
My brother Solomon had been courting a girl by the name of Alta Adams and when he came back they were married. They lived near us until Father moved back to our first farm. After the first of August we began to get bread. We heard of a field of rye owned by Jonas Leland, which had gotten ripe and he called on the poor to come and help him cut it and gave them a good price for their labor.
We were then able to have rye bread and soon the potatoes came on so we fared well again. By fall we had some apples and peaches. I went to live with Solomon for awhile to help him boil his sorghum. By this time it was spring and I helped Father drive his team and get the ground ready to plant corn, beans, and potatoes and wheat. After the crops were in I went to live with Samuel Alger in 1815. I stayed there through the fall and winter. My sister, Clarrisa was at mothers with her young baby, Fanny. She stayed through part of the summer, sometimes her boy, Eli, was with her and at times he stayed with his Father or his uncle Solomon. Samuel Alger went to stay with his wife and children and hauled wood with a man by the name of Adams. In the spring they returned home. He gave me twenty-five cents to bare my expenses and I started home in March, 1816. I arrived home in time to make molasses.
Alvah went to Ohio to see the country as we had learned it was a beautiful country. Father gave Elijah an acre of ground and let us boys help him build a house for him and a shop. At this time it did seem that there would never be an end to father’s friends. Such friends as I hope I shall never have. There were from twenty upwards living on him all the while, “as lazy as sloths” it was “Uncle Tom” by all. While he was at work they would be idling about the house. I would see my old father work like a slave and it would vex me so, I could hardly keep from swearing at times. I saw my father’s countenance and I pitied him but he took it in patience and only once did I hear him complain and then he said, “I am always glad to see friends and I should now be glad to see some leave.” And he showed it so plain that soon some of them left. One of those men, one of my brothers gave a handsome flogging and he troubled us no more, and claimed no relationship and I never saw but once since.
This summer I went to work with Laurance Seamur, one of the finest men I ever saw. One of the most ingenious men to work in wood. I had worked some considerable at it myself. He gave me sawed timber and I built myself a turning lathe and went to work. He showed me how to work and I soon got so I could make myself a good plain bedstead and tables. I soon fixed up my folks up very comfortable. But in the fall of 1816 a man by the name of Luther Smith came and said he would give me six dollars a month if Mr. Seamore would let me go and cook for his hands through the winter. Mr. Seamore told him if I chose to go he would not stop me.
I told Father I thought I would go to get some store pay for Mother so that she might get some things more comfortable for she had been teaching me the figures last summer. So in the month of September I left for the wilderness and the third day we came to the place appointed to get the vessel timber out for the great raft, which one of the merchants had agreed to land at Quebec for so much. Among the workman was this man my brother had whipped by the name of Edward Mooney. I had been there for one month, when he would try every day to pick a quarrel with me. I had made a new door to our new cabin. I had worked like a dog to please the workman but he was always mad and when I was busy cooking, he came in and said, “I want a place to wedge my ass, where is a piece of board?” “I do not know,” said I. “I have a good mind to split down this door.” I told him he better not do it. “Shut your head you little devil,” said he smashing his ax through the door, splitting it. Declaring that he would whip me if I told. I vowed I would whip him in two years if I ever came across him. I thought he might try to pounce on me, and if he did I was going to give him all I had. I never have met up with him since. I did see him at a Methodist meeting once but not to speak to. If I do meet him he shall have to confess to me.
I told all the men that one or the other would leave soon. They believed me. I suppose Mr. Smith thought I would soon forget it and would stay. I waited two or three days and nothing was done about his going so I packed up my things and started for home. When I told Father all about it he said I didn’t need to go back.
Mr. Smith sent for me to come back but I told him, no, as I had decided to work at my trade. I was fourteen years and seven months old at that time. I fixed up the shop and fixed up my lathe and went to work making furniture. I also helped on the farm. In the spring I helped make sugar. Father let me have a piece of land and told me I could have all I raised on it. I chopped the logs off and put some of the smaller ones against the larger ones and burned what I could. I raised twelve bushel of wheat and some potatoes. A man by the name of Cook wanted to buy it and said he would give me sheep for pay. I was proud of my three sheep, one weather and two ewes. In April Father came and asked me how many sheep I had. I was afraid something had happened to them and asked if they were dead. Father said, “No, but you have an increase. You have now five for one ewe had twin lambs.” I was more than happy over this.
In a short time Alvah came home from Ohio–telling us of his experiences and how beautiful it was around there. This summer we were all sick. The mill pond of Loren Seamens raised through the timber. It was such a disagreeable smell and the mosquitoes were bad which caused a lot of sickness and death all around us. My brother Elijah became very ill and had a high fever. He grew worse each day it seemed.
Alvah and Solomon went about sixty miles to get a man to come and look at our farm and trade some land in Ohio to Father for it. He liked the farm but the sickness and the bad smell of the swamp made him change his mind and he soon left and would not trade.
As summer wore on the water dried up and we soon were all better and soon got well. We stayed here all winter and next summer we calculated on moving. When the people learned of our plans to move they would try to hinder us as they thought it was too hard for old folks to make a new start in life. Dr. Erns took another course. He tried to rob Father of a mare he had bought from my brother and had paid for her by chopping wood. The doctor served him at the law, and gave him no credit for the wood. He called me for a witness but I could not prove all he had done, which threw the cost on my brother for it. The doctor got a man deputized and came to our house and wanted the mare. Father said it was his, but the doctor insisted he was going to have the horse. Father said, “You cannot have the mare as she is mine.” The doctor said he had come prepared to take her back with him. I then spoke up and said, “Father, I am prepared to keep her for you.” “How will you do it?” he said. I had come well armed and I took down my rifle and went to the stable. The doctor said, “Notice he has a gun.” I told them I wouldn’t shoot if they didn’t take the horse. “I’ll not take her but you shall go before a Justice of Peace tomorrow.” He then went to walk off saying something very mean to Father which displeased my brother and he struck him. The next day we were all sent for. I was set at liberty but my brother had to stand trial and was fined five dollars for striking the doctor. Alvah said he would never pay him.
Elijah never did recover. He was sick for a long time and on the first of August, 1818, he passed away. Alvah was away for a week before Elijah died and he would open his eyes and ask if Alvah was back yet–until he breathed his last. We would tell him not yet, and once he said, “oh dear, and then sang the following song: I’ll praise my maker while I breathe, and when my eyes are closed in death. Praise shall employ my noble powers. My days of praise shall near be past while life and though is being lost or in mortality endure.” Then closed his eyes and gasped once or twice. A light cringe was seen by my mother who was by his side. This caused her to think he had been disappointed in his belief. Soon his countenance assumed a different aspect, he smiled and remained that way until his internment.
The evening he died Alvah came home at about nine o’clock and said, “Elijah is dead isn’t he?” We told him yes, he was gone. “Well,” said he, “I have seen that thing tonight I never saw before. As I came against Elijah’s house, not a cloud to be seen while before his door it lighted up so I could see every house in the neighborhood.”
I then gave Father my sheep and bought me a coat and went to chopping for it, by cutting twenty cords of wood to pay for it. I next bought me some pants and my father bought me some shirts and a vest. Father sold his farm and trusted it out for five years. He then began to prepare to move in the winter. He settled all his debts, collected in all we could and then visited our friends through the country. On the first of January I started out alone to go to my uncle Levi Bristols in Manchester, Ontario County. The counties here have been divided. Wolcott is now in Sineca County. I traveled through Clyde formerly called Gailon. I at once called at the blockhouse. I there inquired for Viania and went there and then on to Lyons town and then to Manchester I finally reached my uncles that night. It was the first time I had been there.
The following day our people came and it truly was a time of rejoicing. Here I saw the young Bristols that I had heard so much about. The stoutest men in all York State here. I saw the mother of Clark Bristol for the first time. The daughter of my little grandmother who was about four feet high who sleeps in death now under the leaning beech tree in Wolcott near the cranbury marsh on the high hill with my sister by her side. If ever I rejoiced in my life it was with my father’s sister. This woman would make no more of lifting off and on the fire her five pail iron kettle than my mother would her dish kettle without being filled. One of her sons was known to take two barrels of whiskey, two fingers in each one and carry them across the still house.
The boys here loved me and like to play with me and sometimes it would seem as if the smallest one would almost crack my bones, when he would get hold of me. My uncle declared how he loved my father. It made no odds where father went or “Brother Tom” he called him, I want to be with him, he said. If he goes to heaven I want to be with him or if he goes the other place I want to be with him.
We could not leave here until sometime in February. While we were here I traveled twice to Bloomfield to see when Thomas would start for Ohio. The last time I went I learned he would start the next week if Solomon would go and drive his team. Solomon went and took him as it always happened if anyone of the boys wanted help it must be Solomon and if running Levi must do it. If there was a sacrifice to make Solomon or Levi was called on to do it. And the truth of this I will show hereafter find a true statement of affairs shall be had in remembrance that it may be handed down from generation to generation that those of my blood and kindred may profit if they will. I have writing and dates which I am transcribing and calculate to condense my history in books instead of leaves of paper. I am not [now?] determined to serve God and do all the good I can in this world while I live. I have been writing ever since I was fourteen years old. The way I learned to write was to old letters and imitate them as near as I could. What I have written is the truth as near as I can tell the story. I love God, although I am making no pretense to any form of religion.
Sometime in February we started from my uncles in Manchester and journeyed through Bloomfield then turned our course toward Buffalo. While there in Buffalo we saw the remains of some buildings that had been burned in the war. We heard tales told of the distress and suffering of the people there at that time. We saw some of the effects of war. We then went on down on the Lake shore and saw for the first time the little cloud hanging over Niagara Falls. There I saw what I had been hearing of and knew what Thomas had told of how he had looked off the banks and drew quickly back a little below. He had once crossed the river in the dark and ascended the bank when the dead and dying came tumbling against him which nearly brought him to the ground where he dropped one of his implements of war and stopped to pick it up, when down came more dead and others crying, “My God, I’m gone.” Oh what a sight to see. It makes your blood run cold. Though soon he did mount the bank and there more than two thousand bayonets were playing. Thomas mixed with the others and with that unquenchable spirit of seventy-six he assisted in clearing the ground of the Britains until day when the battle was again renewed. Often I have heard him say when he was fighting he thought there was no Britains fall until the order was charge bayonets. Again when he came within a few steps of them the Britains retreated there. He also beheld the dead which gave him fresh hope in victory. Queenston was soon in the hands of the Americans, and the cannons spiked and the British General slain, his name was Brack.
We continued our journey up the river for some time. At times we traveled on the ice and sometimes on the land. The snow was now falling on the land. The first of March another snow [came] so that we could move ahead faster. We soon got to Erie and camped out of our way as we were lost. We finally found the right road and by some means or other we lost our Father who was ahead in another wagon. We camped that night within about one mile of him. In the morning we tried to catch up with Father for we found out he was ahead of us. In the afternoon he began to think perhaps we were behind him and began to hold up. We saw a man coming toward us and he told us that Father was about one mile ahead. We soon overtook him and made camp for the night.
The next morning we all started on our journey but in a few days broke our wagon and paid the highest price to get it mended. We then went on about a mile and it broke again. We were forced to stop and the man we stopped with was kind to us. He made no profession of religion. He had a young son who was a Methodist preacher. I went to work and bought some flour and some whiskey for my father and the old man Curtice we were living with. As nothing made these two old men happier than to drink a little sometimes and as good natured as men could be. I liked to see them enjoy themselves together and hear them talk. We stayed here until Solomon came from Chagrin with another wagon and we started on our journey again with him. We asked Mr. Curtice what we must pay him for house rent. He said nothing and offered to pay for some whiskey I had loaned him. I told him I wanted nothing for it. He wished us well and a pleasant journey. We arrived at Chagrin about the first of April and put up at George Minters. I heard him tell how he had once been tried for murder in Ontario County and had got his certificate and sung a song he had made about it. But something would whisper in my heart all the while, “You have once killed a man for his money.”
I did not want to stop there so Father rented a house of Charles Braut about six miles from here so we moved to this new place. I borrowed some tools and made a table and hired out and got some shoes. I helped father plant his corn on rented land about ten acres. This was the first good seed corn I had seen.
About the 10th of May 1819, I asked Father to give me liberty to go with Mr. Braut and cut a Beech tree. Father said I could go; it would be good experience for me. We started and soon came to the Bee tree. It was a very large tree and the bees were in a large branch of a high oak. I took a chalk line and climbed a tree standing near by. We had a log against it and from that I got on the branch where the bees were. I let the line down and drew up the ax and chopped the branch off and down went the bees. I descended and saved all the honey. He offered me no pay. I thought I could not stand that.
I then continued to live the best I could from place to place until spring. About this time we were making sugar. I sat down and wrote the following: April the 11th–1820. Know all men by these present that I Thomas Hancock of the town of Chagrin and County of Cuyahoga and state of Ohio, do hereby give unto my son Levi W. Hancock his time and from this time until he is of age and furthermore I give unto him all his earnings in testimony thereof I have set my hand and set my seal. Thomas Hancock. My father signed this the same day.
Next day I went to boil some sour sap into molasses. I left for Chagrin and went to work in a cabinet shop with James Spalding. I stayed there until the first of May. One day I had been to work with him building tan vats for a tanner near by. When coming home I went to the tub to wash me and just as I went to stoop over a young man standing by put his hand in the water and threw it in my face, it was so sudden I threw up my head and not knowing Mr. Spalding was behind me stooping over to wash the back of my head. When I raised up I hit him in the nose making it bleed. He swore at me. I told him how I could not help it and after I had explained to him he was still angry and would not hear but blamed me and said I ought to be whipped. I told him I knew I was not to blame although he bled like he had been fighting. I told his wife I was going to leave, she ran to him and defended me so he came and said I should not go. But I had decided if he didn’t believe me I would go anyway. I gathered up my things and told him good-bye and then went to my brothers and stayed one or two days then went to my fathers where I tarried for about a week. I bought some clothes of my brother Alvah and put them in a chest and calculated in the fall to return and get them for winter.
I then went and started without purse or scrip into the wide world not knowing where to go. I went through Chagrin, Painesville, Austinburg and there inquired if they could tell me where Lebanon was as I had a sister living there. The man asked me who she was and I told him her name was Alger. He said he knew them well and directed [me] which way to go. I took the course and traveled until sundown and then asked a boy how far it was to Lebanon. I learned it was six miles farther and that I had already traveled forty-four miles that day. I asked the man if I could stay there that night. He said, yes, and gave me a good supper and breakfast. The next day I went on to my sisters. I had not seen her since she lived at my fathers in the time of farming with Samuel Alger.
I lived with my sister and helped her husband Samuel build some fine buildings and one saw mill. He was kind to me here. He gave me rest and was pleased to see me enjoy myself. All of the people were my friends. While he lived in that town he taught me many things I did not understand. My sister was like a mother to me. He never made me work only when I pleased. I found he was a man of influence among the people. He gave me paper and ink and let me write as much as I pleased and clothed me also. I went among the young people where I had not been used to. I used to play the fife and flute and was not easily beat. I sometimes played the violin too.
Samuel was a Lieutenant in the Ohio Militia and when training came I was sure to have some new tune that suited the fancy of the people. Always I was asked to feast with the officers. This I enjoyed very much.
I went to some dances that winter and practiced music a part of the time. I helped Samuel’s eldest boy do the chores Next spring we were calculating to work at the Jainers, working together. I was getting to be considered stout though small for my age, at this time I weighed about 95 lbs. and not a boy of my age was found to be any stouter or more active.
One day Samuel Alger and I were asked to come to a log house rolling near the east end of town where I for the first time saw him lay out his strength on a large clum log that some stout men had been lifting. When Sam went to the butt end and lifted it so easy that it caused the whole crowd to wonder.
A man by the name of Stephen Bishop then wanted to throw him down and said if he could get him just where he wanted him he could throw him. Samuel let him take his leg and in his arms and when he would say he was ready, Samuel would throw him easily. Apparently as easy as I could a child that had just begun to walk.
Here for the first time I got mad for after Samuel had started home, this same Bishop’s son began to play with me and in a shuffle I threw him down. The old man was mad and came at me and pulled my hair and tore off my apron we used to wear to handle timbers with to save our other clothes. He said, “You damned little cur.” I saw he was mad and asked him to stop and explain himself. He continued to pull my hair. By that time I was angry and went to work on him and would have got him down if I had not been hauled off. I saw him run behind the crowd. I called him a “damned old fool” and when I came to think of what I had said I was ashamed and scarcely dared to look a person in the face. When I would think of it I would say in my heart, I would swear no more but lately I have considered it over and say I did not swear. This was in the year of 1821.
Samuel took a job of cabinet work to do for this man’s brother, John Bishop when he could get the lumber ready and bought a place in Chagrin and moved my sister Clarissa and gave me a few tools and I went to work in the place where he had been working this summer. In the fall I went to another place to work in the town of Rome. I put up my lathe and went to making spinning wheels, reels and bedsteads. The man I worked for was Michael Powers. I had only been there a few days when he came and asked me to go get the midwife. He said, “If I have a daughter, she shall be yours.” “Agreed” said I, and went to find the midwife and it wasn’t long until, Mr. Powers told me I had a girl. I laughed and said I should be mad if I knew I would have to wait for her to grow up. “Yes,” said he, “but you may do that.”
“If I have to wait for that child to grow up,” I thought, “I should not want one.” I told him. Then she could be free to choose for herself. Our conversation here stopped as Samuel Alger came to do some work he had promised, to make for John Bishop. He made our bureau stand and other pieces of furniture.
I continued to make spinning wheels until I had got many in debt to me, and in good hands. I then thought that I would have some land near my Fathers as I loved him and wanted to do him good. I visited the people I was acquainted with and settled for my board and room and different places and bid them good-bye.
I then went to fathers house and while there I bought twelve acres of land of my brother Alvah and agreed to pay him in rattle, for his house and improvements, that were on his land. “Now,” said he, “I have no where to go.” I told him he could stay and take care of the lot for so much and see that nothing disturbs the improvements. I then bought one hundred apple trees and set them out early in the spring. I also set out a row of peach trees along by the road. I lost two trees of apples and could not find them. I went to Talmage, Portage County, to see the furnace. I there heard a man say he wanted a plow wooded. His name was Bettice. I told him I would wood it for him. He got some tools and I soon stocked it. He paid me at the forge. I took the bag of grain and came home, on the way I found my two apple trees but they were dry but I thought I would set them out and see if they would live.
I went to Lebanon and helped Samuel Alger cover the house for Elijah Peck, after he had enclosed it he went back and I continued to work about from place to place through the summer. In the fall Samuel returned and went to work for a Joseph Miller. This season I signed a petition to have Lebanon called “New Lyme” as most of the people were from Old Lyme, Connecticut. The position was granted and the town is now “New Lyme.”
I went to Wayne township and worked for a cousin of mine by the name of Sylvester Ward. I did part of the guning on his sawmill in a months time. I returned and went to Mr. Miller where Samuel was to work. It was here that I became acquainted with that good family. After I had been there a while they all agreed to give me an invitation to stay with them. I accepted the invitation and stayed through the following winter with them. I worked on his new house. He was rich and free. He was close in a trade but true as the sun. He was Baptist and sometimes called a “blue belly” by some who were his enemy. I had heard much said against him and indeed had formed an idea that he was the worst man, but I never knew anything wrong myself in him.
Samuel Alger had now gone home to his family in Chagrin and I had to work alone on the job. This was the year of 1822, I was about 19 years and 6 mo. old.
About this time I made a bargain to build with Richard Tining. I took my tools and was to take a job of work for his brother-in-law that is to enclose his house and he was to give me half of the pay. Accordingly we commenced in April 1823 and in about six weeks we finished the job. I then went to Chagrin and payed Alvah the first payment on my place. I later returned and worked on the house of Mr. Miller. I took a house to enclose for a Mr. Elishis way the next summer. He gave me some clothes and factory pay to bind the bargain. In the spring my father came to see me. I was painting some chairs when he came. I was so happy to see him and went with him to my uncle Benjamin Wards in Wayne for a visit. I returned to my work and did another house I had taken for Mr. Hunt, which I did before I commenced Mr. Ways. I let my father have as much factory pay as he could carry home. When he had gone I went to work hard. I finished the two houses.
I had bought a horse so I rode him to see my folks in Chagrin. I traded my horse with Alvah and nearly paid him up for his place. I then returned to New Lyme where I made some bureaus and tables for a Mr. Knowles. In the spring Alvah came to see me and I let him have his lay pay. Then I learned that the land he had sold me, I could not have until Father had paid for his land. So I waited contentedly and let him continue to live on the place, never asking him for rent. I went back and found I had money and cattle due me enough to pay for my fathers farm and that too and had cash in my pocket. I had all the things I wanted to make me comfortable. I wore the best clothes and all around me were my friends.
I took a schoolhouse to build or enclose. I sold my cows and took good mens notes for it. My brother Thomas came to see me and he was almost worshipped being a brother of mine. He was called the best player on the violin ever heard, by the people. He would play and sing very well. There was continually a crowd round to hear him. The Baptist man Joseph Miller was charmed with it and said he never heard so sweet music before. After Thomas returned home I went to work again and soon the news came that Miss Minor was sick and died a short time. The first person grown that had ever been known to die there in this town. I called on to make the coffin. Shortly after a Mr. Gee died and I made his coffin. Then Mr. Lee died and I made his coffin.
It was said that these old men were sitting together talking one day and all at once they heard the most beautiful singing they had ever heard in their lives. The wife of Mr. Lee told me what they said. It was but a few days before their deaths about the first of September.
Mr. Joseph Miller was taken sick and I was called to go and see him. I found he was near his last. The pains of death had seiged upon him. He was greatly troubled in mind. His brother came to see him who was a Universalist. Mr. Miller would exhort his brother to repent and tell him he was deceived. Then he would appear to be concerned about himself and groaned and take on as if he was afraid of hell and in this way he died. Though I never heard him say he was afraid of hell but he believed in a hell of fire and brimstone. Mr. Miller died and as to say he died in the triumph of faith I cannot say it. He died and was buried in the month of September 1824. I was then 21 years of age. There was soon a marble placed at his head and on it was printed “Joseph Miller who emigrated from Lyme, Connecticut at a certain time and died September 1824 in the triumph of faith.” This man was a good man and he showed it by his works. He sought with all his heart to serve God. He minded his own business. He never slandered any person and as honest as any man in those parts but when I look on and see a man when dying act as he did I cannot say he died in the triumph of faith and I thought at that time if you believed as I do you would die as easy as to go to sleep.
I do believe in God and believe him to be much better than I, as I was better than the most cruel tyrant. I was thought once to have made a reached speech when I heard a man speak of the torments of the damned. I said if God would do so he was worse than I and I could prove it. All the proof I would bring was my own testimony and that is this: “I know I never would torment a snake that would bite me, but kill him and then I had done I had got him out of the way where he could do no more harm and that was enough for me. This was a belief that was growing in the minds of many but it was not much spoken of. If a man sinned his soul should die. “This caused me losing the soul that sinneth.” “It shall die.” God by Ezekiel cried. “The soul is mortal I reply Jehovah has not lied.”
After Mr. Miller died I worked in his house and made my home there, doing considerable work on his new house. I went for a visit with my folks in Chagrin and soon returned again to Samuel Alger. We worked at Esquire Uselius Dodges this next winter. I then went to work for widow Miller. Along about this time I fenced Mr. Miller’s grave. I went to his brothers and hired and in the spring I did his store. I made his table and chairs and bureaus. I did considerable janitor work for him in the year 1825. In the summer Father and Mother came here, this man Miller lives in Rome, Ashtabula County and on the turn pike leading from the town Ashtabula to Warren in Trumbull County. I left my work here and went with my parents to my uncles and returned with them again.
Mr. Champion said to me, “I have a particular regard for you Mr. Hancock.” “Why?” said I. “Why,” said he, “you love your parents so well, you have bought so many things for your mother.”
“Yes,” said his wife, “it does look so pretty to see a young man take that course. Your parents cannot help bless you indeed.” All they had in the house, I had bought after my payments.
I went to work for a Mr. Sylvester Rodgers. I layed down his ballroom floor and sealed it. After I was through with this job I went to Chagrin and bought my father’s farm and in the winter I thought I would try to build a comfortable house. I made my payments in the spring I went to getting out timber and getting logs to mill for boards. I bought nails and glass and got out the frame for a story and a half house, 18 x 30. I finished it by the 4th of July and this was Independence Day. We celebrated the occasion with a big ball. This is the ticket for the ball:
Since life is but a fleeting day, rejoice while you can. Be happy when you go away, Our compliments to Mr. & Mrs. And solicit their company at a ball in the Assembly room of Levi W. Hancock, July 4th, 1826, at ten o’clock.
Price $1.00 per couple
The liberty pole was raised at day break. Two gallons of liquor drank. Procession formed at nine o’clock, marched one hour. Danced until twelve. Dinner at half past two. The ball commenced.
Samuel Alger sold my brandy for me and made enough to pay all expenses. Everything went well. Peace prevailed. In the evening all went home. I had a good lock and key to the house and in the morning some of the old people came to buy a drink of brandy, I gave each a dram and took no pay which surprised them all. And well they might be for that time you could not get a man to do the least thing without pay.
The whole land of my Fathers had now become mine save about sixty dollars and no brother could say but what I came honestly by it. I saw the faces of my brothers and two of them felt as if they were without a home. One day I saw them and felt sorry for them and said I, “Now brothers the farm is cleared up and there is enough land to give us all a good living. If we cultivate it. Now I will give you an equal part of the land and make your hearts contented.” I reserved my orchard and well and told them to go to work and help take care of the old people. Which they said they would help pay what was behind. Soon one got offended and wanted to fight me and without a cause. He had worked a few days on the land and came to me and wanted a deed for his part. I told him I had no deed myself and I could not make a deed until we had paid for it. He was not going to work on uncertainties. I said I had laid out many hundred dollars and I was not afraid of losing it. I told him I had given him an equal chance with me. Now he wanted to fight me for it. He kept on this way day after day, and some mischievous fellows would tell him they knew I was a subtle arch fellow and I was figuring to get their labor for nothing and they had better look out. Levi was not so good as to give them a chance for nothing when my heart I knew was honest and all Levi wanted was to have Father and Mother taken good care of and this I often would declare to all and that same jealousy has caused me to suffer in body and mind when I would be to work year after year in order to convince the brothers of my sincerity by sending home my earnings to my parents. Many times did I ask one certain brother to stop and reason a while but he would listen to an enemy rather than me who had it in my heart to do him all the good I could and had showed it by my works for I had already given an equal chance to this raging brother of mine in the farm, I held in writing that I had paid for by my own hard earnings as the interest had almost got it out of the power of all the Hancocks to redeem. I redeemed it myself with my own hard earnings and it shall stand recorded to be handed down that those who may see this whether my children or Joseph’s, it is the truth and nothing but the truth.
I had it in my heart to do good and he did misuse me in quarreling and wanting to fight me. I was grieved and while I was meditating one day I was told that a letter was in the office for me. I went there and found it to be from my good old friend Travis Miller, he said that my friends wanted me to return to Rome and put up my shop there. They would give me all the work I wanted and good pay. He had written to me by request of my friends. I wrote back that I would be there soon. I then went to see my good brother Solomon and told him I wanted him to come and see the farm and I would let him have it. He could pay Joseph all he asked for what he had done. Then he might pay me when he could and set his own price and do by me as he pleased. He came and gave me a mare and his note for three hundred dollars for about one thousand and I was glad to leave.
I looked at father and saw he looked sorrowful and I hated to leave but thought it best.
I went to Rome and told the people that I calculated to stay there. I built a fine two story shop with a drystand. I paid thirty dollars for one acre of land. I sold out the next spring 1828 and bought fourteen acres near the cross roads in Rome. This was close to where they were going to build a Baptist meeting house and also a Presbyterian meeting house which was soon completed. I then built a shanty and stayed there all summer and fall alone. In the winter I went to live with George Babcock and stayed through the remainder of this year and in the winter of 1829 I helped him build and get out timber for his store. He was a doctor and merchant. I made my home there for some time.
I worked and paid my board and room and then I would go and see my old friends. The widow Miller sent for me and wanted I should come and do some work for her. I went and completed the work she had for me to do, then went to the Babcocks. I bought some goods and put in his store and he said I might trade as many goods as I could buy. But I gave away my goods to the poor and never made one cent. I found I couldn’t live that way and I went to work again. I thought I would go to the widow Millers. I stayed there and in the winter I took some sleigh rides with the young people. I found that that would not do in that place it cost too much to hire the horses and sleighs so I put my heart into my work again and in the spring I concluded I would look me up a companion. I thought best to build first on my land in Rome. I went to work and tried to get material to build with and thought I would work out for the same. I was fully bent on settling down but to love one girl more than the others I could not do. The young ladies there were all my friends, I never did insult one in all my life and never did keep company with anyone. Never did I ask for the company of any girl further than to ask them to go to the dance. Often I would have compliments from them how they thought as much of me as they did their brothers. In this way I lived through the summer of 1830.
In the fall I concluded I would go and see Samuel Alger in Chagrin so I hired a horse of my good friend Mrs. Miller and started out. I arrived at his house that evening by taking the near road. I set down and presently Alvah came in and asked me if I had heard the news? “What news”, asked I.
“Why,” said he, “four men have come and have brought a book [Book of Mormon] with them that they call history and a record of the people that once inhabited this land.”
“Oh, said I to myself, that sounds interesting and I would like to hear more. I began to inquire about it.
Alvah said, “Why, do you not recollect of reading what the Savior said, how he had other sheep which were not of this fold at Jerusalem?” “Oh, yes I do,” said I.
“Well,” said he, “they were here and he [Savior] came and taught them the same doctrine that he taught them at Jerusalem.” “And,” said he, “they baptize for the remission of sins and are building up the church as the apostles used to do in the days of Christ. Tomorrow they are to hold a meeting at Mr. Jackson’s in Mayfield.” “Yes,” said he, “they lay hands on those they baptize and bestow on them the Holy Ghost.” At these last words I gathered faith and there seemed to fall on me something pleasant and delightful. It seemed like a wash of something warm took me in the face and ran over my body which gave me a feeling I cannot describe. The first word I said was, “It is the truth, I can feel it.” “I will go and hear for myself tomorrow.” This was on a Saturday so the next day I took my mother behind me on the horse and went to Mr. Jackson’s. We got there a few minutes before the meeting. After I had been there a short time, I saw the people begin to assemble. I got in the chamber where there had been a few boards pulled up (which had been laid down loose before) to give the spectators a fair chance of hearing. In the chamber I took a seat beside a lawyer by the name of Card. He sat with his pencil and paper and commenced to scribble as the speaker arose and began to talk. I sat with both ears open for the first word he spoke. I believed all he said as much as though I knew he was Jesus Christ. After he had talked a short time, he opened the Book of Mormon and read what Christ said to his disciples who had gathered around the Temple in the land of Nephi. “Of the three days of darkness that had been upon the land. . .” When he had got through reading and talking about the new revelation. He then went to exhorting the people to read the scriptures and see if they did not tell of the doctrine. They teach us that there must be something sent from God in order to prepare the people for the glorious reign of Christ.
Then the words of Isaiah 11th chapter on a part of the chapter as far as the eleventh verse. After this man had spoken, whose name was Parley P. Pratt, I had found out. He gave liberty for anyone to reply. Sidney Rigdon then spoke and said he had been trying to preach the Gospel for a long time and now he had done. He thought he should never preach again and confessed he was completely used up and advised the people not to contend against what they had heard. After this man had spoken there arose another young man whose countenance bespoke a spirit of peace and love. He [probably Oliver Cowdery] said he had been an eyewitness to the things declared and the book reported to be a revelation was truth, however strange it may appear to the people.
Parley P. Pratt then said, “If anyone wants to be baptized, let them come forward. My father went and was baptized and also my sister Clarrisa and some few others.
I went home to fathers and then the Devil began to rage. There was one man by the name of Phelps that appeared to be mad and he exerted himself every way he could to discourage us from believing. He told of the many impositions that had been palmed upon the people and where that would not do but that we still believed and meant to prove the work and not condemn it nor the men who brought it until they had proved themselves unworthy of our confidence by some mean trick.
Next morning I went back to Mayfield and asked where the men were that had been baptizing there, with a firm determination to be baptized. I found that they had gone to Kirtland.
I then asked one of Mr. Jackson’s sons if he would go to Kirtland with me. He said he would go if I would stay all night. I stayed the night with him and the next morning we started for Kirtland, Ohio. Upon arriving there we found that Parley P. Pratt was engaged in baptizing. I dismounted my horse and went and asked Parley P. Pratt if he would baptize me. He said, he would if I believed. I told him I believed that Jesus is the son of God, and felt within my heart that the things he had told us were the truth. He then baptized me. I thanked him and got on my horse and started to go, when someone asked me if I was not going up to Brother Morley’s. I said I did not know where he lived. I was told to follow some men who was just on before I did so we soon came in sight of the house as I thought, and then asked if this was the place where we were to go. I was told it was the place and was invited into the house. I went in and presently the room was near full. We talked and heard many stories and their opinion concerning Olivery Cowdery. Our horses were put up and fed. We were then given supper and when the time came that we though we had stayed long enough we went to rest. In the morning I called for my horse and was told where I could find him. When I found him he was so lame he could scarcely go. I didn’t know what to do but concluded not to go to New Lyme that day.
I told Oliver if he would go to Mayfield I would go and let the people know. He said he would go. I then went for my horse calculating that it would take me all day to get to Mayfield, but to my joy and satisfaction I beheld my horse well and got on his back and he went off as well as ever. I soon arrived at Mr. Jackson’s and called the people together. Oliver did not come until we went after him. He came and talked awhile, Lyman Wright [Wight] and myself had been talking to the people the first evening I came. It was the next day before Oliver Cowdery and Zibra [Ziba] Peterson and one of the Whitmores came. They held meetings and baptized some and in the evening they confirmed many members of the church. The next morning I was ordained an Elder. I then went home to my father’s and soon after I went to Rome and commenced to hold meetings. The people appeared to be astonishied at the doctrine but did not persecute as they did in some other places.
This was in the year of 1830 in the month of November. I preached from place to place where the folks were well acquainted with me. Not long after I came to Rome, lies began to circulate through the land concerning the church. This caused the people to be more cold. However, some believed that there was something on the doctrine worthy of notice.
In December I went about three miles west to work on a house laying the floors. It was white top plank, I had to match. I hired a Mr. Baldwin to help me. He was a good man and after we had laid the floor we concluded to make a fire and lie down until morning.
As I was praying a personage stood before me with a small yoke in his hands, said he, “This is the yoke of Christ.” There were many lamps placed on the top of this small yoke. I thought it was the Lord talking to me and I felt willing to obey him and put forth my hand and laid it on one lamp and saw a smoke rise from it. I then touched two more and saw a blue blaze, then some more and some smoked and others burned blue. Three shone as bright as any lamp I ever saw in my life. He stood and held them a short time and then said, “These I will take into heaven and give you a sign that you may know that you are my servant.” He then drew in his breath and blew in my face and said, “You will tarry till I come again.” As he breathed on me, faith came, the heavens sent forth a shower of spirit, it took me in the face and filled me until I ran over with it. No person could feel better than I did. My spirit took its flight and left my body on the floor. I thought I was dead. All my senses were perfect and I realized many things that I am not able to write nor express with my tongue, I was told by the spirit to come back and bear testimony to the world of the truth of the work. I then entered into my body and told the vision to Mr. Baldwin. I told him how the lamps all went out but the three that burned so bright, and how smart and what a gentleman the personage was who came without anything on his head, with ruffles shirt to me, even Satan and how modest and innocent the man was who called himself the Lord. I saw tears run down from his eyes. I saw the unfortunate son who fell, when he tried to approach me the wave of my hand would cause him to go from me.
We finished our work on this house and later went to Baldwin’s house where he let me hold meetings. In January someone knocked on the door. A person said, “Come in.” Three good looking young men came in and inquired for me. I never had seen them to my knowledge before. They asked how I did and told me they were preachers belonging to the Church of Christ. I learned their names were “Edson Fuller, Heamon Bassett and Burr Riggs.” We called a meeting and spoke to the people for three or four times and commenced to baptize. Mrs. Goldwin and two daughters came in the church. Her sister and son and many others through the neighborhood also joined and were baptized. All of this part of the country appeared to be awake and would listen to the new doctrine.
Those elders ran into all manner of doings, receiving revelations and seeing angels. [Spiritual ecstasies] Falling down frothing at the mouth. One of them who acted the worst was Burr Riggs. I have seen him jump up from the floor, strike his head against the joist in the Baldwins new house and swing some minutes, then fall like he was dead. After an hour or two he would come to. He would prophesy and tell what he had seen. At other times he appeared to be so honest and sincere I was led to believe all said, but concluded that all could not be blessed and perhaps I was not as pure as those young men. What I had received was enough for me.
Edson Fuller would fall and turn black in the face. Herman Bassett would behave like a baboon. He said he had a revelation he had received in Kirtland from the hand of an angel, he would read it and show pictures of a course of angels declared to be Gods, then would testify of the truth of the work and I believed it all, like a fool.
I dare not come out against anything that an elder should say for fear I should speak against the Holy Ghost. I let them go on in this manner until the people got mad at them and tried to convince me that I was led astray. They said I was honest and the dream I had they did not doubt but the doctrine was false.
One girl said she would rather go to hell than believe it, and in a short time she died. I could not help thinking she was taken at her word.
There were many that said nothing that belonged to the church. All of this took place in the winter of 1831.
By February we started for Kirtland. I bore the expense of them all, we took North on the turnpike leading from Ashtabula to Warren, Ohio. We traveled on to Ostinsburg and put up there. I saw a man by the name of Crawel. I was slightly acquainted with him as he was a lawyer. He said he would keep me but not the others, so I thanked him, and we all went to the tavern and I paid the bill. The next day we went on to Unionville where we stayed over night. I paid all the bills there too. The following day we got to Painville, as we were all weary we were glad to rest. We found brethren here who said they would take us to Kirtland the next day. We had been traveling through snow, which was deep and I was so lame I could scarcely walk. I had paid one dollar to a man this day to haul just four miles.
The next morning brother Harvey Redfield took us to Brother Isaac Morley’s who was a cooper by trade and one of the most honest, patient men I ever saw. The company he maintained looked large enough to bring on a famine. I do not know if they lived on him all the time or not.
While I was in the room at “Father Morley’s” as we all called him, this same Hermon Bassett came to me and took my watch out of my pocket and walked off as though it was his. I thought he would bring it back soon but was disappointed as he sold it. I asked him what he meant by selling my watch.
“Oh, said he, I though it was all in the family.”
I told him I did not like such family doing and I would not bear it.
I then went to hold meetings in Chagrin Township of Mayfield. By this time there were quite a number of Elders ordained and among them was my brother Soloman Hancock I had heard that he had joined the church but had not seen him since he joined. He was a Methodist when I last saw him.
I found my father and mother strong in the faith which gave me great joy. I felt happy for nearly all of my folks had joined the church by now.
Solomon appeared to borrow some trouble about what he owed me, between three and four hundred dollars. He knew I had this note for that amount. I told him to give no uneasiness about what he owed me for he had no cause to fear. For him to go and preach the gospel as I would not press him. He did go out and preach, doing his best.
Now I will tell how he came to owe me that amount of money. I had been able to redeem my father’s farm and it all fell to me. A little interest was behind that I had not paid, but the money was due me and I had notes for the amount against good men, double the amount in fact. Soloman had a farm paid for. Alvah and Joseph had no land and I pitied them. I had rented my land to Alvah for about four years and took his note every fall for the pay. I saw he could not enjoy himself as he knew not how to pay me. I handed him his notes and told him and Joseph what to do. To help me take good care of father and mother and I would give each of them one third of the farm. This appeared to please them.
I went to work and built my father and mother a house on my third of the farm. I must have paid out almost six hundred dollars there but Joseph would quarrel with me and I let Solomon have it for half price and took his note and went to where I had formerly lived.
Oh, how I tried to do my folks good and now I defy them all to prove to the contrary. I said, what more could I do to my father’s house that what I had done?
Oh, whiskey, whiskey, it is whiskey that causes my brother Joseph to distrust my heart, when I have been so kind to him. My father loves his children and when I would do them good, it made him happy. Yet, I cannot make Joseph believe but that I want to take advantage of him. He thinks I shall rob him of what he does on his part of the farm, when it has not cost him one cent. I said it was whiskey that made him so he could not see. But I couldn’t give him a deed when I had none myself and could not get one until my money came due. This is what made me sell to my good brother Solomon.
Now Joseph has joined the church and I freely forgave him and love him and will still try to do him good. I hope I shall always be able to forgive him as he has been to forget my kindness to him.
When I was alone in Rome I used to sing this song:
Did Christ the Lord once weep?
And shall my cheeks be dry?
Oh, no my heart is filled with grief,
and tears burst from my eyes.
The son of God in tears
Did e’er his people weep
Be not astonished oh, my soul
Since thou thy tears can’t keep
He wept and I will weep
For friends I’ll shed a tear
And are they so in heaven bound
They have no weeping there.
And now I’ll dry my tears
My friends shall have my Prayer
Until I do in heaven dwell
and stop my weeping there.
I found that I now was in possession of a spirit to forgive all men.
Spring has come. I go to the West, I went through Cleveland, Ohio holding meetings along the way. Went through Elina into Brownhelm where we held meetings and baptized and confirmed seventy-one (71) at one meeting from under my own hand. I felt so happy and blessed. We then returned to Rome.
I saw the Prophet Joseph Smith last February 1831. He gave the Law. [D&C 42.] I have not gotten a copy of it. I heard it read but cannot remember too much of it. It told us to go West. I have been and done the best I could, I lost my journal and have to make this according to memory.
It is now May 1831. I told what I had done with the help of the Lord, for I know he was with me and guided me all the way. I found that we had nearly broken up the Freewill Baptist church west. A Mr. Rollins came to see me. I told him many names; he knew them well, he said. From that time on he did not appear to want to see me, as he had been their preacher before and now his flock had left him.
There was an old sister there that told him a dream she had before I got back there. The dream did not please him. She told him the following dream, Well, she said she saw two curtains let down from heaven while she could not see the top, she saw Levi W. Hancock walk between them until he came to a large field, in it was a fruit tree that spread its branches over a large body of land. Many people shook hands with him. He reached and took some fruit almost from the top twig and commenced singing. She saw Mr. Rollins start and run with his hat off, the fire pursued him as far as she could see. Some had left the church of Christ and they also ran.
I began to see what the dream or vision of mine meant about the lamps. Most of the people had gone out and I then told them of it. What few believed said, “The smokey and blue blaze lamp had gone out.” I then put it in rhyme.
Hark brethren, who believe in dreams,
And hear me tell what I have seen
because the spirit I have sought
Some pleasing things to me has taught.
Once I lay down and to repose
In solemn prayer my eyelids closed
And soon a person I did see
Who then began to talk with me.
He was the one to whom I prayed
And this I learned by what he said,
When I to Jesus Christ did cry
This personage was standing by.
A small yoke had and neatly made
And he unto me gently said,
This is the yoke of Jesus Christ
That you behold worked out so nice.
There was some lamps upon this yoke
That I beheld and then he spoke
And said, “These lamps I’ve brought to
Thee lay your hands on and light for me.”
As soon as this my Lord had spoke
I did and saw nothing but smoke
I laid my hands on the next two
That gave no light but did burn blue
And touched some more and saw a light
And three of them did burn bright
These three, said He, I’ll let you know
Shall with me into heaven go
And now I’ll give you a sign
And you shall know that you are mine
The Holy Ghost you shall receive
And then into my face did breathe.
The spirit then did fall on me
And out I went from my body
My spirit soon away did soar
And left its dwelling on the floor.
The thoughts that came into my mind
Was surely I have gone from time,
Into eternity to dwell, was well
All things I thought, with me,
Eternity transporting bless this
There naught, I thought could equal
The spirit that did on me pour
Made me suppose all trials o’er.
While filled with love I had no fear
I had forgot all friends so near
Until I thought what will they say
When they behold my dead body.
Go with thy friends and there remain
said Christ, till I shall come again
When I return I’ll come to thee
And then my glory thou shall see”
I then into my body went
To warm my friends was my intent
But oh, how changed was the scene
When I beheld it was but a dream,
I told the Prophet Joseph Smith my vision and sung him these verses. He said it was an omen of something I would understand sometime. He thought I would ordain three great men sometime who would do some particular work in the church.
About this time my brother Solomon came to see me and brought Zebedee Coltrin along. He held some meetings and wanted me to go to Kirtland with him.
We started the latter part of May and arrived there by the last of the month, I learned that on the fourth of June there was to be an endowment of some elders.
The Fourth of June came and we all met in a little string of buildings under the hill near Isaac Morley’s in Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio. Then we all went to a school house on the hill about one fourth of a mile ascending nearly all the way. The building was built of logs. It was filled with slab benches, Here the elders were seated and the meeting was opened as usual. Joseph Smith began to speak, he said that the kingdom of Christ that he spoke of that was like a grain of mustard seed was now before him and some should see it put forth its branches and the angels of heaven would some day come like birds to its branches just as the Saviour had said. Some of you shall live to see it come with great glory. Some of you must die for the testimony of this work and he looked at Lyman White and said to him, “You shall see the Lord and meet him near the corner of the house and laid his hands upon him and blessed him with the visions of heaven.”
Joseph Smith then stepped out on the floor and said, “I now see God, and Jesus Christ at his right hand, let them kill me, I should not feel death as I am now.”
Joseph put his hands on Harvey Whitlock and ordained him to the high priesthood. He turned as black as Lyman was white. His fingers were set like claws. He went around the room and showed his hands and tried to speak; his eyes were in the shape of oval O’s. Hyrum Smith said, “Joseph, that is not of God.” Joseph said, “Do not speak against this.” “I will not believe,” said Hyrum, “unless you inquire of God and he owns it.” Joseph bowed his head, and in a short time got up and commanded Satan to leave Harvey, laying his hands upon his head at the same time. At that very instant an old man said to weigh two hundred and fourteen pounds sitting in the window turned a complete summersault in the house and came his back across a bench and lay helpless. Joseph told Lyman to cast Satan out. He did. The man’s name was Leanon [Leman] Coply [Copley], formally a Quaker [Shaker]. The evil spirit left him and as quick lightning Harvey Green fell bound and screamed like a panther. Satan was cast out of him. But immediately entered someone else. This continued all day and the greater part of the night. But to return to the meeting, Joseph said, “Now if you elders have sinned it will do you no good to preach if you have not repented. Heamon [Heman] Bassett you sit still the Devil wants to sift you. . .” Then he ordained Jacob Scott and some others to the High Priesthood. He came to Zebidee [Zebedee] Coltrin and myself and told us that we had another calling as high as any man in the house. I was glad for that for I was so scared I would not stir without his liberty for all the world. I knew the things I had seen was not made.
Joseph said that John was to tarry until Christ came. He is now with the ten tribes preaching to them and when we can get ready for them they will come.
Joseph Smith called Lyman White [Wight] and laid his hands on his head and say what God should tell him to say. He did and the blessing was so long I cannot write it.
After this we went down to the house and heard Harvey Whitlock say when Hyrum Smith said it was not God, he disdained him in his heart and when the Devil was cast out he was convinced it was Satan that was in him and he knew then it. I also heard Harvey Green say that he could not describe the awful feeling he experienced while in the hands of Satan.
On June the fifth  we all assembled on the hill in a field where there was a large concourse of people collected. Lyman White [Wight] spoke and gave a fine discourse.
The Prophet Joseph said that from time on the elders would have large congregations to speak to and they must soon take their departure into the regions West. When the meeting was out we went to Gilberts and Solomon sang some songs and we talked with brother Whitmer and told him what happened at the conference. He asked me if what Joseph had said was fulfilled about someone seeing the Lord. I told him I considered it so. “Do you?” said he. “Yes sir,” said I. “Were you not there?” I understood him not.
When night came Solomon and I, Wheeler Baldwin and some others started to my father’s, we walked heavily, some said that they felt as if they would be seized by Satan. Others that they felt as though the Devil and his angels were hanging about them. I kept my feelings to myself, until we came to the mill pond of Mr. Fergdsons about a half or a little over the distance we had to go that night. When we had got against the pond which was about fourteen rods across and very deep, I said, “Let us pray.” So we all kneeled down and prayed around a circle as soon as the last one got through about nine o’clock at night and the moon shown brightly. A sudden bray of a jackass was heard about twenty feet behind us. We looked and could see nothing and nothing in the way. It started toward the pond braying all the time. I never had seen one in my life and I know that there was none about there for I was well acquainted there. I heard how they brayed. The most of our company had seen them. This braying continued across the pond and ascended the high hills on the other side until it grew less and less distinct until it got out of hearing.
“There,” said Brother Baldwin. “This proves to me that this work is true, for we all prayed for assistance; the Devil ran away.” . . .
On the first day of May I met one man who said, I had come on the day I had written I should get back from Missouri. I had not thought of it since I wrote. I was glad of it but was sorry the people had made such destruction of my property. All my property was scattered to the four winds, tools and all for pretended claims, where I owed not one cent justly, it cost half to get the rest back or nearly that.
I went to painting and working at my trade. I was soon able to clothe myself and built me a wagon. I sold my land to a man from the other part of town that in New Lyme they knew nothing of.
I settled with all men there and left and went to Rome lived awhile with John Reed then went to Chagrin and stopped with Solomon for a few days when the Prophet Joseph Smith sent for me. I went and saw him again and had a conversation with him. Heard him tell about him being mobbed in Hiram and how they pulled the hair out of his head then he showed me the place where they had pulled the hair out of. He said they poured Aqafortis down him, he thought. I said, “While I was in Cleveland I heard some laughing about it, who said the devil must have gotten the better of the Lord that time. I told them I thought he did once before when they killed the Son of God and his Disciples too. I did not consider that proved him an imposter. I never saw men so much confounded. I said no more but all eyes were on me while I stayed at the house.”
I found Sidney Rigdon enjoying himself better than he did when I stopped to see him on my way back. He then took me by the hand and exclaimed, “You are the favored of the Lord.” He said he was chastened but hoped the Lord would be favorable to him. Joseph had now raised him on high. I was glad for him. I told Joseph how I had felt on the way. I also told him about the girl that I left and how sorry I had been that I did not tell him before I went. He said not to mind that the Lord had a girl for me that would suit me better than she would if I had married her. “I hope you will not marry soon. I want you to do some work for me.” I told him I would do the work and was soon to work building his desk and room.
He [Sidney Rigdon] needed money and so I filled his hand with all the remains of my land in Rome. He said, he would give me his note for it. I told him be was welcome to it.
I was with him [Sidney Rigdon] through the translation of the Bible. I went to the school of the Prophets. Orson Hyde was with us this winter. After I finished the school room Joseph offered to let me trade out of Whitney’s store. I told him I would pay for all I purchased and I did do it.
The Prophet Joseph was often in trouble. If his friends gave him money, he [was] stripped of it all by his enemies. I know for I did all I could do to hold up that good man. My heart would ache for him. He had to stand against thousands of his pretended friends seeking to overthrow him. It was terrible the abuse he suffered.
Bishop Whitney also was cursed by some when he did his best to hold up Joseph. He would suffer himself to be slandered to save the Prophet from trouble. All this I know I have witnesseth. I am bad enough but thank God I never sought to harm any man. I know it is not in my heart to wish the Prophet Joseph or any man who is his friend in any trouble.
About this time Joseph called on me to go to Rome with a hired girl by the name of Clarrissa Reed, who had been living with him. I went and returned with her in about two weeks. He then said I must go with Evin Green. We started by the way of Chardon and preached by the way. The snow came and it began to get cold to travel, but we went as far as we could get and returned back. Joseph talked plain to me for not pressing forward into Pennsylvania. I told him that I was to blame for I had had a dream as you ever had. You do as I now tell you to and you will come out alright. He gave me to understand how the comforter would comfort the mind of man when asleep whether it meant anything or not and Satan accused good people. He said go again and we started forthwith for Pennsylvania. We went as far as Painesville and stayed the night.
The next day it snowed all day and we had to wallow through drifts and at times it seemed almost impossible. It seemed that the Devil was determined to discourage us. We tried to get the privilege of laying by the fire but no, we could not. We were among the people called Campbellites. Seven times we were turned down at the doors. The eighth time we got in to stay all night. One of the Holy men came in who had turned us down, and by his actions we thought he intended to have us turned out again. But we were able to spend the night there and in the morning the woman gave us a nut cake each. That was all we could get from the time we left Painesville. Nothing but starvation stared us in the face. We were then determined to trust the Lord. The first thing we knew we came across two of our brethren traveling into Pennsylvania. They gave us some bread and meat. We traveled on until night and put up. The elders paid our bill and in the morning we started early. We traveled until we heard of a man by the name of Hartshorn who was a Mormon. We felt glad, he was about six miles ahead so we quickened our pace and got there that day. He was a friend but his wife was an enemy. His son found much fault. We held a meeting and found the people more than tender. We went from neighborhood to neighborhood preaching. We were treated very well all through the land about.
When the time came for us to open the door to baptism, Lyman Johnson came along. We asked him to preach, he opened the door and baptized all we had labored with except two who chose to have me baptize them. Lyman returned to Kirtland and never mentioned Evin or Levi or their good works.
I asked the prophet Joseph about such a case. He said the laborer who first labored with the people would in the end get the blessing. I did not tell him what happened, for I felt the Lord, knew who had put forth the efforts.
It is now March 1833 and we had not a place to worship in. Jared Carter went around with a subscription paper to get signers. I signed up two dollars. He made up a little more than thirty dollars and presented it to Joseph. The Lord would not accept it but gave a command to build a Temple.
I helped my father to move to Kirtland. I had married Miss Clarrissa Reed on the 29th of March 1833. I had obligations against the estate of three hundred dollars. I told my folks to sell and send the money to Zion on all they could spare. They did it and I gave up the note. Father bought a place in the town of Kirtland. My wife and I lived with them. I signed a note for fifty dollars toward the Temple and went to work on the Temple whenever I could. I had nothing now to begin with so went to work out and soon bought a cow and made enough money to make myself comfortable through the summer.
In the fall I had to guard the [Kirtland] Temple walls for some men had threatened to tear it down and at times it grew worse and worse. News came that our printing office was torn down and sorrow was depicted on the face of all the Saints. This was in the fall of 1833. We kept hearing from time to time of the situation of our friends and learned that many were settling in Clay County.
In October the meteors fell all night. Then I began to prophecy to the astonishment of all my father’s house that God would save our friends and this is to show us what he can do. Joseph said, “We must go and see them and if necessary we would fight the mob.” He said to me, “Now that you have a wife, don’t say you can’t go.” I said my wife shan’t hinder me and went and bought me a rifle and sword. I armed myself for battle. All mechanics were busily engaged in making implements of war all winter, to be prepared in the spring to travel to Missouri to replace our brethren upon their land, if there were law abiding men enough in that state to assist us.
On the ninth of April 1834, we had a son born near the middle of the day; Lyman White named him Mosiah Lyman. I then began to prepare to travel [Zion’s Camp] and on the first of May bid my folks farewell and started for Portage County, some forty miles from Kirtland. Here we gathered and organized for marching. Our money was then thrown together and put in the hands of those appointed to buy our provisions. I was appointed cook for Sylvester Smith’s mess. In this way we traveled being directed by the Prophet in peace until Sylvester lost the spirit of peace and became dissatisfied with John Carter and called him an old jackass and many other names which soon brought dissatisfaction in our tent. Some dared to express their feelings until Joseph rebuked them and told him that he was guilty of sowing the seeds of discord. He said if Joseph was a Prophet he was not afraid and would contradict him in the face of all present. Joseph said, “If I have not told you the truth then God never spoke by me,” and walked off. We all said that is enough. We believed Joseph. Sylvester became more calm and acted like a saint; for sometime we had peace.
We had our morning and evening prayers. When we had got to Busyrus, a considerable size of town, in the western part of Ohio, many conjectors were formed concerning us and many questions, asked us as we were traveling. I heard one man say “It looks like the camp of Israel.” Another said as he looked at us, “Well, I guess some place must have taken a Wammet.” Another said, “The North has given up.” We did not stop but continued on our march westward passing many places I had traveled before and held meetings in. Nothing occurred of any account until we got in Illinois when Joseph said, in our tent, “I want you to remember what I say to you. The Lord is going to give us dry weather now until we get through. He has given rains that there might be water on the prairies. You will see the movings of the Lord in our favor all the way through.” It began to be very pleasant and soon we entered on the wide prairies camping and holding meetings on Sunday. Once we had many listeners from the county who listened to the preaching of Orson Hyde. Joseph Young and others of different sects who were bound to preach peace and exhorted the people to believe in God and do what is right.
Next morning we started on our journey in good spirits. On the way to Illinois River where we camped on the west side. In the morning many went to see the big mound about a mile below the crossing. I did not go on it but saw some bones that were brought back with a broken arrow. They were laid down by our camp. Joseph Smith addressing himself to Sylvester Smith and said, “This is what I told you and now I want to tell you that you may know what I meant. This land was called the land of desolation and Onedages was the King and a good man was he. There in that mound did he bury his dead and did not dig holes as the people do now, but they brought their dirt and covered them until you see they have raised it to be about one hundred feet high. The last man buried was Zelf or Telf. He was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onedagus for freedom. When he was a young man he was a great warrior and had his thigh broken and never was set. It knitted together as you see on the side. He fought after it got strength until he lost every tooth in his head save one, when the Lord said he had done enough and suffered him to be killed by that arrow you took from his breast. These words he said as the camp was moving off the mounds as near as I could learn he had told them something about the mound and got them to go and see it for themselves. I then remembered what he had said a few days before while passing many mounds on our way that was left of us. Said he, “These are the bodies of wicked men who have died and are angry at us and if they can take the advantage of us they will, for if we live they will have no hope.” I could not comprehend it, but supposed it was alright.
We continued our march westward until we came to the Mississippi River opposite of Louisiana and camped. The next day we crossed over and camped about one mile west of town. I had made me an Elder fife that day and played some marches on the way to the camp, being led by Sylvester Smith. As soon as we came in sight of camp a dog came, he began to bark and ran to Sylvester and tried to bite him.
It made me mad and he said he would kill that dog. Joseph said he should not, and he would whip any man who would do it. If Sylvester had a good spirit he could get along without being bit. It was by a man’s being overcome with such a spirit that caused him to always try to take vengeance and seek an opportunity to do it and take life. Such spirit kept men in misery. Sylvester would not believe it. Joseph said, “If you do not get rid of that feeling you will have your flesh eaten off from you and you cannot help it.” He would not believe Joseph yet.
Once after this Joseph on the same principle said, “If a man should have to fight in self-defense and kill his enemy he should say in his heart, I wish it might have been otherwise but you sought to take my life and would not let me alone and I was obliged to take yours.” And said, “If you ever go to battle and are prospered over your enemies and slay them I fear you will be tempted to boast. If you should boast of your own strength I fear God will leave you.”
This was in the month of June and we traveled about twenty miles and camped in the Alred Settlement. We stayed here several days and I worked on guns and made a flag staff and put on it a white flag tipped with red. On our way I put on it an Eagle and printed the words “Peace” in big letters. When we passed settlements many would come and exclaim “peace” and walk off, until we came to the Western part of the state where they were bitter enough.
We had now in our camp two hundred and five (2O5) and truly we had seen the hand of God in our favor all the way. Once in particular, when we had camped without in the middle of February. One man took a spade and said, “Who knows but what I can find water here” and put the spade in the ground and dug a small hole and it filled with water, good water. When this was done some said it was as much of a miracle as when Moses smote the rock and water came out. But the greatest miracle in our favor was when we had got between the two fishing rivers on a high ridge by a log meeting house. We had been told that morning by a colored woman who came to the fence where we were walking that there were three hundred men who were armed and equipped to fall on us that night and cut us off. Men came riding by who would cuss and swear that before morning we would all be in hell for there was an army before and behind and death was our portion. Without enemy Jinkens Salsbury wanted Joseph to let him fight. “No”, said he, “the Lord will give us a bramble to keep off the dogs this night.”
In a short time it commenced thundering and the clouds arose and I went into the tent and lay down and knew no more till I found myself one third buried in water, the tent had blown down and all hands gone. I soon found they had gone to the old Sanctuary for shelter, where I also went. The lightning flashed and thunder roared one continual sound and flash so connected one could hardly hear any interval between the flash and the peal of thunder as if all the Marshall bands of drummers of the whole earth had assembled and was beating the bounds of war.
We lay on the benches dripping with water till daylight when we were called to go and discharge our pieces and load anew, which we did and to our astonishment two thirds, if not more, went off.
It was a pleasant morning. We got our breakfast and soon learned that the two branches of the fishing river were so high we could not cross over. The branch west had raised upwards of forty feet and all boats were gone. We turned our course northward about three miles and camped near an old acquaintance of some in our camp. Next day we were visited by a committee from the mob when Lyman Wright [Wight] exclaimed to them the cause of our coming and others spoke which appeared to give satisfaction. After the meeting, these of the community went away and Joseph said, “Let us help this man right up his corn.” We all went into the field and straightened up the corn for our friend that the stock had laid low.
I then returned to camp in the morning. My brother Joseph had taken sick which proved to be the cholera. Joseph Smith went to pray for him and when through said that I must stand aside or I shall smitten of the Lord. He said a scourge must come and I cannot help it. You have murmured in your hearts and told them to fix for moving off. I then heard the revelation which said our sacrificed was accepted for we had offered our lives as Abraham did. I was left alone with my brother Joseph and such a time I never before experienced neither did I ever think I could endure what I then endured. One continual call for Levi, day and night. “I want this and I want that.” I would shoot squirrels and cook them and then give him the broth and it would run right through him like quick silver. I did this until I thought I could endure no more. I could not sleep, for his call for to do this and do that. He said he was going to die. I told him, “No you shan’t die.” I then laid my hands on his head and rebuked the destroyer. A darkness would sometimes come over me that I could feel like smoke. When I thought I could endure no more and must have rest, who should come but Brother David Evins with another man with the same complaint by the name of Thomas Hays. Never was I more rejoiced than when he made the proposal to me for me to rest and he would see to both of the sick. Then when I had rested I could take my turn looking after both men. We did this for sometime when to my astonishment my brother Solomon Hancock came and he gave us relief by taking Joseph off with him. He told us how many the cholera had off in the camp and how many others lay at death’s door.
I bid them farewell and went to my sister Sally’s who lived in Clay County. From her I learned how she had suffered ever since she was driven from Jackson County because of the loss of all her goods, cattle and cows and just everything. They were poor and so I went to work at my trade again and made the window sash for Mr. Arthur’s house.
I soon bought me a pony and in September I started for home in Ohio, preaching by the way. I arrived at my father’s house in November. I then had to work for hay for my horse and cow. My wife had managed to get along with the baby without running me in debt. Some had to pay many dollars for their wives debts. I felt thankful for this and loved her dearly. Oh, how sincerely my heart was swollen with joy while I looked on my lovely son. We went to live on our place in the woods where we enjoyed ourselves through the summer. I bought a city lot in town and built a frame house on it one story and half, with it all paid.
I went to the Hebrew school and paid for my schooling. We boarded Solomon through the winter. In the spring he started for Missouri to see his children. He had learned that his wife was dead and his children were left at the mercy of the people.
I worked at my trade through the summer, nearly when I heard that the people of Clay County were about to drive our brethren from that county. It was about this time I received a letter from Solomon saying he had married another wife and was going to Missouri.
I saw the Prophet Joseph Smith and he told me to take Fanny Alger and go. I offered my place for sale and sold it before night. I made me a wagon of wood and got it iron rimmed on the wheels for Solomon and we started the latter part of August for his father-in-law’s and got there about the first of September 1836.
We stayed there about one week or more and then started for Missouri. We stopped in Illinois two weeks and laid a floor for a man. He gave us money. We went on to his folks and I went to work for grain and in November I bought me a farm in Caldwell County. I built a house sixteen feet square of logs and a small one for a shop. I hired rails made and fenced four acres and planted it to corn. I built a brush fence around my pasture. I bought and paid for ten acres in the city of Far West and partly paid for a city lot near the Temple block, where I desired living. I had in all sixty acres of good land besides my city lot paid for. I had cows, hogs, and one good mare, sheep and hens a plenty and was in a good way to live with plenty to eat.
When I got weary I would take my babe and my little boy on my lap and sing to them these verses:
Here, far in the realm of Missouri
I’ll sit and sing and tell a story
How many trials I have passed over
Before I found this dwelling in peace.
O’ here, here beside the fire
I have my sweet babe and little Mosiah
And here is mother, I’ll set me down beside
her and sing, I’ve found a dwelling peace.
Here in this grove while water I’m bringing
My ears are charmed to hear the birds singing
With songs so sweet they keep the grace
ringing while here at home I live and have
O here, here we’ve butter and honey
And many will hire and pay me the money
And nothing I owe, and no man to dun me
And here at home I live and have peace.
My cows go oft and come in the morning
And also at night I see them returning,
To give us cream and keep us churning
While here at home we live and have peace.
Here is my field all things are growing
And on the prairie I have men mowing
That I may have feed to keep the stock
growing while here at home I live and have
My ground is covered with strawberries
And in the grove I’ve plums and I’ve cherries
And I will thank my God and be merry
For giving me this dwelling in peace.
May we love Him forever and ever
For peace bestowed upon the believer
And turn from Him O never O never
But always love the spirit of peace.
END OF LEVI W. HANCOCK’S JOURNAL IN HIS OWN HAND WRITING
BRIEF LIST OF CONTENTS PAGE
4 At age 7 or 8 Levi has a dream in which he saw the Savior, who gave him a sweet liquid to drink.
6 Levi’s mother has a manifestation showing to her that their daughter, who died at age 2, was all right. The mother had been concerned since the little girl died before she had been baptized by their minister.
23-24 Levi first hears of the Book of Mormon; he attends a meeting and hears Parley P. Pratt explain the Gospel.
25 Levi’s father and sister are baptized. Levi goes to Kirtland and is baptized by P. P. Pratt (1830).
26 Vision of Levi showing small yoke and lamps–most of the lamps went out, but three burned very brightly. His spirit briefly left his body.
27 Three “Elders” try to mislead Levi and others.
30 Levi saw Joseph Smith (Feb. 1831).
33 An evil spirit possessed several of the brethren after Joseph Smith was ordaining them. Joseph Smith says John is preaching to the Ten Tribes.
34 Another experience with evil spirits (June 1831)
35 Levi and Zebedee Coltrin, among others, are called by Joseph Smith to go to Missouri to preach.
35-50 Missionary experiences.
44 One night when Levi was in a dozing state, he saw Samuel Smith, who came and gave him a blessing; and afterwards Levi recovered from his illness.
45-46 Revelations given about the missionaries by Joseph Smith.
50 Joseph Smith relates how a mob pulled the hair out of his head, and Levi saw the place where they pulled out the hair. The Prophet told Levi the Lord had a girl for him to marry–it wasn’t the one that Levi had picked out before he left on his mission, but one that would be better for him.
51 Levi, being a cabinet maker, built a desk and room for Joseph Smith. He was with the Prophet through the translation of the Bible. Levi attended the School of the Prophets. Later was sent with Ervin Green to Pennsylvania by the Prophet.
52 Levi marries Clarrissa Reed March 29, 1833, and they live in Kirtland. Levi worked on the temple when possible.
53 October 1833 the meteors fell all night. Levi prophesied that God would save their friends–then settling in Clay County. Their son, Mosiah Lyman, was born April 1834. Levi, Joseph Smith, and many others leave for Missouri. (Zions Camp.)
54 Joseph Smith prophesies, after much wet weather, that the weather conditions will dry up and be more favorable for them to travel. They pass through a burial ground with several mounds, and Joseph Smith explains that it was for Book of Mormon people. Some bones with an arrow in them were found, and the Prophet explained that they were those of a white Lamanite named Zelf– the last one buried.
55 Joseph Smith tells a little about killing and wars. Levi made a flag with an eagle and “Peace” on it, which was used as they passed the settlements along their way.
56 Levi takes care of his sick brother, Joseph, who has a bad case of cholera.
57 Levi rejoins his wife and son. The prophet asks Levi to take Fanny Alger and go (to Missouri).