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CHAPTER VII.


Leaves Kentucky.—Travels on foot five hundred miles.—Reaches his friends in Ohio.—Through fatigue and exposure, is very sick.—Receives kind attention.—Traveled and preached.—Taught school.—Great effort, and great success.—A thrilling narrative.—Arrives in Nauvoo.—The Father and Family in LaHarpe.

ON the last of February, 1839, I left the State of Kentucky with one dollar and twenty-five cents in my pocket, to visit my former home in Ohio, and to settle up some unfinished business, having received, by letter from my sister Eliza, the news of the expulsion of our people from Missouri. The distance of the journey before me was about five hundred miles, and in the worst season of the year for traveling, and at a time when very little interest was felt by the people for Gospel truths, and few opportunities afforded for public preaching. The trip was a tedious one—on foot and in the midst of snow and rain storms—sometimes hard, frozen ground—sometimes mud and water soaking through my boots until my socks were wringing wet at night, and of course, hard and stiff in the morning when I was fortunate enough to get them dry. It was a hard pull, but I accomplished the feat, and worn out by fatigue and exposure, I arrived among my friends in Ohio.

The first place I reached was a Brother Smith's, where one year before I had performed missionary labors—preached and baptized, and, at his house, made my home. Fatigue and its consequences had so changed my appearance, that at first Brother Smith and family did not recognize me. As soon as recognized, and my condition known, every attention was extended that kindness could suggest, and everything done for my comfort that warm hearts and willing hands could bestow. Then came a reaction of the overstraining of my physical powers, and with a burning fever, I was confined to my bed, and for days remained in a prostrate condition, when, through the kind ministrations of my friends and the blessing of God in the manifestations of His power, I soon recovered, and resumed my missionary labors.

The summer and fall I spent principally traveling and preaching in the northern part of Ohio. In the winter of 1839 and 1840, I was employed in teaching a district school in the township of Shalersville, Portage County, Ohio. The school was large, and its patrons all Gentiles with the exception of one family. Previous to this time, the directors had been very unfortunate in the selection of teachers; consequently the scholars were, in their studies, far behind adjacent schools. Here an opportunity presented for me to make a mark, and I determined to do it, and set myself to the arduous task of arousing and instilling intellectual life into the mentally dormant brain. I labored day and night to accomplish my purpose, i.e., to elevate my students to a higher standard of intellectual improvement. I succeeded, and before its close, my school had attained to such celebrity, that it was everywhere spoken of for its wonderful progress, and as having outstripped all of the neighboring schools.

But my extra exertions told seriously on my physical system, as the following little incident will illustrate: One evening I was in company with a gentleman who was with Napoleon Bonaparte's army in its retreat from Moscow. He possessed peculiar descriptive powers, and portrayed so lifelike the terrible scenes of suffering and death he had witnessed in that memorable defeat, that my mind was entirely absorbed, and my feelings and sympathies so aroused and carried along with him in his thrilling narrative, that my bodily strength was completely overcome, and I suddenly fainted and fell from my chair. This circumstance admonished me of the necessity of rest, of which I availed myself, and soon regained my usual health.

After having arranged my secular affairs, I took leave of my friends and kindred in Ohio, and started for Nauvoo, where I arrived about the first of May, 1840. I found my parents, brothers and sisters, whom I had left about eighteen months before, in Adam-ondi-Ahman, living in LaHarpe, about thirty miles from Nauvoo. 0, what changes, privation, hardship and suffering, the cruel hand of persecution had produced in those eventful months! But God was with His people, and they knew in whom they trusted, and in the midst of severe trials, rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the truth's sake.