Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XXXVI

Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow:
One of The Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
by Eliza Roxcy Snow
Chapter XXXVI





Mission to the Sandwich Islands. -Elders called home. Walter M. Gibson. Goes to the Sandwich Islands. His perfidy. Lorenzo, with other Elders, sent to investigate. Take Stage. Arrive at a mining town. Incident. New driver. Favorable impressions. Sings melodiously. Swears blasphemously. Drives furiously. Perilous predicament. Other perils. Arrive at San Francisco. At Brother Eveleth's. Take, steamer. Arrive near the landing at Lahaina. Boat upset. Lorenzo and the Captain drowned. Both restored to life. Rejoicing and thanks- giving.

H||f X 1857, when the United States army was on the march (j|jj[ towards Utah, the Latter-day Saint Elders abroad on missions were called home, and the mission on the Sand- wich Islands was, for about two years, left in charge of a native Elder.

During this time, Walter M. Gibson, a man of deep scheming policy, came to Utah professed to adopt the faith of the Latter-day Saints, was baptized, took a short mission to the Eastern States, and when he returned started immediately for the Sandwich Islands, and there palmed himself on the unsus- pecting natives as a superior personage, authorized by and superior to President Brigham Young, and claimed the presi- dency over all the Pacific isles.

He re-organized the Church in accordance with his own schemes, ordained twelve Apostles, and charged them one hun- dred and fifty dollars each for the office conferred, and High Priests and Elders in proportion. With, means thus obtained he purchased one-half of the island of Lanai, where he gath- ered the Saints and all for his own aggrandizement,

Fearing they might be deceived, some eight of the Elders wrote to brethren in Utah who had labored many years among


them. They stated some of the facts concerning Mr. Gibson's course, and asked advice. This communication was translated and submitted to President Young. The First Presidency decided that Apostles EzraT. Benson and Lorenzo Snow should visit the islands, and that Elders Joseph F. Smith, Alma Smith and William W. Cluff should accompany them.

From Lorenzo's journal: "We took stage at Salt Lake City, about the 1st of March, 1864, for San Francisco, Califor- nia. Some interesting incidents occurred during our over- land trip to California, that seemed to us at the time rather interesting or, at least, a little exciting. It is true, so far as the tremendous jolting was concerned, we had decidedly the advantage of Horace Greeley in his ludicrous lone stage-ride over the same road, inasmuch as five of us could maintain a 1 tetter balance than a lone man. At any rate, on the roughest portions of the route, we partially succeeded in keeping our heads clear from the top of the stage,. which, as per report, he tailed in doing.

On arriving at a small mining town one Sunday morning about sunrise, our stage-man drove to the post office to exchange 'mail bags; just then a negro rushed out of a saloon directly in front of our horses, and had barely crossed the street, w r hen a white-man in his shirt-sleeves hurried out of the door from whence the negro came, with revolver in hand, and fired several shots in the direction in which the negro was run- ning. We saw him fall, and as his antagonist absconded, curi- osity prompted us to follow and ascertain the condition of his victim. He lay upon the ground groaning and writhing in agony. He pointed to places on his body where the bullets struck him, but just then, the stage was ready to start, and we left the unfortunate fellow to his fate.

At another

time, having stopped to exchange horses just 

as night was setting in, one of our company remarked that our ne\v driver had quite the air and appearance of an intelligent

gentleman, and we soon discovered that he possessed a won- 20


derful musical talent, in the exercise of which he elicited our surprise and admiration. It really seemed to me that a sweeter, a more pathetic or melodious voice I had never heard. It is quite possible that the stillness of night and the wild scenery of nature around us had a tendency to enhance the effect and increase our appreciation of melodious accents; whatever it might be, I was charmed, delighted, and felt that I could embrace that man and call him brother.

Whether the causes of these variations exist originally iii their organizations, or are the result of a life training, may he a subject' for philosophical discussion, but facts definitely prove that some people are made up of opposite elements, the proof -of which one may visibly notice by waiting and observing, as in the case now instanced.

A sudden lurch of the coach, which was occasioned by a miss-step or awkward movement of the horses, wrought a sud- den, marvelous change in our entertainer, and instantaneously closed our animating entertainment, while a volley of oaths and the most horrid blasphemies succeeded. As he poured forth his disgusting and heart-sickening profanity, he most furiously lashed the innocent horses.

At this time "we were just commencing the descent of a mountain some miles in length; it was quite dark, the road rough and rocky, and it may be readily imagined that our prospects were not the most inviting. Our coach swayed fear- fully the wheels ever and anon striking fire as they whirled over the rocks, with a double span of horses upon a keen run, tossing us up and down, giving us a few hard strokes of the head against the cover of the coach.

At length Elder Benson, in a tremulous yet powerful voice, demanded of the driver to moderate his speed, which was responded to by an increased and more furious lashing of the foaming, panting steeds; thus, and more, with a drunken coachman (as we afterwards learned), we tore along down the mountain, every moment in jeopardy of being dashed to


pieces. When at last reaching a station, we were happily relieved from this perilous adventure. On our return we learned that the inebriate had been discharged.

But one peril over, another comes. The most exciting and dangerous portion of our overland route is yet before us, which we encountered in. passing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Many portions of the road were covered with snow and ice, and ran a long way close beside fearful ravines, hundreds of feet in depth. One sitting in the coach, by inclining the head a little one side, could gaze down into the vast depths below, conscious that the wheels of the vehicle were often within a few inches of the terrible gulf; conse- quently, the slipping of the wheels, the least blunder of a horse, or a strap or buckle giving way, or the least carelessness of the driver, would plunge the whole outfit over the rocky crags into the abyss below. The danger was increased by the ice and snow, and the sudden, abrupt turns in the road. When we approached very slippery places, where the road frequently was barely of a sufficient width for the coach to pass between the high sharp rocks on one side and the frightful chasm on. the other, the driver, in guarding against catastrophes, would put his two spans on their utmost speed.

Hour after hour, as we thus moved on, particular points in the road were pointed out to us, where coaches had whirled down precipices, and every occupant had been killed. These nerve-stirring 'recitals caused us more seriously to realize the gravity of our situation and our dependence on God for the preservation of our lives; and we truly felt grateful for our deliverance, and breathing more freely, felt our pulses restored

to their normal state as we dismounted from the coach at the

western base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

On our arrival in San Francisco we were kindly enter- tained by Elder Eveleth, whose hospitable house was our home during our short stay, while making arrangements for our passage by steamer for the point of our destination. .Brother


Eveletli's kindness and hospitality to the latter day mission- aries traveling to and from Salt Lake is proverbial; and although called to a higher and broader sphere, he lives in the grateful, affectionate remembrance of those who knew him.

The following is from the narrative of Elder W. W. ( 'luff: We arrived at Honolulu, the capital of the islands, about the '27th of March, 1<S(>4. On the 29th we sailed for Lahaina, on the schooner Nettie Merrill, Captain Fisher, for the island of Maui, a distance of about ninety 'miles from Honolulu. On the morning of tin 3 31st of March, we came to anchor about one mile from the mouth of the little harbor of Lahaina.

Apostles E/ra T. Benson, Lorenzo Snow, Brother Alma L. Smith, and myself, got into the small boat to go on shore!" Brother Joseph F. Smith, as he afterwards stated, had some misgivings about going in that boat, but the manifestation was not sufficiently strong to indicate any general accident. He preferred to remain on board the ' vessel until the boat returned. The boat started for the shore. It contained some barrels and boxes, the captain, a white man, two or three native passengers, and the boat's crew, who were also natives.

The entrance to the harbor is a very narrow passage between coral reefs, and when the sea, is rough, it is very dangerous, on account of the breakers. Where the vessel lay, the sea was not rough, but only presented the appearance of heavy swells rolling to the shore.

As we approached the reef it was evident to me that the surf was running higher than we anticipated. I called the captain's attention to the fact. We were running quartering

>!!( i>s the waves, and 1 suggested that we change our course so

as to run at right angles with them. He replied that he did not think 1 1ft re was any danger, and our course was not changed. We went but little farther, when a heavy swell struck the boat and carried us before it about fifty yards. When the swell passed it left us in a trough between two huge waves. It was too late to retrieve our error, and we must run


our chance:-;. When the second swell struck the boat, it raised the stern so high that the steersman's oar was out of the water, and he lost control of the boat. It rode on the swell a short distance and swung around just as the wave began to break up. We were almost instantly capsized into the dash- ing, foaming sea.

I felt no concern for myself about drowning, for while on my former mission I had learned to swim and sport in the surf of those shores.

The last I remember of Brother Snow, as the boat \vas going over, I saw him seize the upper edge of it with both hands. Fearing that the upper edge of the boat, or the barrels, might hit and injure me as the boat was going over, I plunged head foremost into the water. After swimming a short distance, I came to the surface without being strangled or injured.

The boat was bottom upwards, and barrels, hats and umbrellas were floating in every direction. I swam to the boat and as there was nothing to cling to on the bottom, I reached under and seized the edge of it.

About the same time Brother Benson came up near me and readily got hold of the boat. Brother Alma L. Smith came up on the opposite side of the boat from Brother Benson and myself. He was considerably strangled, but succeeded in securing a hold on the boat.

A short time afterwards the captain was discovered, about fifty yards from u -. Two sailors, one on each side, succeeded in keeping him on the surface, although life was apparently extinct.

Nothing yet had been seen of Brother Snow, although the natives had been swimming and diving in every direction in search of him. We were only about one-fourth of a mile from shore. The people, as soon as .they discovered our circumstances, manned a life boat and hurried to the rescue. We were taken into the boat, when the crew wanted to row for


the shore, and pick up the captain by the way. We told them that one of our friends was yet missing, and we did not want to leave. We discovered that a second boat had left the shore and could reach the captain as soon as the one we were in. Seeing this, the crew of our boat consented to remain and assist us.

The captain was taken ashore, and by working over him sometime was brought to life. Probably his life would not have been much endangered but for a sack of four or five hundred silver dollars which he held in his hand, the weight of which took him at once to the bottom. The natives dove and brought him up, still clinging to the sack. When his vitality was*restored, the first thing he inquired about was the money; intimating to the natives, with peculiar emphasis, that it would not have been healthy for them to have lost it.

Brother Snow had not yet been discovered, and the anxiety was intense. The natives were, evidently, doing all in their power.

Finally, one of them, in edging himself around the capsized" boat, must have felt Brother Snow with his feet and pulled him, at least, partly from under it, as the first I saw of Brother Snow was hisjhaiir floating upon the water around one end of the capsized boat. As soon as we got him into our boat, we told the boatmen to pull for the shore with all possible speed. His body was stiff, and life apparently extinct.

Brother A. L. Smith and

I were sitting side by side. We 

laid Brother Snow across our laps, and, on the way to shore, we quietly administered to him and asked the Lord to spare his life, that he might return to his family and home.

On reaching the shore, we carried him a little way to some large empty barrels that were lying on the sandy beach. We laid him face downwards on one of them, and rolled him back and forth until we succeeded in getting the water he had swallowed out of him.


During this time u number of persons came down from the town; among them was Mr. E. P. Adams, a merchant. All were willing to do what they could. We washed Brother Snow's face Avith camphor, furnished by Mr. Adams. We did not only what was customary in such cases, but also what the Spirit seemed to whisper

After working over him for some time, without any indi- cations of returning life, the by-standers said that nothing more could be done for him. But we did not feel like giving him up, and still prayed and worked over him, with an assurance that the Lord would hear and answer our prayers.

Finally we were impressed to place our mouth over Ids and make an effort to inflate his lungs, alternately blowing in and drawing out the air, imitating, as far as possible, the natural process of breathing. This we persevered in until we succeeded in inflating his lungs. After a little, we perceived very faint indications of returning life. A slight wink of the eye, which, until then, had been open and death-like, and a very faint rattle in the throat, were the first symptoms of return- ing vitality. These grew more and more distinct, until con- sciousness was fully restored.

When this result was reached, it must have been fully one hour after the upsetting of the boat. A Portuguese man, living in Lahaina, who, from the first, rendered us much assistance, invited us to take Brother Snow to his house. There being no Saints in the place, we gladly accepted his kind offer. Every possible attention was given for Brother Snow's comfort.

We will here append my brother's account of the upsetting of the boat, and what he can recollect of the sensations of a man drowning and afterwards coming to life.

As we were moving along, probably more than a quarter of a mile from where we expected to land, my attention was suddenly arrested by Captain Fisher calling to the oarsmen in a voice which denoted some alarm, "Hurry up, hurry up!" I


immediately discovered the cause of alarm. A short distance behind us, I saw an immense surf, thirty or forty feet high, rushing towards us swifter than a race horse. We had scarcely a moment for reflection before the huge mass was* upon us. In an instant our boat, with its contents, as though it were a feather, was hurled into a gulf of briny waters, and all was under this rolling, seething mountain wave. It took me by surprise. I think, however, that I comprehended the situation in the midst of turbulent waves a quarter of a mile from the shore, without much probability of human aid.

I felt confident, however, there would be some way of escape; that the Lord would provide the means, for it was not possible that my life and mission were thus to terminate. This reliance 011 the Lord banished fear, and inspired me up to the last moment of consciousness. In such extreme cases of excite- ment, we seem to live hours in a minute, and a volume of thoughts crowd themselves into one single moment. It was so with me in that perilous scene.

Having been somewhat subject to faint, I think that after a few moments in the water I must have fainted, as, I did not suffer the pain common in the experience of drowning persons. I had been in the water .only a few moments, until I lost consciousness. The first I knew afterwards, I was on shore, receiving the kind and tender attentions of my brethren. The first recollection I have of returning consciousness, was that of a very small light the smallest imaginable. This soon disap- peared, and I was again in total darkness. Again it appeared much larger than before, then sank away and left me, as before, in forgetfulness. Thus it continued to come and go, until, finally, I rec-ogni/ed, as I thought, persons whispering, and soon after, I asked in a feeble whisper, "What is the matter?" I immediately recognized the voice of Elder Cluff, as he replied, "You have been drowned; the boat upset in the surf." Quick as lightning the scene of our disaster Hashed upon my mind. I immediately asked, "Are you brethren all safe?" The


emotion that was awakened in my bosom by the answer of Elder Cluff, will remain with me as long as life continues: "Brother Snow, we are all safe." T rapidly recovered, and very soon was able to walk and accompany the brethren to our lodgings. Brother Cluff resumes the narrative:

As soon as Brother Snow was out of danger, it occurred to me that I had better return to the vessel. As I reached the deck by the rope ladder over its side, I saw at a glance that Brother Smith was under great anxiety of mind. We were both under an intensity of feeling which men usually experi- ence only a few times in their lives. Brother Smith had been informed by a native that the captain and an elderly white man were drowned. The latter he supposed to be Brother Benson, hence his great anxiety. My own nervous system was strung up to an extreme tension by the events of the past two hours. When I told Brother Smith that all were safe, the sudden revulsion of feeling almost overcame him. We rejoiced together that through a merciful Providence, and the faith that had been bestowed upon us, we were all alive.