Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XXXVII
Mission to the Sandwich Islands concluded. Journey to Lanai. Mr. Gib- son. Pagan superstitions. Adopted by Miss Gibson. Mr. Gibson rev- erenced by the nalives. His impudence. Elder J. F. Smith's reply. Elder Snow's prophecy. Gibson cut off from Church. Prophecy ful- filled. Sermon on the ship. An earthquake. Return home. Inter- view with President Young.
N the second of April Brother Snow had so far recov- ered his strength that it was thought best to pursue our journey. We hired some natives to take us in an open boat across the channel, sixteen miles, to Lanai. We arrived at the landing place, three miles from the village, just
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at dark. We sent a messenger to Mr. Gibson, with the request that he would send down some saddle horses for us to ride up in the morning.
Early the following morning, April 3d, the horses were ready for us. An hour's ride over a rough, rocky road, brought us to a settlement; our reception by Mr. Gibson and most of the native Saints was cool and very formal. Many improvements had been made since our last visit that were praiseworthy and reflected great credit on Mr. Gibson.
After breakfast, Apostles Benson and Snow engaged in conversation with Mr. Gibson on the affairs of the mission. That day and the following were principally spent in laboring with Mr. Gibson and the native Elders, to get them, if possi- ble, to see the condition they were in. During this time, Brothers Joseph F. Smith, Alma L. Smith and myself took a ride around the valley, accompanied by Mr. Gibson's daughter as our guide.
About one half mile from Mr. Gibson's residence w r as a large rock, the top several feet above the ground. Mr. Gibson had a chamber cut into this rock, in which he had deposited a Book of Mormon and other things, and called it the corner stone of a great temple, which would be erected there. A frame work of poles had been constructed, in a circular form, around this rock, and this was covered with brush.
Mr. Gibson, by appealing to the pagan superstitions of the natives, made them believe that this spot was sacred, and if any person touched it he would be struck dead. So much faith had the daughter of Mr. Gibson in the teachings of her father, that she related, apparently in good faith, the circum- stance of a hen flying upon the booth and immediately fall- ing down dead.
Notwithstanding the protest of Miss Gibson, that it was very dangerous to do so, we went inside of the brush struc- ture and examined the rock and came out unharmed.
We were further informed that Mr. Gibson had sue-
ceeded in surrounding his own person and residence with such a halo of sacredness in the minds of the natives, that they always entered his house on their hands and knees.
This was repeated on other occasions. It was the old customary way in which the natives had been in the habit of paying their respects to their kings, and the custom had been revived by Mr. Gibson in order to increase his personal prestige.
We had previously learned that the Saints would assem- ble in conference on the sixth of April. At ten o'clock a. m., they had assembled in the meeting house. We all started to go in, when Mr. Gibson made some excuse for returning to his house. We went in and took our seats on the stand. The house was well filled. ^In a few minutes Mr. Gibson made his appearance. As soon as he entered the door, the entire con- gregation instantly arose to their feet and remained standing until he was seated on the stand. The execution of this act of reverence evinced long and careful training.
Mr. Gibson had doubtless delayed his entrance to make a fitting opportunity for this exhibition. He entirely ignored the presence of the Apostles, and, after the people were seated, arose and gave out the opening hymn. This act ga\e evi- dence at once that he had no proper idea of the organization and authority of the Priesthood. Seeing this, President Ben- son called on me to pray.
Without giving any time for consultation, as soon
second hymn was sung, Mr. Gibson arose to his feet and com- menced to address the congregation, in substance, as follows: " My dear red-skinned brethren, sisters and friends. I pre- sume you are all wondering and anxious to know why these strangers have come so suddenly among us, without giving us any notice of their coming. I, will assure you of one thing, my red-skinned friends, when I find out, I will be sure to let you know, for I am your father, and will protect you in your rights. These strangers may say they are your friends; but
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let me remind you how, when they lived here, years ago, they lived upon your scanty substance. Did they make any such improvements as you see I have made? Did I not come here and find you without a father, poor and discouraged? Did I not gather you together here, and make all these improve- ments that you to-day enjoy? Now you, my red-skinned friends, must decide who your friend and father is, whether it is these strangers or I who have done so much for you."
When he took his seat, President Benson requested Brother 'Joseph F. Smith to talk, rather intimating that it was desirable to speak on general principles, and that he need not feel bound to notice all that Mr. Gibson had said.
It seemed impossible for any man to speak with greater power and demonstration of the Spirit. He referred the Saints to the labors of Brother George Q. Cannon and the first Elders who brought them the Gospel. He reminded them of facts with which the older members were well acquainted the great disadvantage the Elders labored under, and the privations they suffered in first preaching the Gospel on the islands. How they slept in their miserable huts and lived as they lived; how they traveled on foot in storms and .in bad weather, from village to village, and from house to house, exposing health and life. How they went destitute of clothing, and what they had been in the habit of considering the necessaries of life, to bring to them the blessings of the Gospel, without money and without price.
He asked by what right Mr. Gibson called himself the father of the people, and the Elders who faithfully labored to establish them in the Gospel, strangers.
The spirit and power that accompanied Brother Smith's remarks astonished the Saints and opened their eyes. They began to see how they had been imposed upon. Every word he spoke found a response in their hearts, as was plainly manifest by their eager looks and animated countenances.
There was another meeting in the afternoon, in which
Apostles Benson and Snow addressed the Saints. The remarks were interpreted by Elder Joseph F. Smith.
On the seventh, there was a meeting in the forenoon. A Priesthood meeting was appointed for the evening, and the conference adjourned sine die.
The meeting of the Priesthood in the evening was well attended, as it was understood that Mr. Gibson's course would be investigated. The complaints that were made by the native Elders, in the communication that led to our present mission, were read, and Mr. Gibson was called on to make answer to the charges.
In addition to nearly a repetition Of his harangue at the meeting on the day previous, his reply consisted of a bom- bastic display of some letters of appointment and recom- mendations from President Young, to which he attached large seals, bedecked with a variety of colored ribbons, to give them an air of importance and official significance, in the eyes of the unsophisticated natives. These papers he held up before the people, and, pointing to them, said, with great emphasis, "Here is my authority, which I received direct from President Brigham Young. I don't hold myself accountable to these men!" meaning the Apostles and those who come with them. Had there been no other proof of the wrong course of Mr. Gibson, that remark was sufficient to satisfy the brethren what their plain duty was, and they acted promptly in the matter.
Apostle E. T. Benson followed Mr. Gibson. He reviewed Mr. Gibson's past course, and showed that, in making merchan- dise of the offices of the Priesthood, introducing the former pagan superstitions of the people, for the purpose of obtaining power, and his idea of establishing a temporal and indepen- dent kingdom on the Pacific isles, were all in antagonism to the plan laid down in the Gospel for the redemption of man. The spirit manifested by Mr. Gibson proved that he was ignorant of the powers of the Priesthood, or that he ignored
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them for purely selfish motives. What they had seen and heard since their arrival, proved that the complaints made by the native Elders, in their letters to Utah, were correct, as far as they went, but the half had not been tolfl.
Brother Benson's remarks were interpreted, after which it was motioned that Mr. Gibson's course be disapproved. When this was put to a vote, all but one of the native Elders voted against the motion. This showed that Mr. Gibson still retained a strong hold on the minds of the Saints.
Notwithstanding this show of strong opposition, Brother Snow arose, and in his remarks prophesied that Mr. Gibson would see the time that not one of the Saints would remain with him.
Brother J. F. Smith remarked that among the scores of Elders who had labored on the islands, none had been so utterly wanting in the spirit and power of the Gospel as to charge the Saints anything for conferring on them the blessings of the Priesthood, until Walter M. Gibson came, and had the presumption to claim that he had a right to ordain Apostles and High Priests for a price for money.
The Apostles informed Mr. Gibson and the Saints that, when they left the islands for home, Elder Joseph F. Smith would be left in charge of the mission. That all those who wished to be considered in good standing in the Church, should leave Lanai and return to their homes on the other islands, where the branches would be re-organized and set in order by the brethren who would be left for that purpose. The next day we returned to Lahaina, where we held a council, and cut Mr. Gibson off from the Church. We returned to Honolulu, and about eight days after, Apostles Snow and Benson took passage on the bark Onward, for San Francisco.
Brother Snow's prophecy was literally fulfilled. The Saints all left Mr. Gibson, and returned to their former homes, as they had been counseled to do. All the plans of Mr. Gibson were completely frustrated. He is a prominent example of
the nothingness of man, when he attempts to battle against the Kingdom of God.
The following is from Brother Snow's- journal: On our return from the Sandwich Islands, the captain of the ship on which we sailed, whom we appreciated as a social, polite, matter-of-fact gentleman, invited us to deliver a "Mormon" discourse on board, to which we cheerfully assented. On Sunday morning, the weather being fine, the sea calm, the atmosphere fresh and balmy, the stately ship moving grace- fully over the water, propelled by its inward force the mystical power of steam we notified the captain that we were ready to respond to his invitation. Accordingly, the officers, crew and passengers assembled on the deck, "inspired with curiosity to hear the "Mormons." Brother Benson insisted on my doing the preaching, to which I consented, and had great liberty in explaining our faith and the principles of the everlasting Gospel. Although I may not have convinced any of them of the truth and fulness of the Gospel, and of its present existence on the earth, they all listened with marked attention to rny discourse, and all seemed pleased and entertained, with one exception, viz: a Presbyterian clergy- man who was present manifesting great uneasiness and dis- pleasure by dark expressions of countenance and various contortions of his features and body.
After a favorable voyage on the Pacific, we arrived safely in San Francisco. San Francisco is proverbial for its fine com- modious restaurants. When in that city, I partook of refresh- ments in one which has the reputation of seating at once one thousand people. A miniature indoor railway was so con- structed as to carry, in carriages, dishes of food and empty dishes, forward and back, all around this wnmense hall. The noise and clatter produced by this operation is not particularly soothing and musical to a delicate and retin-ed ear, and more especially not very much so to a highly sensitive nervous organization.
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I had, in a few instances in my life, experienced the sen- sation produced by slight earthquakes, but not of those of any considerable magnitude. One day in San Francisco, while sitting at the table, enjoying the good things provided in one of these magnificent halls of entertainment, all of a sudden a very singular sensation came over me, for which I could not decipher the cause. At the same moment I imagined a heaving or rocking motion of the floor, as if the foundation was giving way. Immediately the people arose from the tables and rushed to the door. Not comprehending the cause of the sudden excitement and confusion, I arose to follow the excited multitude, still ignorant of what was up, and, of course, anxious to learn. Approaching the gentleman who stood still in his usual place to receive pay from his custom- ers, I thought he appeared to be vexed. Passing him my change, I begged him to explain to me the cause of the abrupt evacuation. "An earthquake!" he ejaculated. And as I was the only customer remaining, I attributed his vexation to the fact that the multitude rushed out minus paying their bills. But the earthquake proved to be of destructive magnitude sufficiently
so to satisfy my curiosity. Much injury was done,
not only to the restaurant so suddenly vacated, but to many other buildings.
The president of the Western Telegraph Company procured for Elder Benson and myself, and for our baggage, a free pass through to Salt Lake City; for which unsolicited favor we felt very grateful.
I was very favorably impressed with the wonderful beauty, the lovely scenery and magnificent foliage which I saw, and the sweet, balmy, healthful air I experienced while in Honolulu. But -my attention and admiration were more deeply and more interestedly attracted toward the people of that city of the isles, and those of the adjacent islands I mean those who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their fidelity and faith in the Gospel,
their childlike simplicity and warm affection for their teachers, impressed me with a great interest and love for them. In fact, so much that on ray return to Salt Lake, in a prolonged conversation with President Young, I plead with him, by the deepest and strongest feelings of my heart, not to slacken his interest, nor withhold from continuing his former generous and benevolent plans in relation to that field of missionary labor. I told him that if I were twenty years younger, and should the Presidency think proper to invest me with the privilege of selecting the field for my missionary work to continue for twenty years, I would prefer to spend those years among the good, simple, warm-hearted natives of those islands.
I was prompted to say this and more, in consequence of fearing, from some remarks of his during the conversation, that he felt inclined through discouragement arising from the difficulties at this time affecting that mission, to doubt the propriety of applying time, means and missionary labor in that direction, as formerly.
Subsequent history proves my brother Lorenzo's fears, relative to the Sandwich Islands, groundless, as will be seen by a letter which will be compiled in this work, written by a son-in-law, who, with his family, is now on a mission to those isles of the sea.