Levi Ward Hancock

Zion’s Camp


In the Fall, I had to guard the 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 (in Jackson County, MO) 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 (in Missouri) and learned that many were settling in Clay County.

In October, the meteors fell all night.  Then I began to prophesy, 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 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 some time we had peace. 

We had our morning and evening payers.  When we had got to Busyrus, a considerable size of town, in the western part of Ohio, many conjectures were formed concerning us and many questions asked us as we were traveling.  I heard one man say, “It looks like the amp 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 country, 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... We continued our march westward until we came to the Mississippi River, opposite of Louisiana (in Pike Co., MO) 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 Alread 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 (of Missouri), where they were bitter enough. 

We had now in our camp, two hundred and five (205) 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 ass 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 tow 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 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 (storm) 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 (be) 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 sacrifice 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.