Joseph Smith Black – Journey to Arizona

Journey to Arizona

I would say that in marrying all of my wives, I have done it with the purest motive. They were honorable and virtuous, as we consider unchastely one of the greatest crimes on earth. I love them with all my heart and the numerous family that the Lord has given me, and in return I am loved and honored by them. It has always been our belief that a man should enjoy his religious convictions and put them into practice as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. By the spring of 1885. we were prepared to put in crops and were reasonably successful that year.

About that time the U. S. Marshal commenced to make raid s upon those who had more than one wife. and many of the brethren were arrested and sent to prison. By tile continuous night raids on the settlements by the Marshal. many families were kept in constant excitement and anxiety for the safety of their fathers and husbands, I was forced away from my home on many occasions. but endeavored to attend to the duties of my ecclesiastical office and direct my financial affairs.

Raids became so annoying that many had to leave their homes. In January 1886 I received a letter from F. D. Richards, then acting President of the Church. as President Taylor and many of the authorities were in hiding. He informed me that I could have my choice of going on a foreign mission or go to Mexico, as the Church was desirous of establishing colonies there. I decided to go to the latter place after consultation with the Presidency of the Stake. Several others also desired to go. owing to the excitement of those times. but while I was at Fillmore, I telegraphed to Brother Western and told them all to stay home. A, few days prior to this M. M. Bishop, my counselor. got alarmed and moved away. and at the February conference at Fillmore, 1886, Robert Hunter was elected to till his place as first counselor. I fixed as soon as possible to go and take Louie with me. as she had the smallest family. My departure was kept fluid and on the day of my departure my heart was almost read to break. I was to eat dinner at Sarah’s. who did not know then that I was on the eve of going away. I kissed her as I went out of the door and said. “Alright.’ She little realized the mental anguish which I was enduring. On going up the path. I met my little boy Frank, and he said, “Hello, Pa.” and came up and embraced me and for the first time my feelings gave way and outburst a flood of tears, My brother William and Cynthia awaited me at the outside of town with a buggy. In taking a parting handshake with my brother William. he gave me his gloves and handkerchief, and turned away unable to speak.

Cynthia accompanied me to Fillmore. Her feelings can better be imagined than described. I consoled her and told her to be of good cheer as the Lord would watch all for the best. The next morning I left her sick and started for Kanosh where Louie was awaiting me, The rest of my family, on Learning of my departure were almost prostrate with grief.  but I sent them consoling letters and told them to trust in the Lord Caroline conducted my store successfully and my mill paid me 18,000 pounds of flour dear profit. I loaded a baggage wagon with supplies for one year, driven by two span of horses and my buggy drawn by a good span of mules. We left Kanosh on the first day of March in a snow storm. We arrived in Rockville. Kane County. in seven days. and it stormed every day. Louie’s child was taken very sick and was near unto death when we arrived at Rockville. My son-in-law, Andrew Peterson. accompanied me to Iron County and rendered all the assistance he could. A few days after my arrival I attended a funeral and preached a discourse. standing by my father’s grave, who was buried there in the year 1873,  also my son Thomas B. was lying by his side. We remained in Rockville about two weeks, during which time S. W. Western, my counselor arrived. We started for Mexico about the first of April. We had cold and stormy times during the first part of our journey. Feed was very scarce, as grass had not yet commenced to grow.

We arrived at Woodruff Apache County. Arizona, on the first day of May, Here we met Apostle Erastus Snow. who informed me that things were unsettled in Mexico, as our purchase of land had been attended with fraud on the part of the other party. as the other party laid claim to the water. He advised us to layover till he returned to Utah. which would be in about one month, which I did by going up to the limber of’ the Macion Mountains. 20 miles from Snowflake City, where grass was plentiful.

In about a month. Apostle Snow returned from Utah and held a meeting at Snowflake City. In a few days after, Jesse N. Smith, president of the Eastern Arizona Stake, visited our camp and informed me that President Snow had suggested that if I desired to locate in that country he would be pleased if I would locate either at Erastus or Round Valley, as he wanted me to preside. I told President Smith that I was not seeking a new home or position, but if I was called I would feel it a duty to respond, though I would prefer otherwise. He informed me to accompany him on a tour, visiting each Ward in his Stake. which I accepted and also thanked him and Brother Snow tor the confidence they had in me.

We started on our tour in my buggy and Sisters Smith and Black accompanied us. We visited Erastus and held meetings. but could not find a suitable man for Bishop. The Ward was left in charge of President Priest as the Bishop had moved to Mexico. We visited two settlements in Round Valley and held two days meetings. Former Bishop, John Eager, was released, the two settlements were consolidated, and John Crosby was put in Bishop. Then the place was named Union. We then visited Nutrioso and held meetings. The Saints in that place were feeling quite badly. as a short time previous they had 16 sixteen children through some disease. The Bishop was absent. at that time.

Next day we commenced our return, We arrived at Bush Valley late in the evening and Sister Smith. being President of the Relief Society of the Stake. held meeting with the sisters which was also addressed President Smith and myself.  Next day we traveled to Nutrioso, where we stayed all night and next day on to Round Valley. Here the Mormons had a settlement on one side of the street laid off in square blocks and street at right angles. while on the other side was a settlement of Mexicans and Gentiles, with streets crooked and in some places wide and in other places narrow. Their houses were built mostly of adobe. two feet long and one loot wide and about six inches thick. The houses had Hat roofs. The next day we proceeded to St. John. We had a pleasant evening with Bishop Udall, who had just returned from Detroit Penitentiary, where he had been sent on trumped up charge of perjury by his enemies. He gave us a detailed description of the confinement there. It is conducted on the silent plan, no prisoner allowed to speak to another and friends were not allowed to send them any comforts of life. St. John is the best built town of Eastern Arizona. and I was much surprised with the thrill and enterprise, considering the forbidding aspects of the country. Next day we held meeting and had a splendid time. Next morning we went to Woodruff, where we also held meeting. then proceeded to Snowflake. where President Smith’s home and headquarters of the Stake were located. Here I rested one day and then proceeded to our camp. where I found a letter awaiting me requesting me to come home. I gathered my teams together and started to Utah on the 28th of July. We had a very hard journey. as the weather was hot and the water scarce. We were hard pressed for supplies, as we had divided with the poor. On arriving at Kingston on the Sevier my wife stopped at Brother William King’s, who treated us kindly and supplied our most pressing wants. I arrived at Deseret September 1 and found all well in health.