On the Potter’s Wheel
Stanley B. Kimball, editor
This journal is taken from the Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois), Vol. 2 (15 June 1841), 16:443-44. The original of this extract appears to be lost. It refers to the Battle of Crooked River, Missouri, on 25 October 1838, which claimed the life of Apostle David W. Patten and others.
It will not be expected that I should recapitulate the circumstances which then transpired, which were of an extraordinary character, as numbers have written on the subject: suffice it to say, that the Saints suffered privations, hunger, abuse, cold, famine, and many of them death. Yes, the blood of the Saints has stained the soil of Missouri, for which the King of Kings and Lord of Hosts will recompense upon her, the punishment of her crimes.
From about the 6th of August, until the 1st of November, it was a continual scene of agitation, and alarm, both by night and by day. The enemies of righteousness [p.210]were determined to overthrow the Saints, and regardless of all law, (which was trampled upon with impunity,) they made every preparation, and used every means in their power to accomplish their unhallowed designs.
The Saints, tenacious of their liberties, and sacred rights, resisted these unlawful designs, and with courage worthy of them, they guarded their families and their homes, from the aggressions of the mob, but not without the loss of several lives, among whom was my much esteemed and much lamented friend, Elder David W. Patten who fell a sacrifice to the fell spirit of persecution, and a martyr to the cause of truth. The circumstances of his death I will briefly relate.
It being ascertained that a mob had collected on Crooked river in the county of Caldwell, a company of sixty or seventy persons immediately volunteered from Far West to watch their movements and repel their attacks, and chose Elder Patten for their commander, they commenced their march about midnight, and came up to the mob very early next morning, and as soon as the brethren approached near to them, they were fired upon, when Capt. Patten received a shot, which proved fatal; the mob after firing, ran away. Several others of the brethren were wounded at the same time, some of whom afterwards died.
Immediately on receiving intelligence that Brother Patten was wounded, I hastened to see him. When I arrived he appeared to be in great pain, but was glad to see me. He was conveyed about four miles, to the house of Brother Winchester. During his removal his sufferings were so excruciating, that he frequently desired us to lay him down that he might die. But being desirous to get him out of the reach of the mob, and among friends, we prevailed upon him to let us convey him there.
[p.211]He lived about an hour after his arrival, and was perfectly sensible and collected until he breathed his last.—Although he had medical assistance, yet his wound was such, that there was no hope entertained of his recovery; this he was perfectly aware of. In this situation, while the shades of time were lowering, and eternity to his view, he bore a strong testimony to the truth of the work of the Lord, and the religion he had espoused.
The principles of the gospel which were so precious to him before, were honorably maintained in natures’ final hour, and afforded him that support and consolation at the time of his departure, which deprived death of its sting and its horror. Speaking of those who had fallen from their steadfastness, he exclaimed, “O that they were in my situation; for I feel I have kept the faith, I have finished my course, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give to me,” &c.
Speaking to his beloved partner, who was present and who attended him in his dying moments, he said, “whatever you do else, O, do not deny the faith!” He all the while expressed a great desire to depart. I spoke to him and said, “Brother David, when you get home I want you to remember me.” He immediately exclaimed “I will.” At this time his sight was gone. We felt so very much attached to our beloved Brother, that we beseeched the Lord to spare his life and endeavored to exercise faith in the Lord for his recovery. Of this he was perfectly aware, and expressed a desire, that we should let him go, as his “desire was to be with Christ which was far better.” A few minutes before he died he prayed as follows: “Father I ask thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, that thou wouldst release my spirit and receive it unto thyself:” and then said to those who surrounded his dying bed, “Brethren, [p.212]you have held me by your faith, but do give me up and let me go I beseech you.” We then committed him to God, and he soon breathed his last, and slept in Jesus without a groan.
This was the end of one who was an honor to the church and a blessing to the Saints: and whose faith and virtues and diligence in the cause of truth will be long remembered by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and his memory will be had in remembrance by the church of Christ from generation to generation.
It was indeed a painful circumstance to be deprived of the labors of this worthy servant of Christ, and cast a gloom upon the Saints: yet the glorious and sealing testimony which he bore of his acceptance with heaven, and the truth of the gospel, was a matter of joy and satisfaction not only to his immediate friends, but to the Saints at large.