About the editor: Stanley B. Kimball is a great-great-grandson of Heber C. Kimball. He graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in 1959 and is Professor of History at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where he has taught for twenty-seven years. He is the author of four books and numerous articles of Mormon history, including Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), which won a best book award from the Mormon History Association. He currently serves as historian of the Mormon Pioneer Trail Foundation. He and his wife, Violet, have four children.
dedication page: To the Kimball Family Association in appreciation for the support and help they have given me over the years I have done research on our great-grandsire
limited edition statement: This edition of On the Potter’s Wheel: The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball is strictly limited to five hundred copies, of which this is copy number _____ .
On the Potter’s Wheel
The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball
edited by Stanley B. Kimball
in association with
Smith Research Associates
Salt Lake City / 1987
Copyright 1987 by Signature Books, Inc.,
Salt Lake City, Utah. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kimball, Heber Chase, 1801-1868. The diaries of Heber C. Kimball. Includes index.
1. Kimball, Heber Chase, 1801-1868–Diaries. 2. Mormons–United States–Diaries. I. Kimball, Stanley Buchhlolz. II. Title.
289.3’32’0924 [B] 87-23421
Introduction [see below]
A Heber C. Kimball Chronology [see below]
Maps [see below]
01 - 4 June 1837 to 23 February 1838
02 – 20 December 1840 to 11 March 1841
03 – 10 June to 19 October 1843
04 – 15 May 1844 to 27 May 1845
05 – 28 May 1845 to 20 November 1845
06 – 21 November to 9 December 1845
[p.ix]Although unlearned and barely literate, Heber Chase Kimball (1801-68) enjoyed a highly developed sense of history and of the importance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To that end he dutifully kept a number of diaries. In some instances they are the best, and occasionally the only, contemporary account of the events they chronicle. While his penmanship, spelling, and grammar were distinctly minimal and idiosyncratic, Kimball possessed an exceptional memory. And he was, in his own right, an important figure in early Mormon history—one of the original twelve apostles, an intimate confidant of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and the first LDS missionary to England. He was, as one New York writer termed him in 1863, five years before his death, the quintessential “Mormon.”1
[p.x]No other LDS leader since has exceeded Kimball’s devotion to Mormonism. “I wish to be in the hands of God,” he explained to his wife Vilate, “as the clay in the hands of the potter.”2 For more than thirty-six years, in ten states, and in England, he faithfully served his religion and strove to build both the spiritual and material Kingdom of God. From his conversion to Mormonism in 1832 until his death in 1868 he was in the forefront of the excitement, drama, and turbulence of Latter-day Saint history. He was tenaciously optimistic, even during the most trying of times, and placed considerable importance on dreams, frequently interpreting his own. Without his writings, any understanding of early Mormonism would be incomplete. Although parts of his holographic diaries—that is, those in his own hand—have been published be-[p.xi]fore, the originals have never been made available to readers in full—until now.
Heber C. Kimball produced four diaries between 1837 and 1847 in common blank books, measuring 4 by 6.5 inches each. They are currently housed in the archives of the Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, where they were deposited by the Kimball family for safe keeping in 1903. But of the 577 total pages in these four books, only 357 pages (or 61 percent) are in Kimball’s own hand.3
Evidently, he did not enjoy writing and used scribes—such as Peter O. Hansen, an adopted son, and William Clayton, a church clerk—when possible. Those entries in Kimball’s hand cover only the years from 1837 to 1845. Hansen is responsible for recording the 1846 trek across Iowa, and Clayton for the 1847 journey to the Rocky Mountain great basin.4
The four holographic diaries, arranged chronologically and included in toto in the present compilation, are:
1. Diary One: 4 June 1837 to 23 February 1838;
2. Diary Two, Part One: 20 December 1840 to 11 March 1841;
3. Diary Two, Part Two: 10 June to 19 October 1843;
4. Diary Three: 15 May 1844 to 27 May 1845;
5. Diary Two, Part Three: 28 May to 20 November 1845; and
6. Diary Four: 21 November to 9 December 1845.
Also among Kimball’s papers at LDS church archives is a small record known as the “H. C. Kimball Memoran-[p.xii]dum” book. It contains fourteen holographic memoranda dating from 1852 through 1864. These miscellaneous notes are presented chronologically in appendix A.
Edited (including summarized) versions of almost all of the above diaries have appeared in print, beginning as early as the 1840s. Related to Kimball’s diaries of his two missions to England in 1837 and 1840 is The Journal of Heber C. Kimball, a sixty-page pamphlet published in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1840. Kimball dictated this “journal” from memory to Robert B. Thompson, a Nauvoo printer. As Kimball did not have his original diaries with him at the time, this publication is more of a memoir than a diary in the strict sense of the term. It was the first book to come off the Mormon press in Nauvoo and marked the beginning of what would come to be called “faith promoting literature.” (Thompson was probably interested in the subject since he was related to one of the original English missionaries.) Most of the Journal was later reprinted in Salt Lake City in 1882 as President Heber C. Kimball’s Journal and was reissued in 1976 by Mormon Heritage Publishers (Salt Lake City, Utah).
An expanded manuscript version of this Journal also exists. During the 1850s in Utah, probably in preparation for the “Synopsis of the History of Heber C. Kimball,” printed in 1858 (see discussion below), Kimball dictated an 84-page manuscript (catalogued at LDS church archives as “Heber C. Kimball Autobiography, 1838-48″). At the beginning of this document, Kimball included a copy of the 1840 pamphlet and explained,
I will here insert a copy of a pamphlet published by Robert B. Thompson while I was on my second mission to England: he and I previously went on a high hill in the woods, near the city of Quincy, Illinois, where we sat down when I gave him a short sketch of my first mission to England, from memory, not having my journal with me, as I had been recently driven from Missouri: I then omitted many dates which I now fill up, and also make many corrections and additions.
While only a part of this document appeared in the published “Synopsis,” most of it was subsequently reproduced in Orson F. Whitney’s 1889 biography, Life of Heber C. Kimball, printed in Salt Lake City.
Also catalogued among the Kimball papers at LDS church archives is a “Heber C. Kimball Autobiography, 1801-46,” which Kimball dictated to various clerks.5 Again, while only part of this was included in the Synopsis, much of its contents later appeared in the Whitney biography.
The Synopsis itself is a five-part biography which was serialized first in the Deseret News, 31 March to 28 April 1858. It later appeared in the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 16 July to 12 November 1864, published in England.
Many of the entries from Kimball’s diaries were also incorporated into the so-called Documentary History of the Church, which was first published in the 1850s and later reissued in the early twentieth century as History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The last of the four Kimball holographic diaries, covering the period from 21 November 1845 to 7 January [p.xiv]1846, is really two completely different records. Through 9 December 1845, Kimball used it as a personal diary which he kept in his own hand. Thereafter to the end of the volume, 7 January 1846, William Clayton used this book to record information relating to the Nauvoo Temple. Thus, the latter section should more properly be classified as a William Clayton diary or, perhaps, as a kind of Nauvoo Temple record. In any event, it is not a Kimball diary and is not reproduced here. (Clayton’s entire record was published verbatim in 1982 by the Modern Microfilm Company, Salt Lake City.)
Besides the above diaries and dictations, there is also an “Elder Kimball’s Journal,” which was published in the Times and Seasons, from 15 January to 15 April 1845, in Nauvoo. This account covers the period 17 February through 26 July 1834 and is essentially a record of the march of Zion’s Camp—a company of Ohio Mormons who hoped to come to the relief of the Saints in Missouri where they had been persecuted. Added to this is a record of Kimball’s calling as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on 18 February 1835 and his departure on a mission to the east three months later on 4 May. The original, if there was one, has not survived, although this account may also have been dictated or reconstructed from notes. It appears in the present compilation as appendix B.
Additionally, there is the “Pioneer Journal of Heber C. Kimball,” covering the period 5 April to 25 June 1847. This “journal,” however, is entirely in the hand of William Clayton, at Kimball’s request, and is very similar to the printed version of Clayton’s own famous diary published in 1921. This “Pioneer Journal” was serialized in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, volume 30, numbers 1 to 4, and volume 31, number 1, from January 1939 to January 1940. Because it is not in Kimball’s hand, and seems to reflect Clayton’s mind more than Kimball’s, it is not included in the present compilation.
There is some evidence that there might be still another unknown Kimball diary, one covering his experiences in Missouri. In the Times and Seasons for 15 July 1841, there appears an “Extract from the Journal of Heber C. Kimball: Battle of Crooked River—Death of D. W. Patten.” Whatever the source of this extract, the original seems to have disappeared. This printed account is reproduced in appendix C. Finally, there is also a “History of the British Mission” in the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (vol. 4, pp. 313-21, under the date of 23 March 1841). This account, signed by Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and Willard Richards, was evidently written by William Clayton, under Kimball’s direction.6
Most of the above publications duplicate or approximate some of Kimball’s original diaries, and Orson Whitney’s biography draws heavily from them. Why then publish the originals? Because they are the original, first-hand, on-the-spot jottings of the man who has been edited and quoted ever since. These four holographs, as well as the Memorandum Book and the Zion’s Camp and Crooked River accounts, reveal the man who wrote them far better than any publication based on them, and the careful reader will discover many facts and incidents in the life of Heber C. Kimball that, for whatever reason, never survived the later revisions.
When the last of the four holographs ends on 9 December 1845, church leaders were finalizing their plans to leave Nauvoo, the temple was nearing completion, and [p.xvi]Kimball had sixteen wives and at least eight living children. By the time of the exodus, some three months later, Kimball’s family was expanded to include at least thirty-eight wives (four of whom were pregnant), seven small children, and two married children. Kimball was also responsible for several foster children borne to women he had not yet married, and had seven adopted sons, some of whom had families of their own.
References to plural wives are rare in the Nauvoo period of Mormon history. Unfortunately, one does not learn much from Kimball in this respect, either. Still, Kimball does refer, at least in passing, to nine of his plural wives: Abigail Buchannan, Mary Fielding Smith, Margaret McMinn, Vilate Murray, Sarah Peak, Mary Ann Shefflin, Ruth Wellington, Sarah Ann Whitney, and Nancy Maria Winchester. In addition, there are oblique allusions to seven other wives, usually couched in references to the woman’s father or family. These include Clarissa Cutler, Emily Cutler, Amanda Gheen, Ann Alice Gheen, Dorothy Moon, Hannah Moon, and Mary Smithies.
Kimball’s diaries covering the years 1843 to 1846 have been edited, excerpted, reprinted, and quoted less often than his early missionary diaries and later pioneer journals. This is unfortunate because they add considerably to our understanding of this era of Mormon history, especially the period spanning the death of Joseph Smith on 27 June 1844 to the exodus west in February 1846.
Kimball seems not to have had other readers in mind while keeping his diaries. Although he improves somewhat as a diarist, the early accounts pay little or no attention to dates, continuity, paragraphing, spelling, punctuation, grammar, or readability. At times, his narrative seems almost to be stream-of-consciousness—impressions that [p.xvii]are full of asides to his God and to his first wife, Vilate, an aide memoire, and often recorded after the fact. The early diaries clearly represent Kimball’s somewhat reluctant attempt to follow Joseph Smith’s admonition to record history. While he seems to have disliked doing it, he nonetheless preserved much of what he experienced. We are to be grateful that he did.
In preparing the manuscripts that follow for publication, I worked from original holographs, microfilm and photographic copies, and from various typescripts. Unfortunately, some entries are in such light pencil that they are exremely difficult to read, even in the original. Thus, although I have tried to transcribe the originals as accurately as possible, I must alert the reader that some possible misreadings of the original may appear.
Normally in scholarly editing of this kind, the editor leaves the text alone, except for beginning all sentences with capitals, ending all sentences with periods, capitalizing all proper nouns, correcting obvious oversights, and adding bracketed material or notes for clarification. Editing Heber C. Kimball required much more. The editorial approach I have adopted derives much from Scott H. Faulring’s excellent model used in preparing the Joseph Smith diaries and journals, An American Prophet’s Record (Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1987).
1. Spelling. All original spelling has been preserved. When necessary, however, I have supplied bracketed information to make the meaning clearer.
2. Paragraphing. In many instances, especially in the first diary where there is no paragraphing at all, two or more paragraphs have been created out of one when the change of subject matter indicates that a new paragraph is called for.
[p.xviii]3. Punctuation. Most of Kimball’s holographic material is poorly, if at all, punctuated. Therefore, I have supplied some punctuation for increased readability and intelligibility. In a few instances where context seems to justify it, quotation marks have been silently introduced. When the end of a sentence is uncertain or ambiguous, punctuation is not added and the material is left intact. All semi-colons are left as they appear in the original.
4. Capitalization. All original capitalization has been preserved, and proper nouns have all been capitalized.
5. Omissions and Abbreviations. The inadvertant omission of words or letters is supplied in brackets when necessary for clarity. Some abbreviations have been expanded with additions in brackets, such as Elder H[yde]. Common abbreviation, such as Dr., are unchanged.
6. Cancelled and Indistinguishable Material, Insertions, and Repeated Words. Cancelled matter, either line-outs or erasures, has been disregarded, since none of it is of stylistic, psychological, or historical value. Conjectural readings of missing or unintelligible words or letters are enclosed in brackets with a question mark. Interlinear insertions are enclosed in right- angled slashes (/). Words that were unintentionally repeated in the original manuscript are silently deleted.
7. Handwriting Identification. Some of Kimball’s 1846-48 journals were kept entirely by others. They are mentioned, but not reproduced in this compilation, which focuses exclusively on Kimball’s holographs. In Kimball’s holographic diaries, some information appears in other hands as well. Where this material is extensive, it is abridged. However, short sections, are left in situ, set off by back slashes, as in the following example: \[this material is not in Kimball's hand]\.
[p.xix]8. Annotation. I have tried to keep annotation to a minimum in deference to the growing tendency to display neither pedantry nor to expend undue time on insignificant events or obscure persons. Annotation, where it appears, will be found primarily in the footnotes. I have also supplied a chronology of important events in the life of Heber C. Kimball, as well as a map and an index.
9. Names and Places. Most names and places in the originals are misspelled, sometimes in a variety of ways. Where possible or necessary, I have spelled out the names and places correctly in brackets the first time they appear. Where appropriate, I have supplied additional information about individuals and places in the footnotes. Kimball often refers to persons only by their initials. Where it may be unclear who the person is, I have tried to identify him or her.
10. Other Considerations. A few words, such as the names of ships, have been silently italicized. Miscellaneous jottings on fly-leaves, otherwise blank pages, and end papers are not reproduced.
Part of the joy of editing and reading Heber C. Kimball is his utterly idiosyncratic “style.” Someone once said, “It’s a pretty boring person who can spell a word only one way!” I have left much of Kimball’s quaintness intact, but have elsewhere proffered in brackets what I believe he had in mind when recording some of the more difficult entries. (An actor, using Kimball’s diaries, might recreate his speech patterns and pronunciation simply by studying his more-or-less phonetic spelling.) In addition, the dates covered by the following diaries are often episodic. Therefore, I have added introductory material to each diary or to parts of each diary. Likewise, I have supplied brief abridging information to tie the different dia-[p.xx]ries into something that more properly resembles a comprehensive whole.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in making the Kimball manuscripts available to me, as well as the encouragement of Gary J. Bergera and his suggestions in addressing the problems presented in publishing these diaries. The Heber C. Kimball Family Association has been supportive, and I must also thank my excellent typist, Ruth Anne Gevers, for seeing the entire manuscript through the computer, an intimidating experience for me. Finally, this edition of Heber C. Kimball’s personal diaries is not an official publication of either the LDS church or the Kimball Family Association, and I alone am responsible for the presentation of what follows.
A Heber C. Kimball
The standard secondary sources on Heber C. Kimball are my Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981; 2nd ed., 1986); Orson F. Whitney’s Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallace, 1945; first published in 1888); Kimball Family Cemetery Reports (title varies), 1890-1917; the Kimball Family Newsletter, 1945-present; biographical sketches in Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopaedia…, 4 Vols. (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901-36); Frank Esshom, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah (Salt Lake City: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913); Preston Nibley, Stalwarts of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954); Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Brigham Young… (New York: Tullidge and Crandall, 1876); Lawrence R. Flake, Mighty Men of Zion (Salt Lake City: Karl D. Butler, 1974); Matthias F. Cowley, Prophets and Patriarchs (Chattanooga, TN: Ben E. Rich, 1902); and Kate B. Carter, ed., Heber C. Kimball; His Wives and Children (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1967). Many articles on Kimball can be found in older LDS publications such as the Improvement Era, the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, and the Contributor. In addition, Davis Bitton read a paper, “Heber C. Kimball’s Authoritarian Imagery,” at the 1974 Conference on the Language of the Mormons, and James F. O’Connor wrote a 1978 thesis at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, on “An Analysis of the Speaking Style of Heber C. Kimball.” There is also an amateur readers’ theater musical entitled “Heber C!”
4. For the best account of the close relationship between Kimball and Clayton, see James B. Allen, Trials of Discipleship: The Story of William Clayton, A Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987).
5. This is a miscellanea consisting of a variety of entries dictated and copied from various sources. Among its different headings and contents are “The Journal and Record of Heber Chase Kimball, an Apostle of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” “History of Heber C. Kimball,” “Journal of President Heber C. Kimball’s division of Latter Day Saints Emigrants . . . 1848,” an 1843 “Discourse,” and numerous “Blessings.”
1. Kimball married up to twenty-five women during January-February 1846 because this would be the last time marriages could be solomnized in the Nauvoo Temple, and he felt some responsibility to protect these women during the exodus to the Far West, since some of them were concerned about the prospect of going into an unknown territory without a husband. The unusual and pragmatic nature of many of these marriages goes far in explaining why ten wives left him and six are unaccounted for after the move west, and why he had children by only seventeen. For a detailed account of his family life, see my Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986).