On the Potter’s Wheel
Stanley B. Kimball, editor
H. C. Kimball
[p.171]Among the Heber C. Kimball papers currently housed in the archives of the Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, is a small “H. C. Kimball Memorandum” book recording some of Kimball’s miscellaneous musings. As with some of his other journals, the handwriting of others besides Kimball can be found in these memoranda. The first four pages consist of items received from various people during April and May 1848, apparently in connection with the immigration to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Following this are eighteen pages of baptismal, marriage, and ordination data for the years 1883 to 1934. Most of this material pertains to Kimball’s son David Heber.
Finally, there are nine pages containing fourteen “memoranda” in Kimball’s hand from 1852 to 1864. These statements are cast in the form of personal revelations and were kept very private. One of his sons, Solomon F. Kimball, later recorded, “After father died, we found in a blank book where he had jotted down some of the things the [p.172] Lord had told him.”1 These fourteen statements divide into four groups: six concern Kimball’s standing as first counselor to Brigham Young, five refer to the church’s strained relations with the United States government, two apparently relate to troubles with his plural wives, and one to sickness.
Of the references to his standing in the LDS hierarchy, four were recorded in March 1862, one in 1864, and the sixth one is not dated. Individually and collectively, these notes reflect Kimball’s growing sense of being anachronistic, inadequate, and slighted by younger, more sophisticated church leaders. Like the rough, impetuous Galilean, Peter, Heber had been essential in the beginning of the movement to which he devoted his life, but he lived to be overshadowed by better educated Pauline types. Daniel H. Wells became second counselor to Brigham Young in 1857, and it is clear that Kimball felt threatened by him. Albert Carrington, editor of the church’s Deseret News , had publicly criticized “swearing and obscenity in language” among the Saints, and Kimball may have felt that this had been directed towards him. During 1864, Brigham Young ordained three of his sons, as well as Joseph Angell, as apostles, something Kimball did not learn of for four months and which greatly offended him.
Kimball seems to have construed some of the actions of other church leaders as attempts to ease him out of the First Presidency. While this perception may not have been shared by anyone else, it nevertheless clouded his last years. “Those were days of sorrow for father,” his son Solomon F. later wrote, “and he became so heart broken towards the last that he prayed to the Lord to shorten his [p.173] days.”2 His prayers were answered on 22 June 1868.
The several references to the U.S. government are of no great consequence. The first obviously refers to the Civil War, but it cannot be dated. The 1859 reference concerns Johnston’s Army, which came to Utah in 1858, and the so-called Utah War. The fact that these troops did not leave the territory until 1861, with the outbreak of the Civil War, could be interpreted as some kind of fulfillment of Kimball’s prophecy. The 1862 reference to Congress’s refusal to accept Utah’s petition for statehood may or may not surprise readers. It probably refers to the mass meeting of 6 January 1862 in Salt Lake City to choose delegates to a constitutional convention to make a formal application for statehood. Because so many states had recently left the Union, some church authorities thought that Congress might grant their application for admission. Kimball’s pessimism proved correct; Congress turned down Utah’s 1862 petition. The two predictions to the United States’ making war against the church were not realized.
The twice-repeated affirmation that Kimball was no longer “under the Law of Lawless women” evidently refers to some of his domestic trials occasioned by his huge polygamous family. The 6 March 1859 reference to sickness appears to have been recorded after the fact.
G.S.L. [Great Salt Lake] City, Mar. the 27 18 [rest of date missing]
9 oclock in the Evning the Lord said to H. C. Kimball The division would take place between the North and South within Six years and much Blo[o]d would be spilt on the ocation [occasion] and I should live to see it.
The Word of the Lord to Me HCK.
[p.174]G.S.L. City, Febuary the 3, 1852
The Spirit said I should devot[e] my time to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and I should not be under the Law of Lawless women anny more in time as I have fulfilled the Law [and] and [am] now free from Such Spirrits, and the said time shall be devoted to the humble and obed[i]ent and those that shall listen to my council and shall have faith in my council and shall listen to his [Kimball’s] law for he is my Servent and I will stand by him and those that will not build him up shall not prosper. I mean those of his house shall not prosper and peas [peace] shall not be with them. They shall see sorrow Except they repent. HCK
Grate Salt L. City, Feb the 3, /1852/
My Son Heber he shall devote his entire time to the caus[e] of God and to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and he shall not be under the law of Lawless women any more in time as he has fulfilled the law and is now free from such Spirrits and the said time shall be devoted to the humble and obedent and those that shall listen.
Febu [February] the 23, 1859
The word of the Lord to me that the Army will leave this year or most of them.
March the 6, 1859
In the Evning the Lord told me there would [be] much Sickness the coming summer and cause the people to mourn. Which was so.
Word to me HCK
Janu[a]ry the 4, 1862
[p.175]It was revealed to me that the United Stats would make war with this people the Saints with in three years from this time.
In the Evning of the 7 of Januy the Lord told me the United Stats would make war on this people soon to test the people to see if they would stand by Him.
In the Evning of 10 Janury the Lord Said [my] prairs ware hurd and I sould be blest before the Saints in a powerful manner.
January the 21, 1862
In the evning it was told me by the /Lord God/ that Congress of the United Stats would reject the Saints and would not admit us as a State government and forse [force] those officers on us by thare power. HCK.
G.S.L. City, March the [day missing] 1862
This night the Lord told me the time was near I Heber should be lifted up on high in favor of Israel and my Servent Daniel Wells sould see Sorrow even as my Servent Heber had to his full becaus he, Daniel, had pressed my servent Heber and held him at a distance in stead of doing him good as he might, when he had the power in his hands.
These words are true and shall come to pass in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
March 10, 1862
The Lord told me the time was near when I Heber would be esteemed by His Servant Brigham more than any man that lives in the flesh.
March the 12, 1862
That I Heber should live 25 years if I desired it [p.176]and should become a mighty man of God in the house of Israel and His power should increase on me more and more.
G.S.L. City, March the 29, 1862
It was told me the time was near when I Heber should be lifted up in the Eyes of Israel and Daniel H. Wells should see sorrow Even as he had caused sorrow to come on his servent HCK becaus he sat on me and oppressed me when he had power to do me good. Even so Amen. HCK.
De[c] the 27 1864—Tusday
I was told by the Lord that those that had Saught my hurt and had caused me to be cast off by His Servent Brigham should see sorrow and be removed out of their place. Daniel H. Wells, Albert Carrington, Joseph A. Young and others and they should be spoiled in all there Evil designs.3
3. In his “Sacred History,” Solomon F. Kimball cites four of the above memoranda and two not in the “H. C. Kimball Memorandum Book.” Since the original memorandum book is not presently available for examination, I am unable to determine whether these two additional memoranda might have been removed, either intentionally or accidently. The earliest indicates that Kimball evidently believed the so-called “Adam-God theory.” The second reconfirms Kimball’s fears about his declining importance in church leadership. For the record, they are:
April 30, 1862. The Lord told me that Adam was my father and that he was the God and father of all of the inhabitants of this Earth.
In the evening of January 12, 1865 I was told by the Lord that I should not be removed from their places. That Daniel H. Wells, Albert Carrington, Jos. A. Young and others were among that number. In the name of the Lord I predict that this will come true.