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Orson Whitney
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Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Ch.30, p.211 - 215

Crooked River Battle

The fall and winter of 1838 was one of the darkest periods in Church history. Mobocracy on one hand, and apostasy on the other, dealt the cause of God cruel blows, such as no human work could hope to withstand. The tempest of persecution, briefly lulled, burst forth with ten-fold fury; no longer a city or county--a whole state rose in arms against God's people, bent upon their destruction. "The dogs of war" were loosed upon the helpless Saints, and murder and rapine held high carnival amid the smoking ruins of peaceful homes and ravaged fields.

Then fell the mask from the face of hypocrisy. Treason betrayed itself. Apostles, Presidents, and Elders fell from the faith and joined hands with the robbers and murderers of their brethren. Satan laughed! The very mouth of hell seemed opening to engulf the Kingdom which He who cannot lie has sworn shall stand forever.

Truly, those were "times that tried men's souls."

Like a rock in mid-ocean, facing the storm, unmoved by wind or wave, stood Heber C. Kimball; among the truest true, among the bravest brave.

Referring to the time of his visit to Adam-ondi-Ahman he says:

"In a few days an express came with the news that the mob was gathering in every part of Missouri to come against the Saints in Far West. We therefore returned to Caldwell County.

"Thomas B. Marsh left the day previous to the rest of the Twelve, pretending there was something very urgent at home, and when we arrived at Far West, October 22nd, we learned that he and Orson Hyde had left the city. Brother Hyde was sick when we went to Diahman.

"The Saints, tenacious of their liberties and sacred rights, resisted the unlawful designs of the mob, and with courage worthy of them, guarded their families and their houses from their aggressions. But not without the loss of several lives, among whom was my much esteemed and lamented friend David W. Patten, who fell a sacrifice to the spirit of persecution and a martyr to the cause of truth. The circumstances of his death I will briefly relate.

Martyrs to the Faith

"It being ascertained that a mob had collected on Crooked River, led by the Rev. Samuel Bogard, a Methodist preacher, a company of sixty or seventy persons immediately volunteered in Far West to watch their movements, and if necessary, repel their attacks. They chose Elder Patten for their leader, and commenced their march about midnight, and came up to the mob at the dawn of October 25th. As the brethren were marching quietly along the road near the top of the hill, they were fired upon, when young O'Banyon reeled out of the ranks, and fell mortally wounded. Thus the work of death commenced, when Captain Patten ordered his men to charge the mob, who proved to be on the creek below. It was yet so dark that little could be seen, looking to the west; but the mob could see Captain Patten and his men in the dawning light, when they fired a broadside and three or four of the brethren fell. Captain Patten ordered the fire returned, giving the watchword, 'God and Liberty.' The brethren charged the camp, when the mob were soon put to flight and crossed the river at the ford. One of the mob fired from behind a tree and shot Captain Patten, who instantly fell mortally wounded, the ball having pierced his abdomen.

"Immediately on receiving the intelligence that Brother Patten was wounded, I hastened to see him and found him in great pain, but still he was glad to see me; he was conveyed about four miles to the house of Brother Stephen 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, we prevailed upon him to let us carry him among his friends. We carried him on a kind of bier, fixed up from poles.

"Although he had medical assistance, his wound was such that there was no hope entertained for his recovery, and this he was perfectly aware of. In this situation, while the shades of time were lowering, and eternity with all its realities opening to his view, he bore a strong testimony to the truth of the work of the Lord, and the religion he had espoused. He was perfectly sensible and collected until he breathed his last, which occurred at about ten o'clock in the evening. Stephen Winchester, Brother Patten's wife, Bathsheba W. Bigler, with several of her father's family were present at David's death.

"The principles of the Gospel which were so precious to him before, afforded him that support and consolation at the time of his departure, which deprived death of its sting and horror. Speaking of those who had fallen from their steadfastness, he exclaimed, 'O that they were in my situation! For I feel that 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, will give me.' Speaking to his beloved wife, he said, 'whatever you do else, Oh do not deny the faith.' He all the time expressed a great desire to depart. I said to him 'Brother David, when you get home, I want you to remember me.' He replied, 'I will.' At this time his sight was gone. 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 he then said to those who surrounded his dying bed, 'Brethren, you have held me by your faith, but do give me up, and let me go, I beseech you.' We accordingly committed him to God, and he soon breathed his last, and slept in Jesus without a groan.

"This was the death of one who was an honor to the Church and a blessing to the Saints; and whose faith, virtues and diligence in the cause of truth will be had in remembrance by the Church of Jesus Christ from generation to generation. It was a painful way to be deprived of the labors of this worthy servant of Christ, and it 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.

"I took Dr. Avard with me to Far West, a distance of three miles, to Elder Rigdon's house, where we found Brother Patrick O'Banyon, who was wounded in nearly the same manner as Brother Patten. He also died in a short time, firm and steadfast in the faith. He was perfectly calm and composed, and bore a strong testimony to the truth of Mormonism.

"Gideon Carter, who was also a faithful Saint, was shot in the head, and left dead on the ground, so defaced that the brethren did not at first know him.

"This was a gloomy time!"

 

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