From William A. Morton, From Plowboy to Prophet: Being a Short History of Joseph Smith, for Children. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1912.
From Missouri to Illinois – A Day of Miraculous Healings
I have not told you a hundredth part of the suffering of the Saints in Missouri. They were not only robbed of their homes, their lands, cattle, etc., but between three and four hundred of them – men, women and children – were murdered in cold blood. Sister Amanda Smith, whose husband and little son were murdered at Haun’s Mill, says:
“The mob told us we must leave the state forthwith or be killed. It was cold weather, and they had our teams and clothes, our men all dead or wounded. I told them they might kill me and my children and welcome. They sent word to us from time to time, saying that if we did not leave the state they would come and kill us. We had little prayer meetings. They said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman and child. We had spelling schools for our little children. They said if we did not stop these they would kill every man, woman and child. We 9the women) had to do our own milking, cut our own wood; no man to help us. I started on the 1st of February for Illinois, without money; mobs on the way; drove our own teams; slept out of doors. I had five small children; we suffered hunger, fatigue and cold.”
The people of Illinois had heard of the terrible persecutions of the Saints in Missouri. They felt sorry for them, and were willing to help them. So, on being driven from Missouri, the Saints took up their abode in Illinois. There, on the banks of the Mississippi River, they founded the beautiful little city of Nauvoo.
After being in prisons for almost six months, Joseph and his brethren regained their liberty and joined the Saints in Illinois. There was much joy among the members of the Church when their beloved Prophet appeared in their midst again. He found his family very poor. Their home was a little log cabin, but even for it they were thankful.
Nauvoo was a beautiful place for a city. The Mississippi swept around it in a half circle, giving the place three fronts upon the noble river. But it proved to be an unhealthful place, for soon after the Saints had settled there many of them suffered with malarial fever.
The Prophet himself was afflicted and confined to his bed; but through the power of the Lord he overcame the disease and went forth and began to administer to many who were ill. He walked along the bank of the river, healing all the sick who lay in his path. Going to the tent of Brother Henry G. Sherwood, who was almost at the point of death, he commanded him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to arise and be made well. Brother Sherwood was healed immediately, and arose and walked out of the tent. Joseph, with Elder Heber C. Kimball and others, then crossed the river to Montrose. There they found several of the Apostles very ill. They were also healed, and straightway arose and went with the Prophet to administer to other sick persons.
They first called at the home of Brother Elijah Fordham, who it was expected every minute would die. Joseph walked up to the dying man, and took hold of his right hand and spoke to him; but Brother Fordham was unable to speak; his eyes were set in his head like glass, and he seemed entirely unconscious of all around him. Joseph held his hand and looked into his eyes in silence for a short time. A change in Brother Fordham was soon noticed by all present. His sight returned, and upon Joseph asking him if he knew him, he, in a low whisper, answered, “Yes.” Joseph asked him if he had faith to be healed. He answered, “I fear it is too late; if you had come sooner, I think I could have been healed.” the Prophet said, “Do you not believe in Jesus Christ?” He answered in a feeble voice, “I do.” Joseph then stood erect still holding his hand in silence several moments. Then he spoke in a loud voice, saying, “Brother Fordham, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from this bed and be made whole.” His voice was like the voice of God, and not of man. It seemed as though the house shook to its very foundations. Brother Fordham arose from his bed and was healed that moment. he put on his clothes, and after eating a bowl of bread and milk, followed the Prophet into the street.
These things strengthened greatly the faith of the Saints, who gave thanks and praise to the Lord for the power which He had given to His servants.