Anson Call Conversion

Their preaching created much excitement in our town but had little effect for nearly three years. It was a constant annoyance to my feelings. I became dissatisfied with all denominations and myself. In the Elders passing through our country they frequently stopped at my house, and in discussing with them upon the principles of the gospel they would cuff me about like an old pair of boots. I came to the conclusion that the reason of my being handled so easy was because I did not understand the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I resolved to prepare myself for the conflict by investigating the two books. I accordingly furnished myself with the Book of Mormon. I then commenced the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Compared the two and read my Bible from Genesis right through, praying and searching diligently for six months. When I finished the two books I became a firm believer in the Book of Mormon. I was then taught by the Spirit to obey the principles of the gospel. My feelings were not known by any but my wife. I was proud and haughty and to obey the gospel was worse than death. I labored under those feelings for three months, becoming at times almost insane. To be called a Mormon, I thought, was more than I could endure. I lamented that my lot was cast in this dispensation. My dreams and my meditations made me miserable. I at last covenanted before the Lord that if he would give me confidence to face the world in Mormonism I would be baptized for the remission of my sins; before I arose from my knees the horrors of my mind were cleared; I feared no man, no set of men. The next day I went to the Methodist meeting and declared unto them the truth of Mormonism. I told them I should obey it as soon as I could get to Kirtland. I accordingly went immediately there and was baptized by William Smith, Joseph’s brother. My wife accompanied me. I was confirmed in the Kirtland Temple by David Whitmer . . . After moving to Kirtland I was ordained to the Quorum of Seventies in February, 1836 by Zera Pulsipher and Henry Herriman. 

While tarring at Di Ahman, two of the guards came to the tree top where I and my family were sitting, eating our dinner and asked me some questions. He said I was a damned liar and said he would shoot me. He cocked his gun and put it to my face. My family screamed and he lowered his gun and rode off. The second night after the surrender the snow fell about six inches deep. My children nearly froze to death. One of them froze his finger so that he lost part of his nail. After riding to Far West the weather continued severely cold so that many of the mob were obliged to leave. They killed our cattle, stole our horses, burned our houses, constantly killing and abusing all that they met with, insulted our women, and murdered some of our children.

We were not permitted to leave for Far West only to get our firewood. We had not the privilege of hunting our cattle and horses, yet we were told that we had immediately to leave the state. We were deprived of holding meetings of any kind. Joseph Smith Senior and Brigham Young were our principle counselors. We received two or three epistles from Joseph, who was at the time in Liberty Jail, Clay County. Some few times in the course of the winter we slyly congregated our selves in a schoolhouse about two miles from Far West to receive instructions from Joseph and others. (Call, p. 10)

The next day I was taken by ten men and an old negro. They took me into the back part of a store, ordered me to disarm myself. I told them I had no arms about my person. They said I –as was a damn liar for the Mormons always carried arms. They ordered me to take the things out of my pockets and lay them in a chair. I refused. They threatened me and flourished their knives about me and said if I did not do it they would take my life. I accordingly removed everything out of my pockets. Turn your pockets wrong side out. I did so they then ordered me to put my things back into my pockets. I accordingly did so. They then told me to draw my coat. I did it. They then said, He carries his arms at his back, and they examined me until they became satisfied I had no arms about me. They then commenced tantalizing and saying I was a damned Mormon and was in the Bogard Battle. Each of them had a rifle which they set against the house. They sat themselves down and went to whittling with butcher knives. One of them by the name of James Ogle said, that he had suffered by the Mormons and that I had to atone for it. He said they had felt my back and they would see it bare before morning and I would feel hickory upon it. He then commenced beating me with a flat hand in the face. He then said he would not abuse a man that was not armed. He threw his butcher knife at my feet and told me to pick it up and fight. I told him I did not wish to fight. He said I had got to fight or die. He then picked up the knife and put it into my hand and told me to take it. I discovered all the rest of them had their hands. I refused to take it and leaned up against the side of the house. I then said in my heart, “Oh Lord, preserve me or they will take my life.” I immediately became satisfied that I would be delivered from their hands. He thrust a knife within an inch of my breast and said he would rip my guts out. He then struck me repeatedly between my eyes with the back of his knife. He tantalized me in this manner for over two hours, and struck me in the face with the back of the knife and his flat hand about fifty times. He said that it is getting near night and we must make a finish of the business.

They took me into the street and said they would serve me as they served a Mormon the other day, strip me and tie me to a hickory and leave me till morning. While they were making arrangements to accomplish the deed a grocery keeper stood looking out of the window at us. I told him I wanted a bottle of liquor, for I wished to treat the company, on which he handed me a bottle and tumbler through the window. We were arranged in double file. I stood in front between the two forward men. I stepped a step or two out of rank and took the bottle. I drank them a toast and told them they were men after my own heart, the bravest set of men I had ever met with and before we went any further with the business I was going to drink with them and wished them to be merry, for tomorrow is Christmas and we must prepare ourselves for it. I handed the bottle to my right-hand man who fired off his gun and set it up against the grocery store and took the bottle. Every man set his gun up against the grocery also. He then poured the liquor into the tumbler and I discovered every mans eyes were fixed on it. I then sprang into the hazel brush which was within three or four rods of where we stood. (This was a little town situated in Roy County called Fendericksburg, a new place just commenced in the woods; it was surrounded with the hazel and hickory brush). They then pursued me and hollered, “Catch him, damn him, catch him.” I squatted in the brush and they passed by me. They went one way and I went another. My legs served me well for five miles and probably saved my back from being severely lacerated.

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