July 22, 1839: “The Day of God’s Power”
When the Latter-day Saints first came in 1839 to that area along the Mississippi River that would become Nauvoo, it was anything but a beautiful situation. It was by Joseph Smith’s own description a swamp—“a deathly, sickly hole” full of mosquitos, misery, and death. It was ill-drained bottom land along the River; the kind of land that was least desirable for farming and settlement.
Nonetheless, the Saints began settling and building in the region by May 1839 and suddenly, in July, they began getting sick—so sick in fact, that funerals began to be commonplace. Most became sick and many died. They called it the ague, but it was malaria, and they knew no treatment.
Elizabeth Barlow described it thus, “O, my friends, you know nothing about the ague, how it prostrates and bewilders the mind and impairs the health.”
Joseph and Emma Smith took many into their home to care for them until it became, almost as it were, a hospital. Then Joseph too became ill and Emma cared for him along with all the others. Then came July 22, 1839. Joseph was frustrated at this illness and determined to act. He knelt prayed for deliverance. He then began going from house to house and saint to saint blessing and raising them from their beds of affliction. Wilford Woodruff was there and said, “Joseph went through the midst of them, taking them by the hand, and in a loud voice commanding them in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from their beds and be made whole. And they leaped from their beds, made whole by the power of God.”
Joseph came to Elijah Fordham, “‘Brother Fordham do you not know me?’ he said. “At first he made no reply;…. He said again, ‘Elijah, do you not know me?’ With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, ‘yes.’ The Prophet then said, ‘have you not faith to be healed?’ The answer which was a little plainer than before, was: ‘I am afraid it is too late. If you had come sooner, I think it might have been….’ Joseph then said, ‘do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?’ ‘I do Brother Joseph,’ was the response. Then the Prophet of God spoke with a loud voice, as in the majesty of the Godhead: ‘Elijah, I command you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to arise and be made whole.’ The words of the Prophet were not like the words of man, but like the voice of God. It seemed to me that the house shook from its foundation. Elijah Fordham leaped from his bed like a man raised from the dead. A healthy color came to his face, and life was manifested in every act.”
The Prophet then came into the home of Joseph Bates Noble and spoke as he approached his bedside. “Joseph,” he said, “you’ve been with me too long to be leaving me now.” Noble recorded this,
“As soon as I saw him, the tears of joy burst from my eyes. In a moment he was by my bedside, and took me by the hand. Without waiting for the other brethren to get to my bed, he commanded me, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk. I arose, and while putting on my clothes, I fainted. When I regained consciousness I was on the bed, and Joseph was standing close to me. As soon as my eyes met his, he said, “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” and again commanded me to arise. While he was speaking I felt the healing virtue flowing through every part of my system. I immediately arose and walked, rejoicing and praising the Lord with all my heart.”
And there were more. It was known as The Day of God’s Power.” A testament from the mouth of many witnesses that the power and miracles of Jesus’s day are still with us.

Note: For more on the story see, Season 7 Episode 6, July 22, 1839: The day of God’s Power” available soon at historyofthesaints.org

Artwork by Liz Lemon Swindle

2 Responses

  1. This story relates to our situation today. The very treatment they have always used for Malaria, is apparently what Pres. Trump has recommended and is now using and has been blasted for mentioning. I have to wonder what the “real” plague is. Here we are in the middle of a pandemic, much like one of your stories, when even the Prophet Joseph was sick, but he jumped up and went out to bless, heal and raise the dying, and maybe the dead. It doesn’t seem to me that things change very much over the centuries; it’s always the same battle repeated over and overage everything we are given to deal with is for us to use and turn into a blessing. I don’t expect the opposition to stop or get better, , that’s not how the “plan” seems to work. We must get better. That to me is why your work is so terribly important right now and always! I have always been inspired by my ancestors’ stories, and I have always known that we have angels helping us as the Lord answers my prayers, and I desperately want my children and grandchildren to know it too. Thanks with all my heart for all you do to share our history with us. I believe all of the stories are our stories as church members as well as descendants of the Pioneers.
    Just to share a story with you, last summer, on the Fourth of July my son’s wife lost her grandmother, Margaret. She was adopted at birth and longed to know who her biological parents were. So for her birthday or Christmas 7 or 8 years ago, they got her a DNA test.
    I started helping my son research and after finding her close relative match, Amasa Mason Redd, and through a cousin of his who could decipher dna, I was able to contact a woman in the family who took the dna test and matched closer than the first. Through her, we found Margaret’s mother, who had died, but at least we could tell her who she was, and that her mother, Ethel Lorraine Terry had lost her own mother at the age of fifteen, in the Spanish flu. She had a double funeral with one of her brothers, who also died the same week from the flu as well. But I couldn’t find the Dad. Finally, the man who helped me find the mother contacted me out of the blue on a Sunday after I had just told the Lord I had done all I knew to do and if I couldn’t get some help I was going to leave it alone. He said if I could send him something to work with he would look it over. I had just received Margaret’s cluster report from my Heritage so I forwarded it to him and 6 hours later he told me the father was a direct descendant of John Tanner. Now I was on fire, so I went to work. It wasn’t long before I had some options. Brother Brown told me who he thought it might be and I contacted a granddaughter on Facebook, but got no reply, then Margaret died, so I let it drop. The week before Christmas, last, I felt impressed to look at family search and print off some things for my grandkids and someone, with the familysearch name plus two initials after it had put the father in with Margaret and her mother. I was able to print off the pedigree chart, a family group with Margaret as their child, and information about her father and his later family. They are buried in the Cedar City Cemetery, and Margaret has a half-brother. I put it all into a book and gave it to them at Christmas and felt that surely it was Margaret’s best Christmas ever! Thanks for listening (sort of)!

  2. My Geneology has been done by others generations ago along with their temple work I am interested in their stories
    I have some stories in my mother’s side but that is all
    I’ve been told to look in family search so I will most of the Lin’s do not have faces r understanding

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