Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wilford Woodruff and Benjamin Clapp

One of the interesting stories Wilford relates of his mission while serving alone in Tennesse is of his ride through a storm. Except that he was riding between two branches in Kentucky, and so was not likely in Tennessee. Though not really happening in Tennessee, I include it because it gives us a good idea of how Wilford operated on his mission.

From his Autobiography we read this.

November 15.--While traveling in the night, with Brother Benjamin L. Clapp and others, a tremendous storm of wind and rain overtook us. We came to a creek which had swollen to such an extent by the rain, that we could not cross without swimming our horses; several of the company were females. We undertook to head the stream, to ford it; but in the attempt, in the midst of the darkness and the raging of the wind and rain, we were lost in the thick woods, amidst the rain, wind, creeks and fallen treetops. We crossed streams nearly twenty times. I was reminded of Paul's perils by water; but the Lord was merciful unto us in the midst of our troubles, for while we were groping in the dark, running the risk of killing both ourselves and animals, by riding off precipitous bluffs, a bright light suddenly shone round about us, and revealed our perilous situation, as were upon the edge of a deep gulf. The light continued with us until we found a house, and learned the right road; then the light disappeared, and we were enabled to reach the house of Brother Henry Thomas, at nine o'clock, all safe, having rode twenty miles, five hours in the storm; and we felt to thank the Lord for our preservation.

In "Wilford Woodruff: History of his life and labors as recorded in his daily journals" edited by Matthias F. Cowley, we read a slightly different version of the events.

At the close of the meeting I mounted my horse to ride to Clark's River, in company with Seth Utley, four other brethren, and two sisters. The distance was twenty miles. We came to a stream which was so swollen by rains that we could not cross without swimming our horses. To swim would not be safe for the women, so we went up the stream to find a ford. In the attempt we were overtaken by a severe storm of wind and rain, lost our way in the darkness, and wandered through creeks and mud. But the Lord does not forsake His Saints in any of their troubles. While we were in the woods suffering under the blast of the storm, groping like the blind for the wall, a bright light suddenly shone around us and revealed to us our dangerous situation on the edge of a gulf. The light continued with us until we found the road; we then went on our way rejoicing though the darkness returned and the rain continued. We reached Brother Henry Thomas' in safety about nine o clock at night having been five hours in the storm and forded streams many times. None of us felt to complain but were thankful to God for His preserving care. On the following day I preached at Damon Creek and organized a branch called Damon Creek Branch and ordained Daniel Thomas a teacher.

I like reading who was there. I start to think, did one of these people with him write their version of the events? Unfortunately, neither Seth Utley nor Benjamin Clapp wrote anything about the events.

Set Utley you can find here.

Benjamin Clapp was born in West Huntsville, Alabama and was baptized in Kentucky probably by Elders Patten and Parrish sometime before February 26th, 1836 when he was ordained a priest by Wilford Woodruff. Brother Clapp emigrated to Far West, Missouri and fought in the Battle of Crooked River at which Elder Patten was killed. He escaped to Illinois with the rest of the saints and was called on a mission to Alabama. After his return he was ordained as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. After the move to Utah, he had a disagreement with Bishop Warren S Snow. As a result he was excommunicated and he left for California where he died a year later.


Sara R said...

I'm a descendant of Benjamin Clapp, from the first wife. He had 4 wives; the 4th wife stayed in the church after he left the church, and the others went to California. His 3rd son, Joseph Carlos (J. C.) Clapp, became a very well-traveled RLDS missionary. J. C. Clapp wrote an autobiography that was serially published in the RLDS periodical Autumn Leaves from November 1907 to about February 1909. He gives more information about his father in the autobiography.

His youngest daughter, from the 2nd wife, is named Mormonette. It's right there in the 1870 census. Isn't that the best name ever?

Sara R said...

His granddaughter, Annie Clapp, was one of the founders of Laguna Beach, California, along with her husband William Brooks, and his brother Nate.

My mother and grandmother joined the church in the late 1960s. They had no idea that they had pioneer ancestry, let alone an ancestor who was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, till they started doing genealogy later.

BruceCrow said...

Sara, that is an awesome story. Thanks for sharing it. It isn't every day someone descended from the person I am writing about finds my post and actually comments about it. You made my day.

Love the name Mormonette.