- Zion's Camp 1834
- Ordained Seventy and called to First Quorum of Seventy
- Mission to Northeastern States 1835
Exceedingly little is known of Daniel Stephens.
He appears but twice in the History of the Church, once in a list of veterans
of Zions Camp, and once as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
We also have two pieces of correspondence penned by him. The name being
quite common, we cannot identify which, if any, of the entries in the International
Genealogical Index, the Ancestral File, or the Pedigree Referral
File might refer to him.
We might expect that he was born within the time
period of 1785 and 1820 as he participated in Zions Camp in 1834 and a
birth before 1785 would have likely made him too old too endure the
hardships of the expedition. A birth date after 1820
would have made him too young. Likely also he was born in the north-eastern
part of the United States as that is where almost
all of the early members of the Church were born. And Daniel was an
early member of the Church for only four years after its
restoration he volunteered to accompany the Prophet Joseph
Smith on the aforementioned Zions Camp.
In 1835, perhaps due to his valor and faithfulness,
he was ordained a Seventy and called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Almost immediately thereafter he seems to have gone on a mission to several
of the northeastern states.
The first of the two letters referred to above is
to William W. Phelps ordering a subscription to the Evening and Morning
Star. We include it herewith. It might be noted that Daniel appears to
be an educated and articulate writer and a bit of a theologian and appeals
for a doctrinal correction to the common beliefs of the day.
MR. PHELPS, SIR,
I want you to send me the Evening and Morning
Star, commencing at the first number, and also a prospectus, as soon as
Send me also a book of commandments, and all other
records, which shall come by the will and commandment of God: For
which I enclose you a five dollar note. If this is not sufficient,
send me word and I will send the remainder.
Please to continue the Star till I send you word
or come up.
A word to you in the name of Christ, and this
because you have the use of the press; and in this situation you have the
privilege of enlightening the brethren; many of whom are in error concerning
the prophet of whom Moses spake. I conclude this is in consequence of not
knowing the scriptures, on the subject, especially the book of Mormon:
For Christ said, when he showed himself to the Nephites, [3 Ne. 20-23]
Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the
Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: him shall
ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you, &c. Book
of Mormon, page 497. One truth is worth ten thousand errors.
I remain yours, &c.
The other correspondence is somewhat longer and is a mission report
sent to the Messenger and Advocate in 1836. We also include this letter,
TO FRIENDS IN THE EAST.
Dear brethren, according to your solicitations I now drop a
few lines to you in the name of the Lord for your information as also for
After leaving Kirtland, May 29, 1835, according
to previous arrangements I united with elder Lorenzo Barns at New Portage,
and proceeded eastward through the State of Pennsylvania to Susquehannah
Co. and from thence to Elmira, N. Y. and after setting forth in simplicity
the fulness of the everlasting gospel, I had the pleasure of baptizing
four persons, three of them were relatives; and you must think I had a
time of great joy in the Lord, notwithstanding the multitude of lies, and
slanderous reports which were circulated concerning me, and the people
to whom I belong in the best of blessing with persecutions.
leaving elder Barns, the next place of particular labor, was Mc'Donough,
where there is a small church of the saints: here one went forth
in the waters of baptism for a remission of sins according to the gospel.
Many were attentive to the word, declaring it to be the gospel according
to the Bible, but, as I was in great haste, I left them and pursued my
journey into Canaan, Ct. where I found a small branch of the church, determined
to press forward unto the coming of the Lord. After paying them a
short visit, I went into New Haven Co. where I labored for some time; and
notwithstanding very many not only acknowledged the things declared, to
be true, but bore witness of it. I may say there were hundreds who
bore testimony to these things, but did not obey them as only three went
forward in baptism.
After this I visited the church at Killingsworth,
and so passed on to Hadam, where I labored a few weeks, and being assisted
by elders H. [Harlow] Redfield, and Wm. Spencer, I established a church
of saints containing a dozen members, who were determined not only to keep
[D&C 89] the word of wisdom, securing to themselves health and strength;
yea, even great treasures of knowledge, but were determined to keep the
commandments, that thereby they might have an inheritance in the celestial
kingdom of God; I would not say that satan came in human shape, but human
beings came in devil's shapes, (if our traditions be correct) for they
were blacked, and transformed; and of all the yells of savages in war,
I think that these could not be outdone. Besides disturbing the peaceable
inhabitants, they threw large stones at persons who had never offended
them only by obeying the gospel, they knocked others down, and broke in
windows and the like. In fact, for me to describe the scene would be impossible;
but the elders who have seen the like, need no description.
From this scene, I traveled through the States of Rhode Island, Massachusetts,
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, preaching
by the way, and arrived at Kirtland Oct. 31, 1836, where I found, instead
of the few friends, thinly scattered around the bare frame of the Lord's
house, multitudes of brethren, laboring through the week, and when the
sabbath arrives, assemble to hear the doctrine of heaven distil from the
lips of the Lord's servants, while they stand in the consecrated pulpits
of the temple of the Lord, a monument for this generation to gaze at, while
they marvel and wonder and perish, because they will not believe though
it be declared unto them not only by ancient prophets and apostles, but
by living witnesses, and a wonderful cloud of them to, who set forth the
gospel as plain as plain can be, so plain that even they themselves acknowledge
that they cannot deny it.
For want of time I at this time make an
end, but when I get more leisure, I shall, by the permission of the Lord,
write you again.
As ever, your brother and friend in the new covenant to Israel.
And that is the last we hear of Elder Stephens. We
know nothing of his later life and death nor whether he remained faithful
in the Church.
Smith, History of the Church, vol.2, p.185, 204
Evening and Morning Star (Mar 1833) Daniel Stephens to William Phelps ed p.79
Messenger and Advocate (Nov 1836) Daniel Stephens "To Friends," p.414