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Five Famous Latter-day Saint Miracles

Five Famous Latter-day Saint Miracles

Men Sowing in the Whitmer’s Field

The experience below is related in Saints: Volume 1:

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery began their translation project [of the Book of Mormon] on April 7, 1829, and worked intensely over the next eight weeks. During that time, Cowdery wrote three letters to [David] Whitmer discussing the translation process and offering particular information on the content of the Book of Mormon. “When Cowdery wrote me these things and told me that he had revealed knowledge concerning the truth of them, I showed these letters to my parents, and brothers and sisters,” Whitmer recalled.

In the last letter, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery requested that Whitmer come to Harmony and help the two men move to the Whitmer home. while David wanted to go, he also recognized that his livelihood depended upon plowing his fields. Unsure about what he should do, David prayed and felt that he should do his plowing, then go to help Joseph and Oliver as soon as he was finished.

“I had some 20 acres to plow,” Whitmer wrote, “so I concluded I would finish plowing and then go.” However, when he got up the next morning, he found that between five and seven acres of his land had been plowed during the night. When asked who plowed the fields, Whitmer answered, “I do not know, I cannot tell you, all I know is it was plowed. … It was a testimony to me that I did not have any business to put off going after Joseph. I hitched up my team and … started for Pennsylvania.”

The following is found in the writings of Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith:

The next morning, David took a wooden measure under his arm and went out to sow the plaster, which he had left, two days previous, in heaps near his sister’s house, but, on coming to the place, he discovered that it was gone! He then ran to his sister, and inquired of her if she knew what had become of it. Being surprised she said, “Why do you ask me? Was it not all sown yesterday?”

“Not to my knowledge,” answered David.

“I am astonished at that,” replied his sister, “for the children came to me in the forenoon, and begged of me to go out and see the men sow plaster in the field, saying, that they never saw anybody sow plaster so fast in their lives. I accordingly went, and saw three men at work in the field, as the children said, but, supposing that you had hired some help, on account of your hurry, I went immediately into the house, and gave the subject no further attention.

David made considerable inquiry in regard to the matter, both among his relatives and neighbors, but was not able to learn who had done it. However, the family were convinced that there was an exertion of supernatural power connected with this strange occurrence.”

Amanda Smith at Haun’s Mill

The excerpt below is from James E. Faust’s April 2000 General Conference talk, “The Shield of Faith.”

At Haun’s Mill, a heroic pioneer woman, Amanda Smith, learned by faith how to do something beyond her abilities and the scientific knowledge of her time. On that terrible day in 1838, as the firing ceased and the mobsters left, she returned to the mill and saw her eldest son, Willard, carrying his seven-year-old brother, Alma. She cried, “Oh! my Alma is dead!”

“No, mother,” he said, “I think Alma is not dead. But father and brother Sardius are [dead]!” But there was no time for tears now. Alma’s entire hipbone was shot away. Amanda later recalled:

“Flesh, hip bone, joint and all had been ploughed out. … We laid little Alma on a bed in our tent and I examined the wound. It was a ghastly sight. I knew not what to do. … Yet was I there, all that long, dreadful night, with my dead and my wounded, and none but God as our physician and help. ‘Oh my Heavenly Father,’ I cried, ‘what shall I do? Thou seest my poor wounded boy and knowest my inexperience. Oh, Heavenly Father, direct me what to do!’ And then I was directed as by a voice speaking to me.

“… Our fire was still smouldering. … I was directed to take … ashes and make a lye and put a cloth saturated with it right into the wound. … Again and again I saturated the cloth and put it into the hole … , and each time mashed flesh and splinters of bone came away with the cloth; and the wound became as white as chicken’s flesh.

“Having done as directed I again prayed to the Lord and was again instructed as distinctly as though a physician had been standing by speaking to me. Near by was a slippery-elm tree. From this I was told to make a … poultice and fill the wound with it. … The poultice was made, and the wound, which took fully a quarter of a yard of linen to cover, … was properly dressed. …

“I removed the wounded boy to a house … and dressed his hip; the Lord directing me as before. I was reminded that in my husband’s trunk there was a bottle of balsam. This I poured into the wound, greatly soothing Alma’s pain.

“‘Alma my child,’ I said, ‘you believe that the Lord made your hip?’

“‘Yes, mother.’

“‘Well, the Lord can make something there in the place of your hip, don’t you believe he can, Alma?’

“‘Do you think that the Lord can, mother?’ inquired the child, in his simplicity.

“‘Yes, my son,’ I replied, ‘he has showed it all to me in a vision.’

“Then I laid him comfortably on his face, and said: ‘Now you lay like that, and don’t move, and the Lord will make you another hip.’

“So Alma laid on his face for five weeks, until he was entirely recovered—a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket, which remains to this day a marvel to physicians. …

“It is now nearly forty years ago, but Alma has never been the least crippled during his life, and he has traveled quite a long period of the time as a missionary of the gospel and [is] a living miracle of the power of God.”

The treatment was unusual for that day and time, and unheard of now, but when we reach an extremity, like Sister Smith, we have to exercise our simple faith and listen to the Spirit as she did.

Zion’s Camp, Miracle at Fishing River

Philo Dibble recounts the following, recorded in The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII, (January 1, 1892):

“I was in Clay County, Missouri, when Zion’s camp came up. I met them on Fishing River. There the power of the Lord was manifested by His sending a thunder storm, which raised Fishing River ten feet higher than it was ever known to rise before. I saw the cloud coming up in the west when I was ten miles from Fishing River in the middle of the afternoon. As it moved on eastwardly at increased in size and in blackness, and when it got over the camp it stopped. In the night, the rain and hail poured down in torrents, and the lightning flashed from the cloud continuously for three hours.

Just before night, two men came into camp and asked where Mr. Smith was. Joseph said, “I am the man.” They then advised him to disband his camp, “for,” said they, “the mobs are gathering, and there won’t be one of you left tomorrow morning!”

Joseph smiled, and said, “I guess not.”

Seeing that Joseph did not believe what they came to tell him, they went off vexed.

We learned afterwards that the hail was so heavy on the mob that they were forced to seek shelter, and the leader of them swore he would never go against the “Mormons” again.”

Healing of Elsa Johnson’s Arm

In A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (1:278) Amos S. Hayden’s (eyewitness non-believer in Joseph Smith) experience is recorded:

Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, (Hiram) visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, “Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on earth to cure her?” A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith arose, and walking across the room, and taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: “Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole,” and immediately left the room. The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock—I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact, electrified the rheumatic arm—Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.

Healing Elijah Fordham

In Leaves from My Journal, Wilford Woodruff recorded the following miraculous encounter with Joseph Smith and Elijah Fordham.

While I was living in this cabin in the old barracks, we experienced a day of God’s power with the Prophet Joseph. It was a very sickly time and Joseph had given up his home in Commerce to the sick, and had a tent pitched in his dooryard and was living in that himself. The large number of Saints who had been driven out of Missouri, were flocking into Commerce; but had not homes to go into, and were living in wagons, in tents, and on the ground. Many, therefore, were sick through the exposure they were subjected to. Brother Joseph had waited on the sick, until he was worn out and nearly sick himself.

On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, he arose reflecting upon the situation of the Saints of God in their persecutions and afflictions, and he called upon the Lord in prayer, and the power of God rested upon him mightily, and as Jesus healed the sick around Him in His day, so Joseph, the Prophet of God, healed all around on this occasion. He healed all in his house and dooryard, then, in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the Twelve, he went through among the sick lying on the bank of the river, and he commanded them in a loud voice, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come up and be made whole, and they were all healed.

When he healed all that were sick on the east side of the river, they crossed the Mississippi River in a ferryboat to the west side, to Montrose, where we were. The first house they went into was President Brigham Young’s. He was sick on his bed at the time. The Prophet went into his house and healed him, and they all came out together. As they were passing by my door, Brother Joseph said: “Brother Woodruff, follow me.” These were the only words spoken by all the company from the time they left Brother Brigham’s house till they crossed the public square, and entered Brother Fordham’s house. Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute would be his last.

I felt the power of God that was overwhelming His Prophet.

When we entered the house, Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham, and took him by the right hand; in his left hand he held his hat.

He saw that Brother Fordham’s eyes were glazed, and that he was speechless and unconscious.

After taking hold of his hand, he looked down into the dying man’s face and said:

“Brother Fordham, do you not know me?” At first he made no reply; but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him.

He again said: “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.”

He had the appearance of a man waking from sleep. It was the sleep of death. 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.

His feet were done up in Indian meal poultices. He kicked them off his feet, scattered the contents, and then called for his clothes and put them on. He asked for a bowl of bread and milk, and ate it; then put on his hat and followed us into the street, to visit others who were sick.

The unbeliever may ask: “Was there not deception in this?”

If there is any deception in the mind of the unbeliever, there was certainly none with Elijah Fordham, the dying man, nor with those who were present with him, for in a few minutes more he would have been in the spirit world, had he not been rescued. Through the blessing of God, he lived up till 1880, in which year he died in Utah, while all who were with him on that occasion, with the exception of one, are in the spirit world. 

(To see dozens of other recorded miracles involving Joseph Smith, click here.)