Origins of Zion’s Camp and A Remarkable ProphecyBy Wilford Woodruff President of the Church General Conference – April, 1898
In 1833 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was driven out of Jackson County, Mo., for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ. There Bishop Partridge was tarred and feathered by the mob. That was the time of the falling of the stars in that country. Soon afterwards Bishop Partridge called for volunteers to go to Kirtland to see the Prophet. Two men volunteered out of those who had been driven from Jackson County. One was Parley P. Pratt and the other was Lyman Wight. They went to Kirtland and laid before the Prophet the circumstances, and the Prophet called these two men, and others, to go abroad and gather up the strength of the Lord’s house and to prepare the camp of Zion. Parley P. Pratt came to my house. I had just been baptized. I was engaged for a year in furnishing lumber by contract. Parley P. Pratt told me it was my duty to lay aside all my temporal matters, go to Kirtland, and join Zion’s camp. I obeyed his counsel. I arrived in Kirtland on Saturday and there met with Joseph and Hyrum Smith in the street. I was introduced to Joseph Smith. It was the first time that I had ever seen him in my life. He invited me home to spend the Sabbath with him, and I did so. They had meeting on Sunday.
On Sunday night the Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland, and who had gathered together to go off in Zion’s camp. That was the first time I ever saw Oliver Cowdery, or heard him speak; the first time I ever saw Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, and the two Pratts, and Orson Hyde and many others. There were no Apostles in the Church then except Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. Those that I have named spoke, and a good many that I have not named, bore their testimonies. When they got through the Prophet said, “Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.” I was rather surprised. He said “it is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.” Among other things he said, “it will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains, and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites, who will receive the Gospel and their endowments and the blessings of God. This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there, and the Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains will stand in the flesh until the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man will come to them while in the Rocky Mountains.”
I name these things because I want to bear testimony before God, angels and men that mine eyes behold the day, and have beheld for the last fifty years of my life, the fulfillment of that prophecy. I never expected to see the Rocky Mountains when I listened to that man’s voice, but I have, and do today. I will say here that I shall not live to see it, you may not live to see it; but these thousands of Latter-day Saint children that belong to the Sabbath schools, I believe many of them will stand in the flesh when the Lord Jesus Christ visits the Zion of God here in the mountains of Israel. And while I bear testimony before God, angels and men, that mine eyes behold the fulfillment of the revelation given that night, I just as much believe the remaining part of it will be fulfilled as I stand here in the flesh. I rejoice at seeing the progress of the work that lies before us. There is a great work before this people in the fulfillment of these prophecies that [p.58]have been given. Joseph Smith was full of revelation. He foresaw this people, and this work until it was wound up.
My prayer to God is that we may pursue such a course that we may enjoy and receive all these blessings, and our posterity after us. Amen.