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"Tell thy friends, thy fellow mortals,
With a smile and with a tear,
He that wept is conq'ror now.
Look not backward from the plow.
"Tell the children, fair, the story;
Warn the maiden and the youth;
Dare not hide the light of truth.
Christ, the peerless, wins the brave.
Fall the fetters from the slave.”
Where are now the shrouds so deathlike?
Nature only sleeps awhile;
Glisten in the sun's bright smile.
Gone the sadness 'kin to pain.
To the earth and man are gain.
THE LIFE AND LABORS OF SIDNEY
BY JOHN JAQUES, ASSISTANT CHURCH HISTORIAN.
Sidney S. Rigdon, as it is understood his proper name was, but who was universally known as Sidney Rigdon, was born in St. Clair Township, Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, February 19, 1793, and was the youngest son of William and Nancy Rigdon.
William Rigdon was born in Hartford County, Maryland, in 1743, and died May 26, 1810. He was the son of Thomas Baker Rigdon and Ann Lucy Rigdon. Thomas Baker Rigdon was born in Maryland and was the son of Thomas Baker Rigdon, from Great Britain.
Ann Lucy Rigdon, grandmother of Sidney, was born in Ireland. She emigrated to Boston, and was there married to Thomas Baker Rigdon.
Nancy Rigdon's mother was born at Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey, March 16, 1759, and died October 3, 1839; was eldest daughter of Briant Gallaher, of Ireland. Elizabeth Reed Gallaher, mother of Nancy Rigdon, was Gallaher's second wife, and was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Her parents were born in Scotland.
Sidney Rigdon thought he was of Norman extraction, and that his ancestors came to England with William the Conqueror. Sidney's father was a farmer and had three sons, Carvil, Loami, Sidney S., and a daughter Lucy. Before his marriage, William Rigdon moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania, and Sidney Rigdon's mother had previously moved to the same state from New Jersey.
When Sidney Rigdon was seventeen years of age, his father died, and Sidney's mother died when he was twenty-six years old.
In his 25th year, he became a member of the society of “Regular Baptists,” under the charge of Rev. David Phillips, from Wales, and the next year left the farm, and went to live with Rev. Andrew Clark, another Baptist preacher. While there, Sidney received a license and commenced to preach, and from March, 1819, followed farming no more.
In May of that year, he went to Trumbull County, Ohio, and in July lived with Adamson Bentley, another Baptist preacher. There Sidney became acquainted with Phebe Brook, a native of Bridgetown, Cumberland County, New Jersey, whom he married, June 12, 1820.
He continued to preach in that region until November 1821, when, on request, he left Warren, Trumbull Co., and took charge of the First Baptist Church, Pittsburg, where he preached with considerable success, that church soon rising from a very low, confused state to a rapid increase of members, crowded meetings, and to be one of the most respectable churches of that city. He became a very popular preacher, and his society was much sought after. But after awhile he was greatly perplexed with the idea that the doctrines taught by the church he was connected with were not altogether in accordance with scripture. Nor were those of any other church with which he was acquainted altogether satisfactory to him. But he knew no other way of getting a living, and he had a wife and three children to support. After great deliberation and reflection and solemn prayer, he resolved to follow his convictions. In August, 1824, he announced to the members of that church that he was determined to withdraw from it, as he could no longer uphold its doctrines. In consequence of his great popularity, this unexpected announcement caused amazement, sorrow, and tears to his congregation.
At that time Alexander Campbell, who came from Ireland, was a member of the Baptist association, but he afterwards separated from it. Walter Scott, a native of Scotland, also left it about the same time. Mr. Campbell had previously lived at Bethany, Brook County, Virginia, where he published the Christian Baptist, monthly.
After leaving the Baptist church, these three gentlemen, being very friendly, frequently met together to discuss religious topics. Eventually from this connection sprang a church, the
members of which called themselves "Disciples," but which were generally known as Campbellites, though Rigdon had much to do with it.
For the maintenance of his family, Mr. Rigdon went to work as a journeyman tanner, many of his former warm friends looking upon him with great coolness and indifference. His wife cheerfully shared his sorrow and humiliation, believing that all would work together for their good.
After having labored for two years as a tanner, he removed to Bainbridge, Geauga Co., Ohio, where, it being known that he had been a popular preacher, he was solicited to preach, with which request he complied. Thenceforth he devoted himself to the work
ministry, confining himself to no special creed, but holding the Bible as his rule of faith, and advocating repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, doctrines which Mr. Campbell and he had been investigating. He labored in that vicinity one year with much success, numbers attending his meetings, building up a large and respectable church at Mantua, Portage County, Ohio. His doctrines were new, and crowded houses assembled to hear him, though some opposed and ridiculed his doctrines.
He was then pressingly invited to remove to Mentor, an enterprising town, about thirty miles from Bainbridge, and near Lake Erie, which he did sometime afterward. There were the remnants of a Baptist church, nearly broken up, the members of which were attached to his doctrines. But many of the citizens were jealous of him, and slanderous reports were circulated concerning him. However, he continued his labors, and in a few months the opposition weakened, prejudice gave way, and he became very popular, the churches where he preached being filled to overflowing to hear him, the doctrines being new, but were elucidated with unusual clearness, and enforced with great eloquence. Calls came from every direction for him to preach, which he complied with as much as he could. His fame increased and spread abroad, thousands, rich and poor, flocking to hear his eloquent discourses, so that the churches where he preached became too small to hold the crowds who went to hear him, and he had to preach in the open air, in the woods and groves, to the multitudes of eager hearers. He expa
tiated upon the literal fulfillment of prophecy, the gathering of Israel in the last days, the coming of the Son of man, the judgments to be poured out upon the ungodly, the reign of Christ with his saints on the earth, the millennium, etc.
Many became convinced and were baptized, whole churches became converted, and he soon had large and flourishing societies throughout that region. He was a welcome visitor wherever he went, and his society was courted by the learned and intelligent.
He then had a wife and six children, and lived in a small, unfinished frame house, not very comfortable. The members of his church held a meeting to take into consideration his wants and provide for them. They resolved to erect him a suitable residence. They purchased a farm, and commenced the building of a better house and outbuildings for him, and his prospects with regard to temporal things became brighter than ever before.
This was in the fall of 1830, at which time Elders Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Oliver Cowdery, and Peter Whitmer stayed awhile at Mentor, on their mission to the Indians on the western boundaries of Missouri. Elder Pratt had been a preacher in the same church as Sidney Rigdon, who was his instructor. Elder Pratt resided at Amherst, Lorain Co., Ohio. He had been sent into the State of New York on a mission, where he became acquainted with the circumstances of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and was introduced to Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints. After reading the Book of Mormon, Parley P. Pratt became convinced that it was of God, was baptized, ordained an elder, and began to preach. Believing that there were many among his former associates who were honest seekers after truth, and being sent on his mission to the west, he resolved to call during his journey on his old friends, and make known to them the great work which the Lord had begun.
The first house Elder Pratt and his brethren called at was Sidney Rigdon's. They presented him with the Book of Mormon, saying that it was a revelation from God. He had not heard of it before, and was much prejudiced at the assertion, replying that he was acquainted with one Bible, which he believed was a revelation from God, but he had considerable doubts regarding their book. They wished to investigate the subject with him. But he said,