John Worthen’s Autobiography

John Worthen, son of Richard Worthen and Mary Cowap, his lawful wife according to the laws of England, was born 22 July 1817, in the town of Northwich, Cheshire, England.

Being of a nervous sanguine and bilious temperment with rather a preponderance of the bilious, which physiologist say give greather strengt and activity of the mild. In my boyish days I was called a good quiet boy. But according to my own recollection, I know that energy and a determination to accomplish any object which I might take in hand was a ruling characteristic of my life. And that same feature has clung to me up to manhood even till now March 1856. And as I grow older the more I admire energy and determination to accomplish an object (provided it be a lawful one) for it is that principle that will enable us to overcome every difficulty and gain life eternal to come up through much tribulation.

My father was at times given to drinking but for some reason I inherited a different disposition, I suppose from my Mother. To me the taste of drink (intoxicating drink) was unpleasant and I had no desire for it. And so strong was this trait of character in me that when my father was once visited by a leading member of the Temperance Society with a request to sign the pledge of Obsistance from all entoxicating drinks, he refused through fear of not being able to keep it, that when the advocate turned to me I told him I had no need of the pledge. For having once read that intoxicating drinks was no only harmful to the body but drowned and stupefied the intellect, I had resolved previous to then that I needed all the intellect that I could command, for I was a complete book worm. I studied much to inform and enlarge my mind. But afterwards did drink. My father once spoke harshly to me for making so much noise when learning to play the flute, I never afterwards took it up to play while I lived at home. The consequence was I went into company and it was for the love of the company of my associates that caused me to drink. And I do believe had I not met with a good wife, whom I loved I must have been overcome.

I joined the Methodists, prayed and wept much, felt happy in a small degree, but no better than a moral man ought to do. Could never attain unto that testimony that some of the leaders said they had received, gave it up for a deception or an excited state of feelings. I settled down for a life of reading and making home comfortable. I heard that my parents had joined the Dippers. I met a man one morning who asked me if I knew where the Latter Day Saints or Dippers preached? I was told by a friend that they dipped overhead to save people. That they said Heaven would be on the earth after the resurrection. To show the folly (I thot) of this I read a book of infant baptism against immersion to a crowd of fellow workmen who took me for a criterion. Considering me well informed from extensive reading, told them if such simple means would save, we could all do ourselves when bathing. But praise the Lord he soon caused me to read the truth for myself. For being the one appointed to fire the cannons at a wedding got my ankle put out of joing, was carried near to my father’s house. While a cripple I requested my mother to bring me something to read. She brought me the “Voice of Warning” by Parley P. Pratt, the Lord enlighted my mind. I believed as fast as I read, it was full of Bible proofs, the Bible was sacred to me. As soon as my ankle got well I went and heard a Mormon Elder, got baptized and while the brethren and sisters sung the hymn: “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”, “Zion City of Our God”. and went on to “The Heavenly Joys and Lasting Pleasures none but Zion’s Children Know”, the tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt like choking so great was my joy. Here a new source of ambition awakened itself in my mind. I searched the Bible for proofs of the girst principles of the gospel (“Mormonism”) carried a small Bible (with the text marked) in my pocket, stood up boldly in defense of the truth. Debated with a Holy pride with any of the old Secacians with whom I worked. Wrote letters and sent Mormon Books to many of the Sectarians round where I lived. Was ordained a priest, preached with all the enthusiasm of one that is confident of having the truth in his possession. Was saved several times by my Guardian Angle from falling into place’s where I would have drowned, when returning home in the night fatigued and sleepy after being out to preach. Sold out at a considerable loss. Set sail for the land of Zion, preached on board of ship to the brethren on the Word of Wisdom, on the use of strong drink for some of them was making too free a use of it. Vexed some of my relations through it.

Landed at Warsaw where the company felt like staying because of the leeks and onions. Set out alone for Navoo. The second morning took back a good report which caused the most of them to go on to Navoo. I arrived there with twenty-five cents in my pocket. I used to walk through the city every day looking for work, began to feel the want of bread. Returning home tired and hungry one day I told the Lord I would not murmer. I had gathered in accordance with His will. The saying of an Apostle came to my mind, “After much tribulation cometh the blessings”. Went on rejoicing, the Lord opened my way and though I often went to work on the Temple without eating, I never got starved to death but tried to keep up with every advance of the church. Often went hungry, often well filled, often divided with my brethren. Shouldered my musket, was out in all kinds of weather, heat or cold, wet and in thunder storms, at the midnight hour when the vivid lightening flash seemed to play along the weapon of death which I carried. Stood firm in defense of myself, wife and little ones and my brethren with resolution to conquer or die in the struggle. Cared not if all hell bailed over me as big as the deluge and swept me away. One precious hope clung to me which bouyed me up, that if they destroyed my body God was able and would from the masses of destruction collect the particles of truth or in other words my soul.

I agreed to work on the Temple until it could be dedicated if I had to live on parched or boiled corn. Did so. By the aid of poverty clung to Navoo like steel to loadstone, until after the last struggle. When the mob waked the last spark of energy in me and though sick with death or recovery would have been a favor, made me push ahead. Although every load I carried to the ferryboat made me for the time blind, the land guided me through the valley and shadow of death and set my face firm toward the west.

Played a game of yewker with the Gentiles until I made a fit out.

Recorded Book 909th Quo. Seventies Biog. Rec 1873 p. 73-76 Copied from the early seventies Biographical Record in the Archives of the Geneological Society of Utah.

The early SEventies Biographical Record are in a very worn out condition and very hard handle because of the paper falling into pieces. The Autobiography was typed by the church people from the record which was worn.

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