Tanner Family -- Kirtland

THE KIRTLAND YEARS -- In 1833, after they had been members of the church for about a year, John Tanner fitted out two of his sons, Nathan and John Joshua (who were then ages 18 and 21), and sent them up to Kirtland where they called upon the Prophet. The following is recorded in the journal of the Prophet Joseph Smith on September 28, 1833:

"Brother John Tanner sent his two sons to Kirtland to learn the will of the Lord, whether he should remove to Zion or Kirtland. It was decided by the unanimous voice of the council, on the 28th of September, that it was the will of the Lord, for all who were able and willing, to build up and strengthen the stake in Kirtland. Brother Tanner was counseled accordingly."

Nathan Tanner wrote in his reminiscences that he and John Joshua got acquainted with the Prophet and the leading men of that day, and that the Temple was by then "fairly commenced." They returned to New York to take word to their father, and then in the spring of 1834 they again set out, this time to join Zion's Camp, taking "old Brother Putnam and his wife and seven children, together with Lyman Johnson, Amasa M. Lyman, and others to Kirtland. By the way, we took Brother (Heber C.) Kimball and family from Genessee, N.Y. to Buffalo, where they took water (went by boat)."

Amasa M. Lyman wrote in his autobiography that he was nearing the end of his mission to New England when "the call to go to Zion (to help redeem Jackson County from their enemies) reached eastern New York, through Lyman E. Johnson; responding to this call changed my plan of operation ... I went directly to Kirtland, taking in charge as a contribution some money and teams and the two sons of John Tanner, John J. and Nathan. I received on my own account between nine and ten dollars in money, to provide myself for the journey; the above money I received from Sister Polly Beswick, it was all she had."

(Polly Beswick was the sister of John Tanner's wife Elizabeth Beswick Tanner. In 1846 there is mention of her in a journal as being in Montrose, Iowa with the Tanners, but then apparently went back east instead of crossing the plains. She didn't come west until 1855, when she sailed with her husband Edward Cook from New York to San Francisco, as told later in this account).

Amasa M. Lyman, John Joshua Tanner and Nathan Tanner joined Zion's Camp at New Portage, Ohio, fifty miles west of Kirtland, where it was being organized and assembled. The camp started out in early May 1834, with approximately 150 men and twenty baggage wagons. The Tanners furnished some of the wagons and three teams, and Nathan says, "We put in very near half the money that paid the expenses of the camp." Nathan Tanner and Zerubbabel Snow served the Camp as commissaries (Nathan later served as a commissary on the pioneers' march across Iowa as well).

Nathan wrote of his experience in Zion's Camp, "We performed our duty as such, the best we could, and enjoyed the trip and acquaintances of the brethren. Here we had the pleasure of the company of the Prophet, Hyrum, Brigham, Heber, Martin Harris, the Johnsons, Pratts, and many we cannot mention. In the camp is the place to make lasting acquaintances."
Nathan said of the Prophet Joseph, "I had the pleasure of seeing him (when he was) in vision, when he saw the country over which we had traveled in a high state of cultivation (the future of this area was opened to his view). This was while he was riding, and when we camped, he had a wagon run out in the middle of the (encircled) wagons, and got into it, and told what he had seen while in the spirit. It was glorious and grand to hear."
"Our Camp was blessed with good health on the road all the way until we got through and God gave the revelation saying our offering was accepted like unto Abraham, and we were not required to go any further. At this, some of the Camp became angry and said that they would rather die than return without a fight, and drew their swords and went a short distance from the camp and gave vent to their wrath on a patch of Paw-paw brush, and mowed them down like grass. At this very time the Cholera set in, and our men died off like sheep with the rot ... It was a sorrowful time, and one long to be remembered. We had to put them into the ground in their blankets without a coffin or much ceremony." Nathan said that, ironically, "it seemed as though the Lord took those who were most fit to go;" some of the most saintly men, rather than the most rebellious among them. Sidnay Gilbert was among those who died.
Heber C. Kimball later wrote, "At this scene my feelings were beyond expression. Those only who witnessed it, can realize anything of the nature of our sufferings, and I felt to weep, and pray to the Lord that he would spare my life that I might behold my dear family again. I felt to covenant with my brethren, and I felt in my heart never to commit another sin while I lived." Sixty-eight men were struck with the sudden, violent attack of cholera; eighteen of these died.

The Tanner boys were commended for their conduct in Zion's Camp, especially for ministering to the sick and burying the dead. (Besides the Tanner boys, John D. Parker, Joseph B. Noble, Brigham Young, Joseph Young, Heber C. Kimball, Luke S. Johnson, and Eleazer Miller were commended for this). It is said that under similar circumstances full-grown men have been known to panic and run. On June 25, during the height of the cholera attack, Joseph Smith divided Zion's Camp into several smaller groups to demonstrate the Saints' peaceful intent to the Missourians. The cholera plague was stayed when the rebellious Camp members humbled themselves in prayer, and sought forgiveness from the Lord. Ten days later formal written discharges were prepared for each faithful member of the Camp. They dispersed after being released by the Prophet; some of them staying in Missouri in accordance with the Fishing River revelation (see D&C 105:20). Before returning to Kirtland, Joseph Smith set the Church in order in Missouri, and called a new high council there.

John Joshua Tanner, Nathan Tanner, and Amasa Lyman followed the advice of the Prophet and remained in Missouri a year to assist the hard pressed Saints. They returned to Kirtland in 1835 (after their father and the rest of the family had moved there), and soon married: Amasa Mason Lyman married Louisa Maria Tanner on June 10, 1835; John Joshua Tanner married Rebecca Archibald Smith (1816-1854) in July 1835, and returned with his bride to Missouri, and Nathan Tanner married Rachel Winter Smith (1818-1896) the next year.

John Joshua and Nathan's wives were both daughters of William Smith Jr. (1779-1858) and Lydia Jane Calkins (1787-1872). The Smiths (no relation to the Prophet's family) were from Bolton, New York like the Tanners, and had certainly been acquainted with them there. The parents William and Lydia Jane Calkins Smith moved to Kirtland with their family in 1836, and they lived in Kirtland until their deaths in 1858 and 1872. William Smith Jr. was the son of William Smith Sr. (1738-??) and Thankful Peet (1745-??); and Lydia Jane Calkins was the daughter of James Calkins Jr. (1741-??) and his wife Sarah (1745-1814). They were descended from early Connecticut families: Smith, Youngs (with an "s"), Landon, Peet, Titherton, Fairchild, Beardsley, and Huntington; also among their ancestors was Rev. John Lathrop (1584-1653), an early immigrant to Massachusetts and leader for religious liberty.

While Nathan and John Joshua had been with Zion's Camp, father John Tanner back in Bolton, New York, had fitted out seven families who had joined the Church and sent them in 1834, some to Kirtland and some to Missouri. He also sent money for the building of the Kirtland temple.

Nathan Tanner wrote that shortly after their family joined the Church, "Our house was soon filled with the Saints, and Father soon found what the Lord wanted of him. The gospel must be preached, the Elders must be furnished, the poor must be gathered to Zion, and he went in to do all he could."
As George S. Tanner wrote, "Generosity is more than just being able to separate oneself from a few dollars, a piece of property, or a gift; it consists in being interested in people and wanting to help ... Like Will Rogers, John Tanner never saw a man he did not like, nor did his family ... John Tanner was a neighbor to all the world, and his hand went out to anyone in need." His generosity also inspired others to give as they could.

Because of his extensive holdings in Bolton it took Father Tanner some time to make all of the necessary arrangements and preparations for all of his family to go west, but by the fall of 1834, John had sold nearly all of his property in Bolton and was ready to move to the Church headquarters the coming spring, together with most of the remaining families in the area who had been converted to the Church.

But then about the middle of December he received an impression by dream or vision of the night, that he was needed and must go immediately to the Church in the west. He told his family of instructions he had received, and forthwith made preparations for the journey. "His neighbors regarded this to be an insane purpose on his part, and did their utmost to dissuade him, but he knew it was the will of God, and nothing could deter him from what he considered his duty." When they saw that his mind was made up, apparently the other families who were planning to go in the spring, all made preparations to leave immediately also. It seems that they looked to John Tanner as their leader in both spiritual and temporal things; he and his sons were all experts with teams, wagons, harnesses, and equipment; also the Tanners all seem to have had natural leadership qualities.

On Christmas day 1834 they commenced their journey, a distance of 500 miles, in the dead of winter and over very poor roads, but apparently the weather was favorable, for they reached Kirtland about the 16th day of January 1835, making the journey in 22 days (about 22.7 miles per day).

In a newspaper article dated Dec. 2, 1971, in the Glens Falls, N.Y. Post-Star, highlighting the history of the LDS Church in the area as researched by local members, it says, "... one of the founding patriarchs was John Tanner of Bolton. The church today can count among its numbers (approx.) 15,000 of his descendants, including a great-grandson, Nathan Eldon Tanner, who is in the first presidency of the Church at Salt Lake City ... (At Christmas time) in 1834 John Tanner's family, in six wagons, along with ten wagons of other members, formed a train in the rye fields where the town filtration plant is now located, in back of the Bolton Episcopal Church."

From here the wagon train (which included 45 persons in all, according to the reminiscences of Elizabeth Beswick Tanner), set out for Kirtland.

In the Prophet Joseph Smith's journal, Jan. 18, 1835, he wrote, "Certain brethren from Bolton, New York came for counsel, relative to their proceeding to the West; and the High Council assembled on the 18th. After a long investigation, I decided that Elder Tanner assist with his might to build up the cause by tarrying in Kirtland; which decision received the unanimous vote of the council."

It seems that Father Tanner had immediately come to inquire of the Prophet when he arrived in Kirtland, to see if the Lord's word to him had changed relative to proceeding to Missouri since the time he had sent his sons in 1833. By his dream or vision, he knew he was needed by the Church "in the west" but didn't know exactly where the Lord needed him. It sounds like he was anxious to go to Missouri and help build up Zion! But the Lord had other plans for John, for on his arrival in Kirtland, he learned that at the very time he had received the impression by dream that he must go immediately to the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith and some of the other brethren had met in prayer meeting and asked the Lord to send them a brother or brethren with means to assist them in lifting the mortgage on the farm upon which the temple was then under construction. The mortgage hanging over it was an obstacle which looked for a time as if it might frustrate the work of building the temple, for which they had sacrificed so much; the Saints were very poor and could not raise the money to pay the mortgage, but they had faith that the Lord would provide a way (and He did).

On the second day of his arrival, by invitation of the Prophet, John Tanner and his son Sidney met with the High Council (in the meeting which Joseph mentioned above), where he was informed that the mortgage on the temple block was about to be foreclosed. When he heard this, Father Tanner gave the Prophet $2,000 and took his note for it, and with this amount the block or farm was redeemed. Mr. Tanner also loaned $13,000 more to the Temple Committee, Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon and Jared Carter. This amount and that loaned to the Prophet were not included in his liberal donations to the building of the temple. He also signed a note with Joseph Smith and others for $30,000 of goods purchased in New York, and signed other notes later for the Church. His open-heartedness was a very striking proof of his confidence in the Prophet and his testimony of the truth and importance of the work he had embraced. When the temple was finished, he participated in the dedication, took part in the "solemn assembly" and in the glorious gifts and manifestations of that memorable occasion. In this, the first temple built in this dispensation, John Tanner received his temple anointings (a partial endowment), along with some of his sons. Nathan Tanner attended the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, where he studied Hebrew. He said that it was generally held in the Kirtland Temple, and "the Spirit of the Lord was daily felt."

All of the Tanners with their families had moved to Kirtland by 1835, with the exception of the two oldest sons, Elisha Bentley Tanner and William Stewart Tanner and their families, who never joined the Church and remained in New York. The third child, Matilda Tanner, had married Jared Randall in 1829, and they came with the others to Kirtland, but it is not known whether they ever joined the Church; more likely they simply wanted to be near the rest of the family. They stayed on in Kirtland after the Church left. Another brother, Martin Henry Tanner, who was 10 at the time of the family's conversion, came to Kirtland with the family and later to Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa, and in 1844 (at age 22) he served a mission with his father and brothers, but apparently at this time or shortly afterwards he moved back to New York instead of going west. So of John's children who survived childhood, four did not go west with the Church, but ten (nine sons and a daughter), did.

Two more children were born to John Tanner and Elizabeth in Kirtland: Philomelia Tanner (1835-1838), and David Dan Tanner (1838-1918). Dan was the last to survive to adulthood; two more children were later born in Iowa, but died as children.

The nine sons of John Tanner who came west with the Saints were said to be "a hardy race." They and their sister Maria Tanner Lyman all became the heads of large families; the Tanner "Ten Tribes." (They had an average of 16.5 children each. There are so many descendants of these families now, that in 1976 they held a family reunion in the Special Events Center at the University of Utah). The sons of John Tanner, especially those of his third wife Elizabeth, were large, standing well over six feet and weighing from 200 to 275 pounds, and "they were strong in proportion. Even on the rugged frontier, these sons of John Tanner were physical giants, not to be trifled with." It is said Brigham Young once commented that when he had a tough job to be done he tried to find a Tanner; they were of great assistance in helping the Saints cross the plains, and were later sent out on several exploration and colonizing missions, to California, Southern Utah, and Arizona. Many of the Tanners worked in the freighting business between the various settlements, and traveled back and forth bringing supplies and accompanying people to Utah.

Myron Tanner wrote of his experiences crossing the plains that "some of the brethren whose lives had been given largely to the ministry were hardly familiar with team work (how to handle wagons and teams) and many of those who were driving had little experience (and often got into difficulties such as getting stuck in the mud) ... George A. Smith gave over to me much of the responsibility of conducting the teams (in his whole company) across the plains (even though Myron was only 21 at the time), as I was familiar with horses and cattle, with which I had worked all my life."

All of the Tanners had these skills, as well as those of farming, fencing, building, and anything in which there was hard work to be done. They were very hard-working, practical men as well as ambitious and enterprising, and these skills served them well in pioneer life; they seem to have prospered in everything they did, at the same time helping many other families who were less skilled and less prepared to face the frontier. They also seem to have been very strong-willed, and had qualities of independent thinking, initiative, self-sufficiency, organization and leadership, and intellectual capacity, which became apparent in the succeeding generations. Other common traits of Tanner descendants are generosity, appreciation and love for their fellow beings, and a desire to be of service.

There was a longevity in the family as well. The average age at death of the ten who came west was 82, which was quite old in pioneer times; and two of them lived into their nineties. Among their descendants are many who served in Church leadership; including N. Eldon Tanner, Hugh B. Brown, Victor L. Brown, Franklin D. Richards, Marion D. Hanks, and the Lymans: Amasa M. (son-in-law to John Tanner), his son Francis M. Lyman, and grandson Richard R. Lyman, who were all apostles. In addition, many Tanners have distinguished themselves in the fields of business, law, education, medicine, government, and others. Many Tanners have become quite well-off financially; although this has proven to be a liability rather than a blessing to the great majority of people from an eternal perspective, many of the Tanners seem to have had the rare ability not to set their hearts upon their riches or become prideful, but rather to stay humble and grateful, mindful of the Source from whence all blessings come, and willing to use all they have in serving the Lord and their fellow beings.

Louisa Maria Tanner married Amasa M. Lyman in June 1835 in Kirtland; they had first become acquainted back in Bolton when he visited as a missionary at their home in January 1834. According to their writings, they both were given premonitions and a strong witness that they were to become husband and wife, although neither of them spoke to the other about it at the time. When they first met, Maria was 15 and Amasa was 20; he had been disowned by his own family for joining the Church, and it seems that the Tanner family took him under their wings.

As soon as he returned to Kirtland after serving in Zion's Camp and assisting the Missouri Saints, Amasa Lyman and Maria Tanner were married (10 June 1835, in Kirtland). Maria was then 16 and Amasa was 22 years old. He left again five days after they were married, to continue his ongoing missionary work, returning to Kirtland in the middle of December 1835, where he attended the school of the prophets and stayed until after the temple dedication in early April 1836. Maria lived with her parents' family much of the time even after her marriage to Amasa, and he also lived there himself when he was not away on missions. Later, when he entered plural marriage, his plural wives and children were also left in the care of Father Tanner much of the time, until after they crossed the plains. All of the Tanners were very supportive, and gladly took care of things at home and contributed hard work and means, so that others could do the work of the ministry and other church service (although they too served missions on many occasions; especially Nathan Tanner).

In mid-April 1836, Amasa M. Lyman together with Nathan Tanner and two other companions were called on another mission to New York, where they raised up a branch of the Church in Albion, Oswego County. In the Kirtland newspaper "Messenger and Advocate," June 7, 1836, in the section "From our Elders Abroad" it reads, "Elders A. Lyman and N. Tanner write us from Portage, N.Y. under date of May 10th, that between that time and April 7th, they had travelled three hundred and fifty miles, held twenty meetings, and baptized six (so far); we use their expression when we say 'the sick are healed, and the promises of the Lord are fulfilled unto us.'"

At the end of their mission Elders Lyman and Tanner also visited Bolton, the former home of the Tanners, but made no new converts there. Father John Tanner, who had been on a mission himself, to Vermont, also met up with them in Bolton, and here Nathan Tanner on 29 June 1836 married Rachel Winter Smith (Amasa M. Lyman performed the marriage). Father Tanner and Amasa Lyman then returned to Kirtland together, while Nathan Tanner remained with his father-in-law William Smith for a time. (John Joshua Tanner may have also returned to Bolton, NY after serving in Zion's Camp, to marry Rebecca Archibald Smith. The information we have says they were married in Kirtland in July 1835, but since the rest of her family was still in Bolton at this time, it doesn't seem likely she would have come to Kirtland by herself, unless she traveled and stayed with another member family.)

Later in 1836, Nathan brought his wife's parents William and Lydia Jane Calkins Smith and their family to Kirtland. Amos Perry's family also came with them. Amos was the husband of Emily Smith, another sister of Rachel Winter Smith and Rebecca Archibald Smith.

The Perrys never joined the Church, but Nathan tells of his brother-in-law giving money to the Prophet. They arrived in Kirtland on a Sunday morning, just in time to hear the Prophet Joseph speak at the morning service in the temple (the temple in those days was also used for public meetings). The Prophet mentioned that he had purchased a farm which lay in the bounds of the city, and had gone on Saturday to pay for it, but the party refused his paper money from the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, so Joseph had to raise the gold or silver in three days or lose the purchase. He said if anyone had the hard money he would be glad to get it so that he could make payment in the morning.

Nathan says, "My brother-in-law was struck with Joseph's remarks, and when we came out of the temple he said to me, 'Nathan, what would you do if you were in my place? You know I have the hard money.' Said I, 'I don't want to advise you, but you know if I had the money I should lay it down.' He said, 'Well, I think I will if you will go and introduce me to Joseph.' And he went to his wagon and pulled out a coin sack of hard money, mostly silver -- I think about $3,000 -- shouldered it up, and packed it into the temple, through the aisle the whole length of the temple, and laid it down on the sacrament table before Joseph, and then I introduced them. It seems that Joseph had the power to call money to his aid when he needed to accomplish his ends, at will. I doubt whether Mr. Perry ever got all his money back (he had been given Kirtland Bank notes in exchange), but he was blessed, and raised a large family of lovely children and left them plenty when he died."

Father Tanner and his sons were among those who contributed both money and manual labor towards the building of the Kirtland Temple. One of Joseph Smith's scribes recorded in his journal: "This day (March 7, 1835) a meeting of the Church of Latter Day Saints was called for the purpose of blessing in the name of the Lord, those who have heretofore assisted in building, by their labor and other means, the House of the Lord in this place ... In the afternoon, the names of those who had assisted to build the house were taken, and further instructions received from President Smith. He said that those who had distinguished themselves thus far by consecrating to the House of the Lord, as well as laboring thereon, were to be remembered; and those who built it should own it, and have control of it. After further remarks, those who had performed labor on the building, voted unanimously that they would continue to labor thereon, till the house should be completed. President Sidney Rigdon was appointed to lay on hands and bestow blessings in the name of the Lord."
(John Tanner and his son Sidney were among the 119 brethren who received blessings on this occasion).

In Kirtland, Father Tanner became known for his generosity towards all, and his devotion and loyalty to the Prophet Joseph Smith. An entry in the Prophet's journal for December 9, 1835, contains this item: "Elder Tanner brought me half a fatted hog for the benefit of my family. And whether my days be many or few, whether in life or death I say in my heart, let me enjoy the society of such brethren. Signed Joseph Smith."
Nathan Tanner tells of receiving a blessing which he highly prized. On April 6, 1836, he records the following: "I went with my father and Brother Amasa M. Lyman, to Brother Joseph Smith's, and there under the hands of Joseph Smith, Amasa M. Lyman and my father I received a father's blessing. It was of great importance to me."

John Tanner had several grandchildren born while they lived in Kirtland. Emma Smith Tanner (Sidney Tanner's third child) was born in Kirtland in June 1835 (Sidney's first two children, Allan Benedict Tanner and Lydia Tanner, had been born in Bolton, N.Y., in 1831 and 1832). It appears that Sidney Tanner and family, along with John Joshua Tanner and his bride Rebecca, moved to Missouri in the late summer or early fall of 1835, while the other Tanners remained in Kirtland a few more years. Maria Tanner and Amasa M. Lyman's first child, Matilda Lyman (named for Maria's sister), was born in Kirtland in Nov. 1836. John Joshua Tanner's first child, Lydia Jane Tanner, was born in Missouri at the end of Nov. 1836. Also, Nathan Tanner's first child, Romelia Tanner, was born in April 1837 in Kirtland, but she died as an infant. In addition to these were Matilda Tanner Randall's children, and the other grandchildren who were back in New York, giving John Tanner at least 15 grandchildren by this time. Eventually he would be blessed with 183 grandchildren and 845 great-grandchildren.

While they lived in Kirtland, Myron Tanner, according to his biography, "asked for the privilege of going down to the bottoms below the Temple to fish." He was about 11 years old at the time. He said, "One of the neighbors had had a dream about me the night before. The dream troubled him. It was a warning to him that I was likely to lose my life. His name was Mr. Hales. In the afternoon he looked, he said, towards our house and did not see any of the children around. He immediately went over the street and called to my mother and asked where I was, to which she replied that I had gone fishing. Without stopping a moment to say one word to her, he ran a mile and a quarter and reached the dam, where I was in a dangerous position likely to drown, and saved my life."
Myron also mentioned his profound reverence and respect for the Prophet Joseph Smith. "He was a man among men," he said. "I express a feeling of intense pride in the fact that my father and Joseph Smith bore a resemblance to each other." (No one else has mentioned this resemblance, so perhaps it was only in young Myron's opinion).
"At the time of the heavenly manifestations at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, Myron called his mother to behold the heavenly personages he saw (on the roof of the temple)."

In Kirtland John Tanner, with his characteristic energy, put forth his best efforts to assist the Prophet in sustaining the Kirtland Bank, and bought up much of its paper or bank notes, but there was "a Judas under the counter" and the bank went down in spite of all their efforts. "While we strove to maintain the credit of the bank, others strove to draw out all the specie and bank notes or other securities," wrote Nathan Tanner. Those who had stuggled hardest and invested most were naturally the greatest losers, and Mr. Tanner was one of the foremost. He had also given much to assist the poor and needy who had gathered to Kirtland, many of whom asked Father Tanner for assistance because he was well known for being generous and was supposedly wealthy (although he had already given away most of his wealth by this time).

He had developed a nice farm a few miles outside of Kirtland. "John Tanner was an energetic and intelligent farmer. His love for and cultivation of the soil characterized his labors at each stopping place in every exodus of the Saints," said one biographer. "John Tanner was at one time rated the wealthiest man in the Church."

Mother Elizabeth wrote that, "Our substance was divided from time to time for church purposes and to assist the needy, even my own personal clothing. I divided until we were in very destitute circumstances, and lived as poor as it was possible to get along with, our large family many times lacking nourishment, as I felt the need of, to sustain myself through sickness (pregnancy) and hard labor (work). I had two children during our residence there. Our home was always open for the accommodation of the people, as Mr. Tanner was much given to hospitality and never refused its demands as long as we had a crust to divide."
After the Kirtland Bank failed, its paper money became worthless, and Father Tanner was completely crippled financially; the other Tanners as well. Nathan wrote, "I felt the (paper money) would all have to be redeemed, and I was zealous in that matter, and sold all I had to redeem the paper (notes). I sold my last team and wagon, my last cow, and the watch from my pocket, and in this financial crush Brother Amasa and myself were forced to prison."

Before the bank failed, Joseph Smith and others of the authorities went to Canada to raise money "to redeem the Kirtland money that was out." While they were gone, one of the seven presidents of the seventies, John Gould, "got up an article for the paper, and had it laid before the seventies for their sanction in the school room in the Temple. He was going to have it printed up for the paper and sent out the next day to the four winds." Since John Gould was one of the presidents, he had quite a bit of influence. In this article he denounced the Kirtland Bank, and in the meeting he called for a vote, to disfellowship and cut off all persons passing or dealing in Kirtland money. The seventies voted unanimously to sustain this action, except for Nathan Tanner, who was only 21 at the time.

As he tells it, "President Gould said, 'There seems to be one opposing vote; the boy in the midst of the congregation must have some objection.' I arose and said 'I have some very grave objections. It is well known that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and John Taylor are now in Canada raising money to redeem our bank paper and increase its circulation, and I cannot raise my hand to cut them off. I realize the consequence; it would simply be cutting off our own heads.' At this several arose and said they wished to rescind their votes, and then Bro. Joseph Young, the senior president, said, 'Hold on, hold on. I think we had better all rescind our votes.' And it was done. I believe this was about the last official act of John Gould's life.'" (He later went down to the gold rush in California and died there of cholera).
Myron Tanner wrote, "Father (along with all of his sons) was intensely devoted to the Prophet. Compared with the necessities of the Church and the financial relief of the Prophet in the hours of his distress, money to him was mere dross." The Tanners did all they could to keep the Kirtland Bank solvent, and were not involved in the rampant speculation based on greed and unsound financial principles, to make "fast and easy" money on paper, as so many in Kirtland engaged in, contrary to the counsel of the Prophet. This caused the bank to fail, and then afterwards they blamed it all on the Prophet, as if he had been responsible instead of their own greed and foolishness.

After the failure of the bank in Kirtland, pressure in the form of religious persecution, from both apostate members and anti-Mormons, became so unendurable that the leaders were forced to flee for their lives in January 1838, under cover of night, and seek homes in the West. After the leaders left, most of the Saints soon followed, and in the spring John Tanner and his family set out on the journey of 1000 miles to Far West. He had "tarried in Kirtland" as he had been counseled, and had given all he had for the Lord's cause there, and was left with nothing.

Nathan says, "Father had signed on notes for the Church farm (and other property) ... the Church could not pay anything. Father (still had some property back in New York) and had to send to New York to his son-in-law to sell his property there, and let Father have the money to raise these notes that were given for the Church farm ... He had signed (other) notes with Joseph and the Church which we took up after we came to Nauvoo or Iowa."
The Biographical Encyclopedia says in relating the story of the financial disaster, "He (John Tanner) had an excellent farm and home which were (legally) exempt to him from sale by law, and he could have retained these and remained in Kirtland in comfort, but he had signed for the church, and no financial promise of his had ever before gone unfulfilled; nor would he now fail to meet his obligations (even) if it took all he had. It was quite a change for Father Tanner; from a condition of wealth in which he was enabled to assist many people and the Church in general, he was left in a condition without means to assist himself, at the age of 60 years. In a financial way he had staked his all on his faith, the Prophet, and the Church, and had lost (but only temporarily)."

Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

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