Letter from sister Eunice Kinney, Flintville, Wisconsin, September 1891, to Brother Watson, Bay Springs, Michigan.
Letter in possession of sister Joan Chubb. It has been provided to the Black LDS web site by Brother David Rees of Lyons, Wisconsin.
My Testimony of the Latter-day Work
I have many times, in the years that is past and gone, felt impressed to give my testimony in regard to the great and glorious work of the last days. I have neglected this duty until I feel that my journey in this life will soon close. I will soon be 79 years old, I am very feeble, not able to write as I would wish. Therefore, I shall be very brief and only note the most important items of my experiences.
In the spring of 1838 I heard the first Gospel sermon by a latter-day Saint.
His name was Elijah Abel; he was ordained by Joseph, the martyred prophet. I was then living in the town of Madrid, Lawrence County, New York. We had never heard of the latter-day Saints until Elder Abel came into the place. I, with my husband, went and heard him preach. Abel was a man without education; it was difficult for him to read his text but when he commenced to preach, the Spirit rested upon him and he preached a most powerful sermon. It was such a Gospel sermon as I had never heard before, and I felt in my heart that he was one of God's chosen ministers, and I verily thought that all those who ever were under the sound of his voice were impressed with the same views. But I soon learned by mistake; when the sermon was ended he gave liberty to anyone that wished to express their feelings either for or against the subject that have been set before him. My husband rose and opposed that bitterly and said many hard things.
After the meeting was closed, the Elder came to my husband putting his hand on his shoulder, says, "Brother where do you live?" My husband told him. He then said to my husband, "tomorrow I will come and see you and have a little chat." He came as he said and he and my husband were soon in conversation. Abel set forth the claims of Joseph Smith to the prophetic office, showing the necessity of the everlasting gospel being restored to prepare a people for the coming of the Son of Man. So the time was drawing near for His coming but He would not come till God had a people prepared to receive him, with all the gifts and blessings that adorned his Church anciently.
My husband opposed him, said that he was under no obligation to receive his message without seeing some sign or miracle performed. Abel then said, " is it a sign that you require for to make you belief?" He said "yes."
Abel says, "you shall have what you asked, but it will make your heart ache. A curse from God will follow you from this time forward. You will be cursed in your going out and coming in and everything that you put your hand to do will be cursed, and sore affliction will follow you until you repent and humble yourself before God."
Well, I have only to say that all was fulfilled to the very letter. The last affliction that came our little boy of three years was taken with the croup. The doctor said that he was in the last stage of the disease and [there] was no hope in his case. My husband then gave up, said that it was enough, burst into a flood of tears, acknowledging his faults saying that he knew that he had been under the influence of evil spirit. He then humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, praying God to forgive him and restore our child, in all things as it should be made known to him.
Suffice it to say that the child about well, and when Elder Abel came again we both went down into the water and was buried with Christ in baptism. When confirmed, great blessings were predicted upon our heads. My husband was to preach the gospel was to become mighty in causing many to believe and obey it. He was also to have the gift of tongues and the interpretation, also the gift of prophecy and the gift of healing the sick. All these things were fulfilled in due time.
But soon after I was baptized I became severely tempted by the power of darkness, and the glorious light that had reflected upon my understanding a short time before had now become darkness, and how great was that darkness! Now, in my view The Book of Mormon was a romance and Joseph was a false prophet and the Elder the baptized me was one of the devil's ministers transformed into a minister of righteousness. And I soon found myself in overwhelming doubts, fears and despair; no language could express the keen anguish that I and word. For one week I could neither eat or sleep. I thought that if I could only see the Elder I would say many hard things to him.
One Sunday morning very unexpectedly into my great surprise Elder Abel came. As soon as either the house, my feelings that I had somewhat changed. After a little conversation, I made an effort to express the feelings and trials that I had had since I was baptized, but I was spellbound. I could not utter the words that I had previously imagined. He only said, "Sister, you have not been tempted as long as the Savior was after he was baptized. He was tempted one way and you in another."
He then said to my husband, "I wish would circulate an appointment for preaching at three o'clock in the afternoon at the schoolhouse." It was done as he requested. At first I thought I would not go, but when the appointed time came I said to my husband, "I will go and see the coming out of it."
His text was "Think it not strange, brethren, concerning the fiery trials which are to try you as though some strange thing had happened unto you." I thought the text very appropriate.
While he was preaching, a great and marvelous change came over me. All the doubts and fears and unbelief and the powerful darkness that had so distressed me fled before the light of God's truth like the dew before the Sun. The Holy Spirit can upon me and I was in a glorious vision. It was then and there made known to me by the power of God the Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God, and The Book of Mormon was a sacred record of divine origin, and Elijah Abel was a servant of the most high God. I've never had a doubt of these things from that day to this, and when I think of that glorious event it fills my heart with joy and gratitude to my Heavenly Father for such an expression of his goodness.
After the meeting, Brother Abel explain the cause of his coming so unexpectedly. He was on a mission in Canada and God gave him a vision of my situation and commanded him to come and rebuke the power that was destroying me. He obeyed the command and God's blessing was realized.
Brother Abel now had to leave us and go back to Canada to meet his appointments there, but said that he would come and preached to us again in two weeks. But before the two weeks were up, persecution was raging in a fearful manner. Handbills were pasted up in every direction stating the Mormon Elder had murdered a woman and five children and a great reward was offered for him.
We were members of the Methodist Church at the time we united with the Latter-day Saints, and our Methodist brethren were our greatest persecutors. They said to us, "now, what do you think of your Mormon Elder after committing such a crime?" Said that he would never show himself there again.
I says, "he will come and fill his appointment and God will protect him." They said that just as sure as he did come he would not have the privilege of preaching, for they would nab him too quick, but they knew that he would never be seen there again. When the time was nearly up, Elder Abel came and the house was well filled. After Abel was seated a few moments, he rose and says to the congregation, "my friends, I'm advertised for murdering a woman and five children and a great reward is offered for my person. Now here I am; if anyone has anything to do with me, now is your time. But after I commenced my services, don't you dare to lay your hands on me." He waited in silence a few moments, and no one moved the tongue or raised the hand.
He then opened the meeting with singing and prayer, and he preached a most powerful sermon. He went home with us to stay for the night. The next day he left unmolested. Before he left us he advised my husband to sell out and go further west to some Branch of the Church where we would have more agreeable society. He said that there was a good branch of Saints about forty miles west and we had better go there. As we were the only ones that obeyed the gospel in the place, he thought it would be hard for us to live our religion alone. So we done as he advised us and it proved a great blessing to us.
We found Elder James Blakesley and family with the Branch. He invited us to move into the house with them. We did so and found them to be the best of Saints. While we were there the power of God was manifested in a wonderful manner. The sick were healed through his ministration; Sister Blakesley often spoke in tongues and also gave the interpretation, and through the Spirit of prophecy she predicted wonderful events which were all fulfilled in due time.
After remaining there sometime we moved to Michigan, where we remained until after the death of the martyred prophet. While we were in Michigan, I passed through sore afflictions, sometimes wishing my days to be few. But I will pass those things by, and thank God that I yet live to give my testimony to the truth that God has shown me pertaining to the latter-day work.
(After the death of Joseph Smith, Eunice Kenny joined the branch of the Church that was led by James J. Strang and she did not go west with the main body of Saints.)