Summer 1838, Orson returned from serving as a missionary in England to Far West, Missouri just as trouble began. Orson was very ill and exhausted. Unable to get out, friends called on him and filled his ears with news of the escalating conflict between the Latter-day Saints and angry locals. Sidney Rigdon called on the sick apostle and told him to stand with Joseph Smith. Thomas B. Marsh however, himself angry and embittered over issues with cream, came and railed on Joseph, blaming him for the conflict, accusing him of terrible things.
Weak and confused, Orson sided with Thomas, his Quorum leader. Soon the two men fled Far West in fear, taking their families, and went to Richmond, Missouri. Once the locals learned who Thomas and Orson were as members of the Quorum of the Twelve they sent a committee to acquire an affidavit of the intentions of the Mormons. Thomas declared that Joseph Smith meant to rule Missouri and the whole world, and that he intended to “make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.” Other outrageous and inflammatory statements were made. Then the committee turned to Orson and asked him his thoughts. Orson signed the affidavit affirming Marsh’s slander.
On October 27, 1838, their affidavit reached Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs who responded by issuing the infamous extermination order that resulted in unspeakable atrocities committed against the saints and their being driven from the State.
The ensuing months were torturous for Orson. He felt empty, angry, and often depressed. He could neither work nor sleep. The sickness of his body was nothing when compared with the anguish of his soul. It soon became clear, what had he done? He visited Far West, viewing the skeletons of burned homes and the strewn rubble of the belongings of those who had been his friends. Guilt and remorse were unbearable.
Finally humbled to the very depths and nearly overwhelmed with godly sorrow, Orson determined he would make amends. He spoke with Brigham, and then with Heber, but ultimately he must face Joseph whom he had betrayed.
June 1839, “the horrors of hell having rolled over his soul even to the wasting of his flesh,” (Wilford Woodruff) Orson Hyde came into Commerce, Illinois to face Joseph. He opened the front gate and barely took a step onto the property when the front door burst open and Brother Joseph came running to meet him, his arms out in welcome.”
“O Brother Hyde, how glad I am to see you! The Prophet exclaimed, as he wrapped his arms around Orson’s neck. Both men “wept like children.”
Joseph then told Orson he had come out so quickly because the Lord had told him Orson was coming and he was watching for him.
Myrtle Stevens Hyde, Orson Hyde: The Oliver Branch of Israel, 2000. p. 95-109