“Brother Fordham Arose from His Bed”
As told by Wilford Woodruff.
Before starting on our missions to England, we were under the necessity of settling our families. A place called Commerce, afterwards named Nauvoo, was selected as the place at which our people should settle.
I left Quincy in company with Brother Brigham Young and our families, on the fifteenth of May, and arrived in Commerce on the eighteenth. After an interview with Joseph we crossed the river at Montrose, Iowa. President Brigham Young and myself, with our families, occupied one room about fourteen feet square. Finally Brother Young obtained another room and moved his family into it. Then Brother Orson Pratt and family moved into the same room with myself and family.
While I was living in this cabin in the old barracks, we experienced a day of God’s power with the Prophet Joseph. It was a very sickly time, and Joseph had given up his home in Commerce to the sick, and had a tent pitched in his door-yard and was living in that himself. The large number of Saints who had been driven out of Missouri were flocking into Commerce, but had no homes to go into, and were living in wagons, in tents, and on the ground. Many, therefore, were sick through the exposure they were subjected to. Brother Joseph had waited on the sick until he was worn out and nearly sick himself.
On the morning of the twenty-second of July, 1839, he arose, reflecting upon the situation of the Saints of God in their persecutions and afflictions. And he called upon the Lord in prayer, and the power of God rested upon him mightily. And as Jesus healed all the sick around him in his day, so Joseph, the prophet of God, healed all around on this occasion. He healed all in his house and door-yard, then, in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the twelve, he went among the sick lying on the bank of the river and he commanded them in a loud voice, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come up and be made whole, and they were all healed. When he healed all that were sick on the east side of the river, they crossed the Mississippi river in a ferry-boat to the west side, to Montrose, where we were. The first house they went into was President Brigham Young’s. He was sick on his bed at the time. The Prophet went into his house and healed him, and they all came out together. As they were passing by my door, Brother Joseph said: “Brother Woodruff, follow me.” These were the only words spoken by any of the company from the time they left Brother Brigham’s house till we crossed the public square, and entered Brother Fordham’s house. Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute would be his last.
I felt the power of God that was overwhelming his prophet.
When we entered the house, Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham, and took him by the right hand; in his left hand he held his hat.
He saw that Brother Fordham’s eyes were glazed, and that he was speechless and unconscious.
After taking hold of his hand, he looked down into the dying man’s face and said: “Brother Fordham, do you not know me?” At first he made no reply; but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him.
He again said: “Elijah, do you not know me?”
With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, “Yes!”
The Prophet then said, “Have you not faith to be healed?”
The answer, which was a little plainer than before, was: “I am afraid it is too late. If you had come sooner, I think I might have been.”
He had the appearance of a man waking from sleep. It was the sleep of death.
Joseph then said: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?”
“I do, Brother Joseph,” was the response.
Then the Prophet of God spoke with a loud voice, as in the majesty of the Godhead: “Elijah, I command you, in the name of the Jesus of Nazareth, to arise and be made whole!”
Elijah Fordham leaped from his bed like a man raised from the dead. A healthy color came to his face, and life was manifested in every act. . . .
He then called for his clothes and put them on. He asked for a bowl of bread and milk, and ate it, then put on his hat and followed us into the street to visit others who were sick.
As soon as we left Brother Fordham’s house, we went into the house of Joseph B. Noble, who was very low and dangerously sick.
When we entered the house, Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and commanded him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and be made whole. He did arise and was immediately healed.
This case of Brother Noble’s was the last one of healing upon that day. It was the greatest day for the manifestation of the power of God through the gift of healing since the organization of the Church.
When we left Brother Noble, the Prophet Joseph went with those who accompanied him from the other side to the banks of the river, to return home.
While waiting for the ferry-boat, a man of the world, knowing of the miracles which had been performed, came to him and asked him if he would not go and heal two twin children of his, about five months old, who were both lying sick nigh unto death.
They were some two miles from Montrose.
The Prophet said he could not go; but, after pausing some time, he said he would send one to heal them; and he turned to me and said: “You go with the man and heal his children.”
I went with the man, and did as the Prophet commanded me, and the children were healed.
Wilford Woodruff, Leaves from My Journal (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1909), pp. 67-71.