John and his family, along with many of the Canadian members, decided to gather with the body of the Saints in Kirtland. When they arrived, they found many members apostatizing from the church. The faithful Saints were moving to Missouri, so John and the group he traveled with continued toward Missouri from Kirtland.
During their journey, they stopped in a little town near Columbus, Ohio. On the Sabbath the company asked John to preach. With no building available he found a place to teach the people outside in the open air. Everyone eagerly awaited his message. Just before the meeting began, some of the brethren informed John that a mob would tar and feather him if he preached. It wasn’t just a rumor; they had seen the tar and feathers. John said he would speak anyway. The others feared for John because they didn’t have the strength to protect him.
At the designated hour, the Saints gathered along with townspeople and members of the mob. John stood up to speak. He began, “Gentlemen, I now stand among men whose fathers fought for . . . the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. . . They nobly fought and nobly conquered; . . . and the flag of freedom waves from Wisconsin to Louisiana – from Maine to Missouri. . . . Gentlemen, with you liberty is more than a name. . . By the by, I have been informed that you purpose to tar and feather me, for my religious opinions. . . . Is this the blessing they [your forefathers] purchased with their dearest hearts’ blood . . . ? If so, you now have a victim.”
John ripped his vest open and said, “Gentlemen come on with your tar and feathers, your victim is ready.” Everyone was quiet. Not a sound could be heard. After a few moments of silence, John began to preach, giving a message about the restoration of the Church. When he finished speaking, the people of the town complimented him on his address, and he and the other Saints continued their journey. Those who would have tarred and feathered him slunk into the background.