An excerpt from Wilford Woodruff's autobiography, with an account of the sudden death of Alexander Akeman/Aikman, attributing what may have been a natural death, by stroke or heart attack to a "miracle" punishment:
LDS CHURCH AND HUBBLES/HUBBELS,AIKMANS/AKEMANS
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) was first introduced into Arkansas upon the arrival of missionaries Henry Brown and Wilford Woodruff, who came in to Arkansas from Clay County, Missouri, on January 28, 1835. Jonathan Hubble and his wife were the first Arkansas converts. They were baptized by immersion, as is the custom among Latter-day Saints, on February 22, 1835.
Wilford} Woodruff in the Wilford Woodruff Autobiography . . .
Says Woodruff in the Wilford Woodruff Autobiography, “January 24 --I preached at Mr. Nathan Tanner's, in Green County, Missouri, the first time we had found a congregation we could preach to in safety, and the first time that I had ever attempted to preach as a missionary. I had great liberty, and was followed by Elder Brown. During our preaching, there was a snowstorm. We arrived at Petty John Creek, in Arkansas, where Mr. Alexander Akeman resided, with a large family of sons and one daughter, settled around him. Mr. Akeman, and a part of the family, were members of the Church in Jackson County; his wife died strong in the faith in Missouri. His whole family were mobbed, and some of his sons were whipped severely; but he could not stand the persecution and the loss of his property. He moved to Arkansas, to get rid of "Mormonism," had apostatized, and was bitter against the work. When we called upon him, he opposed us strongly--spoke against the leaders of the Church and the Book of Mormon. He had one son who received us, and had a little faith. I dreamed the night before, that we were required to walk in a straight, narrow path; and while following the path, it led to the door of a house, which was placed in a high wall that we could not get around. As I opened the door to go through, I saw the room was filled with large serpents. I entered, and they all coiled up to jump at me; as they made a spring to bite me, they all fell dead at my feet, turned black, swelled up, burst open, took fire, and were consumed before my eyes. We met with much opposition from Mr. Akeman, and many in the neighborhood. Elder Brown wished to leave the place immediately. I told him I should stay, and see my dream fulfilled. We stayed in the neighborhood twenty-five days, during which time the Lord brought judgment upon those who threatened to mob and kill us; many of them died suddenly, and I was warned three times by the Lord, to go to Mr. Akeman, and bear testimony unto him of the truth of "Mormonism," and the wickedness of his course in opposing it; and the last time I called upon him, he was filled with wrath against me, and when I left his house, he followed me in a rage, apparently with some evil intent. When I had got a few rods from his door, he was nearly treading on my heels, and fell dead at my feet, as though he had been struck with lightning; he swelled, and immediately turned black. This created a great wailing and mourning among his family. Brother Brown and myself assisted in laying him out and burying him. He died February 14, 1835. This singular dispensation of Providence brought solemnity upon the people, and they began to reflect and wished to hear preaching. We held several meetings and preached, and baptized Mr. Hubbel and his wife, who had opened their doors and given us a home; and just as we had got the people prepared to receive the gospel and anxious to learn, and pleading with us to stay and preach, Brother Brown resolved that he would continue his journey south. I was fully satisfied that we should stop, we would built up a church, and was convinced it was our duty to stop; but Brother Brown held the office of an elder, and I submitted. Brother Brown did not baptize another person on the mission. And in Things of Life and Earth, The Life and Times ofWilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet by Thomas G. Alexander “ In a similar sense of opposition and triumph, Woodruff had a dream while sleeping at William Riley's home in Scott County, Arkansas, the substance of which was to occur again in different forms and at other times. In the dream he saw his companion and himself walking into a room filled with large serpents. He tried to avoid going through the room but could not. Stepping inside, he trusted his life to God, but as he reached the center of the floor, snakes surrounded him and sprang at him. This led him at first to despair, believing they would devour him. One larger than the others struck at his face but dropped dead before it could reach him. The other snakes also dropped dead and burst into flames. Wilford was able to walk through the room unharmed. 82 The dream occurred several days before he and Brown entered Pope County, Arkansas, where they met Willis and Alexander Akeman, a member and lapsed member of the church, and Jonathan Hubbel, whom they later baptized. In retrospect Woodruff considered the dream a prophetic foreshadowing of events that followed. 83 Alexander Akeman had become hostile toward the church after the Missouri persecutions and had left the Saints to move to Arkansas. Shortly after Woodruff and Brown arrived, Akeman walked out of his house and fell dead in his front yard. In comparing the journal account made near the time of the event with the autobiographical account written a number of years later, one finds embellishments which emphasize providential intervention. In his journal Woodruff reports that on February 14, 1835, he "was suddenly Called to a house of mourning which was Mr. Alexander Akeman's. He had walked out of his house and droped dead upon the ground. In a few moments all his Sons and daughters were present." The autobiographical account stresses Woodruff's belief that God led him to Akeman's place and that Akeman's death came as punishment for opposing the work of the Lord. The autobiographical account reads in part: "The spirit of the Lord came upon me like a rushing mighty wind & the voice of the spirit said to me go up again & visit Mr. Akeman and again bear testimony unto him of the truth of the Book of Mormon & the work of God. . . . I told him I had come to again bear testimony unto him of the truth of the Book of Mormon & the work of God, in the danger of opposing that work. He soon was filled with wrath & indignation and he opposed me in the strongest terms, and raged against the leaders of the Church. . . . I felt that the house was filled with devils & awful darkness. I felt Horribly. I did not understand why the Lord should send me into the midst of such spirits to hear . . . [illegible] of his work. I felt very strangely my tongue was glued to my mouth. I could not speak. I arose to my feet to leave the house. I felt as though the floor . . . [illegible] under my feet & when I steped upon the ground I felt that I was surrounded with devils and I felt like fleeing as Lot did when He went out of Sodom, without looking behind me. Mr. Akeman followed me out of the door close to my heels about 8 rods without either of us speaking. I know he was following close to me when about 8 rods from the House this strange feeling left me in a twinkling of an Eye and when Mr. Akeman got to the place where this feeling left me he fell dead at my feet as though he had been struck with a thunderbolt from Heaven." 84 Other charismatic manifestations occurred. Several days before they baptized Jonathan Hubble and his wife, Woodruff and Brown preached to their household. Brown spoke in tongues and offered his own interpretation. Woodruff concluded that "The Spirit of God rested upon us." 85 On other occasions they laid hands on the heads of people to heal them. 86 At another time after he and a party of five men and two women lost their way in a severe storm, a "light suddenly Shone around about us without either Sun Moon or Stars so that we were able to reach a hous whare we received directions & procured some torches to serve us as lights." 87 84. Woodruff, Journal, 1:21 (14 Feb. 1835). Woodruff continued: "His daughter stood in the door way saw him fall. She fainted & fell at the same time & neither of them spoke a word that I could hear. I continued to walk down to Mr. Hubbels as fast as I could meditating upon the strange dealings of God with me, still not knowing that Mr. Akeman was dead. I arrived at Mr. Hubble's just at dark in a peculiar state of Mind. Supper was ready, we all sat down at the table[.] blessing was asked, I took up my knife & fork to commence eating and I heard a horse coming upon a full run. I dropped my knife & fork & . . . and a man rode up to our door and cried out Mr. Akeman is dead I want you to go there immediately. In a moment my eyes were open to understand the whole subject. I felt satisfied with the dealings of God with me in calling me to go & warn him. As soon as his daughter came to her senses she ran to her nearest brothers & gave the alarm. We walked up to the house as soon as we could. When we arrived there we found all of his sons in the house around his body wailing in an awful manner. He was naturally a large man but when we came to see his dead body it was swollen to a great extent. It appeared as though his skin was ready to crack open & he was as black as an Affrican. We immediately went to Work & made a large box and put him into it." Woodruff, "Autobiography," 75-76.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) was first introduced into Arkansas upon the arrival of missionaries Henry Brown and Wilford Woodruff, who came in to Arkansas from Clay County, Missouri, on January 28, 1835. Jonathan Hubble and his wife were the first Arkansas converts. They were baptized by immersion, as is the custom among Latter-day Saints, on February 22, 1835. Years later, Wilford Woodruff, the first LDS missionary to preach in Arkansas, would become the fourth president of the LDS Church. From that modest 1835 beginning, Latter-day Saints in Arkansas today approach 24,000 members.
Elders Wilford Woodruff and Henry Brown arrived as missionaries in Bentonville on January 28, 1835. They held their first meeting four days later and preached to an attentive congregation. Later they were confronted by an apostate member, Alexander Akeman. Akeman was a man who earlier endured severe persecution in Missouri, but later turned bitterly against the Church. However, this man died suddenly and Elder Woodruff preached his funeral sermon. This event, along with Woodruff's teachings led to the baptism of a Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Hubbel, the first converts in Arkansas, on 22 February 1835.
Note:The Hubbels in Missouri, who traveled to Arkansas, had been Quakers and Baptists, but this record stated that Jonathan Hubbel and wife were baptized by Woodruff into the LDS church.Another record states that Mary Ann Hubble, daughter of Cyrus Hubble, was a "Seventh Day Adventist".