On May 26, 1834, Joseph Smith and his branch of Zion's Camp trudged through the heat and humidity of Illinois near the border of Coles and Douglas counties.

The Prophet's published history records an event that took place while the group was preparing to camp for the evening: "We crossed the Embarras River and encamped on a small branch of the same about one mile west. In pitching my tent we found three prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, 'Let them alone — don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it?' " (HC 2:71)

Using sticks, members of the camp responded and were obedient to the Prophet's charge by lifting the snakes and throwing them to the other side of the river.