Minutes, and JS, Discourse, , Philadelphia Co., PA, 13 Jan. 1840. Featured version copied [between 18 Oct. 1840 and Apr. 1842] in Philadelphia, PA, Minutes and Records, 1840–1854, pp. –; handwriting of ; CCLA.
The record book in which the featured document is contained is a medium-size blank book measuring 12½ × 7⅞ × ⅝ inches (32 × 20 × 2 cm). The book consists of five gatherings of eighteen leaves each. The front and back covers of the volume are pasteboard, and the spine and edges of the covers are covered in brown leather. The leather on the spine is worn due to age, with parts of the leather pulling away from the volume. The front and back covers are adorned with shell marbled paper, with a brown body and veins of yellow and black. The front cover includes a rectangular black box outlined with yellow and black lines and “CHURCH OF L. D. SAINTS PHILA” stamped in yellow lettering. The paper is unlined. Page numbers for the odd-numbered pages appear in the top right-hand corner of each such page, while the even-numbered pages are unnumbered throughout the volume.
The minutes cover approximately 101 pages of the volume, or roughly half the book. At some point, the clerks of the branch used the reverse side of the book to record names of members, marriages, and deaths in the branch. The back cover includes a table of contents for the volume. Following the table of contents, the first page of the reverse side functions as a title page, and a list of members appears on pages 2–39.
Judging from the content of the minutes, was the first clerk to make entries in the volume. He likely began writing in the volume around 18 October 1840, following his appointment as clerk of the conference, and likely copied the earliest minutes (covering the meetings from December 1839 through April 1840) from loose minutes written by an unspecified clerk. Nicholson continued keeping minutes in the volume through 16 January 1842. Following that meeting and prior to 6 April 1842, Nicholson evidently transferred the volume to J. Moses, and the volume then went through a succession of clerks.
At some point after 1854, the minute book came into the possession of Samuel M. Reeve of Mount Holly, New Jersey, who retained the book until his death in 1885. Reeve’s son, Samuel A. Reeve, presented the volume to the branch—by then affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ)—in March 1906, requesting that it “be held in trust” until it was “practical” to transfer the volume to the custody of the RLDS church’s historian. Walter W. Smith of the Philadelphia branch, and later historian of the RLDS church, presumably transferred the minutes to the custody of the RLDS church sometime prior to July 1918, when he first began publishing excerpts from the volume in a church periodical, the Journal of History. The volume has remained in the custody of the Community of Christ since that time.
Smith, “History of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Branch,” 358–373; Smith, “History of Philadelphia Branch,” 111–118; Smith, “Philadelphia Branch,” 509–537.
Smith, Walter W. “The History of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Branch.” Journal of History 11, no. 3 (July 1918): 358–373.
Smith, Walter W. “History of Philadelphia Branch.” Journal of History 12 (Jan. 1919): 111–118.
Smith, Water W. “Philadelphia Branch.” Journal of History 13, no. 4 (Oct. 1920): 509–537.
On 13 January 1840, JS presided over a meeting in that covered several issues, the most prominent of which was a proposal to publish a new edition of the Book of Mormon. Three weeks earlier, on 23 December 1839, JS had organized a of the in Philadelphia. He then went to , New Jersey, with but evidently returned to Philadelphia the first week of January 1840.
The 13 January continued a discussion begun in a November 1839 conference held in , which was attended by representatives from several branches in the area as well as , , and —three members of the on their way to to serve a mission. At that conference, participants discussed printing more copies of the Book of Mormon to distribute in New York City and the surrounding area. The conference appointed Parley P. Pratt, , and as a committee “to raise means for the publication” of a newly proposed edition of the Book of Mormon printed in New York City. On 22 November 1839, Pratt wrote a letter to JS, but because JS had left for and Pratt sent the letter to , JS had not seen it by the time of this 13 January 1840 conference. In that letter, Pratt asked JS, who held the copyright for the Book of Mormon, to authorize the New York committee to proceed with printing another edition of the book, stating that the committee would give JS “the proffits which may arise.” Pratt already had a printer and bookbinder in mind for the work and had requested financial assistance from Ivins.
At this conference, again recommended another printing of the Book of Mormon. Conference participants considered Pratt’s proposal and conducted other necessary church business, such as appointing as of the Philadelphia branch. According to one account, JS took the opportunity to testify about “the coming forth of the book of mormon which was the means of doing much good.” JS also provided instruction on offices and the relationship between traveling and standing ministers.
As secretary of the conference, likely took the minutes. copied the minutes into a record book of branch minutes sometime after 18 October 1840 and before April 1842.
Philadelphia, PA, Minutes and Records, 2; see also Fleming, “Story of Early Mormonism in Philadelphia,” 3–9. Lorenzo Barnes and Benjamin Winchester preached in the city in the latter part of 1839. By the end of December 1839, Winchester had baptized forty-five individuals, and there were “several more” requesting baptism. (Lorenzo Barnes, Wilmington, DE, 8 Sept. 1839, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:28; John P. Greene, Monmouth Co., NJ, 10 Sept. 1839, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:28–29; Benjamin Winchester, Philadelphia, PA, 10 Feb. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:104; Orson Pratt to Sarah Marinda Bates Pratt, 6 Jan. 1840, in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, 1:61; Letter to Robert D. Foster, 30 Dec. 1839.)
Philadelphia, PA, Minutes and Records, 1840–1854. CCLA.
Fleming, Stephen J. “Discord in the City of Brotherly Love: The Story of Early Mormonism in Philadelphia.” Mormon Historical Studies 5, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 3–27.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Nicholson was appointed as clerk to the Philadelphiabranch at an 18 October 1840 conference and recorded minutes of branch meetings until the 6 April 1842 minutes. (Philadelphia, PA, Minutes and Records, 18 Oct. 1840 and 6 Apr. 1842.)
Philadelphia, PA, Minutes and Records, 1840–1854. CCLA.
of two or three hundred dollars, Brother would mention the fact that the printing could be proceeded with immediately here and delay would be injurious to the work here where it would be indespensible Brother Smith would say that Brothers Ivans [ and ] thought it would be wisdom to print it in the West and that he. Brother S. approved of that disposition of the affair. then mentioned that he wished the whole matter referred the of the . Brother Everett seconded the proposition. It was then put to vote and carried unanimously. then introduced the mission of the brethren to and the pecuniary embarrassments under which they were Labouring, Brother argued the importance of the interests involved in the mission to the whole Church and every man in or out of the Church.
adjourned at 12½ O clock reassembled at 1½ P.M.
Brothers Dixon [Robert Dickson] & [Jonathan] Sleeper were . Brother Joseph Smith Jr dilated at some length on the offices of the and on the duties of Elders . . &c and directed it should be entered on the minutes as the injunction of the that travelling Elders should be especially cautious of incroaching on the ground of stationed & presiding Elders and rather direct their efforts to breaking up and occupying new ground and that the Churc[h]es generally refuse to be burthened with the support of unprofitable and dilatory labourers. It was unanimously resolved [p. 3]