Revelation, [, OH], 15 May 1831. Featured version, titled “53 Commandment May 15th. 1831,” copied [between ca. May and June 1831] in Revelation Book 1, p. 85; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
The heading that included with this document in Revelation Book 1 explains only that it was “givn to & concerning a farm &c.” The farm in question belonged to , and when Williams copied this revelation into Revelation Book 2, he provided a different heading: “Revelation given May 1831 in concerning the farm owned by Frederick and also concrning Joseph & Ezra.” JS dictated this revelation while Williams was in on a mission to the American Indians. Despite Williams’s absence, the revelation addressed the situation of those living on his land and apparently referred to a legal dispute surrounding the property.
acquired 144 acres of land, with at least one accompanying house, by means of an exchange of land with resident Isaac Moore in the winter of 1829–1830. Moore took possession of Williams’ 140½ acres in Warrensville, Ohio, while Williams received Moore’s Kirtland holdings. The two properties differed in value by $500, in part because the Kirtland property included a house and possibly other structures. Although the exchange took place in late 1829 or early 1830, the 1830 census lists Moore and nine members of his household as residents of Kirtland rather than of Warrensville but does not indicate where in Kirtland they actually resided. While Moore had apparently already been paid $100 toward the difference in the property value, this revelation suggests that he had refused to vacate the house on the Kirtland property, probably awaiting the receipt of the balance due before turning over the property entirely to Williams. Moore’s refusal was likely also influenced by Williams’s recent into the . Moore was a leader of the Campbellite group in the Kirtland area, and he had vociferously resisted the efforts of the earliest missionaries to make converts among those belonging to the movement. Not only had Williams embraced the teachings of the Mormon proselytizers, he had also joined them on their mission to preach to the Indians in the area around western . Whether motivated by his religious opposition to the new Mormon faith or by financial concerns, or a mixture of both, Moore’s opposition in the dispute over the farm was enough for the revelation to refer to him as an “advisary.” Moore’s refusal to leave may even have led to a legal dispute between the two parties. In a letter sent from Missouri in April 1831, Williams included instructions to his wife, Rebecca, “that respecting that suit at Law that there can be nothing done on there part more till August term.” This letter was likely received in Kirtland just prior to the date of this revelation and may have led to the inquiries that precipitated it.
Other factors contributed to the need for a resolution of the ongoing dispute about the property. Although had been in for some time, his wife, , had recently arrived from with eight members of their family, and they were all staying in the crowded accommodations temporarily provided for them in the home of and . More permanent living arrangements for the Smith family were anticipated in the home on ’s farm, once Moore departed. The revelation commanded that payments to Moore be ended until he fulfilled his part of the bargain, indicating that the Mormons saw Moore’s refusal to vacate the property as a breach of the agreement between Moore and Williams. This cessation of payments, rather than the legal suit mentioned by Williams, may have motivated Moore to move to Warrensville. In any case, Moore vacated the house by late May 1831, and it was soon occupied by and her family.
Difficulties concerning the farm and its management apparently continued after this revelation. A subsequent revelation dated 15 June 1831 suggests that may have been the one who paid the $100 toward satisfying a portion of the debt on the property. Thayer may have attempted to obtain some sort of title to a portion of the farm, as the 15 June revelation declared that “there shall no divisions be made upon the land” and that Thayer could either go on his mission to or “otherwise he shall receive the money which he has paid & shall leave the place & shall be cut off out of my Church.” A few months later, on 10 October 1831, a church reproved both Thayer and for the “unwise course they have taken.” The conference further directed that “Br ’ family be provided with a comfortable dwelling by this Church,” indicating that perhaps the reproof of Smith and Thayer was partly for their subsequent failure to build a house and see that the “wants be supplied” for Williams’s family, as directed in this revelation. The minutes of the October conference referred to the directions given in this revelation as a “commandment of the Lord.”
The final paragraph of this document, separated from the first section by “Amen,” was likely another revelation received the same day, perhaps even at the same time. It begins with the question “What shall the Brethren do with their money[?],” and was apparently not referring to or . later added a notation to this paragraph indicating that it was “to the Church.” The group of members from Palmyra had only recently arrived in , and this section of the text directs them to obtain lands and save some of the money to be consecrated to purchase land for their “everlasting enheritance” in the West.
A Campbellite historian gave this account of Moore’s response to the rise of Mormonism in the Kirtland area: “The opposition to it was quick on its feet, in rank, and doing effective work to check the imposture . . . Isaac Moore stood up, and became a shield to many.” The same historian later referred to Moore as a “leading member” of the Campbellite movement in the area. In a letter written years later, Jasper Jesse Moss, a Kirtland resident and follower of Alexander Campbell, explained that he and Moore were the first to begin “the battle in opposition” to Mormon teachings in Kirtland. Moss explained that they did so initially at a Mormon meeting with “Br. Moore making the first speech & I the second the same evening in one of their meetings & the battle once begun we never ceased firing.” (Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, 215, 472; J. J. Moss, Dallas, OR, to James T. Cobb, 17 Dec. 1878, in Theodore Albert Schroeder Papers.)
Hayden, Amos Sutton. Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio; with Biographical Sketches of the Principal Agents in Their Religious Movement. Cincinnati: Chase and Hall, 1875.
Moss, J. J. Letter, Dallas, OR, to James T. Cobb, 17 Dec. 1878. Theodore Schroeder, Papers. New York Public Library, New York City.
Porter, Study of the Origins, 125, 129n106; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 12, –.
Porter, Larry C. A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831. Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History. Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2000.
Hearken unto my words & behold I will make known unto you what ye shall do as it shall be pleasing unto me for verily I say unto you it must needs be that ye let the bargain stand that ye have made concerning these farms untill it be so fulfilled Behold ye are holden for the one even so likewise thine advisary is holden for the other wherefore it must needs be that ye pay no more money for the present time untill the contract be fulfilled & let my Servent & his family go into the House after thine advisary is gone & let my Servent board with him & let all the Brethren immediately assemble together & put up an house for my Servent & let my Servents ’s family remain & let the house be repaired & their wants be supplied & when my Servent returns from the west Behold he taketh his family to the west Let that which belongeth to my Servent be secured unto him by deed or bond & thus he willeth that the Brethren reap the good thereof let my Servent govern the things of the farm & provide for the families & let him have help in as much as he standeth in need let my servent humble himself & at the meeting he shall be ordained unto power from on high & he shall go from thence (if he be obedient unto my commandments) & proclaim my Gospel unto the western regions with my Servents that must go forth even unto the borders of the for Behold I have a great work for them to do & it shall be given unto you to know what ye shall do at the conferenc[e] meeting even so Amen——
What shall the Brethren do with their money——
Ye shall go forth & seek dilligently among the Brethren & obtain lands & save the money that it may be to purcchase lands in the west for an everlasting enheritance
According to the 1830 census, the Williams household totaled six people, presumably including Frederick, his wife, Rebecca, and four children. (1830 U.S. Census, Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, 272.)
Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.
When copying this revelation into Revelation Book 2, Williams wrote “prepared” instead of “repaired,” apparently indicating that a house needed to be built, not just renovated. It is not known which text is in error. (Revelation Book 2, p. 92.)
Neither Isaac Moore nor Frederick G. Williams secured the deeds to their respective properties until after the balance of Williams’s outstanding debt on the Kirtland farm was paid. Philo Dibble later described the circumstances in which the remaining debt was finally paid and the deed to Williams’s farm secured from Moore in early April 1832: “Brother F. G. Williams exchanged a farm he owned in Warrensville for Moore’s farm in Kirtland, on which the Smith family had moved, agreeing to pay $400.00 for the difference at a stated time. Just before the time expired for the payment of this money, Brother [Joseph] Coe, who was asked to raise it, said he could not for his wife held the money and she did not belong to the Church. I, being present, told Brother Joseph that I could raise the money. H[e] said if I would I should be blessed. This was on Saturday. I told him how I would have to raise this money. I owned 560 acres of land lying twenty miles south of Alleria [Elyria]. The Government, having sold more land there than they owned, had to buy to make up the deficiency. I told Joseph my land was worth $3.00 per acre, but that I would have to sell for $1.25. A Mr. [Leonard] Case was government agent for the purchase of that land. Joseph advised me to sell to Case who was cashier of the new bank at Cleveland [the Commercial Bank of Lake Erie]. Sunday morning I hitched up my carriage and drove to Cleveland, 28 miles away. The next morning I went and saw Case and told him my business. He said that he could offer only $1.25 an acre. I told him that under my circumstances I would have to let him have it. I then made him out a deed amounting to $700.00. I went to the bank and had to wait until the money was cut and signed, this being the first money that had been issued from the Cleveland bank. I then returned home and paid the $400.00 over to Joseph which saved the farm.” The Commercial Bank of Lake Erie opened for business on 2 April 1832; Dibble’s journey to Cleveland to sell his land and obtain the funds likely began on Sunday, 1 April. It is possible that Moore needed the outstanding balance in order to pay off his own debts on the land he had traded to Williams. Only three days after Dibble acquired the cash to pay Moore, Moore in turn paid Titus Street $360 to obtain the deed to nearly half the land he was about to deed over to Williams. Two weeks later, on 18 April, Moore paid another landowner, Turhand Kirtland, $200 for an additional parcel of roughly seventy acres that was also part of the eventual deed to Williams. After obtaining the deeds to the land from his own creditors, Moore finally signed the land over to Williams on 20 April 1832. (Dibble, Reminiscences, ; Orth, History of Cleveland Ohio, 640–641; Cuyahoga Co., OH, Deeds and Mortgages, 1815–1866, vol. N-13, pp. 89–90, 7 Apr. 1832, microfilm 1,994,223; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 15, pp. 425–426, 12 Oct. 1831, microfilm 20,236, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 16, pp. 22–23, 31 May 1832, microfilm 20,236, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Dibble, Philo. Reminiscences, no date. Typescript. CHL. MS 15447.
Orth, Samuel P. A History of Cleveland Ohio. 3 vols. Chicago and Cleveland: S. J. Clarke, 1910.
Lucy Mack Smith later wrote that “on this farm my family were all established with this arrangement that we were to cultivate the farm and the produce was to be applied to the suport of our families and the use of persons who were came to the place and had no acquaintances there.” Her account gives no indication of the troubles apparently surrounding the appropriation and administration of the farm. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 12, .)
This question and the following paragraph appear not to be related to what preceded, although they may have been dictated at the same time as the preceding material. It is also possible that the question may not have been a part of the original dictation but rather added later by a scribe in an attempt to clarify the impetus for the lines that follow. Oliver Cowdery later (probably in 1833) crossed out the question and added a notation that this part of the revelation was “to the Palmyra Church.”