Part 7: 17 September 1837–21 January 1838

Documents from 17 September 1837 to 21 January 1838 reflect profound changes in JS’s life, including the excommunication of several dissenting members—many of whom had been close friends—and the relocation of JS and his family from , Ohio, to , Missouri.
In September, JS and associates began work on a new publication called the Elders’ Journal. Late that same month, JS and other church leaders left to travel to , Missouri. They arrived by early November and attended to various matters of church business, including the reorganization of church leadership positions at a 7 November 1837 meeting, similar to what occurred in during the 3 September 1837 conference. The conference included a change in the , with replacing as second counselor to JS. Other concerns were discussed at these early November meetings, including land purchases in Missouri and the need to have adequate space for new arrivals there. The next month, in an editorial in the Elders’ Journal, JS expressed his intention to move his family to Far West and encouraged Saints in Kirtland to also make preparations to gather with the Saints in Missouri.
JS and his party returned to in early December to find that dissent had revived. Divisions in Kirtland became more pronounced in January 1838 as dissidents, excommunicated church members, and others made threats against the lives of JS and other church leaders. In addition, JS and faced litigation brought by their opponents, which meant their property might be seized and auctioned by the local sheriff. On 12 January 1838, JS dictated three revelations that established rules to deter attempts at undermining the First Presidency’s authority and to limit the influence of dissenters. One of the revelations also directed the First Presidency to leave Kirtland with their families “as soon as it is practicable” and commanded all their “faithfull friends” to likewise depart for . JS and Rigdon left Kirtland the evening of 12 January and were later joined by their families in , Ohio; the group started for Missouri by 16 January. The leaders of the dissenters in Kirtland, now excommunicated from the church, took steps to organize their own church, which they called the Church of Christ. Identifying themselves as the “old standard” and arguing that the church under JS had been led astray and now required reform, the dissenters formally incorporated their church in the state of on 18 January, solidifying the separation between themselves and the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
  1. 1

    See Historical Introduction to Elders’ Journal, Oct. 1837.  

  2. 2

    Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837; see also Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  3. 3

    Minutes, 10 Nov. 1837; Travel Account and Questions, Nov. 1837.  

  4. 4

    JS History, vol. B-1, 780; Hepzibah Richards, Kirtland, OH, to Willard Richards, Liverpool, England, 18 Jan. 1838, Willard Richards, Journals and Papers, CHL.  

    Richards, Willard. Journals and Papers, 1821–1854. CHL.

  5. 5

    See Historical Introduction to Agreement, 4 Jan. 1838.  

  6. 6

    See Historical Introduction to Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838–A; Historical Introduction to Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838–B; and Historical Introduction to Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838–C.  

  7. 7

    Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838–C.  

  8. 8

    JS History, vol. B-1, 780. JS, his family, and others who were traveling with them arrived in Far West on 14 March 1838. (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, 16.)  

  9. 9

    Thomas B. Marsh, [Far West, MO], to Wilford Woodruff, in Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 36–37; Geauga Co., OH, Witness Docket, 1831–1835, 18 Jan. 1838, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.  

    Elders’ Journal of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Kirtland, OH, Oct.–Nov. 1837; Far West, MO, July–Aug. 1838.

    Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.