JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843; handwriting of , , , and ; 553 pages, plus 16 pages of addenda; CHL. This is the first volume of a six-volume manuscript history of the church. This first volume covers the period from 23 December 1805 to 30 August 1834; the remaining five volumes, labeled B-1 through F-1, continue through 8 August 1844.
This document, “History, 1838–1856, volume A-1, [23 December 1805–30 August 1834],” is the first of the six volumes of the “Manuscript History of the Church” (in The Joseph Smith Papers it bears the editorial title “History, 1838-1856”). The completed six-volume collection covers the period from 23 December 1805–8 August 1844. Volume A-1 encompasses the period from JS’s birth in 1805 to 30 August 1834, just after the return of the Camp of Israel (later known as Zion’s Camp) from to , Ohio. For a fuller discussion of the entire six-volume work, see the general introduction to the history.
In April 1838, with the aid of his counselor , JS renewed his efforts to draft a “history”. served as scribe. JS’s journal for late April and early May 1838 notes six days on which JS, Rigdon, and Robinson were engaged in “writing history.” Though not completed and no longer extant, that draft laid the foundation for what became the six-volume manuscript eventually published as the “History of Joseph Smith,” and at least a portion of its contents are assumed to have been included in the manuscript presented here.
On 11 June 1839 in , Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” now served as scribe. Apparently the narrative commenced where the earlier 1838 draft left off. When work was interrupted in July 1839, Mulholland inscribed the draft material, including at least some of ’s earlier material, into a large record book already containing the text of an incomplete history previously produced over a span of two years, 1834–1836. For the new history, Mulholland simply turned the ledger over and began at the back of the book. The volume was later labeled A-1 on its spine, identifying it as the first of multiple volumes of the manuscript history.
Prior to his untimely death on 3 November 1839, recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, , contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, substantial progress on the history was not made until December 1842 when assumed responsibility for the compilation and was appointed JS’s “private secretary and historian.” Richards would contribute the remainder of the text inscribed in the 553-page first volume. The narrative recorded in A-1 was completed in August 1843. and subsequently added sixteen pages of “Addenda” material, which provided notes, extensive revisions, or additional text to be inserted in the original manuscript where indicated. For instance, several of the addenda expanded on the account of the Camp of Israel as initially recorded.
JS dictated or supplied information for much of A-1, and he personally corrected the first forty-two pages before his death. As planned, his historian-scribes maintained the first-person, chronological narrative format initially established in the volume. When various third-person accounts were drawn upon, they were generally converted to the first person, as if JS were directly relating the account. After JS’s death, , , , and others modified and corrected the manuscript as they reviewed material before its eventual publication.
Beginning in March 1842 the church’s Nauvoo periodical, the Times and Seasons, began publishing the narrative as the “History of Joseph Smith.” At the time of JS’s death only the history through December 1831 had been published. When the final issue of the Times and Seasons, dated 15 February 1846 appeared, the account had been carried forward through August 1834—the end of the material recorded in A-1. The “History of Joseph Smith” was also published in in the church periodical the Millennial Star beginning in June 1842. Once a press was established in Utah and the Deseret News began publication, the “History of Joseph Smith” once more appeared in print in serialized form. Beginning with the November 1851 issue, the narrative picked up where the Times and Seasons had left off over five years earlier.
Aside from the material dictated or supplied by JS prior to his death, the texts for A-1 and for the history’s subsequent volumes were drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources including JS’s diaries and letters, minutes of meetings, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, church and other periodicals, reports of JS’s discourses, and the reminiscences and recollections of church members. The narrative in A-1 provides JS’s personal account of the foundational events of his life as a prophet and the early progress of the church. It also encompasses contentions and disputations that erupted between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in , , , and . While it remains difficult to distinguish JS’s own contributions from composition of his historian-scribes, the narrative trenchantly captures the poignancy and intensity of his life while offering an enlightening account of the birth of the church he labored to establish.
, who had just returned from where he had turned out his horses to feed, came up, and hearing me make these remarks, said, “if that dog bites me, I’ll kill him.” I turned to and said, “if you kill that dog, I’ll whip you”, and went on to show the brethren how wicked and unchristianlike such conduct appeared before the eyes of truth and justice. Page 484.
<Note K> Here we remained several days, washing our clothes and preparing to pursue our Journey, when <Sunday 8th.> we were joined on the 9th. <8th.> by my brother and , with another company. who started from Pontiac, Michigan Territory, May 5th., the same day we started from , having passed through Ann Arbour, Jacksonsburgh, Spring Arbour, Constantine, Elkhart, crossed the Illinois River, one mile below Ottawa, Pleasant Grove, Pekin, and Palmyra— was their historian; Steward; and , moderators, We had agreed to meet at this point, and the first company that arrived, was to wait for the other. <soon after the arrival of and his company I dispatched brother and with messages to the brethren in , fearing that the letter which I sent from had miscarried.> The Camp <. and ten others of this Branch, joined our which>now numbered two hundred and five men, all armed and equipped as the Law directs.” It was delightful to see the Company, for they were all young men <except one company which <whom> we called the Silver Grays, and who eat at my little table> withone or two<a few>exceptions, <we were> all in good Spirits— see Note 10. addenda page 13
<Note L> Friday 13th. ’s horses <thro’ the negligence of the guards,> got loose, and went back ten miles with others. He pursued after them and returned back <with them> to the Camp. in about two hours. We tarried in the middle of this Prairie which is about twenty eight miles across, on account of a rupture which took place in the Camp. Here and , received a very serious chastisement for <neglect> not obeying <of> orders previously given <in not taking care of the Teams, when in charge of the guard.> The chastisement <reproof> given to , was given more particularly for suffering to go back after the horses as he was one of my life guards, and it belonged to to attend to <see that> the team <was attended to,> but as the team was ’s, and he had <taken> the care of it all through, still throwed the care on <him>. , which was contrary to orders, inasmuch as the responsibility rested upon him to see to the teams. In this place Further regulations were made in regard to the organization of the Church camp.” <by attaching The Silver Grey company numbering fourteen, attached to my mess making it 28 in number—>
<“No. 1”> travelled about 35 miles, <passed thru Biscyrus,> and encamped on the Sandusky Plains, at a short distance from the place <13th.> where the Indians roasted Gen. Crawford, and near the Indian Settlements— <On> The next day 13th. we passed through a long range of Beech Woods, where the Roads were very bad. In many instances we had to fasten ropes to the waggons to haul them out of the sloughs and mud holes— Brother broke his harness, and the brethren fastened their ropes to his waggon, and drew it about three miles to the place of encampment on the Scioto River while he rode, on the top singing and whistling.
<Wednesday> 14th. We passed on to Belle Fontaine, where we discovered refractory feelings in who [p. 6 [addenda]]