JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. C-1, addenda, created 18 Oct.–ca. 20 Nov. 1854; 75 pages in volume bearing three labels reading “Historical Notation,” “From 1841 to 1851,” and “Addenda to C1;” handwriting of , Jonathan Grimshaw, Robert Campbell, and John L. Smith; CHL.
On 11 June 1839, while residing at , Illinois, JS began dictating what his journal simply referred to as his “history.” (An earlier draft was begun by JS and in April 1838, but that draft is no longer extant; see JS, Journal, 27 Apr. 1838.) However, substantial progress on the history was not made until assumed responsibility for the project and was appointed as JS’s “private se[c]retary & historian” in December 1842 (JS, Journal, 11 June 1839; 21 Dec. 1842). Work on this endeavor came to span eighteen years and included frequent stops and starts. The longest lull, of over seven years, was occasioned by the Saints’ exodus from followed by the challenges of settling the Salt Lake Valley. After the death of Willard Richards in 1854, the project was brought to a conclusion in Utah by and in 1856. By that time the history had swelled to six volumes and over 2,400 pages. It subsequently came to be known as the “Manuscript History of the Church” (in The Joseph Smith Papers it bears the editorial title “History, 1838–1856”).
As part of that enterprise, “History, 1838–1856, volume C-1 [2 November 1838–31 July 1842]” was begun on or just after 24 February 1845 and its basic narrative was completed by 3 May of that year, although work continued on the volume through that July (Richards, Journal, 24 and 28 Feb. 1845; Historian’s Office, Journal, 3 May 1845; 3 and 4 July 1845). was the scribe for the volume, which contains 512 pages of primary text, plus 24 pages of addenda, and covers the period 2 November 1838 through 31 July 1842.
On 10 April 1854, less than five weeks after the death of , assumed the role of church historian and with it responsibility for the completion of JS’s history. He subsequently observed in a letter to :
I commenced to perform the duties of Historian by taking up the History of Joseph Smith where Dr. had left it when driven from on the 4th day of February 1846. I had to revise and compare two years of back history which he had compiled, filling up numerous spaces which had been marked as omissions on memoranda by Dr. Richards.
I commenced compiling the history of Joseph Smith from April 1st 1840 to his death on June 27th 1844. I have filled up all the reports of sermons by President Joseph Smith and others from minutes or sketches taken at the time in long hand by Dr. , , , , Miss &c. which was an immense labor, requiring the deepest thought and the closest application, as there were mostly only two or three words (about half written) to a sentence.” (George A. Smith, Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 21 Apr. 1856, in Historian’s Office, Historical Record Book, 218.)
In October 1854 and his clerks began compiling a separate, extensive list of addenda to volume C-1. The Church Historian’s office journal entry for 13 October 1854 noted, “ engaged on history papers all da[y] found many that will have to be inserted in 40 & 41” (Historian’s Office, Journal, 13 Oct. 1854). Apparently these addenda represented some of the revising and comparing of “two years of back history” with the “filling up numerous spaces” Smith had mentioned in his 1856 letter to . In support of that effort, the 19 October 1854 issue of the Deseret News carried the following item that also explained why the serialization of the History of Joseph Smith was being temporarily interrupted:
The History of Joseph Smith is necessarily omitted in this number; and from one to two columns a number will probably be all that can be furnished for some time, as the Historian has come to a period which requires hunting up many facts, and preparing them for embodying, which the hurry of the times obliged to pass over by simply writing on the margin, “note to be supplied” (”History and Sermons,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 19 Oct. 1854, ).
At that time, Joseph Smith’s history had been reported through October 1840 in the Deseret News.
The addenda to volume C-1 presented here are labeled “Addenda to Book C1. By . Octr. 18th. 1854.” They are in the handwriting of Jonathan Grimshaw, , Robert L. Campbell, and John L. Smith, all of whom worked under the direction of . These addenda provide supplemental material for the period from 19 October 1840 to 15 July 1842 and consist of seventy-five pages copied into a separate ledger that also contains a chronological inventory of material employed in compiling the manuscript history. Many entries from George A. Smith’s “Addenda” were incorporated under their respective dates into the text of the version of Joseph Smith’s history published in the Deseret News, a fair copy identified as C-2, and the later account edited by B. H. Roberts as History of the Church.
Among the significant items included in the addenda to volume C-1 are sermons, editorials, and records of events. Of particular note are entries regarding the October 1840 creation of stakes at , , and , Illinois; the January 1841 acknowledgement of the mission of the Twelve to ; the 7 August 1841 death of JS’s brother ; JS’s 12 August 1841 meeting with Sac and Fox Indians from ; a November 1841 description of the construction of a temporary wooden font for the performance of baptisms for the dead within the rising Nauvoo ; the February 1842 appointment of as superintendent of the church printing office, and of as head of the Times and Seasons editorial department; and four accounts of JS’s instructions to the Female Relief Society.
“Resolved by the City Council of <page 1265> the City of , that the high minded and honorable editor of the New York Weekly Herald, Esq is deserving of the lasting gratitude of this community for his very liberal and unprejudiced course towards us as a people, in giving us a fair hearing in his paper; thus enabling us to reach the ears of a portion of the community, who, otherwise would ever have remained ignorant of our principles and practices.
Resolved that we recommend our fellow citizens to subscribe for the New York Weekly Herald; and thus be found patronizing true merit, industry and enterprise.”
<19> The subjoined minutes are from Elder ’s journal
<page 1265> “Elder preached at the house of President Joseph Smith—— on the parable in the 18th Chapter of Jeremiah of the Clay in the hands of the potter; that when it marred in the hands of the potter, it was cut off the wheel and then thrown back again into the mill to go into the next batch, and was a vessel of dishonor, but all clay that formed well in the hands of the potter, and was pliable was a vessel of honor, and thus it was with the human family, and ever will be; all that are pliable in the hands of God and are obedient to his commands are vessels of honor and God will receive them.
President Joseph arose and said has given you a true explanation of the parable, and then read the parable of the vine and its branches, and explained it, and said, if we kept the commandments of God we should bring forth fruit and be the friends of God, and know what our Lord did. ‘Some people say I am a fallen prophet because I do not bring forth more of the word of the Lord. Why do I not do it? Are we able to receive it? No! not one in this room’ He then chastened the [p. 45]
Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 18 Dec. 1841, pp. –.
Nauvoo City Council Minute Book / Nauvoo City Council. “A Record of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Nauvoo Handcock County, State of Illinois, Commencing A.D. 1841,” ca. 1841–1845. CHL. MS 3435.