, “Brief History,” Manuscript, ca. 6 April 1838– ca. 26 January 1839; handwriting of and an unidentified scribe; seventy pages numbered 20–90, plus three unnumbered pages; John Fletcher Darby Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.
, a careful observer, had enjoyed a close association with Mormon leaders, and consequently his account provides valuable insights into the development and structure of the early church. He summarized many of the doctrines taught by JS and provided a detailed description of the conflict between the Latter-day Saints and other settlers. But his chronicle also related the story of a personal spiritual journey into and then out of the church as came to disapprove of the church’s course in 1838 in Missouri. Yet despite his estrangement from the church and his excommunication in 1839, he retained a degree of sympathy for the Saints and maintained some contact.
apparently began compiling portions of his account while serving as an officially appointed church historian in . He probably completed his narrative by 11 February 1839, when he secured a copyright with the district federal copyright office. He arranged for Thomas Watson & Son of to print A Brief History. The entire print run may have included up to twelve hundred copies.
The document presented here, ’s circa 1838–1839 rough draft of his history, is incomplete. It includes the title page, copyright notice, and preface but is missing twenty-one pages, including the nineteen pages that constitute chapters 1 through 6. The manuscript is almost entirely in Corrill’s handwriting, though some of the chapter summaries (added after he drafted the narrative) were written in a different hand, possibly that of the printer.
’s published version of A Brief History receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website as part of the history series.
and some othr lands into the hands of the as the prope[r]ty of the church. However perfect reconciliation of feelings was not restored, but in the fall of 1837, Smith and , and others, came to on a visit.
A general meeting was called for the church to choose whethr they would have the old presidency rule over them any longer or not. Their old difficulties were talked over, and so far reconiciled <that> they still chose to have and their presidents; but in the winter following, the old difficulty broke out again, and the excitement rose so high that they turned them out of their presidential office, and and two others served as presidents protempore, untill Smith and arrived, and even untill now. After <when> Smith and arrived, the church was much pl[e]ased and supposd that things would be managed right by them, and they would have bettr times than they had had but it was not long before the old feelings began to be stir[r]ed up between the church and the dissenters. and Complaints were made to the authorities of the church against them upon which they immediately withdrew from the church. The church in had been doing well with the exception of these little difficulties among themselves, untill the 1st. [p. 49]