Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

July 31— 1832——
I have received your letter dated 30th June and procede this morning to answer it. I sit down to dictate for to write but cannot write my feelings, neither can toungue, or language paint them to you. I only can observe that I could wish, that my heart, & feelings thereof might for once be laid open before [you], as plain as your own natural face is to you by looking in a mirror; Verily I say unto you my only hope and confidence is in that God who gave me being in whom there is all power who now is present before me & my heart is naked before his eyes continually he is my comfeter & he forsaketh me not in the seventh trouble and in the mean time I have learned by sad experiance there is no confidence to be placed in in man that the spirit of man is as cold as the northern blast and had I not considered the great care and multitude of business which is crowding upon your mind I could not have excused the cold and indifferent manner in which your letter is writen, true you have expressed fellowship, but the spirit which I possess enjoy, the feeling of my soul enquires does this letter give me the important information which I stood in need of at the present critical moment from your hand concerning yourself your family & business & the faith & fellowship & prosperity of the brethren in &c let your own heart and the integrity of your own soul answer this question & excuse the warmth of feeling of your unworthy yet affectionate brother in the Lord travling through affliction and great tribulation, you informed me that you wrote a few lines to bear up our strength in the glorious labour wherewith our saviour hath been pleased to call us, I rejoice exceedingly for the little strength & information God has been ple[a]sed to give me through your letter— viz— to hear that our brethren from this & have arived safe in and as I trust without accident this is the mercy of our God, but in the discharge <​of my Duty​> must inform you that they left here under this displeasure of heaven for several reasons now what I write I write without sparing any (or the feeling of any) knowing that God will bear me up in what I write, I will give you some of the reasons, firstly making a mock of the profession of faith in the commandments by proceding contrary thereto in not complying [p. 1] with the requirements of them in not obtaining reccommends &c seccondy [secondly], that the should procede to receive into there fellowship & communion on any other conditions, then the filling his mission to the South countries according to the commandment of Jesus Christ, I cite your minds to thise saying he that loveth Father or Mother wife & Children more than me is not worthy of me thus saith the Lord Thirdly the unorganized & confused state in leaving here, and the evil surmisings which were among them & neglect of duty &c more then this I do not wish to mention, now therefore the buffitings of the advasary be upon all those <​among you​> who are eniquitous persons and rebelious, I would inform you them they do not have my right hand of fellowship, but I will leave this subject for will not my God and your God do right, I return to your letter you informed me slightly that you heard of the accident to at Idn. [Indiana] A question how did you hear, did any of you receive letters writen by any of us informing you of the critical situation we were placed in, if so how did you treat them if not so have you writen to us to give us that information which would be calculated to releave the mind of its painful anxciety concerning you, whether that fellowship and brotherly love continued among you towards us which you professed when we left you, it is true we received a letter from broth[e]r by the hand of after we arived home from Indiana who had arived here before us, but what did it contain, it gave us this inteligence, that the Devel had been to work with all his inventive immagination to reward us for our toils in travling from this country to amidst a crooked & preverse generation leaving our familys in affliction amidst of death upon the mercy of mobs & of brethren who you know sometimes are found to be u[n]stable unbeleiving, unmerciful & unkind, and in this trying situation to keeping the commandment of God we took our lives in our hands and traveled through evry combination of wickedness to your country for your salvation & for our travail & our toils, suffering & privations as I said before [p. 2] we learned by s letter that the devel had set to work to reward us by stirring up your hearts (I mean those who were engaged in this wickedness) by raking up evry fault, which those eyes that are filled with beams could see in looking for motes in the eyes of those who are laboring with tender and <​prayerful​> hearts continually for there salvation, and not being content with bringing up those things which had been settled & forgiven & which they dare not bring to our faces but many with which we were charged with were absolutely false & could not come from any other sourse than the fath[e]r of all lies & this is the thanks & the reward the advisary saught to reward us by the instrumantality of those who should have been our staff & after our detention on the road I often times wandered alone in the lonely places seeking consolation of him who is <​alone​> able to console me, while my beloved (who is without gile) poured out his soul with much weeping upon his pillow for you or for while I in <​the​> lonely places communed with him whi[c]h who is altogeth[e]r lovely witnessed your case & viewed the conspiricy with much grief and learned the displeasure of heaven and veewed the frowns of the heavenly hosts upon & upon all the earth, and my Brethren I would inform you that I do not fellowship the letter which was writen to me by & neither the spirit thereof, I do not plead guilty of the charges made against me in that letter. I have not given occasion of offence to the brethren or sisters in , neither of Jealousy, or evel surmisings. I have ever been filled with the greatest anxiety for them, & have taken the greatest intrest for there welfare. I am a lover of the cause of Christ and of Virtue chastity and an upright steady course of conduct & a holy walk, I dispise a hypocrite or a covenant breaker, I judge them not, God shall Judge them according to there works, I am a lover even of mine enimies for an enimy seeketh to destroy openly, I can pray for those who dispitefully use and persicute me, but for all I can not hope, and now I conjure you and exhort mine accusers and the hypocrite in in the love of Christ [p. 3] yea in the name of Jesus of Nazreth to remember the covenant which they have made with God, and to me & repent of there iniquities and give satisfaction to the innocent whom they have injured I appeal to your conciences, and if appealing to your conciences by all the ties which bind man to man which are st[r]onger than death will not open your eyes & let you see the stand state & standing which you are in and bring you to repentance I then appeal to a higher court even the court of heaven the tribunal of the great God & there I & my Brethren (I mean Broth & ) will meet them you to be weighed in the ballance and there the innocent shall not suffer and the guilty go unpunished for the Lord God Almighty will do right I bear you record that myself & as far as any thing that I know have ever maintained the purest desires for your welfare and do still our object in going to was altogether to keep the of God the most high, when learned the feelings of the Brethren in whom he had placed so much confidence for whom he had endured so much fateague & suffering & whom he loved with so much love his heart was grieved his spirits failed & for a moment he became frantick & the advisary taking the advantage, he spake unadvisedly with his lips after receiving a severe chastisement resigned his commision and became a private member in the , but has since repented like Peter of old and after a little suffering by the buffiting of the has been restored to his high standing in the church of God, now this is a warning to all to whom this knowledge may come, and he that thinks he stands, let him take heed least he fall, tell it is very dangerous for men who have received that the light he has received to be a seeking a <​after​> sign, for there shall no sign be given for a sign except as it was in the days of Lot. God sent angels to gather him & his family out of Sodom while the wicked were distroyed by a devouring fire behold this is an exsample; but I must return to your letter again you complain that there have already [p. 4] to[o] many deciples arived there for the means, tell to remember Ananias & Sophria, remember also that your own wickedness hedge up your own ways, you Suffer your children; your ignorant & unstable Sisters, & weak members who are acquainted with your evil hearts of unbelief to write wicked and discouraging letters to there reletives who have a zeal but <​not​> according to knowledge and prophe[s]y falsly which excites many to believe that you are putting up the Indians to slay the which exposes the lives of the Saints evry where you observe that God has been merciful, very true then never forget to revere his holy name for ever, that circumstances are as well with you as they are, you requested me to preserve all the origeonal copies of the , my reasons for not sending the remainder, & also the Vision I think will give you satisfaction towards me I have much care and tribulation calculated to weigh down and distroy the mind and in times past they have been snatched from under my hand as soon as given I will send them to you as soon as possable, but I will exhort you to be careful not to alter the sense of any of them for he that adds or diminishes to the prop[h]ecies must come under the condemnation writen therein, you mention concerning the translation I would inform you that they will not go from under my hand during my natural life for correction, revisel or printing and the will of [the] Lord be done therefore you need not expect them this fall, in [is] employed to be a scribe for me of the Lord— we have finished the translation of the New testament great and marvilous glorious things are revealed, we are making rapid strides in the old book and in the strength of God we can do all things according to his will the rage of the enemy is abating in this regeon of the country and while God is rem[em]bering mercy unto us and making us mighty to the pulling down the strong holds of , having sent down the Angel of God to trouble the waters that a few more sick folk may be healed he is streaching forth his hand in awful [p. 5] Judgment upon all the face of the earth, we have information which may be relyed upon that the cholera is cutting down its hundreds in the city of pr day also is raging in Charleston Albany & and in all the large citys in the eastern countrys we have Just received a letter from sister who is now at to visit her friends she states that the cholera is raging in that city to an alarming degree, hundreds of families are a fleeing to the country and the country people have become alarmed and torn up the bridges and stopped all communication and even shot peoples horses down under them who attempt to cross the river on any express two steam boats loaded with troops for the Indian expedition while going up [the] Detroit river the cholera made its attact [attack] upon the soldiers about fifty died the rest disbanded (about six hundred in number) and the last account we have of them they could find no quarters among the inhabitants and were a dying in the sheds and fields and nobody to bury them while between us and you the Indians are a spreading death and devastation wherever they go no force has as yet been brought sufficient to stand before them frequent cases of the cholera occures on steem boats and <​othe[r]​> water crafts on the Lakes the dysentary and the Cholera Morbus are the prevailing deseases as far as our information extends and is so malignent that it baffles the skill of the most eminent Phisicians we have news from our brethren who have gone to the east God is with them pulling down the strong holds of two brethren are here from the east New hampshire & one from who are and worthy young men who were brought in by the hands of Bros. & who are like Peter & John building up the cause of God wherever they go and healing the sick they have better then sixty since they left here we also here [hear] from many others whose good success in gaining converts to the redeemers [p. 6] cause is a proof of there faithfulness in the high calling I would exhort Bros & John to be ware of saducing spirits and stand firm in the liberty wherein they have been set free and never be weary in well doing which is also my exhortation to all those in that love the appearing of our Lord and saviour Jesus christ. I [w]ent to last week and held a meeting on the Lords day and found the brethren strong in the faith and enjoying the sweet influence of the holy spirit cheering there hearts and enlarging ther understandings and binding there souls togethe[r] that nothing but death can break asunder we found the brethren in the injoyment of tolerable health except Siste[r] Elliott whom the Doctors <​(two of them)​> had given over & [’s] seccond but were restored to health by the preayer of faith, s family & mine are enjoying tolerable health inso much we cannot complain. Sister Sarah Jackson came to live with me us yesterday you have the prayers of us all day daily and I think I can say almost hourly and in this day of calamity the saints & sinner hearts are almost failing them for fear and are crying to whom shall we go or whethe [whither] shall we flee O my God spare that it may be a place of Reffuge and of safety. I have a partickuler request to make of Bro that is as soon as you receive this letter for him to assertain the exact number of Deciples that have arived in & how many have received there and the stat[e] and standing of each o[f] the and of this inteligence communicate to us as soon as it can be done by letter such as is not wisdom to publish in the paper, I exhort also to remember the commandment to him to keep a history of the church & the and be sure to shew him self approoved whereunto he hath been called
This is a copy of a letter writen to Broth July 31— 1832 from except a few words on the wrapper by way of exhortation complementary &c
Joseph Smith Jr. [p. 7]
Copy of a letter writen to Broth
Editor of the Evening & morning Star [p. [8]]


  1. 1

    See Job 5:19.  

  2. 2

    Much of this “business” revolved around the establishment of the print shop in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. On 29 May, a conference of elders met “at the office of the Evening & Morning Star,” and Edward Partridge dedicated “the building for Printing & all materials appertaining thereto unto the Lord.” Phelps published the first issue of The Evening and the Morning Star in June, a copy of which came to JS in July. Despite the difficulties with Phelps and others, a later JS history recounts that receiving this first issue of the Star was “a joyous treat to the Saints” and that JS thought it was “delightful indeed . . . to contemplate, that the little band of brethren [in Independence] had become so large, and grown so strong, in so short a space as to be able to issue a paper of their own.” (Minute Book 2, 29 May 1832; JS History, vol. A-1, 216.)  

  3. 3

    Almost one hundred members of the church emigrated from Hiram and Nelson, in Portage County, Ohio, on 2 May 1832 and arrived in Jackson County, Missouri, on 16 June. (William E. McLellin, Independence, MO, to “Beloved Relatives,” Carthage, TN, 4 Aug. 1832, photocopy, CHL.)  

    McLellin, William E. Letter, Independence, MO, to “Beloved Relatives,” Carthage, TN, 4 Aug. 1832. Photocopy. CHL. MS 617.

  4. 4

    Revelations in December 1831 specified that those going to Zion needed to obtain “a certificate from three Elders of the church or a certificate from the Bishop” in Ohio that they were “a wise steward.” Such certificates—which are probably the recommends to which JS refers here—were to be given to Bishop Edward Partridge in Jackson County, Missouri. This apparently was a means of regulating the numbers of people who went to Missouri and ensuring that those to whom Partridge issued inheritances had been deemed “wise steward[s].” (Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–C [D&C 72:24–26]; see also Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–B [D&C 72:16–18].)  

  5. 5

    See Matthew 10:37.  

  6. 6

    This third reason may be related to the first: the company’s failure to obtain the proper permissions to go to Missouri. The Evening and the Morning Star noted in July 1832 that when the necessary recommends were not obtained, the result was “confusion, which would produce pestilence.” Such confusion resulted from the lack of coordination regarding how many people could be accommodated by the church in Missouri. (“The Elders in the Land of Zion to the Church of Christ Scattered Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [5].)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  7. 7

    Whitney broke his leg while trying to leap from a runaway stagecoach as he, Sidney Rigdon, and JS traveled back to Ohio. Rigdon went on to Kirtland, Ohio, but JS stayed in Greenville with Whitney while Whitney recuperated. (Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832; see also JS History, vol. A-1, 214–215.)  

  8. 8

    JS and Whitney probably arrived in Kirtland in late June. In his 6 June letter to Emma Smith, JS wrote that he and Whitney intended to return by about 20 June. His later history indicates that they departed from Greenville sooner than they expected. Martin Harris traveled from Kirtland to Greenville within five days, which suggests that JS and Whitney could not have reached Kirtland before 10 June. Gilbert left Independence for Kirtland on or soon after 2 June 1832 (the date of Corrill’s letter), bringing Corrill’s letter with him. Travel between Ohio and Missouri took roughly three weeks on other trips made in 1831 and 1832, making it unlikely that Gilbert was in Kirtland before 20 June. Rigdon later recalled that JS and Whitney arrived in Kirtland about four weeks after his own 26 May arrival. (JS History, vol. A-1, 215; Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832; JS History, vol. A-1, 142–146, 209–210; Sidney Rigdon, Statement, ca. 1842, Historian’s Office, JS History Documents, ca. 1839–1856, CHL.)  

    Historian’s Office. Joseph Smith History Documents, 1839–1860. CHL. CR 100 396.

  9. 9

    See Deuteronomy 32:5; Revelation, Oct. 1830–B [D&C 33:2]; and Revelation, 4 Nov. 1830 [D&C 34:6].  

  10. 10

    JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Whitney were commanded to travel to Missouri and “sit in councel with the saints who are in zion otherwise satan seeketh to turn there hearts away from the truth that they become blinded & understand not the things which are prepared for them.” (Revelation, 1 Mar. 1832 [D&C 78:9–10].)  

  11. 11

    See Matthew 7:3.  

  12. 12

    See John 8:44; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 64, 79, 554–555 [2 Nephi 2:18; 9:9; Ether 8:25].  

  13. 13

    JS expressed a similar sentiment in the letter he wrote to his wife from Greenville. (See Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832.)  

  14. 14

    JS and Whitney stayed at “Mr Porter’s public house,” where Whitney was bedridden for their entire stay. (JS History, vol. A-1, 214.)  

  15. 15

    See Song of Solomon 5:16.  

  16. 16

    Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives one definition of “conspiracy” as “a combination to commit treason, or excite sedition or insurrection” against a government. As head of the church, JS may have seen Phelps’s and Corrill’s words as undermining both him and the church. (“Conspiracy,” in American Dictionary [1828].)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  17. 17

    See Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 481 [3 Nephi 12:44].  

  18. 18

    JS may have been referring to the covenant and bond that those who participated in the United Firm were required to make with each other. A council held 27 April 1832 appointed the drafting of the bond, which may have been signed at a meeting of the United Firm on around 1 May 1832. The covenant referenced may also be the Missouri high priests’ acceptance of JS as the president of the high priesthood on 26 April 1832. (Revelation, 1 Mar. 1832 [D&C 78:11]; Revelation 26 Apr. 1832 [D&C 82:11]; Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832; Minutes, ca. 1 May 1832.)  

  19. 19

    See Psalm 106:33.  

  20. 20

    Reynolds Cahoon, with whom Rigdon’s family stayed while Rigdon was in Missouri, wrote in his journal that on 5 July 1832, “Br Sidney remarked that he had a revelation from the Lord & said that the kingdom was taken from the Church and left with him.” Hyrum Smith then went to Hiram and got JS, who came to Kirtland to settle the matter. On Sunday, 8 July, JS addressed the Saints in Kirtland and stated “that the kingdom was ours & never should be taking from the faithful.” According to Lucy Mack Smith, JS then held a council at which he took Rigdon’s priesthood license, remarking that “the less priesthood you have the better it will be for you.” JS compared Rigdon’s repentance to that of the apostle Peter, who “wept bitterly” after denying his association with Jesus. On 28 July, Rigdon was reordained to the high priesthood. Rigdon’s erratic behavior may have stemmed in part from the head injury he received when he and JS were attacked in Hiram in March 1832. (Cahoon, Diary, July 1832; “History [of] Charles Coulson Rich,” 3–4, Historian’s Office, Biographies of Quorum of Twelve, [ca. 1883], CHL; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 13, [5]; Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62; Hyrum Smith, Diary and Account Book, 28 July 1832; JS History, vol. A-1, 206–208; and Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 115–118, 126.)  

    Cahoon, Reynolds. Diaries, 1831–1832. CHL. MS 1115.

    Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.

    Smith, Hyrum. Diary and Account Book, Nov. 1831–Feb. 1835. Hyrum Smith, Papers, ca. 1832–1844. BYU.

    Van Wagoner, Richard S. Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994.

  21. 21

    See 1 Corinthians 10:12.  

  22. 22

    Regarding sign seeking, see Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Luke 11:29; and Genesis 19:15–28. A revelation the previous autumn warned against sign seeking. (See Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:7–13].)  

  23. 23

    In his 28 January 1832 letter to JS, Oliver Cowdery included a statement from Partridge that “we are not in a situation to buy much more land & procure a stock of provisions & cows for those who are coming here this spring.” John Corrill later recalled that, around this time, “the church got crazy to go up to Zion, as it was then called. The rich were afraid to send up their money to purchase lands, and the poor crowded up in numbers, without having any places provided, contrary to the advice of the bishop and others.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; Corrill, Brief History, 18–19.)  

  24. 24

    See Acts 5:1–10.  

  25. 25

    See Romans 10:2.  

  26. 26

    JS’s rebuke suggests that speculative predictions by individual Saints involving Book of Mormon prophecies fueled antagonism among their neighbors, endangering church members. The Book of Mormon echoes the prophecies of Micah about a time when the “remnant of Jacob”—whom church members identified as the American Indians—would tread down their Gentile adversaries.a The Book of Mormon also speaks of converted Gentiles—understood by early Mormons to be themselves—assisting the “remnant” of Book of Mormon people to build a New Jerusalem.b However, there is no evidence of significant Mormon contact with American Indians after a brief period of proselytizing among the Delaware and Shawnee Indians west of Missouri’s borders in early 1831.c  

    Jennings, Warren A. “The First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” Kansas Historical Quarterly 38 (Autumn 1971): 288–299.

    (aBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 488, 497, 500 [3 Nephi 16:15; 20:16–17; 21:12]; Micah 5:8–9.bBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 501 [3 Nephi 21:23].cJennings, “First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” 288–299.)
  27. 27

    That is, the account of JS and Rigdon’s February 1832 vision of the afterlife. JS sent John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery to Independence in November 1831 with Revelation Book 1, a book containing manuscript copies of JS’s revelations. Although JS may have brought copies of revelations written after that time to Missouri in spring 1832, William W. Phelps did not yet have at least some of them, including the account of the February 1832 vision. (Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76]; Whitmer, History, 37–38; see also Revelation Book 1, pp. 128–148.)  

  28. 28

    See Revelation 22:18–19. It was recognized in a council held the previous November that there were spelling and grammar errors in the revelations.a William W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer were assigned in the 30 April 1832 meeting of the Literary Firm to make corrections in the revelations as they prepared them for publication.b Such revisions, however, had limits. In 1830, JS expressed consternation when Oliver Cowdery commanded him to “erase” words in a revelation. “I asked him,” JS later recalled, “by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter, or erase, to add or diminish to or from a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.”c  

    (aMinutes, 8 Nov. 1831.bMinutes, 30 Apr. 1832.cJS History, vol. A-1, 51.)
  29. 29

    That is, JS’s revision of the Bible, on which he continued to work at this time.  

  30. 30

    Frederick G. Williams had apparently been performing some scribal duties since February or March 1832. When Rigdon was reprimanded and for a time removed from his official roles, Williams was given the assignment to write for JS in Rigdon’s stead, as this letter explains. (See Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; see also JS History, ca. Summer 1832; and Scribal Directory, in JSP, MRB:684.)  

    Williams, Frederick G. Papers, 1834–1842. CHL. MS 782.

  31. 31

    That is, the Old Testament.  

  32. 32

    See John 5:4.  

  33. 33

    A cholera epidemic began in India in 1826, spreading into England by October 1831. It appeared in Lower Canada in June 1832 and then gradually made its way into the United States, generally along waterways. By the end of July, over two thousand had died in New York City. (Rosenberg, Cholera Years, 25–34; Chambers, Conquest of Cholera, 64; “Items for the Public,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [6].)  

    Rosenberg, Charles E. The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.

    Chambers, J. S. The Conquest of Cholera: America’s Greatest Scourge. New York: Macmillan, 1938.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  34. 34

    The Detroit Courier in June, July, and August 1832 did not report on anything resembling what JS describes here, although it stated on 12 July 1832 that “little doubt exists that the Cholera” had reached the city and that “a large number of our citizens” had “betaken themselves to the country” in response. The newspaper also cautioned against “unauthenticated accounts of the existence of the Cholera in various places,” stating that “every new story adds to the general stock of alarm; and under such feverish sensability, much anxiety is created, which cannot fail of producing solicitude and unhappiness, and great numbers of people are made miserable without the least advantage to any body.” (“The Cholera” and “Our City,” Detroit Courier, 12 July 1832, [2].)  

    Detroit Courier. Detroit, Michigan Territory. 1830–1835.

  35. 35

    This probably refers to troops who took transport on the steamboat Henry Clay. In June 1832, troops departed from New York City to aid in what is now known as the Black Hawk War. In Buffalo, New York, they boarded the Henry Clay, and on 4 July cholera broke out among them. When the ship reached the Detroit River, two soldiers had already died. According to one report, “the cases multiplied” rapidly, and the steamboat finally landed near Fort Gratiot, in St. Clair County, Michigan, at the mouth of the outlet of Lake Huron, where the soldiers disembarked. By 16 July, thirty-four deaths had occurred and “many [had] deserted to escape the disease.” According to assistant surgeon R. E. Kerr, “The attempt to escape the disease, however, by that means, in a number of cases that came to our ears, proved futile, for they are reported to have died on the road.” The Detroit Courier reported a similar incident involving the steamboat Sheldon Thompson. On 5 July, that steamer, loaded with soldiers, left Detroit, Michigan Territory, en route to Chicago, Illinois. Cholera soon broke out, killing twenty-five and afflicting another sixty. According to the Courier, the bodies of the dead were thrown overboard and the vessel continued on to Chicago. However, when the ship reached Chicago, “the inhabitants [of the city] fled in every direction, including Col. Owen, the Indian Agent.” (U.S. Surgeon-General’s Office, Cholera Epidemic of 1873, 569–572; “Our Army,” Detroit Courier, 19 July 1832, [2]; Blois, Gazetteer of the State of Michigan, 287, 365–366.)  

    U.S. Surgeon-General’s Office. The Cholera Epidemic of 1873 in the United States. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1875.

    Detroit Courier. Detroit, Michigan Territory. 1830–1835.

    Blois, John T. Gazetteer of the State of Michigan, in Three Parts, Containing a General View of the State. . . . Detroit: Sydney L. Rood, 1839.

  36. 36

    Likely a reference to the Black Hawk War. In April 1832, a group of Sac and Fox Indians (including men, women, and children), who had been removed from their homelands in Illinois to the west side of the Mississippi River, crossed back over the Mississippi in an attempt to resettle their ancestral lands. Pursued by federal troops and the Illinois militia, the group, led by Black Hawk, attempted to surrender under a white flag, but the soldiers fired on them, after which Black Hawk routed the troops. Additional soldiers then pursued Black Hawk and his followers into western Michigan Territory (now Wisconsin), eventually leading to Black Hawk’s capture in August. Newspaper reports at the time gave exaggerated accounts of Indian depredations during the war. William W. Phelps, for example, stated in the June 1832 The Evening and the Morning Star that “the Indians are undoubtedly the aggressors, and it is said they have murdered several men, women, and children.” But there is no evidence that Black Hawk’s band committed such acts. (Prucha, Great Father, 253–256; “News,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1832, [7].)  

    Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. 2 vols. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  37. 37

    A January 1832 revelation appointed Pratt and Johnson, who were both only twenty years old, to preach the gospel in the “eastern countries” of the United States. They left Hiram in February and traveled through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont. (Revelation, 25 Jan. 1832–A [D&C 75:14]; Orson Pratt, Bath, NH, to “Dear Brethren,” 23 Jan. 1833, in The Evening and the Morning Star, Mar. 1833, [6]; Milando Pratt, “Baptism and Ordinations Early Missionary Labors and Family Register of Orson Pratt, Sen,” in Orson Pratt, Diaries, CHL.)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Pratt, Orson. Diaries, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 587.

  38. 38

    See 1 Timothy 4:1; see also Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A [D&C 46:7].  

  39. 39

    See Galatians 5:1; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 203, 393, 399–400 [Mosiah 23:13; Alma 58:40; 61:9, 21].  

  40. 40

    See Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; and Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:33].  

  41. 41

    See 2 Timothy 4:8.  

  42. 42

    TEXT: “[Hole in paper]ent”.  

  43. 43

    This suggests that the trouble and confusion raised by Sidney Rigdon’s recent announcement that the church had lost the “keys of the kingdom” had been resolved.  

  44. 44

    “Sister Elliott” is probably Mary Cahoon Elliott, wife of David Elliott.a If so, the doctors mentioned here were probably located in Chagrin, Ohio, where the Elliotts appear to have been living.b Three doctors were apparently in Chagrin at the time: John Henderson, Asahel Brainard, and George Card.c Even if the Elliotts were in Kirtland, and not Chagrin, it is still possible the doctors JS mentions here were from Chagrin. Samuel Whitney, brother of Newel K. Whitney, later recalled two incidents in Kirtland in the 1830s where doctors were involved and specifically mentioned Brainard and Card.d  

    Backman, Milton V., Jr., comp. A Profile of Latter-day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio, and Members of Zion’s Camp, 1830–1839: Vital Statistics and Sources. 2nd ed. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1983.

    JS Letterbook 1 / Smith, Joseph. “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL. MS 155, box 2, fd. 1.

    Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.

    Crary, Christopher G. Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences. Marshalltown, IA: Marshall Printing Co., 1893.

    Naked Truths about Mormonism: Also a Journal for Important, Newly Apprehended Truths, and Miscellany. Oakland, CA. Jan. and Apr. 1888.

    (aSee Backman, Profile, 23.bJS, Kirtland, OH, to “Brethren in Zion,” Independence, MO, 21 Apr. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 32–36.c1830 U.S. Census, Chagrin, Cuyahoga Co., OH, 100; Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 19.d“Statement of Rev. S. F. Whitney on Mormonism,” Naked Truths about Mormonism, [Oakland, CA], Jan. 1888, 3.)
  45. 45

    Rigdon’s second daughter, Nancy, was born on 8 December 1822 and would have been nine years old at the time. (Allegheny Co., PA, Orphans’ Court, Registration of Deaths in the City of Pittsburgh, 1870–1905, vol. 48, p. 222, microfilm 505,840, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co., PA, Cemetery Records, 1845–1976, vol. E, p. 262, microfilm 1,290,386, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; “Records of Early Church Families,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine Oct. 1936 27:161.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    “Records of Early Church Families.” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 27 (Oct. 1936): 156–162.

  46. 46

    See James 5:15.  

  47. 47

    Possibly Sarah Maria Jackson, who moved to Jackson County in December 1832. (Whitmer, Daybook, 6 Jan. 1832; Faulring, “Early Marriages,” 201.)  

    Whitmer, John. Daybook, 1832–1878. CHL. MS 1159.

    Faulring, Scott H. “Early Marriages Performed by the Latter-day Saint Elders in Jackson County, Missouri, 1832–1834.” Mormon Historical Studies 2 (Fall 2001): 197–210.Godfrey, Matthew C. “‘Seeking after Monarchal Power and Authority’: Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832.” Mormon Historical Studies 13 (Spring/Fall 2012): 15–37.

  48. 48

    See Luke 21:26; and Old Testament Revision 1, p. 19 [Moses 7:66].  

  49. 49

    An 1831 revelation spoke of the New Jerusalem as “a City of refuge a place of safety for the saints.” (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:66].)  

  50. 50

    TEXT: “stat[hole in paper]”.  

  51. 51

    TEXT: “o[hole in paper]”.  

  52. 52

    There is no surviving letter from Whitmer with this information. However, in the history of the church that Whitmer kept, he recorded that around March 1832 there were 402 “disciples living in this land Zion.” On 1 December 1832, Whitmer reported that there were “538 individuals in this land b[e]longing to th[e] church.” According to William E. McLellin, the group from Portage County, Ohio, that arrived in Zion in June 1832 consisted of “near 100 of our brethren (viz) men, women & children,” making up most of this increase. (Whitmer, History, 38–39; William E. McLellin, Independence, MO, to “Beloved Relatives,” Carthage, TN, 4 Aug. 1832, photocopy, CHL.)  

    McLellin, William E. Letter, Independence, MO, to “Beloved Relatives,” Carthage, TN, 4 Aug. 1832. Photocopy. CHL. MS 617.

  53. 53

    A March 1831 revelation instructed Whitmer to “write & keep a regulal [regular] history.” A November 1831 revelation instructed Whitmer to “travel many times from place to place & from Church to Church that he may the more easily obtain knowledge . . . writing cop[y]ing & selecting & obtain[in]g all things which shall be for the good of the Church & for the rising generations which shall grow up on the Land of Zion.” (Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:1]; Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–A [D&C 69:8].)  

  54. 54

    See 2 Timothy 2:15.  

  55. new scribe logo

    Signature of JS.