Minutes, 4–5 May 1839

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  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Minutes of a General held by , at the Presbyterian Camp Ground Near , Adams County, Illinois, on Saturday the 4th of May 1839.
At a quarter past eleven oclock, the meeting was called to order And Joseph Smith Jr appointed Chairman, A hymn was then sung, When President Smith addressed a few observations on the state of his own peculiar feelings, after having been so long separated from his brethren &c &c and then proceeded to open the meeting by prayer, When after some pr[e]liminiary remarks by and , concerning a certain purchase of Land in the , made for the Church, by the Presidency
The following Resolutions were unanimously agreed to.
1rst. Resolved, that , , and be appointed a travelling committe to gather up and obtain all the libelous reports and publications which have been circulated against our Church, as well as other historical matter connected with said Church which they can possibly obtain.
2nd Resolved, That be appointed or received into the Church in full .
3rd Resolved that this Conference does entirely sanction [p. [1]] the purchase lately made for the , in the , as also the agency thereof.
4th Resolved, That be appointed to go to and take the Charge and oversight of the and preside over the general affairs of the Church in that place.
5th Resolved That the advice of this conference to the Brethren living in the Eastern States is, for them to move to and the vicinity thereof, and again settle that place as a of . <​provided that they may feel so inclined, in preference to their moving further west​>
6th Resolved, That be to <​take​> the place of , as one of the .
7th Resolved that this are entirely satisfied with and do give their Sanction to the proceedings of the conference of the twelve and their friends, held on the at Missouri, on Friday the 26th April last.
8th Resolved That, they <​we​> also sanction the act of the held same date at same place, in cutting off from the commun[io]n of said church, certain persons mentioned in the minutes thereof.
9th Resolved that , and be allowed the privilege of appearing personally before the next general conference of the church to give an account of their conduct, and that in the mean time, they be both suspended from exercising the functions [p. [2]] of their office.
10th Resolved, That the do sanction the mission intended by the to Europe, and that they will do all in their power to enable them to go.
11th Resolved, That the subject of ’s going to be adjourned untill tomorrow.
12th Resolved, That the next general conference be held on the First Saturday in October next, at At the house of
13th. That we now adjourn untill tomorrow at 10 oclock AM
Joseph Smith Jr) President
) Clerk
Sunday the fifth, met according to adjournment at 10 AM Meeting or Conference opened as usual by prayer singing &c &c When it unanimously Resolved— That this conference do send a delegate to the City of to lay our case before the general Government and that be appointed to that office.
2nd Resolved— That be sent to Ill, clothed with authority and required to set to rights the church in that place in every way which may become necessary according to the order of the . [p. [3]]
3rd Resolved— That Col. be appointed to receive the affidavits which are to be sent to the City of .
After which, the afternoon was spent, in hearing instruction from the , and those of the present.
When at 5 oclock P.M. Conference adjourned, according to the resolution of Saturday. viz untill first Saturday in October next, at Ill.
Joseph Smith Jr
} Clerk [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    According to a later reminiscence of Edward Stevenson, who was nineteen years old at the time of the meeting, JS stood in silence on an open wagon for an unusual amount of time before he began to speak. According to Stevenson, JS began his discourse by expressing his emotions upon being reunited with the Saints: “To look over this Congregation of Latter Day Saints who have been driven from their homes and still in good faith without homes as pilgrims in a strange land and to realize that my life has been spared to behold your faces again seemed to me so great a pleasure that the present scene was so great a sattisfaction that words seemed only a vague expression of my soul’s grattitude.” (Stevenson, Autobiography, 129–130.)  

    Stevenson, Edward. Autobiography, ca. 1891–1893. Edward Stevenson, Collection, 1849–1922. CHL. MS 4806, box 5, fd. 1.

  2. 2

    At this time, the church was considering purchasing land from Isaac Galland in Iowa Territory. Although no deed records indicate purchases were completed before the conference, Vinson Knight, a land agent for the church, apparently purchased shares in a “Half Breed Land Company” from Galland on 1 May 1839. These shares entitled Knight to purchase land in the “Half-Breed Tract” in Lee County, Iowa Territory, when the land was sold at public auction. (Kilbourne, Strictures, on Dr. I. Galland’s Pamphlet, 9; see also Minutes, 24 Apr. 1839; Alanson Ripley, Statements, ca. Jan. 1845, Historian’s Office, JS History Documents, 1839–1860, CHL; and Woodruff, Journal, 21 May 1839.)  

    Kilbourne, David W. Strictures, on Dr. I. Galland’s Pamphlet, Entitled, “Villainy Exposed,” with Some Account of His Transactions in Lands of the Sac and Fox Reservation, etc., in Lee County, Iowa. Fort Madison, IA: Statesman Office, 1850.

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

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  3. 3

    While imprisoned in Liberty, Missouri, in winter 1838–1839, JS suggested that a committee be formed to gather anti-Mormon publications. JS later clarified that Babbitt and Snow were to gather anti-Mormon publications and other historical materials and that Thompson was to use these materials to draft a history that refuted libelous claims. Because of illness and other church assignments, Thompson was unable to complete the history before dying in 1841. (Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839; Snow, Journal, 1838–1841, 50–54; Authorization for Almon Babbitt et al., ca. 4 May 1839.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

  4. 4

    Knight was appointed as acting bishop at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, on 28 June 1838, before the Saints were forced to leave Missouri. The term “full Bishopric” may indicate he was appointed at this meeting to serve in an official capacity instead of as an acting bishop. In the October 1839 general conference, Knight was appointed as one of Commerce’s three bishops. (See Minutes, 28 June 1838; and Minutes, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:30–31.)  

  5. 5

    Granger acted as an agent for JS and Rigdon in September 1837, and after the two men departed Kirtland in January 1838, Granger worked with William Marks to manage and settle outstanding debts. In July 1838, Granger was officially appointed to be an agent for the church and to resolve the church’s financial obligations in Ohio. He oversaw the sale of various properties and succeeded in paying off some of the church’s debt. This 4 May 1839 resolution gave Granger additional responsibilities over the church in Kirtland, and on 6 May, JS provided Granger with a signed certificate to take with him to Kirtland to indicate his position and authority there. (Authorization for Oliver Granger, 6 May 1839; see also JS History, vol. B-1, 837; and Geauga Co., OH, Deed Record, 1795–1921, vol. 25, pp. 552–553, 2 Sept. 1837; pp. 661–665, 28 and 29 Mar. 1838; 26 and 30 Apr. 1838; vol. 26, p. 477, 16 Oct. 1838, microfilm 20,241; vol. 30, p. 175, 24 Feb. 1838, microfilm 20,242, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  6. 6

    Writing in January 1838, John Smith and Don Carlos Smith referenced Kirtland as a stopping point for Saints migrating from the eastern United States. When conflict in Missouri intensified in fall 1838, Kirtland may have become a place for Saints who were migrating from the East to settle instead of traveling on to Missouri. In a January 1839 letter to apostles Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, JS suggested that before church members arrived from England, agents should “buy out Kirtland, and the regions round about. or they may settle whare they can till things may alter.” (John Smith and Don Carlos Smith, Kirtland Mills, OH, to George A. Smith, Shinnston, VA, 15–18 Jan. 1838, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL; Letter to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, 16 Jan. 1839; see also Authorization for Oliver Granger, 6 May 1839.)  

    Smith, George Albert. Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322.

  7. 7

    This advice to settle Kirtland was included, nearly verbatim, in a certificate JS provided to Granger to take with him to Kirtland. (See Authorization for Oliver Granger, 6 May 1839.)  

  8. 8

    Marsh withdrew from the church in October 1838 after months of disagreement with JS and other Saints. JS appointed George A. Smith on 16 January 1839 to fill this position, and he was ordained at the 26 April 1839 meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Far West, Missouri; the resolution mentioned here in the minutes constituted a ratification of the earlier appointment and ordination. (Letter to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, 16 Jan. 1839; Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 26 Apr. 1839; Revelation, 8 July 1838–A [D&C 118:6].)  

    Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL

  9. 9

    On 26 April 1839, twelve men, including five of the twelve apostles, gathered at the temple lot in Far West. In addition to ordaining Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith as apostles, the men recommenced “laying the foundation” of the temple, as directed in a revelation JS dictated 26 April 1838. They also symbolically began their mission to Europe, as instructed in a revelation dictated 8 July 1838. (Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 26 Apr. 1839; Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:11]; Revelation, 8 July 1838–A [D&C 118:4–5].)  

    Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL

  10. 10

    Before the 26 April 1839 meeting at the temple lot in Far West, the apostles and other priesthood officers held a meeting in the home of Samuel Clark, during which they excommunicated thirty-one people. (Kimball, “History,” 102; Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 26 Apr. 1839.)  

    Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.

    Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL

  11. 11

    This action suspended Hyde and William Smith from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Disturbed by Mormon military operations against vigilantes in Daviess County, Missouri, in October 1838, Hyde left the church. He and Marsh filed an affidavit on 24 October 1838 describing and denouncing the military activities.a In March 1839, Hyde wrote to Brigham Young, expressing contrition and his desire to rejoin the Saints, but he was not restored to his place in the Quorum of the Twelve until 27 June 1839.b Young recounted that William Smith spoke publicly against JS before relocating from Missouri to Illinois.c On 25 May 1839, JS and the Quorum of the Twelve discussed Smith’s case and restored him to the quorum.d Because Hyde and William Smith were accepted back into fellowship before the 5 October 1839 conference, they did not give public accounts of their conduct, as resolved in this May general conference. Instead, their reinstatements were announced.e  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    Young, Brigham. Journals, 1832–1877. Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1, boxes 71–73.

    Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.

    Bergera, Gary James. “The Personal Cost of the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri: One Mormon’s Plea for Forgiveness.” Mormon Historical Studies 4, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 139–144.

    Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

    (aThomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, Affidavit, Richmond, MO, 24 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.bOrson Hyde, New Franklin, MO, to Brigham Young, 30 Mar. 1839, in Young, Journal, 1837–1845, 100–104; Kimball, “History,” 103–104; JS, Journal, 27 June 1839; see also Bergera, “Personal Cost of the 1838 Mormon War,” 139–144.c“Hearken, O Ye Latter-Day Saints,” Deseret News, 23 Aug. 1865, 372; Woodruff, Journal, 13 Feb. 1859.dWoodruff, Journal, 25 May 1839.eMinutes, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:30.)
  12. 12

    Each of the apostles was expected to go on the mission, with the exception of suspended apostles Hyde and William Smith.  

  13. 13

    The conference was held in Commerce on Saturday, 5 October 1839. (Minutes, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:30–31.)  

  14. 14

    This resolution ratified Rigdon’s proposal that the church send delegations to visit U.S. state capitals and Washington DC to lobby Congress “to impeach the State of Missouri on an item of the Constitution of the United States; That the general government shall give to each State a Republican form of government.” This plan was part of the broader effort to obtain redress for the Saints’ losses in Missouri. Although Rigdon accompanied JS, Elias Higbee, and others to Washington DC in winter 1839–1840, illness precluded him from joining the delegation in meetings with President Martin Van Buren and various congressmen. (Letter from Sidney Rigdon, 10 Apr. 1839; U.S. Constitution, art. 4, sec. 4; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 391–398; Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 265–272; see also Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839.)  

    Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. With the assistance of Jed Woodworth. New York: Knopf, 2005.

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

  15. 15

    A later report from Babbitt’s brother-in-law attested that Babbitt relocated to Springfield by October 1839, but no information on his management of the church there has been located. (Johnson, “A Life Review,” 51, 58.)  

    Johnson, Benjamin Franklin. “A Life Review,” after 1893. Benjamin Franklin Johnson, Papers, 1852–1911. CHL. MS 1289 box 1, fd. 1.

  16. 16

    See Lyman Wight, Mountain Valley, TX, to Wilford Woodruff, [Salt Lake City], 24 Aug. 1857, p. 10, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861, CHL; and “Inventory of Bills,” Mormon Redress Petitions, 1839–1845, CHL.  

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

    Mormon Redress Petitions, 1839–1845. CHL. MS 2703.