Minutes and Discourse, 3–5 October 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Minutes of the general of the , held in , Hancock county, Ill. Oct., 3rd 1840.
The conference was opened by prayer by .
Joseph Smith jr. was then unanimously called to the chair, and , chosen clerk.
A letter from and and one from Elder were then read by the , which gave very satisfactory accounts of their mission.
On motion. Resolved, That a committee be appointed to such as have recommends to this conference for ordination, and that elders
, ,
, ,
compose said committee, and report their proceedings before the conference closes.
The president arose and stated that there had been several depredations committed on the citizens of , and thought it expedient that a committee be appointed, to search out the offenders, and bring them to justice.
Whereupon it was resolved, that,
Joseph Smith, ,
, ,
, ,
,
compose said committee.
On motion. Resolved, that be appointed the general church clerk in the room of , who intends to remove to .
It having been requested by that the conference would appoint an elder to take charge of the church which he and had raised up in .
On motion. Resolved, that Elder , be appointed to preside over the church in .
The president then rose, and stated that it was necessary that something, should be done with regard to , so that it might be built up; and gave it as his opinion, that the brethren from the east might there, and also, that it was necessary that some one should be appointed from this conference to preside over that [p. 185]
On motion. Resolved, that be appointed to preside over the in , and that he choose his own counc[i]llors.
adjourned for one hour.
One o’clock P. M. Conference met pursuant to adjournment.
An opportunity was given to the brethren who had any remarks to make on suitable locations for .
Elder stated that it was the desire of a number of the brethren residing in to have a stake appointed at Mount Ephraim in that county, and stated the advantages of the place for agricultural purposes &c.
On motion. Resolved, that a stake be appointed at Mount Ephraim in .
There being several applications for the appointment of stakes, it was resolved that a committee be appointed to organize stakes between this and , and that
,
and
compose said committee.
The president then spoke of the necessity of building a “” in this place.
Whereupon it was resolved, that the saints build a house for the worship of God, and that , , and , be appointed a to build the same.
On motion. Resolved, that a commencement be made ten days from this date, and that every tenth day be appropriated for the building of said .
arose and stated that there were several individuals, who on moving to this place, had not settled with their creditors and had no recommend from the of the church were they had resided.
On motion. Resolved that those persons moving to this place, who do not bring a recommend, be disfellowshiped.
, M. D. then spoke at some length, on the oppression, to which the church had been subject, and remarked, that it was necessary for the brethren to stand by each other and resist every unlawful attempt at persecution.
Elder then addressed the meeting. Conference adjourned until to morrow morning.
Sunday morning. Conference met pursuant to adjournment, and was opened by prayer by .
The was then called upon to read the report of the presidency, in relation to the city plot. after which the president made some observations on the situation of the debts on the city plot and advised that a committee be appointed to raise funds to liquidate the same.
On motion. Resolved, that and compose said committee.
On motion. Resolved, that a committee be appointed to draught a bill for the incorporating of the town of , and other purposes.
Resolved, that Joseph Smith Jr. Dr. and , compose said committee.
Resolved that Dr. , be appointed delegate to , to urge the passage of said bill through the legislature.
President then rose and gave some general instructions to the church.
Conference adjourned for one hour.
One o’clock, P. M. Conference met pursuant to adjournment and was opened by prayer by Elder .
President Joseph Smith jr. then arose and delivered a discourse on the subject of for the dead. which was listened to with considerable interest, by the vast multitude assembled.
, from the committee, to draught a charter for the city, and for other purposes, reported the outlines of the same.
On motion. Resolved that the same be adopted.
then, made some very appropriate remarks on the duty of the saints in regard to those, who had, under circumstances of affliction, held out the hand of friendship, and that it was their duty to uphold such men and give them their suffrages, and support.
Elder then arose, and gave an account of the printing of another edition of the book of Mormon, and stated, that it was now nearly completed and that arrangements had been made for the printing of the hymn book book of doctrine and covenants, &c. [p. 186]
adjourned to Monday morning.
Monday morning, Oct., 5th. Conference met pursuant to adjournment and was opened by prayer by .
Elder after a few preliminary remarks, read an article on the , composed by Joseph Smith jr, after which,
delivered an excellent discourse on the same subject at some considerable length.
Conference adjourned for one hour.
During the intermission a large number were .
Two o’clock P. M. Conference met pursuant to adjournment.
Elder addressed the conference on the subject of baptism for the dead and other subjects of interest to the .
The president then made some observations, and pronounced his benediction on the assembly.
Dr. said that many persons had been accused of crime, and been looked upon as guilty, when on investigation it has been ascertained that nothing could be aduced against them,—Whereupon,
On motion; it was resolved that no person be considered guilty of crime, unless proved so by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
next brought before the conference the treatment the saints had experienced in , and wished to know, whether the conference would take any further steps in relation to obtaining redress.
On motion. Resolved that and be appointed a committee to obtain redress for the wrongs sustained in .
The committee on reported that they had ordained thirty nine to the ministry.
On motion. Resolved that this conference be dismissed, and that the next conference be held on the 6th day of April next.
JOSEPH SMITH jr., Pres’t.
, Clerk, [p. 187]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Marks was designated as president of the Nauvoo stake on 5 October 1839 at a general conference of the church. (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839.)  

  2. 2

    Letter from Samuel Bent and George W. Harris, 23 Sept. 1840. Bent and Harris were appointed as “traveling agents, to make contracts and receive monies” for the church’s publication efforts. (“Books!!!,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:140; Minutes, 17 July 1840.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  3. 3

    Letter from John E. Page, 23 Sept. 1840. Page and Orson Hyde, who were directed by an April 1840 general conference to preach to the Jews in Europe and the Holy Land, had been raising funds in Cincinnati for this mission. By the time of this conference, Hyde had departed Cincinnati, leaving Page in the city. (Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840; Letter from Orson Hyde, 28 Sept. 1840.)  

  4. 4

    Groves, Murdock, and Carter had served as members of the high council at Far West, Missouri. (Minute Book 2, 17 Mar. 1838; Minutes, 24 Mar. 1838.)  

  5. 5

    One month later, the Times and Seasons reported that Nauvoo had become “infested of late with a gang of thieves, insomuch that property of almost all kinds, has been unsafe unless secured with bolts and bars; cattle and hogs have been made a free booty.” (“Look Out for Thieves!!,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:204, italics in original.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  6. 6

    Robinson had served as “general Clerk & recorder of the whole Church” since September 1837. Thompson was appointed as a secretary in late 1839. (Minutes, 17 Sept. 1837–A; Letter from Emma Smith, 6 Dec. 1839.)  

  7. 7

    John E. Page had requested that the conference “send some faithful and competent elder to this place to nurse the seed or word that has [been] sown here.” Page had already baptized thirteen new converts. (Letter from John E. Page, 23 Sept. 1840.)  

  8. 8

    Bennett had previously served as the presiding elder of the branch in Philadelphia. (Minutes and Discourse, 13 Jan. 1840.)  

  9. 9

    Oliver Granger, Levi Richards, and Thomas Burdick had complained in letters about the conduct of some of the Saints in Kirtland. Granger was then serving as a church agent in Kirtland and working to resolve outstanding debts of church leaders. In a July 1840 letter to Granger, JS wrote that “under such circumstances Kirtland cannot rise and free herself from the captivity in which she is held and become a place of safety for the saints nor can the blessings of Jehovah rest upon her.” (Minutes, 5–6 Sept. 1840; Minutes, 4–5 May 1839; Letter to Oliver Granger, between ca. 22 and ca. 28 July 1840.)  

  10. 10

    In November 1839, a First Presidency and high council statement condemned a rumored plan of some Saints, who had already abandoned Kirtland for the West, to return to Kirtland without the permission of church leaders. In July 1840, JS specifically lamented that recent converts “should be led to Kirtland instead of to this place [Nauvoo] by Elder Babbit.” In August 1840, Parley P. Pratt also instructed Saints in New York and Philadelphia to gather to the designated locations in the West and not to Kirtland. “When the Lord wants the people to gather to Kirtland and build it up,” he declared, “his servants the Presidency, will advise you by such authority as you will not have any reason to doubt.” Following this October conference, JS and Hyrum Smith announced a plan to “advise the Eastern brethren who desire to locate in Kirtland, to do so.” (“To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:29; Letter to Oliver Granger, between ca. 22 and ca. 28 July 1840; Parley P. Pratt, New York, to “the Elders and Brethren of the Church . . . in New York, Philadelphia and the Regions Round About,” 25 Aug. 1840, in Foster, History of the New York City Branch, [13]; Letter to the Saints in Kirtland, OH, 19 Oct. 1840.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Foster, Lucian R. History of the New York City Branch, 1837–1840. High Priests Quorum Record, 1841–1845. CHL.

  11. 11

    Apparently, Babbitt was selected with the belief that Granger, who was then serving as the church’s presiding officer in Kirtland, was intending to relocate to Nauvoo. Babbitt was an unlikely choice as the stake’s new leader because his criticism of church leadership had been the subject of correspondence between JS and Granger in July 1840. On 5 September 1840, this exchange spurred JS to prefer charges against Babbitt before the Nauvoo high council. The charges included defamation of church leadership and the holding of secret meetings in the House of the Lord in Kirtland. On the following day, JS withdrew the charges and reconciled with Babbitt. (Letter to Oliver Granger, 26 Jan. 1841; Letter to Oliver Granger, between ca. 22 and ca. 28 July 1840; Minutes, 5–6 Sept. 1840.)  

  12. 12

    Babbitt selected Lester Brooks and Zebedee Coltrin as his counselors in May 1841. (Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 22 May 1841, 10.)  

  13. 13

    One history noted that at the western boundary of Adams County, Illinois, along the Mississippi River, “lies some of the most fertile lands known for agricultural purposes.” (Collins and Perry, Past and Present of the City of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois, 261.)  

    Collins, William H., and Cicero F. Perry. Past and Present of the City of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1905.

  14. 14

    The Mount Hope stake in Columbus, Adams County, was organized on 27 October 1840. On the same day, Henry Miller was appointed as president of the Freedom branch, near Payson in Adams County. (JS History, vol. C-1 Addenda Book, 1.)  

  15. 15

    JS emphasized the creation of new stakes in a discourse given around 19 July 1840. (Discourse, ca. 19 July 1840.)  

  16. 16

    JS had contemplated constructing a temple in Nauvoo as early as April 1840. In July 1840, JS preached on the importance of the Saints’ participation in this endeavor. (“A Glance at the Mormons,” Alexandria [VA] Gazette, 11 July 1840, [2]; Discourse, ca. 19 July 1840.)  

    Alexandria Gazette. Alexandria, VA. 1834–1877.

  17. 17

    Cahoon earlier served on the committee to build the House of the Lord in Kirtland. Cutler was recognized as “the Master workman” of the house of the Lord to be constructed in Far West, Missouri. (Minutes, 6 June 1833; Woodruff, Journal, 26 Apr. 1839.)  

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

  18. 18

    According to a report of the conference that Phebe Carter Woodruff wrote for her husband, Wilford Woodruff, “they proposed building the Lord’s house by tytheing the people. . . . The people meet togather and work every tenth day.” Phebe also reported that a tentative building schedule was announced, which arranged for the workers to first collect materials in fall 1840 and then begin construction in spring 1841. The dimensions of the future temple were to be “100 feet by 120.” (Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 6–19 Oct. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.

  19. 19

    The issue of individuals gathering to Nauvoo without paying off their debts was earlier discussed in a 20 February 1840 conference held at Freedom, Illinois. That conference decided to report to creditors anyone “leaving the bounds of this stake in debt, with the design of defrauding their creditors.” Since 1831, Saints gathering to Missouri had been required to carry to the bishop in Zion a certificate from the bishop in Ohio or from three elders in the branches where the migrating Saints resided. (“Minutes of a Conference,” Times and Seasons, 1 Apr. 1841, 2:372; Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–C [D&C 72:24–25].)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  20. 20

    According to Phebe Carter Woodruff’s account of the conference, “Dr. Bennet (a quarter master general who has lately been baptized) [spoke] upon the subject of war, and by his talk you would conclude that the brethren expected war with Missouri sometime— he is a great orator.” (Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 6–19 Oct. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.

  21. 21

    See Report of the First Presidency, 4 Oct. 1840. The report detailed positive developments in Nauvoo and throughout the church’s missions. In particular, it pointed to the building of a future temple in Nauvoo and the expected influx of Latter-day Saint immigrants from England.  

  22. 22

    The total purchase of over six hundred acres on the Commerce peninsula, including the city plot, cost $136,500. The total purchases in the region, including in Iowa Territory, reached nearly $190,000. (Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds [South, Keokuk], vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 270–275.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    Cook, Lyndon W. “Isaac Galland—Mormon Benefactor.” BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979): 261–284.

  23. 23

    In June 1840, Bennett spent some time in Springfield, Illinois, serving on a jury for the United States Circuit Court of the District of Illinois. In July he expressed that he planned to attend the next legislative session. (Letters from John C. Bennett, 25 and 27 July 1840.)  

  24. 24

    Both Vilate Murray Kimball and Phebe Carter Woodruff described this sermon in letters to their husbands, who were then serving missions in Great Britain. (Vilate Murray Kimball, Nauvoo, IL, to Heber C. Kimball, 11 Oct. 1840, photocopy, Vilate Murray Kimball, Letters, 1840, CHL; Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 6–19 Oct. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.

  25. 25

    For the completed charter, see Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

  26. 26

    Bennett was apparently suggesting that the Saints should be willing to endorse politicians who would support the passage of the charter that would incorporate the city of Nauvoo. In 1854 Illinois governor Thomas Ford recalled that Bennett had lobbied Whig and Democratic officials, leaving “both sides with the hope of Mormon favor; and both sides expected to receive their votes.” (Ford, History of Illinois, 263.)  

    Ford, Thomas. A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847. Containing a Full Account of the Black Hawk War, the Rise, Progress, and Fall of Mormonism, the Alton and Lovejoy Riots, and Other Important and Interesting Events. Chicago: S. C. Griggs; New York: Ivison and Phinney, 1854.

  27. 27

    In December 1839, due to a shortage of copies of the 1830 and 1837 editions of the Book of Mormon throughout the church, Hyrum Smith, acting on behalf of the First Presidency, and the Nauvoo high council determined that the Book of Mormon should be reprinted in Nauvoo. Difficulties with raising sufficient funds ultimately delayed these plans. With JS’s support, Ebenezer Robinson led an alternative plan to print in Cincinnati a revised edition of the Book of Mormon prepared by JS and Robinson. As Robinson later remembered, “Brother Joseph and I immediately went to work and compared a copy of the Kirtland edition with the first edition, by reading them entirely through, and I took one of the Kirtland edition as a copy for the stereotype edition.” (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 22 Nov. 1839; Hyrum Smith, Nauvoo, IL, to Parley P. Pratt, New York City, NY, 22 Dec. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 80–81; Minutes and Discourse, 13 Jan. 1840; Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 29 Dec. 1839, 39; [Don Carlos Smith], “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:144; Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” Return, May 1890, 259.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    The Return. Davis City, IA, 1889–1891; Richmond, MO, 1892–1893; Davis City, 1895–1896; Denver, 1898; Independence, MO, 1899–1900.

  28. 28

    See Instruction on Priesthood, ca. 5 Oct. 1840.  

  29. 29

    According to Phebe Carter Woodruff, “Brother Joseph was expected to preach today on the Priesthood but his health would not admit of it so A. Babbit took the stand and delivered an interesting discourse upon the same subject.” (Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 6–19 Oct. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.

  30. 30

    This decision may have been based on the Saints’ reading of Old Testament law. An identical prescription had already been followed in cases of alleged adultery. (See Deuteronomy 19:15; and Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:80–81].)  

  31. 31

    Although Congress had denied their petition in February 1840, church leaders still held out hope that they could obtain compensation for their lost lands and property in Missouri. The April 1840 general conference officially resolved that the first committee in charge of seeking redress should “continue to use their endeavors to obtain redress for a suffering people.” Higbee was a member of the earlier committee. (Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840.)