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History, 1834–1836

repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, warned the people of the consequences of eniquity, and declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand—All this was too much! To see one dressed so rediculously eating no common food, neither drinking wine like other men; stepping in advance of the learned and reverend Pharisees, wise doctors, and righteous scribes, and declaring at the same time, that the Lords kingdom would soon appear, could not be borne—he must not teach—he must [not] assume—he must not attempt to lead the people after him—“He hath a devil!”
The Jews were willing, (professedly so) to believe the ancient prophets, and follow the directions of heaven as delivered to the world by them; but when one came teaching the same doctrine, and proclaiming the same things, only that they were nearer, they would not hear. Men say if they could see they would believe, but I have thought the reverse, in this respect—If they cannot see they will believe.
One of two reasons may be assigned as the cause why the messengers of truth have been rejected—perhaps both. The multitude saw their imperfections, or supposed ones, and from that framed an excuse for rejecting them, or else in consequence of the corruption of their own hearts, when reproved, were not willing to repent, but saught to make a man an offender for a word: or for wearing camels hair, eating locusts, drinking wine, or showing friendship to publicans and sinners!
When looking over the sacred scriptures we seem to forget that they were given through men of imperfections, and subject to passions. It is a general belief that the ancient proptets [prophets] were perfect—that no stain, or blemish ever appeared upon their characters while on earth, to be brought forward by the opposer as an excuse for not believing. The same is said of the apostles; but James said that Elias -[Eligah]- was a man subject to like passions as themselves, and yet he had that power with God that in answer to his prayer it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and a half.
There can be no doubt but those to whom he wrote looked upon the ancient prophets as a race of beings superior to any in those days; and in order to be constituted a prophet of God, a man must be perfect in every respect.—
The idea is, that he must be perfect according to their signification of the word. If a people were blessed with prophets, they must be the individuals who were to prescribe the Laws by which they must be governed, even in their private walks. The generation following were ready to suppose, that those men who believed the word of God were as perfect as those to whom it was delivered supposed they must be, and were as forward to prescribe the rules by which they were governed, or rehearse laws and declare them to be the governing principles of the prophets, as though they themselves held the keys of the mysteries of heaven, and had searched the archives of the generations of the world.
You will see that I have made mention of the Messiah, of his mission into [p. 56]
repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, warned the people of the consequen ces of eniquity, and declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand—All this was too  much! To see one dressed so rediculously eating no common food, neither drinking  wine like other men; stepping in advance of the learned and reverend Pharisees,  wise doctors, and righteous scribes, and declaring at the same time, that the  Lords kingdom would soon appear, could not be borne—he must not teach—he  must [not]56

Omitted word supplied from LDS Messenger and Advocate.  


assume—he must not attempt to lead the people after him—“He hath a devil!”
The Jews were willing, (professedly so) to believe the ancient prophets, and follow  the directions of heaven as delivered to the world by them; but when one came  teaching the same doctrine, and proclaiming the same things, only that they were  nearer, they would not hear. Men say if they could see they would believe, but  I have thought the reverse, in this respect—If they cannot see they will believe.
One of two reasons may be assigned as the cause why the messengers of truth  have been rejected—perhaps both. The multitude saw their imperfections, or  supposed ones, and from that framed an excuse for rejecting them, or else in  consequence of the corruption of their own hearts, when reproved, were not willing to  repent, but saught to make a man an offender for a word:57

See Isaiah 29:21.  


or for wearing  camels hair, eating locusts, drinking wine, or showing friendship to publicans  and sinners!
When looking over the sacred scriptures we seem to forget that they were  given through men of imperfections, and subject to passions. It is a general belief that  the ancient proptets [prophets] were perfect—that no stain, or blemish ever appeared upon  their characters while on earth, to be brought forward by the opposer as an  excuse for not believing. The same is said of the apostles; but James said that Elias  -[Eligah]- was a man subject to like passions as themselves, and yet he had that power with  God that in answer to his prayer it rained not on the earth by the space of three  years and a half.58

See James 5:17.  


There can be no doubt but those to whom he wrote looked upon the ancient  prophets as a race of beings superior to any in those days; and in order to be  constituted a prophet of God, a man must be perfect in every respect.—
The idea is, that he must be perfect according to their signification of the word.  If a people were blessed with prophets, they must be the individuals who were  to prescribe the Laws by which they must be governed, even in their private  walks. The generation following were ready to suppose, that those men who  believed the word of God were as perfect as those to whom it was delivered supposed  they must be, and were as forward to prescribe the rules by which they were  governed, or rehearse laws and declare them to be the governing principles of  the prophets, as though they themse[l]ves held the keys of the mysteries of the heaven,  and had searched the archives of the generations of the world.
You will see that I have made mention of the Messiah, of his mission into [p. 56]
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JS’s 1834–1836 history is a composite historical record consisting of genealogical tables, journal-like entries, and transcripts of newspaper articles. It shifts abruptly in format from one unfinished section to the next. The order of handwriting in the history roughly matches that found in the 1835–1836 journal, and like the journal, the history passed from Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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to Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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to Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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to Warren Cowdery

17 Oct. 1788–23 Feb. 1851. Physician, druggist, farmer, editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Married Patience Simonds, 22 Sept. 1814, in Pawlet, Rutland Co. Moved to Freedom, Cattaraugus Co., New York, 1816...

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. Finally, it returned to Parrish. The purpose for which the record was created is unclear, as is the rationale for its differing formats. At the beginning, the 1834–1836 history may have had as much to do with Oliver Cowdery, its first scribe, as with JS. Cowdery was serving at the time as scribe for JS’s first Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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journal. He had transformed that journal into a jointly authored document by writing in the first person plural, making both himself and JS the protagonists. Cowdery made his final entry in the first Ohio journal 5 December 1834, the day he was ordained an assistant president to JS in the general church presidency and placed ahead of JS’s other assistants. He may have begun the 1834–1836 history in response to his new appointment.
The new record was begun in a massive blank book. Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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left the first twelve pages blank, possibly for a title page and other introductory material to be written later. He then inscribed columns and headings on the next eight pages to reserve them for the genealogies of the four members of the new church presidency. On the following page, he began an entry dated 5 December 1834, the same date as his last entry in JS’s first Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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journal.
Just as Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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converted JS’s first Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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journal into a JS-Cowdery journal, he may have conceived of the 1834–1836 history as a record for all four members of the church presidency. Cowdery’s entry for 5 December 1834 provided a lengthier and more formal account of his elevation to the church presidency than did JS’s first Ohio journal. Regardless of its purpose, however, the daily log was discontinued after two entries.
The next section of the history, begun months later, is a transcript of Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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’s series of eight letters on church history published in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate between October 1834 and October 1835. Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, who began the transcription, may have begun working under Cowdery’s direction, but by 29 October 1835 JS had assumed effective control of the document. JS’s journal entry of that date, which notes his employment of Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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as his scribe, also records that Parrish “commenced writing in my journal a history of my life, concluding President Cowdery 2d letter to W. W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, which president Williams had begun.”1

JS, Journal, 29 Oct. 1835; see also entry for 29 Oct. 1835 herein. In this case, “my journal” refers to JS’s 1834–1836 history, which JS also called his “large journal.”  


The final section of JS’s history, transcribed by Warren Cowdery

17 Oct. 1788–23 Feb. 1851. Physician, druggist, farmer, editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Married Patience Simonds, 22 Sept. 1814, in Pawlet, Rutland Co. Moved to Freedom, Cattaraugus Co., New York, 1816...

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and Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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, is a revised version of JS’s daily journal entries from late September 1835 to late January 1836.2 Warren Cowdery explained that the intention was to provide a “faithful narration of every important item in his every-day-occurrences.”3

JS History, 1834–1836, 105.  


The revised entries continue to 18 January 1836. Warren Parrish, the final scribe to write in JS’s 1834–1836 history, may have ceased his work in order to embark on a proselytizing mission. However, the reasons for JS’s discontinuing the history entirely are not known.
Further information about the different sections of the 1834–1836 history may be found in intratextual notes preceding each section.
As noted above, the first section of the history includes initial work to compile genealogical data for each member of the church presidency. In an 1832 letter to church leaders in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, JS outlined the contents of the church history to be kept by John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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. In addition to an account of “all things that transpire in Zion,” JS instructed that the record include the names of those who had formally consecrated their property and received church land. At the second coming of Jesus Christ, he wrote, this record would be used to reward “the Saints whose names are found and the names of their fathers and of their children enroled in the Book of the Law of God.”4

JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1, 3.  


Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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apparently followed this model when he began this new historical record in early December 1834. He reserved the pages at the beginning of the history to record family information for JS, himself, Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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, and Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, the four members of the general church presidency as designated on 5 December 1834. Inscribing headings to eight pages, Cowdery intended to prepare two genealogical tables for each of the four presidents, one to identify wife and children and the second to identify parents and siblings. The left column lists births and marriages; the column on the right was reserved for deaths. That Cowdery did not create or even leave room for similar tables for the two assistant presidents appointed on 6 December 1834 suggests that he inscribed both the tables and the entry for 5 December between the 5 and 6 December meetings.

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