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History, 1834–1836


Editorial Note
The blank lines following 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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’s abandoned transcript of JS’s letter to church elders suggest a new direction in the 1834–1836 history. The final section of the history, a daily narrative beginning with the 22 September 1835 entry and ending abruptly with the 18 January 1836 entry, was begun 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 continued by Warren Parrish. It is a polished version of JS’s second 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, a document written mostly by scribes but apparently dictated by JS.148 Although Cowdery and Parrish adhered closely to their journal source, they occasionally went beyond the making of a mere clerical copy. They changed the journal’s first-person narrative to third-person and altered the tone or emphasis of several passages. In particular, Parrish took the opportunity to fill in the details of events he had witnessed, especially when those details enhanced the image of JS in his prophetic role. Where differences between journal and history are significant, they are noted herein. Selected annotation from The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839 also appears here; for more complete annotation, see pages 52–223 of that volume.
It is clear that this section of the history was intended to be a more refined and permanent document than the journal. The messy wipe erasures, roughly executed knife erasures, and other forms of revision in the journal contrast with the careful erasures and insertions found in this section of the history, and the introductory paragraph to the revised entries expresses the importance of providing a polished historical account of JS’s life for future generations. Although 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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probably composed this introductory explanation, he attributed ultimate authorship of the history to JS, referring to him not only as “the subject of this narrative” but also as “our author.”
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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began transcribing JS’s 1835–1836 journal into the history after he received the journal from 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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in early April 1836.149

Parrish did not give the journal to Cowdery before 1 April 1836, the date of the last entry Parrish wrote. Cowdery presumably received the journal soon after that date, as he wrote the journal entries for 2 and 3 April 1836. In early April, Parrish was preparing to leave Kirtland to proselytize, like many others who were recently “endowed” at the solemn assembly held in the House of the Lord in Kirtland for that purpose. Parrish’s mission departure, however, was delayed until May, and it was probably during this delay that Parrish retrieved the journal and history from Cowdery and used the journal to write the entries dated 18 November 1835–18 January 1836 in the history. (JS, Journal, 1, 2, and 3 Apr. 1836; Woodruff, Journal, 19 Apr. and 27 May 1836.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. Also available as Wilford Woodruff’s Journals, 1833–1898, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983–1985).

The journal entries from which Cowdery and Parrish drew covered the period when JS and the Latter-day Saints anticipated the completion of the House of the Lord

JS revelation of Jan. 1831 directed Latter-day Saints to migrate to Ohio, where they would “be endowed with power from on high.” JS Revelation of Dec. 1832 directed Saints to “establish . . . an house of God.” JS Revelation of 1 June 1833 chastened Saints...

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in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, the solemn assembly to be held therein, and the promised “endowment of power from on high.” These late March events were recorded in JS’s journal; however, the history carries the narrative only up through mid-January. Cowdery’s pagination of the book indicates the intent to adapt more of JS’s journal than was accomplished; he numbered the pages of the blank book up to 241, which was ultimately 107 pages further than he wrote and 54 pages further than Parrish wrote.

Warren Cowdery handwriting begins.  

 
Here the reader will observe, that the narrative assumes a  different form. The subject of it becoming daily more and more  noted, the writer deemed it proper to give a plain, simple, yet  faithful narration of every important item in his every-day- occurrences. Therefore, he trusts, that to the man of God, no apol ogy will be necessary for such a course: especially when he takes  into consideration, that he writes, not so much for the benefit  of his co[n]temporaries as for that of posterity. The candid, reflec ting mind will also realize, how highly we all estimate every  species of intelligence or correct information we can obtain  relative to the ancient Prophets & Apostles, through whom the  Most-High condescended to reveal himself to the children of men.  Such revelations, therefore, as may at any time be given through  him will be inserted, and the characters of other men, from  their necessary connexion with him, will in some instances  be plainly pourtrayed; but the digression from the main thread  of the narrative, when short, will, the writer trusts, constitute  that pleasing variety, those lights and shades, that picture of  human life on which the eye rests with most pleasure.  The ear, and the mind of both reader and hearer, will be relieved  from that formal sameness, or tiresome monotony, that char acterize a dull tale of no merit, and enable future gen erations, to duly appreciate the claims the subject of this150

TEXT: Possibly “the this”.  

 
 narrative may <have> had, on his co[n]temporaries for their implicit  reliance on what he taught them.

22 September 1835 • Tuesday

Sept. 22d. 1835 This day he labored, with his friend and brother in the Lord, 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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, in obtaining and writing blessings.151

The phrase “his friend and brother in the Lord” is not in the corresponding entry of the 1835–1836 journal. On this date, 22 September, JS dictated blessings for David Whitmer, John Whitmer, John Corrill, and William W. Phelps.  

 
They were thronged a  part of the time with company, so that their labor was rather  retarded; but they obtained many precious things and their souls  were blessed, to that degree, that they were constrained to cry out  in ecstacy, O. Lord, may thy Holy Spirit, be with thy servants  forever. Amen.
Sept. 23 [22],152

In the 1835–1836 journal, JS wrote this paragraph and the following two entries in his own hand. Because the entry follows Oliver Cowdery’s entry dated 22 September, JS mistakenly dated his own entry 23 September; the events described here occurred on the twenty-second.  

 
This day he was at home, wri ting blessings for his beloved brethren. He was hindered by multitudes  of visitors, but remarked, that the Lord had blessed their souls, this day,  and may God grant to continue his mercies unto my house this night  for Christ’s sake. This day his soul brethren had desired the salvation of  brother Ezra Thayer

Ca. 1792–6 Sept. 1862. Farmer, gardener, builder. Born in New York. Married Elizabeth Frank. Lived at Bloomfield, Ontario Co., New York, 1820. Lived at Farmington, Ontario Co., 1830. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt and confirmed by JS, fall 1830...

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. His soul was also drawn out in love153

This sentiment is not found in the 1835–1836 journal entry, which notes only, “Also Brother Noah, Packard. Came to my house.”  

 
for brother [p. 105]
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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.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

JS History, 1834–1836 / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1834–1836. In Joseph Smith et al., History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, back of book (earliest numbering), 9–20, 46–187. CHL.

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.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

JS Letterbook 1 / Smith, Joseph. “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

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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