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History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

to be careful, lest in this you be deceived. Guard against evils which may arise from any accounts given of women or otherwise. be careful in all things lest any root of bitterness spring up among you and thereby many be defiled. Satan will no doubt trouble you about the gift of tongues, unless you are careful; you cannot watch him too close, nor pray too much. May the Lord give you wisdom in all things. In a letter mailed last week, you will doubtless, before you receive this, have obtained information about the New Translation. Consign the box of the books of Commandments, to N. K. Whitney &co.

A partnership between Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert; later the branch of the United Firm responsible for overseeing the church’s mercantile endeavors in Kirtland, Ohio. In late 1826 or early 1827, Whitney and Gilbert established this partnership to ...

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, 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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, Geauga County, Ohio, care of Killy and Walworth, Cleaveland

Cuyahoga Co. seat of justice, 1833. Situated on south shore of Lake Erie, just east of mouth of Cuyahoga River. First settled, 1797. Incorporated as village, 1815; incorporated as city, 1836. Became center of business and trade at opening of Ohio and Erie...

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, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
I 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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write this in great haste, in answer to yours to Bro. Joseph, as I am going off immediately, in company with Bro 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 proclaim the Gospel: We think of starting tomorrow. Having finished the translation of the bible, a few hours since, and needing some recreation, we know of no way we can spend our time more to divine acceptance than endeavoring to build up his Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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, in these last days, as we are not willing to idle any time, which can be spent to useful purposes, Doors are open continually for proclaiming. The spirit of bitterness among the people is fast subsiding, and a spirit of enquiry is taking its place. I proclaimed last Sunday at Chardon

Located eight miles south of Lake Erie and immediately east of Kirtland Township. Settled by 1812. Included village of Chardon. Population of township in 1820 about 430; in 1830 about 880; and in 1840 about 1,100. Two of JS’s sisters resided in township. ...

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, our county seat; had the court house, there was a general turnout, good attention, and a pressing invitation for more meetings, which will be granted if the Lord will, when we return from this tour.
Brother Joseph is going to take a tour with Bro George James

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

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, of Brownhelm, as soon as Bro George

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

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comes to this place. We hope, our brethren that the greatest freedom and frankness will exist between you and the Bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

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27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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, not withholding from each other any information from us, but communicate with the greatest freedom, lest you should produce evils of a serious character, and the Lord becomes offended; [p. 317]
to be careful, lest in this you be deceived. Guard aga inst evils which may arise from any accounts given  of women or otherwise. be careful in all things lest  any root of bitterness spring up among you and there by many be defiled. Satan will no doubt trouble you  about the gift of tongues, unless you are careful; you  cannot watch him too close, nor pray too much. May  the Lord give you wisdom in all things. In a letter  mailed last week, you will doubtless, before you re ceive this, have obtained information about the New  Translation. Consign the box of the books of Command ments, to N. K. Whitney &co.

A partnership between Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert; later the branch of the United Firm responsible for overseeing the church’s mercantile endeavors in Kirtland, Ohio. In late 1826 or early 1827, Whitney and Gilbert established this partnership to ...

View Glossary
, 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...

More Info
, Geauga County, Ohio,  care of Killy and Walworth, Cleaveland

Cuyahoga Co. seat of justice, 1833. Situated on south shore of Lake Erie, just east of mouth of Cuyahoga River. First settled, 1797. Incorporated as village, 1815; incorporated as city, 1836. Became center of business and trade at opening of Ohio and Erie...

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, Cuyahoga Co unty, Ohio.
I 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...

View Full Bio
write this in great haste, in answer  to yours to Bro. Joseph, as I am going off immediately,  in company with Bro 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...

View Full Bio
, to proclaim the Gospel:  We think of starting tomorrow. Having finished the trans lation of the bible, a few hours since, and needing  some recreation, we know of no way we can spend  our time more to divine acceptance than endeavoring  to build up his Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
, in these last days, as we are not  willing to idle any time, which can be spent to useful  purposes, Doors are open continually for proclaiming. The  spirit of bitterness among the people is fast subsiding, and  a spirit of enquiry is taking its place. I proclaimed last  Sunday at Chardon

Located eight miles south of Lake Erie and immediately east of Kirtland Township. Settled by 1812. Included village of Chardon. Population of township in 1820 about 430; in 1830 about 880; and in 1840 about 1,100. Two of JS’s sisters resided in township. ...

More Info
, one <our> county seat; had the court house,  there was a general turnout, good attention, and a  pressing invitation for more meetings, which will be  granted if the Lord will, when we return from this  tour.
Brother Joseph in is going to take a tour with Bro  George James

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

View Full Bio
, of Brownhelm, as soon as Bro George

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

View Full Bio
 comes to this place. We hope, our brethren that the  greatest freedom and frankness will exist between you  and the Bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

View Glossary

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

View Full Bio
, not withholding from each other any  information from us, but communicate with the  greatest freedom, lest you should produce evils of  a serious character, and the Lord becomes offended; [p. 317]
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This document, volume A-1, is the first of the six volumes of the “Manuscript History of the Church.” The collection was compiled over the span of seventeen years, 1838 to 1856. Volume A-1 encompasses the period from JS’s birth in 1805 to 30 August 1834, just after the return of the Camp of Israel (later known as Zion’s Camp) from 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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to Kirtland

Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...

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, Ohio. For a fuller discussion of the entire six-volume work, see the general introduction to the history.
In April 1838 JS renewed his effort to draft a “history” with the aid of his counselor 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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. George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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served as scribe. JS’s journal for late April and early May 1838 notes six days on which JS, Rigdon, and Robinson were engaged in “writing history.” Though not completed and no longer extant, that draft laid the foundation for what became a six-volume manuscript eventually published as the “History of Joseph Smith,” and at least a portion of its contents are assumed to have been included in the manuscript presented here.
On 11 June 1839 in Commerce

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

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, Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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now served as scribe. Apparently the narrative commenced where the earlier 1838 draft left off. When work was interrupted in July 1839, Mulholland inscribed the draft material, including at least some of Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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’s earlier material, into a large record book already containing the text of an incomplete history previously produced over a span of two years, 1834–1836. For the new history, Mulholland simply turned the ledger over and began at the back of the book. The volume was later labeled A-1 on its spine, identifying it as the first of multiple volumes of the manuscript history.
Prior to his untimely death on 3 November 1839, Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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, contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. William 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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then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, it was not until Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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was appointed JS’s “private secretary and historian” that substantial progress was made on the compilation of the history. Richards would contribute the remainder of the text inscribed in the 553-page first volume. The narrative recorded in A-1 was completed in August 1843. Thomas Bullock and Charles Wandell subsequently added sixteen pages of “Addenda” material, which provided notes, extensive revisions, or additional text to be inserted in the original manuscript where indicated. For instance, several of the addenda expanded on the account of the Camp of Israel as initially recorded.
JS dictated or supplied information for much of A-1, and he personally corrected the first forty-two pages before his death. As planned, his historian-scribes maintained the first-person, chronological narrative format initially established in the volume. When various third-person accounts were drawn upon, they were generally converted to the first person, as if JS was directly relating the account. After JS’s death, Brigham Young

1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...

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, Heber C. Kimball

14 June 1801–22 June 1868. Blacksmith, potter. Born at Sheldon, Franklin Co., Vermont. Son of Solomon Farnham Kimball and Anna Spaulding. Married Vilate Murray, 22 Nov. 1822, at Mendon, Monroe Co., New York. Member of Baptist church at Mendon, 1831. Baptized...

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, George A. Smith

26 June 1817–1 Sept. 1875. Born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York. Son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. Baptized into LDS church by Joseph H. Wakefield, 10 Sept. 1832, at Potsdam. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833. Labored on Kirtland temple...

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, and others modified and corrected the manuscript as they reviewed material before its eventual publication.
Beginning in March 1842 the church’s Nauvoo periodical, the Times and Seasons, began publishing the narrative as the “History of Joseph Smith.” At the time of JS’s death only the history through December 1831 had been published. When the final issue of the Times and Seasons, dated 15 February 1846 appeared, the account had been carried forward through August 1834—the end of the material recorded in A-1. The “History of Joseph Smith” was also published in England in the church periodical the Millennial Star beginning in June 1842. Once a press was established in Utah and the Deseret News began publication, the “History of Joseph Smith” once more appeared in print in serialized form. Beginning with the November 1851 issue, the narrative picked up where the Times and Seasons had left off over five years earlier.
Aside from the material dictated or supplied by JS prior to his murder, the texts for A-1 and for the history’s subsequent volumes were drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources including JS’s diaries and letters, minutes of meetings, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, church and other periodicals, reports of JS’s discourses, and the reminiscences and recollections of church members. The narrative in A-1 provides JS’s personal account of the foundational events of his life as a prophet and the early progress of the church. It also encompasses contentions and disputations that erupted between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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, Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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, 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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, and 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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. While it remains difficult to distinguish JS’s own contributions from composition of his historian-scribes, the narrative trenchantly captures the poignancy and intensity of his life while offering an enlightening account of the birth of the church he labored to establish.

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