53992718

History, circa 1841, draft [Draft 3]

Accordingly I retired into the woods, to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a clear and beautiful day, early in the spring of Eighteen hundred and twenty. and it was the first time that I ever made such an effort; for amidst all my anxieties. I had as yet never made the attempt to pray vocally. After arriving at the place where I had previously designed to go I looked around me. and finding myself alone, kneeled down. and began to offer up to God. the desires of my heart. I had scarcely done so, when I was immediately seized upon, by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such astonishing influence over me, as to bind my tongue so as to deprive me of speech— Thick darkness gathered around me, and for a time it seemed that I were doomed to distruction. But exerting every energy to call upon God. to deliver me out of the power of this enemy; at the moment when I was sinking in dispair and abandon myself to distruction. an not imaginary. but to the influence of some being from the unseen world. who had such marvelous power as this. Just at this moment of alarm, I saw a pillar of light. over my head, far more bright and dazling than the sun in his meridian splendor the brightness of which. exceeded that of the sun; which gradually decended untill it fell upon me. and I found myself. delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages. (whose brightness and glory defy all description.) standing above in the air. One of them called me by name. and said (pointing to the other) this is my beloved son hear him. My object was to assertain. which of the sects were right. that I might join it. Consequently as soon as possible. I asked the Personages who stood in the light; Which [p. 3]
Accordingly I retired into the woods, to make  the attempt. It was on the morning of a clear  and beautiful day, early in the spring of Eig hteen hundred and twenty. It <and it> was the first  time that I ever made such an effort; for  amidst all my anxieties. I had as yet never  made the attempt to pray vocally. After  arriving at the place where I had previously designed  to go I looked around me. and finding myself  alone, kneeled down. and began to offer up <to God.> the  desires of my heart. I had scarcely done so, when  I was immediately seized upon, by some power  which entirely overcame me, and had such aston ishing influence over me, as to bind my tongue so  <so as to> depriving <deprive> me of the power of speech— Thick darkness  gathered around me, and for a time it seemed  that I were doomed to distruction. But exerting  every energy to call upon God. to deliver me out  of the power of this enemy; at the very moment  when I was sinking into dispair and abandon  myself to distruction. <an> not a imaginary. but to the  power <influence> of some being from the unseen world. who  had such marvelous power as this. Just at this  moment of alarm, I saw a pillar of light. over my  head, exceeding the brightn <far more bright and dazling than the sun in his meridian splendor>2

TEXT: Insertion in graphite.  


the brightness of which.  exceeded that of the sun; which gradually  decended untill it fell upon me. and I found  myself. delivered from the enemy which held me  bound. When the light rested upon me I saw  two personages. (whose brightness and glory defy all  description.) standing above in the air. One of  them called me by name. <and> said (pointing to the other)  this is my beloved son hear him. My object in  going was to assertain. which of the sects were  right. that I might join it. <Consequently> as soon as possible.  I asked the Personages who stood in the light; Which [p. 3]
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JS, History, [ca. 1841], draft; handwriting of Howard Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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; 102 pages and one attached slip; CHL.
Howard Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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inscribed two copies of a new draft of JS’s history in about 1841. The earlier draft copy is the document transcribed herein. At the bottom of page 1 of the later fair copy is an inscription in the handwriting of Howard Coray identifying it as the second copy, and similar inscriptions are found on the last page of each bifolium of the fair copy. In addition to the draft copy and the fair copy, there is a four-page partial copy, also in the handwriting of Howard Coray, that corresponds to text on pages 13–16 of both the draft and fair copies.1

The four-page fragment contains a copy of Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3], and is housed in Revelations Collection, CHL. As explained later, the text in the draft copy and fair copy match page for page, so each page begins at the same point. The fragment is not a page-for-page copy, though the first and third pages begin at the same point as do pages 13 and 15 of the other two copies.  


The draft copy contains twenty-five bifolia (making one hundred pages) and a final loose leaf. Pages 1–92 measure from 12½ to 12⅝ inches high and 7⅝ inches across (32 × 19 cm); pages 93–102 measure 12 × 7⅝ inches (30 × 19 cm). The larger pages are lined with between thirty-four and thirty-eight blue horizontal lines, and the shorter pages contain thirty-eight blue horizontal lines; most of the ruling throughout the manuscript is now faint or completely faded. Page numbering appears at the top center of each page. Embossed in the upper left corner of the first recto side of many bifolia is a decorative star and “D & J. Ames Springfield”, the insignia of a Springfield, Massachusetts, paper mill firm established by brothers David and John Ames in 1828.2

Whiting, “Paper Making in New England,” 309; Gravell et al., American Watermarks, 235.  


The draft was inscribed in ink that is now brown. It includes several graphite insertions in Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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’s handwriting. Quill and steel pens were used interchangeably for inscription. The paper is cream colored and yellowed at the edges, with some foxing. The first page and last page of the draft exhibit moderate wear. Ink was spilled on the gutter edge of the stacked manuscript, slightly staining many bifolia. At one time the manuscript was sewn together, as evidenced by a single needle hole in the upper left corner of each bifolium. A slip of paper containing a handwritten insertion was pinned to page 36. The lower left corner of the final leaf (page 101) was torn off, and it was subsequently reattached to the page with a straight pin.
Offsetting, a characteristic of iron gall ink corrosion, is present throughout the manuscript. The offsetting pattern indicates that at some point after the composition process, the bifolia were opened and laid flat on each other, then folded together to form temporary gatherings. The manuscript was put into three such groups, comprising pages 1–60, 61–92, and 93–100. The bifolia were subsequently reordered to create a normal pagination sequence. The purpose of these temporary gatherings is unknown. Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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’s fair copy of the history has an offsetting pattern comparable to the draft, though pages 9–20 and 81–88 bear sequential offsetting, meaning these pages were not overlaid as elsewhere. The fair copy ends after one hundred pages and does not include the material on pages 101–102 of the draft copy.
Howard Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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’s handwriting style varies throughout both the draft copy and the fair copy. The handwriting varies to such an extent that the manuscripts could be mistaken for the work of two scribes. However, evidence such as letter combinations, letter formation within words and lines of text, and consistent misspelling of specific words indicates that both manuscripts were inscribed entirely by Coray.
The draft copy was created from both dictation and copying. Evidence of dictation, including absence or excess of punctuation as originally inscribed (the latter possibly signaling pauses by the speaker) and misspellings indicative of misheard phonemes, is found on manuscript pages 1–8, 17–22, 27–28, 57–58, and 77–78. At other points in the manuscript, Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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faithfully reproduced paragraph breaks and end-of-sentence blank spaces occurring in the large history volume (his source for the draft), suggesting that these portions of the draft were copied rather than dictated. Where the blank spaces signal breaks in the narrative, they have been transcribed herein as paragraph breaks.
At an unknown time, the draft and the fair copy were gathered with other papers, wrapped in brown paper, and tied with string. The other papers in the bundle included the “Book of Commandments and Revelations” (Revelation Book 1), notes on JS’s boyhood leg operation in the handwriting of 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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, and historical material by Edward Partridge

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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, which was situated between the draft and the fair copy of Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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’s work.3

Revelation Book 1 is reproduced in JSP, MRB:3–405. Portions of the Partridge materials were published in the 1839–1840 Times and Seasons series “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” reproduced in JSP, H2:206–229.  


It is unclear how or why these different records became associated with each other. At some point, a cream-colored slip of paper measuring 3⅞ × 8 inches (5 × 20 cm) was attached to the bundle. The slip contains a note written in black and red ink by Historian’s Office clerk Robert L. Campbell and signed in red ink by Howard Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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: “Two copies of the first hundred pages of Dft. Mss. History of Joseph Smith[.] These hundred pages of History were written by me, under Joseph the Prophet’s dictation. Dr Miller helped me a little in writing the same. (Historians office, 1869.) H. Coray”. This note was taped over a penciled notation in the handwriting of Joseph Fielding Smith: “Book of Commandments MS Early history (H. Coray) MS”. Smith began working at the Church Historian’s Office in 1901. Other filing notations were made in the mid-1980s to identify and distinguish the various documents in the bundle.
The custodial history of Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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’s two copies of the 1838–circa 1841 history is uncertain between their creation and the 1846 Latter-day Saint exodus from Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, though they likely remained in the possession of JS, his office staff, and subsequent church leadership. The Church Historian’s Office inventory from 1846 lists “Rough Book.— Revelation History &c.,” possibly referring to the grouping of Revelation Book 1, Coray’s draft and fair copy, and miscellaneous historical material.4

“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1], Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.  


A “Ms. History of Jos. Smith (2 copies of the first 100 pages)” is listed with the manuscript “Book of Commandments and Revelations” in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from 1858.5

“Contents of the Historian and Recorder’s Office. G. S. L. City July 1858,” [5], Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.  


Both history copies were presumably among manuscript material in the possession of church historian and recorder Joseph Fielding Smith, who held that office from 1921 to 1970, since they became part of the First Presidency’s papers when Smith became president in 1970.6

A 1970 inventory confirms that material authored by Howard Coray was grouped with Revelation Book 1 and was in the possession of Joseph Fielding Smith later in his life. (“Inventory of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Safe,” 23 May 1970, First Presidency, General Administration Files, CHL.)  


Both copies of the history were then transferred, along with Revelation Book 1 and the other historical materials in the bundle, from the First Presidency’s office to the Church History Library in 2005.

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