53992718

History, circa 1841, draft [Draft 3]

that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken And we give our names unto the world to witness unto the world to witness unto the world that which we have seen and we lie not God bearing witness of it.
Christian Whitmer

18 Jan. 1798–27 Nov. 1835. Shoemaker. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Anna (Anne) Schott, 22 Feb. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. Ensign in New York militia, 1825. Constable of Fayette, Seneca Co., 1828–1829. Member...

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Hiram Page

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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Jacob Whitmer

27 Jan. 1800–21 Apr. 1856. Shoemaker, farmer. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Elizabeth Schott, 29 Sept. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS...

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Jos. Smith sen

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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Peter Whitmer [Jr.]

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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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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Saml. H Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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After this we continued to translate when not attending to the numerous inquirers that now began to visit us some seeking for truth others desiring to confound us with many questions Among the latter were severel learned priests who came to dispute the truth of the word of God. I say dispute because they deny the power of Godliness as it is taught us in his word; however the Lord continued to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us
And as often as we had need he gave us in that moment what to say Although unlearned and inexperienced in religious controversies we were enable to confound the learned rabbies of the day and at the same time convince the honest in heart that we had obtained through the mercy of God the true and everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ so that daily we administered the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins to such as believed. We now became anxious that the promise of the Melchisedec priesthood which holds the authority of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost given us by the angel that confirred upon us the Aronick priesthood should be fulfilled. Having for some time made this a subject of prayer we finally met [p. 48]
that the said Smith has got the plates of which  we have spoken And we give our names unto  the world to witness unto the world <to witness unto the world> that which  we have seen and we lie not God bearing  witness of it.
Christian Whitmer

18 Jan. 1798–27 Nov. 1835. Shoemaker. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Anna (Anne) Schott, 22 Feb. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. Ensign in New York militia, 1825. Constable of Fayette, Seneca Co., 1828–1829. Member...

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Hiram Page

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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Jacob Whitmer

27 Jan. 1800–21 Apr. 1856. Shoemaker, farmer. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Elizabeth Schott, 29 Sept. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS...

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Jos. Smith sen

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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Peter Whitmer [Jr.]

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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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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Saml. H Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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After this we continued to translate when  not attending to the numerous inquirers that now  began to visit us some seeking for truth others de siring to confound us with many questions Among  the latter were severel learned priests who came  to dispute the truth of the word of God. I say  dispute because they deny the power of Godliness  as it is taught us in his word; however the Lord  continued to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us
And as often as we had need he gave us  in that moment what to say Although un learned and inexperienced in religious con troversies we were enabled to confound the lear ned rabbies of the day and at the same ti me convince the honest in heart that we had  obtained through the mercy of God the true  and everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ so  that daily we administered the ordinance  of baptism for the remission of sins to such  as believed. We now <now> became anxious the that  the promise of the Melchisedec priesthood which  holds the authority for <of of> the laying on of hands  for the gift of the Holy Ghost given us by the  angel that confirred upon <us> the Aronick priest hood should <now> be fulfilled. Having for some time  made this a subject of prayer we finally met [p. 48]
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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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