53992718

History, circa 1841, draft [Draft 3]

to unitedly ask of the Lord what we so much desired and to our unspeakable satisfaction we realized a fulfillment of our Saviour’s promise ask and ye Shall receive Seek and ye shall find Knock and it shall be opened unto you; for we had been engaged in fervent prayer but a short time when the word of the Lord came unto us commanding me to ordain Oliver Cowdry

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 be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ and that he should ordain— me to the same office and then ordain others as it should from time to time be made known unto us.
We were commanded however to defer our ordination until our bretheren who had been and should be baptized were assembled together when we might have their sanction to such an ordination and ascertain if they were willing to receive us as spiritual teachers. If so we were to bless bread break and eat it with them to take wine bless and drink it with them then proceed to ordain each other according to commandment and such others as the Spirit should dictate and then lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost upon all whom we had previously baptized doing all things in the name of the Lord 1 The following Revelation will further illustrate the nature of this priest hood
1 Now behold because of the thing which you my servant Oliver Cowdry

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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have desired to know of me I give unto you these words— Behold I have manifested unto you by my spirit in many instances that the things which you have written are true wherefore you know that they are true And if you know that they are true behold I have given unto you a commandment that you rely upon the things which are written for in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church my Gospel and my rock. the gates of hell [p. 49]
to unitedly ask of the Lord what we so much  desired and to our unspeakable satisfaction we  realized a fulfillment of our Saviour’s promise  ask and ye Shall receive Seek and ye shall  find Knock and it shall be opened unto you;  for we had been engaged in fervent prayer but  a short time when the word of the Lord came unto  us commanding me to ordain Oliver Cowdry

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  be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ and  that he should ordain— me to the same office and  then ordain others as it should from time to time  be made known unto us.
We were comman ded however to defer our ordination until our br etheren who had been and should be baptized  were assembled together when we <might> must have their  sanction <to> such an ordination and ascertain if  they were willing to receive us as spiritual tea chers. if so If so we were to bless bread  break and eat it with them to take wine bless  and drink it with them then proceed to ordain  each other according to commandment and su ch others as the Spirit should dictate and then lay  <on> hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost upon all whom  we had previously baptized doing all things in  the name of the Lord 1 The following Revel ation will further illustrate the nature of this  priest hood
1 Behold 1 Now behold because of  the thing which you my servant Oliver Cowdry

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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has <have>  desired to know of me I give unto you the<se> words—  Behold I have manifested unto you by my spirit in  many instances that the things which you have written  are true wherefore you know <that> they are true And if you  know that they are true behold I have given unto you  a commandment that you rely upon the things <which are> written for  in them are all things written concerning the foundation of  my church my Gospel and my rock. the gates of hell [p. 49]
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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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, a recent convert to Mormonism from Perry, Illinois, met JS while visiting 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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in April 1840. In his autobiography, written in the early 1880s, Coray recalled the clerical work he undertook after meeting JS:
The Prophet, after looking at me a little and asking me some questions, wished to know whether it would be convenient for me to come to 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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, and assist, or rather clerk for him. As this was what I desired, I engaged at once to do so; and, in about 2 weeks thereafter, I was busily employed in his office, copying a huge pile of letters into a book—correspondence with the Elders as well as other persons, that had been accumulating for some time. [. . .]
I finished the job of copying letters. I was then requested by bro. Joseph to undertake, in connection with E[dwin] D. Woolley

27 June 1807–14 Oct. 1881. Farmer, coal miner, cattleman, builder, merchant. Born in East Bradford Township, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. Son of John Woolley and Rachel Dilworth. Raised in Quaker faith. Married Mary Wichersham, 24 Mar. 1831, in Columbiana Co...

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, the compilation of the Church History. This I felt to decline, as writing books was something, in which I had had no experience. But bro. Joseph insisted on my undertaking it, saying, if I would do so, it would prove a blessing to me as long as I should live. His persuasive arguments prevailed; and accordingly in a short time, bro. Woolley and myself, were busily engaged in compiling the church history. The Prophet was to furnish all the materials; and our business, was not only to combine, and arrange in cronological order, but to spread out or amplify not a little, in as good historical style as may be. Bro. Woolley’s education, not being equal to mine, he was to get the matter furnished him in as good shape as he could; and my part was to go after him, and fix his up as well as I could, making such improvement and such corrections in his grammar and style as I might deem necessary. On seeing his work, I at once discovered, that I had no small job on my hands, as he knew nothing whatever of grammar; however, I concluded to make the best I could of a bad job, and thus went to work upsetting and recasting; as well a[s] casting out not a little. Seeing how his work was handled, he became considerably discouraged; and rather took offence at the way and manner in which I was doing things, and consequently soon withdrew from the business.
Immediately after bro. Woolley

27 June 1807–14 Oct. 1881. Farmer, coal miner, cattleman, builder, merchant. Born in East Bradford Township, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. Son of John Woolley and Rachel Dilworth. Raised in Quaker faith. Married Mary Wichersham, 24 Mar. 1831, in Columbiana Co...

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left, I succeeded in obtaining the services of Dr. Miller, who had written for the press, and was considerably accustomed to this kind of business. Now I got on much better. I continued until we used up all the historical matter furnished us by the Prophet. And, as peculiar circumstances prevented his giving attention to his part of the business we of necessity discontinued our labors, and never resumed this kind of business again.1

Coray, Reminiscences, 17, 19–20.  


Although 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 copying work in JS’s 1838–1843 letterbook and other records has long been noted,2

See Jessee, “Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” 452–453, 463.  


no manuscript evidence of his work on JS’s history was located until 2005, when two manuscripts in Coray’s hand were identified among documents in the possession of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These two manuscripts consisted of a new draft (here designated Draft 3) of the material 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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and 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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had written in the first sixty-one pages in JS’s large history volume, and a fair copy that incorporated the revisions Coray made in his earlier draft.
However, 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 autobiographical recollection of his work on JS’s history does not seem to match the two manuscripts identified in 2005. Whereas the autobiography refers to “writing books” and to assembling in chronological order a “compilation” of “materials” furnished by JS, the two extant Coray manuscripts are lightly edited copies of work already drafted by 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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and 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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in a single original source. Furthermore, the existing manuscripts do not contain the handwriting of Edwin D. Woolley

27 June 1807–14 Oct. 1881. Farmer, coal miner, cattleman, builder, merchant. Born in East Bradford Township, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. Son of John Woolley and Rachel Dilworth. Raised in Quaker faith. Married Mary Wichersham, 24 Mar. 1831, in Columbiana Co...

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. In producing Draft 3, Coray made some editorial changes to the history, but his work could not be described as “writing books” and certainly not as a “compilation.” Coray’s autobiographical account of his work more likely refers to a different, probably earlier assignment for which no related document has been located. Perhaps the assignment given to Coray, Woolley, and “Dr. Miller” was to create rough draft notes comparable to the outline prepared by Mulholland in Draft 1 and those later prepared by 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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and successors as work on the multivolume manuscript history continued. Coray indicated that work began on the compilation task in about December 1840 and terminated when they exhausted their supply of documents from JS.3

Coray, Reminiscences, 19. In Coray’s account, he was assigned to the history after he completed an assignment to copy correspondence. The last two items in Coray’s handwriting found in JS’s letterbook were a 19 October 1840 letter and an undated letter most likely written in early December 1840. (JS Letterbook 2, pp. 188–196.)  


In 1869 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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signed a statement that was later attached to the paper wrapper that enclosed his two drafts: “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).”4

The identity of “Dr. Miller,” mentioned in this note and in Coray’s autobiography, is unknown. It is possible Coray misidentified the “doctor” who assisted in writing the history. (Coray, Reminiscences, 19.)  


If by “dictation” Coray meant that he transcribed as JS spoke, it seems more likely to be a description of JS’s involvement in the history draft presented here than of the role JS played in the compilation project Coray described in his autobiography. In the latter project, according to Coray, JS only supplied materials and gave general instructions. If the statement was accurate in that sense, it suggests that JS read aloud from Draft 2 in the large manuscript volume, directing editorial changes as he read. Several passages of Draft 3 contain evidence of dictation, but the history itself includes no indication of who was dictating the text.
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 history draft includes departures from the earlier drafts which, though minor, show an intention to refine the story by imposing certain editorial preferences. Coray deleted passages that seemed to be defensive, to plead the cause of the Saints, or to play on the reader’s sympathies—a list of grievances, for example, or complaints against individuals. The draft often softened wording about the persecution of JS, as can be seen in the omission of the first paragraph of Draft 2. Also, whereas the latter specifies that Methodists and Presbyterians treated JS and other Saints without respect, Coray’s draft avoided naming the denominations. Additionally, Draft 3 employs more moderate language in describing opposition to JS 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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, avoiding the word “mob” and glossing over accounts of violence. Many times narrative details that added verisimilitude to previous versions were deleted. For example, when Coray copied the section recounting Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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’s carrying a sample of Book of Mormon characters to New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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, he omitted details such as Harris placing the certificate of authenticity from Charles Anthon

17 Nov. 1797–29 July 1867. College professor, lawyer. Born in New York City. Son of George Christian Anthon and Genevieve Judot. Attended Columbia College, 1811–1815, in New York City. Studied law; admitted to bar, 1819. Adjunct professor of Greek and Latin...

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in his pocket, then retrieving it at Anthon’s request.
The document presented in this volume is the first of two manuscripts 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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completed. This earlier draft shows the original creation as well as revisions Coray made before inscribing the second, cleaner copy. A four-page partial copy, corresponding to text on pages 13–16 of the draft and the fair copy, is also extant.5

See Revelation, July 1828, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 3]. The four-page fragment implements corrections made to both the draft and fair copies, but the punctuation more closely matches the latter. Unlike page endings in the fair copy, the page endings in the fragment do not match those of the draft copy.  


The Coray manuscripts exhibit notable variations in handwriting style. A careful comparison of the style shifts, spelling idiosyncrasies, and letter formations, however, reveal that both the earlier draft and fair copy are entirely in Coray’s handwriting. His work is clearly based on Draft 2; Coray’s versions could not have been written before Draft 2 because he incorporated emendations made in the latter.6

Examples of emendations made in the large history volume that also appear in Coray’s adaptation include revisions regarding JS’s marriage to Emma Hale; Martin Harris’s explanation to Anthon that the plates were sealed and that he was forbidden to bring them, and Mulholland’s loose note, later pinned into the large history volume, giving JS’s description of the hill where the gold plates were obtained.  


The fair copy of Coray’s work includes few changes other than those Coray marked in his rough draft, and none are of a substantive nature.
For more information about the relationship between this draft and Drafts 1 and 2, see Introduction to Early Drafts of History, 1838–1856. Note that the transcript includes only annotation that relates to textual aspects of this draft; Draft 2 carries the historical annotation.

Facts