53992719

History, circa 1841, fair copy

Accordingly I retired into the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a clear and beutiful 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 by some power, which entirely overcame me, and had such astonishing influence over me, as to bind my tounge so as to deprive me of speech. Thick darkness gathered around me, and for a time it seemed that I were doomed to destruction. 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 in despair and abandoning myself to destruction; not imaginary, but to the influence of some being from the unseen world, who had such marvellous power as this; just at this moment of alarm, I saw a pillar of light over my head, the brightness of which, exceeded that of the sun; and 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 dify all description,) standing above in the air. One of them called me by name, said (pointing to the other,) this is my beloved son, hear him. My object was to ascertain 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 beutiful day, early in the spring of Eigh teen 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 tounge so as to deprive  me of speech. Thick darkness darkness gathered  around me, and for a time it seemed that I were  doomed to destruction. But exerting every power  energy to call upon God, to deliver me out of the  power of this enemy; at the very moment when  I was sinking in despair and abandoning myself  to destruction; not imaginary, but to the influence  of some being from the unseen world, who had such  marvellous power as this; just at this moment of  alarm, I saw a pillar of light over my head,  the brightness of which, exceeded that  of the sun; which <and> 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 dify all  description,) standing above in the air. One of  them called me by name, said (pointing to the other,)  this is my beloved son, hear him. My object was  to ascertain 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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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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was a recent convert to Mormonism when he visited 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 1840. There he was immediately engaged by JS as a clerk at his office. Coray later reminisced in his autobiography that after he completed his initial assignment, JS requested that he “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.”
At the time 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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received his charge, JS’s and the church’s “history” had been an ongoing project for a decade. Several early attempts had apparently fallen short and been abandoned. However, JS and 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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’s 1838 effort initiated with 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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, and JS’s ensuing collaboration with 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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, had begun to bear fruit. Unfortunately, Mulholland had died 3 November 1839 after inscribing fifty-nine pages of text in a large record book subsequently designated as volume “A-1” of the manuscript history of the church. 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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was appointed “general church clerk” in October 1840 and succeeded Mulholland as scribe for A-1.
Meanwhile, JS assigned 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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and 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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to draft additional historical material, using sources JS provided. Woolley eventually withdrew from the project and was replaced by a “Dr. Miller,” who remains unidentified. Their work evidently resulted in two different kinds of drafts. According to Coray’s later reminiscences, the first grew out of instructions “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.” No manuscript matching this description has survived, but their work may have provided the basis for material subsequently copied into the history by other scribes.
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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did, however, produce an edited version of the narrative inscribed in the large history volume (A-1). According to Coray’s later account, JS was directly involved in this reworking of the history, reading aloud and dictating revisions from the large volume. Two drafts of this work have survived. However, the main history endeavor continued in the large history volume, and there is no indication that either draft was used in subsequent compiling or in publication of the history. Though a short-lived effort, Coray’s manuscript represents the intention to revise the history, suggesting that JS had not yet settled on a final historical product even after he had directed scribes to begin inscribing the history in the large, more permanent volume in 1839.
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 material recorded in A-1 which, though minor, show an intention to refine the story. 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 and employed more moderate language in describing opposition, avoiding the word “mob” and glossing over accounts of violence.
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 on JS’s history was not 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 lightly edited draft 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 large history volume, and a fair or clean copy of that material that incorporated the revisions Coray made in his earlier draft. The first draft was published in volume 1 of the Histories series of the The Joseph Smith Papers. (See History Drafts, 1838—ca. 1841.) The second or “fair copy” of the two drafts is the document herein featured. An inscription in Coray’s handwriting at the bottom of the first page of this document identifies it as the second copy. In 1869 Coray signed a statement that was later attached to the paper wrapper that enclosed the 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.”
For more information about the relationship between the history drafts, see Introduction to Early Drafts of History, 1838–1856.

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