History, circa June 1839–circa 1841 [Draft 2]

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James Mulholland handwriting begins.  

Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation  by evil disposed and designing persons in relation to the rise and progress of the  Church of Latter day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors  thereof to militate against its character as a church, and its progress in the world;  I have been induced to write this history so as to disabuse the publick mind, and put  all enquirers after truth into possession of the facts as they have transpired in relation  both to myself and the Church as far as I have such facts in possession.
In this history I will present the various events in relation to this Church in truth  and righteousness as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now the  eighth year since the organization of said Church.
I was born in the  year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and five, on the twenty third day of  December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, State of Vermont.1

A later redaction here by Willard Richards points to “Note A,” which he penned by December 1842 on pages 131–132 of the manuscript book. The note describes JS’s contraction of typhoid fever as a child, a leg infection that ensued, and the operation he underwent to remove pieces of the bone. The note also recounts the difficult journey JS made with his mother and siblings to join his father, who had relocated to Palmyra, New York.  

My father  Joseph Smith Senior2

A later redaction here by Willard Richards points to “Note E page 2. adenda.” The relevant note is actually note C, which was written in the handwriting of Charles Wandell in the “Addenda” section following page 553 of the manuscript book. The note provides birth information for JS’s paternal ancestors.  

left the State of Vermont and moved to Palmyra, Ontario,  (now Wayne) County, in the State of New York when I was in my tenth year.3

Joseph Smith Sr. left Vermont in late summer or early fall 1816, when JS was ten years old. The rest of the Smith family joined him in Palmyra in early 1817, shortly after JS turned eleven. (Palmyra, NY, Record of Highway Taxes, 1817, Copies of Old Village Records, 1793–1867, microfilm 812,869, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 3, [3]–[6]; JS History, vol. A-1, 131–132.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

Smith, Lucy Mack. History, 1844–1845. 18 books. CHL. Also available in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001).

JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). CHL. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

In about four years after my father’s arrival at Palmyra, he moved with his fa mily into Manchester in the same County of Ontario.4

Lucy Mack Smith stated that two years after they arrived in Palmyra, or by 1819, the Smiths settled on the Palmyra side of the Palmyra-Farmington township line and began clearing land for a farm on the Farmington side. The eastern part of Farmington, which included the Smith farm, was divided off and became Manchester Township in 1822. The Smiths did not actually move across the township line onto their Manchester farm until they completed their frame house in late 1825. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 3, [7]–[8]; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 32–34; Porter, “Study of the Origins,” 38–43, 76–77.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Smith, Lucy Mack. History, 1844–1845. 18 books. CHL. Also available in Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001).

Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. With the assistance of Jed Woodworth. New York: Knopf, 2005.

Porter, Larry C. “A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1971. Also available as A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2000).

His family consisting of eleven  souls, namely, My Father Joseph Smith, My Mother Lucy Smith whose name  previous to her marriage was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack, my brothers  Alvin (who is now dead) Hyrum, Myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don  Carloss [Carlos], and my Sisters Soph[r]onia, Cathrine [Katharine] and Lucy.
Sometime in  the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where  we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with  the Methodist,5

Methodists held camp meetings at Palmyra in June 1818 and at Oaks Corners, near Vienna and within six miles of Palmyra, in July 1819. (Latimer, Three Brothers, 12; Peck, Early Methodism, 502; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 128–130.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Latimer, E. The Three Brothers: Sketches of the Lives of Rev. Aurora Seager, Rev. Micah Seager, Rev. Schuyler Seager, D. D. New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1880.

Peck, George. Early Methodism Within the Bounds of the Old Genesee Conference from 1788 to 1828; or, The First Forty Years of Wesleyan Evangelism in Northern Pennsylvania, Central and Western New York, and Canada. . . . New York: Carlton and Porter, 1860.

Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.

but soon became general among all the sects in that region of  country, indeed the whole district of Country seemed affected by it and great [p. [1]]
In addition to working on an initial draft of JS’s history in summer 1839, James Mulholland devoted some of his time to inscribing the history compiled to that point into a large manuscript book. He began this new draft of the history in the back of the volume in which the 1834–1836 history had been inscribed, turning it over so the back cover became the front cover. Serving as principal sources for this version of the history were the manuscript that JS, Sidney Rigdon, and George W. Robinson had created in Missouri in 1838, and Draft 1. Textual evidence that the nonextant 1838 material was used when composing Draft 2 is found in the second paragraph of the latter, which situates the composition in “the eighth year since the [1830] organization of said Church,” and a later passage that gives the date of composition as “the Second day of May, One thousand Eight hundred and thirty eight.”1

JS History, vol. A-1, 1, 8.
Comprehensive Works Cited



JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). CHL. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

Starting at 15 May 1829, the remainder of the text in Mulholland’s handwriting is a copy of Draft 1. Although the first seven pages of Draft 1 match Draft 2 quite closely, the two versions are markedly less similar after that point. This contrast may indicate that an intermediate draft of the history was made beginning at about page 7 of Draft 1 and that Mulholland copied the text from this intermediate draft, not directly from Draft 1.
Mulholland inscribed pages 1–59 in the large history volume. After his death in November 1839, Robert B. Thompson served as scribe for the history. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Thompson’s inscription, totaling only sixteen pages, in the large history volume. The transcript of Draft 2 presented herein ends on page 61 of the manuscript volume, after the first two pages of Thompson’s inscription, to correspond with the end of Draft 3; the other fourteen pages in his hand give a biographical sketch of Sidney Rigdon, including a brief narrative of his conversion to Mormonism. Because the majority of the pages in Thompson’s hand deal with Rigdon’s life before joining the church, Rigdon was likely consulted for this portion of the narrative.
The opening statement of the draft in the large manuscript volume refers to defamation and persecution to which the Latter-day Saints and JS in particular had been subjected, and it characterizes such maltreatment as one motivation for telling the story of the church and its founder: “Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil disposed and designing men,” JS proclaimed, the history was designed to “disabuse the publick mind, and put all enquirers after truth into possession of the facts” and set the record straight “in relation both to myself and the Church.” This introduction was written not long after JS had fled Kirtland, Ohio, for Far West, Missouri, under threat of several lawsuits; thus, when he began the history in summer 1838 he was especially motivated to justify himself and the church in light of what he considered a long history of persecution. Such an introduction may also have been written as a more general response to the accumulated negative reports transmitted orally and in the press beginning in JS’s youth and continuing throughout the 1830s.2

Although the history was begun in 1838, it is possible that the preamble in the first paragraph was added in 1839 when James Mulholland wrote Draft 2. If so, the concern with negative publicity may also have been a reaction to the widespread news of the Mormon conflict in Missouri in fall 1838 andJS’s imprisonment, or to the growing number of publications critical of JS and the church since 1838. See, for example, Origen Bacheler, Mormonism Exposed, Internally and Externally (New York, 1838), and La Roy Sunderland’s eight-part series published in the Methodist Zion’s Watchman from 13 January to 3 March 1838 and republished in pamphlet form as Mormonism Exposed and Refuted (New York: Piercy & Reid, 1838).  

After briefly narrating JS’s birth and early years, Draft 2 proceeds immediately to the circumstances that culminated in his first vision of Deity in the spring of 1820, followed closely by the visitations of an angel in 1823 and JS’s commission to retrieve a sacred record buried nearby. JS’s religious mission is the primary focus; his personal affairs, like his marriage to Emma Smith, whom he met while employed in digging for a rumored silver mine, are discussed only briefly and in the context of that mission.
Following JS’s recitation of his retrieval of the ancient record, the beginnings of his translation thereof, and the loss of the translation manuscript, James Mulholland began including the full texts of JS’s revelations, which became a major element of the account. The revelations were integrated into the history starting with July 1828, and they generally appear in chronological order. Mulholland copied the revelations into the history from the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, rather than from earlier versions. Many of JS’s early revelations underwent significant updating and expansion in order to suit rapidly changing circumstances after the organization of the Church of Christ in 1830, so the inclusion of the 1835 version of revelations into a narrative covering events before 1835 introduced numerous anachronisms. Significant instances of anachronism are identified in the annotation of the text herein.
Additionally, the narrative itself, composed beginning in 1838, necessarily reflects the perspective of JS and his collaborators at the time of its production, thus inadvertently introducing terminology and concepts that were not operative a decade earlier in the period the narrative describes. Examples include using later priesthood nomenclature such as “Aaronic” and “Melchizedek” and calling the church JS established “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” a name not designated until 1838. Such usage makes it difficult to trace the details of the unfolding of church governance and doctrine in the faith’s dynamic early years. Readers wishing to more fully understand these issues may consult the revelation texts and other documents found in the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers.
While much of the narrative is anchored by documents, particularly published revelations, JS and his associates were dependent upon unrecorded memories for the balance of the historical account found in Draft 2. JS used collective memory and oral recollections of fellow participants, such as Newel Knight, to reconstruct the events of early church history. Such reminiscences formed the basis for not only factual details in the history but likely for quotations as well, such as long portions of the report of the 1830 trial proceedings in South Bainbridge and Colesville, New York. JS evidently had to rely on his own memory and that of others to provide some extensive quotations, such as the words of the angel Moroni during his first appearance to JS and the remarks scholars in New York City made to Martin Harris when he showed them characters copied from the gold plates. Lists of persons baptized may have come from records no longer extant or possibly from eyewitnesses consulted for the production of the history.
The manuscript itself was a dynamic text, emended at several times by various scribes. Revisions made in the hand of James Mulholland at the time of inscription or shortly after are included in the transcript herein. Later changes in the hand of Willard Richards, made beginning in December 1842, are not incorporated into the transcript, although substantial changes are described in annotation. Thus, the transcript of Draft 2 presents the history in an early stage, before changes were made by Richards and others, and it approximates the state of the history when Howard Coray used it for a new history draft in about 1841.
For more information about the relationship between this draft and Drafts 1 and 3, see Introduction to Early Drafts of History, 1838–1856.