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

who lived in Chenango County, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver  mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquahanah [Susquehanna] County, State of  Pensylvania, and had previous to my hiring with him been digging in order if possible to  discover the mine.24

According to Oliver Cowdery, Stowell hoped to discover a substantial quantity of coins said to have been minted by Spaniards from ore they had mined in the vicinity and left in a “subterraneous vault.” (Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:201.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

After I went to live with <him> he took me among the rest of his hands to dig  for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month without success in  our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after  it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money digger.25

JS acknowledged receiving wages of fourteen dollars per month from Stowell for his assistance in treasure seeking. Additionally, JS and his father purportedly were parties to a contract regarding shares in the distribution of any valuables they found.a Several of JS’s neighbors recounted his participation in treasure-seeking activities between 1823 and 1826 in locations ranging from the Palmyra-Manchester area to Harmony.b
Comprehensive Works Cited


a[JS], Editorial, Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 42–44; Isaac Hale et al., Agreement, Harmony, PA, 1 Nov. 1825, in “An Interesting Document,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 23 Apr. 1880, [4].

bTrial proceedings, Bainbridge, NY, 20 Mar. 1826, State of New York v. JS, [J.P. Ct. 1826], in “The Original Prophet,” Fraser’s Magazine, Feb. 1873, 229–230; “Mormonism—No. II,” Tiffany’s Monthly, July 1859, 164; see also Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 48–52.


Elders’ Journal of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Kirtland, OH, Oct.–Nov. 1837; Far West, MO, July–Aug. 1838.

Salt Lake Daily Tribune. Salt Lake City. 1871–.

“The Original Prophet. By a Visitor to Salt Lake City.” Fraser’s Magazine 7, no. 28 (Feb. 1873): 225–235.

“Mormonism,” Tiffany’s Monthly 5 (May 1859): 46–51; (July 1859): 119–121; (Aug. 1859): 163–170.

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

During the time that I was thus employed I was put to board with a Mr Isaac Hale of that  place, ’Twas there that I first saw my wife, (his daughter) Emma Hale. On the eighteenth of  January Eighteen hundred and twenty seven we were married while yet I was employed in the  service of Mr Stoal. Owing to my still continuing to assert that I had seen a vision, persecu tion still followed me, and so much was my wife’s father excited, that he was greatly opp osed to our being married,26

Isaac Hale wrote later that he told JS his reasons for refusing to consent to the marriage, “some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve,” apparently referring to JS’s involvement with treasure seeking. (Isaac Hale, Affidavit, 20 Mar. 1834, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 263.)
Comprehensive Works Cited



Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.

in so much that he would not suffer us to be married at his  house, I was therefore under the necessity of taking her elsewhere, so we went, and were  married at Mr St the house of Mr Stoal <Squire Tarbill [Zechariah Tarble].27

Porter, “Study of the Origins,” 75, 86n40.
Comprehensive Works Cited



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).

in South Bainbridge. Chenango County. New York>. Immediately after my marriage I left  Mr  Stoals, and went to my father’s and farmed with him that season.
At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummin and the  breastplate, In <On> the twenty second day of September, One thousand Eight hundred and  twenty seven, having went as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were  deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge that I  should be responsible for them. That if I should let them go carelessly or <through> any neglect  of mine I should be cut off, but that if I would use all my endeavours to preserve  them untill <he> (the messenger) called should call for them, they should be protected.
I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe  and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required  at my hand, he would call for them, for no sooner was it known that I had them than  the most strenious exertions were used to get them from me.28

Lucy Mack Smith related that JS hid the plates in the woods the day he obtained them and that a few days later, after retrieving them from their hiding place, he was attacked three times while carrying them home. Subsequently, she wrote, two more unsuccessful attempts were made to take the plates from the Smith property in Manchester. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 5, [6], [12]; bk. 6, [2].)
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).

Every stratagem that could  be resorted invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more  bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continualy to get them  from me if possible but by the wisdom of God they remained safe in my hands untill I  had accomplished by them what was required at my hand, when according to arrangement  the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him and he has them in his charge un till this day, being the Second day of May, One thousand Eight hundred and thirty eight.29

JS worked on the initial composition of this text in late April and early May 1838, and James Mulholland incorporated the 1838 work into Draft 2 in 1839. (See JS, Journal, 30 Apr.4 May 1838.)  

The excitement however still continued, and rumour with her thousand tongues was  all the time employed in circulating tales about my father’s family and about myself.  If I were to relate a thousandth part of them it would fill up volumes. The persecution  however became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester and  going with my wife <to> Susquahanah County in the State of Pensyllvania.30

Lucy Mack Smith indicated that in response to a request from JS and Emma Smith to the Hales, Emma’s brother Alva Hale came to Manchester to help the couple move to Harmony, Pennsylvania. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [6].)
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).

While preparing  to start (being very poor and the persecution so heavy upon us that there was no probability  that we would ever be otherwise) in the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a  Gentleman by name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars [p. 8]
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.