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History, circa June–October 1839 [Draft 1]

The history drafted in 1839 was inscribed by James Mulholland, who began writing for JS on 3 September 1838. In addition to his work on the history, Mulholland served as a scribe for patriarchal blessing records, JS’s second letterbook, and JS’s journals. After an interruption of his clerical work brought on by JS’s Missouri imprisonment, Mulholland “commenced again to write for the Church” on 22 April 1839.1

Mulholland, Journal, 22 Apr. 1839.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Mulholland, James. Journal, Apr.–Oct. 1839. In Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

JS’s journal noted that JS “began to study & prepare to dictate history” on 10 June and that he dictated history while Mulholland wrote on 11–14 June.2

JS, Journal, 10, 11, and 12–14 June 1839; see also Mulholland, Journal, 10–15 June 1839.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Mulholland, James. Journal, Apr.–Oct. 1839. In Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

During JS’s 15–26 June absence from Commerce while visiting his brothers William and Don Carlos, Mulholland remained in Commerce, “writing history” on three days and “studying for history” for part of another day.3

Mulholland, Journal, 17–20 June 1839.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Mulholland, James. Journal, Apr.–Oct. 1839. In Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

Work done by Mulholland in JS’s absence may have included organizing sources from which to compile history, drafting the history itself from other sources, or making a clean draft of the history, as explained in the next section. After JS returned, he dictated history to Mulholland on three additional days.4

JS, Journal, 3 and 4–5 July 1839; Mulholland, Journal, 3–6 July 1839.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Mulholland, James. Journal, Apr.–Oct. 1839. In Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

Mulholland mentioned in his journal spending several more days writing for the church, without specifying which project he was working on.5

See Mulholland’s journal entries from July to October 1839.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Mulholland, James. Journal, Apr.–Oct. 1839. In Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

Because the history produced by JS and Sidney Rigdon in 1838 is not extant, it is impossible to know the exact relationship between that work and the extant versions of JS’s history presented here. It is probable, however, that Draft 1 represents the resumption of the historical narrative at the point where the now-lost 1838 manuscript ended. The extant draft picks up the narrative at the baptism of JS and Oliver Cowdery and covers the publication of the Book of Mormon, the organization of the Church of Christ, and events later in 1830. The narrative covering mid-April through August 1830, much of which involved Newel Knight as either a participant or an eyewitness, is relatively detailed. It was likely during work on this portion of the history that, according to JS’s journal, JS was “assisted by Br Newel Knight.”6

JS, Journal, 4–5 July 1839.  

 
When James Mulholland created the twenty-five-page Draft 1, it appears he began with an outline, identifying revelations, events, and other pieces of information and leaving blank space between these notations to be filled in later with connective narrative supplied by JS, Knight, or other sources. Beginning on the second page, Mulholland named particular revelation texts from the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants that were to be inserted into the history, but he did not copy the full texts from the Doctrine and Covenants into this draft. The revelations served as the initial threads around which JS wove his dictated narrative. Beginning with page 9 of Draft 1, following the notation to insert the title page of the Book of Mormon, the inscription pattern becomes much more complex. It appears that at this point, Mulholland began to write in dates of conferences, names of individuals baptized, and other key details, leaving large blank spaces between. This procedure for creating the history was not without drawbacks. When Mulholland came back and composed text or transcribed JS’s dictation to fill in the details, the narrative sometimes exceeded the reserved space, forcing Mulholland to squeeze extra lines of text onto the page. At other times the inserted narrative fell short of filling in all the blank space set aside for it. False starts are evident throughout much of the middle portion of the draft history.
JS’s work on the history was interrupted in early July 1839 when a malaria epidemic in Commerce and vicinity required JS and Emma Smith to attend to the sick for an extended period.7

See JS, Journal, 8 July–28 Sept. 1839.  

 
Mulholland continued to work on JS’s history until at least 26 July. Many of the entries in his personal journal that mention “writing for the Church” may refer to additional work on the history. Mulholland’s tenure as a scribe was cut short when he died on 3 November 1839, possibly the victim of a stroke.8

Emma Smith, Nauvoo, IL, to JS, Washington DC, 6 Dec. 1839, Charles Aldrich Autograph Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Aldrich, Charles. Autograph Collection. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.

For more information about the relationship between this draft and Drafts 2 and 3, 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