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John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839

nanted to stand by one another in difficulty, whether right or wrong, but said they would correct each others wrongs among themselves. As the presidency stood next to God, or between God and the church, and was the oracle through which the word and will of God was communicated to the church, they esteemed it very essential to have their word, or the word of God through them, strictly adhered to. They therefore entered into a covenant, that the word of the presidency should be obeyed, and none should be suffered to raise his hand or voice against it; for, as they stood at the head of the church, it was considered no more than reasonable that they knew more of the will of God than any others did; consequently, all things must be in submission to them, and, moreover, all tattling, lying, and backbiting, must be put down, and he that would not submit willingly should be forced to it, or leave the county

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

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. Now this secret combination was directly opposed to the former revelation, and especially the book of Mormon, which declared that God worketh not in secret, and all such as did should be destroyed. Many were opposed to this society, but such was their determination and also their threatenings against them, that those opposed dare not speak their minds on the subject. They said they meant to cleanse their own members first, and then the church. In order to carry on their operations, they organised themselves into companies of fifties and tens, with a captain to each company, that they might be ready to act in concert on any occasion. It was supposed by the church at large, that this organization was for the purpose of resisting a mob, if any should arise against them; many of this secret society itself did not understand the true intention of their leaders. Who first started this society I know not, but Doctor Samson Arverd Sampson Avard

23 Oct. 1800–15 Apr. 1869. Physician. Born at St. Peter, Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Migrated to U.S., by 1830. Married Eliza, a native of Virginia. Located at North Carolina, 1830. Moved to Virginia, by 1831. Moved to Freedom, Beaver...

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was the most prominent leader and instructor, and was assisted by others,96

Avard was a Danite spokesperson and took the lead of the organization in some respects; Reed Peck referred to him as “the most busy actor and sharpest tool of the presidency.” According to Peck, however, it was Jared Carter as captain general who ranked first among Danite generals, with Cornelius Lott and Sampson Avard as major general and brigadier general. (Peck gave conflicting accounts as to who was major general and who was brigadier general.) Peck further indicated that Carter was later replaced by Elias Higbee, and Avard testified that he (Avard) was later removed from his position by JS and appointed surgeon to the Danites. (Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 45, 47, 50–51, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA; Reed Peck, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838; Sampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Cir. Ct. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”)  


The first presidency did not seem to have much to do with it at first: they would, however, go into their meetings occasionally, and sanction their doings. Arverd

23 Oct. 1800–15 Apr. 1869. Physician. Born at St. Peter, Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Migrated to U.S., by 1830. Married Eliza, a native of Virginia. Located at North Carolina, 1830. Moved to Virginia, by 1831. Moved to Freedom, Beaver...

View Full Bio
was very forward and indefatigable in accomplishing their purposes, for he devoted his whole talents to it, and spared no pains; and, I thought, was as grand a villian as his wit and ability would admit of. How much he was assisted by the presidency I know not, but I thought that they stood as wire workers behind the curtain. Be this as it may, they ran into awful extremes, for it seemed that they felt justified, and thought it was the will of God to use any measures whatever, whether lawful or unlawful, to accomplish their purpose, and put down those that opposed them. In this they perverted the former belief and notions of the church; for the church always believed that judgments, pestilence, disease, famine, great troubles and vexations, were sooner or later to be poured out upon all the wicked, and cut them off in the course of time, and this, they supposed, would be done by God himself, and the object of gathering together was, that they might purify themselves, and stand in holy places appointed of God for that purpose, and thus escape these judgments. But, now, it began to be taught that the church, instead of God, or rather the church in the hands of God, was to bring about these things; and I was told, but I cannot vouch for the truth of it, that some of them [p. 31]
nanted to stand by one another in difficulty, whether right or wrong,  but said they would correct each others wrongs among themselves.  As the presidency stood next to God, or between God and the church,  and was the oracle through which the word and will of God was  communicated to the church, they esteemed it very essential to have  their word, or the word of God through them, strictly adhered to.  They therefore entered into a covenant, that the word of the presi dency should be obeyed, and none should be suffered to raise his hand  or voice against it; for, as they stood at the head of the church, it  was considered no more than reasonable that they knew more of the  will of God than any others did; consequently, all things must be in  submission to them, and, moreover, all tattling, lying, and backbiting,  must be put down, and he that would not submit willingly should be  forced to it, or leave the county

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

More Info
. Now this secret combination was  directly opposed to the former revelation, and especially the book of  Mormon, which declared that God worketh not in secret, and all such  as did should be destroyed. Many were opposed to this society, but  such was their determination and also their threatenings against them,  that those opposed dare not speak their minds on the subject. They  said they meant to cleanse their own members first, and then the  church. In order to carry on their operations, they organised them selves into companies of fifties and tens, with a captain to each com pany, that they might be ready to act in concert on any occasion.  It was supposed by the church at large, that this organization was  for the purpose of resisting a mob, if any should arise against them;  many of this secret society itself did not understand the true inten tion of their leaders. Who first started this society I know not, but  Doctor Samson Arverd [Sampson Avard]

23 Oct. 1800–15 Apr. 1869. Physician. Born at St. Peter, Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Migrated to U.S., by 1830. Married Eliza, a native of Virginia. Located at North Carolina, 1830. Moved to Virginia, by 1831. Moved to Freedom, Beaver...

View Full Bio
was the most prominent leader and instruc tor, and was assisted by others,96

Avard was a Danite spokesperson and took the lead of the organization in some respects; Reed Peck referred to him as “the most busy actor and sharpest tool of the presidency.” According to Peck, however, it was Jared Carter as captain general who ranked first among Danite generals, with Cornelius Lott and Sampson Avard as major general and brigadier general. (Peck gave conflicting accounts as to who was major general and who was brigadier general.) Peck further indicated that Carter was later replaced by Elias Higbee, and Avard testified that he (Avard) was later removed from his position by JS and appointed surgeon to the Danites. (Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 45, 47, 50–51, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA; Reed Peck, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838; Sampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Cir. Ct. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”)  


The first presidency did not seem  to have much to do with it at first: they would, however, go into  their meetings occasionally, and sanction their doings. Arverd

23 Oct. 1800–15 Apr. 1869. Physician. Born at St. Peter, Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Migrated to U.S., by 1830. Married Eliza, a native of Virginia. Located at North Carolina, 1830. Moved to Virginia, by 1831. Moved to Freedom, Beaver...

View Full Bio
was  very forward and indefatigable in accomplishing their purposes, for  he devoted his whole talents to it, and spared no pains; and, I  thought, was as grand a villian as his wit and ability would admit of.  How much he was assisted by the presidency I know not, but I  thought that they stood as wire workers behind the curtain. Be this  as it may, they ran into awful extremes, for it seemed that they felt  justified, and thought it was the will of God to use any measures  whatever, whether lawful or unlawful, to accomplish their purpose,  and put down those that opposed them. In this they perverted the  former belief and notions of the church; for the church always be lieved that judgments, pestilence, disease, famine, great troubles and  vexations, were sooner or later to be poured out upon all the wicked,  and cut them off in the course of time, and this, they supposed, would  be done by God himself, and the object of gathering together was,  that they might purify themselves, and stand in holy places appointed  of God for that purpose, and thus escape these judgments. But,  now, it began to be taught that the church, instead of God, or rather  the church in the hands of God, was to bring about these things; and  I was told, but I cannot vouch for the truth of it, that some of them [p. 31]
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John Corrill

17 Sept. 1794–26 Sept. 1842. Surveyor, politician, author. Born at Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Married Margaret Lyndiff, ca. 1830. Lived at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, 1830. Baptized into LDS church, 10 Jan. 1831, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Ordained...

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, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an Account of Their Doctrine and Discipline; with the Reasons of the Author for Leaving the Church, St. Louis, MO: “Printed for the Author,” 1839; two preliminary leaves, 7–50 pp.; includes typeset signature marks. The copy used for transcription is held at CHL; includes handwritten underscoring, notes, and other marks, as well as archival stamps.
This booklet was printed in octavo format on three sheets cut and folded into seven gatherings. The interior gatherings were made from half sheets folded into four leaves, and the initial and final gatherings were made from quarter sheets folded into two leaves, making a total of twenty-four leaves in the booklet. The text block measures 8½ x 5½ x ⅛ inches (22 x 14 x 0.3 cm). Examination of the copies at CHL and BYU, as well as images of a third copy,1

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, microfilm (New Haven, CT: Research Publications, 1967).  


indicate that the booklet was originally side stitched. The binding of the copy at CHL has been altered.2

Needle holes along the center folds suggest that the CHL copy of the booklet was once bound with other similar-size works. The first page of the booklet bears the faded and now faint pencil notation “No 2.” on the upper right corner, a possible indication of the booklet’s arrangement in a collection of tracts. The first page of the booklet also bears a handwritten “20” in ink below the title. A photocopy made in 1971 or earlier shows that the CHL copy was not intact at that time. The copy at CHL is currently sewn through a new set of holes in the center folds. (Corrill, Brief History, photocopy, ca. 1971, CHL.)  


It appears to have been in church custody since at least the early 1880s.3

A circa 1881–1884 inventory of printed works at the Church Historian’s Office includes Corrill’s booklet. The copy held at CHL bears the extremely faded inscription “Historian’s Office” and includes purple Historian’s Office stamps, which were in use as early as the late nineteenth century. A circa 1971 photocopy shows a “Historian’s Office Library” adhesive label (since removed) on page 2 of the CHL copy. These archival records and marks indicate continuous church custody since the early 1880s. (“Church Works, Periodicals, and Pamphlets, Alphabetically Arranged,” 22, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL; Corrill, Brief History, photocopy, ca. 1971, CHL.)  


Facts