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John Corrill, “Brief History,” Manuscript, circa 1838–1839

John Fletcher Darby Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.
the Lord will send many fishers, and many hunters, and they shall fish them and hunt them from every mountain, and hill, and from the holes of the rocks in every land whither they have been driven, and bring them again into the land that he gave to their farthers. (Jer 16. 14–16) Not only is the house of Israel to be gatherd; but God hath purposed that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he will gather all things whether in Heaven or in Earth. (Eph 1. 9, 10) Hence, after considering all these scriptural declarations, and many others that might be named, I came to the conclusion that it was not unreasonable to believe that there was to be a gathering in the last days.

Chapter 8

Chap. 8th.
New religion compared with the Bible. Mode of admission into the church. Effects.
The morality and effects of the new religion. I found that the book of Mormon taught all the morality, piety, virtue, honesty, righteousness and Godliness that the Bible did, and even condemned the whoredoms of David, Solomon and others, and strictly enjoined family and secret prayer, and that too in great faith, that our prayers may be answered; and, in order to be admitted into the church a person must manifest faith in Christ and a hearty repentance of all their sins. Baptism, by Immersion, they believed was for the remission of sins. And the [p. 21]
the Lord will send many fishers, and  many hunters, and they shall fish them  and hunt them from every mountain,  <and> hill, and from the holes of the rocks in  every land whither they have been driven,  and bring them again into the land that  he gave to their farthers. (Jer 16. 14–16) Not  <only> is the house of Israel to be gatherd; but  God hath purposed that in the dispensation  of the fullness of times, he will gather all  things whether in Heaven or in Earth.  (Eph 1. 9, 10) Hence, after after considering  all these scriptural declarations, and many  others that might be named, I came to the  conclusion that it was not unreasonable  to believe that there was to be a gathering  in the last days.

Chapter 8

Chap. 8th.
New religion compared with the Bible. Mode  of admission into the church. Effects.
The morality and effects of the new  religion. I found that the book of  Mormon taught all the morality,  piety, virtue, honesty, righteousness  and Godliness that the Bible did, and  even condemned the whoredoms of  David, Solomon and others, and strictly  enjoined family and secret prayer,  and that too in great faith, that our  prayers may be answered; and, in order  to be admitted into the church a person  must manifest faith in Christ and a  hearty repentanc[e] of all their sins.  Baptism, by Immersion, they believed  was for the remission of sins. And the [p. 21]
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Even while the embers of the 1838 Mormon War smoldered in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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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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labored on the manuscript for his 1839 publication, 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. Corrill had begun serving the church as a historian after John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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’s excommunication in March 1838, replacing Whitmer in that role in April. Whatever his initial labors as historian, Corrill completed A Brief History after distancing himself from JS and the Saints, as the full title implies.
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 careful observer, had enjoyed a close association with Mormon leaders, and consequently his account provides valuable insights into the development and structure of the early church. He summarized many of the doctrines taught by JS and provided a detailed description of the conflict between the Latter-day Saints and other Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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settlers. But his chronicle also related the story of a personal spiritual journey into and then out of the church as 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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came to disapprove of the church’s course in 1838 in Missouri. Yet despite his estrangement from the church and his excommunication in 1839, he retained a degree of sympathy for the Saints and maintained some contact.
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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apparently began compiling portions of his account while serving as an officially appointed church historian in Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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. He probably completed his narrative by 11 February 1839, when he secured a copyright with the Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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district federal copyright office. He arranged for Thomas Watson & Son of St. Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as fourth...

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to print A Brief History. The entire print run may have included up to twelve hundred copies.
The document presented here, 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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’s circa 1838–1839 rough draft of his history, is incomplete. It includes the title page, copyright notice, and preface but is missing twenty-one pages, including the nineteen pages that constitute chapters 1 through 6. The manuscript is almost entirely in Corrill’s handwriting, though some of the chapter summaries (added after he drafted the narrative) were written in a different hand, possibly that of the printer.
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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’s published version of A Brief History receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website as part of the history series.

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