27468

Journal, March–September 1838

The 4th & 5th Charges were rejected & the 6th withdrawn Consequently he (O. Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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) was concidered no longer a member

12 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated Oliver Cowdery, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
Voted by the high Council

A governing body of twelve high priests. The first high council was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 February 1834 “for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the Church, or the bishop...

View Glossary
that Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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be no longer a Committee to select locations for the gathering

As directed by early revelations, church members “gathered” in communities. A revelation dated September 1830, for instance, instructed elders “to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” who would “be gathered in unto one place, upon the face of this land...

View Glossary
of the Saints——

Editorial Note
The day following Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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’s trial, 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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high council tried former Missouri president David Whitmer

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

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for his membership in the church. At this high council hearing, Whitmer was to be tried as a high priest, which Whitmer rejected because he still considered himself president and refused to recognize as legitimate the earlier proceedings that removed him from office. Although the 7 November 1837 conference clarified that he presided only over the church in Missouri, Whitmer still believed that he should instead be tried not only as president in Missouri but as a president of the high priesthood and therefore not subject to the decision of a regular council of high priests—and that attending the council and “a[n]swering to charges as a High Priest, should be acknowledgeing the correctness and legality of those former assumed Councils.” Nonetheless, believing that the high council was determined to remove him at all costs—even, he charged, if it required violating the church order outlined in revelations—Whitmer announced by letter his withdrawal from the church’s “fellowship and communion.” After reading Whitmer’s letter, the council concluded that “it was not considered necessary to investigate the case, as he had offered contempt to the Council by writing the above letter” and that Whitmer was therefore “not worthy a membership in the Church,” whereupon he was excommunicated.
This same day the high council also heard the case of Lyman Johnson

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

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, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. The letter of charges against Johnson included specific instructions regarding an earlier judicial matter, instructions that Johnson rejected as a violation of his constitutional rights. He therefore responded to the letter by refusing to cooperate and by announcing his withdrawal from fellowship with the Saints until that matter was removed from the charges. Johnson’s hearing, which included testimony of a number of witnesses, resulted in his excommunication.

Synopsis of David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson Trials • 13 April 1838

The following Charges were prefered

13 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

against David Whitmer

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

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before the high Council

A governing body of twelve high priests. The first high council was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 February 1834 “for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the Church, or the bishop...

View Glossary
which assembled on the 13th of April 1838 for the purpose of attending to such Charges. Which Charges are as follows
1st For not observing the words of wisdom, 2nd For unchristianlike conduct in neglecting to attend to meetings in uniting with and possesing the same spirit of the desenters 3rd In writing letters to the desenters in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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unfaivorable to the Cause, and to the Character of Joseph Smith Jr. 4th In neglecting the duties of his calling and seperating himself from the Church while he has a name among us. 5th. For Signing himself Pres.

Organized body of leaders over priesthood quorums and various groups of Latter-day Saints. A November 1831 revelation underscored the importance of a president over the high priesthood and the church as a whole. By 1832, JS and two counselors constituted ...

View Glossary
of the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
after he had been cut off, in an insulting, letter to the High Council,
After reading the above Charges together with a letter sent to the Pres. of said Council, (a copy of which may be found recorded 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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record Book A.) The Council considered the charges sustained and Consequently Considred him no longer a member

13 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.—
Also the same day and date a Charge was prefered

13 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

against Lyman E Johnson

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

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consisting of 3 charges which were read together with a letter from him in answer to them Which will be found recorded 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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record [p. 31]
The 4th & 5th Charges were rejected62

The minutes show no discussion of charges 4 through 6, noting only the rejection of charges 4 and 5 and the withdrawal of charge 6. The council may have rejected the very charges that Cowdery acknowledged in order to avoid addressing the problematic issues highlighted in Cowdery’s protest: ecclesiastical control of individuals’ temporal affairs and the sale of Jackson County property. After Cowdery sold his property, the prospects for returning to Jackson County continued to dwindle, and within months Bishop Newel K. Whitney sold the central church lots. (Minute Book 2, 12 Apr. 1838; Jackson Co., MO, Deed Records, 1827–1909, vol. F, p. 52, 3 July 1838, microfilm 1,017,980, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  


& the  6th withdrawn Consequently he (O. Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
)  was concidered no longer a member

12 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated Oliver Cowdery, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

of the  Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
 Voted by the high Council

A governing body of twelve high priests. The first high council was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 February 1834 “for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the Church, or the bishop...

View Glossary
that Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
 be no longer a Committee to select locations  for the gathering

As directed by early revelations, church members “gathered” in communities. A revelation dated September 1830, for instance, instructed elders “to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect” who would “be gathered in unto one place, upon the face of this land...

View Glossary
of the Saints63

According to the Missouri council minutes, the decision to remove Cowdery from the committee was made the following day in connection with the trial for David Whitmer. This committee—which originally consisted of Cowdery, David W. Patten, John Corrill, and Lyman Wight—was appointed at a church council on 6 November 1837 to search for possible sites for Latter-day Saint settlements in northern Missouri. (Minute Book 2, 13 Apr. 1838; 6 Nov. and 7 Dec. 1837; [JS], Editorial, Elders’ Journal, Nov. 1837, 27–28; Oliver Cowdery, Far West, MO, to Warren Cowdery, [Kirtland, OH], 21 Jan. 1838, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 80–83.)  


——

Editorial Note
The day following Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
’s trial, 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...

More Info
high council tried former Missouri president David Whitmer

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

View Full Bio
for his membership in the church. At this high council hearing, Whitmer was to be tried as a high priest, which Whitmer rejected because he still considered himself president and refused to recognize as legitimate the earlier proceedings that removed him from office. Although the 7 November 1837 conference clarified that he presided only over the church in Missouri, Whitmer still believed that he should instead be tried not only as president in Missouri but as a president of the high priesthood and therefore not subject to the decision of a regular council of high priests—and that attending the council and “a[n]swering to charges as a High Priest, should be acknowledgeing the correctness and legality of those former assumed Councils.” Nonetheless, believing that the high council was determined to remove him at all costs—even, he charged, if it required violating the church order outlined in revelations—Whitmer announced by letter his withdrawal from the church’s “fellowship and communion.” After reading Whitmer’s letter, the council concluded that “it was not considered necessary to investigate the case, as he had offered contempt to the Council by writing the above letter” and that Whitmer was therefore “not worthy a membership in the Church,” whereupon he was excommunicated.64

Minute Book 2, 13 Apr. 1838.  


This same day the high council also heard the case of Lyman Johnson

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

View Full Bio
, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. The letter of charges against Johnson included specific instructions regarding an earlier judicial matter, instructions that Johnson rejected as a violation of his constitutional rights. He therefore responded to the letter by refusing to cooperate and by announcing his withdrawal from fellowship with the Saints until that matter was removed from the charges. Johnson’s hearing, which included testimony of a number of witnesses, resulted in his excommunication.65

For a more detailed record of the hearings involving Whitmer and Johnson, see Minute Book 2, 13 Apr. 1838.  



Synopsis of David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson Trials • 13 April 1838

The following Charges were prefered

13 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

against  David Whi[t]mer

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

View Full Bio
before the high Council

A governing body of twelve high priests. The first high council was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 February 1834 “for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the Church, or the bishop...

View Glossary
which  assembled on the 13th of April 1838 for the purp ose of attending to such Charges.66

Apostle Thomas B. Marsh presided over this Missouri high council meeting in his capacity as temporary president of the church in Missouri, assisted by apostles David W. Patten and Brigham Young, acting in their capacities as Marsh’s assistants. JS also attended the trial. (Minute Book 2, 13 Apr. 1838.)  


Which Charges are  as follows
1st For not observing the words  of wisdom,67

An 1833 revelation that referred to itself as “a word of wisdom” proscribed tobacco, wine, “strong drinks,” and “hot drinks”—commonly understood to include tea and coffee.a However, individuals were generally disciplined for nonobservance only in instances of flagrant intoxication or in combination with more serious charges of other kinds.b Whitmer used tobacco, coffee, and tea and reportedly stated that he did not consider coffee and tea to be hot drinks.c  


aRevelation, 27 Feb. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 80, 1835 ed. [D&C 89]; Peterson, “Word of Wisdom,” 20, 22–23.

bBackman, Heavens Resound, 257–261.

cMinute Book 2, 26 Jan. and 5 Feb. 1838; compare “Letters from David and John C. Whitmer,” Saints’ Herald, 5 Feb. 1887, 89.

2nd For unchristianlike conduct  in neglecting to attend to meetings in un iting with and possesing the same spirit of  the desenters 3rd In writing letters to the  desenters in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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unfaivorable to the  Cause, and to the Character of Joseph Smith  Jr.68

No Whitmer letters of this nature are known to be extant.  


4th In neglecting the duties of his ca lling and seperating himself from the Church  while he has a name among us. 5th. For  Signing himself Pres.

Organized body of leaders over priesthood quorums and various groups of Latter-day Saints. A November 1831 revelation underscored the importance of a president over the high priesthood and the church as a whole. By 1832, JS and two counselors constituted ...

View Glossary
of the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
 after he had been cut off, in an insultin g, letter to the High Council,
After reading the  above Charges together with a letter sent to the  Pres. of said Council, (a copy of which  may be found recorded 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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record  Book A.)69

Minute Book 2 includes a copy of Whitmer’s 13 April letter in connection with the minutes of the 13 April disciplinary proceedings against Whitmer.  


The Council considered the char ges sustained and Consequently Considred  him no longer a member

13 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.—
Also the same day and date a Charge was  prefered

13 Apr. 1838

Church council excommunicated David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson, Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.

against Lyman E Johnson

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

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consisting  of 3 charges70

According to the official record, seven charges were preferred against apostle Johnson, not three: first, for “persecuting brethren” by encouraging and supporting “vexatious lawsuits”; second, for “virtually denying the faith” by supporting dissenters and “treating the Church with contempt” by failure to attend church meetings and observe church practices; third, for “seeking to injure the character” of JS; fourth, for physically attacking Phineas Young; fifth, for “speaking reproachfully of the authority of Caldwell County” by saying that he could not obtain justice in a lawsuit before the county court and that he would appeal the decision; sixth, for lying; and seventh, for cheating a man out of property. (Minute Book 2, 13 Apr. 1838.)  


which which were read together  with a letter from him in answer to them  Which will be <found> recorded 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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record [p. 31]
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JS, “The Scriptory Book—of Joseph Smith Jr.—President of The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latterday Saints In all the World,” Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838; handwriting of George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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and James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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; sixty-nine pages; in “General,” Record Book, 1838, verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5, CHL. Includes redactions and archival marking.
JS’s “Scriptory Book” is recorded on pages 15 to 83 of a large record book entitled “General” that also includes a list of church members in Caldwell 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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, Missouri (pages 2–14), a copy of JS’s 16 December 1838 letter from the jail in Liberty

Located in western Missouri, thirteen miles north of Independence. Settled 1820. Clay Co. seat, 1822. Incorporated as town, May 1829. Following expulsion from Jackson Co., 1833, many Latter-day Saints found refuge in Clay Co., with church leaders and other...

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, Missouri (pages 101–108), and an aborted record partially entitled “Recor” in unidentified handwriting (page 110). The book, which measures 13 x 8¼ x 1¾ inches (33 x 21 x 4 cm), has 182 leaves of ledger paper sized 12½ x 7¾ inches (32 x 20 cm) with thirty-seven lines in blue ink per page. There are eighteen gatherings of various sizes, each of about a dozen leaves. The text block is sewn all along over three vellum tapes. The heavy pink endpapers each consist of a pastedown and two flyleaves pasted together. The text block edges are stained green. The volume has a hardbound ledger-style binding with a hollow-back spine and glued-on blue-striped cloth headbands. It is bound in brown split-calfskin leather with blind-tooled decoration around the outside border and along the turned-in edges of the leather on the inside covers. At some point the letter “G” was hand printed in ink on the front cover. The original leather cover over the spine—which appears to have been intentionally removed—may have borne a title or filing notation.
The journal is inscribed in black ink that later turned brown and is almost entirely in the handwriting of George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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. James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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’s handwriting appears in a copy of the 23 July 1837 revelation for Thomas B. Marsh

1 Nov. 1800–Jan. 1866. Farmer, hotel worker, waiter, horse groom, grocer, type foundry worker, teacher. Born at Acton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of James Marsh and Molly Law. Married first Elizabeth Godkin, 1 Nov. 1820, at New York City. Moved to ...

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(D&C 112) on pages 72–74. Running heads added by Robinson throughout the journal indicate the months of the entries on the page. The volume was later used in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, as a source for JS’s multivolume manuscript history of the church. During the preparation of the history, redactions and use marks were made in graphite pencil. Redactions in graphite and ink may have been made at other times as well. In 1845, the book was turned over so that the back cover became the front and the last page became the first. This side of the book was used to record patriarchal blessings. The original spine may have been removed at this time. The spine is now labeled with a number “5”, designating its volume number in a series of books of patriarchal blessings.
The volume is listed in Nauvoo and early Utah inventories of church records, indicating continuous custody.1

Historian’s Office, “Schedule of Church Records”; “Historian’s Office Catalogue,” [2]; Historian’s Office, “Index of Records and Journals,” [12], Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL; JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, microfilm, JS Collection, CHL.  


At some point, the leaf containing pages 54 and 55 was torn from the journal. This removed leaf—which is transcribed herein and contains, among other writings, the earliest extant text of an 8 July 1838 revelation for the Quorum of the Twelve (D&C 118)—was for a time kept in Revelation Book 2.2

Best, “Register of the Revelations Collection,” 19.  


It is now part of the Revelations Collection at the Church History Library.

Facts