31822

License for Edward Partridge, circa 4 August 1831–circa 5 January 1832

The purpose of this document—which attests that Edward Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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was duly appointed and ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

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as a bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

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of the church in February 1831—is uncertain, and neither the date nor the place of its creation is given. The document itself, which was written by Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and signed by him and JS, states that it is from “the church of Jesus christ” and that its audience is “all to whom these presents may come.” At some point, Partridge wrote “Bishops licence

A document certifying an individual’s office in the church and authorizing him “to perform the duty of his calling.” The “Articles and Covenants” of the church implied that only elders could issue licenses; individuals ordained by a priest to an office in...

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” on the back of the document, indicating that, at least at the time he made the notation, he regarded the document as a license, which was an official record issued to an officer in the church showing that he had the necessary authority to “perform the duty of his calling.”1

Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:64]; see also Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:11].  


This document provided such authority, but its wording—especially its designation as coming from the church itself—does not follow the language of other extant early licenses, including a December 1830 license signifying that Partridge was an elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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in the church.2

See License for John Whitmer, 9 June 1830; License for Joseph Smith Sr., 9 June 1830; License for Christian Whitmer, 9 June 1830; and Elder’s Certificate for Edward Partridge, 15 Dec. 1830, Edward Partridge, Papers, CHL.  


Other early licenses were signed either by JS and 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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(as the first and second elders in the church, respectively)3 or by those who performed the ordination to the office,4

Elder’s Certificate for Edward Partridge, 15 Dec. 1830, Edward Partridge, Papers, CHL.  


but this document was eventually signed by twenty elders, many of whom did not add their signatures until months after Partridge’s appointment as bishop.5

Partridge was appointed bishop by a 4 February 1831 revelation. Not all of the signatories were even members of the church in February 1831. Neither William W. Phelps nor William E. McLellin, for example, was baptized until summer 1831. (Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:9]; William W. Phelps, “Letter No. 6,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1835, 1:97; McLellin Journal, 20 Aug. 1831.)  


The format of the signatures on the page—in two distinct columns, with an empty third one between—suggests that it may have been intended that even more elders would sign the document.
The document may be related to instructions given in a 6 June 1831 revelation requiring JS, Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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, and others to travel to 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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. This revelation commanded that “my Servent Joseph & Sidney [Rigdon]

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Edward [Partridge] take with them a recomend from the Church & let there be one obtained for my Servent 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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also.”6

Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52:41].  


The revelation did not explain why the recommends were needed. Ezra Booth

14 Feb. 1792–before 12 Jan. 1873. Farmer, minister. Born in Newtown, Fairfield Co., Connecticut. Admitted on trial to Methodist ministry, 4 Sept. 1816, and stationed in the Ohio District in Beaver, Pike Co. Admitted into full connection and elected a deacon...

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, who traveled to Missouri at this time, later stated that “a commandment” had instructed Cowdery and others to procure “a written recommendation, signed by the Elders, for the purpose of presenting it to the Indian agent, in order to obtain permission from him, to visit the Indians in their settlements.”7

Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—Nos. VIII—IX.,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 8 Dec. 1831, [1].  


Whether Cowdery’s recommend or the other recommends mentioned in this revelation were related to that purpose is not clear, but Booth’s reference to a recommend “signed by the Elders” suggests something similar to Partridge’s document. Partridge was responsible for land purchases in Missouri, and the recommend from the church may have been intended to facilitate his transaction of business on behalf of the church.8

See Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:4–7]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:51].  


Neither the document itself nor other contemporaneous documents speak of its original purpose.
The circumstances of the document’s production are also difficult to ascertain. The document as it was originally written is undated. The date “1831” is inscribed on the back, but that inscription is in unidentified handwriting and appears to have been added later. The only date in the document’s body is the notation that Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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was “appointed Bishop of this church on the fourth of February one thousand eight hundred and thirty one.” If Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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created the document as a license in connection with Partridge’s ordination as bishop, the document could have been created as early as 4 February 1831. If Rigdon produced the document as a recommend in response to the instructions given in the 6 June 1831 revelation, he could not have written it before 6 June—and may have done so much later. Since most of the signatures appear to have been affixed in Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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, Missouri, in August 1831, the document was created at least by that time.
Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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concluded the main body of the document by stating that in order to attest to Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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’s church position “we have here unto set our hands”—indicating the original intention for multiple signatories. JS may have signed at the same time as Rigdon. Since 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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had been away from Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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since fall 1830, his first chance to sign the document in 1831 would have been after JS, Rigdon, and Partridge arrived 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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in July, assuming that one of the three had the document with him at that time.9 Cowdery and the six signatories who signed below his name were all present (as were JS and Rigdon) at a 4 August 1831 conference held in Kaw Township

Settlement by whites commenced after treaty with Osage Indians, 1825. One of three original townships organized in Jackson Co., 22 May 1827. Bordered by Missouri River on north side and Big Blue River on east and south sides; western boundary was state line...

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, Missouri, and probably signed the document at that time. The next seven signatories all attended a 24 August conference in Kaw Township, which occurred after JS, Rigdon, Cowdery, William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, Isaac Morley

11 Mar. 1786–24 June 1865. Farmer, cooper, merchant, postmaster. Born at Montague, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Thomas Morley and Editha (Edith) Marsh. Family affiliated with Presbyterian church. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, before 1812. Married...

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, Peter Whitmer Jr.

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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, Sidney Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

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, and Joseph Coe

12 Nov. 1784–17 Oct. 1854. Farmer, clerk. Born at Cayuga Co., New York. Son of Joel Coe and Huldah Horton. Lived at Scipio, Cayuga Co., by 1800. Married first Pallas Wales, 12 Jan. 1816. Married second Sophia Harwood, ca. 1824. Moved to Macedon, Wayne Co....

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had left for Ohio,10

Minute Book 2, [24] Aug. 1831; McLellin Journal, 24 Aug. 1831.  


and likely signed at that conference. When the next three signatories, Peter Dustin

19 Apr. 1781–after 1860. Farmer, laborer. Born at Goffstown, Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of John Dustin and Sarah (Sally) Webster. Moved to Alstead, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire, by 1803. Married first Aruba (Azubah) Tubbs, 11 Sept. 1803, at Marlow...

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, Asa Dodds

?–? Baptized into LDS church and ordained an elder, by 4 Feb. 1831. Accompanied Orson Pratt on mission from Missouri to Indiana, where he remained while Pratt went on to Ohio, 1831. Appointed to serve mission to the West with Calves Wilson, Jan. 1832. Resided...

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, and Orson Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

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, signed the document is not as clear, but they apparently did so before October 1831, when Pratt and Dodds left Missouri for Ohio.11

“History of Orson Pratt,” 12, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL. All three may have signed the document at the same time; analysis shows that it is at least probable that Pratt and Dodds signed in similar ink.  


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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, the final signatory, could not have signed the document before 5 January 1832, when he reached Missouri.12

Whitmer, Daybook, 5 Jan. 1832. Ink analysis indicates that the body of the document and Rigdon’s and JS’s signatures were inscribed in the same ink, whereas the signatures beginning with Oliver Cowdery’s and ending with Joseph Coe’s were inscribed with a single ink, different from the one used by JS and Rigdon. Analysis further indicates that Simeon Carter and those who followed him signed the document with ink different from that used by earlier signatories. It appears, therefore, that Oliver Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Martin Harris, Isaac Morley, Peter Whitmer Jr., Sidney Gilbert, and Joseph Coe all signed the document at the same time, sometime after its original creation.  


Facts