31593

Minute Book 2

Levi Richards handwriting ends; Ebenezer Robinson begins.  

 
Revelation speaking on the subject— He also informed them if he should  now be taken away that he had accomplished the great work which the  Lord had laid before him, and that which he had desired of the Lord,  and that he now had done his duty in organizing the High Council, through  which Council the will of the Lord might be known on all  importent occasions in the building up of Zion, and establishing truth  in the earth.
A vote was then taken whether the brethren that were appointed on  the 3rd of July should stand according to appoinment. The vote was clear in their behalf.
Br. Joseph Smith jr. then proceeded and ordained the three Presidents. David  Whitmer as President and William W. Phelps & John Whitmer assistants and  their twelve Counsellors.
The twelve counsellors then proceeded to cast lots to know who should  speak first, and the order in which they should speak which is as follows:
Simeon Carter No. 1Parley P. Pratt No. 2.
William E. Mc.lellin " 3. Calvin Bebee [Beebe] " 4.
Levi Jackman " 5 Solomon Hancock " 6.
Christian Whitmer " 7. Newel Knight " 8
Orson Pratt" 9.Lyman Wight" 10
Thomas B. Marsh" 11John Murdock " 12
After which Father Whitmer [Peter Whitmer Sr.] came forward and blessed three of his sons  in the name of the Lord Viz: David, John & Christian Whitmer. And also  Father Knight [Joseph Knight Sr.] blessed his son Newel Knight in the name of the Lord.
After the council of High Priests were organized the Bishop, Edward Partridge  came forward and stated to the Council that a greater responsibility devolved upon  him than before as he had not the privilege of counselling with any of the  high council save one of the Presidents and his own Counsellors, and desired to have  the prayers of all the Church that he might be able to act in his station in  righteousness.
After which br. Joseph Smith jr. laid the case of William W. Phelps be fore the council to have their descision whether he should take his  family to Kirtland and when it shall be wisdom for him to go. As it  has been deemed necessary for him to go and assist in the printing es tablishment. [p. 44]
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On 13 December 1838, six weeks after JS and other church leaders were taken prisoner during the “Mormon War” in northwest Missouri and two weeks after they were incarcerated at Liberty, Missouri, Brigham Young, president pro tem of the church in Missouri, assembled the Far West high council. Ebenezer Robinson, serving as clerk, recorded the following minutes:
Agreeable to appointment—the standing High Councellors met, when it was found that several were absent, who, (some of them,) have had to flee for their lives, therefore it being necessary that those vacancies be filled the meeting was called for that purpose, and, also, to express each others feeling respecting the word of the Lord. . . .
After prayer Prest Young made a few remarks saying he thought it all important to have the Council reorganized, and prepared to do business.
He advised the councellors to be wise and judicious in all their movements and not hasty in their transactions; as for his faith it was the same as ever, and he fellowshiped all such as loved the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in act as well as deed word. (Minute Book 2, 13 Dec. 1838)
This entry from Minute Book 2, a volume sometimes known as the Far West Record (see JS, Journal, Mar.−Sep., 1838, 13 Apr. 1838), is a reminder of the crisis of leadership and faith endured by JS’s followers in the aftermath of the Mormon War. Brigham Young and others sought to rally the church in the face of daunting challenges while they awaited JS’s return from jail.
Minute Book 2, compiled beginning in 1838, contains 178 pages of minutes. They cover church conferences, councils, and other meetings held in New York, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois beginning in 1830 and ending, with the exception of two entries from 1844, in 1839. The minutes in the volume were copied from earlier notes and, aside from the 1844 transcriptions, were not inscribed into the minute book contemporaneously. Another portion of the bound volume, not presented here, contains seventy-three pages of Warren Parrish’s 1831−1833 business accounts in New York.
Minutes copied into Minute Book 2 for meetings predating April 1838 were originally taken by John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and about nineteen other clerks. Whitmer, who was appointed official church historian in 1831 (Minute Book 2, 9 Apr. 1831; JS History, vol. A-1, 111) and assistant church president for Missouri in 1834 (Minute Book 2, 7 July 1834), also served as one of the clerks for the Missouri high council from July 1834 until December 1837 (Minute Book 2, 12 July 183423 Dec. 1837). Oliver Cowdery served briefly as a “standing Clerk” for the council beginning in December 1837, and then on 6 April 1838, Ebenezer Robinson was appointed “Church Clerk & Recorder for the Stake of Zion & Clerk of the high Council” (Minute Book 2, 6–7 Dec. 1837 and 6 Apr. 1838).
The title page of Minute Book 2 in Robinson’s handwriting designates the volume as “Conference Minutes, and Record Book, of Christ’s Church of Latter Day Saints. Belonging to the High Council of said Church, or their successors in office, of Caldwell County Missouri; Far West: April 6, 1838.” That page may have been a later insertion, as the date reflects Robinson’s assumption of office as clerk and recorder.
Immediately after his appointment, Robinson sought out the collection of church records John Whitmer had gathered in his role as church historian. This collection probably included some original minutes. Whitmer apparently refused to turn the records over to Robinson. On 9 April 1838, JS and Sidney Rigdon wrote to Whitmer demanding his notes (JS, Journal, Mar.−Sep., 1838, 9 April 1838). According to Robinson’s later account (Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” in The Return (Davis City, Iowa, September 1889, 134), Whitmer then permitted Robinson and Levi Richards to make a copy of a compilation that he had begun four or five years earlier. This assemblage included conference and council minutes from 9 June 1830 through 7 December 1837. Sometime afterward, Robinson and Richards recorded this material in Minute Book 2. Thus, that portion of Minute Book 2 is in effect a copy of a copy of a copy.
Robinson’s is the predominant hand on pages 1−93 of the volume, covering the entries from 9 June 1830 through 7 December 1837 noted above. Levi Richards’s handwriting appears on pages 43 and 52−55. Page 87 is in an unidentified hand. Most of the minutes in this portion of the volume are of councils and conferences held in Missouri, but minutes are also included for a handful of meetings held in New York in 1830 and 1831, Ohio in 1831 and 1836, and Indiana in 1831.
On 1 October 1842, the Nauvoo high council authorized its clerk, Hosea Stout, to assist in organizing Robinson’s loose minutes for the Far West high council and to copy them into Minute Book 2. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1 Oct. 1842) These were the minutes Robinson began keeping when he was sustained as clerk for the Far West high council in April 1838. Robinson had not yet transferred his own notes to Minute Book 2 in the aftermath of the Mormon War and his assumption of duties as copublisher of the Times and Seasons with Don Carlos Smith. He had also been extensively involved in the printing and publication of the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon.
Stout, apparently with Robinson’s cooperation, inscribed more than eighty pages of minute entries into the volume, covering conferences, councils, and other meetings from 23 December 1837 through 2 January 1839. Subsequently, the Nauvoo high council permitted the record to be lent to Willard Richards, JS’s personal secretary, for use in compiling JS’s history. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 14 Sep. 1843) The last entries made in the volume were by Joseph Cole for two Nauvoo high council meetings, on 1 and 15 June 1844. These last entries were evidently made contemporaneously, as Cole was dismissed as high council clerk in September 1844.
The minutes compiled in Minute Book 2, though for the most part not copied into that record at or near the time of the meetings they record, offer a remarkable view of the unfolding of early church organization and governance. The text captures and illuminates critical aspects of the church’s development including early conferences in New York, Ohio, and Indiana; the settlement of Missouri and the establishment of Zion in Jackson County; the aftermath of the Camp of Israel; the estrangement of key leaders, including David and John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and William W. Phelps; and the outbreak and consequences of the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Minute Book 2 and Minute Book 1, which covers significant events in Kirtland, Ohio, beginning in October 1832, constitute an indispensable resource for the student or scholar of early church history for the period from June 1830 to January 1839.

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