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Minute Book 2

Br Joseph Smith, Jr., said we have assembled together to do the  business of the Lord and it is through the great mercy of our God that we  are spared to assemble together, many of us have went at the command of  the Lord in defience of every thing evil, and obtained blessings unspeak able in consequence of which, our names are sealed in the Lambs’ Book  of life, for the Lord has spoken it. It is the privilege of every Elder  to speak of the things of God &c, And could we all come together with  one heart and one mind in perfect faith the vail might as well be  rent to day as next week or any other time and if we will but cleanse  ourselves and covenant before God, to serve him, it is our privilege to  have an assurence that God will protect us at all times
Br. John Whitmer said that a certain clause in the Church Covenants  was too much neglected he feared by the brethren, read accordingly.
Br. Frederick G. Williams enquired if it was the business of this  conference to take into consideration the situation of the families of the absent  Elders. Br. Sidney Rigdon said that he supposed that it was, saying, I bear testimony  that God will have a pure people who will give up all for Christ’s sake and when  this is done they will be sealed up unto eternal life.
Br. Joseph Smith jr. said that the order of the High priesthood is that they  have power given them to seal up the Saints unto eternal life. And said it was  the privilege of every Elder present to be ordained to the High priesthood.
Br. Emer Harris said that he was determined to be for God & none else & with  his assistance to do his will
Br. Orson Hyde said that he covenanted to give all to the Lord and be for his glory  and as to all his works his heart responded a hearty. Amen.
Br. Hyrum Smith said that all he had was the Lord’s and he was ready to do  his will continually
Br. Frederick G. Williams said that he renewed again the covenant before  the Lord to give all to him.
Br. Wm. E. Mc.lellin said that he had the greatest reason to rejoice of any present  and that he also would be subject to the will of God even unto death.
Br. Silvester Smith said that he had the testimony that it was the will of the  Lord to seal his Saints, and also covenanted to give all to the Lord.
Br. Reynolds Cahoon said that he could not obtain to express his heart, but said that he gave  all to God. Also reminded the brethren of the constant care of the Savior for them. [p. 11]
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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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