43990868

Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

might receive much comfort and consolation in this Society

A church organization for women; created in Nauvoo, Illinois, under JS’s direction on 17 March 1842. At the same meeting, Emma Smith was elected president, and she selected two counselors; a secretary and a treasurer were also chosen. The minutes of the society...

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— that the Lord would lengthen her days— that she may cheer the Society with her presence, aid it by her counsels and prayrs long before she shall take her departure to sit down by the side of her beloved Partner.
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Mrs. Mercy Fielding Thompson

15 June 1807–15 Sept. 1893. Born in Honeydon, Bedfordshire, England. Daughter of John Fielding and Rachel Ibbotson. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1832. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, 21 May 1836, near Toronto. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio...

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made mention of a lone widow with one child, late from England, without friends, in want of a home.
Mrs. Brown proposed to take her in
Mrs. Elizabeth Jones laid before the Society her expectations of soon journeying to 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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, to visit friends who were moving in the higher classes of Society; and requested the prayers of this Society that her testimony may be instrumental of good. &c.
Motioned by Councillor Cleveland and seconded by the President

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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, that Mrs. Jones have a recommend from this Society— carried unanimly..
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Upon Motion of Councillor Cleveland, the meeting adjourn’d to thursday, 14th of April 2. o.clock.
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The following is a copy of the recommend, for Mrs. Jones
The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, recommends Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, as a member of said Society, in good standing;— and she is hereby Authorized to receive all such donations as friends abroad shall feel disposed to put into her hands, to be appropriated to the Fund of the Institution; for the benefit of the poor, the widow, and the fatherless.
By Order of the Board.
Eliza R. Snow

21 Jan. 1804–5 Dec. 1887. Poet, teacher, seamstress, milliner. Born in Becket, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Daughter of Oliver Snow and Rosetta Leonora Pettibone. Moved to Mantua, Trumbull Co., Ohio, ca. 1806. Member of Baptist church. Baptized into LDS ...

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, Secretary. [p. 25]
might receive much comfort and consolation in this  Society

A church organization for women; created in Nauvoo, Illinois, under JS’s direction on 17 March 1842. At the same meeting, Emma Smith was elected president, and she selected two counselors; a secretary and a treasurer were also chosen. The minutes of the society...

View Glossary
— that the Lord would lengthen her days— that  she may cheer the Society with her presence, aid it by  her counsels and prayrs long before she shall take  her departure to sit down by the side of her beloved Partner.
[1 line blank]
Mrs. [Mercy Fielding] Thompson

15 June 1807–15 Sept. 1893. Born in Honeydon, Bedfordshire, England. Daughter of John Fielding and Rachel Ibbotson. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1832. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, 21 May 1836, near Toronto. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio...

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made mention of a lone  widow with one child, late from England, without  friends, in want of a home.
Mrs. Brown proposed to take her in
Mrs. [Elizabeth] Jones laid before the Society her expectations  of soon journeying to 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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, to visit friends who were moving  in the higher classes of Society; and requested the prayers  of this Society that her testimony may be instrumental  of good. &c.
Motioned by Councillor Cleveland and  seconded by the President

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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, that Mrs. Jones have a  recommend from this Society— carried unanimly..
[1 line blank]
Upon Motion of Councillor Cleveland, the  meeting adjourn’d to thursday, 15th 14th of April 2. o.clock.
[1 line blank]
The following is a copy of the recommend, to for Mrs. Jones
The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo,  recommends Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, as a member  of said Society, in good standing;— and she is  hereby Authorized to receive all such donations  as friends abroad shall feel disposed to put into  her hands, to be appropriated to the Fund of the  Institution; for the benefit of the poor, the widow,  and the fatherless.
By Order of the Board.
Eliza R. Snow

21 Jan. 1804–5 Dec. 1887. Poet, teacher, seamstress, milliner. Born in Becket, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Daughter of Oliver Snow and Rosetta Leonora Pettibone. Moved to Mantua, Trumbull Co., Ohio, ca. 1806. Member of Baptist church. Baptized into LDS ...

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, Secretary. [p. 25]
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On 17 March 1842, JS first formally organized Latter-day Saint women in a group with distinct responsibilities and authority. At JS’s invitation, twenty women assembled in the large room above his dry goods store 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, to be organized, as one woman recalled his description, “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (Sarah M. Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Sept. 1883, 51). Priesthood quorums—units of men assembled according to priesthood office and usually headed by a president and two counselors—had been organized previously. The women assembled on 17 March elected JS’s wife Emma Hale Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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president, and she selected two counselors; a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ordained or set apart the three-member presidency to their new callings or offices. These were the first ecclesiastical positions in the church for women.
The name the women selected for their institution, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, paralleled that of contemporaneous women’s benevolent societies in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. Two or three weeks prior to the 17 March meeting, a group of 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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women had met to form a “ladies society” to sew shirts for temple workmen, an effort probably informed by the broader benevolent movement. When JS invited these women to be organized as part of the church structure, they abandoned their plans for an independent society with a constitution and bylaws. JS told them at the initial meeting, “The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon—your Constitution and law” (Minutes, 17 Mar. 1842). This record of Relief Society “organization and proceedings” includes minutes for seventeen meetings in 1842, thirteen in 1843, and four in 1844. By the last recorded meeting in March 1844, a total of 1,331 women had enrolled as members, most of them joining the first year (Maureen C. Ward, “‘This Institution Is a Good One’: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 March 1842 to 16 March 1844,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 [Fall 2002]: 87–203).
JS attended nine Relief Society meetings in 1842 and addressed six of them. These minutes document his instructions regarding women’s new responsibilities, authority, and forthcoming temple blessings—the only record of teachings JS directed specifically to women. The minutes detail donations for and visits with the poor, contributions for temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1841, commanded Saints to build temple and hotel (Nauvoo House). Cornerstone laid, 6 Apr. 1841. Saints volunteered labor, money, and other resources for temple construction. Construction directed by committee, which included Reynolds...

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construction, and women’s efforts at moral reform and civic activism. Discussions reported in this record refer explicitly or implicitly to tensions mounting in Nauvoo over JS’s political influence and threatened extradition 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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, the defection of prominent church and civic leader John C. Bennett

3 Aug. 1804–5 Aug. 1867. Physician, minister, poultry breeder. Born at Fairhaven, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. Son of John Bennett and Abigail Cook. Moved to Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio, 1808; to Massachusetts, 1812; and back to Marietta, 1822. Married ...

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, and the tumult surrounding the introduction of plural marriage. The record of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo ends on 16 March 1844; a decade passed before Relief Society meetings resumed in the Salt Lake Valley.

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