43990868

Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

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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, as the spirit of a person pervades every member of the body, so shall the Spirit of the Lord which pervades this Society be with her— she shall feel it and rejoice— she shall be blest whereever she is, and the Lord shall open the way and she shall be instrumental in doing much,— thro’ her own exertions by the instrumentality of others, she shall be enabled to contribute much to the fund of the Society— she shall warm up the hearts of those who are cold and dormant, and shall be instrumental in doing much good—
Mrs. Leonard, Councillor W.

26 Dec. 1800–15 Feb. 1882. Born at Derby, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Daughter of Gibson Smith and Polly Bradley. Moved to Ohio, 1819. Married Newel K. Whitney, 20 Oct. 1822, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Shortly after, joined reformed Baptist (later Disciples...

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and Councillor C. bore testimony to the truth of what Miss 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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had said to Mrs. Buel—
Councillor Cleveland stated that she many times felt in her heart, what she could not express in our own language, and as the Prophet had given us liberty to improve the gifts of the gospel in our meetings, and feelings the power resting upon, desired to speak in the gift of tongues; which she did in a powerful manner.
Mrs. Sessions arose and gave the interpretation of what Councillor C. had spoken in an unknown tongue, and said that God was well pleas’d with this Society, that if we would be humble and faithful the Lord would pour out upon the members generally the gift of prophecy— that when the speaker laid her hand on the head of Sister 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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, she said that not only she should have the spirit but that all should have it also— that the speaker then address’d herself to Mother Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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saying that the prayers of father Smith

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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were now answered upon the members of the Society— that the days of Mother S.

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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should be prolong’d and she should meet many times with the Society, should enjoy much in the society of the [p. [32]]
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
, as the spirit of a person pervades every member  of the body, so shall the Spirit of the Lord which pervades  this Society be with her— she shall feel it and rejoice— she  shall be blest whereever she is, and the Lord shall open  the way and she shall be instrumental in doing much,—  thro’ her own exertions by the instrumentality of others, she  shall be enabled to contribute much to the fund of the  Society— she shall warm up the hearts of those who are  cold and dormant, and shall be instrumental in  doing much good—
Mrs. Leonard, Councillor W.

26 Dec. 1800–15 Feb. 1882. Born at Derby, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Daughter of Gibson Smith and Polly Bradley. Moved to Ohio, 1819. Married Newel K. Whitney, 20 Oct. 1822, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Shortly after, joined reformed Baptist (later Disciples...

View Full Bio
and Councillor C.  bore testimony to the truth of what Miss 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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had said  to Mrs. Buel—
Councillor Cleveland stated that she many  times felt in her heart, what she could not express it in  our own language, and as the Prophet had given us  liberty to improve the gifts of the gospel in our meetings,  and feelings the power resting upon, desired to speak in the  gift of tongues; which she did in a powerful manner.
Mrs. Sessions arose and gave the interpretation  of what Councillor C. had spoken in an unknown tongue,  and said that God was well pleas’d with this Society,  that if we would be humble and faithful the Lord would  pour out upon the members generally the gift of prophecy — that when the speaker laid her hand on the head of Sister  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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, she said that not only she should have the spirit  but that all should have it also— that the speaker  then address’d herself to Mother Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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saying that the  prayers of father Smith

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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were now answered upon the  members of the Society— that the days of Mother S.

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

View Full Bio
 should be prolong’d and she should meet many times  with the Society, should enjoy much in the society of the [p. [32]]
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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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