31826

Revelation, 12 August 1831 [D&C 61]

& behold this is the way that after they leave the canal they shall Journey by land in as much as they are commanded to Journey & go up unto the land of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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& they shall do like unto the children of Israel pitching their tents by the way22

See Numbers 1:52.  


& behold this commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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you shall give unto all your brethren nevertheless unto whom it is given power to command the waters23

Possibly an allusion to those recently ordained to the high priesthood. An addition JS made to Genesis 14 sometime between February and March 1831 as part of his revision of the Bible stated, in reference to the high priesthood, that “every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power by faith to break Mountains to divide the seas to dry up watters to turn them out of their course.” (Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831; Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 64; Old Testament Revision 1, p. 34 [Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:24].)  


unto him it is given by the spirit to know all his ways wherefore let him do as the spirit of the living God commandeth him whether upon the land or upon the waters as it remaineth with me to do hereafter & unto you it is given the course of the saints or the way for the saints of the camp of the Lord to Journey & again verily I say unto you my Servents 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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Joseph & Oliver

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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shall not open their mouths in the congregations of the wicked untill they arrive at cincinnati

Area settled largely by emigrants from New England and New Jersey, by 1788. Village founded and surveyed adjacent to site of Fort Washington, 1789. First seat of legislature of Northwest Territory, 1790. Incorporated as city, 1819. Developed rapidly as shipping...

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& in that place they shall lift up their voices unto god against that People yea unto him whose anger is kindelled against their wickedness a people which is well ripened for distruction & from thence let them Journy for the congregations of their brethren for their labours even now are wanted more abundantly among them then among the congregations of the wicked & now concerning the residue24

That is, the other members of the group returning to Kirtland besides JS, Rigdon, Cowdery, Phelps, and Gilbert.  


let them Journey & declare the word among the congregations of the wicked inasmuch as it is given & in as much as they do this they shall rid their garments & they shall be spotless before me25

The Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon affirmed: “we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgement seat of Christ.” The idea that elders bear responsibility for the sins of those they do not warn appears in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. (Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829; see also Ezekiel 3:17–21; 33:7–16; Acts 20:26–27; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 124, 158 [Jacob 1:19; Mosiah 2:27–28].)  


& let them Journey together or two by two as seemeth them good only let my servent reynolds Cahoon

30 Apr. 1790–29 Apr. 1861. Farmer, tanner, builder. Born at Cambridge, Washington Co., New York. Son of William Cahoon Jr. and Mehitable Hodges. Married Thirza Stiles, 11 Dec. 1810. Moved to northeastern Ohio, 1811. Located at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co.,...

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& my Servent Samuel Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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with whom I am well pleased be not seperated untill they return to their homes & this for a wise purpose in me & now verily I say unto you & what I say unto one I say unto all be of good cheer26

See Matthew 14:27; John 16:33; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 453 [3 Nephi 1:13].  


little children for I am in your midst27

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 497 [3 Nephi 20:22]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:5]; and Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49:27].  


& I have not forsaken you & in as much as ye have humbelled yourselves before me the blessings of the kingdom is yours gird up your loins & be watchfull & be sober28

See 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 330 [Alma 37:47]; and Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:19].  


looking forth for the coming of the Son of man in an hour you think not29

See Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40; and Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:20].  


pray always that you enter not into temptation30

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 491 [3 Nephi 18:18]; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:33]; and Revelation, Sept. 1830–F [D&C 31:12].  


that you may abide the day of his coming31

See Malachi 3:2; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 503 [3 Nephi 24:2]; and Revelation, 7 Dec. 1830 [D&C 35:21].  


whether in life or in death even So Amen [p. 103]
& behold this is the way that after they leave the canal they shall  Journey by land in as much as they are commanded to Journey by  & go up unto the land of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
& they shall do like unto the  children of Israel pitching their tents by the way22

See Numbers 1:52.  


& behold this  commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
you shall give unto all your brethren neverthe less unto whom it is given power to command the waters23

Possibly an allusion to those recently ordained to the high priesthood. An addition JS made to Genesis 14 sometime between February and March 1831 as part of his revision of the Bible stated, in reference to the high priesthood, that “every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power by faith to break Mountains to divide the seas to dry up watters to turn them out of their course.” (Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831; Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 64; Old Testament Revision 1, p. 34 [Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:24].)  


unto  him it is given by the spirit to know all his ways wherefore  let him do as the spirit of the living God commandeth him  whether upon the land or upon the waters as it remaineth with  me to do hereafter & unto you it is given the course of the saints or  the way for the saints of the camp of the Lord to Journey & again  verily I say unto you my Servents 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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Joseph & Oliver

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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shall not  open their mouths in the congregations of the wicked untill they  arrive at cincinnati

Area settled largely by emigrants from New England and New Jersey, by 1788. Village founded and surveyed adjacent to site of Fort Washington, 1789. First seat of legislature of Northwest Territory, 1790. Incorporated as city, 1819. Developed rapidly as shipping...

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& in that place they shall lift up their voices  unto god against that People yea unto him whose anger is kindelled  against their wickedness a people which is well ripened for distruc tion & from thence let them Journy for the congregations of their  brethren for their labours even now are wanted more abundantly  among them then among the congregations of the wicked & now  concerning the residue24

That is, the other members of the group returning to Kirtland besides JS, Rigdon, Cowdery, Phelps, and Gilbert.  


let them Journey & declare the word among  the congregations of the wicked inasmuch as it is given & in as much  as they do this they shall rid their garments & they shall be spot less before me25

The Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon affirmed: “we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgement seat of Christ.” The idea that elders bear responsibility for the sins of those they do not warn appears in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. (Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829; see also Ezekiel 3:17–21; 33:7–16; Acts 20:26–27; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 124, 158 [Jacob 1:19; Mosiah 2:27–28].)  


& let them Journey together or two by two as  seemeth them good only let my servent reynolds [Cahoon]

30 Apr. 1790–29 Apr. 1861. Farmer, tanner, builder. Born at Cambridge, Washington Co., New York. Son of William Cahoon Jr. and Mehitable Hodges. Married Thirza Stiles, 11 Dec. 1810. Moved to northeastern Ohio, 1811. Located at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co.,...

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& my Servent  Samuel [Smith]

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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with whom I am well pleased be not seperated untill  they return to their homes & this for a wise purpose in me  & now verily I say unto you & what I say unto one I say unto  all be of good cheer26

See Matthew 14:27; John 16:33; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 453 [3 Nephi 1:13].  


little children for I am in your midst27

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 497 [3 Nephi 20:22]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:5]; and Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49:27].  


 & I have not forsaken you & in as much as ye have humbe lled yourselves before me the blessings of the kingdom is yours  gird up your loins & be watchfull & be sober28

See 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 330 [Alma 37:47]; and Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:19].  


looking forth  for the coming of the Son of man in an hour you think not29

See Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40; and Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:20].  


 pray always that you enter not into temptation30

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 491 [3 Nephi 18:18]; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:33]; and Revelation, Sept. 1830–F [D&C 31:12].  


that you  may abide the day of his coming31

See Malachi 3:2; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 503 [3 Nephi 24:2]; and Revelation, 7 Dec. 1830 [D&C 35:21].  


whether in life or in death  even So Amen [p. 103]
Previous
Having overseen the dedication of the land for the establishment of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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, JS departed Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, Jackson County, Missouri, for 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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on 9 August 1831 in the company of ten elders

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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. On 12 August, at a location on the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

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that a later JS history calls “McIlwaine’s Bend,” JS dictated a revelation explaining the many dangers that existed on the river and instructing most of those returning to Ohio to leave the water and travel by land.1

JS History, vol. A-1, 142. Reynolds Cahoon noted in his journal that the group traveled for “about 100 mile[s]” towards St. Louis before leaving the river, indicating that JS dictated the revelation approximately one hundred miles downstream from Independence. In Sidney Gilbert’s copy of the revelation, he gave the location as “on the Banks of the Missouri about 40 miles above Chairton [Chariton].” McIlwaine’s Bend was, therefore, probably at a site five miles west of Miami, Saline County, Missouri, and may have been what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1878 called Teteseau Bend, “an abrupt four-mile southward U-shaped bend.” This bend no longer exists because the river’s channel has changed. William Clark may have referred to this same bend when he wrote in his journal that his expedition with Meriwether Lewis was passing through “the worst part” of the Missouri River in June 1804—a time when they were traveling just west of the area where Miami was later established. (Cahoon, Diary, 9 Aug. 1831; Gilbert, Notebook, [37]; Berrett, Sacred Places, 4:138–139; Moulton and Dunlay, Journals of Lewis and Clark, 2:301–302.)  


The content of the revelation reflected experiences JS and his group had gone through as they made their way to St. Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as city...

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, Missouri. Although nothing eventful occurred in the first day or two of their journey,2

JS History, vol. A-1, 142.  


discord apparently arose within the group when 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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chastised some of the elders for inappropriate conduct and warned them that misfortune would befall them if they did not repent. Soon after, a sawyer—a submerged tree anchored to the bottom of the river—nearly capsized the canoe carrying JS and 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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. Unnerved by this encounter, JS instructed the group to exit the water and camp for the night.3

Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, [1].  


According to a later JS history, 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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then experienced “an open vision, by daylight,” of “the Destroyer, in his most horrible power, rid[ing] upon the face of the waters.”4

JS History, vol. A-1, 142. Neither Ezra Booth nor Reynolds Cahoon—two members of the group who wrote contemporary accounts of the journey—mentioned Phelps’s vision. Since Phelps helped prepare this section of JS’s history, the information about the vision likely came directly from him. (See Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1]; Cahoon, Diary, 9 Aug. 1831; see also Jessee, “Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” 441.)  


The contention within the group was resolved later that night, and JS dictated the revelation the next morning.5

Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, [1].  


The revelation stated that God had permitted the elders to travel via the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

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to St. Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as city...

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, as instructed in an 8 August revelation,6

Revelation, 8 Aug. 1831 [D&C 60:5] .  


so that they could testify of the dangers on the water and warn church members not to travel to Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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on the river. At the time, the Missouri River was considered navigable only approximately three months out of the year. An 1837 Missouri gazetteer referred to the “mad water” of the river and noted that “freights and ensurance and pilot-wages” were higher for Missouri River navigation than for other waterways because of “the dangers of the ever-varying channel of the river.”7

Wetmore, Gazetteer of the State of Missouri, 33–35.  


Other publications noted the frequent occurrence of sawyers, which were “the most formidable dangers to navigation of the river” and caused 70 percent of all steamboat wrecks. “These snags were the terror of the pilot,” according to an early history of Missouri River navigation,8

Chittenden, History of Early Steamboat Navigation, 1:80–81.  


and were perhaps one reason for 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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’s designation of the river in the revelation’s heading as “the River Distruction.”9

Ezra Booth also explained that after the dictation of the revelation, “the Missouri river was named the river of Destruction.” (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII, Ohio Star [Ravenna], 24 Nov. 1831, [1].)  


After speaking to some of the elders who journeyed to Missouri, Elizabeth Godkin Marsh

By 1800–1854. Married Thomas B. Marsh, 1 Nov. 1820, in New York City. Moved to Boston, 1822. Moved to Palmyra, Wayne Co., New York, by Sept. 1830. Likely baptized into LDS church, Sept. 1830. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, Spring 1831. Moved to Jackson...

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relayed that the river “is always rily and bubly and looks mad as if it had been cursed.”10

Elizabeth Godkin Marsh, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Lewis Abbott and Ann Abbott, East Sudbury, MA, Sept. [1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.  


The revelation emphasized again the need for the elders to proclaim the gospel as they journeyed home and gave specific instructions to JS, 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 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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to forego traveling on the river. Thereafter, JS, Rigdon, and Cowdery traveled by land to St. Louis and then took a stagecoach to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, by way of Cincinnati

Area settled largely by emigrants from New England and New Jersey, by 1788. Village founded and surveyed adjacent to site of Fort Washington, 1789. First seat of legislature of Northwest Territory, 1790. Incorporated as city, 1819. Developed rapidly as shipping...

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.11

JS History, vol. A-1, 146; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. VII,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 24 Nov. 1831, [1].  


The original manuscript of this revelation is not extant. Presumably, either 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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or 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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, two of JS’s scribes, wrote the revelation as JS dictated it. 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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copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1, probably shortly after JS, Rigdon, and Cowdery returned to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio. 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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also made a copy in a book of revelations he was keeping, probably in this same time period.12

Gilbert, Notebook, [37]–[45].  


Facts