53991726

Revelation, 5 January 1833

This revelation addressed to Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, which designated him as a counselor and scribe to JS and instructed him to consecrate

The dedicating of money, lands, goods, or one’s own life for sacred purposes. Both the New Testament and Book of Mormon referred to some groups having “all things common” economically; the Book of Mormon also referred to individuals who consecrated or dedicated...

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his farm, bears the date “Januery 5 1834.” Two versions of the revelation exist: the one featured here is in the handwriting of Williams (perhaps the original inscription), and the other is in the handwriting of Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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(apparently a copy derived from the Williams version in 1835 or 1836 when Parrish was serving as a scribe to JS).1

See Historical Introduction to JS, Journal, 1835–1836; and Historical Introduction to JS History, 1834–1836.  


Both versions give the year of the revelation as 1834. However, the inscription “1834” on the Williams copy is in a script that differs considerably from the month and date that precede it and from the body of the revelation. The year is written in a cursive script—entirely inscribed with a continuous and unbroken line—that does not resemble other “1834” inscriptions or any of the other year inscriptions found in the collection of Williams papers of which the revelation manuscript is part.2

The revelation was originally in the Frederick G. Williams Papers at the Church History Library, but it has been moved into the Church History Library’s Revelations Collection.  


This suggests that the year was inserted at a later time.3

Spectroscopy analysis suggests that the date “January 5,” the year “1834,” and the body of the revelation are in three different inks.  


The revelation manuscript is associated with other Williams documents that were gathered together as a financial record sometime in or after January 1836.4

Within the Frederick G. Williams Papers, this revelation appeared among other financial documents covering Williams’s lifespan and his probate. A retrospective financial statement found in Williams’s papers mentions that financial statements were prepared in January 1836. The statement contains financial records related to the revelation manuscript and other documents in the collection. Other retrospective financial statements in the collection refer to both the Williams farm and his work as a scribe. (See Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL.)  


Some of these other documents show signs of uncertainty about the years in which certain financial arrangements were made. In one document “1835” was revised to “1836,” while in another “1836” was revised to “1837.”5

Frederick G. Williams, “Account on Farm,” no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; “Estate of Algernon S. Gilbert,” ca. Oct. 1837, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL.  


These ambiguities bring into question the certainty of the present document’s dating to the year 1834, which in turn necessitates a reconsideration of the historical context of the revelation’s content.
In most respects, the revelation fits an 1833 context much better than an 1834 context. First, it referenced the need for JS to do the “work of translation.” JS began revising the Bible in 1830 and finished in July 1833.6

JS’s June 1830 revelation describing the visions of Moses became the beginning of his revision of the Bible. On 2 February 1833, JS and Williams “completed the translation and the reviewing of the New testament.” The translation of the Old Testament was completed on 2 July 1833. (Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1]; Minute Book 1, 2 Feb. 1833; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 2 July 1833.)  


Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, who first met JS in summer 1831, helped JS in this effort in the second half of 1832 and in the first half of 1833.7

See Historical Introduction to Note, 9 Jan. 1833.  


The Egyptian papyri connected with JS’s next translation project—the Book of Abraham—did not arrive in 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, until the summer of 1835.8

Peterson, Story of the Book of Abraham, 1–6.  


Williams apparently did not help with the Book of Abraham or any later translation projects.9

See Gee, “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence,” 196; see also Peterson, Story of the Book of Abraham, 119–124.  


Therefore, a January revelation referencing translation fits much better in 1833 than in 1834.
The revelation appointed Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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to be a “councillor & scribe” to JS, which also implies an 1833 date. Williams may have begun writing for JS in an informal capacity as early as February or March 1832 and was formally “employed to be a scribe” in July 1832.10

Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; Scribal Directory; see also JS History, ca. Summer 1832; and Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.  


The further need of his services as a scribe and as a counselor likely arose from the excommunication of Jesse Gause

Ca. 1784–ca. Sept. 1836. Schoolteacher. Born at East Marlborough, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Gause (Goss) and Mary Beverly. Joined Society of Friends (Quakers), 1806. Moved to Fayette Co., Pennsylvania, 1808; to Chester Co., 1811; and to Wilmington...

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, one of JS’s two counselor-scribes, in December 1832.11

JS, Journal, 3 Dec. 1832; see also Jennings, “Consequential Counselor,” 214–215.  


On 9 January 1833, the United Firm

An organization that supervised the management of church enterprises and properties from 1832 to 1834. In March and April 1832, revelations directed that the church’s publishing and mercantile endeavors be organized. In accordance with this direction, the...

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agreed to pay Williams “for his services as assistant scribe,” and the minutes of a conference held 22 January 1833 note that Williams was an “assistant scribe and counceler.”12

Note, 9 Jan. 1833; Minutes, 22–23 Jan. 1833. Williams also referred to himself by this title in attestations to three revelation transcripts, which he probably made shortly after receiving his new appointment. (Revelation, 6 Dec. 1832 [D&C 86]; Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:1–126]; Revelation, 3 Jan. 1833 [D&C 88:127–137].)  


On 18 March 1833, 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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and Williams were ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

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to be “equal with him [JS] in holding the Keys

Authority or knowledge of God given to humankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth...

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of the Kingdom and also to the Presidency of the high Priesthood

Both the office of the president of the high priesthood and the body comprising the president and his counselors; the presiding body of the church. In November 1831, a revelation directed the appointment of a president of the high priesthood. The individual...

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.”13

Minute Book 1, 18 Mar. 1833.  


A revelation calling Williams to serve as a counselor and scribe therefore seems plausible in January 1833 but would make much less sense a year later.
Finally, the revelation instructed Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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to consecrate his farm for the “bringing forth of the revelations.” Although obtaining means for printing the revelations was a manifest concern in an 11 January 1834 prayer offered by JS and others, a 25 June 1833 letter sent by JS and other leaders indicates there was also concern at that earlier time about how to acquire binding materials for the planned Book of Commandments.14

JS, Journal, 11 Jan. 1834; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 25 June 1833. Money may also have been needed to pay a debt on the paper, to pay living expenses for William W. Phelps and his family, or for other unknown needs related to publishing the Book of Commandments.  


A revelation commanding Williams to consecrate his farm to help in “bringing forth of the revelations” could therefore make sense in either 1833 or 1834, though 1833 is more likely. Williams had obtained this farm, consisting of 144 acres, in the winter of 1829–1830 through a land exchange with Isaac Moore.15

See Historical Introduction to Revelation, 15 May 1831.  


Williams later stated that he allowed JS the use of his farm for two years.16

Frederick G. Williams, “Account on Farm,” no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL.  


This was apparently from May 1831, when JS’s parents moved onto the farm, to about March 1833.17

Revelation, 15 May 1831; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 12, [6].  


Williams evidently consecrated his farm when he joined the United Firm in mid-March 1833, but he did not actually deed the farm to JS until May 1834.18

Minute Book 1, 15 Mar. 1833; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, vol. 18, pp. 477–478, 5 May 1834, microfilm 20,238, U. S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. Williams deeded his farm to JS on 5 May 1834, likely in response to a 23 April 1834 revelation directing the redistribution of the United Firm’s Ohio assets. (Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834 [D&C 104].)  


The firm’s founding revelation required firm members to “be equal or in other words you are to have equal claims on the properties for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewartship

One who managed property and goods under the law of consecration; also someone given a specific ecclesiastical responsibility. According to the “Laws of the Church of Christ,” members of the church were to make donations to the bishop, who would record the...

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.”19

Revelation, 26 Apr. 1832 [D&C 82:17]; see also Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm,” 12–13, 16–19.  


A plat for 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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, probably created in summer 1833 when church leaders were making the plats for the city of Zion

Also referred to as New Jerusalem. JS revelation, dated Sept. 1830, prophesied that “city of Zion” would be built among Lamanites (American Indians). JS directed Oliver Cowdery and other missionaries preaching among American Indians in Missouri to find location...

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, shows that the church had plans to build a printing house on the Williams farm.20

Plat of City of Zion, circa Early June–25 June 1833, CHL; Plat of Kirtland, Ohio, not before 2 Aug. 1833, CHL; Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm,” 19.  


Because the church likely would not have planned in summer 1833 to build on Williams’s land if he had not already consecrated it, and because the revelation commanded Williams to consecrate his land, the Kirtland plat is further evidence that January 1833 is the most likely date for this revelation.
Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, who was serving as a scribe, probably inscribed this revelation when it was dictated. The revelation was addressed to him and given in response to his desire to know God’s will concerning him. The Williams copy of the revelation was hastily inscribed on a scrap of unlined paper—suggesting that it may be the original manuscript, taken down at the time JS dictated the text. Williams retained the text of the revelation, and it appears among a collection of his personal papers.

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