30473

Letter to John S. Carter, 13 April 1833

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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13th April 1833
Dear Brother John S. Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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your Letter to Broth Jared Carter

14 June 1801–6 July 1849. Born at Killingworth, Middlesex Co., Connecticut. Son of Gideon Carter and Johanna Sims. Moved to Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1810. Married Lydia Ames, 20 Sept. 1823, at Benson. Moved to Chenango, Broome Co., New York, by Jan...

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is just put into my hand and I have carefully purrused its contents and imbrace this oppertunity to answer it, we proceed to answer your questions first concerning your labour in the region where you live we acquiesce in your feelings on this subject until the the mouth of the Lord shall name and as it respects the vision you speak of2

This vision likely refers to one Jane Sherwood said she had experienced. John S. Carter wrote in his journal that Sherwood claimed to have visions of angels and “visions of God concerning that which must come hereafter perporting indeed that the powr of God’s Judgment has come, & astonishing things soon are to take place.” Carter’s journal entry for 10 March 1833 further reads, “Sister Sherwood appears to have visions of the Lord. Oh. God, let us not be deceived! She has seen greate things, but does not as yet tell all.” In the postscript to this letter, JS mentioned that he had also received two letters from Jane’s husband, Henry G. Sherwood, concerning this vision. (John S. Carter, Journal, 10 Mar. and 5 Apr. 1833.)  


we do not consider ourselves bound [p. 29]

JS handwriting begins.  


Kirtlan[d]

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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13th April 1833
Dear Broth[er] [John S.] Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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your Letter to Broth Jared [Carter]

14 June 1801–6 July 1849. Born at Killingworth, Middlesex Co., Connecticut. Son of Gideon Carter and Johanna Sims. Moved to Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1810. Married Lydia Ames, 20 Sept. 1823, at Benson. Moved to Chenango, Broome Co., New York, by Jan...

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is just put into  my hand and I have carefully purrused its contents and  imbrace this oppertunity to answer it,1

TEXT: Almost every comma in the portion of this document inscribed by JS is upside down. Though these pieces of punctuation resemble open parentheses, in the context of the letter, they seem to function as commas.  


we proceed to answer  your questions first concerning your labour in the region where  you live we acquiesce in your feelings on this subject until the  the mouth of the Lord shall name and as it respects the  vision you speak of2

This vision likely refers to one Jane Sherwood said she had experienced. John S. Carter wrote in his journal that Sherwood claimed to have visions of angels and “visions of God concerning that which must come hereafter perporting indeed that the powr of God’s Judgment has come, & astonishing things soon are to take place.” Carter’s journal entry for 10 March 1833 further reads, “Sister Sherwood appears to have visions of the Lord. Oh. God, let us not be deceived! She has seen greate things, but does not as yet tell all.” In the postscript to this letter, JS mentioned that he had also received two letters from Jane’s husband, Henry G. Sherwood, concerning this vision. (John S. Carter, Journal, 10 Mar. and 5 Apr. 1833.)  


we do not consider ourselves bound [p. 29]
Next
In this document, JS and 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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responded to a letter, no longer extant, from John S. Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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of Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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, Vermont. Written on 5 April 1833, Carter’s letter sought guidance from “the 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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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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” on a number of questions.1

John S. Carter, Journal, 5 Apr. 1833.  


In addition to what can be inferred from the response featured here, the probable content of Carter’s letter and the questions it may have asked can be deduced from the history of the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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in Benson, as well as from Carter’s journal and personal history.
In 1797, several members of Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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’s family established the Baptist Church of Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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. John was elected to be a pastor for that church in 1822, and he served in that role until a group of Baptist ministers from the area decided that his teachings were not in harmony with Baptist orthodoxy. Carter left his post and led a congregation of Free Will Baptists in Benson. In late October 1831, John’s younger brother Jared

14 June 1801–6 July 1849. Born at Killingworth, Middlesex Co., Connecticut. Son of Gideon Carter and Johanna Sims. Moved to Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1810. Married Lydia Ames, 20 Sept. 1823, at Benson. Moved to Chenango, Broome Co., New York, by Jan...

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, who had been baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

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into the Church of Christ earlier that year, arrived in Benson while serving a proselytizing mission. While John was preaching in another town, Jared baptized twenty-seven people in Benson, including virtually all of his brother’s Free Will Baptist congregation.2

Barnouw, “Benson Exodus of 1833: Mormon Converts and the Westward Movement,” 138–142.  


In November 1831, Jared introduced John to JS’s teachings. John was baptized into the Church of Christ sometime before 15 January 1832, when Jared left to return 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.3

John S. Carter, Journal, [1]–[2]; Jared Carter, Journal, 39, 48. After leaving to return to Kirtland, Jared wrote, “I had great reason to thank and praise the Lord for what he had done for me and my Brothers and sisters of my fathers family for the whole family had now come into the Glorious work of God with their companions, except one sister and my three Brothers were preachers In this gl[o]rious gospel.” (Jared Carter, Journal, 49.)  


On 25 April 1832, Jared Carter

14 June 1801–6 July 1849. Born at Killingworth, Middlesex Co., Connecticut. Son of Gideon Carter and Johanna Sims. Moved to Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1810. Married Lydia Ames, 20 Sept. 1823, at Benson. Moved to Chenango, Broome Co., New York, by Jan...

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, along with Calvin Stoddard

7 Sept. 1801–19 Nov. 1836. Farmer. Born at Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York. Son of Silas Stoddard and Bathsheba Sheffield. Lived at Ontario Co., 1810. Married Sophronia Smith, 30 Dec. 1827, at Palmyra. Resident of Macedon, Wayne Co., New York, June 1830. Proselytized...

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and Aaron Lyon

Ca. 1781–30 Sept. 1839. Born in Holland, Hampton Co., Massachusetts. Married Roxana (Rocksey) Palmer, 15 July 1804, at Orwell, Rutland Co., Vermont. Presumably baptized into LDS church. Acquired land at Caldwell Co., Missouri, including town lot at Far West...

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, commenced another mission to the New England states.4

Jared Carter, Journal, 59; Revelation, 12 Mar. 1832 [D&C 79].  


Jared arrived in Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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in late May 1832, and John

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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was soon after 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 the high priesthood

The authority and power held by certain officers in the church. The Book of Mormon referred to the high priesthood as God’s “holy order, which was after the order of his Son,” and indicated that Melchizedek, a biblical figure, was a high priest “after this...

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. John then joined Jared in proselytizing in Vermont

Area served as early thoroughfare for traveling Indian tribes. French explored area, 1609, and erected fort on island in Lake Champlain, 1666. First settled by Massachusetts emigrants, 1724. Claimed by British colonies of New York and New Hampshire, but during...

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in June and July 1832.5

John S. Carter, Journal, [5]–[6]. According to his journal, Jared arrived in Benson on 20 May 1832. John was ordained to the high priesthood on Thursday, 24 May 1832. (Jared Carter, Journal, 69, 72.)  


On this mission, Jared expressed his confidence in John as a church leader, writing that he “bids fair for extensive usefulness because of his exceding sincerity & acquiered abilities and also because of his constant devotedness” to God.6

Jared Carter, Journal, 95.  


Following Jared’s departure in summer 1832, John became a key leader of the Church of Christ in Benson.
With little communication from church leaders outside of the infrequent visits of missionaries, and having known of JS’s teachings for only approximately one year, John

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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experienced both success and challenges in retaining church members and upholding their faith. His journal entries reveal concern about growing unbelief and discord among the Mormons in Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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and the surrounding area beginning in late February 1833, when he found church members “not well united.”7

John S. Carter, Journal, 24 Mar. 1833; see also 19 Feb. 1833; and 3, 9, and 14 Mar. 1833.  


In early March 1833, he described the Benson congregation as being “under some trials” and stated that a “division in feeling has taken place.”8

John S. Carter, Journal, 3 Mar. 1833.  


John attempted to “settle the . . . difficulty,” but hard feelings among the members of his congregation continued.9

John S. Carter, Journal, 14 Mar. 1833.  


One difficulty he encountered was the claim from Jane McManagal (McMangle) Sherwood, a convert in Benson, that she had received “visions of the Lord.”10

John S. Carter, Journal, 10 Mar. 1833. On the day he wrote to Kirtland, John noted in his journal that he “heard Sister Sherwood relate her vision of seeing an Angel.” (John S. Carter, Journal, 5 Apr. 1833.)  


Carter was curious about the phenomena of receiving revelation and experiencing visions, and in his letter to JS he probably sought information about the nature of these reported heavenly encounters and instruction on how to respond to them.
In his letter Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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also apparently sought further knowledge about the gathering to 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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, a topic he had heard discussed at a church conference in Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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held on 10 August 1832.11

Ira Ames, a Vermont man who had married Charity Carter—a cousin of John and Jared—and who had recently joined the Church of Christ, was also at the 10 August conference and wrote that after the conference, he “commenced at once gathering up my means, disposing of my property preparing to gather with the Saints.” (Ames, Autobiography, [7], [9]; see also “The Gathering,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Nov. 1832, [5]–[6].)  


On 6 March 1833, Carter wrote in his journal that some church members in Vermont

Area served as early thoroughfare for traveling Indian tribes. French explored area, 1609, and erected fort on island in Lake Champlain, 1666. First settled by Massachusetts emigrants, 1724. Claimed by British colonies of New York and New Hampshire, but during...

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came to him “to enquire the way to Zion.”12

John S. Carter, Journal, 6 Mar. 1833.  


Later in the month, he described the desire of Benson converts to travel 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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and thence 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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, but he was unsure how to properly offer them assistance. He stated that some had already “made their calculation to go up to Zion,” though “their way appears hegged [hedged] up.”13

John S. Carter, Journal, 24 Mar. 1833.  


Delivered by his brother Jared

14 June 1801–6 July 1849. Born at Killingworth, Middlesex Co., Connecticut. Son of Gideon Carter and Johanna Sims. Moved to Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont, by 1810. Married Lydia Ames, 20 Sept. 1823, at Benson. Moved to Chenango, Broome Co., New York, by Jan...

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, John S. Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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’s 5 April 1833 letter was addressed to “the Elders 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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requesting by them council from God under some peculiar trials.”14

John S. Carter, Journal, 5 Apr. 1833. JS’s later history states, “Brother Jared Carter presented a letter, which he had received from his brother, to me, and requested me to answer it, which I did.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 285.)  


JS and 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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, two of the three presidents 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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, responded to Carter’s inquiries in the letter featured here. Though signed by both JS and Williams, the letter contains first-person singular pronouns, presumably made by JS as lead author, and statements in first-person plural, as if both JS and Williams were speaking. The letter offers counsel concerning revelation and angelic

Being who acts as a minister and messenger between heaven and earth. JS taught that angels were individuals who “belonged to this earth”; those who had already lived on earth were often resurrected beings. In addition to giving instruction, direction, and...

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visions, levels of authority, the responsibilities of church leaders in local ministry, the readmittance of apostates, and how the Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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church members should prepare to go to Zion. JS and Williams also encouraged Carter to seek further instruction from Orson Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

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and Lyman Johnson

24 Oct. 1811–20 Dec. 1859. Merchant, lawyer, hotelier. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Moved to Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, Mar. 1818. Baptized into LDS church by Sidney Rigdon, Feb. 1831. Ordained an elder...

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, who were appointed to preach and build up the church in the New England states that summer.
In late April, Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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mentioned receiving this letter in his journal, writing, “Of this I was glad.”15

John S. Carter, Journal, 23–24 Apr. 1833.  


Carter’s journal indicates that he received a second letter from JS on 7 May 1833, which gave “answers to important questions.” This second letter may have been written in response to another missive from Carter, or JS may have simply written a second, follow-up letter to the one featured here. Regardless, no second letter from either Carter or JS is extant.
After receiving this letter—and apparently the second letter mentioned above—from JS, Carter

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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made the immigration of New England Mormons 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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and 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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a priority. On 16 May 1833, in a letter published in The Evening and the Morning Star, Sylvester Smith

25 Mar. 1806–22 Feb. 1880. Farmer, carpenter, lawyer, realtor. Born at Tyringham, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Chileab Smith and Nancy Marshall. Moved to Amherst, Lorain Co., Ohio, ca. 1815. Married Elizabeth Frank, 27 Dec. 1827, likely in Chautauque...

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wrote, “I have received a letter from brother John

Ca. 1792–25/26 June 1834. Married Elizabeth (Betsey) Kinyon, 28 Feb. 1813, at Benson, Rutland Co., Vermont. Lived in Benson, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church, ca. 1832. Served mission in Vermont with his brother Jared Carter, 1832. Helped brothers Simeon...

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informing me, that the church in Benson

Located in western Vermont, near south end of Lake Champlain. Settled 1783; organized ca. 1786. Population in 1830 about 1,500. Scene of many early religious revivals. Location of first branch of LDS church in Vermont, 1831. Branch consisted mostly of former...

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, Vermont, was going up to Zion, this summer.”16

“Progress of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1833, 108.  


In late August 1833, Carter organized the departure of church members from Benson to Ohio and Missouri. He began his journey 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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on 5 September and effectively closed the branch of the church in Benson with his departure.17

John S. Carter, Journal, 21–22 Aug. and 5 Sept. 1833; Barnouw, “Benson Exodus of 1833: Mormon Converts and the Westward Movement,” 147.  


He arrived in Kirtland sometime after 27 September and was among the twelve men chosen to serve in the church’s first standing high council, organized by JS in Kirtland on 17 February 1834.18

John S. Carter’s journal ends on 27 September 1833, at which time he had not yet arrived in Kirtland. For more on the Kirtland high council, see Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834.  


Carter later traveled in the Camp of Israel

A group of approximately 205 men and about 20 women and children led by JS to Missouri, May–July 1834, to redeem Zion by helping the Saints who had been driven from Jackson County, Missouri, regain their lands; later referred to as “Zion’s Camp.” A 24 February...

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(later known as Zion’s Camp) and died of cholera in Clay County

Settled ca. 1800. Organized from Ray Co., 1822. Original size diminished when land was taken to create several surrounding counties. Liberty designated county seat, 1822. Population in 1830 about 5,000; in 1836 about 8,500; and in 1840 about 8,300. Refuge...

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, Missouri, on 24 June 1834.

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