The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce its latest web release, which includes the digital version of Documents, Volume 6, hundreds of priesthood licenses from the church’s Kirtland, Ohio, period, and documents for thirteen legal cases.
Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839 begins with Joseph Smith fleeing Kirtland for Far West, Missouri, with hope that the Latter-day Saints could live peacefully there. However, after conflicts with neighbors erupted into what later became known as “the Mormon War,” Joseph Smith was arrested and incarcerated, while the Saints were violently forced from the state. After spending a winter in jail, Smith escaped to Illinois, where he once again began to establish a gathering place. Highlights from this volume include the following:
- The final letter Joseph Smith wrote to Emma from the Clay County jail in Liberty
- A letter Smith wrote to Bishop Edward Partridge and the Saints from the Clay County jail in Liberty, conveying divine words of comfort he had received
- Documentation for transactions to acquire land in what would become Nauvoo, Illinois
- An introduction on the Mormon War
- Joseph Smith’s published answers to twenty questions he was asked “daily and hourly . . . by all classes of people”
- Revelations on tithing and the name of the church
The record book titled “Kirtland Elders’ Certificates” includes nearly four hundred licenses attesting that a male priesthood holder had been ordained to a priesthood position and was given permission to preach the gospel and perform other priesthood duties. The licenses are also being published individually in the online Documents series under their issue dates.
In the Legal, Business, and Financial Records series, we have added introductions for six Ohio legal cases, one Illinois legal case, and one Missouri legal case, as well as documents for five more Ohio legal cases. The newly published cases include a case involving the plundering of Joseph Smith’s house in Far West, a case in which Smith served as a witness in a dispute over a cow, a complaint he made against Thomas J. Hunter for maligning both his character and the church, and three debt cases. There is also a case in which Joseph Smith was charged with assault and battery for an altercation with his brother-in-law Calvin Stoddard over whether a parcel of land contained water. In the end, the judge found him not guilty because Stoddard testified that Smith had apologized directly after the incident.