The Joseph Smith Papers is pleased to announce its latest web content release. Included in this publication are several legal cases from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, in which Joseph Smith was either plaintiff, defendant, witness, or judge. One case he presided over involved burglary by a former member of the church, Oliver Olney. Smith found Olney guilty but remarked that doing so was “the most painful thing I ever had to do” and that he “would have fed & clothed him if he had come to me.” Another case involved sexual assault. In a time when legal recourse was difficult for women who were victims of violence, Lovina Patterson Woolsey’s neighbors came to her aid, and her assailant was found guilty. Other cases involved debts incurred by Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio (Patterson and Patterson v. Cahoon, Carter & Co. and Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery; Kelley v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery; and Scribner v. Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery).
Also published in this release are almost a hundred additional documents from November 1835 through January 1838, including marriage licenses, priesthood licenses, promissory notes, and other financial documents. Several more land deeds from the 1840s have been added as well. Updated reference material includes new biographical entries for people appearing in the added court cases; glossary entries for some of the Kirtland, Ohio, businesses; several hundred new calendar of documents entries for February through November 1841; and updated topics pages for Joseph Smith’s correspondence and Sources for Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.