General Church Officers, February 1838–August 1839

From 1837 to 1839, church leadership underwent substantial changes. In late 1837 and early 1838, JS oversaw or approved the removal and replacement of several officers because of their disaffection from or dissent against JS and other leaders. Also, beginning in early 1838, several officers in , Ohio, followed JS in migrating to . The migration of leaders and the majority of other Latter-day Saints resulted in the need to fill positions in Kirtland and Missouri. The dynamics of leadership in the church’s ecclesiastical organization were further disrupted by the imprisonment of JS and other leaders, the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from Missouri, and the resettlement effort in and .
The following charts provide information regarding the church and other relevant organizations between 1837 and 1839, particularly during the period covered in this volume: February 1838–August 1839. The charts depict the organizations and offices of the general leadership of the church and identify the men known to hold those offices. The charts also identify several local ecclesiastical leaders in , , and , as well as traveling authorities and other significant offices within the church’s organization. Charts also identify offices in civic governments in , Missouri, which was widely recognized as a county set aside for Mormon settlement; the Caldwell County regiment of the state militia; the Society of the Daughter of Zion (also known as the Danite society); and the Mormon military.
This information has been compiled from minutes of meetings, other contemporaneous records, and later documents. In general, the charts present officers in the order they were listed in founding documents or as they were most commonly listed in documents from the period. Because not all organizational minutes and other administrative records are extant, in many cases the information in the charts has been pieced together from personal letters, journals, autobiographies, and other available documents.
 
Church Structure, 1838–1839
 
General Church Officers
 
First Presidency
JS, as “President of the High Priesthood,” and the men who served as to him in that office formed a . This general church presidency, which was also called the , oversaw all other administrative bodies in the church. Initially, the presidency was composed of JS as president and two other men as counselors. In 1834, the presidency was expanded to include additional members. On 3 September 1837, in a reorganization conference held in , Ohio, JS was sustained as president of the church with two counselors and four assistant counselors. A revelation JS dictated on 26 April 1838 referred to , , and other counselors, but extant minutes and other documents show no sign of men functioning as assistant counselors after JS moved from to in early 1838. The chart below tracks the membership of the First Presidency and their scribe from 3 September 1837 through August 1839.
3 September 1837 7 November 1837 6 April 1838 12 April 1838 28 June 1838
President President President President President
Joseph Smith Jr. Joseph Smith Jr. Joseph Smith Jr. Joseph Smith Jr. Joseph Smith Jr.
First Counselor First Counselor First Counselor First Counselor First Counselor
Second Counselor Second Counselor Second Counselor Second Counselor Second Counselor
Assistant Counselors Assistant Counselors Assistant Counselors Assistant Counselors Assistant Counselor
Scribe Scribe Scribe
 
Other General Officers
Patriarch Clerk and Recorder Historians
(appointed 6 December 1834) (appointed recorder 17 September 1837; appointed clerk and recorder 6 April 1838) (appointed 9 April 1831; excommunicated 10 March 1838)
(appointed 6 April 1838; disaffected November 1838; excommunicated 17 March 1839)
(appointed 6 April 1838)
 
Agents and Scribe for JS and the Church
As president of the church, JS appointed several men to act as scribes and agents. Scribes kept JS’s journals, copied his correspondence, worked on his history, and produced and copied other papers. Agents acted on JS’s behalf to purchase land and pay debts. After JS and left for in January 1838, church agents and worked to resolve JS’s and Rigdon’s debts in Kirtland and to oversee church property there. As Latter-day Saints gathered in and , agents purchased land for Mormon settlement, under the direction of church leaders.
By February 1838 Circa April 1839 Circa June 1839
 
Scribe
(circa 4 September–circa 5 October 1838; 22 April–3 November 1839)
  1. 1

    Note, 8 Mar. 1832.  

  2. 2

    JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1834; Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 Dec. 1834.  

  3. 3

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  4. 4

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  5. 5

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  6. 6

    Hyrum Smith replaced Frederick G. Williams after Williams was rejected. (Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837.)  

  7. 7

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  8. 8

    Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated. (Minutes, 12 Apr. 1838.)  

  9. 9

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  10. 10

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  11. 11

    Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837; Minutes, 28 June 1838.  

  12. 12

    John Smith was appointed president of the Adam-ondi-Ahman stake. (Minutes, 28 June 1838.)  

  13. 13

    Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838, in JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, 29; see also Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.  

  14. 14

    Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 Dec. 1834; Patriarchal Blessings, 1:9; see also JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1833 and 21 Jan. 1836; and Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 1.  

    Patriarchal Blessings, 1833–. CHL. CR 500 2.

  15. 15

    Patriarchal Blessings, 1:8–9; Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 Dec. 1834.  

    Patriarchal Blessings, 1833–. CHL. CR 500 2.

  16. 16

    Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838, in JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, 29; see also Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.  

  17. 17

    Minutes, 17 Sept. 1837–A.  

  18. 18

    Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.  

  19. 19

    Minute Book 2, 9 Apr. 1831.  

  20. 20

    Minute Book 2, 10 Mar. 1838.  

  21. 21

    Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.  

  22. 22

    Letter to Emma Smith, 4 Nov. 1838; Historical Introduction to John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839.  

  23. 23

    “Extracts of the Minutes of Conferences,” Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, 1:15.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  24. 24

    Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.  

  25. 25

    See Pay Order to Edward Partridge for William Smith, 21 Feb. 1838; Letter to William Marks and Newel K. Whitney, 8 July 1838; and Letter of Introduction from John Howden, 27 Oct. 1838.  

  26. 26

    See Pay Order to Edward Partridge for William Smith, 21 Feb. 1838; and Historical Introduction to Mortgage to Mead, Stafford & Co., 11 July 1837.  

  27. 27

    See Letter to William Marks and Newel K. Whitney, 8 July 1838; Letter of Introduction from John Howden, 27 Oct. 1838; Letter from William Perkins, 29 Oct. 1838; and Authorization for Oliver Granger, 13 May 1839.  

  28. 28

    See Hancock Co., IL, Deed Record, 1817–1917, vol. 12 G, pp. 247–248, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  29. 29

    See Hancock Co., IL, Bonds and Mortgages, 1840–1904, vol. 1, pp. 31–32, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm, 954,776, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; and Agreement with George W. Robinson, 30 Apr. 1839.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  30. 30

    See Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, 26 June 1839, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  31. 31

    JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, 72–74; Mulholland, Journal, 22 Apr. 1839.  

    Mulholland, James. Journal, Apr.–Oct. 1839. In Joseph Smith, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL. MS 155, box 1, fd. 4.

  32. 32

    Historical Introduction to JS, Journal, Sept.–Oct. 1838; Obituary for James Mulholland, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:32; Letter from Emma Smith, 6 Dec. 1839.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.