Part 4: October 1830–January 1831

Soon after the second conference of the Church of Christ on 26 September 1830, led a group of men on a mission to evangelize American Indians, who were believed by church members to be descendants of peoples described in the Book of Mormon. The missionaries’ travels eventually took them to and to the area now known as eastern Kansas, where several Indian tribes had recently been relocated by the federal government. A September 1830 revelation appointed Cowdery to this mission, and subsequent revelations in September and October directed , , and to join him. By late October they “commenced their journey, preaching by the way.”
The group briefly preached to a group of Seneca Indians near , New York. En route to the West, encouraged the missionaries to stop in , Ohio, to approach his former spiritual leader, , a preacher associated with . There the missionaries met with success, and within a few weeks Rigdon and many members of his congregation in northeastern joined the Church of Christ. In November, , , , and , accompanied by new convert , left the area and continued on their mission to the American Indians living west of . Soon after the missionaries departed, Rigdon, along with fellow inquirer , traveled to to meet JS. The two stopped in , where they visited with the Smiths’ former neighbors and inspected the farm that had belonged to They then traveled to Waterloo, where they found JS preaching a sermon at the residence of his parents. At the conclusion of JS’s sermon, Partridge rose to speak and asked JS to baptize him.
Until left to fulfill his preaching mission, he and JS had been actively working on a “” or revision of the Bible. This was not a translation in the usual sense, and neither JS nor his scribes mentioned use of the or a seer stone, which JS had earlier used to translate the Book of Mormon. Instead, working from a published copy of the King James Bible, JS dictated to a scribe corrections, refinements, and additions to the Old and New Testaments as he felt inspired. In Cowdery’s absence, and served as JS’s scribes until , who extended his stay in , assumed the role in December.
JS and worked on the Bible revision until late December, when a revelation commanded the church members to “assemble together at the .” They were to stop translating until they had relocated but in the meantime were to preach to the various congregations of the church. They accordingly “went to the several churches preaching and propheceing [prophesying].” On 2 January 1831, the members of the Church of Christ met in , New York, for their third conference, during which a revelation repeated the earlier commandment to gather to Ohio and promised, “There I will give unto you my law & there you shall be endowed with power from on high.” Days later, JS sent to Ohio. Whitmer became the first church member to relocate from New York to Ohio, carrying with him “the commandments and revelations . . . to comfort and strengthen” converts there. JS and left for Ohio in late January 1831.
  1. 1

    JS’s history explains: “At this time a great desire was manifest by several of the Elders respecting the remnants of the house of Joseph—the Lamanites residing in the west, knowing that the purposes of God were great to that people and hoping that the time had come when the promises of the Almighty in regard to that people were about to be accomplished.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 60–61.)  

  2. 2

    JS History, vol. A-1, 61; Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:8]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–D [D&C 30:5]; Revelation, Oct. 1830–A [D&C 32:2–3].  

  3. 3

    Pratt, Autobiography, 49; JS History, vol. A-1, 61.  

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  4. 4

    Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 12 Nov. 1830; Pratt, Autobiography, 49, 61.  

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  5. 5

    Rigdon, who headed a restorationist congregation in Mentor, had recently broken away from the Campbellite movement. (Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, 298–299.)  

    Hayden, Amos Sutton. Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio; with Biographical Sketches of the Principal Agents in Their Religious Movement. Cincinnati: Chase and Hall, 1875.

  6. 6

    Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 12 Nov. 1830; [Matthew S. Clapp], “Mormonism,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 15 Feb. 1831, [1]–[2].  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  7. 7

    Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 10, [7].  

  8. 8

    JS’s Bible revision project began about June 1830 and continued until summer 1833. (See Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 57–59.)  

    Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

  9. 9

    The Bible was purchased in October 1829 from E. B. Grandin’s shop, where the Book of Mormon was being printed. The Bible is at the Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri: The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Together with the Apocrypha. . . . (Cooperstown, NY: H. Phinney and E. Phinney, 1828).  

  10. 10

    See Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 63–64.  

    Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

  11. 11

    Revelation, 30 Dec. 1830 [D&C 37:1–3]. JS’s and Rigdon’s travels took in Colesville, New York, and Harmony, Pennsylvania.  

  12. 12

    Whitmer, History, 5.  

  13. 13

    Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:32].  

  14. 14

    Whitmer, History, 10. Whitmer arrived in Ohio about the middle of January. (“Mormonism,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 18 Jan. 1831, [3]; see also Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 111.)  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

    Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.

  15. 15

    Although most New York church members removed to Ohio in spring 1831, JS’s departure may have been hastened by a letter from John Whitmer describing problems among church members in Ohio and requesting his assistance. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 10, [8].)