Appeal and Minutes, [, Geauga Co., OH], 21 June 1833. Featured version copied [ca. 21 June 1833] in Minute Book 1, p. 21; handwriting of ; signature of JS; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
These minutes contain an account of the continued disciplinary action against , an who was accused of “unchristian conduct with the female sex while on a mission to the east.” A few weeks earlier, on 1 June, Hurlbut, who had apparently not yet returned from his mission, was tried in absentia by a composed of several . The council “decided that his commission be taken from him and that he be no longer a member of the .” Upon learning of his dismissal, however, Hurlbut appealed to JS to reconsider the decision.
A November 1831 revelation outlined the procedures by which a disputed decision made by a bishop’s court could be adjudicated. It declared that in the most difficult and important cases presented before the church, when a dispute arose over the verdict, the case would be “handed over & carried up unto the court of the church before the . . . thus the president of the high priesthood & his councellors shall have power to decide upon testimony according to the laws of the church & after this desision it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord for this is the highest court of the church of God & a final desision upon controvers[i]es.”
The following minutes reproduce, apparently verbatim, ’s written statement of appeal requesting a new hearing by the president’s court. The minutes, which were probably copied from an original text inscribed on loose pages, bear the signature of JS in his own hand rather than a copied signature, suggesting that these minutes were treated at the time as an official church record of Hurlbut’s appeal and reinstatement.
, who was present at the meeting, later explained that “didn’t deny the charge but begged to be forgiven [and] made every promise on the face of the earth that a man could make that he would from that day out live a faithful and virtuous life.” Following his importuning, the council finally “agreed that he might on confession be restored to the church.” Although the council restored Hurlbut’s membership because of his penitent confession, George A. Smith recalled that “as soon as this council had made its decision upon Hurlburt[,] Joseph arose and said to the council he is not honest what he has promised he [will] not fulfill[.] what he has confessed is not the thoughts and intents of his heart [and] time will prove it.” Two days after this meeting concluded, Hurlbut’s case was again taken up on grounds that Hurlbut “had deceived Joseph Smith’s God.”
George A. Smith, Discourse, 15 Nov. 1864, in George D. Watt, Discourse Shorthand Notes, 15 Nov. 1864, Pitman Shorthand Transcriptions, CHL; see also Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 597; and George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 15 Nov. 1864, 11:8.
Pitman Shorthand Transcriptions, 1998–2013. CHL.
Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.
Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–1886.
I, , haveing been tried befor the in a charge of Unchristian like conduct with the female sex, and myself being absent at the time and considering that strict justice was not done me. I do by these presents most solemly enter my appeal unto the council of for a re hearing, according to the privilege gurranteed to me in the which is now assembled in the school room in this 21st. June 1833— It was motioned seconded and voted that Bro be granted a re-hearing— Bro Joseph, the , opened the council by prayer— The council then proceeded to ordain two High Priests to make out the number, twelve, that the council or <Church> Court might be orgazized [organized], and were by the hands of Bro by the voice of the council, s case was laid before the Court & the testimony against him [was] given in by & and duly investigated. It was decided that should be forgiven because of the liberal confession which he made. This council decided that the Bishops Council decided correctly before, and that ’s crime was sufficient to cut him off from the church, but on his confession, he was restored—
Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith were sent on a mission to western Pennsylvania by 23 March 1833. In early April, in Conneaut Township, Pennsylvania, Hyrum presided over a council of high priests that separated Hurlbut from his assigned missionary companion, Daniel Copley, apparently because of some trouble between the two men. While Copley was reassigned to preach with John F. Boynton, Hurlbut was paired with Orson Hyde. Hyde later intimated that the offense for which Hurlbut stood accused occurred while he was Hurlbut’s companion. (Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–B; Hyrum Smith, Diary, 5 Apr. 1833, –; “History of Orson Hyde,” Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861, CHL; see also Winchester, Plain Facts, 26.)
Smith, Hyrum. Diary, Mar.–Apr. 1839, Oct. 1840. CHL. MS 2945.
Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.
Winchester, Benjamin. Plain Facts, Shewing the Origin of the Spaulding Story, concerning the Manuscript Found, and Its Being Transformed into the Book of Mormon; with a Short History of Dr. P. Hulbert, the Author of the Said Story . . . Re-published by George J. Adams, Minister of the Gospel, Bedford, England. To Which Is Added, a Letter from Elder S. Rigdon, Also, One from Elder O. Hyde, on the Above Subject. Bedford, England: C. B. Merry, 1841.