JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843; handwriting of , , , and ; 553 pages, plus 16 pages of addenda; CHL. This is the first volume of a six-volume manuscript history of the church. This first volume covers the period from 23 December 1805 to 30 August 1834; the remaining five volumes, labeled B-1 through F-1, continue through 8 August 1844.
This document, “History, 1838–1856, volume A-1, [23 December 1805–30 August 1834],” is the first of the six volumes of the “Manuscript History of the Church” (in The Joseph Smith Papers it bears the editorial title “History, 1838-1856”). The completed six-volume collection covers the period from 23 December 1805–8 August 1844. Volume A-1 encompasses the period from JS’s birth in 1805 to 30 August 1834, just after the return of the Camp of Israel (later known as Zion’s Camp) from to , Ohio. For a fuller discussion of the entire six-volume work, see the general introduction to the history.
In April 1838, with the aid of his counselor , JS renewed his efforts to draft a “history”. served as scribe. JS’s journal for late April and early May 1838 notes six days on which JS, Rigdon, and Robinson were engaged in “writing history.” Though not completed and no longer extant, that draft laid the foundation for what became the six-volume manuscript eventually published as the “History of Joseph Smith,” and at least a portion of its contents are assumed to have been included in the manuscript presented here.
On 11 June 1839 in , Illinois, JS once again began dictating his “history.” now served as scribe. Apparently the narrative commenced where the earlier 1838 draft left off. When work was interrupted in July 1839, Mulholland inscribed the draft material, including at least some of ’s earlier material, into a large record book already containing the text of an incomplete history previously produced over a span of two years, 1834–1836. For the new history, Mulholland simply turned the ledger over and began at the back of the book. The volume was later labeled A-1 on its spine, identifying it as the first of multiple volumes of the manuscript history.
Prior to his untimely death on 3 November 1839, recorded the first fifty-nine pages in the volume. Subsequently, his successor, , contributed about sixteen more pages before his death in August 1841. then added a little over seventy-five pages. However, substantial progress on the history was not made until December 1842 when assumed responsibility for the compilation and was appointed JS’s “private secretary and historian.” Richards would contribute the remainder of the text inscribed in the 553-page first volume. The narrative recorded in A-1 was completed in August 1843. and Charles Wandell subsequently added sixteen pages of “Addenda” material, which provided notes, extensive revisions, or additional text to be inserted in the original manuscript where indicated. For instance, several of the addenda expanded on the account of the Camp of Israel as initially recorded.
JS dictated or supplied information for much of A-1, and he personally corrected the first forty-two pages before his death. As planned, his historian-scribes maintained the first-person, chronological narrative format initially established in the volume. When various third-person accounts were drawn upon, they were generally converted to the first person, as if JS were directly relating the account. After JS’s death, , , , and others modified and corrected the manuscript as they reviewed material before its eventual publication.
Beginning in March 1842 the church’s Nauvoo periodical, the Times and Seasons, began publishing the narrative as the “History of Joseph Smith.” At the time of JS’s death only the history through December 1831 had been published. When the final issue of the Times and Seasons, dated 15 February 1846 appeared, the account had been carried forward through August 1834—the end of the material recorded in A-1. The “History of Joseph Smith” was also published in in the church periodical the Millennial Star beginning in June 1842. Once a press was established in Utah and the Deseret News began publication, the “History of Joseph Smith” once more appeared in print in serialized form. Beginning with the November 1851 issue, the narrative picked up where the Times and Seasons had left off over five years earlier.
Aside from the material dictated or supplied by JS prior to his death, the texts for A-1 and for the history’s subsequent volumes were drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources including JS’s diaries and letters, minutes of meetings, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, church and other periodicals, reports of JS’s discourses, and the reminiscences and recollections of church members. The narrative in A-1 provides JS’s personal account of the foundational events of his life as a prophet and the early progress of the church. It also encompasses contentions and disputations that erupted between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in , , , and . While it remains difficult to distinguish JS’s own contributions from composition of his historian-scribes, the narrative trenchantly captures the poignancy and intensity of his life while offering an enlightening account of the birth of the church he labored to establish.
Through the remainder of this day and a part of the 8th. I continued to organize the , appoint such other general officers as the case required, and give gave such instruction as was were necessary for the discipline, order, comfort and safety of all concerned. I also divided the whole band into companies of twelve, each, company electing their own captain, who severally assigned each man, in their respective companies, his post and duty, which was generally in the following order, two cooks, Two firemen, Two <for pitching the> tentmakers, Two watermen, one runner, Two waggoners, and horsemen, and one commissary. We purchased flour, <and meal,> baked our own bread, and cooked our own provisions, generally, which was were good though sometimes scanty; and sometimes we had Johnny cake, or corndodger, instead of flour bread. Every night before retiring to rest, at the sound of the trumpet we bowed before the Lord <in> the several tents, and presented our [HC 2:64] thank offerings be with prayer and supplication; and at the sound of the morning trumpet <about four o clock,> every man was again on his knees before the Lord, imploring his blessing throug for the day.
After completing the organization of the companies on the 8th. we re-commenced our march toward Zion, and pitched our tent <for the night> in a beautiful Grove, at Chippeway, twelve miles from , for the night. On the 9th we pro <morning of the 9th we completed our organization by the companies and> <pro>ceded onward, <encamped near Wooster> and on saturday the 10th.passed passing through , encamped for the Sabbath in Richfield. <Township. about one hour after we had encamped. Elders , and a number of others joined the Camp from the north part of >
Sunday the 11th preached, and the company received the of bread and wine, <here we were increased in number by 8–10 brethren, in company of <Elder> from Richland and Stark counties, most of whom were Dutch <Germans>.>
Monday the 12th. we left Richfield, for the Miami River, where we arrived, after daily marches, on the 16th..<at Daytona Ohio> <See Addenda “no. 1” page 6> [HC 2:65] [HC 2:66] [HC 2:67]
During this march the brethren in wrote as follows,
“ May 15th. 1834,”
“Col. ; Sir. We have this day received a communication from the of this , covering the order herewith, and we hasten to forward the said order to you, by the bearer, Mr Richardson, who is instructed [p. 479]