, “Brief History,” Manuscript, ca. 6 April 1838– ca. 26 January 1839; handwriting of and an unidentified scribe; seventy pages numbered 20–90, plus three unnumbered pages; John Fletcher Darby Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.
, a careful observer, had enjoyed a close association with Mormon leaders, and consequently his account provides valuable insights into the development and structure of the early church. He summarized many of the doctrines taught by JS and provided a detailed description of the conflict between the Latter-day Saints and other settlers. But his chronicle also related the story of a personal spiritual journey into and then out of the church as came to disapprove of the church’s course in 1838 in Missouri. Yet despite his estrangement from the church and his excommunication in 1839, he retained a degree of sympathy for the Saints and maintained some contact.
apparently began compiling portions of his account while serving as an officially appointed church historian in . He probably completed his narrative by 11 February 1839, when he secured a copyright with the district federal copyright office. He arranged for Thomas Watson & Son of to print A Brief History. The entire print run may have included up to twelve hundred copies.
The document presented here, ’s circa 1838–1839 rough draft of his history, is incomplete. It includes the title page, copyright notice, and preface but is missing twenty-one pages, including the nineteen pages that constitute chapters 1 through 6. The manuscript is almost entirely in Corrill’s handwriting, though some of the chapter summaries (added after he drafted the narrative) were written in a different hand, possibly that of the printer.
’s published version of A Brief History receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website as part of the history series.
would become a majority, or from some other cause, I know not what, (for the Mormons had committed no crime,) continued to stir up excitement, and the Mormons began to prepare for self defence, untill the more rational and sensible part of the citizens saw that it was coming to bloodshed, and that something must be done. They accordingly appointed a committe who called upon the Mormons to meet them in conference, which they did, and agreed to leave the . The committe agreed to, and did help them to obtain a place of residence, which was in the teritory of , since organized into the county of , and the people in the vicinity agreed consented to it. The Mormons purchased great quantities of land in ; made improvements, and their works plainly shew that they were industrious, though they labored under many disadvantages on account of their poverty and former difficulties. Many of them were obliged to seek labor in the neighboring counties for their bread. The people gave them employment, and many of them also borrowed money to purchase lands with. Friendship began to be restored between them and their neighbors. The old prejudices prejudices were fast dying away, and they were doing well, [p. 45]