, “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.
<which they did, and were tried before and bound over. Then and returned home.>
<Gathering continued. Prisoners taken. Arms taken. Dispersion by the militia. Gathering at . . Petition to the . Mormons leave . There spirits and feelings become desperate>
<This however> did not satisfy the people of . In my opinion their great object was to get rid of the Mormons in their . The excitement grew worse and worse, the people continued to gather to the number of two or three hundred in and appointed Dr Austin of Carol [Carroll] as their leader. The mormons also gathered at under ready for defense. Sentinels were kept out by both parties, and they recoinnoirtered the country as they thought proper. A party of Austin’s men fired on two Mormons a man and a boy, the man escaped but the boy they took prisoner. They also sent to and got sixty or eighty stand of arms; but on their way to the waggon broke down, and the Mormons got news of it and sent ten men who took the arms forty five four in number and three men prisioners and carried them to . These were afterwards delivered up to as he passed through on his way to . A messenger <from the Mormons> with this news, and together with affidavits taken before , was sent to , who ordered out five hundrd militia to quell the disturbance. with a company from the Platt country had joined Austin’s company, and some Mormons from had joined ’s company. Thus the militia found them. placed the [p. 63]