During fall 1835, JS received a contrite letter from , who had become estranged from the sometime during the previous two years. Though little is known about the circumstances surrounding his separation, he evidently had a change of heart during the latter part of 1835, which prompted him to write to JS. In a 28 September letter, he appealed to JS to let him know if he was still “within the reach of mercy” and requested that JS “enquire at the hand of the Lord in my behalf.” Penitently, he told JS, “I am willing to receive any chastisement that the Lord sees I deserve.” On 16 November, JS responded to Whitlock’s entreaty and informed him that he had inquired of God and received a revelation that Whitlock should “speedily” return from to , Ohio. If he continued to heed JS’s counsel, Whitlock was told, he would be “restored unto his former state.”
Prior to his estrangement, had been a successful missionary, talented preacher, and prominent member of the branch of the church. He settled in , Missouri, following a summer 1831 mission to “regions west.” Whitlock regularly participated in council meetings, but after his name is mentioned in minutes of an 11 September 1833 meeting, he essentially disappears from the historical record for the next two years. Whitlock’s 28 September 1835 letter to JS offers only cryptic clues as to what might have caused him to distance himself from the church. In the letter, Whitlock obliquely mentions his “original difficulties with the church” and indicates that he was “charged with things” he was “not guilty of.”
JS’s response to ’s appeal offers insight into JS’s personality and leadership style. Though JS condemned members of the church community who openly challenged the laws of God or questioned his authority, he quickly welcomed back those who admitted their faults and made restitution. After receiving JS’s letter, Whitlock promptly obeyed the admonition to return to . During a 30 January 1836 conference of the presidency of the church, Whitlock was officially restored to full fellowship.
McLellin, William E. Journal, 18 July–20 Nov. 1831. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 1. Also available as Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
Johnson, Joel H. Autobiographical Sketch, 1879. Typescript. CHL. MS 12931.
: for if you get here in season, you will have the privelege of attending the , which has already commenced and, also received instruction in doctrine, and principle, from those whom God has appointed whereby you may be qualified to go forth, and declare the true doctrines of the kingdom according to the truedoctrinesofthe mind and, will of God. and when you come to , it will be explained to you why God has condescended to give you a revelation according to your request.
please give my respects to you[r] family, and bee assured I am yours in the bonds of the
Harvey Whitlock married Minerva Abbott on 21 November 1830 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The 1850 census indicates that the couple had two or possibly three children by the time of this revelation: Almon, Sally Ann, and Sciota. (Cuyahoga Co., OH, Probate Court, Marriage Records, 1810–1941, vol. 2, p. 237, microfilm 877,912, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; 1850 U.S. Census, Great Salt Lake, Utah Territory, 56[A].)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.