Minutes, , OH, 12 Nov. 1831. Featured version, titled “Minutes of a special conference held in Hiram Portage County Ohio, November 12. 1831,” copied [between ca. 6 Apr. and 19 June 1838] in Minute Book 2, pp. 18–19; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 2.
The historical setting for this 12 November pertains to these minutes and to the revelation that follows, which is also dated 12 November 1831. On that date, a special conference convened in , Ohio, at the home of and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs Johnson, probably in the upstairs room where JS worked on his Bible revision. This conference culminated nearly two weeks of early November meetings. A later JS history notes that JS and other spent much time during those two weeks “reviewing the ” and discussing the planned publication of the Book of Commandments. , who was present at several of these conferences, recalled many years later that JS, , and spent hours reading through the revelations and making corrections. During this period, Cowdery and also apparently spent considerable time copying revelations into Revelation Book 1, which they later took with them to . With all the work that these individuals and others at the conferences put into preparing the revelations for publication, it was perhaps fitting that participants at this final conference voted JS’s revelations to be not only of significant value to the church but even its foundation and the source of “the riches of Eternity.”
With the importance of the revelations established, JS used the 12 November conference to discuss compensation for the work of publishing them. The need to support JS and in their ongoing Bible revision had been addressed at conferences in October, resulting in the formation of a committee to solicit donations from church members. Now JS wanted to compensate those who had worked to record the revelations, as well as others for “adminestering” to his “wants in temporal things.” The conference voted to appoint JS, , , and Rigdon to manage the revelations and to provide inheritances in to the families of those who had assisted JS temporally. A revelation dictated the same day as the conference sanctioned its decision in regard to the management of the revelations, appointing JS, Cowdery, Whitmer, and Rigdon, along with and , as “ over the revelations & commandments.” According to the revelation, these stewards would be allowed to use the profits from the publication of the revelations—a potentially substantial sum given an earlier decision to publish ten thousand copies of the Book of Commandments—“for their necessities & their wants.” The revelation did not, however, address the granting of inheritances to the individuals mentioned in the minutes.
, clerk of the conference, kept the minutes. later copied these minutes into Minute Book 2.
William E. McLellin, “From a Letter Dated Dec. 14th, 1878,” John L. Traughber Papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Textual evidence indicates that Rigdon made minor changes to several revelations before Cowdery and John Whitmer left for Missouri on 20 November, but how involved JS and Cowdery were in that process is not clear from extant manuscripts. (See Historical Introduction to Minutes, 8 Nov. 1831.)
McLellin, Wiliam E. “From a Letter Dated Dec. 14th, 1878.” John L. Traughber Papers. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
Most of the Whitmer family relocated to Missouri in 1832, but JS’s immediate family did not move there until 1838. (See, for example, lists of 1832 conference attendees in Minute Book 2; and Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 15, –.)
Minutes of a special held in Portage County Ohio, November 12. 1831.
Joseph Smith jr.
Br. was appointed Moderator & Clerk. Prayer by the .
Br. Joseph Smith jr. said one item he wished acted upon was that our brs. & & the sacred writings which they have entrusted to them to carry to be dedicated to the Lord by the prayer of faith. Secondly, has labored with me from the begining in writing &c. has labored with me from the begining, & brs. & also for a considerable time, & as these sacred writings are now going to the for their benefit, that we may have claim on the Church for recompence, if this conference think these things worth prizing to be had on record to show hereafter I feel that it will be according to the mind of the Spirit for by it these things were put into my heart which I know to be the Spirit of truth &c.
Voted that Joseph Smith jr. be appointed to dedicate & consecrate these brethren & the sacred writings & all they have entrusted to their care, to the Lord: done accordingly.
After deliberate consideration in consequence of the book of Revelation now to be printed being the foundation of the Church & the salvation of the world & the of the mysteries of the Kingdom, & the riches of Eternity to the church. Voted that they be prized by this Conference to be worth to the Church the riches of the whole Earth. Speaking temporally.
Voted that in consequence of the dilligence of our brethren, Joseph Smith jr. & in bringing to light by the grace of God these sacred things, be appointed to manage them according to the & the of the Lord.
And also that in consequence of the families of & in adminestering to their wants in temporal things, & also the labors of & [p. 18]
Both Harris and Cowdery served as scribes during JS’s translation of the Book of Mormon. Harris also provided financial support for the printing of the Book of Mormon. (JS History, ca. Summer 1832; Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:14–15; Martin Harris to Egbert B. Grandin, Indenture, Wayne Co., NY, 25 Aug. 1829, Wayne Co., NY, Mortgage Records, vol. 3, pp. 325–326, microfilm 479,556, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.
A revelation dictated this same day stated that these individuals’ “business in the church” was to “manage” the revelations “& the concerns thereof yea the profits thereof.” (Revelation, 12 Nov. 1831 [D&C 70:5].)
JS stayed with the Whitmer family in 1829 while translating the Book of Mormon. Several early revelations were received during this time. This may be one reason why the Whitmers (and Page, Peter Whitmer Sr.’s son-in-law) were listed with JS’s family as providing temporal support. (JS History, vol. A-1, 21–22; “Mormonism,” Kansas City [MO] Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, .)
Kansas City Daily Journal. Kansas City, MO. 1878–1891.