Zion high council, Minutes, , Caldwell Co., MO, 24 Mar. 1838. Featured version copied [between 1 Oct. 1842 and 14 Sept. 1843] in Minute Book 2, pp. 110–114; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 2.
On 24 March 1838, the in , Missouri, met twice to conduct business. First, the council convened to address a charge that leveled against for “unchristian-like conduct, in speaking reproachfully of youngsters.” Newberry was a twenty-year-old student at the school where Murdock served as schoolmaster. Murdock was also a member of the high council. The dispute arose after Murdock accused his students of misbehaving, and Newberry disapproved of how Murdock had dealt with him. The aggrieved parties met with a council of , and one witness later explained in the high council meeting that Newberry and Murdock had aired their grievances and come to a resolution. However, Newberry apparently remained upset and appealed his case to the high council. Because Murdock was the defendant, his council duties were fulfilled by a substitute. The council deemed this a “difficult case” and followed established procedures to appoint six counselors for the case—three counselors to represent Newberry and three to represent Murdock. After hearing testimony from several witnesses, the high council decided that Newberry had mistreated Murdock and that Murdock was not at fault. After a one-hour adjournment, the high council reconvened and decided that counselors who could not attend meetings would resign their seats to those who could attend. As the clerk for the meeting, kept the minutes, which were later copied into Minute Book 2 by .
The of met pursuant to adjournment, Saturday March 24th 1838.
Council ws organized as follows;
Joseph Smith jr. and Presidents
The Council was opened by prayer by Prest .
A Charge was prefered against for unchristian-like conduct, in speaking reproachfully of youngsters, by .
After a short deliberation it was considered a most difficult case, therefore Six Councellors were appointed to speak on the case, viz: , and , on the part of the and , , and on the part of the accused.
testifies that was at his house, the subject of Spelling Schools, in the evening was introduced, which he disapproved of also, mentioned about a young man’s undertaking to hug a girl in an evening meeting but mentioned no names, he disapproved of evening schools and meetings on account of the young people being light minded & tended to draw away their minds from their studdies [p. 110]
“Spelling schools” were spelling competitions between neighborhoods or ad hoc teams and were usually held in the evening at a local or neighboring schoolhouse. Spelling schools were largely social events, which provided an opportunity for youth to meet. These events were sometimes criticized as opportunities for flirtation and were associated with activities that some pious Protestants considered questionable, such as dancing, marching games, and sleigh rides. (“‘Spelling Down’: Old Times Revived,” Cambridge [MA] Chronicle, 6 July 1872, ; Tatum, “Please Send Stamps,” 100n47; Bohn, “Early Wisconsin School Teachers,” 60; Loehr, “Moving Back from the Atlantic Seaboard,” 95.)
Cambridge Chronicle. Cambridge, MA. 1859–1873.
Tatum, Margaret Black. “‘Please Send Stamps’: The Civil War Letters of William Allen Clark, Part I.” Indiana Magazine of History 91, no. 1 (Mar. 1995): 81–108.
Bohn, Belle Cushman. “Early Wisconsin School Teachers.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 23, no. 1 (Sept. 1939): 58–61.
Loehr, Rodney C. “Moving Back from the Atlantic Seaboard.” Agricultural History 17, no. 2 (Apr. 1943): 90–96.