Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 28 Dec. 1834. Featured version copied [not before 25 Feb. 1836] in Minute Book 1, pp. 81–82; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
On 28 December 1834, the , Ohio, convened in the church’s to consider a case that involved and George Hartley of , Randolph County, Indiana. The difficulty between Walker and Hartley was long–standing, having first arisen in 1831. Walker, who had purchased land in by March 1819, was a resident of Winchester in 1831 when missionaries and arrived in the town. In July and August 1831, Hancock and Coltrin established “a larg[e] branch” of the church in Winchester, perhaps baptizing Walker and Hartley at that time.
In late November 1831, , , , and some others traveling to arrived in Winchester and held several conferences with the local church members. Around this time, and Hartley had a disagreement over an unspecified financial transaction that they then brought before a conference held on 6–7 December. Cowdery and the other conference attendees requested that Walker and Hartley resolve their disagreement privately. When they failed to do so, Marsh and Whitmer, acting as mediators, instructed Walker to pay Hartley “his just Due.” According to the minutes of that meeting, after “much cavilling on the part of Walker to stand or hold fast to his agreement,” Walker agreed to pay the amount. He “truly humbled himself & they came together as brothers and disciples & all matters were settled & buried.”
It is not clear what revived the and Hartley case in December 1834, but it may have been related to Walker’s standing in the church. Though not mentioned in the 1831 minutes, Walker may have had a church-issued taken from him at that time or sometime before the December 1834 meeting. Next to Walker’s name in the minutes of a 29 November 1831 meeting is a parenthetical note: “license taken.” It is unclear when it was written in the minutes.
It is also possible that brought the case up again as a result of a visit from a few months prior to the 28 December 1834 council meeting. In fall 1834, Hancock, who had traveled to with the , and , a church member who had been baptized in , Missouri, in July 1833, traveled from , Missouri, toward . In early October, the two men stopped in “at the House of Oliver Walker” and held a series of meetings. Hancock, who had likely not communicated with Walker since the branch of the church was organized in Winchester in summer 1831, may have encouraged Walker to visit Kirtland and meet with the high council to determine his standing in the church or resolve any lingering matters. Whatever the reason, when Walker met with the high council, they affirmed his good standing.
Near the close of this high council meeting, JS and spoke “relative to the order of offices and titles in the church.” Their comments may have been related to the rebuke that they and other members of the received on 5 December 1834. According to ’s record of that meeting, “the voice of the Spirit” told the leaders of the church to reform their “manners, habits and customs, and salutations” and to give “unto every man the respect due the office, calling, and priesthood.”
is listed as a clerk of the council, but since he was one of the speakers involved in the case, it is more likely that kept most of the minutes of this meeting. Cowdery may have added to those minutes, which later copied into Minute Book 1.
Minute Book 2, 29 Nov.–1 Dec. 1831. The parenthetical notation was likely not part of the original minutes but was later added by John Whitmer when he was compiling these minutes into a book. The notation could also have been made by Ebenezer Robinson, who copied Whitmer’s records into Minute Book 2. (See Source Note for Minute Book 2.)
Minutes of a of the assembled at the in Ohio Sabbath evening December 28th 1834. presiding, who opened by prayer
The council was organized as follows:
The case of Elder of Indiana, was presented to the council, by . was called to make such remarks before the council as he thought proper— who related a difficulty which formerly existed between himself and George Hartley once a member of the church in .
Four counsellors were appointed to speak on the case (viz.):
The circumstances of ’s former difficulty were stated by himself, Elder Hancock, , (who presided over the at one time when said difficulty was settled[)] President and . The counsellors then made their remarks, and also Presidents & J. Smith Junr. after which gave decision. That is, and has been, a member of this church, and that he is and has been an in the same. And that so far as has been presented to this council, nothing has been done by him, whereby he ought to be expelled from this church.
A vote was called which was unanimous with said decision. [p. 81]
Though JS was present at this high council meeting, he did not preside. According to the rules governing the high council, JS should have presided; only if he were absent was another member of the presidency to officiate. It is possible that Sidney Rigdon presided because JS was not present at the beginning of the meeting. (See Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:9–11].)
Hyrum Smith and William E. McLellin also visited church members in Randolph County in fall 1831. Both men may have been familiar with Walker from this visit. Sydney Rigdon’s connections with the Walker case or the members in Randolph County are not known. (McLellin, Journal, 4 Oct. 1831.)
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).