Minutes, 29 October 1835
- Source Note
In October 1835, the high council met to discuss allegations that , a member of the Quorum of the , and his wife, Mary Cahoon Elliott, had abused their teenage daughter by beating and whipping her. According to one of the witnesses who testified at the meeting, the Elliott affair had provoked public discussion in the small village of , Ohio. On 29 October, the high council met to depose witnesses and determine if the Elliotts’ actions merited official church discipline.The complaint, instigated by , likely involved the couple’s treatment of Lucena, ’s eldest child from a previous marriage. Elliott and William Smith had been acquainted for several years prior to the accusation. Both men marched to as part of the in May 1834, and both were ordained as leaders in the church’s governing bodies in February 1835. No extant records indicate how William Smith became aware of the alleged abuse within the Elliott family.The trial unfolded in two sessions. The opening session seems to have focused on ’s allegations against David Elliott. Five witnesses, including JS, were deposed during the first trial; JS testified in favor of the defendant. As the minutes indicate, the council ultimately ruled that although “the complaint was not without foundation,” the charge of abuse “had not been fully sustained.” The council reconvened later that evening to hear William Smith’s charges against Mary Elliott. During this hearing, a “Sister Childs,” who testified she lived in the Elliott household, was introduced as a witness. JS’s journal indicates that in contrast to the first hearing, in which he was called to testify, JS was asked to “take a seat with the presidency and preside” over the second session.An account in JS’s journal suggests that the second session was contentious. Six members of the council, rather than the usual four, were appointed to speak during the evening session, which according to established protocol meant that the case was deemed difficult. During the meeting, JS and engaged in a heated exchange that opened up an unpleasant rift between the two brothers. At the conclusion of the second session, both Mary and confessed their wrongs before the council, pledged to correct their behavior, and were forgiven.