Iowa high council, Minutes, and JS, Discourse, , Lee Co., Iowa Territory, 6 Mar. 1840. Featured version copied [between ca. 12 July 1840 and ca. Aug. 1841] in Iowa Stake Record, fair copy, pp. 88–90; handwriting of ; CHL.
The Iowa Stake Record is a large, commercially produced record book, measuring 12 × 7⅞ × 1 inches (30 × 20 × 3 cm). The book consists of ten gatherings, each gathering containing approximately twelve leaves. The paper, which is ruled with light blue lines that are now faded, measures 12 × 7½ inches (30 × 19 cm). The book has hard covers, the outside of which are adorned in shell marbled paper with a brown body and veins of blue and red. The spine is bound in brown leather and is titled “Baptism for the Dea[d] B Lee Coun[ty] Iowa Records”. Inside both the front and back covers, the book contains four blank pages of dark brown paper, as opposed to the lighter and now yellowed pages used for the volume record.
The volume begins with a title page that reads “Church Record” and a brief index. The book is then divided into two sections. Both sections are paginated, although a different scribe paginated the second section. The first section contains the minutes of the in and , Iowa Territory. These minutes are written in black and blue ink, with the majority of the entries written in blue. A substantial gap in the recording of minutes occurs between pages 18 and 85. In that gap, pages 19–47 include a list of members in the Iowa branch; pages 48–85 are blank except for the page numbers. Following the last recorded minutes on page 104, the book includes a second title page, which reads “Record of the Names of those who are baptised for their Dead—1841—And also the Names of their Dead”. Clerks then recorded baptisms for the dead performed in 1841.
A number of scribes recorded minutes in the volume. and inscribed the most entries, but and Johnston F. Lane likewise made entries. Gee likely began the volume sometime around 12 July 1840, the day he was appointed clerk of the branch. After the initial inclusion of the minutes detailing the establishment of the branch on 5 October 1839, Gee recorded the minutes for 12 July 1840. Following the 12 July 1840 minutes, clerks then filled in the minutes between October 1839 and July 1840, apparently drawing upon loose minutes kept by Elias Smith that are no longer extant. Because the volume was also used to record the 1841 baptisms for the dead, it is likely that clerks finished recording the Iowa branch minutes around August 1841.
A notation on page 1 states that the volume was “returned to the office of General Church Recorder at ” on 21 February 1844. The notation also indicates that the volume was in the possession of for a time before it was loaned to an unnamed individual and subsequently returned to Richards’s custody. had access to the book on 28 January 1845 and made a notation regarding some of the previously recorded 1841 baptisms for the dead. The volume is listed as “Iowa Church Record” in the inventory of church records made in Nauvoo in 1846 prior to the Saints’ migration to the Salt Lake Valley. Subsequent inventories list the item under a variety of names, including “Lee Co Iowa [records and journal],” “Lee Co Ioway. Records,” and “[Baptisms for the Dead record]–Lee Co. Iowa records.” These inventories demonstrate that the Church Historian’s Office maintained the volume continuously through 1878. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the volume was transferred to the custody of the Salt Lake Temple because of its records relating to baptisms for the dead. It remained housed in the Salt Lake Temple Vault until October 2012, when the First Presidency transferred the volume to the custody of the Church History Library.
“Inventory. Historian’s Office. 4th April 1855,” ; “Historian’s Office Catalogue Book March 1858,” ; “Contents of the Historian and Recorder’s Office. G. S. L. City July 1858,” 8; “Index of Records and Journals in Historian’s Office 1878,” , Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.
See the full bibliographic entry for Nauvoo Temple, Baptisms for the Dead, 1840–1845, in the CHL catalog.
On 6 March 1840, JS met with the in , Iowa Territory, to discuss several items of business, including the high council’s desire to have the in Iowa Territory live the law of so that their poor would be cared for. Under this law, members donated money, goods, and land to the church and received back an “,” or property, based on their circumstances, needs, and wants. Whatever donated property remained would be used to benefit the poor. The high council voted to implement the law in Montrose at a meeting held on 6 December 1839. At that meeting, requested that the council appoint an to obtain “funds to relieve him from debts” he had contracted to support the poor. —who was a counselor to , the presiding officer over the church in Iowa—then declared that God had directed that the law of consecration be the method to help the impoverished and that the church should implement that law rather than any other system. After Wight spoke, the high council resolved “that they would come up to the law of consecration and observe to keep it.”
A little over a week later, member as well as , who had been appointed “to receive donations for the poor” in November 1839, informed that it was “not expedient to go into the law of consecration under Existing circumstances.” Indeed, Hyrum told John it was “folly” to try to live the law of consecration “untill is redeemed”—meaning until the Saints had regained their lands in . On 4 January 1840, John Smith notified the high council of these statements, but the high council refused to rescind its resolution. According to John Smith, Hyrum Smith and Granger then began to “operate against all” of the proceedings of the high council, including, evidently, their efforts to implement the law of consecration in Iowa. JS was in when these discussions occurred and did not return to , Illinois, until late February 1840. At this 6 March meeting, he shared his belief that God did not require church members to live the law of consecration at that time and that the Saints should focus on obtaining redress from the federal government for the wrongs committed against them in Missouri.
In addition to discussing consecration, the high council considered a difficulty between three of its members, deliberated on land matters in that had previously been presented to the council, and passed resolutions pertaining to the church’s efforts to gain redress from the federal government. As clerk of the meeting, kept the minutes, which he entered into the official record of the Iowa high council sometime between July 1840 and August 1841.
expression was to support ’s title to the , & his right to deed described portions thereof.
Joseph Smith Jun. then addressed the on various subjects, &, in particular, the ; Stating, that the affair now before Congress was the only thing that ought to interest the saints at present. & till it was ascertained how it would terminate no person ought to be brought to account before the constituted authorities of the for any offence whatever, & was determined that no man should be brought before the Council in till that time &c. &c.
He said that the Law of consecration could not be kept here, & that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it, & if persisted in it would produce a perfect abortion, & that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it untill proposed by himself. He requested every exertion to be made to forward affidavits to , & also letters to members of Congress.
The following votes were then passed.
1st. that this Council will coincide with Pr. Joseph Smith jr. decission concerning the consecration Law, on the principle of its being the will of the Lord, & of Pr. Smith’s taking the responsibility on himself.
2nd. that a committee of three be appointed Consisting of & Abra[ha]m O. Smoot to obtains affid[a]vits & [p. 89]
Acting on behalf of the church in May and June 1839, Knight and Oliver Granger purchased nearly eighteen thousand acres from Galland in what was known as the Half-Breed Tract. At a 6 December 1839 high council meeting, Knight wondered whether the lands that he held in Lee County should be transferred to Alanson Ripley, the bishop in Iowa. The following day, the high council accepted Knight’s proposal to transfer the lands. By 21 February 1840, however, no transfer had occurred, leading the high council to request that Knight attend the next meeting and explain why he still held the lands. The council also wanted Knight to explain an ambiguous statement he had made about ownership of the Half-Breed Tract. (Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds [South, Keokuk], vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Iowa Stake Record, 6–7 Dec. 1839 and 21 Feb. 1840, 9–10, 13, 86–88.)