On 29 August 1832, JS dictated this revelation calling on a preaching mission to the “eastern countries.” Following his conversion and in , Ohio, on 30 November 1830, Murdock spent much time as a traveling missionary, baptizing around seventy people in four months in , Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Warrensville, Ohio. In early 1831, Murdock decided to devote himself “full time to the ministry” and moved his family in with another family so that he could do so. In June 1831, a revelation instructed him to go to , “preaching the word by the way.” Murdock followed this instruction and departed for Missouri, despite the recent death of his wife, , during childbirth, which left him with five children under the age of seven, including newborn twins. Before leaving, he arranged for several individuals to watch over his older children; JS and adopted the twins. For the rest of 1831 and the first half of 1832, Murdock preached in , Indiana, , and Ohio, among other places. When he returned to , Ohio, in June 1832, suffering from the effects of a months-long bout with ague, he found that one of the twins had died in March. In addition, those with whom he had left his three older children demanded payment for their help.
Despite these challenging circumstances, recorded in his journal that he “continued with the church in Cuyahoga & Co’s confirming & strengthning the church & regaining my health.” This 29 August 1832 revelation instructed him to resume his preaching, this time in the eastern . The revelation also told him to continue preaching until his death, unless he desired to go to “after a few years.” Perhaps because of the problems Murdock experienced with his children’s caretakers, the revelation told him not to leave until he made arrangements to send his children to in Zion. This revelation’s call for Murdock to continue as a missionary until his death, notwithstanding his family responsibilities, was an unusual sacrifice apparently not expected of other early church members and may have resulted from his earlier determination to devote himself “full time to the ministry.”
Upon receiving these instructions, “provided for” his children and “sent them up to the in .” Murdock paid to take his three oldest children—Orrice, John, and Phebe—to . Once there, Orrice lived with and Amanda Egglestone Pitkin, John with Morris and Laura Clark Phelps, and Phebe with and Elizabeth Van Benthusen Gilbert. , the surviving twin, remained in the care of JS and in . Murdock then left on his mission on 24 September 1832.
The original manuscript of the revelation, which is not extant, was apparently inscribed by . The copy he made in Revelation Book 2 bears the notation “by Joseph the and writen by— F.G. Williams Scribe.”
Joseph Murdock Smith was sick with measles the night of 24–25 March 1832 when a mob broke into the home of John and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs Johnson, took JS by force, and left an outside door open. According to a later JS history, “During the mob one of the twins received a severe cold, and continued to grow worse.” Joseph Murdock Smith died a few days later. (JS History, vol. A-1, 205–209; see also Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289.)
For example, a January 1832 revelation appointing several individuals to preach declared that “every man who is obliged to provide for his own family let him provide and he shall in no wise loose his crown,” suggesting that those who could not preach because of familial responsibilities were excused from extensive service. (Revelation, 25 Jan. 1832–B [D&C 75:28].)
Behold thus saith the Lord unto you my servant thou art called to go unto the eastern countries from house to house and from Village to Village and from City to City to proclaim mine everlasting Gospel unto the in habitants thereof in the midst of persicution and wickedness and whos[o] receiveth you receiveth me and you shall have power to declare my word in the demonstration of my holy Spirit and whoso receiveth you [p. 19]
“Eastern countries” denoted long-settled areas in eastern states such as New York. Following this revelation, Murdock preached mainly in Geauga County, Ohio, for several months before traveling to New York (or what he termed “the eastern country”) in April 1833. (Murdock, Journal, Feb.–Mar. 1832.)
Murdock, John. Journal, ca. 1830–1859. John Murdock, Journal and Autobiography, ca. 1830–1867. CHL. MS 1194, fd. 2.