Minutes, 10 March 1844

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This Council was organized on the strength of the contents of two letters from the brethren in the which president Joseph Smith received by the hands of and on Sunday the 10th. day of March A. D. 1844. The letters read as follows:—
Black River Falls.
February 15th. 1844
To the First Presidency and the quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Dear Brethren, Through the goodness and mercy of God the Eternal Father, and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are permitted to write and send by a special messenger, a concise [p. [1]]
account of our lumbering opperations, together with the apparent prospects of the introduction & spread of the Gospel among the Chippewa & Menomanee [Menominee] Indians, and also the projects of our hearts in regard to future opperations in spreading the Gospel South in all the extent of America and the consequences growing out of the same, all of which we beg leave to submit to your consideration, that we may have your concurrence or such views as shall be in accordance with the mind & will of the Lord and govern ourselves in accordance thereto.
Since we have been here lumbering we have had many difficulties to encounter, but the main hindrance to our successful operations was the feeding, clothing and transporting a great many lazy, idle men, who have not pro [p. [2]]
duced any thing by their pretended labor, and thus eating up all that the dilligent and honest could produce by their unceasing application to labor, & we have not yet got entirely clear of such like persons. But under all these mighty clogs and hindrances we have been able to accomplish and have in progress, so that we can deliver in about one Million feet of Lumber by the last of July next, which will be a great deal more than what is necessary to build the and , besides all this we have made valuable improvements here, all the result of much labor done under trying circumstances.
We have recently ascertained that the land from the falls of Black River to its sources is the property of the Menomanee Indians, and the Genl. government having urged [p. [3]]
them to move off of the lands in the vicinity of Green Bay onto their own lands. The Indians say they will, provided the Government will remove all strange Indians and tresspassing white men off of their lands—consequently the Agent and Superintendant of Indian affairs are taking such steps as will stop all further tresspassing on the Indian lands, on the Wisconsin, and Chippewa Rivers under the penalties of the laws relative to the case.
We sent Brs and in company with the principal Chief of the Menomonee Indians over land to the Wisconsin River, to ascertain more about the matter. They saw the Agent, found him a gruff austere man determined to stop all [p. [4]]
tresspassing on Indian land. The Indians are willing to sell privileges to individuals for lumbering & cutting timber as they have hitherto done, but the agent is opposed to it. Thus a difficulty arises between themselves. Now as regards the introduction of the Gospel of Christ among the Indians here it will require more exertion to all appearances to check the enthusiastic ardor of these our red brethren untill the full principles of faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be reasoned into their minds, than to urge them on to receive it—They have great confidence in us— The country belonging to these Northern Indians is a dreary cold region, and to a great extent, Cranberry Marshes, pine barrens, and Swamps with a small amount of good land, scarce of game, [p. [5]]
and only valuable in Mill privileges, and facilities for lumbering purposes. As to minneral resources they have not been fully developed. There is no doubt as to the abundance of Iron ore, but uncertain as to quality. Now under all of these circumstances, a few of us here have <​arrived​> at this conclusion in our minds, (such as can undergo all things,) that as the Gospel has not been fully opened in all the South and South Western States, as also , , Brazil &c, together with the West India Islands—Having produced lumber enough to build the & also having an influence over the Indians so as to induce them to sell their lands to the , and go to a climate south west more congenial (all according to the policy of the [p. [6]]
Government) and having also become convinced that the Church at are or in the Eastern States will not build the according to the commandment, neither the in a reasonable time. and that we have so far as we have made trials got means in the South, we have it in our minds to go to the table lands of to a point we may find to be the most eligible, there locate, and let it be a place of gathering for all the South (they being incumbered with that unfortunate race of beings the negroes) and for us to employ our time and talents in gathering together means to build according to the commandments of our God, and spread the Gospel to the nations according to the will of our heavenly father. We therefore our beloved brethren [p. [7]]
send our worthy , with a few of our thoughts on paper, that you may take the subject matter under consideration and return us such instructions as may be according to the mind and will of the Lord our God. We have thought it best to sell the mills here if you may think it expedient. We feel greatly encouraged to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ according to the will of our heavenly Father.
You will therefore after due deliberation send us by the hands of such instructions as may be the result of your deliberations. Holding ourselves ready under all circumstances in life to try to do all things whatsoever commanded or instructed to do by those [p. [8]]
ordained to direct the officers of the church of Jesus Christ. Subscribing ourselves yours truly while life shall endure.
Select Committee to write expression of the views of the branch of the Church at Black River Falls.
Joseph Smith P. C. [president of the church])
P. T. [president of the Twelve])
Clk. [clerk])
Black River Falls Wisconsin Territory Febry 15th. 1844
To Joseph Smith President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and to the Twelve Apostles, Greeting [p. [9]]
Believing a concert of action in all things in this Church to be highly important, we deem it necessary under existing circumstances to make you acquainted with our views and feelings, temporal and spiritual prospects as they now exist. We wrote you last fall a full and complete description of this country as high as the falls on Black River without exageration giving a slight description of the . With the exception of several renegadoes and false brethren, things passed smoothly on untill some time in the month of January when we were visited by three different tribes of Lamanites upon the most friendly terms, receiving us as their councillors both temporal and spiritual. The [p. [10]]
names of those tribes Menomonees, Chippewa and Winnebagoes, they informed us that all the land above the falls belongs to the Menomonee tribe, and that the Agents & the Governor, the general Agent in the North West of all the Indian affairs, had agreed with them to remove all the lumbermen from , Chippewa and Lemanware [Lemonware] rivers by their request, but after a lengthy conversation with them they felt to treat us as their friends and not their enemies—
We dispatched two messengers (namely) and to go immediately to , where they met with the Agent, who give them to understand we could get the timber which is already cut at a [p. [11]]
reasonable rate, and for any future prospect, we will be under the necessity of entering into a contract. We calculate the present prospect for lumber betwixt this and the last of July next, will be from 8 to 12 hundred thousand feet, which we deem will be all sufficient to finish the two houses, which will accomplish the mission on which we started to this country.
We therefore as a branch and a member of the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints chose the following committee (namely) , , , and to correspond with your Revr. council, [p. [12]]
giving you our views concerning matters and things and requesting your council on the same— This committee views it inexpedient is to purchase standing timber on so rapid and unnavigable a stream for the purposes of making lumber to gain wealth. The Lamanites owning this land, notwithstanding their great anxiety to receive the Gospel and the book of Mormon have a strong desire, if councilled by us so to do, to go South West where game is more plenty as their only resource here for a living, is the pittiful annuities and proceeds from their pine timber, which timber is the only inducement to the [p. [13]]
Government to purchase their lands. This committee is therefore led to take a brief view of the South and Western part of North America, together with the Floridas, , West India Islands and the adjacent Islands to the Gulf of Mexico, together with the Lamanites bordering on the United Territories from Green Bay to the Mexican Gulf, all crying with one voice through the medium of their cheifs. give us an understanding of your doctrine and principles for we perceive that your ways are equal and your righteousness far exceeds the righteousness of all the Missionaries that we have yet become acquainted with, that your conduct with one another is like that of ours [p. [14]]
and that all your feasts and attendant ceremonies are precisely like ours.
Your servants the Committee have viewed the Colarado River with all its beautiful hills and vallies and fertile soil with deep regret when viewing the countless thousands of inhabitants on either side thereof, without the knowledge of God or the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and say in their hearts, would it be expedient to form a mission of those true and full blooded Ephraimites who from principle and love of the truth have born the most extreme burdens, fatigue and hunger to prosecute the mission to [p. [15]]
procure lumber sufficient to build the two houses, to open the door to all the regions which we have named, which regions have never yet had an opportunity to hear the gospel, and to be made acquainted with the plan of salvation; or shall they continue to suffer the fatigues of hunger, wet and cold in a rigid inclement climate for the pittiful sum that it shall avail them after undergoing those hazardous perils. Or shall they, like Timothy and Titus, with Paul, hazzard the perils of sea and land through the Southern States and West India Islands and all the Lamanite world, go forth and proclaim to them the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and teach [p. [16]]
them to build up Zion.
Is there not thousands of the rich planters who would embrace the gospel and if they had a place to plant their slaves, give all the proceeds of their yearly labor if rightly taught, for building up the Kingdom, being directed by the President of the whole church to make the right application? We answer yes, we believe they would—— Your servants the Committee are of the opinion that a concert and reciprocity of action between the North and the South would greatly advance the building up of the Kingdom. The Committee is well informed of the Cherokee and the Choctaw Nations who live between the State of Arkansas [p. [17]]
and the Colorado River of the Texas owning large plantations and thousands of Slaves and that they are also very desirous to have an interview with the Elders of this Church upon the principles of the Book of Mormon. This Committee is of the opinion that they can choose Soldiers for this expedition who are as undeviating in the principles of the doctrine of Christ and the Book of Mormon as the sun in his daily course, and as indefatigable in their exertions in this cause as the earth is in its daily revolution. This committee views it as a matter of investigation whether would the Southerner with his Slaves and abundance of wealth do better to take them to some slave [p. [18]]
holding point, keep them in lively exercise according to his former customs and habits, turning over his yearly proceeds into the hands of the trustee in trust for the whole church; or to abolish slavery and settle himself in a climate uncongenial to his nature and entirely derogatory to his former occupations in life.
After having procured the lumber for those two houses the Committee is of the opinion that the preaching the Gospel and raising funds in the South would be a far more speedy way of accomplishing the work than any other that could be introduced at the present time. [p. [19]]
We your servants, therefore will wait patiently the result of your Council and submit ourselves to the same with all cheerfulness, our only object being to advance the cause and Kingdom of God, stand ready to take hold whenever your wise council may consider it to be of the most advantage. This committee view with deep regret the many different teachings this church has received concerning the distribution of their property, such as raising funds for the printing of tracts, evidences of the Book of Mormon, and pamphlets of various descriptions, which we consider has not advanced the cause in the least degree, but has tended directly to sap the foundation of building the [p. [20]]
houses, We therefore believe that no person embracing the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, should give any part or parcel of their property without a direct council written or oral from the first Presidency of the Church.
Whereas the Committee having appointed & to write the views of the committee, each wrote separate & apart, having laid the same, before the committee, the Committee resolved that both productions be sent without alterations. We the committee conclude by subscribing ourselves your friends and well wishers in the Lord; praying a speedy answer [p. [21]]
from your worthy council or the word of the Lord.
Select Committee to write expression of the views of the branch of the Church at Black River Falls.
Joseph Smith Senr. P. C)
P. T.)
clk.)
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
These letters were presented to president Joseph as before stated in the afternoon of Sunday the 10th. March 1844. Some conversation was had on the subject & a meeting appointed in the evening to be held over the at early candle light. The Twelve were notified to be present. [p. [22]]
At early candle light the brethren met according to appointment. President Joseph Smith called E[lde]r to the chair. The then called Er to be clerk of the meeting After being organized the called upon the to read the two letters from the which was done. The brethren then began each to express his views of the subject set forth in the letter. It was encouraging to witness the union of feeling which prevailed on the subject and it was plain that although separated a long distance from each other yet the same feelings had run through the minds of the brethren here as was [p. [23]] contained in the letters. Prest. Joseph said he wanted all the brethren to speak their minds on this subject and to say what was in their hearts whether good or bad. He did not want to be forever surrounded by a set of “dough heads” and if they did not rise up and shake themselves and exercise themselves in discussing these important matters he should consider them nothing better than “dough heads”. He gave some good advise which seemed to have due effect. The meeting was prolonged being occupied by several of the brethren speaking their views untill a late hour when upon motion the meeting adjourned untill tomorow at 9 o clock A.M. [p. [24]]