Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 October 1839

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Proceedings of the general , held at , Hancock County, Illinois, on Saturday the 5th day of October, 1839.
The meeting was opened by prayer, by Joseph Smith Jr. after which he was appointed President and , Clerk of the Conference, by the unanimous voice of the meeting.
The President then spoke at some length upon the situation of the , the difficulties they had had to contend with, and the manner in which they had been led to this place; and wished to know the views of the brethren, whether they wished to appoint this a or not, stating that he believed it to be a good place and suited for the saints.
It was then unanimously agreed upon, that it should be appointed a stake and a place of for the saints. The following officers were then appointed viz:
to be .
, to be of Middle Ward.
, to be bishop of Upper Ward.
to be bishop of Lower Ward.
, ,
, ,
, ,
, ,
, ,
, ,
to be ; who being respectfully called upon, accepted of their appointment.
It was then voted, that a of the Church be established on the other side of the , in the ; over which was appointed President:
, Bishop, and
, ,
, ,
A[braham] Owen Smoot, Edward [Edmund] Fisher,
Richard Howard, ,
, ,
, Stephen Chase,
Were elected high council.
, was elected to be continued as President of the .
to stand in his former office, and to be continued in his standing.
Letters were then read respecting the absence of Members, from ill health.
It was voted, that be suspended until he can have a trial, and in the meantime that he should not act as a President of a branch, or preach.
Voted, that John Daley, James Daley and Milo Andrus retain their station in the church.
Voted that Ephraim Owen’s confession, for disobeying the be acepted.
Edward Johnston William Allred,
, Wm. B. Simmons,
, Wm. W. Edwards sn.
Jabez Lake, ,
Benjamin Jones, ,
Henry Our Bough, Allen J. Stout,
Reddin Allred, Esaias Edwards,
, John Adams,
Jesse M’Intire, Daniel Miller,
James Brown, Simson I. Comfort,
, ,
Artemus Johnston, William Hyde,
Joseph G. Hovey, Andrew Hendry,
, Redick N. Allred,
Fields B. Jacamey, Eli Lee,
Zadock Bethers, Hiram W. Maxwell,
and Thomas S. Edwards, were appointed Elders of the church, who all accepted of their appointment with the exception of Thomas S. Edwards.
, was admitted into the church upon his confession.
Abel Casto was by the .
The meeting then adjourned until Sunday morning after which six were by Joseph Smith Jr.
Sunday morning October the 6th.
The Conference met pursuant to adjournment at 8 o’clock, A. M.
, Reuben Foot,
Orlando D. Hovey, ,
Sheffield Daniels, Albert Miner,
David B. Smith, ,
Pleasant Ewell, William Helm,
Were appointed Elders of the church and were under the hands of , , and .
After some remarks from the Presi [p. 30]dent respecting observing order and decorum during , , spoke as to the duties of , , [e]tc.
President J. Smith, Jr. then spoke as to appointing a and other matters connected with the well being of the . Having now got through the business matters, the President proceeded to give instructions to the Elders respecting preaching the gospel, and pressed upon them the necessity of getting the spirit, so that they might preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, to be careful in speaking on those subjects which are not clearly pointed out in the word of God, which lead to speculation and strife.
Those persons who had been were then , and several children received blessings by Elders , and . Elder then addressed the meeting, on the subject of raising funds by contribution, towards paying for the lands which had been contracted for, as a settlement for the church, after which contributions were received for that purpose.
, was appointed to accompany Presidents J. Smith. Jr. and , to the City of .
The meeting then adjourned until Monday morning.
Monday morning October the 9th [7th].
Conference met pursuant to adjournment.
The President spoke at some length to the Elders, and explained many passages of scripture.
Elder , spoke on the subject of the resurection, and other important subjects. When he offered the following resolution, which passed unanimously:
Resolved, That a new edition of Hymn Books be printed immediately, and that the one published by , be utterly discarded by the church.
Elder Ezra Hayes was then put upon trial for teaching doctrine injurious to the church, and for falsehoods; which having been proved against him, his was withdrawn and he required to give satisfaction to those whom he had offended.
Charges having been prefered against , it was agreed that the case be handed over to the .
Asahel Perry made application to be received into , and was voted into his former standing.
After having referred the business not gone into, to the high council; the president then returned thanks to the conference for their good attention and liberality; and having blessed them in the name of the Lord, the conference was dismissed.
The next conference was appointed to be held on the 6th day of April next. [p. 31]


  1. 1

    These difficulties included the Saints’ expulsion from Missouri and JS’s imprisonment in jails in Richmond and Liberty, Missouri. For an account of these events, see JS, “Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.,” Times and Seasons, July 1839, 1:2–9.  

  2. 2

    The second copy of the minutes in JS Letterbook 2 inserts “in the providence of God” here. (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, p. 197.)  

  3. 3

    A May 1839 conference held in Quincy appointed Marks, who had been a member of the high council and president over the church in Kirtland, Ohio, “to preside over the Church at Commerce, Ill.” (Minutes, 6 May 1839; Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.)  

  4. 4

    Whitney was appointed as a bishop in Kirtland in 1831 and was directed by a July 1838 revelation to move to Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, to serve as bishop there. A May 1839 conference in Quincy instructed Whitney to “go also to Commerce and there act in unison with the other Bishops of the Church.” (Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–A [D&C 72:7–8]; Revelation, 8 July 1838–E [D&C 117:11]; Minutes, 6 May 1839.)  

  5. 5

    Partridge was appointed as a bishop in February 1831 and was directed soon thereafter to serve as the bishop in Missouri. (Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:9]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:7].)  

  6. 6

    Knight was appointed as acting bishop at Adam-ondi-Ahman in 1838. At the May 1839 general conference, participants resolved that Knight should “be appointed or received into the Church in full Bishopric.” (Minutes, 28 June 1838; Minutes, 4–5 May 1839.)  

  7. 7

    Of these individuals, six had prior experience on high councils. Harris, Grover, and Newel Knight were members of high councils in Ohio and Missouri; Bent and Dort participated in high councils in Missouri, although it does not appear they were standing members; and Rich had participated in high councils as well. (Minutes, 2 Jan. 1836; Minutes, 13 Jan. 1836; and Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837; Minute Book 2, 24 Apr. 1837; 1, 5, and 20 Aug. 1837; 24 Feb. 1838; 10 Mar. 1838; 13 Dec. 1838; Minutes, 3 July 1834.)  

  8. 8

    John Smith, JS’s uncle, had earlier served as the president of the Kirtland high council and in the presidency of the Kirtland church. He had also been an assistant president to JS. (Minutes, 17 Aug. 1835; JS, Journal, 21 Jan. 1836; Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837; “Ecclesiastical Organizational Charts: Spring–Summer 1838.”)  

  9. 9

    Ripley had served on the committee supervising the Saints’ removal from Missouri to Illinois. (“Proceedings of Meeting No 1 Jany 26th 1839”; “Proceedings of Meeting No 2 Jany 29th 1839,” Far West Committee, Minutes, CHL.)  

    Far West Committee. Minutes, Jan.–Apr. 1839. CHL. MS 2564.

  10. 10

    On 15 January 1836, Don Carlos Smith was appointed as president of the high priests in Kirtland. Charles C. Rich was appointed to be president of the high priests in Zion on 20 August 1837. (JS, Journal, 15 Jan. 1836; Minute Book 2, 20 Aug. 1837.)  

  11. 11

    Hyde had become disaffected from the church in fall 1838 because, he stated, he no longer believed that God was with the Saints or that the Lord was “the mover of their schemes and projects.” Hyde prepared an affidavit with Thomas B. Marsh that, according to Wilford Woodruff, gave “fals testimony against the presidency & of the Church,” leading to the muster of “thirty thousand of the Militia against the Church.” The exact nature of what William Smith did is uncertain, but later accounts state that when JS was confined in jail at Liberty, Missouri, William, who had a volatile relationship with his brother, “publicly expressed the hope” that JS “would never get out of the hands of his enemies alive.” Though the May general conference instructed Smith and Hyde to present their cases in October, the matters were handled before that time, perhaps because of the pleadings of Heber C. Kimball and Hyrum Smith in behalf of Hyde, who they believed had strong “feelings of repentance, and desire to return to the Church.” In June, Hyde “was restored to the Church and the quorum of the Twelve in full fellowship by a full vote of the Council, after making an humble confession & acknowledgement of his sins.” The prior month, JS had conferred with the Twelve Apostles about William Smith and dismissed his case. (Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, 25–30 Oct. 1838, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 18–19; Woodruff, Journal, 25 and 27 June 1839; 13 Feb. 1859; Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, Affidavit, Richmond, MO, 24 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City; Brigham Young et al., “Hearken, O Ye Latter-day Saints,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 23 Aug. 1865, 372; Kimball, “History,” 103; JS, Journal, 25 May and 7 July 1839.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.

    Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.

  12. 12

    In summer 1839, an outbreak of sickness struck the Saints living in Commerce. Parley P. Pratt remembered that “many” church members “were lying sick and at the point of death” because of disease, which appears to have been malaria. (JS, Journal, 8–20 July 1839; Pratt, Autobiography, 324.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  13. 13

    Redfield, who may have been functioning as the president of a church branch in Pittsfield, Illinois, was accused of “aiding McLellen [William E. McLellin] and others in Plundering the House of Joseph Smith” while JS was imprisoned in Missouri. Redfield denied he had done this. However, when the high council considered his case on 20 October 1839, Redfield confessed to committing “certain inadvertant imprudent (not evil meaning) acts that he sorrowed for.” The high council voted to forgive Redfield and restore him to “his former official standing and fellowship the same and as fully as if no such evil insinuation had been brought against him.” (Journal of Jesse Nathaniel Smith, 6; Caroline Clark et al., Statement, 1839, Statements against William E. McLellin and Others, ca. 1838–1839, CHL; Harlow Redfield, Provo, Utah Territory, to Editor of the Deseret News, 7 Sept. 1854, Deseret News Office, Editor’s Files, 1850–1854, CHL; Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 20 Oct. 1839, 23–24; see also Henry G. Sherwood, “Notice,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:47–48.)  

    Journal of Jesse Nathaniel Smith: The Life History of a Mormon Pioneer, 1834–1906. Salt Lake City: Jesse N. Smith Family Association, 1953.

    Statements against William E. McLellin and Others, ca. 1838–1839. CHL.

    Deseret News Office. Editor’s Files, 1850–1854. CHL.

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  14. 14

    Andrus had been assigned to serve a mission in Canada but had been prevented from fulfilling this assignment because of fighting occurring between the Canadians and the British. He instead preached in Ohio. James Daley was his brother-in-law and John Daley was his father-in-law. (Andrus, Autobiography, 32, 35; Martin, Story of the John Daley Jr. Family, 7–10.)  

    Andrus, Milo. Autobiography, 1875. Private possession. Photocopy at CHL. MS 6533.

    Martin, James D. The Story of the John Daley Jr. Family: Westward Pioneers. [Ogden, UT]: By the author, 2000. Copy at FHL.

  15. 15

    The second copy of the minutes in JS Letterbook 2 has this name as “Henry Curbough.” (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, p. 198.)  

  16. 16

    The duties of priesthood offices were outlined in the church’s governing “Articles and Covenants” and in an instruction on priesthood published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 2:8–27, 1835 ed. [D&C 20:38–84]; Instruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 3:30–44, 1835 ed. [D&C 107:58–100].)  

  17. 17

    JS’s remarks were presumably regarding the appointment of a patriarch in the Commerce area. Joseph Smith Sr. was ordained as patriarch of the church in December 1834. Isaac Morley was designated a patriarch in Far West, Missouri, in November 1837. (Historical Introduction to Blessing from Joseph Smith Sr., 9 Dec. 1834; Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837.)  

  18. 18

    Apparently, this topic was weighing on the minds of church leaders at the time. JS had given a sermon just a few days prior in which he “explained concerning uselessness of preaching to the world about great judgements but rather to preach the simple gospel.” Similarly, a letter from six of the church’s Twelve Apostles, written by July 1839 and published in the November 1839 issue of the Times and Seasons, counseled elders against preaching their own opinions or on speculative subjects: “The horns of the beast, the toes of the image, the frogs and the beast mentioned by John, are not going to save this generation.” Elizabeth Haven, a church member in Quincy, Illinois, stated that some of the elders who attended the conference told her that JS addressed other topics as well, including “the kingdom before the foundation of the world.” According to Haven, “he also related some very interesting facts which he has lately translated from the reccords which came with the Mummies,” referring to papyri JS obtained when he and others purchased several Egyptian mummies in 1835. (Discourse, 29 Sept. 1839; Brigham Young et al., “To the Elders of the Church,” Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, 1:13–14; Elizabeth Haven, Quincy, IL, to Elizabeth Howe Bullard, Holliston, MA, 21, 28, and 30 Sept. 1839; 6–9 Oct. 1839, Barlow Family Collection, 1816–1969, CHL; Historical Introduction to Certificate from Michael Chandler, 6 July 1835.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Barlow Family Collection, 1816–1969. CHL.

  19. 19

    The church’s governing Articles and Covenants directed that church members bring their children “unto the elders before the church” so that the elders could “lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.” (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 2:20, 1835 ed. [D&C 20:70].)  

  20. 20

    Rigdon was appointed in a May 1839 conference to go to Washington DC and “lay . . . before the general Government” the Saints’ case regarding their expulsion from Missouri. On 21 October 1839, the high council affirmed JS’s appointment to travel to Washington DC with Rigdon and Higbee. (Minutes, 4–5 May 1839; Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 21 Oct. 1839, 25.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

  21. 21

    After this paragraph, the second copy of the minutes in JS Letterbook 2 inserts the following: “On motion of Er Lyman Wight it was Resolved that Prst. Joseph Smith be authorised to deed property to his family, his fathers family and the poor for their support during life, to fall to their heirs and successors after them, as he shall deem proper.” (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 199–200.)  

  22. 22

    The second copy of the minutes in JS Letterbook 2 inserts “Also of the necessity of publishing another edition of the Hymn Book” here. (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, p. 200.)  

  23. 23

    Previously, the church had published in Kirtland a collection of hymns compiled by Emma Smith, but members in New York apparently could not obtain copies of this hymnal. Rogers therefore published a new edition in 1838, which used the earlier hymnal as its base, though he omitted over forty hymns and added forty others. Church leaders viewed Rogers’s publication as unauthorized; as Hyrum Smith stated in January 1840, the publication of such materials needed to be done under the oversight of those—including JS—who had been designated in an 1831 revelation as stewards over church publications. Emma Smith’s and Rogers’s hymnals were respectively published as A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835) and A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints (New York: C. Vinten, 1838). (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 22 Nov. 1839; Hyrum Smith, Nauvoo, IL, to Lucian R. Foster, New York City, NY, Jan. 1840, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 83–84; Revelation, 12 Nov. 1831 [D&C 70:1–4].)  

  24. 24

    Hayes had apparently had conflicts with the Kirtland elders quorum on a couple of previous occasions. (Kirtland Elders Quorum, “Record,” 19 Feb. 1836 and 15 Nov. 1837.)  

    Kirtland Elders Quorum. “A Record of the First Quorurum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841. CCLA.

  25. 25

    The charges brought against Rogers are not clear, but when the high council considered his case on 8 March 1840, JS specified that he was accused of “unchristianlike conduct.” At a 29 March 1840 meeting of the high council, Rogers was acquitted of the charge because there was “no one appearing against him to sustain” it. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 8 and 29 Mar. 1840, 49, 53.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

  26. 26

    In May 1836, Oliver Cowdery charged Perry with “unchristianlike conduct” and the Kirtland high council cut him off from the church. It is not clear whether he was reinstated and then disciplined again between May 1836 and this conference. In 1838 he moved to Missouri and, after the Saints’ expulsion there, went to Quincy and then to Commerce. (Minute Book 1, 23 May 1836; “Obituary,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 3 Mar. 1869, 41; Stephen Perry, Springville, Utah Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 28 Nov. 1884, typescript, Stephen C. Perry, Collection, CHL.)  

    Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.

    Perry, Stephen C. Collection, 1843–1886. Typescript. CHL.

  27. 27

    The business referred to might have included appointing additional officers and establishing policies for land transactions in the Commerce area, setting wages for JS’s clerk James Mulholland, providing a recommendation for the delegation going to Washington DC, and deciding on the production of a new edition of the church hymnbook—all items that the high council addressed later in October. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 21 Oct. 1839, 25–26; Minutes, 27 Oct. 1839.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.