Part I: Out of the Frying Pan [Continued]
(Ohio: Part II): ZION, THE UNITED ORDER & DAVID THE KINGInterlude: The United Firm
Robert Owen, a wealthy Scottish reformer and industrialist, may have also indirectly shaped Joseph Smith's utopian ideas through one of his most influential American followers. Arriving in the United States in the mid-1820s, Owen promised a "new Eden in the far west" and began establishing communities based on common ownership and equality of work and profit. After purchasing New Harmony from the Harmonists in 1825, he established several other communitarian societies in Ohio, at Kendal and Yellow Springs. Sidney Rigdon, a prominent Protestant minister in the Western Reserve area of Ohio and a follower of Alexander Campbell's Disciples of Christ, attended a debate between Owen and Campbell in 1829. Taken with Owen's system of "family commonwealths," he tried to implement such a communal order within the Disciples of Christ (Ericksen 1922, 17). Campbell's objections caused Rigdon to leave the Disciples and, with other dissenters, to set up "common-stock" societies at Mentor and Kirtland, Ohio. By the fall of 1830 Rigdon and more than one hundred members of "the family," as they were known, had converted to Mormonism, which, by then, numbered nearly one thousand. (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p.2).
When Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland in February, 1831 he convinced those who were participating in "the family" experiment, to abandon it for a "more perfect law of the Lord."
On 9 February 1831 Smith announced God's "Law of Consecration and Stewardship." Members were advised that "all things belong to the Lord" and were directed to deed all personal property to the bishop of the church. The bishop then returned a "stewardship" to each head of a household, who was expected to turn over any accrued surplus to the church. Known as the "Order of Enoch," "the Lord's Law," and the "United Order," the Mormon principle of stewardship was intended as a pattern of social and economic reorganization for all mankind. The dream was to unify "a people fragmented by their individualistic search for economic well-being." The Saints, as a group, divested of personal selfishness and greed, were to be prepared by this communal discipline to [p.3] usher in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p.3).
Though polygamy is strongly denounced in several Book of Mormon passages (Jac. 1:15; 2:23-27; 3:5; Mos. 11:2-4, 14; Eth. 10:5), a reading of the Old Testament provides ample evidence that it was acceptable in ancient Israel. Abraham was not the only husband of multiple wives. Jacob had two wives and two concubines (Gen. 29-30); Elkanah had two wives (1 Sam. 1:2); Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines (2 Chron. 11:21); Abijah married fourteen women (2 Chron. 13:21); David had a large harem (1 Chron. 14:3); and Solomon managed seven hundred wives and more than three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3).
It is difficult to determine exactly when Joseph Smith first felt compelled to practice polygamy. W. W. Phelps recollected three decades after the fact in an 1861 letter to Brigham Young that on 17 July 1831, when he and five others had gathered in Jackson County, Missouri, Smith stated: "It is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites [Indians], that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just." Phelps added in a postscript that "about three years after this was given, I asked brother Joseph, privately, how 'we,' that were mentioned in the revelation could take wives of the 'natives' as we were all married men?" He claimed that Smith replied, "In the same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Keturah; and Jacob took Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpha, by Revelation." (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p.3)
An extraordinary charismatic religious leader, Jacob Cochran (1782-1836), founded the Cochranites, “The Society of Free Brethren and Sisters” and established his small denomination in the area between Boston, Massachusetts, and Saco, Maine. He impressed his listeners with commanding oratory and scriptural knowledge, and claimed to be restoring Christ’s apostolic church, with miracle healings, and exorcism. Once he had secured a firm place within the community, his revival included a startling new phase with “spiritual wifery” a practice which included polygamy based on Biblical passages such as Isaiah 4:1 “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man…” He admonished married members to prepare themselves to dissolve their traditional marriages. As their prophet, through “revelation” he assigned women to men and shifted them between partners. Cochran was known for the habit of “taking young women into his private rooms for extended periods of time.” (Wiki entry)
Vol. XI. Kennebunk, Mass. [Me.], May ?, 1819. No. ?
Saco, May 25.
The county of York, particularly this town, Kennebunk, Buxton, &c. has long been infested by a religious Impostor, named Jacob Cochran; who pretended to have a mission to spread a new religion. His process was, to gull a few men, then to seduce women, married and single, to attend his ministrations, swear them to secrecy, and then induce them to commit the most lascivious and criminal practices.
This conduct had become notorious; and the Grand Jury of the county, at the late term of the Supreme Court, found no less than five bills of indictment against him. On one of these, for lascivious behavior, he was cleared, the Jury, after being up all night, not agreeing, one of their number, a disciple, refusing his assent. He was then tried on an indictment for adultery, and convicted; but having been admitted to bail, and not having been surrendered into Court, he hopped the twig, and has not since been heard of; has thus probably escaped a three years visit to the State Prison. Jacob Cochran is about 35 years old, common size, well built, light complexion, rather sandy hair, dresses well, and has the manners half a half gentleman.
(The text of the above clipping was taken from a reprint published in the New-York Evening Post of June 7, 1819, For more on the Cochranites, See Dale Broadhurst's Webpage, http://olivercowdery.com/gathering/JCochran.htm
An interesting but questionable account:
In 1827 I hired the Russell house, in the central part of the village of Batavia [in Genesee Co., New York], an old stand, and a much larger house. All at once came Joseph Smith, with James [sic - Jacob?] Cockrane and James [sic - George?] Harris. Cockrane and Smith boarded with me; Harris lived in Batavia. The history of James Cockrane, as I learned it, was that he was a preacher down somewhere in Maine, who held the doctrine that men and women, when converted, became innocent as Adam and Eve before the fall, and had no shame -- went naked. He was taken up and lodged in jail for his blasphemy and crime, tried and sentenced to State prison for ten [sic - four?] years. In 1826 his crime was out, and he came west to Batavia and found Joe Smith a fit companion. Cockrane wanted to preach in the court house and was permitted. I went to hear him, and a flow of words thick and fast, like hail upon a shingled roof, was about all I could hear, not a word spoken intelligently. He and Smith were very intimate....
Smith went to Victor and in a schoolhouse opened his doctrine. At the close of his speech he fell flat on the floor, and claimed that God had met him, who did Paul at Damascus, and had converted him to the true doctrine of Mormonism. Some said Smith was drunk and fell down, but Smith held to the fact that Mormonism was approved of the Almighty, and the true state of society, as of old, was returning to bless and confirm the true doctrine of a multitude of wives and no absolute distinction of families....
On the 2d inst., December, 1877, an elderly lady called at my house. She was raised in Cunnebunk, Maine, and when about 15 years old she knew James Cockrane and many of his followers, and confirms the statement I have made of his doctrine and followers. (Samuel D. Greene's letter, published in the Chicago Christian Cynosure of Dec. 20, 1877, Thanks to Dale Broadhurst, http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/IL ... htm#122077
Be sure and read Dale's Note #6, as it raises many questions about this account).
In 1832 Mormon Missionaries were sent out and they encountered the Cochranites:
Preached in the evening ... two ladies confessed their faith in the work, and a Miss and Mrs. [Augusta Adams] Cobb. (Journal of Orson Pratt, June 29, 1832, Boston).
Baptized three: Augusta Cobb, Elizabeth Harendeen and __________ Porter. (Journal of Samuel H. Smith, June 29, 1832, Boston, Augusta Adams Cobb would later become the Spiritual Wife of Brigham Young).
Attended to Sacrament, considerably disturbed by false spirits in a man and woman that believed in the Cochranite Doctrine. We cried against them and after a little got them considerably quelled.... Not a very good time because of disturbance (Journal of Orson Pratt, July 1, 1832, Boston)
Somewhat interrupted this day in the meeting by a man and woman that taught the doctrine of the devil, such as ... having spiritual wives.... They came to our meeting. The woman arose and began to preach and we requested her to stop and she would not, and we cried against her spirit, for we knew that it was an unclean spirit, and we cried against it that it was of the devil, and it made considerable stir. The man that had the same spirit tempted us, saying: "Cast the Devil out," crying amen to the words of the woman. After considerable muttering and grumbling and shaking of her frame, she stopped and we proceeded with our meeting. (Journal of Samuel H. Smith, July 1, 1832).
Preached to a congregation of Cochranites who gave liberty; told them again to repent and go up to Zion, and we lifted our cry in the Spirit, and I hope some of them will go; but they had a wonderful lustful spirit, because they believe in a "Plurality of wives" which they call spiritual wives, knowing them not after the flesh but after the spirit, but by the appearance they knew one another after the flesh. (Orson Pratt, October 11, 1832, Ogunquit, Maine).
A clerical friend (a professor in an eastern college) has informed the writer, that having heard of the wonderful sway, which Cochrane held over his disciples, and indeed of the impressions he made upon casual hearers, he determined one evening to go and witness his performances. While present, although a very cool and grave personage, he said he felt some strange, undefinable, mysterous influence creeping over him to such a degree, that he was obliged actually to tear himself away in apprehension of the of the consequences. This gentleman, however, is a believer in animal magnetism, and is inclined to attribute the power of Cochrane to that cause. It was said that if the impostor did but touch the hand or neck of a female, his power over her person and reason was complete. The consequence, therefore, was the most open and loathsome sensuality. So atrocious was his conduct, that he seduced great numbers of females, married and unmarried, under the pretext of raising up a race of holy men. The peace of many families was broken up, and the villain kept an establishment like a seraglio. (Matthias and His Impostures, by William L. Stone, 1835, pg. 297).
The many similarities between what Cochran practiced and what Joseph Smith later practiced early on
in Nauvoo (before Joseph revealed "eternal marriage", including the term "Spiritual Wife" that Joseph and his Spiritual Wives used) are compelling.
About this time, (Spring 1832) Smith had a "revelation" about "The United Firm". This probably arose out of Smith’s translation of the Bible, as it was also called ‘the Order of Enoch’ which replaced "The Family". As Max H. Parkin explains:
“While Latter-day Saints may not typically think of Joseph Smith as an energetic businessman or an assertive entrepreneur, multiple business interests captured his attention beginning shortly after the Church was organized. By February 1831 in Kirtland, Ohio, he began to inquire about economic matters, and by July, the twenty-five-year-old Joseph Smith embarked on a path of land acquisition, community planning, and other commercial ventures. He operated his businesses under the principles of consecration and stewardship and coordinated his enterprises through a business management company he named the United Firm. He supervised the firm by revelation, including a final lengthy revelation in April 1834 that terminated the company.” (Max H. Parkin, Joseph Smith and the United Firm, B.Y.U. Studies, 46 No. 3, (2007), pages 3-4).
On the dispersal of property after Smith ended the United firm, Parkin writes:
“The [April] revelation, however, did name a commercial lot owned jointly by Whitney and Gilbert, across the street from the Whitney store, and a tannery. Arnold Mason, a non-Mormon, had purchased an acre lot from French in 1832, immediately east of the Whitney store, and built a tannery on it. On April 2, 1833, a council of high priests authorized Ezra Thayer to purchase the tannery from Mason for the Church, but no purchase was made until May 3, 1834, ten days after the April revelation that distributed the firm’s properties. The revelation awarded the tannery to Sidney Rigdon, who afterwards managed it as a successful personal stewardship and business.” (ibid, page 23. see D&C 104:20; Geauga County Deed Record, 18:487; see n. 177 herein; Times and Seasons 4 (May 15, 1843): 193.)
Mike Quinn noted in The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power:
A revelation ends the Kirtland United Order and distributes its real estate assets among Smith, Cowdery, Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Martin Harris, Newel K. Whitney, and John Johnson. Although the revelation says, "it is my will that you shall pay all your debts," Smith requires Whitney to absorb the $1,151.31 Whitney had loaned to him personally as well as $2,484.22 of other men's debts to Whitney. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.621).
The United Firm had its roots in the appointment of certain church leaders as stewards of "the revelations, and commandments" starting on November 12, 1831. See D&C 70, 72, 78 & 82. During its lifetime it included the Gilbert, Whitney & Company in Zion, and Newel K. Whitney & Company in Kirtland, W. W. Phelps & Co., and F. G. Williams & Co. In 1834 the United Firm was divided into the United Firms of Kirtland and Zion, and most Kirtland members were given title to land and homes in Kirtland. (Which was interesting in that Smith only predicted five years of peace there).
“Meanwhile in Hiram, Joseph Smith and leading elders held five conferences, November 1–13, 1831, to prepare his revelations for publication. At their final meeting, they organized a “literary firm,” an antecedent to the United Firm, to manage Church publications and provide an income for its officers. Named at a meeting with a “claim on the church for recompense” for past publishing services were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, John Whitmer, and Martin Harris. The conference of elders then elected these men, whom a revelation ratified, and added the name of Phelps to help manage the literary firm in Zion. The revelation appointed the men “stewards over the revelations” and guardians over both their publication and sales; hence, they were to be the beneficiaries of the revenue because “this is their business in the church,” it declared. Until the literary firm could generate enough income of its own, however, the officers were allowed to draw from the Lord’s storehouses for their needs; once acquired, surplus earnings from the sales of publications were to be turned over to the storehouse for the Church’s use. John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery left Ohio on November 20 with manuscript copies of the revelations and arrived in Independence on January 5, 1832, to assist Phelps in operating the new printing house. Quickly, with Phelps’s help, they began preparing a printer’s copy of the revelations from which they set type for the prospective “Book of Commandments.” The following June, their new publishing firm, W. W. Phelps and Co., began printing the Church paper The Evening and the Morning Star, which contained imprints of the revelations awaiting fuller publication in the Book of Commandments.”(Ibid, pages 10-11. See also, D&C 70:3–7).
Smith said, “Br. Oliver has labored with me from the beginning in writing &c Br. Martin has labored with me from the beginning, brs. John and Sidney also for a considerable time, & as these sacred writings are now going to the Church for their benefit, that we may have claim on the Church for recompense
.” (Far West Record, November 12-13, 1831)
In the same meeting it was “Voted that in consequence of the dilligence of our brethren, Joseph Smith jr. Oliver Cowdery John Whitmer & Sidney Rigdon in bringing to light by grace of God these sacred things, be appointed to manage them according to the Laws of the Church & the Commandments of the Lord.” Also, “that in consequence of the families of Joseph Smith Hiram Smith Peter Whitmer Christian Whitmer Jacob Whitmer Hiram Page & David Whitmer in administering to their wants in temporal things
, & also the labors of Samuel H. Smith Peter Whitmer jr. William Smith & Don Carlos Smith. Voted by this Conference that the above named brethren be recommended to the Bishop in Zion as being worthy of inheritances among the people of the Lord
according to the laws of said Church.” Notice the nepotism at work here.
As for the United Firm itself, it was not the same as communal ownership of property. Those in the Church were required by revelation to surrender their properties, but they still retained legal ownership, except in some special cases. Also, those who were given ‘inheritances’ in many cases if the inheritance was revoked by the church, had no legal precedent for staying on the land. In addition to this, according to Smith’s revelations, if one who actually owned the property ‘transgressed’, their right to the property could be revoked, but the church found it hard to retain the property if the owner went to court. Smith later changed this, modifying the arrangement so as to "give a deed, securing to him who receives . . . his inheritance . . . to be his individual property, his private stewardship." This gave the hierarchy of the church and those who they saw fit actual ownership of the property.
This created problems in the church later, for some sold their property without the permission of the church, and were retaliated against by being ex-communicated. Oliver Cowdery is an example of this. (See letter from Joseph Smith to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833, Joseph Smith Collection, Church Archives. For references to the challenging of the legality of these proceedings, see History of the Church 1:380, cited from Evening and Morning Star 2[July 1833]:110 and the Painesville Telegraph [Painesville, Ohio], April 26, 1833. For Oliver Cowdery, see the Far West Record, Minutes of April 12, 1838 which documents the Cowdery excommunication. The 5th Charge against him reads: “For selling his lands in Jackson County contrary to the Revelations.” (This unsustainable charge was later dropped.)
David Whitmer, who had helped Smith with the Book of Mormon and was one of it’s ‘three witnesses’ and who was present during these conferences, was excluded from the literary firm. According to Whitmer:
“Publishing the early revelations, or any of them, was contrary to the will of the Lord, as I will show you from the revelations themselves. The revelations in the Book of Commandments up to June, 1829, were given through the "stone," [Smith’s peepstone] through which the Book of Mormon was translated. These are the only revelations that can be relied upon, and they are not law. The Lord told us not to teach them for doctrine; they were given mostly to individuals, the persons whom God chose in commencing His work for their individual instruction, and the church had no need of them. They should have been kept with the sacred papers and records of the church, and never published in a book to become public property for the eyes of the world. It was not necessary for the whole church to ever see them. The written word is full on all matters pertaining to the Church of Christ. Of course I believe in God revealing His will to His servants in these days, by the various gifts of the Holy Ghost; but I believe in it according to the Scriptures. In the revelations themselves are positive commands to keep these things from the world, that they are sacred, etc. A revelation was given to Oliver Cowdery in April, 1829, (Sec. v:11, 13), in which he is told that he would be granted a gift "to translate even as my servant Joseph," warning him as follows: "Remember, it is sacred, and cometh from above.... Trifle not with sacred things....Make not thy gift known unto any, save it be those who are of thy faith." But they published these things in a book, and made them known to the world!
In a revelation to Martin Harris (Sec. 18) concerning endless punishment, are these words: "And I command you that you preach naught but repentance; and show not these things, neither speak these things unto the world, for they cannot bear meat, but milk they must receive: wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish." This revelation reads as I have quoted it, in the Book of Commandments; but in the Doctrine and Covenants it has been changed to read thus: "Show not these things unto the world, until it is wisdom in me." The words, "until it is wisdom in me," were added to this revelation. You see they had to add these words in order to publish the revelations. Judge for yourselves, brethren: I will make no farther comments to magnify the errors of the leaders of the church. My policy throughout will be to speak of no more of their errors than is necessary in order to prove all false doctrines as being false, and establishing the doctrine of Christ as it is set forth in the written word.
The main reason why the printing press was destroyed, was because they published the Book of Commandments. It fell into the hands of the world, and the people of Jackson county, Missouri, saw from the revelations that they were considered by the church as intruders upon the land of Zion, as enemies to the church, and that they should be cut off out of the land of Zion and sent away. The people seeing these things in the Book of Commandments became the more enraged, tore down the printing press, and drove the church out of Jackson county. (See Doc. and Cov., Sections 52:9, 64:7, 45:15.) "Which is the land of your inheritance. Which is now the land of your enemies." "And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land." "And now I say unto you, keep these things from going abroad unto the world, until it is expedient in me, that ye may accomplish this work in the eyes of the people, and in the eyes of your enemies, that they may not know your works until ye have accomplished the thing which I have commanded you." This is sufficient. I will quote no more to show you that the leaders made a mistake in publishing the revelations in a book. It is too plain.
Brethren, does it not look strange that they should have been so blind as to go ahead and publish these revelations in the face of this plain language to keep these things from the world? It surely does look strange.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers In Christ, 1886, pages 53-54).
“I will now tell you of a prophecy which the Lord gave through me to Brothers Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon, of what should come to pass if they printed those revelations. In the spring of 1832, in Hiram, Ohio, Brothers Joseph and Sydney, and others, concluded that the revelations should be printed in a book. A few of the brethren — including myself — objected to it seriously. We told them that if the revelations were published, the world would get the books, and it would not do; that it was not the will of the Lord that the revelations should be published. But Brothers Joseph and Sydney would not listen to us, and said they were going to send them to Independence to be published. I objected to it and withstood Brothers Joseph and Sydney to the face. Brother Joseph said as follows: "Any man who objects to having these revelations published, shall have his part taken out of the Tree of Life and out of the Holy City." The Spirit of God came upon me and I prophesied to them in the name of the Lord: "That if they sent those revelations to Independence to be published in a book, the people would come upon them and tear down the printing press, and the church would be driven out of Jackson county." Brothers Joseph and Sydney laughed at me. Early in the spring of 1833, at Independence, Mo., the revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments. Many of the books were finished and distributed among the members of the church, and through some of the unwise brethren, the world got hold of some of them. From that time the ill-feeling toward us began to increase; and in the summer of 1833 the mob came upon us, tore down the printing press, and drove the church out of Jackson county. Brothers Joseph and Sydney then saw that I did have some of the Spirit of God, after my prophecy had been fulfilled. To show you that Brother Joseph and myself still loved each other as brethren after this, I will tell you that he had so much confidence in me that in July, 1834, he ordained me his successor as "Prophet Seer and Revelator" to the Church. He did this of his own free will and not at any solicitation whatever on my part. I did not know what he was going to do until he laid his hands upon me and ordained me.
Now, bear in mind, brethren, that I am not claiming this office; as I have told you, I do not believe in any such an office in the church. I was then in error in believing that there was such an office in the Church of Christ. I suppose this is news to many of you — that Brother Joseph ordained me his successor — but it is in your records, and there are men now living who were present in that council of elders when he did it, in the camp of Zion, on Fishing River, Missouri, July, 1834.
This is why many of the brethren came to me after Brother Joseph was killed, and importuned me to come out and lead the church. I refused to do so. Christ is the only leader and head of his church” (Ibid, pages 54-55)
Concerning this time, Whitmer added:
“The Spirit of God came upon me and I prophesied to them in the name of the Lord: "That if they sent those revelations to Independence to be published in a book, the people would come upon them and tear down the printing press, and the church would be driven out of Jackson county." Brothers Joseph and Sydney laughed at me.”
This would still not deter Smith from choosing Whitmer as his successor in the Church, and appointing him the President of the Stake of Zion. Smith should have listened to Whitmer, for his words did turn out to be prophetic.
As for Smith and his claims that the church had no paid clergy, documents show that this is not the case, and that Smith’s revelations concerning a ‘united order’, or ‘united firm’ were dictated for one purpose, and that is for Smith and those in his confidence to get other's property.
“The United Firm as a company did not own the properties it managed, nor indeed did its officers own them collectively. The deed titles to its businesses remained in the names of individual Latter-day Saint landowners or business proprietors. Various officers of the United Firm owned and managed the following properties: N. K. Whitney and Company; Gilbert, Whitney and Company; W. W. Phelps and Company (entities previously identified); F. G. Williams and Company; Whitney’s Kirtland ashery; the firm’s real estate—including a commercial lot owned jointly by Whitney and Gilbert; the farm of Frederick G. Williams; the former Peter French farm at Kirtland; and Bishop Partridge’s stewardship lands in Missouri— and other properties. The revelations admonished the partners to be wise in their stewardships and manage them righteously under the bond of the sacred covenant they had made; otherwise they placed themselves in jeopardy, and, in doing so, they understood that judgment might befall them.” (Max H. Parkin, opening post. cited, pages 15-16).
Being wise in their stewardships, meant obeying the Mormon ‘prophet’ in all things, and giving up their properties to suit his purposes. For example, shortly after Smith moved to Kirtland in 1831, he took over Frederick G. Williams 144 acre farm, and gave it to his parents to run. An unpublished “revelation” states:
“Let mine aged servant Joseph govern the things of the farm . . . inasmuch as he standeth in need.” (Kirtland Revelation Book, 92).
In January of 1833, Smith had another “revelation” telling Williams he must give up his farm completely.
“Let thy farm be consecrated for bringing forth the revelations,” Smith wrote. (“Revelation for Farm,” unpublished revelation, January 5, 1833, Frederick G. Williams Papers, CHL).
“Smith apparently hoped that the cost of publishing the scriptures in Missouri could be covered by the sale of lots from the Williams farm, which he integrated into the United Firm. Furthermore, five months later, on June 5, 1833, Church leaders broke ground for the construction of the Kirtland Temple on a lot on the southeast edge of the adjacent Peter French farm, which the United Firm had just acquired.
This was an early step in the much larger vision of Kirtland municipal planning, in which both the Williams farm and the French farm would play a major role, as Joseph Smith and other officers of the United Firm began to lay the foundation for an expanded Latter-day Saint Kirtland. On August 2, 1833, a revelation instructed the Church at Kirtland to commence building the “city of the stake of Zion” with the temple to be in the city’s center. The Williams farm would provide most of the southwest quarter of the proposed city and the French farm would provide most of the northwest quarter. Joseph Smith and other leaders of the firm quickly platted the area into a one-mile square community with a Kirtland plat map showing the temple lot on the city’s center block.” (Max H. Parkin, opening post. cited, pages 17-18).
A later revelation in April 1834 (D&C 104), which distributed the properties of the United Firm, assigned these two small contiguous lots to Joseph Smith to manage as a single larger temple lot while his followers were to build the city around them. A few weeks later, Williams transferred title of his farm to Smith in two separate deeds, one for the temple lot on his farm and the other for the rest of his farm, which then was just over 142 acres. (The date for the transfer as recorded on both deeds was May 5, 1834, but the agreement for the transfer was probably much earlier. (Geauga County Deed Record, 18:477–80).
Smith would reward Williams by ordaining him “to be equal with him in holding the keys of the Kingdom and also the Presidency of the High Priesthood."
In March of 1832 Smith clarified the commitment his followers were required to make with this “revelation”:
“for verily I say unto you the time has come and is now at hand and behold & lo it must needs be that there be an organization of the Literary and Merchantile establishments of my church both in this place and in th[e] land of Zion …that you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things yea and earthly things also for the obtaining of heavenly thing[s] … organize yourselves by an everlasting covenant that cannot be broken & he who breaketh it shall lose his office & standing in the church and shall be delivered over unto the buffitings of satan untill th[e] day of redemption” (The Kirtland Revelation Book page 16. See D&C 78).
On April 1,1832 Joseph Smith, Newell K. Whitney, Jesse Gause & Peter Whitmer head out for Zion, Jackson Co., Missouri, stopping briefly in Wheeling, Virginia to buy paper for William W. Phelps' press.
A few weeks later, a newspaper in New York published the following:
“Mormonism is said to have taken deep root in the Baptist church, in the town of Mendon, in this county. A number were re-dipped on Sunday last. The preacher said that he should never die, but be translated, after the manner of Enoch, and that in eighteen months Mormonism would be the prevailing religion; and, that in five years the wicked were to be swept from the face of the earth. When we see the degradation to which weak human nature has been reduced of late, we cannot wonder at such fanatical extravagance.” (April 14th 1832 the Rochester New York, Liberal Advocate)
Notes by Dale Broadhurst:
Note 1: This article was paraphrased in the Apr. 18, 1832 issue of the Palmyra Wayne Sentinel, but with no mention that it originated from the pen of journalistic rival Abner Cole. While living in Palmyra in 1829-30, Cole used the Wayne Sentinel press to run off his own paper, the Reflector.
Note 2: The story of the 1832 Mormon conversions at Mendon centers primarily upon the activities and experiences of Phinehas (or, Phineas) H. Young (1799-1879) and his near relatives. On Sept. 28, 1818, at Auburn, Cayuga, NY, Phinehas married Clarissa Hamilton (1799-1834). Phinehas was apparently a journeyman printer who successively moved his family to Onondaga Co., Steuben Co., and Tompkins Co., before joining the Methodist Reformed Church in 1824. He soon became a preacher for that group and moved again, first to Canandaigua, Ontario, NY, and then, two years later, to Mendon, Monroe Co. Phinehas and Clarissa's residence at Canadaigua was during the interesting episode of the trials of the abductors of William Morgan, the rise of Anti-Masonry, and the burning of the Royal Arch Chapter in that town. Whether Phinehas was a printer for the pro-Masonic or anti-Masonic press in Canadaigua history does not record, but he apparently also served "Reformed Methodist preacher" in the area, perhaps in company with his brother-in-law, the Rev. John P. Greene. In 1828 Phinehas moved to Mendon, where his father, John Young, Sr. had relocated his family, along with those of two sons-in-law (John P. Greene and Joel Sanford) a few years previously.
Note 3: Heber C. Kimball moved to Mendon, Monroe Co., NY in 1823, where he joined the Masons and married Vilate Murray. As early as Sept. 1827 he was acquainted with John P. Greene, the traveling Methodist preacher. Probably by 1828, at the latest, Heber was a friend of the extended Young family. In mid-April, 1830, Samuel H. Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, came across Phinehas Young, who was dining at the Tomlinson Inn in Mendon township. Young accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon from Samuel and doubtless showed the volume to his brother-in-law, the Rev. John Portineus Greene (1793-1844). Greene married Rhoda Young (sister of Phinehas and Brigham Young) on Feb. 11, 1813. The couple at first lived in Cayuga Co., NY, spent the first half of the 1820s in Watertown, Jefferson Co., then went back to Cayuga Co. for a while, moved west to Conesus, in Livingston Co., and finally ended up in Mendon, Monroe Co., at the end of the 1820s. John was a preacher for the Reformed Methodists (and briefly for Methodist Protestant Church when that group was founded in Nov. 1830). John's reason for moving his family to Mendon evidently hinged on the fact that his wife's father and brothers were then living in that place. Even before John P. Greene moved to Mendon, Brigham Young (1801-1877) relocated his family there (apparently at the end of 1828). There he built a shop and a mill, and did various kinds of finish work in building construction.
Note 4: In June of 1830, Elder Samuel H. Smith returned to Mendon and loaned a second copy of the Book of Mormon to Rhoda and John P. Greene. Phineas lent his copy to his father, then to his sister Fanny, who gave it to Brigham Young. John's copy also circulated among relatives and friends of the Young family, including Brigham. In August 1830, Phinehas Young and his brother went to Ontario, Canada, to preach for the Reformed Methodists. Along the way they visited with a former member of their order, Solomon Chamberlain, who was then living in Lyons twp., Wayne Co., NY. Solomon was a former Reformed Methodist who became a Mormon during April 1830. Solomon Chamberlain accompanied the Youngs to a Reformed Methodist meeting at Manlius Center, Onondaga Co., NY where the party met up with Brigham Young. While most of the Methodists rejected Chamerlain's Mormon religion, he managed to catch the interest of Brigham Young.
In 1831 Mormon Elder Alpheus Gifford and his missionary companions came through the Mendon area, further arousing the interest of the Greenes, Youngs and Kimballs to the possibility of Mormon conversion. According to Vilate's Autobiography, "Five elders of the Church of Latter-day Saints came to the town of Victor, which was five miles from Mendon, and stopped at the house of Phineas Young, the brother of Brigham. Their names were Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis and Daniel Bowen. Hearing of these men, curiosity prompted Mr. Kimball to go and see them. Then for the first time he heard the fullness of the everlasting gospel and was convinced of its truth. Brigham Young was with him." Elder Alpheus Gifford and Elder Miller returned again to the Mendon area at the beginning of April 1832. They had some initial success among the Baptists, the ranks of whom Vilate Murray Kimball 1806-1867) and her husband Heber C. Kimball had joined the year before. According to one account, Brigham was baptized on Sunday, April 15th, 1832, by Eleazer Miller, and the Kimballs were baptized by Elder Alpheus Gifford the next day. However, Brigham's own private journal places the baptism on April 9th. Assuming this date is the correct one, the Liberal Advocate report is the first (implicit) mention in the public press of Brigham Young joining the Mormons.
Note 5: Exactly who the Baptist converts, mentioned by the Liberal Advocate were, remains a mystery. Certainly they must have been friends of Heber C. and Vilate Kimball. Joel Sanford and his wife Louiza Young Sanford, as well as William B. Stilson and his wife Susannah Young Stilson, were Mendon Mormons, but previously Methodists, not Baptists. The same can be said for Israel Barlow, his mother, his brother and sisters. Other early Mendon Mormons include: Nathan Tomlinson and his wife (proprietors of the Tomlinson Inn); Ira Bond and his wife Charlotte W. Bond (baptized Mormons in 1833); John Morton and his wife Betsey; Isaac Flummerfeli and his wife; and Rufus Parks. Perhaps one or more of these people were among the converts from the Baptists, spoken of by the Liberal Advocate. http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NY ... htm#041432
On April 26, 1832 at a conference of high priests and elders in Independence, Jackson County, Smith is acknowledged as President of the High Priesthood, and he dictates D&C 82, establishing a "firm" among Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, A. Sidney Gilbert, Edward Partridge, N. K. Whitney, John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and Martin Harris. Partners are to be:
“bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression except judgment shall immediately follow, in your several stewardships, to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things pertaining to the bishopric both in the land of Zion and in the land of Shinehah [Kirtland] … This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you and unto your successors, inasmuch as you sin not: and the soul that sins against this covenant, and hardeneth his heart against it, shall be dealt with according to the laws of my church, and shall be delivered over to the buffitings of satan until the day of redemption. … make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you.” ( D&C 82:11-22).
But the cost of helping ‘gather in’ his poor followers, did not seem to sit well with Smith, and his mother Lucy Smith writes that, in 1835 “we were still living on the farm, and labouring with our might to make the droves of company, which were constantly coming in, as comfortable as possible. Joseph saw how we were situated, and that it would not answer for us to keep a public house, at free cost, any longer.” (Lucy Mack Smith, see also Dean C. Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:123).
With his ‘gathering revelations’ firmly entrenched in the minds of his followers, Smith, during that first visit to Missouri in July of 1831, needed to purchase land for them. Buy “every tract lying westward” to the Indian border and southward “every tract bordering by the prairies,” he ordered in a “revelation” received by him that July. Bishop Edward Partridge would acquire a total of 2,136 acres in Jackson County, most of which he doled out as stewardships to the “saints” of about twenty acres each. Partridge retained the titles to all the land he purchased, including the sixty-three acres of the temple lot a half mile west of the courthouse, which he purchased on December 19, 1831, for $130.
The size of the temple lot, purchased by Bishop Partridge from Jones Flournoy, was 63 43/160 acres. (Jackson County Deed Record, B 1–2).
Brigham Young, in 1848 gave Partridge’s widow, Lydia, permission to sell the temple lot to help get her family “over the mountains” to the Salt Lake Valley. Lydia sold it on May 5, 1848, for $300. (Jackson County Deed Record, N 203–4; Journal History, April 26, 1848). Young obviously was unconcerned with who owned the land, as his wishful thinking years later shows:
“I wish the state of Missouri would take fire and burn up--everything except that which is pure and good. Then we could go back, for I want to go pretty soon. We don't want to stay here long.” –Woodruff Journals, August 22, 1860.
The Mormons were now buying up land in Jackson County, and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus as predicted by their young prophet, Joseph Smith. For the next few months they were filled with optimism, many ‘saints’ gathering to Zion in increasing numbers while in Kirtland Smith drew up plans for the City of Zion and a massive temple complex. All seemed well, until great numbers of Mormons began to settle in Jackson County, and the church began publishing the ‘revelations’ of Smith in a newspaper they called The Evening and Morning Star. They did not know it, but the prophecy made by David Whitmer was about to be fulfilled.
(To be Continued...)