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THE year 1837 dawned upon the saints of Missouri with bright hopes and flattering prospects, though some apprehension was doubtless felt because of the change of administration in the State government. The term of office of Governor Daniel Dunklin had expired, and he was succeeded by their cruel and relentless enemy, Lilburn W. Boggs, of Independence; yet under the agreement that they were to have a county, and a county organization of their own, free from molestation, they were encouraged in the thought that peace had at last come to them.
The first three months of the year they were as busy as the season of the year would admit, building their homes and preparing for the future. Their numbers were almost daily augmented by accessions from the East. In some instances settlements were made outside of Caldwell County, but always by written consent, as provided in the agreement
On this point we quote from the "History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, as follows:-
"The most desirable locations in Caldwell having been taken, the Mormon settlement extended into other counties. In the spring of 1837 quite a detachment went up into Daviess, and by written permission of the few Gentile settlers there, made locations in that county. Three miles above Gallatin, on the east bluffs of Grand River, they laid out a town which they called Diahman (pronounced Di a-mon). The locality was named 'Adam-ondi ahman,' signifying, it is
said, 'the grave of Adam,' as certain of the Mormon wise men claimed it to be the burial place of the progenitor of the human race! Some of the Mormons located at Gallatin and elsewhere throughout the county. Over in Clinton County there were perhaps fifty Mormon families in 1833. Down in Carroll County, at DeWitt, on the Missouri, in the spring of 1838, General George M. Hinkle and John Murdock, as trustees for the Mormons, purchased the town site, laid it off into lots, and soon a thriving village of one hundred houses was built. DeWitt was designed to be a steamboat landing and a point from which goods and immigrants could be forwarded to Caldwell County.
"It is claimed that all the Mormon settlements outside of this county were made with the prior consent of the inhabitants then living where the settlements were made; the consent was obtained, in nearly every instance, by the payment of money, either for the lands of the pioneer Gentiles or for some articles of personal property they owned. Money was scarce at that day, and although the pioneers did not approve Mormon doctrines, they did approve of Mormon gold and silver, and they were willing to tolerate the one if they could obtain the other. But afterward certain of the Gentiles claimed that the Mormon occupation had been by stealth and fraud, and perhaps in some instances this was true.
"By far the majority of the Mormon settlers in this quarter were poor. Many of them were able to enter and improve but forty acres of land, and nearly all their houses were cabins. Like other pioneers they had come to the country to better their condition; to worship as they pleased, and to be with their brethren, were of course considerations. Every head of family was guaranteed a home, and if he was unable to buy one it was given him from the lands held by the trustees of the church. Among so many, however, there could but be those of some wealth, as well as craftsmen of various kinds, skilled mechanics and artisans. There were also many persons of education and accomplishment. School-teachers were plenty and schools were numerous."-History of Caldwell County, pp. 118, 119.
At a meeting of the High Council of Far West and the Bishop's Council held at Far West, April 7,1837, a committee on appraising and selling town lots was appointed, consisting of W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, and John Corrill, Jacob Whitmer, Elisha H. Groves, and Geo. M. Hinkle were appointed a building committee to build the house of the Lord in Far West.
About May 28, 1837, at a general meeting of the church the following was passed: "Resolved unanimously, that we will not fellowship any ordained member who will not or does not observe the Word of Wisdom according to its literal reading."-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 9.
On June 11, 1837, the High Council at Far West passed a resolution in regard to the liquor traffic, which is in strict harmony with the one passed at Kirtland, and leaves no doubt as to where the church stood on that question, which had not then agitated the public mind to the extent it has since. 1
On July 4 an excavation was made for the proposed temple, and quite a gathering of saints was had at Far West. Concerning this and other items, W. W. Phelps writes:-
"Far West, Missouri, July 7, 1837.
"Monday, the 3d of July, was a great and glorious day in Far West. More than fifteen hundred saints assembled at this place, and at half past eight in the morning, after prayer, singing, and an address, proceeded to break the ground for the Lord's house. The day was beautiful; the Spirit of the Lord was with us. A cellar for this great edifice, one hundred and ten feet long by eighty feet broad, was nearly finished. On Tuesday, the 4th, we had a large meeting and several of the Missourians were baptized; our meetings, held in the open prairie, were larger than they were in
1It was reported that certain individuals, not of the church, were desirous or were about to establish themselves as grocers, retailers of spirituous liquors, and so forth, in Far West, whereupon it was resolved that we will not uphold any man or men to take a partner out of the church to trade or traffic in this line of business, or sell for any man or men out of the church, in his name, or on commission.-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 11.
Kirtland, when I was there. We had more or less to bless, confirm, and baptize, every Sabbath. This same day our school section was sold at auction, and although entirely a prairie, it brought, on a year's credit, from $3.50 to $10.20 per acre, making our first school fund $5,070.00!! Land cannot be had round town now much less than ten dollars per acre.
"Our numbers increase daily, and notwithstanding the season has been cold and backward, no one has lacked a meal, or went hungry. Provisions have risen, but not as high as accounts say they are abroad. Public notice has been given by the mob in Daviess County, north of us, for the Mormons to leave that county by the first of August, and go into Caldwell: our enemies will not slumber till Satan knows the bigness of his lot. Our town gains some; we have about one hundred buildings, eight of which are stores. If the brethren abroad are wise, and will come on with means, and help enter the land, and populate the county, and build the Lord's house, we shall soon have one of the most precious spots on the globe; God grant that it may be so. Of late we receive little news from you, and we think much of that is exaggerated. As ever,
"W. W. PHELPS.
"N. B.-Please say in your Messenger and Advocate, a 'Post office has been established at Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri.'"-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 13.
About this time the Caldwell regiment of the State militia was regularly organized, composed mostly of members of the church. Their officers received their commission under the hands of Governor Boggs.
Lyman Wight, in his private journal under date of August 2,1837, states:-
"We held an election to make choice of a colonel to take the command of the regiment in Caldwell County. I received a unanimous vote for that office, which was two hundred and thirty-six votes, whereupon I received a commission from under the hands of Lilburn W. Boggs."
Of this event the History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, has this:-
"The militia of the county, all or nearly all Mormons, organized and mustered, and a regiment was formed under the laws of the State, of which either 'General' George M. Hinkle or Lyman Wight was Colonel."-Page 117.
We are thus particular to mention this because careless writers often write of this regiment as the "Mormon militia," and the uninformed conclude that their only authority was from the church; when the fact is they were regularly organized and a part of the State troops. It is also true that subsequently when this regiment took an active part in putting down riots and quelling mobs, Colonel Wight acted under orders from his military superiors, as will appear from General Parks' address on October 18, 1838. 2
About this time two deaths occurred in the High Council at Far West; viz., Jesse Hitchcock and Peter Whitmer, Jr. Their places were filled by the selection of Thomas Grover and George Morey.
On August 6 a meeting was held in Far West, of which Joseph writes:-
2"Gentlemen, I deplore your situation. I regret that transactions of this nature should have transpired in our once happy State. Your condition is certainly not an enviable one, surrounded by mobs on one side, and popular opinion and prejudice against you on the other. Gladly would I fly to your relief with my troops, but I fear it would be worse for you; most of them have relations living in this county, and will not fight against them. One of my principal captains; namely, Samuel Bogart, and his men, have already mutinized [mutinied] and have refused to obey my command. I can only say to you, gentlemen, follow the command of Colonel Wight whom I have commanded to disperse all mobs found in Daviess County, or to make them prisoners and bring them before the civil authorities forthwith. I wish to be distinctly understood that Colonel Wight is vested with power and authority from me to disperse from your midst all who may be found on the side of mobocracy in the county of Daviess. I deeply regret, gentlemen, (knowing as I do the vigilance and perseverance of Colonel Wight in the cause of freedom and rights of man,) that I could not even be a soldier under his command in quelling the hellish outrages I have witnessed. In conclusion, gentlemen, be vigilant and persevere and allay every excitement of mobocracy. I have visited your place frequently; find you to be an industrious and thriving people, willing to abide the laws of the land. And I deeply regret that you could not live in peace and enjoy the privileges of freedom. I shall now, gentlemen, return and dismiss my troops and put Captain Bogart under an arrest, leave the sole charge with Colonel Wight, whom I deem sufficiently qualified to perform according to law in all military operations necessary."-Times and Seasons, vol. 4, p. 266.
"The same day, August 6, the Presidency, High Council, and all the authorities of the church in Missouri, assembled in council at Far West, and unanimously resolved to go on moderately and build a house unto the name of the Lord in Far West, as they had means, and appointed Edward Partridge treasurer, to receive all the donations and subscriptions for the erection of the house of the Lord; Isaac Morley to be his secretary. Also voted that the committee; viz., Jacob Whitmer, Elisha E. Groves, and George M. Hinkle, stand until President David Whitmer goes to and returns from Kirtland; also that the building committee of the house of the Lord have no store connected with building the house, but that every firm or individual that embarks in that business, have, own, and claim such property as their own private individual property and stewardship."-Millennial Star, vol. 16, pp. 54, 55.
This is peculiar in this: that it appears from subsequent events that these authorities were hasty in resolving to build a temple without a direct command of God. When Joseph Smith arrived at Far West, three months later, the High Council, on November 6, 1837, Joseph Smith being present, "voted unanimously, that it is the opinion of this council that there is sufficient room in this country for the churches to continue gathering from abroad; also that the building of the house of the Lord be postponed, till the Lord shall reveal it to be his will to be commenced."-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 89.
Concerning this, Andrew Jensen in his "Historical Record," page 434, has this to say:-
"Consequently Joseph and Sidney, accompanied by William Smith and Vinson Knight, started from Kirtland September 27, and arrived in Far West, Missouri, about the 1st of November. While there Joseph met in council with the elders and saints, and regulated matters connected with the town-site of Far West. It was also decided that there was sufficient room in the county for the saints to continue gathering there from abroad. The previous summer (August 5, 1837) the authorities of the church in Missouri had resolved in council to go on moderately and build a house unto the
name of the Lord in Far West. When Joseph arrived there he counseled that the building of that house should be postponed until the Lord should reveal it to be his will to have it commenced."
From this it appears that Joseph's counsel was (and the High Council concurred) not to commence the building of a temple until commanded of God.
From this it will appear that the Kirtland Temple is the only one standing to-day, the building of which is approved of God.
On August 20,1837, Charles C. Rich was ordained President of the High Priests' Quorum in Missouri, and Henry Green President of the Elders in Caldwell County.
On November 7 a general assembly of the church in Missouri was held at Far West, the minutes of which as published in the Millennial Star, are as follows:-
"Minutes of a conference at Far West, Missouri, November 7, 1837.
"At a general assembly of the Church of Latter Day Saints, assembled at Far West, to take into consideration and transact the business of said church, Elder Thomas B. Marsh was chosen as moderator, and Oliver Cowdery clerk.
"After singing, the moderator addressed the throne of grace in prayer, after which President Sidney Rigdon explained the object of the meeting, giving a relation of the recent reorganization of the church in Kirtland. The minutes of said meeting were read by the moderator, who also nominated Joseph Smith, Jr., the First President of the whole church, to preside over the same.
"All were requested (male and female) to vote, and he was unanimously chosen.
"He then made a few remarks, accepting the appointment, requesting the prayers of the church in his behalf.
"President Smith then nominated President Sidney Rigdon to be one of his counselors, who was unanimously chosen.
"He then nominated Frederick G. Williams to be his next counselor, who was objected to by Elder Lyman Wight in a
few remarks, referring to a certain letter written to the place by the said F. G. Williams.
"Also Elder Marsh objected to President Williams.
"Elder James Emmet also objected to President Williams.
"Bishop E. Partridge said he seconded President Williams' nomination, and should vote for him; and as to said letter, he had heard it, and saw nothing so criminal in it.
"President David Whitmer also made a few remarks in President Williams' favor.
"Elder Marsh made further remarks.
"Elder Thomas Grover also objected to President Williams.
"President S. Rigdon then nominated President Hyrum Smith to take President Williams' place.
"He then called for a vote in favor of President Williams, who was rejected.
"He then called for a vote in favor of President Hyrum Smith, which was carried unanimously.
"Some few remarks were made by President David Whitmer and Sydney Rigdon.
"David Whitmer was nominated as the president of this branch of the church, and was objected to by Elder Marsh.
"Bishop E. Partridge said he should vote for President Whitmer.
"Elder William E. McLellin made a few remarks.
"Elder George M. Hinkle made a few remarks in favor of President Whitmer; also Elder King Follet.
"Elder Caleb Baldwin spoke against President Whitmer; also Elder Seymour Brunson.
"Elder Elisha H. Groves spoke in favor of President Whitmer.
"Further remarks from Elder McLellin by request of President Whitmer, who made satisfaction for him.
"Remarks from President Joseph Smith, Jr., who called for an expression, which was carried by almost an unanimous vote in favor of President Whitmer.
"President Joseph Smith, Jr., then nominated John Whitmer for an assistant president, who was objected to, and Elder Marsh spoke in opposition to him, and read a list of
charges from a written document against him and President Phelps.
"President John Whitmer then spoke a few words by way of confession, and was followed by Elder Isaac Morley.
"The vote was called, and carried unanimously.
"The meeting adjourned for one hour.
"Meeting convened according to adjournment, a hymn was sung, and a prayer offered up by the moderator.
"W. W. Phelps was nominated for an assistant president for this church, by President Joseph Smith, Jr.
"He rose and made certain remarks on the subject of the charges referred to above, by way of confession also, when the vote was put by President Rigdon, and passed unanimously.
"Elders John Murdock, Solomon Hancock, Elias Higbee, Calvin Beebe, John M. Hinkle, Thomas Grover, and Simeon Carter were unanimously chosen high counselors.
"Lyman Wight was nominated and objected to by John Anderson, who went aside to converse.
"Newel Knight was unanimously chosen. George M. Hinkle was nominated, and objected to by Elder James Emmet, because he was too noisy; by King Follet, because of his military office; and by James Durfee, because he was a merchant.
"Elder Hinkle made a few remarks.
"The vote was called, and was unanimous.
"Levi Jackman and Elisha H. Groves were unanimously chosen.
"John Anderson then took the stand and made his objections to Lyman Wight; after which Elder Wight also spoke.
"The vote was called, and he was unanimously chosen.
"The Twelve were then called; namely, Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, William E. McLellin, Parley P. Pratt, William Smith, Luke Johnson, Orson Pratt, John F. Boynton, and Lyman E. Johnson, and were unanimously chosen.
"Bishop E. Partridge was nominated to still act as Bishop, and was unanimously chosen; who then nominated Isaac Morley
and Titus Billings for his counselors, who were unanimously chosen.
"Elder Isaac Morley was then unanimously appointed Patriarch of this branch of the church.
"Elder John Corrill was chosen to be keeper of the Lord's storehouse.
"Elder Isaac Morley was then ordained to the office of Patriarch, under the hands of Presidents Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith.
"The congregation, after a few remarks from Sidney Rigdon, unanimously voted not to support stores and shops selling spirituous liquors, tea, coffee, or tobacco.
"A vote was called on the subject of the Presidents of the Seventies; and those who have recently been appointed to that office were unanimously received.
"The congregation then united with President Sidney Rigdon, who, in the closing prayer, called upon their Lord to dedicate this land for the gathering of the saints, and their inheritances.
"Thomas B. Marsh, Moderator.
"Attest, Oliver Cowdery, Clerk."
-Millennial Star, vol. 16, pp. 106-108.
Soon after this Joseph Smith left Far West to return to Kirtland.
On November 27, at Kirtland, Reuben Hedlock was chosen President of the Elders' Quorum, to succeed Elder Beeman, deceased.
On November 30 Bishop Partridge reported that he had paid attorney's fees in suits against the Jackson County mob, to the amount of six hundred dollars, and costs to the amount of three hundred dollars, and asked that he be permitted to liquidate the debt out of properties of the church. This request was granted.
Of affairs at Kirtland, Joseph writes:-
"During my absence Warren Parrish, John F. Boynton, Luke Johnson, Joseph Coe, and some others united together for the overthrow of the church.
"I returned to Kirtland on or about the 10th of December, soon after which this dissenting band openly and publicly
renounced the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, and claimed themselves to be the old standard, calling themselves the Church of Christ, excluding that of saints, and set me at naught, and the whole church, denouncing us as heretics, not considering that the saints shall possess the kingdom according to the Prophet Daniel.
"The Elders' Journal No. 2, for November, was the last paper printed at Kirtland. Our printing establishment was attached to satisfy an unjust judgment of county court, and soon after the whole printing apparatus was burned to the ground."-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 109.
Joseph records the following regarding the troublesome times in Kirtland at the close of the year 1837:-
"On the morning of the 22d of December, 1837, Brother Brigham Young left Kirtland, in consequence of the fury of the mob, the spirit that prevailed in the apostates who had threatened to destroy him, because he would proclaim publicly and privately that he knew by the power of the Holy Ghost that I was a prophet of the most high God, that I had not transgressed and fallen as the apostates declared.
"Apostasy, persecution, confusion, and mobocracy strove hard to bear rule at Kirtland, and thus closed the year 1837."-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 110.
A detailed account of these trials and persecutions may be found in the "History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet," by Lucy Smith.
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