Education Week Feature | BYU Studies

Education Week Feature

The Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell: A Legal Examination
July 25, 2017
Education Week Feature
The Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell: A Legal Examination
Author BYU Studies Staff,

This year BYU Studies is again sponsoring classes at Campus Education Week, August 21–25, 2017, on BYU campus in Provo, Utah. Whether or not you are able to attend, we invite you to read the articles on which the presentations will be based.

Jeffrey N. Walker's article "The Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell: A Legal Examination," was published in BYU Studies Vol. 54, No. 3. Jeffrey Walker will be giving his presentation "The Kirtland Safety Society: Its Rise, Fall, and Aftermath" on Aug. 23 at 1:50 in 2258–2260 CONF as part of the Best of BYU Studies series.

Article Summary:

Latter-day Saint leaders founded the Kirtland Safety Society in 1836 to meet the commercial needs of a growing community. They first attempted to obtain a charter for the bank, but the Ohio legislature was uncooperative. They changed the Society to a joint stock company and also allied it with a Michigan bank that was already chartered. For a few weeks, the company generated economic activity in Kirtland and made agreements with agents in other cities.

The Society collapsed because of a nationwide bank failure (the Panic of 1837), accompanied by disagreement among LDS leaders. An attack also came from Grandison Newell, a local competitor of the Mormons, who collected and redeemed banknotes to claim the Society's cash reserves. In 1838, Newell won a lawsuit against Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, claiming that the Society was in violation of 1816 Ohio law, even though 1824 Ohio law should have prevented this action. Newell managed to collect from the property of Smith and Rigdon more than double the amount that was due to him. In 1859-1862, Newell revived the judgment even though it had been settled, claimed he had not received what was due, and was awarded property in Kirtland that included the Kirtland Temple and its land, which was promptly sold. Eventually the temple was sold to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

This article explains the legal aspects and presents documents of this complicated history. This history shows that Church leaders endeavored to help and protect the Saints, worked through legal channels, and paid all debts. But through many unethical actions Grandison Newell succeeded in his campaign against the Mormons.

Below is a list of BYU Studies authors who are presenting classes independently.

Richard E. Bennett


  • "In the Year of Our Lord 1820: 'A Knowledge Also of Countries and of Kingdoms' (D&C 88:79)"—250 SWKT, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 1:50

Works published in BYU Studies:

Gerritt J. Dirkmaat


  • "Building the Kingdom: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the Council of Fifty"—151 TNRB, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 4:30

Works published in BYU Studies:

Casey P. Griffiths


  • "How to Discuss Family Issues"—222 MARB, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 3:10

Works published in BYU Studies:

Donald Parry


  • "'Build a House unto My Name' . . . : The Symbolism of . . . Temple Architecture"—Auditorium, JSB, Monday, Aug. 21, 1:50
  • "The Tabernacle of Moses: Foreshadowing Christ's Atoning Sacrifice"—Auditorium, JSB, Monday, Aug. 21, 3:10
  • "The Lord's Angels: Messengers of Love, Instruction, and Warning"—Marriott Center, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 8:30

Works published in BYU Studies:

For more information, please refer to the Education Week schedule, available online at:

This year, the BYU Studies sponsored series are:

The Best of BYU Studies: Ronald K. Esplin, Jeffrey N. Walker, Austin A. Robinson, Daniel W. Graham
2258–2260 CONF, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 1:50
T: "Introduction to the Council of Fifty and Its Records" (Esplin)
W: "The Kirtland Safety Society: Its Rise, Fall, and Aftermath" (Walker)
Th: "Revisiting a Surgical Milestone: Russell M. Nelson and Tricuspid Valve Annuloplasty" (Robinson)
F: "Socrates' Mission" (Graham)

From the New Testament Commentary: Richard D. Draper, Julie M. Smith
1102 JKB, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 3:10
"A More Excellent Way: Insights from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians" (Draper)

2107 JKB, Tue.–Fri., Aug. 22–25, 3:10
"Hidden in Plain Sight: Treasures from the Gospel of Mark" (Smith)