Volume 2 Chapter 21 | BYU Studies

Volume 2 Chapter 21

 

Chapter 21

Incidents From the Prophets Experience in Kirtland and Vicinity.

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Return of the Twelve.

September 26.—This morning the Twelve returned from their mission to the East, and on the same day the Council of the Presidency of the Church, consisting of Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, David Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, Hyrum Smith and Oliver Cowdery, met to consider the case of the Twelve who had previously been reproved in consequence of certain letters and reports coming to the ears of the Council. First, the items contained in Warren A. Cowdery's letter, in connection with certain other reports, derogatory to the character and teaching of the Twelve, were considered; and from the testimony of several witnesses (the Twelve) it was proved before the Council that said complaints originated in the minds of persons who were darkened in consequence of covetousness, or some other cause, rather than the spirit of truth. Second, one item contained in Elder Wm. E. M'Lellin's letter to his wife, expressing dissatisfaction with President Rigdon's school. Elder Orson Hyde was also designated with him [M'Lellin] or blamed in the matter, in which they were found to be in the fault, which they frankly confessed, and were forgiven and all things were satisfactorily settled.

Sunday 27.—I attended meeting. Elders Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball preached and broke bread. The Lord poured out His Spirit and my soul was edified.

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Minutes of the High Council at Kirtland. Trial of Gladden Bishop.

The High Council met for the trial of Gladden Bishop, on a charge preferred by the Twelve, "for advancing heretical doctrines, which were derogatory to the character of the Church."

Elder William Smith testified that when Elder Bishop was conversing with a brother concerning the two witnesses mentioned by the Prophets [Rev. 11] he said that he [Bishop] might be one of them, and that he [the brother] might be one himself; that he [Bishop] intended to prophesy the night that an advertisement was put up by an enemy, saying that the Mormon Prophet and others were to be sold by auction in public, that he would not be surprised if the man who put up the advertisement should die at the time of sale.

Elder Brigham Young corroborated the foregoing, and said that Bishop was very erroneous in his tenets of faith.

Elder John Boynton concurred.

Elder Thomas B. Marsh said that Bishop frequently told of women falling in love with him, and observed frequently when passing people that they felt his spirit; also that he was so indolent his presence was oppressive.

Elder L. Johnson testified that on a former trial before the Twelve for error in doctrine, such as, that he might be one of the two witnesses, and that he ought not to travel and preach on account of the women so often falling in love with him, he was not humble when reproved, but justified himself, and preferred a charge against the Council for harsh treatment.

Elder William Smith said, that Bishop, after taking a stand against the Council, finally said it was all right, they had dealt with him in righteousness.

Elders Marsh and Young corroborated the above, that he yielded after being overcome, also that he was capable of magnifying his office if he would.

Elder Heber C. Kimball concurred in the above, also that Bishop said, after he saw his case was hopeless, that the Council had turned him wrong side out.

Elder John P. Greene concurred in full, and, in addition to the above, said that Bishop was so indolent that he would not help himself to a drink of water.

After the pleas of the Councilors and the case was submitted for decision, Brother Bishop arose and made a humble confession for his transgression, and asked forgiveness of the High Council and all the Church, saying that he intended to learn wisdom from the revelations that God had given, and submitted himself to the decision of the Court, being perfectly satisfied with the whole course of the trial.

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After much instruction, the President decided that the counsel of the Twelve in this case was given in righteousness, also that Brother Bishop's confession be published in the Messenger and Advocate, and he be received in full fellowship, and receive his ordination and license as before; which the Council concurred in, and Brother Bishop was ordained by the Court an Elder.

Warren Parrish, Clerk.

The Authority to which the Twelve are Amenable.

An attempt was made in the foregoing Council to criminate the Twelve before the High Council for cutting off Gladden Bishop at their Bradford conference, but their attempt totally failed. I decided that the High Council had nothing to do with the Twelve, or the decisions of the Twelve. But if the Twelve erred they were accountable only to the General Council of the authorities of the whole Church, according to the revelations.

Trial of Lorenzo L. Lewis.

In the afternoon a charge of adultery was preferred against Lorenzo L. Lewis, on general report circulating among the brethren, to which he pleaded not guilty, and the charge was changed to "an illicit intercourse with a female." Lewis confessed that he had disgraced the girl, himself, and the Church, but [was] not guilty of the charge. After hearing the testimony of witnesses, Elders Marsh, M'Lellin, Patten and William Smith, and the pleadings, Elder Lewis confessed that he had done wickedly and had made all the reparation he could, in his confession in the early part of this trial and required his name to be taken off the Church records, or dispose of him according to the mind of the Spirit, and submitted to the decision of the Council. The Council decided that Brother Lorenzo L. Lewis be cut off from the Church, being satisfied that the charge preferred is substantiated by evidence, and the Spirit of the Lord; but if he repent, and humble himself to the satisfaction of the Church, he should be received into it again and receive his license. The Council adjourned till morning.

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Trial of Elder Allen Avery

The High Council met on the 29th, and heard a charge against Elder Allen Avery, on an appeal case from an Elders' Court in Zion, which took away his license for rebelling against their decision. Brother Avery frankly and readily complied with the requisition of the Council, and the President decided that he be restored to fellowship, and receive his license.

The Prophet on the Part of the Accused.

In these cases I acted on the part of the defense for the accused, to plead for mercy. The Lord blessed my soul, and the Council was greatly blessed also, and much good will result from our labors.

I was at home on the 30th, and was visited by many who came to inquire after the work of the Lord.

The Prophet Learns the Principles of Astronomy as Understood by Abraham.

October 1.—This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with Brothers Oliver Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter.

On the 2nd of October I wrote the following letter for publication in the Messenger and Advocate, (continued from the 1st of September.) 1

Charges Against the Goulds.

October 3.—I attended the High Council to investigate charges preferred by Reynolds Cahoon against Elder John Gould "for making expressions calculated to injure the cause we have espoused, and manifesting a strong dissatisfaction with the teachings of the Presidency." Also against Dean Gould for speaking unadvisedly against Elder Rigdon and other Elders.

In the case of John Gould, the accuser and defendant agreed the matter should be talked over, by which all difference of feeling was allayed. Gould confessed and was forgiven.

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Dean Gould acknowledged that he spoke unadvisedly against President Rigdon, and was forgiven.

In the afternoon I waited on most of the Twelve, at my house, and exhibited to them the ancient records, and gave explanations. This day passed off with the blessing of the Lord.

The Prophet's Journey with John Corrill.

Sunday, 4.—I started early in the morning, with Brother John Corrill, to hold a meeting in Perry. When about a mile from home we discovered two deer playing in the field, which diverted our minds by giving an impetus to our thoughts upon the subject of the creation of God. We conversed on many topics. The day passed off very agreeably, and the Lord blessed our souls. When we arrived at Perry, we were disappointed of a meeting, through mis-arrangement, but conversed freely with Brother Corrill's relatives, which allayed much prejudice. May the Lord have mercy on their souls.

The Prophet's Meeting With the Twelve.

Monday, 5.—I returned home, being much fatigued from riding in the rain. Spent the remainder of the day in reading and meditation, and in the evening attended a Council of the Twelve Apostles; had a glorious time, and gave them much instruction concerning their duties for time to come; told them that it was the will of God they should take their families to Missouri next season; also this fall to attend the solemn assembly of the first Elders, for the organization of the School of the Prophets; and attend to the ordinance of the washing of feet; and to prepare their hearts in all humility for an endowment with power from on high; to which they all agreed with one accord, and seemed to be greatly rejoiced. May God spare the lives of the Twelve to a good old age, for Christ the Redeemer's sake. Amen.

A Timely Loan.

Tuesday, 6.—At home. Elder Stevens came to my house and loaned Frederick G. Williams and Co. six hundred dollars, which greatly relieved us of our present difficulties. May God bless and preserve his soul forever.

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In the afternoon called to visit my father, who was very sick with a fever: somewhat better towards evening. Spent the rest of the day in reading and meditation.

Illness of Joseph Smith, Sen.

Wednesday, 7.—Went to visit my father, found him very low, administered some mild herbs, agreeably to the commandment. May God grant to restore him immediately to health for Christ the Redeemer's sake. Amen.

Bishop Whitney and Brother Hyrum Smith started by stage for Buffalo, New York, to purchase goods to replenish the committee's store. May God grant, in the name of Jesus, that their lives may be spared, and they have a safe journey, and no accident or sickness of the least kind befall them, that they may return in health and in safety to the bosom of their families.

The Prophet's Blessing on Bishop Whitney; Translation of the Writings of Abraham Begun.

Blessed of the Lord is Brother Whitney, even the Bishop of the Church of Latter-day Saints, for the Bishopric shall never be taken away from him while he liveth. And the time cometh that he shall overcome all the narrow-mindedness of his heart, and all his covetous desires that so easily beset him; and he shall deal with a liberal hand to the poor and the needy, the sick and afflicted, the widow and the fatherless. And marvelously and miraculously shall the Lord his God provide for him, even that he shall be blessed with a fullness of the good things of this earth, and his seed after him from generation to generation.And it shall come to pass, that according to the measure that he meteth out with a liberal hand to the poor, so shall it be measured to him again by the hand of his God, even an hundred fold. Angels shall guard his house, and shall guard the lives of his posterity, and they shall become very great and very numerous on the earth. Whomsoever he blesseth, they shall be blessed; and whomsoever he curseth, they shall be cursed; and when his enemies seek him unto his hurt and destruction, let him rise up and curse, and the hand of God shall be upon his enemies in judgment, they shall be utterly confounded and brought to desolation. Therefore he shall be preserved unto the utmost, and his life shall be precious in the sight of the Lord, he shall rise up and shake himself, as a lion riseth out of his lair and roareth until he shaketh the hills; and as a lion goeth forth among the lesser beasts, so shall the going forth of him be whom the Lord hath anointed to exalt the poor, and to humble the rich, therefore his name shall be on high, and his rest among the sanctified. This afternoon I re-commenced translating the ancient records.

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Thursday, 8.—At home. I attended on my father with great anxiety.

Friday, 9.—At home. Waited on my father.

Saturday, 10.—At home, and visited the house of my father, found him failing very fast.

The Prophet's Care of His Father.

Sunday, 11.—Waited on my father again, who was very sick. In secret prayer in the morning, the Lord said, "My servant thy father shall live." I waited on him all this day with my heart raised to God in the name of Jesus Christ, that He would restore him to health, that I might be blessed with his company and advice, esteeming it one of the greatest earthly blessings to be blessed with the society of parents, whose mature years and experience render them capable of administering the most wholesome advice. At evening Brother David Whitmer came in. We called on the Lord in mighty prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, and laid our hands on him, and rebuked the disease. And God heard and answered our prayers—to the great joy and satisfaction of our souls. Our aged father arose and dressed himself, shouted, and praised the Lord. Called Brother William Smith, who had retired to rest, that he might praise the Lord with us, by joining in songs of praise to the Most High.

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Monday, 12.—Rode to Willoughby, in company with my wife, to purchase some goods at William Lyon's store. On our return we found a Mr. Bradley lying across the road. He had been thrown from his wagon, and was much injured by the fall.

Tuesday, 13—Visited my father, who was very much recovered from his sickness, indeed, which caused us to marvel at the might, power, and condescension of our Heavenly Father, in answering our prayers in his behalf.

Wednesday, 14.—At home.

Thursday, 15.—Labored in father's orchard, gathering apples.

Baptism of Ebenezer Robinson.

Friday, 16.—Was called into the printing office, to settle some difficulties in that department. In the evening I baptized Ebenezer Robinson. 2 The Lord poured out His Spirit upon us and we had a good time.

Saturday, 17.—Called my family together and arranged my domestic concerns, and dismissed my boarders.

Sunday, 18.—Attended meeting in the chapel, confirmed several that had been baptized, and blessed several children with the blessings of the New and Everlasting Covenant. Elder Parley P. Pratt preached in the forenoon, and Elder John F. Boynton in the afternoon. We had an interesting time.

The Book of Abraham.

Monday, 19.—At home. Exhibited the records of antiquity to a number who called to see them.

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Tuesday, 20.—At home. Preached in the evening in the school house.

Wednesday, 21.—At home.

Thursday, 22.—At home, attending to my domestic concerns.

Prayer for Special Blessings.

Friday 23.—At home. At four o' clock, afternoon, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Hyrum Smith, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, Samuel H. Smith, Frederick G. Williams and W. W. Phelps assembled, and we united in prayer, with one voice, before the Lord, for the following blessings: That the Lord would give us means sufficient to deliver us from all our afflictions and difficulties wherein we are placed by reason of our debts; that He would open the way and deliver Zion in the appointed time, and that without the shedding of blood; that He would hold our lives precious, and grant that we may live to the common age of man, and never fall into the hands nor power of the mob in Missouri, nor in any other place; that He would also preserve our posterity, that none of them fall, even unto the end of time; that He would give us blessings of the earth sufficient to carry us to Zion, and that we may purchase inheritances in that land, even enough to carry on and accomplish the work unto which He has appointed us; and also that He would assist all others who desire, according to His commandments, to go up and purchase inheritances, and all this easily and without perplexity and trouble; and finally, that in the end He would save us in His celestial kingdom. Amen.

Saturday, 24.—Mr. Goodrich and wife called to see the ancient [Egyptian] records, and also Dr. Frederick G. Williams to see the mummies. Brothers Hawkes and Carpenter, from Michigan, visited us and tarried over night.

Meetings in Kirtland.

Sunday, 25.—Attended meeting with Brothers Hawkes and Carpenter. President Rigdon preached in the fore noon, Elder Lyman E. Johnson in the afternoon, after which Elder Seymour Brunson joined Brother William Perry and Sister Eliza Brown in matrimony, and I blessed them with long life and prosperity in the name of Jesus Christ.

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In the evening I attended prayer meeting, opened it, and exhorted the brethren and sisters about one hour. The Lord poured out His Spirit, and some glorious things were spoken in the gift of tongues and interpreted concerning the redemption of Zion.

Trial of Samuel Smith for Neglect of Military Duty.

Monday, 26.—Went to Chardon to attend the County Court in company with my brothers Hyrum, Samuel H., and Don Carlos Smith. Brother Samuel was called in question before this Court for not doing military duty, and was fined because we had not our conference minutes with us for testimony to prove that Frederick G. Williams was clerk of the conference. This testimony we should have carried with us had it not been for the neglect of our counsel or lawyer, who did not put us in possession of this information [i.e. that we would need such testimony]. This we felt was a want of fidelity to his client, and we consider it a base insult, practiced upon us on account of our faith, that the ungodly might have unlawful power over us, and trample us under their unhallowed feet. And in consequence of this neglect, a fine was imposed upon Brother Samuel of twenty dollars, including costs, for which he was obliged to sell his cow to defray the expenses of the same. And I say, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the money which they have thus unjustly taken shall be a testimony against them, and canker, and eat their flesh as fire.

A Prayer and Promise.

Tuesday, 27.—In the morning I was called to visit at Brother Samuel Smith's. His wife was confined and in a dangerous condition. Brother Carlos went to Chardon after Dr. Williams. I went out into the field and bowed before the Lord and called upon Him in mighty prayer in her behalf. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, "My servant Frederick shall come, and shall have wisdom given him to deal prudently, and my handmaid shall be delivered of a living child, and be spared." The doctor came in about one hour afterwards, and in the course of two hours she was delivered, and thus what God had manifested to me was fulfilled every whit. This evening I preached in the school house to a crowded congregation.

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Wednesday, 28.—At home, attending to my family affairs.

Warren Parrish Becomes the Prophet's Scribe.

Thursday, 29.—Brother Warren Parrish commenced writing for me, at fifteen dollars per month. I paid him sixteen dollars in advance out of the committee's store. Father and Mother Smith visited us. While we sat writing Bishop Partridge passed our window, just returned from the East.

Trial of David Elliot.

I was called to appear before the High Council, which was then sitting, to give my testimony in an action brought by Brother William Smith against Brother David Elliot, for whipping his daughter unreasonably. My testimony was in Brother Elliot's favor, from conversation with the parents and the girl at their house in Chagrin, I was satisfied that the girl was in the fault, and that the neighbors were trying to create a difficulty.

Returned to our writing room, went to Dr. Williams' after my large journal; made some observations to my scribe concerning the plan of the city, which is to be built up hereafter on this ground consecrated for a Stake of Zion.

While at the doctor's, Bishop Edward Partridge came in company with President Phelps. I was much rejoiced to see him. We examined the mummies, returned home, and my scribe commenced writing in my journal a history of my life; concluded President Cowdery's second letter to W. W. Phelps, which President Williams had begun.

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The Visit of Bishop Whitney's Parents to the Prophet.

Bishop Whitney and his wife, with his father and mother, called to visit us. His parents having lately arrived here from the East, called to make inquiry concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Bishop Partridge and some others came in. I then sat down and related to them the history of the coming forth of the book, the administration of the angel to me, and taught them the rudiments of the Gospel of Christ. They appeared well satisfied, and I expect to baptize them in a few days, though they have made no request of the kind. 3

Went to the Council. The Presidency arose and adjourned. On my return Elder Boynton observed that long debates were bad. I replied that it was generally the case that too much altercation was indulged on both sides, and their debates protracted to an unprofitable length.

Hopes for Zion's Redemption.

We were called to supper. While seated at table we indulged in a free interchange of thought, and Bishop Whitney observed to Bishop Partridge that the thought had just occurred to his mind that perhaps in about one year from this time they might be seated together around a table on the land of Zion. My wife observed she hoped it might be the case, that not only they, but the rest of the company present, might be seated around her table on that land of promise. The same sentiment was reciprocated from the company around the table, and my heart responded, Amen. God grant it, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Disorder in a Council Meeting.

After supper I went to the High Council in company with my wife and some others that belonged to my household. I was solicited to take a seat with the Presidency and preside on a trial of Sister Elliot. I did so. My mother was called upon for testimony, and began to relate circumstances that had been brought before the Church and settled. I objected to such testimony. The complainant, Brother William Smith, arose and accused me of invalidating or doubting my mother's testimony, which I had not done, nor did I desire to do so. I told him he was out of order, and asked him to sit down. He refused. I repeated my request. He became enraged. I finally ordered him to sit down. He said he would not, unless I knocked him down. I was agitated in my feelings on account of his stubbornness, and was about to leave the house, but my father requested me not to do so. I complied, and the house was brought to order after much debate on the subject, and we proceeded to business.

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The decision of the Council in the case of Brother Elliot was, "that the complaint was not without foundation, yet the charge has not been fully sustained, but he has acted injudiciously and brought a disgrace upon himself, his daughter, and upon this Church, because he ought to have trained his child in a way that she would not have required the rod at the age of fifteen years." Brother Elliot made his confession and was forgiven. Sister Elliot confessed her wrong and promised to do better, consequently the Council forgave her. And they were both restored to fellowship.

A Methodist's Inquiry into Conditions at Kirtland.

Friday, 30.—At home. Mr. Francis Porter, from Jefferson County, New York, a member of the Methodist church, called to make some inquiry about lands in this place (Kirtland), whether there were any valuable farms for sale, and whether a member of our Church could move into this vicinity and purchase lands and enjoy his own possessions and property without making them common stock. He had been requested to make this inquiry by some brethren who live in the town of Leroy, New York. I replied that I had a valuable farm joining the Temple lot I would sell, and that there were other lands for sale in this place and that we had no common stock business among us; that every man enjoys his own property, or can, if he is disposed, consecrate liberally or illiberally to the support of the poor and needy, or the building up of Zion. He also inquired how many members there were in this Church. I told him there were about five or six hundred who communed at our chapel, and perhaps a thousand in this vicinity.

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William Smith's Self-justification.

In the evening I was presented with a letter from Brother William Smith, the purport of which is, that he is censured by the brethren on account of what took place at the Council last night, and wishes to have the matter settled to the understanding of all that he may not be censured unjustly, considering that his cause was a just one and that he had been materially injured. I replied that I thought we parted with the best of feelings, that I was not to blame on account of the dissatisfaction of others. I invited him to call and talk with me, and that I would talk with him in the spirit of meekness and give him all the satisfaction I could. This reply was by letter.

Hyrum Smith as Peacemaker.

Saturday, 31.—In the morning Brother Hyrum Smith came in and said he had been much troubled all night and had not slept any, that something was wrong. While talking, Brother William Smith came in, according to my request last night. Brother Hyrum said that he must go to the store. I invited him to stay. He said he would go and do his business and return. He did so. While he was gone Brother William introduced the subject of our difficulty at the Council. I told him I did not want to converse upon the subject until Hyrum returned. He soon came in. I then proposed to relate the occurrences of the Council before named, and wherein I had been out of the way I would confess it, and ask his forgiveness, and then he should relate his story, and make confession wherein he had done wrong, and then leave it to Brother Hyrum Smith and Brother Parrish to decide the matter between us, and I would agree to the decision and be satisfied therewith.

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The Rebellion of William Smith.

William observed that he had not done wrong, and that I was always determined to carry my points whether right or wrong, and therefore he would not stand an equal chance with me. This was an insult, but I did not reply to him in a harsh manner, knowing his excitable disposition, but tried to reason with him and show him the propriety of a compliance with my request. I finally succeeded with the assistance of Brother Hyrum, in obtaining his assent to the proposition that I had made. I then related my story, and wherein I had been wrong I confessed it, and asked his forgiveness. After I got through he made his statements, justifying himself throughout in transgressing the order of the Council, and treating the authority of the Presidency with contempt. After he had got through Brother Hyrum began to make some remarks in the spirit of meekness. He (William) became enraged. I joined Brother Hyrum in trying to calm his stormy feelings, but to no purpose, he insisted that we intended to add abuse to injury, his passion increased, he arose abruptly, declared that he wanted no more to do with us. He rushed out at the door. We tried to prevail on him to stop, but all to no purpose. He went away in a passion, and soon after sent his license to me. He went home and spread the leaven of iniquity among my brothers, and especially prejudiced the mind of Brother Samuel. I soon learned that he was in the street exclaiming against me, and no doubt our enemies rejoiced at it. And where the matter will end I know not, but I pray God to forgive him and them, and give them humility and repentance.

The feelings of my heart I cannot express on this occasion, I can only pray my Heavenly Father to open their eyes, that they may discover where they stand, that they may extricate themselves from the snare they have fallen into.

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Visit to Shadrach Roundy.

After dinner I rode out in company with my wife and children, Brother Don Carlos and some others. We visited Brother Roundy 4 and family, who live near Willoughby. We had an interesting visit. As soon as I returned I was called upon to baptize Samuel Whitney and his wife and daughter. After baptism we returned to their house and offered our thanks in prayer. I obtained a testimony that my brother William would return to the Church, and repair the wrong he had done,

Chapter 21

1. For this communication see Article 2, chapter 19. (Note.)

2. Ebenezer Robinson, afterwards somewhat prominent in the Church in Missouri and Illinois as editor, printer and publisher, was born in the town of Floyd, Oneida County, New York, May 25, 1816; and was the son of Nathan and Mary Robinson. He was already a printer of considerable experience when he came to Kirtland in May, 1835, and began work in the Church printing establishment, then running under the firm name of F. G. Williams & Co., though not a member of the Church. For six months he boarded in the families of Oliver Cowdery, F. G. Williams and the Prophet Joseph. "We found them all very pious, good Christian people," he remarks, "(who) asked a blessing at the table and all attended to family worship morning and evening." (The "Return," Vol. 1, p. 58). Mr. Robinson did not become immediately converted to the Gospel, but conviction gradually dawned upon his mind, and he finally declared his faith and was baptized by the Prophet as stated in the text.

3. The expectation was realized on the last day of October, see p. 297.

4. This is Shadrach Roundy who afterwards became prominent in Church affairs. He was born in Rockingham, Windham County, Vermont, January 1, 1789. At twenty-five he married Betsy Quimby. He first heard of the Gospel on moving from Vermont to Onondaga County, New York, and in the winter of 1830-1 sought out the Prophet, then residing at Fayette, Seneca County, New York. After his first interview he was baptized; and subsequently his wife and all his children of sufficient age received the Gospel. He removed with the New York Saints to Ohio, settling near Willoughby, where the Prophet frequently visited him.