Affairs in Zion—Apostasy at Kirtland—Appointment of the British Mission—Its Departure For England.
Minutes of the High Council at Far West.
Far West, Mo., April 7th.
At a meeting of the Presidency of the Church in Missouri, the High Council, Bishop and counselors, it was resolved that the city plat of Far West retain its present form; and that the alleys be opened by a majority of the owners of each square, or block, when they shall desire it; that the price and sale of the town lots be left to W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer. Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, and John Corrill; that Jacob Whitmer, Elisha H. Groves, and George M. Hinkle be a building committee of the House of the Lord in this city (Far West); that Jacob Whitmer be received as High Councilor until the arrival of President David Whitmer; also that President David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and W. W. Phelps, superintend the building of the Lord’s House, in this city, and receive revelations, visions, etc. concerning said house.
John Corrill, Clerk.
Charge Against Lyman Wight.
David W. Patten preferred a charge against Lyman Wight, for teaching erroneous doctrines, which was investigated by the High Council at Far West, April 24, 1837.
Seymour Brunson, George P. Dykes, and others, testified that Lyman Wight said that we (the Church) were under a telestial law, because God does not whip under a celestial law, therefore He took us (the Church) out of doors to whip us, as a parent took his children out of doors to chastise them; and that the book of Doctrine and Covenants was a telestial law; and the Book of Commandments (a part of revelations printed in Jackson county) was a celestial law.
The Presidency decided, with the approbation of the Council, that Lyman Wight had taught erroneous doctrine, and that he be required to make an acknowledgment to the Council; also that he go and acknowledge to the churches where he had preached such abominable doctrine.
Nathan West, Clerk.
Complaint against J. M. Patten.
Joshua Fairchild, David Pettigrew, Benjamin Johnson, and Sheffield Daniels entered a complaint against John Patten, for not fulfilling his contracts, or covenants, in consequence of which they were materially injured; which was proved by Lyman Wight and Abigail Daniels, before the High Council at Far West, May 22nd, 1837.
After a long investigation by the Councilors and parties, the Presidency, W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer, [it was decided] that both accuser and accused should be disfellowshiped, if they did not settle their difficulties. Jesse Hitchcock was then cut off from the High Council.
James Emmet, who had previously been disfellowshiped, made satisfaction, and was restored to fellowship; and John Corrill was appointed agent to the Church, and keeper of the Lord’s Store House.
Harvey Green, Clerk.
Case of John Patten.
On the 28th of May a charge was preferred by John Corrill and others against John Patten, for not complying with his agreement, which charge being sustained by testimony, the High Council decided that John Patten be disfellowshiped until he make satisfaction.
James Emmet Disfellowshiped.
About this time the Presidency of the Church at Far West called a general meeting of the Church, at which were present the High Council, two of the Twelve Apostles, ten of the Seventies, the Bishop, and one counselor, when it was resolved that we withdraw fellowship from James Emmet, for unwise conduct, until he returns and makes satisfaction.
Action in Relation to the Word of Wisdom.
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.
Literary Firm Sustained.
Resolved unanimously, that we sanction the Literary Firm, and give them our voice and prayers, to manage all the affairs of the same, as far as it concerns this place, according to the revelation in book of Doctrine and Covenants, first edition, published at Kirtland, Ohio, page 152, section 26th, given November, 1831, (current edition, section 70). 1
Minutes of a High Council held in the Lord’s House, in Kirtland, Monday, May 29, 1837, ten o’clock a.m.
Isaac Rogers, Artemas Millet, Abel Lamb, and Harlow Redfield, appeared as complainants against Presidents Frederick G. Williams and David Whitmer, and Elders Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Johnson, and Warren Parrish.
Sidney Rigdon presiding.
John Smith, John Johnson,
Jared Carter, John P. Greene,
Noah Packard, Oliver Granger,
Joseph Kingsbury, Samuel H. Smith,
Joseph Coe, Martin Harris,
Gideon Carter, Willard Woodstock.
President Rigdon then read the following complaint:
“To the Presidency of the Church of Latter-day Saints:
“We, the undersigned, feeling ourselves aggrieved with the conduct of Presidents David Whitmer and Frederick G. Williams, and also with Elders Lyman E. Johnson, Parley P. Pratt, and Warren Parrish, believing that their course for some time past has been injurious to the Church of God, in which they are high officers, we therefore desire that the High Council should be assembled, and we should have an investigation of their behavior, believing it to be unworthy of their high calling—all of which we respectfully submit.
“Kirtland, May, 1837.”
Elder Warren Parrish then stated that the declaration just read was not in accordance with the copy which they [the accused] received of the charges preferred against them.
The resolution was then offered and carried, that three speak on a side.
The Council was then opened by prayer, by President Rigdon.
After a short address to the Councilors, by President Rigdon, President Frederick G.Williams arose, and wished to know by what authority he was called before the present Council; that according to the Book of Covenants, he ought to be tried before the Bishop’s court.
After some discussion between Presidents Rigdon and Williams, President Rigdon gave his decision that President Williams should be tried before the present Council.
President David Whitmer also objected to being tried before the present Council.
President Williams then expressed a willingness to be tried for his conduct, and if this was the proper tribunal, he would be tried before it, but still thought it was not.
President David Whitmer objected to being tried before the present Council, stating that he thought the instructions in the Book of Covenants showed that this was not the proper authority to try him.
Councilor Greene gave it as his opinion that the present Council was the proper authority to try Presidents Williams and Whitmer.
President Rigdon then submitted the case to the Councilors.
Councilor John Smith then put the question to the Council for decision, in substance as follows: Have the present Council authority, from the Book of Covenants, to try Presidents Williams and Whitmer? A majority of the Council decided that they could not conscientiously proceed to try Presidents Williams and Whitmer, and they were accordingly discharged.
After one hour’s adjournment, the Council sat again at one o’clock p. m. Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery presiding.
Councilor John Smith stated that he had selected three High Priests to sit in the Council to fill vacancies, and asked the Council if they accepted the selection he had made. Council decided in the affirmative.
On motion of Warren Parrish, the Councilors were directed to sit as they were originally chosen, or according to the form in the book of Doctrine and Covenants as far as possible.
Resolved, that three speak on each side.
Councilor Martin Harris moved that President Frederick G. Williams take a seat with the presidents.
After much discussion as to the propriety of his sitting, motion carried, and President Williams took his seat.
Elder Parley P. Pratt then arose and objected to being tried by President Rigdon or Joseph Smith, Jun., in consequence of their having previously expressed their opinion against him, stating also that he could bring evidence to prove what he then said.
President Rigdon then stated that he had previously expressed his mind respecting the conduct of Elder Pratt, and that he had felt and said that Elder Pratt had done wrong, and he still thought so, and left it with the Council to decide whether, under such circumstances, he should proceed to try the case.
After much discussion between the councilors and parties, President Rigdon said that, under the present circumstances, he could not conscientiously proceed to try the case, and after a few remarks left the stand.
President Oliver Cowdery then said that although he might not be called upon to preside, yet if he should be, he should also be unfit to judge in the case, as he had previously expressed his opinion respecting the conduct of Elder Parley P. Pratt and others, and left the stand.
President Williams then arose and said, that as he had been implicated with the accused, he should be unwilling to preside in the case, and left the stand.
The Council and assembly then dispersed in confusion.
F. W. Cowdery, Clerk.
Transfer of the Messenger and Advocate.
Some time this month, the Messenger and Advocate office and contents were transferred to William Marks, 2 of Portage, Allegheny County, New York, and Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon continued the office, by power of attorney from said Marks.
Conditions in Kirtland.
At this time the spirit of speculation in lands and property of all kinds, which was so prevalent throughout the whole nation, 3 was taking deep root in the Church. As the fruits of this spirit, evil surmisings, fault-finding, disunion, dissension, and apostasy followed in quick succession, and it seemed as though all the powers of earth and hell were combining their influence in an especial manner to overthrow the Church at once, and make a final end. 4 Other banking institutions refused the “Kirtland Safety Society’s” notes. The enemy abroad, and apostates in our midst, united in their schemes, flour and provisions were turned towards other markets, and many became disaffected toward me as though I were the sole cause of those very evils I was most strenuously striving against, and which were actually brought upon us by the brethren not giving heed to my counsel.
No quorum in the Church was entirely exempt from the influence of those false spirits who are striving against me for the mastery; even some of the Twelve were so far lost to their high and responsible calling, as to begin to take sides, secretly, with the enemy. 5
The British Mission Projected.
In this state of things, and but a few weeks before the Twelve were expecting to meet in full quorum (some of them having been absent for some time), God revealed to me that something new must be done for the salvation of His Church. And on or about the first of June, 1837, Heber C. Kimball, one of the Twelve, was set apart by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, prayer and laying on of hands, of the First Presidency, to preside over a mission to England, to be the first foreign mission of the Church of Christ in the last days. 6 While we were about ordaining him, Orson Hyde, another of the Twelve, came in, and upon listening to what was passing, his heart melted within him, (for he had begun to drink of the cup filled with the overflowings of speculation), he acknowledged all his faults, asked forgiveness, and offered to accompany President Kimball on his mission to England. His offer was accepted, and he was set apart for that purpose. 7
Thirty-five Elders’, three Priests’, two Teachers’, and two Deacons’ licenses were recorded in the license records in Kirtland, during the quarter ending June 3rd, by Thomas Burdick.
Church Conference in Upper Canada.
On the 10th of June, 1837, a conference of the Church was held at Portland, district of Johnstown, upper Canada, at which Elder John E. Page presided. There were present thirteen Elders, five Priests, eight Teachers, and six Deacons; and there were seven Elders, nine Priests, eleven Teachers and five Deacons ordained. West Bastard, Bedford, Bathurst, North Bathurst, East Bastard, Williamsburg, Leeds, and South Crosby branches were represented at the conference, comprising three hundred members in good standing, and five baptized at conference, total three hundred and five, being the fruits of the labors of Elder John E. Page in the last thirteen months.
Minutes of a High Council Meeting in Missouri.
At a meeting of the High Council, at the Committee Store, Far West, June 11, 1837, John Whitmer and W. W. Phelps presiding, Resolved by the Council and all present that the building committee be upheld in the mercantile business, by our prayers; that Lyman Wight, Simeon Carter and Elias Higbee be upheld in conducting a leather store; that John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and Calvin Bebee engage in the mercantile business if they choose; that the right of no man shall be infringed upon, to do as he choose according to the law of God and man; and that the above named men shall be upheld in purchasing goods as other men.
It 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.
David W. Patten requested that the Church pay his debts, and take him for security, that he might go forth and preach the Gospel.
Resolved that Elder Patten’s request be granted, and that David W. Patten and Thomas B. Marsh, receive each a lot in the town of Far West, free of charge, and that the Bishop, if he approve, give a title.
John Corrill, Clerk.
The Prophet’s Instructions to the British Missionaries.
The same evening, [11th of June] while I was engaged in giving some special instructions to Elders Kimball and Hyde, and Priest Joseph Fielding, 8 concerning their mission to England, President Brigham Young came into my house where we were sitting, accompanied by Dr. Willard Richards, who had just returned from a special business mission to New York, Boston, and other eastern cities, on which he started with President Young on the 14th of March—-Dr. Richards having been previously ordained an Elder, viz., on the 6th of March, and President Young having returned from the mission a few days previous. My instructions to the brethren were, when they arrived in England, to adhere closely to the first principles of the Gospel, and remain silent concerning the gathering, the vision, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, until such time as the work was fully established, and it should be clearly made manifest by the Spirit to do otherwise.
Monday, June 12.—I was taken sick, and kept my room, unable to attend to business.
Willard Richards Added to the British Mission.
Elder Willard Richards, having reported his mission, requested the privilege of fulfilling a covenant which he made with President Kimball in January, which was, that he should, agreeable to his desire, accompany the Twelve on their first foreign mission. President Hyrum Smith and Sidney Rigdon granted his petition, laid their hands upon his head, and set him apart for the English mission.
Illness of the Prophet.
Tuesday, 13.—My afflictions continued to increase, and were very severe, insomuch that I was unable to raise my head from my pillow when the brethren called to bid me farewell; and at nine o’clock a. m. Elders Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding, a Priest, a native of Honeydon, England, left Kirtland in company with President Brigham Young and several of the Kirtland brethren and sisters, who continued with them as far as Fairport, on Lake Erie, where the missionaries took a steamer for Buffalo, directing their course for New York City.
Employment of Supplementary Means for Healing the Sick.
Wednesday, 14.—I continued to grow worse and worse until my sufferings were excruciating, and although in the midst of it all I felt to rejoice in the salvation of Israel’s God, yet I found it expedient to call to my assistance those means which a kind Providence had provided for the restoration of the sick, in connection with the ordinances; and Dr. Levi Richards, at my request, administered to me herbs and mild food, and nursed me with all tenderness and attention; and my heavenly Father blessed his administrations to the easing and comforting of my system, for I began to amend in a short time, and in a few days I was able to resume my usual labors.
This is one of the many instances in which I have suddenly been brought from a state of health, to the borders of the grave, and as suddenly restored, for which my heart swells with gratitude to my heavenly Father, and I feel renewedly to dedicate myself and all my powers to His service.
Dastardly Suggestions of Apostates.
While I was thus afflicted, the enemy of all righteousness was suggesting, apostates reporting, and the doubtful believing that my afflictions were sent upon me, because I was in transgression, and had taught the Church things contrary to godliness; but of this the Lord judge between me and them, while I pray my Father to forgive them the wrong they do.
Progress of the British Mission.
The brethren appointed to the mission to England, landed at Buffalo, and went down the canal. While walking on its bank, President Kimball found an iron ring, about one and one-fourth inch diameter, which he presented to Elder Richards, saying, “I will make you a present of this, keep it in remembrance of me, for our friendship shall be as endless as this ring.”
Arrival of British Mission in New York.
The brethren having been disappointed in not receiving funds from Canada, while at Buffalo, Elder Richards left the company at Albany, and in company with President Kimball visited his friends in Richmond, Massachusetts, where they obtained means sufficient to continue their journey; and arrived in New York on the eve of the 22nd of June, where they found Elder Hyde and Brother Fielding, also three brethren from Canada, viz., John Goodson, 9 one of the Seventies, Elder Isaac Russell, 10 and John Snyder, 11 a Priest, who had gone forward to join the mission; and on the 23rd they engaged passage to Liverpool in the second cabin of the merchant ship Garrick.
Kindness of Elijah Fordham.
The brethren found but one member of the Church in the City of New York, viz., Elder Elijah Fordham, who was very attentive, and rendered them assistance according to his means, but they, being short of funds to pay their passage, etc., removed from their lodgings at Mrs. Fordham’s (Elder Fordham’s sister-in-law), on the 24th, and, hiring a room in an unfurnished store house of Elder Fordham’s father, took lodgings on the floor, and ate their bread and drank their water, until they went on shipboard.
Warning to New York Ministers—Departure for England.
Sunday, 25.—The brethren remained in their lodgings fasting, praying and counciling for the success of the mission, and had a joyful time. In the afternoon two sectarian priests came in to talk and find fault, but they were soon confounded, and left. On the 28th the brethren deposited one of Orson Hyde’s “Timely Warnings,” in the New York postoffice, for each of the sectarian priests in the city, amounting to some hundreds. They went on board the Garrick on the 29th, and left the dock; on the 30th, lay at anchor in East River; and at 7:30 a. m., on the first of July, were towed out of harbor by a steamer, hoisted sail, and were out of sight of land at 4:30 p. m.