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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1844

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1844:    9 Jan.:  Branch dumps its president, selects another.

“Columbus, Adams Co., Ill., Jan. 9, 1844.

Dear bretheren of the High Council [of Nauvoo]:  We the undersigned, Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, desire your counsel in a matter which we are about to lay before you.

Sometime in the spring and summer of 1843 we attached ourself to the New Liberty branch, which was then presided over by Elder John Stevens, a man with whom in a short time the majority of the members were dissatisfied, because he did in almost everything neglect his duty, especially in the managing of meetings, which were sometimes held without offering a prayer to the Lord of our salvation; and prohibiting us from partaking of the sacrament, which we considered to be a commandment of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, although often requesting the privilege of administering the same, he would not consent to it, because he thought some of the members did not do right and in consequence of their neglection the love of many waxed cold etc.

The time of our quarterly conference passed by unoticed by him, and after repeted request he consented to call a conference to be held on the 25th of November 1843.

Minutes of a conference held at the house of Isaac Furguson on the 25th of November, 1843.

Conference met according to appointment and Brother Amos Jackson was chosen president and Louis Muetze secretary.  Conference opened by singing and prayer by Elder John Stevens.  Business was then called fo rby the presidency.  Elder John Stevens arose and desired to be released from his presidential office, assigning many reasons for so doing.  It was moved and seconded to grant him the desire of his heart and carried unanimously.  The same desire manifested by Brother A. Jackson in regard to his office as secretary carried unanimously.  The president Amos Jackson then stated to the conference that inasmuch as the officers constituting the organization of the New Liberty branch had all resigned, the branch was now disorganized.

The president called repeatedly for further business and none was presented.  It was moved by the president and met with and seconded and adopted by the conference, that the Elders meet in conference at Columbus at the house of Brother Wm. Martin next sabbath in order to adopt such measures as they see best for the benefit and welfare of the saints in this part of the country.

On motion resolved to adjourn sine die, Lousi Muetze, secretary.

Amos Jackson, Pres’t.

Isaac Ferguson

Wm. Martin.

Columbus, Adams Co., Ill., Dec. 3, 43.

The Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints met at the house of Bro. [Wm.] Martin, according to previous appointment, in order to adopt such measures as they see best for the benefit and welfare of the saints in this part of the country.  Elder Amos Jackson was chosen president and Louis Muetze secretary.

The object of the meeting stated by the presidency.  Elder Wm. Martin followed him and at the end of his remarks proposed to organize according to the new testament pattern and book of Doctrine and Covenants; this motion was seconded and adopted by the church then present.

Singing by choir and prayer by Elder Jackson.

On motion resolved that Amos Jackson is to preside over this branch and Louis Muetze was chosen secretary.  On motion resolved to call this branch the ‘Columbus Branch.’  On motion resolved that Elders Wm. Martin and Isaac Furgesen officiate in the office of a priest until next confernce which is to be held the last Saturday and Sunday in February 1844.  After several remarks the minutes of this conference were read and accepted.  On motion resolved to forward the minutes of this conference to the Editor of the Times and Seasons, for publication.

Dismissed with benediction of the president.

Amos Jackson, Pres’t,

Isaac Fergusen,

Wm. Martin.

Louis Muetze, secretary.

Since our organization awe held our meeting every sabbath attended with the power of God, whose spirit was manifest in our midst, considerable good has been done, sinners came to repentance, the sick have been healed, etc.

And while we were all engaged trying to do good in the name of the Lord, hearing no complaint, on the 7th day of January, 1844, to our great surprise our licenses were all demanded and we were forbidden to preach the gospel by order of the presiding Elder of the Burton and Liberty Branch.

And now, dear brethren of the High Council, we know of no wrong which we have committed, and as we are determined to do right and abide counsel, we have thought it proper to submit our case to your honorable quorum for your deliberation.

In the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant, we are your humble servants,

Amos Jackson,

Louis Muetze,

Isaac Ferguson,

Wm. Martin.  Elders.

To the Honorable Quorum of High Council at Nauvoo.

P.S. Bro. Lewis Muetze.  Sir:  You are herebyi notified by order of the presiding Elder to deliver up your license to the presiding Elder of this branch and make no more appointments to preach the gospel.

Burton and Liberty Branch.

Jan. 7, 1844.

John Stevens,

John B. Carpenter, clerk.”

(JH 9 Jan., 1844)

Jan.:  Don’t drown them when you baptize them.

“Trial of Brothers Jonathan Pugmire and Thomas Cartwright, on a Charge of Manslaughter.

While we deeply deplore the melancholy accident referred to in another part of our present number, and for which our brethren have been in prison until Tuesday, the second of January, which was the day of trial, we have, in the result, abundant cause of thankfulness to our heavenly Father, who, indeed, does all things well.

It has been manifested from the time of the accident, that other agency has been in operation in the prosecution of this affair, than what the legitimate course of the law would have brought into exercise; yet had we wished and planned with all the ingenuity we could command, in order to confound those who have been secretly working to injure the work of the Lord, we could not possibly have effected the purpose in any manner to be compared with the complete overthrow brought about by the direction of Divine Providence.

When our attorney, Mr. Rowe, of Liverpool, would have presented his briefs to two of the counsellors, who were considered the most distinguised on the circuit, to his astonishment he found them already engaged in the same case by the prosecuting attorney.  The services, however, of two other gentlemen of the bar, viz, Mr. R. G. Temple, and Mr. S. C. Egerton, were engaged for the occasion.

The trial was the first which was brought on after the opening of the court on the Tuesday, when, behold, the witnesses for the prosecution were not at hand, with the exception of about three, whose evidence was of such a nature, that the Judge would not allow it to have any bearing upon the subject.  In vain did the attorney-general and the counsel engaged endeavour to prolong the business, by the examination of persons who were no witnesses at all in the case of the accident.  The Judge addressed the jury to the effect that the prisoners must be acquitted.  They were removed from the bar, but still retained in custody, to be brought forth again to be tried on the coroner’s inquest.  The attorney-general and the counsel declaring such to be their purpose.

Another case of trial, in the meantime, having been disposed of, the brethren were again placed at the bar.  The indictment being again read, they both pleaded not guilty; and, now, though the witnesses for the prosecution were all in court, the Judge would not allow their evidence; but with a kind and solemn warning to the brethren, to let the loss of life have its due effect upon them for the future, they were again acquitted, and set at liberty soon after, to the great joy of their relatives, the Saints and friends who had assembled on the occasion.

We know not who the parties may be who have secretly been at work, to carry on the prosecution, which we should have supposed would have been left to the Crown alone; however, no pains have been spared; additional witnesses had been secured, a survey of the neighbourhood where the accident occurred had been made, and a large and well-executed map of the same was exhibited in the court.  These things, together with the expenses of additional counsel, must be paid from the same source, as well as the costs of the prosecution also, which the Judge declared he would not allow; stating also that the witnesses for the prosecution should forfeit their recognizances.  What will be the consequences to the witnesses we know not, probably some mitigation of the full penalty incurred by each; but thus were all the machinations of those who were secretly labouring against the Church of Christ, kmore than against the prisoners, completely frustrated, while the kind care of our heavenly Father was made so very manifest to all, that every heart seemed to be full to overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving to Him in whom we trust.


It is with feelings of no ordinary kind, that we address you on the present occasion, relative to the administration of the ordinance of baptism.  Whereas, two fatal accidents have lately occurred, in connexion with this ordinance, one at Crewe, in Cheshire, and the other near to Sheffield, whereby two individuals have been drowned.  We, therefore, strenuously urge upon the attention of the elders and priests of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that they use every precaution in attending to the all-important ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins, and be not over anxious, so as to endanger themselves or the candidate, in any way whatever.  Remember, that as the servants of the Lord, we are under great responsibility how we administer, and should exercise our judgments in all matters pertaining to our duty and calling, and not do anything that will bring the cause of God into disrepute, or endanger the lives of our fellow-men: the Lord does not require such things at our hands.  The apostle Paul, in speaking of the ordinances and gifts, says, ‘Let all things be done decently, and in order;’ therefore, the candidate should be properly clothed, on such occasions, for the sake of decency and convenience in administering the ordinance.  We sincerely hope that the Saints will take warning by the late lamentable accidents, and let a word to the wise be sufficient, neglecting nothing with regard to the fitness of time, place, or appearance.

As these are the first occurrences of the kind that ever came to our knowledge, we feel that they call forth this admonition from the presidency, for the good of the public, to contradict the statements that are in circulation concerning the church, namely, that we are so zealous and anxious to gain members, that we would endanger the lives of individuals in administering the ordinance, and we feel to say, in the name of the church, that no such feelings exist in the minds of any member of the same, who has come to a knowledge of the importance of the ordinance.”  (MS 4(9):142-144, Jan., 1844)

6 Feb.:  Woman blessed to heal the sick.

“inasmuch as thou art faithful in the covenant thou shalt have power to heal the sick in their own houses.”  (Patriarchal Blessing of Louisa C. Jackson, by John Smith, 6 Feb., 1844.  RLDS Archives, P8/F16) 

10 Mar.:  Elias and Elijah.

“Their is a differance between the spirit & office of Elias & Elijah it is the spirit of Elias I wish first to speak of.  And in order to come at the subject I will bring some of the testimony from the scripture & given my own, in the first place suffice it to say I went into the woods to inquire of the Lord by prayer his will concerning me–& I saw an angel & he laid his hands upon my head & ordained me to be a priest after the order of Aaron & to hold the keys of this priesthood which office was to preach repentance & Baptism for the remission of sins & also to baptise but was informed that this office did not extend to the laying on of hands for the giving of the Holy Ghost that that office was a greater work & was to be given after wards but that my ordination was a preparetory work or a going before which was the spirit of Elias for the spirit of Elias was a going before to prepare the way for the greater, which was the Case with John the Baptist he Came balling through the wilderness prepare ye the the [sic] way of the Lord & make his paths strait & they were informed if they Could receive it it was the spirit of Elias & John was vary particular to tell the people He was not that light but was sent to bear witness of that light, He told the people that his mission was to preach repentance & baptize with water, but it was he that should Come after him that should baptise with fire & the Holy Ghost if he had been an imposture he might have gone to work beyound, his bounds & undertook to have performed ordinances that did not belong to that office & calling under the spirit of Elias.  The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God which is the priesthood of Elias or the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto.  And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work holds the keys of the power of Elias it it was called the doctrin of Elias even from the early ages of the world.  John,s mission was limited to preaching & Baptizing but what he done was legal & when Jesus Christ Came to any of John,s deciples He baptized them with fire & the Holy Ghost, we find the Apostles endowed with greater power than John their office was more under the spirit & power of Elijah than Elias.  In the Case of Philip when he went down to Samaria was under the spirit of Elias he baptised both men & women, when Peter & John herd of it they went down & lade hands on them & they received the Holy Ghost this shows the distinction between the two powers.  when paul came to Certain Deciples He asked if they had received the Holy Ghost they said no, who baptized you then we were Baptizd unto Johns Baptism No John did not baptized you for he did his work right, & so Paul went & baptized them for He knew what the true doctrin was & he knew that John Had not Baptized them, & these principles and [it] is strange to me that men who have red the scriptures of the New Testament are so far from it.  What I want to impress upon your minds is, the difference of power in the different parts of the Priesthood, so that when any man comes among you saying I have the spirit of Elias you can know whether he be true or fals, for any man that comes having the spirit & power of Elias he will not transend his bounds, John did not transend his bound but faithfully performed that part belonging to his office, and evry portion of the great building should be prepared right & assigned to its proper place, & it is necessary to know who holds the keys of power & who dont, or we may be likely to be decieved, That person who holds the keys of Elias hath a preparitory work . . . .

Now for Elijah, the spirit power & calling of Elijah is that ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations ordinances, oricles powers & endowments of the fulness of the Melchezedek Priesthood & of the Kingdom of God on the Earth & to receive, obtain & perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of God even unto the sealing of the hearts of the fathers unto the children & the hearts of the children unto the fathers even those who are in heaven.”  (Joseph Smith, 10 Mar., 1844, Wilford Woodruff diary)

“of the spirit of Elias I must go back to the time at Susquehannah river when I retired in the woods pouring out my soul in prayer to Almighty God.  An Angel came down from heaven and laid his hands upon me and ordained me to the power of Elias and that authorised me to babtise with water unto repentance.  It is a power or a preparatory work for something greater.  you have not power to lay on hands for the gift of the holy ghost but you shall have power given you hereafter, that is the power of the Aronick preisthood.  this is the power which John the babtist was clothed with when he came bounding out of the wilderness saying repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is come unto you or is at hand, For there standeth one among you whose shoes latchett I am not worthy to unloose. he has greater power than I have he will babtise you with fire and with the holy ghost.  Jesus said of John this is Elias which ws for to come if you will receive me otherwise he cannot do the work of an Elias, for Elias is preparatory for something greater to prepare my way before me I have power to restore all things and establish my kingdom amongst you, but if you will not receive me and my doctrine, he is not that Elias which was for to come for he cannot accomplish that for which he was sent, see 1st chap of John 19 to 22 verse for he confessed that he was not Elias why because they would not receive him that was coming after him namely Christ.  Philip was clothed with the power of Elias when he went to samaria he could babtise for remission of sins, but could not lay on hands for the gift of the holy ghost, but sent for Peter and John who had the power of Elijah &c Acts 19 chap Paul when he came to Corinth found certain diciples and asked them if they had received the holy ghost since they bleived, and they said we have not so much as heard of the holy ghost and with what surprise says he unto them. unto what were you babtised and they said unto John babtism.  not so not so my friends if you had you would have heard of the holy ghost but you have been duped by some designing knave who has come in the name of John an imposture. how do you know it Paul why John verilly babtised with water unto repentance always telling the people that they should beleive on him that should come after him. he would babtise with fire and with the holy ghost.  Johns babtism stood good but these had been babtised by some imposture.”  (Joseph Smith, 10 Mar., 1844, James Burgess Notebook.  In Words of JS, pp. 332-333)

“The power of Elias is not the power of Elijah related the vision of his ordination to the priesthood of Aaron on the Susquehannah river to preach the preparatory gospel.  This said the Angel is the Spirit of Elias.”  (Joseph Smith, 10 Mar., 1844, Franklin D. Richards “Scriptural Items.”  In Words of JS, p. 334) 

15 Mar.:  “A certain priesthood” for polygamy?

“Whereas Brother Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practised here.  And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about.”  (Hyrum Smith “to the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County,” 15 Mar., 1844; in T&S 5(6):474, 15 Mar., 1844)

6 Apr.:  Priesthood rosters of English branches.

Conference M HP E P T D

Manchester 1583 2 41 100 56 19

Liverpool      596 3 29 39 29 11

Preston        594 1 16 23 17 4

London         324 1 11 21 5 5

Macclesfield   219 1 10 22 14 7

Birmingham     707 38 49 27 12

Wooden Box     96 9 10 6 5

Staffordshire  370 1 29 48 20 11

Edinburgh      330 11 16 7 3

Garaway        172 4 9 8 1

Glasgow        833 1 26 39 30 19

Sheffield      201 5 9 5 3

Bradford       206 9 15 8 6

Ireland        52 5 1 1 0

Lincolnshire   27 2 2 1 1

Worcestershire 140 6 10 3 3

Clitheroe      299 16 22 18 4

Leicester      127 5 10 1 2

Cheltenham     532 17 30 13 5

Bath           31 1 2 0 0

Wolverton      8 1 2 0 0

Carlisle       160 8 19 8 3

Littlemoor     6 0 1 0 0

Bedfordshire   184 14 20 9 2

(HC 6:327-329)   

7 Apr.:  Don’t cut people off too easily.

“Elder Hedlock remarked on the practice of cutting off the members of the church; that in many cases it was done in much too summary a manner; that the elders should bear in mind that they were to be saviours of men and not the destroyers.  He would also admonish them against the establishment of bye-laws, which in many cases had been the cause of much evil, and individuals had been separated from the body of Christ for the violation of laws which the kingdom of God never recognized.  He exhorted the officers to dilligence in their labours, to the practice of righteousness and holiness, that they might secure the esteem of the Saints, and that their counsel might be sought after and be adhered to.”  (Minutes of the Liverpool General Conference, 7 Apr., 1844; MS 4(12):197, Apr., 1844)

12 May:  Priesthood to direct in the right way.

“I advise all to go on to perfection and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness–a man can do nothing for himself unless God direct him in the right way, and the Priesthood is reserved for that purpose.”  (Joseph Smith, 12 May, 1844, Thomas Bullock Report.  In Words of JS, p. 366)

12 May:  Ordination in the pre-mortal existence.

“every man who has a calling to mininster to the Inhabitants of the world, was ordained to that very purpose in the grand Council of Heaven before this world was–I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that grand Council.”  (Joseph Smith, 12 May, 1844, Thomas Bullock Report.  In Words of JS, p. 367)  

15 May:  Sealled by blessing on thare Heads.

“Nauvoo, May the 15, 1844.  And it come to pass that I blest my wife and children and Sealled my blessing on thare Heads in the name of the Lord.”  (Heber C. Kimball diary, 15 May, 1844)

Spring:  Joseph said P, J & J gave him the MP.

“On one occasion especially do I remember Brother Joseph as he addressed an assembly of the Saints, in the spring of 1844.  It was under some large oak trees, in a hollow south of the Temple, near to Parley street.  He was discoursing upon the fact that God, in establishing His Church, had provided that only one man was authorized, of God, to receive revelations that should be binding upon the Church.  At the time his counselor, Law, was exercising a baneful influence upon the minds of the Saints and assuming to have light and possess knowledge, that the Prophet Joseph was not justified in giving certain revelations which Law claimed were not inspired of the Lord.  It was on this same occasion that I heard the Prophet declare he had received the Melchizedek Priesthood, under the administration of Peter, James and John.”  (Angus M. Cannon, “Joseph Smith, The Prophet,” YWJ 17(12):546, Dec., 1906)

Jul.:  Ordinations.

“We feel it necessary at the present time to make a few remarks on the subject of ordinations.  We have availed ourselves of the opportunity afforded, by general and other conferences, to speak on this subject, and to caution the brethren against laying hands suddenly upon any one without due consideration.  We are conscious that much injury has been done from this practice, some almost immediately on their entrance into the Church, have been called into office, when, however well qualified they might be eventually, they knew but very little of the work of the Lord, and were totally destitute of experience.  The result of this has been an injury to the individual himself, as well as in many cases to the cause in general.

Others have been ordained that have been, from circumstances, totally disqualified from becoming useful.  We feel therefore very anxious on this subject, and desire the presidents of the different branches and conferences, to be very cautious in this particular.  Let them seek to be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, and by that spirit, let them select faithful men, unto whom to impart an authority involving so great a responsibility as the Holy Priesthood.  For the sake of the church we urge this, for the prosperity of the kingdom of God, and also for the sake of the individual called.  It is no trifling matter to be ordained into office in the church of Jesus Christ, and better had we never known the truth at all, than receiving of the authority of the priesthood, to hide our talent in the earth in one case, or use it injudiciously and unwisely in the other.

Upon the presidents of conferences then, in this matter, devolves a great responsibility–let them seek for the guidance of the spirit of wisdom in the selection of those they may call into the ministry.

How often have we had to lament, that the only situation in which some having authority have acted, has been in the councils of the church, when, never having recognized the duty of their office, or at least sought to fulfil it, if understood, their presence has very frequently served to perplex the minds of others, and they have become an hindrance to the cause, instead of aiding in its progress onwards.  Nor are we surprised at this, if officers neglect their own duty, they are but little qualified to sit in council over the affairs of the church or of others; but, on the contrary, if a man is faithful in the discharge of the office whereunto he is called, he will have the spirit of that office, which will be the spirit of wisdom, and of peace, and his counsel will be of importance, and his presence a blessing to the assembly.

We therefore hold them who possess the right to call and to ordain, as responsible for their proceedings, and affectionately exhort them to seek for the guidance of the Spirit of God, that all they do in this respect may receive his sanction and blessing.”  (Thomas Ward, editor; MS 5(2):27, Jul., 1844)

8 Aug.:  Supremacy of the Twelve.

“On the second day after our arrival, Aug., 8th, 1844, we met in a special conference, all the quorums, authorities, and members of the Church, that could assemble in Nauvoo.  They were addressed by elder Brigham Young, the president of the quorum of the twelve.  It was evident to the Saints that the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon him, the road that he pointed out could be seen so plainly, that none need err therein; the spirit of wisdom and counsel attended all his teachings, he struck upon a chord, with which all hearts beat in unison.

He was followed by a number of the twelve and others, who spoke to the point in an edifying manner, and at the close of the conference, a number of resolutions were formed, and votes taken, among which was the following: ‘Do the Saints want the twelve to stand as the head, as the First Presidency of the Church, and at the head of this kingdom in all the world, and next to Joseph walk up into their calling, hold the keys of this kingdom, and preside over all the affairs of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints in all the world?’  All that are in favour of this in all the congregation of the Saints make it manifest by holding up the right hand.  At once there was a sea of hands, a universal vote; a contrary vote was called and not a hand was raised in a congregation of about fifteen thousand Saints.  Sidney Rigdon himself, who was present, did not vote against it, but I think in favour of it.  Confidence and order were firmly established from that hour.  The two oldest bishops were appointed by the twelve as trustees in trust for the Temple.

The walls of the Temple arose much faster than ever before, the labourers upon that house manifested a determination not to leave it until it was finished, even if they obtained nothing but their daily bread for their reward.  The quorum of the twelve immediately entered upon their duties by organizing all the quorums of the Church according to the order of God, and carrying out all the views and principles of the prophet and patriarch, according to the pattern given them in laying the foundation of this great and mighty work.  They have organized the Church in North America into districts and conferences similar to the organization which they formed with the Saints in Great Britain.  They have organized twelve quorums of the Seventies, seven Presidents to each quorum, who will be prepared after the endowment to go forth unto all nations, bearing glad tidings unto the children of men.”  (Wilford Woodruff, “To the Officers and Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Islands,” MS 5(9):138, Feb., 1845)

8 Aug.:  High priests have power to reconstitute church.

“Let no man suppose that the kingdom is rent from you; that it is not organized.  If all the quorums of the church were slain, except the high priests, they would rise up with the keys of the kingdom, and have the powers of the priesthood upon them, and build up the kingdom, and the devil cannot help himself.”  (Brigham Young, HC 7:241)

8 Aug.:  Patriarchal priesthood belongs to Smith family.

“The Patriarchal Priesthood belongs to the Smith family.  If Samuel had lived it would have been his right.  But as it is will the people leave the matter the Twelve?  It was A universal vote.”  (Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff diary, 8 Aug., 1844)

10 Aug.:  The Twelve are in charge.

“Do not think the church destroyed, because they have killed the prophets; when Jesus was killed he left his people in charge of Twelve Apostles, so did Joseph and although the heavens and earth pass away, the word of the Lord by his servants will not fail.”  (Willard Richards to Joseph Richards, 10 Aug., 1844; JH 10 Aug., 1844)

12 Aug.:  Church to be organized by districts.

“[Meeting of the Council of the Twelve]  Voted to organize the Continant of America into districts and appoint High Priest to Preside over each district.

Voted that B Young H. C. Kimball and W Richards district the Continant of America and appoint Presidents over the several districts.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 12 Aug., 1844)

15 Aug.:  Church to be organized by Congressional dists.

“The United States and adjoining provinces will be immediately organized by the Twelve into proper districts, in a similar manner as they have already done in England and Scotland, and high priests will be appointed over each district, to preside over the same, and to call quarterly conferences for the regulation and representation of the branches included in the same, and for the furtherance of the gospel; and also to take measures for a yearly representation in a general conference.  This will save the trouble and confusion of the running to and fro of elders; detect false doctrine and false teachers, and make every elder abroad accountable to the conference in which he may happen to labor.  Bishops will also be appointed in the larger branches, to attend to the management of the temporal funds, such as tithings and funds for the poor, according to the revelations of God and to be judges in Israel.”  (HC 7:251-252)

18 Aug.:  Priesthood to be supported by tithing.

“Such may go away but I want to have the faithful stay here to build the Temple and settle the city.  We shall require the tenth of all your property as a tithing for the building of the Temple and for the poor and for the priesthood.  I want my support and living by the church hereafter, so that I can give my whole time to the business of the church.  I have always supported myself heretofore in all my travels and labors, with the aid of my brethren.”  (Brigham Young, HC 7:257)

18 Aug.:  Regarding Seventies.

“A word unto the Seventies.  They will be organized into their different quorums and a Presidency of seven men will be chosen out of the first seventy to preside over each quorum.”  (Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff diary, 18 Aug., 1844) 

25 Aug.:  Joseph said keys would hang on the 12.

“Elder [Orson] Hide bore testimony of what Joseph had Said when he was alive.  He said Joseph said the Keys of the Kingdom would hang on the Twell [Twelve].  Elder Phelps and Cahoon bore testamony of the same as they hurd it from the Prophets lips.”  (Sunday sermon; Heber C. Kimball diary, 25 Aug., 1844)

“I was followed by Elder B. Young who made many interesting remarks.  Also Elders O Hyde and P. P. Pratt testifyed that Joseph the Prophet and Seer had ordained, anointed, and appointed the Twelve to lead the Church.  Had given them the Keys of the Kingdom of God for that purpose.

W. W. Phelps and R. Cahoon bore testimony to the same thing, saying that Joseph said unto the Twelve upon your sholdiers the kingdom of God must rest in all the world.  Now round up your sholdiers and bear it.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 25 Aug., 1844)

“He [Orson Hyde] said that Joseph was preparing them for the work that they have now got to do which is to hold the keys and build up this kingdom in all the world.  Joseph committed unto them all the keys of the Priesthood otherwise the fulness would not have been upon the Earth now {that} he is taken away.”  (Samuel W. Richards to Franklin D. Richards, 23-26 August 1844, as quoted in Andrew F. Ehat, ‘Joseph Smith’s Introduction to Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question,’ p. 209; Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852, pp. 200, 304)

8 Sep.:  Rigdon’s misunderstanding of priesthood.

“Elder Rigdon was appointed by President Smith to go to Pittsburg and build up a church; but he was expressly forbid to take any one with him.  Now I would ask, has Elder Rigdon accomplished his mission?  Has he sought to build up the church according to President Smith’s order?  No.  He has been holding secret meatings [sic]; he has ordained men illegally, and contrary to the order of the priesthood; he has been ordaining men to the offices of prophets, priests and kings; whereas he does not hold that office himself; who does not know that this is wrong?  There is not an officer belonging to the church but what is acquainted with this fact.  Can a teacher ordain a priest?  Can a priest ordain an elder?  Can an elder ordain a high priest, or any of the former ordain an apostle?  You all know they could not, it is contrary to the order of God; and yet we find that President Rigdon, a man who ought to know better–who does know better–has been ordaining men to office[s] he does not hold himself: and yet he has come to us with a revelation to lead this church to the Celestial kingdom of God; and even if he had the authority to ordain these men, he could not do it in and of himself without the accompanying ordinances, and under the circumstances which he did.  There are numbers here who can bear witness to the truth of what I now say.  These things go plainly to show that his mind is enveloped in darkness, that he is ignorant and blinded by the devil, and incompetent to fulfill the work which he has undertaken.”  (John Taylor, “Trial of Elder Rigdon,” 8 Sep., 1844; in T&S 5(18):661, 1 Oct., 1844)

8 Sep.:  Trial of Church President or Counselor.

“It is written in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the president can be tried before a bishop and twelve high priests, or the high council of the church.  There are many present this morning who were present at the organization of that quorum in Kirtland.  We have here before us this morning, the high council, and bishop Whitney at their head, and we will try Sidney Rigdon before this council and let them take an action on his case this morning, and then we will present it to the church, and let the church also take an action upon it. . . .

We have now the quorum before us, before which he will be tried, with the oldest bishop at their head; and I shall leave the subject for the brethren to take it up, and it is left for us to decide whether we are Latter-day Saints or not.

President Young said further, that the Twelve are to be regarded as witnesses in this trial, and not judges.  We present ourselves before the High Council as witnesses, and we are prepared to bring other testimony forward if necessary.  There may be some who will say that this is not a fair trial, because the opposite party are not here.  They have had sufficient notice and time to make their objections, and if they don’t appear to make their defence, it will prove to me that they are guilty.  Elder Rigdon has not conducted himself like a man of God, he has not conducted himself like a prophet of God, nor a counsellor to the first president, since he came here.  We prefer these charges against him, and the High Council will be obliged to act.”  (Brigham Young, “Trial of Elder Rigdon,” MS 5(7):100-102, Dec., 1844)

16 Sep.:  Dedication of land for arsenal.

“At six a.m. Pres. Brigham Young, accompanied by Elder Heber C. Kimball, Gen. Charles C. Rich, Jonathan Dunham and other officers of the Legion, went to the ground secured for the Arsenal, near the Temple in Nauvoo.  They uncovered their heads and lifted their hands to heaven and Pres. Young dedicated the ground, by prayer, to the God of the armies of Israel.  He took the spade and broke the ground for the cellar.”  (JH 16 Sep., 1844)

19 Sep.:  Joseph had given the charge to the 12.

“Though destined forever to remain a point of debate, recent scholarship indicates that Joseph Smith had given the Twelve a charge to ‘bear off the kingdom’ at least in the short run.  [Footnote 2: “The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) has always claimed succession by lineal descent.  The president’s chair should properly belong to Joseph Smith’s descendants.  The first president of the RLDS Church was Joseph Smith III, and succeeding presidents have come from the expanded-family descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith.  For a review of the RLDS position, see Russell F. Ralston, Succession in Presidency and Authority; and W. Grant McMurray, ‘True Son of a True Father: Joseph Smith III and the Succession Question,’ Restoration Studies, I, Sesquicentennial Edition, ed. Maurice L. Draper and Clare D. Vlahos, 131-41.  In contrast, the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has been that of apostolic succession.  This tenet calls for the elevation to the First Presidency, the highest ecclesiastical office in the church, of a member of the second-ranking quorum, the Twelve Apostles, traditionally the president of that quorum.  For a detailed discussion of the LDS viewpoint, see B. H. Roberts, Succession in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Joseph Fielding similarly entitled work Succession in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”]  Orson Hyde, writing within three months of Smith’s death, had said

We have had a charge given us by our Prophet, and that charge we intend to honor and magnify.  It was given in March last. . . . To us were committed the Keys of the Kingdom, and every gift, key and power that Joseph ever had confirmed upon our head. . . . We know the charge which the prophet gave us.  [Footnote 3: “Orson Hyde to E. Robinson, 19 September 1844, as quoted in Leonard Arrington and Ronald Esplin, ‘The Role of the Council of the Twelve During Brigham Young’s Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ Task Papers in LDS History #31, 1979.”]

(Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852, pp. 199, 303-304)

24 Sep.:  Selection of 70’s and High Priests. 

“went to B Youngs.  from thence to Winser Lyons.  whare thare six of the Twelve met in council  Joseph Young met with us  we selected Seventy Presidints to preside over the Seventies, as it takes seven Presidenties to preside over Each seventy.  we selected fifty High Preas to Preside over different sections of the Country.”  (Heber C. Kimball diary, 24 Sep., 1844)

24 Sep.:  HP to preside over different sections of country

“Pres. Brigham Young attended a council at Winsor P. Lysons in Nauvoo six of the brethren of the Twelve and Elder Joseph Young were present.  Seventy Presidents were selected to preside over the Seventies and fifty High Priests to preside over different sections of the country.”  (JH 24 Sep., 1844)

27 Sep.:  Joseph had conferred all keys on the Twelve.

“For Nauvoo resident John Fullmer, the answer was that before his death Joseph Smith had succeeded

in completely organizing the Church, conferring keys, authority and endouements upon the Apostles and others, so that the work can go on as well as when he alone was propelling it; and better, because there are more now to push it, each holding all the power which he held in the priestly office.”  

(Ronald K. Esplin, “Joseph, Brigham and the Twelve:  A Succession of Continuity,” BYU Studies 21(3):301, Summer, 1981; quoting John Fullmer to Uncle John, 27 Sep., 1844, John S. Fullmer Letterbook, HDC)

29 Sep.:  63 pres. of 70 to preside over other quorums.

“In the afternoon, Pres. Young went to the Seventies Hall and ordained the sixty three members of the first quorum of Seventies to be presidents over the quorums from the second to the tenth inclusive.”  (JH 29 Sep., 1844)

6 Oct.:  When did Joseph become a prophet?

“When did Joseph become a Prophet?  I can tell you, when he became an Apostle.  Years and years before he had the right of holding the keys of the Aaronic priesthood, he was a Prophet, even before he was baptized.”  (Brigham Young, HC 7:287)

6 Oct.:  Church led by revelation.

“This church has been led by revelation, and unless we forsake the Lord entirely, so that the priesthood is taken from us, it will be led by revelation all the time.  The question arises with some who has the right to revelation?  I will not ascend any higher than a priest, and ask the priest what is your right?  You have the right to receive the administration of angels.  If an angel was to come to you and tell you what the Lord was going to do in this day, you would say you had a revelation.  The president of the priests has a right to the Urim and Thummim, which gives revelation.  He has the right of receiving visits from angels.  Every priest then in the church has the right of receiving revelations.  Every member has the right of receiving revelations for themselves, both male and female.  It is the very life of the church of the living God, in all ages of the world.  The Spirit of Truth is sent forth into all the world to reprove the world of sin and unrighteousness, and of a judgment to come.  If we were here today and had never heard this gospel, and a man was to come bounding into our midst, saying, he had come to preach the gospel, to tell us that God was about to restore the priesthood, and save the people, etc., it would be your privilege, and my privilege to ask God in the name of Jesus Christ, as individuals, concerning this thing, whether it was of God, and get a testimony from God that it was true, and this would be revelation.”  (Brigham Young, HC 7:285-286) 

6 Oct.:  HPs & 70s to preside throughout America.

“Oct. 6th [1844] conference commenced passed of in good order great instruction a more full organization gon into that ever before with the corums of the Saints high priest and 70ties are to be sent into all parts of America or more perticular North America they are to go through high priests and 70ties and locate themselves in stipulated districts and if possible build up churches unto the Lord . . .”  (William Huntington Diary, 6 Oct., 1844, Huntington Library)

7 Oct.:  Dropping officers.

“President [Brigham] Young said that a president of a stake could be dropped without taking his standing from him in the church.  but not so with the First Presidency or the Twelve.  A president of a stake is only called for the time being, if you drop him he will fall back into the high priests’ quorum.”  (HC 7:296)

7 Oct.:  HPs and 70s to be organized tomorrow.

“President Young then said, we want the conference to continue to-morrow for business.  We want the high priests quorum together.–President Miller will organize them on the right of the stand.

The presidents of seventies will organize all the seventies.  We want to select a number of high priests to go through the states to preside over congressional districts.  Then we want to have the elders quorum organized that we can take out of the elders quorum and fill up the seventies.  We want all the seventies to be here and their presidents.  We want them organized and begin to fill up the second quorum and then the third and the fourth to the tenth.  The business of the day will be to ordain the presidents of the seventies and then fill the quorum of seventies from the elders quorum, and select men from the quorum of high priests to go abroad and preside.”  (Minutes of October Conference, 7 Oct., 1844; in T&S 5(20):695, 1 Nov., 1844)

8 Oct.:  Major ordination of 70’s and High Priests.   

“thare was five hundred Seventys and high Preas Ordained.  11 Seventies Organised with Presidents over them.  a heavenly time  all things went on well.”  (Heber C. Kimball diary, 8 Oct., 1844) 

“He [Heber C. Kimball] then recommended all those elders who are under the age of thirty-five, and also all the priests, teachers, deacons and members, who are recommended to be ordained, to withdraw and receive an ordination into the seventies, which was done.”  (HC 7:305)

At the October Conference, 1844, “George A. Smith moved that all the Elders’ Quorum under the age of 35 should be ordained into the Seventies, if they are in good standing and worthy, and will accept it.  The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.”  (JH 8 Oct., 1844, p. 2; xerox)


page 15

“Minutes of the organization of the Seventies, at general special conference of the whole church.

NAUVOO-October, Tuesday, 8th A. D. 1844

About 400 Elders were ordained into the Seventies by order of the Twelve under the direction of President Joseph Young, whose names will appear hereafter in their respective Quorums.  This being the last day of conference, the major part of business was deferred to it for transaction.  Such as ordinations and organizations of Quorums (SS)  The first Quorum being fully organized: set apart for Presidents over ten Quorums which, (was the number organized) having their 7 Presidents to preside over them who shall be amenable to the Twelve and they the remaining 63 shall be accountable to their 7 Presidents, for the faithful performance of their duties in their respective callings.

The 63 Presidents then organized their respective Quorums separately and apart under the direction of the Twelve and council of their 7 Prests. assisted by the Clerk of the 1st Quorum.  Each Quorum consisting of 70 members including their 7 Presidents and designated by title of numbers form one to thousand Quorums as they may rank in process of time, always remembering that the Senior number of each Presidency shall have the right of presiding in all the meetings of his Quorum.  And in the absence of the President the next senior president shall have the right to preside and so on down to the 7th President.  They shall preside over 63 members and  shall rank accordingly, but in case one or more of said presidents shall be removed from office, either by death, expulsion, or promotion, his successor in office, shall not in this case, rank as before mentioned, but shall rank according to the date of his ordination, falling in the rear of those that have stood fast.”  (Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 8, Fd 11, General Record of the Seventies, Book B, Pg 15, 8 October 1844)

8 Oct.:  Men to preside over Congressional districts.

“President Brigham Young then appeared and proceeded to select men from the high priests’ quorum, to go abroad in all the congressional districts of the United States, to preside over the branches of the church, as follows:  [names given]

President Young explained the object for which these high priests were being sent out, and informed them that it was not the design to go and tarry six months and then return, but to go and settle down, where they can take their families and tarry until the Temple is built, and then come and get their endowments, and return to their families and build up a stake as large as this.”  (HC 7:305-307)

12 Oct.:  Relationship of Seventies and High Priests to each other.

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Eleventh Quorum of Seventyes[sp]

Oct. 12th 1844….Presidents present Jesse P. Harmon, Waldo Littlefield  , Alvin Horr. President Brigham Young attended and taught on the duties of the Seventies and High Priests, showing the relative situation they bore to each other; that they had no jurisdiction over each other except in case of transgression; that in such a case they had the right to with draw fellowship from the party in transgression: after which the Quorums proceeded to besiness and it was decided by the three Quorums present that they would meet here every Saturday evening at early candle lighting.  

On the 26th Day of December 1844, the dedication of the Seventy’s Hall commenced.  It was arranged so that two Quorums only should meet on each day.  This was done that all might have an opportunity of meeting because the number of seventies were so great that they could not all otherwise have soom,  There being now fifteen Quorums or over one thousand Elders.  The order was that all should bring their wives, and provide themselves with something to eat and also to feed those who had nothing for themselves and those were to teach, without interpition as having to be dismissed for that purpose;  They were likewise attended by a concert of vocal and instrumental music which was well caleilated to cheer and gladen the heart, The misicians were also furnished by the different Quorums with the necessary refreshments from day to day.”  (Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 8, Fd 11, Minutes of Various 70’s Quorums)

13 Oct.:  Duties of High Priests and Seventies.

“Elder Orson Pratt addressed the conference in relation to the present organization of the Church and Quorums in particular.  Revelation, said he, has been given for this purpose several years ago–that when the Testator should be removed, there the Testament might be introduced and become a law unto this church, that every member may understanding [sic] precisely the duties of his office and calling.  He also explained the duties of both High Priest and Seventies which were as follows:

The Seventies are called & set apart to be swift messengers to the nations of the earth having power to introduce the gospel where ever they may be sent holding the keys of the Kingdom in subordination to the Twelve.  The duty of the High Priest is to preside over the labors of the Seventies such as Branches & Stakes and to organize the same when necessary, but not to preside over the Seventies or to control them in any way whatever.”  (Nauvoo Seventies Record, Book B, p. 31; quoted in Watson, The Orson Pratt Journals, p. 522)

12 Nov.:  Ordained an Elder at age 15. a 70 at age 16.

“On Nov. 12th, 1844, while we were sitting around the fire, just after breakfast, my father [Patriarch John Smith] and brother George A. walked across the room and placed their hands upon my head and ordained me an Elder in the Church, sealing the Melchisedek Priesthood upon me, with an excellent blessing, promissing, if I would be faithful and follow the whispering of the Holy Spirit that I should never lack.  I was directed to go to the house of Brother David Smith and administer to him, his wife and sister, as they were all very sick with the chills and fever (commonly called ‘the shakes’).  Father and brother had been sent for, but as they were called to meet with the council, could not go.  They said to me if I would go I should see the power of God made manifest.  I my own heart I made a covenant that I would go and do what I could, and if the Lord would give me utterance, and show me His power, I would to do all that was required of me.

On my way, two blocks distant, I asked an elderly gentleman who was hoeing in his garden to accompany me.  The manner in which he threw his hoe from his hands made me tremble and feel sorry that I had asked him to accompany me.  Upon entering the door of the house we saw sister Lucy lying upon a bed near the passage, shaking so hard that I could hear her teeth chatter and could see the bed shake, I remarked to her that father and brother had sent us to administer to them.  I took a bottle of consecrated oil and anointed her head.  When I asked the brother to seal the same and bless her, the reply was, ‘I cannot do it, I never did such a thing in my life.’  A whisper in my hear seemed to say:  ‘Ha! Ha!  I’ve got you now; you cannot say anything, for you do not know anything.’  I stood with open mouth about a minute.  Recovering slightly I said, partly aloud, ‘Get behind me Satan,’ and sealed the anointing upon her, and commanded her to cease shaking and arise and be made whole, I felt no lack of words and know I spoke with power.  As I said ‘Amen,’ the brother sprang from the door and returned to his hoe.  Brother David lay upon a bed in one corner and his wife Phebe upon another.  She whispered, ‘Bless me.’  She was shaking harder, if possible, than sister Lucy haddone.  I never came so near saying ‘I cannot,’ during my life since.  The voice in my ear, with that sarcastic ‘Ha! Ha!,’ said ‘You can do no more, you are a fool and can do nothing.’  At this stage life and ilght seemed to enter me.  I took the oil and anointed her head and sealed it upon her and commanded her to cease shaking and be made whole.  From that moment she ceased shaking.  Upon glancing around I discovered sister Lucy dressed and building a fire in to cook some food.  I turned to Brother David.  He reached my hand and placed it upon his head.  It seemed to me that no man could shake as he did.  That voice said, ‘You need not try him for you cannot stop him.’  I took the oil in my hand and said, ‘Satan, close thy mouth.’  I gave Brother David a spoon full of oil and I fairly poured the oil over his head and anointed his neck and shoulders and sealed the same, commanding him in the authority of the Holy Priesthood to cease shaking and be made whole, and teling the adversary, in the name of the Lord, to leave the home.

How long I wrestled, I know not, but I know that most of the afternoon had slipped away and the shadows of evening were gathering around.  The family were healed and I know it was by the power of God.  From that day to this I have never had a doubt.  To the Almighty be all the honor.  Nov. 17th, 1844, was my 16th birthday I accompanied my Brother George A. to the Seventies’ hall, where I was ordained a Seventy under the hands of Zera Pulsipher and Levi W. Hancock, and was united with the twelfth quorum, with Hyrum Dayton senior president.”  (John Lyman Smith autobiography, LC Collection)

24 Nov.:  Retrenchment in 70s quorums.

“The month of Novem has passed off and no event of great note has transpired all things remain quite in Nauvoo the 24th the 13th corum of 70ties was organized all the corums have been under a strict drill of improvement  Are receiving teachings from the twelve and the presidents of the different corums every week the church has never been in so good a situation as at the present the gratest union prevails in the church that ever has . . .”  (William Huntington diary, Huntington Library)

15 Dec.:  Church more perfectly organized lately.

“As it regards the church, there never was more faith manifested, nor a greater degree of union than exists at the present time; the church has been more perfectly organized lately in its different quorums, there are fewer dissatisfied spirits in our midst; and peace and harmony universally prevail.”  (T&S 5(23):744, 15 Dec., 1844)

15 Dec.:  1st “Acting Teachers”?

“I left my family on the 6th and preached to the brethren in Macedonia on the 8th, setting before them the necessity of union and obedience to all the commands and revelations of God and set before them the necessity of the law of tithing and the building the Temple, all which they agreed to.  The 9th reached Spring Creek branch visited the brethren on the 10th, held meeting on the 11th, found them some out of order.  Bro. Johnson formerly presided and at his removal to Macedonia appointed Twitchel to preside protem and ordained him an Elder, he being the only teacher they had.  I found the branch with 5 Elders, no priests, no teachers, no Deacons, and 18 members.  

I told them they were all body and head without feet or legs to walk on and they had no way to help themselves but to take part of their Elders and make teachers of them which they agreed they would do and as there was some disagreement about their organization, I prevailed with them to consider themselves in an unorganized situation and start a new.  They did so.”  (John Murdock (Knoxville, Ill.) to Brigham Young (Nauvoo), 15 Dec., 1844; JH 15 Dec., 1844)

24 Dec.:  70s Library and Institute Association.

“The stockholders of the Seventies Library and Institute Association elected Elder Geo. A. Smith, Amasa M. Lyman, Joseph Young, Levi W. Hancock, Albert Carrington, John D. Lee and James M. Monroe trustees.”  (JH 24 Dec., 1844)

An angel from God visited man.

“I now bear testimony, having the highest assurance, by revelation from God, that this prophecy [Rev. 14:6, 7] has already been fulfilled, that an Angel from God has visited man in these last days, and restored that which has long been lost, even the priesthood,—the keys of the kingdom,—the fulness of the everlasting Gospel.”  (Lorenzo Snow, “The Only Way to be Saved,” London: F. Shephard, 1844; pp. 11-12; Barney)

Angel of God conferred the holy priesthood.

“In the year 1830, after the Book was translated and published, the Angel of God according to promise conferred the Holy priesthood upon Mr. Smith, and gave unto him commandments to Baptize with water in the name of Jesus, and build up the Church of Christ; which accordingly was organized April 6th, A.D. 1830, with six members.”  (William I. Appleby, “A Dissertation on Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream . . . together with a Synopsis of the Origin and Faith of the Church of ‘Latter-day Saints’ . . .,” Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1844; p. 23; Barney)

Legates of Heaven ordained him to the Holy Priesthood.

“After he had obtained and translated the ancient American Records, commonly called the Book of Mormon, and had received authority from Legates of Heaven, delegated and sent unto him by the Lord to ordain him to the Holy Priesthood, giving him the right to ordain others, that the Gospel might be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.”  (Jedediah M. Grant, “A Collection of Facts Relative to the Course taken by Elder Sidney Rigdon . . .,” Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1844; p. 1; Barney)