From Historian to Dissident
Bruce N. Westergren, editor

Chapter 4
Welcoming Unbelievers


[p.47]John Murdock1 and others held a meeting in the city of Cleveland Ohio, in the Masonick hall by the request of some of the Citizens of said City. An opportunity which some sought to bring about their evil designs. Elder Murdock addressed the congregation on the subject of the gospel; and warned the inhabitants of that place to flee the wrath to come.  

Others followed him and while they were yet speaking One of the congregation came towards the stand and kneeled down and began to pray, a sign to the bandity to begin their abuse, At this time they began to blow out the candles [and] throw inkstands and books &c at the speaker. and one of the brethren prayed that the Lord would stop the utterance of the fellow that came and kneeled at the stand and he became silent and could not rise from his knees for some time, because of the prayer of faith.

In the beginning of the church, while yet in her infancy, the disciples used to exclude unbelievers, which caused some to marvel, and converse about this matter because of the things [p.48]that were written in the Book of Mormon. Therefore the Lord deigned to speak on this subject, that his people might come to understanding. and said, that he had always given to his Elders to conduct all meetings as they were led by the spirit. See Revelation Given March 1831. Book Doctrine and Covenants first edition printed at Kirtland Ohio. Page 132 Section 16. insert the Revelation.2


1. John Murdock was born on July 15, 1792, in Kortright, Delaware County, New York. He moved to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, about 1820 and joined with Sidney Rigdon in the Campbellite movement about 1828. He married Julia Class on December 14, 1823; they had five children: Orrice, John Riggs, Phebe, Joseph, and Julia. He was baptized into the Mormon church by Parley P. Pratt on November 5, 1830, ordained an elder sometime that same month, and sent preaching numerous times in the Western Reserve. His wife Julia died April 30, 1831. Their children, Joseph and Julia, twins about eleven months old, were adopted by Joseph and Emma Smith. 

Murdock was appointed to travel to Jackson County, Missouri, with Hyrum Smith in June 1831. On June 6 he was ordained a high priest. Returning to Ohio in June 1832, he was appointed in August to preach in the “eastern countries.” He preached in the Kirtland area for seven months, from September to April, while attending the School of the Prophets, then left for New York with Zebedee Coltrin on April 3, 1833. They returned to Kirtland a little over a year later.

In 1834 Murdock joined with some 200 other brethren in Zion’s Camp, the armed march to Missouri. On July 7 he was appointed a member of the Clay County high council, though he returned to Ohio, arriving in January 1835. He received his patriarchal blessing there on February 20 from Joseph Smith, Sr., [p.49]and left for a mission to Delaware County, New York, March 5. He married Amoranda Turner on February 4, 1836, in New York and returned to Kirtland on February 24.

From Kirtland, he left for Missouri on June 3, arriving in Ray County in mid-July. He assisted in settling the town of Far West that same year. His wife Amoranda died in August 1837. Murdock then married Electa Allen on May 3, 1838. From this marriage came three children: Gideon, Rachel, and Hyrum Smith.

In June Murdock was appointed to settle in DeWitt, Missouri. However, he along with the rest of the Saints, were expelled from the state the next year. The Murdock family settled near Lima, Illinois, where they resided until 1841. At that time they moved to Nauvoo. Murdock was ordained bishop of the Nauvoo Ward on August 20, 1842. He served until November 29, 1844, when he left on a mission to the Eastern States.

Murdock’s wife Electa died on October 16, 1845. On March 13, 1846, he married Sarah Zuflet. This union produced two children: George Weire (adopted) and Brigham Young. Murdock and his family left for the West in May, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley the next year on September 24, 1847. Murdock became a member of the Salt Lake high council and was appointed bishop of the Salt Lake Fourteenth Ward in 1849. He served to January 1853. On April 9, 1854, Murdock was ordained a patriarch by Heber C. Kimball.

Murdock and his family resided in Lehi, Utah, from 1854 to the time they moved to Beaver, Utah, in 1867. He died on December 23, 1871 (Cook, Revelations, 80).

2. D&C 46; compare Wood, 2[1835]:132-34, for text. For background, see Cook, Revelations, 63-64, 132-33. As a consequence, non-Mormons were admitted to all public meetings of the church.