From Historian to Dissident
Bruce N. Westergren, editor

Chapter 7
The High Priesthood


About these days the disciples arrived from State of New York. To this place Kirtland State of Ohio. They had some dificulty because of some that did not continue faithful, who denied the truth and turned unto fables.

June 3, 1831. A general conference was called, and a blessing promised, if the elders were faithful, and humble before him.1 Therefore the elders assembled from the East, and the West, from the North and the South. And also many members.

Conference was opened by prayer and exortation by Joseph Smith Jr. the Revelator. After the business of the church was attended to according to the Covenants. The Lord made manifest to Joseph that it was necessary that such of the elders as were considered worthy, should be ordained to the high priesthood.2

The spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner. And prophecied that John the Revelator was then among the ten tribes of Israel who had been lead away by [p.70] Salmanaser King of israel, to prepare them for their return, from their Long dispersion, to again possess the land of their fathers. He prophecied many more things that [asking] the many, he said that if Joseph Wakefield3 that I have not written. After he had prophecied, he laid his hands upon Lyman Wight4 to the High Priesthood after the holy order of God. And the Spirit [blank space] fell upon Lyman, and he prophecied, concerning the coming of Christ, he said that there were some in this congregation that should live until the Savior shoud decend from heaven, with a Shout, with all the holy angels with him. He said the coming of the Savior should be, like, the Sun rising in the east, and will cover the whole earth, so will the coming of the Son of man be. Yea, he will appear in his brightness, and consume all before him. And the hills will be laid low, and valies be exalted; and the crooked be made straight; and the rough Smooth. And some of my brethren Shall suffer marterdom, for the sake of the religion of Jesus Christ and seal the testimony of Jesus with their blood. He saw the hevans opened, and the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the Father. Making intercession for his brethren. the Saints. He said that God would work a work in these last days that tongue cannot express, and the mind of is not capable to conceive. The glory of the Lord shone around.

At this conferen[c]e these were ordained to the high priesthood, namely Lyman White [Wight], Sidney Rigdon, John Murdock[,] Reynolds Cahoon,5 Harv[e]y Whitlock,6 and Hyram Smith were ordained by Lyman Whight exce[p]t S Joseph Smith Jr except Sidney Rigdon.

The following by Lyman Whight by commandment. Parley P. Pratt, Thomas B. Marsh, Isaac Morly,7 Edward Partridge[,] Joseph Wakefield,8 Ezra Thayer, Martin Harris, Ezra Booth9 who denied the faith[,] Harvy Whitlock denied the [p.71]faith, also Joseph Wakefield, Joseph Smith Sen. [,] Joseph Smith Jr.[,] John Whitmer.

The Bishop then proceeded and blessed the above named and others by the laying on of hands. Isaac Morly and John Corrill10 were ordained as bishops counsellors to Edward Partridge

Joseph Smith Jr. Prophecied the day Previous that the man of Sin should be revealed. While the Lord poured out his spirit upon his servants, the Devil took occation, to make known his power, he bound Harvy Whitlock <and John Murdock> so that he could not speak and others were affected but the Lord showed to Joseph the Seer the design of this thing, he commanded the devil in the name of Christ and he departed to our joy and comfort. Also

Therefore a part of the Revelation given at Fayette New York was fulfilled. The churches of the State of New York had moved to Ohio, with their Wives and their children, and all their Substance some purchased farms others rented, and thus they situated themselves as convenient as they could. The day being now far spent and the conference was adjourned. [p.81]


1. This conference lasted from June 3-6, 1831. Ordinations to the “High Priesthood,” or office of high priest, were made for the first time. John Corrill and Isaac Morley were ordained “assistants,” or counselors, to Bishop Edward Partridge (Far West Record, 6-9; HC, 1:157, 175-81).

2. This refers to the office of high priest in the Melchizedek priesthood, not to the Melchizedek priesthood as a whole (Cook, Revelations, 71-83, 136-37n6).

[p.72]3. No mention is made in the minutes of the meeting of any particular comments to Joseph Wakefield at this time. For further information on Wakefield, see n. 8 below.

4. Lyman Wight was born on May 9, 1796, in Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York. On January 5, 1823, he married Harriett Benton in Henrietta, New York; they had six children. The family moved to Warrensville, Ohio, about 1826 and remained there until 1830. In May 1829 the Wight family joined Sidney Rigdon in the Campbellite movement and entered into a covenant of “common stock”—a communal arrangement based on New Testament teachings—with Isaac Morley, Titus Billings, and others.

In February 1830 Wight moved to Kirtland. He and his family were baptized into the Mormon church that November. He was ordained an elder on November 20 and a high priest on June 3, 1831. Also in June he was appointed to travel to Missouri with John Corrill. They arrived in Jackson County on August 12. Wight was called to preside over Branch Number Seven on September 11, 1833. After the expulsion of the Saints from the county a month and a half later, Wight settled his family in Clay County.

On January 1, 1834, Wight travelled with Parley P. Pratt to Kirtland, Ohio, to counsel with church leaders about regaining the Saints’ lands in Jackson County. The pair arrived about February 22. Wight travelled with Pratt, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and others through Pennsylvania and New York to recruit for Zion’s Camp and the pending march to Missouri.

Following the dissolution of Zion’s Camp on June 22, Wight was called to the Clay County high council. On March 13, 1835, he left on a mission to Cincinnati and returned to Clay County on May 18. On November 3 he left for Kirtland again, this time to participate in the construction of the temple and to attend the School of the Prophets. Following dedication of the temple in March 1836, he left again for Missouri, arriving in early May.

In February 1837 Wight relocated his family in Caldwell [p.73]County, Missouri, and to the town of Adam-Ondi-Ahman on February 1, 1838. He was appointed counselor in the Adam-Ondi-Ahman Stake presidency on June 28, 1838. Wight was arrested on murder and treason charges in November 1838 during the “Mormon War” and incarcerated from November until April 1839 in Liberty Jail, along with Joseph Smith and others. Along with Smith and his fellow prisoners, Wight escaped during a prison transfer on April 19, 1839, and joined the rest of the Saints in Quincy, Illinois, a couple of months later. Five years after this relocation, Wight was appointed to the secret Mormon political caucus called the Council of Fifty. He began attending meetings on May 3, 1844, and received his endowment in the Nauvoo temple on May 14.

In accordance with the Council of Fifty’s decisions of 1844-45, Wight prepared a group to move to Texas in the spring of 1845. The colony arrived sometime late in July. They spent the first winter at an evacuated fort called Georgetown in Williamson County, Texas. In April 1846, the group moved south to a point on the Colorado River four miles north of Austin. During the summer of 1846 the colony relocated to an area called Zodiac, four miles south of Fredericksburg, Gillespie County, Texas, on the Perdinales River.

Wight married his first plural wife, Mary Hawley, in 1845; they had two children. He also married Mary Ann Otis, had three children, and married Margaret Ballentine, producing one child. A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1841, Wight was excommunicated on December 3, 1848, because of a pamphlet he published rejecting Brigham Young’s leadership.

In 1851, after floods destroyed the Zodiac colony, its members moved to Hamilton’s Creek, about eight miles south of Burner. In 1853, they moved again, this time to a site on the Medina River, twelve miles south of Bandera, Texas. The new location was named Mountain Valley. Wight died on March 31, 1858, in Dexter, Medina County, Texas, about eight miles from San Antonio. He was buried back at the old colonial site of Zodiac (Cook, Revelations, 82-83, 139-140; LDSBE, 1:93-96; [p.74]Steven L. Shields, Divergent Paths of the Restoration 4th rev. ed. [Los Angeles, CA: Restoration Research, 1990], 46-48).

5. Reynolds Cahoon, a son of William Cahoon and Mehitabel Hodge, was born on April 30, 1790, in Cambridge, Washington County, New York. He married Thirza Stiles on December 11, 1810; they had seven children. The family moved to the Ohio region in 1811 where Reynolds began farming. A year later Reynolds enlisted to fight against the British in the War of 1812.

In 1825 Cahoon moved his family near Kirtland, Ohio. He was baptized on October 11, 1830 by Parley P. Pratt and, shortly after his baptism, was ordained an elder by Sidney Rigdon. On June 3, 1831, he was odained a high priest by Joseph Smith. Later that month he was appointed to travel to Jackson County, Missouri, with Samuel H. Smith; Cahoon was back in Kirtland by the following September. On October 11, 1831, he was called to obtain money and/or property to assist in finishing the revision of the Bible.

On February 10, 1831, Cahoon was ordained a counselor to Bishop Newel K. Whitney. On May 4, 1833, he was appointed to obtain money to build “sacred edifices” in Kirtland. Cahoon was a charter member of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Corporation in 1837.

The Cahoon family moved to Missouri the next year, arriving on June 7. He was appointed a counselor in the stake presidency of Adam-Ondi-Ahman on June 28. When Mormons were forced from the state toward the end of that year, the Cahoons settled in Iowa. Cahoon was called as a counselor in the Iowa Stake presidency on October 19, 1839.

Four years later, on October 12, 1843, Cahoon received his Nauvoo temple endowment. He became a member of the Council of Fifty on March 11, 1844. On January 24, 1845, he received his patriarchal blessing from John Smith. He was married (“sealed”) to Lucina Roberts Johnson on January 16, 1846; they had three children. That same day he was also sealed to Mary [p.75]Hildrath; they had no children.

Cahoon relocated to Winter Quarters in 1846, following the exodus from Nauvoo, arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 23, 1848. He died in the South Cottonwood Ward, Salt Lake County, Utah, on April 29, 1861 (Cook, Revelations, 73, 138).

6. Harvey G. Whitlock was born in 1809 in Massachusetts. By 1830 he was married to a woman named Minerva; they had eight children. He was baptized and ordained an elder before June 3, 1831, when he was ordained a high priest by Joseph Smith. Later that month, he was appointed to travel to Jackson County, Missouri, with David Whitmer. Whitlock then moved his family to Missouri and resided in the Whitmer Branch. Along with the rest of the Saints, they were expelled from the county in late 1833.

Whitlock was stripped of his membership in the church in 1835. A revelation given November 16, 1835, counseled him to forsake his sins, live righteously, and go immediately to Kirtland. On January 30, 1836, a conference held by the First Presidency authorized his rebaptism and reordination as a high priest.

Whitlock officially withdrew from the church in 1838 during the Missouri civil war. By 1840 the family was residing in Cedar County, Iowa, but by 1850 they had moved to Salt Lake City, where Whitlock practiced medicine. In February 1851 Whitlock was arrested as an accessory to theft. He was rebaptized about 1858. He moved his family again, this time to California, arriving sometime around 1864. While there, he joined the Reorganized LDS church. The date of his death is not known (Cook, Revelations, 81, 139).

7. Isaac Morley was born on March 11, 1786, in Montague, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. On June 20, 1812, he married Lucy Gunn in Massachusetts; they had seven children.

The Morleys moved to the Ohio region sometime before 1830, where Isaac assisted in introducing the scientific study and application of experimental results in crop production into the [p.76]area. They were baptized on November 15, 1830, and Isaac was ordained a high priest and set apart as an “assistant,” or counselor, to Bishop Edward Partridge.

Morley was called to travel to Missouri with Ezra Booth later that month. The pair arrived sometime in July. On September 11, about the same time Ezra Booth denounced Mormonsim, Morley was chastized for unbelief and directed to sell his farm in Kirtland and relocate in Jackson County. The family did so, becoming members of the Independence Branch. They were expelled with the rest of the Saints in late 1933 and moved into Clay County.

On June 23, 1834, Morley was called to return to Kirtland to participate in the ordinances of washing and anointing. He left for Kirtland early in 1835 and arrived sometime before May. Shortly after arriving, Morley was called to accompany Edward Partridge on a mission to the Eastern States. They left Kirtland on June 2 and returned late the following October, when Morley was called to attend Hebrew school and the upcoming solemn assembly. Morley returned to Missouri mid-1836. That fall the family moved to Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, and on November 7, 1837, was ordained a patriarch.

Morley was arrested in November 1838 and jailed on charges of treason, arson, and murder, though not convicted. The family, with the rest of the Saints, left the state during the winter of 1838-39, settling in Yelmore (Morley spelled backwards), Hancock County Illinois, in 1839. Morley was a cooper by trade.

On October 22, 1840, Morley was called as president of the Lima Stake. After the stake was dissolved almost three years later, on June 11, 1843, he was called as president of the Lima Branch. He received his endowment on December 23. After moving to Nauvoo in 1845, he was sealed to Harriet Lenora Snow in 1846; they had no children. On January 14, 1846, he was sealed to Hannah Blakesley; they had three children. The family left Nauvoo in 1847 and moved on to Winter Quarters, where they remained until 1848. That year they emigrated to Utah.

[p.77]Morley was called to be a member of the Salt Lake high council on February 15, 1849. The family helped settle Sanpete Valley later that year. Morley became a member of the general assembly of the Provisional State of Deseret and a member of the Utah Territorial Legislative Assembly, serving in the latter body from 1851-55. He died on June 24, 1865, in Fairview, Sanpete County, Utah (Cook, Revelations, 79-80, 139; LDSBE, 1:235-36).

8. Joseph Wakefield was born about 1792. He lived in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, from 1820-33. Sometime before May 1831, he was baptized and ordained an elder. That same month he was called to preach with Parley P. Pratt in the Ohio region. On June 3 Wakefield was ordained a high priest and, later that month, was called to preach the gospel with Solomon Humphrey in the eastern states. The pair traveled to St. Lawrence County, New York, where they baptized future apostle George A. Smith in September 1832.

Wakefield is listed as owning property in Watertown in 1833. That summer he moved to Kirtland, Ohio, but soon became influenced by dissident Mormons. He joined a committee of Kirtland citizens who attempted to prove the Book of Mormon had been written by Solomon Spaulding. By January 1834 he had been excommunicated. Nothing is known of his subsequent life (Cook, Revelations, 69, 134).

9. Ezra Booth was born in Connecticut in 1792. By 1819 he had settled in Nelson, Ohio, where he married Dorcas Taylor on March 10. He became a Methodist minister. He converted to the Mormon church about May 1831, was ordained an elder later that month, and was ordained a high priest on June 3 by Lyman Wight.

Later in June Booth was appointed to travel to Missouri with Isaac Morley. They attended the August 4 conference in Jackson County in which the “land of Zion” was consecrated and set apart for the gathering of the Saints. Following the conference Booth was directed to purchase canoes for the elders returning [p.78]to Ohio. He arrived about September 1.

Booth returned to Missouri later in the month on a mission. While there he lost faith in Joseph Smith, and his fellowship was withdrawn on September 6. He was chastised on September 11 for “evil actions.” The next day he formally denounced Mormonism and started writing nine letters against the church, which were published in the Ohio Star from October through December 1831. In 1836 he attempted to establish his own church, the Church of Christ.

Booth was listed as residing in Mantua, Portage County, Ohio, in the 1860 census, where he owned a farm. The date of his death is not known (Cook, Revelations, 72-73, 138; Shields, Divergent Paths of the Restoration, 249).

10. John Corrill was born on September 17, 1794, in Worcester County, Massachusetts. By 1830 he had relocated to Ashtabula, Ohio, where he married a woman named Margaret; they had five children. Corrill was baptized on January 10, 1831, and ordained an elder sometime before June. He was ordained a high priest and set apart as an “assistant,” or counselor, to Bishop Edward Partridge on June 3.

Corrill was appointed to travel with Lyman Wight to Jackson County in June 1831, and he moved his family to Missouri that same year. Corrill was then called to serve as branch president of Branch Number Four in Independence, Missouri.

He rose to prominence during the Missouri period (1831-38), frequently appointed to serve on committees and to act as an intermediary with antagonists and with the state militia. Many of the documents dealing with his work are copied here by John Whitmer. Corrill was jailed for a short time in Independence in 1833 and then was forced out of Jackson County with his family late that year, losing about all of his property. Following the expulsion, the Corrills settled in Clay County, Missouri, where they bought some property.

On June 23, 1834, Corrill was called to travel to Kirtland and receive his “endowment.” He participated in the temple [p.79]dedication in March 1836 and was back in Clay County, Missouri the following November. Shortly afterwards he became one of the original settlers of the Mormon town of Far West in Caldwell County.

Corrill served in other capacities. On November 7, 1837, he was appointed “Keeper of the Lord’s Storehouse” and on April 8, 1838, became Assistant Church Historian. In 1838 he was also elected as a state representative for Caldwell County.

Corrill first voiced his opposition to Joseph Smith in August 1838. On March 17, 1839, he was excommunicated. Later that year he published his short work, A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Commonly Called Mormons), in St. Louis. By 1840 Corrill was living in Quincy, Illinois. The date of his death is not known (Cook, Revelations,68-69, 134; and LDSBE, 1:241-42).