From Historian to Dissident
Bruce N. Westergren, editor

Chapter 19
Excommunication
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CHAPTER 19

[p.179]And it came to pass that E. Partridge, Isaac Morly, John Corrill, and W. W. Phelps left Kirtland to fill their mission in Mo. where they had left their families.

They arrived in Mo. in safety. But as soon as these men arrivd at home the Devil roared in this land and stired the old Jackson Co. Mob up to great anger, and the People in Clay Co. The afore mentioned brethren went in search of a place where the church could setle in peace and found a country North of Ray Co. that would answer the purpose, providing the few scaterd inhabitants that resided there were willing for the brethren to move there and enjoy their Religion and constitutional rights, as well as the Counties Round about.1

This move gave great uneasiness and the people of Clay Co. convened and some were determined to drive the brethren from the State others were opposed, and finnally we succeeded to get the consent of the people of Clay Co. and a majority of Ray to move into this <place> Now Caldwell Co.

Therefore [we] commenced setling this place Far West in [p.180]the summer of 1836. in august the first building was erected. Some dificulties arose in the land of Kirtland and dissensions took place which is to be feared will end in the misery of some precious souls.2

Some dificulties have taken place in this County Caldwell but are now all setled to the satisfaction of all parties as I believe[.]

T. B. Marsh & D. W. Patten have left for Kirtland Ohio, to fill a mission in there apostolic capasity.

In the fall of 1838 Joseph Smith Jr. [and] Sidney Rigdon came to Zion. On a visit—to prepare a place for them selves and families.

The situation of the Church both here and in Kirtland is in an unpleasant situation in consequence of the reorganization of its authorities, which was not satisfactory to all concerned. And has terminated in the expulsion of some members, as also some temporal movements have nor proved satisfactory to all parties [and] has also terminated in the expulsion of <many> members,3 among whom is W. W. Phelps and myself. Therefore I close this history of the church of Latter Day Saints, Hoping that I may be for given of my faults, and my sins be bloted out and in the last day be saved in the kingdom of God notwithstanding my present situation, which I hope will soon be bettered and I find favor in the eyes of God and <All men> his saints Farewell March. 1848.4

Notes:

1. See Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987).

2. Whitmer here refers to the collapse of the Kirtland Anti-Banking Safety Society and resulting apostasy.

[p.181]3. For this tumultuous time in Mormon history, see Backman, Heavens, 310-29; and Marvin S. Hill, C. Keith Rooker, and Larry T. Wimmer, “The Kirtland Economy Revisited: A Market Critique of Sectarian Economics,” Brigham Young University Studies 17 [Summer 1977]: 391-472.

4. This last was probably written about the time that the Saints in Missouri had rejected W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, and David Whitmer as presidents of the Church in Zion and their subsequent excommunication on March 10, 1838 (see Far West Record, 121-25, 137-41, 145-50).

Until 1838 John Whitmer and his family continued to live among the Saints in Far West; however, his writing took on a distinctly anti-Mormon tone. After his family and a number of other “dissenters” were expelled from Far West, he kept up his history, largely by way of correspondence with people still in the church that he knew. These people have yet to be identified.