H. Michael Marquardt & Wesley P. Walters
Restoring the Church of Christ
[p.153]By 26 March 1830 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon had been printed. Baptisms had been performed in May and June 1829, but no formal ecclesiastical organization had yet occurred.1 In late March Joseph Knight drove Joseph Smith from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to the home of his father and brother Hyrum in Manchester. Knight later recalled that on the way Smith talked about anticipated success in selling the books and about organizing a church:
Now in the Spring of 1830 I went with my Team and took Joseph out to Manchester to his Father. When we was on our way he told me that there must be a Church formed But did not tell when. Now when we got near to his fathers we saw a man some Eighty Rods Before us run acros[s] the street with a Bundle in his hand. “There,” says Joseph, “there is Martin going a Cros[s] the road with some thing in his hand.” Says I, “how Could you know him so far?” Says he, “I Believe it is him,” and when we Came up it was Martin with a Bunch of morman Books. He Came to us and after Compliments he says, “The Books will not sell for no Body wants them.” Joseph says, “I think they will sell well.” Says he [Martin], “I want a Commandment.” “Why,” says Joseph, “fulfill what you have got.” “But,” says he, “I must have a Commandment.” Joseph put him off. But he insisted three or four times he must have a Commandment… . In the morning he got up and said he must have a Commandment to Joseph and went home. And along in the after part of the Day Joseph and Oliver Received a Commandment.2
[p.154]The title of the revelation as printed stated: “A commandment of God and not of man to you, Martin, given (Manchester, New-York, March, 1830,) by him who is eternal.”3 Knight stayed at the Smiths’ residence a few days waiting for more copies of the Book of Mormon to be bound.
As Joseph Smith had predicted to Knight, the “Church of Christ” was organized very soon thereafter—on 6 April 1830. Traditional accounts locate this meeting at the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York. No minutes of the meeting have survived, but the earliest accounts and supporting evidence suggest the event occurred not at Fayette but in the Smiths’ log home in Manchester.
The Book of Commandments, published in 1833, contained a collection of six revelations dated 6 April 1830, given to six people who attended the organizational meeting: Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Joseph Smith, Sr., Joseph Knight, and Joseph Smith himself. These revelations were received, according to their headings, at Manchester. A round trip between Manchester and Fayette being fifty miles, it is unlikely the same six men could have attended an organizational meeting in Fayette on the same day. The revelations were first arranged and copied by Joseph Smith with the assistance of John Whitmer in July 1830 at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and later became chapters 2-27 of the Book of Commandments. On 20 July 1833 the press printing the revelations in book form was destroyed, but several of the yet-to-be-completed Book of Commandments were put together and used by early ministers of the church.4
In addition, all references in The Evening and the Morning Star before 1834 refer to the township of Manchester as the location of the church’s organization.5 For example, the following account of church origins appeared in April 1833:
Soon after the book of Mormon came forth, containing the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the church was organized on the sixth of April, in Manchester; soon after, a branch was established in Fayette, and the June following, another in Colesville, New York. We shall not give, at this time, the particulars attending the organization of these branches of the church… . Twenty more [people] were added to the church in Manchester and Fayette, in the month of April; and on the 28th of June, thirteen were baptized in Coles-[p.155]ville… . In October, (1830) the number of disciples had increased to between seventy and eighty.6
As we have seen in previous chapters, the Smith house had become the center for many of the events associated with Joseph Smith’s emerging religious vocation until the Smiths moved to Waterloo, New York, in the fall of 1830. William Smith remembered the organizational meeting being in Manchester.7 Joseph Knight was staying with the Smiths when the church was organized. A neighbor and friend of the family, Benjamin Saunders, who recorded that the “<Smiths> held meetings at their house,” was present at the baptisms and probably would not have gone out of his way to travel to Fayette for the occasion.8
Early references refer to six founding members.9 As to the identity of the six members present at the foundational meeting, two early lists made in 1842-43 exist. It is possible there may have been no actual roll call made at the time and the names on the lists have slight variations. Brigham Young writing in 1843 identifies “The names of thouse [sic] present at the organization” on 6 April 1830 as Joseph Smith Sr., Orrin Rockwell, Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, and Oliver Cowdery.10 Jonathan Turner’s Mormonism in All Ages, published in 1842, list is essentially the same as Young’s except that Joseph Knight is mentioned rather than Orrin Rockwell.11 By Knight’s account, we know he was there, but he did not receive baptism on this day. The names mentioned in Joseph Smith’s manuscript history of the church included Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, Sr., Lucy Smith, Martin Harris, and a member of the Rockwell family, Sarah Rockwell. It is unlikely that Lucy Smith or Sarah Rockwell would be counted as one of the original six though they were present. More likely, the six original members were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Joseph Smith, Sr., and Martin Harris.12 Years later, around 1858, several other lists were compiled reporting those baptized in May-June 1829 or having been present at the 6 April meeting.13
The revelation received by Joseph Smith during the founding organizational meeting itself (printed as chap. 22) was headed “A Revelation to Joseph, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, [p.156] 1830.”14 The location was changed in later editions to Fayette. Hyrum Smith was told:
A revelation to Hyrum, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830. Behold I speak unto you, Hyrum, a few words: For thou also art under no condemnation, and thy heart is opened, and thy tongue loosed; And thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church continually. Wherefore thy duty is unto the church forever; and this because of thy family. Amen.15
Circumstantial evidence places Hyrum Smith in the Palmyra-Manchester vicinity. He signed a note to Levi Daggett of Palmyra on 7 April.16 Others receiving revelations in Manchester the same day included Oliver Cowdery, Samuel Harrison Smith, and Joseph Smith, Sr. Unlike the others’, Joseph Knight’s revelation exhorted him to “unite with the true church.” He later wrote, “But I should a felt Better if I had a gone forward. But I went home and was Babtised in June with my wife and familey.”17
Knight later recalled details regarding the exhortations and instructions which were part of the activities: “On the sixth Day of April 1830 he Begun the Church with six members and received the following Revelation, Book of Covenants [1835 ed.] Page 177. They all kneeld down and prayed and Joseph gave them instructions how to B[u]ild up the Church and ex[h]orted them to Be faithful in all things for this is the work of God.”18 The revelation to Smith instructed him to proceed with the first ordinations.19 He ordained Oliver Cowdery an elder, and Cowdery ordained Smith a seer, translator, prophet, apostle, and first elder in the Church of Christ. Cowdery became known as the second elder. Joseph Smith’s ordination as prophet and seer was the highlight ordinance on the day of the church’s organization. William E. McLellin, who visited Oliver Cowdery in July 1847, wrote: “While I was on a visit with O. Cowdery, during the past summer, I asked him, to what did you ordain Joseph on the 6th of April, 1830? He answered, I ordained him to be a Prophet, Seer, &c., just as the revelation says.”20
It was within this context that the 6 April revelation gave directions to members of the new church regarding its preeminent leader: “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his [p.157][Joseph’s] words, and commandments, which he shall give unto you, as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me: For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”21 Members were promised that if they obeyed, the gates of hell would not prevail against them, God would disperse the powers of darkness before them, and he would shake the heavens for their good.
At least four people seem to have been baptized as part of the activities surrounding the organization. Knight describes two of the four baptisms, the baptisms of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Martin Harris:
I had Be[e]n there several Days. Old Mr. Smith and Martin Harris Come forrod [forward] to Be Babtise[d] for the first. They found a place in a lot a small Stream ran thro and they ware Baptized in the Evening Because of persecution. They went forward and was Babtized Being the first I saw Babtized in the new and everlasting Covenant… . There was one thing I will mention that evening that old Brother Smith and Martin Harris was Babtised. Joseph was fil[le]d with the Spirrit to a grate Degree to see his Father and Mr. Harris that he had Bin [been] with so much he Bast [burst] out with greaf and Joy and seamed as tho the world Could not hold him. He went out into the Lot and appear[e]d to want to git out of site of every Body and would sob and Crie and seamed to Be so full that he could not live. Oliver and I went after him and Came to him and after a while he Came in. But he was the most wrot upon that I ever saw any man. But his joy seemed to Be full.22
Lucy Smith’s narrative is similar:
In the spring Joseph came up <and preached to us> after <Oliver got throu[g]h> with the Book. <[My] Husband and> Martin H[a]rris was ba[p]tized. Joseph stood on the shore when his father came out of the water and as he took him by the hand, he cried out, Oh! my God I have lived to see my father baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ and <he> covered his face <in his father’s bosom and wept aloud for joy as did> Joseph of old when he beheld his father coming up into the land of Egypt, this took pla<ace> on the sixth of April 1830, the d[a]y on which the church was organized.23
[p.158]Lucy does not mention her own baptism. But a neighbor, Cornelius R. Stafford, recalled that as a young man he “saw old Jo Smith, his wife and Mrs. [Sarah W.] Rockwell baptized by prophet Jo Smith.”24
Benjamin Saunders also remembered that the “<Smiths> held meetings at their house. I was there when they first baptized. Oliver Cowdery did the baptizing. Old brother <Smith> was baptized at that time and I think old Mrs. Rockwell.”25 Martin Harris years later recalled that he was not baptized “untill the church Was organised by Joseph Smith the Prophet then I Was Babtised by the Hands of Oliver Cowdery.”26
The place of these baptisms was no doubt Crooked Brook (now Hathaway Creek), a stream in the northwest corner of the township of Manchester. Crooked Brook ran north past the Smith residence toward Palmyra. Joseph Knight described it as a “small Stream,” which it still is.27 According to a later newspaper account, the stream,
not more than si[x]ty feet from the highway, is the first Mormon Jordan, a little creek which the Smith boys dammed at Joe’s request and made a pool in which the first converts to Mormonism were baptized. It is a sing[i]n[g] meandering little brooklet about ten or fifte[e]n feet wide, with two or three feet of water standing in pools in the bends of the stream, but ordinarily the water is but a few inches deep.28
A history of Ontario County describes the stream in terms congruent with the accounts of those who claimed to be present at the church’s organization: “Crooked brook, of Mormon fame, runs through the northwest part of the town[ship of Manchester], and it was in the waters of this stream that the Mormons baptized their early saints. Dr. [John] Stafford, an old resident of the village of Manchester, was present at the first baptism.”29 John Stafford, oldest son of William, “knew the Smith family well, and was present at the first baptism, when old Granny Smith and Sally Rockwell” were baptized.30 The Stafford and Rockwell families were residents of the township of Manchester and lived within a mile of the Smith home.31
In 1839, when Joseph Smith, with the help of scribe James Mulholland, compiled the opening portion of his history, he was more vague about chronology but seemed to confirm the other [p.159]accounts: “Several persons who had attended the above meeting [6 April 1830] and got convinced of the truth, came forward shortly after, and were received into the church, among the rest, my own father and mother were baptized to my great joy and consolation, and about the same time Martin Harris and A. [sic] Rockwell.”32 James Mulholland wrote at the bottom of what would be pages nine and ten of the 1839 draft: “Father Smith, Martin Harris baptized this evening 6th April. Mother Smith & Sister Rockwell 2 or 3 days afterward.”33 On the next page was recorded: “Several persons who attended this meeting, but who had <not> as yet been baptized, came forward shortly after… . Among the rest Father Smith, Martin Harris, Mother Smith.”34 The manuscript version behind the Times and Seasons edition added to the last phrase, “among the rest My own Father and Mother were baptized to my great joy and consolation, and about the same time, Martin Harris and a [blank] Rockwell.”35 Later the name “Orrin Porter” was mistakenly added in the blank space by someone other than James Mulholland.
Joseph Smith’s 1839 history was not the first account to change the place of the church organization to Fayette, twenty-five miles away. The May 1834 edition of The Evening and the Morning Star contains probably the earliest error in the heading of the “MINUTES of a Conference of the Elders of the church of Christ, which church was organized in the township of Fayette, Seneca county, New-York, on the 6th of April, A.D. 1830.” This conference of elders was held on 3 May 1834. Also, in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants the texts of five of the six revelations received on 6 April 1830 and originally published in the 1833 Book of Commandments were amalgamated into a single revelation and the references to the location were deleted.36
Not all official accounts after 1834 reflected the error in location. In 1840 Orson Pratt prepared the pamphlet Remarkable Visions in which he stated that the church was organized in Manchester. In 1842 Smith used Pratt’s pamphlet for wording in a letter to John Wentworth. As published in the Times and Seasons, Smith’s letter read: “On the 6th of April, 1830, the `Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,’ was first organized in the town of Manchester, Ontario co., state of New York.”37 In 1844 this letter was used as a source for a [p.160]history published by Daniel Rupp.38 However, in 1848 the Manchester reference in Pratt’s pamphlet Remarkable Visions was changed to Fayette to agree with Smith’s history.39 Nearly thirty years later, in 1876, the LDS Doctrine and Covenants included Fayette as the site of the church’s founding, thereby canonizing the error.40
It is difficult to support the argument that the early references to Manchester may have been mistaken and that on 6 April the church was in fact organized at Fayette. The question becomes, then, why the confusion and contradictions about the location. Joseph Smith’s history betrays other anachronisms and conflations. After gathering “at the house of the above mentioned Mr [Peter] Whitmer,” Sr., Smith recalls: “I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery and ordained him an Elder of the `Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.'” In fact the official name of the church in 1830 was the Church of Christ. The name was changed to the Church of the Latter Day Saints in 1834 and finally to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1838.41
Memory often conflates events which were once separate and distinct. Events which occurred within days of the 6 April meeting at Manchester, events which demonstrably occurred at the Whitmer house in Fayette, might have assumed greater importance in Smith’s mind over time. In Fayette there was an increase in the number of baptisms, the Articles and Covenants of the new church were written and accepted, licenses for lay ministers to preach were issued, and the first three churchwide conferences were convened.
One of the revelations given on 6 April 1830, a Tuesday, designated Oliver Cowdery to be “the first preacher of this church.”42 On 11 April, the first Sunday after the organization of the church, Cowdery delivered “the first public discourse,” the Fayette branch of the church was organized, and Cowdery performed six baptisms. A week later, on 18 April, another baptismal service was held at Fayette, where Cowdery performed seven baptisms in Seneca Lake.43 The manuscript history lists no one baptized at Fayette who lived in the Manchester/Palmyra area.
The next meeting was the first conference of the church, which convened on 9 June. For the first time the Manchester and Fayette branches came together. A copy of the minutes reads: “Minutes of [p.161]the first Conference held in the Township of Fayette, Seneca County, State of New York.”44 Smith read “The Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ.” They were “received by unanimous voice of the whole congregation.”45 The Articles and Covenants were then submitted as a confession of faith, members agreeing that the statement reflected their beliefs, including the callings of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, the Book of Mormon, and what were to be the teachings and practices of the infant church.
At the Fayette conference prospective members from Manchester township were baptized. They were Jerusha Smith (Hyrum Smith’s wife), Katherine Smith, William Smith, Don Carlos Smith, Porter Rockwell, Caroline Rockwell, and Electa Rockwell (children of Sarah W. Rockwell).46 These are the first baptisms of Manchester residents which can be documented as occurring in Fayette.
At the end of June, Smith and Cowdery were at Colesville, New York, to set up the church there. In the midst of opposition, Cowdery performed thirteen or fourteen baptisms and established the Colesville branch on Monday, 28 June 1830. Among those baptized were Joseph’s wife Emma and Joseph and Polly Knight.47
Some historians have looked to David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, to substantiate the claim that the church was founded in Fayette, since he claimed to have been present at the meeting held on 6 April.48 However, a closer look makes clear that the events Whitmer describes in Fayette parallel most closely events associated with meetings after the organization of the church. In 1887 Whitmer wrote:
Now, when April 6, 1830, had come, we had then established three branches of the “Church of Christ,” in which three branches were about seventy members: One branch was at Fayette, N.Y.; one at Manchester, N.Y., and one at Colesville, Pa. [New York] It is all a mistake about the church being organized on April 6, 1830, as I will show. We were as fully organized—spiritually—before April 6th as we were on that day. The reason why we met on that day was this; the world had been telling us that we were not a regularly organized church, and we had no right to officiate in the ordinance of marriage, hold church property, etc., and that we should organize according to the laws of the land. On this account we met at my [p.162]father’s house in Fayette, N.Y., on April 6, 1830, to attend to this matter of organizing according to the laws of the land… . Now brethren, how can it be that the church was any more organized–spiritually–on April 6th, than it was before that time? There were six elders and about seventy members before April 6th, and the same number of elders and members after that day.49
Whitmer’s statement contains errors. He claims there were seventy members in three branches of the church by 6 April 1830. However, the “Far West Record” has the number at the time of the first conference two months later, 9 June 1830, as only twenty-seven.50 Whitmer says there were three branches by 6 April, but the Fayette branch was not founded until 11 April and the Colesville branch not until the latter part of June.
Whitmer states that there were six elders. The only time there were six elders was after the founding of the Fayette branch. Two of these were Smith and Cowdery, who ordained each other at Manchester on 6 April, and the other four–Peter Whitmer, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson–all from Fayette, were evidently ordained in April and received their licenses at the June conference, where Samuel H. Smith became the seventh elder of the church.51
Edward Stevenson recorded an interview with Whitmer in January 1887 in which Whitmer told him, “on the 6th of April 1830, 6 Elders were at Peter Whitmers, David’s Fathers. 2 Rooms were filled with members about 20 from Colesville, 15 from Manchester Church and about 20 from aro[u]nd about Father Whitmers. About 50 members & the 6 elders were presant.”52 The earliest possible date when the Colesville church could have been represented at Fayette would have been the second conference in September.
Another indication that Whitmer was recalling a latter meeting is that J. W. Chatburn, who visited the Whitmers in the early 1880s, recorded that Whitmer “said that he baptized fourteen in Seneca Lake, a few days before the Church was organized. I asked his wife [Julia Anne Jolly Whitmer] if she was present when the Church was organized on April 6th, 1830. She replied, Yes; and was a baptized member at that time.”53 The history of the church lists eleven people baptized on 9 June by Whitmer, including his future wife Julia Jolly.54
Whitmer also declares that the organizational meeting was for [p.163]legal purposes so the church could hold property and officiate in marriages. The cover of the Book of Commandments agrees that the Church of Christ was “Organized According to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830.” However well-intentioned this event was, no records of incorporation have been found in the Fayette or Manchester/Palmyra area for 6 April 1830 or any other date.55 Ultimately, the meeting was more spiritual than legalistic.
A state law at the time specified how a church was to incorporate. The minister of a group was to post public notice of time and date for a meeting of the male members to elect trustees. The congregation had to be notified “at least fifteen days before the day of election,” and the notification was to be given for “two successive sabbaths or days on which such church, congregation or society, shall statedly meet for public worship” before the day of election.56
The Presbyterian congregation of West Bloomfield in Ontario County followed these specifications precisely: “Whereas at a meeting of the male members of the Presbyterian Congregation of West Bloomfield in the town of Bloomfield county of Ontario and state of New York convened agreeable to publick notice as directed by the statute in such cases made and provided at the Meeting House of said Congregation on the 31st day of May 1830.”57 Similar incorporations can be found in the Miscellaneous Records books of Wayne and Seneca counties.58
Joseph Smith was at neither Manchester nor Fayette long enough to give legal notice to incorporate. When he and Joseph Knight were on their way to Manchester, Knight says Smith told him “there must be a Church formed But did not tell when.” This was at the most twelve days before 6 April. Knight was still at Manchester when the baptisms occurred and Smith “Begun the Church with six members.”59 Smith and Knight were not in Fayette at the end of March. David Marks, a Free-will Baptist evangelist, on 29 March 1830 “attended a meeting in Fayette, and tarried at the house of Mr. Whitmer.” He saw two or three of Whitmer’s sons, but Smith was not there.60
One early document states that the church was “regularly organized & established agreeable to the laws of our Country by the will & commandments of God.” There are other early church licenses with [p.164]similar wording.61 This language might mean that the church was organized according to the freedom of religion clause amended to the United States Constitution in 1791. People were free to organize as a voluntary unincorporated religious society or church with no trustees. This is evidently what occurred on 6 April 1830. There were no known marriages performed in New York by ministers of the new church, no property that belonged to the church, and thus no compelling reason to organize according to the laws of New York state.
Certainly inaccuracies in both individual and community memory might account for the shift of the place of the church’s organization from Manchester to Fayette. However, another intriguing possibility exists. The change in location may not have been inadvertent but part of a larger strategy for coping with the economic strains which plagued the church through the early years of its existence. As we have seen, what is probably the earliest reference to Fayette as the location of the 6 April events appears in a heading in The Evening and Morning Star to the minutes of a conference held in Kirtland, Ohio, on 3 May 1834. This conference was attended by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, and Newel K. Whitney, all leading elders of the church and members of the Kirtland United Firm. The minutes of that meeting report that it was decided that the church should be known by the name “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.”62 Perhaps after this conference the “Church of Christ” founded in Manchester, New York, became “The Church of the Latter Day Saints” founded in Fayette.
In the Book of Mormon, the simple title “Church of Christ” identifies the church as Jesus Christ’s.63 In 1829 Oliver Cowdery produced a document stating that the “Church shall be called The Church of Christ,” and although other Christian churches before 1829 were similarly named, this name was confirmed in a revelation given on the day of its organization.64
Before the change in name, church leaders were concerned about obtaining donations to pay off the debts of the United Firm, to commence work on the Kirtland temple, and to provide funds for the forthcoming march of Zion’s Camp to Missouri. In a letter from Kirtland on 5 December 1833, Smith wrote, “our means are already exhausted, and we are deeply in debt, and know of no means whereby [p.165]we shall be able to extricate ourselves.”65 On 11 January 1834 Smith and his associates prayed “That the Lord would provide, in the order of his Providence, the bishop of this Church with means sufficient to discharge every debt that the Firm owes, in due season, that the Church may not be braught into disrepute, and the saints be afflicted by the hands of their enemies.”66 Less than a month before the name and place changes, the United Firm was dissolved and separated into two firms, one in Missouri and one in Kirtland. Members of the firm in Kirtland were instructed to divide the properties among themselves.67 Additionally on 5 May the land designated for the Kirtland temple was transferred to Smith and his successor in the office of the presidency of the church.68 By 1835 the identities of United Firm members were obscured by pseudonyms.69 In a revelation received by Smith on 23 April 1834, shortly before the name and location changes, he was instructed: “Therefore, write speedily unto New York, and write according to that which shall be directed by my spirit, and I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, that it shall be taken away out of <their> minds to bring affiliations upon you.”70
All of these actions may well have been part of a larger attempt to frustrate church creditors or to avoid lawsuits. Unfortunately, there are no known letters extant written by Smith between 23 April and 5 May 1834, when he left Kirtland for Missouri. The evidence is too sketchy to reach a decisive conclusion, but this is an area of research worth pursuing and suggests a plausible motive for changing the church’s name and relocating its place of organization to Fayette.
The Fayette location was unheard of until 1834. However, Fayette was important as the site of the first three church conferences, and the log home and farm of Peter Whitmer, Sr., should retain a fundamental historical and sentimental position in Smith’s Church of Christ.
Why should we be concerned about accuracy in these details? LDS church educator T. Edgar Lyon once remarked, “[W]hy should Latter-day Saints concern themselves with authentic history? What difference does it make to the tourist if he is told fact or fiction? Personally, I do not appreciate being victimized by someone who, while posing as an authority, disseminates error, however trivial it may seem.”71
2. Dean C. Jessee, ed., “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” Brigham Young University Studies 17 (Autumn 1976): 36-37. Minimal punctuation and editing has been added to clarify the account.
7. William Smith, William Smith on Mormonism (Lamoni, IA: Herald Steam Book and Job Office, 1883), 14. Although William seems to be incorrect in some of his recollections, he mentions that his family “went to my brother Hyrum’s house” in 1829 and that “It was in this house that the first conference [sic] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [sic] was held, on the 6th day of April, 1830, at which I was present.”
13. See Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, typescript, 1833-98, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983-85), 5:239-40, 18 Nov. 1858, original in LDS archives; copy of a statement dated 11 Aug. 1862 in Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1, between pages 36 and 37, LDS archives; see also History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1959), 1:76n, hereafter History of the Church; Diary of Edward Stevenson, 22 Dec. 1877 and 2 Jan. 1887, LDS archives; [p.167]Lyndon W. Cook, ed., David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness (Orem, UT: Grandin Book Co., 1991), 11, 214; Ensign 10 (June 1980): 44-45 and (Oct. 1980): 71.
16. Nathan Pierce Docket Book, 1827-30, 8 June 1830, facing page 77, located at Manchester Town Office; copy in our possession. See Richard L. Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised,” Brigham Young University Studies 10 (Spring 1970): 292-93.
18. Ibid. The revelation sec. 46 in the 1835 D&C; LDS D&C 21; RLDS D&C 19. When published in the 1835 D&C, this document did not indicate where it was received. In BC 22 the heading stated: “A Revelation to Joseph, given in Manchester, New-York, April 6, 1830” (45). The Manuscript History written in 1839 changes this for the first time to “Given at Fayette” (Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:303).
23. Lucy Mack Smith, Preliminary Manuscript (MS), “History of Lucy Smith,” 122, LDS archives (page numbering corresponds with a typed transcript in LDS archives and with the page numbers in the photocopy of the manuscript); Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool: Published for Orson Pratt by S.W. Richards, 1853), 151; Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith By His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958), 168). The 1853 edition of Lucy’s book, but not the Preliminary MS, reads: “On the morning of the sixth day of the same month, my husband and Martin Harris were baptized.” Richard L. Bushman commented, “Lucy Smith said the baptism occurred in the morning, but Joseph Knight and Joseph Smith, Jr., placed it after the organizational meeting” (Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984], 237n4).
24. Statement by C. R. Stafford in Naked Truths About Mormonism 1 (Jan. 1888): 3, original publication in the Yale University Library. Mrs. Rockwell was forty-four years old. Her daughter Caroline (b. 1 May 1812 and baptized 9 June 1830) said, “My mother was one of the first Mormon converts” (Naked Truths About Mormonism 1 [Apr. 1888]: 1).
28. New York Herald, 25 June 1893. A photograph of Crooked Brook was taken by George Edward Anderson in 1907, see Birth of Mormonism in Picture (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union, [ca. 1909]), 61; Ensign 8 (Nov. 1978): 53; and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and T. Jeffery Cottle, Old Mormon Palmyra and New England: Historic Photographs and Guide (Santa Ana, CA: Fieldbrook Publications, 1991), 112.
36. See Preliminary Draft to History, 1839, and Manuscript History A-1: 37, in Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:241-42, 302-303. See also BC 17-22; 1835 D&C 45-46; LDS D&C 21, 23; RLDS D&C 19, 21. For early references to the church being organized at Fayette, see Stanley R. Gunn, Oliver Cowdery Second Elder and Scribe (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962), 267, deed made on 5 May 1834; Nancy Clement Williams, After One Hundred Years (Independence, MO: Zion’s Printing and Publishing Co., 1951), 228-30, deed of 5 May 1834; Deeds in Geauga Deed Records, Book 24:100, Geauga County, Ohio, microfilm #0020240, LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City; see also Book 18:477-81, microfilm #0020237. For various writings that follow the decision of May 1834, that the Whitmer residence was the location of the church organization, see Richard L. Anderson, “The House Where the Church was Organized,” Improvement Era 73 (Apr. 1970): 16-25; Doyle L. Green, “April 6, 1830: The Day the Church was Organized,” Ensign 1 (Jan. 1971): 39-56; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981), 43; John K. Carmack, “Fayette: The Place the Church was Organized,” Ensign 19 (Feb. 1989): 15-19; Vivian Paulsen, “A Day Chosen by the Lord,” The Friend 19 (Aug. 1989): 40-41; Church History in the Fulness of Times [Religion 341-43], (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, l989), 67; Howard W. Hunter, “The Sixth Day of April, 1830,” Ensign 21 (May 1991): 63-65; John K. Carmack, “Organization of the Church, 1830,” [p.169]Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism: The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992), 1,049-50, see also 262, 505, 593, 603, 1,219, 1,335, 1,652); and Larry C. Porter, “Organizational Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ, 6 April 1830,” in Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: New York (Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1992), 149-64. G. Homer Durham explained, “Even Church records are not infallible” (“Why Study History?” Ensign 8 [Sept. 1978]: 59).
38. I Daniel Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia. An Original History of the Religious Denominations at Present Existing in the United States (Philadelphia: Published by J. Y. Humphreys, 1844), 407. See History of the Church, 6:428.
39. O[rson]. Pratt, Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records (Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), 24. The change was made in one of the 1848 printings. The First Presidency of the LDS church has followed this tradition. Two examples are: (1) “On the sixth day of April, one hundred years ago today, Joseph Smith, with five others who had accepted the message of the restored Gospel, met at the home of Peter Whitmer, Sr., at Fayette, Seneca County, New York. The sacrament of bread and wine was administered and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized” (Centennial Message of the First Presidency, 6 Apr. 1930, in James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971], 5:283; also in David M. and Vonda S. Reay, Selected Manifestations [Oakland, CA: Comps., 1985], 227). (2) “On April 6, 1830, a small group assembled in the farmhouse of Peter Whitmer, in Fayette Township, in the state of New York. Six men participated in the formal organization procedures, with Joseph Smith as their leader” (Sesquicentennial Proclamation by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 Apr. 1980, in Selected Manifestations, 310).
44. Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844 (Salt Lake [p.170]City: Deseret Book, 1983), 1-2. Manuscript History A-1: 41, has the date of the conference as 1 June; see Times and Seasons 4 (1 Dec. 1842): 22; “Newel Knight’s Journal,” in Scraps of Biography (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1883), 52; and History of the Church, 1:84 and note.
46. Manuscript History A-1: 42; Times and Seasons 4 (1 Dec. 1842): 23, spelling of Jerusha as “Jerushee” as in the manuscript. The name Porter Rockwell was written in the 1839 draft history. See Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:246, 250. The manuscript history has the reading “Peter” Rockwell. This is a scribal error made by James Mulholland when copying from his draft history and should read Porter. See Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1: 309. William Smith correctly list Porter Rockwell as being baptized on 9 June 1830. See William Smith on Mormonism, 16.
Orrin Porter Rockwell was sixteen years old at the time of his baptism. In the 1820 Farmington and 1830 Manchester census records there is only one member of the Orin and Sarah Rockwell family in the age bracket of their son Porter. Consequently there is no “Peter” Rockwell who could have been baptized.
47. The Evening and the Morning Star 1 (Apr. 1833): 4 [p. 84]; Manuscript History A-1: 43; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:311. “H. P. [Hezekiah Peck] and wife have been baptized, & are very strong in the faith” (Letter to the Editor, Brattleboro’ Messenger 9 [20 Nov. 1830]).
50. Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 3. The minutes state: “No. of the several members uniting to this Church since the last Conference, thirty-five, making in whole now belonging to this Church sixty-two.” These minutes were copied from the original in 1838.
54. Manuscript History A-1: 42; Papers of Joseph Smith, 1: 309. The names of Julia Anne Jolly and Harriet Jolly were omitted when the history was published in 1842. See Times and Seasons 4 (1 Dec. 1842): 23. The history mentions that Whitmer performed a baptism in May 1830.
55. We have searched the records in the counties of Seneca, Ontario, and Wayne and have found no record of incorporation of the Church of [p.171]Christ on 6 April 1830 or any other date. Correspondence from the Department of State, State of New York, Albany, 6 Oct. 1986 and 23 Feb. 1987 to H. Michael Marquardt; research trip to New York in October 1986.
Further research indicates that there are no state records regarding incorporation of the Church of Christ, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state of New York. See Larry C. Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816-1831,” Ph.D. diss., Aug. 1971, Brigham Young University, 374-86; Ensign 8 (Dec. 1978): 26-27, also published in A Sure Foundation: Answers to Difficult Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 196-99; and John K. Carmack in Ensign 19 (Feb. 1989): 16-17.
56. Laws of the State of New-York, Revised and Passed at the Thirty-Sixth Session of the Legislature (Albany: H. C. Southwick & Co., 1813), 2:214. For acts to amend “an act to provide for the incorporation of religious societies,” passed 5 April 1813, see Laws of the State of New-York…(Albany: J. Buel, 1819), 34, and Laws of the State of New-York… (Albany: E. Croswell, 1826), 34-35.
58. See the incorporation of the First Baptist Church of Lodi, recorded 24 Nov. 1830, Miscellaneous Records Seneca County Book B:426-27, Seneca County Clerk’s Office, Waterloo, New York; and of the First Congregational Society in Marion, signed 16 Mar. 1829; filed 28 Mar. 1829, Miscellaneous Docket 1:45, Lyons, Wayne County, New York.
60. The Life of David Marks (Limerick, ME: Printed at the Office of the Morning Star, 1831), 340-41. Marks wrote concerning selling the Book of Mormon, “Five thousand copies were published—and they said the angel told Smith to sell the book at a price which was one dollar and eight cents per copy more than the cost, that they `might have the temporal profit, as well as the spiritual'” (341, emphasis in original). In an 1830 account, published shortly after his visit in March, he stated, “we went to Fayette & held one meeting” (Morning Star, Limerick, ME, 4 (28 Apr. 1830): 1).
61. MS Articles & Covenants, Zebedee Coltrin journal, LDS archives; cf. BC 24:2; LDS D&C 20:2; RLDS D&C 17:19. Some of the early preaching licenses had wording such as the following: “this Church of Christ established & regularly organized” (license of John Whitmer, given 9 June 1830, original in the Coe Collection, Yale University Library; and the priest license for [p.172]Joseph Smith, Sr., also given 9 June 1830, in the Joseph Smith Collection, LDS archives).
64. “A commandment from God unto Oliver,” LDS archives; BC 22:14; LDS D&C 21:11; RLDS D&C 19:3b. For various arguments favoring the name change, see Oliver Cowdery, The Evening and the Morning Star 2 (May 1834): 158-59; 2 (June 1834): 164-65; Letter of John Smith to Elias Smith, 19 Oct. 1834, George Albert Smith Family Papers, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Thomas B. Marsh to Wilford Woodruff, Elders’ Journal 1 (July 1838): 37.
67. “Kirtland Revelations” Book, 102-105, LDS archives; LDS D&C 104:19-59; RLDS D&C 101:3-10. See also “Kirtland Revelations” Book, 111, revelation dated Kirtland, 28 Apr. 1834; Joseph Smith’s diary, 10 Apr. 1834, 71-72, also in Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:29.
68. See, for example, the deed recorded in Geauga Deed Records, Book 18:478-79, Geauga County, Ohio; microfilm #0020237, LDS Family History Library. For some additional information on the Kirtland temple property, see Restoration Studies IV (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1988), 122n52.