Inventing MormonismInventing Mormonism
Tradition and the Historical Record
by H. Michael Marquardt & Wesley P. Walters

on the cover:
For more than 150 years the story of Mormon origins has been rewritten to a point where only fragments remain of the original. This book restores much of the human drama and detail.

Moving from village to village, the Joseph Smith, Sr., family lived in constant poverty. When in 1825 Joseph Smith, Sr., a cooper, defaulted on the family’s final mortgage payment, he and nineteen-year-old son Joseph Jr. traveled 100 miles south to Pennsylvania to join a band of money diggers on a desperate hunt for buried Spanish treasure.

Following this ill-fated quest, father and son returned near penniless to New York to face eviction. The family resettled in a small Manchester cabin where young Joseph later saw angels—not unlike his father and other contemporaries. Eventually Joseph Jr. found hieroglyph-inscribed sheets of gold which former money-digging associates repeatedly tried to steal.

During this turbulent time Joseph was brought to court three times for crystal gazing, eloped with a former landlord’s daughter, watched as his mother and siblings were excommunicated from the Presbyterian church, published his translation of the hieroglyphs, founded the Church of Christ, saw a potential convert forcibly abducted by her minister, and eventually sought refuge in Ohio where he changed the name of his church and its place of origin.

about the authors: H. Michael Marquardt is the author of The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney, The Book of Abraham Revisited, and editor of Joseph Smith’s Diaries. His essays have appeared in the Journal of Pastoral Practice, Restoration, and Sunstone. He and his wife Dorothy reside in Sandy, Utah, and are the parents of five children.

Wesley P. Walters was pastor of the Marissa Presbyterian church in Illinois until his death in 1990. He has been published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Journal of the Westminster Theological Society, and the Journal of Pastoral Practice. He was married to Helen Rambo: they are parents of five children.

title page:
Inventing Mormonism
Tradition and the Historical Record
H. Michael Marquardt & Wesley P. Walters
Smith Research Associates

copyright page:
∞Inventing Mormonism was printed on acid free paper meeting the permanence of paper requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences.
It was composed, printed, and bound in the United States.
©1994 by H. Michael Marquardt. All rights reserved.
Distributed by Signature Books, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Marquardt, H. Michael.
Inventing Mormonism: tradition and the historical record
/H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters. P. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844. 2. Mormon Church—Presidents—Biography. 3. Mormon Church—New York—History—19th Century. 4. Palmyra (N.Y.)—History—19th Century.
I. Walters, Wesley P. II. Title.
BX8695.S6M25 1993
289.3’092—dc20 93-13603

Preface [see below]
Prologue [see below]

 1. Joseph Smith Family Palmyra Area in 1829 [see below]
2. Joseph Smith’s New York State in 1829 [see below]

The Joseph Smith, Sr., Family
A Chronology of Mormon Origins

01 – The Move to Palmyra and Manchester, New York
02 – The Palmyra Revival
03 – Secular and Religious Background
04 – Manchester Scryer
05 – The Treasure
06 – Smith Family Activities
07 – Restoring the Church of Christ
08 – Expressions of Faith
09 – Conclusion

01 – Joseph Smith’s 1832 Account of His Early Life
02 – Interview of Martin Harris
03 – Memorandum of John H. Gilbert

01 – Smith Family Recollections
02 – The 1826 Examination
03 – Selected Bibliography


[p.vii]This book is the result of many years of research into the early history of the Joseph Smith family and the origins of the Mormon church. Our primary objective has been to find and present historical records, such as tax lists and censuses, and recollections of people living at the time and place where Mormonism began. We were interested not only in Mormonism specifically but also in the general social and intellectual climate of western New York during the 1820s. By evaluating the body of this documentary material as a whole we hope to bring new insights to the study of Mormon beginnings.

We follow original spelling as far as possible when quoting various sources, although in a few manuscripts we have supplied punctuation and capital letters to facilitate readability. Words in manuscripts that appear above the line are indicated by angled brackets < >. Crossed-out and repeated words are usually deleted. Page numbers for some newspapers are added where in the original there is no actual page number. Source notations and other comments are contained in the notes at the end of each chapter. References to Mormon scripture are usually provided in their standard abbreviations; thus BC refers to Book of Commandments, D&C to Doctrine and Covenants, PGP to Pearl of Great Price, etc.

Among the places where we conducted research are: the historical department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Salt Lake City, Utah; the library-archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), Independence, Missouri; J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Town Clerk’s Office, Palmyra, New York; Town Clerk’s Office, Manchester, New York; [p.viii]Town Clerk’s Office, Bainbridge, New York; Office of History, Norwich, New York; Ontario County Records Center and Archives, and Ontario County Historical Society, both in Canandaigua, New York; Wayne County Historical Society, Lyons, New York; Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana; Presbyterian Historical Society and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, both in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Princeton University Library, Princeton, New Jersey; American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts; Utah State Historical Society and LDS Family History Library, both in Salt Lake City, Utah. We express our appreciation to these repositories and their staffs. We also benefitted greatly from the many helpful suggestions of friends and readers.

On 9 November 1990 Wesley P. Walters passed away. Following his death, the final editing was completed with the help of his wife Helen. This book is dedicated to Wes’s memory.

H. M. M.


[p.ix]Mormonism is rooted in the life and activities of its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., much as Christianity is rooted in the life of Jesus. The story of Jesus was not written by Jesus himself but professes to be told by associates and eyewitnesses. Gospel writer Luke indicates the important role of witnesses in preserving oral tradition (Luke 1:1-4). Joseph Smith was also surrounded by witnesses and observers—family members, schoolmates, neighbors, friends, critics, local government officials, judges, constables. These accounts and records, sometimes brief and obscure, found in damp basements of courthouses, old archives, and crumbling books also provide evidence of his life and activities.

As early as 1831 John Whitmer, an early Mormon convert, was appointed to write and keep a history of the new church. In the fall of 1832 Joseph Smith and his close friend Frederick G. Williams worked on a brief history of the fledgling faith, but it was never completed and remained unpublished until the 1960s. In 1834-35 Oliver Cowdery, cofounder of the church, published a history in the form of a series of letters. Cowdery’s narrative, the first account published in a church periodical, appeared in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. These letters were later copied into Joseph Smith’s journal and considered part of his own history.

By 1838 both early chroniclers, Whitmer and Cowdery, were no longer in good standing with Smith. In April 1838 Smith and his counselor Sidney Rigdon wrote to Whitmer and asked him to return his record.1 When Whitmer refused, they wrote their own history: “Friday, April the 27th 1838 This day was chiefly spent writing a history of this Church from the earliest period of its existance [sic] up to this date, By Presidents Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, [and] myself [George W. Robinson, scribe].”2

The initial draft of this history was written during a four-day [p.x]period by George W. Robinson. In 1839 it was copied by James Mulholland, another of Smith’s scribes, into what is known today as the Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1. The A-1 book was revised before and after its first publication and is now considered to be Smith’s official narrative. It incorporates an account of Smith’s early religious calling and has served as the basis for virtually all later official and semi-official histories of the church.

The earliest part of this history was published in installments in the Mormon newspaper Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, Illinois, between March and May 1842.3 Later it was reprinted in The Latter Day Saints’ Millennial Star in England. In 1851 it was included in a pamphlet, The Pearl of Great Price. This was presented in revised form at a general conference of the church in Salt Lake City on 10 October 1880 and accepted as scripture. It has since been widely circulated and is regarded by Mormons as an important starting point in any investigation of the history of Mormonism.

We present the following extract from the Manuscript History written in 1839 by Mulholland before it was edited for publication as an essential introduction to our discussion. It is followed by a section of maps and a chronology.

Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil disposed and designing persons in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Latter day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a church, and its progress in the world; I have been induced to write this history so as to disabuse the publick mind, and put all enquirers after truth into possession of the facts as they have transpired in relation both to myself and the Church as far as I have such facts in [my] possession.

In this history I will present the various events in relation to this Church in truth and righteousness as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now the eighth year since the organization of said Church.

I was born in the year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and five, on the twenty third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, State of Vermont. My father Joseph Smith Senior left the State of Vermont and moved to Palmyra, Ontario, [p.xi](now Wayne) County, in the State of New York when I was in my tenth year.

In about four years after my father’s arrival at Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same County of Ontario. His family consisting of eleven souls, namely, My Father Joseph Smith, My Mother Lucy Smith whose name previous to her marriage was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack, My brothers Alvin (who is now dead), Hyrum, Myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carloss [Carlos], and my Sisters Soph[r]onia, Cath[e]rine and Lucy.

Sometime in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country, indeed the whole district of Country seemed affected by it and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division among the people, Some crying, “Lo here” and some Lo there. Some were contending for the Methodist faith, Some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist; for notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great Zeal manifested by the respective Clergy who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling in order to have everybody converted as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased, yet when the Converts began to file off some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the Priests and the Converts were more pretended than real, for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued; Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert so that all their good feelings one for another (if they ever had any) were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.

I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My Fathers family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith and four of them joined that Church, Namely, My Mother Lucy, My Brothers Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and my Sister Soph[r]onia.

During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness, but though my feelings were deep and often pungent, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties though I attended their several meetings as occasion would permit. But in [the] process of time my mind became somewhat [p.xii]partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them, but so great was the confusion and strife amongst the different denominations that it was impossible for a person young as I was and so unacquainted with men and things to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

My mind at different times was greatly excited the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason or sophistry to prove their errors, or at least to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally Zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.

In the midst of this war of words, and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, what is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? And if any one of them be right which is it? And how shall I know it?

While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, First Chapter and fifth verse which reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.[“] Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man that [than] this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did, for how to act I did not know and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had would never know, for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passage of Scripture so differently as <to> destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion or else I must do as James directs, that is, Ask of God. I at last came to the determination to ask of God, concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally and not upbraid, I might venture.

So in accordance with this my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful clear day early in the spring of Eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had <made> such an attempt, for amidst all <my> anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

[p.xiii]After I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was <seized> upon by some power which entirely overcame me and <had> such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an imaginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world who had such a marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being. Just at this moment of great alarm I saw a pillar <of> light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually untill it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of <them> spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my beloved Son, Hear him.” My object in going to enquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore did I get possession of myself so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that “they draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny the power thereof.” He again forbade me to join with any of them and many other things did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again I found myself lying on <my> back looking up into Heaven.

Some few days after I had this vision I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist Preachers who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement and conversing with [p.xiv]him on the subject of religion I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behaviour, he treated my communication not only lightly but with great contempt, saying it was all of the Devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days, that all such things had ceased with the apostles and that there never would be any more of them.

I soon found however that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion and was the cause of great persecution which continued to increase and though I was an obscure boy only between fourteen and fifteen years of age and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficiently to excite the public mind against me and create a hot persecution, and this was common <among> all the sects: all united to persecute me… . However it was nevertheless a fact, that I had had a vision… . I had actual[l]y seen a light and in the midst of that light I saw two personages, and they did in reality speak <un>to me, or one of them did, … for I had seen a vision, I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dare I do it, at least I knew that by so doing <I> would offend God and come under condemnation.

I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned, that it was not my duty to join any of them, but continue as I was untill further directed, I had found the testimony of James to be true, that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain and not be upbraided. I continued to pursue my common avocations in life untill the twenty first of September, One thousand Eight hundred and twenty three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hand of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious because I continued to affirm that I <had> seen a vision.

During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year Eighteen hundred and twenty three, (having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends, and to have treated me kindly and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavoured in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me) I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling <with> all kinds of society I frequently <fell> into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me [p.xv]into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God.

In consequence of these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when on the evening of the above mentioned twenty first of september, after I had retired to my bed for the night I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me that I might know of my state and standing before him. For I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation as I had previously had one.

While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in the room which continued to increase untill the room was lighter than at noonday <when> immediately a personage <appeared> at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond any<thing> earthly I had ever seen, nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedin[g]ly white and brilliant, His hands were naked and his arms also a little above the wrists. So also were his feet naked as were his legs a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me.

He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi.4 That God had a work for me to do, and that my <name> should be had for good and evil among all nations kindreds and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

He said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants. Also that there were two stones in silver bows and these (put into a breast plate) which constituted what is called the Urim & Thummim deposited with the plates, and [p.xvi]that was what constituted seers in ancient or former times and that God <had> prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.

After telling me these things he commenced quoting the prophecies of the old testament, he first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as reads in our books he quoted it thus, “For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud <yea> and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble, for <they> that cometh shall burn them saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”

And again he quoted the fifth verse thus, “Behold I will reveal unto you the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” He also quoted the next verse differently. “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers, if it were not so the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” In addition to these he quoted the Eleventh Chapter of Isaiah saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty second and twenty third verses precisely as they stand in our new testament. He said that that prophet was Christ, but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.

He also quoted the second chapter of Joel from the twenty eight to the last verse. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled but was soon to be. And he further stated the fullness of the gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here. Again he told me that when I got those plates of which he had spoken (for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled) I should not show <them> to any person, neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them. If I did I should be destroyed.

While he was conversing with me about the plates the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.

After this communication I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speak- [p.xvii]ing to me, and it continued to do so untill the room was again left dark except just round him, when instantly I saw as it were a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended up till he entirely disappeared and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.

I lay musing on the singularity of the scene and marvelling greatly at what had been told me by this extraordinary messenger, when in the midst of my meditation I suddenly discovered that my room was again beginning to get lighted, and in an instant as it were, the same heavenly messenger was again by my bedside. He commenced and again related the very same things which he had done at his first visit without the least variation which having done, he informed me of great judgements which were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword, and pestilence, and that these grievous judgements would come on the earth in this generation: Having related these things he again ascended as he had done before.

By this time so deep were the impressions made on my mind that sleep had fled from my eyes and I lay overwhelmed in astonishment at what I had both seen and heard:

But what was my surprise when again I beheld the same messenger at my bed side, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family) to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich, This he forbid me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive but that of building his kingdom, otherwise I could not get them.

After this third visit he again ascended up into heaven as before and I was again left to ponder on the strangeness of what I had just experienced, when almost immediately after the heavenly messenger had ascended from me the third time, the cock crew, and I found that day was approaching so that our interviews must have occupied the whole of that night. I shortly after arose from my bed, and as usual went to the necessary labors of the day, but in attempting to labor as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as rendered me entirely unable.

My father who was laboring along <with> me discovered something to be wrong with me and told me to go home. I started with [p.xviii]the intention of going to the house, but in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me and I fell helpless on the ground and for a time was quite unconscious of any thing. The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me calling me by name. I looked up and beheld the same messenger standing over my head surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.

I obeyed. I returned back to my father in the field and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replyed to me, that it was of God, and to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited, and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.

Under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all round was covered with earth. Having removed the earth and obtained a lever which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim and the Breastplate as stated by the messenger.

The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement, in the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them. I made an attempt to take them out but was forbidden by the messenger and was again informed that the time <for> bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would untill four years from that time, but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so untill the time should come for obtaining the plates.

Accordingly as I had been commanded I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.5


Joseph Smith Family Palmyra Area in 1829


Joseph Smith's New York State in 1829


[p.xxv]                                       Birthdate                                                                               Birthplace                                 Death Date

Father:                                       12 July 1771                                                                             Topsfield,                                   14 Sept. 1840
Joseph Smith [Sr.]                   Massachusetts
Mother:                                      8 July 1775                                                                              Gilsum,                                       14 May 1856
Lucy Mack                                 New Hampshire  (m. 24 Jan. 1796)

Children                                  Birthdate                                                                              Birthplace                                  Death Date

1. male child                              about 1797                                                                               Tunbridge,                                 about 1797
2. Alvin                                        11 Feb. 1798                                                                             Tunbridge,                                  19 Nov. 1823
3. Hyrum                                    9 Feb. 1800                                                                            Tunbridge,                                  27 June 1844
4. Sophronia                               17 May 1803                                                                            Tunbridge,                                   28 Aug. 1871
5. Joseph (Jr.)                              23 Dec. 1805                                                                          Sharon,                                          27 June 1844
6. Samuel Harrison                     13 Mar. 1808                                                                         Tunbridge,                                    30 July 1844
7. Ephraim                                     13 Mar. 1810                                                                         Royalton,                                        24 Mar. 1810
8. William                                      13 Mar. 1811                                                                          Royalton,                                        13 Nov. 1893
9. Catherine                                    28 July 1812                                                                          Lebanon,                                          2 Feb. 1900
New Hampshire
10. Don Carlos                                25 Mar. 1816                                                                         Norwich,                                           7 Aug. 1841
11. Lucy                                             18 July 1821                                                                         Palmyra,                                           9 Dec. 1882
New York


April           Joseph Smith, Sr., is living in the village of Palmyra, New York, on Road District 26.

April           Joseph Sr. is residing in Palmyra village.

April           Joseph Sr. is still residing in Palmyra village.

April           Joseph Sr. and family are located at the south end of Stafford Road in Palmyra Township; Alvin Smith is residing in the village of Palmyra.

Joseph Smith, Jr., later reports he has a personal forgiveness of sins; he is an exhorter for the Methodist class in Palmyra and attends a local debating club.

13  June           The Smith family is living on land owned by Samuel Jennings.
22 June           Tax on 300 acres of Lot 1 in Farmington (later Manchester) is to be paid by Nicholas Evertson heirs.
[p.xxvii]14 July           Power of attorney is given to Zachariah Seymour.
Summer           Joseph Sr. and Alvin article for 100 acres of land in Farmington, Lot 1, from Zachariah Seymour, land agent for Nicholas Evertson’s heirs.

April                Joseph Sr., Alvin, and Hyrum Smith are residing at the south end of Stafford Road in Palmyra.
7 July              Joseph Sr. is taxed for 100 acres of Lot 1.
18 July Daughter Lucy Smith is born in Palmyra Township.

Joseph Jr. is present when Willard Chase finds a stone in a well on the Chase property. Joseph borrows the stone.
April                Joseph Sr. and Alvin are listed on south end of Stafford Road in Palmyra.
29 June          Lot 1 valuation is still $700 for 100 acres for Joseph Sr.
2 July             Zachariah Seymour, the land agent from whom Joseph Sr. and Alvin articled the 100 acres and to whom they made payments, dies.

24 July           A $300 assessment increase on land shows improvements on the Smiths’ Manchester property.

Joseph Jr. tells that by looking in Willard Chase’s stone he can see hidden treasures, all things in [p.xxviii]caves, in and under the earth, and spirits in ancient dress in charge of the treasures.

November           The Smiths’ frame house in Manchester commences to be built.
19 November      Alvin Smith dies.

September 1824 to Spring 1825
Revival of religion commences with the Methodists, followed by the Baptists and Presbyterians, in the Palmyra vicinity. Joseph Jr. hears discourses by Reverend Lane of the Methodist church and attends meetings.

Spring Lucy, Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and Sophronia Smith join Palmyra’s Presbyterian church. Joseph Jr. is inclined toward the Methodist faith.
October- November   Joseph goes with his father to southern New York and near Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania, to obtain money to pay off their Manchester farm; they hunt for a gold/silver mine with a number of treasure seekers. At home of Isaac Hale, Joseph Jr. meets Hale’s daughter Emma. The treasure seeking company stays at Hale’s home.
December                   The Smiths’ farm, on which they are delinquent, is sold to Lemuel Durfee. The Smiths remain as renters.

[p.xxix] October 1825 to March 1826
Joseph Jr. works for Josiah Stowell for five months and goes to school. He uses two stones to search for treasure and prays for help in the endeavor.

20 March           During a court examination before Justice Albert Neely, Joseph Jr. states that by looking at a stone he can discover treasures hidden in the bowels of the earth, gold mines, coined money, and lost property.
Fall                     Joseph Jr. works for Joseph Knight at Colesville, New York.

18 January Joseph Jr. and Emma Hale are married at South Bainbridge, New York.
January Josiah Stowell moves Joseph and Emma to Manchester.
1827 Peter Ingersoll moves Emma’s furniture from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Manchester. Joseph Jr. tells his father-in-law he will give up glass-looking.
10 March Joseph Jr. receives a receipt for credit of four dollars on Abraham Fish’s account.
16 April Samuel Harrison Smith begins to work for Lemuel Durfee, Sr., in payment for use of the house where the Smiths reside.
June Joseph Sr. tells Willard Chase that some years previous a spirit had appeared to his son Joseph Jr. and informed him about a book or record of gold.
[] August Joseph Jr. works two days mowing for Lemuel Durfee, Sr.
20 September Joseph Knight and Josiah Stowell visit the Smith home.
22 September Joseph Jr. visits a nearby hill taking Emma with him in Joseph Knight’s wagon. He finds gold plates in a stone box and hides the plates in a fallen tree top. He also finds with the plates a sword, breastplate, and a pair of spectacles (also called Urim and Thummim). Joseph tells Joseph Knight the plates “appear to be Gold” and through the glasses or spectacles “I can see any thing.”
September Joseph Jr. goes to Macedon and works for Mrs. Wells.
October Joseph Jr. takes the gold plates from the hiding spot in the fallen tree top and runs home with them. He tells Willard Chase that if it had not been for the stone, he would not have obtained the book. A group of treasure seekers begins looking for the plates. Lucy Smith mentions that Joseph hid the plates in a wood box which was smashed by people searching for the record.
October The Martin Harris family hears about the gold plates from Lucy. Mrs. Harris and her daughter go to the Smith home. Martin talks to members of the Smith family and Joseph Jr. about how the book was found. Joseph says that an angel appeared to him and told him it was God’s work and that he located the plates by looking in the stone found on the Chase property. The angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers, translate the plates, and publish them to the world. Martin responds, “If the Lord [p.xxxi] will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want.”
December Martin Harris gets Joseph Jr. out of debt and gives him $50. Alva Hale comes from Harmony to pick up Joseph and Emma. Alva moves them to Harmony. The plates are placed in a barrel containing beans.

Winter 1827-28
Joseph Jr. tells his wife’s neighbors about the gold plates.

February Hyrum Smith and Martin Harris travel to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to see Joseph Jr. Harris takes a set of characters copied from the gold plates to New York City.
12 April Harris becomes a scribe at Harmony. The contents of the book are for the first time dictated by Joseph Jr.
14 June Harris takes the manuscript pages home. At Palmyra he reads from the manuscript in the evenings to his family and some friends.
15 June A male child is born to Joseph and Emma but dies the same day at Harmony. Emma hovers near death.
June/July Joseph Jr. travels to Manchester and learns that the manuscript is lost.
July A revelation concerning the lost pages is given at Harmony (BC 2; LDS D&C 3; RLDS D&C 2). This is Joseph’s first recorded revelation.
September Lucy, Hyrum, and Samuel Smith stop attending Palmyra’s Presbyterian church.

Fall-Winter Samuel Smith, Emma Hale Smith, and Reuben Hale each serve as scribes to Joseph.

February Lucy and Joseph Sr. travel to Harmony, Pennsylvania. A revelation is received at Harmony (BC 3; LDS and RLDS D&C 4).
March Martin Harris travels to Harmony and wants to know if Joseph Jr. “had, in his possession, the record of the Nephites.” A revelation is received (BC 4; LDS and RLDS D&C 5). Harris returns to Palmyra. Isaac Hale describes the manner in which the record was dictated: a stone placed in a hat.
5 April Samuel Smith and Oliver Cowdery arrive at Harmony, Pennsylvania.
7 April Cowdery acts as a scribe to Joseph Jr. Seven revelations are given during April and May (BC 5-11; LDS D&C 6-12; RLDS D&C 3, 6-11). Dictation continues during the summer of 1829 at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and concludes at Fayette, New York, about 1 July 1829.

June John Whitmer becomes a scribe. Joseph Jr. receives revelations for members of the Whitmer family (BC 12-14; LDS D&C 14-16; RLDS D&C 12-14) and “instructions relative to building up the church of Christ” (BC 15; LDS D&C 18; RLDS D&C 16).
14 June Oliver Cowdery writes to Hyrum Smith.
June A revelation is received for Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris “previous to [p.xxxiii] their viewing the plates containing the book of Mormon” (LDS D&C 17; RLDS D&C 15).

26 June The title page of the manuscript Book of Mormon is published in the Wayne Sentinel.

Summer Martin Harris goes to Rochester, New York, to inquire about printing the Book of Mormon. He reports that Joseph found a gold bible and that “By placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into it, Smith interprets the characters into the English language.”

25 August Indenture is made between Martin Harris and Egbert Grandin on land and property for enough money ($3,000) to print the Book of Mormon.

August 1829 to March 1830
The Book of Mormon is typeset and printed at Grandin’s print shop. John Gilbert sets the type and receives manuscript pages from Hyrum Smith.

4-22 October Joseph Jr. arrives in Harmony and writes to Oliver Cowdery that he has bought a horse from Mr. Stowell and wants someone to come after it.

6 November Cowdery writes from Manchester that Harris will pick up the horse in two or three weeks.
[p.xxxiv] 28 December Cowdery writes to Joseph Jr. from Manchester: “it may look rather strange to you to find that I have so soon become a printer.”

16 January An agreement between Joseph Sr. and Martin Harris on selling the Book of Mormon is witnessed by Oliver Cowdery.

26 March The Wayne Sentinel advertises the Book of Mormon for sale.

[26-31]March Joseph Jr. arrives in Manchester with Joseph Knight, Sr.; a commandment is given for Harris (BC 16; LDS D&C 19; RLDS D&C 18).
6 April The Church of Christ is organized; six revelations are received (BC 17-22; LDS D&C 21, 23; RLDS D&C 19, 21). Cowdery is ordained an elder. Joseph Jr. is ordained an elder, also prophet and seer by Cowdery. Joseph Sr., Lucy, Harris, and Sarah Rockwell are baptized in Crooked Brook.

11-16 April A Fayette, New York, branch of the church is established. Cowdery delivers the first public discourse of the church and performs baptisms. A revelation is received regarding individuals who have been baptized in other Christian churches (BC 23; LDS D&C 22; RLDS D&C 20).
18 April More baptisms are performed by Cowdery.
9 June The first conference of the church is held; articles and covenants are presented [p.xxxv](BC 24; LDS D&C 20; RLDS D&C 17). Baptisms are performed. Joseph Sr. and Hyrum Smith are ordained priests.

28 June Joseph Sr. appears in Manchester before Justice Nathan Pierce on behalf of his son Hyrum.

28 June Baptisms are performed in Colesville, New York, but no confirmations. A Colesville branch is started.

1 July Joseph Jr. is brought before Justice Joseph Chamberlain in South Bainbridge, New York.

July Joseph Jr. is arrested upon warrant and appears before Justice Joel K. Noble in Colesville.

July In Harmony, Pennsylvania, revelations are received, including one for Emma Smith (BC 25-27; LDS D&C 24-26; RLDS D&C 23-25).
4 September A revelation is recorded concerning sacrament (BC 28; LDS D&C 27; RLDS D&C 26).
September Joseph Jr. travels from Harmony to Fayette.

September Revelations are given to the church at Fayette and others (BC 29-34; LDS D&C 28-31; RLDS D&C 27-30).
26 September The second conference of the church commences; total membership is sixty-two.

17 October In Manchester a missionary covenant to preach to native Americans (Lamanites) is issued.

October In Fayette a revelation to Ezra Thayer and Northrop Sweet is given (BC 35; LDS D&C 33; RLDS D&C 32).
4 November Orson Pratt arrives in Fayette; Joseph Jr. asks and receives a revelation for him (BC 36; LDS D&C 34; RLDS D&C 33) by gazing at a stone placed in a hat.
December Revelations are given for Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge (BC 37-38; LDS D&C 35-36; RLDS D&C 34-35).

December In Canandaigua, New York, a revelation to Joseph Jr. and Sidney Rigdon instructs them to go to Ohio (BC 39; LDS and RLDS D&C 37).

2 January The third conference of the church takes place in Fayette; revelation is received (BC 40; LDS and RLDS D&C 38).
January Two revelations concerning James Covell, a Baptist minister, are given (BC 41-42; LDS and RLDS D&C 39-40).


1. “Indeed Sir,” the two men wrote Whitmer, “we never Supposed you capable of writing a history, but were willing to let it come out under your name notwithstanding it would real[l]y not be yours but ours. We are still willing to honour you if you can be made to know your own interest and give up your notes, so that they can be corrected, and made fit for the press. But if not, we have all the materials for another, which we Shall commence this week to write” (letter, 9 Apr. 1838, “Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr.,” kept by George W. Robinson, historical department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, hereafter LDS archives; compare Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1987], 171; see also Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 2:227).

2. Faulring, 176-77. The entries for writing this history continue, “Monday, the 30th This day was Spent by the First Presidency in writing the history of the Church and in resitation of grammer lessions which resitations is attended to morning previous to writing. Tuesday, 1st May 1838 This day was Also spent in writing Church History by the First Presidency. Wednesday, 2nd This day was also spent in writing history and lectures on grammer by President Rigdon” (179-80). The Scriptory Book does not mention participation by Smith’s brother Hyrum, the third member of the presidency of the church, in writing the new history.

3. Smith started publishing his history in the 15 March 1842 issue, stating that it was an “extract from my journal” (Times and Seasons 3:726).

4. A week after it was recorded that the personage’s name was Nephi, Smith spent the afternoon “in answering the questions proposed in the Elders Journal” (Scriptory Book, 39, entry for 8 May 1838). Question number four was, “How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon?” Smith answered, “Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead, and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which, I translated the plates; and thus came the book of Mormon” (Elders’ Journal 1 [July 1838]: 42-43). Some writers have concluded that both Moroni and Nephi visited Smith, others feel that the name Nephi was a clerical error in the manuscript, though it was never corrected by Smith. The current [p.xx]version in
the Pearl of Great Price says it was Moroni who appeared in the bedroom.

5. Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1: 1-7, LDS archives. Crossed out words and words added for the Times and Seasons publication are not included. Additions made after the first publication in Nauvoo are also excluded.