After escaping state custody in 1839, Smith directed the conversion of a swampland into Nauvoo, Illinois, where he became both mayor and commander of a nearly autonomous militia. In 1843, he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. The following year, after the Nauvoo Expositor criticized his power and such new doctrines as plural marriage, Smith and the Nauvoo city council ordered the newspaper's destruction as a nuisance. In a futile attempt to check public outrage, Smith first declared martial law, then surrendered to the governor of Illinois. He was killed by a mob while awaiting trial in Carthage, Illinois. After Smith's death Brigham Young became Smith's successor as Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. These Mormons followed Young to the Great Basin, where they established a theocratic society. Eventually, after the Mormons discontinued their practice of polygamy, they entered mainstream American society and became champions of the nuclear family. A branch of Mormon fundamentalists who disagreed with that decision broke off from the LDS Church and established their own organizations. In the 20th century, the LDS Church grew dramatically, and currently has millions of members worldwide.
Smith's aunt Lovisa Mack Tuttle, after a two-year illness, is miraculously healed. (Anderson 2001, p. 167). Returning from a near death experience, she tells of a vision in which Jesus spoke through a veil and told her to "warn the people to prepare for death" and to "declare faithfully unto them their accountability before God". (Anderson 2001, pp. 238–40).
Smith's grandfather Asael Smith states in a letter that "I believe that the stone is now cut out of the mountain without hands, spoken by Daniel, and has smitten the image upon his feet." (Brooke 1994, pp. 66, 133).
Joseph, Sr. and Lucy Smith have an unnamed baby child, who dies. (Anderson 2001, p. 168). There is disagreement on whether this was a boy or a girl. (Anderson 2001, p. 264 n. 101)
The Smith family may not have been counted during the 1800 U.S. census. Although there are "Joseph Smith" families in both Tunbridge and Poultney, Vermont, neither of them match in ages and children with the family of Joseph and Lucy Smith. (Quinn 1998, p. 126).
The New Israelites, having prophesied this day as the end of the world, are confronted by local militia. This is known as the "Wood Scrape". The militia fires their weapons to disperse the "Fraternity of Rodsmen". (Quinn 1998, pp. 121, 449; Brooke 1994, pp. 57, 133–34; Vogel 1995, pp. 617–20).
While deathly ill, Lucy has a religious conversion after she believes she hears the voice of God. (Bushman 2005, pp. 23–24; Brooke 1994, p. 139). She said that she perceived her "mind at one time raising gradually, borne away to Heaven above all hight [sic] then reverting back again to my babes and my Companion at my side", after which she promised God that if she would live, she would try to find religion, and then heard a voice saying "Seek and ye shall find knock and it shall be opened unto you let your heart be comforted ye believe in God believe [sic] also in me". (Anderson 2001, p. 278). Lucy tries to find a religious home, but is unhappy with several ministers; therefore, she concludes that "there is not on Earth the religion which I seek I must again turn to my bible taking Jesus and his deciples [sic] for an ensample". (Anderson 2001, p. 280).
After the ship returns from China with the proceeds from the sale of Smith Sr.'s ginseng (a round trip that might have taken about a year), the earnings are stolen by a Royalton merchant who flees to Canada. (Anderson 2001, pp. 282–85).
Lucy attends meetings at a Methodist church, and Smith, Sr. "went a few times to gratify [Lucy] for he had so little faith in the doctrines taught by them that my feelings were the only inducement for him to go".(Anderson 2001, p. 291; Bushman 2005, p. 25).
Hearing that Joseph, Sr. is attending Methodist meetings, Smith's Universalist grandfather Asael Smith appears at his door, throws Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, into the house, and angrily demands that Smith, Sr. read it until he had believes it. He also suggests that Smith, Sr. ought not let Lucy attend the meetings. As a result, the Smiths stop attending Methodist church meetings. (Anderson 2001, p. 291; Bushman 2005, p. 25; Brooke 1994, p. 139).
Lucy Mack Smith visits a grove near Tunbridge to pray about her husband's rejection of organized religion. When she returns home and goes to sleep that night, she has a vision that Smith, Sr. would eventually accept the "pure and undefiled Gospel of the Son of God" (Anderson 2001, pp. 292–93).
Joseph, Sr. and Lucy move to Sharon, Vermont, where they rent the farm of Lucy's father while Joseph, Sr. cultivates crops in the summer and teaches school in the winter. (Anderson 2001, pp. 294, 299). Solomon Mack likely lives with them. (Anderson 2003, pp. 25–26).
A second person is convicted of passing counterfeit money to "Joseph Smith". (Brodie 1971, p. 7; Brooke 1994, p. 138).
Sharon resident George Downer is convicted of passing two counterfeit bills the previous spring. There is some tenuous evidence, based in part on a descendant of the counterfeiter against whom Smith, Sr. testified on April 1, that Smith, Sr. was an accomplice in that case who avoided conviction by turning state's evidence. See Brooke (1994, p. 138) (noting the evidence is weak, but arguing that it favors the involvement of Smith, Sr. given that court records verify there was an unnamed accomplice who testified against Downer). But see Brodie (1971, p. 7) (discounting the evidence; Brooke notes that Brodie does not mention the court records showing there was an unnamed accomplice witness).
Smith, Sr., his brother Jesse, and other Tunbridge residents petition the Vermont legislature for an exemption from providing their own military equipment as members of the Vermont militia. (Anderson 2001, p. 169).
Joseph Smith, Sr. tells his family about his first vision. He sees a field representing the barrenness of true religion upon the earth, and he sees a log containing a box. His spirit guide tells him that if he eats the contents of the box, he will be filled with "wisdom and understanding". He raises the lid of the box, but is unable to eat its contents because "all manner of beasts, horned cattle, and roaring animals, rose up on every side in the most threatening manner possible". Based on the vision, Smith, Sr. concludes, more than ever, that there is no true religion on the earth. (Smith 1853, pp. 54–55) He would have six other visions between 1811 and 1819.
Joseph Smith, Sr. has his second vision, in which he saw a barren field representing the desolate world, a "narrow path", a stream with a rope running along its bank leading to a beautiful tree bearing a fruit whiter than snow that was "delicious beyond description. While eating, he thought "I cannot eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me." Thus, he brought his family to eat the fruit. However, there was a "spacious building" across the valley where the tree was, filed with finely-dressed people looking down and mocking Smith's family. Smith's spirit guide said that the fruit represented "the pure love of Christ". The guide said that the spacious building represented "Babylon, and it must fall". (Smith 1853, p. 58).
winter of 1812–1813
Smith and his siblings contract typhoid fever, and Smith acquires osteomyelitis in his leg. He has surgery to remove infected bone, causing him to hobble on crutches at least until 1816. (Anderson 2001, p. 169).
Joseph Smith, Sr. relates to his family his third vision, in which he was lame, but his spirit guide sent him through a garden amidst 12 wooden images of giants. After each of the wooden giants sequentially bowed toward him in obeisance, he was healed. (Smith 1853, pp. 70–71; Anderson 2001, chronology).
Lucy Mack Smith and the remainder of the family move to Palmyra, where they live in a small house on Main Street. (Anderson 2001, p. 170).
Smith, Sr. opens a "cake and beer shop" in Palmyra, selling "gingerbread, pies, boiled eggs, root-beer, and other like notions of traffic", and peddles these on the street from a handcart during Independence Day celebrations and military training days". (Tucker 1867, p. 12). A journalist who visited the area in 1831 wrote in his notes that Smith, Sr. "was a vender—made gingerbread and buttermints &c&c". He said, "In this article [gingerbread? ginger?] he was a considerable speculator, having on hand during a fall of price no less than two baskets full.... What their dividends were I could not learn, but they used considerable molasses, and were against the duty on that article". (Arrington 1970, p. 2 (online ed.)).
Influenced by the Christian revivals of 1816-17 (Bushman 2005, p. 37), Smith later recalls, "At about the age of twelve years my mind become [sic] seriously imprest with regard to the all importent [sic] concerns for the wellfare [sic] of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing [sic] as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly [sic] for I discovered that instead of adorning their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository." (Smith 1832, pp. 1–2).
In Palmyra, Smith, Sr. and his oldest sons take occasional day jobs, such as gardening, harvesting, and well-digging, to supplement their income. (Tucker 1867, p. 12). Lucy Mack Smith sets up a business selling painted oil-cloth coverings (Smith 1853, pp. 67–70).
Joseph Smith, Sr. relates to his family his sixth vision. Smith, Sr. rushes toward a meetinghouse where multitudes of other people are entering, but just as he arrives there, the door shuts before him. The porter tells him that he must be barred entry to satisfy justice. After praying for forgiveness of sins, the mercy of Jesus satisfied the needs of justice and he was allowed entrance. (Smith 1853, p. 72).
The Smith family builds a log home in the town of Palmyra, away from the village and adjacent to the border of Manchester. Smith (1853, p. 71) said they moved into the log home two years after arriving in Palmyra. Turner (1852, p. 214) remembers the Smiths occupying this log home in the winter of 1819-20. Tucker (1876, pp. 12–13) dates the move to the log home to 1818, said that the Smiths occupied the land as squatters, and described the log home as "divided into two rooms, on the ground-floor, and had a low garret, in two apartments. A bedroom wing, built of sawed slabs, was afterward added". They may have begun clearing trees and farming nearby land they did not yet own, or they may have been renting the land.
While on their new property, the Smiths engage in "chopping and retailing of cord-wood, the raising and bartering of small crops of agricultural products and garden vegetables, the manufacture and sale of black-ash baskets and birch brooms, the making of maple sugar and molasses in the season for that work, and in the continued business of peddling cake and beer in the village on days of public doings". They also engage in hunting and fishing, trapping muskrats, and digging out groundhogs from their holes, and spending time at Palmyra shops. (Tucker 1867, p. 14).
Smith, Jr. works as a clerk for the peddling of cake and beer on public occasions, and sometimes is duped into accepting counterfeit coins from other youth. (Tucker 1867, p. 14). See also Arrington 1970, 4 (online ed.) ("I believe his son, Joe Junior, was at times a partner in the concern.").
An unknown shooter hides under a wagon, and when Smith approaches his home, the shooter fires across the path, missing Smith but lodging a bullet in a cow. (Smith 1853, p. 73).
Joseph Smith, Sr. tells his family about his seventh and last vision, telling him that he lacked one thing in order to secure his salvation. His spirit guide wrote what that one thing was on a piece of paper, but Smith, Sr. awoke before he could read it. (Smith 1853, p. 74).
According to Tucker (1876, p. 19), Smith discovers a seer stone, which is white and opaque, and resembles a child's foot. Tucker's account apparently conflates the story of finding this stone with the better-documented story of Smith finding his brown seer stone in 1822. Vogel (1994, p. 202 n.11) argues that this 1819 date cannot be relied upon, and that it is not established that Smith began using a seer stone for treasure digging until 1822.
According to Tucker (1867, pp. 24–25), Smith sees the location of a buried chest of money, but says that a black sheep must be sacrificed in order to break the spell on it. He obtains the sheep from Manchester resident William Stafford and makes the sacrifice within a circle at the cite of the dig. After three hours of digging, one of the party accidentally breaks the enchantment by breaking silence and causes the excavation to fail.
According to one account, Smith finds his first stone by borrowing the stone of another treasure seer. (Vogel 1996, p. 456).
According to Tucker (1867, p. 20), Smith is paid 75 cents to locate a stolen roll of cloth with his seer stone. He sends the owner on a three mile trip to look for the cloth, but it is never found.
During this period are the earliest reports of the Smiths conducting treasure quests in the Palmyra/Manchester area. Howe (1833, pp. 237, 240, 251, 268) date this earliest digging to 1820. See also Vogel 1994, p. 201 (dating the first digs to 1820 and suggesting the first digs occurred on their Manchester land). In Arrington (1970, 4-5 (online ed.)), James Gordon Bennett says, without giving a definite year, that "the Smith's [sic] and their associates commenced digging, in the numerous hills which diversify the face of the country in the town of Manchester. The sensible country people paid slight attention to them at first.... They Would occasionally conceal their purposes, and at other times reveal them by such snatches as might excite curiosity. They dug these holes by day, and at night talked and dreamed over the counties' riches they should enjoy, if they could only hit upon an iron chest full of dollars. In excavating the grounds, they began taking up the green sod in the form of a circle of six feed diameter—then would continue to dig to the depth of ten, twenty, and sometimes thirty feet."
According to Tucker (1876, pp. 21–22), Smith uses his seer stone to locate buried treasure near the Smiths' property, and gathers contributions from Palmyra residence for an excavation, which is conducted "at the dead hour of night". After "preparatory mystic ceremonies", digging begins in absolute silence in order not to break the "enchantment". When the chest of money is nearly within reach, one of the party accidentally speaks, thus causing the treasure to vanish. Vogel (1994, pp. 201–202) dates this treasure quest to after 1822, arguing that Smith did not obtain his first stone until that year.
According to Smith's later accounts, he has his First Vision. Depending on the account, it is either a visit by one or more angels, or a theophany. In the vision, a heavenly messenger tells him his sins are forgiven and that all the churches on the Earth at that time were false.
 The Smith family obtains a mortgage on a 100-acre (0.4 km2) farm adjacent to their log home, just outside of Palmyra in what was then Farmington. (In 1821, this would become the town of Manchester.) They had already been working this land, either squatting or renting from the owner. Tucker (1867, p. 13) said that Smith made a small payment "to bind the bargain".
Smith begins participating in a Palmyra "juvenile debating club" at "the old red school house on Durfee street". (Turner 1852, p. 214 & n.27).
Alvin begins construction on a frame house for the Smiths.
Smith takes an interest in Methodism. Turner (1852, p. 214) says that Smith "catch[es] a spark of Methodism in the camp meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road", and is known there as "a very passable exhorter" at evening Methodist meetings. Tucker (1867, p. 18) says that Smith "joined the probationary class of the Methodist church in Palmyra, and made some active demonstrations of engagedness". According to Turner, this date must be after Smith's participation in the debating club (i.e., after Jan. 25, 1822). Date must also be after 7 July 1821, when the Methodists acquired their property in the woods off Vienna Road (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. 54 n.41) The Methodists did not begin building their meetinghouse on Vienna Road until 19 June 1822 (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. 54 n.41), but may have held camp meetings there while waiting for the building. It also must be on or before the summer of 1822, when Turner left the Palmyra area (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. 55). Morgan (1986, p. 224) dates this to the revivals of 1824-25, but does not acknowledge that Turner said he left the Palmyra area in the summer of 1822.
Smith withdraws from his Methodist probationary class. Mather (1880, p. 199) says that Smith "arose and announced that his mission was to restore the true priesthood. He appointed a number of meetings, but no one seemed inclined to follow him as the leader of a new religion." Tucker (1867, p. 18) says that Smith's "assumed convictions were insufficiently grounded or abiding to carry him along to the saving point of conversion, and he soon withdrew from the class. The final conclusion announced by him was, that all sectarianism was fallicious, all the churches on a false foundation, and the Bible a fable."
Smith finds the black seer stone from a neighbor and locates his own seer stone in a well, at a depth of 22 feet. The digging occurred on the property of Clark Chase, whose son Willard disputed Smith's ownership of the stone. This would be the stone he used for later money digging and translation of the Book of Mormon.
The Smiths seek the expertise of a reputed treasure seer living many miles away. Several sources identify this seer as Luman Walter. In Arrington (1970, 5 (online ed.)), reprinting an 1831 article by James Gordon Bennett, Bennett describes this great seer as having "a particular felicity in finding out the spots of ground where money is hid and riches obtained. [Some anonymous member of the treasure quest party] related long stories how this person had been along shore in the east—how he had much experience in money digging—how he dreamt of the very spots where it could be found". He said that the Smiths worked for a time "to scrape together a little 'change' sufficient to fetch on the money dreamer." Bennett believed this distant magician was Sidney Rigdon, based on discussion with Palmyra residents who thought Rigdon was the author of the Book of Mormon. However, the story parallels a story told by Abner Cole in the Palmyra Reflector on 12 June 1830 (see below), which says the distant magician was Luman Walter, an occultist from Sodus, New York who had been educated in Europe.
Smith, Sr. participates in treasure digging under the direction of scryerLuman Walter, with at least one dig on the property of Palmyra journalist Abner Cole, according to Quinn (1998, p. 117). Vogel (1994, pp. 206–07) states that Cole's property was "Manchester lot 2". Cole lost this property some time after 19 August 1824, after which Benjamin Tabor owned it. Enoch Saunders rented from at least Tabor, and was renting at the time this excavation occurred.
Luman Walter assists or conducts digs on the hill Cumorah. According to one Palmyra resident, Walter conducts three digs on the hill Cumorah, after having no success, he suggests that Smith, Jr. might be the only one that could find treasure there. (Quinn 1998, p. 117). Arrington (1970, 5-6 (online ed.)) relates a story reported by James Gordon Bennett that "About the time that this person [the scryer from far away, which Bennett identifies as Sidney Rigdon but could be Walter] appeared among them, a splendid excavation was begun in a long narrow hill, between Manchester and Palmyra. This hill has been called by some, the Golden Bible Hill.... In the face of this hill, the money diggers renewed their work with fresh ardour, [the scryer/Rigdon] partly uniting with them in their operations." Bennett dates this story to about the time of the Palmyra's large religious revival of 1824-25. (Arrington 1970, 6 (online ed.)). Tucker (1867, p. 34) says that on the summit of Cumorah is a "yet partially visible pit where the money speculators had previously dug for another kind of treasure".
Late at night, Smith says he had three visions, and one again in the morning, of an angel, who showed him the location of a buried golden book engraved with a history of the Indians.
Smith tells his father about his visions of the angel, and visits the hill Cumorah where the angel said the plates were buried. He returns empty-handed, claiming that he had failed to strictly follow the angel's commandments. He says the angel required him to return in exactly one year with his brother Alvin.
Smith tells the rest of his family about the visions and his visit to Cumorah (Smith 1853, p. 84).
Every night, the Smith family gathers to hear Smith tell stories of the "ancient inhabitants of this continent, [including] their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship" (Smith 1853, p. 84).
The Wayne Sentinel, to which the Smith family subscribed (Brodie 1971, p. 46), recounts a vision of Asa Wild, who said that "every denomination of professing christians had become exceedingly corrupt", including the Presbyterians and Methodists, of which he had been a member. Therefore, prior to the Millennium, which would arrive in seven years (i.e., 1830), there would be a restoration of primitive Christianity. God was in the process of "raising up" a class of people "signified by the Angel mentioned by the Revelator, XIV. 6, 7, which flew in the midst of heaven" who would preach the true gospel. These people "are of an inferior class, and small learning", and "they will be rejected by every denomination as a body; but soon, God will open their way, by miracles, judgments, &c." See Watson, Elden J. (1997–98), "The 'Prognostication' of Asa Wild", BYU Studies37 (3): 223–30.
Alvin contracts "bilious cholic", and a physician administers a toxic amount of calomel. Five physicians are unable to get him to expel the poison (Smith 1853, p. 87).
 Alvin dies. On his death bed, he encourages Smith to "do everything that lies in your power" to obtain the golden plates. (Smith 1853, pp. 87–89).
Smith pays a $3.00 fee at the Palmyra drug store. (Anderson 2001, chronology).
Local interest in fortune telling is sufficiently high that a Palmyra newspaper advertises two occult handbooks: The Complete Fortune Teller, and The Book of Fate (Quinn 1998, pp. 73, 100, 415).
A new land agent, John Greenwood, receives power of attorney over the Smith property. (Anderson 2001, chronology).
Smith visits Cumorah and returns empty handed because he was unable to bring Alvin (or possibly one of Alvin's body parts). (Quinn 1998, pp. 158–59). The angel requires him to return in exactly one year with the "right person"; Smith was to know that person by looking in his seer stone.
The Smith family hears rumors that Alvin's grave had been exhumed and dissected (possibly by the young Joseph Smith). To prove this was untrue, Joseph Smith, Sr. has Alvin's body exhumed in the presence of witnesses.
Joseph Smith, Sr. runs an add in the Wayne Sentinel for six weeks, announcing that he had exhumed Alvin's body, and that it was undisturbed. It also runs 6, 13, 20, 27 October and 3 November. (Anderson 2001, chronology)
fall 1824 to spring 1825
The Palmyra area experiences a large Christian revival of Baptists and Presbyterians, and Lucy, Sophronia, Hyrum, and Samuel become Presbyterians. (Anderson 2001, chronology). Smith discourages them from attending, preferring solitary study of the Bible. (Smith 1853, pp. 90–91).
The Smiths are unable to raise money for their final mortgage payment, and their creditor forecloses on the property. However, the family is able to persuade a local Quaker, Lemuel Durfee, to buy the farm and rent the Smiths the property.
Smith visits Cumorah and returns empty handed. Prior to this date, Smith had selected Samuel T. Lawrence as the "right person", and either Smith changed his mind and visited Cumorah alone, or brought Lawrence to the hill but the angel failed to appear. (Quinn 1998, p. 162; Anderson 2001, chronology).
A speech by M. M. Noah, a Jewish rabbi and editor of the New York Enquirer is reprinted in The Wayne Sentinel of Palmyra, summarizing the many parallels found in other literature between the American Indians and the Jews. (Brodie 1971, p. 46).
The frame house begun by Alvin in 1822 is finally completed and the family moves in. (Anderson 2001, chronology). Tucker (1867, p. 13) says this house is partly enclosed, and never completed, and that the Smiths used the original log home as a barn.
Although the money digging company has disbanded, Smith continues to work for Josiah Stowell, and attends school. (Anderson 2001, chronology). Smith uses two stones to search for treasure and prays for help in the endeavor. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxviii).
Because the Smiths are delinquent on their mortgage, land agent John Greenwood sells the Smith farm to a group of three men. The new owners give the Smiths until 15 December for Hyrum to raise $1,000. (Anderson 2001, chronology).
A local Quaker named Lemuel Durfee Sr. buys the farm and allows the Smiths to rent the property until spring 1828, in exchange for labor by Samuel. (Anderson 2001, chronology).
Smith is the subject of judicial proceedings in South Bainbridge, New York before Justice Albert Neely. He is charged with being a "disorderly person", because he was a "glass looker". According to witnesses, he was either convicted but allowed to escape, or discharged for lack of evidence (Hill 1972, p. 5). Smith states that by looking at the stone he can discover hidden treasures, gold mines, coined money, and lost property. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxix).
Smith visits Cumorah without the "right person". The angel tells him that the next annual visit on 22 September 1827 is his last chance to obtain the golden plates. The angel tells Smith that he must be married in order to obtain the plates. (Quinn 1998, pp. 163–64).
Josiah Stowell can no longer afford to continue searching for buried treasure, and Smith travels to Colesville, New York for a few months to work for Joseph Knight, Sr.. (Jessee 1984, p. 32). Smith directs further excavations on Knight's property and at other locations around Colesville (Vogel 1994, pp. 227, 229).
Smith receives a receipt for credit of $4.00 on the account of Abraham Fish, who is known to have financed some of Smith's treasure expeditions. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, pp. xxix, 64, 67).
The Wayne Sentinel, the Palmyra newspaper published by E. B. Grandin, quotes the Rochester Daily Advertizer in arguing: "The excitement respecting Morgan, instead of decreasing, spreads its influence and aquires [sic] new vigour daily....The Freemason...[is] proscribed, as unworthy of 'any office in town, county, state, or United States!' and the institution of masonry,...is held up as DANGEROUS and detrimental to the interests of the country!".
The Wayne Sentinel runs a story of a German scholar working in the Vatican Library who said he had found evidence that the Mexicans and Egyptians were in communication in ancient times, and that there were examples in Mexico of biblical texts written in two different Egyptian dialects.
According to Tucker (1867, p. 28), a "mysterious stranger" appears at the Smith residence and meets privately with Smith, Jr., possibly multiple times.
Smith and his wife Emma visit Harmony to retrieve Emma's possessions. (Anderson 2001, chronology). Peter Ingersoll moves Emma's furniture from Harmony to Manchester. Smith tells his father-in-law Isaac Hale that he will give up glass-looking. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxix).
Tucker (1867, p. 30) states that stories that Smith was about to recover the golden plates were given "wide circulation". Tucker dates the stories of the First Vision and Smith's subsequent angel Moroni visions to this time period, arguing they are retrospective inventions (pp. 28, 33).
According to Tucker (1867, p. 31), Smith approaches Willard Chase, a carpenter, and asks him to make him a strong chest to hold the golden plates. In lieu of payment, Smith offers to give Chase a share in the profits generated by the plates.
After the stoke of midnight, Smith takes a wagon to visit Cumorah with his wife Emma, and retrieves the golden plates while she prays. (Anderson 2001, chronology). Smith says he hid the plates in a fallen tree top at Cumorah. With the plates, he says he found a sword, a breastplate, and a set of spectacles, telling Joseph Knight that with them, "I can see anything". (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxx).
Alone, Smith visits Cumorah and returns with something heavy wrapped in a frock, which he places in a chest. Willard Chase claims that Smith admits that if it had not been for the brown stone found on the Chase property years earlier, he would not have found the plates. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxx). Chase believes that because the stone is his, Chase has at least part ownership of the plates.
After the original chest said to hold the plates is smashed by members of Smith's former money digging company, Smith obtains a "glass box" (a wooden box used to hold pieces of glass) and says that the plates are kept inside.
The family of Martin Harris, a wealthy Palmyra resident, hears about the golden plates from Lucy Mack Smith. Martin's wife and daughter visit the Smith home to investigate, and Harris conducts his own investigation, asking Smith how the book was found. Smith says that he had located the plates via his brown seer stone, and that an angel appeared to him and told him that it was God's work, and that Smith must quit the money-digging company, translate the plates, and publish the translation. Harris offers, "If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want." (Marquardt & Walters 1994, pp. xxx-xxxi).
According to Tucker (1867, pp. 30–31), Smith tells Palmyra residents that when he first saw the golden plates, he saw a "display of celestial pyrotechnics", as the angel appeared as his "guide and protector", while "ten thousand devils gathered there, with their menacing sulphureous [sic] flame and smoke, to deter him from his purpose!"
Harris is said to have mused around the village of Palmyra about "what wonderful discoveries Jo Smith had made, and of his finding plates in a hill in the town of Manchester (three miles south of Palmyra), —also found with the plates a large pair of "spectacles," by putting which on his nose and looking at the plates, the spectacles turned the hieroglyphics into good English." (Gilbert 1892).
According to Tucker (1867, pp. 32–33), Palmyra residents were not generally aware at this time of the spectacles Smith said were found with the plates.
According to Tucker (1867, p. 31), "notorious wags" William T. Hussey and Azel Vandruver visit the Smith home and say they are willing to view the golden plates, taking upon themselves the risk that they would be being struck dead if they saw them. They observe something "concealed under a piece of thick canvas". After Hussey removes the canvas and sees a tile brick, Smith claims to have pulled a joke on the men, and "with the customary whiskey hospitalities, the affair ended in good-nature".
Harris gives Smith $50, which allows him to get out of debt and move to Harmony, Pennsylvania. Emma's brother Alva comes from Harmony to pick up the couple.
 Working behind a curtain, Smith transcribes some of the characters he says are engraved on the golden plates, and hands them across the curtain to Emma and her brother Reuben Hale. Smith also attempts to translate some of the characters.
Martin Harris takes a transcript of characters and some of their translations to several scholars in New York. (Anderson 2001, chronology). According to Tucker (1867, p. 43), these scholars include "Hon. Luther Bradish, Dr. Mitchell, Professor Anthon, and others". James Gordon Bennett later reported that Harris told a potential financer in 1830 that he first approached "one of the Professors of Columbia College" (Anthon), who told Harris that he "could not decypher them", but referred him to Samuel L. Mitchill, who "looked at his engravings—made a learned dissertation on them—compared them with the hieroglyphics discovered by Champollion in Egypt—and set them down as the language of a people formerly in existence in the East, but now no more". (Arrington 1970, p. 8 (online ver.)). Harris said that after speaking with Mitchill, he returned to Anthon, "who put some questions to him and got angry with Harris". (Arrington 1970, pp. 2-3 (online ver.)). According to Gilbert (1892), Harris returns to Palmyra after his meetings in New York and tells residents that Smith is a "little smarter than Professor Anthon." According to Tucker (1867, p. 45), Harris declared "in a boastful spirit that God had enabled him, an unlearned man as he was, to 'confound worldly wisdom'".
Harris begins acting as Smith's scribe while Smith begins dictating a translation of the golden plates, which Smith calls the Book of Lehi. (Anderson 2001, chronology; Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxxi ("The contents of the book are for the first time dictated by Joseph Jr.")).
Harris persuades Smith to allow him to take the original, uncopied 116 manuscript pages to Palmyra to show his skeptical wife and family. (Anderson 2001, chronology).
Smith and his wife have their first child, named Alvin, who dies soon after birth. Emma nearly dies, and hovers near death for days. (Anderson 2001, chronology; Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxxi).
Smith visits Manchester to find out what happened to Harris, and learns that Harris has lost the 116 manuscript pages. Smith says the plates and the Urim and Thummim (Latter Day Saints) are taken away.
In Harmony, Smith dictates his first known written revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 7–9), chastising him for losing the manuscript translation, and noting that "this is the reason that thou has lost thy privileges for a season, for thou hast suffered the counsel of thy director to be trampled upon from the beginning." Bushman (2005, p. 68) and Marquardt & Walters (1994, p. xxxi) describe this as Smith's first known written revelation. The identity of the speaker is unknown, because this revelation, unlike most later ones, refers to God and Jesus in the third person, although a hint to his identity may perhaps be found in his reference to "my people, the Nephites". Bushman (2005, p. 69) refers to the speaker as a "messenger". The revelation indicates that the "very purpose" of the golden plates is to ensure the Lamanites know about the Nephites, and "come to the knowledge of their fathers, and...that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ".
Martin Harris becomes skeptical about the golden plates, and asks Smith to let him see them. Smith dictates a revelation for Harris (Phelps 1833, pp. 10–13). Unlike prior revelations, this one refers to God in the first person. It also says that Smith had "entered into a covenant" with God not to show the plates to anyone unless God commands otherwise. It says that Smith "has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift". While future generations would have access to the plates, in the present generation, the words of the book would go out with the testimony of the Three Witnesses who would have "power, that they may behold and view [the plates] as they are, and to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation." For the first time, a Smith revelation specifically refers to the restoration of a church: "[I]f the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old." The revelation says that Harris could be one of the three witnesses if he humbles himself. However, if he sees the plates, Harris is commanded to say nothing more than "I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God". Because of a conspiracy to destroy Smith, he is commanded to translate a few more pages, and then "stop for a season, even until I command thee again".
Cowdery begins acting as Smith's scribe while translating the golden plates.
Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 14–17) calling Cowdery to assist with a "marvelous work", and referring to the "cause of Zion". The revelation refers to Cowdery's "gift" (dowsing) and instructs Cowdery to "exercise thy gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries." He is only to reveal his gift to "those which are of thy faith". The revelation refers to "records which contain much of my gospel, which have been kept back because of the wickedness of the people." Cowdery is to use his "gift" to assist in bringing these records to light. Both Cowdery and Smith are given the "keys" to this gift, so that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established".
Smith dictates what is characterized as a translation of a parchment written by John the Apostle and "hid up by himself". The revelation says that John will "tarry" on the earth until the Second Coming. (Phelps 1833, p. 18).
Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 19–20) referring to Cowdery's two "gifts". The first gift is Cowdery's ability to "receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient". The second gift is "working with the rod" (dowsing). The revelation says "there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands, for it is the work of God". Cowdery is commanded to "[a]sk that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate all those ancient records, which have been hid up...."
Cowdery begins to translate (perhaps by dowsing), then returns to acting as Smith's scribe. Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 20–21) indicating that God took away his gift to translate for the time being because he was not persistent, and misunderstood the nature of translation, which requires the translator to "study it out in your mind". After the golden plates were translated, the revelation says, Cowdery could assist with translating "other records".
Smith dictates a portion of the golden plates telling a story of Alma the Elder, who baptized his followers by immersion, "having authority from the Almighty God", and called his community of believers the "church of God, or the church of Christ". (Mosiah 18:13-17). The book described the clergy in Alma's church as consisting of priests, who were unpaid and were to "preach nothing save it were repentance and faith in the Lord". (Mosiah 18:20). Alma later established many churches, which were considered "one church" because "there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God." (Mosiah 25:22). In addition to priests, the clergy of these churches included teachers (Mosiah 25:21) and elders. (Alma 4:7).
Smith dictates part of his translation (Third Nephi chapter 11) describing the exact mode of baptism by immersion, including the exact words to use. According to Oliver Cowdery's later reminiscence, "after writing the account given of the Savior's ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easily to be seen . . .that . . . none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel." Oliver Cowdery, Letter 1, Messenger and Advocate 1 (October 1834): 15.
Smith and Cowdery baptize each other. Years later, details gradually emerged concerning a vision prior to this baptism: In 1832, Smith's unpublished history indicated that the priesthood had been received by the "ministering of angels". (Smith 1832, p. 1). In an 1834 publication, Cowdery first told the story of receiving the Aaronic priesthood on this date via a vision of John the Baptist, and then of Smith and Cowdery baptizing each other. Smith essentially agreed with Cowdery's account of the vision.
As the translation proceeds, Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 22–27) claiming that the lost 116 manuscript pages still exist, and that the people who possess them have altered them and are waiting for Smith to re-translate the same material. Then, these people plan to argue that Smith cannot translate the same material twice, and thus Smith has only "pretended to translate". Thus, the revelation directs Smith not to re-translate the Book of Lehi. The revelation indicates that the originally-translated Book of Lehi had indicated that it was just an "abridgment" of the "plates of Nephi". Thus, Smith is directed to translate the "plates of Nephi", containing a "more particular account" of the material Smith had already translated. Smith is only to translate the "first part" of these "plates of Nephi", however, continuing down to the reign of King Benjamin, which Smith had already translated from the abridgment. The revelation also speaks of "establishing my gospel that there may not be so much contention". It defined the church of Christ as follows: "whoso repenteth, and cometh unto me, the same is my church: whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me: therefore, he is not of my church".
Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 28–30) calling his brother Hyrum to assist in a "marvelous work", but he is not yet called to preach, but he is to be patient, meanwhile praying that he can assist in "the translation of my work". The revelation says that Hyrum "hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift", and refers to "that which you [Hyrum] are translating".
Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, p. 31) calling Joseph Knight to assist in a "marvelous work".
Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 32–32) calling David Whitmer to assist with the "marvelous work". Whitmer is told that if he asks with faith he "may stand as a witness of the things of which [he] shall both hear and see".
Years later, after 1839, Smith recalls that he and others gathered in the "chamber of Mr. Whitmer's house", where they heard a voice commanding them to ordain elders, but they refrained from doing so until the organization of the church. (Roberts 1902, pp. 60–61).
between June 1 and 14
Smith dictates a revelation (Phelps 1833, pp. 34–39) directed to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, referring to Smith's previous baptism of Cowdery (presumably on May 15) and instructing Cowdery to "build up my church". Both Cowdery and Whitmer are called to "cry repentance unto this people" and to "search out" the identities of the twelve disciples whom God had called and given power to baptize and to ordain priests and teachers. Cowdery and Whitmer will know the identities of these twelve "by their desires and their works".
Oliver Cowdery sends a letter to Hyrum Smith referencing language from the "twelve disciples" revelation. (Joseph Smith letterbook (22 November 1835 to 4 August 1835) 5-6. Commentators generally agree that this letter references the revelation. See, e.g., Larry C. Porter (June 1979), Dating the Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, Ensign, p. 5.)
abt. June or later
Oliver Cowdery receives a revelation called the Articles of the Church of Christ, about "how he should build up his church & the manner thereof". it discusses the ordination of priest and teachers, and calls members to meet regularly to partake of bread and wine. Cowdery is described as "an Apostle of Christ". The revelation contains language found in the "twelve disciples" and "three witnesses" revelations.
Smith dictated the following text from the Second Book of Nephi (found at Smith (1830, p. 110)): "Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book, and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few, according to the will of God..." According to information added in 1852 to the History of the Church (but absent in the 1842 Times and Seasons publication of the same material), this passage initiated the idea of showing the plates to three witnesses. There is a similar passage in the Book of Ether, and that passage might have been the spark (as proposed by several later editions of History of the Church). It is not known whether the Book of Ether was translated before or after the Second Book of Nephi.
Eight Witnesses, Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith, visit a grove near the Smith family home in Manchester (Anderson 2001, pp. 455–56) and have an experience described in a later "Testimony of Eight Witnesses" published as part of the 1830 Book of Mormon. The statement says, with regard to the golden plates, that they "did handle with our hands and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship." There are differing opinions on whether the witnesses believe they had seen the plates in vision, or with their natural eyes. (See Oliver Cowdery (scribe), Book of Mormon Printer's Manuscript.) Lucy Mack Smith says that the plates had been carried by this grove by "one of the ancient Nephites." (Anderson 2001, p. 456). The June 19 date is suggested because Lucy Mack Smith said the event occurred on a Thursday, and that the following Monday, the company went to visit E.B. Grandin to see if he will publish the Book of Mormon. (Anderson 2001, p. 457).
According to Lucy Mack Smith, the company from Fayette who had been among the Eight Witnesses "went to Palmyra to make arrangements for getting the book printed; and they succeeded in making a contract with one E. B. Grandin, but did not draw the writings at that time." (Anderson 2001, p. 458). The June 19 date is suggested because Lucy Mack Smith said the event occurred on a Monday of the week prior to the Thursday on which the demonstration to the Eight Witnesses occurred. (Anderson 2001, p. 457).
According to Lucy Mack Smith, the company from Fayette "returned home, excepting Joseph, and Peter Whitmer, Joseph remaining to draw writings in regard to the printing of the manuscript, which was to be done on the day following." (Anderson 2001, p. 458). Lucy Smith said this happened "the next day" after the visit to Grandin's office.
According to Lucy Mack Smith, as Joseph Smith was setting off to Palmyra to sign the contract with Grandin for the printing of the Book of Mormon, he was informed by a Dr. M'Intyre that a group of 40 men was forming to interfere with his journey. As the men sat along a fence along the way, Smith greeted them cheerfully, one-by-one and by name, and was allowed to pass by. He signed the documents and returned to Manchester. (Anderson 2001, p. 458).
The anti-MasonicPalmyra Freeman calls the Book of Mormon "the greatest piece of superstition that has come to our knowledge." The article gives an account of how the plates were found by Joseph Smith, referring to three visits by "the spirit of the Almighty", "a huge pair of spectacles", golden plates of dimensions eight by eight by six inches, Harris' visit to Samuel Mitchill. The article reproduces the title page of the Book of Mormon. No known copies survive, but the article was reprinted in other newspapers such as the Niagara Courier (27 August 1829).
A contract is drawn up with E.B. Grandin to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon for $3,000. Martin Harris agrees to mortgage his farm to pay for the printing. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxxiii).
Abner Cole begins publishing the weekly Palmyra Reflector, using E. B. Grandin's printing press. Cole announces, "The Golden Bible, by Joseph Smith Junior, author and proprietor, is now in press and will shortly appear. Priestcraft is short lived!"
In Abner Cole's Palmyra Reflector, he writes, "The Book of Mormon is expected to be ready for delivery in the course of one year — Great and marvellous things will "come to pass" about those days."
In Abner Cole's Palmyra Reflector, he writes, "We understand that the Anti-Masons have declared war against the Gold Bible—O! how impious! / The number of Gold Bible Apostles is said to be complete. Jo Smith, Jr. is about to assign to each, a mission to the heathen. We understand that Abraham Chaddock intends to build the first house in Harris' New-Jerusalem.... / Some few evenings since, a man in the town of Mendon, had a loud call to go and preach the doctrines contained in the Gold Bible, under heavy denunciations." (May refer to Calvin Stoddard, who had a "loud call" according to Tucker (1867).)
In Abner Cole's Palmyra Reflector, he accuses the editor of the anti-MasonicPalmyra Freeman of plagiarizing the Book of Mormon by using the phrase "Beware of SECRET ASSOCIATIONS". Cole notes that "The 'Gold Bible' is fast gaining credit; the rapid spread of Islamism was no touch to it!"
Smith arrives in Harmony and writes a letter to Oliver Cowdery (still in Manchester) that he has bought a horse from Josiah Stowell, and wants someone to come pick it up. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxxiii).
In Abner Cole's Palmyra Reflector, he refers mockingly to an article in the Palmyra Freeman (now lost) about Mormonism, and how "the building of the TEMPLE OF NEPHI is to be commenced about the beginning of the first year of the Millennium", and how Mormons were claiming that the Book of Mormon would "astonish the natives".
In Abner Cole's weekly Palmyra Reflector, which used E. B. Grandin's printing press and therefore had access to the Book of Mormon manuscripts, Cole announces that "at the solicitation of many of our readers we have concluded to commence publishing extracts from it on or before the commencement of the second series".
Cowdery writes to Smith in Harmony, stating that "it may look rather strange to you to find that I have so soon become a printer". (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xxxiv).
Smith travels from Harmony to Manchester with Joseph Knight, Sr., and learns that Martin Harris has been waffling on his commitment to paying his share of the debt for publication of the Book of Mormon.
Smith dictates a revelation for Martin Harris (Phelps 1833, pp. 39–42), explaining a "mystery": Smith reveals that "eternal damnation" or "endless punishment" does not mean punishment forever; rather, it just means "God's punishment". Nevertheless, Harris would suffer that exquisite punishment unless he repented, sold part of his farm, and used the cash to pay off the debt to E.B. Grandin for publication of the Book of Mormon.
Martin Harris is present at the E. B. Grandin printing press when "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" at the end of the Book of Mormon is being typeset. The typesetter later said that he asked, "'Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?' Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.'" Gilbert 1892.
The Wayne Sentinel announces that the Book of Mormon "will be ready for sale in the course of next week".
The Church of Christ is organized in either Fayette or Manchester, New York. (Quinn 1994, p. 615). A later document from June claims that the church is "regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country" (Phelps 1833, p. 48), but no articles of incorporation are found in the relevant New York agencies.
Smith dictates a revelation directing that the church keep a record, in which Smith would "be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, and apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church...." It says that Smith has been "inspired to move the cause of Zion in imighty power for good." It says that Smith is to be ordained by Oliver Cowdery, so that Cowdery would be "an elder under [Smith's] hand, he being first unto [Cowdery]". Cowdery is also to be the "first preacher of this church". (Phelps 1833, pp. 45–46).
Smith dictates a revelation stating that people who had already been baptized within some other faith would need to be re-baptized prior to becoming a member of the Church of Christ. The revelation refers to the faith as "a new and an everlasting covenant". (Phelps 1833, p. 47).
Oliver Cowdery preaches publicly for the first time as an official representative of the newly formed church. In Seneca Lake he baptizes Hiram Page, Catherine Whitmer Page, Christian Whitmer, Anne Schott Whitmer (Christian's wife), Jacob Whitmer, Elizabeth Ann Schott Whitmer (Jacob's wife), and Mary Page.
A letter to the editor of the Palmyra Reflector chastises "Hyrum Smith, and some of his ill-bred associates", for losing their cool during proselytizing. The letter refers to these men as "Apostles".
Smith begins translating sections the New Testament, claiming to receive information through revelation.
between 1 June and 9 June
In Fayette, New York, Smith drafts the "Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ". Both Smith and Oliver Cowdery are described as "an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of this church". In the earliest possible reference to Smith's First Vision, it says that "after that it truly was manifested unto this first elder, that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world; [b]ut after truly repenting, God ministered unto him by an holy angel...." The document refers to the new office of deacon. Howe, Eber Dudley, ed. (April 19, 1831), "The Mormon Creed", The [Painesville] TelegraphII (44); Diary of Zebedee Coltrin, 12 January 1832; "Revelations / The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ", Evening and Morning Star1 (1), June 1832: 1–2; "The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ", Evening and Morning Star2 (13), June 1833: 1–2; Phelps 1833, pp. 47–55. This document is considered to be the church's "constitution".
Smith has a vision in which Michael the archangel exposes the true identity of Satan, who appears to Smith as "an angel of light". Smith begins dictation of the "vision of Moses" which describes Satan appearing as an angel of light. (Quinn 1994, p. 615).
The Palmyra Reflector prints a satire of the Book of Mormon entitled "The Book of Pukei". It refers to "Walters the Magician" (Luman Walter). The "idle and slothful" send for "Walters", who "has strange books, and deals with familiar spirits", in the hope that he would lead them to Nephite treasure. "Walters" led them to a dark grove in Manchester, where he drew a magic circle with a rusty sword, sacrificed a chicken, and allowed his party to commence digging over several nights. However, their excavation was unsuccessful. When the party tires and suspects deception, "Walters" flees with his book, rusty sword, and stuffed Toad back to Great Sodus Bay (near Luman Walter's home), "where he holds communion with the Devil, even to this day." However, "his mantle fell upon the prophet Jo. Smith Jun.", who "made a league with the spirit, who afterwards turned out to be an angel."
The Palmyra Reflector sarcastically proclaims that "[t]he age of miracle has again arived", noting that Martin Harris is telling the Palmyra neighborhood about how Smith has cast out a devil "of uncommon size from a miserable man in the neighborhood of the 'great bend' of the Susquehannah."
The Palmyra Reflector continues with Chapter 2 of its satirical "Book of Pukei". The account describes the angel Moroni as "a little old man...clad, as I supposed, in Egyptian raiment, except his Indian blanket, and moccasins—his beard of silver white, hung far below his knees. On his head was an old fashioned military half cocked hat, such as was worn in the days of the patriarch Moses—his speech was sweeter than molasses, and his words were the reformed Egyptian."
In Harmony, Smith dictates a revelation chastising Smith for his "transgressions". It recalls to Smith that he has "been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan, and from darkness!" Smith is to sow his fields, and then go to the church in "Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester, and they shall support thee" while Cowdery works full time for "in Zion", but "in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling". Smith is authorized to perform "casting out devils; healing the sick; and against poisonous serpents; and against deadly poisons", but only when commanded by God. If someone does not receive him he is to shake the dust from his feet. He is to travel "without purse or scrip". (Phelps 1833, pp. 55–57).
Joseph Smith Jr. becomes aware of Hiram Page and his use of a seer stone. Page had predicted the location of the New Jerusalem, and most members of the church believed him.
Martin Harris claims to be a prophet, and tells Palmyra residents that "'Jackson would be the last president that we would have; and that all persons who did not embrace Mormonism in two years' time would be stricken off the face of the earth.' He said that Palmyra was to be the New Jerusalem, and that her streets were to be paved with gold." (Gilbert 1892).
Smith receives a revelation that only he can receive revelations for the church. (Quinn 1994, p. 615).
Smith receives a revelation that gives him authority to issue commandments to the church on any subject, because "all things unto [God] are spiritual". (Quinn 1994, p. 615).
A church conference is held. Notable events include: (1) The discussion of the Hiram Page seerstone and its refutation by unanimous vote. (2) 35 new members are added, bringing the total number to 62. (3) Peter Whitmer, Jr. is called to preach with Oliver Cowdery to the Native Americans. John Whitmer is also called to preach (D&C 30).
Immediately following the conference, Thomas B. Marsh is called to preach (D&C 31).
The new bishop and several others are called to settle Jackson County, Missouri to build the city of Zion. A small group travels to Independence, Missouri.
A non-Mormon journalist who visited the Manchester/Palmyra area writes, "On the sides & in the slopes of several of these hills, these excavations [by Smith and his associates in search of chests of money] are still to be seen". Bennett, James Gordon (31 August 1831), "Mormonism—Religious Fanaticism—Church and State Party", Morning Courier & Enquirer7 (562)inArrington 1970, 5 (online ed.).
A High Council in the Kirtland, Ohio area is organized. The Kirtland Stake of Zion is simultaneously organized.
Zion's Camp is assembled as an effort to help the beleaguered Mormons in Missouri. The "Camp" is really a motley collection of Mormons who followed Joseph Smith to Missouri with the manifest aim of defending the Mormons in Missouri. Shortly after arriving in Missouri, the force is disbanded.
The name of the church is changed from The Church of Jesus Christ to The Church of the Latter Day Saints upon a proposal by Sidney Rigdon, seconded by Newel K. Whitney and passed by the church.
Zion's camp is disbanded.
Twelve High Priests in Clay County, Missouri is organized into a High Council. David Whitmer is ordained president of the council, and John Whitmer and William Wines Phelps are ordained as counselors. Joseph Smith, while ordaining David Whitmer, also appoints him as "Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator" and mentions that he (Whitmer) should succeed him if Joseph "did not live to see God himself."
Joseph Smith, Jr. ordains Oliver Cowdery as an Assistant President of the Church, with the understanding that Cowdery should act in Smith's absence.
The committee in charge of compiling Latter Day Saint revelations, comprising Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, issue a letter that later becomes the preface to the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The preface describes the Lectures on Faith as "embracing the important doctrine of salvation", and describes the remaining section as containing "items of principles for the regulation of the church, as taken from the revelations which have been given since its organization, as well as from former ones." In the process of compilation, many of these earlier revelations were extensively revised by the committee.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet together and confessed their shortcomings and weaknesses to one another before separating on their missions. At this meeting, Joseph Smith receives Doctrine and Covenants section 107, regarding the priesthood. It clarifies the order and administration of the various offices of the priesthood, appointing the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and First Quorum of the Seventy as equals in the church. The decisions of these quorums must be made unanimously. The standing high councils of the several stakes also form a body equal in authority.
The church holds its general conference, though Joseph Smith, Jr. and Frederick G. Williams are absent. The church body unanimously adopts and canonizes the Doctrine and Covenants as compiled by the committee of Smith, Williams, Oliver Cowdery, and Sidney Rigdon. Among the new revelations is D&C 134, concerning the relationship between church, government, and individuals, asserting that governments are instituted by God for the benefit of man; that government should protect the freedom of men to worship as they please; that all men should uphold their government and laws; that churches should not exercise civil powers; and that individuals are justified in defending themselves and their property. Another section 101 was included that condemns the practice of polygamy.
Further organizing the priesthood, presidents of each priesthood quorum are called for the Kirtland Stake of Zion, as is a president of the Kirtland Temple, now nearing completion.
Joseph Smith states that he had received a vision in which he saw that salvation is possible for those who die without a knowledge of the gospel (D&C 137).
January 26-March 26
"Furthermore, he and others had studied Hebrew in Kirtland, Ohio, with Professor Joshua Seixas for two hours a day from January 26 through March 26, 1836."
All the presidencies of the church meet in the Kirtland Temple according to their order.
The first dedication of the Kirtland Temple is held.
At a solemn assembly in the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith comments that he has completed the organization of the priesthood.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery later state that, on this date, Jesus Christ appeared to them and declared the temple acceptable. Moses, Elijah, and Elias are also reported to have appeared in order to confer the keys of the priesthood upon Joseph Smith (D&C 110).
Clay County residents resolve to ask that the Mormons leave their county. Up to this time, Mormons in the county had not voted on local affairs nor been accused of any crimes. Residents assert that the differences between themselves and Mormon would not allow them to peaceably reside together. The resolution encourages the Mormons to settle in Wisconsin.
Under the direction of Alexander W. Doniphan, it is agreed that a new county should be formed for the Mormons called Caldwell County, in what is now Clay County, Missouri. Mormons begin leaving Ray and Clay County to settle the proposed area. Plans for and work on the community of Far West, Missouri begin. Far West, Missouri is the proposed county seat for the new county.
The township of Far West, Missouri in Clay County is entered by the Mormons. It would serve as the county seat of the soon-to-be-formed Caldwell County.
The Kirtland Safety Society, also known as The Kirtland Bank, is formed for use by church members in financial affairs.
To ease tensions among Clay and Jackson County residents and provide a county for Mormon settlers, Caldwell County is created by legislation, passing the House on the 23rd and the Senate on the 27th. Daviess County is also created, although disputations about its purpose arise later. Missouri natives feel that the Mormons agreed not to settle it, although no such agreement existed or was acknowledged by the Mormons.
Smith and Sidney Rigdon write to John Whitmer and ask him to return the manuscript history of the church that Whitmer had started in 1832. They say that if Whitmer does not return the manuscript, they will start their own history from other materials. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, pp. ix, xix)
Apostle Luke S. Johnson is excommunicated from the church after being disfellowhipped and returning for a short period.
While in Far West, Missouri, Joseph Smith presents section 115 of the Doctrine of Covenants, naming the church "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". Also in this revelation, the Lord commands the church to build a temple in Far West. Work begins almost immediately.
Smith and Sidney Rigdon begin preparing a church history, with George W. Robinson as scribe. This history describes the most well-known accounts of his First Vision and the visits of the angel Moroni. Though the original manuscript history is not known to exist, it was later copied into the 1839 Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, pp. ix-x). Contrary to earlier and later writing, the history indicates that the angel who appeared to Smith was named "Nephi" (rather than "Moroni", as Smith and Oliver Cowdery had separately said in 1835 publications). Some scholars consider this to be a clerical error, though it was never corrected by Smith in later publications. Other scholars believe that Smith saw both Nephi and the angel Moroni. (Marquardt & Walters 1994, pp. xv, xix).
Smith spends the afternoon "answering the questions proposed in the Elders Journal", one of which was "How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon?" The answer, published in July 1838, states, "Moroni, the person who deposited the plates from whence the book or Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead, and raised again therefrom, appeared to me, and told me where they were..." (Marquardt & Walters 1994, p. xix)
Sidney Rigdon delivers the "Salt Sermon" which generated much excitement in the church and among detractors.
A Mormon settlement is established in a church conference above Wight's ferry on Spring Hill in Daviess County. The site is named as Adam-ondi-Ahman.
Adam-ondi-Ahman is formed into a stake and thus a gathering place for members of the church. It is the third stake established in the church. John Smith is named president of the stake, with Reynolds Cahoon and Lyman Wight counselors. Vinson Knight is acting bishop. President John Smith then organizes the High Council: John Lemon, Daniel Stanton, Mayhew Hillman, Daniel Carter, Isaac Perry, Harrison Sagers, Alanson Brown, Thomas Gordon, Lorenzo Barnes, George A. Smith, Harvey Olmstead, Ezra Thayer.
The cornerstone is laid for the new temple to be constructed at Far West. Sidney Rigdon declares a "war of extermination" on those who intend to remove the saints from their land and deprive them of their liberties.
The "Kirtland Camp", 515 members under the direction of the Seventy, leave Kirtland, Ohio for Far West, Missouri.
John N. Sapp, who declared himself a member of a secret Mormon group known as the Danites, swears in an affidavit before the Carroll County clerk concerning the size of the Danite army. He states that they were about 800 – 1,000 well-equipped and ready men.
The first battle of the Mormon War occurs as Mormons in Daviess County are prevented from voting in the Gallatin Election. The brawl leaves no one dead, but reports are exaggerated.
Upon hearing the exaggerated reports of the previous day's battle, Joseph Smith rallies 150 men and marches to Adam-ondi-Ahman to protect the settlement there.
Judge Adam Black of Daviess County pledges support of the constitutional rights of everyone in Daviess County, regardless of religion.
October 1-October 11
Carroll County residents besieges the town of De Witt, which was inhabited by Mormons. Negotiations led to the abandonment of the settlement without violence.
The "Kirtland Camp" arrives in Far West, after traveling 3 months through difficult conditions.
Under the direction of the state militia, Mormons organize as an official state militia and march to disband the forming mobs in Daviess County. Allegations of property destruction and theft are made against the Mormons. No lives are lost.
Under the pretense that the Mormon militia looted and burned property in Daviess County to disperse the mobs, General Atchison authorizes local groups to patrol the border of Ray County and Caldwell County.
Apostles Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, also disaffected from the church, sign an affidavit claiming that Joseph Smith was trying to take over the world and was using the Danites to murder people. They submit the affidavit to authorities in Richmond, Missouri.
A renegade militia group from Livingston County attacks a Mormon settlement in the bloodiest conflict of the Mormon War, and 17 are killed. The event is known as Haun's Mill Massacre.
Mormon leaders are taken into custody and declared responsible for the violence and destruction of the conflict.
After a short trial, General Lucas orders the leaders of the church to be executed. General Doniphan refuses, recognizing the charges were inaccurate and that little solid information about the events of the conflict was known. Far West is plundered, and several other leaders are captured. After being allowed a brief good-bye, the leaders are led away to Independence for imprisonment and trial.
Joseph prophesies that none of the prisoners are going to die.
Fifty-six more prisoners are taken from Far West. The imprisoned leaders arrive in Independence.
General Lucas addresses the citizens of Far West. Far West prisoners leave for Richmond.
General Wilson surroundes Adam-ondi-Ahman. Joseph and some of the other prisoners in Independence leave for Richmond. Their guards become drunk, but no escape is attempted.
All citizens of Adam-ondi-Ahman are acquitted, but they are ordered to move to Caldwell County to prepare to leave Missouri.
November 25 : Preliminary hearings on the fate of the leaders of the church begin under Judge King. Witnesses testify at the point of a bayonet. Numerous violations of judicial process are recorded. Twenty-three of the imprisoned men are released, leaving thirty in custody. During the hearings, excommunicated members rob the homes of several members in Far West.
Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae are ordered to the jail in Liberty, Clay County; Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase, and Norman Shearer are retained in the Richmond jail. The remaining 19 are released or allowed release on bail.
Governor Boggs defends his Extermination Order in the state legislature.
A committee of Edward Partridge, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Theodore Turley, Brigham Young, Isaac Morley, George W. Harris, John Murdock, and John M. Burk draft a petition to the state legislature detailing the Mormon side of the conflict.
The petition is delivered to the state legislature by David H. Redfield, who also meet with General Atchison, Governor Boggs, and others.
A revelation is received by Joseph Smith ordering the church to build a temple in Nauvoo. Also, the order of baptism for the dead is laid out. The church is also excused from building the temple in Jackson County due to the persecution at that time. (D&C 124)
A gunman shoots Governor Boggs in his home, hitting him four times. The gunman is not found, but his revolver was left at the scene. Rumor and speculation points to Porter Rockwell, Joseph Smith's personal bodyguard, as the would-be assassin. Rockwell denies this, remarking that if it was him, Boggs would not have recovered.
Joseph Smith dictates the revelation concerning eternal marriage, or "the new and everlasting covenant", including the plurality of wive s(D&C 132). Although written down in 1843, some scholars believe that Smith transcribed a revelation recommending polygamy as early as July 17, 1831 thirty years after the supposed revelation.
The only issue of the Nauvoo Expositor is published by men angry with Joseph Smith and the Church. It is highly critical of Smith and his doctrines and practices.
After being declared a public nuisance by the Nauvoo City Council, the printing press of the Nauvoo Expositor is destroyed.
Charles A. Foster, a co-publisher of the Nauvoo Expositor, reports that the destruction of the Expositor printing press two days earlier was carried out by several hundred people and the building the machine was housed in was damaged. The city marshal contradicts him, claiming that the destruction was carried out in an orderly fashion. The building stands for at least ten more years.
Amid threats of violence concerning the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, Joseph Smith, Jr., as mayor, declares martial law in Nauvoo and activates the Nauvoo Legion, a private militia of about 5,000 men.
Joseph Smith, Jr. submits to arrest and agrees to trial in Carthage, Illinois, the county seat. Before he arrives, he prophesies, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me 'He was murdered in cold blood!'" He is held in Carthage Jail.
The Mormon Battalion is formed. Brigham Young prophesies that the recruits won't see battle and will perform a great service for their country. Many people join up despite the difficulties of the time. They send as much money to their families and the church as possible.
Brigham Young receives D&C 136 by way of revelation, which concerns the organization of the westward movement, standards of behavior for the saints, and an explanation on why God allowed Joseph Smith to be killed.
The Mormon Battalion completes the longest march in U.S. Army history, arriving in California.
The federal government sends troops to Utah known as the "Utah Expedition" to replace Brigham Young as governor. This results in the Utah War.
Apostle Parley P. Pratt is murdered by Hector McLean and two others near Van Buren, Arkansas. Pratt had married McLean's former wife in plural marriage. Pratt was acquitted on charges of interfering in McLean's marriage a few days earlier.
Patrick E. Connor arrives in Utah with California recruits to represent the federal government as they had been pulled out of Utah due to the American Civil War. He establishes Fort Douglas and encourages his men to find valuable ores so that miners are enticed to settle in Utah to offset the Mormon population.
President Abraham Lincoln signs the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act which not only bans plural marriage but limits church and non-profit ownership in the territories to $50,000. The measure has no funds allocated for enforcement, and President Lincoln's opinion is to leave the Mormons alone if they leave him alone.
Women's Suffrage is rewarded with another victory, as the Utah Territory follows the Wyoming Territory's lead in giving the right to vote to women. It remains in effect until 1887, when it is banned by federal legislation. This was pushed by the People's Party because there were only a few non-Mormon women in the state. This gave the People's Party an overwhelming advantage at the polls.
Non-Mormon Liberal Party members in Tooele County, Utah gain control of the county government, beginning the first government run by non-Mormons in Utah. They whimsically rename the county "The Republic of Tooele". The federally appointed governor and courts uphold the election, refusing to examine charges by the Mormon People's Party that many voters had voted illegally without satisfying voter requirements.
The Mormon-controlled legislature of the Utah Territory passes laws requiring voter registration and women's suffrage in all local election. This will lead to the Liberal Party losing its majority in Tooele County.
Section 101 from the 1835 Edition of Doctrine and Covenants (and subsequent printings) was removed. Section 101 was a Statement on Marriage as adopted by a conference of the church, and contained the following text:
"Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."
It was superseded by section 132 of the modern LDS edition, which contains a revelation received by Joseph Smith on eternal marriage and teaches the doctrine of plural marriage.
After six months of delay tactics and formalities, the Mormon-run People's Party regains control of Tooele County, after 5 years of rule by the non-Mormon Liberal Party. The county is left with $16,000 in debt."
"Our crime has been: We married women instead of seducing them; we reared children instead of destroying them; we desired to exclude from the land prostitution, bastardy and infanticide. If George Reynolds [the man who was convicted of committing bigamy] is to be punished, let the world know the facts . . . . Let it be published to the four corners of the earth that in this land of liberty, the most blessed and glorious upon which the sun shines, the law is swiftly invoked to punish religion, but justice goes limping and blindfolded in pursuit of crime."
After a bitter dispute between George Q. Cannon (who won a decisive victory) and Liberal Party candidate Allen G. Campbell over who was allowed to represent Utah territory in the House of Representatives, both are denied the position. George Q. Cannon's practice of polygamy was the deciding issue and re-sparks national controversy on the topic.
The Edmunds Act declares polygamy a felony. The act not only reinforces the 1862 Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act but also revokes the right of polygamists to vote, disallows them from holding political office, and also makes them ineligible to serve on the jury, regardless of whether they are practicing or merely believe in it. All elected offices in the Utah Territory were vacated, an election board was formed to issue certificates to those who denied polygamy and did not practice it, and new elections were held territory-wide. Practicing polygamists would have their civil rights taken away without a trial or due process. Adulterers and fornicators had no such penalties applied and did not lose their rights.
Rudger Clawson is tried for polygamy by a jury composed of 12 non-Mormons. Even though the polygamous marriage was performed before the 1862 Morrill act, he is tried ex-post facto, in clear violation of the Constitution of the United States. He is imprisoned and fined for his marriage.
The People's Party disbands and members of the church join one of the two national parties as the effort continues to achieve statehood. With three effective parties in the territory, the Deseret News calls the Liberal Party the "bastard party" even though it is able to take a third of the seats in the state legislature.
^This date derives from Morgan (1986, p. 224), who cites a Palmyra Western Farmer advertisement for the debating society dated Wednesday, Jan. 23, 1822, "at the school house near Mr. Billings' on Friday next.
^These stories may have ceased by Nov. 1823. Lucy Mack Smith stated that after Alvin died, the family "could not bear to hear anything said upon the subject" of the golden plates (Smith 1853, p. 90).
Andrus, Hyrum Leslie (1973), Doctrines of the Kingdom, Salt lake City, UT: Bookcraft, republished as Andrus, Hyrum L. (1999), Doctrines of the Kingdom: Volume III from the Series Foundations of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, Salt lake City: Deseret Book, ISBN1-57345-462-1.
Porter, Larry C. (1971), 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, Brigham Young University library (Ph.D dissertation).
Prince, Gregory A (1995), Power From On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, ISBN1-56085-071-X.
^While not considered a schism of the Church of Christ (Fettingite) and its founder Otto Fetting, the Church of Christ at Halley's Bluff accepted Fetting's revelations, but it did not immediately break with the Fettingites in 1929. Nerren and Long instead formed a separate sect in 1932, which was later joined by five other former Temple Lot congregations by 1941.
^Members consider themselves as remaining adherents of the (historical) Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (As of 2011, litigation by the Community of Christ against Restoration Branch individuals and entities generally established CofC's right to both the full and abbreviated RLDS name.)