OliverCowdery.com: The Premier Web-site for Early Mormon History

Mormons and anti-Mormons, 1831-39

Crisis at Kirtland (Preface)   |   Sources   |   "Home"

The Records of Mormon Leaders
at Kirtland, 1832-34 (excerpts)

Kirtland Council Minute Book  |  Oliver Cowdery Letter  |  Orson Hyde Letter
Mormon Leaders Prayer Meeting  |  Joseph Smith Note, Jr. 1834 Note to Newel K. Whitney

Kirtland Council Minute Book


A conference of Elders convened in Kirtland on the 3rd day of December AD 1832 for the purpose of ordaining Bro Noah Packard. Present Joseph Smith Jr Sidney Rigdon Levi Hancock Solomon Humphry and F G Williams. then proceded to ordain brother Noah Packard to be a Priest in the church of Christ which was done by the hand of Bro Joseph and prayer by Brother Sidney
        F G Williams Clk of Con
        Joseph Smith Jr Prsd...

1832 . . .

Kirtland 13th Feby 1833
A Council of High Priests assembled in the School room to investigate the case of Brother Burr Riggs who was accused of not magnifying his calling as a high Priest in the Church of Christ but had been guilty of neglect of duty and abusing the Elders and treating their admonition and advice with contempt after taking the case into consideration Bro Burr agreed to make satisfaction but did not show much humility. The conference adjourned by prayer.         F.G. Williams...

Kirtland 18 March 1833
Ordination of Doctor Hurlburt by the hand of Sidney Rigdon to be an Elder

Note: The next two pages (numbered "15" and "16" in the original and part of "12" in some typescripts) are missing from the original document. The subject matters of their contents is unknown, but they may have mentioned D.P. Hurlbut. The following entry mentioning Hurlbut (on June 3) is out of sequence in relation to a subsequent entry date.

Kirtland 3 June 1833
A Conference of high Priests convened in Kirtland at the Translating room -- Bro Sidney opened the conference by prayer first [case] before the conference was that of Doctor Hurlbut who was accused of unchristian conduct with the female sex while on a mission to the east -- it was decided that his commission be taken from him and that he be no longer a member of the Church of Christ....
        F.G. Williams Clk P.T....

Doctor Hurlbut
Joseph Wood
George Gee
Daniel Copley
William Pratt
Isaac H. Bishop
These brethren having come to Kirtland and on the 19th day of March a conference was called to inquire into their motives in coming to Kirtland &c. Brother Joseph Wood & William Pratt arose and stated that they came in from their mission for the purpose of settling their private business to prepare the way for them to go forth to proclaim the Gospel
Next arose Bro Daniel and said he came to know the will of the Lord concerning him George Gee also said he came to know the will of the Lord and to do some business Brother Hurlburt also said he came to obtain information.Broth Isaac Bishop also arose and said he came for information and desired to know his duty.
After calling upon the Lord to direct in council it was agreed that Bro. Hurlburt and Bro Daniel should journey together to the east & proclaim by the way, and that Bro Wood and Bro Pratt journey together to the east after settling their business, and Broth George Gee after finding that he had no special business was sharply reproved and desired not running to Kirtland not having any business without paying for his bo[a]rd and that all who go forth to proclaim use their influence to procure relief for the poor in Kirtland.
        F.G. Williams Ck P.T. . . .

Note: The next few pages appear to be collated out of chronological order. A page numbered "16" in the original document is reproduced at this point in some typescripts. Some other pages are missing from the original document.

Kirtland 18 March 1833
This day an assembly of the High Priests met at the schoolroom of the prophets and were organized in due form by solemnn prayer to the Most High by Sidney Rigdon -- then proceeded to ordain Doctor Hurlbut to be an elder under the hand of Sidney Rigdon -- after which Bro. Sidney arose and desired that he and Bro. Frederick should be ordained [to their offices in the High Priesthood -- counsellors to President Joseph Smith] . . . . thus, and again verely I say unto thy brethren Sidney and Frederick their sins are forgiven them also and they are accounted equal in holding the keys of this last kingdom, and again I give unto you a commandment that you continue in this ministry and presidency and when you have finished the translating of the prophets you shall from thenceforth preside over the affairs of the Church and the School from time to time as shall be manifest by the comforter receive revelation to unfold the mysteries of the Kingdom and set in order the Church. Acordingly Bro Joseph proceded to and ordained them by the laying on of hands to be equal with him in holding the keys of the Kingdom and also the Presidency of the high Priesthood after which several exortations were given to faithfulness and obedience to the commandments of God and much useful instruction given for the benefit of the saints with a promise that the pure in heart that were present should see a heavenly vision and after remaining for a short time in secret prayer the promise was verified to many present having the eyes of their understandings opened so as to behold many things after which many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the Saviour and concourses of angels and many other things of which each one has a record of what they saw &c.         F.G. Williams Ck P.T. . . .

This day called a conference of High Priests 6th June 1833. Bro Joseph opened by prayer. Orson Hyde being nominated a Clerk for the presidency of the High Priesthood Seconded and duly chosen by vote, and took his seat to act. The occasion of the conference being called, was this: to council the committee who were appointed to take the oversight of the building of the House of the Lord. These are the names of the committee Reynolds Cahoon, Jared Carter & Hyrum Smith. It was voted by the conference that the committee proceed immediately to commence building the House or obtaining materials, stone Brick Lumber &c.

Note: There are no minutes entries recorded for the dates between June 6 and June 21, 1833. It is possible that more entries are missing from the original document at this point. The following entry, concerning D.P. Hurlbut (atypically written by Joseph Smith himself) begins abruptly, without the usual date and heading for a council meeting. The original preface to his personal confession may have been lost prior to the writing of this entry into the manuscript.

I, Doct P. Hurlbert, having been tried before the Bishops Council of High Priests in a charge of unchristian like conduct with the female sex, and myself being absent at the time and considering that strict justice was not done me, I do by [these presents] most solemly enter my appeal unto the Presidents council of high priests for a rehearing according to the privilige garranteed to me in the laws of the Church[,] which council is now assembled in the School room in Kirtland the 21st June 1833. --

It was motioned seconded and voted that Bro D. P. Hurlbut be granted a re-hearing -- Bro Joseph, the President, opened the council by prayer. The council then proceeded to ordain two High Priests to make out the number, twelve, that the council or Church court might be organized. Bro John and William Smith were ordained by the hands of Bro Sidney Rigdon by the voice of the council   Bro Hurlburts case was laid before the court & the testimony against him given by Orson Hyde & Hyrum Smith and duly investigated. It was decided that Bro H should be forgiven because of the liberal confession which he made. This council decided that the Bishops council decided correctly before, and that Bro H's crime was sufficient to cut him off from the Church, but on his confession, he was restored.
        Joseph Smith Jr

June 21st 1833
Bro Daniel Copley's priest licence and membership were taken from him [by the Presidents court] because he refused to fulfil his mission according to the council of the High Priesthood of the holy order of God

Bro D.P. Hurlberts case was called in question this day before a general council and upon the testimony of Bro Gee of Thompson, who testified that Bro D.P.H. said that he had deceived Joseph Smith['s] God, or the Spirit by which he is actuated &c &c The council proceeded to cut him off from the Church. There was also corroberating testimony brought against him by Bro Hodges         23 June 1833

The names of the Temples to be built on the painted squares as represented on the plot of the City of Zion which is now about to be forwarded thither. Nos 10,11, & 12, are to be called, House of the Lord for the presidency of the High and most holy Priesthood after the order of Melchizadeck which was after the order of the son of God upon Mount Zion City of the New Jerusalem. . . . 1834...


Wesley Hulbert was cited to appear before the Bishops Court this evening, at R. Cahoon's to answer to a charge or complaint made against him by Harriet Howe, Alfred Fish and others, that he, the said Hulbert, had denied the faith and had spoken reproachfully of the Church. Said that he did not believe Joseph Smith was a true Prophet &c. The Court and witnesses met according to appointment, but the said Hulbert did not appear altho he was in the place and might have appeared as well as not. consequently he was cut off from the Church.
Kirtland 2nd January 1834         Orson Hyde Clk....

Thursday evening, February 12, 1834. This evening the high Priests and Elders of the Church in Kirtland at the house of bro. Joseph Smith Jun. in Council for Church business. The council was organized, and opened by bro. Joseph Smith Jun in prayer. Bro. Joseph then rose and said: I shall now endeavor to set forth before this council, the dignity of the office which has been conferred upon me by the ministring of the Angel of God, by his own will and by the voice of this Church. I have never set before any council in all the order in which a Council ought to be conducted, which, perhaps, has deprived the Council of some, or many blessings.... He also told us of his transgression at the time he was translating the Book of Mormon. He also prophecied that he should stand and shine like the sun in the firmament when his enemies and the gainsayers of his testimony should be put down and cut off and their names blotted out from among men. After the council had received much good instruction from Bro. Joseph, the case of Bro. Martin Harris against whom certain charges were preferred by Bro. Sidney Rigdon. One was that he told Edqr. A.C. Russell that Joseph drank too much liquor when he was translating the Book of Mormon and that he wrestled with many men and threw them &c. Another charge was, that he exalted himself above Bro. Joseph, in that he said bro. Joseph knew not the contents of the Book of Mormon until after it was translated. Bro. Martin said he did not tell Edqr Russell that bro. Joseph drank too much liquor while translating the Book of Mormon, but this thing took place before the Book of Mormon was translated. He confessed that his mind was darkened and that he had said many things indavertently calculating to wound the feelings of his brother and promised to do better. The council forgave him and gave him much good advice. Bro Rich was called in question for transgressing the word of wisdom and for selling the revelations at an extortionary price while he was gone East with father Lions which thing Bro Rich confessed before the council and the council forgave him upon his promising to do better and reform his life.
        Council then concluded by prayer by Bro. S. Rigdon
        Orson Hyde Clk

This day, Feb. 17, 1834,
a conference of High Priests assembled in Kirtland at the House of bro. Joseph Smith Jun. They proceeded to organize the Presidents Church Council, consisting of twelve high priests, and this according to the law of God.... The president of the church, who is also the president of the Council, is appointed by the voice of the Saviour and acknowledged in his administration by the voice of the Church, and it is according to the dignity of his office that he should preside over the high council of the Church... In cases of difficulty respecting doctrine, or principle, if there is not a sufficency written to make the case clear to the mind of the Council, the president may inquire and obtain the send of the Lord by revelation....

Kirtland Feb 19, 1834.
The council assembled pursuant to adjournment. Joseph Smith Jnr. opened the council... The document was received by the unanimous voice of the Council, with this provision, that, if the president should hereafter discover any lack in the same he should be privileged to fill it up....

Kirtland, 20 Feb'y, 1834.
High council met this evening according to appointment to determine concerning the elders going out to preach &c. The president opened the council by prayer.

At a church meeting held in Pennsylvania, Erie Co. and Springfield Township by Orson Pratt & Lyman Johnson, high priests, Some of the members of the church refused to partake of the Sacrament because the Elder administering it did not observe the words of wisdom to obey them. Lyman argued that they were justified in so doing because the Elder was in transgression. Orson argued that the church was bound to receive the supper under the administration of an Elder so long as he retained his office, or licence. Voted that six counsellors should speak upon the subject, or case.

The council then proceeded to try the question, whether disobedience to the word of wisdom was a transgression sufficient to deprive an official member from holding an officer in the church, after haveing it sufficently taught him. Samuel H Smith, Luke Johnson, John S Carter, Sylvester Smith, John Johnson and Orson Hyde were called to speak upon the case then before the council. After the counsellors had spoken, the President proceeded to give a decision: "That no official member in this church is worthy to hold an office after having the words of wisdom properly taught to him, and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with, or obey them; after which the counsellors voted according to the same.["]...


Document: Jan. 13, 1834 Oliver Cowdery Letter (to his brother, Lyman Cowdery, in New York State)

Source: H. E. Huntington Collection: OCLB 18-22 (as photo-reproduced on microfilm #95, RLDS Library and Archives, Independence, MO).

Notes: Oliver Cowdery's saying that "Hurlbut is now in this country" probably refers to the fact that D.P. Hurlbut had returned from his evidence-gathering travels in the East and was again residing in Geuaga Co., Ohio. Hurlbut likely returned from that trip on or before the "21st day of Dec. 1833," as listed in the record of Joseph Smith's court actions against the man. The fact that Oliver so refers to Hurlbut (without further introduction) shows that Lyman Cowdery was already familiar with the man and his activities. Indeed, it appears from Oliver's remark, ("you would never regret that you did not open a communication with him") that Lyman had been contemplating contacting Hurlbut or responding to a solicitation previously made by him. If so, Lyman probably communicated that information in the letter of Jan. 3, 1834 which Oliver refers to in his opening sentence. As D.P. Hurlbut had been visiting New York State only a few days before this time, it appears that Lyman learned of the ex-Mormon's activities locally, and not via some Mormon source in Ohio.

Oliver's reference to law-suits being brought by the Mormon leaders against "the heads of the mob" at this time no doubt refers to court actions in Missouri. A law-suit was also being initiated by the Mormon leaders against D. P. Hurlbut at this same time in Ohio, and Cowdery may have regarded him as a similar "head" of the local "mob."


Kirtland, Ohio
Monday, January 13, 1834

Dear Brother Lyman,

Yours of the 3d and post marked the 5th of this month, was received at this office by Saturday's mail. Not having been favored with a communication from you since I left your state in October, 1830, I can say, that I am willing to acknowledge the gratitude which occupied my bosom on the reception of yours bearing date as above. I was happy to learn of the health of yourself and family, and I doubt not, but I am remembered with due brotherly kindness yet by yourself and sister Liza. I was pleased with your principles as advanced in yours to me, and in reply I may say, that as to the pure republicanism which was the basis of my political creed while with you, I have not changed from the same, for the Magna Charta, of equal rights, equal privileges, is that which shall never be dishonored by me; and my fervent wish, is that it never may be by any of the name, while this country is called America, or the sun in yonder firmament continues to shed his light upon the footstool of God.

My occupation in life is different from what it was when I resided in your country, and my profession is also different, but so long as we all are bound to support the constitution and are held amenable to the laws, it is but just, that we should entertain our own opinions, and exercise our own privileges in every matter in which we all are so deeply interested; consequently then, I consider it not only my privilege, but my duty, to myself and to the name, to ever entertain uncontrolled and unshackled principle as to the matters of our government, and without further comment on this point, I will say, that as they were when I was with you, so they will remain.

Perhaps you may be anxious to ascertain my principles as to particular forms of government, that is whether a government would not be better administered by the clergy, or to speak more in the common phrase, whether a government of Church and State would not be preferable to ours, or any other? I have observed for some time past, a move toward that end by a certain sect in our land, which has excited my attention, and caused me perhaps, to investigate the subject more closely than I should have done, had it been otherwise. My opinion upon this point is established, and is simply this, the moment on any one religious sect, how extant, gains the ascendancy sufficient to hold the administration of our government, the human heart is so easily corrupted that a spirit of intolerance would immediately transcend that of justice and equality that we should be compelled to immediately bid an everlasting adieu to our hard bought liberty.

You ask me for information relative to the shameful outrage in Missouri. I forward you a paper with this letter, from which you will learn every principal matter relating to the same, excepting that I have been informed that the governor of the state has offered to reinstate my friends upon their own lands and also has issued his proclamation to call out three hundred men from the adjoining counties that a court might be held; but the last has not yet been confirmed, consequently I wait without putting too much evidence in it, until I learn further particulars. I may say with propriety, however that one of the most disgraceful scenes has transpired, that has ever been the painful duty of any American Citizen to record, or relate since these colonies were organized into free states. Peaceable inhabitants have been vilely and inhumanly treated, and one killed; helpless women and children have been compelled to seek an asylum among strangers, and some to wander in the open prairies without food, or anything but the open canopy to shelter them. These unlawful proceedings will, no doubt, be accounted for (though not made to appear justifiable). When I inform you that those men were principally emigrants from the Southern States, and settled in that country before the land came into market, and the probability is, that few were able to purchase and if they are not the offscourings of the United States, the society from which they came is equally to be pitied with themselves.

How this unhappy affair will terminate I am unable to say, but I am informed that several suits have been commenced against the heads of the mob. And I have no hesitancy in saying, that if justice is done, we shall receive a fair compensation for all our damages sustained, and these miserable outlaws feel the weight of justice to that efficient degree that they will perhaps be willing to let. I was pleased with your observations relative to the Book of Mormon. That "if it is true it will stand, but if not it will fall," is a fact [that?] needs no casuist to determine the matter. That I have equal claim upon the laws for protection in my manner of faith and worship, is a fact also, that no scholar of the constitution will, for the moment deny; and to seek the destruction of a man because of his religion, is a step too low for any citizens of our Republic to take. The body may be confined in chains, racked upon the wheel, or consumed with the fagot, but still Mens Invicta Manet (The Mind remains unconquered). Hurlbut is now in this country pedling slanders, but has said nothing about myself as I have learned. If you were acquainted with his character, as represented to me, you would never regret that you did not open a communication with him.

I was married one year the 18th of December last, to Miss Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, formerly of Fayette, Seneca County, NY. I left her in Missouri last summer expecting to return, soon, but did not. I sent for her last fall but the season was so far advanced that she did not deem it prudent to come this season; I frequently hear from her, she is well, and probably will come to this county next spring. How long I may tarry here is to me uncertain, as I expect, (if life is spared), sooner or later to remove again to Missouri, as it is by far the most delightful country that I ever saw. I do not expect to go [for?] years however. Should you visit sister Olive I should be highly gratified if you could so arrange your business as [to?] visit me also. Father is about to apply for a pension, and will I think succeed in obtaining it. If he should not, however, I shall write you to get certificates of his character as a man of truth &c. [as?] he has not lived in this place but a short time, and is [not?] as well known as in your place. The family are as well as usual, and pleased to hear from you.

I hope, brother Lyman, that our religious opinions will never be a barrier between [us?] as brethren, on my part it never will while I am possessed [of?] my natural intellect. I would be glad to write you more fully [on?] many subjects, and particularly on that of religion, but [am?] under the necessity of closing abridging my letter for [want?] of time and room. I was about to publish a part of [your?] letter, the principles contained in it being of so important a nature, but did not know but it would be an intrusion, so I shall forbear.

You will please accept my respects and esteem, for yourself and sister Eliza, and write when convenient.
I am, &c.,

Oliver Cowdery.

Document: Jan. 22, 1834 Orson Hyde Letter (to the Mormons in Missouri.)

Source: Times & Seasons, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, Aug. 1, 1845.

Notes: Orson Hyde's remark, that there was then "not quite so much danger of a mob upon us as there has been," appears directly related to the fact that "Bro. Joseph" had (on the "21st day of Dec. 1833,") demanded a Justice of the Peace's "warrant" against D.P. Hurlbut, and that Smith's charges against the ex-Mormon had been heard in a "three days trial." According to Hyde, following the outcome of this hearing, Hurlbut's "influence was pretty much destroyed" and the local "spirit of hostility" held by some of the non-Mormons had "broken down in a good degree." These remarks indicate that D.P. Hurlbut was either a major leader of local hostile efforts against the Saints, or the main promoter of such work in the earliest part of 1833.

The official record regarding this "three days trial" may be found in 1834 Ohio vs. Hurlbut documents. In part, it reads:  "On complaint of Joseph Smith Junr. against the defendant against J. C. Dowen a Justice of the Peace for Kirtland Township in said County made on the 21st day of Dec. 1833 a warrant was issued by said J. C. Dowen, Justice aforesaid which was returned before me William Holbrook a Justice of the Peace for Painesville township in the County aforesaid on the 4th day of January A D 1834 by Stephen Sherman a Constable of Kirtland township with defendant in Court."

Times  and  Seasons

Vol. 6. No. 14.                       City of Nauvoo, Illinois, August 1, 1845.                       Whole No. 122.

[pp. 976-977]


On the 22nd, the presidency of the High Priesthood wrote from Kirtland to the brethren in Christ Jesus, scattered from Zion, scattered abroad from the land of their inheritance:


We your companions in tribulation, embrace the present opportunity of sending you this token of our love and good will, assuring you that our bowels are filled with compassion, and that we have just received intelligence from you through the medium of Brother Elliott, of Chagrin, making enquiries concerning the course which you are to pursue. In addition to the knowledge contained in the above on this subject, we say if it is not the duty of the Governor to call our and keep a standing force in Jackson county to protect you on you lands, (which it appears, must be done, as we understand the mob are determined to massacre you if the Governor takes you back upon your lands and leaves you unprotected;) it will become your duty to petition the Governor, to petition the President to send a force there to protect you, when you are reinstated.

The Governor proposed to take you back to your lands whenever you are ready to go, (if we understand correctly,) but cannot keep up any army to guard you; and while he hostile feelings of the people of Jackson county remain unabated, probably you dare not go back to be left unguarded. Therefore, in your petition to the Governor, set all these things forth in their proper light and pray him to notify the PResidnet of your situation, and also petition the President yourselves, according to the direction of the Lord. We have petitioned Gov. Dunklin in your behalf, and enclosed it in a printed revelation, the same of this, which we now send to you. The petition was signed by some thing like sixty brethren, and maile for Jefferson City, one week ago, and he will probably receive it two weeks before you receive this.

We also calculate to send a petition and this revelation to the President forthwith, in your behalf, and then we will act the part of the poor widow to perfection, if possible, and let our rulers read their destiny if they do not lend a helping hand. We exhort you to prosecute and try every lawful means to bring the mob to (justice), as fast as circumstances will permit. With regard to your tarrying in Clay county, we cannot say; you must be governed by circumstances; perhaps you will have tto obtain bread until the Lord delivers.

We sent you a fifty dollar United States note some time ago, if you have received it, please acknowledge he receipt of it, to us that we may be satisfied you received it. We shall do all that is in our power to assist you in every way we can. We know your situation is a trying one, but be patient and not murmur against the Lord, and you shall see that all these things shall turn to your greatest good.

Enquire of Elder Marsh and find out the entire secret of mixing and compounding lead and antimony, so as to make type metal, and write us concerning it. Joseph has sent you another fifty dollar note, making in all one hundred dollars; write us concerning it. There is a prospect of the eastern churches doing something pretty handsome towards the deliverance of Zion, in the course of a year, if Zion is not delivered otherwise.

Though the Lord said this affliction came upon you because of your sins, polluting your inheritances, &c., yet there is an exception of some, namely, the heads of Zion, for the Lord said your brethren in Zion began to repent, and the angels rejoice over them, &c. You will also see an exception at the top of the second column of this revelation: therefore, this affliction came upon the church to chasten those in transgression, and prepare the hearts of those who had repented, for an endowment form the Lord.

We shall not be able to send you any more money at present, unless the Lord puts it into our hands unexpectedly. There is not quite so much danger of a mob upon us as there has been. The hand of the Lord has thus far been stretched out to protect us. Doctor P. Hurlbut an apostate elder from this church, has been put the state of New York, and gathered up all the ridiculous stories that could be invented, and some affidavits respecting the character of Joseph, and the Smith family, and exhibited them to numberous congregations in Chagrin, Kirtland, Mentor, and Painesville, and fired the minds of the people with much indignation, against Joseph and the church.

Hurlbut also made many harsh threats, &c., that he would take the life of Joseph, if he could not destroy Mormonism without. Bro. Joseph took him with a peace warrant and after three days trial, and investigating the merits of our religion, in the town of Painesville, by able attorneys on both sides, he was bound over to the county court.
Thus his influence was pretty much destroyed, and since the trial the spirit of hostility seems to be broken down in a good degree, but how long it will continue so, we cannot say.

[p. 977]
You purchased you inheritances with money therefore, behold you are blessed; you have not purchased your lands by the shedding of blood, consequently you do not come under the censure of this commandment, which says "if by blood lo your enemies are upon you, and elves no uneasiness on this account.

Farewell in the bonds of the new covenant, and partakers in tribulation.

Clerk of the Presidency of the church.

Document: Jan. 28, 1834 Prayer Meeting Record (held in Kirtland, Ohio)

Source: Times & Seasons, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, Aug. 1, 1845.

Notes: This entry in the Joseph Smith "History" follows immediately after the Jan. 22, 1834 Hyde Letter and its mention of D.P. Hurlbut is obviously related to Hyde's saying that "Hurlbut also made many harsh threats, &c., that he would take the life of Joseph, if he could not destroy Mormonism without."

While it is probable that Joseph Smith'a prayer at that time ("that God would continue to deliver me, and my brethren from Doctor Hurlbut, that he may not prevail against us in the law suit that is pending," etc.) was in regard to the outcome of the upcoming March 31, 1834 trial in Chardon, Geauga Co., Ohio, the words may have some reference to a seperate court action planned by D.P. Hurlbut during the first weeks of 1834. The undated Joseph Smith note to Newel K. Whitney (written at about the same time) mentions Hurlbut's attempt to bring "an unjust suit against Brother Hyram." As Hyrum Smith was one of Joseph's "brethren," that legal action by Hurlbut may have been a "law suit" that was "pending." Also, D. P. Hurlbut's lawyer, James A. Briggs, in several instances spoke of his client as having "prosecuted" "Joseph Smith" in 1833. As there is no court record of Hurlbut having successfully brought court action against either Joseph or Hyrum, these would-be cases may have been among the many "demands for warrants" "refused" by the local Justice of the Peace John C. Dowen

Times  and  Seasons

Vol. 6. No. 14.                       City of Nauvoo, Illinois, August 1, 1845.                       Whole No. 122.

[p. 977]


On the evening of the 28th. Brothers, Oliver, Frederick, and myself, being agreed, bowed before the Lord, and united in prayer, that God would continue to deliver me, and my brethren from Doctor Hurlbut, that he may not prevail against us in the law suit that is pending; and also, that God would soften the hearts of E. Smith, J. Jones, Loud, and Lyman, also, Mr. Beardsley, that they might obey the gospel, or, if they would not repent, that he Lord would send faithful saints, to purchase their farms, that this stake may be strengthened, and its borders enlarged, O lord, grant it for Christ's sake: Amen. . .

Document: early 1834 Joseph Smith Note to Newel K. Whitney (c. Feb.-Mar. 1834, Kirtland, Ohio)

Source: Joseph Smith, Jr. Letters, LDS Church Archives

Notes: While this obviously hastily scribbled note contains no date, it must owe its existence to fears among the Mormon leadership that the assests of the "United Firm" were in danger from the actions set forth by "evil" and "unseen" hands. As early as Jan. 11, 1834, Joseph Smith, F.G. Williams, Oliver Cowdery, John Johnson, Orson Hyde and Newel K. Whitney had begun to pray that God would protect them, grant blessings upon the United Firm, and "that the bishop would have sufficient funds to pay the debts of the United Firm." See Phillip R. Legg's Oliver Cowdery... (Independence, Herald House, 1989), pp. 78-79 for the latter quote.

As the United Firm did not survive past April 10, 1834, it is likely that Smith's note to Whitney was written at least a few weeks prior to that date, but probably not much before Jan. 11, 1834. I think that its most probable time of composition was c. Feb.-Mar. 1834, before the State of Ohio vs. D. P. Hurlbut csas was conducted in Chardon.

Brother Whitney --
I write this because I forgot to tell you of some things that you [ought to] know [where] Docter P. Hurlbut is commenceing an unjust suit against Brother Hyram to git the prope[r]ty of this farm which belongs to the [[United]] Firm Brother Hyram [and my] father has [not got] any property here but one cow a peace each I have a [bill] for all the rest made over to me more than one year ago for Books and what they owed me and it will involve me or the firm if we let them take this property which you [may] rest asured belongs to us a word to the wise is sufficie[nt]

Joseph Smith Jr


Transcriber's  Comments

Document: 1832-37 Kirtland Council Minute Book (excerpts)

Source: "Kirtland Council Minute Book," typescript, H. Michael Marquardt papers, Manuscripts Division, Marriott Library, Salt Lake City. (Original document in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Historical Department, Archives, Salt Lake City).

Notes: The following minutes extracts are from an official Church manuscript book sometimes cited as the "Kirtland High Council Minute Book." The term "High Council" does not occur in the "Minute Book" until the entry for Feb. 17, 1834: "a conference of High Priests assembled in Kirtland at the House of bro. Joseph Smith Jun. They proceeded to organize the Presidents Church Council... the person acused before the high council had a right to one half the members of the council to plead his cause..." Prior to Feb. 17, 1834, the terminology used is: "A council of high Priests," or "the bishops council." Thus, the "Minute Book" is a record of various "councils" and "conferences" held (mostly in Kirtland) for various purposes, such as performing ordinations, soliciting the "will of the Lord," deciding the details for fulfilling missions, etc.

As early as Feb.-Mar. 1833 some of these "councils" were deciding "cases" in which certain of the Church members stood "accused" of commiting wrongful acts. The "case" of D.P. Hurlbut came before a "Conference of high Priests" in the "Translating room" on June 3, 1833. Although referred to in some sources as being a "Bishop's Council," the "conference" is not specifically identified by that title in the "Minute Book." Neither Bishop N. K. Whitney nor his assistants in administering the temporal affairs of the Church are listed as being in attendance. Rather, Sidney Rigdon appears to have been the presider -- or at least he was the high Mormon leader who opened the proceedings.

(under construction)

top of this page

Special Collections  |  Bookshelf  |  Mormon Classics  |  Newspapers  |  History Vault

last revised: Mar. 16, 2006