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Mormons and anti-Mormons, 1831-39

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Mormon Missionizing in
Northwest Pennsylvania, 1832-34

(excerpts from journals, etc.)







A Thesis

Presented to the

Department of Church History and Doctrine

Brigham Young University




In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Masters of Arts





V. Alan Curtis

April 1976


followed "from the gospel and the Lord blest [sic] us

much," he wrote. Brother Hodges, a native of the

country preached with the missionaries. On December 30, 

the two brethren met Elders Levi Hancock and Even

Greene, who were also laboring in the area. Elder

Coltrin wrote they baptized seven before crossing

over into Ohio on January 3, 1833. 32

One of the most productive missions in Erie County, Pennsylvania was the mission of John F. Boynton and Evan M. Greene from January to April of 1833. They left Kirtland on Tuesday, January 15 and arrived at Springfield two days later. They preached in Spring- field, baptizing thirteen. In Elk Creek, Pennsylvania, they baptized twenty-nine, and organized a branch of the Church. They also preached in the Taylor settlement where they baptized two, in Girard, in the Jackson's settlement and in Sherman's corners, all in Erie County, Pennsylvania. In addition to the ones counted above, forty-six converts were listed without naming the loca- tion of their baptism, making a total of ninety people who joined the Church in less than three months in Erie __________ 32 Zebedee Coltrin Diary, June 15, 1832 - March 28, 1833 (MSS in LDS Church Historical Department).


States Postal Department has established Central Moreland

as a rural postal branch of Tunkhannock, Wyoming County.

Orson Pratt and Lyman E. Johnson baptized four, in 1832,

at Blakely, about twenty miles east of there. North

Moreland was listed by Rand McNally as a township on the

southern boundary of Wyoming County with Center Moreland

as a village therein.63


Sometime in March or April of 1833, Doctor Philastus Hurlburt was sent on a mission to Erie County, Pennsylvania. He had joined the Church in Kirtland in March and sent on the mission, but was excommunicated by a bishop's court on June 3, 1833, and finally by a high council court on June 23 for immorality.64 Before his excommunication, he was laboring around Jacksonville, in Erie County. Benjamin F. Johnson recalled that it was while elder Hurlburt was laboring in Erie County that he "learned of Solomon Spaulding, who once lived in that vicinity." Spaulding had written a romance called __________ 63 Standard Reference Map and Guide of Pennsyl- vania (Chicago: Rand McNally and Company, 1972), map.. 64 HC, I 352, 355; Max Parkin, "A Study of the Nature and Causes of External and Internal Conflict of the Mormons in Ohio between 1830 and 1838" (unpublished Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1966), pp. 120-121.



"Manuscript Found." According to Johnson, Hurlburt

hoped to use the Spaulding work,

     . . . to gain notoriety, obtain money, and work
     his spite upon the Mormons. So he gave notice that
     he had struck a lead ro destroy Mormonism, and if
     they would come together he would tell them where
     "Joe Smith" got his "Mormon Bible."65



    Brothers Evan M. Greene and William H. H. Sagers

left Kirtland on April 16 and undertook a labor in

Ashtabula County, Ohio. They crossed over into Crawford

County, Pennsylvania and preached in Beaver and Conneaut

on the twenty-third and twenty-fourth, respectively.

After two more days in Pierpoint, Ohio, the brethren

returned to Pennsylvania and visited the Church members

in Elk Creek. They arrived on April 27 and had a meeting

with the missionaries in that area the next day. Those

involved in the meeting included Elders Orson Hyde, John

Boynton, Daniel Copely and Doctor Hurlburt. Obeying

the will of the conference, Elder Greene and Priest

Sagers continued their journey eastward into New York

on May 1, 1833.66

  65 Benjamin F. Johnson, p. 25..

  66 Evan M. Greene Journal, Vol. II, pp. 1-4.

Document 2: 1833 Zebedee Coltrin comments (excerpts)

Source: Coltrin, Zebedee "Journal 2: Mar. 26, 1833 - Feb. 17, 1834" (typescript on New Mormon Studies CD-rom, Signature Books, UT, 1998)

Note: This typecript is not intended to be a fully accurate representation of the original holograph on file in the LDS Archives. The reader is referred to the original Coltrin documents for exact wording and pagination.

Coltrin says that at a "counsil" held Apr. 5-6, 1833 (probably at what is now Wellsburg), missionary companions D.P. Hurlbut and Daniel Copley were split up; Hurlbut thereafter traveling with Orson Hyde, and Copley with John F. Boynton. As it appears that Boynton has escorted the missionary pair into Erie Co. at the beginning of April, it is possible that the suggestion for their new traveling assignments was made by him. It appears unlikely that Hurlbut had reached the vicinity of Jacksons' settlement (later called Wellsburg and Albion) much earlier than a day or two before this "council" was held.

Thus, it seems likely that D.P. Hurlbut's "laboring around Jacksonville," as recalled by Benjamin F. Johnson, commenced about the first week of April, 1833 and continued on until about the end of May.

March the 26
[And] it came to pass that I Z. Coltrin after the word of the lord came to us that we the Elders of the church of Christ should again go for the to preach the gospel and acording to the word of the Lord Brother J. Modo [Murdock] and my self started and travel 14 miles to my Br Graham in Parrisville & give out an [appointment] to preach to them and spoke to them in tongues

and on the 28
we went to the Bre[thren] in tomson and found the church in some difficulty but the Lord blest us an we settled it

and the Lords day 31
I preach to them and the Lord blest me much and Brother broke bread to the church and we baptized two sisters.

April the 1
we held a counsil conserning William Jessup and turned him out & tusday the 2 we held an nother counil coserning Nancy J. Shum who was accused of running about and the Lord blest us much and we laid the case before her and she confest and said that sche would do better.

Wen. the 3
(ordain avary many Preasts)
we left the church in Tomson and came to Sister Welton and stade all night

the 4the
we came to the church in Springfield and thare we Found Brother Lyman and Orison Prat and Brother Orison preach to them and we to the church in conyalt [Conneaut] and Found Brother John Boyington[,] H. Smith, Or Hide & coled a counsil & H. Smith pr[esided]

[This meeting was probably held near Wellsburg, on the border of Conneaut and Elk Creek townships, Erie Co., PA, in the home of a member of the Elk Creek LDS Branch.]
. . . & the counsil desied that Or. Hide and Docter Herlbut should travel to [gether] & John F. Boyington & Daniel Copley should travel to gether and we traval to gether and we salutid each other & parted & we came [to] Brother Curtis Hoges in Gerrard.

Sunday the 7
we held meating at Brother Rondeys and Br John preach to them & I spoke after him and the Lord belest us much with his spirit and there was a man presant who got up and wanted to [k]now if we would let and [an] old pilgrim speak to the people but seaing that his desire was to oppose and I told him that i should object to his speaking and he said the Lord would curse some of us because we would not let him speak. we baptised one sister and we laid hans on a babe had the hooping choff.

tusday the 9
we left thare and traveld east...

& the 22 [April 1833]
we went on that day and found B[r] O [Pratt] & L. Jonson and on the next day Brother J & myself went to the church in Warsaw to B[r] Lyons whare I was taken with the sm[all] poxs

the 24
and B John left me thare whare I remained untill June & then I came home to Kirtland...


Document 3: 1833 Evan Melbourne Greene comments (excerpts)

Source: Greene, Evan "Journal: Jan. 15, 1833 - Apr. 1, 1835" (partial typescript in Dale R. Broadhurst Papers, Marriott Library, UT)

Notes: This typecript is not intended to be a fully accurate representation of the original holograph on file in the LDS Archives. The reader is referred to the original Coltrin documents for exact wording and pagination. I recently expanded the content of my original notes (taken in 1979, directly from Greene's holograph) after comparing them with the Greene Journal typescript prepared by Cheryl Bean.

Returning from the first leg of his 1833 missionary tour, Greene and John F. Boynton met D.P. Hurlbut and Daniel Copley at "Sister Welton's in Austinburgh" on Mar. 29th. Hurlbut and Copley had set out from Kirtland on March 19, 1833, probably passing through Copley's home in Thompson Twp., Geauga Co., OH, before journeying on to Austinburg Twp. (about 10 miles to the east) in Ashtabula Co. The next day, or soon thereafter, Boynton may have escorted Hurlbut and Copley across the State line into Erie Co., PA -- where the Hurlbut and Copley apparently remained together as Mormom missionaries until April 28, 1833.


[Tues. Jan. 15, 1833: Greene and John F. Boynton left Kirtland . . . stayed at Strong's in Ashtabula Co.... went to Conneaut Twp., Erie Co., PA... went to Elk Creek Twp., Erie Co., PA... organized the Elk Creek Branch on Mar. 21, 1833... passed through Spring Twp., Crawford Co., PA...]

Friday 29 [Mar. 1833]
We walked to sister Welton's in Austinburgh, here we met Bros. Daniel Copley and D.P. Hurlbut -- staid there that night,
in the morning of Saturday 30th we parted [for]... Kirtland...

[Greene spent the first two weeks of April in the Kirtland area]

[Apr 16, 1833]
Leaving Kirtland, in company with Brothers Wm H. H. Sagers & John F. Boynton. We called at Bro. Kingsbury's and took dinner; then we proceeded to Perry and stopped to one, Mr. White . . . In the morning Bro. Sagers and myself parted with Bro. John and we came to Sister Weltons in Austinburgh and stayed and rested our weary limbs.

The next day being the 18,
we came into Trumble where [we] stayed 2 days and preached both evenings to a small congregation...

We left Bro. Reads and this night stopped at one -- Mr. Platt's, in Denmark [Twp., Ashtabula Co.], where we got a congregation together and proclaimed the word unto them. Here they desired us to come again. May the Lord bless them.
We came to Mr. Howland's (where I [had] held a meeting in going up to Kirtland). He was much pleased to see me again. Here took dinner and afterward came into the Beach in Penn[sylvania]. Here they were glad to see me again and some felt to praise the Lord.
[[Note: The walking distance from the center of Denmark Twp., Ashtabula Co., OH east to the sw beach of Conneaut Lake, Summit Twp., Crawford Co., PA was about 25 miles.]]

We came to Mr. Padans in Conneaut where we proclaimed the word again to them.

We came to meet Bro. M[oses] Martin in Pierpoint. Had a meeting in the evening. Came again to the Beach.
[[Note: The walking distance, backtracking westward, from the sw beach of Conneaut Lake to Pierpoint Twp., Ashtabula Co., OH was about 20 miles]]

Bro M[artin] had an appointment so had to leave us and we stayed and held another here and then departed and came this evening to Sister Woodworths and found Bro. John sick. Here we stayed this night.

We visited our Brethren in the Elk Creek Church.
[[Note: The walking distance, northastward, from Pierpoint Twp., Ashtabula Co., OH to the east end of Elk Creek Twp., Erie Co., PA was about 15 miles]]

28th [Apr. 1833] [This meeting was probably held near Wellsburg, at the east end of Elk Creek Twp., Erie Co., PA, in the home of a member of the Elk Creek LDS Branch.]
We had a good time in meeting and we met Brothers in the ministry: O. Hyde [Pratt?], John Boynton, Daniel Copley, D. P. Hurlbert and Bro. Hyde. Administered the sacrament. After meeting we held a counsel to know our duty and it was decided Bro. Sagers and myself should continue our proposed mission to the east . . .

. . . [preaching by the way to those] with whom we could get a chance, until Sunday 5th when we tried to preach in a Presbyterian synagogue but they would not hear us so we left them and came to the next neighborhood and there we got a meeting and proclaimed the word to them.

And the next day [May. 5, 1833]
proceeded and in the evening put up to a house in Harmony, NY. They were very kind to us and desirous to hear the word. Oh may the Lord bless them...


Document 4: 1982 Paul Z. Rosenbaum comments (excerpts)

Source: Rosenbaum, Paul Z. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Pennsylvania, 1830-1854 (short excerpts of 1982 M. A. Thesis) (under construction)

Notes: (forthcoming)


(pages 1-61 not transcribed)

[p. 62]

with their precedent, their son Jedediah M. Grant was baptized by 
John F. Boynton at Elk Creek in March 1833.  Mary G, Judd, author of 
the book Jedeiah M. Grant, included comments on Jedediah's wintry 
baptism: "The day was so cold that as he came up out of the river, his 
clothes froze to his body." 34 Chart 7 lists several members who resided 
in Erie County in the 1830s. 

Organizing the second Erie County branch at Elk Creek on 21 March, 
Elders Greene and Boynton set it in order by ordaining three men to 
the priesthood and charging them to watch over it. Robert W. Dimsey 
was ordained a priest, Stephen Winchester a teacher, and John Sagers a 
deacon. Thus, the governing authority was bestowed upon three native 
brethren; remarkably, each were converts of less than two months. 35 
As a deacon, Sagers had the authority to assist the teachers, but neither 
deacons nor teachers could baptize. Deacons were "to warn, expound, 
exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ." 36 

In spite of the labors of additional missionaries in Erie County during 
1833, only a few conversions were reported. That year Elders Amasa I. 
Lyman and William F. Cahoon baptized one hundred in the states of 

34 Mary G. Judd, "Jedediah M. Grant" (Salt Lake City: Deseret News 
     Press, 1959), pp. 13-15.
35 Curtis, p. 44. 
36 Doc. & Cov. 20:57-58, 

[p. 63] CHART 7. -- ERIE COUNTY MEMBERS NAME TOWNSHIP OTHER STATISTICS 1. Rudd (Bro.) Springfield There in Oct. 1833. 2. Roundy (Bro.) Elk Creek There in Oct. 1833. 3. Tiler (Bro.) Springfield Cut off from the Church on 5 Dec. 1833. 4. Grant, Joshua Elk Creek Both were baptized in Grant, Athalia 1832. 5. Jeffers, Asa Excommunicated in Erie Co. on 11 Dec. 1833. 6. Hartshorn, Joseph Springfield There on 5 June 1835. 7. DeWolf, J. (Bro.) Springfield There in June 1835. 8. Sagers, J. (Bro.) Gerard There in June 1835. 9. Turner, Marshall In Erie Co. in June 1835. ------------------------- SOURCES: V. Alan Curtis's Master's Thesis, pp. 52-62, 166-67; Mary G. Judd, "Jedediah M. Grant" (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1959). Judd listed the Grant family; the rest were presented by Curtis. Brother was a term applied to male Mormons as well as to many non-members; it is possible that Roundy was not a Mormon,  
[p. 64] New York and New Hampshire; unfortunately, the specific locations have not been documented, During August Elders Orson Hyde and Zebedee Coltrin baptized three at Elk Creek; there they also ordained an elder. 37 The prophet Joseph Smith recorded on 5 October, "I started on a journey to the East, and to Canada, in company with Elders (Sidney) Rigdon and Freeman Nickerson," After preaching at Springfield from the sixth to the eighth of October, they spent the ninth at Elk Creek before continuing on to Canada. 38 Although some of the 1833 statistics pertaining to the organization of the Elk Creek Branch were available, documentation regarding fluctuations in the Springfield Branch was sparse, The ecclesiastical administration of branches, at times, necessitated regulation through Church courts. Between August and December 1893, twelve Erie County Mormons were expelled for "bad conduct, denying the faith," or "immoral conduct". 39 Excommunication was only one recourse of the Mormon judicial system. The primary goal of their courts was to seek the purification of its members by offering forgiveness to the repentant. In order to satisfy justice, transgressors may be forgiven, disfellowshipped or ----------------------- 37 Curtis, pp, 49-50. 38 "HC," 1:416-17; Nelson, "Journal of Joseph," pp. 52-53. 39 Zebedee Coltrin Diary, 1833-34, March 26, 183[?] (MSS in LDS Church Historians Department), as cited in Curtis, pp. 50-51.
  [p. 65] excommunicated. 40 Being disfellowshipped is a probationary condition in which one remains a member of the Church and can attend its public meetings; however, one cannot hold callings in the Church. Following repentance. one may be reinstated in full fellowship. At Elk Creek on 11 December, Elders Harrison Sagers and Moses Martin, who had been baptised in Erie County in January and February of 1833 respectively. confessed their wrongdoings and were forgiven. 41 In marked contrast to 1833, 1834 provided a negative impact on the Mormon Church in Erie County. Factors affecting this decline were the gathering. excommunications, fewer missionaries, and the dissatisfaction of some with the new religion, For example, the Joshua and Athalia Grant family moved from Erie County to the environs of Kirtland, Ohio soon after the baptism of their son Jedediah in March 1833. 42 Chart 5 on pages 52-54 did not reveal any new baptisms that year; a comparison with the two previous years illustrates a radical numerical decline in missionaries. This scarcity of Mormon missionaries in Erie County during 1834 was a reflection of the preponderance the Missouri Mormons had with resettling in Clay County following their expulsion from Jackson County in November 1833. Another recourse engaging many of the prominent Mormon missionaries ---------------- 40 Bruce R. McConkie, "Mormon Doctrine," 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), pp, 134-35, 630-31. 41 Curtis, pp, 50-53. 42 Judd, p. 15.  
[p. 66] was Zion's Camp. In addition to Brigham Young's mission to the East to gather men for that camp, in February 1834 Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde also left to recruit in the East for three months. They appealed to the membership both at Springfield and Elk Creek. The six native Pennsylvanians from those townships, who responded affirmatively to that challenge, were Benjamin and Stephen Winchester, Jedediah M. Grant, Moses Martin, William H, H. Sagers, and Samuel T. Winegar. 43 In 1835 Erie County witnessed the transient passage of several missionaries, who reported a few members residing therein. The last significant event in that county for the 1830s was the visit of Joseph Smith, Senior, the father of the Prophet. He visited nearly all the branches of the Mormon Church in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire; along with John Smith, the Prophet's uncle, they baptixed many between June and October 1836. Joseph Smith, Senior, as the Patriarch of the Church, bestowed patriarchal blessings on the members. 44 A patriarchal blessing usually consisted of a declaration of a person's lineage together with inspired counsel. 45 Although, after 1835, records of Mormons from Erie ------------------- 43 Curtis, pp. 38-40, 54-55. Refer to chart 6, p. 60. 44 Curtis, pp. 62-65. 45 "Gospel Principles," rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979), p, 356.  
[p. 67] County are rare, one family's account was recorded by their son Appleton Mile Harmon, who was born on 29 May 1820 in Conneaut Township, which borders the townships of Springfield and Elk Creek. His mother was baptized on 29 May 1833, but the rest of the family remained non-Mormons until after they had moved from Erie County to Kirtland in the fall of 1837. The following spring, his father Jesse Pierce Harmon, along with his sister Sophronia, and a brother Amos accepted baptism. By October 1840 the family was residing at Nauvoo, Illinois where Appleton was baptized on 11 April 1842 by William Smith, the Prophet's brother. 46 Apparently, between 1835 and 1840 the branches at Elk Creek and Springfield were disbanded. The author has not located any references to those units after 1835. Dissipation in those congregations was primarily a result of the gathering. OTHER NORTHERN-TIER AND ADJACENT COUNTIES Separating Erie and Tioga counties are the counties of Warren, McKean and Potter. Missionaries most likely passed through them during the 1830s. Elders Orson Pratt and Lyman Johnson held a conference at Genessee, Potter County in late December or early January 1834, 47 --------------------- 46 Maybelle Harmon Anderson, ed., "The Journals of Appleton Milo Harmon" (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1946 , p. 1. 47 Curtis, p. 54.

(remainder of this text not transcribed)


Transcriber's  Comments

Document: 1976 V. Alan Curtis comments (excerpts)

Source: Curtis, V. Alan, "Missionary Activities and Church Organization in Pennsylvania, 1830-1840, (unpublished M.A. thesis) UT, 1976.

Notes: Curtis quotes Benjamin F. Johnson to say that while doing Mormon missionary work near "Jacksonville" in Conneaut township, Erie Co., Pennsylvania, Elder D.P. Hurlbut learned of a "romance" Spalding had written years before. This is the same "Jackson settlement" referred to by Benjamin Winchester in 1840 as the place in Pennsylvania where Hurlbut first became aware of the Spalding manuscript. This same story (of D.P. Hurlbut having learned about the Spalding manuscript from people in the Conneaut area) is supported by the published recollections of Daniel Tyler in 1878. Today "Jacksonville" is known as "Albion."

Curtis quotes from LDS missionary Evan M. Greene's "Journal" to show that D.P. Hurlbut and his first mission companion Daniel Copley were present in Erie Co., as late as April 1833. Greene on Mar. 28, 1833 said: "27th.... we met Brothers in the ministry:... John Boynton, Daniel Copley, D. P. Hurlbert..." The fact Hurlbut was present in Erie Co. during this time is confirmed by a statement made by Orson Hyde in 1841: "While the said Mr. Hurlburt was a member of our church, and an elder also, it fell to my lot to travel with him to preach the gospel..." While Elder Hyde took on Hurlbut as a missionary companion after April 6, 1833, Daniel Copley ended up traveling with Elder John P. Boynton -- according to entries made in his "Journal" by Zebedee Coltrin on April 5-6, 1833: "... Orson Hyde and Doctor Hurlbut should travel together & John F. Boyngton & Daniel Copely should travel together..."

See also Paul Z. Rosenbaum's 1982 thesis, which builds upon Curtis' research in several places.

(under construction)

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