3 Feb (Fri) 1809
"Doctor" Philastus Hurlbut was born in Chittendon Co., VT 001a of unknown parents -- probably one of whom was surnamed "Hurlbut."
DPH moved from VT to Ontario Co., NY and settled near Penn Yan, 001b probably living west of Penn Yan with one of the children of David Hurlbut (b. 1770).
DPH attended public school in Penn Yan, Yates Co., NY 001c He may have lived in the same household as Clemana Hurlbut, a daughter of David Hurlbut.
Clemana Hurlbut married Joel Burtch of Sabintown (within walking distance of Penn Yan). DPH may have quite residing with his Hurlbut relatives at about this time
DPH became a Methodist Episcopal class leader, 002a probably in Yates or Ontario Co., NY.
DPH became a Methodist Episcopal exhorter 002b somewhere in western NY -- possibly in Yates or Ontario Co., NY.
At about this time (if not before) DPH moved westward and settled in Chautauqua Co., NY.
DPH was licensed (or perhaps even ordained) Methodist preacher 002c, probably in Ontario or Chautauqua Co., NY.
c. late 1831
At about this time DPH was excommunicated from the Methodist Church. This probably occurred near Jamestown in Chautauqua Co., NY.
7 Jan (Sat)
Mormon missionary Joseph B. Brackenbury (or Brackinbury) died in Pomfert Township,003a Chautauqua Co., NY of "bilious cholic." He probably died at the home of Ezekiel Johnson later an associate of D. P. Hurlbut.
25 Jan (Wed)
Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith were appointed by revelation at Kirtland to serve a mission in the eastern states.003b Hyde baptized sixty converts during the 11 month mission.
14-15 Feb 1832
Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith stopped at Conneaut, 003b Ashtabula Co., OH while on their mission to the East -- They baptized 5 or 6 people in the area (in Springfield Twp., Erie Co., PA) including Erastus Rudd, who then lived on the Rudd homestead, three miles east of Conneaut, OH. The first time that Hyde and Smith preached in the Conneaut school house, Solomon Spalding's old neighbor Nehemiah King attended. When Hyde finished King left the meeting and told people that Hyde "had preached from the writings of Solomon Spalding."
Mormon missionaries established LDS branches 003c in Chautauqua Co., NY and the surrounding region.
DPH began to hear about Mormonism. He probably attended preaching sessions conducted by missionaries traveling through Chautauqua Co., NY. He may have met the Ezekiel Johnson family and their neighbors the Shermans, (then living in northern Chautauqua Co.) before he became a Mormon.
The Wayne Sentinel reprinted a report from the Fredonia Censor, a paper printed near Pomfret in Chautauqua Co., NY. The item told of the death amd disinterrment of LDS misisonary Joseph H. Brackenbury in Pomfret. The Mormon converts of the Ezekiel Johnson family were involved in this strange affair. If D. P. Hurlbut knew the Johnsons this early, he also may have had some involvement. See also John P. Downs (ed.), History of Chatauqua County Boston: 1921, p. 59 for more details on this story.
Mormon missionaries Jared Carter and Ebenezer Page visited Springfield Twp., Erie Co., PA and find that great opposition and falling away 004a had taken place among the new members recently baptized there by Smith and Hyde.
Young Benjamin F. Johnson accompanied his Mormon brother Joel from Pomfret in Chautauqua Co., NY to Amherst, Lorain Co., OH.
Benjamin's father Ezekiel Johnson traveled from Pomfret to Amherst, stopping to visit with Joseph Smith at Kirtland. Ezekiel did not joiun the Church, however.
13 Sep (Wed)
DPH lost his wallet in Jamestown, Chatauqua Co., NY. He was then living near Ross Mills on Cassadaga Creek in Ellicott township.
26 Sep (Wed)
DPH advertised for the return of his lost wallet in the Sep 26 the issue of the Jamestown Journal.
Ezekiel Johnson sold his farms in NY and made plans to move his family to Chicago the following spring.
Fig. 2. Advertisement in the Jamestown Jourmal.
Hurlbut ran it for 3 weeks.
Mormon leader Sidney Rigdon returned to Kirtland from a trip to Independence. Following the recovery of his sick daughter, Nancy Rigdon, he apparently traveled to the East and preached in Chautauqua Co., NY, 004b preparing for a temporary gathering of Mormon converts on the outskirts of Jamestown in Ellicott and Busti townships.
Mormon missionaries John F. Boynton and Zebedee Coltrin preached in Erie Co., PA 005 -- on Dec 15 they attended a small local conference there with Hyrum and William Smith -- Boynton & Coltrin continued to preach in Gerard, Conneaut, and Springfield townships in Erie Co. -- they baptized seven converts before crossing back into OH on Jan 3, 1833 -- it was probably at this time that Mormonism was first preached in Jackson's Settlement (later Albion) in Conneaut Twp., Erie Co., PA
Benjamin Winchester first heard Mormonism preached in Erie Co., PA 006.
late Dec 1832
An alleged small pox epidemic began in Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., NY, but there were only a few cases (chiefly among the Mormons temporarily gathering there) and the disease was probably actually the less serious illness, variola. In the following weeks the Mormons staying near Jamestown refused to abide by public health measures implemented to contain the affliction.
Mormon missionaries John F. Boynton and Evan M. Green left Kirtland Jan 15 and traveled to Springfield Twp., Erie Co., PA 007a -- they preached in Conneaut and Elk Creek townships -- in the latter they baptized Stephen and Nancy Winchester at Elk Creek township, Erie Co., PA, along with their son Benjamin.
23 Jan (Wed)
The Jamestown Journal in Chatauqua Co., NY ran a short notice saying that "mild" cases of smallpox had occurred recently in Jamestown. It made no mention of the infected Mormons then living on the outskirts of the town.
30 Jan (Wed)
The Jamestown Journal printed the letter of D. Proudfit, who pronounced the alleged smallpox epidemic in Jamestown to actually be an outbreak of the less serious variola disease.
6 Feb (Wed)
The Jamestown Journal in Chatauqua Co., NY printed more news of the alleged smallpox outbreak in Jamestown. A Mrs. Clark had died of the disease.
13 Feb (Wed)
The Jamestown Journal in Chatauqua Co., NY again ran news of the alleged smallpox outbreak in Jamestown. The paper also reprinted an article on "Mormonites" from the Ohio Atlas, but still did not mention the Mormons being in the town.
Elder Sidney Rigdon was reportedly gathering Mormon converts from western New York to move them to Kirtland or Independence. About this time he directed the activities of a new convert William Barker, Sr. of Chautaqua Co. Barker made advance arrangements to house the influx of converts to Jamestown 007b in Chautauqua Co. Mormon convert D. P. Hurlbut was present in the area at that time and he probably then first met Sidney Rigdon.
DPH was baptized in western NY, 008a possibly by Sidney Rigdon. If so, it may have been Rigdon who sent Hurlbut directly on to Kirtland, rather than having the new convert remain with other Mormons who gathered in Jamestown early in 1833. DPH probably left Jamestown in mid-Feb.
Fig. 1. Hurlbut's Residences: (1) 1809 - c.1816: Burlington, VT area,
(2) c.1817 - c.1830: Penn Yan area, Ontario Co. (later Yates Co.) NY
(3) c.1830-33: Chautauqua Co., NY (Jamestown and north of there?)
(4) Erie Co., PA (Elk Creek) & Geauga Co., OH (Kirtland-Mentor)
DPH passed through Erie Co., PA 008b on his way to Kirtland, OH. He stopped in Erie Co. to visit the local Mormons, and perhaps to stay with his Hurlbut relatives living in Elk Creek twp. He first met Benjamin Winchester at this time, probably at the home of Winchester's father in Elk Creek.
late Feb 1833
DPH arrived in Kirtland 009 and obtained room and board there with the Ezekiel Johnson family three months later. Prior to his living with the Johnsons, DPH may have lived in the Mormon colony at Thompson, in Geauga Co.
DPH became acquainted with the Mormons of Kirtland. He probably met the F. G. Williams family about this time. Hurlbut was reportedly attracted to William's daughter and attempted to court her.
Continue this Timeline at:
(For Episode 2 -- Chapter One Timeline)
001 This is the date and place supplied by Maria Sheldon Woodbury Hurlbut in her 1885 Statement to Arthur B. Deming. There she says: " My husband, Doctor Philastus Hurlbut, was born Feb. 3, 1809 in Chittendon Co., Vt., near lake Champlain. His parents named him "Doctor" because he was the seventh son. When a young man he attended school in Penn Yan [then Ontario, later Yates Co.,] N.Y."
Hurlbut's birthplace remains unidentified, but it very likely was in Shelburne or Charlotte townships in SW Chittendon Co. A number of Hurlbut families were living in that region c. 1790-1810. D. Michael Quinn attempted to trace the migration of these families westward from Connecticut; but in his 1987 book, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, he offers only vague his own generalizations and speculations regarding these people.
002 Other than very brief statement on Hurlbut's background in Rigdon's 1839 letter, the only first-hand information indicating that Hurlbut had previously been a Methodist "class leader," then "an exhorter," and finally a (licensed?) "local preacher" comes from Benjamin Winchester (p. 5). He also says that Hurlbut "was expelled" from that denomination "for unvirtuous conduct." Rigdon's 1839 letter also says Hurlbut "was excluded for immoralities" performed while among the Methodists, but neither he nor Winchester provides a source for these claims. If they are true, they might possibly be verifiable from accounts surviving among official Methodist Church records in western NY. Although VanWagoner in his 1994 Rigdon biography goes so far as to proclaim Hurlbut as being "a Methodist minister from Jamestown, New York," he is merely passing along Winchester's unique comment saying that Hurlbut resided in Jamestown (Chautauqua Co.) NY, prior to his becoming a Mormon. As Jamestown is on the westward migration route from the Penn Yan region, it is probable that Hurlbut did spend some time in the Jamestown vicinity, prior to his moving to Ohio in 1833. With his origin in Chittendon Co., VT and his later habitation in Chautauqua Co., NY, Hurlbut's changes in residence parallel those of the Ezekiel Johnson family. Ezekiel's wife Julia, his son Benjamin Franklin Johnson, and several other family members were baptized in Chautauqua Co., late in 1831, by Mormon Elders James Brackinbury and Jabez Durfee. It is possible that Hurlbut had some contact with this Johnson family at about the same time. It is also likely that he was first exposed to Mormon teachings in western NY between 1831 and 1833, through the preaching of missionaries like Brackinbury and Durfee.
003a Some sources date Brackenbury's death as Feb. 7, 1832. The Jamestown LDS congregation was likely in close contact with the LDS congregation at Pomfret -- see the missionary journal of Lorenzo D. Barnes for Aug. 1, 1833, (as excerpted in Journal History of the Church). There Barnes seems to mark out the typical missionary path as running from Westfield to Harmony to Jamestown and then on to Pomfret and Perrysburg. If D. P. Hurlbut was associating with Jamestown Mormons thsi early, he would have heard about Brackenbury's death as a matter of course.
003b Preaching their unique version of Christian primitivism mixed with millenarian apocalypticism, and not requiring the typical Protestant "conversion experience" of their prostelytes, Mormon missonaries from Kirtland backtracked into PA, NY and surrounding regions in 1831 and 1832, bringing significant numbers of converts into their sect. See the following primary sources for relevant information on these missionary activities and their results in northeastern OH and northwestern PA: Samuel H. Smith's 1832 Journal, Orson Hyde's 1832 Journal, Orson Hyde's 1841 Letter, and Daniel Tyler's 1878 Article. An overview of some of these missionary operations may be found in Curtis, V. Alan's 1976 Thesis, "Missionary Activities and Church Organization in Pennsylvania, 1830-1840."
The information provided in the above five Mormon sources supports the contextual evidence (if not the exact details) of a statement made by Aaron Wright in 1833. Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde preached from the Book of Mormon in the Conneaut Center School on Feb. 14 or 15, 1832. Long-time Conneaut resident Nehmiah King attended the service. Afterwards he told his friends that Hyde "had preached from the writings of Solomon Spalding." Before departing the village the Mormon missionaries left three copies of the Book of Mormon there. Perhaps it was one of these which found its way into the possession of Spalding's old neighbor, Henry Lake not long thereafter. Daniel Tyler names Lake as an early promoter of the Spalding authorship claims in the OH-PA borderlands wattered by Conneaut Creek. Tyler also informs his readers that Solomon Spalding's old neighbor, Erastus Rudd, was one of the earliest converts to Mormonism in the Conneaut Creek region. A good comprehension of the John Rudd, Sr. family's situation and activities in Erie Co., PA from 1803 to 1834 will prove particularly useful to anyone investigating the origin and development of the Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon. The same can be said for a pioneer family which intermarried with the Rudds: the Lyman Jackson, Sr. family, also of Erie Co., PA.
004a In speaking of the "great opposition" of 1832 in the Conneaut Creek area, LDS missionary Jared Carter does not say exactly why the new members had deserted the Mormon cause, or from whence this "great opposition" first sprung. The nearest population centers in those days were New Salem, Conneaut Twp., in OH (three miles west of the Rudd farm) and East Springfield (five miles east of the Rudds). As New Salem was the closer and larger of these villages, it is likely that the "great opposition" came from there. Whatever the original source may have been, this "great opposition" seems to have been influencing the newly-minted Springfield Mormons in their renunciations of membership during the spring of 1832.
Writing in Sep. 1833, John N. Miller, an old friend of Spalding and a resident of Springfield Twp., Erie Co., PA, says that he had "recently examined" the Book of Mormon and found in it "the writings of Solomon Spalding." Miller was a friend of Henry Lake, whom Daniel Tyler says was publicizing the Spalding authorship claims near the Tyler family home in Springfield, by "1834 or 1835" at the latest. Since Tyler says the Springfield LDS Branch was "raised up" in 1833 (rather than 1832) he has probably moved all of his dates up a little in his remembrances. Thus, it is very well possible that opposers of the Mormons like Henry Lake in New Salem were soon joined by people like John N. Miller living around East Springfield Village (five miles east of the Rudd farm) -- and thus the anti-Mormons responsible for the "great opposition" of 1832 probably came from throughtout the Conneaut Creek region.
004b Gilbert W. Hazeltine, Early History of the Town of Ellicott Jamestown, NY: 1887, pp. 343-45. (see also note 007b)
005 Mormon missionaries John F. Boynton and Zebedee Coltrin preached in Erie Co., PA. -- see their respective missionary journals.
006 Mormon writer Benjamin Winchester is not specific as to where he first heard the Mormon missionaries preaching. He may have journeyed 9 or 10 miles up to the area of the Rudd farm in Springfield Twp. to hear them -- or, perhaps the Mormons were already performing missionary work in his own home area of Wellsburgh and Cranesville in Elk Creek Twp. As there appear to be early family ties between the Springfield and Elk Creek Saints, the missionaries may have found a friendly reception among relatives of Mormons in Elk Creek as early as the fall of 1832.
007a Mormon missionaries Boynton and Greene organized the Elk Creek Branch on Mar. 21, 1833, bringing the number of Erie Co. organized Mormon congregations to two. The Elk Creek Branch appears to have been the more numerically successful of the two congregations, quickly drawing in 10% of the population in that township to become Mormon converts. Mormon Missionaries passing through the area frequently stopped at the Stephen Winchester farm and Benjamin Winchester thus became an eye witness to many of their meetings and activities.
007b Writing in 1887, Gilbert W. Hazeltine, M. D., says: "The [Mormon] vanguard put in an appearance in May, 1833, and immediately occupied a number of indifferent houses... rented by their advance agent, William Barker, early in March. Barker had charge of the Jamestown rendezvous, although Rigdon himself was frequently here... During this Mormon exodus and occupation of West Jamestown, the small pox broke out in one of the Mormon houses... Dr. Hazeltine and Dr. Stephen I. Brown, of Busti... reported genuine small pox. Then commenced the Jamestown Mormon war. They not only were determined that the physicians should not visit the patients, but they would allow no white flags or signs, warning citizens of the pestilence within the houses....The last of the Mormons left Jamestown in the spring of 1834. They made very few converts here..." (Early History of the Town of Ellicott Jamestown, 1887, pp. 343-45). Hazeltine was reporting his own investigation and was convinced that the disease was indeed small pox, though that seems unlikely. He was also off by a year in his dating the Mormon "vanguard" moving into Jamestown. The disease began in Dec. 1832 and Mormons were already living in the town. By April-May of 1833 a number of the Jamestown Saints were sick with the disease, but it did not spread through the region in epidemic fashion as real small pox would have done. Sidney Rigdon was tarred and feathered in Hiram, Ohio on Mar. 24, 1832 and a month later was in Missouri for several days.. It is doubtful that he could have been in Jamestown early in 1832. His appearance there was more likely in the early part of 1833.
008 Hurlbut's LDS baptism date and place remain unknown. Winchester says, "at length he embraced the faith of the church of the Latter Day Saints." Presumably he means to say that Hurlbut was baptized a Mormon in NY in late 1832 or early 1833, as he continues by saying "and soon started for Kirtland, Ohio; ostensibly to cultivate an acquaintance with the brethren there... he was not ordained at this time." The Mormon writer is equally vague about where he first met Hurlbut, saying only: "On his way, he passed through the place in which I resided..." By this he may have meant Erie Co, in general or Elk Creek Twp. specifically. If the latter is the case, Hurlbut was almost certainly already a Mormon when he passed through PA on his way to Kirtland. Elk Creek was off the main road to the Mormon headquarters and it would make more sense for a member to detour through that area (perhaps in search of new friends or a potential mate) then for an investigating non-member to go to that same trouble. Still, Hurlbut's visit to Elk Creek may have been motivated by his having Hurlbut relatives there, and he may have met their Mormon Winchester in-laws more by chance than by plan.
009 Writing in 1881, Joseph Ellis Johnson says: "Soon after his arrival he came to my mother's house to board." Julia Hills Johnson (Ezekiel Johnson's wife) did not arrive in Kirtland with her family until early June, just prior to Hurlbut's excommunication. That is perhaps the when Joseph Ellis Johnson remembers the man coming to stay at his mother's house. Hurlbut's choice of Julia Hills Johnson as his landlady may have had something to do with the fact that both he and the Johnsons had long before lived in Chittendon Co., VT. But their more recent geographic connection was that they all had lived in Chautauqua Co., NY, c. 1830-32. Joseph says that Hurlbut remained at his Mother's house "for nearly a year, while he made an effort to get into a good practice of medicine..." This statement (if it applies to Kirtland only, and not in part to their mutual residence in Chautauqua Co., NY) does not appear to agree exactly with Hurlbut's known whereabouts and activities for the next few months. For most of the time that Hurlbut lived in Kirtland Flats (near the schoolhouse at the junction of the Painesville and Chardon roads) with the Ezekiel Johnson family (c. June 1833 to early 1834) he was apparently an ex-Mormon. The family itself was split between members and non-members at that time and Hurlbut was away from Kirtland for much of 1833, so perhaps his living in a part-Mormon household did not present any special difficulties.
Chapter 2 Timeline -- Note 010