Historical research does not always bring complete clarity to our view of the past—at least not immediately—and sometimes that clarity comes within layers of complexity and with unexpected outcomes. This is especially true in the modern information age and explicitly for religions that have controlled their message for years with great care. The history of the Latter-day Saints has always been intertwined with their doctrines and theology, making new historical discoveries more impactful. Yet the historical record can also cause religious angst, and the complexity of sources and spotty historical documentation can transform a clear narrative into an opaque religious dilemma.
The history of where the Church was established is an ideal example of a historical record creating confusion. Most of the details describing where Joseph Smith established the Church are far from definitive. In fact, they are confusing and contradictory at times, in part because few of them address the location directly. They generally address events that are tangential to the establishment meeting or broadly reflect upon what happened from years later. Reviewing events and the often ambiguous contemporary documentation helps us see why confusion persisted for some time about the place of organization and the surrounding events. It also demonstrates why historians have been reluctant to buy into one or the other location.
With clear information about when the Church was organized, confirming where Smith organized the Church of Christ should be a simple task. Yet official accounts like legal forms or records of incorporation were either never created or they have been lost or destroyed. Larry C. Porter searched the archives around New York and the majority of relevant repositories for articles of incorporation for decades, but to no avail. Since his research, others have searched for government or semiofficial accounts also; though a forgery was uncovered, researchers have found no such documents. Even John W. Welch, Jeffrey N. Walker, and Gordon A. Madsen, the lead historians working on the legal series of The Joseph Smith Papers, have found no documentation of an official incorporation. Although no extant documents demonstrate that Joseph Smith legally established the Church of Christ on 6 April 1830, such formal incorporation of religious societies was not required under New York law unless such a society wanted to hold property in its name. Since the Church did not own property in April 1830, it is entirely possible that Smith did not create or file legal incorporation documents.
On the other hand, Smith may have been cognizant of legal requirements for religious incorporation, since he seems to have been aware of at least a few of the terms of incorporation. As the Church was established, Smith began issuing ecclesiastical licenses and using them like incorporated religions in the United States had done for decades. The extant licenses, signed by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on 9 June 1830, used the following legal expressions in the title of the licenses: “A License Liberty Power & Authority.” The descriptive language in the title of the licenses is similar to the wording found in the laws governing religious incorporation. The title of the license seems to match the legal dictum found in one of the amendments to the law. An 1822 amendment to the 1813 New York laws of incorporation stated, “Such trustees and their successors so elected and incorporated, shall, by and in such name or title, have, hold possess and enjoy, all and singular the rights, liberties, powers and privileges, and be subject to all the duties and limitations of trustees.”
“A License Liberty Power & Authority,” for John Whitmer, 9 June 1830. This license states that John Whitmer was an “Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elder of this Church of Christ,” while also demonstrating that “Apostle of Jesus Christ” was later crossed out. The last line before the signatures of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery was added to indicate Joseph Smith was “an Apostle of our Lord.” Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
The lack of extant legal documents is astounding considering the fact that Smith appears to have been aware of the process of incorporation for New York religions. There are also no minutes of the meeting or contemporary accounts in journals or letters from those who attended the first meeting. All of the accounts about the location are therefore reminiscent, the majority of which are secondhand and complicated. If there were legal incorporation documents, the documentation would have included the time and place the Church of Christ was established. Since there are none, historians are required to track Joseph Smith’s whereabouts in early April 1830 to understand the surrounding events and where the establishment took place. In fact, there is good reason for tracking Smith’s travels from late March to late June 1830, in which he established branches or congregations within the same period that he organized the Church. There are numerous sources that support and build upon this story, some of which offer insights into the location of the organization, though they are unfortunately unclear at times.
Joseph Smith traveled back and forth between three locations where the first three branches of the Church were established within the first month (Manchester, Fayette, and Colesville). In fact, he would have been in both Manchester and Fayette on the same day in at least one instance. He also likely traveled with a handful of people on each visit. Unfortunately, sources describing his travels are often vague and exclude important details. Additionally, since Smith went back and forth between Manchester and Fayette to establish the Church in both places, it would be easy for individuals in each location to describe the organization of the Church in both places. Generalizations about a small meeting could have also caused individuals who may have not known what happened with surety to misrepresent what occurred at each location.
In retrospect, one meeting held soon after 6 April 1830 may have seemed more significant than the establishment meeting. On 11 April, just five days after the organization, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery held a Church meeting in Fayette that was open to the public and apparently attracted numerous believers and local residents. Differentiating this meeting from the establishment meeting, Cowdery preached as the main speaker. In fact, Smith’s 6 April revelation (D&C 21) commanded Cowdery to be the “first Preacher of this Church.” After 6 April, they apparently planned the 11 April Fayette meeting, which was likely the largest gathering of the Church of Christ since its conception. Smith’s history recounted that Cowdery gave his first public sermon there, which was possibly the first public sermon given by a member of the Church. How many people attended the meeting is unknown, but the history stated that it was a “large number of people” and that several came forward for baptism. Furthermore, as individuals reflected back to April 1830, this was an event where Smith and Cowdery had baptized over a dozen people at one time. The Whitmer family in particular would have seen that meeting as an extremely significant event and the beginning of their membership in the Church of Christ. Founding meetings like this may have happened throughout April as Joseph Smith visited Palmyra and Colesville, New York. On the other hand, those who did not attend the 6 April establishment meeting could have mistakenly identified this, the largest meeting of believers to that date, as the organization meeting of the Church.
New York State, showing the geographic relationship between branches. Adapted from David H. Burr, "Map of the State of New-York and the surrounding country by David H. Burr. Compiled from his large map of the state, 1832. (with) Profile of the Grand Erie Canal. (with) Profile of the Champlain Canal. (with) Profile of the Seneca Canal. Entered according to Act of Congress Jany. 5th., 1829 by David H. Burr of the State of New York. Engd. by Rawdon, Clark & Co., Albany & Rawdon, Wright & Co., New York."
Smith’s history explained that after the meeting on 11 April, he “went on to the residence of Mr Joseph Knight, of Colesville, Broom Co N.Y.” He apparently left soon after he dictated a revelation on 16 April 1830 that explained that members of other faiths needed to be rebaptized when they joined the Church of Christ. He was received with care once he arrived at Knight’s house, where he apparently went to persuade Knight and his family to join the Church and be baptized. Knight’s family was “willing to reason with [Smith] upon [his] religious views.” Smith also organized and held “several meetings in the neighbourhood” where he was addressed by both believers and antagonists and had “serious conversations on the important subject of man’s eternal salvation.” They prayed fervently at all the meetings, after which Newel Knight, Joseph Knight Sr.’s son, was believed to be possessed by a devil for not embracing the commandment to pray. Smith promptly cast the devil out. It made a deep impression on the Knight family “when they saw the devil thus cast out; and the power of God and his holy spirit thus made manifest.” As Smith’s history recounted it, “Such a scene as this contributed much to make believers of those who witnessed it, and finally, the greater part of them became members of the Church.” Joseph Smith’s Colesville visit was demonstrative of the impact he was having at the organization meetings of the branches of the Church and illustrative of how central those meetings were to the attendees, regardless of the location in which they were organizing and baptizing.
It is unknown how long Smith stayed in Colesville, but soon after his visit, he returned to Fayette. The history explained that they “continued to preach and to give information to all who were willing to hear.” They may have also returned to Manchester, where Joseph and Hyrum settled some debts to those who opposed the Book of Mormon and the Church of Christ. Though there are not any records of Smith traveling south to his home in Harmony, he likely did to see his wife, Emma, for part of April and May. Whether he did or not, Smith was back in Fayette for the first conference of the Church on 9 June 1830.
The earliest extant sources that indicate where the Church was organized were recorded years after the event and could have easily mistaken one of Joseph Smith’s visits to Manchester or Fayette as the location of the organization. Smith held influential meetings in all three locations and baptized and confirmed believers at each place in April 1830. Additionally, the organization may have only had a small number of individuals who attended. If the Church was organized in Fayette, there were two important meetings held there within five days of each other—the second of which may have had a higher profile in some respects than the first. Those who attended the second 11 April meeting and not the 6 April meeting could have easily perpetuated the idea that the second meeting was when the Church was organized. It is also clear that there was a significant meeting on or soon after 6 April in Manchester, where several of Smith’s relatives were baptized, and a branch of the Church was formed.
Events that occurred within a few days, certainly within the first few weeks of the founding meeting, may also have a bearing on understanding where the Church was first organized. At each meeting, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery baptized and confirmed believers as members of the Church, and they ordained some of those members as Church officers. Though minutes do not exist for any of these meetings, it is possible that meetings in Manchester and in Colesville included formalities for organizing a branch—they could have been viewed by some as “founding” meetings too—and it is possible that one or another of these early meetings actually had as many, or more, in attendance as the Fayette gathering on 6 April. Additionally, these meetings may have been even more similar to one another if Smith did not legally incorporate the Church of Christ on 6 April 1830. If the Fayette meeting followed the steps outlined in New York law for organizing a “religious society,” there may have been a bit more formality to the Fayette meeting than the others, but the branch organizations would in most respects have been similar—and also very significant—to the April 1830 meetings. Similarly, the gathering of the Church on 9 June 1830, the first conference of the entire Church, was also in Fayette, New York, and had unusual significance. It was there that the Articles and Covenants was read and accepted by vote to govern the young organization. All of these meetings could be seen as founding meetings. However, there can be only one technically accurate location for the first meeting where Joseph Smith was ordained as the prophet and where he and Oliver Cowdery were ordained elders. The 6 April establishment meeting was also the only meeting where Smith received Doctrine and Covenants section 21—which is perhaps the best indicator for where the Church was established.
After Smith translated the Book of Mormon by late June 1829 and watched the first printing come off the press in mid-September, he returned to Harmony, Pennsylvania, in early October. Except for one known visit to Palmyra in January 1830, he did not return to New York until March 1830. He arrived to organize the Church and to finally see the published Book of Mormon. E. B. Grandin began advertising copies of the Book of Mormon for sale on 26 March 1830. Joseph Knight Sr. gave Joseph Smith a ride to Manchester, New York, in his wagon. When they arrived, books were indeed being bound, and they saw and held for the first time a copy of the Book of Mormon. Smith also met with his brother Hyrum (who had overseen work on the Book of Mormon), Cowdery, and other believers to prepare to form the Church of Christ.
One indicator for identifying the location is independent accounts of baptismal dates, which can be correlated, to some extent, with dates and places. Recounting the organization of the Church, Smith’s history stated that “several persons who had attended the above meeting, and got convinced of the truth, came forward shortly after, and were received into the Church, among the rest. My own Father and Mother were baptized . . . about the same time, Martin Harris and a Orrin Porter Rockwell.” Each of these individuals was from the Manchester area and was apparently baptized in Manchester. Though recounted many years later, the fact that these converts came forward for baptism “shortly after” the meeting suggests that the meeting took place there. Yet Smith’s history also states that the Church was founded at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette. This is either a contradiction in the record, or the phrase “about the same time” meant that their baptisms did not take place at the meeting.
Yet two other reminiscent accounts, given by Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Knight Sr., seem to support Manchester as the location of the organization. Lucy Mack Smith narrated her history in 1844–45, a few years after Joseph Smith had begun narrating his history. Joseph Smith’s account had already been printed in the Church newspaper the Times and Seasons by the time Lucy wrote her history. Lucy’s account claimed that Joseph Smith Sr. and Martin Harris were baptized on 6 April 1830, yet she does not say where they were baptized. Two Manchester residents, however, remember Joseph Smith Sr. being baptized as if it had happened in the stream near the Smiths’ house in Manchester. Lucy’s account is not overtly supportive of this circumstantial evidence, because she wrote, “My Husband and Martin Harris was baptized” and “Joseph stood on the shore when his father came out of the water.” If her writing is precise and accurate, she was not describing a creek, but rather a lake with a “shore.” Interestingly, Lake Seneca was where believers were baptized when they were in Fayette, and there were not any lakes near Manchester.
Joseph Knight’s account is more difficult to date. It may have been written as early as 1835 but also as late as 1845. Joseph Knight’s autobiographical writings also seem to indicate that the baptisms occurred in the Manchester area. He wrote, “There was one thing I will mention that evening that old Brother Smith and Martin Harris was Babtised. Joseph was fild with Spirrit to a grate Degree to see his Father and Mr Harris that he had Bin with so much he Bast [burst?] out with greaf and Joy and seamed as tho the world Could not hold him.” Knight explained that Smith initially came to Manchester and never mentioned him leaving again for Fayette. He wrote, “I stayd a few Days wating for some Books to Be Bound,” presumably accommodated at the Smiths’ log house. According to Knight, sometime during these few days “Joseph said there must Be a Church Biltup,” but then Knight recorded no details about what happened. His silence suggests that he did not attend the organization meeting, and though he does not note Smith’s departure for Fayette or absence from Manchester, the account is not inconsistent with a brief trip to Fayette, located approximately thirty miles to the east (a full day’s travel). Without identifying whether it was related to the organization (which he fails to note at all), Knight’s text explained that “Old Mr Smith and Martin Harris Come forrod [forward] to Be Babtise[d] for the first. They found a place in a lot a small Stream ran thro and they ware Babtized.” He wrote that they had to perform the baptisms in Manchester at night “because of Persecution.” However, if late reminiscences are accurate, the baptisms were not completely private, because at least two nonmember residents apparently witnessed the baptisms in Manchester. Decades later, their neighbor Benjamin Saunders remembered attending the baptisms.
The connection between these early baptisms and the establishment meeting is not fully supported by all accounts. Rather inconsistently, neither Joseph Knight Sr. nor Lucy Mack Smith, both of whom were in Manchester on 6 April, admitted that they had not attended the establishment meeting. However, neither one claims explicitly to have attended it either. The meeting may have been less important for Knight to attend, considering that he was not baptized until later, but if Lucy had actually attended, it would be uncharacteristic that she did not mention the meeting. She was also likely staying at the Smiths’ log house—which was the most likely location where the meeting would have taken place if it happened in Manchester—and would have been something of a host. Staying at the Hyrum Smith house, she could see from the house the brook where the new converts were baptized. Also, Lucy frequently gave commentary about events that she had not witnessed personally and knew about only through others, which makes her silence on this issue noteworthy. It is also clear that she used Joseph Smith’s history to help her compile her own; yet, even with knowledge of Smith’s account of the establishment, she wrote nothing about attending the meeting. If the organization had been in Manchester, one might expect that she would have at least mentioned it.
With this in mind, Joseph Smith’s account in his history, which indicated that Joseph Smith Sr. and Martin Harris were baptized “shortly after” the foundation, may indicate that their baptisms took place the next day—after returning from Fayette. Or, in connection with accounts of a nighttime setting, the baptisms may have occurred following a morning organization in Fayette and a day of travel from Fayette to Manchester. Either way, Smith’s account, which states the Church was founded in Fayette, is different from what some have taken Knight’s or Lucy’s reminiscent accounts to suggest.
Another set of accounts could potentially help identify the location of the Church’s organization by describing who the six founding members of the Church were. Though Marquardt and others have used these accounts to help identify the location, they are even more problematic than the baptismal accounts. Most of those who attended the meeting did not leave accounts about who was present, though Smith’s history explained that there were “six in number.” Those who left accounts were Brigham Young, Joseph Knight Jr., David Whitmer, William E. McLellin, and Jonathan B. Turner, the last of whom was not a member of the Church. Unfortunately, these accounts do not agree upon what constituted a founding member of the Church. This is in part because there are three groups of people that could represent founding members of the Church: (1) those who were baptized in the spring of 1829, before the Church was established; (2) those who attended the establishment meeting on 6 April as official founding members; or (3) the first six elders of the Church, who presided at the first conference on 9 June 1830.
David Whitmer is the only possible attendee who left accounts identifying who the other founding members were, but his accounts seem to match his own theological agenda rather than identifying who was at the organization meeting. He left three accounts that seem to have different reasons for creating a list of those who attended the meeting. His earliest account was recorded in an 1877 interview with Edward Stevenson, forty-seven years after the organization. He told the newspaperman from Salt Lake City specific details about the meeting on 6 April 1830 and included mostly members of his own family in his list of founding members. Outside of Ziba Peterson, this list appears to be similar to the list of presiding elders at the 9 June conference. Four years later, Whitmer wrote a letter to the Kansas City Daily Journal to correct several errors in a published interview of himself. The journal published a list of founding members in the original article, but when Whitmer had the chance to correct that list he left it the same, implying that it was correct. However, he called it the seven “first elders” of the Church. What he meant by this is found in his third account. In his 1887 book An Address to All Believers in Christ, Whitmer argues that Smith was a fallen prophet before 6 April 1830 and that six elders had been ordained before the organization. It was those six elders, mostly his family members, who formed the group that he claimed organized the Church. Therefore, whether he honestly listed the founding members or not, his accounts are jaded by their theological interest in naming those who he claimed were ordained as elders before the organization.
With differing perspectives, the idea of what it meant to be a founding member of the Church was shaped by the individual who gave the account. It is possible that each account was given under a false pretense. Unfortunately, when the accounts are compared, it is also still unclear where the Church was organized. Nearly all of the accounts include Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, and David Whitmer, requiring the Smiths and Cowdery to travel to Fayette or David Whitmer to travel to Manchester, depending on where the Church was organized. Though Brigham Young apparently claimed that Joseph Smith Sr. and Orrin Rockwell were founding members, none of the other accounts assert the same possibility (he never mentioned the Whitmers, at a time when they had all left the Church and David had attempted to form his own church based upon his participation in the first few years of the organization). Joseph Knight Jr. and David Whitmer both claimed that the other attendees consisted of Whitmers—Peter Whitmer Sr., Peter Whitmer Jr., John Whitmer, or Christian Whitmer. Accounts by William McLellin, Jonathan Turner, and Brigham Young, however, focus primarily upon individuals who lived in Manchester, rather than Fayette. Since none of the accounts are given to demonstrate where the Church was organized, and each of them could be referencing different kinds of founding members, even the strongest arguments using these accounts offer almost no assurance about where the Church was organized.
Dating the reception of Doctrine and Covenants section 23, on the other hand, is more relevant to the organization date, but identifying when the revelations were received also presents several problems. Soon after the Church was founded, Joseph Smith dictated five revelations in Manchester (D&C 23) to Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Joseph Smith Sr, and Joseph Knight Sr. about their respective duties in the Church, as mentioned above. Though it is difficult to date these events exactly, Marquardt used them as evidence to identify where the Church was organized.
Although combined in the Doctrine and Covenants as a single revelation, John Whitmer had originally copied these five revelations into Revelation Book 1 as discrete texts. The similarity of content in the revelations suggests that Smith likely dictated them one after the other, perhaps at a meeting or at least at a gathering of the five individuals for whom the revelations were received. Smith dictated to each recipient his or her respective revelation as if the words were intended to be personal blessings in which the recipients were given the Lord’s approval and directed about their respective roles in the Church of Christ. Such a gathering could also have served as a setting for the organization of the branch, making it possible that this was in fact when the Manchester branch was formed (sometime between 6 and 11 April). Because the editors of the Book of Commandments dated these revelations 6 April in the headings, it appears that Joseph Smith dictated them at the organization meeting. Marquardt uses those dates as evidence to show that the Church was organized in Manchester, pointing out that the first printed volume of the revelations attached that date and location to the revelations. Upon closer examination, however, the location is apparently correct, but the date is not (this will be discussed in detail below). Therefore, accounts about the baptisms and founding members create only a hazy image, rife with historical pitfalls, because D&C 23 was only mistakenly dated 6 April 1830.
Even if the surrounding details of the organization were clear, those who did not attend the 6 April meeting would have easily mistaken other meetings as the establishment meeting. Additionally, the early members of the Church were apparently not interested enough in where the Church was organized to record it in their journals, histories, or letters. However, this does not belabor the point that those who attended the organizational meeting knew where it occurred.
Unfortunately, the ambiguity of what historians can conclude from these accounts cannot be assuaged by early printed sources either. Interestingly, early Mormon newspapers and other semiofficial publications printed by members of the Church primarily indicate that the Church was established in Manchester—a true conundrum for Mormon historians who argue for Fayette as the founding location. In many ways, the confusing historical record simply indicates an early lack of interest in the location. Though many of the members were interested in when the Church was established, where it was established was less important. There were very few members at the founding meeting, and its significance may have diminished as the membership expanded over the next few years. Additionally, once the Mormons’ interests turned to the idea of a “New Jerusalem,” or a chosen place prepared for them to gather as a people, there was little reason to return to Fayette or even conceptualize it as part of their theology. The Church was primarily interested in gathering to Zion during Smith’s lifetime, and they never tried to gather in New York.
 See Porter, “Organizational Origins,” 147–64.
 For their current work, see Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch, Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2014).
 See An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies [5 Apr. 1813], Laws of the State of New-York, 2:212–19. See also Stott, “Legal Insights into the Organization of the Church in 1830,” BYU Studies 49, no. 2 (2010): 122–32.
 An act supplementary to the act, entitled “An act to provide for the incorporation of religious societies,” passed April 5, 1813, in The Revised Statutes of the State of New York, 1869. See John W. Edmonds, ed., Statues at Large of the State of New York: Compressing the Revised Statutes, As They Existed on the 1st Day of January, 1867, and All the General Public Statues then in Force, with References to Judical Decisions, and the Material Notes of the Revisers in their Report to the Legislature, Volume III (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons & Company, 1869), 696.
 See Porter, “Organizational Origins,” 147–64; Larry C. Porter, “The Whitmer Log Home: Cradle of Mormonism,” Religious Educator 12, no. 3 (2011): 177–201.
 Identifying when Joseph Smith was at Manchester in the historical record is also particularly difficult in that the Smiths’ log house is on the border of Manchester and Palmyra. Technically, the log house was located in Palmyra. Joseph Smith’s younger brother William recollected fifty-three years later that he had been present at the organization and claimed that it had occurred in Hyrum Smith’s log house. William Smith, William Smith on Mormonism: A True Account of the Origin of the Book of Mormon (Lamoni, IA: Herald Steam Book and Job Office, 1883), 14. Though Hyrum’s home was located along the Palmyra/
 Revelation, 6 April 1830 [D&C 21], in JSP, D1:130.
 It is assumed that those who attend the 6 April 1830 meeting would never confuse another meeting for the organization meeting. However, most accounts are from individuals who did not attend the meeting. This creates inadequate and sometimes confusing sources that have caused historians and researchers to unnecessarily complicate the issue.
 Joseph Smith was apparently in Fayette on 10 April 1830, where he created a draft of the Articles and Covenants with Oliver Cowdery. In Revelation Book 1, John Whitmer dated that revelation in the heading demonstrated that sometime between 6 and 10 April, Joseph Smith traveled to Fayette, New York.
 See Revelation, 16 April 1830 [D&C 22], in JSP, D1:137–38.
 Joseph Smith’s history explains that Emma was staying at her sister’s house (Elizabeth Hale Wasson) in Harpursville, near Colesville, in early July 1830. She was also possibly staying there at this time also, negating the need to return to Harmony, Pennsylvania, during this visit. JSP, H1:394–410. Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 44–48; see Historical Introduction to Revelation, July 1830–A [D&C 24], in JSP, D1:157n219.
 Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–45, book 9, 1–9.
 See Porter, “Organizational Origins,” 149–64.
 See Articles and Covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20], in JSP, D1:116–25.
 See Revelation, 6 April 1830 [D&C 21], in JSP, D1:126–29.
 See Joseph Smith in Harmony, PA, to Oliver Cowdery in Manchester, NY, 22 October 1829.
 For a reference for when Joseph Smith arrived in Harmony, see Letter to Oliver Cowdery, 22 October 1829, in JSP, D1:94–98. Lucy Mack Smith also recalled that Joseph Smith went to New York in the beginning of October. See Lucy Mack Smith, History, MS 2049, folder 2, image 115, Church History Library. Smith briefly returned to Palmyra to address an issue with Abner Cole, a printer who worked on E. B. Grandin’s press on the weekends. Cole had begun printing portions of the Book of Mormon manuscript in his satirical paper, the Palmyra Reflector. See “Gold Bible,” Reflector, 9 December 1829, ; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, book 9, 9; “[From the Book of Mormon.],” Reflector, 2 January 1830, . For a detailed treatment of the Abner Cole affair, see Hedges, “The Refractory Abner Cole,” in Revelation, Reason, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, ed. Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 447–75; Onondaga Standard, 30 December 1829, 4; “From Albany,” New-York Spectator, 15 January 1830, 5; “Gold Bible,” Reflector, 13 January 1830, 20; Copyright Record, 11 June 1829.
 See Wayne Sentinel, 26 March 1830; Joseph Knight Sr., History, 7, Church History Library. Knight wrote, “I stayd a few Days wating for some Books to Be Bound. Joseph said there must Be a Church Biltup. I had Ben there several Days. Old Mr Smith and Martin Harris Come forrod [forward] to Be Babtise[d] for the first. They found a place in a lot a small Stream ran thro, and they ware Babtized in the Evening Because of persecution. They went forward and was Babtized Being the first I saw Babtized in the new and everlasting Covenant. I had some thots to go forrod, But I had not re[a]d the Book of Morman and I wanted to oxeman [examine] a little more I Being a Restorationar and had not oxamined so much as I wanted to.”
 See Dean C. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” BYU Studies 17, no. 1 (1976): 36–37.
 JSP, H1:380–82. Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 38. Joseph Smith’s history also allows for there to have been a short period between when the organization occurred and when they were baptized. His history states, explaining that the meeting had already concluded, “Several persons who had attended the above meeting came forward shortly after and were received into the church.”
 The history then groups Joseph Smith Sr.’s and Lucy Mack Smith’s baptisms together, as if they could have happened days after the organization. “My own Father and Mother were baptized to my great joy and consolation, and about the same time Martin Harris and a Rockwell.” JSP, H1:380–82. Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 38.
 This is one of the more convincing arguments for the organization to have taken place in Manchester. It derives from the accounts about the baptisms of Joseph Smith Sr. and Martin Harris. After the Church was organized, Joseph Smith Sr., Lucy Mack Smith, and others were apparently baptized in Manchester by Joseph Smith. According to Lucy Mack Smith’s account, Joseph Smith Sr. and Martin Harris were baptized in Manchester the same day the Church was organized. This was apparently a very memorable event in the mind of Smith’s mother. She wrote, “Joseph stood on the shore when his father came out of the water and as he took him by the hand, he cried out, Oh! My God I have lived to see my father baptized into the true church.” Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–45, book 9, 12. Though it is possible that Joseph Smith returned from Fayette on 6 April to baptize them in Manchester, it would have marked a very quick visit and an overwhelming amount of travel. It would also have meant that they were not baptized at the establishment meeting in Fayette. To Marquardt, this was a primary evidence indicating that the Church was organized in Manchester—if Joseph Sr. and Martin Harris both attended the meeting and were baptized on 6 April, he surmises, the Church must have been organized in Manchester. Relying on several other accounts that claimed Joseph Smith Sr.’s and Martin Harris’s baptisms were the first baptisms of the Church, he argues that if the Church was organized in Fayette, these would not have been first baptisms. Even Joseph Smith’s history claimed that there were baptisms at the end of the meetings. See JSP, H1:294–98. Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 18–19. Marquardt cites C. R. Stafford, a local resident who saw the baptisms performed, but this account does not given any specificity of time or any sense of precision because it was recorded in an anti-Mormon publication in 1888. See Deming, Naked Truths about Mormonism, 3. Also offering no precision to the argument, he cites another local resident, Benjamin Saunders. Interview of Benjamin Saunders, 1884, P 19, box 2, folder 44, Community of Christ Library and Archives, Independence, MO.
 Lucy’s reminiscence was taken down by Howard and Martha Coray. See Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001), 132–34.
 Neighbor C. R. Stafford remembered “old Jo Smith, his wife and Mrs Rockwell baptized by prophet Jo Smith.” Deming, Naked Truths about Mormonism, 3. Benjamin Saunders remembered, “I was there when they first baptized. Oliver Cowdery did the baptizing. Old brother Smith was baptized at that time and I think old Mrs. Rockwell.” Interview with Benjamin Saunders, 1884, P 19, box 2, folder 44, Community of Christ Library and Archives.
 Lucy Mack Smith, History 1844–45, book 9, 12.
 Joseph Knight Sr. also remembered the timeline more abstractly, although he did remember Joseph Sr. and Martin Harris being baptized in Manchester. He wrote, “I had Ben there several Days. Old Mr Smith and Martin Harris Come forrod to Be Babtise [sic] for the first.” Knight’s account does not conclude that the baptisms occurred on the sixth of April; they could have happened within a few days of that date, but he does explain that they were the first baptisms. Nevertheless, it is difficult to determine the date of the organization by using the inconclusive evidence of when the baptisms of Joseph Smith Sr. and Martin Harris happened. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 36–37.
 See Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 29–30. Knight’s manuscript includes page references to the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, suggesting it was not compiled until after it was printed.
 According to Joseph Knight Sr.’s account of what happened, it is unclear whether Joseph Smith remained in Manchester or returned to Fayette to organize the Church on 6 April 1830. It is clear from his account that Joseph Smith rode with Knight to Manchester, collected a newly printed Book of Mormon from Grandin’s print shop, and then had intentions of establishing the Church. Yet Knight’s record does not account for any of the specifics of the organization meeting, such as where it occurred or who attended. He also never claimed to have attended the meeting. But because Knight remembered Smith being present in Manchester just before 6 April 1830, some explaining is required to understand why Joseph traveled to Fayette to establish the Church. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 36–37.
 Smith would have needed to leave immediately from Manchester to travel to Fayette (thirty miles) and return to Manchester (again thirty miles) after establishing the Church. Knight also remembers Smith being in Manchester soon after the Church was organized. It is possible, within Knight’s account, for Smith to have left without Knight realizing he was gone. Knight’s account lacks detail and exactness in his chronology of events, loosely demonstrating that he did not know Joseph Smith’s whereabouts for a portion of his visit. Though this would have been a long day for Smith, Knight’s account does not claim the Church was established in Manchester, nor does it eliminate the possibility that Joseph Smith traveled to Fayette in a short period. See Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 36–37. It is also interesting to note that Joseph Knight Sr. was in Manchester during this time, yet he never mentioned that the organization meeting took place in Manchester. He mentioned only that Smith had mentioned the desire to establish the Church.
 Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 36–37.
 Deming, Naked Truths about Mormonism, 3; Interview of Benjamin Saunders, 1884, P 19, box 2, folder 44, Community of Christ Archives; Charles F. Milliken, A History of Ontario County, New York and Its People (New York: Lewis Historical Publication Company, 1911), 1:418.
 It is these six men who are the actual founding members of the Church. In the next few paragraphs, other kinds of founding members will be described, but it is the six men who officially established the Church on 6 April 1830 that this argument is founded upon. The Mulholland draft of Joseph Smith’s history inserted the following along the bottom of pages nine and ten, where his account is given: “Father Smith, Martin Harris baptized this evening 6th April Mother Smith & Sister Rockwell 2 or 3 days afterward.” This passage was not included by Mulholland in the next draft. It was apparently a note to himself that was not used or was incorrect and therefore not included in the subsequent drafts of the history. An altered version was copied into the history following the inclusion of Doctrine and Covenants 19. According to this version, “Several persons who had attended the above meeting, and got convinced of the truth came forward shortly after, and were received into the church, among the rest My own Father and Mother were baptized to my great joy and consolation, and about the same time Martin Harris and Orrin Rockwell.” JSP, H1:380–82. Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 38.
 Larry Porter created a list of possible attendees of the organization, which could also be used to identify where the Church was organized. However, the seventy-three individuals whom he lists are only possibilities, and those whom he is more confident about are those who had been listed as founding members in at least one of the various accounts. Therefore, his list suffers from the same argument about the founding members and complexities found within those accounts. See Porter, “Organizational Origins,” 154–55. Therefore, this article will not address the possible attendees; it will only address the possible founding members.
 See Whitmer, Address to All Believers (Richmond, MO: David Whitmer, 1887), 32–33; Edward Stevenson, Journal, 22 December 1877, , and 2 January 1887, [127–28], Edward Stevenson Collection 1849–1922, Church History Library; S. T. Mouch, “Mormonism. Authentic Account of the Origin of This Sect from One of the Patriarchs. Discovery of the Plates, and the Translation of the Book of Mormon—Polygamy an Exres[c]ence,” Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, reprinted in Saints’ Herald, 1 July 1881, 197–99.
 See Edward Stevenson, Journal, 22 December 1877 and 2 January 1887, Church History Library.
 See Minutes, 9 June 1830, in JSP, D1:140–41.
 See “Mormonism,” Saints’ Herald, 1 July 1881, 197–99; “A Few Corrections,” Kansas City Daily Journal, 19 June 1881, reprinted in Millennial Star, 4 July 1881, 421–23, 437, and 439.
 It was the same except that he replaced Samuel Smith with John Whitmer.
 See Whitmer, Address to All Believers, 32–33. He wrote, “We were as fully organized—spiritually—before April 6th as we were on that day.” He explained that there were six elders present on 6 April 1830 who had already been ordained ten months earlier.
 His list and claim are problematic because neither Samuel Smith nor Hyrum Smith was ordained to an office within the Church until 9 June 1830. When they were ordained, Hyrum was ordained as a priest. See Minutes, 9 June 1830, in JSP, D1:140–41. David Whitmer built his later ecclesiology upon a belief that six elders were called before the Church was organized and that Joseph Smith was essentially a fallen prophet by 6 April 1830. He painted the organization as if dozens of individuals attended, making it seem as if he were mistaking the 11 June 1830 conference for the organizing meeting. However, his list of attendees, in all four of his accounts, does not match the presiding elders at the first conference. This does not resolve the fact that he may have mistaken the organization for the 11 June 1830 meeting in Fayette, at which Joseph Smith’s history explained there were numerous attendees. 9 June 1830, Minute Book 2, 1, Joseph Smith Collection, Church History Library; David Whitmer, Address to All Believers, 36.
 See Book of Commandments (Zion, Independence, MO: W. W. Phelps & Co., 1833); B. H. Roberts, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Period I, 6 vols., 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 1:76; Brigham Young, Journal, 3 May 1843, 43, Brigham Young Collection, Church History Library; Joseph Knight Jr. statement, 11 August 1862, Joseph Knight Jr. File, Church History Library; Joseph Knight Jr., “Joseph Knight’s Incidents of History from 1827 to 1844/
 Joseph Knight Jr.’s statement was taken as authoritative by the Church Historian’s Office and possibly even solicited by them to include in the history. These six men were baptized in 1829, as Knight wrote in his account, but he also claims they were the founding members on 6 April 1830. Knight Jr., “Joseph Knight’s Incidents of History,” Church History Library. Knight almost certainly gained his knowledge of the founding members secondhand.
 See note 86.
 The founding members could also be matched up with the first believers to be baptized in 1829—Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, Samuel Smith, Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer Jr. Did the six founding members need to be baptized before the Church was organized? If this is the case, Joseph Smith Sr., Orrin Rockwell, and Christian Whitmer were not likely among the founding members. This would still leave the possibility that three of the six were Smiths and only two of the six were Whitmers, constituting the majority, including Cowdery, who was living in Manchester. Yet these accounts create more confusion than clarity, and they do not help identify where the Church was organized with any certainty.
 See Brigham Young, Journal, 3 May 1843, 43, Brigham Young Collection, Church History Library.
 See Joseph Knight Jr. statement, 11 August 1862, Joseph Knight Jr. File, Church History Library.
 See Knight Jr., “Joseph Knight’s Incidents of History,” Church History Library.
 See David Whitmer, interview by Edward Stevenson, 22–23 December 1877, Richmond Missouri, Church History Library.
 See David Whitmer interview, notes 102 and 105.
 See David Whitmer, Edward Stevenson interview in his diary, Edward Stevenson Collection, Church History Library.
 See Whitmer, Address to All Believers, 32–33.
 See McLellin, Ensign of Liberty, 2.
 See Turner, Mormonism in All Ages, 22.
 See Revelation, April 1830–A [D&C 23:1–2], in JSP, D1:130–31; Revelation, April 1830–B [D&C 23:3], in JSP, D1:132; Revelation, April 1830–C [D&C 23:4], in JSP, D1:133; Revelation, April 1830–D [D&C 23:5], in JSP, D1:133–34; Revelation, April 1830–E [D&C 23:6–7], in JSP, D1:134–36.
 See JSP, R1:29–31.
 Hyrum’s revelation uses the word “also” in reference to being “under no condemnation” used first in Cowdery’s revelation. Samuel’s revelation uses the term “also” in the same reference, but Joseph Smith Sr.’s revelation uses “also” in reference to “exhortation,” a word used in the same phrase in Samuel’s revelation. This may indicate that the later recipients were aware of the wording of the earlier revelations. Joseph Knight Sr.’s revelation, on the other hand, states he is in condemnation for not praying aloud. In subsequent printed versions of these revelations, they are also all in the same order and included in the same revelation. See footnotes 42 and 45.
 See Revelation, 6 April 1830 [D&C 21], in JSP, D1:128–29.
 The narrative in Smith’s history only requires that he dictated them sometime before 11 April 1830, for example. See JSP, H1:380–82; Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 39. The date is not found in the Book of Commandments and Revelations or 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. See footnote 113.