"Printer Unto The Church"

Bruce A. Van Orden, "'Printer Unto The Church,'" in We'll Sing and We'll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 51–62.

Zeal in Ohio

A traveling evangelist and schoolmistress from New Hampshire, Nancy Towle, arrived in Kirtland in late August 1831, about the same time that Joseph Smith, Phelps, and the others returned from Missouri. She recorded her feelings about her visit in one of the first outsider accounts about Mormons in Kirtland. She indicated that the returning men spoke warmly of their “Land of Promise,” where they “in process of time . . . should have a temple, and a city, of great magnificence and wealth; and that shortly, they should increase, and tread down all their enemies, and bruise them beneath their feet.” When Miss Towle attended a Mormon Sabbath service, probably on September 4, she was struck by the disciples’ piety, but she felt sorry for their “sacrilege of all things religious.” When church leaders found they were not persuading her according to their beliefs, Phelps stepped in and, according to Towle’s report, said, “You are in the gall of bitterness, and the strong bonds of iniquity. And I have authority to say to you, ‘You shall not be saved, unless you believe that Book [Book of Mormon]!’” Other leaders likewise reportedly berated her lack of faith. This alleged excessive ardor would continue to plague Phelps and many of his leadership brethren in the church for years to come.[1]

Phelps had attended a conference of elders in Kirtland three days earlier, on September 1.[2] There he had received a call to preach, and he would spend the next five weeks serving a mission in Ohio.[3] It was common for most elders to serve such short-term missions in those days.[4] Undoubtedly, Phelps received further instructions at this conference regarding his and the others’ proselytizing. All he later recorded regarding his mission was his willing performance of duty and his traveling “some hundreds of miles.”[5]

Phelps attended a conference of missionaries near Kirtland in Geauga County, Ohio, on Saturday, October 1, 1831. Nine missionaries were present, and Phelps acted as clerk.[6] He noted in the minutes the subject of the conference: “The duty of the Elders was declared by the Spirit to go forth and warn the inhabitants of the earth of things known in the Church of Christ in these last days.” This particular theme would be reiterated by Phelps again and again in his preaching and writings in years to come. An event of great significance occurred at this conference: Phelps was honored by ordination to the office of high priest, or as a member of the high priesthood, by the Prophet Joseph Smith.[7]

At one of the conferences held either on October 1 or near that time, it was confirmed that Phelps, as the church’s new and officially called printer, should buy a press and printing type in Cincinnati on his way to Missouri in order to publish a monthly newspaper in Jackson County.[8] Twice more in October, on the tenth and eleventh, Phelps attended conferences in Ohio. At the latter he gave an “exhortation,” or sermon. Joseph Smith instructed the attending elders, who were also missionaries, on the correct manner of conducting meetings and being guided by the Holy Ghost in doing so.[9]

Traveling to Missouri

In mid-October, Phelps and his family embarked on their journey toward their new Zion. William and Sally’s six children were Sabrina (fifteen), Mehitabel (twelve), William Waterman (eight), Sarah (six), Henry Enon (three), and Mary (one).

Phelps led a company that included Sidney Gilbert and his family and the families of Edward Partridge, John Corrill, and Isaac Morley. (Bishop Partridge and his counselors, Corrill and Morley, had remained in Missouri in the summer of 1831 but were now to be joined by their family members.) Thirty or forty other Saints from the Kirtland area were also part of Phelps’s company. They picked up the press[10] and type in Cincinnati and boarded a boat on the Ohio River to travel to St. Louis. Tragically, little Mary Phelps became ill and died on November 21 on the banks of the Missouri River near St. Louis. The trip was difficult for all the others as well. Emily Partridge, who was only seven at the time, remembered that to her father “it seemed . . . a very great undertaking for Mother [Lydia Partridge] to break up her home and prepare for such a journey with a family of little children without her husband to advise and make arrangements for her.”[11]

The party traveled by steamboat up the Missouri River to the port Arrow Rock, where they were detained until mid-January because of fierce winter weather and ice floes on the Missouri.[12] Arrow Rock is about one hundred miles east of Independence on the Missouri River. Today Arrow Rock is a national historical site and a Missouri state park because of its significance pertaining to the Santa Fe Trail. Emily Partridge remembered the severe circumstances at Arrow Rock. A kind “negro” family offered her family and Sister Morley shelter in their two-room log cabin. “There were about fifteen in number in the two families, but there was a fireplace in the room. We could have a good fire and so keep from freezing. We remained there about two or three weeks, it being very cold weather. At the end of that time, a large Kentucky wagon was procured and the two families and their effects were stowed into it and we started again for Independence.”[13] The other travelers in the Phelps company would have suffered similarly. Fair weather eventually allowed them to leave Arrow Rock, and they arrived in Independence on January 20.

Law of Consecration

Meanwhile, as the Phelps party was heading for Missouri, significant conferences were being held November 1–13 in Hiram, Ohio, where Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were living while working on the inspired translation of the Bible (now known as the Joseph Smith Translation, or JST).[14] One of the most significant subjects considered was the publication of Joseph Smith’s revelations in a volume to be called “A Book of Commandments.” Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer, the church’s first two historians and two of the Prophet’s most trusted associates, were assigned to carry the revelation manuscripts to be printed on Phelps’s new press.[15] Phelps was mentioned in a revelation along with Smith, Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, and Martin Harris. “I, the Lord, have appointed them, and ordained them to be stewards over the revelations and commandments which I have given unto them, and which I shall hereafter give unto them.”[16]

These same brethren were also instructed that this stewardship of managing the revelations was their “business in the church of God”; that is, they would use the profits to support themselves and their families. If these leaders received “more than is needful for their necessities and their wants, it shall be given into my storehouse,” the business that was to be operated by Sidney Gilbert.[17] Thus W. W. Phelps became one of the men officially employed by the church at this time, albeit according to the principles of the emerging law of consecration and stewardship.

This revelation further elucidated principles of the law of consecration that the Prophet had been receiving piecemeal by revelation since February 1831. This was the economic side of the “law of the Church.” The Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, and the Saints in the vicinity of Kirtland, Ohio, were both expected to abide by this law. This revelation promised the faithful Saints “abundance” that would be manifested both temporally and spiritually. It also warned them that “in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.”[18] Phelps would strive to be obedient to the law of consecration and stewardship, although confusion about principles pertaining to this law would later get him and other leaders in severe trouble in 1837 and 1838 in northern Missouri.

In the last of the series of conferences, on November 13, Joseph Smith and the brethren formally established what would be called the “Literary Firm.” All the brethren mentioned in this revelation, including Phelps, would consecrate their time, skills, and money for the purpose of printing all forms of church literature.[19] Phelps learned of this and other new revelations when Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer caught up with the Phelps company in Missouri.[20] No doubt Phelps was pleased with the revelations and with the key role he would continue to play in this millennial movement.

Beginnings in Independence

A sweet reunion took place in Independence between those already there and the new arrivals. John Whitmer reported, “When we arrived in Zion {on January 5, 1832} we found the saints in as good situation as we could reasonably expect.”[21] During the winter, the approximately three hundred church members had suffered from extremely harsh weather and lack of foodstuffs. Yet they had been industrious: they had cut timber and built ferries, bridges, mills, dams, homes, outbuildings, and fences; they had also prepared some land for cultivation.

The Phelps family settled into a two-story brick building on Liberty Street a few yards southwest from the county courthouse. Back in August, Partridge had purchased lot 76 for the house, and also an adjoining lot, for fifty dollars from James Gray.[22] Phelps installed the printing press and establishment in the upper rooms, and the family moved into the first floor. Levi Hancock, one of the missionaries who had come to Zion in the summer of 1831, wrote in his memoirs that he built the two-story brick structure himself.[23] Joseph Knight Jr., one of the original Colesville Saints and a carpenter, recorded, “I made the furniture and fixed up the first printing office in Independence.”[24] This structure was obviously larger and more modern than most other, if not all, Mormon dwellings. It was also centrally located in Independence. Thus, during the Saints’ sojourn in Jackson County, it would also serve as a church office.

About twenty businesses were clustered around the square. Blacksmiths and wagonmakers were busy dealing with the burgeoning Santa Fe Trail trade. The largest business was a merchandising shop run by Robert Aull and Samuel Owens. It was located between the Phelps printshop and the future Gilbert-Whitney store. Samuel Owens would become an inveterate enemy of the Latter-day Saints. One of his motives was the severe competition from the two Mormon businesses surrounding him.[25]

Sidney Gilbert, who had transported a store of goods from Cincinnati, opened up his business at an Independence location presently unknown. The buyers of these goods were almost exclusively Latter-day Saints. In November 1832 Gilbert would secure lot 51, on the corner of Liberty and Lexington Streets. This was only about forty yards from Phelps’s printing office and across the street from Courthouse Square.[26]

Almost immediately upon the arrival of the elders (especially Phelps, Cowdery, Whitmer, and Gilbert) and the Saints from the East, Bishop Partridge called four conference sessions of priesthood brethren. The bishop, who was also an ordained high priest, was considered the presiding church authority in Zion at that time. He moderated four days of conferences held Monday through Thursday, January 23–26, 1832. The first two were held at the new home of Newel Knight in Kaw Township and the last two at the home of Sidney Gilbert in Independence. Brother Phelps spoke of sending elders from Zion to preach the gospel in the states surrounding Missouri. The conference then voted to send ten such missionaries. The conference also dealt with numerous financial matters, including some perceived irregularities in the accounts. It appointed W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, and John Corrill to superintend the schools established by the church in Zion. In his letter to Joseph Smith reporting the conference meetings, Oliver Cowdery noted that “the brethren are generally well and rejoicing in the Lord. The Bishop and all the Elders with all the brethren send love to the eastern churches [branches].” He also requested additional paper for the printing press.[27]

Editor and Publisher

Phelps went immediately to work at “W. W. Phelps and Co.” Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer were his assistants. Both men were significantly younger than Phelps, who was now forty. Oliver was twenty-five and John nearly thirty. Both were still unmarried, although each would marry in Missouri. Oliver married Elizabeth Ann Whitmer on December 19, 1832, and thereby became a brother-in-law to John and the other Whitmer brothers—David, Peter Jr., Christian, and Jacob. Parley P. Pratt performed that marriage. John married Sarah Jackson February 10, 1833, with Phelps performing the marriage. Phelps also performed one other marriage in Jackson County, between James Lewis and Anna Jones.[28]

The church’s printing establishment was part of the Literary Firm, established by revelation. On February 22, 1832, the editors issued their prospectus to the Saints, other citizens of Jackson County, and many newspapers in Missouri. This would be the first newspaper in western Missouri. The closest publication was the Boone’s Lick Advertiser in Columbia, 120 miles to the east. Other Missouri papers reported the formation of The Evening and the Morning Star.

The prospectus, signed by Phelps, indicated that “the Star will be devoted to unfolding the meaning of the revelations of God from the earliest times to the present, but more especially those revelations which God has given in the present dispensation.” Phelps added that the prophesied time for the gathering of Israel and the Second Coming of Christ was “rapidly approaching” and that “sore judgments of God” would fall on the wicked. Thus this periodical was designed as a warning voice. Phelps announced that the paper would be issued monthly, at one dollar a year subscription price, until “it should be deemed to publish it oftener.”[29]

The prospectus was sent to many other newspapers at little cost since the US Post Office had been mandated to distribute newspapers inexpensively. Some newspapers, as was the custom, would notify their readers of forthcoming publications. However, the commentary on the Mormon newspaper was not complimentary. For example, the Auburn Free Press (New York), located near Canandaigua, reported, “‘The Evening and the Morning Star’ is the name of a mormonite newspaper to be established at Independence, Missouri, by W. W. Phelps, late of the Ontario Phenix. In a postscript attached to the prospectus, it is said ‘from the press may be expected, as soon as wisdom directs, many sacred records which have slept for ages.’ It is remarkable how easily mankind are duped into the most ridiculous beliefs and fancies.”[30] The Philadelphia Album printed much from Phelps’s prospectus and then sarcastically stated, “These Mormonite sages are about to pour a flood of light upon the world.”[31]

The name of the periodical, The Evening and the Morning Star, probably came in part from a revelation given to Moses. Joseph Smith had given Phelps a copy of this revelation, which the Prophet had dictated to Sidney Rigdon in December 1830. Within the account of the Creation (now found in Moses 2:5 of the Pearl of Great Price), we read, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” A similar statement was made at the end of each creation “day.” The name was also connected with mention of “the morning star” in Revelation 2:28 in the New Testament. Phelps also explained in his prospectus: “As the forerunner of the night of the end, and the Messenger of the day of redemption, the Star will borrow its light from Sacred sources, and be devoted to the Revelations of God; as made known to his servants by the Holy Ghost, at sundry times since the creation of man, but more especially in these last days, for the restoration of the house of Israel.”[32]

Phelps felt excited to be back to printing and preparing type for numerous publications. Through the power of his beloved press, he could freely express his views, even as he had done so many times before in his home state of New York. This time his cause of preparing for the Lord’s Second Coming and for eternal life was much greater than Anti-Masonry had been for him in New York.[33]

Phelps, Cowdery, and Whitmer, expecting printing paper from Martin Harris, hoped they could soon print the first number of the Star,[34] but apparently they did not receive the needed amount. Without sufficient paper, the first issue of the Star could not be printed. All Phelps and his associates could do was wait to see if their request for paper from their brethren in Ohio would be fulfilled. These Ohio brethren of the Literary Firm would have greater access to purchase newsprint. They expected the Prophet to visit Zion and bring paper with him sometime in the spring. Phelps, Cowdery, and Whitmer spent their time by preparing some of the Prophet’s revelations for publication. This collection of revelations would be commonly known as the Book of Commandments.

Communication Problems

In Ohio in March 1832, Joseph Smith “received a letter from the brethren who went up to the Land of Zion, stating that they had arrived at Independence, Missouri, in good health and spirits, with a printing press, and a store of goods. They also sent [Smith] the prospectus for the monthly paper [The Evening and the Morning Star] agreeably to the instructions of the [last] fall conference.”[35] Joseph and a few others began making preparations for their pending visit to western Missouri, where they would also further establish the United Firm according to revelation (D&C 78).

At about this same time, the first half of March, Joseph Smith sought and received revelations for the future of the work, now found in Doctrine and Covenants 78–81.[36] Yet another revelation—recorded in the Kirtland Revelation Book on March 20, 1832, but never recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants—pertained to the acquisition of paper for Phelps’s printing establishment in Zion. The revelation read, “It is expedient Saith the Lord unto you that the paper shall be purchased for the printing of the books of the Lord’s commandments and it must need be that you take it with you. . . . Let the purchase be made by the Bishop [Newel K. Whitney, the church’s bishop in Ohio] if it needs must be by hire, whatsoever is done let it be done in the name of the Lord.” The revelation also added that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon should temporarily interrupt other business to go on this mission to Zion “for the greatest good and benefit of the church.”[37] Thus Joseph and Sidney completed plans to purchase paper and travel to Missouri, all in fulfillment of their revealed duties in the Literary Firm.

Another lingering concern for Zion’s presiding elders in Missouri was a dispute that had taken place in Jackson County back in August 1831 between Bishop Edward Partridge and Sidney Rigdon. The dispute also involved Joseph Smith. Partridge felt that the Prophet and his close Ohio associates had aggregated too much authority and were exercising that authority over the Missouri church leadership unrighteously, particularly as it applied to which Missouri lands to purchase. The Prophet recorded this verse in an earlier revelation: “And also my servant Edward Partridge, behold, he hath sinned, and Satan seeketh to destroy his soul; but when these things are made known unto [him], and [he] repent[s] of the evil, [he] shall be forgiven.”[38] Sidney Rigdon had also charged Partridge with insulting Joseph Smith and assuming authority over Joseph.[39]

In those first two years of the church’s existence, the leadership positions in the infant church were far from defined as they would be in years ahead.[40] Joseph Smith was the prophet and would receive revelations, but Edward Partridge believed that his office of bishop made him equal to Joseph Smith in administrative authority in the land of Zion, especially when Brother Joseph was not present but rather some eight hundred miles away in northeastern Ohio.

Partridge, Phelps, and other Christians of that era had experienced another form of religious polity: “By the time that Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ in 1830, a rich tradition of egalitarian leadership in religious congregations existed in the United States, in large part because of the political notions of the American Revolution.” Phelps had always been a proponent of the “glorious revolution” and its aftereffects. Furthermore, “as they contemplated independence from the British monarchy, American colonists asserted the power of the common people and their right to question authority.” By 1830, denominations had placed much of their administrative authority in individual congregations.[41]

Because there existed two church headquarters in 1832, the Missouri brethren thought they were abiding the following instructions from a revelation given them the previous year in Zion:

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.[42]

Phelps and Partridge and their associates surely felt they were doing exactly as they were directed by heaven.

After Joseph Smith and other brethren returned to Ohio earlier in August 1831, the Prophet received a number of revelations that solidified his and Sidney Rigdon’s leadership roles over the entire church, including the church in Missouri.[43] Phelps had witnessed only some of these revelations while still in Ohio. Together “these revelations left no doubt as to Partridge’s subordination to Smith and to Smith’s role as head of the Church.”[44] At a conference on January 25, 1832, Joseph Smith was ordained “president of the high priesthood,” giving him even more authority over the church and its members than perceived previously.[45] Subsequently, in March two counselors to Joseph Smith in the presidency of the high priesthood were named: Sidney Rigdon and Jesse Gause.[46]

That same month Sidney Rigdon and Jesse Gause, as well as other leading Ohio elders, preferred charges against the brethren in Missouri that they had made several unauthorized decisions in their late January 1832 conference in Zion.[47]

According to minutes of a March 10, 1832, conference of elders in Zion, a council was created consisting of William W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, Sidney Gilbert, and Selah J. Griffin (an elder residing in Independence) to discuss charges against Bishop Edward Partridge. In those early years, councils of this kind were the church’s means of resolving disputes, both personal and those related to church business. Partridge, the accused, was in attendance. Council minutes recorded that a letter from Sidney Rigdon had arrived in Missouri during the winter charging Partridge with using too much authority the previous summer and for “insult[ing] the Lord’s prophet in particular.” Partridge claimed that he had apologized to Joseph Smith and had hoped that the Prophet had already forgiven him.

Oliver Cowdery, clerk of the March conference, wrote that after council members had “deliberately weigh[ed] the subject,” they entreated Rigdon to ask himself “whether he was not actuated by his own hasty feelings rather than the Spirit of Christ.” Oliver added that Partridge was “willing to make every confession which br. Sidney as a disciple of Christ could require & forever bury the matter.” The brethren in Missouri—including Phelps as one of their most influential members—desired that the church leaders “walk together as brothers filling the important stations in the Kingdom of God in honor to themselves & the advancement of our Redeemer’s cause.”[48]

Differences between Mormons and Gentiles

Approximately four hundred Saints had come to Jackson County by March 1832,[49] but there were nearly three thousand previous settlers (labeled “Gentiles” by the Mormons) residing in the county as the Mormons began building their Zion. Radical differences between the two groups became increasingly clear to the leading church brethren. Nearly all the original white settlers were transplanted southerners, most of them from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, since the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had designated Missouri a “slave state.” Some settlers brought black slaves with them, although no cotton, indigo, or sugar crops in western Missouri existed to make slavery profitable. Wealthy plantation owners did not exist in Jackson County. The Mormons, on the other hand, came from the eastern states, primarily New York and Ohio, and did not embrace the same cultural traits, especially recreation on Sunday, drinking, and slavery, as did the original settlers in Jackson.

The first settlers to this region had come just under seven years earlier, in 1825, when an Indian treaty had legally opened this part of Missouri for settlement. Previously, the area had been part of the Osage Indian Reservation. In 1826 the state legislature named the new county after General Andrew Jackson, a famous Tennessean, since so many people were coming to the region from Tennessee.

The Mormons, with Phelps as their frequent spokesman, encountered men in Jackson County who were brave and adventuresome, but also many who were thriftless, illiterate, violent, and prone to heavy drinking. Traveling through Independence, already a significant stopping-off and supply point either to Santa Fe or to the Rocky Mountains, were hosts of disparate people, such as fur traders, trappers, overland merchants, teamsters, and bison hunters. As local historian Pearl Wilcox has explained, “The town became a marvel of push, thrift, and enterprise, since the course of an empire could not be stayed until the shores of the Pacific had been reached and the intermediate distance claimed and populated.”[50]

Thus as Missouri church leaders Bishop Partridge, W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Gilbert, John Corrill, and Isaac Morley awaited the impending visit of their Prophet, they marveled at two absolutely different concepts: the building of Zion in all its glory and what they considered the wickedness, meanness, and materialism of people around them who seemed to care not a whit about the same religious principles as they did. Phelps was eager to get on with his sacred calling as “printer unto the church”—to help prepare the righteous for the Lord’s Second Coming and to warn the wicked of impending judgments. The Missouri leadership also yearned to be completely reconciled with Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon.


[1] Nancy Towle published her report in Vicissitudes Illustrated in the Experience of Nancy Towle, in Europe and America, 2nd ed. (Portsmouth, NH: John Caldwell, 1833), 149–58. Phelps’s quotation is on p. 155.

[2] The conference minutes are in JSP, D2:58–59; MB2, 5; FWR, 12.

[3] Phelps’s reference to his mission is in “Jackson County,” MS D 6019, folder 7, CHL; hereafter cited as “Phelps in Jackson County.”

[4] Davis Bitton, “Kirtland as a Center for Missionary Activity, 1830–1860,” BYU Studies 11, no. 4 (Spring 1971): 497–516.

[5] “Phelps in Jackson County.”

[6] JSP, D2:71; MB2, 6; FWR, 13.

[7] JSP, D2:71. See explanation of “High Priesthood” and office of high priest as they were used in 1831 in FWR, 8.

[8] MHC, vol. A-1, 154; PJS, 1:364; HC, 1:217; JSP, D2:71n19.

[9] JSP, D2:74–75; MB2, 7–9; FWR, 15–17.

[10] Sanford C. Gladden, in “An Early Printing Press Used in Colorado,” located in CHL, wrote that Phelps’s new press was a “Washington Press.” It was invented in 1821 by Samuel Rust and named after George Washington. It had a silhouette of Washington on its side. Its new and valuable features were two horizontal cast-iron beams for the top and bottom that were held in place by cylindrical side posts. This frame was lighter and stronger than the massive acorn frame of earlier presses and could be disassembled for shipment. See Stephen O. Saxe, American Iron Hand Presses (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 1992), 42–47.

[11] Emily Dow Partridge Smith Young, “What I Remember,” April 7, 1884, http://partridge.parkinsonfamily.org/histories/emily-what-i-remember.keys.htm.

[12] Young, “What I Remember”; “Phelps in Jackson County.”

[13] Young, “What I Remember.”

[14] Minutes for these conferences are published in JSP, D2:94–141. This source also contains original documents of the revelations (D&C 1; 67–70; portions of 107; and 133) given at these conferences.

[15] D&C 69:1–8; JSP, MRB:216–17; JSP, D2:131; “The Book of John Whitmer,” in JSP, H2:49.

[16] D&C 70:1, 3; JSP, MRB:220–21; JSP, D2:140–41.

[17] D&C 70:5–11; JSP, MRB:220–21; JSP, D2:140–41.

[18] D&C 70:13–14; JSP, MRB:220–21; JSP, D2:141.

[19] See Lyndon W. Cook, Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration (Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 1985), 43–70, for an excellent description of the Literary Firm, along with the related, but more extensive, “United Firm.” See also JSP, D2:493; Max H. Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm: The Growth and Decline of the Church’s First Master Plan of Business and Finance, Ohio and Missouri, 1832–1834,” BYU Studies Quarterly 46, no. 3 (2007): 5–66.

[20] John Whitmer wrote that he and Oliver Cowdery arrived in Independence on January 5. See “The Book of John Whitmer,” in JSP, H2:49. Evidently, they went on ahead of the Phelps party. Cowdery and Whitmer also brought with them monies that had been gathered in the East to buy more property for the church in Zion (Jackson County, Missouri). See JSP, D2:163.

[21] “The Book of John Whitmer,” in JSP, H2:50.

[22] These transactions, including the official land records, are described in Pearl Wilcox, The Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier (Independence, MO: n.p., 1972), 45. On May 16, 1989, I likewise examined the same Jackson County land records in the county courthouse.

[23] “Levi Hancock Journal,” typescript, Harold B. Lee Library Special Collections, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Ronald E. Romig, archivist of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (later the Community of Christ), acknowledged that other historians concluded that the brick house already existed when Partridge purchased the property but that he believed Hancock’s compelling account. See Ronald E. Romig, Early Independence, Missouri: “Mormon” History Tour Guide (Independence, MO: Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation, 1994), 33. See also Ronald E. Romig and John H. Siebert, “First Impressions: The Independence, Missouri, Printing Operation, 1832–33,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 10 (1990): 54–55. Years later, Romig discussed this question again in Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2014), 154, 154n10, and arrived at the same conclusion.

[24] Joseph Knight Jr., “Incidents from History 1827–44,” CHL.

[25] Wilcox, Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier, 19–20.

[26] Wilcox, Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier, 29.

[27] JSP, D2:165–79; MB2, 21–22; FWR, 39–40, 231–38.

[28] Scott H. Faulring, “Early Marriages Performed by the Latter-day Saint Elders in Jackson County, Missouri, 1832–1834,” Mormon Historical Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2001): 200–202; Romig, Biography of John Whitmer, 191.

[29] MHC, vol. A-1, 199–204; HC, 1:259, 259n1; PJS, 1:373. The Rochester Republican, April 24, 1832, 1, provided commentary on the prospectus.

[30] “The Evening and the Morning Star,” Auburn Free Press (New York), April 11, 1832, 4.

[31] “A ‘Mormonite’ Newspaper,” Philadelphia Album, March 13, 1832, 1.

[32] MHC, vol. A-1, 199; emphasis added.

[33] For a review of the significance of early Mormon publishing, including Phelps’s role in it, see David J. Whittaker, “The Book in Early Mormon Culture,” Journal of Mormon History 23, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 1–41.

[34] FWR, 238.

[35] MHC, vol. A-1, 199; PJS, 1:373; HC, 1:259.

[36] JSP, D2:197–208.

[37] JSP, D2:216–18; JSP, MRB:272–73, 450–51.

[38] D&C 64:17; JSP, MRB:190–93; JSP, D2:64.

[39] MB2, 22–23; FRW, 40–42; JSP, D2:xxvi.

[40] Matthew C. Godfrey, “‘Seeking after Monarchal Power and Authority’: Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832,” Mormon Historical Studies 13 (Spring/Fall 2012): 15–21.

[41] Godfrey, “Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832,” 16, 32n3.

[42] D&C 58:26–28; emphasis added. JSP, MRB:164–65; JSP, D2:16; Godfrey, “Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832,” 25–26.

[43] See especially D&C 64, 67–70, 72, 78, 81, and 107. Portions of D&C 107 were revealed in November 1831.

[44] Godfrey, “Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832,” 21.

[45] MHC, vol. A-1, 210; FWR, 44; PJS, 1:380; HC, 1:267.

[46] D&C 81. Following Jesse Gause’s excommunication in December 1832, Frederick G. Williams was ordained in his stead in March 1833 (D&C 81 headnote). See also JSP, MRB:447–48; JSP, D2:208.

[47] JSP, D2:222–29.

[48] MB2, 22–23; FWR, 40–42; JSP, D2:230.

[49] “The Book of John Whitmer,” in JSP, H2:50.

[50] Wilcox, Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier, 19.