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To celebrate the study of the Doctrine & Covenants and Church History this year, Meridian is serializing The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother.

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Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother—

Chapter 39
By Lucy Mack Smith

The Smiths settle on a farm in Kirtland. Joseph, Samuel, and Hyrum leave on missions for Missouri. Lucy Mack Smith inserts a number of revelations given at this time concerning the building up of Zion, the keeping of the commandments, and the preaching of the gospel among the congregations of the wicked, including, in part or whole, D&C 52, 58, 59, 60, and 61 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Mid-May 1831 to August 12, 1831

Mr. Morley gave us the use of a room which we occupied but two weeks, when we moved onto a farm which was purchased by Joseph for the Church. On this farm my family were all established with this arrangement, that we were to cultivate the farm, and from the fruits of our labors we were to support our several families and sustain strangers who were traveling, either members of the Church or others in search of the truth or on a visit to the place.

Immediately after we moved onto the farm, Joseph received a request from the brethren who were in Missouri to send some elders to assist them. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received the following revelation:[1]

Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the elders whom he hath called and chosen in these last days, by the voice of his Spirit-

Saying: I, the Lord, will make known unto you what I will that ye shall do from this time until the next conference,[2] which shall be held in Missouri, upon the land, which I will consecrate unto my people, which are a remnant of Jacob, and those who are heirs according to the covenant.

Wherefore, verily I say unto you, let my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon take their journey as soon as preparations can be made to leave their homes, and journey to the land of Missouri.

And inasmuch as they are faithful unto me, it shall be made known unto them what they shall do;

And it shall also, inasmuch as they are faithful, be made known unto them the land of your inheritance. . . .

And also [let] my servant John Murdock, and my servant Hyrum Smith, take their journey unto the same place by the way of Detroit.

And let them journey from thence preaching the word by the way, saying none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught them by the Comforter through the prayer of faith.

Let them go two by two, and thus let them preach by the way in every congregation, baptizing by water, and the laying on of the hands by the water’s side. . . .

Let my servants Reynolds Cahoon and Samuel H. Smith also take their journey. . . .

And thus, even as I have said, if ye are faithful ye shall assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies.

But, behold, I, the Lord, will hasten the city in its time, and will crown the faithful with joy and with rejoicing.

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and I will lift them up at the last day. Even so. Amen.[3]

It will be observed in this revelation that Samuel H. Smith and Reynolds Cahoon were appointed to go in company together.

On their way to Missouri, they called at a town, and going into a large store, they inquired of the clerk, who was William E. McLellin,[4] if they had any preaching evenings in the place. “Yes,” answered Mr. McLellin, “we do, when any preacher comes along. What denomination do you belong to?”

“We are Latter-day Saints,” said Samuel.

“Can you preach?” said Mr. McLellin. “I would like to hear you, for that is a denomination that I have never heard of, and if you will preach, I will get a house and light it up and call the people together in good season.”

Samuel replied that he would be glad of the opportunity. Mr. McLellin went out, and in a short time he had a large congregation seated in a convenient room, well lit up at his expense. After the meeting was dismissed, Mr. McLellin urged them to stay in the place and preach again, but they refused, as their directions were to go forward without any further delay than to warn the people as they passed.

Soon after they left, which was the next morning, Mr. McLellin grew uneasy, and he afterwards told me the following story:

“When night came I was unable to sleep, for I thought that I ought to have gone with them, as I had an excellent horse, and I could have assisted them much on their journey. This worked upon my mind, so that I determined to set out after them the next morning, cost what it might. I accordingly told my employer what I had concluded to do, and obtaining his consent, I set out in pursuit of my new acquaintances. I did not overtake them, but I pursued my route in the same direction, until I came to Jackson County, Missouri, where I was baptized.”

On their route, Samuel and Brother Cahoon suffered great privations, such as want of rest and food. On this journey, they passed through Quincy. There were only thirty-two houses then in the place, and they preached the first sermon that ever was delivered in that town.[5]

At the time that they started for Missouri, near fifty others also set out for the same place, all taking different routes. When they arrived in Jackson, the elders had mostly got there before them.[6]

Houses built on the original temple lot in Independence, Missouri as props for a pageant. These give a sense of the building of a settlement on the western frontier.

Soon after their arrival Joseph received a revelation, of which the following is an extract:[7]

Hearken, O ye elders of my church, and give ear to my word, and learn of me what I will concerning you, and also concerning this land unto which I have sent you.

For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.[8]

For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which is to follow.

Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you-that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come;

And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand. . . .

Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. . . .

And now, verily, I say concerning the residue of the elders of my church, the time has not yet come, for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land, except they desire it through the prayer of faith, only as it shall be appointed unto them of the Lord. . . .

For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth-the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe.

And behold the Son of Man cometh. Amen.

After the elders had collected in Jackson, they dedicated the spot for the temple,[9] and four days later Joseph received the following revelation:[10]

Behold, blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments.

For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.

Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.[11]

And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time-they that are faithful and diligent before me.

Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.

Following the Missouri conference the elders who had been appointed to return to the East desired to know how they should proceed, and by what route and manner they should travel.[12] In response, on Monday, August 8, 1831, Joseph received the following revelation:[13]

Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the elders of his church, who are to return speedily to the land from whence they came: Behold, it pleaseth me, that you have come up hither;

But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.

And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.

For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth; and in the day when I shall make up my jewels, all men shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God.

But, verily, I will speak unto you concerning your journey unto the land from whence you came. Let there be a craft made, or bought, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me, and take your journey speedily for the place which is called St. Louis.

And from thence let my servants, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, take their journey for Cincinnati;

And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.

And let the residue take their journey from St. Louis, two by two, and preach the word, not in haste, among the congregations of the wicked, until they return to the churches from whence they came.

And all this for the good of the churches; for this intent have I sent them.

And let my servant Edward Partridge impart of the money which I have given him, a portion unto mine elders who are commanded to return;

And he that is able, let him return it by the way of the agent; and he that is not, of him it is not required.

And now I speak of the residue who are to come unto this land.

Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.

And after thou hast come up unto the land of Zion, and hast proclaimed my word, thou shalt speedily return, proclaiming my word among the congregations of the wicked, not in haste, neither in wrath nor with strife.

And shake off the dust of thy feet against those who receive thee not, not in their presence, lest thou provoke them, but in secret; and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment.

Behold, this is sufficient for you, and the will of him who hath sent you.

And by the mouth of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., it shall be made known concerning Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery. The residue hereafter. Even so. Amen.

The Missouri River, pictured here, became a route of travel to head back east towards St. Louis, Missouri. Near here the brethren experienced the dangers on these waters.

On August 9, 1831, in company with ten elders, Joseph left Independence landing (on the Missouri River) for Kirtland. Nothing very important occurred till the third day, when many of the dangers so common upon the western waters manifested themselves; and after they had encamped upon the bank of the river, Brother William W. Phelps, in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision. The next morning after prayer, Joseph received a revelation,[14] an extract of which follows:

Behold, verily thus saith the Lord unto you, O ye elders of my church, who are assembled upon this spot, whose sins are now forgiven you, for I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts;

But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief.

Nevertheless, I suffered it that ye might bear record; behold, there are many dangers upon the waters, and more especially hereafter. . . .

And now, concerning the residue, let them journey and declare the word among the congregations of the wicked, inasmuch as it is given. . . .

And let them journey together, or two by two, as seemeth them good, only let my servant Reynolds Cahoon, and my servant Samuel H. Smith, with whom I am well pleased, be not separated until they return to their homes, and this for a wise purpose in me.

Here let me say that Samuel was never censured by revelation to my knowledge, for he always performed his missions faithfully and his work was well approved.[15]


[1] This revelation was given June 7, 1831, and is now known as D&C 52 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Mother Smith gave instructions in the Preliminary Manuscript to include extracts from several revelations at this point in her history. Two paragraphs have been added in this chapter to give a bridge of continuity between them. They have been correspondingly footnoted as they appear.
[2] This first conference in Missouri was held on Thursday, August 4, 1831, in the home of “Brother Joshua Lewis, in Kaw township, in the presence of the Colesville branch of the Church” (History of the Church 1:199). Joshua Lewis, born in 1795, was one of the early settlers of Jackson County and converted to the Church through the efforts of the Lamanite missionaries (Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, and Frederick G. Williams) in late fall 1830 (see Papers, pp. 497-98).
[3] Those who had been called on missions to Missouri, as recorded in D&C 52 of the Doctrine and Covenants, were: Lyman Wight, John Corrill, John Murdock, Hyrum Smith, Thomas B. Marsh, Ezra Thayre, Isaac Morley, Ezra Booth, Edward Partridge, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Harvey Whitlock, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Solomon Hancock, Simeon Carter, Edson Fuller, Jacob Scott, Levi Hancock, Zebedee Coltrin, Reynolds Cahoon, Samuel H. Smith, Wheeler Baldwin, William Carter, Newel Knight, and Selah J. Griffin. Joseph Wakefield and Solomon Humphrey were called to the “eastern lands.”
[4] William E. McLellin, son of Charles McLellin, was born January 18, 1806, in Smith County, Tennessee. He was one of the original Twelve Apostles, ordained February 15, 1835. He later publicly opposed Church leadership, was excommunicated in 1838, and never returned to the Church. He spent the last thirteen years of his life trying to convince David Whitmer to start a new church. He died at Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, April 24, 1883. (See Cook, Revelations, pp. 106-7.)
[5] Quincy, Illinois, would, nearly eight years later, be a place of refuge for thousands of the Saints who had been driven from Missouri.

[6] Joseph recorded: “The meeting of our brethren, who had long waited our arrival, was a glorious one and moistened with many tears. It seemed good and pleasant for brethren to meet together in unity. But our reflections were great: coming as we had from a highly cultivated state of society in the east, and standing now upon the confines or western limits of the United States, and looking into the vast wilderness of those that sat in darkness, how natural it was to observe the degradation, leanness of intellect, ferocity and jealousy of a people that were nearly a century behind the times; and to feel for those who roamed about without the benefit of civilization, refinement or religion!-yea, and exclaim in the language of the prophets:-when will the wilderness blossom as the rose; when will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will thy Temple stand unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” (Papers, p. 357.)

[7] Mother Smith instructed in her Preliminary Manuscript that “suitable extracts” be taken from this revelation and be inserted into the history. For a full reading of this revelation, see D&C 58:1-65.
[8] This was a foreshadowing of all that would transpire in Missouri.

[9] The spot for the temple was dedicated on Wednesday, August 3, 1831. The 87th Psalm was read and Joseph recorded: “The scene was solemn and impressive.” (History of the Church 1:199.) This was the humble beginning of laying the foundation for the great Zion, the New Jerusalem that prophets through the ages had seen in vision and hoped and longed for. Here, on that obscure summer day, on a small plot of land in a frontier wilderness, and unknown to the world, the small beginning was laid for the city of God which will someday become the envy of all nations.
[10] This revelation was given on the Sabbath day, August 7, 1831. Mother Smith instructed in her Preliminary Manuscript that “suitable extracts” be taken from this revelation and be inserted into the history. For a full reading of this revelation, see D&C 59:1-24.
[11] These first verses are especially poignant and personal. Polly Knight, stalwart and faithful wife of Joseph Knight Sr., and a member of the Colesville, New York, Branch of the Church, had desired with all of her soul to see Zion, but her health had been failing quite rapidly. The twelve-hundred-mile journey was arduous. Newel Knight recorded: “She would not consent to stop traveling; her only, or her greatest desire was to set her feet upon the land of Zion, and to have her body interred in that land. I went on shore and bought lumber to make a coffin in case she should die before we arrived at our place of destination-so fast did she fail. But the Lord gave her the desire of her heart, and she lived to stand upon that land.” (History of the Church 1:199.) She died on Saturday, August 6, 1831, and was buried the next day. Following the funeral on that day, this revelation was given.
[12] The bridging paragraph here is taken from the headnote to D&C 60 in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
[13] Mother Smith instructed that the whole revelation, D&C 60 of the Doctrine and Covenants, be inserted in the history. None of the preceding editions have included this.
[14] This paragraph has been inserted from History of the Church 1:202-3 to create a bridge for continuity between the revelations Lucy directed be included in her history. This revelation, D&C 61 of the Doctrine and Covenants, was given on Friday, August 12, 1831.

[15] It must be noted that Samuel Harrison Smith passed away on July 30, 1844, just thirty-three days after his brothers Hyrum and Joseph were killed. Lucy recites with pride, poignance, and in the past tense as she comments about her martyred sons.