On 7–8 April 1838, JS presided over a conference in , Missouri, and took minutes. This quarterly conference, the first one held that year, had been scheduled by the on 3 March 1838. By that date, the council members knew that JS had departed , Ohio, for Far West, and they probably expected that he would arrive in time for the conference. On 6 April, the day prior to the conference’s start, the church held a meeting in which a pro tempore for the in Zion and a number of other officers were appointed. According to the abbreviated minutes that included in the “Scriptory Book,” the 6 April meeting was “a Conf. of the authorities of the Church of Latter day Saints Assembled at their first quarterly Conference in the City of Far West.” However, the official minutes of both the 6 April meeting and the 7–8 April meeting, which were published in the July issue of the Elders’ Journal, indicate the 6 April meeting was separate from the quarterly conference held 7–8 April. Nevertheless, the appointments made in the 6 April meeting prepared the church administratively for the conference held the next two days.
The conference was another step in the reorganization of church leadership in the wake of the disaffection of church leaders in and . The conference was probably held indoors—as was the 6 April meeting—possibly in a or some other public building. According to the minutes, at the beginning of the conference JS, , and the presidency “took the stand,” suggesting there was a rostrum. Then, as was customary in conferences, the officers organized according to their and councils. Next, JS “gave some instruction respecting the order of the day,” after which the conference formally “opened” with singing and prayer. and , the assistants to in the pro tempore presidency of the church in Zion, offered the opening prayers at the sessions—and possibly conducted as well. JS gave instruction during both days of the conference. The leaders of the priesthood quorums and councils reported on their respective organizations, and vacancies in the were filled. The minutes were taken by , who had taken minutes of recent high council meetings and was appointed as the clerk of the church in Zion during the 6 April meeting. The minutes of the conference close by listing JS as “president,” perhaps signifying that he was the head of the church or that he presided over the conference. JS may have signed the original minutes or a fair copy, although it is also possible that Robinson simply added JS’s name as the presiding authority. A fair copy of the minutes was probably used to prepare the version published in the July issue of the Elders’ Journal, the church’s newspaper.
Agreeable to a resolution of the , assembled at , on Saturday the 3rd of March 1838, the general authorities of the church met, to hold the first quarterly conference of the , at on the 7th of April 1838. J. Smith jr, , , , and took the stand; after which the several , the high council, the , the the , the , the , the , and , were organized by their Presidents.
President J. Smith jr. made some remarks, also gave some instruction respecting the order of the day. The conference was then opened by singing, “O God our hope in ages past” and prayer by President .— Also a hymn was sung “how firm a foundation”. After which, President J. Smith, Jr. arose and addressed the congregation at considerable length, on some important items.— continued the subject for a length of time, after which, on motion, the meeting adjourned for the space of twenty minutes.
Pursuant to adjournment the conference convened, and opened by prayer by who also made a few remarks respecting the . He spake of , , , , , and , as being men of God, whom he could reccommend with cheerful confidence. He spake somewhat doubtful of from something which he had heard respecting his faith in the work. He also spake of , , , and as being men whom he could not reccommend to the conference.
President , then represented the high council. The report was favorable. He stated that the seats of , , and was vacant in consequence of their having moved away so far that they could not attend the council.
then nominated to fill the seat of who was received unanimously.
He then nominafed , to fill the seat of , who was received unanimously.
Also , to fill that of , who was received unanimously— The presidency then ordained him to the office of high priest.
On motion the Conference adjourned to the 8th at 9 o’clock A M.
Sunday April the 8th;—— Pursuant to adjournment the Conference convened, and opened by singing and prayer by President .
President Joseph Smith Jr. made a few remarks respecting the — Who was followed by , who gave a short history of his travels to and .
President , who is the president of the high priests in ; represented his quorum; he read the names of those who belonged to his quorum, the principal part of which were in good standing.
The seventies were represented, by presidents , and .
The quorum of Elders were represented by president Harvey Green— Their number was 124, in good standing.
President Joseph Smith Jr, next made a few remarks on the , giving the reason of its coming forth, saying it should be observed. On motion, the Conference adjourned for one hour.
The Conference convened, agreeable to adjournment, and opened by singing and prayer, after which , represented the , and his council,— He gave an account of the incomes and outgoes of Church property which had passed through his hands.
It was then motioned and seconded, and carrried that the first presidency be appointed to sign the of the of the church— After which on motion, the Conference adjourned until the first Friday in July next.
The men who “took the stand” were the available members of the First Presidency and the pro tempore Zionpresidency. Whereas Rigdon had arrived in Far West, JS’s other counselor, Hyrum Smith, had not yet arrived from Kirtland. Marsh, Patten, and Young had been appointed to the presidency of the church in Zion the previous day. (Hyrum Smith, Commerce, IL, to “the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Dec. 1839, in Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:21; O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 167–170; Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
O'Driscoll, Jeffrey S. Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003.
A month later, when McLellin was tried in a church disciplinary council in Far West, he stated that he “had no confidence in the heads of the Church, beleiving they had transgressed, and got out of the way, and consequently he left of[f] praying and keeping the commandments of God.” In the September 1837 reorganization meeting in Kirtland, Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, and John F. Boynton were rejected as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and were apparently disfellowshipped. On that occasion, Rigdon explained “the starting point or cause of all the difficulty,” cautioning the elders against “leaving their calling to persue any occupation derogatory to that calling, assuring them that if persued, God would let them run themselves into difficulties.” Boynton, who was present, “attributed his difficulties & conduct to the failure of the bank”—the Kirtland Safety Society—“stating that the bank he understood was instituted by the will & revilations of God, & he had been told that it never would fail let men do what they pleased.” A week after the September reorganization meeting, Boynton and the Johnsons “made confession to the Church,” and it was “voted that they be received into the fellowship of the Saints and retain their office of Apostleship.” However, after further problems, Luke Johnson and Boynton were excommunicated in December 1837. They joined with other leading dissenters to organize a new church in January 1838, which publicly denounced JS. In April 1838, a church trial was held for Lyman Johnson on charges of speaking against JS and other church leaders, failing to attend church meetings, violating the church’s dietary code, committing fraudulent business dealings, instigating lawsuits against church members, and other offenses. He was removed from office and excommunicated. (JS, Journal, 11 May 1838; Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837; Minute Book 1, 10 Sept. 1837; John Smith and Clarissa Lyman Smith, Kirtland, OH, to George A. Smith, Shinnston, VA, 1 Jan. 1838, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL; Letter to Wilford Woodruff, ca. 18 June 1838; Minutes, 13 Apr. 1838.)
Smith, George Albert. Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322.
On 24 March 1838, the high council decided that council members unable to attend council meetings were to “resign their seats and let others fill them who will be able to attend punctually.” Groves and Wight had moved to Daviess County, Missouri, and Beebe had moved to Clinton County, Missouri. (Minutes, 24 Mar. 1838; Elisha Groves, “An Account of the Life of Elisha Hurd Groves,” 4, Obituary Notices and Biographies, CHL; JS, Journal, 18 May–1 June 1838; Calvin Beebe, Affidavit, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, 28 Oct. 1839, Mormon Redress Petitions, 1839–1845, CHL.)
Obituary Notices and Biographies, 1854–1877. CHL. MS 4760.
Mormon Redress Petitions, 1839–1845. CHL. MS 2703.
Between January and March, Partridge sold almost one hundred acres of land in Jackson County, Missouri, possibly to help fund land purchases and urgent settlement needs in Caldwell County, Missouri. Partridge also allotted land in the Far West plot, including to JS, Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith. These transactions may have been among those reported at this time. (Jackson Co., MO, Deed Records, 1827–1909, vol. F, pp. 107–108, 10 Jan. 1838; p. 109, 2 Feb. 1838; p. 110, 9 Mar. 1838, microfilm 1,017,980, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Minute Book 2, 3 Mar. 1838.)