THE MORMON SPLIT.
History of the Organization and Progress of the Latter-Day Saints’ Church—The Differ-ence Between the Young and Smith Branches Described by Joseph Smith, Leader of the Mormon Church in Illinois.
[From the Chicago Journal.]
There being many newspaper items afloat purporting to set forth the present condition of the Morman church, the various seces-sions, offshoots and outgrowths of the same, together with some of the tenets or dogmas of faith to which they severally hold, I thought, with your permission, through the medium of the Journal, to make some state-ments which may serve in a measure to cor-rect the ideas which must inevitably have been gathered from the items lately and ex-tensively published. The organization of the church was effected April 6, 1830. At this organization there were six persons, comprising nearly the whole number then in the faith. From this organization, in its subsequent spread, has come every party, faction and organization bearing the commonly received appellation of "Mormon." Propagation of tenets began by the laboring of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, who boldly advocated the new theo-ries of religion, preaching from the common version of the Bible, and presenting with it, as of divine origin, the Book of Mormon, which is purported to be a history of the early settlers of the country, who came at different periods of time from the far East, one party coming over soon after the dispersion upon the plains of Shinar, and two others from Jeru-salem about six hundred years before Christ. These ultimately fell into unbelief, creating war among themselves, eventuating in ex-tinction. This history was kept as a national archive, according to their custom, on plates of brass, which plates were confided from generation to generation to persons properly chosen, whose duty it was to inscribe the common history of their people upon them. These plates were so handed down to one Moroni, the last, surviving prophet, who seeing the utter extinction of his people, records the fact, and hides the plates, confident of their being found and published abroad among a people who should inhabit this land. The preaching of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cow-dery was followed by that of others, who united with them from time to time, until quite a large number of communicants were added to the faith, when a gathering was effected at Kirkland, Ohio. From this place the work of proselyting went on. The building of a temple was completed about the year 1835, at the same time that a settlement was being made in Missouri.
In 1837, owing partly to bad financial oper-ations, partly to defections in the church, and partly to strong intolerant prosecutions, the colony at Kirtland was broken up. The set-tlement already begun in Jackson county, Mo., was owing to the increase in number, exercising considerable political power. Whether used wisely or unwisely (it matters not now), this power existing gave rise to jealousy. This resulted in mutual acts of aft offensive and defensive character, which re-sulted in bringing down upon the church, then 15,000 or 16,000 strong in the State of Missouri, the strong arm of force. The lead-ers were arrested and cast into jail, from which they were released, or escaped, after various terms of confinement, and the whole body of people, with scarcely an exception, were driven from the State in the beginning of the winter of 1838. The persecution to which they had been subjected had made many friends for them in the young State of Illinois, and, crossing the Mississippi, they scattered to and fro, until a town site was chosen at Commerce, Hancock county, Ill, just at the head of the lower or Des Moines rapids. Here the city of Nauvoo was laid out, and became the center of the church or-ganization. From 1839 to June 27, 1844, the church continued to proselyte with marvel-lous success. The church had increased from a membership of six to nearly 150,000. Twice had the strong arm of violence driven them from their homes. Twice had they sought new locations. All the time had they kept up their ministerial labors, and the doctrines which they believed were being taught in very many of the countries of the earth.
In June, 1844, Joseph Smith, and Hyrum Smith, his brother, were killed by a mob while being held in jail awaiting trial for some offense charged against them. There was at that time in the city of Nauvoo and the county of Hancock a large population adhering to the faith which rapidly increased until, in the fall of 1845, just prior to the last acts of violence which drove them from the State, it was estimated at twenty-five thousand. Subsequent to the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young became the leader of the part of the church which sought to escape from the re-gion where so much had been endured by them; and, under his leadership complaints waxed stronger and stronger, until in the summer and fall of 1840 mob violence was again triumphant, and the State of Illinois was forcibly rid of the Saints. What the his-tory of those in Utah has been, I have no personal knowledge. I have no doubt, how-ever, that much has been said and written of them which is not true, while the truth must be bad enough. It is with something else I have to do.
Joseph Smith, when he died, in 1844, was in the thirty-ninth year of his age; and, at his death, left a family consisting of one wife, the daughter of Isaac Hale, of Harmony, Pa., to whom he was married against the wishes of her father (not much of a crime now, what-ever it might have been then), and five chil-dren, four boys and a girl. The girl was a daughter of one Joseph Murdock and his wife, who died in Kirtland, Ohio, and is the natural daughter of one Joseph Murdock, of Salt Lake City, Utah. She was adopted by Joseph and Emma Smith, at the death of her parents, and has always been one of the family. She is now the wife of Mr. John J. Middleton, a gentleman of worth, in the employment of the Pilot Knob Iron Company, of St. Louis, Missouri. The boys were Joseph, (the writer of this article,) Frederick, Alexander and David. There are three left, Frederick dying in 1862. In Sep-tember, 1846, Emma Smith, the mother of these boys, left Nauvoo, in common with many others; and, instead of following the fortunes of Brigham Yohng, went up the Mississippi on the "Uncle Toby," then com-manded by Captain Grimes, of Fulton City, now the terminus of the Dixon Air-line railroad, and in the spring of 1847, she was married to Major Lewis Crum Bidamore, and where she still resides.
The writer was born in Kirtland, Ohio, No-vember 6, 1833, was taken with the family from there to Missouri, thence to Nauvoo, Ill., thence to Fulton, Ill., and back to Nauvoo, where he resided without intermission till January, 1866, when he became a resident of the town of Piano, Kendall county, Ill. I am aware, Mr. Editor, that these items of family history have only local significance, but I deemed it necessary to relate them. In 1846 and 1847, when Brigham Young and those who followed his leadership were making their way westward, a large number refused to go, and scattered into various re-gions of country. This division did not occur in the separation of an organized body of disaffected men, but took place by the dropping out of individuals and families by twos, threes, and dozens, and has con-tinued up to the present time. Different in-dividuals attempted from time to time to or-ganize and hold these dispersed people in one body, having in view, as claimed by them, a reclaiming of those gone into apostasy (mean-ing those led into polygamy), and the gather-ing together of those remaining in the faith to which they have originally given heed. One after another of the organizations failed, the reasons for which it is not necessa-ry to state. Suffice it to say, that in 1852 none existed bearing even a fair semblance in tenets and practice to the original body.
In 1852 a movement was begun in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois among the fragmentary remnants of these several or-ganizations, together with many who had never held affinity with either, but who were anxious for organization upon the original basis, which movement resulted in the as-sembling together at Amboy, Lee county, Ill., in April, 1860, of a large number of these scattered people for the purpose of effecting a permanent organization. The writer then became identified with the movement, and the organization was sufficiently effected to warrant the holding of annual and semi-an-nual conferences, and the transacting of such business as is called for by the exigencies of the promulgation of doctrinal tenets and the proselyting to the faith.
One of the first and chief objects of this re-organization of the elements of the original church was, and has been, the reclaiming of those who have plunged into error and vice, and the recalling of those who, supposing that there was no other way, followed the lead of ambitious and unscrupulous men, who flourished for a time and then failed. Another object, from the prosecution of which there has been no cessation, and now is, an open, fearless, hostile and unyielding opposition to the doctrines of polygamy and others of like demoralizing tendencies, held and taught by Brigham Young and his adherents. The cause assigned for this op-position is this: The testimonies all concur in freeing Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith from the accusation of being the originators and promulgators of that doctrine, and, fur-ther, that there is no sort of foundation for believing these evil doctrines to have been a part of the doctrines of the original church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
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