Latter Day Saints.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is of American origin. It was founded in 1830 under the auspices of Joseph Smith, its first prophet. When he was about fifteen years of age, there was considerable religious agitation in his neighborhood among the various churches, and he became deeply interested in the question of salvation. He was greatly troubled by the large number of denominations and the varied interpretations by these of certain passages of Scripture, and anxiously sought to know which among the various denominations was the true church of Christ. He said that while in the woods near his father's home he had a vision of great light and two glorious personages appeared unto him and, answering his question with reference to his duty to the religious denominations holding the protracted meetings, advised him "to join none of them" for their creeds were not acceptable unto the Lord, that the Lord was about to restore the Gospel which was not at this time fully represented by any of the existing churches. In the year 1823 he claims to have had a second vision, wherein appeared an angel of the Lord who instructed him as to the second coming of Christ and also as to his own work in the coming dispensation.
Other visions followed, in one of which he received instruction enabling him to obtain the records which claim to be "an abbreviation of the history kept by the ancient inhabitants of America." A translation from these records constitutes what is known as the Book of Mormon. Smith claimed to have translated it from the metal plates on which it was engraved in characters called "reformed Egyptian." The translation as it was made was dictated to a scribe, Oliver Cowdery, acting as such scribe for the greater part. Smith stated that the plates were discovered in 1827 and about two years later he and Oliver Cowdery declared that "an angel appeared to them," conferred upon them the authority known as "the priesthood of Aaron," and instructed them "to baptize each other by immersion." This was followed by the organization of the church at Fayette, N. Y., April 6, 1830. Here the new doctrine was first preached. Missionaries were sent out, numerous congregations were organized in different states, add in 1831 the headquarters of the church was established at Kirtland, Ohio. About this time Brigham Young united with the society.
From the first, members of the society settled together in numbers, as is usual with new societies, and the idea obtained that the purpose was to segregate the converts from the Gentiles. This is not correct, however. The original policy, as taught, was to live among what was generally termed "Gentiles," and the statement is made in the Book of Mormon that the Gentiles should assist in building up the cities of Zion.
Shortly after the settlement in Kirtland Joseph Smith and one or two others of the leading men led a small colony into Missouri. They settled at Independence, Jackson county, where they established a printing plant and other business enterprises. Their numbers increased steadily by immigration during 1831 and 1832, but in 1833, trouble having arisen between the Saints and their neighbors, the citizens of Jackson county finally by mob violence drove the new religionists from the county, north across the river into Clay and Caldwell counties. Caldwell county, largely organized for the purpose of locating the "Saints," was settled by them. The followers of Smith were largely free-state men, and the friction begun in Jackson county in 1833 finally grew to such proportions in 1838 and 1839 that Smith and his devotees were driven from the state.
A settlement was then started at Nauvoo, Ill., which developed rapidly, but the people in the surrounding counties became hostile to the "Mormons," as they were termed, and the trouble reached a climax on June 27, 1844, when Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered by a mob at Carthage, Ill., the county seat of Hancock county, in which Nauvoo is located.
The death of the two Smiths removed from the church its leading officers and the question of successorship became paramount. The leading quorum of the church is the first presidency, composed of three, the president and two counselors. Joseph Smith was the president. Next to the first presidency stands the quorum of twelve, of which Brigham Young was president at the death of Smith. Young claimed that the twelve should be in authority in the church and act in place of a presidency, and so made announcement to the world. A little over three years later he, still the president of the twelve, led a migration of the converts from Nauvoo, Ill., to Kanesville (now Council Bluffs), Iowa, where, at the headquarters of this immigration in the winter of 1847, he was declared by his followers to be president of the church, and assumed that office, calling as his counselors two other members of the quorum of twelve.
Prior to this three of the original members of the quorum had declined to accept the leadership of Young or go with his company. Young, however, called into existence a new presidency, organized a new quorum of twelve, and continued his immigration with his believers to Salt Lake Valley, Utah, which is the present headquarters of that people.
A large part of the membership of the church at the death of Joseph Smith declined, however, to follow the teachings and presidency of Brigham Young. These members met at that time in the capacity of individuals, officers, and also some branches intact, and formed a reorganization of the church, the first conference being held in 1851 at Zarahemla, Wis. This was developed from the association of churches mostly in the states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, which met in general conference at Amboy, Ill., April 6, 1860, and more fully organized under the presidency of Joseph Smith, the son of the first president and prophet of the church. The organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois under the name and style of "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," and this body forms the opponent in policy and teaching, to a great extent, to the body which went out under Brigham Young and incorporated into its system of doctrine and belief in the year 1852 the doctrine of polygamy or a plurality of wives.
The doctrine of the original church as set forth by Joseph Smith and the church in general conference held in 1836 in Kirtland, Ohio, was as follows:
"A belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and in the Holy Ghost; men will be punished for their own sins and rewarded according to their works; through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. These laws and ordinances are faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion in water for the remission of sins and of the spirit in the reception of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands." The Bible is held to be the word of God and the translation of the Bible by Joseph Smith was made, as he claimed, under the spirit of inspiration, but was not published during his lifetime. The manuscript was left with his widow. Emma Smith, and the publication subsequently made by the reorganized church, before referred to, under the supervision of Joseph Smith, his son. It is claimed also that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God as delivered to the people on the American continent; that revelations given to the church in the present age are true and of great importance and necessity to the direction and growth of the church; that such revelations will continue until the accomplishment of the work on the Western Continent of building up the church, until the literal gathering of Israel and final restoration of the tribes to the land of Jerusalem. The City of Zion, however, will be built on the American continent, and finally Christ will reign personally with his people upon the earth in what is termed the "millennial reign of a thousand years." The original society also declared freedom of worship for all men according to the dictates of their own conscience. They also believe in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.
The ecclesiastical organization is based upon the authority given to man to act in the name of Christ in this world and known as priesthood, the two divisions of which are termed, as in the Scriptures, the Melchisedec or higher priesthood and the Aaronic or lesser priesthood. The former holds the right of presidency and of authority in the church, but the officers are to be selected by the church because the doctrine was from the first taught in the original church "that all things shall be done by common consent in the church." The officers of the Melchisedec priesthood are apostles, patriarchs, high priests, seventies and elders. The officers of the Aaronic, or second division of the priesthood, are bishops, priests, teachers and deacons. The Aaronic priesthoods hold the keys of administration of angels and of authority in direction of the temporal affairs of the church.
The doctrine of polygamy or celestial marriage was first agitated and promulgated by the church under Brigham Young at Salt Lake City in Aug., 1852. At the time he presented this to his congregation, he announced that it was based upon a revelation to Joseph Smith prior to his death in 1843, but that the revelation was burned by his wife, Emma Smith. He did not have the revelation but claimed a copy. Emma Smith, the wife of Joseph Smith, was at that time living in Nauvoo, Ill., where she lived at the time of the death of Joseph Smith, and she repeatedly made statement that the charge of Brigham Young that she burned such a revelation, or any revelation, of her husband was entirely false; and that her husband never received any such revelation as Brigham Young had given out, upon which was based his doctrine of polygamy. Subsequently, Mrs. Emma Smith united with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ or Latter Day Saints at Amboy, Ill., and continued with this organization until her death in the year 1878.
This throws the question of complicity with the doctrine of polygamy or celestial marriage by Joseph Smith primarily upon the evidence of two individuals. Brigham Young, who says this, and that he did not have the revelation, but a copy, and the wife of Joseph Smith, who says that Joseph Smith "never had any wife but herself" and that he never received any such revelation; that she had not burned any such thing or any revelation that her husband ever received. The doctrine of polygamy or plurality of wives as taught by Brigham Young and his followers aroused great discussion throughout the United States. The Reorganized Church, being one of its most persistent opponents having been heard by its committees before the president and Congress of the United States at various times, and as a result of the general discussion and agitation, the Forty-seventh Congress in the year 1882, passed an act prohibiting plural marriages in the territories of the United States. In 1890, President Woodruff, a successor in the church in Utah under Brigham Young, issued a manifesto calling on all members of the church "to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the laws of the land." Since that time such marriages have ostensibly been prohibited by that church.
That the organization under Brigham Young departed from the original church doctrine and organization to a great extent has been proven before the United States courts. (See Temple Lot caseReorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints vs. Church of Christ, et al., Independence, Mo., U. S. circuit court, western district of Missouri, Eighth circuit.) Under Young a strictly hierarchical form of church government grew up, whose influence became more than ecclesiastical, extending into the political, industrial and even social activities of the members of his church.
Under the church founded by Joseph Smith and as now found in its continuation, the reorganized church, the general government of the church, aside from division of the priesthood, includes organization of branches, districts and stakes. The districts have their conferences, known as district conferences or stake conferences, and an organization of the proper officers and delegates of these local conferences form what is termed the general conference of the church. The general conference of the reorganized church meets once a year on April 6, but it may meet oftener according to the laws of the church if necessity and wisdom direct. The principal source of revenue of the church is the system of tithes and offerings taught in the Scriptures, and set forth in instruction to the church in the revelations of Joseph Smith as early as 1831 and subsequently. Nothing is demanded as a tithe or offering except it be a free-will offering on the part of the member. A voluntary offering is necessary in order to fulfill the law. In the case of the tithe, it is an offering of one-tenth of what a person has over and above his indebtedness or his net holdings.
For years these two churches have had missionaries in the different states of the Union in an effort to gain converts. Their missionaries, however, have nothing in common in their work, neither the two churches, many of their principles and also policy in church work being directly opposed to each other. The reorganized church, for illustration, claims that the law as contained in the books is supreme and binding upon all officers, whether president or priest, alike with lay members, that none have the right to set aside the law in any particular. The officers under Brigham Young and his succession, however, claim that they had a "living priesthood" and that the people should obey the "living oracles;" they discarded the doctrine of the Book of Mormon as well as other statements and revelations that prohibited polygamy and plural marriage, claiming that they had outgrown these.
An organization of the reorganized church was made in Wyandotte, Kan., in Oct., 1877, with seven members. A building was soon erected by the congregation and considerable progress has been made since that time. At present there are organizations in Kansas at Alexander, Angola, Atchison, Blue Rapids, Centralia, Columbus, Fanning, Fort Scott, Galena, Homestead, Idylwild, Pittsburg, Pleasant View, Scandia, Scranton, Scammon, Shaw, Topeka, Twincreek and Weir. At the report of the general recorder April 1, 1910, there was a membership in the State of Kansas of 2,330 members, not counting children, and 185 ministers, including pastors and missionaries.Pages 107-112 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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