JWHA Independence 2012

Yesterday I drove from Chicago down to Independence (about eight hours driving, ten with stops). The drive was lovely, except for when I almost killed myself because all the traffic in front of me for some unknown reason had all inexplicably stopped on the interstate, and I just barely managed to avoid creating a multi car pile up with my squealing brakes and two rapid lane changes. But I’m still alive to tell the tale.

I arrived in Independence, checked into my hotel, and then went to the CoC temple where the conference is being held. I had never seen it before, much less been in it. It’s an impressive building.

After a business meeting, Barbara Bernauer gave a delightful presentation describing the history of the development of the CoC archives.

My hotel is close to a Krispy Kreme, and I may or may not have stopped there on my way back to my room.

I’m not liveblogging the conference, because I don’t want to have to deal with schlepping a laptop around. But in the comments below I’ll type up some notes from some of the presentations I attended today.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    First was Richard Moore and Alonzo Gaskill (I finally met him in the flesh; I didn’t realize he grew up in Independence as a Greek Orthodox) on Location Veneration and Zionist traditions. Idea we’ll go back to Jackson County. In Nauvoo Wilford Woodruff said some Saints wouldn’t go west, they wanted to stay in Illinois because it would be a shorter trip when they returned to Missouri. Dream of Jackson County remained alive for many decades. After BY dies, begins to wane, at least from public discourse. 1906 begin to build church buildings in Britain, discourage immigration. DOM builds temples in Europe. Idea became to build Zion where you are. True SL Church has some land in Jackson County, but pales next to commitments in Utah. Kansas City temple only 14 miles away; purposefully not built in Jackson County so as not to freak people out and resurrect notions of going back. “It’s hard to change tradition.” Just 12 days ago an LDS church leader was asked about this, and responded “Where is it? Well, we’re not sure, but we’ll find it. It’s not where we’re going to live, but how we’re going to live.”

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Newell Bringhurst on the non-Romney candidates in 2012.

    Jon Huntsman. Why did he try to pull the trigger in 2012? Four ideas:

    1. Perhaps a less competitive Republican field right now.
    2. Perception Obama vulnerable.
    3. Gain national name recognition, set the stage for 2016.
    4. Desire to oppose Romney.

    Why failed?

    1. Lackluster campaign. no focused narrative.
    2. Moderate to liberal record, didn’t fit with contemporary party.
    3. Obama’s ambassador to China (he thought should be an advantage, but was a disadvantage).
    4. Competing with Romney for same center-right niche of voters.

    Rocky Anderson, former SLC mayor. (I didn’t even know he was running.) Democrats not cutting it; leftist reform agenda. Distanced from Mormonism. But trouble getting on ballots. Best case only on 20 ballots.

    Roseanne Barr. (I didn’t know she was running, either.) Couldn’t get nod for Green Party, but not giving up.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Alex Baugh on land purchases in Jackson County, 1831-1833,

    Zion idea spurred by Enoch material in JST. Reaction to Hiram Page led to revelation about Zion being in boundaries of Lamanites. Sent missionaries out there; no permission to teach Indians so some returned. Revelation that is to be place of gathering. Begin purchasing parcels. 1831 purchases almost exactly match money contributed by Martin Harris for the purpose: $1200. Maps show parcels purchased in 1831, then 1831, then 1833. (Not that much actually in Independence itself.) Total over all three years 2300 acres for about $5000.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Christine Blythe on William Smith’s patriarchal blessings. Only patriarch for about six months until ex’ed; continued in his own church thereafter. Contest over authority, political capital in Nauvoo. In a Times and Seasons article, “Patriarchal,” tried to present himself as the legal, lineal heir to Joseph. Saw patriarch as an overarching position; patriarch “over” the Church. John Taylor rebutted, said patriarch “to” the church. William often used the “over” language in his blessings. Often described himself as “prophet and patriarch.” Lot of temple themes; lots of discussion of death.

    William later claimed he overheard a blessing Joseph gave Brigham, in which Joseph said Brigham came through the loins of Ham, and was a Canaanite devil.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Jason Smith on “Mere Mormonism.” Talk was mainly about Paul Richardson, Assembly of God preacher, and Lynn Ridenhour, Baptist minister, Protestants who both accept the BoM. Spiritual gifts more important than claims of authority. Basic ideas: 1. God still acts. 2. God still speaks.

  6. Thanks for the summaries Kevin. I want to get out to one of these. They always sound great. I love the Brigham blessing thing. Hilarious.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Four traditions on Independence as Zion:
    a. Temple Lot. Hedrick, revelation to return. Start in 1865. Begin buying lots, including the prized temple lot. 1877 JS III announces returning. 1891 files bill of equity, initiates famous temple lot case. Ends when Supreme Court refuses to hear in 1896. Attempts at reconciliation. Work out a transfer option so people can freely move between traditions. By 1928, Hedrickites up to 3,000 due to RLDS transfers. 1929 revelation to build temple; must be done in seven years. But Depression hits; left with a hole in the ground. Maintain a visitor’s center. Believe work will yet occur.

    b. CoC. JS III first contemplated Nauvoo as a gathering place, but a backwater with no rail access. Then Plano. Various Missouri branches organized. Individuals begin to move in. He first visits in 1877. Movement of HQ there slow, deliberate. Stone Church, 1888. Reconceptualize concept of gathering: hospital, ag coops, schools, radio stations, homes for seniors. Focus on peace, women’s issues.

    c. LDS. Between 1860 and 1910, many references in conference to going back. After 1920 far fewer. Silver mine provided funds for John Taylor to acquire land (outside church budget). Feb. of 1900 two from Temple Lot came to see if would cooperate on a temple there. Leads SL Church to begin acquiring land. 1904 bought land visitor’s center now on. 1907 Liahona established in Independence. Build a plow factory. By 1912, enough to build a chapel. Dedicated in 1914, with JFS presiding and his cousin, JS III, on stand as a guest.

    d. Cutlerites. Whole idea was to redeem Zion. But they were late to the game, others had a jump on the process by the time they got there. Dwindled to very few members.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    The award banquet, as is I think a law, featured an award for a Matt Bowman article (he was not present). Mainly several old timers talked about the origins of JWHA, lots of stories from the old days.

    That’s it for today. Good night, moon!

  9. Thanks for this. Sounds like fun!

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    Lach on the Mansion House:

    The challenges of interpreting a site. Much we don’t know; the mysteries. Smiths arrive May 1839, move into the preexisting Homestead (originally built circa 1803; two rooms, another added). A problem: many visitors, not unusual to have 12 people sleep there, some with malaria, expecting to be fed. Ultimate goal was Nauvoo House, but that was proceeding slowly. So next step was Mansion House, kitty korner across the street.

    House built 1842, and they moved in, but then as an afterthought a hotel wing added, so they moved back across the street until that part finished in 1843.

    Emma: “Joseph could never eat a meal without his friends at the table.”

    Decided innkeeping not best use of their energies; in January 1844 leased it to Ebeneezer Robinson, kept use of only three rooms.

    When you go through a tour, listen carefully to docents. If they say “traditionally” about something, suggests questions about provenance.

    Original name was “The Nauvoo Mansion.” Interpretations of the house very heavily influenced by writings of JS III. Collector or conductor heads to collect water for cisterns, decorated with sun, moon and stars themes (like the temple; Masonic influence?). Monitor placed on roof of the house probably after the hotel wing added (designated as a public building.)

    False wall in an upstairs closet. A secret hiding place, and then later access to the monitor on the roof.

    The bar: probably more Joseph’s idea, the Porter Rockwell story was to appease Emma. Referred to as the bar room, but often a dry bar, as Emma threatened to take kids and move back across the street if liquor there. Joseph had only liquor license in town, but claimed he never used it. JS III remembered seeing bottles in that room, however.

    Joseph and Emma received their second anointing somewhere in that house.

  11. False wall. Awesome.

  12. Lach showed me the false wall last year. It was, indeed, awesome.

  13. Kevin, Thanks for the blow-by-blow. It’s almost like being there …

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    Chris Blythe

    Folk religion reflected in some of the stories at Nauvoo (not focused on the institutions).

    Kimberly Joe Smith, a descendant of Joseph, grew up in Temple Lot but joined LDS in 1998. Had a spiritual impression that Emma grieved for Joseph at the willow tree on Water Street near the Mansion House. Has popularized this idea in pamphlets, songs, youtube, videos. LDS people now come to look at the willow tree. A way of negotiating anxieties.

    (Yes, willows don’t live that long; she later said it could have been any willow.)

    LDS have three main sources of anxiety from visiting Nauvoo:

    1. Faced with reality of schism.

    2. Contact with polygamist past. Since CoC tours are historical, not devotional, people feel more comfortable asking about plural marriage. Puts CoC docents in ironic position of teaching LDS about polygamy.

    3. The loss of Emma and the Smith family. Emma has been rehabilitated for LDS use. Liz Lemon Swindle painting “Forgive me, Joseph” portrays her watching the departing Saints with regret. Makes her repentant for not going west.

    Story of the willow tree gives them a “site” on Water Street not under CoC control, so not faced directly with schism, helps to rehab Emma for LDS, a way to deal with these anxieties.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Brian Hales, Emma Polygamy timeline.

    1830 organization. 1831 Joseph understands polygamy as a correct principle. 1835 puts into practice with Fanny. A marriage ceremony. But neither Emma nor Oliver accepted as a marriage; as far as they’re concerned, simply adultery. Joseph begs her forgiveness, she forgives him.

    1835-1841 no marriages.

    April 5, 1841 second plural marriage, to Louisa Beamon (sp?). This was a full marriage for time and eternity, with sexuality. Emma didn’t know about it. Then a shift to a long list of already married women. Brian’s position was no sexuality in these marriages; sealings for eternity only. Emma may have known of some of them. Probably not thrilled about it, but lack of sexuality in here and now would have made it easier. Joseph trying to abide the command to marry polygamously without facing the wrath of Emma again.

    But at some point he shifts again, and instead of married women starts marrying single women for time and eternity with sexuality. His belief is that the angel told him he had to live the principle fully, they had to be real marriages. Emma doesn’t know about these.
    (No evidence Eliza Snow was pregnant; probably moved out because Lucy Mack moved in.)

    In May-June 1843 participated in four full marriage unions. Trying really hard. Lets Joseph sleep with one of the Partridge sisters on their wedding night. But that was it, she simply couldn’t stand it, and refused to put up with it anymore. Partridge sisters had to leave the house.

    1843 revelation meant to mollify Emma. Didn’t work; she’s not convinced. Probably threatened divorce. (Brian thinks that one verse in the revelation is just talking about not going through with the divorce. I personally am inclined it was a goose/gander gambit Joseph tried, offering to let her have the same privilege, and that she called him on it, and he saw his bluff didn’t work. Marks later said there was nothing between him and Emma, but there didn’t need to be; Emma was playing high stakes poker and beating Joseph at it, in my view.)

    In October of 1843 Emma softens, things much better between them. Only two more sealings. Basically living a monogamous lifestyle. In February 1844 pregnant with David Hyrum.

    Polygamy required more faith of Emma than anyone else in the entire church. 1. Had to believe it was approved of God. 2. Had to believe God decreed at that time and place (was not Joseph’s libido talking). 3. Had to deal with the betrayal and distrust of other women, many her friends.

    No one is in a position to judge Emma in this matter, least of all BY.

    According to Alexander, her dying words were “Joseph, Joseoph…yes, yes, I’m coming…”

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Larry Morris on the Lamanite mission.

    NY to Ohio, convert 130 at Kirtland, including SR.

    Pick up Frederick G. Williams and continue the journey. Stop to do some preaching in Ohio. Take steamboat from Cincinnati. Can’t go as far as they wanted. Have to walk to St. Louis, and from there to Independence. Walk 300 miles in knee high snow, going most days without seeing a house, no roads, their food frozen. (Sounds absolutely brutal.)

    Selected Independence because fit description of revelation (borders of the Lamanites). MO westernmost state at time; Indians being pushed west into Kansas.

    Most Indians migratory, but not to extent required by Europeans. Kept reneging on treaties, pushing them further west.

    Indian agent Cummins kicked them out. Wrote to superior Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame), said “the men act very strange.” No record of Clark ever replying. So basically one brief encounter with the Indians, but cut short by Indian agents.

    Already tons of Christian missionaries there, better established.

    Learned how important Independence was as a trade route.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Roundtable on researching Mormon history.

    Craig Foster talked about incorporating genealogical research into broader historical research.

    Erin Jennings lives in Arkansas, so does 95% of her work online. She keeps a spreadsheet of her database websites, with a clickable link and user names and passwords, all in one place. Great idea.

    Robin talked about need to make connections, understand what others are doing, help each other out, networking. Being neighborly, considerate. Different skill sets needed for different types of research; what is it you want to do? Need to contextualize the records themselves, not just the people. For example, the Caractors document cannot be the original, because the word “Caractors” is in the handwriting of John Whitmer, and he was not a member at the time, so it’s a copy. Know when to use certain sources, when not to use (example of HC, which will warm Stapley’s heart!). Ask for help. Librarians, archivists, there to help, want to, but you’ve got to ask. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Trust your gut.

    Michael Marquardt. Tries to be sensitive to all expressions of the Restoration. Every little bit helps. Never use HC without comparing earlier versions; a compiled history. History is more than just Joseph Smith, but the Saints themselves. Importance of reference works, maps.

    CoC librarian (speaking for Ron Romig). If you come to town, call first. They want to help, but a small shop, some staff volunteers. More likely they can help you if you communicate with them.

  18. Thanks for the updates Kev. Definitely a benefit to us!

  19. It all sounds very interesting, but that research roundtable sounds particularly fascinating. (Of course I would think so since I do much of my work across the country from many of the original sources and have had a wonderful time the past few years making contacts within both genealogical and historical communities.)

    Thanks for the notes, Kevin.

  20. Brian Hales and I have discussed this topic, but disagree on several points. Specifically, the late John E. Thompson and I published an article that provides the context behind Joseph Smith’s relationship with Lucinda Morgan Harris which began in 1838 at Far West, MO. This information can be found in the 2006 JWHA Journal.

  21. Great job to Kevin for the summaries! Wow you must have been writing fast! One point I didn’t make in my presentation is that I do believe that sexual relations were present between the woman and Joseph Smith (they were “time and eternity” sealings) in three of the polyandrous relationships (Sylvia Sessions, Sarah Ann Whitney, and Mary Heron), but the husbands were not experiencing conjugality with their legal wives. D&C 132 describes how a “time and eternity” marriage in the new and everlasting covenant would cause a legal marriage to be “done away” so the woman would still only have one husband. Also, I’m not sure if Mike Riggs is aware of probably the best evidence for Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris is a declaration from Harriet Cook Young to Andrew Jenson in 1887 that she was sure Joseph was married to Lulcinda “in Missouri.” I still think she is the poorest documented of all 35 wives I have identified. I do mention Mike’s article on Aaron Lyon in my book – nice research. Thanks! Brian Hales

  22. Your note are always much appreciated. Thanks!