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Religious Excitement


thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divions the wickeness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, circa Summer 1832, pg 2
Joseph Smith's Recollection in 1832
Joseph Smith Jr.
Summer, 1832
thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divions the wickeness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind
(Note:  This document is in Joseph Smith's handwriting.)

   Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of Country seemed affected by it and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division among the people, Some crying, “Lo here” and some Lo there. Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist;<br>
   for notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective Clergy who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling in order to have every body converted as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; Yet when the Converts began to file off some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the Priests and the Converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued; Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert so that all their good feelings one for another (if they ever had any) were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.<br>
   I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My fathers family were proselyted to the Presbyterian faith and four of them joined that Church, Namely, My Mother Lucy, My Brothers Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and my Sister Sophonia.<br>
   During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness, but though my feelings were deep and often pungent, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. But in process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great was the confusion and strife amongst the different denominations that it was impossible for a person young as I was and so unacquainted with men and things to come to any certain conclusion who was bright and who was wrong.<br>
   My mind at different times was greatly excited the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason or sophistry to prove their errors, or at least to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally Zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.<br>
   In the midst of this war of words, and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, what is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? and if any one of them be right which is it? And how shall I know it?
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], pgs 1-2
Joseph Smith's description in the canonized account
Joseph Smith Jr.
1838
   Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of Country seemed affected by it and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division among the people, Some crying, “Lo here” and some Lo there. Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist;
   for notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective Clergy who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling in order to have every body converted as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; Yet when the Converts began to file off some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the Priests and the Converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued; Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert so that all their good feelings one for another (if they ever had any) were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.
   I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My fathers family were proselyted to the Presbyterian faith and four of them joined that Church, Namely, My Mother Lucy, My Brothers Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and my Sister Sophonia.
   During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness, but though my feelings were deep and often pungent, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. But in process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great was the confusion and strife amongst the different denominations that it was impossible for a person young as I was and so unacquainted with men and things to come to any certain conclusion who was bright and who was wrong.
   My mind at different times was greatly excited the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason or sophistry to prove their errors, or at least to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally Zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
   In the midst of this war of words, and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, what is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? and if any one of them be right which is it? And how shall I know it?
(Note:  This manuscript, dated 1839, is in the handwriting of scribe James Mulholland. In December 1842 Willard Richards inserted some text into the margins, including the words "or thereabouts." No original document has been located.)

   In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. Lane, an Elder of the Methodist Church, and celebrated throughout the country as a great revival preacher.<br>
   My mother, who was a very pious woman and much interested in the welfare of her children, both here and hereafter, made use of every means which her parental love could suggest, to get us engaged in seeking for our souls' salvation, or (as the term then was) in getting religion. She prevailed on us to attend the meetings, and almost the whole family became interested in the matter, and seekers after truth. I attended the meetings with the rest, but being quite young and inconsiderate, did not take so much interest in the matter as the older ones did. This extraordinary excitement prevailed not only in our neighborhood but throughout the whole country. Great numbers were converted. It extended from the Methodists to the Baptists, from them to the Presbyterians; and so on until finally, almost all the sects became engaged in it; and it became quite a fashion to get religion. My mother continued her importunities and exertions to interest us in the importance of seeking for the salvation of our immortal souls, until almost all of the family became either converted or seriously inclined.<br>
   After the excitement had subsided, in a measure, each sect began to beat up for volunteers; each one saying, We are right, Come and join us, Walk with us and we will do you good, etc. The consequence was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church. Joseph, then about seventeen years of age, had become seriously inclined, though not brought out, as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right. Each one said that it was right; which he knew could not be the case; and the question then was which one of the whole taught the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and made known the plan of salvation. If he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong. If to another, the same was heard from them. Each professed to be the true church. This did not satisfy him, as he was aware that there could be but one way of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that there was but one straight and narrow path, etc. All this however was beneficial to him, as it urged him forward, and strengthened him in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.
Full Source
External Link
William Smith on Mormonism, pgs 6-7
William Smith's description of the religious excitement
William Smith
1883
   In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. Lane, an Elder of the Methodist Church, and celebrated throughout the country as a "great revival preacher."
   My mother, who was a very pious woman and much interested in the welfare of her children, both here and hereafter, made use of every means which her parental love could suggest, to get us engaged in seeking for our souls' salvation, or (as the term then was) "in getting religion." She prevailed on us to attend the meetings, and almost the whole family became interested in the matter, and seekers after truth. I attended the meetings with the rest, but being quite young and inconsiderate, did not take so much interest in the matter as the older ones did. This extraordinary excitement prevailed not only in our neighborhood but throughout the whole country. Great numbers were converted. It extended from the Methodists to the Baptists, from them to the Presbyterians; and so on until finally, almost all the sects became engaged in it; and it became quite a fashion to "get religion." My mother continued her importunities and exertions to interest us in the importance of seeking for the salvation of our immortal souls, until almost all of the family became either converted or seriously inclined.
   After the excitement had subsided, in a measure, each sect began to beat up for volunteers; each one saying, "We are right," "Come and join us," "Walk with us and we will do you good," etc. The consequence was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church. Joseph, then about seventeen years of age, had become seriously inclined, though not "brought out," as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right. Each one said that it was right; which he knew could not be the case; and the question then was which one of the whole taught the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and made known the plan of salvation. If he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong. If to another, the same was heard from them. Each professed to be the true church. This did not satisfy him, as he was aware that there could be but one way of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that there was but one "straight and narrow path," etc. All this however was beneficial to him, as it urged him forward, and strengthened him in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.

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External Link
Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer, Vol 5, No 23, Sep 3, 1841
William Smith Interview in 1841
James Murdock
19 Jun, 1841
   About the year 1823, there was a revival of religion in that region, and Joseph was one of several hopeful converts. The others were joining, some one church, and some another, in that vicinity, but Joseph hesitated between the different denominations.

   The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious and was desirous to know what Church to join.
External Link
The New York Spectator, September 23, 1843
1843 Interview
David Nye White
Aug 29, 1843
   The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious and was desirous to know what Church to join.

   Br Joseph told us the first call he had a Revival Meeting his Mother, Br & Sister got Religion He wanted to get Religion too wanted to feel & shout like the Rest but could feel nothing
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Alexander Neibaur, Journal, 24 May 1844, extract, pg 1
Alexander Neibaur Diary Account
Alexander Neibaur
May 24, 1844
   Br Joseph told us the first call he had a Revival Meeting his Mother, Br & Sister got Religion He wanted to get Religion too wanted to feel & shout like the Rest but could feel nothing

   About the year 1822, a great revival took place in the Churches in that neighborhood; accordingly, Mr Smith's mind, who was now in his seventeenth year, was considerably wrought upon; he attended their meetings.  Methodists in particular, one said Join our Church; we are right, the others are wrong, another they are wrong and we are right.  In this situation, not knowing which was right, and to risk his souls salvation on hope so or guess so was more than he could endure.
External Link
Autobiography and Journal of William I. Appleby, 1848, Church History Library, pg 30
William Appleby Recollection
William I. Appleby
1848
   About the year 1822, a great revival took place in the Churches in that neighborhood; accordingly, Mr Smith's mind, who was now in his seventeenth year, was considerably wrought upon; he attended their meetings. Methodists in particular, one said Join our Church; we are right, the others are wrong, another they are wrong and we are right. In this situation, not knowing which was right, and to risk his souls salvation on "hope so or guess so" was more than he could endure.
(Note:  This quote comes from William Appleby's "Autobiography and Journal," in which he reminisced on hearing Orson Pratt speak about Joseph Smith in 1839, prior to Appleby being baptized in 1840.)

   The circumstances of this Death aroused the neighborhood to the subject of religion...<br>
   the moment that Joseph spoke of the record it would immediately bring Alvin to our minds with all his kindness his affection his zeal and piety and when we looked to his place and realized that he was gone from it to return no more in this life we all wept with one accord our irretrievable loss and it seemed as though we could not be comforted because he was not [About this time their was a great revival in religion and the whole neighborhood was very much aroused to the subject and we among the rest flocked to the meeting house to see if their was a word of comfort for us that might releive our overcharged feelings but as] there was at this time a man then laboring in that place to effect a union of all the churches that all denominations might be agreed to worship God with one mind and one heart<br>
   This I thought looked right and tried to persuade My Husband to join with them as I wished to do so myself and it was the inclination of them all except Joseph he refused from the first to attend the meeting with us He would say Mother I do not wish to prevent you from going to meeting or joining any church you like or any of the Family who desire the like only do not ask me to go do so for I do not wish to go But I will take my Bible and go out into the woods and learn more in two hours than you could if you were to go to meeting two years<br>
   My husband also declined attending the meetings after the first but did not object to myself and such of the children as chose going or becoming church members if we wished
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, pgs 48-50
Lucy places the religious excitement and her conversion after Alvin's death, which was November 1823
Lucy Mack Smith
1844-45
   The circumstances of this Death aroused the neighborhood to the subject of religion...
   the moment that Joseph spoke of the record it would immediately bring Alvin to our minds with all his kindness his affection his zeal and piety and when we looked to his place and realized that he was gone from it to return no more in this life we all wept with one accord our irretrievable loss and it seemed as though we could not be comforted because he was not [About this time their was a great revival in religion and the whole neighborhood was very much aroused to the subject and we among the rest flocked to the meeting house to see if their was a word of comfort for us that might releive our overcharged feelings but as] there was at this time a man then laboring in that place to effect a union of all the churches that all denominations might be agreed to worship God with one mind and one heart
   This I thought looked right and tried to persuade My Husband to join with them as I wished to do so myself and it was the inclination of them all except Joseph he refused from the first to attend the meeting with us He would say Mother I do not wish to prevent you from going to meeting or joining any church you like or any of the Family who desire the like only do not ask me to go do so for I do not wish to go But I will take my Bible and go out into the woods and learn more in two hours than you could if you were to go to meeting two years
   My husband also declined attending the meetings after the first but did not object to myself and such of the children as chose going or becoming church members if we wished
(Note:  The portion in [] brackets was crossed out some time after the original text was written. This quote comes from Lucy's original manuscript transcribed in 1844-1845 by Martha Jane and Howard Coray. In 1845 the Corays produced an altered copy which can be read in full here. This altered manuscript was used in the 1853 publication by Orson Pratt in England under the title "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and his Progenitors for many Generations" which can be read in full here.)

   Messrs. Editors—Please to allow the subscriber…the privilege of expressing his gratitude to God, for what He is doing for the people of Palmyra, and likewise his thanks to a number of friends in that village, for assisting him in printing Tracts, and in setting up Sabbath Schools.<br>
   The collection taken up on the Sabbath evening, amounting to $7 72, by the recommendation of the Rev. Mr. STOCKTON, will afford the subscriber some assistance, and it being divided and partly appropriated to a Juvenile Library, for a Sunday School in Palmyra, it will probably be the means of commencing a Library there for the benefit of the rising generation...<br>
   By a Sabbath School Society is meant an institution for collecting the children and youth, of all denominations, whenever most convenient, for the purpose of giving them instructions from the word of God without any attempt to build up any peculiar sect or party. Such parts of the Holy Scriptures ought to be committed to memory as are of the most practical nature, and such as may be considered most useful in pointing out the duty of man to his Maker, and to his fellow creatures; such, for instance, as the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, the xii. of Romans, iii. of Colossians, and iv. of Ephesians. Can any christian or philanthropist object to such instructions?...<br>
   A MEETING will be held in the Presbyterian house of worship, in this village, on Thursday evening, the 16th inst. at half-past 6 o’clock, for the purpose of organizing a RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY. All who feel disposed to encourage the circulation of Scripture truth in the form of small and familiar publications, are invited to attend.
Full Source
Wayne Sentinel 2, No 12, Dec 15, 1824, pg 2, col 5
Sabbath School Society
Wayne Sentinel
15 Dec, 1824
   Messrs. Editors—Please to allow the subscriber…the privilege of expressing his gratitude to God, for what He is doing for the people of Palmyra, and likewise his thanks to a number of friends in that village, for assisting him in printing Tracts, and in setting up Sabbath Schools.
   The collection taken up on the Sabbath evening, amounting to $7 72, by the recommendation of the Rev. Mr. STOCKTON, will afford the subscriber some assistance, and it being divided and partly appropriated to a Juvenile Library, for a Sunday School in Palmyra, it will probably be the means of commencing a Library there for the benefit of the rising generation...
   By a Sabbath School Society is meant an institution for collecting the children and youth, of all denominations, whenever most convenient, for the purpose of giving them instructions from the word of God without any attempt to build up any peculiar sect or party. Such parts of the Holy Scriptures ought to be committed to memory as are of the most practical nature, and such as may be considered most useful in pointing out the duty of man to his Maker, and to his fellow creatures; such, for instance, as the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, the xii. of Romans, iii. of Colossians, and iv. of Ephesians. Can any christian or philanthropist object to such instructions?...
   A MEETING will be held in the Presbyterian house of worship, in this village, on Thursday evening, the 16th inst. at half-past 6 o’clock, for the purpose of organizing a RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY. All who feel disposed to encourage the circulation of Scripture truth in the form of small and familiar publications, are invited to attend.

Membership Totals:<br>
Palmyra...<br>
<br>
September 22d and 23d, 1819... 149<br>
September 26th and 27th, 1821... 149<br>
September 25th and 26th, 1822... 142<br>
September 24th and 25th, 1823... 144<br>
September 22d and 23d, 1824... 132<br>
September 28th and 29th, 1825... 219<br>
Full Source
Minutes of the Ontario Baptist Association... together with their Circular and Corresponding Letter, 1819-1825
Baptist Church Records
1819-1825
Membership Totals:
Palmyra...

September 22d and 23d, 1819... 149
September 26th and 27th, 1821... 149
September 25th and 26th, 1822... 142
September 24th and 25th, 1823... 144
September 22d and 23d, 1824... 132
September 28th and 29th, 1825... 219

What numbers are in Society?<br>
Whites... Ontario...<br>
<br>
Minutes for (July 17) 1816... 700<br>
Minutes for (June 21) 1817... 900<br>
Minutes for (July 16) 1818... 700<br>
Minutes for (July 1) 1819... 674<br>
Minutes for (July 20) 1820... 670<br>
Minutes for (July 19) 1821... 621<br>
Minutes for (July 24) 1822... 491<br>
Minutes for (July 15) 1823... 502<br>
Minutes for (July 25) 1824... 417<br>
Minutes for (August 17) 1825... 627<br>
External Link
Minutes of the Annual Conferences (1773-1828), pgs 282, 296, 312, 330, 346, 366, 384, 408, 446, & 471
Methodist Church Records
1816-1825
What numbers are in Society?
Whites... Ontario...

Minutes for (July 17) 1816... 700
Minutes for (June 21) 1817... 900
Minutes for (July 16) 1818... 700
Minutes for (July 1) 1819... 674
Minutes for (July 20) 1820... 670
Minutes for (July 19) 1821... 621
Minutes for (July 24) 1822... 491
Minutes for (July 15) 1823... 502
Minutes for (July 25) 1824... 417
Minutes for (August 17) 1825... 627
(Note:  Palmyra is located in the Ontario district)

The Presbytery of Geneva Report to the Synod of Geneva...<br>
Communicants... Total...<br>
1818 (Feb 5)... West Palmyra... 50<br>
1819 (Feb 4)... West Palmyra... 61<br>
1820 (Feb 4)... West Palmyra... 61<br>
1821 (Mar 22)... West Palmyra... 71<br>
1822 or 1823... West Palmyra... 79<br>
1824 (Sep 10)... West Palmyra... 178<br>
<br>
1818 (Feb 5)... East Palmyra... 125<br>
1819 (Feb 4)... East Palmyra... 125<br>
1820 (Feb 4)... East Palmyra... 125<br>
1821 (Mar 22)... East Palmyra... 125<br>
1824 (Sep 10)... East Palmyra... 106<br>
Full Source
The Presbytery of Geneva Reports to the Synod of Geneva, 1818-1825
Presbyterian Church Records
1818-1824
The Presbytery of Geneva Report to the Synod of Geneva...
Communicants... Total...
1818 (Feb 5)... West Palmyra... 50
1819 (Feb 4)... West Palmyra... 61
1820 (Feb 4)... West Palmyra... 61
1821 (Mar 22)... West Palmyra... 71
1822 or 1823... West Palmyra... 79
1824 (Sep 10)... West Palmyra... 178

1818 (Feb 5)... East Palmyra... 125
1819 (Feb 4)... East Palmyra... 125
1820 (Feb 4)... East Palmyra... 125
1821 (Mar 22)... East Palmyra... 125
1824 (Sep 10)... East Palmyra... 106

   In 1817, under the labors of Mr. Wheelock, the (Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra) congregation was visited by one of the most powerful revivals ever known in the town.  Another copious shower of grace passed over this region in 1824, under the labors of Mr. Stockton, and a large number were gathered into the church
Full Source
External Link
A history of the purchase and settlement of western New York and of the rise, progress and present state of the Presbyterian Church in that section, pg 378
Palmyra revivals occurred in 1817 and 1824
Rev. James H. Hotchkin
1848
   In 1817, under the labors of Mr. Wheelock, the (Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra) congregation was visited by one of the most powerful revivals ever known in the town. Another copious shower of grace passed over this region in 1824, under the labors of Mr. Stockton, and a large number were gathered into the church

   The effusions of Divine grace have been copious and extensive; and the heavenly influence has been particularly sited, upon the congregations of Bloomfield, Lyons, Romulus, Middlesex, Gorham, and Palmyra--Hundreds of the wretched sinners of our race, have here been brought to cry out <i>what must we do to be saved,</i> and here have found that Saviour, whose blood cleanseth from all sin.
External Link
Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Published by William Bradford
1817 Presbyterian Minutes
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
1817
   The effusions of Divine grace have been copious and extensive; and the heavenly influence has been particularly sited, upon the congregations of Bloomfield, Lyons, Romulus, Middlesex, Gorham, and Palmyra--Hundreds of the wretched sinners of our race, have here been brought to cry out "what must we do to be saved," and here have found that Saviour, whose blood cleanseth from all sin.

   But Joseph had a little ambition, and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us to solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school-house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village; and, subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp-meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.
Full Source
External Link
History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, pg 214
Joseph Smith a passable exhorter in juvenile debating club
Orasmus Turner
Jun, 1851
   But Joseph had a little ambition, and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us to solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school-house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village; and, subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp-meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.

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The Three Brothers: Sketches of the Lives of Rev. Aurora Seager, Rev. Micah Seager, Rev. Schuyler Seager, D. D. (New York, 1880), pgs 21-22
Diary mention of Methodist Camp Meeting on June 19, 1818
Aurora Seager
Jun, 1818
   I received, on the 18th of June, a letter from Brother Hibbard, informing me that I had been received by the New York Conference, and, at my request, had been transferred to the Genesee Conference. On the 19th I attended a camp-meeting at Palmyra. The arrival of Bishop Roberts, who seems to be a man of God, and is apostolic in his appearance, gave a deeper interest to the meeting until it closed. On Monday the sacrament was administered, about twenty were baptized; forty united with the Church, and the meeting closed. I accompanied the Bishop to Brother Hawks, at Phelps, and on the 14th of July I set out with Brother Paddock for the Genesee conference, which was to hold its session at Lansing, N.Y.
(Note:  No images of this diary are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   Effects of Drunkenness. -- DIED at the house of Mr. Robert M'Collum, in this town, on the 26th inst., James Couser, aged about forty years. The deceased, we are informed, arrived at Mr. M'Collum's house the evening preceding, from a camp-meeting which was held in this vicinity, in a state of intoxication... It is supposed he obtained his liquor, which was no doubt the cause of his death, at the Camp-ground, where, it is a notorious fact, the intemperate, the lewd and dissolute part of the community too frequently resort for no better objewct, than to gratify their base propensities.
External Link
Palmyra Register, Palmyra, NY, June 28, 1820
Newspaper mention of Methodist Camp Meeting on June 26, 1820
Palmyra Register
28 Jun, 1820
   Effects of Drunkenness. -- DIED at the house of Mr. Robert M'Collum, in this town, on the 26th inst., James Couser, aged about forty years. The deceased, we are informed, arrived at Mr. M'Collum's house the evening preceding, from a camp-meeting which was held in this vicinity, in a state of intoxication... It is supposed he obtained his liquor, which was no doubt the cause of his death, at the Camp-ground, where, it is a notorious fact, the intemperate, the lewd and dissolute part of the community too frequently resort for no better objewct, than to gratify their base propensities.
(Note:  On July 5, 1820, the Palmyra Register wrote a retraction here which sheds further light on the camp meeting.)

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Benajah Williams Diary, July 15-16, 1820
George Lane at Camp Meeting in Richmond, July 1820
Benajah Williams
Jul 15-16, 1820
   Sat. 15th Had a two Days meeting at Sq Bakers in Richmond. Br. Wright being gone to camp meeting on Ridgeway circuit I expected to find Br. J. Hayes at the Meeting & calculated to get him to take the lead of the meeting but when on my way to meeting met him going to conference & tried to get him to return but he thout not best as his horse was young, he said he could not ride through by conference by the time it commenced Then I thout what shall I do I shall have to take the lead at the meeting & do the p- but the Lord prepaired him self a preacher it rained powerfully until 11 o’clock so that I was verry wet I called with some of the Brtheren at Br. Eldredges and took dinner then rode to the place appointed for meeting. & found Br. Lane a Presiding Elder from Susquehanna District with five more preachers. Br. Warner p. on Sat. Br. Griffing exhorted. We had a good prayer meeting at six in the evening.
   Sab. 16th Our Lovefeast began at 9 & the Lord was present to bless & we had a shout in the camp. Br E Bibbins p- at 11 from…the lord attended the word & the people were satisfied with the Sermons. Br. Lane exhorted and spoke on Gods method in bringing about Reffermations his word was with as from the authority of God. & not as the Areons. After him Br. Griffin with life & energy & Br. Vose closed the Meeting after with some of the Brethren dined with Br. W. E….
(Note:  Richmond, NY, is located approximately 28 miles from Palmyra. George Lane was at the time stationed in the Susquehannah District, whereas Palmyra was in the Ontario District. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith attended this camp meeting.)

   I shall, therefore, pass over that, till I come to the 15th year of his life.<br>
   It is necessary to premise this account by relating the situation of the public mind relative to religion, at this time: One Mr. Lane, a presiding Elder of the Methodist church, visited Palmyra, and vicinity. Elder Lane was a tallented man possessing a good share of literary endowments, and apparent humility. There was a great awakening, or excitement raised on the subject of religion, and much enquiry for the word of life. Large additions were made to the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches.-Mr. Lane's manner of communication was peculiarly calculated to awaken the intellect of the hearer, and arouse the sinner to look about him for safety-much good instruction was always drawn from his discourses on the scriptures, and in common with others, our brother's mind became awakened.<br>
   For a length of time the reformation seemed to move in a harmonious manner, but, as the excitement ceased, or those who had expressed anxieties, had professed a belief in the pardoning influence and condescension of the Savior, a general struggle was made by the leading characters of the different sects, for proselytes. Then strife seemed to take the place of that apparent union and harmony which had previously characterized the moves and exhortations of the old professors, and a cry-I am right-you are wrong-was introduced in their stead.<br>
   In this general strife for followers, his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians. This gave opportunity for further reflection; and as will be seen in the sequel, laid a foundation, or was one means of laying a foundation for the attestation of the truths, or professions of truth, contained in that record called the word of God.<br>
   After strong solicitations to unite with one of those different societies, and seeing the apparent proselyting disposition manifested with equal warmth from each, his mind was led to more seriously contemplate the importance of a move of this kind.
Full Source
External Link
Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate Volume 1, December 1834, pgs 42-43
Description by Oliver Cowdery in the Messenger and Advocate
Oliver Cowdery
Dec, 1834
   I shall, therefore, pass over that, till I come to the 15th year of his life.
   It is necessary to premise this account by relating the situation of the public mind relative to religion, at this time: One Mr. Lane, a presiding Elder of the Methodist church, visited Palmyra, and vicinity. Elder Lane was a tallented man possessing a good share of literary endowments, and apparent humility. There was a great awakening, or excitement raised on the subject of religion, and much enquiry for the word of life. Large additions were made to the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches.-Mr. Lane's manner of communication was peculiarly calculated to awaken the intellect of the hearer, and arouse the sinner to look about him for safety-much good instruction was always drawn from his discourses on the scriptures, and in common with others, our brother's mind became awakened.
   For a length of time the reformation seemed to move in a harmonious manner, but, as the excitement ceased, or those who had expressed anxieties, had professed a belief in the pardoning influence and condescension of the Savior, a general struggle was made by the leading characters of the different sects, for proselytes. Then strife seemed to take the place of that apparent union and harmony which had previously characterized the moves and exhortations of the old professors, and a cry-I am right-you are wrong-was introduced in their stead.
   In this general strife for followers, his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians. This gave opportunity for further reflection; and as will be seen in the sequel, laid a foundation, or was one means of laying a foundation for the attestation of the truths, or professions of truth, contained in that record called the word of God.
   After strong solicitations to unite with one of those different societies, and seeing the apparent proselyting disposition manifested with equal warmth from each, his mind was led to more seriously contemplate the importance of a move of this kind.

   You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr's, age-that was an error in the type-it should have been in the 17th.-You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823.<br>
   I do not deem it to be necessary to write further on the subject of this excitement. It is doubted by many whether any real or essential good ever resulted from such excitements, while others advocate their propriety with warmth.<br>
   The mind is easily called up to reflection upon a matter of such deep importance, and it is just that it should be; but there is a regret occupying the heart when we consider the deep anxiety of thousands, who are lead away with a vain imagination, or a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider's web.<br>
   But if others were not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.-And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct-it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.
Full Source
External Link
Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate Volume 1, February 1835, pg 78
Correction by Oliver Cowdery placing religious excitement in 1823
Oliver Cowdery
Feb, 1835
   You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr's, age-that was an error in the type-it should have been in the 17th.-You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823.
   I do not deem it to be necessary to write further on the subject of this excitement. It is doubted by many whether any real or essential good ever resulted from such excitements, while others advocate their propriety with warmth.
   The mind is easily called up to reflection upon a matter of such deep importance, and it is just that it should be; but there is a regret occupying the heart when we consider the deep anxiety of thousands, who are lead away with a vain imagination, or a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider's web.
   But if others were not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.-And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct-it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.

   Protracted revival meetings were customary in some of the churches, and Smith frequented those of different denominations, sometimes professing to participate in their devotional exercises.  At one time he joined the probationary class of the Methodist church in Palmyra, and made some active demonstrations of engagedness, though his assumed convictions were insufficiently grounded or abiding to carry him along to the saving point of conversion, and he soon withdrew from the class.  The final conclusion announced by him was, that all sectarianism was fallacious, all the churches on a false foundation, and the Bible a fable.
Full Source
External Link
Origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism : biography of its founders and history of its church : personal remembrances and historical collections hitherto unwritten ...
Pomeroy Tucker's View
Pomeroy Tucker
1867
   Protracted revival meetings were customary in some of the churches, and Smith frequented those of different denominations, sometimes professing to participate in their devotional exercises. At one time he joined the probationary class of the Methodist church in Palmyra, and made some active demonstrations of engagedness, though his assumed convictions were insufficiently grounded or abiding to carry him along to the saving point of conversion, and he soon withdrew from the class. The final conclusion announced by him was, that all sectarianism was fallacious, all the churches on a false foundation, and the Bible a fable.

   When the Lord called upon Joseph he was but a boy - a child, only about fourteen years of age.  He was not filled with traditions; his mind was not made up to this, that, or the other.  I very well recollect the reformation which took place in the country among the various denominations of Christians - the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others - when Joseph was a boy.  Joseph's mother, one of his brothers, and one, if not two, of his sisters were members of the Presbyterian Church, and on this account the Presbyterians hung to the family with great tenacity.  And in the midst of these revivals among the religious bodies, the invitation, Come and join our church, was often extended to Joseph, but more particularly from the Presbyterians.  Joseph was naturally inclined to be religious, and being young, and surrounded with this excitement, no wonder that he became seriously impressed with the necessity of serving the Lord.  But as the cry on every hand was, Lo, here is Christ, and Lo, there!...
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 12, pg 67
Brigham Young describes the religious excitement
Brigham Young
23 Jun, 1867
   When the Lord called upon Joseph he was but a boy - a child, only about fourteen years of age. He was not filled with traditions; his mind was not made up to this, that, or the other. I very well recollect the reformation which took place in the country among the various denominations of Christians - the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others - when Joseph was a boy. Joseph's mother, one of his brothers, and one, if not two, of his sisters were members of the Presbyterian Church, and on this account the Presbyterians hung to the family with great tenacity. And in the midst of these revivals among the religious bodies, the invitation, "Come and join our church," was often extended to Joseph, but more particularly from the Presbyterians. Joseph was naturally inclined to be religious, and being young, and surrounded with this excitement, no wonder that he became seriously impressed with the necessity of serving the Lord. But as the cry on every hand was, "Lo, here is Christ," and "Lo, there!"...

   It will be remembered that just before the angel appeared to Joseph, there was an unusual revival in the neighborhood. It spread from town to town, from city to city, from county to county, and from state to state. My mother attended those meetings, and being much concerned about the spiritual welfare of the family, she persuaded them to attend the meetings. Finally my mother, one sister, my brothers Samuel and Hyrum became Presbyterians. Joseph and myself did not join; I had not sown all my wild oats. At the close of these meetings the different ministers began to beat around to see how many converts they could get to join their respective churches. All said, Come and join us, we are right.
Full Source
External Link
The Old Soldier's Testimony, The Saints' Herald, Vol 31, No 40
1884 Sermon by William Smith
William Smith
8 Jun, 1884
   It will be remembered that just before the angel appeared to Joseph, there was an unusual revival in the neighborhood. It spread from town to town, from city to city, from county to county, and from state to state. My mother attended those meetings, and being much concerned about the spiritual welfare of the family, she persuaded them to attend the meetings. Finally my mother, one sister, my brothers Samuel and Hyrum became Presbyterians. Joseph and myself did not join; I had not sown all my wild oats. At the close of these meetings the different ministers began to beat around to see how many converts they could get to join their respective churches. All said, Come and join us, we are right.

   Why, there was a joint revival in the neighborhood between the Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians and they had succeeded in stirring up quite a feeling, and after the meeting the question arose which church should have the converts.  Rev. Stockton was the president of the meeting and suggested that it was their meeting and under their care and they had a church there and they ought to join the Presbyterians, but as father did not like Rev. Stockton very well, our folks hesitated and the next evening a Rev. Mr. Lane of the Methodists preached a sermon on what church shall I join?  And the burden of his discourse was to ask God, using as a text, If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally.  And of course when Joseph went home and was looking over the text he was impressed to do just what the preacher had said...
External Link
The Testimony of William Smith, Millennial Star 61, pgs 133-34
Last Statement of William Smith
William Smith
26 Feb, 1894
   Why, there was a joint revival in the neighborhood between the Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians and they had succeeded in stirring up quite a feeling, and after the meeting the question arose which church should have the converts. Rev. Stockton was the president of the meeting and suggested that it was their meeting and under their care and they had a church there and they ought to join the Presbyterians, but as father did not like Rev. Stockton very well, our folks hesitated and the next evening a Rev. Mr. Lane of the Methodists preached a sermon on "what church shall I join?" And the burden of his discourse was to ask God, using as a text, "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally." And of course when Joseph went home and was looking over the text he was impressed to do just what the preacher had said...

   There had been various religious awakenings in the neighborhood, and when the various sects began to quarrel over the converts Joe arose and announced that his mission was to restore the true priesthood. He appointed a number of meetings, but no one seemed inclined to follow him as the leader of a new religion.
Full Source
External Link
Lippincott's Magazine 26:152, pg 199
Lippincott's Monthly Magazine
Frederic G. Mather
Aug, 1880
   There had been various religious awakenings in the neighborhood, and when the various sects began to quarrel over the converts Joe arose and announced that his mission was to restore the true priesthood. He appointed a number of meetings, but no one seemed inclined to follow him as the leader of a new religion.

   The installation of the Rev. BENJAMIN B. STOCKTON will take place this day at the Presbyterian Meeting-House in this village. -- The exercises to commence at 11 o'clock A.M.
External Link
Wayne Sentinel, Feb 18, 1824
Installment of Reverend Benjamin Stockton in 1824
Wayne Sentinel
18 Feb, 1824
   The installation of the Rev. BENJAMIN B. STOCKTON will take place this day at the Presbyterian Meeting-House in this village. -- The exercises to commence at 11 o'clock A.M.
(Note:  This installment was reported in the Wayne Sentinel again on Feb 25, 1824, which states "On Wednesday last the Rev. BENJAMIN B. STOCKTON was installed Pastor of the Presbyterian Church and Congregation in this place. A meeting of the Presbytery was held in the Presbyterian Meeting-House...." which can be seen here. The installation was again recorded by the Woman's Society of the Western Presbyterian Church in a 1907 history of Palmyra, which can be read here.)

MINUTES TAKEN AT THE SEVERAL ANNUAL CONFERENCES OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, FOR THE YEAR 1823 (July 15)...<br>
   Quest. 15.  Where are the preachers stationed this year?...<br>
   SUSQUEHANNAH DIST... George Lane...<br>
<br>
MINUTES OF CONFERENCES FOR 1824 (July 25)...<br>
   Quest. 14.  Where are the preachers stationed this year?<br>
   ONTARIO DIST. George Lane...<br>
External Link
Minutes of the Annual Conferences (1773-1828), pg 418 & 446
George Lane's appointment to Palmyra in 1824
1824
MINUTES TAKEN AT THE SEVERAL ANNUAL CONFERENCES OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, FOR THE YEAR 1823 (July 15)...
   Quest. 15. Where are the preachers stationed this year?...
   SUSQUEHANNAH DIST... George Lane...

MINUTES OF CONFERENCES FOR 1824 (July 25)...
   Quest. 14. Where are the preachers stationed this year?
   ONTARIO DIST. George Lane...
(Note:  Palmyra is located in the Ontario district)

   With inexpressible gratitude to the great Head of the church, I am enabled to inform you that the work of the Lord is prospering gloriously on Ontario district...<br>
   From Catharine I went to Ontario circuit, where the Lord had already begun a gracious work in Palmyra.  This is a pleasant village, situate on the great western canal, about twenty-two miles east of Rochester, and is now in a flourishing condition.  In this place the work commenced in the spring, and progressed moderately until the time of the quarterly meeting, which was held on the 25th and 26th of September.  About this time it appeared to break out afresh.  Monday evening, after the quarterly meeting, there were four converted, and on the following evening, at a prayer meeting at Dr. Chase's, there were seven.  Among these was a young woman by the name of Lucy Stoddard...<br>
   December 11th and 12th our quarterly meeting for Ontario circuit was held in Ontario.  It was attended with showers of blessings, and we have reason to believe that much good was done.  Here I found that the work, which had for some time been going on in Palmyra, had broken out from the village like a mighty flame, and was spreading in every direction.  When I left the place, December 22d, there had, in the village and its vicinity, upward of one hundred and fifty joined the society, besides a number that had joined other churches, and many that had joined no church.
Full Source
External Link
The Methodist magazine, Revival of Religion on Ontario District, pg 158-60
Letter From Rev. George Lane
Rev. George Lane
25 Jan, 1825
   With inexpressible gratitude to the great Head of the church, I am enabled to inform you that the work of the Lord is prospering gloriously on Ontario district...
   From Catharine I went to Ontario circuit, where the Lord had already begun a gracious work in Palmyra. This is a pleasant village, situate on the great western canal, about twenty-two miles east of Rochester, and is now in a flourishing condition. In this place the work commenced in the spring, and progressed moderately until the time of the quarterly meeting, which was held on the 25th and 26th of September. About this time it appeared to break out afresh. Monday evening, after the quarterly meeting, there were four converted, and on the following evening, at a prayer meeting at Dr. Chase's, there were seven. Among these was a young woman by the name of Lucy Stoddard...
   December 11th and 12th our quarterly meeting for Ontario circuit was held in Ontario. It was attended with showers of blessings, and we have reason to believe that much good was done. Here I found that the work, which had for some time been going on in Palmyra, had broken out from the village like a mighty flame, and was spreading in every direction. When I left the place, December 22d, there had, in the village and its vicinity, upward of one hundred and fifty joined the society, besides a number that had joined other churches, and many that had joined no church.

   In Palmyra, the revival is spreading.  A ministering brother thus writes us, under date of December 25th: As I came on my journey this way, I tarried a few days, and baptized eight.
Full Source
External Link
The Latter Day Illuminary, Volume 6, No 1, pg 61
Baptist Church Publication
Latter Day Illuminary
Jan, 1825
   In Palmyra, the revival is spreading. A ministering brother thus writes us, under date of December 25th: "As I came on my journey this way, I tarried a few days, and baptized eight."

   Religious.--An article in the Religious Advocate gives the pleasing fact that a revival of religion had taken place in the town of Palmyra, Macedon, Manchester, Phelps, Lyons and Ontario, and that more than 200 souls had become hopeful subjects of Divine Grace, &c. It may be added, that in Palmyra and Macedon, including Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist Churches, more than 400 have already testified that the Lord is good. The work is still progressing. In the neighboring towns, the number is great and fast increasing. Glory be to God on high; and on earth, peace and good will to all men.
External Link
Wayne Sentinel, Mar 2, 1825
Wayne Sentinel Article
Wayne Sentinel
2 Mar, 1825
   Religious.--An article in the Religious Advocate gives the pleasing fact that a revival of religion had taken place in the town of Palmyra, Macedon, Manchester, Phelps, Lyons and Ontario, and that more than 200 souls had become hopeful subjects of Divine Grace, &c. It may be added, that in Palmyra and Macedon, including Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist Churches, more than 400 have already testified that the Lord is good. The work is still progressing. In the neighboring towns, the number is great and fast increasing. Glory be to God on high; and on earth, peace and good will to all men.

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