Transcript

Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "Eastern States Mission," Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 211-13

EASTERN STATES MISSION (The) contains within its boundaries the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

Soon after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830, at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York, branches of the Church were established in New York, Pennsylvania and the New England states. In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in January, 1832, Elders Orson Hyde, Samuel H. Smith, Orson Pratt, and Lyman E. Johnson were called to preach the gospel "in eastern countries" (states). (Doc. & Cov., Sec. 75.) In response to this command Elders Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith left Kirtland, Ohio, on Feb. 1, 1832, to travel as missionaries in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusets, Rhode Island and Maine, without purse or script. They baptized many and organized one branch of the Church in Maine, two in Massachusetts, and one in Pennsylvania. Not only did Elders Hyde and Smith labor in these states but so also did Brigham, Joseph and Lorenzo D. Young, Hyrum and William Smith, John Murdock, Martin Harris, Emer Harris, Newel K. Whitney, Lyman E. Johnson, Orson Pratt, Simeon and Jared Carter, and others. By the end of the year 1832 Lyman E. Johnson and Orson Pratt had baptized nearly one hundred souls; Simeon and Jared Carter had labored successfully in Vermont; Hyrum and William Smith had baptized 23 in Pennsylvania; John Murdock had baptized 23 in Ohio, and Martin and Emer Harris had baptized one hundred in Chenango Point, N.Y. In obedience to revelation, also, Bishop Newel K. Whitney had labored in Albany, N.Y. and at Boston, Mass.

In May, 1835, the Twelve Apostles left Kirtland, Ohio, to visit the branches of the Church and to fill their first mission under their commission to carry the gospel to the Gentiles and also to the Jews, having the keys of the gospel to unlock the door and then call upon others to promulgate the truths of the restored gospel. They grouped several of the branches into conferences; some of these conferences, such as the Massachusetts Conference, embracing an entire state.

In July, 1837, Apostle Parley P. Pratt arrived in New York City, where he found one member of the Church (Elijah Fordham). A branch of the Church was raised up in that city soon afterwards and others in Brooklyn and on Long Island. Elder Pratt, also, while there published four thousand copies of the "Voice of Warning."

In December, 1839, and January 1840, the Prophet Joseph, with other Elders, spent parts of December, 1839, and January, 1840, in Washington, D.C., asking for redress from the state of Missouri for illegal persecutions. At this time Pres. Van Buren made his historic statement: "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you." In 1843 Apostle John E. Page was sent to the national capital to raise up a branch of the Church there, and later the same year, others of the Apostles preached in Washington, D.C., and in adjacent states.

As the body of the Church was settling in Illinois, the necessity of establishing headquarters in the Eastern States became apparent, and John P. Greene was appointed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, May 6, 1839, to "go to the city of New York and preside over the saints in that place and in the regions round about, and regulate the affairs of the Church according to the laws and doctrines of said Church." At a conference held in Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 17, 1840, 896 members of the Church in New York City and in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc., were represented; this conference was presided over by Apostle Orson Hyde. Another conference was held in Pennsylvania April 6, 1841, under the direction of Hyrum Smith.

In Boston, Mass., much interest was aroused by the preaching of George J. Adams, and crowded meetings held in Boylston Hall in Boston were attended by legislators and other prominent people.

In 1843 Apostle Parley P. Pratt presided over the Church in the Eastern States; later his brother, Apostle Orson Pratt, succeeded him and still later, Apostle Wilford Woodruff. In 1844 the publication of "The Prophet," a weekly paper devoted to the interest of the Church, was commenced in New York City by Parley P. Pratt. The name of this paper was changed to the "New York Messenger" in 1845, when Sam Brannan was editor.

At the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Twelve Apostles were nearly all in the Eastern States preaching the gospel and advocating the suffrage of the people in favor of Joseph as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Thus Brigham Young was in the state of Massachusetts, Heber C. Kimball in Washington, D.C., Orson Hyde, Wm. Smith and John E. Page in Pennsylvania, Wilford Woodruff in New York, Geo. A. Smith in New Hampshire, and Lyman Wight in Maryland.

In 1846 migration of the saints to the West by water was essayed, and on Feb. 4, 1846, Sam Brannan left New York harbor with a company of 235 saints on board the ship "Brooklyn", which he had chartered for the purpose. The ship, after doubling Cape Horn, arrived in the San Francisco Bay July 31, 1846. (See Ship "Brooklyn".)

From 1846 to 1848 Jesse C. Little and Wm. I Appleby had charge of the saints in the Eastern States. In 1846 Jesse C. Little was appointed to present to the government at Washington, D.C., a petition asking that the saints in their migration westward might be permitted to carry freight, etc., for the government to the Pacific Coast and in this way assist their own immigration. This led to the call of the Mormon Battalion.

In 1849 Dr. John M. Bernhisel and Almon W. Babbit were in Washington, D.C., endeavoring to secure statehood privileges for the settlers in Great Salt Lake Valley. The organization of the territory of Utah in 1850 was the result. In January, 1853, the first number of "The Seer" was published in Washington, D.C., by Apostle Orson Pratt.

New York City was the port of entry for the saints from foreign countries at different periods between 1840 and 1930. Here an emigration agent was stationed to assist the saints upon their arrival in America to travel on to the outfitting places, whence they would cross the plains and mountains to Great Salt Lake Valley.

In 1854 Apostle John Taylor was appointed to preside over the saints in the Eastern States and to commence the publication of a weekly newspaper in the interest of the Church. Thus, on Feb. 17, 1855, the first number of "The Mormon" was issued from the press in New York City. At that time it was estimated that there were about 10,000 Latter-day Saints east of the Mississippi River. But as the saints became more firmly established in the Rocky Mountains, gathering was stressed and in time most of the branches of the Church in the East were broken up through migration to the West.

In 1857, on account of the Johnston Army troubles, nearly all the missionaries were withdrawn from the States, a very few remaining to settle up business matters and appoint local officers. During the Civil War (1861-1865) only a little missionary work was done in the Eastern and Southern States. From 1889 to 1893, the states of New York and Pennsylvania, as missionary fields, belonged to the Northern States Mission; that mission also extended into Canada.

In January 1893, Elder Job Pingree, of Ogden, Utah, was set apart to go to New York City and re-open missionary work there. He was joined by Elder Seymour B. Young, jun., who was released from his labors in the British Mission to complete his mission in the Eastern States. Headquarters were established in Brooklyn. In 1897 Pennsylvania, Maryland and the southern part of West Viriginia were transferred from the Northern States Mission to the Eastern States Mission which then comprised, in addition to the state of New York, the New England States and part of Canada.

At the close of the year 1900 there were eight conferences in the Eastern States Mission, namely, Brooklyn Maryland, New England, New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, Northwestern Viriginia and Southwestern Viriginia, with a Church membership of 975. In 1903 West Virginia was transferred to the Eastern States Mission but became part of the East Central States Mission in 1928.

Within the limits of the Eastern States Mission is the Smith Farm in the Manchester township near Palmyra, N.Y., in which the "Boy Prophet" resided when visited by the Angel Moroni in 1823. Nearby is the "Sacred Grove" in which the glorious vision of the Father and the Son was vouchsafed to him, and the Hill Cumorah where were found the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated into the English language.

The radio, of late years, has become a valuable means of spreading the truths of the gospel in the mission, Sunday evening sermons and week-night lectures, with musical programs being delivered regularly from a number of points. This has necessitated the appointment of a mission radio director to assist the missionaries in this part of the work. Booths in several of the county and larger fairs have been established at different times throughout the mission, at which a large amount of literature is distributed.

On Dec. 31, 1930, the Eastern States Mission comprised twelve districts or conferences, namely, Albany, (N.Y.), Brooklyn (N.Y.), Erie (N. Y.), Hudson (N.Y.), Rochester (N. Y.), Susquehanna (N.Y. and Pa.), Blue Ridge (Pa. and Md.), East Pennsylvania, West Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts. These, in 1930, had a total membership of 4,281, including 19 High Priests, 35 Seventies, 411 Elders, 200 Priests, 74 Teachers, 158 Deacons, 2,684 lay members and 700 children. James H. Moyle presided over the mission, assisted by 126 Elders from Zion and 46 lady missionaries. There were also three brethren and one sister laboring as short term missionaries; a total of 164 baptisms of converts and children were reported for the year 1930.

Chapels owned by the Latter-day Saints were located at New Bedford, Mass., at Brooklyn and Palmyra, N. Y., at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buck Valley in Pennsylvania, at Fairview and Baltimore in Maryland, and at other places. The erection of an imposing Church edifice at Washington, D. C., was under contemplation. Regular meetings were also held in hired halls at a large number of other places. The headquarters of the mission in 1930 were at 273 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Following is a list of the presidents of the Eastern States Mission; John P. Greene, 1839-1843; Lyman Wight, 1843-1844; William Smith, 1844; Parley P. Pratt, Dec., 1844-July 18, 1845; Orson Pratt, Aug.-Nov., 1845; Sam Brannan, Nov., 1845-Feb., 1846; Jesse C. Little, 1846-1847; William I. Appleby (pro tem), March-Nov., 1847; Wilford Woodruff, 1848-1850; John Taylor, 1854-1857; William I. Appleby (second term), 1857-1858; Wm. H. Miles, 1865-1869; Job Pingree, Jan., 1893-Jan, 1895; Samuel W. Richards, Jan., 1895-March, 1897; Alonzo P. Kesler, March, 1897-March, 1899; Wm. H. Smart, March, 1899-Aug., 1900; Edward H. Snow, Aug., 1900-Feb., 1901; John G. McQuarrie, Feb., 1901-July, 1908; Ben E. Rich, July, 1908-Sept. 13, 1913, when he died; Walter P. Monson, Oct., 1913-Apr., 1919; George W. McCune, Apr., 1919-June, 1922; Brigham H. Roberts, June, 1922-May, 1927; Henry H. Rolapp, May, 1927-Nov., 1928, and James H. Moyle, Nov., 1928-1930.

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