OliverCowdery.com: The Premier Web-site for Early Mormon History
For Episode 2 -- Chapter Two
D. P. Hurlbut Chronology
by Dale R. Broadhurst
--( April 2001 )--
Episode 2 Timeline: Chap. 1 | Chap. 2 | Chap. 3 | Chap. 4 | Chap. 5
Return to Chapter Two Text
go back to: late Feb-early Mar 1833
13 Mar (Wed)
DPH visited with Joseph Smith and reportedly discussed the Book of Mormon with him. He received a blessing (from Smith?) that he would speak in tongues 010
18 Mar (Mon)
DPH was ordained an elder 011a by Sidney Rigdon -- possibly because he had been Rigdon's convert in western NY some months before
19 Mar (Tue)
DPH was called to a proselytizing mission 011b in "the East" (Erie and Crawford counties, PA) and was assigned Priest Daniel Copley (of Thompson, OH) as his companion,
21 Mar (Thr)
Mormon missionaries John F. Boynton and Evan M. Green organized an LDS branch 012a in Elk Creek township, Erie Co., PA among the Winchesters and their convert neighbors -- they then turned back westward, moving in the direction of Kirtland
26 Mar (Tue)
Mormon missionaries D. P. Hurlbut and Daniel Copley traveled eastward from Kirtland, 012b very likely passing through Harpersfield and Thompson on their way to Erie Co., PA
26 Mar (Tue)
Mormon Elder Hyrum Smith left Kirtland on a mission 013a to "journey eastward to proclaim the gospel." He arrived at the Springfield LDS branch on the 28th, probably stopping along the way near New Salem, OH (where he and his companion (John F. Boynton?) were "rejected and cast out" by their audience)
29 Mar (Fri)
DPH was at "Sister Welton's" in Austinburg, 013b Ashtabula Co., OH, with his companion Daniel Copley -- there they met Mormon missionaries Evan M. Green and John F. Boynton -- Green soon returned to Kirtland -- the other missionaries traveled across the OH-PA border into Conneaut Twp., Erie Co., PA
2 Apr (Tue)
Hyrum Smith left the Springfield LDS branch and arrived at the nearby Elk Cr. LDS branch 014a -- there he settled various complaints brought against certain members
2 Apr (Tue)
DPH and Daniel Copley were in Erie Co., PA 014b -- there they met missionaries Orson Hyde, Hyrum Smith, and others. DPH probably lodged temporarily with members of the Barnes family, where he met LDS convert Huldah Barnes. He reportedly made improper advances towards her
5-6 Apr 1833
Hyrum Smith called a Mormon missionaries' conference at "Brother Winchesters" in Elk Creek. 015a -- also present at the meeting were Orson Pratt, Lyman E. Johnson, Zebedee Coltrin, John Murdock, Orson Hyde and Amasa Lyman (7 high priests). The meeting was called "for the purpose of separating D. P. Hurlbut and Daniel Copley." The conference "decided on the 6th that D. Copley should travel with John Boynton" and that DPH should "travel with O. Hyde -- this for the cause of God."
7 Apr (Sun)
Hyrum Smith returned to "Brother Winchester's" in Elk Creek and there encountered DPH 015b and his new missionary companion, Orson Hyde.
12 Apr (Fri)
John Murdock and Zebedee Coltrin arrived in Jamestown and "found 2 brothers and 2 sisters sick with smallpox. We fasted, prayed, and laid on hands in the name of the Lord, and they were healed." The missionaries remained in Jamestown until Sunday April 14. Ten days later Zebedee Coltrin was taken ill with the same disease but recovered. (John Murdock Journal).
early Apr 1833
DPH (separated from Copley) was watched by his new missionary companion, Orson Hyde. 015c The two apparently remained in the Elk Creek area for a while and Hurlbut may have had further contact with Huldah Barnes. At about this time the leaders of the Elk Creek branch suggested that DPH marry Huldah (probably because he was having sexual relations with her).
8 Apr (Mon)
Hyrum Smith visited with "Brother [Amos] Hodges" and then rode back to Kirtland 015d with " "Brother Mathews." Hyrum arrived in Kirtland on the 10th and no doubt conferred with his brother, Joseph Smith concerning the circumstances then current in the Erie Co., PA mission field.
Norton Jacob[s] visited Jamestown and found four Mormons sick with what they called "small pox." Jacob[s] himself converted to Mormonism in 1841.
16 Apr (Tue)
Mormon missionaries Evan M. Green and Wm. H. Sagers left Kirtland and preached in Ashtabula Co., OH 015e on their way to PA
DPH (probably with Orson Hyde) preached near Jacksonville 016 (later Albion), in Conneaut Twp., Erie Co., PA -- there DPH first heard about Solomon Spalding's old writings from a member of the Lyman Jackson family (who had obtained their land in Conneaut Twp. from Solomon Spalding in 1809).
27 Apr (Sun)
Evan M. Green and Wm. H. Sagers arrived at the Springfield LDS branch 015f. The next day (Apr 28) Orson Hyde presided in a sacrament service and conducted a missionary planning meeting -- also present were John F. Boynton, Daniel Copley, Evan M. Green and Wm. H. Sagers..
Greene and Sagers continued to the East, leaving Boynton, Copley, Hyde and Hurlbut to preach in Erie Co. -- Hyde and DPH proselytized together in Erie Co. Hyde later said that near the end of their travels together he witnessed DPH making obscene remarks 017a while in the company of a Mormon woman (perhaps to Huldah Barnes or another member).
c. mid-May 1833
DPH (perhaps then by himself) preached in Erie Co., PA and personally made "several" converts in neighboring Crawford Co., PA 017b
c. mid-May 1833
DPH was the defendant in a local Church trial conducted at Elk Creek 017c. His Elder's license was demanded up him. Orson Hyde probably presided.
14 May (Tue)
The Rochester Republican printed an article entitled: "Mormonism and the Small Pox," telling of Mormon resistance in Jamestown to disease management measures. This sickness was then in its fifth month among the Jamestown Mormons and almost certainly was not small pox.
late May 1833
Julia Hills Johnson moved the remainder of her family west, expecting to join her husband Ezekiel Johnson near Chicago.
29 May (Wed)
Anna Barnes, the sister of the Huldah Barnes connected with DPH, was baptized near Elk Creek by Orson Hyde. 017d This was Hyde's last known activity in Erie Co. before he returned to Kirtland.
c. 31 May (Fri)
Orson Hyde left DPH behind (perhaps in Crawford Co., PA) and returned to Kirtland where he filed charges 018a with the LDS leadership against DPH The exact charges remain unknown but they reportedly accused DPH of immoral conduct with the opposite sex while serving his mission in PA.
c. 2 Jun (Sun)
DPH probably followed a few days behind Orson Hyde and returned to the Kirtland area 018b -- He was nearby (perhaps with Ezekiel Johnson in Kirtland or with the Copleys at Thompson) but apparently did not then report in to LDS officials in Kirtland
3 Jun (Mon)
Bishop Edward Partridge presided over a Bishop's council 018c of twelve high priests in Kirtland. After hearing testimony from Hyrum Smith and Orson Hyde, the council excommunicated Mr. H., apparently upholding Hyde's charge of his engaging in "unChristian conduct with the female sex." -- Mr. H. was not present during this trial but probably heard of the proceedings at about this same time
early Jun 1833
Julia Hills Johnson arrived at Kirtland Flats and traded some of her possessions for a home there near the schoolhouse. This is probably the time when D. P. Hurlbut moved in with the Johnson family as a lodger.
6 Jun (Thr)
Orson Hyde was nominated and appointed appointed clerk to the Mormon First Presidency 019 -- this elevated his status and relieved him from his prior missionary duties in PA.
DPH apparently remained in the Kirtland area for several days. After due consideration of his situation he petitioned for a re-hearing 020 of his June 3 trial.
21 Jun (Fri)
Joseph Smith called together a sepcial council of 12 high priests in Kirtland to review DPH's petition -- testimony was presented against him by Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith -- DPH made a public confession of his wrongdoings 021 while on his missionary tour in PA (keeping company with "lewd women," wtc.)
21 Jun (Fri)
Daniel Copley's priest's licence and membership were taken from him by the President's court because "he refused to fulfil his mission" 022a with DPH in PA.
21 Jun (Fri)
DPH was re-baptized, 022b re-ordained and restored as an LDS missionary. As Daniel Copley had been excommunicated, DPH resumed his mission without a companion. He also continued with his plan to seek a marriage with an eligble young Mormon woman with social status in the Church.
21 Jun (Fri)
DPH left Kirtland to return to his mission in PA and stopped at the LDS Thompson branch 023a
c. 22 Jun (Sat)
local elders brought a complaint 023b before the Thompson branch leadership charging DPH with an attempt at seducing one of their young female members. -- Elder George Gee then went quickly to Kirtland where he reported the new charges against DPH
23 Jun (Sun)
A "general council" was convened in Kirtland and George Gee & [Amos] Hodges testified that DPH boasted of making a false confession previously and saying he had deceived Joseph Smith's God -- DPH was excommunicated for the second time 023c
go to: 24 Jun 1833
Chapter 1 Timeline note 009
(For Episode 2 -- Chapter Two Timeline)
010 Hurlbut's wife, Maria says: "Prophet Jo Smith told him he should receive the gift of speaking in unknown tongues. He was told he must dash in and make any unknown sound he could and it would be the unknown tongue." This description of preparation for the excercise of the spiritual "gift" is consistent with other reports from that time and is likely reliable. This announcement or blessing may have been made prior to Hurlbut's ordination as an elder, or, if Smith was present at the ordination, it may have come then.
Other details from Hurlbut's meeting with Smith in Kirtland remain obscure. Mormon sources report that he was expecially concerned with the validity of the Book of Mormon. Max H. Parkin in 1966 cited Joseph Smith's private Journal for 1833 to argue that Hurlbut questioned Smith "at length about the Book of Mormon," and that the visit and the subject of their conversation "was to have long-range implications" -- that Hurlbut threatened to cause Smith's "destruction" if he found the book to be "false." Although the entries Parkin quotes do appear in the Smith Journal, it is not clear when they were written. Smith's allegation that Hurlbut threatened to be the "cause of my destruction," was obviously written into the journal some time after the "28 day of Jany" 1834 (a date supplied by Smith in his subsequent written recollection of the Hurlbut-related events of 1833-34). Smith also prefaces his writing about the Hurlbut threat with "According to my best recollection . . ." -- perhaps indicating that he was rehearsing his version of the events of an earlier period in anticipation of his being called upon to provide testimony in the April 1834 State of Ohio vs. Doctor Philastus Hurlbut legal case tried at Chardon.
011 According to the Kirtland Minute Book Hurlbut was ordained an elder by Sidney Rigdon on March 18, 1833. Nothing is said about whether he earlier held an office in the Aaronic priesthood. If he did not, persumably his earlier experience as a Methodist minister served to help qualify him to a quick advancement into the eldership.
Little is known about Hurlbut's missionary companion, Daniel Copely. He appears to have been a younger cousin of ex-Mormon Lemon Copely. George A. Smith called Daniel a "timid young man" who said he was "too weak to attempt to preach, and the Council cut him off the Church." It is more likely that Copely refused to continue a mission he had already partially finished while with with Hurlbut and John F. Boynton in northwestern PA. It is also possible that the two new missionaries were influenced at some point by Lemon Copely's apostate views. The latter Copely still resided at Thompson, OH at this time -- a town situated on the missionaries' route to the OH-PA border country. Lemon Copely testified in Hurlbut's behalf in his Chardon trial in 1834.
012 Mormon missionaries Boynton and Greene organized the LDS branch at Elk Creek on Mar. 21, 1833.
013 No record has survived to clarify the identity of "Sister Welton" of Austinburg Twp., Ashtabula Co. OH. Possibly she was a relative of Kirtland area Mormons Baldwin and/or Micah B. Welton. In 1833 and 1834 Mormon missionaries traveling between Kirtland and the PA mission field occasionally spent the night at her house. In order to reach Austinburg Twp. on or before March 29th, Hurlbut apparently traveled at a leisurely pace, south of the Grand River -- a route which probably took them through Thompson Twp.; (see note 012). Evan M. Green says that he continued on to Kirtland from this resting point. As Boynton shortly thereafter showed up in Erie Co., PA, it is possible that he left Greene briefly and accompanied Hurlbut and Copely on their journey eastward.
014a In Hyrum Smith's missionary journal for this period he recorded that he left Kirtland on the "twenty-sixth day of the third month" traveling eastward. He stopped in Painesville along the way. He and his unidentified missionary companion were "rejected & cast out" somewhere between Painesville and the PA border. They reached Springfield twp. on the 28th. After conducting church business there Hyrum departed for Elk Creek on April 2nd, and preached that night at "Brother [Stephen] Winchesters." After setting some church matters in order in the area, Hyrum returned to the Winchester farm on April 5th. (Hyrum Smith Diary, 20 Nov. 1832 - 7 June 1833, Joseph Smith Sr. Family Collection, Special Collections, BYU Library)
014b The fact that Hurlbut and Copely were in Austinburg on March 29th makes it probable that their path into PA was through Pierpont or Monroe townships in Ashtabula Co., OH and then across the State line into either the top edge of Crawford Co., or the bottom section of Erie Co., PA. Either route would have put them in close proximity to the border between Beaver, Spring, and Cussewago townships on the south, and Conneaut and Elk Creek townships (Erie Co.) on the north. It is likely that the couple wandered throught these places, staying with Mormon members or other families who had a reputation for offering a night's lodging to traveling missionaries. Benjamin Winchester (pg. 6) says that Hurlbut "made several converts in Crawford county, Pa;" during his mission, but he does not indicate the names, places or dates for the conversions.
015 Missionary Zebedee Coltrin says that he and John Murdock left "Sister Welton" on April 4th and traveled to "the church in Springfield" where they encountered "Brother [Amasa] Lyman and Orison Prat[t]." From there they moved a few miles south to "conyalt [Conneaut] and Found Brother John Boyington" along with "H[yrum] Smith." This meeting probably took place near Wellsburg, on the border of Conneaut and Elk Creek townships, Erie Co., PA, in the home of a member of the Elk Creek LDS Branch, such as Stephen Winchester.
Coltrin goes on to say that Orson Hyde called "a counsil" over which Hyrum Smith presided. On April 6th "the counsil desied that Or. Hide and Docter Herlbut should travel to[gether] & John F. Boyington & Daniel Copley should travel together . . ." Where Boynton and Copely went "together" from Elk Creek is unknown -- they probably canvassed the region, looking for new converts. By April 16th Boynton was back in Kirtland with his old companion, Evan M. Greene. Copely seems to have remained in the OH-PA borderlands, for, according to Greene, he was back in Elk Creek Twp. on April 28th. There occurred a second meeting of the region's missionaries, but this time Hyrum Smith seems not to have attended. D.P. Hurlbut was there, probably still accompanying Orson Hyde. Hyde "administered the sacrament," and the meeting soon broke up. Greene continued eastward in company with "Bro. Sagers," while the other missionaries disappear from view for several days. It is possible that Hurlbut again took up his duties alongside Orson Hyde and young Copely continued his prior association with John F. Boynton.
016 Never very specific with his dates when recounting Hurlbut's activities, Benjamin Winchester (pg. 8) does not say when Hurlbut first heard of the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship. What he does say is that "While in a small village called the Jackson settlement, (a place that is famous for its infidels,) he became familiar with a family of the name of Jackson, and others, who were personally acquainted with the now celebrated Solomon Spaulding, who is reputed to be the legitimate author of the Book of Mormon. Here, while in conversation with them, Mr. H. learned that Mr. S., while alive, wrote a work called the Manuscript Found.
The first opportunity Hurlbut would have encountered for such "conversation" was when he first passed through "the place" where Winchester "resided" (see note 008). If Hurlbut passed through the Elk Creek region where Winchester lived in 1833 he may well have encountered the "infidels" of nearby "Jackson Settlement" who were personally acquainted with the late Solomon Spalding and his writings. On the other hand, Hurlbut may have first been exposed to Spalding authorship rumors in northern Springfield Twp., especially so if he lingered for a while near the Rudd farm there. The Mormon Rudds were also personally acquainted with the late Solomon Spalding and his writings. In fact, the John Rudd, Sr. family in Springfield and the Lyman Jackson, Sr. family of "Jackson Settlement" both received their Erie Co. farms in land sales and exchanges with Solomon Spalding, back in Otsego Co., NY. Members of these two intermarried families had known Spalding well (both in NY and later along the OH-PA border).
Assuming, however, that Elder Hurlbut had heard little or nothing of the Spalding claims by the time he and his mission companion entered PA in late March, 1833, the most probable place for his running into the stories about Spalding and his writings would have been (as Winchester asserts) from members of the Lyman Jackson family, sometime after the first of April. Winchester probably calls the largely Methodist residents of Jackson Settlement "infidels" because few, if any, of them converted to Mormonism. A new missionary to the area, like Hurlbut, would have had a difficult time preaching Mormonism in the village. He may have even heard the Spalding authorship claims brought up by some of the Jacksons as a reason why they did not embrace the Mormon religion.
Winchester provides no information as to when any of the Jacksons adopted the Spalding claims as truth, but at least one of them did just that, and perhaps at an early date. This was Lyman Jackson's son Abner, who later wrote a detailed account of Spalding and his activities. While Abner Jackson does not provide an exact account of how he came to equate Spalding's writings with the Book of Mormon, he appears to have received that idea (or its confirmation in his own mind) from his friend in Conneaut, OH, Aaron Wright. Wright was speaking up about the Spalding claims as early as August of 1833 and he added further information in December of that same year.
Winchester speaks of the Jacksons and their neighbors as not having "the most distant idea" that Spalding's writings "had ever been converted into the Book of Mormon; or that there was any connection between them." And he goes on to say: "Indeed, Mr. Jackson, who had read both the Book of Mormon, and Spaulding's manuscript, told Mr. H. when he came to get his signature to a writing testifying to the probability that Mr. S.'s manuscript had been converted into the Book of Mormon; that there was no agreement between them . . ." Unfortunately Winchester does not further identify this "Mr. Jackson." He may have been Abner's father or one of Abner's brothers.
017a The nature of Hurlbut's transgression is often hinted at, but never explicitly detailed in Mormon accounts. Orson Hyde, with whom these charges originated, says only: "While the said Mr. Hurlburt was a member of our church, and an elder also, it fell to my lot to travel with him to preach the gospel; and it was at my instance that a charge was preferred against him before the Council of the church for an attempt at seduction and crime." Winchester (pg. 6) adds these remarks: "the organ of amativeness, philoprogentiveness, or some other organ, not of a moral mould, was unduly developed, and that the gratification of these propensities manifested itself in numerous peccadillos, disgraceful to the man, and calculated to bring upon him the reproach of every lover of virtue and correct morals." Apparently Winchester saw Hurlbut as possessing an out-of-control sex-drive and an inclination towards sexual seduction. He says as much in accounting for charges brought against the man a bit later -- for continuing "his old practices, in attempting to seduce a young female."
While both Hyde and Winchester speak of "attempts" at "seduction," the Kirtland Council Minute Book says only that Hurlbut "was accused of unchristian conduct with the female sex while on a mission to the east." By 1977 Donna Hill had softened this allegation to "the use of obscene language to a young member." Other early sources such as Joseph E. Johnson and his brother Benjamin F. Johnson speak of Hurlbut's desire to locate a marriage partner from among Mormon ladies of the more influential families. William R. Hine substantiates their reports by adding that Hurlbut "He courted Dr. Williams' beautiful daughter, and told her he had a revelation to marry her. . ."
Putting all of this information together, the picture which emerges is of a young man eager to hop into the marital bed with practically the first available young woman who would have him. He very likely used vulgar expressions and suggestions to convey his barely controlled amorousness, and that is what Hyde termed "an attempt at seduction and crime." It is possible that Hurlbut compounded his transgression by claiming to receive "revelations" allowing him to engage in extraordinary liaisons with certain young women. Given the fact that Mormon polygamous practices were first being experimented with by certain top leaders at this very time, Hurlbut's supposed activities along these lines may have even been influenced by his own interpretation of rumors concerning sanctioned polygamy.
Finally, Hurlbut may have added more fuel to the fire of Orson Hyde's indignation by badgering the Elder with questions and insinuations regarding the recently surfaced Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon. If so, such improprieties on Hurlbut's part might well help explain why Hyde took the extraordinary step of bringing charges against his missionary companion in Hurlbut's absence. Whatever the long lost facts of the matter may have been, Hurlbut was soon cut off from the Church, while Hyde's position quickly rose from that of common missionary to Clerk of the First Presidency, member of the Kirtland High Council, and, eventually, to that of Apostle in the Council of the Twelve.
017d Anna Barnes Harmon (1798-1847) was the daughter of Abijah Barnes and Abi Bradford. The Barnes family moved to a location just east of Jacksonville in Conneaut twp., Erie Co., PA in 1818 from Cayuga Co., NY. The parents were probably Mormon converts but both died in Erie Co. early in 1833. Anna married Jessee Pierce Harmon and apparently moved to Kirtland about 1833. (Cheryl Harmon Bean, Rediscovering History, Mormons in Erie County Pennsylvania 1832-1833, St. Anthony ID, privately published, 1995, pp. 48-49.) Huldah probably went with her, since she served as a maid in Joseph Smith, Jr.'s house at Kirtland (Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, Vol. 2:5-6; Brigham Young University Library, entry for Jan. 12, 1881.)
018 The Kirtland Council Minute Book merely says that on June 3, 1833 "Doctor Hurlbut . . . was accused of unchristian conduct with the female sex while on a mission to the east -- it was decided that his commission be taken from him and that he be no longer a member of the Church of Christ." Orson Hyde says: ". . . it was at my instance that a charge was preferred against him before the Council of the church for an attempt at seduction and crime."
A statement provided by Newell K. Whitney's brother, Samuel F. Whitney, says that Joseph Smith testified in April 1834 at Hurlbut's Chardon trial that "Hurlbut was expelled for base conduct with lude women." Though Whitney modifies that recollection with a claim that the charges first filed against Hurlbut in the Mormon proceedings did not match with what Smith testified, the general charge that Hurlbut associated with "lewd women" is supported by Rachael Miller Derby, who said that while in the region of Springfield, Erie Co., PA, Hurlbut "stayed two nights with a Mormon woman of very bad character, who lived alone."
While the official Church record is silent regarding who testified against Hurlbut at the "Bishop's Council" proceedings of June 3, 1833, the witnesses were almost certainly Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith. At least both of these men were on hand in Kirtland for Hurlbut's appeal of June 21st and both testified against him in that "Presidents council of high priests" supervised by Joseph Smith himself. Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith had started their missionary tour into PA together and it is likely that they returned to Kirtland together at the end of May.
019 Hyde's June 6 promotion from ordinary Mormon field missionary to Clerk of the First Presidency may well have resulted from a nomination offered by his former mission companion, Hyrum Smith. Hyrum appears to have been present at the June 6th meeting of the Kirtland Council, as he was then appointed to the committee "to take the oversight of the building of the House of the Lord." It is possible to surmise from the above information that Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith concurred in the decision to expel D.P. Hurlbut -- and that Hyde's promotion at that same time was at least indirectly related to his having filed the charges against D.P. Hurlbut which resulted in his expulsion from the Mormon ranks.
020 Since the Bishop's Council of high priests cut Hurlbut off from the Church on June 3rd without his being present for the trial, the question naturally arises as to why the young missionary was not in Kirtland on June 3, 1833 to defend himself in the trial proceedings.
Some possible answers to the above question are: 1. Hurlbut knew of the charges to be filed against him but failed to appear in Kirtland to defend himself; 2. Hurlbut knew that charges might be filed against him but was unaware of the date and time; 3. Hurlbut arrived in Kirtland too late to testify in his own behalf; 4. Hurlbut was in Kirtland but was prevented from appearing at his trial; or -- 5. Hurlbut was unaware of the charges being filed against him and continued his work as a Mormon missionary somewhere outside of Kirtland.
While any and all of these scenarios are possible, perhaps the most simple answer is the last one. Hurlbut probably did not appear at the Bishop's Council trial of June 3rd because it was conducted in his absence without his knowledge. If Hurlbut was not in Kirtland in early June, he may possibly have been left by Hyde to conduct missionary work on his own in PA. While it is difficult to imagine that Hyde would leave Hurlbut behind in an official Church role at that particular moment, this may well have been the same time as when Benjamin Winchester (pg. 6) says that Hurlbut "made several converts in Crawford county, Pa." and "frequently called, and stayed over night at my father's." Winchester also says that the local "church" (the elders in the Elk Creek Branch) ultimately lost their confidence in him... and his license taken from him by the conference." It is difficult to say exactly how this action by the local "church" dovetailed with events brought into fruition in Kirtland by Orson Hyde, but at some point, probably well before June 21, Hurlbut was relieved of his Elder's license and was aware of his excommunication. All of this probably happened just before Hyde's departure for Kirtland near the end of May. Winchester continues by saying: "at first he appeared impenitent and obdurate, but afterwards professed penitence and humility; he soon left for Kirtland, to appeal to the general conference." As Hurlbut never returned to that region of the country in the capacity of being a Mormon Elder, the conversions he made "in Crawford county" must have no later than the beginning of June. More than likely, he had already returned to Kirtland by early June and the conversions date to the last part of May 1833.
Stephen Winchester lived only 4-5 miles north of Erie County's border with Crawford County's Spring and Cussewago townships. The latter township had been John Spalding's residence in the 1820s. John (the brother of the late Solomon Spalding) and his family had moved a few miles south to Sadsbury Twp., Crawford Co. by 1830, but he may have retained property or other connections in Cussewago. Also, Rachel Miller Derby says that one time the John Spalding family "lived half a mile from our house" in Springfield, Erie Co., PA. John Spalding appears to have moved his residence from time to time while living in the "Conneaut Creek" area; by 1842 John moved to Illinois, leaving only his eldest son Daniel D. Spalding behind in the Conneaut region. The point to be made here is that when Hurlbut was in Crawford Co., converting people to Mormonism, he was probably never more than a dozen miles from Solomon Spalding's brother and his family. If Hurlbut met John in Crawford Co., in May or June of 1833, that fact might help explain why John and his wife Martha were among the small group of people from whom Hurlbut solicited statements concerning the Spalding authorship claims.
021 Although Hurlbut's petition for a new hearing has been preserved, his confession of June 21, 1833 has not. What little remains of Hurlbut's words from that time appears to show that he did not contest the charge previously made against him of "unchristian like conduct with the female sex," but merely protested the fact that during the trial he was "absent at the time" and "that strict justice was not done."
Nearly three weeks had elapsed since the original excommunication trial and no record survives as to what occurred concerning him during that time. Presumably he had returned to Kirtland from PA shortly prior to submitting his request for a rehearing on June 21st. The fact that Hurlbut would trouble himself to return to the Mormon capital and file such a petition seems to show that he truly desired to remain within the Church. If he had heard of the Spalding authorship claims by this time, that fact certainly wasn't enough to keep him out of the Saints' good fellowship. Also, whatever animosity then existed between Hurlbut and Orson Hyde was insufficient to prevent Hurlbut's rejoining the Mormons.
Years later George A. Smith recalled that "Hurlburt did not deny the charge, but begged to be forgiven, made every promise that a man could make that he would from that day live a virtuous life. Finally the Council accepted of his confession, and agreed that he might on public confession be restored to the Church again." Smith continues his recollection with the strange observation that "as soon as this Council had made this decision upon Hurlburt, Joseph arose, and said to the Council, he is not honest, and what he has promised he will not fulfil; what he has confessed are not the thoughts and intents of his heart, and time will prove it." Whether this was a truely prophetic prediction made by Joseph Smith, or merely a justifying conflation of later remarks heard by his cousin George, remains unclear. The more probable explanation is that Joseph called for Hurlbut to be even more "honest" and repentant when he made the required "public confession" before a larger audience of the Saints. At any rate Joseph and the Council appear to have reassigned Hurlbut to his missionary work without providing him with an overseeing senior companion.
It was probably expected by the Council that Hurlbut's original missionary companion, young Daniel Copley, would accompany the reclaimed Elder back into the mission field. For some reason Priest Copely was unwilling to carry out this task. George A. Smith says that at the same Council on June 21st Daniel "was called to an account for not going on his mission. The young man said he was too weak to attempt to preach, and the Council cut him off the Church." What relationship existed between Daniel and D.P. from that point forward remains unknown; however, as mentioned elsewhere in these notes, Daniel's cousin Lemon testified in Hurlbut's behalf at his April 1834 trial in Chardon.
022 According to Joseph Ellis Johnson, Hurlbut "labored for a time near Jacksonville, Erie County, Pennsylvania, but was soon for illicit association called back to Kirtland, where he was excommunicated, but afterwards rebaptized." Johnson's recollection of Hurlbut being "called back to Kirtland" may preserve some elements of fact, but since Hurlbut did not attend his first Kirtland trial on June 3, 1833, this cannot be the whole story of what happened. Following the decision of the President's Council to reinstate his membership on June 21, Hurlbut must have been rebaptized, just as Johnson says. If this was what happened, it is logical to assume that his rebaptism was followed by a second ordination or his reinstatement to the office of Elder on that same date. Hurlbut's required public confession, his re-baptism, and his reinstatement in the Church must all have occurred on June 21 (or by the morning of June 22 at the very latest).
Johnson continues by saying that Hurlbut "soon became enamored or greatly in love with Electra, sister of L[yman]. R. Sherman, and because she despised him for his immorality and rejected his suit..." Whether this event transpired before or soon after his reinstatement, Johnson does not make clear. The most probable sequence is that Hurlbut made use of the occasion of his being in Kirtland during the first three weeks in June to press Electa for a marriage decision. At that time he was not a Church member in good standing and she refused him. The other possibility is that Hurlbut encountered Miss Sherman while on his way back to PA and that she rejected his his sudden proposal to her as being an immoral offer, unfitting a from missionary in the field. However, as Dale W. Adams notes, "It is unlikely that Hurlbut could travel to Thompson, attempt to seduce a woman there... and have word get back with witnesses to Kirtland in only two days... The events reported by Gee and Hodges may have occurred in a different time sequence..." ("Dr. Philastus Hurlbut," p. 91. n. 24).
023 Joseph Ellis Johnson says that after Electa Sherman "rejected his suit" that Hurlbut "swore revenge upon the whole community and boastfully declared he would destroy the church." This is almost certainly a conflation or telescoping of events not very well remembered by Johnson. If Hurlbut "swore revenge" upon the Mormons in 1833, his reasons for doing so probably involved more than just his hostile reaction to being rejected by a woman. Still, Johnson's statement may include a germ of truth, for Hurlbut's next problematic encounter with the Mormons came at least in part as a result of his ongoing problems with women.
The Kirtland Council Minute Book record says that on June 23, "Bro D. P. Hurlberts case was called in question this day before a general council and upon the testimony of Bro Gee of Thompson, who testified that Bro D.P.H. said that he had deceived Joseph Smith['s] God, or the Spirit by which he is actuated &c &c The council proceeded to cut him off from the Church. There was also corroborating testimony brought against him by Bro Hodges."
As the Mormon colony in Thompson Twp., Geauga Co., OH was about a day's walk from Kirtland, Hurlbut must have lodged there on the night of June 22. And, during the course of that evening, something he said must have alarmed the local Mormons and was reported to Elder George Gee. One possible reconstruction of events is that Hurlbut was returning to Elk Creek in company with Elk Creek branch member Amos Hodges. Along the way to Thompson Hurlbut's words or actions aroused Hodges' suspicions and he reported the newly re-baptized elder to Thompson Branch President Gee when they arrived at their stopping-over place. It is even possible that Hodges had been instructed by the Church leaders in Kirtland to watch Hurlbut carefully on the trip back to Elk Creek and to report any improper behavior. Once they had arrived at Thompson, Elders Gee and Hodges could have spied upon Hurlbut and caught him in some unseemly act or conversation. Following their gaining this confirmation of his lapse back into apostasy, the two elders could have left for Kirtland as early as the morning of Saturday, June 22 and would have arrived at Church headquarters that same day, allowing them sufficient time to file charges against Hurlbut.
Benjamin Winchester (pg. 6) adds that "when his case was reheard, and, in consequence of confession and acknowledgment, his license was restored. In returning into Pennsylvania, he stopped at Thompson, Geauga county, Ohio, and immediately commenced his old practices, in attempting to seduce a young female..." How Winchester's memory of events can be reconciled with that of Johnson remains unsolved. If Electa Sherman was staying in Thompson on the night of June 22, 1833, she may have been the woman mentioned by Winchester. But, a more likely scenerio is that Hurlbut had attempted his seduction at Kirtland during the first three weeks in June, perhaps with Lovina S. Williams or with Electa Sherman. Whatever the case may have been, it was not this "attempting to seduce a young female" allegation which ended up in the official Mormon records. Rather, Hurlbut was charged and convicted of having "deceived Smith['s] God, or the Spirit by which he is actuated..." The exact nature of the charges are not very clear; the record could be read as simply saying that Hurlbut joked about fooling Smith in some matter related to his reinstatement.
The Mormon leadership at Kirtland looked upon Hurlbut's alleged transgression in Thompson as being something serious enough to demand his being cuff off from the Church. In what must have been at best little more than a antipathetic paraphrase, George A. Smith (pg. 8) quoted Hurlbut as saying to the Branch in Thompson, Ohio, "that he had deceived Joseph Smith's God or the spirit by which he is actuated, 'I have proved that Council has no wisdom, I told them I was sorry I confessed and they believed it to be an honest confession, I deceived the whole of them and made them restore me to the Church.'" It seems unlikely that Hurlbut would have boasted so openly to a traveling companion like Elder Amos Hodges or to the orthodox members of the Thompson Branch. A more likely possibility is that Hurlbut said something similar to this quotation in conversation with Thompson non-members or apostates (like the Copley family) and that his admission was overheard by a loyal member and quickly reported the Thompson Branch leaders.
Chapter 3 Timeline Note 24