(27) "Kirtland Council Minute Book," p. 12, cf. p. 16, from microfilm of original document, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Historian's Archives).
p. 14. (entry for March 18, 1833). A partial extract from this entry reads:
Joseph Wood, George Gee and Daniel Copley all came from Thompson township in Geauga county. The fact that Hurlbut's name appears along with theirs in this entry may indicate that he had visited Thompson and had returned to Kirtland with these men. D. P. Hurlbut may have been a relative of Seth Hurlbut, who was then living in Thompson township.
Isaac H. Bishop These brethren having come to Kirtland and on the 19th day of March a conference was called to inquire into their motives in coming to Kirtland &c.... arose Bro. Daniel and said he came to know the will of the Lord concerning him... Brother Hurlburt also said he came to obtain information... it was agreed that Bro. Hurlburt and Bro. Daniel should journey together to the east & proclaim by the way...
(29) Daniel (whose name is listed in Thompson township records of the 1830s) was likely a close relative of ex-Mormon Lemon Copley of Thompson and the missionaries' path probably took the two past Daniel's home in Thompson township. The only known record of Hurlbut and Copley at this time places them a few miles east of Thompson at Austinburg, where they met fellow missionaries Evan M. Green and John F. Boynton on March 29th at "Sister Welton's." Elder Green then went to Kirtland, while Elder Boynton apparently escorted Hurlbut and Copley across the Ohio-Pennsylvania border to Conneaut township in Erie County. See the misisonary journals of Elders Evan M. Green and Zebedee Coltrin in the LDS Historian's Archives for information on the first days of missionary service performed by Hurlbut and Copley.
(30) Benjamin Winchester "1900 Testimony..." Huldah was probably baptized in April 1833, perhaps by Hurlbut himself. Her older sister, Anna Barnes Harmon (1798-1847) was baptized in Erie County on May 29, 1833 by Orson Hyde, Hurlbut's second missionary companion. Huldah may have been the "Mormon woman of very bad character, who lived alone" and who subsequently played hostess to D. P. Hurlbut during the late summer of 1833 (Rachel Miller Derby Statement, Naked Truths About Mormonism I:1, Jan. 1888).
(31) For Hyrum Smith's activities in Erie County, PA in early 1833 see his missionary "Diary" in the Special Collections of the H. B. Lee Library at BYU. For details on Hurlbut's alleged " peccadillos" see Winchester, Origin..., p. 6.
(32) Hyrum Smith, 1833 Diary. Entries for Apr. 5-6, 1833. Spalding Enigma writers Cowdrey et al. have offered these thoughts regarding the reason for this separation of the two missionaries:
...the conference decided 'that D. Copley Should travel with John Boynton [and] D HurlBurt travel With O[rson] Hyde,' hence putting each one under the watchful eye of a brother less susceptible to heretical persuasions. Under the circumstances, this must be taken as a clear indication of Hurlbut's having begun to uncover the Spalding-Book of Mormon connection a relatively short time prior to these conferences, and that Daniel Copley had been with him at the time and was thus privy to the situation. Any other argument would be completely out of context." (Cowdrey, Wayne, et al., The Spalding Enigma... Manhatten Beach, CA: The Digital Voice, 2000, review copy on CD-ROM, p. 96 n. 41).
Although this suggestion is an intriguing one, it requires that the missionary couple encountered and were at least marginally impacted by the Spalding authorship claims during their very first days in Erie County. If those unsettling claims were already so well developed and so easily discovered by the LDS proselytizers in that region of the country, it seems strange that only these two Mormons were susceptible to their debilitating influence. It is certainly possible that as early as April 6, 1833 D. P. Hurlbut was aware of the Spalding claims then circulating through Erie County, but his separation from Copley probably resulted more from his "peccadillos" than from his inquiry into Mormon origins.
(33) Winchester, Origin..., p. 6. A more likely scenario would have the local "conference" in Erie County disfellowshipping Hurlbut and confiscating his Elder's license, pending review by a visiting High Priest or other prominent Mormon visitor from Kirtland. Evidence indicates that this local "conference" could not have occurred after the end of May 1833. By June 3, 1833 Hurlbut's new missionary companion, Orson Hyde, was already testifying against his former preaching partner in a Kirtland Bishop's Council. Hyde's last recorded activity as a missionary in Erie County was his baptism there of Anna Barnes Harmon on May 29, 1833. He must have left for Kirtland almost immediately after performing that ordinance.
(34) Ibid. Whatever device Hurlbut expected to use in order to maintain his missionary position in Pennsylvania, it was a stratagem which ceased to provide him any support once Hyde had departed. The logical conclusion is that Hurlbut had attempted to exercise some kind of leverage against Hyde whereby his senior companion might be persuaded not to press charges against him. Perhaps Hurlbut had come into possession of some scandalous reports on Hyde's own private life or some information which could have compromised Hyde's position as a rising leader in the LDS Church.
(35) Ibid. Perhaps D. P. stopped along the way to refresh himself and gather some statements of personal support in his own behalf. He may have even made it as far as Thompson by the time Orson Hyde was bringing charges against him in Kirtland; that must have occured about the first of June 1833. According to some reports, Hurlbut had been summoned to the Mormon headquarters and was in the Kirtland area when his June 3 church trial was held. Benjamin F. Johnson says that Hurlbut "labored for a time near Jacksonville, Erie County, Pennsylvania, but was soon for illicit association called back to Kirtland..." (Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life's Review, pp. 24-26). Benjamin Winchester states that Hurlbut "soon left for Kirtland, to appeal to the general conference..." (Winchester, Origin…, p. 6).
(36) Where D. P. was and what he was then doing during this period nobody has ever said. At least one early writer was certain that he was in or near Kirtland at this time (see ). Having missed the opportunity to testify in his own behalf on June 3rd, he was likely holed up somewhere in the Kirtland area, licking the wounds to his ego and making plans for his future.
(37) Hyde Orson. "Letter of June 7, 1841," in George J. Adams, Plain Facts Shewing the Origin of the Spaulding Story..., Bedford: 1841, p. 26).
(38) In fact, the actual charges brought by Orson Hyde in his complaint against D. P. Hurlbut may have been rather different than what that Mormon leader recalled when writing his 1841 letter. Kirtland resident Samuel F. Whitney (1806-1886) later remembered that "Orson Hyde came into the [N. K. Whitney] store right after excluding Hurlbut and accidently dropped the charges on the floor... they were not as he testified." (Samuel F. Whitney Statement, Naked Truths About Mormonism I:1 Jan. 1888).
(39) Smith, George A. "Divine Origin of 'Mormonism,'" Journal of Discourses Vol. VII, London & Liverpool, 1860, p.113. In another remembrance of this same event, George A. Smith says much the same thing:
The first Council I ever attended where the Prophet was present was at the trial of Doctor P. Hurlburt. This occurred in June, 1833. He had been cut off from the Church by the Bishop's Council, and a Council of twelve High Priests was organized to try the case on appeal. 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.... 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. (George A. Smith, "Historical Discourse" Journal of Discourses Vol. XI, Liverpool, 1867, p. 8).
(40) "The Kirtland Council Minute Book," p. 21. This appeal bears no marks of being a confession and is peculiar for two possibly interrelated reasons. First of all, there are no minutes entries recorded for any dates between June 6 and June 21, 1833. Nearly all the entries in this section of the Minutes Book relate in one way or another to D. P. Hurlbut, as though other entries from that period have been deleted from the record. The short entry for April 6th says that "Orson Hyde" was "nominated a Clerk for the presidency of the High Priesthood... and duly chosen." It also reveals that Hyrum Smith was appointed to the "oversight" of a committee selected to carry out the building of the Kirtland Temple. Although Hyrum's probable testimony in Hurlbut's June 3, 1833 trial remains unlocated, he did testify in subsequent proceedings against the hapless missionary. It looks very much as if both Orson and Hyrum were rewarded, at least in part, for their having removed D. P. Hurlbut from the fold. If that were the case, even the June 6th entry in the Minutes Book is indirectly concerned with D. P. Hurlbut.
(41) Winchester, Origin..., p. 6. The fact that the case was "reheard" and that Orson Hyde's original testimony was overridden may indicate that Hurlbut's re-admission was a result of something more than just the emotional public confession he gave that day. Joseph Smith, Jr. presided over the hearing and Hurlbut would not have been reinstated without a nod from the Mormon prophet. It can be reasonably suspected that D. P. Hurlbut brought some kind of pressure to bear upon the Mormon leadership between June 3 and June 21, 1833. If Hurlbut extended Smith some kind of secret compensation or threat, that might help explain Smith's partial recalcitrance in extending Hurlbut the unconditional hand of fellowship on June 21st.
(42) Adams, "Judge Not...", p. 8. Adams consistently terms the Solomon Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon "the Spalding Myth."
A final thread remained to be tied up at this point, and that was the case of Hurlbut's former preaching companion, Daniel Copley. When last accounted for in Mormon accounts, Priest Copley had been assigned to be the missionary companion of Elder John F. Boynton. Subsequently Daniel was turned over to the Church for disciplinary action. As George A. Smith recalled, " it was at the same Council that Daniel Copley, a timid young man, who had been ordained a Priest, and required to go and preach the Gospel, 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... under the immediate supervision of the Prophet." (George A. Smith, "Historical Discourse" Journal of Discourses Vol. XI, Liverpool, 1867, p. 8). See note 47 below for more on Copley's excommunication.
(43) Winchester, Origin..., p. 6. The LDS leadership ordered Hurlbut out of Kirtland and back to his mission in Erie County, Pennsylvania. He must have left town almost immediately after his public confession, re-baptism, and re-ordination as an Elder in the Church. It is likely that all of these events occurred on June 21st and that the reclaimed missionary left Kirtland that very day.
(44) Winchester, Origin..., p. 6. The story that Hurlbut proceeded directly to Thompson after his reinstatement in the Church is no doubt correct. So also may be the allegation that he there attempted to "seduce a young female." Other previously considered avowals of the man's motives and methods suggest that he hoped to make a martial alliance with a prominent Mormon family. There is no reason to doubt that this was still his intention when he passed through Thompson on 22, 1833. It is entirely possible that D. P. did express his conjugal intentions among the Thompson Saints, but probably in private and to just one girl who then relayed that proposal back to the other members in the branch. Such an explanation better fits the case of a newly re-baptized Hurlbut who was once again trying to elevate his position among the Mormons. It is marginally possible that Electa Sherman was the target of his vulgarly expressed proposition at this time, though there is no evidence placing her at Thompson in the summer of 1833. A more likely reconstruction of events would have Hurlbut attempting to make a marriage alliance during his stay at Kirtland in the first three weeks of June, 1833. However, as he was not a member in good standing, loyal LDS like Lovina S. Williams and Electa Sherman would have naturaly spurned his advances.
(45) George A. Smith, "Divine Origin of 'Mormonism,'" Journal of Discourses Vol. VII, Liverpool, 1860, p.113). Some years later Smith later expanded upon this intriguing account:
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. Hurlburt stated 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. (George A. Smith, "Historical Discourse" Journal of Discourses Vol. XI, Liverpool, 1867, p. 8).
George A. Smith's recollection bears all the marks of a "faith-promoting" endorsement of his older cousin, the Mormon prophet; his unique depiction of a cheeky D. P. Hurlbut addressing the members of the Thomas LDS branch with such an address is simply beyond belief. Dale W. Adams attempted to combine Smith's report with that of Winchester and ran into immediate chronological problems. Adam's consideration of the matter is worth quoting in whole:
It is difficult to imagine that Hurlbut could travel to Thompson, attempt to seduce a women there, give a lecture to the Thompson Branch, and then have the word get back, with witnesses, to Kirtland in only two days -- Thompson is about 20 miles east of Kirtland. The events reported by Gee and Hodges may have happened in a different time sequence than is generally supposed, some of it occurring before Hurlbut returned to Kirtland to ask for reinstatement of his church membership. Something untoward must have occurred in Thompson because of the testimony given, but the sexually related incident may have happened before Hurlbut returned to Kirtland to appeal his excommunication. It may have been that Gee and Hodges were slower than Hurlbut in going to Kirtland with their testimonies about events that may have occurred prior to his reinstatement on June 21st. Hurlbut's boasting must have occurred after Hurlbut's retrial and may have been the primary reason the council cut Hurlbut off from the Church a second time on June 23rd. Hurlbut most likely set a record for the least time between reinstatement of membership and being excommunicated a second time (Adams, "Judge Not..." p. 9; cf. "Dr. Philastus Hurlbut," p. 91, n. 24).
(46) If my reconstruction of events is a correct one, D. P. Hurlbut's ties to ex-Mormons or anti-Mormons in the Thompson area were already known to Smith and the LDS prophet likely gave specific orders for Hurlbut to be watched as he passed through that township. Daniel Copley was residing there at about that same time and he may have been watched just as closely as Elder Hurlbut presumably was watched. Perhaps Elk Creek Branch member Amos Hodges who was given this covert assignment when he was detailed to accompany Hurlbut back to Elk Creek.
(47) "Kirtland Council Minute Book," p. 21. Copley was likely in Kirtland because he had been called as a witness in Hurlbut's re-hearing of June 21st. If Copley had good reason not to accompany Elder Hurlbut back to Erie County after the Elder's reinstatement, he apparently did not express his excuses convincingly and was summarily cut off. Could it be that Copley expressed an honest disinclination to serve as a Mormon missionary, while D. P. Hurlbut voiced a hypocritical willingness to bend to that same calling? Spalding Enigma writers Cowdrey, et al. assume that Daniel Copley was cut off from the Church at this time for another reason:
George A. Smith's comments... [assert] that Copley was cut off for saying he was too weak to preach -- a statement which literally reeks of trumpery in that it completely fails to explain why, under such circumstances, Copley could not simply have been absolved of his mission and allowed to continue as an ordinary church member. Unless, of course, one interprets the weakness spoken of here as a weakness of faith resulting from his encounter with the Spalding Enigma... (Cowdrey, et al., pp. 96-97 n. 41).
It is possible that young Copley had by this time been exposed to some minimal version of the Spalding authorship claims; however, his "weakness of faith" could have arisen just as easily from conversations he previously held with backsliding missionaries like D. P. Hurlbut and William H. Sagers in Erie County, Pennsylvania. By the spring of 1833 Hurlbut had no doubt already accumulated a budget of anecdotes relating Mormon foibles and chicanery which were in no way faith-promoting. These would shortly become his stock-in-trade as he trod the anti-Mormon lecture circuit back in Erie. There is no reason to doubt that he had already been sharing such apostate banter with Daniel, while the two were still missionary companions.
(48) "Kirtland Council Minute Book," p. 22.
go to next note: (49)