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May 19, 1842 • Thursday

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Minutes of the Proceedings

of the

Eighth Meeting of the Society.

Lodge Room, May 19th.

Meeting open’d with prayer by Councillor [Elizabeth Ann] Whitney

Singing by the choir—

The following names were then receiv’d, to wit.

Caroline Angell

Sybil Jacobs

Eleanor Daviss

Eliza Wilber

Pamela [Permelia] Dayton

Ruth Tyler

Anna Buck

Betsey Motley

Charity Butler

Caroline Ha[r]mon

Hannah Huntsman

Ann Abbott

Irena E. Lincoln

Martha B[o]yington

Elizabeth Dana

Rebecca More

Catharine C. Brush

Elizabeth Romney

Martha A. Hovey

Sally Ann Chamberl[a]in

Abiah Porter

Julia Fish

Delia DeVol

Jane Bolentine [Ballantyne]

Mary Abbot

Lucy Groves

Lovina Johnson

Polly Sweat

Mary Littlefield

Sarah Roberts

Lettice Bent

Ruth Tyler

Councillor Whitney then rose and said, she was burthened in mind in thinking of existing evils in the church— was desirous that this Society become more obedient to the gospel in keeping all the commandments— exhorted them to humility and watchfulness— said the more she had heard and seen of corrupt members, the more she was stimulated to faithfulness— that the gifts and blessings of the gospel were ours, if found faithful and pure before God &c.

Mrs. Prest. said this day was an evil day— that [p. [47]] there is as much evil in this as in any other place—1 said she would that this Society were pure before God— that she was afraid that under existing circumstances, the sisters were not careful enough to expose iniquity— the time had been when charity had covered a multitude of sins—2 but now it is necessary that sin should be expos’d— that heinous sins were among us— that much of this iniquity was practiced by some in authority, pretending to be sanction’d by Prest. Smith.3

Mrs. Prest. continued by exhorting all who had err’d to repent and forsake their sins— said that satan’s forces were against this church— that every saint should be at the post

Councillor [Sarah] Cleveland said the same stratagems were now employ’d, as anciently in Balaam’s time, when he was required to curse Israel and could not—4 yet they were drawn into sin thro’ the propensities of their natures— so with this people the gentiles cannot curse them— but can draw them into iniquity.

Motion’d, seconded and carried that Lucy Ann Munjar be suspended for a time—

The following donations were then receiv’d— to wit


Mary Snider



Sally [Polly] Angell



Lydia Anderson



Elizabeth Allred


Abigail Leonard


Eliza Green[e]


Mrs. [Melissa] Bird


Nancy Winchester


Olive Hurr


Kuhamah [Ruhamah] Derby



Anna Wight





[p. [48]]

Sis. [Cynthia] Baggs was represented as in want of shoes

A Scotch family destitute of food.

Nehemiah Harmon’s family represented destitute of clothing, sheets, pillow cases &c

Sister Anderson gives to br. Whitlock an order on Prest. Joseph Smith’s Store.



The meeting adjourn’d at 6 o’clock—

[p. [49]]


  1. [1]One example of the concern for public morality occurred five days before this Relief Society meeting, on May 14, 1842, when at a meeting of the Nauvoo City Council, Joseph Smith “advocated strongly the necessity of some active measures being taken to suppress. houses & acts of infamy in the city.” At that meeting, a city ordinance was passed that stated, “All brothels or houses of ill fame, erected or being in the City of Nauvoo, be and the same hereby are henceforth prohibited and by law declared public nuisances.” (Joseph Smith, Journal, May 14, 1842, in JSP, J2:56; “An Ordinance concerning Brothels and Disorderly Characters,” Wasp, May 14, 1842, [3].)

  2. [2]See 1 Peter 4:8.

  3. [3]This comment reflected the furor in Nauvoo regarding several men who had seduced or attempted to seduce women by claiming that Joseph Smith had authorized them to engage in extramarital affairs. On April 10, 1842, Joseph Smith “Preached in the grove after Elder Wm Law. had spoken. a[nd] pronounced a curse upon all Adulterers & fornicators & unvirtuous persons. & those who had made use of his name to carry on their iniquitous designs.” Smith likely referred to John C. Bennett and Chauncey L. Higbee, among others. On May 11 Smith and other leaders withdrew “the hand of fellowship” from Bennett. Two weeks later, at the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge on May 26, Bennett “confessed the charges preferred again[s]t him concerning. females in Nauvoo.” At the lodge meeting, Smith and others “established beyond the possibility of contradiction” that Bennett had “seduced certain females whose characters previously was unsullied.” On May 24 and 25, 1842, three witnesses testified before the Nauvoo high council that each had been seduced in Nauvoo by Higbee, who taught them that it was “right to have free intercourse with women if it was kept secret” and that “Joseph Smith therised [authorized] him to practice these things.” That week, four women (Margaret J. Nyman, Matilda J. Nyman, Sarah Miller, and Catherine Warren), three of whom were presumably the three aforementioned witnesses, signed affidavits that Higbee had seduced them “most clandestinely, with wicked lies … by using the name of Joseph Smith.” (Joseph Smith, Journal, Apr. 10 and May 26, 1842, in JSP, J2:50, 63; Joseph Smith et al., “Notice,” May 11, 1842, Joseph Smith Collection, CHL; Lodge to Abraham Jonas, June 21, 1842, Letters Pertaining to Freemasonry in Nauvoo, 1842, CHL; Nauvoo High Council Minutes, May [21], 24, and 25, 1842; “Chauncey L. Higbee,” Nauvoo Neighbor, May 29, 1844, [3].)

  4. [4]Numbers 22–24.