On 19 May 1842, President Emma Smith told the Nauvoo Female Relief Society that “now it is necessary that sin should be expos’d— that heinous sins were among us—”.
On May 21 the first of several individuals came forward to testify before the Nauvoo High Council regarding sins they either suspected or could confess to.
Brian Hales sent me a copy of a portion of these testimonies in 2014. Ironically, he has since asserted that he never looked at that pdf, suggesting that perhaps the pdf had been created from Dr. Val Avery’s notes by Don Bradley. While I had a theory leading into my 2013-2014 Faithful Joseph series of blog posts, it was the copy of these statements that confirmed the truth was even more sobering than I had speculated.
In 2018 I visited Utah State University, where Dr. Val Avery’s notes are housed. My visit was inspired by two purposes. First, I had reason to suspect that the pdf I’d been sent did not include all the pages. Second, I was looking forward to talking with the USU archivist, to ensure he was aware of my research and plans.
Unfortunately, I talked enough about my research and its implications that the USU archivist became very nervous. He strongly suggested I obtain permission to use the notes directly from the Church Archives. He was concerned that my research (which some find controversial) could prompt the Church to remove sensitive documents from the USU archives.
During the summer of 2016 I had attended the Mormon History Association. During that encounter, Elder Steven Snow had given me his business card. So I e-mailed Elder Snow directly. I praised Saints, the initial chapters of which were beginning to be published. Then I explained my concern about the Nauvoo Statements before the High Council.
Up until now these statements have been protected from publication, which is appropriate for documents related to Church Disciplinary Courts. Unfortunately, theories regarding Nauvoo have abounded, with the illicit intercourse activity neatly suppressed.
I did not hear from Elder Snow himself, but I did receive an e-mail from Keith Erekson. He assured me that these important documents were in the queue to be digitized and published on the Church History website. Though he could not promise when they would be available, he assured me that they should be available online by the time the Joseph Smith Papers Project reached 1842, which it did this year.Continue reading
- Testimonies in Nauvoo High Council cases , https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets?id=aa99b602-c7ef-412a-991e-8ac468eb438a&crate=0&index=0 (accessed: July 31, 2019) ↩