(34 Total References)
"This was Ezra Booth
, formerly a Methodist minister of Hiram
, Portage county, Ohio.
Feature Articles: When did Sidney Rigdon first meet Joseph Smith? Part 3
The force of this shock was like an earthquake, when Symonds Ryder, Ezra Booth and many others, submitted to the "New Dispensation."
First of all was the preacher, Sidney Rigdon (who undoubtedly was a fellow-conspirator with Joe Smith, and perhaps the real originator of the fraud), then there was Oliver Snow, a Baptist since 1809, later in the Disciple Church, a farmer of property and intelligence; and Rev. Ezra Booth of the Methodist Church, a bright and well-informed man, whose daughter, Almeda, a score of years later, became a prominent teacher at Hiram and an associate of President Garfield in that noted school; and last, but not least, Symonds Rider, of Hiram, the young preacher who had come out to profess his faith when Elder Thomas Campbell (father of Alexander) preached May 25, 1828, in Jotham Atwater's barn.
Uncle Dale's Old Mormon Articles: Early Ohio 1829-31
9 of the RLDS History of the Church and Ezra Booth's letter of Oct. 31, 1831).
Note 2: For an anecdote on Alexander Campbell's supposed meeting with Sidney Rigdon during this period, see the closing paragraph of Ezra Booth's
letter, published Nov. 11, 1831 in the Ohio Star.
Booth and Rider, two Methodist Ministers, who, a few months ago, joined the Mormon Standard, and followed the infatuated Jo Smith to Missouri, have recently returned to this section of country -- and that, at the late Campmeeting at Shalersville, in this County, they made a public renunciation of the Mormon faith.
Note 2: Historian Amos Hayden dates the alienation of elders Ezra Booth and Simmons Ryder from the Mormons to "about the 1st of September, 1831 (see Hayden's History of the Disciples, page 252).
See also the Ohio Star of Oct. 20th for Lewis L. Rice's comments on Ezra Booth's
Booth and Rider, two Methodist Ministers, who, a few months ago joined the Mormon Standard, and followed the infatuated Jo Smith to Missouri, have recently returned to this section of country -- and that, at the late Campmeeting at Shalersville, in this County, they made a public renunciation of the Mormon faith. -- Observer & Telegraph.
The numbers of Mr. Booth
bear the impress of honest sincerity and deep repentance.
Note 1: Ezra Booth
, (1792- aft.
1860) was an Ohio Methodist minister who witnessed a supposedly miraculous LDS healing and was baptized a Mormon late in 1830 or early in 1831, apparently in Portage Co.
Within a short time he
was ordained an Elder, and on June 3, 1831 he
was ordained a High Priest by LDS official Lyman Wight.
During the summer of 1831 Booth
traveled in company with Elder Isaac Morley (see LDS Doc.
Sec. 52) on Mormon activities Missouri and attended the consecration of the "Temple Lot" in that state.
Following the disheartening outcome of his
withdrew from the LDS Church membership (some sources say he
was excommunicated in early Sept. 1831) and, for the next 30 years lived on his
farm at Mantua, Portage Co.
Note 2: Ezra was the first person to leave the LDS Church who wrote extensively of his experience while a member of that organization.
nine letters on this topic have been often reprinted since he
wrote the first of them for publication in the Ohio Star of Oct. 13, 1831.
Strangely, not many newspaper editors saw fit to copy or notice Ezra Booth's
remarkable series of disclosures.
1994 Richard Van Wagoner Book
Ezra Booth, a Methodist minister in nearby Mantua, converted to Mormonism in 1831 and went to Hiram on a brief missionary tour.
requested the opportunity to speak after a Ryder sermon, and Ryder consented.
On 7 June 1831 Booth
was commissioned by Joseph Smith to participate in the first missionary tour to Missouri.
was "silenced from preaching as an Elder in this Church" on 6 September 1831, five days after returning from Missouri, he
would not be
complied in a series of nine letters to Reverend Eddy which appeared in the Ohio Star
(Ravenna) from 13 October to 8 December 1831.
Ambrose Palmer, who was converted by Booth
earlier in the year, felt the letters gave Mormonism "such a coloring, or appearance of falsehood, that the public feeling was, that 'Mormonism' was overthrown.
To counteract Booth's
letters a 1 December 1831 revelation told Smith and Rigdon
to stop translating "for the space of a season" and preach roundabout.
setting forth the truth, vindicating the cause of our Redeemer; showing that the day of vengeance was coming upon this generation like a thief in the night; that prejudice, blindness and darkness filled the minds of many, and caused them to persecute the true Church, and reject the true light; by which means we did much towards allaying the excited feelings which were growing out of the scandalous letters then being published in the Ohio Star
, at Ravenna, by the before-mentioned apostate, Ezra Booth
12 In this war of words with Booth
was the designated Goliath.
did not attend the 25 December lecture, and Rigdon
, in a bad-tempered rhetorical assault, skewered his antagonist's character.
was not a total milksop; he
merely preferred the safer medium of the newspaper.
The volume contained a lengthy critique of the Book of Mormon
, a reprint of Ezra Booth's
nine letters, disparaging affidavits provided by Joseph Smith's old New York neighbors, and an introduction to the Spalding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon
This forgotten fellow-traveler was former ...
This forgotten fellow-traveler was former Methodist preacher, Ezra Booth, who joined the church in Kirtland only a couple months before.
By all appearances, he was deliberately stricken from Joseph Smith's history.
Booth became severely disaffected after his experience in Missouri and lost his confidence in the leaders of the church.
In autumn of 1831, he was officially silenced from preaching by Joseph, Oliver, and Sidney, and after only five short, tumultuous months as a member of the church, he renounced Mormonism entirely.
He immediately began to write nine letters of criticism that were printed in the Ohio Star Newspaper, eventually leading to his cooperation with Eber D. Howe, founder and editor of the Ohio newspaper, the Painesville Telegraph, and publisher of the groundbreaking expose' of the church in 1834, titled Mormonism Unvailed.
It is little wonder, then, why Booth was most conspicuously left out of the official church record.
In his 7th letter addressed to the embattled but faithful Edward Partridge, bishop of the church in Jackson County, Booth recounted in substantial detail the incident at McIlwain's Bend, the interpersonal factors that precipitated the scuffle, and the events that ensued as they went their separate ways.
explained that the morning after the group left Independence, the "spirit of animosity and discord" crept in among the brethren, and Oliver Cowdery, in particular, was noticeably irritated.
described how Oliver lashed out at the group, "in the greatness of his power," and declared, "as the Lord God liveth, if you do not behave better, some accident will befall you!
According to Booth
, nothing happened until the third day when Joseph began to exercise authority over the others on his canoe.
recalled that Joseph deferred to his "usual custom" of summoning "the judgments of God, for the purpose of pouring them out, like a thunder bolt upon the rebellious elders.
Surprisingly, this show of temerity served to disarm Joseph, who, according to Booth
, decided to wait for a more appropriate time to defend himself (which came the following morning in the form of the revelation recorded in the D&C, Section 61).
Lying on the ground to retire for the night on the banks of the Missouri, Booth
explained that his
mind was lost in contemplation:
"These are the men to whom the Lord has entrusted the mysteries, and the keys of his
kingdom; whom he
has authorized to bind or loose on earth, and their decision shall be ratified in Heaven.
These are the men sent forth, to promulgate a new revelation, and to usher in a new dispensation -- at whose presence the 'Heavens are to shake, the hills tremble, the mountains quake, and the earth open and swallow up their enemies. -- These are the leaders of the Church, and the only Church on earth the Lord beholds with approbation.
Surely, I never witnessed so much confusion and discord, among the Elders of any other Church…" 16
soon fell asleep, but that it was not long before he
awoke to witness the reconciliation between the disagreeing parties.
Booth next recounted the events of the following morning.
Noting Joseph's propensity for receiving very timely revelations, effectively "freeing himself from the embarrassments of a former commandment by obtaining another in opposition to it," Booth
addressed the content of what would later become D&C Section 61:
"A new commandment was issued, in which a great curse was pronounced against the waters; navigating them, was to be attended with extreme danger; and all the saints in general, were prohibited journeying upon them to the promised land.
From this circumstance, the Missouri River was named the river of Destruction."17
said that the group was exhorted to continue their journey on foot, preaching "by the way as (they) passed along.
As mentioned before, Joseph, Sydney, and Oliver made their way home via stagecoach, a fact that Booth
However, in customary fashion, Booth
added some very intriguing details to the story.
Apparently, some of their company must have complained when they learned that the big three were intending to take the most expensive way home, because according to Booth
, Sidney exclaimed, "the Lord don't care how much money it takes to get us home.
Booth recalled that because Smith, Cowdery, and Rigdon were not satisfied with the amount of funds they collected from Bishop Partridge (as bishop he was assigned to collect and distribute money and supplies), they proceeded to pester others in the group for money, who apparently had very little to give.
said they reasoned with the "residue" of the elders, saying they could "beg (their) passage on foot," but that they (Smith, et al.) "must have money" in order to travel by stagecoach.
then notified Partridge that the expense they accrued in doing so was $100 more than Booth's threesome expended on its way home.
More importantly, Booth
exposed the fact that Joseph, Sydney, and Oliver completely violated the commandment given to them by failing to preach to the citizens of Cincinnati.
suggested that some of the elders from the trip later took notice of their neglect, and apparently approached Joseph and the others about it.
offered a final reflection on the transparently disingenuous way the big three selfishly maneuvered through obstacles with a fixed eye on self-preservation.
complained about how they could so easily "turn and twist" the revelations to "suit their whims" and "(could) at anytime obtain a commandment suited to their desires.
added that it mattered little if their circumstances changed, as they could quickly receive "a new (revelation) to supersede the other."
With a subtle but unmistakable sarcastic undercurrent, Ezra Booth next turned his
attention to his
own journey home.
explained that after the others departed McIlwain's Bend on foot, he
and three others decided to throw caution to the wind.
In spite of everything that just transpired, they got back into their canoes and recommenced their voyage down the Missouri!
With the contention and distress behind them, Booth
recalled that "a constant gale of prosperity wafted us forward, and not an event transpired, but what tended to our advance, until we arrived at our much-desired homes.
How they were able to escape the nefarious clutches of the destroyer, who just the day before, was gliding in all his
horrific fury on the face of the Missouri at the very spot they departed from, remains a mystery.
Emboldened by their success, they decided to test the fates once again by taking passage on a steamboat from St. Louis.
Once they reached Wellsville, Ohio, they finished the last 60 miles or so by heading due north in a stagecoach to Kirtland.
stated that his
group traveled approximately 800 miles farther than Smith's group, but also noted that his
group arrived home only a few days later.
Looking back on the Lord's stern and unambiguous admonition to preach the gospel along the way, Booth
readily admitted that he
three other companions, most likely Isaac Morley, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Frederick G. Williams, completely ignored the injunction to do so, just as the big three did "by not preaching in Cincinnati.
It seemed to Booth
that nobody present at McIllwain's Bend "considered the commandment worth of much notice."
Reactions to the New Reality of an Aquatic Curse
Just as Ezra Booth
contended, history seemed to prove that the pronouncements made in D&C Section 61 were not taken seriously.
Intrepid or uninformed members of the church, especially missionaries, not only navigated the rivers of the Midwest after the revelation was given, but also undertook and safely completed sweeping transoceanic voyages to Europe.
William Clayton, personal secretary to Joseph, wrote of an occasion in which he
and Joseph Smith's brother, Hyrum, boarded a steamboat together.
19 Interestingly, he
noted that churchmembers frequently warned them of the devil's control over the river, but he
said that it ultimately "did not hinder (them) from going.
15 Ezra Booth
, "Mormonism - No.VII," The Ohio Star, November 24, 1831.
Accessed June 18, 2012.
http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH/miscohio.htm#100631; also in Eber D. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, 1834, accessible at http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howe.htm#pg175b