Sunday, November 20, 2016

Calvin Stoddard, Husband to Joseph Smith’s Sister

It is well known that Calvin Stoddard married Sophronia Smith, sister to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Who was Calvin Stoddard?
a.                  A Methodist minister that preached against Joseph Smith
b.                  The carpenter who finished the Smiths home and tried to take it out from under the Smith family
c.                   The mayor of Palmyra, New York
d.                  The first Temple President of the Kirtland Temple
Yesterday’s answer:
a.                  The folks of Independence, Missouri
The Saints who arrived in the summer of 1831, mostly Yankees from the northeast, felt they had stepped down the civilization scale. They found that the earliest settlers included independent-minded Southern farmers, merchants, and mechanics, mostly from Kentucky and Tennessee, joined by a few Santa Fe Trail traders and frequently by the frontier’s usual share of suspicious characters—“and an uncultivated, disorderly class drawn by the freedom and frequent lawlessness of the frontier.” As a trade depot for western trails, Independence attracted rough types. One minister who visited about 1830 judged the country to be a “godless place,” filled with “profane swearers.” Sundays, he said, were days “for merchandising, jollity, drinking, gambling, and general anti-Christian conduct.” Men enjoyed gambling on horse races and cockfights. “There are suspicious characters who headquarter here,” he observed, who disappeared when lawmen arrived and resurfaced when the coast was clear. Fighting, including eye gouging, was common. One observer said the Christian ministers in that area themselves were “a sad lot of churchmen, untrained, uncouth, given to imbibing spirituous liquors.”
Joseph Smith said, after residents had driven the Saints out, that compared to New York and Ohio citizenry, Jackson county settlers exhibited “degradation, leanness of intellect, ferocity and jealousy of a people that were nearly a century behind the times.” Newell Knight, leader of the Colesville group of Saints, was not pleased. “Our feelings can be better imagined than described,” he said, “when we who had been reared in good society in the East, enjoying the benefits of education and refinement, and who had been surrounded with the comforts and even the luxuries of life,” moved into this “semi-barbarian” place. Conversely, locals considered the Mormon newcomers strange and fanatical.  

Glenn Rawson and Dennis Lyman ed., The Mormon Wars (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communication, 2014), 24-25.

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