2 o[clo]ck about 50 couple sat down at my table to dine. while I was eating my scribe called on me to selmnz [solemnize] the Marriage of Doct Levi Richa[r]ds & sarah Griffiths [Griffith] — but. as I could not leave. I referred the subj[e]ct to Presidt B[righam] Young. who married th[e]m. A large party supped at my hosue & spent the evening in Music Danci[n]g &c. <in a most cheerful & frie[n]dly mannr> during the festivities. during the festivities a man apparently drunk. with his hair long & falling over his shoulders came in and acted like a Missour[i]an I commanded the capt of the police to put him out. of doors in the scuffle. I looked him full in the face and to my gr[e]at supprize and Joy untold I discovere[re]d it was orren [Orrin] Porter Rockwell, just arrived from a year’s imprisonmt [imprisonment] in Mo [Missouri].
Although written in the first person, the journal was kept by Smith’s scribe Willard Richards, renowned among historians of Mormonism both for his Don King-like hair as well as his nearly illegible handwriting (unless he was penning something for public consumption). The Joseph Smith Papers project has been posting images of the journals on its website. See this 3 April 1843 entry, for instance, in which Smith observes that [William] “Miller’s Day of Judgment has arrived. but. tis too. pleas[a]nt. for false prophets.” In addition to the difficult handwriting, Richards’s entries are often sparse and cryptic. Occasionally Richards sketched one of Smith’s sermons or conversations at great length, but more often he outlined rather than described the day’s events.
One gets only glimpses of many vital developments during these months, such as plural marriage, the development of ordinances (rituals), and the establishment of the Council of Fifty. As the JSP volume editors note, Richards’s record focuses instead on “more mundane activities such as business transactions, pleasure trips, visits with American Indians, conversations with friends, and observations on the weather.” One learns about land sales, and one learns a great deal about Joseph Smith’s political interests and engagements. In short, one learns a great deal about life in Mormon Nauvoo and the Mormon prophet’s final year. As the editors conclude, the “journal presented here is an essential primary source.”
And Orrin Porter Rockwell returning on Christmas Day, released after being arrested in the attempted murder of former Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs, is hardly a mundane event.