Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Re-Structuring Musings

A set of ideas and considerations from today's working on the Kirtland interplay of United Firm and Consecration and Stewardship.

  1. If there is a single primary reconstructive source to a chapter, it is fine to use the structure of that chapter. The United Firm chapter is patterned on Max Parkin's 2007 BYU essay and provides the basic framework.
  2. If there are multiple interpretative frameworks, such as Cook's Consecration book and Scott Partridge on Bishop Partridge, then a strict chronological framework is necessary, just to keep the pieces sorted out.
  3. Though there are four basic phases to early Mormon history, based on the geographical "center" of operations---New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois---the dissertation cannot handle more than three in terms of its size. Missouri is a logical one to axe, as the destruction of sources makes it difficult to consider, and the time that JSJr spent in Missouri was short anyway (and a good chunk of that in jail to boot). But this raises problem for understanding the development of consecration there, and the shifts in city planning.
  4. The idea of combining individual biographies of key advisors with the individual case studies falls apart due to the rapid increase of the size of advisors. If the division of the parts into the locales were adhered to, then the division could be at the level of the parts. The biggest problem is the Kirtland area, which all of a sudden requires Partridge, Whitney, Williams, Johnson, Phelps, and so on and so forth, all of the members of the United Firm and the presidency, both in Kirtland and in Missouri.
  5. It is very easy to lose the red thread through the reconstructions, if the argument that is being made is not fronted appropriately. This is especially important, where a plurality of interpretations requires recourse to the chronological framework anyway.
  6. The reconstruction should be driven by the primary sources wherever possible, that is, the revelations and the diary entries or the letters, whichever.  This is especially important if we wish to trace shifts.
  7. Joseph Smith Jr only acquired the task of heading an economy with the move to Ohio. In New York, everyone was settled and responsible for their own stuff. Once the "March toward Zion" was set in motion, it became the role of the church leadership to resolve the issues arising.
The solution taken, BTW, was to go on with the Kirtland Anti-Banking Society instead ... :P

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Maps for Kirtland flats and environs

While the map for the Kirtland flats mentioned in the article on the Kirtland ashery is difficult to find on the web, a later map from the 1870s is available for $20 from the historical genealogy project here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joel Hills Johnson - Journal and the Mill dam

In his Journal, Joel Hills Johnson - Journal (Dec 1858 to Jan 1861) writes about how he built a mill dam that failed.

My circumstances at this time were good for a young man, having paid for my farm and mill, but being anxious to obtain this worlds goods I purchased an adjoining form which bought me several hundred dollars in debt, and to pay these debts in 1827, I took a job to build a sawmill, which I agreed to do, and furnish all the materials myself and warrant the dam against the floods for one year. With great anticipation I hired hands, bought materials on credit, and went to work and soon put the mill in operation; but for the want of a rock to build upon I built upon the sand, and when the floods came my mill dam was torn from its foundation, and great was the fall to me; for when my creditors saw my situation, they came upon me, and took away all that I had, and left me worse than nothing, and with the fall of my property, fell my constitution also, on account of excessive fatigue and labor in the water, etc.
Fascinating indeed.

Goodrich on the History of Wayne County

Not on Wayne County, Pennsylvania, as the Internet librarians assumed; but rather of Upstate New York, as the fact that it has a section on Palmyra suggests. The book is from 1880.

History of Wayne County [Pa.] : Goodrich, Phineas G. [from old catalog] : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Evolution of Transportation in Western Pennsylvania

Special History Study: The Evolution of Transportation in Western Pennsylvania is a great book, starting with the Iroquois in Western Pennsylvania and their aspirations of control, to describe the interaction between the coastal plain of the Allegheny Mountains.

History of Transportation before 1860

Early Trails

The Appalachian mountains separated the Ohio-Mississippi hinterland from the Atlantic seaboard, and overcoming this separation was the task of early trails (p.3). The efficient sea communication on the Atlantic shore had the curious effect of providing "a stretch of ocean ... over which goods could be transported at less expense than they could be carried overland for distances which to-day seem inconsiderable." (p.3) 
... the colonies throughout the colonial period were commercially closer to Europe than they were to one another. (p.3)
Trade routes into the interior were still necessary, however, as the "seaboard communities could not themselves produce the commodities required by this traffic".
Prior to the Revolution intercontinental commerce was inconsiderable, and intercolonial trade-routes, where they existed, were entirely inadequate. (p.4)
The coastal plain was well opened up by rivers, whose branches led into the valleys and gaps of the mountains.
A study of the spread of settlement up to 1775 shows that the immigrant population ran up the river valleys as far as the fall-line, and there generally stopped. (p.4)
After the Revolution, the twin patterns of the westward migration and the eastward flow of products made the question of how to traverse the Appalachian system "a dominant issue in national politics, involving the economic welfare and growth of every section of the country" (p.4)

The parallel ranges of the Appalachian, a system 300 miles wide and 1300 miles long, reached from the Green Mountains in Vermont, to the pine-hills of Alabama. The rivers could not be navigated up to the mountains, but the headwaters revealed good passes, though in the South these paths ended up being somewhat roundabout.
In  Pennsylvania the chief route to the Ohio followed the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Farther south was another route by the Juniata to a tributary of the Allegheny. (p.4)

Bibliographical Record
Balthasar Henry Meyer, History of Transportation in the United States before 1860, Washington (Carnegie Institute of Washington) 1917.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lost Tribes of the Book of Mormon: A Correlation Between the Nephite Nation ... - Phyllis Carol Olive - Google Books

People should read the fine print.

Lost Tribes of the Book of Mormon: A Correlation Between the Nephite Nation and the Mound Builders of the Eastern United States

This Land: Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation

In Search of Cumorah

The book of Mormon presupposes democratic forms of trade; Hopewellian trade, like most trade before the American Revolution, was solidly in the hand of the dominant elites. The Mormon text inverts the relationship between wealth and trade. You do not become wealthy by trading, you get to trade because you are influential and wealthy.

Plus, the standard explanation for the demise of the mound builders is exhausting their habitat through inappropriate patterns of exploitation. Nothing there about warfare.

Monday, December 8, 2014

George Washington as a Farmer, by Paul Leland Haworth

Paul Leland Haworth reconstructs George Washington as a farmer in George Washington: Farmer, by Paul Leland Haworth, gives some indication of the estate that Washington left behind (p.281), discusses the presidential salary (a whopping $25,000.-- per annum, of which Haworth claims most of it was swallowed up by expenses), and details on the Mount Vernon estate, which was hardly the best of land. Bit pandering, but a fine read.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Smith Jr analysis from Rhetorical Agendas: Political, Ethical, Spiritual

In this book Rhetorical Agendas: Political, Ethical, Spiritual - Google Books, there is an interesting paper by David Gore of Texas A&M that compares the rhetoric of John Stuart Mill with the one of Joseph Smith jr. One for the reading list.