John Corrill, second counselor to Bishop Edward
Partridge from 1831 to 1837, was born Sept. 17, 1794, in Worcester
He resided in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the fall of 1830,
when Oliver Cowdery and fellow-missionaries passed
through that part of the country on their way to Missouri. Mr. Corrill
became a convert a little later, being baptized January 10, 1831. A few
days later, he was ordained an Elder, and soon afterwards called on a mission,
with Solomon Hancock as his missionary companion. They went to New London,
about one hundred miles from Kirtland, where they built up a branch of
the Church of thirty-six members, in the face of bitter opposition.
On June 3, 1831, after his return to Kirtland, he
was ordained a High Priest, and at the same time blessed and set apart
as second counselor to Bishop Edward Partridge, under the hands of Lyman
Wight. Soon afterwards he was called by revelation to go to Missouri
and preach the gospel by the way (Doc. and Cov., 52:7). After his arrival
in Missouri he became an important factor in the affairs of the Church
in that land, and he was one of the High Priests who were appointed to
watch over the several branches of the Church in Jackson county.
In the famous agreement, signed by the Jackson county
mob leaders and some of the brethren, in July, 1833, John Corrill and Sidney
Gilbert were allowed to remain a short time at Independence to wind up the business
of the Saints. During the persecutions which took place early in November,
1833. John Corrill and other brethren were imprisoned in the Jackson county
jail; but were soon after liberated.
After the expulsion of the Saints from Jackson county,
Elder Corrill, as one of the leading men of the Church in Missouri, took
an active part in public affairs, and his name is attached to nearly all
the correspondence which passed between the Saints, Governor Daniel Dunkiln
and other officials, as well as the leaders of the mob.
When the Prophet, Joseph Smith led Zion's Camp to Missouri in 1834, John Corrill (together with others), was chosen to go
to Kirtland to receive his blessings in the Temple, which at that time
was in course of construction at that place. After his arrival in Ohio,
he was appointed to take charge of the finishing of the Kirtland Temple
and was subsequently present at its dedication in March, 1836.
Not long after this event, he returned to Missouri,
where he became one of the founders of Far West, in Caldwell county, and
was trusted with many responsibilities both of a spiritual and a temporal
nature. At a meeting held at Far West Aug. 1, 1837, Titus
Billings was appointed to succeed John Corrill as a counselor to Bishop
Partridge. At a conference held at Far West Nov. 7, 1837, "John Corrill
was chosen to be keeper of the Lord's Store House," and at a meeting held
at the same place April 6, 1838, John Corrill and Elias Higbee were appointed
Church historians, "to write and keep the Church history;" but as Bro.
Corrill soon afterwards apostatized, he is not known to have magnified
his calling as a historian.
Joseph Smith, in his history
of Aug. 31, 1838, writes as follows: "I spent considerable time this day
in conversation with Bro. John Corrill, in consequence of some expressions
made by him, in presence of several brethren who had not been long in the
place (Far West). Bro. Corrill's conduct for some time had been very unbecoming,
especially in a man in whom so much confidence had been placed. He said
he would not yield his judgment to anything proposed by the Church, or
any individuals of the Church, or even the Great I Am given through the
appointed organ, but would always act upon his own judgment, let him believe
in whatever religion he might."
At the trial of prominent Elders of the Church at
Richmond, Mo., in November, 1838, John Corrill testified with much bitterness
against his former friends and associates in the Priesthood. He was finally
excommunicated from the Church at a conference held at Quincy, Ill., March
In that year (1839) John Corrill served as a member
of the Missouri legislature, and published a pamphlet of fifty pages, entitled
"A brief history of the Church of Latter-day Saints (commonly called Mormons),
including an account of their doctrine and discipline, with the reasons
of the author for leaving the Church."
Corrill's booklet is readily available and Grampa Bill
has scanned it. Reduced to the utter extreme, Corrill states that he lost his
faith because he did not see the hand of God in the Church's illfortunes.
He did not see how Deity could allow the persecutions, the drivings, and
the rapine suffered by the saints, if the Church were indeed the people
of God led by a prophet of God. Such is the reasoning of apostates.
In 1840 Corrill was living in Quincy, Illinois.
Grampa Bill has found no record of his later life or his death.