Origin of the Baptism for the Dead Doctrine

This is an expanded version (with media) of an article which originally appeared in the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal by Johnny Stephenson and H. Michael Marquardt. (Spring, 2017 Issue)


In 1990 Guy Bishop wrote about baptism for the dead in Nauvoo and made this observation based on his research:

We have been left with scant evidence of how Joseph Smith formulated the Mormon plan of baptism for the dead. But, by the time the beleaguered Saints had crossed the Mississippi River in 1839 and had begun to reestablish themselves in western Illinois, the Prophet apparently knew how the worthy dead were to meet the mandate for baptism.[1]

What was the origin of the baptism for the dead doctrine that Joseph preached in Nauvoo in the late summer of 1840? New evidence and a re-examination of existing evidence may help us to answer this question.


In the summer of 1837, Apostles Heber C. Kimball[2] and Orson Hyde[3] left America for a mission to preach the newly restored Gospel in England. After arriving in Liverpool, they made their way north to Preston where they met with the relatives of some Canadian converts such as Joseph Fielding and John Taylor, who had joined the Church due to the efforts of Parley P. Pratt in 1836.[4]

William Clayton & Wife Diantha Farr

The relatives of these Canadian converts readily accepted the Gospel in England, and helped Kimball and Hyde to convert many others including William Clayton[5] who was appointed second counselor to the British Mission President, Willard Richards.[6] By the end of 1837, almost a hundred and fifty souls had been baptized due to the efforts of these Apostles.

A year later, another of the original Quorum of the Twelve, David W. Patten was called on a mission,[7] but before he could fulfill it, he was wounded in the Battle of Crooked River[8] in Ray County, Missouri and died from his injuries on October 25, 1838.

In July, 1838, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, John E. Page and Willard Richards were called to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve.[9]  In that same July revelation Joseph Smith instructed that the Twelve Apostles were to leave Far West on April 26, 1839 and journey “over the great waters” to “promulgate my gospel.”[10]

In January, 1839 George Albert Smith, Joseph’s cousin was also called to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve.[11]

By April of 1840 eight Apostles had assembled together in the British Isles at Preston, England where they ordained Willard Richards to their quorum. [12] At a general conference held on April 15, 1840 the Apostles announced that there were 1,671 members, 34 elders, 52 priests, 38 teachers, and 8 deacons in England and Scotland.[13]


One of those English Saints converted by the efforts of William Clayton was Ann Eastwood Booth, the wife of Robert Booth of the town of Manchester.[14] A month before the general conference was held in Preston, Ann claimed to have had a vision about the Spirit World which subsequently came to the attention of Brigham Young.

Mary Ann Angell Young, circa 1850

On May 26, 1840 Brigham wrote to his wife, Mary Ann,[15] about the vision and included a copy of it in his letter.  Young wrote:

I am desposed to wright you a vision in this or som other letter <that> I shall send, it is concerning David W. Patten’s minestry in the world whare he has gon,  it gives my hart joy inexspesable; …

I will now give you the vision * [insert from top of letter] Sister Booth sayes she heard a voice saying she must goe to Paridice then she was cared away in in the vision*

I Ann Booth, Wife of Robert Booth of the Town of Manchster, England, had the following vision of the 12 day of march in the year of our Lord one thousand and forty <1840>.

Being caried away in a vision to the Place of departed spirits I saw 12 Prisons, one abov another, verry large, and builded of soled stone. on ariveing at the <dore of the> upermost Prision I behed one of the 12 apostles of the Lamb who had been martered in America, standing at the dore of the Prison holding a key in his hand with which he opned unlocked the dore and went in and I fol[low]ed him.

he appeard to be of a large sise. thick set, darke hare darke eyes and eyebrows of a smiling countnane, and on <his> head was a crown of gold or somthing brighter, he was dresed in a long white robe, with the sleves plated from the sholder down to the hand.  upon his brest ware fore stares apparently like gold <or briter>. and a golden girdle about his Loins.  his feet was bare from above the Ancles down<w>ard and his hands were also bare.  as he entred the prison he seemed to stand about 3 feet from the floor (which was of Marble) as if the place was not worthy for him to stand upon. a verry brilient and glorie<u>s light surounded him, while the res of the prison was dark. but his light was peculiar to him self, and did not reflect upon others who was in the prison, who ware surounded with a gloom of darkness.

Brigham Young letter to Mary Ann Young, May 26, 1840

on the right hand of the dore stood Jhon Wesley, who on seing the glories personage, rased his hands and shouted >glory, honer, praise, and Power, be ascribed unto God and the Lamb forever and ever— Deliverance has Com-.  the Apostle then commecd to preached the Baptism of repentence for the remision of sins, and the gift of the Holy Gost by the laing of hands when the hundreds of prisners gave a shout with aloud voice saying >Glory be to God for ever and ever.

the marble floor was then remo=ved and a River of watter clere as Cristall seemed to fow in it place.  the Apostle then called to John Wesley by name who came fawrd quickley and both went down in to t[he -damaged] water and the Apostle Baptized him and coming up out of the water he lade his hands upon him for the gift of the Holy Gost, at the same time ordainedng him to the Preasthood of Aaron;

the Apostle then retired to the place ware he first stod and John Wesley then proseded to Baptize a man by the of Kilbham and next John Madison and Wm Scott. and John Tongue <who> ware Methodest Prachers with whome I had ben a quanted personly.  the next he Baptized was my grand father Edmond Whitehead the next was my unkel Johon Whitehead and the next was my sister Elizabath Oland, the <next> was Joseph Lancashere next Samuel Robinson Robinson and the next was my own Mother, all these had lived and died Methodest and I And had ben personly aquanted with them all, and after this he Baptized all the Prisoners amoun=ting to menny hundreds.

after they ware all Baptized, the Apostle Lade his hands on them all and confermed them, then instantly the Darkeness dispersed and they ware all surrounded and envellopd in a Brilint light, such as surounded the Apostle at the first. and they all lifted up theyer voices with one accord giving glory to God for deliverence.

My gra<n>d father then came to me and Blest me saying  the Lord bless forever and ever, art thou com to see us deliverd.  my mother then came to me and clasped me in hir arms and kissed me three times and said the Lord Almightly Bless the for ever and evere.

I then awoke out of my vision and felt so happy and rejoiced that I could not lay in bed.  I awaked my husben we got up.  I then tooke the Bible opened it to 3 different places, first to Isah 24, Chap. 22 v. the next was John C- 1- v-5—  the third time I opned bible was <first> Peater 3-C-18-19-20—ver— not being aquanted with these texts of Cripture and opening to each of them provedencily I was asstonished beyond measure.

I would futher state that at the time I had the vission I had never hered of the deth of David Patten whome I have sence lerned was one of the twelve Apostles of the Later day saynts in America, and was martered in the late percution in the fall of 1838. but in <the> vision I knew that it was an Apostle who had ben slane in America,

I here by sollemly testfy that I actually saw and hered in the vision what I have related, and I give my name and set my seal in witness to same; well know that I must stand before the Judment seet of Christ and ancer to this testmony, amen & amen.[16]

Wilford Woodruff, Nauvoo Era

A few months later, on July 2, 1840 Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal that he,

…spent the day at 149 Oldham road in writing. I was informed of a remarkable vision of Sister Ann Booth which I have written on the following page. I spent the night at Br John Walkers Cookson Strt No 10.[17]

Woodruff then writes “A Remarkable Vision” in his journal and copies the entire vision of Ann Booth below this header. There are some slight differences between the two copies, so Woodruff may not have gotten his copy of the vision from Brigham Young.[18]


Back in America, David W. Patten was being hailed as a martyr of the faith.  In the Times and Seasons, an account of his death was printed in November, 1839:

The Battle of Crooked River by C.A.A. Christensen

On the retreat of the mob from Daviess, I [Joseph Smith] returned to Caldwell, [County] hoping to have some respite from our enemies, at least for a short time; but upon my arrival there, I was informed that a mob had commenced hostilities on the borders of that county, adjoining to Ray co. and that they had taken some of our brethren prisoners, burned some houses and had committed depredations on the peaceable inhabitants. A company under the command of Capt. Patten, was ordered out by Lieutenant Col. Hinckle to go against them, and stop their depredations, and drive them out of the county. Upon the approach of our people, the mob fired upon them, and after discharging their pieces, fled with great precipitation, with the loss of one killed and several wounded. In the engagement Capt. Patten, (a man beloved by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance,) was wounded and died shortly after.[19]

Seven months earlier, Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal that

Elder David W. Patten… was martered in Missouri in 1838 for the word of God & the testimony of Jesus Christ. He was the first marter of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints chosen to build up the kingdom of GOD & prepare for the coming of Christ.[20]

After his arrival in England, Woodruff wrote in November, 1839:

I had a dream during the night & had an interview with Mrs Woodruff, But did not see [daughter] Sarah Emma. I travelled a distance with Judge [Elias] Higby in a hard storm in my dream. I also saw Br David Patten who was Martered in Missouri.[21]

Though Ann Booth claims that she never heard of the death of David W. Patten previous to having her vision in March, 1840, he was an important figure that was both written about and spoken of, and had been designated as a martyr soon after his death.


Brigham Young, Circa 1840’s

Mary Ann Young most likely received the copy of Ann Booth’s vision from her husband Brigham Young in mid-summer 1840 and then shared it with many of the saints in Nauvoo. This vision excited and inspired many, as it did with the Apostles who had read it.

The vision spoke of David W. Patten as performing an important mission in the Spirit World, a place where many of the Saints felt they too would be called to serve after death.

When Joseph was translating the Bible in 1830, he wrote about the wicked who had died in the days of Noah:

But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them. And that which I have chosen [Jesus Christ] hath pled before my face. Wherefore, he suffereth for their sins; inasmuch as they will repent in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me, and until that day they shall be in torment.”[22]

A few years later Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had a vision of the afterlife[23] and in that vision they claimed that, “…concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—they are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial… that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; and who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise… these are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God.”[24]

Those who were locked up in the Spirit Prison, would inherit a lesser glory:

And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law; And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.[25]

In 1836, Joseph Smith claimed to have had another vision of the afterlife,[26] during which he saw “Father Adam and Abraham and Michael and my father and mother, my brother, Alvin, that has long since slept” in the Celestial Kingdom. Joseph “marvled how it was that he [Alvin] had obtained this an inheritance <in> this <that> kingdom, [of glory] seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord <had> set His hand to gather Israel <the second time>, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins—”[27]

The answer claimed Joseph, was given to him in the same vision by “the voice of the Lord”:

All who have died with[out] a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God—also all that shall die henseforth with<out> a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom; For I, the Lord, <will> judge all men according to their works according to the desire of their hearts—and again I also beheld the Terrestial kingdom also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven—[28]

In 1838, Joseph Smith was asked a question about “those who have died since the days of the apostles.” Joseph’s answer was that,

All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the gospel, and being administered to by an inspired man in the flesh, must have it hereafter before they can be finally judged.[29]

It is clear that Joseph is claiming that all those who have died and have not heard the gospel must have it administered or preached to them by “an inspired man” in this life, must have it preached to them hereafter. This was evident from the Bible, where it speaks of Jesus preaching the gospel to the spirits in prison:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.[30]

Sidney Rigdon spoke of this authority to administer the gospel in February, 1836:

For take the priesthood away by which the gospel was administered, and of what avail is the gospel? the answer is, it is of none; for the gospel is only of use to man, when there is somebody to administer it to them.[31]

As far as the Church and Joseph were concerned, this settled the matter. The question of baptism was left unanswered. Ann Booth’s vision was innovative in that it spoke of these prisoners being both baptized and confirmed in the Spirit World, after they had the gospel preached to them by one who had the authority to do so. This answered the apparent conundrum about baptism and confirmation of the Holy Spirit for those who had not received these ordinances while they were in mortality.


In August of 1840, a few months after the vision of Ann Booth had made its way to Nauvoo, Seymour Brunson,[32] a forty year old High Councilman, friend and bodyguard of Joseph Smith was taken with a severe sickness. His son later wrote,

In the month of July 1840, my father having occasion to get up in the night to drive some cattle out of his lot, caught cold which brought on a severe sickness, which ultimately resulted in death. . . . Joseph Smith had previously had him removed to his house thinking the change might prove beneficial to my father’s health, but he still continued to decline, and when Joseph understood that my father would rather go than stay, he and others visited him and bidding him goodby, remaked “Brother Brunson, since it is your desire to go, we shall not hold you by faith any longer.” My father then called his family together, and after asking my mother if all the children were present, he bid us a last farewell, and shortly after his spirit winged its flight from its earthly tenement to take its place amongst the spirits of the just.[33]

In early September (after the Brunson funeral), Vilate Kimball wrote to her husband, Heber, in England:

Semor Brunson is dead. everything was done to save him that could be done, but the Lord had kneed of him a short time before he died he told Joseph not to hold him any longer, for sed he, I have seen David Patten and he wants me and the Lord wants me, and I want to go. they then gave him up. at one time as Joseph entered the room, he told him there was a light incircled him above the brightness of the sun, he exclaimed the room is full of angels, they have come to waft my spirit home, he then bid his family farewell, and sweetly fell asleep in jesus. he requested President Smith to preach his funeral sermon which he did.[34]

John Smith, circa 1850’s

John Smith wrote to his son George Albert in England about the death of Elder Brunson on August 21, 1840:

There has been considerable sickness in Nauvoo and Commerce and many some deaths though I think not so many as last by any means, according to the number of inhabitants, only mention Elder Brunson he Died very happy, David Patton came after him he said with a convoy of Angels David wanted him and Davids God wa=nted him and Joseph held him back but he must go. …Joseph has commen=ced Delivering a course of Lectures to us on this side of the River on the first Princlpals of the gospel particularly the Resur=rection of the Dead and Eternal Judgement has spent two Sabbaths has an appointment tomorrow at Nashville is to ap<p>oint a place o this side to build up a Town as the Saints in Iowa are scattered over a large tract of land[35]

From what Vilate and others wrote later, when Seymour Brunson was on his deathbed he expressed a strong desire to go to the Spirit World, claiming to have “seen David Patten”, who wanted him to help with the work he was performing there on behalf of the dead. By this time, the vision of Ann Booth had probably influenced many about David Patten including Seymour Brunson.

Neither of these letters (written after the funeral) mention the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead. Brunson’s obituary, written by Joseph Smith read,

Colonel Seymour Brunson, aged forty years, ten months and twenty-three days, died at Nauvoo. Colonel Brunson was among the first settlers of this place. He has always been a lively stone in the building of God and was much respected by his friends and acquaintances. He died in the triumph of faith, and in his dying moments bore testimony to the Gospel that he had embraced.[36]


Vilate Kimball in the same September letter to her husband wrote that Seymour Brunson’s funeral,

…was attended by thousands of people, he was buried under arms. the prosession that marched to the grave was judged to be a mile long. a more solm sight I never witnessed, and yet the day was joyful because of the light and glory which Joseph set forth; I can truly say my soul was lifted up.[37]

On November 9th, Heber Kimball conveyed to John Taylor the news of Brunson’s death and funeral that Vilate had written to him about in September:

Semer Bronson is gon. David Paten came after him. the Rom was full of Angels that came after him to waft him home, he was burred under arms, the Procession, that went to the grave was judged to be one mile long, and a more joyfull Season She Ses She never Saw be fore on the account of the glory that Jospeh set forth”[38]

The comments made about David W. Patten by Seymour Brunson to Joseph Smith apparently did not go unnoticed by him. In addition to Patten’s preaching in the Spirit Prison he was also described as performing baptisms and confirmations upon the spirits of the dead. Many, including Brunson, probably had questions about what exactly was happening in the Spirit World.

When Joseph had questions about doctrine he would often refer to the scriptures to find answers. Considering the fact that neither Vilate Kimball or John Smith wrote about this startling new doctrine in their August and September letters, it is doubtful that Joseph did more than mention baptism for the dead in passing at the funeral of Seymour Brunson.[39]

On December 15, 1840 Joseph wrote a letter to the Twelve Apostles in England. In that letter he states that he “first mentioned the doctrine in public while preaching the funeral sermon of Bro Brunson, and have since given general instructions to the Church on the subject.”[40]


Vienna Jacques, circa 1860’s

In 1854, Jane Harper Neyman[41] and Vienna Jacques[42] stopped by the Church Historian’s Office in Salt Lake City and gave brief statements about their experiences concerning Baptism for the Dead in Nauvoo. Curiously, there are two versions of their testimony in the Church History Library. The first document reads,


Sept 13th 1840

*Jane Neymon States that at the funeral of Col Seymour Brunson that Joseph Preached Seymour Brunsons funeral sermon & then first introduced the subject of Baptism of the Dead & said to the people I have laid the subject of Baptism for the Dead before you you may Receive or Reject it as you choose. Sept 13th (Aug 15th 1840 written in pencil)

The them [They then] went & was baptized for her son Cyrus Livingston Neymon by Harvey Olmstead. Joseph ^on hearing of it at Table in the evening^ asked what he said o his telling what the Ceremony was it prooved that father Olmstead had it Right

Vaenna Jaques witnessed the same by Riding Into the River on horseback to get close so as to hear what the ceremony would be

These statements given by Jane Neymon & Vienna Jaques in history office GSL City Nov 29th 1854 1/2 past 10 oclock AM


Smith, Joseph

Statement in

Regard to Baptism for

the Dead Nauvoo

Sept 13th 1840[43]

This document states that according to Jane Neyman, Joseph first introduced the subject of Baptism for the Dead at Seymour Brunson’s funeral, claiming that he laid the subject before them and that it was up to them to receive it or reject it. Then under the date of September 13th, she claims that she was baptized for her son Cyrus Livingston[44] and that Harvey Olmstead performed the ceremony of which Joseph later approved. Vienna Jacques testifies that she witnessed the ceremony on the 13th of September and rode her horse into the water so she could hear what was said.

What is interesting is the second document that is in the same folder. It reads,


Mrs Jane Neymon States that her husband Wm [William] Neymon died at nauvoo on the 10th day of Sept – they had frequently conversed together concerning their son who had died before they heard the gospel on hearing Joseph sermon which was delivered the Sabath after her husbands Death she immediately applied to the Elders for baptism they hesitated, but finaly Elder Harvey Olmstead consented

Vienna Jaques Rode into the water on horseback from curiosity to hear the ceremony & she asserts that it was precisely the same as was afterwards used by the Elders while Joseph was at supper that evening he was told that his doctrine was already taken effect, he ^says^ what are they baptizing for the dead on being told what had been done he inquired what form or words they


used in the performance of  Ceremony.  on being[45]

This document claims that Jane Neyman had frequently conversed with her husband William before his death in early September[46] concerning their son Cyrus who had died before they heard the gospel, and that on hearing Joseph’s sermon which he delivered the Sunday after her husband’s death (September 13th) she was baptized for her son by Harvey Olmstead. It is difficult to determine which of these statements was made first, but other accounts of these events may help to clarify the apparent contradictions here.


In the Journal History of the Church[47] under the date of 15 AUG 1840, Andrew Jenson wrote:

Joseph the Prophet according to the document hereunto attached preached the funeral sermon in memory of Elder Seymour Brunson who had died Aug 10, 1840.

The following document was found by Andrew Jenson at the Historian’s Office, April 9, 1908, while undertaking a careful perusal of original documents. [Then follows the first Neyman Document transcribed above].[48]

The Journal History then continues:

Following is a statement made by Simon Baker in a speech which he delivered:

I was present at a discourse that the prophet Joseph delivered on baptism for the dead 15 August 1840.[49]

After this follows a summary of the speech that Baker claimed to hear, which will be quoted below. The speech by Baker has some problems. First, someone added a date (when the discourse supposedly took place) to the document: August 15, 1840. The original document did not include any date.

In this discourse that Baker speaks of, the widow that Joseph Smith refers to is Jane Neyman, but she didn’t become a widow until after September 2, 1840 when her husband William died. So this discourse that Baker speaks of could not have been given on August 15th, 1840.

The reason why Jenson probably added the dates to these documents was because of Joseph Smith’s December 15, 1840 letter to the Twelve in England. Joseph wrote:

I presume the doctrine of “baptizm for the dead” has ere this reached your ears, and may have raised some inquiries in your mind respecting the same. I cannot in this letter give you all the information you may desire on the subject, but aside from my knowledge independant of the Bible, I would say that this was certainly practized by the antient Churches And. St Paul endeavors to prove the doctrine of the resurrection from the same, and says “else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead” &c &c. I first mentioned the doctrine in public while preaching the funeral sermon of Bro Seymour Brunson, and have since then given general instructions to the Church on the subject. The Saints have the priviledge of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, who they feel to believe would have embraced the gospel if they had been priviledged with hearing it, and who have received the gospel in the spirit through the instrumentality of those who may have been commissioned to preach to them while in the prison. Without enlarging on the subject you will undoubtedly see its consistancy, and reasonableness, and presents the the gospel of Christ in probably a more enlarged scale than some have received it. But as the performance of this right is more particularly confined to this place it will not be necessary to enter into particulars, at the same time I always feel glad to give all the information in my power, but my space will not allow me to do it.[50]

Joseph writes that he first mentioned the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead at the funeral of Seymour Brunson, but then states he had “since then given general instructions to the Church on the subject.” Jenson probably thought that these recollections all took place on only one date: August 15th.

According to Joseph, he did mention baptism for the dead on August 15th, but he also said that since then, he gave general instructions to the Church. This would be the sermon that Joseph gave on September 13, 1840 that both Jane Neyman and Simon Baker attended, (which fits the evidence) and further instructions on October 4, 1840 at the General Conference of the Church.

What appears to have transpired is that the vision of Ann Booth had been circulated among the Saints at Nauvoo after being sent from overseas by Brigham Young to his wife, Mary Ann. This excited and inspired those like Seymour Brunson who took ill about the time the vision was first being noised about Nauvoo. Through Seymour Brunson or perhaps Mary Ann Young, Joseph learns about the vision of Ann Booth and addresses some of the questions about the vision at the funeral of the High Councilman, correcting the notion that spirits can be baptized. Joseph does not reveal much at this time, because those that attended the funeral do not mention anything about baptism for the dead. Joseph continues to study and ponder the scriptures and focuses on the verses in 1st Corinthians that speak of Baptism for the Dead. He now has his answer for how those who have died without the Gospel (such as his brother Alvin) can be saved in the Celestial Kingdom.

A few weeks after the funeral of Seymour Brunson, Joseph’s father (Joseph Smith, Sr.) took ill and Lucy Mack Smith later wrote that she concluded that her husband “was appointed unto death,” so she “sent for Joseph and Hyrum.”[51]

Joseph and Hyrum arrived home on Saturday, September 7th, 1840 and gave their father a blessing. The next day Joseph had a conversation with his father and informed him that it was now “the privilege of the Saints to be baptized for the dead,” and Joseph Smith, Sr. requested that his son Joseph “should be baptized for Alvin immediately.”[52]

Six days later Joseph Smith Sr. died, and the next day Joseph Smith preached his first real sermon on baptism for the dead. As Simon Baker recalled:

He read the greater part of the 15th chapter of Corinthians and remarked that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought glad tidings of great joy, and then remarked that he saw a widow in that congregation that had a son who died without being baptized, and this widow in reading the sayings of Jesus ‘except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven,’ and that not one jot nor tittle of the Savior’s words should pass away, but all should be fulfilled. He then said that this widow [Jane Neyman] should have glad tidings in that thing. He also said the apostle [Paul] was talking to a people who understood baptism for the dead, for it was practiced among them. He went on to say that people could now act for their friends who had departed this life, and that the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God. He went on and made a very beautiful discourse”[53]

After Joseph spoke to the assembled group of Saints on that mild day in mid-September, 1840, the new widow Jane Neyman applied to the Elders to baptize her as a proxy for her son Cyrus, and Harvey Olmstead stepped up and performed the ceremony, which Joseph Smith later that night approved of.[54]

On Sunday, October 4, the Prophet again addressed the Saints on Baptism for the Dead, this time at some length. The Minutes of the General Conference taken by Robert B. Thompson record that,

Pres Smith then arose and spoke on the subject of being baptized for the dead at considerable length.”[55]

According to Vilate Kimball, who wrote to her husband Heber in England a few days after the October Conference:

President Smith has open[e]d a new and glorious subject of late which has caused quite a revival in the church. that is, being baptised for the dead. Paul speaks of it, in first Corinthians 15th chapter 29th vers[e].

Joseph has received a more full explaination of it by Revelation. He says it is the privilege of this church to be baptised for all their kinsfolks that have died before this Gospel came forth; even back to their great Gran[d]father and Mother if they have be[e]n personally acquainted with them. by so doing we act as agents for them, and give them the privilege of comeing forth in the first resurection.[56]

Vilate added that Joseph urged them “to be up and a doing and liberate their friends from bondage as quick as posable.” Vilate then spoke of her own need to redeem her dead, writing that “I want to be baptized for my mother.” She adds that “Since this order has been preached here, the waters have been continually troubled. During the conference there were some times from eight to ten elders in the river at a time baptizing.” She also informed Heber that “there is a number of the neighbors going forward,” and “[s]ome have already been baptized a number of times over. They have to be baptized and confirmed for one person before they can be baptized for another. Those that have no friends on the earth to be baptized for them can become ministering spirits to whom so ever they will and make known their request.”[57]

“There is a chance for all,” she happily writes, “[i]s not this a glorious doctrine? Surely the gentiles will mock, but we rejoice in it.”[58]


In her October letter to Heber C. Kimball, Vilate also wrote that Joseph Smith “says they [the dead] will have the Gospel preached [to] them in Prison, but there is no such thing as spirits being baptized.” As for Ann Booth’s glimpse of the afterlife, Vilate wrote that Joseph “doesn’t wholly discard sister Booth’s vision,” and “says it was to show her the necessity of being baptized.”[59]

Vilate Kimball, circa 1860’s

It is clear that the vision of Ann Booth was the impetus for Joseph’s instigation of proxy baptisms for the dead. Joseph claimed that all who would have accepted the gospel would become heirs to the Celestial Kingdom, including his brother Alvin who he claimed to have seen there in a vision in 1836. Instead of the baptisms and confirmations taking place in the Spirit World, Joseph proclaimed that they were to be performed on earth, using the verse in 1st Corinthians as a proof text. As Wilford Woodruff journalized in 1842:

Joseph the seer …made some edifying remarks concerning Baptism for the dead. He said the Bible supported the doctrin. “Why are ye Baptized for the dead if the dead rise not &c.” If their is one word of the Lord that supports the doctrin it is enough to make it a true doctrin. Again if we can baptize a man in the Name of the Father of the Son & of the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins it is just as much our privilege to act as an agent & be baptized for the remission of sins for & in behalf of our dead kindred who have not herd the gospel or fulness of it.[60]

In 1845 Brigham Young preached a sermon and mentioned how he first learned about the Baptism for the Dead doctrine:

The doctrine of baptism for the dead you have been taught for some time, and the first account that I heard of it was while I was in England; it was there I got the glad tidings that the living could go forth and be baptized for those who had fallen asleep. This doctrine I believed before anything was said or done about it in this church; it made me glad when I heard it was revealed through his servant Joseph, and that I could go forth, and officiate for my fathers, for my mothers, and for my ancestors, to the latest generation who have not had the privilege of helping themselves; that they can yet arise to the state of glory and exaltation as we that live, have a privilege of rising to ourselves. The next year I came home and requested Brother Joseph to preach upon the subject, which he did, I also heard many of the elders preach upon the same subject. [61]

Here Young admits that he first learned about Baptism for the Dead in England, and that would have been from the vision of Ann Booth.


On November 5, 1840, Robert B. Thompson penned a letter to Heber C. Kimball about what he termed as “the old doctrine of Baptism for the Dead”:

You will have heard ere this of the death of our beloved Bishop Partridg Bro Seymour Brunson and the patriarch of the Church Joseph Smith Senr. You will likewise probably have heard of the old doctrine of Baptism for the Dead which has been introduced by President Joseph Smith Jr. So that the Saints have the priviledge of being baptised for their relatives and friends who have not had the priviledge of hearing the gospel while in the flesh but who probably receive while in the spirit in prison. so they can claim them at the ressurrection of the just. this is certainly a glorious doctrine and shews forth the gracious purposes of our God, and the grandeour of that scheme which is to raise mankind from the ruins of the fall. Hundreds have allready Gone forth and been baptized for their friends who are deceased. There has been many things said, and notions imbibed concerning this doctrine. Allow me to advance an idea, and it is this; except we attend to this ordinance according to the law of heaven in all things it will not be valid or be of any benefit either to the living or the dead; when it was first revealed all the order of it was not made known, afterwards it was made known…[62]

When Joseph first explained the doctrine of baptism for the dead in the fall of 1840, he had no idea what the ramifications of it would be. He simply claimed that men and women could act “as agents” for their dead, by being baptized for them. Anyone could be baptized for any deceased relative or friend. According to her 1854 statement, Jane Neyman was baptized for her dead son Cyrus on September 13, 1840,[63] and Joseph approved of her doing so and the ceremony that was used. After this, thousands of baptisms were performed in the Mississippi River and in the basement of the Temple in the next few years.[64]

Joseph would not produce any formal revelation on baptism for the Dead until January 19, 1841 when he called upon the Saints to erect a new Temple. Joseph proclaimed that the word of the Lord to him was:

I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me. But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.[65]

In the same revelation Joseph (like Ann Booth) also mentions David W. Patten who he claims “is with me at this time, and of who the Lord had “taken unto myself; behold, his priesthood no man taketh from him.”[66]

These willy-nilly baptisms went on for almost two years before Joseph set more stringent parameters of how the Saints were to perform them.[67]  Even with these further instructions, which Joseph outlined in two letters written in September, 1842, Joseph still did not forbid men being baptized for women or women for men. Brigham Young would change this, and explained why in a later discourse from 1873:

Do you recollect that in about the year 1840-41, Joseph had a revelation concerning the dead? He had been asked the question a good many times; “What is the condition of the dead, those that lived and died without the Gospel?” It was a matter of inquiry with him. He considered this question not only for himself, but for the brethren and the Church. “What is the condition of the dead? What will be their fate? Is there no way today by which they can receive their blessings as there was in the days of the Apostles, and when the Gospel was preached upon the earth in ancient days?” When Joseph received the revelation that we have in our possession concerning the dead, the subject was opened to him, not in full but in part, and he kept on receiving. When he had first received the knowledge by the spirit of revelation how the dead could be officiated for, there are brethren and sisters here, I can see quite a number here who were in Nauvoo, and you recollect that when this doctrine was first revealed, and in hurrying in the administration of baptism for the dead, that sisters were baptized for their male friends, were baptized for their fathers, their grandfathers, their mothers and their grandmothers, &c. I just mention this so that you will come to understanding, that as we knew nothing about this matter at first, the old Saints recollect, there was little by little given, and the subject was made plain, but little was given at once. Consequently, in the first place people were baptized for their friends and no record was kept. Joseph afterwards kept a record, &c. Then women were baptized for men and men for women, &c. It would be very strange, you know, to the eyes of the wise and they that understood the things pertaining to eternity, if we were called upon to commence a work that we could not finish. This, therefore, was regulated and all set in order; for it was revealed that if a woman was baptized for a man, she could not be ordained for him, neither could she be made an Apostle or a Patriarch for the man, consequently the sisters are to be baptized for their own sex only.[68]

The origin of the baptism for the dead doctrine had its genesis in wake of the claimed vision of an early English convert, a woman who has fallen into relative obscurity. The vision of Ann Booth inspired many to feel concern and joy for their dead friends and relatives, and to look forward in carrying on the work of the gospel in the world to come. The questions raised from the promulgation of her vision both intrigued and inspired Joseph Smith to further explore and solve the conundrum of how those like his brother Alvin could be heirs to the celestial kingdom.


[1] Guy Bishop, “’What Has Become of Our Fathers?’ Baptism for the Dead at Nauvoo,” Dialogue 23 (Summer 1990): 86.

[2] Heber C. Kimball, [1801-1868] was ordained an Apostle on February 14, 1835.

[3] Orson Hyde, [1805-1878] was ordained an Apostle on February 15, 1835.

[4] Parley P. Pratt, [1807-1857] was ordained an Apostle on February 21st 1835, and like the rest of the Twelve was urged to begin preaching the gospel, and subsequently went on a mission to New York, New England, and eastern Canada.  In the spring of 1836 Pratt started out on another mission, this time to Toronto, Canada. There he met and converted John and Lenora Taylor, and with the help of John Taylor he baptized Joseph Fielding, John Snider, Isaac Russell, Robert B. Thompson and others into the church. It was the relatives of these converts that Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde visited in England a few years later.

[5]  William Clayton, [1814-1879] was baptized on October 21, 1837 and ordained a High Priest on April 1, 1838. He quit his job as a factory worker to help start a branch of the Church in Manchester, England where he was called as a counselor to Mission President Willard Richards. Clayton and his wife Ruth Moon [1817-1894] immigrated to the United States in 1840, arriving on November 24 in Nauvoo where he became a clerk and scribe for Joseph Smith. James B. Allen writes,

“It was a formidable challenge for the twenty-four-year-old Clayton to try to establish a branch of Mormonism in this industrial center. He proselytized, however, mainly among the working classes, and within six months he had converted about seventy people. Among them was the Hardman family, who ran a boardinghouse at No. 2 Maria Street. Clayton himself eventually took up residence there, staying until he was released from his church assignment. Other early converts included James Bewshaw, a coachman, and his wife, Ellen, who were particularly kind in providing meals and other help for Clayton while he was in Manchester; and Robert Booth, whose wife, Ann, later received a remarkable vision foreshadowing the introduction of the doctrine of baptism for the dead.”(James B. Allen, William Clayton, Trials of Discipleship, p.21)

[6] Willard Richards [1804-1854], was baptized on December 31, 1836 by his cousin Brigham Young and ordained an elder in February, 1837. He was called on a mission to England where he met his wife Jenetta, [1817-1845] daughter of the Reverend John Richards, who he married on September 24, 1839. Brigham Young [1801-1877] was ordained an Apostle on February 14, 1835.

[7] David W. Patten, [1799-1838] was ordained an Apostle on February 15, 1835. He was called on a mission on April 11, 1838. See, Doctrine and Covenants 114:1.

[8] The Battle of Crooked River was a skirmish that took place on October 24, 1838 between Mormon settlers under the command of David W. Patten (codenamed “Captain Fearnought”) and a Missouri State Militia unit under the command of Samuel Bogart. See, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, by Stephen C. LeSueur, University of Missouri Press, 1987, 286 pages.

[9] John Taylor, [1808-1887] was ordained an Apostle on December 19, 1838; Wilford Woodruff, [1807-1898] was ordained on April 26, 1839; John E. Page, [1799-1867] was ordained on December 19, 1838; Willard Richards was ordained on April 14, 1840.

[10] Doctrine and Covenants 118:4-6.

[11] George Albert Smith, [1817-1875] was ordained an Apostle on April 26, 1839.

[12]  The ordination of Willard Richards brought the number of Apostles to 11. Two of the remaining Apostles, William Smith, [1811-1893] who was ordained on February 15, 1835 and John E. Page, [1799-1867] who was ordained on December 19, 1838, never went to England. Lyman Wight, [1796-1858] would bring the number to 12 with his ordination on April 14, 1841.

[13] Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983,), 438.

[14] Ann Eastwood Booth [1794-1874] and Robert Booth [1785-1846] were married in Manchester, England in 1817. They had a son Thomas who was born in 1836. They immigrated to the United States in 1840 with William Clayton’s company.  Not much is known about Robert Booth, but he is mentioned in Clayton’s diary in 1844:

“Sister [Ann] Booth tells me that Sara Ann [Whitney] is very unhappy and wants to see me she says Jane Charnock is perfectly unhappy and if there is any way she can be loosed she wants me to take her. Mary Aspen is ready to unite to me as her savior and Sister Booth says she shall not risk her salvation in Roberts [Booth] hands and wants me to interfere. We had considerable conversation on many subjects and felt pretty well.” (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), 151, October 21, 1844.) Ann Booth immigrated west with the Saints and died in Utah.

[15] Mary Ann Angell Young [1803-1882] was Brigham Young’s second wife. They were married on March 31, 1834.

[16] Brigham Young, letter, Manchester and Lancashire [England] to Mary A. Young, Commerce, IL, 1840, May 26. MS 15616, Box 1, Folder 7, CHL, 1-2.  Original spelling and punctuation retained. Paragraph breaks are taken from Woodruff’s Journal copy.

[17] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.475, July 2, 1840.

[18] For example, in the first paragraph Young writes out then inserts the date, “one thousand and forty <1840>”; while Woodruff simply writes the date; in paragraph two Young  writes: “departed spirits”; Woodruff writes: “departed souls”; Young writes: “in his hand”; Woodruff omits this; in the third paragraph Young writes: “down to”; Woodruff omits this; Young writes: “or briter”; Woodruff omits this; in the fourth paragraph Young writes: “right hand of the dore”; Woodruff writes: “right hand near the door”; in the fifth paragraph Young writes: “the Apostle Baptized him”; Woodruff writes: “he Baptized him”; in the sixth paragraph Young writes: “Kilbham and next”; Woodruff writes: “Killham the leader of the New Connection of Methodist and next”; Young writes: “Wm Scott; Woodruff omits “Wm”;  Young writes: “who ware Methodest Prachers with whome I had ben a quanted personly”; Woodruff writes: “The three latter were Methodist Preachers with whom I had formerly been acquainted”; in the seventh paragraph Young writes: “confermed them”; Woodruff writes: “oncfermed them evry one”; in the eighth paragraph Young writes,: “Lord bless forever”; Woodruff writes: “Lord bless thee forever”; in the ninth paragraph Young writes: “happy and rejoiced that I could not lay in bed”; Woodruff writes: “happy & overjoyed that I knew not how to remain in bed”; Young writes: “awaked my husben we got up”; Woodruff writes: “waking my husband we arose”; Young writes: “Bible opened it to 3 different places first to”; Woodruff writes: “the Bible I opened Providentially to the text”; Young writes: “Chap. 22v.”; Woodruff writes, “they shall be gathered together &c. More and more astonished”; Young writes: “the next was John C- 1- v-5— “; Woodruff writes: “I again opened the Bible to the 1st of St John The light shineth in darkness &c.”; Young writes: “the third time I opned bible was first Peater 3-C-18-19-20—ver— not being aquanted with these texts of Cripture”; Woodruff writes: “And again the third time I opened it & immediately cast my eyes upon the 3d chapter of Peter 18, 19, 20 speaking of the spirits in Prison. Being before ignorant of these texts”; in the tenth paragraph Young writes, “was martered”; Woodruff writes, “was slain”; in the last paragraph Woodruff writes, “Perhaps many will think lightly of this vision”; Young omits this; Young writes, “I have related”; Woodruff writes, “I have here related”; Young writes, “amen & amen”; Woodruff omits this. There are other minor differences in spelling and punctuation. Woodruff also does not mention that Ann Booth “heard a voice” that she “must go to Paradise” and was then “carried away in the vision.”

[19] Times and Seasons, Vol.1, No.1, p.5, November 1839.

[20] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.328, April 26, 1839.

[21] ibid., 368, November 11, 1839.

[22] Moses 7:38-39.

[23] “The Vision,” Hiram Township, OH, 16 February 1832; signed by Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Revelation Book 2, 1-10; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams and Joseph Smith; CHL. See also, Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God, And Compiled by Joseph Smith Junior, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, [Presiding Elders of said Church.] Proprietors, Kirtland, Ohio, Printed by F. G. Williams & Co., For the Proprietors, 1835,  Section XCI, “A Vision”, 225-231.

[24]  1835 Doctrine & Covenants, Section XCI:5, (page 228); Doctrine and Covenants (modern edition), Section 76: 50-51, 52, 70.

[25] ibid., Section XCI:6, (page 229); D&C 76:71-75.

[26] Visions, Kirtland, OH, 21 January 1836, in Joseph Smith’s Journal, September 1835-April 1836, handwriting of Warren Parrish, CHL; Doctrine and Covenants (modern edition) Section 137. Original spelling and punctuation retained.

[27] ibid., 136; D&C 137:5-6. Original spelling and punctuation retained.

[28] ibid., 137; D&C 137:7-10. Original spelling and punctuation retained.

[29] Elders’ Journal of The Church of the Latter Day Saints, 1 (July 1838): 43. Whether or not Joseph meant ordinances here is ambiguous. He does not mention the need for ordinances in his January vision of 1836, but couples those who would have received the gospel “with all their hearts” and attain the Celestial Kingdom with children who die under the age of eight, who are not required to be baptized.

[30] 1 Peter 3:18-20, NIV.

[31] The Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Vol. II, No. 5, Feb. 1836, 262. In early 1840 an titled “The Gospel” appeared in the Times and Seasons which explained the authority to administer the Gospel:

“Being thus endowed with the spirit and power from on high, they [the Apostles] were capable of teaching that system which Christ delivered to them, without alteration; for the comforter brought to their minds what they had forgotten, and lead them into all truth and prevented the introduction of error. The Lord never called a man to that office, unless he qualified him in that manner, for that qualification is absolutely necessary for the salvation of the world; for without it the gospel never was and never will be preached in purity, and administered in righteousness, consequently will not make those pure to whom it is administered. Therefore, as Paul said, so say I, how can a man preach, except he be sent. Answer he can teach for doctrine, the commandments of men, and make void the law of God through the traditions of the fathers, as did the Scribes and Pharisees of old. The lack of that calling and qualification in the multitude of modern divines, is evidently the cause of contentions, differences, and divisions in the christian world, and of the dublety that rest upon the minds of the religious world, relative to the true points of Christ’s doctrine.”  (“The Gospel”, Times & Seasons, Vol. I, No. 5, March, 1840, p.76)

[32] Seymour Brunson was born December 1, 1798 in Orwell, Vermont to Reuben Brunson and Sally Clark. He married Harriet Matilda Gould from New York about 1823. They became the parents of seven children between the years of 1825 and 1839, namely: Reuben, Lewis, Lucretia, Joseph ,Jerusha, Seymour, and William Morgan. He died on August 10, 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois. He was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Illinois Militia and was buried with military honors in Nauvoo.

[33] Short Sketch of Seymour Brunson, Sr., by his son Lewis Brunson, submitted by Darlinda Gorley, Hyrum, Ut, Nauvoo Journal 4 (spring 1992): 4. Online here, accessed July 20, 2016.

[34] Vilate Kimball, Nauvoo, to Heber C. Kimball, Liverpool, England, September 6, 1840, MS 3276, Folder 2, CHL.

[35] John Smith, Lee County, Iowa to George Albert Smith, London, England, August 21, 1840, MS 1322, Box 9, Folder 2, CHL.

[36] History of the Church, 4:179.

[37] Vilate Kimball, Commerce, Illinois, to Heber C. Kimball, September 6, 1840, CHL.

[38] Heber C. Kimball, Clitheroe, England to John Taylor, Liverpool, England, November 9, 1840, MS 24689, CHL. This would be the information from Vilate’s September 6, letter to Heber which does not mention baptism for the dead.

[39] John Smith mentions the death of Seymour Brunson but nothing about his funeral, it is possible that he was in Montrose and did not attend it. It is strange that even after almost a week after the funeral he still does not mention baptism for the dead, though he does mention David Patten. Vilate Kimball writing almost a month after Brunson’s funeral, also does not mention anything about baptism for the dead, even though she obviously attended the funeral. She also mentions David Patten. This leads us to believe that even though Smith claims to have first mentioned it at the funeral, (in December, 1840) it was probably only briefly and many did not understand the ramifications of what he spoke about.

[40] Joseph Smith, Letter, Nauvoo, IL, to the Council of the Twelve, England, 15 Dec. 1840; handwriting of Robert B. Thompson; eight pages; JS Collection, CHL, 6, added emphasis.

[41] Jane Harper Neyman was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania on September 22, 1792. She was baptized in 1838  with her husband William and moved to Nauvoo in 1840.  William died shortly after on September 2, 1840. She remarried a brother Fisher, and moved west with the Saints with her daughters Rachel Neyman Fullmer [1832-1912] and Mary Ann Neyman Nickerson [1823-1916] in 1850.  She died in Beaver, Utah on May 3, 1880 from a stroke.  She had eight other children,  Margaret Jane, [1813-1899] Cyrus Livingston, [b. June 14, 1815] Annis, [1818-1845] Hiram [1819-1904], Ebenezer [abt. 1820] Matilda [abt. 1821] Frederick [abt. 1824] and Shilo [abt. 1834] See, Obituary, The Woman’s Exponent, Vol. 9, No. 1, June 1, 1880, 4, Online here, Accessed July 20, 2016; Genealogy records retrieved from Family Central, Online here, Accessed July 20, 2016.

[42] Vienna Jacques was born on June 10, 1787 and died on February 7, 1884. She was baptized by E. Harris on July 12, 1831. She married Daniel Shearer in 1839 in Missouri. She moved to Nauvoo by 1840. She left Nauvoo on June 21, 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake City on October 2, 1847. She died in Salt Lake City, Utah.

[43] Jane Neyman Statements, November 29, 1854, CR 100 396, Box 1, Folder 45, document 1, CHL.

[44] Cyrus Livingston Neyman was born on June 14, 1815, we could find no information on his death.

[45] Jane Neyman Statements, November 29, 1854, CR 100 396, Box 1, Folder 45, document 2, CHL.

[46] Thursday, the 10th of September was the date that William was buried, according to genealogical records. He died on the 2nd of September. The Sunday following this would be September 13, 1840.

[47] The Journal History of the Church was a daily history taken from newspapers, minutes, letters and other documents and kept in a series of scrapbooks compiled by Andrew Jenson in 1906. By 1913, Jenson had completed the years 1830-1852. By his death in 1941 he had reached the year 1930. After his death the History was continued by staff working in the Church Historians Office. In 2008 work on the project ceased.

[48] Journal History of the Church, 15 August 1840, CR 100 137, Reel 4, Volume 12, CHL.

[49] ibid

[50] Joseph Smith, Letter, Nauvoo, IL, to the Council of the Twelve, England, 15 Dec. 1840; handwriting of Robert B. Thompson; eight pages; JS Collection, CHL, 6.

[51] Lucy Mack Smith, Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir, ed. Lavina Fielding Anderson (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001), 713-714.

[52] ibid., 714.

[53] Joseph Smith Addresses, 1839-1842, MS 155, Box 4, Folder 4, CHL.

[54]  Jane Neyman Statements, November 29, 1854.

[55] Minutes of General Conference, October, 1840, CR 100 318, Box 1, Folder 6, CHL.

[56] Vilate Kimball, Nauvoo, Illinois to Heber C. Kimball, London, England, October 11-13, 1840, photocopy, MS 18732, Folder 1, CHL.

[57] ibid.

[58] ibid.

[59] ibid.

[60] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal,  Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.165, March 27, 1842.

[61] “Speech”, Delivered by President Brigham Young, in the City of Joseph, April 6. 1845, Times &Seasons, Volume VI, No. 12, July 1, 1845, 954.

[62] Letter, Robert B. Thompson to Heber C. Kimball, November 5, 1840, CHL.

[63] In the Nauvoo Baptisms for the Dead, Book A, attached note, film no. 183, 376, LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, it states that “Jane Neyman was baptized for her son Cyrus Livingston Neyman, Sund. Sept 12 1840”. This date is mistaken, for that Sunday would have been the 13th, and her 1854 statement gives the date as Sunday, the 13th.

[64] See Guy Bishop, “’What Has Become of Our Fathers?’ Baptism for the Dead at Nauvoo,” Dialogue 23 (Summer 1990): 85–97.

[65] Doctrine and Covenants 124:31-32.

[66] ibid., 19, 130.

[67] See Alexander L. Baugh, “For This Ordinance Belongeth to My House”: The Practice of Baptism for the Dead Outside the Nauvoo Temple, Mormon Historical Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, (Spring 2002), 47-58.

[68] Journal of Discourses, Volume 16, 165-66, Aug. 31, 1873. See also, ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner,  The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, The Smith-Pettit Foundation, Salt Lake City, 2009, 76-80. Conference Address given at Nauvoo, Illinois, 6 April, 1845.  In that address Young declared:

I do not say that you have not been taught and learned the principle; you have heard it taught from this stand from time to time, by many of the elders, and from the mouth of your beloved and martyred prophet Joseph; therefore my course will not be to prove the doctrine, but refer to those things against which your minds are revolting. Consequently I would say to this vast congregation of Saints, when we enter into the Temple of God to receive our washings, our anointings, our endowments and baptisms for the saving of ourselves, and for the saving of our dead: that you never will see a man go forth to be baptized for a woman, nor a woman for a man. If your minds should be in any dubiety with regard to this, call to mind a principle already advanced, that when an infinite being gives a law to his finite creatures, he has to descend to the capacity of those who receive his law, when the doctrine of baptism for the dead was first given, this church was in its infancy, and was not capable of receiving all the knowledge of God in its highest degree; this you all believe. I would keep this one thing in your minds, and that is, that there is none, no not one of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, that ever received the fullness of the celestial law at the first of the Lord’s commencing to reveal it unto them….

Joseph in his life time did not receive every thing connected with the doctrine of redemption, but he has left the key with those who understand how to obtain and teach to this great people all that is necessary for their salvation and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our God. We have got to learn how to be faithful with the few things, you know the promise is, if we are faithful in a few things we shall be made rulers over many things. If we improve upon the small things, greater will be given unto us.

I have said that a man cannot be baptized for a woman, nor a woman for a man, and it be valid. I have not used any argument as yet; I want now to use an argument upon this subject, it is a very short one; and I will do it by asking this congregation, if God would call a person to commence a thing that would not have power and ability to carry it out? Would he do it? (no.) Well then, what has been our course on former occasions? Why, here goes our beloved sisters, and they are baptised [baptized] in the river or in the fount for their uncles, for their fathers, for their grandfathers and great grandfathers.

Well, now I will take you and confirm you for your uncles, for your fathers, for your grandfathers, and let you go; after a while here comes our beloved sisters, saying. I want to be ordained for my uncle, and for my grandfather, and great grand-father; I want my father ordained to the high priesthood, and my grandfather, I want to be patriarch, and you may ordain me a prophet for my uncle! What would you think about all that, sisters, come now you have been baptised [baptized] and confirmed for your father, wont you be ordained for him? You could cast on a stocking and finish it.-You could take wool and card and spin it and make it into cloth, and then make it into garments. A person that commences a work and has not ability and power to finish it, only leaves the unfinished remains as a monument of folly. We will not commence a work we cannot finish: but let us hearken to the voice of the spirit and give heed to his teachings and we will make ourselves perfect in all things.