Beginnings in Brooklyn

September 6th, 2008, by Kent Larsen

While collecting articles that mention New York City from the Times and Seasons, I came across an 1840 letter from George J. Adams that provides some great insight into the beginnings of a branch in Brooklyn that year. Adams recounts founding a branch of 19 in Brooklyn after hearing a sermon by Heber C. Kimball in February of that year, joining the Church eight days later and being ordained an Elder eight days after that.

Adams’ letter was written soon after he returned from representing the New York area branches at a conference held in Philadelphia. According to the minutes of the conference, Adams claimed that the New York (i.e., Manhattan) branch consisted of 200 members and 10 elders.

The letter says that Adams organized the branch itself, converting and baptizing its members. In general, the letter has a somewhat self-agrandizing tone, with claims that Adams preached to thousands and held 3 public discussions debating Mormonism, including one with well-known anti-Mormon Origen Bacheler, author of the 1838 book, Mormonism exposed.

Unfortunatelly,  George J. Adams‘ later experiences with the church were not as promising, as he was first involved with the trouble caused by William Smith following the death of the Prophet, then excommunicated first from the LDS Church, and then from the Strangites, before he founded his own Church of the Messiah.

Regardless of Adams’ own difficulties, the letter does give a peek at the Church in Brooklyn and New York City in 1840, as well as documentation of the first branch in Brooklyn.

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