Warren Cowdery, Freedom’s physician and postmaster, built the town’s first brick home in 1828. He was introduced to Mormonism by Oliver, who kept him abreast of the development of the Church. In turn, Warren shared what he learned with his neighbors. William Hyde, whose family lived next to the Cowderys, wrote that Warren “obtained from his brother, Oliver at an early date some of the proof sheets to the Book of Mormon, some of which we had the privilege of perusing, and we did not peruse any faster than we believed.”4 Warren would have also shared information about the new faith with his neighbor and brother-in-law, Samuel Miles. Warren’s baptism date is not known, but it was before November 1831.5
In about 1820, the Ira and Wealtha Hatch family settled in Farmersville, situated south of Freedom. They had many dealings with the Seneca tribe, which led to a connection with the Mormons. Their history reads:
Through Wealtha’s friendship with the Indians she was able to borrow one [of the copies of the Book of Mormon] and was the first one of the family to read it and wanted to join the Church immediately. Her husband and near relatives advised waiting a while because of persecution. She decided to take their advice and waited, hoping that more of her immediate family would be converted to the truth, but none of the others, except her husband, were readying themselves to join this unpopular sect. Early in 1832 a hole was cut in the ice on the river, and Wealtha was baptized . . . and confirmed.6
It is interesting to note how Wealtha received her copy of the Book of Mormon. In late October 1830, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., Ziba (Richard) Peterson, and Parley P. Pratt preached to a group of Seneca Indians living on the Cattaraugus Reservation while passing through western New York en route to Missouri on the Lamanitemission. Parley recorded:
After traveling for some days we called on an Indian nation at or near Buffalo; and spent part of a day with them, instructing them in the knowledge of the record of 42 Mormon Historical Studies
their forefathers. We were kindly received, and much interest was manifested by them on hearing this news. We made a present of two copies of the Book of Mormon to certain of them who could read and repaired to Buffalo.7
Quite possibly, the Book of Mormon loaned to Weltha Hatch was one of those presented to the Senecas by the missionaries to the Lamanites.
Also: Below is a lesson found telling more about Freedom, New York.
The Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106on November 25, 1834. In this revelation the Lord called Warren Cowdery to preside over the Church in Freedom, New York, and the surrounding communities. The revelation inDoctrine and Covenants 107was recorded in 1835, but the Lord gave certain parts of it to Joseph Smith at different times. At about the time the revelation was recorded, members of the recently organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were preparing to depart on missions. This is the first of three lessons onDoctrine and Covenants 107.
The Lord calls Warren Cowdery as the presiding high priest in Freedom, New York
Think of a time when a new bishop or branch president has been called. How do you think that person felt?
In 1834 the Church experienced significant growth in the community of Freedom, New York, a little less than 200 miles (approximately 322 kilometers) from Kirtland, Ohio. The Lord called a priesthood leader to preside over the members there. Read Doctrine and Covenants 106:1 to discover whom the Lord appointed to preside.
Warren Cowdery was Oliver Cowdery’s older brother. When Warren Cowdery received the calling to serve as a presiding high priest, his feelings might have been similar to those of a new bishop or branch president today. The Lord shared comforting words as Brother Cowdery accepted his new calling. Read Doctrine and Covenants 106:2–3, looking for what the Lord asked Brother Cowdery to do as he presided over the Church members in the area of Freedom, New York.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 106:6, and find what Warren Cowdery had done that led to joy in heaven. As you read, note that a scepter is a staff carried by royalty. It is a symbol of authority. In this verse the phrase “bowed to my scepter” refers to Brother Cowdery humbling himself before God’s power, and the phrase “separated himself from the crafts of men” likely refers to Brother Cowdery removing himself from vain and unrighteous activities.
Consider what you can do to humble yourself before God and separate yourself from unrighteous activities.