Morrisite collection, 1865-1975

Overview of the Collection

Anderson, C. LeRoy
Morrisite collection
1865-1975 (inclusive)
3 linear ft.
Collection Number
Materials concerning the Church of Firstborn, commonly known as the Morrisites. Includes oral history transcripts, correspondence, copies of book sections and magazine articles, copies of Morrisite tracts and pamphlets, Morris' correspondence to Brigham Young, membership rolls, Court and Council (Church governing bodies) records, manuscript materials from the St. Ann's Hill records, and a significant collection of the correspondence of George Williams (Prophet Cainan). Several items are in Danish. Primarily copies of materials from other collections.
Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division
Special Collections & Archives
Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
Logan, UT
Telephone: 4357978248
Fax: 4357972880
Access Restrictions

Open to public research.

Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top


The largest bulk of the collection are reproductions or recent materials. Many are sufficiently stable to be included without additional conservative measures. Wet process photocopies have been recopied onto a dry process copy and these new copies have included in the collection. Typescripts are made on bond paper and are included without additional measures.

Original items were deemed stable enough to be included in the collection without major work being done. Repairs were made with tissue coated on one side with Lamatec, an arcivally permanent heat set adhesive. Tissue was applied to one side only and may be easily removed with ethyl alcohol. The three bound volumes were included as part of the contents of box 6, pending the decision to construct individual drop-spine boxes.

Materials were separated into as few items as possible and foldered in acid-free folders. The collection is housed in Pholig Brothers Century boxes.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

THE MORRISITES - The C. LeRoy Anderson Morrisite Collection

This Collection is compiled around the Church of the Firstborn, popularly known as the Morrisites. ( For a historical treatment of The Morrisites see C. LeRoy Anderson's Joseph Morris and the History of the Morrisites, 2nd ed, (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1988). The church was began in Utah By an English convert to the LDS Church named Joseph Morris. In 1857 Morris began to receive revelations which named him as the "seventh angel," a term taken from the Book of Revelations. Morris wrote several letters to LDS Church President Brigham Young explaining his calling and seeking recognition. These letters are in the collection, photocopied from the copybooks contained in the archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . Morris was excommunicated from the Church in 1858. Working for local members of the LDS Church he took the opportunity to teacher others of his calling and doctrines. Beginning in 1860 Morris began to collect followers together at a settlement on the Weber River in Davis County, Utah. By the fall of 1861 there were over five hundred baptized members and another five hundred sympathizers.(Ibid., 70.) Trouble erupted in 1862 after a load of grain was seized by several discontented Morrisites who had withdrawn from the camp. Morris instructed his followers that the Second Coming of the Savior was soon to occur, and since it would be so soon that there was no need to plant crops. The seized grain had represented a large part of the remaining supplies of the Kingston group. Those who had taken the grain were held by the Morrisites awaiting trial by the Lord Himself. This act, coupled with the petitions of family members and friends of those in the Fort caused Justice John F. Kinney to issue a writ for the release of the prisoners and the arrest of Morris and some of his close associates. The writ was delivered by deputy Marshall Robert Burton, who collected a posse and marched the thirty miles north to the settlement. After the writ was refused and a three day siege the Morrisites surrendered on Sunday, June 15th, 1862.

Burton rode into the fort with a small contingent to accept the surrender of arms. Morris made a statement to his followers and moved towards Burton in a way that was interpreted as a threat. Burton shot Morris, and two others were also killed. The survivors were marched to Salt Lake City and ordered to appear at the next sitting of the Territorial Court. Before then the acting governor pardoned those at the fort who were accused of wrong doing.

The next few years saw the Morrisite faithful leave the Territory of Utah. Some went to Nevada and California, some settled in Omaha, Nebraska, many settled temporarily at Soda Springs, Idaho. Most of this last group eventually moved to the Deer Lodge Valley in central Montana. Here they collected under the leadership of George Williams, who called himself the "Prophet Cainan."

His was really a long distance leadership. Williams rarely spent time in Montana, living mostly in Salt Lake City and overseas in England. Regular correspondence kept him apprised of events in Montana and on the "Left wing of the Great Eagle," the congregation in California/Nevada. A large body of these letters are in the collection. Williams hoped to collect his letters and publish them (as would be done later for Morris's revelations), but this was never accomplished.

During his stay in England Williams worked as a laborer to support his family. It was also during these years that he wrote what came to be known as the St. Ann's Hill Record. The Morrisites' biographer Dr. LeRoy Anderson believes that these may have been created to bolster Williams' lagging following and failing popularity in the group he tried to lead. These records he claimed to have recovered from a hill in England (hence the name) and said that they contained "the vast creations, down to our own earth." (Ibid., 209.) They were dispensed serially in Williams' letters. Only a small fraction of the 53 chapters have remained to this day.

Once Williams died in 1882 the divided groups each presented their candidate for the leadership position over the whole Church. Though visits were exchanged by missionaries and other individuals the Church was never truly united again. John R. Eardley, who had been at Kingston Fort in the 60s eventually directed the church in Montana, which was reorganized as the Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Most High. George Dove controlled the California congregation. As the original membership began to die away there was not an influx of converts to replace them. The original membership was mostly gone by the turn of the century, and their children who adhered to a belief in Morris by the 1950s. The final fate of the California branch of the Morrisites is not known. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Most High officially disbanded in 1969. Their archives, grandchildren, and church building in Deer Lodge, Montana are all that remain.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains primarily copies from record of the Church of the Firstborn (Morrisites). It represents probably the largest collection on or about this unique group. The materials in the collection have been divided in to two groups of items.

ANDERSON - Dr. Anderson's research materials and notes. In this section are oral histories, correspondence, copies of book sections and magazine articles, and copies of Morrisite tracts and pamphlets.

CHURCH - This section contains materials dealing directly with the Church of the Firstborn and its history. This includes a copy of the mark Forscutt history of Joseph Morris, Morris' correspondence to Brigham Young, membership roles, Court and Council (Church governing bodies) records, manuscript materials from the St. Ann's Hill records (records that George Williams claims to have translated), and a significant collection of the correspondence of George Williams (Prophet Cainan). One bound volume contains revelations (in Danish) received by Morris that do not seem to exist in any other place. Several items are in Danish since many of the Morrisites were proselyted from the Scandinavian converts to the LDS Church. There are original holograph items, mostly copies made from original letters, these have been collected at the end of the collection..

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use


It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Utah State University Libraries, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Permission to publish material from the Morrisite collection must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation

Morrisite collection, 1865-1975. (CAINE COLL MSS 10). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged in numeric sequence according to box and folder.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to USU Special Collections and Archives by Joan Crum in 1990.

Processing Note

When received the collection had no overall order. A subject order was imposed to deal with the various sections of materials. Some items were isolated and named by the collector of the collection, these divisions were maintained since they represent footnoted items in the collector's book on the Morrisites. These are the "Morrisite Papers" referred to in Anderson's notes. A date index has been compiled for the correspondence and the revelations contained in the collection. Typescripts have been separated from photocopies of holographs and ordered chronologically. Original holograph items in the collection have been photocopied and filed in the body of the collection. Originals are collected at the end of run. Books belonging to the collection are identified in a bibliography in the register. They have not been integrated into the department's main collection.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container ListReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
The West: True Stories of the Old West:5 "Bloody Sunday at Kingston Fort"
1970 October 13
1 2
Draft article for Montana History
1 3
Anderson, C. LeRoy and Halford, Larry J. "The Mormon Morrisite Conflict: Perspectives : Perspective, Words and Works"
1 4
Correspondence with Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and article review sheets
1 5
LDS Church archives call slips
1 6
Notes and correspondence
1 7
Notes and correspondence
1 8
Morrisite items in books - Journal of Discourses
1 9
Morrisite items in books- Life in Utah
1 10
Morrisite items in books- Daniel Hanmer Wells
1 11
Morrisite items in books - History of the Pacific Coast, Society of Montana Pioneers, Comprehensive History of the Church
1 12
Morrisite items in books- History of Utah (Bancroft), History of Utah (Whitney), And These Were Men, Religions, Sects and Cults That Spring From Mormonism
1 13
Morrisite items in periodicals - Contributor, Up-to-the-Times Magazine, American West, Frontier Times, Deseret News
1 14
Morrisite items in thesis - Mormons in Montana 1847-1898
(see also Larry J. Halford, Mormons and Morrisites: A Study in the Sociology of Conflict, dissertation, Univ. of Montana, 1972.)
1 15
Journal excerpts
2 1
"Morrisites - Oral history transcript
2 2
"Concerning the Morrisites" - oral history transcript
2 3
Raymond Johnson items of George Johnson
2 4
Steve Barnett correspondence (Morrisite pardon)
2 5
Morrisite membership role
2 6
Mae Morin to LeRoy Anderson,
1973 November 24
2 7
Journal History of the Church
2 8
George Williams (Cainan) genealogical report
2 9
Peter Anderson materials
2 10
Newspaper Clippings (no Morrisite items)
2 11
Dove, James and Dove, George S. A Voice from the West to the People of Weber and All the Seed of Abraham. San Francisco.
(Covers events in the rise of Joseph Morris and at Kingston Fort. Lists the claimants for leadership after the break-up. Section 3 defends George dove's claim of leadership. Has also a short list of beliefs and a song about the Kingston experience.)
2 12
Articles of Faith. Tract no.3. San Francisco.
(Beliefs of the California branch of the Church of the Firstborn. Claims to represent the entire body of belief. Deals with such doctrines as nature of god, faith, reincarnation, revelation.
2 13
A Few Items in the History of the Morrisites. San Francisco.
(Narrates events in the history of the California branch of the Morrisites after 1862. Recounts encounters with the montana group and the Davies group in Washington. Defends the claims of George Dove.)
2 14
Dove, James. The Man of Sin in the Old and New Church. San Francisco.
(Views on Old Testament history, history of the LDS Church in Utah, compares Joseph Smith and Joseph Morris as martyrs, and other schismatics claims. Generally addresses the position of the California Morrisites in relation to history of religion and claims of other LDS break off groups.)
2 15
Eardley, (John) R. Gems of Inspiration: A Collection of Sublime Thought by Modern Prophets. San Francisco: Joseph A. Dove.
(Contains a short history of the Morrisites, a revelation titled "Keys of the Priesthood," an explanation of Morrisite world view called the "rounds of eternity," correspondence and revelations of Morris and George Williams (Cainan), a chapter from the St. Ann's records (which Williams claimed to have translated). This is the largest and most complete treatment of Morrisite belief.)
3 1
"Sketch of Joseph Morris by Mark H. Forscutt"
(Copy of original manuscript at LDS Church archives. Forscutt was named as an apostle in Morris's following and later served in the same capacity in the RLDS Church. The Sketch was written some years after he had joiundated.the RLDS Church. It addresses the call of Morris and the gathering of his followers. It also speaks of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and events leading to the tragedy at Kingston Fort. Forscutt was apparently a witness to the events. The last page refers to another history of the Morrisites he had written but had been burundated.rather than published.)
3 2
Joseph Morris correspondence,
(See Correspondence Index. Typescripts and photocopies of letter books from LDS Church archives. These letters are Morris presenting to Brigham Young his calling as prophet. They were copied as written, both by Brigham Young's copyist and by Anderson, maintaining the spelling errors and language usages. Morris complains about the treatment received at the hands of Church courts, presents claims of authority, makes revelatory and prophetic statements, and argues of his right as prophet. Typescripts were made by Anderson from photocopies.)
3 3
Joseph Morris correspondence,
3 4
Joseph Morris correspondence,
3 5
Joseph Morris correspondence,
3 6
Joseph Morris correspondence,
3 7
"Morrisite Papers" v.1 - letters from Cainan (George Williams)
(See Correspondence Index. Collection of letters written by Williams to a number of different individuals from 1863 to 1882. These letters are typescripts, made by Anderson from photocopies of original items (located in box 4, folders 10-14). Letters have been arranged chronologically, the photocopy of each following the typescript. Letters originally written by Cainan were copied into letter books and collected to be published as a volume in the future. This never was accomplished. Photocopies were made from these copybooks. Letters contain admonitions, general instructions, inspirational notes, occasional revelatory and prophetic statements. Most were written from Salt Lake City and also from England, where Williams lived for most of his later life. These letters, by no means all of his correspondence, were the means by which he led the Morrisite group in Montan a for twenty years.)
3 8-19
"Morrisite Papers" v.1 - letters from Cainan
4 1
"Morrisite Papers" v.2 - "Names of the Members of the Saints of the Most High", second stake,
(The Church in the Deer Lodge, Montana area was divided into two stakes in 1874. This is a record of membership which includes name, place of birth, birth date, baptism date, place, and officiator, and confirmatioundated.te. Forty-eight individuals are enrolled.)
4 2
"Morrisite Papers" v.3 - "Regnskabs Bog" (financial statement book,)
(Danish)(A record of income for the Omaha Nebraska congregation of the Morrisites. Also has a membership record for Omaha and a one page history of Council Bluffs, Iowa congregation. The entries are undated, but have been partially translated into English. This transcription is included.)
1869; 1869
4 3
"Morrisite Papers" v.4 - "Protocol Bog for Omaha Citys Forsamling . . .",
(Danish) (Membership record for the Omaha branch of the Church of the Firstborn. Partial English translation included.)
4 4
"Morrisite Papers" v.5 - "Protocol for Council Bluffs Forsamling"
(Danish) (Membership role for Council Bluffs, Iowa congregation.)
4 5
"Morrisite Papers" v.6 "Book for Records", council meeting minutes
(Meetings held monthly. Contents deal with ordinations, internal dissension, general organizational items.)
1872 September-1874 January
4 6
Typescript of fd 5
4 7
"Morrisite Papers" v.7 - Court Meeting minutes,
(Deals largely with structural organization and general affairs of the Church. Pages 9-13 contain items of succession following George Williams' (Cainan) death in England. Later pages deal with schism and problems of order within the church, apostasy of William James and others.)
4 8
Typescript of fd 7
Note: "Morrisite Papers" v.8 - George Jansen Journal - see box 6.
4 9
"Willow Glen" ledger,
(Ledger of accounts of Church and private store resources. Journal kept by J.R. Eardley. Also has record of attendance at Willow Glen Sunday School APR-AUG (1883).)
4 10
4 11
Letter book - letters from Cainan
(see Correspondence Index) (General content. Contains ceremony to be delivered at dedication of Deer Lodge church building, also an extract from the St. Ann's Hill records. Page 124 mentions apostates and congregations abroad.)
4 12
4 13
Letter book copies - letters of Cainan
(see Correspondence Index) (Letters deal with Almerin Grow's missionary trip to Turkey and doctrinal items.)
4 14
4 15
St. Ann's Hill Records. Copied form George Jansen Journal
(see also Gems of Inspiration, 73-74, 78-80,)
5 1
Council Meeting minutes,
5 2
Council Meeting minutes (inc),
1973 October 05
5 3
Cainan to Saints,
1871 November 08
5 4
Cainan to Bro. James,
1868 February 14
5 5
Cainan to James and John (inc),
1865 August-November
5 6
"Extracts from Bro. Cainan's writings, pertaining to the Presidency of the church in Montana, being vested in Bro. Wm. M. James-."
5 7
J.R. Eardley to Bro. Johnson,
1898 September 07
5 8
? to Bro. Johnson,
1898 September 07
5 9
"To Meet in Heaven" (poem),
5 10
Court Meeting minutes,
1909 November 10
5 11
"A Description of an interview with Celestial Beings, given by George Williams. . .",
(see Gems of Inspiration, 39-43).
1862 April 15
5 12
Letter fragments
5 13
Ames Reid items
5 14
"Difference not contradiction" (a sermon),
5 15
"A Song of Entreaty", by elder Joseph Luff,
5 16
"Admonition", by elder Joseph Luff,
5 17
Vignettes dealing with Morrisites
5 18
Eardley family history
5 19
Family bible pages (vital records, photos)
5 20
Eardley genealogy
6 1
Letters of Cainan
(see box 4 fd 13).
6 2
Letters of Cainan, "Cainan No 2"
(see box 4 fd 14).
6 3
"Extracts from Bro. Cainan's writings, pertaining to the Presidency of the church in Montana, being vested in Bro. Wm. M. James-"
(see box fd 6).
6 4
"A Description with celestial beings given by George Williams. . .",
(see box 5 fd 11, GJ 2-15, Gems 54-59.)
1862 April 15
6 5
A Prayer written by Cainan . . . ,
1879 April 03
6 6
(J.R. Eardley) to Bro Johnson,
(see box 5 fd 7).
1898 September 07
6 7
Bro. A. Hendricksen to Saints (Danish),
1870 December 30
6 8
? to ? (on Louis J. Pierce stationery),
6 9
"Revelation given in Weber",
(compare Spirit Prevails, n. 229.)
1862 February 25
6 10
(Spirit Prevails, n.273, pp. 610-613.)
1826 June 07
6 11
Revelation (extracts),
n.177 (not in SP under this number or date.)
1862 January 05
6 12
"References relative to the Rounds of Eternity"
(A doctrinal exposition on Morrisite world view and etiology.) (See Gems 39-43.)
6 13
Justice Mercy Judgment (broadside)
(Not in Flake.)
6 14
"To Meet in Heaven" (poem)
(See box 5 fd 9, BC inside back cover.)
6 15
Photo and poem sigundated."S.P. Wells" to Miss Johnson,
1907 March 12
6 16
" A Vision of One Hundred years Hence, 1845-1945."
(See Millennial Star 6 (1845) :140).
6 17
? to Bro. Emmons, undated.
(See box 5 fd 10.)
6 18
Court Meeting minutes,
(see box 5 fd 10)
1909 November 10
6 19
notes, letter fragments
6 20
Notebook (Danish),
6 21
Sporgsmaael og Svar,
(Short entries iundated.nish, numbered 1 to 78. Two different inks and hands.)
6 1
Bound copybook (BC)
(Correspondence copies, available in other area of the collection. See Correspondence Index.)
6 2
"Morrisite Papers" v. 8 - George Jansen Journal, Omaha, Nebraska,
(About two hundred pages of Joseph Morris' revelations, mostly iundated.nish. Contains a large body of St. Ann's Hill records. See Correspondence, revelation Indices, also Gems.)
1872 August 10
6 3
(Small handwritten volume n Danish. Divided into verses. Could be a poetry or hymn book.)
7 1
Leather bound notebook
94 pages in length, 54 pages iundated.nish ad 40 pages in English. The entries are copies of revelations from Joseph Morris and letters from the Prophet Cainan. One revelation from Morris numbered 158 is different from the 158 in the Spirit Prevails.
7 2
Clippings from the inside cover of volume 1
7 3
Small leather bound notebook that contains entries that are references to biblical verses
7 4
Small leather bound notebook written in Danish. The entries appear to be copies from Morris revelations and Cainan letters

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Church of the First Born (Morrisites)
  • Church of the First Born (Morrisites)--Sources.

Personal Names

  • Dove, George S. (contributor)
  • Dove, James. (contributor)
  • Eardley, James. (contributor)
  • Forscutt, Mark H. (contributor)
  • Morris, Joseph, 1824-1862.
  • Morris, Joseph, 1824-1862. (contributor)
  • Williams, George, d. 1882.
  • Williams, George, d. 1882. (contributor)

Geographical Names

  • Council Bluffs (Iowa)--History.
  • Deer Lodge (Mont.)--History.