About the Collection
Amos Bottsford Fuller
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Amos Bottsford Fuller was born 26 March 1810 in Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York, to Luther Fuller and Lorena Mitchell. Amos became a blacksmith by trade and married Esther Victoria Smith on 8 March 1832 in Stockholm, New York. Together they had nine children, six of whom survived to adulthood. After conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Amos was baptized a member on 17 February 1836. Subsequently the family moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where members of the LDS church were gathering at the time. On 18 June 1836 Amos received a patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith Sr. and was called to serve a mission for the LDS church in 1837, traveling by foot from Ohio to New York preaching the gospel as he went. Much of his time was spent among his relatives in New York. He returned to Kirtland at the end of the year and was sent on another mission in early 1838.
Amos left on 2 January 1838 with Elder Hale as his companion on his second mission to New York. They traveled by foot defending the LDS doctrine against many false rumors. On one occasion the Mormon Elders were challenged to a debate, complete with moderators, to be held on 10 January 1838. Amos and Elder Hale accepted the offer and after preaching about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon the Elders allowed their opponents the opportunity to speak. Amos recorded that “Mr. Eddy then aros [sic] and brought forth many false and scurrilous reports enough to sicken a dog to hear and then stated that the character o Jo Smith was sufficient testimony against it which closed his remarks we then had ten minutes to reply and showed the weakness of his argument by comparing the deeds of Jo Smith (as he was pleased to call him) to those committed by Moses David and Solomon.”1 Amos’ journal account is short and comes to an end on 18 January 1838, but we know that by summer 1838 he had returned to Kirtland.
The church was suffering great persecutions in Kirtland and in 1838 Joseph Smith and other church leaders fled to Missouri. Those left in Kirtland were the sick and the very poor. During the summer of 1838 many of these remaining members of the church organized themselves to follow their leaders to Missouri and escape the persecution at the hands of apostates in Kirtland. The first group that was organized to leave was called “Kirtland Camp”. Amos was a member of the Kirtland Camp and signed the camp constitution, leaving Kirtland, Ohio on 6 July 1838 and arriving in Adam-ondi-Ahman, Daviess County, Missouri three months later on 4 October 1838.2 He suffered through the persecutions with the saints in Missouri when they were driven from the state by armed mobs. In 1841 he was a colonel in the militia of Lee County, Iowa, where many members of the LDS church had settled.3
When the Prophet Joseph Smith was murdered on 27 June 1844 many members of the church were confused about the leadership of the church and several groups broke off from the main body of the church. One of these groups was led by a man named James Jesse Strang. A recent convert to the LDS church, Strang claimed that Joseph Smith had sent him a letter stating that he should be the prophet after Joseph died. He also claimed that an angel had visited him at the very moment Joseph was murdered and the angel had confirmed that he should lead the church and gather the members with him in Voree, Wisconsin. The majority of the LDS church rejected Strang’s claim and he was excommunicated by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church on 26 August 1844, but several hundred people did follow Strang, including Amos Fuller. They became known as “Strangite Mormons.”4
Amos was called by Strang to be the Assistant President of the Voree Stake in 1846 and that same year as Bishop of the whole church. Within only a few years many of Strang’s followers became disenchanted with him and his teachings and left his church. Amos left the Strangites and was excommunicated from that church on 4 April 1847.5
After being excommunicated by the Strangites, Amos moved to Iowa, where he died in Des Moines on 29 March 1853. Amos’ family later moved to Salt Lake City, where his wife Esther died on 31 October 1856.
1 Amos Botsford Fuller, “Diaries, 1837–1838,” MSS 292, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. 10 January 1838.
2 Gordon Orville Hill, “A History of Kirtland Camp: Its Initial Purpose and Notable Accomplishments” (M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1975) , 129.
3 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 4. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980) , 416.
4 Susan Easton Black, “James J. Strang, 1813–1856,” in Dictionary of Heresy Trials, ed. George H. Shriver (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1997) , 393.
5 Frank J. Young, Strangite Mormons: A Listing of the Followers of Mormon Prophet James Jesse Strang at Voree, Beaver Island, and Other Locations, Including Notes of Genealogical Interes. (Vancouver, Washington: F.J. Young, 1996) , 73.
Backman, Milton Vaughn, Keith Perkins, and Susan Easton, eds. A Profile of Latter-day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio and Members of Zion’s Camp 1830–1839: Vital Statistics and Sources. Provo, Utah: Dept. of Church History and Doctrine, 1982.
Black, Susan Easton. “James J. Strang, 1813–1856.” In Dictionary of Heresy Trials in American Christianity, ed. George H. Shriver, 393-401. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1997.
Easton, Susan Ward, ed. Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 27. Provo, Utah: Religious studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1986.
Fuller, Amos Bottsford. “Diaries, 1837–1838,” MSS 292, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Hill, Gordon Orville. “A History of Kirtland Camp: Its Initial Purpose and Notable Accomplishments.” M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1975.
Smith, Joseph. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 4. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980.
Young, Frank J. Strangite Mormons: A Finding Aid: A Listing of the Followers of Mormon Prophet James Jesse Strang at Voree, Beaver Island, and Other Locations, Including Notes of Genealogical Interest. Vancouver, Washington: F.J. Young, 1996.