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Colesville, New York

by Lamar E. Garrard

Colesville, New York, is a township located in Broome County, in the south central part of the state, where one of the earliest branches of the Church was organized in 1830. The central part of the township lies approximately ten miles northeast of the present city of Binghamton. In October 1825 Joseph Smith went to the area to work intermittently for Josiah Stowell for a little over a year. Stowell lived just south of the village of South Bainbridge in adjoining Bainbridge Township, Chenango County (since 1857 the village of Afton, Afton Township). Sometime during 1826 Joseph Smith also worked for Joseph Knight, Sr., who with his family resided on a farm located on Pickerel Pond, immediately east of Nineveh, a village in Colesville Township on the Susquehanna River.

Joseph Smith maintained a friendly relationship with the Knight family and others in the Colesville area. In 1829, when Joseph and Oliver Cowdery were translating the Book of Mormon in harmony, pennsylvania, Joseph Knight, Sr., came from Colesville to visit and to give them food and writing materials. At other times, Joseph traveled the thirty miles from Harmony to Colesville for supplies. Joseph Smith related that the Melchizedek Priesthood was bestowed upon him and Oliver Cowdery by Peter, James, and John along the banks of the Susquehanna River between Colesville and Harmony (D&C 128:20; see Melchizedek Priesthood, Restoration of).

After the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, New York, Joseph made several visits to the Knight family in Colesville to preach the gospel. On one of these visits, he cast an evil spirit out of Newel Knight, a son of Joseph Knight, Sr. This was the first miracle performed in the Church after its organization (HC 1:82-83). Numerous converts were baptized in the area, despite strong opposition from enemies of the Church. Joseph was brought to trial during July 1830 in both Chenango and Broome counties on charges related to his religious activities, but was acquitted in both instances. The Colesville Branch, often spoken of as the first branch of the Church, was organized in October 1830, with Hyrum Smith as branch president. He was followed in this office by Newel Knight. The membership of the branch was approximately sixty-five members.

The Saints in the Colesville area, following instruction of the Prophet (D&C 38), migrated to Kirtland and then Thompson, Ohio, in April-May 1831, and subsequently on to Kaw Township, Jackson County, Missouri, during June-July 1831. Through all their moves they stayed together and were known as the Colesville Branch.

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Porter, Larry C. "A Study of the Origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816-1831." Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1971.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Colesville, New York

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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