Religious revivals in 1820/Primary sources

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Primary sources: Religious revivals in the Palmyra area in 1820

The following primary source references are from secondary source Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2d ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 192-194.

Palmyra Register, June 7, 1820


The religious excitement which has for some months prevailed in the towns of this vicinity (says the Ballston Watch-Tower, of May 17) has not yet wholly subsided.—The third communion season, which has been observed in Ballston, since the commencement of the work there, was witnessed on the last Lord's day, when thirty additional communicants were received—making the whole number added within three months, one hundred and forty-five. We have heard it asserted, on what we believe to be good authority, that the whole number, who have hopefully experienced a saving change, during the progress of the great work in the towns of Stillwater, Malta, Ballston, Schenectady, Amsterdam and Galway, is not less than twelve hundred!—This is the Lord's work alone, and it is marvellous in our eyes. This is a time the prophets desired to see, but they never saw it.

We are happy to learn that a connected narrative of the whole work, by the several clergymen particularly concerned, is contemplated for one of our religious periodical publications. Extracts from which will appear in this paper.
Palmyra Register, June 7, 1820

Palmyra Register, May 8, 1820

A letter from Homer [N.Y.] dated May 29, received in this town, states, that 200 persons had been hopefully converted in that town since January first; 100 of whom had been added to the Baptist church. The work was still progressing.
Palmyra Register, August 16, 1820

Palmyra Register, September 13, 1820


Extract of a letter from Rev. Asahel Nettleton, to a gentleman in Boston, dated Nassau, May 8, 1820.

"The county of Saratoga, for a long time, has been as barren of revivals of religion, as perhaps any other part of this state. It has been like 'the mountains of Gilboa, on which were neither rain nor dew.' But the face of the country has been wonderfully changed of late. The little cloud made its first appearance at Saratoga Springs last summer. As the result of this revival about 40 have made a public profession of religion in Rev. Mr. Griswold's church.—Directly south in the town of Malta—I spent a few days preaching and visiting among them.—I had not proceeded far in my work before the attention became universal. They have had no Presbyterian church in that town for a number of years past. As the fruit of this revival a church has been recently organized, consisting of 105 members. A number more are rejoicing in hope, and some anxious for their souls. The attention there excited a deep interest in the surrounding region. The inhabitants are scattered over a large extent, and yet I do think I have seen more than 1400 people assembled at once to hear the gospel. Directly east, and adjoining Malta, is the town of Stillwater; here the revival, has been very powerful; about two hundred have become hopeful subjects; more than 160 of whom were added to the church at their two last communion sessions. The work there is still advancing. Directly west, and adjoining Malta, is the town of Ballston. This place has been visited with refreshing showers in years that are past. But the present far exceeds anything they have ever before witnessed. At their two last communion sessions 118 were added to that church, and a number more are rejoicing—and some yet anxious for their souls.—Directly north of Ballston is the town of Milton. A revival has just commenced there, and about 12 recently entertaining hope. Traveling north-west, and adjoining. Milton, is East Galway. Here the work has been overwhelming.

Within about two months, not less than 150 have become hopeful subjects of divine grace; and a number are still anxious for their souls. Onward to south-west is Amsterdam. About fifty are there hopeful subjects of divine grace. Adjoining this, is a very wicked place called Tripes hill. About 50 are hopeful subjects of the same glorious work, and the attention in both these places is still increasing. South-west from Malta is the city of Schenectady, and Union College. At one of our communion sessions in Malta, the Rev. Dr. M'Auley, from that College visited us in company with a number of the students. Some of them have become anxious....

And a number engaged to attend in the concerns of their souls on earth. From that time a number began to enquire, 'What must I do to be saved?' About thirty of the students are rejoicing in hope. In the city of Schenectady the work has been very powerful....

A revival has just commenced in the town of Nassau, a little east of Albany. It has commenced in a very powerful manner. Within less than 3 weeks past, more than 80 are rejoicing in hope in this place, a number in deep distress. I have neither time nor room to state particulars. My dear brother, we live in an interesting time —'This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel.'"
Palmyra Register, September 13, 1820

Palmyra Register, October 4, 1820


Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Bloomingsgrove (N.Y.) to his sister in Philadelphia, dated August 22, 1820.

"My Dear Sister,

"I wish you could have been with us yesterday. I had the pleasure to witness 80 persons receive the seal of the covenant, in front of our Church. Soon after 135 persons, new members, were received into full communion. All the first floor of the Church was cleared; the seats and pews were all crowded with the members, and after they had all partaken of the symbols, and gone through with the ordinance, they were requested to leave their seats and give room for those who had not yet partaken. The seats and pews were re-occupied, and the most of the day taken up in celebrating the Lord's Supper. About twelve more were taken under the charge of the Church. Service was kept up the whole time out of doors. Such a throng of people was hardly ever known here. I think, my dear sister will now join me in prayer and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for his special goodness."
Palmyra Register, October 4, 1820