Doctrine and Covenants 111: Treasure in Salem

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 128–129


William Burgess went to Kirtland, Ohio, and claimed to know where a large amount of money was available in Salem, Massachusetts. In an attempt to solve the money problems the Church faced as a result of the persecutions in Missouri and building the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith and others met with Burgess in Salem to obtain this hidden treasure. When they got there, Burgess could not m to remember where the treasure was located. ( B.H. Roberts,A Comprehensive History of the Church,1:411.) The way the Lord dealt with the Prophet’s sincere but perhaps foolish hopes on that occasion can teach us about His dealings with us.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 111

Follies(v. 1)Foolish acts 
Instrumentality(v. 2)Influence, efforts 
Expedient(v. 3)Appropriate, desirable 
Form acquaintance(v. 3)Make friends, establish good relationships 
Tarry(vv. 7–8)Wait, stay 
Signalized(v. 8)Made known, indicated 
This place you may obtain by hire(v. 9)You can rent this place 

Doctrine and Covenants 111:2—What Treasure Did the Lord Have in Salem for the Church?

The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith and the men who accompanied him to Salem, Massachusetts, that the treasure there would be the souls they could bring to Christ. Five years later, in 1841, Erastus Snow (who was later called to be an Apostle) was given a copy of the revelation inDoctrine and Covenants 111and sent on a mission to Salem. Hyrum Smith told him that it was time for the revelation to be fulfilled. Brother Snow stayed there for more than a year and baptized more than 100 converts.

Doctrine and Covenants 111:9–10—How Does Inquiring After the “Ancient Inhabitants and Founders” of Salem Relate to “More Treasure” in the City?

Another treasure available in Salem, Massachusetts, was the records of Essex County, where one could “inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city” (D&C 111:9). Many ancestors of the early Church members had resided in Salem—including the first ancestor of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s to come to America. As a young boy, Joseph Smith had lived in Salem for a short time with his uncle Jesse Smith when Joseph was recovering from his leg operation. His mother, Lucy Mack Smith, recorded that after the operation “Joseph immediately commenced getting better, and from this onward, continued to mend until he became strong and healthy. When he had so far recovered as to be able to travel, he went with his uncle, Jesse Smith, to Salem, for the benefit of his health, hoping the sea-breezes would be of service to him, and in this he was not disappointed” (History of Joseph Smith,58).

The importance of having these records was later made known when the Lord revealed the doctrines concerning work for the dead.

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 111.

Activity A iconHow Do You Think He Felt?

How might the Prophet Joseph Smith have felt about himself and about the Lord as he considered what the Lord said inDoctrine and Covenants 111?

Activity B iconWhat Are the Lessons?

Write about some important lessons we can learn fromDoctrine and Covenants 111and the events leading up to it and after it ( also the introduction toD&C 111in this study guide and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section).

Activity C iconGive an Example

  1. 1.

    Give an example of what you think the Lord asked His servants to do in the first part ofDoctrine and Covenants 111:11.

  2. 2.

    What might that mean for you?