Rebaptism, October 12, 1841

-- October 12, 1841
Epistle from the Twelve regarding the Nauvoo temple makes first reference to baptisms for health. "The time has come when the great Jehovah would have a resting place on earth, a habitation for his chosen, where his law shall be revealed, and his servants be endued [endowed] from on high, to bring together the honest in heart from the four winds; where the saints may enter the Baptismal Font for their dead relations ... a place, over which the heavenly messengers may watch and trouble the waters as in days of old, so that when the sick are put therein they shall be made whole." (1)

-- Oct 21, 1841
[Brigham Young] --21 (Sunday)-- Brothers Hyrum Smith and John Taylor preached. At 4 p.m., Brothers Kimball, Taylor and I baptized about forty persons in the font, for the dead; Brothers Richards, Woodruff and George A. Smith confirming. These were the first baptisms for the dead in the font. (2)

-- Oct 31, 1841
[Nauvoo Temple] Hyrum Smith wrote a letter to the Saints living in Kirtland counseling them to come to Nauvoo. His letter also contained the following revelation: "There shall not be a general assembly for a general conference assembled together until the House of the Lord and baptismal font shall be finished, and if we are not diligent the church shall be rejected and their dead also, 'saith the Lord.'" (3)

-- Nov 8, 1841
The first temple baptismal font is dedicated. The first ordinance is a baptism for the dead, with Young as officiator and Reuben McBride as proxy. The second ordinance is a baptism for health which heals Samuel Rolfe within the week. Four temples would eventually perform 22,403 baptisms for health from 1877 through 1893. (4)

[Nauvoo Temple] At 5 P.M. Brigham Young, acting under Joseph Smith's direction, dedicated the font, which was centered in the basement. The font was enclosed by a temporary frame structure of oak clapboard, its roof being low enough for the timbers of the first floor to be laid above it, so that ordinances could be administered in it, even as work on the Temple progressed, "It [the font] is constructed of pine timber, and put togther of staves tongued and grooved, oval shaped, sixteen feet long east and west, and twelve feet wide, seven feet high from the foundation, the basin four feet deep, the molding of the cap and base are formed of beautiful carved work. A flight of stairs in the north and south side leads up and down into the basin, guarded by a side railing. The font stands upon twelve oxen, for on each side and two at each end, their heads, shoulders, and fore legs projecting out from under the font; they are carved out of pine plank, glued togther, and copied after the most beautiful five-year-old steer that could be found in the country; the horns were formed after the most perfect horn that could be procured." The font proved to be temporary, as a more durable stone one would later replace it.

Water for the font came from a well dug in the east end of the basement. Hiram Oaks and Jess McCarrol dug this well through ten feet of solid work before striking water. Oaks reported that "when they struck water they lost the drill and water spirted up with great force." He placed his hat over the hole until McCarrol stopped the flow with a wooden plug. (3)

-- November 21, 1841
The Twelve "repaired to the Baptismal Font in the Temple for the purpose of Baptizing for the dead, for the remision of Sins & for healing." [Wilford Woodruff Journal] (1)

-- Nov 21, 1841
Baptisms for the dead commence in the Nauvoo Temple. Brigham Young and others of the Twelve baptize 40 persons for the dead. (5)

-- Dec 13, 1841
Joseph records the history of an anti-Mormon society that has caused troubles in Warsaw, Ill. The Twelve draw up an epistle concerning baptism for the dead. (5)

1 - Stapley, Jonathan & Wright, Kristine, '"They Shall Be Made Whole": A History of Baptism for Health,' Journal of Mormon History, Fall 2008
2 - Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844, ed. Elden Jay Watson (Salt Lake City: Smith Secretarial Service, 1968).
3 - Brown, Lisle (compiler), Chronology of the Construction, Destruction and Reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple
4 - Quinn, D. Michael, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Appendix 7: Selected Chronology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-47,
5 - Conkling, Christopher J., Joseph Smith Chronology

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptisms

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History