, Agreement, [probably , Hancock Co., IL], with , JS, and , 30 Apr. 1839; handwriting of ; witnessed by ; certified by ; two pages; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes endorsement and docket.
One leaf measuring 7½ × 6¾ inches (19 × 17 cm). The document was folded for transmission and filing, and it has marked wear and water damage. wrote a docket on the verso: “Geo. W. Robinson | Power of Attorney | for the Church”.
This manuscript, along with many other personal and institutional documents that kept, were inherited by his daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who married Isaac Groo. The documents were passed down within the Groo family until 1969, when the family began donating documents to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University; the last documents were donated in 1974.
Andrus et al., “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” 5–6.
Andrus, Hyrum L., Chris Fuller, and Elizabeth E. McKenzie. “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” Sept. 1998. BYU.
On 30 April 1839, members acting on behalf of the purchased several tracts of land in the vicinity of , Illinois. One of these transactions was arranged by , who agreed to purchase land from . Galland owned a significant amount of land in and , and in February 1839 he offered to sell his land to the church. The 30 April purchase from Galland included land around Commerce as well as the rights that the Illinois legislature had granted Galland in a special charter to run a hotel and establish a ferry between Commerce and , Iowa Territory. Though acting for the First Presidency, Robinson agreed to the land purchase in his own name, with JS, , and acting as sureties for the payment to Galland.
The same day purchased the land, he created and signed an agreement, featured here, between himself and the First Presidency. The agreement references a power of attorney and contains language specific to bonds, with Robinson acknowledging that he was acting as an agent for JS, , and in this transaction. The agreement, according to Robinson, created a lien on the land he purchased from . Robinson indicated that the lien was “in favour of the said surities,” meaning JS, Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith. Unlike a standard contract, Robinson’s document does not specify the terms of the agreement or the consequences if he failed to meet the requirements, but it was likely understood that he would transfer the property to the First Presidency once he received the title to the land. It appears that the agreement was used to ensure the church’s ownership of the land, because Robinson purchased the land in his name rather than specifying that he was acting as an agent for the members of the First Presidency, who should have been designated the principals in the transaction with Galland. Creating a lien, as Robinson apparently did in the agreement, prevented him from selling the land without church leaders’ authorization.
inscribed and signed the document, and then signed the document as a witness. In December 1840, clerk certified the document and recorded it in the county’s Book of Bonds and Mortgages.
The land specified in this agreement included the 47.17 acres that constituted the farm on which Galland lived and two fractional sections of land, one north of and one south of Commerce on the bank of the Mississippi River. The fractional sections were likely intended for ferry operations. (Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 12 G, p. 247, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; An Act to Incorporate the Commerce Hotel Company [28 Feb. 1839], Enrolled Laws of 1839, Secretary of State, Enrolled Acts of the General Assembly, Illinois State Archives, Springfield.)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Illinois Office of Secretary of State. Enrolled Acts of the General Assembly, 1818–1993. Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
The phrasing of the 30 April agreement suggests that Robinson previously received a power of attorney authorizing him to purchase the land for the church. (See also Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 12 G, p. 247, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; and Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 1 May 1839.)
A lien is created when property is offered as payment for a debt or when one party issues to another party the right to detain property under specified circumstances. The lien Robinson established appears to be an example of the latter use. Since neither Robinson nor the First Presidency held the title to the land involved in the lien, the encumbrance apparently would be in force when Robinson eventually acquired the land. Traditionally, when a lien was made, the creator of the lien held the title to the property involved in the lien. (See “Lien,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 2:43; and Butts, Business Man’s Assistant, 53.)
Bouvier, John. A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union; with References to the Civil and Other Systems of Foreign Law. 2 vols. Philadelphia: T. and J. W. Johnson, 1839.
Butts, I. R. The Business Man’s Assistant, Part I. Containing Useful Forms of Legal Instruments: Enlarged by the Addition of Forms. . . . Boston: By the author, 1847.
Be it re[me]mbered that I and attorney in fact for the do hereby acknowledge that I am bound to Joseph Smith Jr. to perform all the duties of my agency in r[ela]tion to certain real estate this day purchased of which real estate is situate in Illinois and for the payment of which the said & Smiths are bound as my securities to the said , Theref[ore] this instrument is designed to be a lean upon the aforesaid real estate in favour of the said surities.