Letter from Benjamin Winchester, 18 September 1841
, Letter, , Philadelphia Co., PA, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 18 Sept. 1841; handwriting of ; four pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal stamps, dockets, and notation.
Bifolium measuring 9⅝ × 7⅝ inches (24 × 19 cm). The letter was trifolded twice in letter style, then sealed with a red adhesive wafer, addressed, and stamped with postmarks. The letter was later refolded for filing and docketed. There is some wear and tear along the folds, and a small hole is visible on the second leaf. The second leaf bears residue from the red adhesive wafer used to seal the letter. A pamphlet, titled An Address to the Citizens of Salem and Vicinity, was originally enclosed with the letter. This pamphlet is no longer preserved with the letter; however, a copy of it is archived in the Church History Library.
Three dockets appear on the verso of the second leaf. , who served as JS’s personal scribe beginning in late 1841, inscribed a docket on the letter in its original trifolded state. A graphite notation was later added, apparently by a clerk or secretary for Andrew Jenson, who served as assistant church historian from 1897 to 1941. Another unidentified Church Historian’s Office staff member inscribed a graphite notation indicative of manuscript filing methods used in the Church Historian’s Office during the same period. The letter is listed in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The dockets, notation, inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection indicate continuous institutional custody of the letter since its receipt.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
Having just returned to from a mission in , Massachusetts, wrote a letter to JS on 18 September 1841, asking to be excused from another missionary assignment to the same place. Winchester had presided over the Philadelphia of the since April 1840 and had served a number of proselytizing missions in the eastern , including the one to Salem, which he served with from July to early September 1841. On 16 August 1841 a special church held in , Illinois, called Winchester to serve another mission in Salem with Snow. Citing his poor health, impoverished circumstances, and confidence in Snow’s independent preaching abilities, Winchester asked in the letter featured here to be relieved from his new missionary assignment. In addition to this request, Winchester provided his observations on , who had recently come to Philadelphia.
The letter featured here is the original sent from and received by JS in , likely a couple of weeks after it was mailed in on 18 September 1841.
The work of the Lord is prospering in this section of the country I am subject to your counsel as far as is in my power Please write to me as soon as you get this if you have time for it would be a treat to have a letter from you
I never regretted the death of any man more that <than> that of and I said whose will “who can fill his place”
According to the Philadelphiabranch records, more than fifty individuals were baptized into the church in Philadelphia during the first nine months of 1841. (“Names of the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Philadelphia,” in Philadelphia Branch Record Book.)
Philadelphia Branch, Record Book, 1840–1854. CCLA.
JS’s brother Don Carlos Smith passed away on 7 August 1841. Notice of his death was published in the 16 August 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons. (See “Death of General Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:503; and Eliza R. Snow, “Lines, Written on the Death of Gen. Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:504.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.