, Letter, , Adams Co., IL, to JS and others, , Clay Co., MO, 5 Mar. 1839. Featured version copied [between 22 Apr. and 30 Oct. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 3–4; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 5 March 1839, wrote to JS and the other prisoners in , Missouri, explaining recent developments regarding land dealer ’s offer to sell land to the church and relating the situation of church members who had recently relocated to . In January 1839, as it became apparent that the legislature would not reverse Governor ’s expulsion order, the Latter-day Saints organized an exodus from the state. , Illinois, became a magnet for church members because it was the closest sizeable settlement to where the Saints had lived in Missouri.
As Latter-day Saints poured into western , church leaders appointed and as a committee to seek “shelter from the inclemency of the season” in “the up river country” of Illinois as well as in . In early February 1839, Barlow and Rogers examined about forty empty buildings in , located at the bend of the in western Illinois. They then crossed the river and looked at the barracks of the abandoned Fort Des Moines in Iowa Territory. They also met with , who offered to sell the church twenty thousand acres of land within what was known as the “” in , Iowa Territory, for two dollars per acre, paid in twenty annual installments without interest.
Upon their return to , and attended a meeting at which they reported on their trip. They spoke “very favourably” of ’s offer to church leaders and suggested that the land was “every way suited for a Location for the church.” , who presided at the meeting, favored the purchase, “providing that it was the will of the Lord that we should again gather together.” Marks suspected that the church’s practice of gathering was a major cause of the previous conflicts with anti-Mormons in and . , who was also at the meeting, stated that “it was better to scatter into different parts and provide for the poor which will be acceptable to God.” The council voted to table the issue for the time being. In mid-February 1839, word of Galland’s offer reached JS, who sent a letter to church leaders in Quincy, apparently expressing support for the purchase.
arrived in on 16 February 1839, following his release from the on bail. Sometime during the week of 17–23 February, Rigdon and other church leaders visited in hopes of discussing the potential land purchase with , but he was not at home. As noted in the letter featured here, Rigdon and other church leaders were hesitant to make the purchase, although they thought it might be advisable in the future. The arrival of JS’s mid-February 1839 letter, even with its positive endorsement of the purchase, did little to change their minds. On 26 February, Galland wrote to , discussing the church’s potential purchase of Galland’s properties in and in Commerce and offering to render any assistance the Saints required as they left . He also noted that Iowa Territory officials were supportive of the proposal that church members locate there.
’s letter probably arrived in in late February or early March 1839, at which point church leaders decided to forward it and other documents to JS in , with acting as courier. Among the documents was ’s 5 March letter, which not only summarized the developments regarding Galland’s land offer but also described the generous reception the Latter-day Saints received in Quincy and updated the prisoners on the status and well-being of their families. Rogers left Quincy on 10 March and, after stopping in , arrived in Liberty on the evening of 19 March. Partridge’s letter directly contributed to at least three subsequent letters that JS and the other prisoners wrote. Partridge’s original letter is apparently not extant, but it was copied by into JS Letterbook 2 between 22 April and 30 October 1839.
See Hartley, “Saints’ Forced Exodus from Missouri,” 347–356.
Hartley, William G. “The Saints’ Forced Exodus from Missouri, 1839.” In Joseph Smith: The Prophet and Seer, edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson, 347–389. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010.
See Bennett, “Study of the Mormons in Quincy,” 83–105.
Bennett, Richard E. “‘Quincy the Home of Our Adoption’: A Study of the Mormons in Quincy, Illinois, 1838–1840.” In A City of Refuge: Quincy, Illinois, edited by Susan Easton Black and Richard E. Bennett, 83–105. Salt Lake City: Millennial Press, 2000.
An 1824 treaty between the United States and the Sac and Fox nation set aside about 119,000 acres of land between the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers, just south of Fort Madison, for the mixed-race children of white soldiers and Sac and Fox women. Galland, representing the New York Land Company, obtained the land in 1836. (Treaty with the Sock and Fox Indians [4 Aug. 1824], Public Statutes at Large, vol. 7, p. 229, art. 1; Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 264–265.)
The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845. . . . Edited by Richard Peters. 8 vols. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846–1867.
Church leaders at Quincy forwarded their minutes to church leaders in Missouri, and the minutes were incorporated into the records of the Far West removal committee, which had been appointed to oversee the exodus of church members from the state. It is likely that JS learned of Galland’s offer through those minutes or from an oral report from members of the Far West removal committee, who frequently visited the jail. JS’s letter, which is apparently not extant, was referenced by Partridge in the letter featured here. (Quincy Committee, Minutes, ca. 9 Feb. 1839, Far West Committee, Minutes, CHL; see also Letter to the Church and Edward Partridge, 20 Mar. 1839.)
Far West Committee. Minutes, Jan.–Apr. 1839. CHL. MS 2564.
Partridge likely selected Rogers to act as courier for three reasons. First, Rogers had personal knowledge of the negotiations with Galland. Second, Rogers had recently moved to Illinois from New York and was not known in Missouri; therefore, he could pass through the state unrecognized in the wake of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s expulsion order. Third, Partridge assigned Rogers to sell church-owned property in Jackson County, Missouri, and Rogers would be traveling to Missouri to accomplish that assignment. (Rogers, Statement, , CHL.)
Rogers, David W. Statement, [not before 1846]. CHL.
Father in law, , and himself would go on a farm about 20 miles N, E from this place. Some of the leading men have given us, (that is our people) an invitation to settle in and about this place, many no doubt will stay here.
Brn, I hope that you will bear patiently the privations that you are called to endure— the Lord will deliver in his own due time. Your letter respecting the trade with was not received here untill after our return from his residence at the head of the shoals or rapids. If were not here we might (after receiving your letter) come to a different conclusion respecting that trade. There are some here that are sanguine that we ought to accept trade with the . and are not here, and have not been here as I know of. and have settled some 20 or 25 miles N of this place for the present. A Br Lee who lived near died on the opposite side of the a few days since, preached his funeral sermon in the Courthouse.
It is a general time of health here, We greatly desire to see you, and to have you enjoy your freedom. The Citizens here are willing that we should enjoy the privileges guaranteed to all civil people without molestation.
Although it is unknown whom Partridge was referring to, in February 1839 Wandle Mace expressed full support of the purchase. (Quincy Committee, Minutes, ca. 9 Feb. 1839, Far West Committee, Minutes, CHL.)
Far West Committee. Minutes, Jan.–Apr. 1839. CHL. MS 2564.
Knight was called as a bishop in Missouri in June 1838. As of February 1839, he was still in Missouri. (Minutes, 28 June 1838; Vinson Knight, Spencerburg, MO, to William Cooper, Perrysburg, NY, 3 Feb. 1839, Vinson Knight, Letters, CHL.)
Knight, Vinson. Letters, 1839 and 1842. Typescript. CHL.
The identity of Brother Lee is unknown. The Quincy Whig noted that Rigdon preached at the funeral service of an unnamed Latter-day Saint on 27 February 1839. (Editorial, Quincy [IL] Whig, 2 Mar. 1839, .)