, Letter, , Hillsborough Co., NH, and , Middlesex Co., MA, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 and 3 May 1842; handwriting of ; four pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, notations, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 7⅜ inches (25 × 19 cm). The recto and verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf are ruled with twenty-eight blue lines; the verso of the second leaf is unlined. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer, remnants of which are present on the verso of the second leaf. The letter was later folded for filing.
The verso of the second leaf contains a docket by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. The document was also docketed by , a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets, the circa 1904 inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
In early May 1842, wrote a letter from , New Hampshire, to JS in , Illinois, which discussed Maginn’s missionary efforts in New England. Maginn, who had joined the in , Upper Canada, had been proselytizing in the northeastern since 1840. Maginn attracted attention for his “commanding appearance,” knowledge of scripture, and “magnetic personality.” He was especially influential in Peterborough, where he preached intermittently for two years.
wrote the majority of the letter featured here in on 1 May 1842 but added further information on 3 May after arriving in , Massachusetts. The letter relates his proselytizing efforts in both New Hampshire and and asks church leaders to send other to proselytize in the area. Maginn’s biblical language and allusions, particularly in the portion of the letter about his efforts to establish the church in New Hampshire, are notably populist and anti-creedal. He described the local Christian religions as engaging in “” and being in error. Maginn used this rhetoric to show how his growing Latter-day Saint congregation was different from the other Christian denominations.
’s letter included an enclosure of money, consisting of his donation to the construction fund and payments from subscribers to the Times and Seasons newspaper, for which Maginn acted as an agent. In March 1842, Maginn sent forty-five dollars in subscription money to Nauvoo through the secure means of a bank draft, or check. He was unable to forward additional funds because there were no banks in the New Hampshire area where he had collected the funds, and he was unwilling to mail the money with his letters for fear it might be stolen. Rather than sending another bank draft when he arrived in , Maginn found a courier, Latter-day Saint Bingham Bement, who was apparently heading to Nauvoo, to carry the letter and enclosed money for Maginn.
The letter arrived in by 31 May, when the enclosed money was recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord. Notations on the letter from and indicate that it was retained in JS’s office. Unlike ’s 22 March 1842 letter, this letter was not printed in the Times and Seasons. Maginn requested a letter of reply from one of JS’s counselors in the or from one of the . No reply has been located.
“Statement of Sister Smith respecting the History of Eli P. Magin,” Obituary Notices and Biographies, CHL; Benjamin Ellsworth, Palermo, NY, 18 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:219.
Obituary Notices and Biographies, 1854–1877. CHL.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Morison and Smith, History of Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1:187–190; Barney, “Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Portrayed,” 165–169. In a March 1842 letter to JS, Maginn described his recent visit to Massachusetts and noted the growth of the church in New England, including the Peterborough congregation, which had thirty-six members at the time. (Letter from Eli Maginn, 22 Mar. 1842.)
Morison, George Abbot. History of Peterborough, New Hampshire. Vol. 1, Narrative. Rindge, NH: Richard R. Smith, 1954.
Barney, Ronald O. “‘A Man That You Could Not Help Likeing’: Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Portrayed in a Letter by Susannah and George W. Taggart.” BYU Studies 40, no. 2 (2001): 165–179.
Mass May 3, preached last night at the City Hall ab[o]ve 2,000 attended & paid good attention his Honor the Mayor together with many of the Priests <&c> attended we had a quite interesting time I continue for 8. even[ing]s. successively there is quite an excitement &c. Br. Smith you will probably receive a Letter (by the hand of Mr. J. S. Twiss an honest seeker after truth and a warm friend) from the citizens of concerning a spurious article (in a Pamphlet publish by order of the State of ) “signed by 84 Mormons” the names of some Brethren of good standing are appended (I believe) Br. and others I stated that it was not done by their consent <but was spurious> and they are writing to get something to bring me in a Lie, every device is used to obtain their Reffuge (Lies) posible
P.S. L[ysander] M. Davis is here () he informs me that is preparing an article to publish (in the papers) to provethattheMillennumhascommencedalready has labored ardently and has strove to do good but has a rather imperfect understanding of the work, and has many singular notions, I do not write this to opperate against But as he is in where any thing incorrect is <sought for &> heralded forth to the World, which makes it verry hard for us spoke to me about it “said he was at a loss how to proceed” “it was a dilicate thing to write to the west about” it” I feel so too. but thot. I would drop a hint feeling it duty (tho. reluctant) that you may pursue the course best calculated to preserve the Honor of the Cause
By the politeness of Mr. B. Bement
Rail Road Bank
<When you have made your entry Please return this to Recorders office >
Possibly John S. Twiss, who was born in New Hampshire, baptized in Nauvoo by 31 July 1843, and purchased land in Nauvoo in November 1843. (Naamah Kendall Jenkins Carter Young, Temple Record Book, 1640–1909, p. , microfilm 673,268, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; “Members Names Who Came into the City since 1841,” ; Nauvoo Registry of Deeds, Record of Deeds, bk. B, 152.)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
“Members Names Who Came into the City since 1841, and Those Baptized in the City,” ca. 1841–ca. 1846. In Far West and Nauvoo Elders’ Certificates, 1827–1838, 1840–1846, 1862. CHL. CR 100 402.
Nauvoo Registry of Deeds. Record of Deeds, bk. B, 1843–1846. CHL. MS 3443.
This article by Nickerson either was not published or is no longer extant. However, Boston newspapers referenced several odd and incorrect teachings that they attributed to Nickerson. An article in the Boston Morning Post, for example, recounted that Nickerson preached that he had angels minister to him and that he had spoken with God face to face. According to the article, Nickerson further taught that “it was only necessary for them to repent and be baptized, and receive the spirit, to see what he had seen, and to enjoy the same familiar and friendly conversations with heaven’s inhabitants.” An article in the Christian Herald claimed that “Mr. Nickerson informs us that he has taken ‘deadly things,’ such as arsenic, &c. and they did not, ‘hurt him.’” (“The Bible Convention,” Boston Morning Post, 31 Mar. 1842, ; “Mormon Delusions and Monstrosities,” Christian Herald, 28 July 1842, , italics in original.)
Earlier in the letter, Maginn indicated that he enclosed six dollars in cash for Times and Seasons subscriptions, as well as twenty-five dollars for the Nauvootemple. While the enclosed amount should have totaled thirty-one dollars, Willard Richards noted here only thirty dollars in banknotes. An additional discrepancy may have occurred when William Clayton entered Maginn’s donation for the temple as twenty-six dollars in the Book of the Law of the Lord. It is not clear if these were errors made by Maginn or later by Richards or Clayton in Nauvoo. (Book of the Law of the Lord, 140.)