, Letter, , Philadelphia Co., PA, to , JS, and the , [, Hancock Co., IL], 16 Feb. 1843; handwriting of ; four pages; CHL.
Bifolium measuring 12⅜ × 7½ inches (31 × 19 cm) when folded. The paper is ruled with thirty-four printed horizontal lines (now faded). Embossed in the upper right corner of the first leaf’s recto is “J. AMES” inside a decorative oval. The letter was inscribed in an unconventional manner, beginning on the final page of the bifolium, from there proceeding to the first and second pages, on the first leaf, and concluding on the third page, on the second leaf. The letter was folded twice horizontally and then once vertically.
The document was in JS’s possession on 27 May 1843, when JS read it to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. By 1973 a photocopy of the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The original letter was cataloged at the CHL in 2012. The inclusion of a photocopy of the document in the JS Collection by 1973 suggests continuous institutional custody.
The embossment may be that of D. & J. Ames, a paper mill. (Whiting, “Paper-Making in New England,” 309; Gravell et al., American Watermarks, 235.)
Whiting, William. “Paper-Making in New England.” In The New England States: Their Constitutional, Judicial, Educational, Commercial, Professional and Industrial History, edited by William T. Davis, vol. 1, pp. 303–333. Boston: D. H. Hurd, 1897.
Gravell, Thomas L., George Miller, and Elizabeth Walsh. American Watermarks: 1690–1835. 2nd ed. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2002.
See the full bibliographic entry for Peter Hess, Letter, Philadelphia, PA, to Hyrum Smith, 16 Feb. 1843, in the CHL catalog.
On 16 February 1843, wrote from to , JS, and the at , Illinois, to report on discontent and division in the Philadelphia of the . Problems had plagued the branch since at least 1841, when its administrative power was divided between , who presided over the branch, and fellow member , who was chosen to “take charge of the financial affairs.” Conflicts and divisions over branch leadership ultimately created a schism. In January 1842, branch members loyal to Winchester rented a room on the third floor of an assembly building located on the southwest corner of Tenth and Chestnut streets, where they held worship services apart from the other members, who continued to meet in a building on Third Street in the Northern Liberties district. Problems escalated during an April 1842 when, under Winchester’s leadership, the branch voted “that the head quarters of the Presiding authorities of this Church shall be at the assembly buildings in Chesnut St, and that all other places for preaching in this City shall be under the directions and control of those authorities.” In response, members of the Philadelphia branch who attended meetings on Third Street sent a petition to JS asking that he establish a second branch in the city.
The new branch appointed its own leaders, including , to take charge beginning in September 1842. The following month, and visited the branch and urged that the entire branch be reorganized to “begin anew.” Hess was retained as and received instructions regarding how to handle disputes within the branch. Branch members agreed to continue meeting at the Third Street location “until a more commodious one can be obtained in a more central situation.” During a December conference, branch members vowed to forget past difficulties.
Following the December 1842 meeting, evidently wrote to to explain that the past difficulties had dissipated. Hess’s enthusiasm was short lived, however, as again generated discontent, this time by pushing for the excommunication of the Third Street branch members. He was specifically charged with “trying to injure the reputation” of , whom he had accused of criminal behaviors. Both Hess and missionary disagreed with Winchester’s assertions, preferring to put former difficulties behind them.
Evidently written as a follow-up to an earlier letter to , which is apparently no longer extant, this 16 February 1843 letter from described the deteriorating conditions within the branch during early 1843. To provide further evidence of the continuing difficulties in the branch, Hess copied part of the minutes of a branch meeting held 14 February. The minutes described a young woman in the branch who had been charged with prostitution and had subsequently accused two other branch members of operating and employing her in an oyster house that also served as a brothel, as was common among oyster houses in early . It is not entirely clear what the branch leadership decided regarding the young woman’s membership, but the minutes reveal a significant level of dysfunction within the branch.
closed the letter with two postscripts addressed to JS. The first postscript identified as the chief source of division in the branch and implored JS to call him back to . The second assured JS that he would soon receive additional letters containing more details regarding Winchester’s actions and the problems that plagued the branch.
The lack of addressing and postal markings suggests that the letter was sent with a courier or mailed in an envelope that is not extant. Assuming the letter was mailed soon after it was written, JS and presumably received it sometime in early to mid-March. indicates that on 10 March he wrote a letter to on JS’s behalf. The letter Clayton referenced may have been a reply to that is no longer extant. JS later shared the contents of Hess’s letter with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a meeting to discuss the Philadelphia branch on 27 May 1843. Ultimately, was censured for his conduct in the branch.
Because oyster houses were eating establishments that were generally associated with taverns and brothels, they were highly regulated by most eastern states, generally requiring town-issued licenses to operate. (See, for example, “Police of London,” Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, 8 Dec. 1827, ; “The Tavern Licensing System,” North American [Philadelphia], 6 Nov. 1845, ; Burnap, Lectures to Young Men, 132; An Act Enabling the Town-Councils in this State, to Grant Licenses for Retailing Strong Liquors, and for Other Purposes, Public Laws of the State of Rhode-Island, 295–296; and Lobel, “Emergence and Evolution of the Restaurant,” 214–217.)
Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser. Baltimore. 1825–1838.
North American and Daily Advertiser. Philadelphia. 1839–1845.
Burnap, George W. Lectures to Young Men, on the Cultivation of the Mind, the Formation of Character, and the Conduct of Life: Delivered in Masonic Hall, Baltimore. 2nd ed. Baltimore: John Murphy, 1841.
The Public Laws of the State of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, as Revised by a Committee, and Finally Enacted by the Honorable General Assembly, at Their Session in January, 1822. . . . Providence, RI: Miller and Hutchens, 1822.
Lobel, Cindy R. “‘Out to Eat’: The Emergence and Evolution of the Restaurant in Nineteenth- Century New York City.” Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture 44, nos. 2 and 3 (Summer/Fall 2010): 193–220.
i requested him not to officiate in the church at present i told him i thought it would be wisdon for him not to officiate at present the time of departure we came to the conclusion as there was no others to labour and the work of God was prospering we thought it advisable to prevail on and Elder Wharton to labour alternately together i went and communicated the same to and he refused and went to Bror Wharton and prevailed on him to preach who has been labouring from that time till the present during which time they have been rapidly Joining the but the remaining part of my letter will not be such good news would to God it was
had scarcley left the when those who claimed to be the Wheat of the church and whose cry had been support the and the church now rose up and opposed me and my measures And now i solemly say before God my firm belief is that when they had elected me they thought that they could use me for a tool to Effect their purposes. the reason why i think so is they come to me and began to dictate to me what i should do and what i should not do and pointing out certain ind[i]viduals who i should cut off among whom was i then told them i was going to follow the instructions i had receivd from you which was to deal mildly and save all that i could and i would not listen to the dictations of any man neither would i act on <any> previous difficulties which they wanted me to do from that hour they began to neglect communion and finally have ceased to attend the church altogether and <and i believe)> have become my open and avowed enemies but on the other hand those that were calld the 3d street party have stood by the church and susteined it while the others have prophesied its downfall and by their acts seem determined to fulfull their prop[h]ecy but thanks be to God in the midst of all those difficulties beyond my espectation the church to a certain Extent has prosperd and there has scarce been a week but the of has been administ[er]ed and new member have been added to the church and now while i am writing there is 8 or 10 have handed in their names for baptism and the glory shall be to god) but i assure you those things difficulties have been almost more than i was able to bear in my own strength i have been insulted by them in my own House and letters have been written to me of a most abusive Character for the purpose i believe of provoking [p. ]