On 28 February 1842 , a recent convert from , wrote JS a letter stating that JS had paid him in full on a spring 1841 land transaction. In March 1841 Peirce sold land in , Pennsylvania, to in return for a note that he could redeem for property in , Illinois. This was part of a larger church effort to acquire land in Pennsylvania and from migrating Latter-day Saints in exchange for land in Nauvoo.
Although the original note is no longer extant, JS’s journal states that church agents promised Peirce $5,000. This debt was repaid over the course of several months, mainly through deeded property. On 20 August 1841 requested that JS provide William Gheen, a convert migrating from , with “some property there on my account” and arrange for “Brother Whitesides,” also from Pennsylvania, to receive payment for a debt that Peirce owed him. On 28 February 1842 JS and deeded Peirce three lots on the plat as the final installment of the original transaction. Peirce then wrote this letter, intending it to be published in the Times and Seasons as proof “to all my old friends and enemies in Pennsylvania” that the church fulfilled its obligations to him. According to JS’s journal, “the Bond was cancelled. & given up. & Bro Peirce expressed his satisfaction of the whole proceedings in the Times & Seasons.”
This letter was published in the 1 March 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons. The original document is no longer extant.
The original transaction occurred between Peirce and churchagentAlmon Babbitt on 30 March 1841, but Isaac Galland was deeded the property the following month. (Chester Co., PA, Deeds, 1688–1903, vol. U-4, pp. 82–83, 30 Mar. 1841; pp. 185–187, 8 Apr. 1841, microfilm 557,205, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Dear sir:—I feel anxious to express my feelings, concerning the business transactions between the and myself;—as it is well known to many, that , as for the church, purchased my farm while I was living in , Chester co. Pa, and many supposed or pretended to suppose, I would get nothing in return;—but I wish to say to all my old friends and enemies in , through the medium of the “Times and Seasons,”—-[which I rejoice you now have the control of,]- that I have received my pay in full from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, through yourself, sir, as their Trustee in Trust, according to the original contract; and that from my acquaintance with yourself, and those brethren who are assisting you in the great and increasing business of the church, I have the fullest confidence in all the transactions of the church, and I request those papers in who published concerning my sale and loss, with such bitter lamentations to publish this also. I am, sir, your brother and well wisher,
Illinois law allowed each religious organization that incorporated in the state to elect up to ten trustees, who would be legally responsible for all physical property the organization owned. Pursuant to this law, JS was elected the “sole Trustee in Trust” for the church on 30 January 1841. (An Act concerning Religious Societies [6 Feb. 1835], Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1835], pp. 147–148, sec. 1; Appointment as Trustee, 2 Feb. 1841.)
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835. Vandalia, IL: J. Y. Sawyer, 1835.
Philadelphia’s Saturday Courier depicted the transactions as an attempt to defraud the region’s residents. On 14 August 1841 it reported that “they (the Mormon preachers) pretended to give him a claim for land in Nauvoo, for $600, the sum which his late farm was worth.” In the following issue the newspaper identified the farmer as Peirce and corrected the figure from $600 to $6,000. (“The Mormons—the Crimes of Their Leaders and the Delusion of Their Dupes—Their History, Etcetera,” Saturday Courier [Philadelphia], 14 Aug. 1841, , italics in original; “A Mormon Champion—Swindling Mr. Pierce of His Farm,” Saturday Courier, 4 Sept. 1841, .)