Letter to Newel Knight and the Church in Colesville, 28 August 1830
JS, Letter, , Susquehanna Co., PA, to “Dearly beloved in the Lord” [ and church members], [, NY],  Aug. 1830. Featured version copied [ca. 1871] in Newel Knight, History, 128–136.
, History, [ca. 1871]; handwriting of unknown scribe—possibly Samuel Knight (son of Newel and ), Samuel’s wife, Carolina, or James McClellan (husband of ); handwriting of Lydia Goldthwaite Knight McClellan, James G. Bleak, and Robert L. Campbell in later redactions; 2,347 numbered pages (some repeated or missing page numbers); private possession; copy at CHL. Includes redactions and possible printer’s edits.
Most pages measure 6 × 35/8 inches (15 × 9 cm). Most of the leaves are inscribed on the recto only. This manuscript was apparently created under the supervision of around 1871, perhaps in Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah Territory. At the time this manuscript was created, McClellan, who had been married to from 1835 until his death in 1847, possessed documents of her late husband that are no longer extant, including letters, licenses, and certificates. It appears that those working under her direction created this manuscript by copying with some modifications from an earlier draft of Newel Knight’s history, and by incorporating therein copies of these various documents. In the earlier Newel Knight history from which this circa 1871 work was copied, Knight himself apparently used JS’s history published serially in the Times and Seasons as a framework for his narrative, at times copying the text verbatim. There are at least three similar textually related versions of Newel Knight’s history housed in the Church History Library. This circa 1871 version appears to be the basis for a condensed version published in 1883.
appears to have taken a history of —possibly this circa 1871 manuscript—to the Church Historian’s Office. The Historian’s Office journal mentions a history of Newel Knight in its 9 April 1872 entry, and states that the “tin box containing history of Newel Knight” was returned to “Sister Knight.” The circa 1871 manuscript was later found in a tin box in the basement of a house once owned by Knight’s granddaughter in Provo, Utah, and was given to a descendant of Newel Knight.
In February 1873, Lydia Goldthwaite Knight McClellan authored a preface to Knight’s history and explained that the creation of his history was his “dying request.” She stated to her readers that she had “done the best I could” in compiling the work although “considerable” portions of Knight’s journal were “kept on detached pieces of paper, and no doubt many interesting & valuable portions are lost.” (“Lydia Knight’s Statement,” 1, in Knight, History.)
Knight, Newel. History. Private possession. Copy in CHL. MS 19156.
In the summer of 1830, recently believers in , New York, faced opposition from local residents, and in early July JS was tried before two different judges in the vicinity as a “disorderly person.” Even after JS was acquitted in one instance and discharged in the other, locals drove him from the Colesville area. In August, Colesville church members and visited JS in , Pennsylvania. During the Knights’ stay, plans were made for JS to meet with the church members in Colesville on a specified day in late August. The Knights returned to Colesville, and “arrangements were made for the brethren and sisters to meet on that day, if possible, without letting our enemies know anything about it.” However, the men who were to transport JS to Colesville did not arrive in time for him to attend the meeting, and JS and wrote this letter to explain their absence. The version transcribed here, the earliest complete extant copy of the letter, bears the date 20 August. An earlier, incomplete copy of the letter, meanwhile, dates the letter to 28 August; that dating is accepted in the present volume.
The original letter is not extant and it is not known whether it was sent to by mail or delivered by a church member serving as a courier. In any case, received the letter and delivered its message to the Colesville believers. Likely on 4 September (the day he promised in the letter that he would arrive), JS arrived in Colesville along with , , and . JS’s history recounts, “We that evening assembled the church, and confirmed them, partook of the , and held a happy meeting, having much reason to rejoice in the God of our salvation, and sing Hosannas to his holy name.” The animosity toward members of the in Colesville did not dissipate, however, and Knight recalled, “It was not long after the Brethren had left us when . . . the mob began to collect to gather and threaten and abuse us in a most Shameful and disgusting manner dureing the remainder of the day.”
JS History, vol. A-1, 53; Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 21.
Knight, Newel. Autobiography and Journal, ca. 1846. CHL. MS 767.
So that all things will be in order when we come. Be careful that the enemy of all righteousness will not get the advantage over you in getting the news abroad. Were it not for the prayers of you few, the Almighty would have thundered down his wrath upon the inhabitants of that place; but be not faint, the day of your deliverance is not far distant, for the judgements of the Lord are already abroad in the earth, and the cold hand of [p. 132]
Of this plan to keep the forthcoming meeting secret, JS’s history records, “We had called upon our Heavenly Father in mighty prayer, that he would grant us an opportunity of meeting with them; that he would blind the eyes of our enemies, so that they would not know us, and that we might on this occasion return unmolested.— Our prayers were not in vain, for, when within a little distance of Mr Knights [Joseph Knight Sr.’s] place, we encountered a large company at work upon the public road, among whom were several of our most bitter enemies. They looked earnestly at us, but not knowing us, we passed on with out interruption.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 53.)