Power of Attorney to Hyrum Smith, 5 September 1837
JS and , Power of Attorney, to , , Geauga Co., OH, 5 Sept. 1837; handwriting of ; signatures of JS and ; witnessed by John Long, and Samuel Squire; certified by Charles H. Foot, , OH, 5 Sept. 1837, and , , MO, 14 Oct. 1837; two pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes dockets.Single leaf, measuring 12⅜ × 7⅞ inches (31 × 20 cm). This document has three vertical folds and contains seals that read, “Common Pleas of the County of Geauga” and “Seal of Caldwell County”. On the top fourth of the recto is a filing notation in ’s handwriting that reads, “Joseph Smith Jr | and wife | to | Hyrum Smith | letter of Attorney”. The provenance of this document is unknown; it is assumed that the document has remained in continuous institutional custody since its creation.
On 5 September 1837, wrote this power of attorney for JS and , designating as their to sell or transfer the titles of land purchased in their name in . The same day, Cowdery drafted another power of attorney for himself and his wife, , which authorized Hyrum Smith to sell their Missouri land as well. The two powers of attorney were certified and sealed by Charles Foot, deputy clerk of , Ohio.Both JS and purchased land in through designated agents in the summer of 1836. In what became , this involved buying land from the federal government, which required an application for a land patent and a nonrefundable payment. The earliest applications filed on behalf of JS and Cowdery were submitted on 22 June 1836. This land was then apparently sold to members who moved to the area around what became , Missouri, likely beginning in July 1836 with the removal of members from . Because the land had been purchased in JS’s and Cowdery’s names, the title to the land could be conveyed only by them or their agents. These powers of attorney were timely. In late August 1837, wrote a letter from to and Oliver Cowdery addressing these concerns. His letter, which would not have reached by the time the powers of attorney were created, specifically mentioned the need for land titles to be transferred. Whitmer wrote that some church members were “becoming impatient” and wanted “a title for their land which is to come from yourself and J. Smith Jr.” He recommended that they send someone with a power of attorney to transfer the titles to their new owners in order to avoid litigation on the matter.left for sometime before 11 September, accompanied by and . The men arrived in Far West by mid-October, when Hyrum Smith took the powers of attorney to clerk to be recorded. Cleminson copied the text of the power of attorney featured here on 16 October 1837 and added a filing notation to the original power of attorney indicating a copy of the text was in “Book A.” He then returned the original to Hyrum Smith for his use. With the powers of attorney recognized and sealed by officials in both , Ohio, and Caldwell County, Missouri, Smith was authorized to act as the agent for JS and and the Cowderys and conduct necessary business on their behalf. There is only one known land record indicating Hyrum Smith’s actions in : he signed a deed selling land owned by JS and Emma in Caldwell County to George Beebe on 17 October 1837.
Smith, Hyrum. Papers, 1834–1843. CHL.
Johnson, Clark V., and Ronald E. Romig. An Index to Early Caldwell County, Missouri, Land Records. Rev. ed. Independence, MO: Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation, 2002.
General Land Office Records. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior. Digital images of the land patents cited herein are available at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/.
Whitmer, John. Letter, Far West, MO, to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, Kirtland Mills, OH, 29 Aug. 1837. Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Kimball, Heber C. Collection, 1837–1898. CHL.
The Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, Revised and Digested by the Eighth General Assembly, During the Years One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Four, and One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five. Together with the Constitutions of Missouri and of the United States. 3rd ed. St. Louis: Chambers and Knapp, 1841.