Introduction to Rigdon, Smith & Co.

Document Transcript

was a mercantile company composed of , JS, and possibly . The firm began operating a store in , Ohio—located six miles south of the main settlement of Latter-day Saints in , Ohio—in September 1836. The was likely connected to a mercantile partnership established earlier that year, called , which purchased wholesale goods from merchants in .
The primary extant record for the firm’s store in is a ledger book, consisting of basic accounts with no detail about what was sold. The ledger demonstrates that the store had consistent business from September 1836 to March 1837. A significant decrease occurred after this period, likely related to the financial panic of 1837, outstanding debts, and increasing opposition toward JS and the church. The store closed in May 1837, and JS appears to have withdrawn as a partner of both and at the same time.


  1. 1

    Rigdon, Smith & Co., Ledger, 23 Sept. 1836–2 Aug. 1837, title page; “Mormonism in Ohio,” Aurora (New Lisbon, OH), 21 [19] Jan. 1837, [3].  

    Aurora. New Lisbon, OH. 1835–1837.

  2. 2

    Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery was a mercantile partnership composed of Sidney Rigdon, JS, and Oliver Cowdery, likely formed in June 1836. The partnership purchased wholesale goods on credit, using promissory notes, from merchants in Buffalo, New York, in June 1836. They purchased additional goods in New York City in October 1836. It is possible that while Cowdery had partnered with JS and Rigdon to purchase goods, he was unwilling to partner in running a store, and the name of the firm changed as a result. As such, it is unclear if the “Co.” in the firm’s name represented an abbreviation for “Cowdery” or the more common “Company.” (See, for example, Invoice, Daniel Ketchum to Rigdon, Smith & Co. 20 June 1836; and Invoice, Mead, Stafford & Co to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery 8 October 1836.)  

  3. 3

    For a better indication of what the store may have sold, see Bill of Goods from Rigdon, Smith & Co., 20 May 1837; and Bill of Goods from Rigdon, Smith & Co., between 19 and 24 May 1837.  

  4. 4

    Rigdon, Smith & Co., Ledger, 23 Sept. 1836–2 Aug. 1837, title page. The Geauga County, Ohio, tax records for 1837 list the company’s merchant capital as $2,500, suggesting that the company was doing well before the financial panic of 1837 and resulting economic decline. (Geauga County, OH, Duplicate Tax Records, 1816–1850, Tax Record for 1837, p. 57, microfilm 20,261, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  5. 5

    See Historical Introduction to Notes Receivable from Rigdon, Smith & Co., 22 May 1837.