Introduction to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery

Document Transcript

was a mercantile partnership composed of , JS, and , likely formed in June 1836. The partnership purchased wholesale goods on credit from merchants in , New York, in June 1836. These goods were then sold in a store they opened in September 1836 in , Ohio, about six miles south of . The name of the store was It is an unclear if the store was an abbreviation of the firm name and was run by Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, or if an associated firm under the name of Rigdon, Smith & Co. operated the store. In October 1836, the firm purchased additional wholesale goods on credit from merchants in . As promissory notes for the goods remained unpaid and became overdue in 1837, JS, Rigdon, and Cowdery faced litigation from the New York merchants. In some instances, they were able to renegotiate unpaid promissory notes to avoid or at least postpone litigation.
The store in closed in May 1837, and JS appears to have withdrawn as a partner at the same time, likely dissolving the firm. , an agent for JS and the church, undertook efforts to repay outstanding debts, often with land donated by Latter-day Saints in the eastern , from 1839 until his death in 1841. Although records indicate JS had a storehouse in , Ohio, it is unclear if it was owned by JS individually or by , or if it functioned as a storehouse for extra goods in Kirtland or as a storehouse for some other entity.
A ledger for the store in is extant, as are receipts and other documents, but the only extant business records for are the invoices from wholesale purchases in .


  1. 1

    See, for example, Invoice, J. F. Scribner to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 16 June 1836; Invoice, G. C. Coit to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 18 June 1836; and Invoice and Letter, Gardner & Patterson to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 27 June 1836.  

  2. 2

    Rigdon, Smith & Co., Ledger, 23 Sept. 1836–2 Aug. 1837; see also “Mormonism in Ohio,” Aurora (New Lisbon, OH), 21 [19] Jan. 1837, [3]; and the glossary entry for “Rigdon, Smith & Co.” Although connected, it is unclear if the firm of Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery was the same as the firm of Rigdon, Smith & Co. The “Co.” may have been an abbreviation for “Cowdery,” indicating that the firms were synonymous. Or it may have been the more common abbreviation for “Company,” which may indicate that Cowdery withdrew from the firm and the name changed as a result.  

    Aurora. New Lisbon, OH. 1835–1837.

  3. 3

    See, for example, Invoice, Mead, Stafford & Co. to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 8 Oct. 1836; Invoice, Z. Griswold to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 11 Oct. 1836; and Invoice, O. Cobb & Co. to Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, 13 Oct. 1836. While the partners collectively bought the goods, several October invoices demonstrate variation in the names attributed to the purchasers, using Smith & Cowdery instead of the full firm’s name. (See, for example, Invoice, Winthrop Eaton to Smith & Cowdery, 11 Oct. 1836; and Invoice, Bailey, Keeler & Remsen to Smith & Cowdery, 12 Oct. 1836.)  

  4. 4

    For more on their efforts to renegotiate their debts, see Historical Introduction to Power of Attorney to Oliver Granger, 27 Sept. 1837; and Documents, Volume 5, Introduction to Part 6: 20 Apr.–14 Sept. 1837.  

  5. 5

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

  6. 6

    See Historical Introduction to Statement of Account from Perkins & Osborn, ca. 29 Oct. 1838; Historical Introduction to Agreement with Mead & Betts, 2 Aug. 1839; Historical Introduction to Authorization for Oliver Granger, 13 May 1839; Historical Introduction to Letter from Reuben McBride, 3 Jan. 1842, in JSP, D9:63–66; and Historical Introduction to Receipt, 8 July 1842, in JSP, D10:246–248.  

    JSP, D9 / Smith, Alex D., Christian K. Heimburger, and Christopher James Blythe, eds. Documents, Volume 9: December 1841–April 1842. Vol. 9 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Matthew C. Godfrey, R. Eric Smith, Matthew J. Grow, and Ronald K. Esplin. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2019.

    JSP, D10 / Kuehn, Elizabeth A., Jordan T. Watkins, Matthew C. Godfrey, and Mason K. Allred, eds. Documents, Volume 10: May–August 1842. Vol. 10 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Matthew C. Godfrey, R. Eric Smith, Matthew J. Grow, and Ronald K. Esplin. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2020.

  7. 7

    There are no extant records for the Kirtland store or storehouse. (See Deed, 3 June 1841, in Lake Co., OH, Land Registry Records, bk. A, p. 513, CHL; and Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8 Oct. 1855, 3:120–121.)  

    Lake Co., OH, Recorder’s Office. Land Registry Records, 1840–1842. CHL.

    Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–1886.