Letter from Don Carlos Smith, circa Late May 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Nine Miles from , Ind.
Bro. Joseph
I sit down to inform you of our situation at the present time. I started from , Ohio, the 7th of May, in company with , , , & Lewis Rob[b]ins, and families, also sister singly is one of our number, we started with 15 horses seven wagons, & two cows, we have left two horses by the way sick one with a swelling in <​on​> his shoulder, a 3rd horse (as it were our dependance) was taken lame, last evening and is not able to travel, and we have stop[p]ed to docter him We were disappointed on every hand before we started, in getting money, we got no assistance whatever only as we have taken in sister singly and she has assisted us as far as her means extends, we had when we started, $75 dollars in money, we sold the 2 cows for $13.50 per cow we have sold of your goods to the amt of $45.74 and now we have only $25 dollars to carry 28 souls & 13 horses, 500 miles, we have lived very close and camped out knight, notwithstanding the rain & cold, & my babe only 2 weeks old when we started, is very feeble & are not well but very much fatigued, has a severe cold, and it is nothing in fact but the prayer of faith and the power of God, that will sustain them and bring them through, our carriage is good and I think we shall be braught through, I leave it with you and to devise some way to assist us to some more expence money, we have had unaccountable road <​bad​> roads, had our horses down in the mud, and broke of[f] one wagon tongue [p. 50] and fills, and broke down the carriage twice and yet we are all alive and camped on a dry place for allmost the first time, Poverty is a heavy load but we are all obliged to welter under it, it is now dark and I close, may the Lord bless you all and bring us together is my prayer Amen
All the arrangements that left for getting money failed, they did not gain us one cent.
To J. Smith Jr.
[p. 51]


  1. 1

    New Portage, in Norton Township, had a strong branch of the church. Situated on the Ohio and Erie Canal, Norton was an important junction for Latter-day Saints traveling from Kirtland to Missouri.a For example, in 1834 groups of men from Kirtland and other places met in Norton to embark on the Camp of Israel.b In January 1838, after fleeing Kirtland, JS waited in Norton for his wife and children to join him on his journey to Far West.c Joseph Smith Sr. and Don Carlos Smith moved from Kirtland to Norton soon thereafter to avoid being arrested for performing marriages without being considered regularly ordained ministers. When the remainder of the extended Smith family was ready to move to Far West, they joined with Joseph Smith Sr. and Don Carlos Smith in Norton to pursue their journey together.d  

    The 1833 Ohio Gazetteer, or, Topographical Dictionary: Being a Continuation of the Work Originally Compiled by the Late John Kilbourn. Revised by a citizen of Columbus. 11th ed. Columbus, OH: Scott and Wright, 1833. Reprint, Knightstown, IN: Bookmark, 1978.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Baldwin, Nathan Bennett. Account of Zion’s Camp, 1882. Typescript. CHL. MS 499.

    McBride, Reuben, Sr. Reminiscence, no date. CHL. MS 8197.

    (a1833 Ohio Gazetteer, 344.bJS History, vol. A-1, 477–479; “Elder Kimball’s Journal,” Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1845, 6:771; Baldwin, Account of Zion’s Camp, 8–9; McBride, Reminiscence, 2.cJS History, vol. B-1, 780.dLucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 15, [1]–[3].)
  2. 2

    William Smith was Don Carlos Smith’s brother. Wilkins Jenkins Salisbury and William McCleary were the husbands of Don Carlos’s sisters Katharine and Sophronia. Lewis Robbins lived with Don Carlos Smith in Kirtland. (Robbins, Autobiographical Sketch, 3–4; Backman, Profile, 111.)  

    Robbins, Lewis. Autobiographical Sketch, ca. 1845. Typescript. CHL.

    Backman, Milton V., Jr., comp. A Profile of Latter-day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio, and Members of Zion’s Camp, 1830–1839: Vital Statistics and Sources. 2nd ed. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1983.

  3. 3

    Possibly Margaret Leasure Singley (1791–1874). (Ambrosia Branch, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, Record Book, 4; Obituary for Margaret Leasure Singley, True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, 1 Dec. 1874, 733.)  

    Ambrosia Branch, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, Record Book, 1844–1846. CHL.

    Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.

  4. 4

    Don Carlos Smith’s wife, Agnes Coolbrith Smith, gave birth to Sophronia Smith on 22 April 1838. Sophronia was apparently named after her aunt Sophronia Smith McCleary, who was also part of the group traveling with Don Carlos Smith. (“Family Record of Don C. Smith,” in Smith Family Genealogy Record, CHL.)  

    Smith Family Genealogy Record, circa 1840. CHL. MS 1024 2.

  5. 5

    Lucy Mack Smith later recounted that she “took a severe cold” after having to travel three days in wet clothing. By the time they reached the Mississippi River, she was “unable to sit up any length and could not walk without assistance.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 15, [4].)  

  6. 6

    See James 5:15.  

  7. 7

    “The thills are the two pieces of timber extending from the body of the carriage on each side of the last horse, by which the carriage is supported in a horizontal position.” (“Thill,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  8. 8

    Lucy Mack Smith recounted traveling “thrugh marshes and quagmires on foot exposing ourselves to wet and cold.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 15, [4].)