JS, Blessing, to , [, Geauga Co., OH], 7 Oct. 1835. Featured version copied [ca. 7 Oct. 1835] in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, pp. 6–7; handwriting of with additions in the handwriting of JS; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS, Journal, 1835–1836.
On 7 October 1835, JS pronounced a blessing upon , the of the church in , Ohio. The blessing addressed Whitney’s role as a bishop, reminded him of his responsibility to the poor, counseled him about some shortcomings, and promised rich blessings. JS’s journal suggests that the blessing was related to a business trip to , New York, that Whitney and embarked on that day. In a 7 October entry, JS offered a prayer on behalf of the two men that “their lives may be spared and they have a safe Journey and no accident or sickness of the least kind befall them that they may return in health and in safety to the bosom of their families.” The entry then continues with the blessing featured here.
A successful merchant in , joined the church in November 1830. Within months of his conversion, he became a close associate of JS, and, over time, he also became an important financial benefactor to the church. Shortly after a July 1831 revelation identified , Missouri, as “the place for the City of Zion,” JS dictated another revelation in which Whitney was instructed to “impart all the money which he can impart to be sent up unto the land of Zion.” On 4 December 1831, Whitney was appointed as the bishop in Kirtland and, in conjunction with that calling, was directed “to keep the Lords storehouse,” from which “the poor and needy” would be supplied with goods. Whitney’s mercantile business, , was situated at the junction of Chillicothe and Chardon roads in Kirtland and likely operated as this storehouse.
’s financial ties to the church grew in April 1832 when a JS revelation appointed him and eight other men to direct the newly established , an organization that would manage the church’s “Literary and Merchantile establishments.” On 26 April, N. K. Whitney & Co. was mentioned as one of two mercantile stores that would be included in the United Firm. Whitney was also appointed, along with , as agent “to act in the name of this Firm,” and evidence suggests that Whitney’s property and personal holdings made up a significant portion of the United Firm’s assets by 1834. A series of disastrous events in in 1833, including the destruction of the and ransacking of Gilbert’s merchandise and , left the firm in serious financial distress, and by April 1834 the firm’s members had decided to dissolve the organization. reported that shortly after this decision JS dictated a revelation requiring the members to “give up all notes & demands that they had against each other.” A 23 April revelation directed firm members to reorganize the firm and redistribute its assets among its individual members. It appears that Whitney, and to a lesser extent Williams and , absorbed most of the firm’s debt. Whitney struggled to pay his own personal debts following the collapse of the United Firm; by September, he was described as being in “embarrassed circumstances.”
Despite his financial struggles, relied on his reputation, business contacts, and good credit to help establish and stock other church-related mercantile businesses in 1835 and 1836. Among these mercantile establishments was a “,” which marketed goods to residents at large; the profits were directed toward the construction of the . The store’s name referred to the committee to build the House of the Lord, which consisted of , , and , partners in a mercantile firm known as Cahoon, Carter & Co. On the day of the blessing presented here, 7 October, Whitney and Hyrum Smith left Kirtland for to purchase goods for the committee store. Whitney may have leveraged his business contacts in and to enable Hyrum Smith to purchase goods for the store.
The text presented here, found in JS’s journal, is in the handwriting of and includes insertions in JS’s handwriting. It is unclear whether this is the original manuscript or whether it was copied from another document that is no longer extant. At least three other versions of this document exist, though the featured text is the only one that contains corrections in JS’s own hand. It is not known whether was physically present when this blessing was dictated. Several months later, copied the text into Patriarchal Blessing Book 1 and included a preface noting that the blessing was given “through the .”
JS, Journal, 17 Dec. 1835; “Anniversary of the Church of Latter Day Saints,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, 3:488; “Cahoon, Carter & Co.” and “Kirtland, Ohio, June 13, 1835,” Northern Times, 2 Oct. 1835, .
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Several historical documents suggest that Whitney introduced church leaders to New York merchants in subsequent years. Entries in Whitney’s account book demonstrate that he began purchasing goods from the New York City firm of Halsted, Haines & Co. as early as October 1833. An 1837 promissory note confirms that Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter purchased goods from the firm as early as 1836. An 1867 statement written by William Perkins suggests that Halsted issued credit to Cahoon, Carter & Co. based on his trust in Whitney. (“New York Account Book, Sept. 1834,” 17 Oct. 1833, Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU; Hyrum Smith et al. to Halsted, Haines & Co., Promissory Note, 1 Sept. 1837, private possession, copy at CHL; William L. Perkins, Statement, 23 July 1867, in Franklin D. Richards, Liverpool, England, to Brigham Young, 27 Aug. 1867, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.)
Whitney, Newel K. Papers, 1825–1906. BYU.
Smith, Hyrum, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter. Promissory Note to Halsted, Haines and Co., Kirtland, OH, 1 Sept. 1837. Private possession. Copy at CHL.
Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.
The complete preface reads: “The following blessing was given by president Joseph Smith, Jr. through the Urim and Thummim, according to the spirit of prophecy and revelation, on Wednesday, the 7th of October, 1835, and written by president Frederick G. Williams, who acted as clerk.” (Patriarchal Blessings, 1:33–34.)
Blessed of the lord is even the of the , for the shall never be taken away from him while he liveth and the time cometh that he shall overcome all the narrow mindedness of his heart and all his covetous desires that so easily besetteth him and <he> shall deliver deal with a liberal hand to the poor and the needy the sick and the afflicted the widow and the fatherless and marviously [marvelously] and miraculously shall the Lord his God provid for him. even that he shall be blessed with a <all the the> fullness of the good things of this earth and his seed after him from generation to generation and it shall come to pass that according to to the measure that he meeteth out with a liberal hand unto the poor so shall it be measured to him again by the hand of his God even an hundred fold Angels shall guard <his> house and shall guard the lives of his posterity, and they shall become very great and very numerous on the earth, whomsoever he blesseth they shall be blessed. whomsoever he curseth they shall be cursed. and when his enemies seek him unto his hurt and distruction let him rise up and curse and the hand of God shall be upon his enemies in Judgment [p. 6]
This may have been a reminder of Whitney’s responsibility as a bishop to assist the poor. In September 1832, JS dictated a revelation in which Whitney was exhorted to “travel round about and among all the churches searching after the poor to administer to ther wants by humbling the rich and the proud.” There is evidence that Whitney acted on this admonition. During the second week of January 1836, he and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney, hosted a three-day “Feast for the Poor” at his Kirtland residence. Organized to feed the poor, “the lame, the halt, the deaf, the blind, the aged and infirm,” the gathering was also where some of those present received patriarchal blessings. JS joined in the festivities on at least two separate occasions. (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:112]; JS, Journal, 7 and 9 Jan. 1836; [Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney], “A Leaf from an Autobiography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Oct. and 1 Nov. 1878, 7:71, 83.)