Deed from John and Alice Jacobs Johnson, 5 May 1834
and Alice Jacobs Johnson, Deed for property in , Geauga Co., OH, to JS, 5 May 1834. Featured version copied 4 Aug. 1834 in Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 18, pp. 478–479; unidentified handwriting, possibly William Wilber, who is listed as a recorder for ; Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.
, OH, Recorder’s Office, Deed Record, vol. 18, 29 Nov. 1833–23 Aug. 1834; 512 pages, plus twelve pages of an index of grantors; Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH. Includes redactions and archival markings.
Geauga County Deed Record Book, volume 18, is a re-bound ledger. At an unknown time, the volume was removed from its original cover and binding and was replaced. When the volume was rebound, the pages were punched with four rectangular holes at the gutter edge. Metal rods run through the holes. The new binding consists of a cream cloth cover and metal-hinged spine. The pastedowns and flyleaves are maroon-colored buckram. The volume measures 16½ × 11 × 2¼ inches (42 × 28 × 6 cm). Pages are lined with fifty-five blue horizontal lines. Each page also contains a vertical line running the length of the page and approximately half an inch from the left edge. Each deed record is written in ink and is separated from the next record by a heavy horizontal line. The leaves measure 16 × 10 inches (41 × 25 cm) with an unknown number of gatherings. The initial page has the notation “Deed 18” written in pencil. The side of this page has been repaired with clear cellophane tape.
On 5 May 1834, JS received three deeds for land in , Ohio. Two deeds—the one featured here from and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs Johnson for land valued at $222.30 and another from for land valued at $177.70—were assigned to JS in his capacity as . The third deed, a much larger land transfer from Williams for $2,200, was assigned to JS personally. The deed from the Johnsons is presented here as an example of these three 5 May deeds.
A revelation dictated on 23 April 1834 had reorganized the and provided with a over the formerly owned by . However, part of that land was also reserved for , and Johnson deeded it to him for $110 on 5 May. Other parcels from the farm, along with adjoining land owned by , were “reserved for the building of [the Lord’s] houses” and given to JS for his stewardship. The “houses” referred to were the , a , and an office for the church presidency. The printing office and the presidency’s office were to be located on the adjacent lot deeded by Williams, while the House of the Lord was to be built on the property designated in the featured deed. The Johnsons assigned the House of the Lord site to JS and his successors in the church presidency, with Oliver Cowdery and Justice of the Peace acting as witnesses.
The wording of the deeds assigned to JS indicates that he paid for the property in full by the time the deeds were signed on 5 May 1834. However, the 23 April revelation specified that the land the Johnsons deeded to JS was “appointed” to him, so it is possible that no money exchanged hands, even though monetary valuations were assigned to the transferred property.
This 5 May deed from the Johnsons to JS was eventually deemed invalid, likely because it did not take into account the lot owned by the Methodist Episcopal Church, which occupied the northeast corner of the property described. In addition, the Johnsons did not actually have a deed to the property at this time, as it was held by until Whitney deeded it to them in 1836. On 4 January 1837, the Johnsons again deeded the land to JS, this time excluding the land owned by the Methodist Episcopal Church.
These deeds were likely transferred before JS departed that day with the Camp of Israel for Missouri. (JS History, vol. A-1, 477.)
JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.
Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834 [D&C 104:34, 43–45]; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 17, pp. 38–39, 10 Apr. 1833; pp. 359–361, 17 June 1833, microfilm 20,237, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. Johnson’s property did not include the town square land immediately south of the temple lot. Frederick G. Williams owned this property, which was intended for the construction of an office for the church presidency and the printing office.
See Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm,” 17–22. The presidency’s office was never built, though office space for the presidency was included in both the House of the Lord and in the top floor of the printing office. The printing office was built west of the House of the Lord instead of south and on land deeded from Johnson, instead of on the land from Williams. (Cowdery, Diary, 21, 22, and 24 Jan. 1836.)
The revised deed amended the description of property to read as follows: “The following described tract or lot of land situate in Kirtland Township No 9 in the ninth range of townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve in the State of Ohio and which is also in the County of Geauga and is known as part of lot number 30 and is bounded as follows to wit. On the South by land formerly owned by Isaac More. Beginning near the north east corner of the said More’s land in the centre of the road leading from Kirtland Flats to Chester and running west on the north line of said land twenty two rods, thence north Seventeen rods to a Stake marked No 1, thence east to the west line of the lot owned by the Methodist Episcopal Society on which their meeting house stands. Thence South to the southwest corner of said Societies lot, thence east to the centre of the road before mentioned thence Southwardly to the place of beginning. Containing one acre & one hundred and fifty four and half rods.” A copy of this amended deed was made by Orson Hyde from the version in the Geauga County Deed Record Book 24. Hyde’s copy included a note explaining that the “deed is supposed to be illegal for which reason this deed [was] executed be the same more or less.” A note written vertically in the left margin by Lyman Cowdery reads, “Copy of Deed for the Temple.” (Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 24, p. 100, 4 Jan. 1837, microfilm 20,240, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; John Johnson to JS, Deed, Kirtland, OH, 5 May 1834, photocopy, Lyman Cowdery, Papers, CHL.)
This Indenture, made this fifth day of may in the year of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, between , and Elsey [Alice Jacobs] Johnson, wife of the said , of the Township of , county of Geauga, and State of Ohio, of the one part, and Joseph Smith Junior of the organised on the 6th. of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty, in the , Seneca County and State of New York, and was called the church of the latter day saints by a of the of said Church assembled in the Township of , county of Geauga and State of Ohio, on the 3rd day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and thirty four, in trust, for the uses and purposes herein after mentioned of the other part, Witnesseth, that the said , and Elsey Johnson wife of the said , for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred twenty two dollars and thirty cents, current money, to them in hand paid at and upon the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have given granted, bargained sold released confirmed and conveyed, and by these presents do give grant bargain sell release confirm and convey unto him the said Joseph Smith Junior and his successors in the Office of Presidency of the aforesaid Church all the estate right title interest interest property claim and demand whatsoever either in law or equity which he the said , and Elsey Johnson his wife have in to or upon, all and singular, a certain lot piece or parcel of land situate lying and being in NO. 9. in the 9th. range of Townships, in the connecticut Western Reserve, in the State of Ohio, and which is also in the county of and is known as part of lot NO. 30. in tract one and is bounded as follows, to wit, On the south by land belonging to formerly the farm of , commencing near the north east corner in the centre of the road leading from to and running west on the north line of said land 22 rods, thence north 17 rods to a stake marked No. 1. thence east to the centre of said road, from thence to the place of beginning supposed to contain one acre and 154½ rods subject to all highways that may be on said land be the same more or less, with all and singular the houses, Woods, waters, ways privilegs and appurtenances thereto belonging, or in any wise pertaining. To have and To [p. 478]