, Letter, , Hillsborough Co., NH, and , Middlesex Co., MA, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 and 3 May 1842; handwriting of ; four pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, notations, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 7⅜ inches (25 × 19 cm). The recto and verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf are ruled with twenty-eight blue lines; the verso of the second leaf is unlined. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer, remnants of which are present on the verso of the second leaf. The letter was later folded for filing.
The verso of the second leaf contains a docket by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. The document was also docketed by , a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets, the circa 1904 inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
In early May 1842, wrote a letter from , New Hampshire, to JS in , Illinois, which discussed Maginn’s missionary efforts in New England. Maginn, who had joined the in , Upper Canada, had been proselytizing in the northeastern since 1840. Maginn attracted attention for his “commanding appearance,” knowledge of scripture, and “magnetic personality.” He was especially influential in Peterborough, where he preached intermittently for two years.
wrote the majority of the letter featured here in on 1 May 1842 but added further information on 3 May after arriving in , Massachusetts. The letter relates his proselytizing efforts in both New Hampshire and and asks church leaders to send other to proselytize in the area. Maginn’s biblical language and allusions, particularly in the portion of the letter about his efforts to establish the church in New Hampshire, are notably populist and anti-creedal. He described the local Christian religions as engaging in “” and being in error. Maginn used this rhetoric to show how his growing Latter-day Saint congregation was different from the other Christian denominations.
’s letter included an enclosure of money, consisting of his donation to the construction fund and payments from subscribers to the Times and Seasons newspaper, for which Maginn acted as an agent. In March 1842, Maginn sent forty-five dollars in subscription money to Nauvoo through the secure means of a bank draft, or check. He was unable to forward additional funds because there were no banks in the New Hampshire area where he had collected the funds, and he was unwilling to mail the money with his letters for fear it might be stolen. Rather than sending another bank draft when he arrived in , Maginn found a courier, Latter-day Saint Bingham Bement, who was apparently heading to Nauvoo, to carry the letter and enclosed money for Maginn.
The letter arrived in by 31 May, when the enclosed money was recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord. Notations on the letter from and indicate that it was retained in JS’s office. Unlike ’s 22 March 1842 letter, this letter was not printed in the Times and Seasons. Maginn requested a letter of reply from one of JS’s counselors in the or from one of the . No reply has been located.
“Statement of Sister Smith respecting the History of Eli P. Magin,” Obituary Notices and Biographies, CHL; Benjamin Ellsworth, Palermo, NY, 18 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:219.
Obituary Notices and Biographies, 1854–1877. CHL.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Morison and Smith, History of Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1:187–190; Barney, “Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Portrayed,” 165–169. In a March 1842 letter to JS, Maginn described his recent visit to Massachusetts and noted the growth of the church in New England, including the Peterborough congregation, which had thirty-six members at the time. (Letter from Eli Maginn, 22 Mar. 1842.)
Morison, George Abbot. History of Peterborough, New Hampshire. Vol. 1, Narrative. Rindge, NH: Richard R. Smith, 1954.
Barney, Ronald O. “‘A Man That You Could Not Help Likeing’: Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Portrayed in a Letter by Susannah and George W. Taggart.” BYU Studies 40, no. 2 (2001): 165–179.
I avail myself of this oppertunity of addressing this hasty written line to you as I wrote by mail for the “Times and Seasons” and did not forward the Cash having no Bank in this place it makes it rather difficult to transmit Money as it is running too great risk, to forward itt in a letter these times and having an oppertunity of forwarding this by Brother [Bingham] Bement a faithful Brother in the Lord. one who has assisted much in introducing the Gospel in this place noted for and its consequence (Infidelity) and feeling anxious to settle among the Saints I hereby recommend to the fellowship of the Saints as a verry worthy Brother one that is willing to receive and abide Counsel and as such I commend him to you that you may counsel him acording to the dictates of the Holy Spirit also Brother Saml. M. How [Samuel M. Howe] whose character is the same as the former.
I have by the Grace of God, thro’ the assistance of the Holy Spirit succeeded most effectually in breaking thro’ the Sullen mist of Priestcraft and Error— raised the ensign of truth which floats triumphant above the fabled Creeds and Dogmas of the age and the same in this place we are Blessed (a rather poor Blessing however<, if a Blessing it is,>) with 5 Sects in this place but they say they all are agreed, and I don’t feel disposed to dispute it now for I think they are about as much as Herod and Pilate when their gain was likely to cease [p. ]
Bingham Bement was born in Tunbridge, Vermont, in 1817. By early 1840 he had moved to Peterborough, New Hampshire. He married Melissa Russell in April 1840 and joined the church in January 1842. He and his family may have moved to Nauvoo; they later immigrated to Utah Territory in 1852. (Tunbridge, Orange Co., VT, Town and Vital Records, 1785–1878, vol. B, p. 156, microfilm 28,990; Rockingham, Windham Co., VT, Justice of the Peace, Marriage Records, 1839–1872, p. 2, 18 Apr. 1840, microfilm 28,755, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; “20th Company,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 18 Sept. 1852, .)
While in Nauvoo delivering Maginn’s letter, Bement purchased land from Hyrum Smith on 30 May 1842. (Hyrum Smith to Bingham Bement, Bond, 30 May 1842; Hyrum Smith to Bingham Bement, Deed, 8 June 1843, Joseph Smith Papers, 1839–1846, Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.)
Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Samuel Milton Howe was born in Peterborough in June 1824. He was baptized on 29 April 1842 by Maginn and had moved to Nauvoo by 1843. (Louisa Howe Brown, Biographical Sketches of Samuel Milton Howe and Jane Sanford Howe, 1924, p. 1, Genealogical Society of Utah Biography Class Collection, CHL; Susannah Law Taggart and George W. Taggart, Nauvoo, IL, to Samuel W. Taggart et al., Peterborough, NH, 6 and 10 Sept. 1843, Albert Taggart, Correspondence, CHL.)
Genealogical Society of Utah Biography Class Collection, 1932–1937. CHL.