, Letter, , Philadelphia Co., PA, to JS and “council,” , Hancock Co., IL, 1 Sept. 1841; handwriting of ; eight pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket and notation.
Two bifolia—each measuring 12¾ × 7⅞ inches (32 × 20 cm)—fastened together with thread. The document is inscribed with both blue ink and black ink. The document was folded for filing. Several staple holes appear on each page of the letter in the upper left corner. The document shows discoloration from an unknown substance.
A docket in the upper left corner of the first page was inscribed 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. A graphite notation in the same area was apparently added by a clerk or secretary for Andrew Jenson, who served as assistant church historian from 1897 to 1941. The letter is listed in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from circa 1904. By 1973 this letter had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The docket, notation, and inclusion in the JS Collection indicate this letter has remained in continuous institutional custody since its receipt in 1841.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 1 September 1841, , a member of the , wrote to JS and other leaders in , Illinois, to express his condolences for the death of JS’s brother and to provide them with an update of his travels and missionary efforts. At the April 1840 general , Page had been appointed to travel with fellow apostle to Europe and . Page and Hyde separated in sometime in late August 1840, with Hyde venturing on to before sailing to . Hyde had hoped to meet Page in in fall 1840, but these plans did not materialize, and Page did not accompany Hyde overseas.
Both and received a public rebuke for their inability to quickly reach the destination of their mission. In January 1841 the Times and Seasons printed a terse message to the men: “ Orson Hyde and John E. Page are informed, that the Lord is not well pleased with them in consequence of delaying their mission, (Elder John E. Page in particular,) and they are requested by the to hasten their journey towards their destination.” In addition, at the April 1841 general conference, attendees objected to Page’s membership in the Quorum of the Twelve; reasons for their objection are unknown, but after an investigation he was not removed from the by the conference.
After traveling and proselytizing through , , and other parts of the eastern , arrived in shortly before he penned this 1 September letter. It appears that Page wrote the following letter in part to justify his actions, explaining the missionary labors he undertook on his own and with others, including ; the difficulties he experienced with ; and the reasons he felt he was unable to travel to Europe and at the present. Page nevertheless expressed his hope and intent to go eventually to the Holy Land. He also reported on a variety of other matters, most notably his observations of the church in Philadelphia under the leadership of . Though extant evidence does not reveal any improprieties on Winchester’s part, Page recommended that the First Presidency remove Winchester as the of the Philadelphia .
The letter featured here is the original sent from and received by JS in , probably in mid-September 1841. Page requested that JS respond to his letter, though it is unclear if JS did so since no immediate reply has been located.
I am hapy to say that I am well I believe my health is absilutely perfect— I hope in the Lord this may reach your hands finding you well— I have just heard of the suden death of Bro— which at the first gave me a senseation of astonishment that I never senseed before on hearing the news of the death of my bretheren
At first my heart said why was it <so> Lord for a moment I must say I was not reconciled; but soon the scene was changed— the spirit like a gentle mesenger rested upon me and whispered the consolating tidings to my anxous heart saying all is wright and all was well with our much beloved and high esteemed Bro — he has only gon[e] on a short errand to act in a more gloryfyed sphere in the great concerns of the Kingdom of God in makeing the nesisary arrangements with the saints in light preparitory to the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ who will come with the voice of the archangel and the sound of Gabrils <trump> bringing all the saints with him—
I feel that the death of must be a very severe blow upon his in her declineing years and also to the companion of the decd. [deceased] as well as to <the> rest of the surviveing relitives and also to the church as a body— Pl[e]ase tell for be <me> <be> comforted be reconciled rejoice in the Lord that it has been the Providence of our heavenly father <to> bless her with haveing the honor and glory of raising so worthy an heir of the highest mansion of our heavenly Fathers house— say to the mourning and much afflicted of the decd. Be comforted and dry up <your> tears the <and> say the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away and blessed be the name of the Lord— Shall not the God of all the Earth do right— yes sister the Lord has placed in a higher state of action and soon the veil will rend and then we shall see [p. 1]
On 7 August 1841, Don Carlos Smith died unexpectedly at the age of twenty-five. Two days later, Don Carlos “was buried with military honors, holding at the time of his death the office of Brigadier General of the 2nd Cohort of the Nauvoo Legion.” He was remembered as a “kind affable, generous, and pious character.” Page was not the only Latter-day Saint to write heartfelt condolences for the loss of Don Carlos Smith. Lyman O. Littlefield also wrote a letter extolling Don Carlos’s virtues, as did Benjamin Winchester. (“Death of General Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:503; “To the Memory of the Late Brigadier Gen’l Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:514–515; Letter from Benjamin Winchester, 18 Sept. 1841; see also Ebenezer Robinson, “To the Patrons of the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:511.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.