, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 4 May 1842; handwriting of ; one page; BYU. Includes address, docket, and notations.
Single leaf measuring 12⅜ × 7⅝ inches (31 × 19 cm). The right and left sides of the leaf were unevenly cut. The letter was folded, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer. It was subsequently refolded for filing purposes. Some discoloration of the paper has occurred.
The document was docketed by , who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844. It also includes notations from and an unidentified scribe. The Clayton docket and the Whitney notations indicate early institutional custody. The subsequent custodial history is unknown. The document was eventually acquired by the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
On 4 May 1842, , a member living in , Illinois, wrote to JS in , Illinois, concerning the state of the church in , where Gurley had recently been preaching. Gurley, a native of , was in in 1837 or 1838. He relocated to with the Saints in 1839 and eventually settled in . In March 1841, the Times and Seasons reported Gurley’s successful preaching in La Harpe, where a was organized in April 1841. In a held a few days before the branch’s creation, Gurley was among those called to travel to collect funds to build the Nauvoo .
According to this 4 May 1842 letter, he left for in January 1842, perhaps to fulfill his calling to collect funds. Shortly after returning home, wrote to JS. Addressing JS as a general in the , Gurley explained in his letter that his pending absence from militia duty was due to sickness in his family. He also reported on his recent travels in Wisconsin Territory, where he had organized a branch. Given the letter’s lack of postal markings, it was apparently hand delivered to . No reply from JS is extant or otherwise known.
Gurley’s 1871 obituary provides the 1838 date, but an 1872 article dates the baptism to 1837. Either date is possible, since Gurley and James Blakeslee, who baptized Gurley, were both apparently in the region in 1837 and 1838. (“Death of Br. Zenos H. Gurley, Sen.,” True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, 15 Sept. 1871, 560; Mark H. Forscutt, “Biographical Sketch of Elder Zenos H. Gurley, Sen’r,” True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, 1 Jan. 1872, 3; Shepard, “James Blakeslee,” 116–117.)
Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.
Shepard, William. “James Blakeslee, the Old Soldier of Mormonism.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 17 (1997): 113–132.
D[ea]r Sir A combination of circumstances over which I have no controll prevent me from meeting with the on the present occasion— I have Just returned to my famaly from whom I have been absent since last January— who have suffered much by sickness during my absence—
While in I organized a sma[ll] of the at Brittish Holl[ow] three Miles from Potose I named it the Miners Branch of
A large field is opened in that section And many— verry many Are Anxious that the word should be preached unto them While there I visited a small Branch organized by Brs [William O.] Clark & last fall their faith is good and all are purposing to assist in Building the — May the blessing of God continue with his Saints— yours Respectfuly
Gurley married Margaret Hickey in 1825. By late February 1842, the couple had five living children: Samuel, Louisa, Julia, John, and Zenas Jr. Three other children, Margaret, Michael, and Lovinia, had died in infancy. (History of the Reorganized Church, 3:742–743; Gurley, History and Genealogy of the Gurley Family, 77.)
The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 8 vols. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1896–1976.
Gurley, Albert E. The History and Genealogy of the Gurley Family. Hartford, CT: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1897.
The Latter-day Saints had been in the region that became Wisconsin Territory since at least 1835, when the area was part of Michigan Territory. However, the first missionaries did not begin preaching in Wisconsin Territory until 1840. (Clark, “Mormons of the Wisconsin Territory,” 59–65.)
TEXT: Characters obscured by wafer residue. British Hollow, also called Pleasant Valley, was a settlement located in the northeast corner of Potosi, Grant County, Wisconsin, fewer than five miles from the Iowa border.
The small branch mentioned was possibly located at Mineral Point, where, according to Amasa Lyman, William O. Clark had “baptized 17 members” in the summer of 1841. During this period, Lyman and Clark proselytized in and around the area where Gurley later organized the branch. (Amasa Lyman, Rockford, IL, 2 Aug. 1841, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:515–516; “Amasa Lyman’s History,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 15 Sept. 1858, 122; Julia R. Short, “Biography of William O. Clark,” Journal of History, Apr. 1913, 136–141.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.
Short, Julia R. “Biography of William O. Clark.” Journal of History 6 (Jan. 1913): 131–176.