, , and JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to David Hale, Independence Township, Washington Co., PA, 12–19 Feb. 1841; handwriting of , , and JS; four pages. Transcription from digital color image, BYU.
Two leaves, dimensions unknown. Pages appear approximately two-thirds as wide as they are tall and were possibly originally connected as a bifolium. The letter was written in ink, trifolded in letter style, and sent by post. The letter has several tears, including a large tear along the top right corner of the second page. It was repaired with adhesive tape along the fold lines.
The original was in the possession of a descendant of the Hale family residing in San Diego, California, as late as the 1950s. Around that time, an acquaintance of that descendant made a typescript of the letter; the acquaintance later donated the typescript to the Church History Library in 1984. At some point, Brigham Young University obtained a scanned image of the original, likely at the same time it received other Hale family documents in 2010. The original is apparently in private possession.
Hale, David. Ledger, 1827–1869. David and Ira P. Hale, Papers, 1827–1888. BYU.
Between 12 and 19 February 1841, wrote a letter to his uncle David Hale in , to which his aunt and uncle JS also added. Wasson, who was in his early twenties, was the son of Emma’s sister Elizabeth Hale Wasson. He left his home in Amboy, Illinois, during fall 1840 and was living with Emma and JS in , Illinois, when he wrote this letter. Wasson resided at the Smith home for approximately a year and a half; during that time he corresponded with members of the Hale family.
Prior to this time, JS and ’s relationship with the Hale family had been strained. Emma’s father, , had reservations about JS’s reputation and employment, and he was angered when JS eloped with his daughter in 1827. Likely influenced by their father, who passed away in 1839, the Hale family had made no known contact with Emma and JS since the two had moved from , Pennsylvania, in 1830. This letter indicated a desire on JS and Emma’s part to renew contact with the Hales.
wrote this letter in answer to communication from David Hale, ’s older brother. He began the letter on 12 February 1841, and Emma and JS added their own thoughts at some point during the course of the week. Wasson then added a concluding paragraph on 19 February and mailed the letter the following day. The fact that the original letter was in the Hale family’s possession indicates that David Hale received it, but no further correspondence between David Hale and the Smith family has been identified.
Because the original manuscript can no longer be located, the following transcript of the letter was created by consulting incomplete scanned images of the original made in 2010, from which the final page is missing, and a typescript made in 1984. Portions of the letter are not legible in the scanned images because adhesive tape was placed over damaged areas at some point. All text in brackets was missing or illegible in the scanned images and was supplied by consulting the typescript.
David Hale left his home in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, in 1839 and initially moved southwest to Brooke County, Virginia, before eventually settling in Amboy, Illinois. (Staker and Jensen, “David Hale’s Store Ledger,” 106; David Hale, Ledger, David and Ira P. Hale, Papers, BYU; 1840 U.S. Census, Brooke Co., VA, 218; “Brooke County, Property Book for 1841,” in Brooke Co., VA, Personal Property Tax Lists, 1797–1851, microfilm 2,024,494, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
See Isaac Hale, Affidavit, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, . In his manuscript history, JS noted that Emma’s father, Isaac Hale, “was greatly opposed to our being married.” Hale’s dissatisfaction with JS corresponded with a broader distrust of JS propagated by local ministers, in particular Hale’s brother-in-law Nathaniel Lewis, a prominent Methodist in the Harmony, Pennsylvania, area. (JS History, vol. A-1, 8, 53; Nathaniel Lewis, Affidavit, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian, 1 May 1834, .)
Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian. Montrose, PA. 1831–1836.
Anderson, Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale, 302.
Anderson, Mary Audentia Smith. Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale: With Little Sketches of Their Immigrant Ancestors All of Whom Came to America between the Years 1620 and 1685, and Settled in the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1929.
[Feb. the 12th 1841 A.D.]
<Most> Gratefull and ever respected relative [I] feel a pleasure in communicating to you my [present] situation. I am living with unkle Joseph Smith. I am enjoying good health and unkle Josephs fa[mily] are all well at present. I received a leter from home about four weeks agow they were all well [and] Silas had been at fathers two weeks. I have no[t seen him] as I left home in Octber. r[eceived a] letter from you and was much pleased with it. [as well] as unkle Joseph I was pleased with the respect [you] showed to Unkle Joseph for I think it is no more than [he] merits from those that should be his friends [as he never] has injured us or layed a straw in our way as [I know of] but has ever expresed the greatest degree of [friendship.] he offers to each of you brothers 80 akers of land [if you will co]me to the City of the land is in in what is called the it is [said to be of] a superior quality of both timber and priarie, [well watered] &c I have no dout that he feels a little pride [in being] situated in affluent sircumstances that benevolent [he can] offer the benevolent hand to the relatives of his [that is] most dear to him when I came to and [finally always] ever since I knew unkle I have entertained a strong [irreligious] unprovoked prejudice against him and no doubt [we all have] but since I came here my prejudice has left me like [the] chalf before the wind the Doctrines that the Mormons promulgate and their construction of the scriptures [is] I think correct as far as I have become acquainted with it where is the man that knows that he [is] a propogating a religion that is false and founded on hypocracy that will not forsake it when placed at [the] point of fifty bayonetts and summoned to renounce [his faith] or die or imprisoned for months <and> fed on human flesh seasoned with arcenick <and> tared and feathered and [various other] fiendish devlish tortures inflicted upon him. [p. ]
Lorenzo D. Wasson’s father was Benjamin Wasson. Silas Hale was Lorenzo’s cousin of approximately the same age. Silas was the son of Emma’s brother Jesse Hale and lived in the same area of Illinois as the Wasson family. (Chase, “Township of Amboy,” 141.)
Chase, D. G. “Township of Amboy.” In Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County, [edited by Seraphina Gardner Smith], 9–157. Dixon, IL: Inez A. Kennedy, 1893.
Since JS and Emma Hale had eloped and apparently left the Hale family on bad terms, the ill feelings were slow to fade. In 1834, Emma’s father, Isaac Hale, provided an affidavit criticizing JS and the church, which was included in Eber D. Howe’s book, Mormonism Unvailed, which was itself highly critical of the church. Oliver Cowdery addressed Hale’s affidavit in a letter that was printed in the church periodical Messenger and Advocate and then copied into a later JS history. In Cowdery’s letter the Hale family is described as exercising considerable influence to “destroy the reputation of our brother, probably because he married a daughter of the same.” (Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 262–266; Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:201; see also JS History, 1834–1836, 89–103.)
Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
JS spent nearly half a year incarcerated in Missouri during the winter of 1838–1839. JS, Hyrum Smith, and others apparently believed that one of their guards in the Clay County jail in Liberty had attempted to poison them and feed them human flesh. Some retellings even stated that the flesh came from murdered Saints and was offered to the inmates as “Mormon beef.” (Hyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, p. 22; Lyman Wight, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, p. 30, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1843, 4:356.)
JS and Sidney Rigdon were tarred and feathered by a mob of men during the night of 24 March 1832 or the early morning of 25 March. JS’s assailants attempted to pour tar and a vial of poison down his throat. The incident left JS with burned flesh and a chipped tooth. (JS History, vol. A-1, 205–208; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 349–353.)
Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.