, , 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.
I ask wher is the man that will stand the [torture] of fire and fagot if he is not sure he is doing the works of righteousness ther is not a man in Crisen[dom] among all the sons and daughters of Adam I will [venture] to say. I have heard recapitulated the blody tragedy [that] was enacted in by a drunken and inh[uman] Mob picture to your self women and children w[andering] houseless and homeless in on the bleak priaries in cold winter weather rob[b]ed of al[l] their worldly treasures with <out> [food and scarcely close to cover their backs it is enough to melt the hardest heart that is susseptible of fealing] [but I] must close my Epistle were I to follow the Mormons <throu> all their scenes of prosperity and adversity it would swell the pages of a volum like that of Josephus but the Mormons have found shelter in they have setled on the banks of the in and they are now in a prosperous condition yours respectfully
Dear Brother David I have to appologise for not answering Your letter before, but if You will come here and see what a buissy house I have I am persuaded that You will not blame me much should I be a little remiss. It is a matter of great satisfaction to me again to receive inteligence from my friends as I have thought [I have been] somewhat neglected, but I now flatter myself that I shall [receive news from all my s] house that [remain and I also flatter] myself with the idea of giving some one of my friends a deta[iled] account of my journey thus far and the mingled scenes of prosperity and adversity through which I have passed since I have been abcent from my native country; is the first one of my relative that I have had the pleasure of seeing since I left which is ten years last Sept. I am highly pleased with him he is a very interesting young man of remarkable natural abilities and if he continues to live with us and conduct himself as well as he has so far and we continue we intend to give him a good chance for improvement, I want to hear from you all and especialy and I want to know her situation [a]nd what she <wants> of us here in this country I stop for want of room.
Wasson seems to be drawing upon the tradition of Protestant martyrology made popular with publications like John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and John Bunyan’s writings, including The Heavenly Footman and Pilgrim’s Progress.
Flavius Josephus wrote extensively on the history of the Jews. Hyrum Smith owned an 1830 copy of Josephus’s writings collected in a one-volume edition of six hundred pages, entitled The Works of Flavius Josephus. His copy is available at the Church History Library.