JS, Letter, , Clay Co., MO, to , , Adams Co., IL, 21 Mar. 1839; handwriting of JS; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address.
Bifolium measuring 9⅝ × 7⅝ inches (24 × 19 cm). The letter was addressed and trifolded twice in letter style. Needle holes along the center fold suggest that at some time the letter was sewn to other documents. The letter has undergone conservation.
presumably received the letter in and kept it for some time; it later left the Smith family’s possession. Around 1901, the letter was acquired by Iowa antiques collector Charles Birge. Subsequently, custody of the letter was transferred to autograph collector Frederick Peck, who retained the letter until his death in 1947. The letter was in the possession of Mary Benjamin, an autograph dealer and editor of the Collector, from an unknown date until circa 1953, when custody was transferred to physician Charles W. Olsen, an eminent collector of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia. Olsen donated the letter to the LDS church in 1961.
Memorandum, 14 June 1961; David O. McKay, Salt Lake City, to Charles W. Olsen, Chicago, IL, 21 June 1961, in David O. McKay, Diary Entries, 21–22 June 1961, CHL.
McKay, David O. Diary Entries, 21–22 June 1961. Photocopy. CHL.
On 21 March 1839, JS wrote a letter from the to his wife , who was in , Illinois. This letter, the fourth extant missive he wrote to her during his imprisonment in winter 1838–1839, was partly a response to her 7 March letter, in which she reflected upon her forced departure from the Smiths’ home and upon the family’s situation in . In his letter, JS offered her encouragement and commented on her living situation, the health of their children, and the pain of his separation from the family. JS also included instructions on copying and transmitting the 20 March 1839 general epistle to the church. Additionally, he proposed that church members develop a “bill of damages” documenting their losses in Missouri, to be used in seeking redress from the federal government.
JS wrote two pages and then closed and signed the letter. Afterward, he inscribed a third page and then closed and signed the letter again. The missive may have been included in the “package of letters for ” that church member picked up at the on 22 March 1839. It is unknown how the letter was carried from to , although the lack of postal markings suggests a courier carried the letter.
Lyman Wight, Journal, in History of the Reorganized Church, 2:323.
The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 8 vols. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1896–1976.
Clay Co Mo 1839 March 21st
I have sent an Epistleto the directed to you because I wanted you to have the first reading of it and then I want and to have a coppy of it keep the original yourself as I dectated the matter myself and shall send an other as soon as posible I want to be with you very much but the powers of mobocra[c]y is to many for me at preasant I would ask if will be kind enough to let you and the children tarry there untill can learn somethng futher concerning my lotfate I will reward him well if he will and see that you do not suffer fo[r] any thing I shall have a little mony left when I come my Dear I very well know your toils and simpathise with you if God will spare my life once more to have the privelege of takeing care of you I will ease your care and indeavour to cumfort your heart [p. ]
In her 7 March 1839 letter to JS, Emma Smith referred to “the scenes of suffering that I have passed through, since what is called the Militia, came in to Far West” after Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued the expulsion order. She also described the pain she felt when leaving the Smiths’ Missouri home. JS was perhaps also referring to the hardships Emma had faced in Illinois without his support. (Letter from Emma Smith, 7 Mar. 1839.)