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.
I want you<to> have the Epistole coppyed immedeately and let it go to the Bretheren firs[t] into the hands of for I want the production for my record if you lack for mony [o]r fo[r]bread do let me know it as soon as possible my nerve trembles from long confinement but if you feel as I do you dont care for the imperfections of my writings for my part a word of consolation from any sourse is cordially recieved by us me I feel like Joseph in Egyept doth my friends yet live if they live do they remember me have they regard for me if so let me know it in time of troublemy Dear do you think that my being cast into prison by the mob ofrenders me less worthy of your friendsship no I do not think so but when I was in prisen and ye viseted me inasmuch as you have don it to the least <of> these you have don it to me these shall enter into life Eternal but no more
Extant copies of the 20 March 1839 epistle are in the handwriting of Edward Partridge and Albert Perry Rockwood. (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20–25 Mar. 1839, copy, CHL; JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the Church and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, copy, Albert Perry Rockwood, Mormon Letters and Sermons, 1838–1839, Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.)
Smith, Joseph. Letter, Liberty, MO, to the Church and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20–25 Mar. 1839. Copy. CHL.
Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
The prisoners apparently had some money in the jail, presumably provided by individuals in Far West. While imprisoned, Hyrum Smith sent twenty dollars to his wife, Mary Fielding Smith, in Quincy. (Hyrum Smith, Liberty, MO, to Mary Fielding Smith, Quincy, IL, 23 Mar. 1839, Mary Fielding Smith, Collection, CHL; see also Kimball, “History,” 100–101.)
Smith, Mary Fielding. Collection, ca. 1832–1848. CHL. MS 2779.
Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.