JS, Letter, [, Hancock Co., IL], to , [, New Haven Co., CT], 10 Mar. 1842. Featured version copied [ca. 10 Mar. 1842] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 230–231; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 10 March 1842 JS wrote to in regarding various land transaction proposals. In August 1839 JS, , and , informally acting on behalf of the , agreed to purchase approximately four hundred acres of land in , Illinois, from Hotchkiss and his business partners, and . The land comprised much of the north half of what subsequently became the city of . While the principal owed for this large purchase was not due for nearly two more decades, interest payments of $3,000 per year had begun accruing. To pay the first year’s interest two weeks earlier, the church—through —transferred some property in to Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and Gillet.
As had notified JS of the partnership’s willingness to accept land in lieu of cash, JS wrote to Hotchkiss in early March with additional proposals of land transfers. One of these involved a sizeable property near , Indiana, owned by Dr. . The value of this property and similar properties that could be made available in short order, JS reported, was enough to cover the $50,000 principal of the purchase, concluding the 1839 sale if Hotchkiss and his colleagues agreed to take it.
JS closed his letter by describing the plight of the State Bank of Illinois, suggesting that without reliable paper money in circulation, land transfers would be the most efficient and profitable way for and his partners to receive payment for the property. Though Hotchkiss responded to JS’s letter the following month, he did not directly address the significant offer of ’s land.
The original letter is apparently not extant. inscribed the original and later copied it into JS Letterbook 2, probably around the time the letter was written.
I received yours dated Feby 7th. a few days since and have ascertained that Mr has wrote <written> to Mr Thomas W. Ivins instructing him to Deed the land specified in your Letter according to contract which Letter might not have had time to reach Mr Ivins previous to you writing on the 7th.
<1st.> I have received a proposition to exchange lands from Mr. John M. Crane of Pleasant Hill Montgomery Co, I[ndian]a which I take the liberty to lay before you in his own words.
I now proceed to give a description of my real estate; First, the property where I now live in this place; one lot with two dwellings, both two Story buildings, a frame Smithing Shop, good Stabling, a good well of water, and ten acres of land with Timber and fire wood for the use of this property. The above stated property is worth $700.00. I have also 160 acres of land one mile East of this place with a good hewed log dwelling, good Stabling, about 60 acres of cleared land, good fencing, two wells of good water, and plenty of Stock water. I bought of a man who mortgaged it to the State funds of or the nine per cent fund for $500.00 and I gave him $650.00 for his right and pay out the Mortgage when due, which will be on the first of July 1843. I will take the amount I paid for it and give a Deed subject to the Mortgage. I have 1 Lot in Newton, Fountain Co, Ia five miles from this place with a good Frame Barn on it lying in the heart of the Town. I will take $350[.]00 for it. I have also 1 half acre of Town lot in Dublin Wayne Co Ia, on the National Road east of Indianopolis that I will take $350.00 for [p. 230]
Hotchkiss wrote to JS on 7 February 1842 regarding approximately 140 acres in New Jersey that James Ivins offered to sell to Hotchkiss, Smith Tuttle, and John Gillet on behalf of the church. The purchase price of $3,200 was to be applied toward the $6,000 in interest the church currently owed Hotchkiss and his partners. In the letter, Hotchkiss reiterated his interest in acquiring the property and noted that he had not heard from Ivins after agreeing with JS to make the purchase. (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 7 Feb. 1842.)
Crane’s letter to JS is apparently not extant, and neither is any correspondence from Barton Robinson or Charles Modesitt, who are mentioned later in the featured letter as having property to transfer. It is possible that these proposals for land trades were obtained through the efforts of churchagents like Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland during their missions or were sent directly to Nauvoo. A conference of the church in Nauvoo in October 1841 and a subsequent open letter from the Quorum of the Twelve recommended a new plan for paying the debts owed to Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and Gillet whereby church members would transfer land they owned elsewhere in the United States to the land speculating partnership in return for land of equal value from the church in or around Nauvoo. (Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841; Brigham Young et al., “An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:567–570.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.