JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to [, New Haven Co., CT], 28 July 1840. Featured version copied [ca. 28 July 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 162–163; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 28 July 1840, JS wrote to regarding land purchases in the , Illinois, area. Hotchkiss was a land speculator from and one of the men from whom the had purchased extensive tracts of land in , Illinois, in summer 1839. Hotchkiss wrote to JS on 1 April 1840 and again sometime during June, suggesting in both letters the possibility of selling to the Latter-day Saints additional land in the area (southeast of Nauvoo), in the area (northeast of Nauvoo), or in both areas. In this response to Hotchkiss’s June letter, JS briefly discussed the Rock River land offer and outlined the difficulty church leaders would have in punctually making the initial payments on a separate property of about four hundred acres they had purchased from Hotchkiss the previous year. Nevertheless, JS promised Hotchkiss that the church would make the payments as soon as possible. JS also informed Hotchkiss that he had recently paid the full amount due to for another parcel of land that the church had purchased from Hotchkiss and White.
The original letter is apparently not extant. This version, which copied into JS Letterbook 2 probably around the time the letter was sent, does not include an address for , but the letter was likely mailed to Hotchkiss’s residence in , Connecticut. If Hotchkiss sent a response to this letter, it has not been located.
Dear Sir. I acknowledge the receipt of yours last month giving me the numbers of the land on , which you felt disposed to sell. In reply to which I have to say that we have not yet examined the land and consequently have not arrived at any conclusions respecting it, but it is probable that some of my friends will visit it this fall and if we should think it wisdom to locate there or on the other tract you will be informed of the same and arrangement entered into. I
I am sorry that your health has been so poor but hope ere this you are perfectly recovered. It would afford me great pleasure indeed could I hold out any prospect of the two notes due next month being met at maturity or even this fall. Having had considerable difficulty (necessarily consequent on a new Settlement) to contend with, as well as poverty and considerable sickness, our first payment will probably be somewhat delayed until we again get a good start in the world— which I am happy to say, that the prospect is indeed favorable. under these circumstances we shall have to claim your indulgence which I have no doubt will be extended. How ever every exertion on our part shall be made to meet the demands against us. so that if we cannot accomplish all we wish to it will it will “be our misfortune and not our fault” Notwithstanding the impoverished condition of our people and the adverse circumstances under which we have had to labor. I hope we shall eventually rise above them and again enjoy the blessings of health, peace and plenty.
You are informed in a former letter that we had paid Mr the one thousand dollars specified in your bond, a few days ago he called at this place and agreed to give us a deed for the ninety acres (less one half acre) provided I would give him an indemnifying bond and pay the interest due from you to him on the one thousand dollars which I agreed to do. I have therefore got the deed for the land and paid him the interest. My reasons for doing so were these, there were are some who wish to purchase lots provided they can get a [p. 162]
No letter from Hotchkiss to JS dated June 1840 has been located. In a 1 April 1840 letter, Hotchkiss briefly offered to sell to JS and the Saints land in the Rock River area in Henry and Mercer counties as well as land in Sangamon and Morgan counties for two potential colonies. It is unknown whether JS expressed interest in a letter in the interim, to which Hotchkiss replied in June, or if Hotchkiss was merely volunteering more detail about his proposal. (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 1 Apr. 1840.)
In his 1 April letter to JS, Hotchkiss wrote, “My health has been so very infirm, that it has prevented me form [from] executing nearly all the arrangements, I had proposed for myself, for the last eight months.” (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 1 Apr. 1840.)
“Be our misfortune, and not our fault” is a paraphrase of a line from Joseph Addison’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “And yet consider why the Change was wrought, / You’ll find it his Misfortune, not his Fault.” (Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books, 79.)
Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books. Translated by the Most Eminent Hands. Translated by Samuel Garth, John Dryden, Joseph Addison, et al. London: Jacob Tonson, 1717.
The “former letter” to which JS referred is apparently not extant. In the smaller of two land transactions on 12 August 1839, JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith purchased from Hotchkiss ninety acres in the Commerce area, excluding half an acre for the old burying ground. The terms of the purchase were two notes of $1,250 each, plus interest, to Hotchkiss. One note was due in five years and one in ten years, along with $1,000 to be paid to William White “in such manner as shall be satisfactory to said White.” (Bond from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–B.)