JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , New York Co., NY, 4 Jan. 1842. Featured version copied [ca. 4 Jan. 1842] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 221–222; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. Includes notation. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 4 January 1842 JS wrote a letter from , Illinois, to in concerning a recent land purchase he had made on Bernhisel’s behalf. Bernhisel, a recent convert from , had been corresponding with JS since 6 March 1841, seeking to secure property in Nauvoo before moving there. In a letter written in July 1841, Bernhisel authorized JS to purchase a large tract of “good land” for him within a few miles of Nauvoo and sent him a certificate of deposit for $425. A month later Bernhisel sent another $40 by way of , who passed through New York City en route to Nauvoo. According to the letter featured here, Bernhisel had most recently written to JS on 11 December 1841 (with the letter mailed two days later). As correspondence between Bernhisel in New York City and JS in Nauvoo took approximately three weeks to arrive, JS likely received Bernhisel’s 11 December letter sometime at the end of December or in the first few days of January. On 4 January 1842 JS purchased sixty acres of land east of Nauvoo for Bernhisel. Later the same day he wrote the featured letter to Bernhisel to inform him of the purchase.
The original letter is apparently not extant, but took its dictation and copied part of it into JS’s letterbook, presumably before it was sent to ; a note at the bottom of the transcript indicates that it is only an excerpt. On 29 March 1842 Bernhisel sent JS the final $15 he owed for the purchase through a courier as JS requested in this letter. On 11 April 1842 Bernhisel replied to JS’s letter.
Yours of the 11th Dec. post Marked 13th. is rec[e]ived & I have this day made a purchase according to your request, of 60 acres of land off the South Side, of the south east quarter, <of> Section 9. of Township six north, of range 8 west, of the 4th principal Meridian in the tract appropriated for Military bounties, for the Sum of $480. I.E. $8. per Acre, which is less than its present value, & that on account of Previous advances on your part.
The land is situated about 2 miles east by south of the , and of an excellent quality though perhaps not quite so great a proportion of timber as you would have preferred, yet it was the best chance which presented itself to me at present, We do not long expect to be dependent on wood, from this immediate vicinity for firing our , there are, unquestionably, inexaustable mines of coal in the neighborhood, not far beneath the surface, which we expect will shortly be opened, furnishing an abundance of fuel at a moderate price, & also lights for the , as soon as means can be brought in requisition to establish Gas works.
The purchase I made of Mr & have his deed to you for the Land, & I shall improve the earliest opportunity. to forward it to the Recorders Office, for entry, and after that is accomplished I will file it away with my Deeds, holding it subject to your order.
The certificate of deposite referred to in your letter, July 12— 1841 for
together with the 8th Sept for . of
deducted from the,
paid for the land, leaves a balance in my favor of
JS and Emma Smith’s farm was located nearby, in the northeast quarter of section 8. Hancock County sat on a tract of land that had been set aside to pay veterans of the War of 1812. Later, these lands were sold to land speculators. Most of the parcel mentioned here had been granted to Thomas Kennedy in 1817. (Hancock Co., IL, Bonds and Mortgages, 1840–1904, vol. 1, pp. 228–229, 16 Sept. 1841, microfilm 954,776, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Flanders, Nauvoo, 117; Land Patent for Thomas Kennedy, Hancock Co., IL, no. 2396, General Land Office Records, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior.)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Flanders, Robert Bruce. Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965.
General Land Office Records. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior. Digital images of the land patents cited herein are available at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/.
This parcel of land was prairie land, which tended to sell for much less than town property throughout the region. (See Anthony Hoffman, Rushville, IL, to John Reid, Argyle, NY, 1 Nov. 1833, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.)
Hoffman, Anthony. Letter, Rushville, IL, to John Reid, Argyle, NY, 1 Nov. 1833. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.
“Gas works” were public works buildings devoted to producing gas from coal, which could then be used for lighting. (See Strickland et al., Reports, Specifications, and Estimates of Public Work in the United States of America, 12–14.)
Strickland, William, Edward H. Gill, and Henry R. Campbell, eds. Reports, Specifications, and Estimates of Public Works in the United States of America. . . . London: John Weale, 1841.