Letter to Oliver Granger, between circa 22 and circa 28 July 1840
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , Lake Co., OH, [between ca. 22 and ca. 28 July 1840]. Featured version copied [between ca. 22 and ca. 28 July 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 159–161; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
In July 1840, JS wrote a letter to , who had expressed concern about ’s conduct in , Ohio. When JS and his family departed Kirtland for in January 1838, most members in the area followed, but some Saints remained. In fall 1838, the departures of Kirtland and Kirtland left the remaining church members without essential leaders. In spring 1839, a general in , Illinois, appointed Granger, who had earlier worked to sell church members’ property in Kirtland and resolve church debts there, to “preside over the general affairs of the Church” in Kirtland and to “take the Charge and oversight of the .” However, Granger apparently did not relocate to Kirtland until spring 1840, after he entered into an agreement with JS “to assume all the debts, notes, & obligations” that the owed in and .
Soon after making this agreement, departed , Illinois, for , where he apparently spent some time before departing for with . On 23 June 1840, while in New York, Granger and Richards wrote a letter to JS complaining about . A member of the , Babbitt was appointed by a May 1839 general conference “to set to rights the church” in , Illinois. After traveling to Springfield and then preaching in in fall 1839, Babbitt had relocated to Kirtland by summer 1840.
Although and ’s letter to JS is not extant, the minutes of a September 1840 meeting reveal some of the two men’s concerns. reportedly had claimed that JS and “extravagantly purchased” clothes while in in winter 1839–1840 and had asserted that JS, Rigdon, , and Granger had declared “that they were worth $100.000 each.” Babbitt also supposedly had held “secret Council” in the , locking the doors of the building and prohibiting “certain brethren, in good standing” to enter. Because Granger had been appointed to preside over the church in Kirtland, he apparently sought JS’s direction on how to deal with Babbitt. In this reply to Granger, JS expressed dismay at Babbitt’s actions and informed Granger that the church had withdrawn fellowship from Babbitt.
JS likely composed his reply—which bears no date—in late July 1840. Other letters transported between and around this same time indicate that it could have taken anywhere from two and a half weeks to a month for and ’s letter, which JS stated was written 23 June, to reach Nauvoo. JS therefore probably received the letter about mid-July. In his reply, JS mentioned a meeting in which ’s conduct was considered, suggesting that JS waited at least a few days before answering Granger and Richards. In the letter, JS also referred to a 29 June 1840 letter he had received from “a few days ago”—one that he answered on 22 July. The letter to Granger does not indicate that JS had yet answered Phelps, suggesting that JS may have written to Granger before or on 22 July prior to responding to Phelps. A later JS history dated the letter 22 July, perhaps because of where the letter falls in JS Letterbook 2. In that letterbook, the letter to Granger appears after the 22 July letter from JS to Phelps and before a 28 July letter from JS to . All of these circumstances suggest that JS wrote his reply to Granger sometime in mid- or late July, most likely between 22 and 28 July.
The original letter to is not extant. Before the letter was sent, copied it into JS Letterbook 2. Granger evidently received the letter because came to in early September to answer JS’s charges against him.
In June 1840, Granger sold land in Lake County, Ohio, to John Norton. Rhoda Richards, Levi Richards’s sister, informed their brother Willard Richards on 5 July 1840 that Levi had “spent a week in New York with Brother Granger.” (Lake Co., OH, Deeds, 1840–1950, Deed Records, vol. A, pp. 65–66, 3 June 1840, microfilm 973,892, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Rhoda Richards, Richmond, MA, to Willard Richards, Manchester, England, 14 and 28 June 1840; 5 July 1840, typescript, Richards Family Papers, CHL.)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
“Richards Family Letters 1840–1849.” Typescript. Richards Family Papers, 1965. CHL.
Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 28–29; Minutes, 4–5 May 1839; Almon Babbitt, Pleasant Garden, IN, 18 Oct. 1839, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:26; Johnson, “A Life Review,” 58, 62; “Important Church News,” Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:109.
Phebe Carter Woodruff indicated that she received a 17 December 1839 letter from her husband, Wilford Woodruff, who was in New York, “soon after” 1 January 1840. Heber C. Kimball was also in New York, however, and did not receive a 2 February 1840 letter from his wife, Vilate Murray Kimball, who was in Nauvoo, until 5 March 1840. (Phebe Carter Woodruff, Montrose, Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, Ledbury, England, 8 Mar. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL; Heber C. Kimball, New York City, NY, to Vilate Murray Kimball, 5 Mar. 1840, photocopy, Heber C. Kimball, Correspondence, 1837–1864, CHL.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.
Kimball, Heber C. Collection, 1837–1898. CHL. MS 12476.
It was with great pleasure I received your’s and Letter dated June 23rd. 1840 and was very happy to be informed of your safe arrival in that place and your probability of success, and I do hope that your anticipations will be realized and that you will be able to free the from all incumbrances, and be prospered in all your undertakings for the benefit of the , and pray that while you are exerting your influence to bring about an object so desireable, that the choicest blessings of heaven may rest down upon you. While you are endeavoring to do so and attending to the duties laid upon you by the Authorities of the Church in this place, I am sorry to be informed not only in your letter but from other respectable sources of the strange conduct pursued in by ; I am indeed Surprised that a man having the experience which has had should take any steps whatever calculated to destroy the confidence of the brethren in the or any of the Authorities of the church. In order to conduct the affairs of the kingdom in righteousness it is all important, that the most perfect harmony kind feeling, good understanding and confidence should exist in the hearts of all the brethren. and that true Charity—love one towards another, should characterize all their proceedings. If there are any uncharitable feelings, any lack of confidence, then pride and arrogancy and envy will soon be manifested and confusion must inevitably prevail and the Authorities of the Church set at nought; and under such circumstances cannot rise and free herself from <the> captivity in which she is held and become a place of safety for the saints nor can the blessings of Jehovah rest upon her. If the saints in deem me unworthy of their prayers when they assemble together, and neglect to bear me up at a throne of heavenly grace, it is a strong and convincing proof to me that they have not the spirit of God.
If the revelations we have received are true, who is to lead the people? If the of the kingdom have been committed to my hands, who shall open out the mysteries thereof. As long as my brethren stand by me and encourage me I can combat the predjudices of the world and can bear the contumely and abuse of the world with joy [p. 159]
In November 1839, Heber C. Kimball told his wife, Vilate, that he had hoped to find the Saints in Kirtland “united and enjoying the blessings of the people of god.” Instead, they were “all broken up and divided into seve[ra]l different parties.” George A. Smith expressed a similar view, stating that there were “many Elders hear that instead of holding each other up by the prare [prayer] of faith they are pulling each other down.” (Heber C. Kimball, Kirtland, OH, to Vilate Murray Kimball, Commerce, IL, 16 Nov. 1839, photocopy, Heber C. Kimball, Letters, 1839–1854, CHL; George A. Smith to John Smith and Clarissa Lyman Smith, 22 Nov. 1839, John Smith, Papers, CHL.)
Kimball, Heber C. Letters, 1839–1854. Photocopy. CHL.