, agent, on behalf of JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , 23 Dec. 1842. Featured version copied [ca. 23 Dec. 1842]; handwriting of ; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes docket and archival marking.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm) when folded. It is ruled with twenty-five horizontal lines printed in brown ink, now heavily faded. The upper left corner of the first recto contains a circular embossment, which is now illegible. The letter was folded in half twice horizontally and docketed for filing. Marked water damage has resulted in fading along the fold lines.
The document was docketed by , who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844 and as temple recorder from 1842 to 1846. The docket reads, “Copy of a letter to | Decr. 23— 1842”. In late 1844, following JS’s death, became one of the interim church trustees and was appointed “first bishop” among other Nauvoo bishops. It was presumably during this time that many of the church’s financial and other administrative records passed into his possession. This document, along with many other personal and institutional documents that Whitney kept, was inherited by Newel K. and ’s daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who was married to Isaac Groo. The documents were passed down within the Groo family. Between 1969 and 1974, the Groo family donated their collection of Newel K. Whitney’s papers to the J. Reuben Clark Library (renamed Harold B. Lee Library in 1973) at Brigham Young University.
JS, Journal, 29 June 1842; “Clayton, William,” in Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:718; Clayton, History of the Nauvoo Temple, 18, 30–31.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
Clayton, William. History of the Nauvoo Temple, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 3365.
Andrus and Fuller, Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 24; Wilkinson et al., Brigham Young University, 4:255.
Andrus, Hyrum L., and Chris Fuller, comp. Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers. Provo, UT: Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 1978.
Wilkinson, Ernest L., Leonard J. Arrington, and Bruce C. Hafen, eds. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. Vol. 4. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1976.
On 23 December 1842, wrote a letter on behalf of JS in , Illinois, to senator in in response to a letter from Young that is no longer extant. Acting as an agent on behalf of land dealer John C. Walsh of Baltimore, Young had informed JS of Walsh’s desire to sell a quarter of a section of land in , Illinois, for $2,500. Although never a resident of Illinois, Walsh purchased the tract of land along with another property in Hancock County for $500 from fellow Baltimore resident Jacob Grafflin in 1836. It is unclear why Walsh was selling the land at this time. As this letter seems to indicate, Young offered the property to JS on at least two occasions, the second time increasing the asking price by $500. Despite the high cost of the land, JS’s reference to a contract suggests that JS may have preliminarily agreed to purchase the land, which was adjacent to his three miles east of Nauvoo.
In the letter featured here, wrote back to on JS’s behalf, confirming JS’s decision to purchase the land and requesting that Young draw up and send the contract. The letter suggested that Young expedite the transaction by paying the down payment and then charging JS for it. Clayton concluded the letter by asking Young to send an answer “as soon as convenient.”
The letter likely took approximately three weeks to arrive in . received the letter by 17 January 1843, when he wrote JS a response that reached him on 9 February 1843. Although Young’s letter is not extant, it evidently indicated that he had paid the initial $500 as suggested, which JS subsequently repaid.
The sent copy of the letter is not extant. Although ’s docketing on the version featured here notes that this version was a copy, the deletions and insertions suggest that it may have been a draft that Clayton wrote before making the copy he sent to .
In his response to Young’s January 1843 letter, JS stated that he would, in accordance with Young’s instructions, “despatch a messenger immediately to Quincey to deposit the $500 in the hands of Genl. Leach,” likely referring to the registrar of the Quincy, Illinois, land office, Samuel Leech. Clayton made the payment to Young on JS’s behalf on 14 February 1843, delivering $500 in gold and silver to General Leach at Quincy. (Letter to Richard M. Young, 9 Feb. 1843; JS, Journal, 9 Feb. 1843; Clayton, Journal, 12 and 14 Feb. 1843; see also Notice, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 4 Mar. 1837, .)
Dear Sir./— I write to inform you that I am now prepared to accept Mr John C. Walsh’s terms for the N. W. 8— 6 N. 8 W. as stated in your last to me viz. $2500 the first payment of $500 shall be deposited as you shall direct which will be done as soon as you return an answer. The balance in yearly payments as stated in Mr Walsh’s proposals. The price is certainly high but I have fortunately the means at command to meet the contract so that I care not much for the $500 which he has to increase upon the price <added to the price according to his first proposals>. I am disposed on all occasions to hold all contracts sacred; and so I do on in this occasion and will give the gentleman his price as last stated although the times are hard and landed property of comparitively little value.
If you will have the papers executed and forward them the earliest opportunity I will esteem it as a favor and will <endeavor> satisfy you for your kindness.
Perhaps you will conclude to pay Mr Walsh the first $500 and direct me where to refund the money to you.
I shall now consider the contract good and am preparing to commence improving the land as soon as possible.
Other land speculators had noted the depreciated land values in Illinois during the early 1840s. Writing to eastern land speculator and creditor Smith Tuttle on 1 August 1841, fellow speculator John Gillet stated, “Lands cannot be sold at any price that would pay mutch if any profit in fact there is no money in the country to purchase with and the Inhabitants are afraid of debt.” (John Gillet to Smith Tuttle, 1 Aug. 1841, Gillett Family Papers, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL; Letter from Smith Tuttle, ca. 15 Sept. 1841.)
Gillett Family Papers, 1736–1904. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.