JS and , Letter, , Caldwell Co., MO, to , Bloomfield Township, Crawford Co., PA, 17 Sept. 1838; handwriting of ; three pages; Stephen Post, Papers, CHL. Includes address, postal stamp, and wafer seal.
Bifolium measuring 12⅝ × 7⅞ inches (32 × 20 cm). The letter was trifolded and gatefolded before being sealed with a red wafer and addressed for mailing. A hole along one of the folds, apparently caused by rodents, obscures text on both sides of the first leaf. The letter was retained by ’s family until his grandson Edward O. Post donated the letter and other correspondence to the LDS church in July 1971.
Evans, Max J. Register of the Stephen Post Papers in the Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1975.
On 17 September 1838, JS and wrote to church member , answering several questions he posed in a letter that is apparently not extant. Post was baptized in 1835 and was to the office of and then in 1836. After a brief stay in , Ohio, during winter 1835–1836, Post returned to his home in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, which was relatively close to church headquarters in Kirtland, likely enabling him to regularly receive news about the church via traveling elders and the church’s newspapers. In 1836–1838 he spent considerable time preaching in surrounding neighborhoods and towns. On 1 August 1838, after the vast majority of had moved to , Post wrote to JS, seemingly in preparation to move to Missouri. In his letter, Post apparently requested news about the church and clarification of some doctrines. Post’s letter likely arrived in by late August, when a doctrinal treatise he wrote—and probably enclosed in his letter to JS—was published in the Elders’ Journal. As JS explained in the reply to Post’s letter, JS was too busy to respond immediately to Post’s missive, possibly because of ongoing legal difficulties stemming from the 8 August confrontation with .
JS prepared his response to on 17 September, with acting as scribe. Although the entire letter is written in first-person singular, signed the document along with JS. The letter contains several copying errors, such as repeated and canceled words, suggesting that the version Robinson sent to Post is a copy of a draft that is no longer extant. Robinson added his name as scribe before folding and addressing the letter. The missive was not mailed until 3 October; Post presumably received it sometime in late October or early November.
The road is full companies of frequently 10, 20 & 30 <wagons> arrives, some almost daily One company which is the camp is close here with one hundred wagons report says is comming less than one hundred miles of this place, with 64 wagons and the road is litterly lined with wagons between here and . The work of the gathering is great. all the saints should gather as soon as possible, urge all the saints to gather immediately if they possibly can. The chance is great for purchasing lands here land is very cheap the old settlers will sell for half price yes, for quarter price they are determined to get away. Congress land is plenty and good land can be had for property other than money, such as horses wagons goods of all kinds &c, &c, and State Banks will buy Congress lands, Eastern money can be exchanged on the road, with ease. You next ask what is the cause of the papers stoping it was because the was burnt down, by the decenters [dissenters] from the faith in , As to Mechanical branches, all kinds are needed, & would do well, As to the Stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim, I will merely say suppose yourself to be an Ephraimite, and suppose all this church to be, of the blood of Ephraim and the book of Mormon to be a record of Manasseh which would of course [be a re]cord of Joseph, Then suppose you being an Ephraimite, Should take the record of Joseph in your hand, would not then the stick of Joseph of Joseph be in the hand of Ephraim. solve this mistery and se[e].
The persecutors of the saints are not asleep in but God is near as to communicate his will unto us, I can write no more at present, I would say say may [p. ]
At the time JS dictated this letter, Page was leading a company of Saints from Upper Canada to Missouri. While on the road, Page’s company joined with a larger company of Saints traveling to Missouri from Kirtland. This larger company, known as the “Kirtland Camp,” contained over five hundred Saints. At some point, Page likely wrote to JS about the progress of this large company and other groups Page met on the way. On 17 September, the day JS replied to Post, the Kirtland Camp passed through Jacksonville, Illinois—approximately two hundred miles from Far West. The company did not arrive at its final destination of Adam-ondi-Ahman until 4 October 1838. (Page, Journal Synopsis, –; Kirtland Camp, Journal, 13 Mar.–2 Oct. 1838; Tyler, Journal, 4 Oct. 1838, 74–75.)
Page, John E. Journal Synopsis, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 641.
Kirtland Camp. Journal, Mar.–Oct. 1838. CHL. MS 4952.
Tyler, Samuel D. Journal, July–Oct. 1838. CHL. MS 1761.
On 26 April 1838, JS dictated a revelation directing that “the City Far West should be built up spedily, by the gathering of my Saints,” and that JS should appoint further locations for gathering. (See Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:17–18].)
JS was discussing a type of land speculation that increased in the western United States in the mid-1830s. In 1839, land speculator and recent Latter-day Saint convert Isaac Galland explained to a friend that the Illinois courts in particular expressed a preference for patent titles over other legal claims. “Patents are therefore in demand,” Galland reported, “and you may venture to purchase all that you can get at a fair price.” (Isaac Galland, Chillicothe, OH, to Samuel Swasey, North Haverhill, NH, 22 July 1839, CCLA; see also Rohrbough, Land Office Business, 221–249.)
Galland, Isaac. Letter, Chillicothe, OH, to Samuel Swasey, North Haverhill, NH, 22 July 1839. CCLA.
Rohrbough, Malcolm J. The Land Office Business: The Settlement and Administration of American Public Lands, 1789–1837. New York: Ocford University Press, 1968.
By the late 1830s, many banks in the eastern United States had expanded their spheres of influence westward, and most western banks depended on eastern capital for financial stability. (Bodenhorn, History of Banking in Antebellum America, 185–189, 193–195; Knodell, “Interregional Financial Integration,” 291.)
Bodenhorn, Howard. A History of Banking in Antebellum America: Financial Markets and Economic Development in an Era of Nation-Building. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Knodell, Jane. “Interregional Financial Integration and the Banknote Market: The Old Northwest, 1815–1845.” Journal of Economic History 48, no. 2 (June 1988): 287–298.
In later census records, Post was identified as a blacksmith, suggesting that he may have asked JS about the prospect of blacksmithing in Missouri. (1850 U.S. Census, Rome Township, Crawford Co., PA, 270[A].)
Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.