Letter to the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, 19 October 1840
JS and , Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to “the Saints in Kirtland,” , Lake Co., OH, 19 Oct. 1840. Featured version copied [ca. Oct. 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 188–190; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 19 October 1840, JS and wrote a letter to the Saints in , Ohio, informing them of a recent decision to have preside over the Kirtland and chastising them for failing to adequately support JS and other leaders. In summer 1840, JS had received letters from , , and complaining about the conduct of Babbitt, who by then had relocated to Kirtland and had evidently taken steps that, from JS’s perspective, were “calculated to destroy the confidence of the brethren” in JS and “any of the Authorities of the church.” These steps included counseling members in the eastern to gather to Kirtland instead of to , Illinois, and excluding “faithful brethren, men enjoying the confidence of the church,” from “secret meetings” held in the in Kirtland.
In July 1840, JS wrote a letter to condemning ’s actions, and in September 1840, JS leveled charges against Babbitt before the . After JS and Babbitt had both addressed the council, JS withdrew the charges, “and both parties were reconciled together.” The October 1840 general of the church then appointed Babbitt to preside over the church in . At this conference, JS also “gave it as his opinion, that the brethren from the east might gather” to Kirtland. He later told Granger that he preferred “that the Eastern brethren” gather to Nauvoo, even though they were “at liberty” to move to Kirtland if they desired.
Although JS seemed reconciled with and his pronouncements about , JS remained unsettled about what he perceived as disunity there. In his July letter to , JS had noted that Kirtland would be unable to “become a place of safety for the saints” and that church members there would not experience “the blessings of Jehovah” if they continued to exhibit “uncharitable feelings” and “lack of confidence” in church leaders. He and made similar comments in this October 1840 letter, although they also expressed their willingness to forgive past offenses.
The original letter is not extant. copied the letter into JS Letterbook 2, probably before it was sent. On 22 May 1841, the church in held a conference in which was appointed of the Kirtland stake, indicating that church leaders had received the instruction in this letter by that time.
Dearly beloved brethren in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.
We take this opportunity of informing you that we yet remember the saints scattered about in the regions of & feel interested in their welfare as well as in that of the Saints at large.
We have beheld with feelings peculiar to ourselves the situation of things in and the numerous difficulties to which the Saints have been subjected by false friends as well as open enemies. All these circumstances have more or less engaged our attention from time to time.
We likewise must complain of the stakeoffornotwritingtousthe brethren who are in office and authority in the of for not writing to us and making known their difficulties and their affairs from time to time so that they might be advised in matters of importance to the well being of said stake; but above all for not sending one word of consolation to us while we were in the hands of our enemies— and thrust into dungeons.
Some of our friends from various sections sent us letters which breathed a kind and sympathetick spirit, and which made our afflictions and sufferings [en]durable. All was silent as the grave no feelings of sorrow sympathy or affection to cheer the heart under the gloomy shades of affliction and trouble through which we had to pass.
Dear bretheren could you realize that your bretheren were thus circumstancial and were to bear up under the weight of affliction and woe which was heaped upon them by their enemies and you stand unmoved and unconcerned!!! Where were the bowels of compasion, Where was the love which ought to characterize the Saints of the most high, did those high born and noble feelings lie dormant, or were you insensible of the treatment we received.
Heber C. Kimball, who passed through Kirtland on his way to England in November 1839, reported that since JS had left Kirtland in January 1838 the Saints had become “all broken up and divided into seve[ra]l different parties.” Kimball stated that “the folks” in Kirtland told “many dark and pittifull tales” about JS and other church leaders. Kimball also had difficulty preaching in the House of the Lord in Kirtland because of opposition from former church members. “As a general thing there Cannot be a meeting without some dispute,” he explained to his wife, Vilate Murray Kimball. (Heber C. Kimball, Kirtland, OH, to Vilate Murray Kimball, Commerce, IL, 16 Nov. 1839, photocopy, Heber C. Kimball, Letters, 1839–1854, CHL; Letter from Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, between 22 and 28 May 1838; Kimball, “History,” 115.)
Kimball, Heber C. Letters, 1839–1854. Photocopy. CHL.
Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.
JS spent winter 1838–1839 imprisoned with Hyrum and others in the jail at Liberty, Missouri, passing much of that time confined in the jailhouse dungeon. It is unclear exactly which leaders were being chastised for not writing to JS and his fellow prisoners. Hiram Kellogg (a counselor in the Kirtlandstakepresidency), John Morton, and Lahasa Hollister (both counselors in the Kirtland eldersquorum presidency) had been in Kirtland during winter 1838–1839 and were still there at the time JS wrote this October 1840 letter. (Kirtland Elders Quorum, “Record,” 10 and 17 June 1838; 8 and 22 July 1838; 13 Mar. 1840; 8 Jan. 1841.)
Kirtland Elders Quorum. “A Record of the First Quorurum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841. CCLA.