JS, Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to , , Jackson Co., MO, 4 Sept. 1833; sent copy; handwriting of ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal markings, dockets, and use marks.
Bifolium measuring 8⅛ × 6⅛ inches (21 × 16 cm). The letter was trifolded twice, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer. On the verso of the second leaf, a docket in the handwriting of Leo Hawkins reads: “Sept 4. 1833 | Joseph Smith | to | ”. A piece measuring 4⅝ × 4⅜ inches (12 × 11 cm) that contained JS’s signature was cut from the second leaf. When the page was cut, the descenders of the last line of text on the recto were cut off, as well as part of the address and postage on the verso. The recto of the second leaf has a docket in the handwriting of John L. Smith written presumably at the time the signature was cut out: “This letter was sighned | by Joseph Smith own | Hand— which autograph | was cut off by Pres. B | Young March 4th 1859 | The letter was also | written by Joseph Smith’s | own hand.” An equation in unidentified handwriting appears on the verso of the second leaf: “553 | 279 | 274”. The letter has undergone conservation.
The letter bears notations that match the excerpted copy of the letter found in the addenda of JS’s manuscript history. If the markings were made to prepare the letter to be copied into the manuscript history, the letter would have been in the possession of the Church Historian’s Office by the end of May 1845. The docket inscribed by John L. Smith indicates that the letter was certainly in the custody of the Historian’s Office by March 1859.
Though many others spelled her name “Jacques,” as well as a variety of other spellings, extant evidence indicates that Vienna consistently spelled her last name “Jaques.” (Photograph of Vienna Jaques, ca. 1867, George Albert Smith, Miscellaneous Portraits, ca. 1862–1873, CHL; Vienna Jaques, Salt Lake City, to Brigham Young, 2 July 1870, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL; Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 84:7, 1835 ed. [D&C 90:28].)
Smith, George Albert. Miscellaneous Portraits, ca. 1862–1873. CHL. PH 5962. The original portrait of Vienna Jaques within this collection is in private possession.
Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.
Under the date of 4 March 1859, the Historian’s Office journal records that “Pres. Young sent over to the Historian Office after the autograph of Joseph Smith. which was furnished him from a letter that Joseph wrote himself & sent to Vienna Jaques.” (Historian’s Office, Journal, 4 Mar. 1859.)
In 1831, , an unmarried woman in her forties, converted to the . In the early 1830s, Jaques resided in , where she, “by patient toil and strict economy, had accumlated considerable means for those times.” While in Boston, Jaques had affiliated with a Methodist Episcopal church, but when she heard of JS and of the Book of Mormon, she traveled to , Ohio, met JS, and was . She returned to Boston, and in the summer of 1832, she assisted and in raising a small branch of the Church of Christ in Boston and the surrounding area. That same summer Jaques decided to collect her means and again travel to Kirtland to gather with the Mormons. She arrived in Kirtland by November 1832 and remained there until the spring of 1833.
By 8 March 1833, the day a JS revelation directed to relocate to , Missouri, Jaques had a substantial sum of money to the church. The precise amount of money that Jaques donated is uncertain. In the summer of 1832, an article published in the newspaper American Traveller stated that several members of the Church of Christ branch in Boston contemplated “going to the west” for the “promised land.” The article reported that two women had left and that they had taken with them all their wealth. These two women “had acquired by industry, one 1500 and the other 800 dollars, which they have given up to go into the general stock.” The article did not name these women, but one of them was likely Jaques, as she immigrated to in the summer or fall of 1832, around the same time the women in the article departed. No other contemporary accounts mention Jaques or the financial situation of women immigrating to Kirtland at this time. Whatever the amount, Jaques’s consecration came at a propitious time. Church leaders were in the midst of contracting to purchase several parcels of land in Kirtland and needed additional funds to carry out such agreements. Jaques’s contribution, as JS wrote in this letter, “proved a Savior of life as pertaining to [JS’s] pecunary concern.”
By 30 April 1833, had not yet left for , Missouri, as she had been directed to do by the 8 March 1833 revelation. A of convened that day and “decided that Sister Vean Jaqush [Vienna Jaques] should not immediately procede on her Journy to but to wait untill gets ready and go in company with him.” Jaques and Hobert probably left sometime before mid-May and arrived in , Missouri, by 7 June. Jaques experienced considerable hardship on the journey when Hobert “was afflicted with a delirium, which for a short time entirely deprived him of his natural intellect.” What is more, in July, just weeks after Jaques arrived in Jackson County, anti-Mormon violence erupted as county residents intended to force members of the Church of Christ to leave their lands. Jaques was an eyewitness to the tarring and feathering of and other violent actions in Jackson County later that month, including the razing of the church’s . According to Jaques’s later statement, during the attack on the print shop, she was attempting to gather pages from the partially printed Book of Commandments that “were thrown into the streets” when a “mobber came a long and remarked to her, ‘Madam this is only a prelude to what you have to suffer.’”
wrote to JS sometime after her arrival in , but her letter, which included “a history of [her] Journey and [her] safe arival,” has not been located. JS stated that both Jaques’s earlier letter and his own spiritual promptings led him to write the letter featured here. In the letter, JS expressed his gratitude for her safe arrival in Independence, reflected on the contemporary plight and future destiny of , shared news of church growth and construction in and reports of missionary success in the East, provided instructions for , and gave comments about or intended for mutual acquaintances. This document is the earliest surviving letter that JS addressed specifically to a woman other than his own wife . The letter was postmarked on 11 September 1833, and though no extant record mentions its reception, it would have likely arrived in in early October, just weeks before violence there resumed.
According to one Boston area newspaper, “Mormonite preachers have recently visited this city, and made about 15 converts to their strange doctrines, who have been baptised and joined the Mormon church.” According to Orson Hyde’s and Samuel Smith’s journals, during that summer the two men also preached in areas surrounding Boston and once lodged at Jaques’s second home in Fox Point wharf, near Providence, Rhode Island. (See “Mormonism,” American Traveller [Boston], 28 Aug. 1832, ; Samuel Smith, Diary, 22 June–7 Aug. 1832; and Hyde, Journal, 25 June–7 Aug. 1832.)
American Traveller. Boston. 1825–1844.
Smith, Samuel. Diary, Feb. 1832–May 1833. CHL. MS 4213.
Hyde, Orson. Journal, Feb. 1832–Mar. 1833. CHL. MS 1386.
A copy of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon that apparently belonged to Vienna Jaques is held at the Church History Library. On the first page of the book is inscribed the following: “The Writeing above is Joseph Smith’ own handwriteing which he wrote, the day he gave the book me Vienna Jaques on the 22d of November 1832.” This note, apparently written by Jaques, follows a notation written by JS: “Vienna Jaque[s] Book Novem 22d. 1832.” A letter JS wrote to Missouri in late November 1832 indicates that Jaques was in Kirtland by that time. (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832.)
“Mormonism,” American Traveller (Boston), 28 Aug. 1832, . Later histories stated the amount donated by Jaques was $1,400. However, neither the evidence cited in those histories nor extant contemporaneous evidence corroborates that figure. According to Edward Tullidge’s Women of Mormondom, published in 1877, Jaques “went to Kirtland in 1833, being a single lady and very wealthy. When she arrived in Kirtland she donated all of her property to the church.” It is not clear if Tullidge interviewed Jaques for this publication. One obituary for Jaques similarly states that she collected her “considerable means” and that “by her liberality rendered” much “pecuniary assistance to the Church in its infancy.” Another obituary simply stated, “She was well known and widely respected for her life-long integrity and many virtues of character.” (Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, 441; George Hamlin, “In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Mar. 1884, 12:152; “Vienna Jacques Dead,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 13 Feb. 1884, 49.)
American Traveller. Boston. 1825–1844.
Tullidge, Edward W. The Women of Mormondom. New York: Tullidge and Crandall, 1877.
Having a few Leisur moments I sit down to communicate to you a few wordes which I know I am under obligation to improve for to your Satisfaction if it should be a satisfaction for you to receive a few words from your unworthy brother in Christ, I received your Letter some time since containing a history of your Journey and your safe arival for which I bless the Lord I have often felt a whispering since I received your letter like this Joseph thou art indebted to thy God for the offering of thy which proved a Savior of life as pertaining to thy pecunary concern therefor she should not be forgotten of thee for the Lord hath done this and thou shouldst remember her in all thy prayers and also by letter for she oftentimes calleth on the Lord saying O Lord inspire thy Servant Joseph to communicate by letter some word to thine unworthy handmaid canst thou not speak peaciably unto thine handmaid and say all my sins are forgiven and art thou not content with the chastisement wherewith thou hast chastised thy handmaid yea siste[r] this seams to be the whisperings of a spirit and Judge ye what spirit it is I was sensable, when you left that the Lord would chasten you but I pray<ed> fervantly in the name of Jesus that you might live to receive your agreeable to the which was given concerning you I am not at all astonished at what has happened to you neithe[r] to what has happened to and I could tell all the why’s & wherefores of all there calamities but alas it is in vain to warn and give precepts for all men are naturally disposed to walk in their own paths as they are pointed out by their own fingers and are not willing to considder and walk in the path which is pointed out by another saying this is the way walk ye in it altho he should be an uner[r]ing director and the Lord his God sent him nevertheless I do not feel disposed to cast any reflections but I feel to cry mightily unto the Lord that all things might work together for good which has happened yea I feel to say O Lord let be comforted let her waste places be built up and established an hundred fold [p. ]
Members of the Church of Christ viewed chastisement as a manifestation of divine love that had a salutary, disciplining effect, turning ordinary believers into true disciples. Several months earlier, a revelation expressed this idea: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation and I have loved you.” (Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95:1]; see also Hebrews 12:5–11.)
JS issued a similar warning in a January 1833 letter: “Repent, is the voice of God, to Zion, & yet strange as it may appear, yet it is true mankind will presist in self Justification until all their eniquity is exposed & their character past being redeemed, & that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833; see also Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1:13–16].)
See Romans 8:28; Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:24]; and Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:3]. One month after this letter was written, another revelation similarly stated, “Therefore let your hearts be comforted for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly and to the sactifycation [sanctification] of the church for I will raise up unto myself a pure people that will serve me in righteousness and all that call on the name of the Lord and keep his commandments shall be saved.” (Revelation, 12 Oct. 1833 [D&C 100:15–17].)