Letter to Wilford Woodruff, circa 18 June 1838
on behalf of JS, Letter, , Caldwell Co., MO, to , Vinalhaven, Fox Islands, Waldo Co., ME, [ca. 18 June 1838]. Written on a copy of “Prospectus for the Elder’s Journal, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints”; handwriting of ; four pages; Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, CHL. Includes address in the handwriting of , a stamped postmark and manuscript postage in red ink, a docket in ink in the handwriting of , and an archival call number in graphite.Bifolium measuring 16 × 10¼ inches (41 × 26 cm). The letter was written on a published prospectus for the issues of the Elders’ Journal. The document was trifolded twice in letter style and then postmarked in red ink. The letter was later refolded for archival filing and then docketed. The folds are weakened and partially separated. Adhesive wafers that sealed the letter created holes in the paper when the letter was opened, resulting in some loss of inscription. The document has undergone some conservation.In addition to the signatures of , the letter includes a docket in ’s handwriting: “Thomas B Marsh | April 30. 1838”. Woodruff apparently donated the letter to the LDS church as part of his collected papers, possibly during his tenure as assistant church historian (1856–1883) or church historian (1883–1889).
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.
Turley, Richard E., Jr. “Assistant Church Historians and the Publishing of Church History.” In Preserving the History of the Latter-Day Saints, edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Steven C. Harper, 19–47. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010.
Park, Benjamin E. “Developing a Historical Conscience: Wilford Woodruff and the Preservation of Church History.” In Preserving the History of the Latter-day Saints, edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Steven C. Harper, 115–134. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010.
Sometime in mid- or late spring 1838, JS assigned to write a letter to , who was proselytizing in the northeastern . In the letter, Marsh responded to a 9 March 1838 missive that Woodruff and two fellow missionaries addressed to , JS and his counselors in the , and the Saints in . Woodruff, the primary author of the letter, reported on his proselytizing efforts, challenges, and successes in the , located off the coast of . He also requested that publication of the Elders’ Journal be recommenced in Missouri because missionaries desperately needed church literature to counter false information being circulated about the church. Woodruff concluded by expressing loyalty to JS and the church and by admonishing the Saints in Missouri to avoid making the mistakes church members in had made. It is unclear when Woodruff’s letter arrived in , Missouri, but later in the year, correspondence between Marsh and Woodruff traveled through the mail in less than four weeks, suggesting that this letter arrived sometime in early or mid-April.JS apparently read the letter or heard it read and assigned to reply. Marsh was of the and therefore held ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the apostles, , and all traveling —including —which made Marsh an appropriate person to respond to Woodruff. Marsh acknowledged that the letter had arrived “some day’s since” and explained that the bishop and First Presidency had been busy with church affairs.wrote to on a copy of the prospectus for the issues of the Elders’ Journal. The prospectus, which requested that traveling elders such as Woodruff enlist subscribers for the newspaper, was printed at the top of the recto of the first leaf of a bifolium, with Marsh’s letter beginning below the prospectus. Marsh ended his letter on the top half of the verso of the second leaf, slightly compressing his last few lines to leave room for the address, which he added after folding the letter as an envelope. As with the copy of the prospectus Marsh used, other copies of the prospectus may have been printed on bifolia, inscribed with personal notes, and then folded and mailed to Mormon missionaries who were proselytizing outside of Missouri. Marsh wrote the letter sometime between 30 April, which was the publication date of the prospectus, and 18 June, the date of the postmark stamped on the letter. The postscript Marsh added suggests he may have written the letter over more than one day, apparently completing it on or shortly before 18 June. Marsh may have written the letter at his home in .The letter to has two parts. The first part of the letter explains the disaffection of and other Latter-day Saints in . The second part of the letter explains church members’ dissatisfaction with and , as well as the excommunication of Phelps, John Whitmer, , , and . Marsh concluded his letter by noting that with the excommunications, internal opposition had been removed from the church in , that JS and had moved to Zion, and that the Elders’ Journal would soon be published again. Marsh’s postscript describes the April revelation designating as a holy place of in which to build a city of Zion and a .Because knew the church newspaper would soon be reestablished, he may have written the letter with the intention of responding to personally and of publishing the letter in the newspaper to explain to a broader audience the recent developments in and . Or, Marsh may have determined after writing the letter that it could be published as a report on recent events. A revised version of the letter, apparently based on a retained copy, appeared in the July issue of the Elders’ Journal. Before mailing the letter, Marsh made some revisions that softened the antagonism he originally expressed toward the Kirtland dissenters, perhaps to make the letter more suitable for publication. Some of the substantive changes Marsh made in the version he sent to Woodruff do not appear in the Elders’ Journal version, suggesting that Marsh further revised the letter to Woodruff after making the retained copy. Marsh also revised the retained copy before publishing it.The letter, mailed on 18 June, probably reached the post office in Vinalhaven, Maine, in mid- or late July. The letter was apparently received by one of ’s converts on the , as Woodruff had been on the mainland since late April. When he returned to the islands on 7 August 1838, he visited fellow Latter-day Saints Ephraim Luce, Stephen Luce, and a “Brother Sterretts,” and one of them apparently gave Woodruff the letter.