Promissory Note to Horace Hotchkiss, 23 October 1840
[JS and others], Promissory Note, , Hancock Co., IL, to , 23 Oct. 1840; handwriting of ; notations in the handwriting of and unidentified scribe; signatures of JS and others (now missing); one page; JS Collection, CHL. Includes notations.
One leaf, measuring 4⅝ × 7¾ inches (12 × 20 cm). An area of approximately 2¼ × 3½ inches (6 × 9 cm) of the lower right section of the recto was cut off to remove the signatures, presumably those of JS, , and . This excision also resulted in the loss of an unknown amount of text on the verso of the leaf. A notation in the handwriting of appears on the verso. There is also a second notation, possibly written by , cancelling the promissory note. Both the recto and verso of the document contain graphite mathematical computations; the first calculated the interest on the amount due in the promissory note, and the second likely also related to the promissory note. The document was folded numerous times into a small square.
The document was presumably reacquired by JS from after payment was made prior to 11 October 1841. The document was cataloged in the JS Collection in 1973.
Johnson, Register of the Joseph Smith Collection, 10.
Johnson, Jeffery O. Register of the Joseph Smith Collection 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, 1973.
On 23 October 1840, JS signed a promissory note agreeing to pay land speculator $2,500 plus interest, payable in eight months. JS, , and —the ’s —owed Hotchkiss this money for one of two parcels of land they purchased from him on 12 August 1839. The purchase in question was for 89½ acres of land in the , Illinois, area. According to the original terms of the agreement, Hotchkiss was to receive two notes for $1,250 each, one due in five years and one in ten years. An additional $1,000 payment was to be made to longtime , Illinois, resident , from whom Hotchkiss had originally contracted to purchase the property for $1,000 but whom Hotchkiss had not yet paid.
This October 1840 readjustment of the previous year’s agreement with —especially the earlier due date for paying Hotchkiss—apparently resulted from an arrangement the church made with on 23 April 1840. The original agreement between church leaders and Hotchkiss vaguely referred to the $1,000 due to White, stating only that the church should pay “in such manner as shall be satisfactory to said White.” The church made that payment to White by 23 April. In a receipt he made for the payment, White promised to give JS the deed for the land (which White still held, having not yet been paid by Hotchkiss) as soon as Hotchkiss returned the bond for his original agreement to purchase the land from White. Altering the agreement with Hotchkiss—who was to give the church the deed only after he had received full payment of his portion of the transaction—benefited the Saints because they would have clear title to the land much sooner. This, in turn, would make the land more attractive to potential buyers, who could receive deeds immediately after fully paying for town lots, rather than merely holding bonds for receipt of a deed years in the future. When he notified Hotchkiss of the details of the arrangement with White in a 28 July 1840 letter, JS argued that the arrangement would allow the church to pay Hotchkiss more promptly. No response from Hotchkiss to JS’s July letter has been located, but the letter apparently prompted Hotchkiss to journey to to renegotiate the arrangement with JS. Hotchkiss was present on 23 October when JS signed this promissory note, and the following day Hotchkiss signed a deed transferring to JS any title, claim, and interest he had in the property. Given the amount this note promised Hotchkiss, and the one dollar he reported the following day as having received in payment for the deeded property, it appears that he agreed with JS about the advantages of the Saints receiving immediate title.
The signature portion of the note, including all of JS’s name except the initial J as well as what may have been signatures of two witnesses, was removed at some point, an action that traditionally indicated payment had been received. Unfortunately, this excision also resulted in the loss of text on the verso of the note. The resulting fragmentary text, written and signed by , includes the name . An additional note, written in an unidentified hand and dated 20 April 1842, describes the promissory note as being “[ca]ncelled,” meaning it was paid in full. This notation probably indicated that Hotchkiss had received payment for this promissory note from Ivins. By 11 October 1841, Ivins had paid Hotchkiss the full $2,500 in the form of two notes and a parcel of land.