Introduction to Missouri Land Transactions

Document Transcript

In 1836, JS purchased a considerable amount of land in northern . Although had begun settling in the state in 1831, JS had not personally overseen or arranged to buy property in either of the church’s previous settlements in and counties. Instead, he had relied on other church officers, such as , to manage property for the church. However, it became clear in 1836 that the Saints would be asked to leave Clay County, so church leaders in Missouri, under JS’s direction, began surveying northern Missouri for an alternative gathering site. Eventually they founded the city of , and the state legislature created as a dedicated refuge for the Saints.
In June and September 1836, one or more purchased over 551 acres of land in what would become from the government on behalf of JS. Although JS did not move to until 1838, he managed and sold the property he had purchased in 1836 to Latter-day Saints through agents, such as in the fall of 1837. It appears that JS intended much of the land to be sold to Latter-day Saints planning to move to the county, though it is unclear how much was ultimately sold. After JS relocated to Missouri, he still largely relied on bishops and agents to help manage the property he had purchased. Yet, in contrast to his land transactions in Caldwell County, he took an active role in surveying and claiming property for himself and other Saints in neighboring . However, the Saints were expelled from the state before they could purchase any of this property from the federal government.
Little is known about the business surrounding JS’s land transactions in because so many records have not survived. In 1860, an unidentified arsonist set fire to the Courthouse, destroying all the court and land records contained therein. Any financial records that may have survived this fire were presumably destroyed when the courthouse again burned down in 1896. Because of these fires, almost nothing is known definitively regarding JS’s sale or purchase of property in Caldwell County aside from his initial government purchases.


  1. 1

    Joseph Smith Documents Dating from July 1831 through January 1833”; “Joseph Smith Documents from October 1835 through January 1838.”  

  2. 2

    Certificate for Land Patent, 22 June 1836–A; Certificate for Land Patent, 22 June 1836–B; Certificate for Land Patent, 8 Sept. 1836. Because of a backlog in processing federal land patents it was not until 1838 that JS received the patents for the 1836 land purchases. (Land Patent, 7 Sept. 1838–A; Land Patent, 7 Sept. 1838–B; Land Patent, 7 Sept. 1838–C.)  

  3. 3

    See Power of Attorney to Hyrum Smith, 5 Sept. 1837; and Deed to George Beebe, 17 Oct. 1837.  

  4. 4

    See Historical Introduction to Receipt from Samuel Musick, 14 July 1838.  

  5. 5

    See, for example, JS, Journal, 18 May–5 June 1838.  

  6. 6

    Joseph Smith Documents from February 1838 through August 1839.”  

  7. 7

    Illustrated Historical Atlas of Caldwell County, Missouri, 10.  

    An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Caldwell County, Missouri. Compiled, Drawn and Published from Personal Examinations and Surveys. Philadelphia: Edwards Brothers, 1876.

  8. 8

    Williams, History of Northwest Missouri, 1:382.  

    Williams, Walter, ed. A History of Northwest Missouri. 3 vols. Chicago: Lewis, 1915.