Letter from Almon Babbitt, 19 October 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Oct 19. 1841
Joseph Smith
Dear Brethren having an opertunity of Sending a letter to you by I impr◊◊e the Same and am happy to inform you of the good health of my family and of the Brethr[e]n here in genral it has been very healthy here this Season and as we are informed the health of your has mutch increased the present Season for which let us be very greateful to our heav[en]ly father from where we receive all blessings boath Spirtual and temporal
My obgect in writing this letter is to give you this present history of this place and my feelings in Relation to things that have and are transpiring You brethren are aware that one year ago by your Council I left your to come to this fore the purpus of laboring in word and Doctrin which I ha[v]e allways felt delited to do sence my acquaintance with the fullness of the Gospel
You brethren have not forgoten the Council that you gave me concerning your coming to this place [p. 1] these things I had full confidence in and with all my heart acted acordinly beleiving that my mishon was only to prepair the way for men of greater council and wisdom for it was understood that brother would be here with his family last Spring who made arangement with me <​to​> Exchange a piece of land in Claton for the Carter house and many other ar[ra]ngement of like nature. I therefore began to make arangement after I got into the State of for some buisness whareby I might support my family without being Burdonsom to the I accidently fell in company with brother Rank who had on hand a small assortment of goods he purposed to Enter into business with me I looked upon it a provedential open[in]g for me and we made arangement the good he brought to this place and we began trade he returned for his faimly and as soon as I could make things ready I took a power of atterney from and Started East for the purpus of liquadating some judgements against p[r]operty in this place I was Successful in making Exchanges knew nothing of enny change of operration at your untill and [p. 2] arived in the city of they then advised me to do the buisness in their names which I did advised me to continue in and to organizing the Church with 2 Counslers and and council which I did I also made a purchase of goods before I left the came home set them up and waited for my pardonnrs family but to my astonishment br Rank came without his family when I made inquiry he informd me that orderd of a letter to be writen to him from ohio to inform him that he must not come to this place I feelt greived about this for knew at that time that I was igno[ran]t of the change that had taken place and when in the city of if he had told me he had advised Br Rank not to come to this place I should not have purchesed the goods that I did predicated on his assistance but howevr I thought I would do the best I could I councild with on the Subject he advised me to get up the [illegible] gaainst [against] the church about here that t[h]ey might be out of the way [p. 3]
I acordingly paid out the best of my goods for the Same and the came to your place to see you and to Settle while in your I recivd letters that there was a good deel of Excitement here relative to the church lea[v]ing here here I acordingly aske[d] you for a letter to the church here but right after that in the Times and Seasons there came out a piece that the Brethren from all parts must come to and there was no Exception for this place nor enny other this seemed to contradict the letter that you Sent by Mee hence a report was rased that I forged the letter that I brought which made considerable excitement and trouble for me also many letters that has been ritten from your in which it is said you have said many hard things concerning me Mutch is said concrning a Revlation concening me now Sirs if there is a Revlation concerning me I think it very quear that when he was he[r]e nor Br Joseph did not acquaint me of the fact [p. 4] I do think they ought to have told me that I was undr transgression but in the city of stated to that he had found my teachings all th[e] way to and at to be acordind to my instruction
Now my brethren I do not want to be rebelous the Lord Knows my heart it is that the Kingdom may roll forth in the Earth; but I want somthing tangable to act upon if you want all the bretheren to leave this place Say it in so many words that th[e]y may know it there is now about 500 members in this place and a good many churches agacent to this we have got the in midelin good repair we are now about laying a new bell deck we have mad[e] provihion [provision] for the poor and you must know that there was one hundred poor English Saint left here at one time who could not get any further and most of them are doing well there has been some good peices <​land​> bought and paid for by the Saints here the old Steem Mill is bought and the Brethren are convrting it into a furnace [p. 5]
we have four meetings a week and well attended there is very neer means rased to start a Press in here I have indeavored to teach the the Laws of the Kingdom and to cultivate the Spirit of union and love but I feel almost descouraged for the[r]e is so mutch writen from your that in it would require more than the influence of an angel to keep down the Excitement
Now as I said before if your Council is to have the Saints leave this place we want you to be plain on the subject if <​so​> what must be done with the and other propety of the Church. Must it be sold Rented left for the good of th publick to goe to ruin or what must be done
I do wish you would apoit [appoint] a man and send him here from your with credentials and with such instru[c]tions as you may think for for our best
as I have before said I Expected when I came here that more able me[n] would foulow me I therfore cannot consent as I now feel to preside over this it a standing [p. [6]] that I do not desire for this reason I do not feel qua[l]ified and I feel I can do more in the feild buildind up than here serving tables allthough I want to do that which is the will of Lord concerning [m]e I think if a Man can be sent from the west to the this place he would be recei[ve]d prehaps Br Joseph or can visit us this winter I have the same unsh[ak]en faith in the Gospel that I Ever have had but have felt for some time past that <​my​> feelings had been trifled with I do not say but what things might have been missrepresented to me
I have written this letter in greate plainsness that you might know my feeling and I pray you therefour in the name of the Lord come or send some one or write to in us ameadatly [immediately] so that we may act acordingly
I am yours Brethren in the Bonds of Christian Effection
[p. [7]]
Joseph Smith or
City of
Ill. [p. [8]]


  1. 1

    Babbitt preached and traveled in the eastern United States several times during his time as a seventy and even after he was appointed president of the Kirtland stake on 3 October 1840.a Notwithstanding Babbitt’s preaching abilities and high-ranking church office, JS and other church leaders had a number of conflicts and misunderstandings with him, leading to his being disfellowshipped and reinstated several times.b  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Johnson, Benjamin Franklin. “A Life Review,” after 1893. Benjamin Franklin Johnson, Papers, 1852–1911. CHL. MS 1289 box 1, fd. 1.

    (aSee Minutes and Blessings, 28 Feb.–1 Mar. 1835; Almon Babbitt, Pleasant Garden, IN, 18 Oct. 1839, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:26–27; Johnson, “Life Review,” 58, 62; Benjamin Winchester, Letter Extract, Philadelphia, 20 Apr. 1841, in Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:109; and Minutes and Discourse, 3–5 Oct. 1840.bSee Minutes, 28 Dec. 1835; Minutes, 2 Jan. 1836; and Letter to Oliver Granger, between ca. 22 and ca. 28 July 1840.)
  2. 2

    Oliver Granger had long acted as JS’s agent in business affairs and land transactions. JS encouraged Granger to work with Almon Babbitt to resolve the outstanding debts of JS and the church, primarily by obtaining land deeds and using them to repay debts to New York merchants. Granger likely gave Babbitt the power of attorney to assist him in these efforts. (Letter to Oliver Granger, 26 Jan. 1841. For more information on Granger’s role as agent and his assignment to negotiate debts, see Authorization for Oliver Granger, 13 May 1839; see also Agreement with Mead & Betts, 2 Aug. 1839; Agreement with Oliver Granger, 29 Apr. 1840; and Letter to Oliver Granger, 4 May 1841.)  

  3. 3

    Earlier in the year, Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland were in the eastern United States conducting business relating to land transactions and payments owed to Horace Hotchkiss. (See Authorization for Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland, 15 Feb. 1841.)  

  4. 4

    This action was taken in accordance with a resolution made at the October 1840 general church conference that Babbitt “be appointed to preside over the church in Kirtland, and that he choose his own councllors.” In a May 1841 church conference in Kirtland, Babbitt was appointed “president or presiding elder of the stake in Kirtland,” with elders Lester Brooks and Zebedee Coltrin as his counselors. (Minutes and Discourse, 3–5 Oct. 1840; Minutes, Kirtland, OH, 22–23 May 1841, in Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:458.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  5. 5

    See Letter to the Saints Abroad, 24 May 1841.  

  6. 6

    A JS revelation dated 19 January 1841 stated, “I the Lord will build up Kirtland, but I the Lord have a scourge prepared for the inhabitants thereof; and with my servant Alman Babbit there are many things with which I am not well pleased; behold he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even the presidency of my Church.” (Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:83–84].)  

  7. 7

    Minutes of the church conference that Hyrum Smith attended while in Philadelphia were published in the Times and Seasons, though there is no mention of Babbitt in those minutes. (See Minutes, Philadelphia, PA, 6 Apr. 1841, in Times and Seasons, 15 May 1841, 2:412–413.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  8. 8

    This number represents a growth of at least one hundred church members in Kirtland from May 1841, when the number was presented as “between 3 and 400 members.” The 2–3 October conference in Kirtland noted “an increase of branches and members” in the Kirtland area. This growth in numbers suggests that Babbitt was not encouraging the Saints to gather to Nauvoo. (Minutes, Kirtland, OH, 22–23 May 1841, in Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:459; “Kirtland Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1841, 3:589.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  9. 9

    After the majority of Latter-day Saints departed Kirtland, the temple in Kirtland was used by the community in a variety of ways, including as a schoolhouse. (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 101–102.)  

    Robison, Elwin C. The First Mormon Temple: Design, Construction, and Historic Context of the Kirtland Temple. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1997.

  10. 10

    For more on these English Saints, see Historical Introduction to Letter to Vilate Murray Kimball, 2 Mar. 1841.  

  11. 11

    At a church conference in Kirtland on 2 October 1841, the Saints resolved to establish a press for the “benefit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And said company shall publish a religious periodical entitled THE ‘OLIVE LEAF’.” (“Kirtland Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1841, 3:588.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  12. 12

    For example, according to minutes of a church conference held in Kirtland in May 1841, Babbitt “delivered a discourse on baptism for the dead, from 1 Peter 4:6, to a very large audience, setting forth that doctrine as compatible with the mercy of God, and grand council of heaven.” (Minutes, Kirtland, OH, 22–23 May 1841, in Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:459.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  13. 13

    At the October 1841 general conference in Nauvoo, Hyrum Smith spoke about Babbitt’s teachings that were considered “contrary to the revelations of God and detrimental to the interest of the church.” In his discourse, Hyrum Smith specifically addressed Babbitt’s alleged efforts to discourage Saints from gathering to Nauvoo as they had been instructed to do by JS in late May 1841. (Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841; see also Letter to Oliver Granger, 30 Aug. 1841; and Edwin Merriam et al., Springfield, IL, to the High Council, Nauvoo, IL, 10 Aug. 1841, CHL.)  

    Merriam, Edwin, David Elliot, Hiram Palmer, George Stringham, David Dickson, and John Prior. Letter, Springfield, IL, to the High Council, Nauvoo, IL, 10 Aug. 1841. CHL.

  14. 14

    The “house” is the House of the Lord in Kirtland. Earlier in 1841, JS wrote to Oliver Granger, saying, “The house and store encumbered by the debts for the ‘Plates’ are now at liberty, that debt having been settled You can therefore let Bro. Babbit t[ake] control over them untill I settle w[ith] him. You will also keep possession of the Keys of the House of the Lord. until you receive further instructions from me.” It appears, however, that church leadership in Kirtland never received any “further instructions” concerning the Kirtland temple. (Letter to Oliver Granger, 4 May 1841.)  

  15. 15

    Babbitt was not yet aware that during the October general conference in Nauvoo, Reuben McBride had been “vested with power of attorney” by Oliver Granger to settle temporal concerns “left in an uncertain condition” in Kirtland. (Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841.)  

  16. 16

    See Acts 6:2.  

  17. 17

    TEXT: “[hole in page]e”.