Letter from Don Carlos Smith and William Smith, 6 March 1839

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  • Historical Introduction

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Illinois March 6th 1839
Brethren and Joseph,
Having an opportunity to send a line to you, I do not feel disposed to let it slip unnoticed. ’s family have all arrived in this , except you two, And could I but see your faces, this side of the , and know and realize that you had been delivered from your enemies, it would certainly light up a new gleam of hope in our bosoms; nothing could be more satisfactory, nothing could give us more joy.
and Children are well, they live three miles from here, and have a tolerable good place. ’s children and mother Grinolds [Hannah Grinnels] are living at present with ; they are all well, has not got her health yet, but I think it increases slowly. She lives in the house with old Father Dixon, likewise and family; they are probably a half mile from ’s; we are trying to get a house, and to get the family together, we shall do the best we can for them, and that which we consider to be most in concordance with ’s feelings. One thing I would say (not however to the disrespect of ) which is that this, the family would do better without her than with her; which I am confident you will regulate when you come. One reason for so saying, is that I do not think that she is a suitable person to govern the family. and stood their journey remarkably, they are in tolerable health, ’s has been sick ever since they arrived, has removed 40 miles from here, but is here now, and says he is anxious to have you liberated, and see you enjoy liberty once more. My family is well, my health has not been good for about two weeks, and for 2 or 3 days the toothache has been my tormentor. It all originated from a severe cold.
Dear Brethren, we just heard that the says that he is a going to set you all at liberty; I hope it’s true, other letters that you will probably recieve, will give you information concerning the warm feeling of the people here towards us, After writing these hurried lines in misery I close by leaving the Blessings of God with you— and praying for your health, prosperity and restitution to liberty. This from a true friend and brother.
J, Smith Jr, .
& Joseph,— I should have called down to to have seen you, had it not have been for the multiplicity of business that was on my hands & again I thought perhaps that the people might think [p. 38] that the Mormons would rise up to liberate you; consequently too many going to see you might make it worse for you; but we all long to see you, and have you come out of that lonesome place. I hope you will be permitted to come to your families before long, do not worry about them, for they will be taken care of; all we can do will be done, farther further than this we can only wish, hope, desire, and pray for your deliverance.
Joseph Smith Jr, Mo. [p. 39]


  1. 1

    Samuel Smith, who arrived in Quincy in late 1838, arranged for his parents—Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith—to stay in the home of Quincy resident Archibald Williams. Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith were joined by their children Sophronia Smith McCleary, Samuel Smith, Katharine Smith Salisbury, Don Carlos Smith, and Lucy Smith, along with their respective families. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 16, [9], [12]; George Miller, St. James, MI, to “Dear Brother,” 22 June 1855, in Northern Islander [St. James, MI], 9 Aug. 1855, [1]; Asbury, Reminiscences of Quincy, Illinois, 153; see also Woodruff, Journal, 16 Mar. 1839.)  

    Northern Islander. St. James, MI. 1850–1856.

    Asbury, Henry. Reminiscences of Quincy, Illinois, Containing Historical Events, Anecdotes, Matters concerning Old Settlers and Old Times, Etc. Quincy, IL: D. Wilcox and Sons, 1882.

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  2. 2

    Emma Smith and her children resided with John and Sarah Kingsley Cleveland, some four miles east of Quincy. (Letter from Edward Partridge, 5 Mar. 1839; Woodruff, Journal, 3 May 1839; Oliver Huntington, “History of Oliver Boardman Huntington,” 47.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

    Huntington, Oliver B. “History of Oliver Boardman Huntington,” 1845–1846. BYU.

  3. 3

    Upon their arrival in Quincy, Hyrum Smith’s family was evidently separated between two households, with Hyrum’s five children from his deceased wife, Jerusha Barden Smith, staying with their Smith grandparents in the home of Archibald Williams. Family friend Hannah Grinnels was also living at Williams’s residence and likely cared for the children. Mary Fielding Smith, Joseph F., and Thompson stayed with a Father Dixon, probably Charles Dixon. The separation was partly logistical, because Mary probably needed to remain with her sister, who had been caring for Mary and Joseph F., and there likely was insufficient room for everyone in the Williams’s residence. Don Carlos also alluded to undisclosed difficulties regarding family dynamics that likely contributed to the separation. (Hyrum Smith, Liberty, MO, to Hannah Grinnels et al., 16 Mar. 1839, Hyrum Smith, Papers, BYU; Thompson, Autobiographical Sketch, 3, 5; Dixon, History of Charles Dixon, 16, 60; see also Letter from Don Carlos and Agnes Coolbrith Smith, 11 Apr. 1839; and Esplin, “Hyrum Smith,” 122–163.)  

    Smith, Hyrum. Papers, ca. 1832–1844. BYU.

    Thompson, Mercy Rachel Fielding. Autobiographical Sketch, 1880. CHL. MS 4580.

    Dixon, James D., comp. History of Charles Dixon, One of the Early English Settlers of Sackville, N. B. Sackville, New Brunswick: By the author, 1891.

    Esplin, Ronald K. “Hyrum Smith.” In United by Faith: The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family, edited by Kyle R. Walker, 122–163. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2006.

  4. 4

    William Smith settled his family in Plymouth, Illinois, located roughly forty miles northeast of Quincy. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 16, [8]; JS, Journal, 15–17 June 1839.)  

  5. 5

    Mary Fielding Smith later noted that “many false reports” circulated among the Saints in Illinois regarding the prisoners’ release from jail. (Mary Fielding Smith, [Quincy, IL], to Hyrum Smith, 11 Apr. 1839, Mary Fielding Smith, Collection, CHL.)  

    Smith, Mary Fielding. Collection, ca. 1832–1848. CHL. MS 2779.

  6. 6

    See Letter from Edward Partridge, 5 Mar. 1839.  

  7. 7

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 397 [Alma 60:25].