Letter from Emma Smith, 25 April 1837

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Dear Husband
Your letter was welcomed both by friends and foes, we were glad enough to hear that you was well, and our enemies think they have almost found you, by seeing where the letters were mailed. We are all well as usual except is not quite as well as common. Our family is small and yet I have a great deal of business to see to, Brother Tenny has not moved yet, and he does not know when he will, we have taken possession of all the room we could get.
I have got all the money that I have had any chance to, and as many goods as I could well, I have not got much at , no money at all, there is so many a watching that place that there is no prospect of my getting any thing of consequence there.
Brother Knights will tell you better about the business than I can write, as there is but a moment for me to improve. I cannot tell you my feelings when I found I could not see you before you left, yet I expect you can realize them, the children feel very anxious about you because they dont know where you have gone; I verily feel that if I had no more confidence in God than some I could name, I should be in a sad case indeed but I still believe that if we humble ourselves, and are <​as​> faithful as we can be we shall be delivered from every snare that may be laid for our feet, and our lives and property will be saved and we redeemed from all unreasonable encumbrances.
My time is out, I pray that God will keep you in purity and safety till we all meet again.
April 25th.
Mr Joseph Smith Jr [p. 35]


  1. 1

    Lucy Mack Smith, JS’s mother.  

  2. 2

    “Brother Tenny” might be William Tenney Jr. or his father, William Tenney Sr., both of whom were living in Kirtland in 1836. According to biographies of William Tenney Jr. and Eliza Webb Tenney compiled by one of their descendants, the couple purchased a house and lot from Jared Carter in late 1835 that was near JS’s home. Emma’s reference to more space may refer to trying to acquire land from the Tenneys. It is also possible that one of the Tenneys was boarding in JS and Emma’s home north of the House of the Lord and that they were trying to reclaim the space. (Kirtland Elders Quorum, “Record,” 30 Jan. and 29 Apr. 1836; The Twelve Apostles [Kirtland, OH: ca. Apr. 1836], copy at CHL; Morris, “William Tenney and Eliza L. Webb.”)  

    Kirtland Elders Quorum. “A Record of the First Quorurum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841. CCLA.

    The Twelve Apostles. [Kirtland, OH: ca. Apr. 1836]. Copy at CHL.

    Morris, Rod. “William Tenney and Eliza L. Webb.” The Morris Clan. Accessed 9 June 2016. http://www.themorrisclan.com.

  3. 3

    JS and Sidney Rigdon jointly owned and operated a store in Chester, Ohio, under the mercantile firm of Rigdon, Smith & Co. Goods for this store were purchased in Buffalo, New York, in June 1836 and New York City in October 1836. (See Rigdon, Smith & Co., Store Ledger, Sept. 1836–May 1837; Invoices for Buffalo Merchandise, 15–27 June 1836, JS Office Papers, CHL; and Invoices for New York City Merchandise, 8–15 Oct. 1836, JS Office Papers, CHL.)  

    JS Office Papers / Joseph Smith Office Papers, ca. 1835–1845. CHL. MS 21600.

  4. 4

    The surveillance likely related to the “enemies” mentioned earlier in the letter. The ledger book for the Chester store records reduced business in spring 1837. The store was probably suffering from a combination of debt, collection actions resulting from litigation, opposition from Chester residents, and the effects of the financial panic in April and May 1837. (Rigdon, Smith & Co., Store Ledger, Sept. 1836–May 1837; Letter from Orson Hyde, 15 Dec. 1835; see also Historical Introduction to Notes Receivable from Rigdon, Smith & Co., 22 May 1837.)  

  5. 5

    Vinson Knight may have been the courier who delivered Emma Smith’s letter to JS and apprised him of business matters in Kirtland and Chester. Knight served as a clerk for the store run by the firm H. Smith & Co. in Kirtland, and he may have worked in the Chester store as well. He was also a counselor to Bishop Newel K. Whitney. (H. Smith & Co., Store Daybook, July–Nov. 1836, in Belnap, Account Book, CHL; Minutes, 13 Jan. 1836.)  

    H. Smith & Co. Daybook, July–Nov. 1836. In Gilbert Belnap, Account Book, 1836–1874. CHL.

  6. 6

    Emma was likely referencing JS’s abrupt departure on 13 April. (See Historical Introduction to Letter from Newel K. Whitney, 20 Apr. 1837.)  

  7. 7

    The children of JS and Emma Smith at this time included Julia Murdock Smith, then almost six years old; Joseph Smith III, four years old; and Frederick Granger Williams Smith, who was almost one year old.