Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 7 February 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

7th Feby 1842—
Rev Joseph Smith
D. Sir— I was a day or two since at and Mr told me that he and Esqr. Cowperthwaite were ready at any time to deed the and the Pine timber land to me at the price agreed upon but that as yet he had received no instructions from Mr authorising them to do so— Possibly since arriving in has been so much engaged as to have forgotten it— If convenient will you sir oblige me by seeing him and remind him of the importance that a deed will be to me now so that I can avail myself of the Spring for selling the property
I see by the public prints that you are progressing in population wealth and improvements beyond any precident and this state of things aside from any pecuniary consideration can give <​no​> person greater pleasure than myself
The Banks will nearly all break— Accept my best wishes
Yours truly [p. [1]]
[page [2] blank] [p. [2]]
[page [3] blank] [p. [3]]
<​PAID​> <​25​>
<​ CT.​> <​Feb 7​>
Rev. Joseph Smith
Hancock County
< Esqr
Answered Mch 11th 1842>
<pos written &c—
& others—> [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    Although Horace Hotchkiss wrote “Fair Haven” and his letter was postmarked there, he resided in nearby New Haven. (See Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B.)  

  2. 2

    New Egypt, Monmouth County, New Jersey, was near Hornerstown, where James Ivins lived. (Hammond, Squire’s Map of the State of New Jersey, 1836; Fleming, “Early Mormonism in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey,” 78.)  

    Hammond, John T., cartographer. Squire’s Map of the State of New Jersey. New York: B. S. Squire, 1835. Digital image at Nova Caesarea: A Cartographic Record of the Garden State, 1666–1888, a 2014 online exhibition presented by Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ. Accessed 8 Dec. 2016. http://library.princeton.edu/njmaps/state_of_nj.html.

    Fleming, Stephen J. “‘Sweeping Everything Before It’: Early Mormonism in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.” BYU Studies 40 (2001): 72–104.

  3. 3

    Cook’s Mills (later Cookstown) was a small town in Burlington County, New Jersey, located just a few miles from New Egypt. (Fort, “Account of the Capture and Death of the Refugee John Bacon,” 151.)  

    Fort, George F. “An Account of the Capture and Death of the Refugee John Bacon.” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 1, no. 4 (1846): 151–153.

  4. 4

    Horace Hotchkiss was perhaps alluding to recent issues of the Times and Seasons, to which he apparently subscribed. Recent issues discussed the growth of Nauvoo incidentally through articles about the University of Nauvoo and the Nauvoo Legion. The 15 November 1841 issue also printed a lengthy letter from Benjamin Winchester to Erastus Snow, who was in Massachusetts. Winchester’s letter described in detail the construction of the temple, the Nauvoo House, other public buildings, and many new brick homes, as well as Nauvoo’s economic prospects. Winchester concluded, “In short the saints here are prospering in every thing beyond my expectations, and Nauvoo is the most beautiful place for a city that I ever saw.” Alternatively, or additionally, Hotchkiss was perhaps referring to reports in newspapers closer to home. Only two weeks before Hotchkiss wrote his letter, the New-England Weekly Review, based in Hartford, Connecticut, published an acerbic report by an anonymous visitor to Nauvoo. Although the author portrayed the Saints in a negative light, his account of the city’s development and the residents’ industry was complimentary: “As you approach from the water, it presents quite an imposing appearance; more that of a city that has had a generation for its growth, than one that has sprung up almost in a single year.” (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 9 Nov. 1841; Benjamin Winchester, Nauvoo, IL, to Erastus Snow, 12 Nov. 1841, in Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1841, 3:604–606; “Letters from the West,” New-England Weekly Review [Hartford, CT], 22 Jan. 1842, [2].)  

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

    New-England Weekly Review. Hartford, CT. 1841–1843.

  5. 5

    In November 1841, at the height of the 1839–1843 depression, the Pennsylvania government notified all state banks that on 1 February 1842 they would be required to turn over, in loan, five percent of their capital to the state. This resulted in a run on some of the largest banks in Philadelphia the last week of January 1842. (Wallis, “Depression of 1839 to 1843,” 30–31; Kettell, “Debts and Finances of the States of the Union,” 261–262.)  

    Wallis, John Joseph. “The Depression of 1839 to 1843: States, Debts, and Banks.” Unpublished paper. Copy in editors’ possession.

    Kettell, Thomas Prentice. “Debts and Finances of the States of the Union: With Reference to Their General Condition and Prosperity. Chapter IV. Middle States—Pennsylvania.” Merchants’ Magazine 20, no. 3 (Mar. 1849): 256–269.

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    Stamped in ink.  

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    Postage written in blue ink in unidentified handwriting.  

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    Circular postmark stamped in ink.  

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    Unidentified handwriting in blue ink within the circular postmark.  

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    Endorsement in the handwriting of William Clayton. JS actually responded to the letter on 10 March 1842. (Letter to Horace Hotchkiss, 10 Mar. 1842.)  

  11. 6

    Modesitt owned land near Terra Haute, Indiana, which JS later offered, on 10 March 1842, to Hotchkiss as payment against the church’s debt to him. (Letter to Horace Hotchkiss, 10 Mar. 1842.)  

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    Notation in the handwriting of Willard Richards, probably at two different times; “& others—” is inscribed in lighter ink.