Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 18 August 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

August 18th. 1841
Dear Brother,
I wrote you about the 12th. Ultimo enclosing a certificate of deposite on the Greenwich bank in this for four hundred and twenty five dollars, and requested that you would do me the favor to purchase land for me to the amount of about five hundred [d]ollars, and stated that I would remit you the remaining [s]eventy five dollars by the 1st of July next, but I shall probably be enabled to do so in the course of the ensuing winter, certainly by the first of May next. Not having received an acknowledgment of the receipt of the certificate of deposite, and supposing that you were probably prevented from acknowledging <​it​> by the pressure of other business, I wrote a few days since to Elder Kimball, requesting him to make the inquiry and write me, as I felt anxious to know whether it had reached you in safety. In my last I desired you to make the purchase within two or three miles of , but I have very recently been informed that the price of land is very high in the immediate vicinity of that , I should therefore obtain a very small tract for five hundred dollars. If this be the case, you will have the goodness to purchase land, (if you have not already done so) at any distance within ten miles of your , but you will please to act in this matter as if you were purchasing for yourself, for you are on the spot and perfectly well acquainted with all the advantages and disadvantages of location &c &c [p. [1]] and a small piece of ground near the may be better than a larger one at a greater distance from it You will greatly oblige me by writing immediately after making the purchase, if time and other avocations will permit. Henry Moore arrived here from some ten or twelve days ago, and intends to take his departure for the west about the middle of next month— I hope you will have the kindness to excuse <​me​> for again trespassing on your precious time—
[W]ith perfect respect I am yours in the Gospel
176 Hudson street [p. [2]]
[page [3] blank] [p. [3]]
Joseph Smith
Hancock County
<​NEW YORK AUG. [2]0​> [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    See Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 12 July 1841.  

  2. 2

    The Greenwich Savings Bank was incorporated in 1833 and in 1841 was located at number eleven Sixth Avenue in New York City. The building was situated in lower west Manhattan, within a few blocks of Bernhisel’s residence on Hudson Street. (History of the Greenwich Savings Bank, 7–8.)  

    History of the Greenwich Savings Bank, New York, Together with the Acts of Incorporation and a List of the Trustees and Officers from the Foundation of the Institution. New York: De Vinne Press, 1896.

  3. 3

    TEXT: “[Hole in paper]ollars”.  

  4. 4

    This was likely Heber C. Kimball, who, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was designated an elder. Kimball had recently traveled through New York on his way back to Nauvoo after the completion of his mission to the British Isles. (Minutes, Discourse, and Blessings, 14–15 Feb. 1835; Woodruff, Journal, 23 May 1841; Notice, Times and Seasons, 15 July 1841, 2:478.)  

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

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

  5. 5

    Bernhisel had previously clarified that he preferred more land and timber over proximity to the city center, which led JS to look in the prairie for a suitable tract of land. (Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 12 July 1841.)  

  6. 6

    Henry Moore joined the church in England and was one of the first British converts to sail for America. Moore had arrived in New York a year earlier in July 1840 aboard the ship Britannia. He was in Nauvoo by December 1840, when he entered a financial agreement with JS. It is likely that when Moore returned to New York in the summer of 1841, Bernhisel mistakenly designated his return as his arrival from England. A recent shipload of Saints had arrived in New York on the Rochester, including Wilford Woodruff, with whom Moore and his wife, Mary, departed to Nauvoo on 9 September 1841. (JS History, vol. C-1, 1061; “Emigration,” Millennial Star, Sept. 1840, 1:136; JS, Agreement with Henry Moore, Hancock Co., IL, 23 Dec. 1840, JS Collection [Supplement], CHL; Woodruff, Journal, 9 Sept. 1841.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

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

  7. 7

    This address was located on the lower west side of Manhattan Island.  

  8. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

  9. new scribe logo

    Stamped in red ink.  

  10. new scribe logo

    Circular postal stamp in red ink.