Letter from Moses Martin, 7 November 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

November the 7the 1841 Laport [La Porte] Indiana
Dear Br in the Lord it is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to in form you whare I am and what my situation is at the preasant my hea[l]th is good as I could expect and I hope that thes few unpolished lines may <​find​> you enjoying the same Blessings with your family I left Lee Co Iowa on the 9th of August last by the advice of the Breatherin I Concluded that I would once more go forth to prune the vinyard of the Lord with the deturmi[n]ation never to leave it again unt til it is well pruned I went first to walnut grove then to Lafayett[e] near in company with others six hear was a of upward of thirty and meny are Believing and the work of the Lord is aroling forth in this part after staying hear some time and seeing that thare was some of the that Could preach in this place and could not go eny further from home I though[t] Best for me to go further so I went on toward until I came to the town of Juliet and vercinit [vicinity] when I commenced preaching preached in Juliet plainfield Napersville and in all the regions around about prejudise is giving away and meny are believeing the trut[h] and some have imbrased it all thou[gh] the preast of the day have set up a wonderful howling at a distance for the[y] dare not venter a close contack for they vary well know that thare old ship the reffuge of lies will not Bare close work thare fore they prowl around at a distance and Cry Jo Smith thus they prevale on some of the igneant and superstition not to hear whilest the more open harted and noble minded receve the truth and when those preasts are in vited to investigate the subgect they uterly refuse but flee to the old ship reffuge [p. [1]] and hoist the sails of delusion and cruse around at a distance under the winds of falshood But now and then I get achance to Bring to Bare on them the Long thirty toos of truth which makes the stivers slivers fly in a wonderful maner which gives employ to all those Captains and shipcarpenters and deck hands with a large assortment of the lumber of newspaper lies asmit storys for the purpos of patching up there craft the (reffuge of lies) and after all this great work of patching and repairing it takes all hands hard at the pump of Carnalising to keep the wait of truth from sinking them. you may not think this vary interesting But you must Bare with a little of my foly But enough on this subgect fore the preascent I am now on my way to new london County Connetticut by order of the and I hope that you will ever remember to pray for me and for my success in the redeemers caus and I <​want​> to ask one faveor at your hand as I know that whomesoever you Bles god will Bless I want the first time that you go to that you should go and see and Bless my Children and all so prenounse the Blessing of heavan on thar Parents this one Blessing that I earnestly Beg at your hand and I shant shall not say that is all that I shall ask for I am derterumin to stick to you for all the Blessings that my heart desires as close as Elisha did to Eliga for what would you think if I should want to Be a special witness like some of them that has fallen and if this can be [p. [2]] posible assist me by you[r] intersession for I will Covunant for to do all that god requires let it be more or less But I have never Lisped this thing to enyone Befour and hope you wil keep the secret as well as I have I need not tell you that I am your friend and will defend your Caracter and do all that you Camand me for you know this all ready, the Lord has Blessed me in a wonderful maner sens [since] I left home, once more I request your prairs for myself and family, give my respects to all your family and aspecially to your I will refrain from writing eny more at the preasant for fear I should weary your patience I hope that you will write to me if you can for be assured t[h]at it <​will be​> received with the greatist gra[t]itude
Direct your leters to Mishag
Yours in the Bonds of the
I want you should overlook mistakes for I have writen in a hurry and <​with​> a vary lame hand and if you can read it I shall be glad [p. [3]]
to Mr Joseph Smith
Hancock Co
Ills [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    “Breatherin” likely refers to the leaders of the Iowa Stake. In a letter to Brigham Young, Martin reported that he had been appointed to serve a mission by the “preasident and Bishop” of the Iowa stake, going “east as fair [far] as New hampshire.” (Moses Martin, Will Co., IL, to Brigham Young, Nauvoo, IL, 25 Sept. 1841, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.)  

    Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.

  2. 2

    Martin completed a short mission to Ohio and Pennsylvania in 1834, following his return to Kirtland after the Camp of Israel expedition. (Martin, Journal, 10 Aug.–23 Oct. 1834.)  

    Martin, Moses. Journal, 1834. CHL. MS 1986.

  3. 3

    Walnut Grove, a township in Knox County, Illinois, had a sizable branch of the church at this time, consisting of ninety-two members, with one high priest, ten elders, two priests, two teachers, and two deacons. (Walnut Grove Branch, Minutes, 10 July 1841, William Burton, Papers, CHL.)  

    Burton, William. Papers, ca. 1837–1851. CHL.

  4. 4

    La Fayette is a township in Stark County, Illinois, that was surveyed and settled in 1836. (Hall, Stark County, Illinois, 1:125, 260.)  

    Hall, J. Knox. Stark County, Illinois, and Its People: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement. 2 vols. Chicago: Pioneer Publishing, 1916.

  5. 5

    In June 1842, Reverend Samuel G. Wright, a Protestant minister in the area, described a Latter-day Saint branch near La Fayette as consisting of “between 30, & 40 members.” The branch met at the home of Latter-day Saint convert and Stark County resident James McClenahan. (Samuel G. Wright, Rochester, IL, to Milton Badger, New York City, NY, 21 June 1842, American Home Missionary Society Incoming Correspondence, reel 18, CHL; Stark Co., IL, Marriage Register, 1839–1931, vol. 1, p. 3, 27 Mar. 1840, microfilm 1,403,417, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Samuel G. Wright, Diary, 23 May 1842, in McKenzie, “Congregational Church, Toulon, Illinois,” 508.)  

    American Home Missionary Society Incoming Correspondence, 1816–1898. Microfilm. CHL.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    McKenzie, Clare. “Congregational Church, Toulon, Illinois, 1846–1921: The Story of Seventy-Five Years in the Congregational Church of Toulon, Illinois.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 13, no. 4 (Jan. 1921): 504–537.

  6. 6

    Reverend Samuel G. Wright noted the growth of the Latter-day Saints in this area during 1841. Early that year, Wright wrote, “The Mormons have a settlement of 25 families & their preachers go to every neighbourhood where they can get an audience.” Two months later he reported “prodigious” growth among the Latter-day Saints in the region. (Samuel G. Wright, Henderson, IL, to Milton Badger, New York City, NY, 16 Mar. 1841; Samuel G. Wright, Henderson, IL, to Milton Badger, New York City, NY, 18 June 1841, American Home Missionary Society Incoming Correspondence, reel 18, CHL.)  

    American Home Missionary Society Incoming Correspondence, 1816–1898. Microfilm. CHL.

  7. 7

    Juliet, Illinois (later renamed Joliet), was incorporated in 1837. Plainfield, Illinois, is a town in Will County, Illinois, settled around 1826. Naperville, Illinois, is a town in DuPage County, settled in 1831. (Joliet Illustrated, 3–4; History of Will County, Illinois, 380, 477–478; Richmond and Vallette, History of the County of Du Page, Illinois, 88–90.)  

    Joliet Illustrated: Historical, Descriptive and Biographical. Joliet, IL: Daily Republican, 1897.

    History of Will County, Illinois, containing a History of the County—Its Cities, Towns, &c.; a Directory of Its Real Estate Owners; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men. . . . Chicago: William Le Baron Jr., 1878.

    Richmond, C. W., and H. F. Vallette. A History of the County of Du Page, Illinois; Containing an Account of Its Early Settlement and Present Advantages, a Separate History of the Several Towns, Including Notices of Religious Organizations, Education, Agriculture and Manufactures, with the Names and Some Account of the First Settlers in Each Township, and Much Valuable Statistical Information. Chicago: Scripps, Bross and Spears, 1857.

  8. 8

    Reverend John H. Prentiss, a Congregationalist minister in Naperville, Illinois, affirmed that many people tried to thwart the Saints’ proselytizing efforts there. Prentiss wrote, “Mormon preachers have been prouling around, and in the midst of us, but have gone away discouraged, their efforts proving an entire failure.” He explained further: “A considerable proportion of the professors of religion in this community are firm in the belief, & strong in their attachments to the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Hence they are prepared to regard with a jealous eye, the efforts of those who would subvert the gospel of Christ.” (John H. Prentiss, Naperville, IL, to Milton Badger, New York City, NY, 1 Dec. 1841, American Home Missionary Society Incoming Correspondence, reel 18, CHL.)  

    American Home Missionary Society Incoming Correspondence, 1816–1898. Microfilm. CHL.

  9. 9

    “Long thirty-twos” were cannons with relatively long barrels, capable of firing balls weighing up to thirty-two pounds. During the 1800s, they were the most prominently used cannons on land and at sea. (Rogers, Artillery through the Ages, 80; Tucker, Arming the Fleet, 14–15, 149–150.)  

    Rogers, H. C. B. Artillery through the Ages. London: Seeley Service, 1971.

    Tucker, Spencer. Arming the Fleet: U.S. Navy Ordnance in the Muzzle-Loading Era. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989.

  10. 10

    Young’s letter instructing Martin to continue his mission to the East is no longer extant.  

  11. 11

    See Numbers 22:6.  

  12. 12

    Martin’s wife, Julia Priscilla Smith Martin, was JS’s cousin, the daughter of Asahel Smith. (Marcellus Cowdery, John Smith, and Clarissa Lyman Smith, Kirtland, OH, to George A. Smith, Shinnston, VA, 26 Sept. 1837, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL; Elias Smith, Nashville, Iowa Territory, to Jesse Smith, Stockholm, NY, 31 Aug. 1841, CHL.)  

    Smith, George Albert. Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322.

    Smith, Elias. Letter, Nashville, Iowa Territory, to Jesse Smith, Stockholm, NY, 31 Aug. 1841. MS 15819. CHL.

  13. 13

    A list of members in the Nashville branch from circa 1840 includes the name of only one child, Ester Martin, with the entries for Moses and Julia Priscilla Smith Martin. Martin’s use of the plural “Children” implies that a second child was likely born in or around 1841. (Iowa Stake, Record, 35.)  

    Iowa Stake, Record. / Iowa Stake. “Church Record,” 1840–1841. CHL. LR 7817 21.

  14. 14

    See 2 Kings 2:1–11.  

  15. 15

    “A special witness” refers to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These individuals were designated as “special witnesses of the name of Christ.”a Between 1837 and 1839, John F. Boynton, Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, William E. McLellin, and Thomas B. Marsh, all original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were excommunicated.b Around the same time, Orson Hyde and William Smith were both temporarily “suspended from exercising the functions” of their apostolic offices, although they had been restored to their offices by the time of Martin’s letter.c David W. Patten, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve, died during the Battle of Crooked River on 25 October 1838.d These vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve had been filled, so there was no vacancy in the quorum at this time.e  

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

    (aInstruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835 [D&C 107:23].bHistorical Introduction to Revelation, 12 Jan. 1838–A; Minutes, 7–8 Apr. 1838; “Extracts of the Minutes of Conferences,” Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, 1:15.cMinutes, 4–5 May 1839.dPratt, History of the Late Persecution, 35–36.eRevelation, 8 July 1838–A [D&C 118:6]; Letter to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, 16 Jan. 1839; Minutes, 7–11 Apr. 1841.)