Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 March 1831

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Geauga County Ohio
March 3th 1831
we arived here safe and are all well I hav[e] been ingageed in regulating the here as the deciples are numerous and the devil had made many attempts to over throw them it has been a Serious job but the Lord is with us and we have overcome and have all things regular the work is brakeing forth on the <​right​> hand and on the left and there is a great Call for in this place we hav[e] recieved a leter from dated Jackson County Missouri January the 29th 1831 these are the words which he has written saying—
My dealy dearly beloved bretheren after a considerable lengthy journy I arived avail myself of the first opertunity of communicating to you a knowledge of our situation that you may be priviledged of writing to us for we have not heard any thing from you since we left you last fall we arived here at this place a few days since which is about 25 miles from this the Shawney indians on the south Side of the at its mouth & delewares on the north I have had two interviews with the Chief of that that the delewares who is <​a​> very old & venerable looking man after haveing laying before him & eighteen of or twenty of the Council of that nation the truth he said that <​he he​> and they he and thy they were very glad for what I their Brother had told them and they had recived it in their hearts &c— But how the matter will go with this tribe to me is uncirtain nether Can I at present Conclude mutch about it the wether is mtch is quite Severe and the snow is Considerable deep which makes it at present quite dificcult traveling about I have but a short time to write to you my b[e]loved Bretheren as the mail leves thi[s] place in the morning [p. [1]]
but I wish some of you to write <​to​> me immediately a full letter of all your affairs and then I I will write to you the situation of all the western tribes &c thus reads most of the letter Saying to us the god of my father Jacob be with you all amen I remain in Christ your Brother forever
My Dearly Beloved Brother
I <​have​> had much Concirn about you but I always remember you in your <​my​> prayers Calling upon god to keep <​you​> Safe in spite <​of​> men or devils I think <​you​> had better Come into this Country immediately for the Lord has Commanded us that we Should Call the of the this to gether unto this plase as soon as possable
March forth this morning after being Colled out of my bed in the night to go a small distance I went and had and an awful strugle with satan <​but​> being armed with the power of God he was cast out and the woman is Clothed in hir right mind the Lord worketh wonders in this land
I want to see you all may the grace of God be and abide with you all
even so Amen
your Brother forever
Joseph Smith Jr
PS if you want to to write direct your letter direct your to Jackson County misouri [p. [2]]
and arrived here on Feb 27th they left our folks well David Jackways has threatened to take with a supreme writ in the spring you had <​beter​> Come to and take along with you Come in a one horse wagon if if you Can do not Come threw for th[e]y will lie in wait for you God protect you I am Joseph [p. [3]]
Broom[e] Co.
N. Y.
. O)25
9 march)
[p. [4]]


  1. 1

    Figures vary, but there may have been several hundred converts by this time. (See Porter, Study of the Origins, 114–115; and Backman, Heavens Resound, 51.)  

    Porter, Larry C. A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831. Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History. Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2000.

    Backman, Milton V., Jr. The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983.

  2. 2

    Regarding the church’s situation at Kirtland, JS recalled in his later history that “some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them.” Matthew S. Clapp, who had been a member of Sidney Rigdon’s Mentor, Ohio, congregation, criticized those who converted to Mormonism, claiming that “a scene of the wildest enthusiasm was exhibited. . . . Sometimes, in these exercises, the young men would rise and play before the people, going through all the Indian manoeuvres of knocking down, scalping, ripping open, and taking out the bowels. . . . At other times they are taken with a fit of jabbering that . . . they call speaking foreign languages by divine inspiration.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 93; [Matthew S. Clapp], “Mormonism,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 15 Feb. 1831, [1]; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, Feb. 1831–A [D&C 43].)  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  3. 3

    See Isaiah 54:3.  

  4. 4

    According to Parley P. Pratt, Cowdery and his fellow missionaries traveled fifteen hundred miles from New York to Missouri, the last part of which was on foot in early January, “through trackless wilds of snow.” (Pratt, Autobiography, 54–55.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  5. 5

    Peter Whitmer Jr. later reported that the missionaries arrived in Independence on 13 December 1830, more than six weeks before Cowdery wrote this letter, but he was likely mistaken about the date. (Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, [1].)  

    Whitmer, Peter, Jr. Journal, Dec. 1831. CHL. MS 5873.

  6. 6

    In the aftermath of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, “Old Northwest” Indian tribes such as the Delaware and Shawnee were resettled by the United States government in the newly created Indian Territory, in what is now eastern Kansas. (See Prucha, Great Father, 243–248.)  

    Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. 2 vols. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

  7. 7

    The leading Delaware chief at this time was Kikthawenund (also named William Anderson). He was a Delaware leader for more than a decade and had negotiated his people’s removal to the new agency in Indian Territory, arriving with his people there only months before Cowdery’s visit. Parley P. Pratt later reconstructed the missionaries’ interviews with the Delaware, including Cowdery’s explanation of the Book of Mormon to the assembled council. (Weslager, Delaware Indian Westward Migration, 209–219; Weslager, Delaware Indians, 360–371; Pratt, Autobiography, 56–60.)  

    Weslager, C. A. The Delaware Indian Westward Migration: With the Texts of Two Manuscripts (1821– 22) Responding to General Lewis Cass’s Inquiries about Lenape Culture and Language. Wallingford, PA: Middle Atlantic, 1978.

    Weslager, C. A. The Delaware Indians: A History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1972.

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  8. 8

    Two months later, Cowdery wrote that the blacksmith who did work for the Delaware reported that “the principle chief says he believes evry word of the Book & there are many more in the Nation who believe and we understand there are many among the Shawnees who also believe.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831.)  

  9. 9

    The winter of 1831 was marked by extraordinary snowfall. (See Atkinson, “Winter of the Deep Snow,” 48–50.)  

    Atkinson, Eleanor. “The Winter of the Deep Snow.” In Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1909: Tenth Annual Meeting of the Society, Springfield, Ill., May 13, 14, 1909, 47–62. Springfield, IL: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910.

  10. 10

    See Revelation, Feb. 1831–B [D&C 44].  

  11. 11

    See Mark 5:15.  

  12. new scribe logo

    Postal markings in handwriting of Kirtland postmaster Newel K. Whitney.  

  13. 12

    This indicates the price of the postage, twenty-five cents.