Letter to Isaac Galland, 11 September 1839

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Ill, 11th Septr 1839
We have had the great pleasure of recieving your favour of 24th July, and learning thereby that you and your family had arrived at Chillicothe in safety and in health. We percieve that you have had rather a narrow escape from serious accident, and doubtless the hand of the Lord is to be acknowledged in the matter, although unpercieved by mortal eye.
Time and experience will teach us more and more, how easily falsehood gains credence with mankind in general, rather than the truth— but especially in taking into consideration the plan of salvation; the plain simple order of the gospel of Jesus Christ— never has been discerned nor acknowledged [p. 71] as the truth except by a few, among whom were “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble”— whilst the majority have contented themselves with their own private opinions, or have adopted those of others according as their address their philosophy, their formula, their policy or their finesse may have attracted their attention or pleased their taste.
But Sir of all the other criterions whereby we may judge of the vanity of these things, one will be always found true, viz: that we will always find such characters glorying in their own wisdom, and their own works, whilst the humble saint, gives all the glory to God the Father and to his son Jesus Christ, whose yoke is easy and whose burthen is light— and who told his disciples that unless they became like little children— they could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
As to the situation of the here, matters go with us as well as can <​reasonably​> be expected, we have had considerable sickness amongst us, but very few deaths, and as the greater part are now recovering, we yet hope to have shelters provided before the winter shall set in.
Since you left here we have purchased out all interest hereabouts— his farm we have laid out additional to our Town and the Town of we hope also to build up.
Some of the “” And others have already started for Europe, and the remainder of that mission we expect will go now in a few days.—— According to intelligence recieved since you left, the work of the Lord rolls on in a very pleasing manner, both in this and in the old country.— In many hundreds have of late been added to our numbers; but so—even so it must be, for, “Ephraim he hath mixed himself with the among the people”. And the Saviour hath said “my sheep hear my voice” and also “he that heareth you heareth me”. And, “Behold I will bring them <​again​> from the north country and gather them from the coasts of the earth[”] &c &c And as John heard the voice saying “come out of her my people”, even so must all be fulfilled, that the people of the Lord may live when “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”.
There has quite a number of families gathered up here a up here already and we anticipate a continuance, especially as upon enquiry we have found that we have not had more than a ratio of sickness here, notwithstanding the trials we have had, and the hardships to which we have been exposed.
Calculating as we do upon the mercy and power of God in our behalf we hope to persevere on in every good and useful work even unto the end that when we come to be tried in the balance, we may not be found [p. 72] wanting.——
With all possible good wishes and prayers for the temporal and eternal salvation of yourself and <​your​> family—as well as of all the honest in heart over the face of the earth— we remain Sir with sincerity— Your friends and brethren.——
Joseph Smith Jr
Geauga Co—— Ohio [p. 73]


  1. 1

    Galland had informed JS that the nine-day journey from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, Ohio, was “rather pleasant” and with “no very remarkable incident,” aside from an episode in which the boat was almost capsized by a tornado before the vessel struck the shore along its length and righted itself. (Letter from Isaac Galland, 24 July 1839.)  

  2. 2

    See 1 Corinthians 1:26.  

  3. 3

    See Matthew 11:30.  

  4. 4

    See Matthew 18:3.  

  5. 5

    Until the Latter-day Saints drained the marshy flats along the Mississippi River, Commerce-area residents frequently contracted malaria. According to JS’s history, when the Saints first arrived, “Commerce was so unhea[l]thy very few could live there.” A composite (though potentially incomplete) obituary published in the December 1839 issue of the Times and Seasons identified three individuals—Zina Baker Huntington, Sterry Fisk, and Harriet Maria Fisk—who died in the Commerce area between the time of the Saints’ arrival and the writing of this letter to Galland. Another thirteen died before the obituary was printed at the end of the year. Many years later, John L. Butler recalled that JS had talked to him about the problems and possibilities of the area. Butler remembered JS acknowledging that it was “a low marshy wet damp and nasty place” but also stating that if the Saints “went to work and improved it it would become more healthy and the Lord would bless it for our sakes.” (Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 11 June 1839, 59; “Obituary,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:32; Butler, Autobiography, [33].)  

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

    Butler, John L. Autobiography, ca. 1859. CHL. MS 2952.

  6. 6

    On 4 July 1839, Galland and his family departed Commerce for St. Louis on the steamboat Brazil. (Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 276.)  

    Cook, Lyndon W. “Isaac Galland—Mormon Benefactor.” BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979): 261–284.

  7. 7

    In two separate land transactions dated 12 August 1839, and totaling $53,500 plus interest, Hotchkiss sold to JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith both his own farm and all of the Commerce-area holdings of the land-speculating partnership of Hotchkiss, Smith Tuttle, and John Gillet. (Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B.)  

  8. 8

    The original plat of Nauvoo, drawn twelve days earlier, divided most of the peninsula into blocks and lots. Some of the preexisting Commerce plat was subsumed by the new Nauvoo plat, as was all of the plat of the neighboring undeveloped town of Commerce City. Scribe Willard Richards recorded in JS’s history that at the time the church purchased Galland’s and Hugh White’s land at the end of April 1839, “there were 1 stone house 3 frame hou[s]es & two block hou[s]es which constitu[te]d the whole city of commerce. Between Commerce And Mr Davison Hibba[r]ds,” which was just beyond the southern boundary of the Nauvoo plat, “there was 1 stone & 3 Log houses, including the one I [JS] live in, & those were all the houses in this vicinity.— & the place was literally a wilderness.” (Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, pp. 10–11, Commerce Plat, 24 May 1834; pp. 26–27, Commerce City Plat, 28 Apr. 1837; pp. 37–39, Nauvoo Plat, 3 Sept. 1839, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 11 June 1839, 58–59.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  9. 9

    Apostles Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor left the Commerce area on 8 August 1839. On 29 August, apostles Orson and Parley P. Pratt followed, along with Hiram Clark and Parley’s wife, Mary Ann Frost Pratt, and their children. Three more apostles and other missionaries left Commerce in the days after JS wrote this letter. On 18 September 1839, apostles Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball departed, and on 21 September, apostle George A. Smith left with Theodore Turley and Reuben Hedlock. Apostles Orson Hyde and John E. Page did not leave until the following year, when they departed on a separate mission to the Jews in Europe and Palestine. (Woodruff, Journal, 8 Aug. 1839; JS History, vol. C-1, 965, 967; John Taylor, Germantown, IL, to Leonora Cannon Taylor, Montrose, Iowa Territory, 19 Sept. 1839, John Taylor, Collection, CHL; Allen et al., Men with a Mission, 67–72, 77; Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840; “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1842, 3:761–763.)  

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

    Allen, James B., Ronald K. Esplin, and David J. Whittaker. Men with a Mission, 1837–1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992.

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

  10. 10

    See Hosea 7:8.  

  11. 11

    See John 10:27.  

  12. 12

    See Luke 10:16.  

  13. 13

    See Jeremiah 31:8.  

  14. 14

    See Revelation 18:4.  

  15. 15

    See Revelation 18:2.  

  16. 16

    TEXT: Mulholland inadvertently started writing “gathered up here a” on the line above.  

  17. 17

    See Daniel 5:27.