Letter to the Presidency in Kirtland, 29 March 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

March 29th A.D. 1838
To the first of the in
Dear & well beloved brotheren. Through the grace & mercy of our God, after a long & tedious journey of two months & one day, I and my family arrived in th[e] City of Having been met at 120 Miles from this by brotheren with teams & money to forward us on our Journey When within eight miles of the City of We were met by an [p. 23] escort of bretheren from the Who were & severel others of the faithfull of the West Who received us with open armes and warm hearts and welcomed us to the bosom of their sosciety [society] On our arrival in the we wire [were] greeted on every hand by the saints who bid us welcom; Welcome; to the land of their inheritance. Dear bretheren you may be assured that so friendly a meeting & reception paid us Will [well] for our long seven years of servictude persecution & affliction in the midst of our enimies in the land yea verily our hearts were full and we feel greatfull to Almighty God for his kindness unto us. The particulars of our Journey brotheren cannot weell be writen but we trust that the same God who has protected us will protect you also, and will sooner or later grant us the privilege of seeing each other face <​to​> face & of rehersing of all our sufferings We have herd of the destruction of the which we presume to believe must have been occasioned by the Parrishites or more properly the Aristocrats or Anarchys as we believe, The saints here have provided a room for us and daily necessary’s which is brought in from all parts of the to make us comfortable, so that I have nothing to do but to attend to my spiritual concerns or the spiritual affairs of the The difficulties of the Church had been ajusted before arrival here by a Judicious With & who acted as Pres. Pro. Tem. of the Church of being appointed by the voice of the Council & Church & having been cut off from the Church, remains as yit The saints at this time are in union & peace & love prevails throughout, in a word Heaven smiles upon the saints in . Various & many have been the falshoods writen from thence [p. 24] to this place, but have prevailed nothing, We have no uneaseness about the power of our enimies in this place to do us harm Br & family arrived here soon after we did in go[o]d health. Br Br & Br arrivd here when we did, They were with us on the last of our journey which ad[d]ed much to our sattisfaction, They also are well They have provided places for their families & are now about to break the ground for seed, Being under the hand of wicked vexatious Lawsuits for seven years past my buisness was so dangerous that I was not able to leave it, in as good a situation as I had antisipated, but if there are any wrongs, They shall all be noticed so far as the Lord gives me ability & power to do so, say to all the brotheren that I have not forgotten them, but remember them in my prayers, Say to that I remembr her, Also Br Daniel Carter Br Stong & family Br & family, Finally I cannot innumerate them all for the want of room I will just name Br Knights the &c. My best respects to them all for the want of room & I commend them and the of God in to our Heavenly Father & the word of his grace, which is able to make you wise unto Salvation I would just say to , that I saw in a vision while on the road that whereas he was closely persued by an innumerable concource of enimies and as they pressed upon him hard as if they were about to devour him, It <​&​> had seemingly attained some degre[e] of advantage over him But about this time a chariot of fire came and near the place and the Angel of the Lord put forth his hand unto & said [p. 25] unto him thou art my son come here, and immediately he was caught up in the Chariot and rode away triumphantly out of their midst and again the Lord said I will raise th[ee] up for a blessing unto many people Now the particulars of this whole matter cannot be writen at this time but the vision was evidently given to me that I might know that the hand of the Lord would be on his behalf
J Smith Jr
I transmit to you the fol[l]owing motto of the Recorded on Pages 16 & 17 of J Smith Jr Scriptory Record Book A. We left 30 miles this side of Illinois in consequence of the sickness of Br. s wife, on yesterday arrived here who informed us that his father in Law () was at detained there on account of the ill health of his wife, They will probaly be here soon, Choice seeds of all kinds of fruit also Choice breed of Cattle would be in much demand also, best blood of horses garden seeds of every description also hay seed of all sorts, all of these are much needed in this place
Verry respe[c]tfully I subscribe myself your servent in Christ our Lord & Savior
Joseph Smith Jr
Prest. of the Church of
Jesus Christ of
Latterday Saints [p. 26]


  1. 1

    JS’s later history states that he and Rigdon left Kirtland on 12 January 1838 at “about 10 o’clock” at night and arrived “at 8 o clock of the morning of the 13th . . . in Norton Township, Medina County, Ohio.” (JS History, vol. B-1, 780.)  

  2. 2

    After receiving word that JS and Rigdon were on their way, the Zion high council in Far West planned to send men with two wagons and $300 to meet the travelers and help them finish their journey. John Barnard met JS and his family at Huntsville, Missouri, and brought them in his carriage to his home in Caldwell County. (Minute Book 2, 24 Feb. 1838; Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 17; JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, p. 16.)  

    Historian’s Office. Brigham Young History Drafts, 1856–1858. CHL. CR 100 475, box 1, fd. 5.

  3. 3

    These men from Far West met JS’s party in Caldwell County at John Barnard’s home, where the party had stopped for the night. (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, p. 16.)  

  4. 4

    In 1831, JS dictated revelations that designated Missouri as the “land of your [the Saints’] inheritance.” (Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52:42]; Revelation, 14 June 1831 [D&C 55:5]; see also Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57].)  

  5. 5

    See Psalm 110:2.  

  6. 6

    JS moved to Kirtland in February 1831.a Several of JS’s revelations referred to Kirtland Township or the Kirtland area as the “Land of Kirtland.”b  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

    Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. With the assistance of Jed Woodworth. New York: Knopf, 2005.

    (aJS History, vol. A-1, 92; [Matthew S. Clapp], “Mormonism,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 15 Feb. 1831, [1]–[2].bSee, for example, Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:21]; see also Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 191.)
  7. 7

    En route to Missouri, JS, Rigdon, and their families endured severe cold and several difficult river crossings. (JS History, vol. B-1, 780; JS, Journal, 29 Dec. 1842; Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 16–17.)  

    Historian’s Office. Brigham Young History Drafts, 1856–1858. CHL. CR 100 475, box 1, fd. 5.

  8. 8

    Warren Parrish had served as JS’s personal scribe from fall 1835 to spring 1837 and was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He had also served as the clerk of the Kirtland Safety Society and later as its cashier.a After questioning JS’s leadership and decisions as president of the church, Parrish renounced church leaders and led a group of dissenters in an effort to establish a new church.b  

    Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.

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

    (aNotice, ca. Late Aug. 1837; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 465–466, 480, 600.bIntroduction to Part 6: 20 Apr.–14 Sept. 1837; Backman, Heavens Resound, 327–329; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 535, 600.)
  9. 9

    Within the prior two weeks, JS had composed a church motto, which denounced “tyrants, Mobs, Aristocracy, Anarchy and Toryism.” (Motto, ca. 16 or 17 Mar. 1838.)  

  10. 10

    JS’s Scriptory Book notes that upon arriving in Far West, his family was “immediately received under the hospitable roof of George W. Harris who treated us with all kindness possible.” (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, p. 16.)  

  11. 11

    See Minute Book 2, 20 Jan. and 10 Mar. 1838; and Letter from Thomas B. Marsh, 15 Feb. 1838.  

  12. 12

    For an example of correspondence from dissidents, see Lyman Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to Oliver Cowdery, Richmond, MO, 21 Aug. 1838, photocopy, CHL.  

    Cowdery, Lyman. Letter, Kirtland, OH, to Oliver Cowdery, Richmond, MO, 21 Aug. 1838. Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Photocopy at CHL.

  13. 13

    Young was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Miles was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Richards was a high priest. (Minutes, Discourse, and Blessings, 14–15 Feb. 1835; Quorums of the Seventy, “Book of Records,” 6 Apr. 1837, 18; Stevenson, Richards Family History, 1:13.)  

    Record of Seventies / First Council of the Seventy. “Book of Records,” 1837–1843. Bk. A. In First Council of the Seventy, Records, 1837–1885. CHL. CR 3 51, box 1, fd. 1.

    Stevenson, Joseph Grant, ed. Richards Family History. 2 vols. Provo, UT: By the author, 1977–1981.

  14. 14

    Young and others joined JS and his traveling party near Jacksonville, Illinois. (Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 16.)  

    Historian’s Office. Brigham Young History Drafts, 1856–1858. CHL. CR 100 475, box 1, fd. 5.

  15. 15

    Young later recounted that he “purchased a small improvement on mill creek . . . and proceeded to fence in a farm.” Miles owned land in Caldwell County. (Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 17; Hamer, Northeast of Eden, 75, 88; see also Revelation, 17 Apr. 1838.)  

    Historian’s Office. Brigham Young History Drafts, 1856–1858. CHL. CR 100 475, box 1, fd. 5.

    Hamer, John. Northeast of Eden: A Historical Atlas of Missouri’s Mormon County. [Mirabile, MO]: Far West Cultural Center, 2004.

  16. 16

    The church motto JS had composed within the prior two weeks denounced “vexatious lawsuits.” (Motto, ca. 16 or 17 Mar. 1838.)  

  17. 17

    JS incurred several thousand dollars of debt while living in Kirtland, primarily as a result of building the Kirtland House of the Lord.a Prior to leaving for Missouri, he appointed William Marks and others to oversee efforts to pay church debts.b  

    “Schedule Setting Forth a List of Petitioner[’]s Creditors, Their Residence, and the Amount Due to Each,” ca. 15–16 Apr. 1842. CCLA.

    (aSee, for example, Statement of Account from John Howden, 29 Mar. 1838; Statement of Account from Perkins & Osborn, ca. 29 Oct. 1838; Agreement with Mead & Betts, 2 Aug. 1839; and “Schedule Setting Forth a List of Petitioner[’]s Creditors, Their Residence, and the Amount Due to Each,” ca. 15–16 Apr. 1842, CCLA.bSee Pay Order to Edward Partridge for William Smith, 21 Feb. 1838.)
  18. 18

    Sarah Burt Beman was the widow of Alvah Beman, with whom the Smith family had been friends since before the organization of the church in 1830. (Noble and Noble, Reminiscences, [16]; Pratt, Autobiography, 117–118; “Mormonism—No. II,” Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859, 167.  

    Noble, Joseph B., and Mary Adeline Beman Noble. Reminiscences, ca. 1836. CHL. MS 1031, fd. 1.

    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.

    “Mormonism,” Tiffany’s Monthly 5 (May 1859): 46–51; (July 1859): 119–121; (Aug. 1859): 163–170. Tiffany's Monthly. New York City. 1856–1859.

  19. 19

    Possibly Ezra Strong Sr. (1788–1877) or Harvey Strong (1803–1875). (Backman, Profile, 69; Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Northwest Illinois District, Church Records, 1866–1870, pp. 4–5, microfilm 1,927,666; Berrien Co., MI, Death Records, 1867–1929, 1934–1967, vol. A, p. 158, microfilm 945,406, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    Backman, Milton V., Jr., comp. A Profile of Latter-day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio, and Members of Zion’s Camp, 1830–1839: Vital Statistics and Sources. 2nd ed. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1983.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  20. 20

    Granger, a member of the high council in Kirtland, was also a church agent working with Marks to help JS and Rigdon manage and settle debts. (See, for example, Power of Attorney to Oliver Granger, 27 Sept. 1837; and Grandison Newell, Assignment of Judgment to William Marks and Oliver Granger, Kirtland, OH, 1 Mar. 1838, Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU; see also “Memorandum O. Granger G Newell Assignment,” Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU.)  

    Whitney, Newel K. Papers, 1825–1906. BYU.

  21. 21

    Possibly Vinson Knight, a counselor in the Kirtland bishopric. Knight, like Granger and Bishop Newel K. Whitney, was probably involved in resolving financial problems that JS left behind in Kirtland.  

  22. 22

    Newel K. Whitney was the bishop in Kirtland.  

  23. 23

    See Acts 14:3; 20:32.  

  24. 24

    See 2 Timothy 3:15.  

  25. 25

    See Psalm 2:7; and Old Testament Revision 1, p. 1 [Moses 1:4].  

  26. 26

    See 2 Kings 2:11.  

  27. 27

    See Motto, ca. 16 or 17 Mar. 1838.  

  28. 28

    George W. Robinson was married to Rigdon’s daughter Athalia. JS’s multivolume manuscript history recounts that JS left the Rigdon family at Terre Haute, Indiana, about twenty miles east, not west, of Paris. Similarly, Rigdon’s son recounted that his family parted with JS in Indiana and then traveled to Paris. (JS History, vol. B-1, 780; Rigdon, “Life Story of Sidney Rigdon,” 62.)  

    Rigdon, John Wickliff. “Life Story of Sidney Rigdon,” no date. CHL. MS 3451.

  29. 29

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 18, 39, 540 [1 Nephi 8:1; 16:11; Ether 1:41; 2:3].