Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 January 1832
Independence, Jackson Co., MO, to JS,
Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...More InfoKirtland Mills, Kirtland Township, OH, 28 Jan. 1832; handwriting of
Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...More InfoBifolium measuring 15⅝ × 10¼ inches (40 × 26 cm). The letter was tri-folded twice in letter style for mailing, addressed, and sealed. The front and back of the second leaf, which was used as the wrapper for mailing the letter, bear residue from morsels of an adhesive wafer that were removed. The bottom half of the front of the second leaf originally contained a printing bill forMartin Harris, but it was excised from the document and is no longer extant.◊◊” appear at the top of the back of the second leaf in unidentified handwriting. A mark in red pencil follows
18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...View Full BioThe custodial history of this document is uncertain. The letter was initially sent to JS and is listed in the 1973 register of the JS Collection—which suggests continuous institutional custody.2
Johnson, Jeffery O. Register of the Joseph Smith Collection in the Church Archives, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973.
This 28 January 1832 letter fromJohn Whitmerwere directed in a November 1831 revelation to travel to
27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...View Full BioIndependence, Jackson County, Missouri, carrying copies of JS’s revelations, which the church planned to publish.
Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...More Infoconferencein the home of
A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...View GlossaryNewel Knightin
13 Sept. 1800–11 Jan. 1847. Miller, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, ca. 1809. Moved to Windsor (later in Colesville), Broome Co., New...View Full BioKaw Township, Missouri; they supplemented it with a special conference on 27 January at
Settlement by whites commenced after treaty with Osage Indians, 1825. One of three original townships organized in Jackson Co., 22 May 1827. Bordered by Missouri River on north side and Big Blue River on east and south sides; western boundary was state line...More InfoSidney Gilbert’s residence in Independence. As clerk of the conferences, Cowdery kept the minutes and shortly thereafter copied them into this 28 January letter to JS.
28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...View Full BioThe minutes highlight the continued development ofZionin northwestern
A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...View GlossaryJackson Countyand the role of leaders such as
Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...More InfoEdward Partridgeand
27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...View Full BioGilbertin that development. As
28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...View Full Biobishop, Partridge was responsible for overseeing the purchase of land in Jackson County in concert with Gilbert, who was an agent to the church in
An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...View Glossaryinheritance[s],” and Gilbert was directed by revelation to operate a
Generally referred to land promised by or received from God for the church and its members. A January 1831 revelation promised church members a land of inheritance. In March and May 1831, JS dictated revelations commanding members “to purchase lands for an...View Glossarystorein
JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, directed A. Sidney Gilbert, Newel K. Whitney’s Ohio business partner, to establish store in Independence. Gilbert first purchased vacated log courthouse, located on lot 59 at intersection of Lynn and Lexington Streets, to...More InfoCowdery’s letter includes a transcript of a note from Partridge to JS, a few words of general correspondence from Cowdery himself, and a list of projected costs of printing the revelations, which was to be conveyed toHiram, Ohio, but it was sent to
Area settled by immigrants from Pennsylvania and New England, ca. 1802. Located in northeastern Ohio about twenty-five miles southeast of Kirtland. Population in 1830 about 500. Population in 1840 about 1,100. JS lived in township at home of John and Alice...More InfoNewel K. Whitneyin
3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...View Full Bio6Cowdery had directed previous correspondence from
A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth Day of September, 1817; Together with the Names, Force, and Condition, of all the Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States, and When and Where Built. Prepared at the Department of State, In Pursuance of a Resolution of Congress, of the 27th of April, 1816. Washington DC: E. De Krafft, 1818.A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1829; together with the Names, Force, and Condition, of All the Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States, and When and Where Built. Washington DC: William A. Davis, 1830.A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1831; together with the Names, Force, and Condition, of All the Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States, and When and Where Built. Washington DC: William A. Davis, 1831.7JS may have obtained the letter when he made a short visit to Kirtland from 29 February to 4 March 1832, or someone from Kirtland could have brought the letter to JS in Hiram before then.
Post-Office Laws, Instructions and Forms, Published for the Regulation of the Post-Office. Washington DC: Way and Gideon, 1828.8Regardless of the method of delivery, it is clear the letter reached Kirtland because in March, several leaders issued charges of misconduct against the Missouri conference based on their reading of Cowdery’s minutes.
Hartley, William G. “Letters and Mail between Kirtland and Independence: A Mormon Postal History, 1831–33.” Journal of Mormon History 35, no. 3 (Summer 2009): 163–189.
- 1 Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–A [D&C 69:1–2].
- 2 An August 1831 revelation instructed Sidney Rigdon to write “an Epistle & subscription to be presented unto all the Churches to obtain money to be put into the hands of the Bishop to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God.” (Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:50–51].)
- 3 Whitmer, History, 38; Minute Book 2, 23 Jan. 1832.
- 4 Cowdery’s minutes in this letter are more expansive than those Ebenezer Robinson later copied into Minute Book 2. It is possible that Whitmer, who kept minutes of several Missouri conferences in 1832, kept his own record of the 23 January meeting. If so, Robinson may have copied Whitmer’s minutes. (See Minute Book 2, 23 Jan. 1832.)
- 5 Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:3–4]; Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53:4]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:4–8].
- 6 Register of Officers and Agents , 49 (second numbering).
- 7 Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831. According to the statute governing franking, postmasters could use the privilege for both incoming and outgoing correspondence that was business related and weighed no more than half an ounce. It is unclear, however, whether Whitney ever invoked his franking privilege for letters to or from Cowdery. (An Act to Reduce into One the Several Acts Establishing and Regulating the Post-Office Department [3 Mar. 1825], in Post-Office Laws, Instructions and Forms, 15–16, sec. 27.)
- 8 Note, 8 Mar. 1832. Mail between Independence and Kirtland generally required three to four weeks of travel time. (Hartley, “Letters and Mail between Kirtland and Independence,” 176.)
- 9 Charges against Missouri Conference Preferred to JS, ca. Mar. 1832.
Force, Peter. The National Calendar for MDCCCXXX. Vol. VIII. Washington DC: By the author, 1830.
Force, Peter. The National Calendar for MDCCCXXX. Vol. VIII. Washington DC: By the author, 1830.