Letter to Emma Smith, 12 November 1838
JS, Letter,Richmond, MO, to
Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...More InfoEmma Smith,
10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...View Full Bio
On 12 November 1838, JS wrote to his wife Emma Smith from Richmond, Missouri. He and six other church leaders—Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, George W. Robinson, Parley P. Pratt, and Amasa Lyman—were in the custody of Missouri state officials. After spending five days in Independence, Missouri, the prisoners were transported to Richmond on 9 November. In Richmond, they and forty-six other Latter-day Saint defendants were scheduled to appear before Judge Austin A. King at a criminal court of inquiry, or preliminary hearing, to determine whether the state possessed sufficient evidence to hold a full trial on charges of treason and other crimes allegedly committed during the recent conflict. For the remainder of the month, JS and his companions were held in “an old log house,” while the forty-six other prisoners were confined in the unfinished Ray County Courthouse.The day the hearing was scheduled to begin—12 November—JS wrote this letter to Emma, perhaps from the log house jail or the county courthouse. He acknowledged receipt of an apparently nonextant missive from Emma, expressed his love and affection for her, wrote personal notes for each of their children, and included a prayer that he would be reunited with his family. He also described the loyalty and unity among the Latter-day Saint prisoners, affirmed his innocence, and explained that attorneys Amos Rees and Alexander Doniphan had agreed to represent him and his companions. JS noted that Lieutenant Colonel Sterling Price was screening the prisoners’ correspondence, which may have influenced how JS crafted his letter. JS indicated that a “Brother Babbitt,” whose identity remains uncertain, would carry the letter to Far West.