Letter to Silas Smith, 26 September 1833
JS, Letter,Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, toSilas Smith,
1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...View Full BioJesse Smith’s autobiography and journal was inscribed in a large, commercially produced blank book. The book’s ledger paper is horizontally ruled with two red lines above forty faint blue lines on each page. The book underwent conservation efforts in the mid-1990s. The leaves measure 14 × 8⅝ inches (36 × 22 cm). The volume measures 14½ × 10 × 2¼ inches (37 × 25 × 6 cm). The volume contains 655 inscribed pages followed by 31 blank pages. The first 23 pages contain Smith’s autobiography and his family history. Included in those 23 pages are a transcript of the letter featured here; the conversion story of his father,It is likely thatSilas Smithpassed the original letter to his son Jesse Smith, who kept it but wanted to make a second copy. It is unknown when Jesse Smith’s volume was donated to the Church History Library or by whom. This journal was labeled “Journal #174” by staff of Church History Library and was received by the Church Historian’s Office prior to the 1940s when clerk Alice M. Rich transcribed its contents.
1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...View Full Bio
- 1 Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, typescript, CHL.
JS wrote this 26 September 1833 letter, defending the idea of modern-day revelation, to his uncleSilas Smith, who resided in
1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...View Full BioStockholm, New York. Besides Silas and his family, several other relatives of JS lived in the Stockholm area at this time, including his grandmother Mary Duty Smith and his uncles Jesse and
Located in northern New York, about seventy miles southeast of Montreal and about fifteen miles southeast of St. Lawrence River. Landscape hilly and densely forested, with fertile soil. Region drained by St. Regis River. Area settled, by 1803. Formed from...More InfoSilas, then a Presbyterian, was aware of his nephew’s revelations and of the Book of Mormon. According to a later history written by Silas’s son Jesse Smith,Joseph Smith Sr.and his son
12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...View Full BioDon Carlosvisited Silas and other family members in 1830. Although Silas received the testimony of his family members “concerning the Latter day Work,” he was “slow about yielding obedience to the Gospel owing to the determined opposition” of his wife, Mary Aikens, and his brother Jesse, an ardent opponent of JS and the
25 Mar. 1816–7 Aug. 1841. Farmer, printer, editor. Born at Norwich, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York, 1816–Jan. 1817. Moved to Manchester, Ontario Co., 1825. Baptized into LDS church by David...View Full BioChurch of Christ.
The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...View GlossaryJohn Smithin the year prior to receiving this letter. John was
16 July 1781–23 May 1854. Farmer. Born at Derryfield (later Manchester), Rockingham Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Member of Congregational church. Appointed overseer of highways at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York, 1810. Married...View Full Biobaptizedin January 1832, and from July 1832 to late April 1833, he proselytized and held church meetings around the
An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...View GlossaryStockholmarea. Sometime in late 1832, John “went to Stockholm [and was] put up for the night at my Brothers,” and in early March 1833 he spent an evening with “Br. Silas” and had a conversation with him on “spiritual things.”
Located in northern New York, about seventy miles southeast of Montreal and about fifteen miles southeast of St. Lawrence River. Landscape hilly and densely forested, with fertile soil. Region drained by St. Regis River. Area settled, by 1803. Formed from...More Info2John returned toJS’s objective in this 26 September letter was to persuade his uncle that it was both scripturally sound and reasonable that God would speak to prophets in modern times as he did in biblical times. Most Christians of the era believed that the canon of scripture was closed and found the idea of additional canonical revelation to be repugnant, even blasphemous.3This letter is a prime example of the Mormon argument for modern and continuing revelation. In the letter, JS heavily referenced books from both the Old and New Testaments to demonstrate that each age needs to hear the voice of God anew. The ideas expressed in this letter appeared again in the second installment of a serialized letter written by “the
Holland, David F. Sacred Borders: Continuing Revelation and Canonical Restraint in Early America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.Eldersof the Church in
A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...View GlossaryJS closed this letter by expressing his hope thatSilaswould eventually join the Church of Christ. Jesse Smith, Silas’s son, recorded that his father received this letter from JS and that Silas “was baptized in the summer of 1835 byHyrum Smith, and in the spring of 1836 emigrated to5
Smith, Jesse Nathaniel. Autobiography and Journal, 1855-1906. CHL. MS 1489, fd. 1.
Smith, Hyrum. Letter, Kirtland, OH, to Elias Smith, East Stockholm, NY, 27 Feb. 1836. CHL. MS 4950.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Life of Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1938.
Smith, John (1781-1854). Journal, 1833–1841. John Smith, Papers, 1833-1854. CHL. MS 1326, box 1, fd. 1.
Smith, Elias. Journals, 1836–1888. CHL. MS 1319.Jesse Smith transcribed the letter featured here in its entirety into the family history portion of his journal in 1855.SilasforLucy Mack Smith’s history in the mid-1840s. However, that version varies significantly from the text featured here in words, phrases, and punctuation. Some of the variants in the Coray copy make the wording of the letter less clear when compared to Jesse Smith’s transcript. In addition, the Coray copy includes some later, Utah-era redactions and insertions that appear to have been made to match the version in Jesse’s journal. Significant differences between these two versions are noted in footnotes throughout the following transcript.
8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...View Full Bio
- 1 Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 2.
- 2 John Smith, Journal, [Dec. 1832], 11; 8 Mar. 1833. John did not specify that he stayed with Silas, and he could have been referring to his other brother, Asahel Smith, who also lived in Stockholm. It is likely, but not certain, that the “Br. Silas” in John’s journal refers to Silas Smith. (Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 2.)
- 3 For more information on these theological views that were common in nineteenth-century America, see Holland, Sacred Borders.
- 4 See Letter to the Church, ca. Mar. 1834.
- 5 Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 6. According to a letter from Hyrum Smith, “[It is the will] of god that uncle Silas Should fetch granmother in spite of [all the devils there] are out of Haadees & god will Bless Him in So doing & give her Strinth [to endure the jou]rney.” John Smith wrote in his journal that he returned to Kirtland on 18 May 1836 and “found our mother and brethren from the east.” (Hyrum Smith, Kirtland, OH, to Elias Smith, East Stockholm, NY, 27 Feb. 1836, CHL, missing text supplied from Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, 116; John Smith, Journal, 18 May 1836; Elias Smith, Journal, 17–18 May 1836.)
- 6 Jesse’s journal begins with a family history. He began writing in this journal in 1855. (Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 2–5.)
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 Info