Part 5: 5 October 1836–10 April 1837

From fall 1836 to early spring 1837, JS and other leaders focused on developing the town of , Ohio, and finding means to pay church debts. JS was involved in several large land transactions and, according to extant records, purchased about 440 acres in fall 1836. A primary motivation for these acquisitions was expanding the amount of land the church had available for newly arriving members to purchase. Some of these purchases may also have acted as financial security for JS’s other major endeavor in this period, the . An ambitious endeavor, the Safety Society was never able to realize its founders’ aspirations because of the insurmountable obstacles it faced, including underfunding, opposition, the lack of a bank charter, and the financial panic of 1837.
JS and other church leaders in began making plans for a bank in October 1836. By mid-October they had chosen the name of the institution, the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, and had begun taking subscriptions for stock. On 2 November 1836 the stockholders met and ratified the Kirtland Safety Society’s constitution. Thirty-two stockholders were then elected as bank directors, likely at this same meeting, and they elected two primary officers for the society, as president and JS as cashier.
, like many other states, required parties intending to establish a bank to petition the state legislature for an act of incorporation. If approved, the bank would receive a charter granting it banking privileges. After the 2 November organization of the Safety Society, was assigned to go to , Ohio, where the legislature met, to find a politician willing to present the society’s petition for a charter. Although the Kirtland Safety Society directors may have hoped for a quick approval, Hyde was not able to find a legislative sponsor until February 1837. In the meantime, JS, , and the society’s stockholders reorganized their institution on 2 January 1837. They restructured the society as an unincorporated bank, renamed it the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, and drafted new articles of agreement to replace the original constitution. This change in structure led to new titles for the society’s officers: Rigdon became the secretary and JS the treasurer. After this reorganization, the society conducted banking services in an unofficial capacity while Hyde continued pursuing a bank charter.
A record of loans from the institution bears the date of 7 January, but the institution may have opened for business as early as 4 January, the date found on the earliest extant Kirtland Safety Society notes. When individuals took out a loan, they received the amount borrowed in the form of Kirtland Safety Society notes. The clerks and officers of the society also exchanged the society’s notes for the notes of other banks, thereby increasing the circulation of the society’s notes and its financial reserves. According to the extant records, most of the individuals involved in financial transactions with the Kirtland Safety Society were residents, along with a few people from and . Nearly all stockholders and loan recipients were church members.
After opening in early January, the Kirtland Safety Society quickly garnered both popular interest and hostility. Contemporary and reminiscent accounts indicate there was general acceptance and circulation of the society’s notes in the first weeks of the institution’s operation. Early on, however, several newspapers concentrated on the solvency of the institution. Editors for the Cleveland Gazette expressed surprise at “the readiness with which these anti-banking bank bills are thrown into circulation without any evidence or knowledge of the solvency of the issues” and considered it “a most reprehensible fraud on the public,” since “as far as we can learn there is no property bound for their redemption, no coin on hand to redeem them with, and no responsible individuals whose honor or whose honesty is pledged for their payment.” The Ohio Star, a Ravenna newspaper that frequently criticized JS and the church, printed an article warning readers of the “emission of Mormon money, purporting to be bank paper.” In contrast, a few newspapers defended the society. Although skeptical about the institution, the editors of the Painesville Republican wrote in mid-January that they had been informed that Safety Society officers “have a large amount in specie on hand and have the means of obtaining much more, if necessary,” and, if this were the case, the circulation of the society’s notes “would be beneficial to [the] community, and sensibly relieve the pressure in the money market.” The editors of the Cleveland Weekly Advertiser wrote an outright defense of the society, which they believed was “most shamefully and cruelly persecuted; whose motives and intentions were totally misconstrued and misrepresented” by other newspapers, particularly the Cleveland Gazette.
Newspapers were not the only source of hostility; some individuals in actively campaigned against the Kirtland Safety Society, with prominent county resident apparently taking a lead role. Amid heightened opposition in late January came rumors that the Safety Society had closed its doors. It is unclear whether or not the business did temporarily close, and if it did, what led to the closure. recounted in his journal hearing that a mob from was coming to destroy the society’s office. Though it is not known whether the mob materialized in , fear of violence may have led the directors to close the office temporarily. Writing about events at a distance, the Cleveland Weekly Advertiser described a “furious and insulting mob” gathering in Kirtland and threatening to destroy the society. In a July 1837 editorial in the Messenger and Advocate, reported that “hundreds who were enemies, either came or sent their agents and demanded specie till the officers thought best to refuse payment.”
Rumors that the society had closed and was refusing to redeem notes for specie damaged its reputation and led some to assume the worst. In response to the reported closing of the society’s office, the Cleveland Gazette announced the failure of the institution, and other papers echoed this conclusion. Such news may have been based on false stories devised by opponents to harm the institution and discredit JS as its officer. If the Safety Society did close in late January, it was a brief closure, probably around 23 or 24 January. Even though a few newspapers continued to insist that it had failed, the society made loans and accepted payments for stock after January 1837.
The success of the Safety Society was also hampered by the terms of its incorporation. The articles of agreement set the original capital stock for the institution at $4 million, a considerably higher amount than that of other community banks in the period, which ranged from $100,000 to $300,000. The capital stock was divided into 80,000 shares of stock valued at $50 each. Stockholders were required to pay a first installment of twenty-six cents per share of stock, and these subscription payments were intended to provide the reserves that would give the society financial stability, allowing the officers to exchange the society’s paper notes for specie when customers presented them for redemption. By the beginning of January, the society had received almost $12,000 in specie or banknotes, as more than one hundred investors paid some portion of the first installment due on their stock subscriptions. It is unclear how many Kirtland Safety Society notes were put in circulation, but based on banking practices of the time, the society would have needed enough reserves to repay ten to thirty percent of the notes it issued, meaning its officers could feasibly have issued notes for between $40,000 and $120,000.
Nevertheless, the society was significantly underfunded, in large part because of the small amount that stockholders were required to pay for their stock. At fifty dollars per share, the price of stock for the Kirtland Safety Society was lower than average, but not unusually low when compared with similar financial institutions. What was substantially reduced for the society’s stockholders was the amount they were required to pay when they first subscribed for stock. At twenty-six cents per share, this initial payment was significantly lower than what other banks or banking companies charged, which typically required between five and fifty dollars’ initial payment per share. The Kirtland Safety Society officers showed leniency to those who could not pay their full initial payment, and several stockholders made only partial payments, while a few never paid anything. Individuals who subscribed for one thousand shares should have made an initial payment of $262.50, but many with subscriptions of a thousand or more shares of stock only ever paid a few dollars. The combination of relatively low share prices, an unusually high capital stock, and a very low initial installment payment for stock, some of which was never paid, meant that the society was low on funds from the outset.
JS and other stockholders appear to have obtained additional funding by taking out loans from two nearby banking institutions. These loans would not have significantly improved the society’s solvency but would likely have increased its available specie, which was needed for the redemption of notes. On 2 January, JS, , and received a loan for $3,000 from the in , due in forty-five days. The second loan was taken out on 10 January from the in for $1,200, due in four months. This second loan was taken out by Reynolds Cahoon, a stock holder in the Safety Society who may have been working in the Kirtland Safety Society office in January, as his handwriiting appears in the office’s early records.
By mid-January, JS, , and managers of the Kirtland Safety Society began making arrangements to expand its reach outside of . On 14 January the managers signed a contract with David Cartter, a lawyer in Akron, Ohio, designating him an agent of the society, and later that month, the officers made business arrangements with the Bank of Monroe in Monroe, Michigan. They appear to have bought stock in the bank and reached an agreement to partner with its officers, perhaps intending to become a branch of the Bank of Monroe and act under its charter. In early February, JS, Rigdon, , and traveled to for a stockholders’ meeting of the bank. At this meeting, Cowdery was made vice president and a bank director of the Bank of Monroe. While in Monroe in February, Hyrum Smith and Rigdon each borrowed notes from the Bank of Monroe, likely taking these notes back to Kirtland and using them in the society’s office. By the end of March the Bank of Monroe suspended specie payments, and it appears to have failed by the end of the year.
Two events in February significantly affected the development of the Kirtland Safety Society and its ability to gain public support. First, Samuel D. Rounds brought charges against JS, , , , , and under an 1816 statute that made it a finable offense for an unchartered bank to perform banking services, including the issuing of notes. Public understanding of banking laws in 1837 was muddled, and there was disagreement regarding the enforcement of the 1816 statute, in large part due to an 1824 statute that had prohibited lawsuits against the notes of unauthorized or unincorporated banks. The legal disjuncture between the two statutes was not formally resolved until 1840. Though the other four church members were not prosecuted, JS and Rigdon were tried in absentia in October 1837. In the trials, “the Court charged the Jury that said Statute was in force,” and JS and Rigdon were both found guilty according to the Act of 1816 and fined $1,000 each.
The second significant event in February occurred when Samuel Medary presented the society’s petition for a bank charter in the senate. The petition was presented as an amendment to a bill to create a state bank in Ohio, and some aspects of the proposal differed from the society’s articles, possibly to make the legislature more amenable to granting a charter. The most significant change was a decrease in the society’s capital stock from $4 million to $300,000, which, although still higher than most, was within the range of other community banks. The Safety Society’s petition failed to pass, on a vote of eleven in favor and twenty-four opposed. In fact, the legislature did not approve the incorporation of a single bank in its 1836–1837 session. Some banks were approved for a charter by virtue of being added to the bill for a state bank, but that bill was not passed until 1845. There were no other documented attempts to obtain a banking charter for the Kirtland Safety Society from the Ohio legislature.
Despite these setbacks, the society continued to expand its economic reach and acquire financial supporters inside and outside of . In March two additional contracts were signed, establishing individuals in , Ohio, and Beaver County, Pennsylvania, as agents of the Safety Society. In discourses given on 6 April 1837, JS, , and each focused on debt and the need for church members to support the Kirtland Safety Society financially. In his address, Rigdon identified three distinct sources of the church’s debt: building the Kirtland , losing property in , and purchasing land in Kirtland for the Saints. A few days later, on 9 April, JS and Rigdon again spoke on the financial situation of the church and urged members to accept the notes of the Kirtland Safety Society and support the institution. Possibly fearing the seizure of his property to pay outstanding debts, JS on 7 and 10 April sold or transferred several large properties he owned to , who appears to have acted as his agent.
From November 1836 to April 1837 financial matters were one of JS’s greatest concerns. Over these six months he struggled to repay the debts of the church while attempting to establish a new banking company. The documents concerning the Kirtland Safety Society demonstrate its tumultuous period of operation, from an ambitious beginning in November 1836, through reorganization in January 1837, and into a constant struggle for investors and support in spring 1837. Despite JS’s efforts, the society faced frequent opposition and received only limited support.
  1. 1

    See Historical Introduction to Mortgage to Peter French, 5 Oct. 1836.  

  2. 2

    See Historical Introduction to Minutes, 22 Dec. 1836; and Historical Introduction to Discourse, 6 Apr. 1837.  

  3. 3

    See Willard Richards, Kirtland, OH, to Hepzibah Richards, Hamilton, NY, 20 Jan. 1837, Levi Richards Family Correspondence, CHL; and Warren A. Cowdery, Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1837, 3:535.  

    Levi Richards Family Correspondence, 1827–1848. CHL. MS 12765.

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  4. 4

    See Historical Introduction to Constitution of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, 2 Nov. 1836. For more on the financial panic of 1837, see “Joseph Smith Documents from October 1835 through January 1838.”  

  5. 5

    Winthrop Eaton, Bill of Goods, 11 Oct. 1836, JS Office Papers, CHL; Kirtland Safety Society, Stock Ledger, 1–2; see also Historical Introduction to Constitution of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, 2 Nov. 1836.  

  6. 6

    Historical Introduction to Constitution of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, 2 Nov. 1836.  

  7. 7

    An Act to Prohibit the Issuing and Circulating of Unauthorized Bank Paper [27 Jan. 1816], Statutes of the State of Ohio [1841], 136–139, 154; see also Bodenhorn, “Bank Chartering and Political Corruption in Antebellum New York,” 231–257.  

    Statutes of the State of Ohio, of a General Nature, in Force, December 7, 1840; Also, the Statutes of a General Nature, Passed by the General Assembly at Their Thirty-Ninth Session, Commencing December 7, 1840. Columbus, OH: Samuel Medary, 1841.

    Bodenhorn, Howard. “Bank Chartering and Political Corruption in Antebellum New York: Free Banking as Reform.” In Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America’s Economic History, edited by Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin, 231–257. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

  8. 8

    No extant documents record Hyde’s efforts in Columbus. He may have begun as early as November, but there is no evidence that he traveled to Columbus before the beginning of the 1836–1837 legislative session on 5 December 1836.  

  9. 9

    Articles of Agreement for the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, 2 Jan. 1837. Warren A. Cowdery described the society as a “bank, or monied institution,” that was “considered a kind of joint stock association.” (Warren A. Cowdery, Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1837, 3:535; see also Walker, “Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell,” 44–47.)  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

    Walker, Jeffrey N. “The Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell: A Legal Examination.” BYU Studies 54, no. 3 (2015): 33–147.

  10. 10

    These loans are recorded in the discount book and loan papers. The earliest loans are undated and some are dated 7 January 1837. In the charges filed against JS and Sidney Rigdon for issuing banknotes, 4 January 1837 was listed as the first day JS and Rigdon acted as bank officers. (Kirtland Safety Society, Loan Transactions, JS Office Papers, CHL; Transcript of Proceedings, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds Qui Tam v. JS [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Record Book U, pp. 362–364; Transcript of Proceedings, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds Qui Tam v. Rigdon [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Record Book U, pp. 359–362, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; see also Kirtland Safety Society Notes, 4 Jan.–9. Mar. 1837.)  

    Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U. Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.

  11. 11

    See Kirtland Safety Society Notes, 4 Jan.–9 Mar. 1837. Often banks followed a practice called discounting, in which the interest from the loan was subtracted from the loan total at the time the borrower was given the money for the loan. From the few extant records, it appears that the Safety Society was practicing discounting on at least the early loans it financed. (See Kirtland Safety Society, “List of Notes for Discounting Jany. 1837,” JS Office Papers, CHL.)  

  12. 12

    Woodruff, Journal, 6 Jan. 1837; Agreement with David Cartter, 14 Jan. 1837.  

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

  13. 13

    Kirtland Safety Society, Loan Transactions, JS Office Papers, CHL. A small number were apparently unknown to the recording clerks, who in place of a name wrote “stranger.” Most of the transactions where clerks used “stranger” involved an individual exchanging banknotes or redeeming Safety Society notes.  

  14. 14

    “Rags! Mere Rags!!,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 19 Jan. 1837, [3]; Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, 162.  

    Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

    Kennedy, James H. Early Days of Mormonism: Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888.

  15. 15

    “Mormon Currency,” Cleveland Daily Gazette, 20 Jan. 1837, [2], italics in original; “A New Revelation—Morman Money,” Cleveland Daily Gazette, 12 Jan. 1837, [2].  

    Cleveland Daily Gazette. Cleveland. 1836–1837.

  16. 16

    “Rags! Mere Rags!!,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 19 Jan. 1837, [3].  

    Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

  17. 17

    “Anti-Banking Company,” Painesville (OH) Republican, 19 Jan. 1837, [2].  

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

  18. 18

    “Kirtland Safety Society,” Cleveland Weekly Advertiser, 2 Feb. 1837, [3].  

    Cleveland Weekly Advertiser. Cleveland. 1836–1840.

  19. 19

    A former employee of Newell’s, James Thompson, claimed Newell actively worked against the Safety Society: “I worked for Grandison Newell considerable. He used to drive about the country and buy up all the Mormon money possible, and the next morning go to the bank and obtain the specie.” At the end of his life, Newell claimed that the actions he initiated against the Kirtland Safety Society were largely responsible for driving the church and its members out of Kirtland. Henry Holcomb, who was married to Newell’s great-granddaughter, recorded, “He early became involved in serious controversies with the Mormons, located at Kirtland, and after a series of litigations succeeded, in consequence of their violation of the currency laws, in expelling them from the state.” (James Thompson, Statement, Naked Truths about Mormonism [Oakland, CA], Apr. 1888, 3; Henry Holcomb, “Personal Experience’s after the Civil War,” in “Personal and Family History 1865–1903,” p. 52, in Henry Holcomb Papers, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH.)  

    Naked Truths about Mormonism: Also a Journal for Important, Newly Apprehended Truths, and Miscellany. Oakland, CA. Jan. and Apr. 1888.

    Holcomb, Henry. Papers, 1864–1919. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland.

  20. 20

    Woodruff wrote in his journal, “We had been threatened by a mob from Panesville to visit us that night & demolish our Bank & take our property but they did not appeare but the wrath of our enemies appears to be kindled against us.” (Woodruff, Journal, 24 Jan. 1837.)  

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

  21. 21

    “Kirtland Safety Society,” Cleveland Weekly Advertiser, 2 Feb. 1837, [3].  

    Cleveland Weekly Advertiser. Cleveland. 1836–1840.

  22. 22

    Warren A. Cowdery, Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1837, 3:536. The editors of the Cleveland Weekly Advertiser claimed that the accounts by other regional newspapers that the bank could not redeem its notes for specie were incorrect and that the office was closed for only a day. (“Kirtland Safety Society,” Cleveland Weekly Advertiser, 2 Feb. 1837, [3].)  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

    Cleveland Weekly Advertiser. Cleveland. 1836–1840.

  23. 23

    Warren A. Cowdery, Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1837, 3:536–537.  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  24. 24

    “A Piece of News for the Herald,” Cleveland Daily Gazette, 24 Jan. 1837, [2]. For newspapers relaying this news, see the Western Reserve Chronicle, which reports to have gotten its information from the Painesville Telegraph. (“How Have the Mighty Fallen!!,” Western Reserve Chronicle [Warren, OH], 7 Feb. 1837, [3].)  

    Cleveland Daily Gazette. Cleveland. 1836–1837.

    Western Reserve Chronicle. Warren, OH. 1816–1854.

  25. 25

    Kirtland Safety Society, Stock Ledger, 2, 14, 84.  

  26. 26

    As part of the process of granting a bank charter, the state legislature approved the proposed capital stock and determined the amount of capital a bank would be required to have before being allowed to operate. The required amount varied widely, ranging from five to twenty percent of the bank’s capital stock. A banking reform bill by Ohio state senator Alfred Kelley—presented to the Ohio senate in January 1837 but not passed until 1845—stipulated a standard amount that subscribers would be required to pay to the bank: ten percent of each share when they subscribed for stock, thirty percent after directors were elected, and twenty percent every ninety days until the full amount they owed was paid. There was often not enough local capital on the frontier to provide the financial backing needed to establish most banks, and eastern investors were often needed to provide capital. (“A Bill for the Regulation of Banks within This State,” sec. 10, Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette, 13 Jan. 1837, [2]; see also An Act to Incorporate the State Bank of Ohio and Other Banking Companies [24 Feb. 1845], Acts of a General Nature [1845], p. 27, sec. 8. For an example of a failed bank revived by eastern investment, see Scheiber, “Commercial Bank of Lake Erie,” 49–52.)  

    Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette. Columbus. 1825–1837.

    Acts of a General Nature Passed by the Forty Third General Assembly of the State of Ohio, Begun and Held in the City of Columbus, December 4, 1844, and in the Forty Third Year of Said State. Columbus: Samuel Medary, 1845.

    Scheiber, Harry N. “The Commercial Bank of Lake Erie, 1831–1843.” Business History Review 40, no. 1 (Spring 1966): 47–65.

  27. 27

    See Historical Introduction to Constitution of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, 2 Nov. 1836.  

  28. 28

    Kirtland Safety Society, Stock Ledger, 1836–1837, in Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, microfilm, CHL. In the stock ledger these payments are recorded as being made in “cash,” which in nineteenth-century banking and accounting terminology could mean either specie, such as gold or silver coins, or banknotes. (Coffin, Progressive Exercises in Book Keeping, 10–39.)  

    Coffin, James H. Progressive Exercises in Book Keeping, by Single and Double Entry. Greenfield, MA: A. Phelps, 1836.

  29. 29

    The few contemporary records that discuss the number of the society’s notes in circulation provide conflicting accounts of the society’s financial stability and may not be reliable. (See “Kirtland Safety Society,” Cleveland Weekly Advertiser, 2 Feb. 1837, [3]; and Warren Parrish, Kirtland, OH, 5 Feb. 1838, Letter to the Editor, Painesville [OH] Republican, 15 Feb. 1838, [3]; see also Hill et al., Kirtland Economy Revisited, 53–58.)  

    Cleveland Weekly Advertiser. Cleveland. 1836–1840.

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

    Hill, Marvin S., C. Keith Rooker, and Larry T. Wimmer. The Kirtland Economy Revisited: A Market Critique of Sectarian Economics. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1977.

  30. 30

    Fifty percent was considered a conservative amount for specie reserves, with most banks attempting to maintain reserves between ten to thirty percent. In Ohio, senator Alfred Kelley’s banking reform bill required a fifty percent specie backing for the notes and bills issued by a banking institution. (“A Bill for the Regulation of Banks within This State,” secs. 34, 41, Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette, 13 Jan. 1837, [2].)  

    Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette. Columbus. 1825–1837.

  31. 31

    In the 1836 Ohio legislature proceedings, the most common cost of stock shares for banks in Ohio towns was $100. Stock shares in larger, well-established areas varied from $100 to $500 per share, but most community banks on the western frontier could not demand such elevated prices. Shares in the stock of the Commercial Bank of Lake Erie were $100 and required five percent to be paid upon subscription. (“A Bill for the Regulation of Banks within This State,” sec. 7, Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette, 13 Jan. 1837, [2]; Bodenhorn, State Banking in Early America, 19–20; Charter Acceptance, Letterbook, vol. 1, 1816–1839, [1], Commercial Bank of Lake Erie Records, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH.)  

    Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette. Columbus. 1825–1837.

    Bodenhorn, Howard. State Banking in Early America: A New Economic History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

    Commercial Bank of Lake Erie Records, 1816–1840. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland.

  32. 32

    The Kirtland Safety Society charged $0.26¼ per share of stock. This amount was not a published figure but can be calculated based on stockholders’ payments recorded in the society’s stock ledger. Stockholders paid $2.63 for 10 shares of stock, $5.25 for 20 shares, $10.50 for 40 shares, $15.75 for 60 shares, $26.25 for 100 shares, $52.50 for 200 shares, and $105 for 400 shares. When the amount paid is divided by the number of shares, the price of an individual share comes to $0.26¼. While some individuals paid more than the required amount, many others paid less than they owed for their initial payment on stock. (Kirtland Safety Society, Stock Ledger, 33–34, 43–44, 81–82, 183–184, 191–192, 195–196.)  

  33. 33

    No compilations of data for installment payments have been created for nineteenth-century banks, but the Bank of Geauga in Painesville, Ohio, notified stockholders that an installment of $6.50 was due on each share on 20 January 1837. The bank charter for the Commercial Bank of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio, required an installment of five percent, or five dollars on each share. The Bank of Monroe in Michigan notified stockholders of monthly installments of five dollars per share after the bank’s 10 February 1837 meeting. (Notice from Bank of Geauga, 16 Nov. 1836, in Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 30 Dec. 1836, [4]; Charter Acceptance, Letterbook, vol. 1, 1816–1839, [1], Commercial Bank of Lake Erie Records, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH; “Bank of Monroe,” Painesville [OH] Republican, 29 Feb. 1837.)  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

    Commercial Bank of Lake Erie Records, 1816–1840. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland.

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

  34. 34

    Five individuals who subscribed for stock have no recorded payments in the extant stock ledger: Joseph Brayn, Frederick G. Williams, Samuel Willard, Luther P. Bates, and Samuel Wittemore. (Kirtland Safety Society, Stock Ledger, 159–160, 197–198, 199–200, 207–208, 213–214.)  

  35. 35

    See, for example, Kirtland Safety Society, Stock Ledger, 37–38, 57–58, 209–210, 237–238, 243–244. This was not the only time that subscriptions caused financial difficulties for the church in Kirtland. During the construction of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, missionaries gathered subscriptions from church members for the temple only to find later that many were not honored. (Bishop’s Appeal, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Sept. 1837, 3:561; Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter, Kirtland, OH, to “the Churches of Christ,” 1 June 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 36–38.)  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  36. 36

    The promissory note for this loan is not extant, but the record of the loan appears in the Bank of Geauga Discount Book. The Bank of Geauga was the closest banking institution to Kirtland. (Bank of Geauga, Discount Book, 2 Jan. 1837.)  

    Bank of Geauga Discount Book. 1832–1838. Lake County Historical Society, Painesville, OH.

  37. 37

    Promissory Note, Reynolds Cahoon et al. to Commercial Bank of Lake Erie, 10 Jan. 1837, JS Collection, CHL. The Commercial Bank of Lake Erie was another bank located relatively close to Kirtland. The substantial investments of the Dwights, a New York banking family, ensured the financial reserves and stability of the bank. It held deposits from the Ohio government and the federal government and provided much of northern Ohio’s paper currency from 1831 to 1843. (Scheiber, “Commercial Bank of Lake Erie,” 47, 49–53.)  

    Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.

    Scheiber, Harry N. “The Commercial Bank of Lake Erie, 1831–1843.” Business History Review 40, no. 1 (Spring 1966): 47–65.

  38. 38

    Agreement with David Cartter, 14 Jan. 1837.  

  39. 39

    The earliest extant record of a transaction between the Kirtland Safety Society and the Bank of Monroe is a receipt dated 25 January 1837. This receipt was signed by Sidney Rigdon, identifying himself as the president of the Kirtland Safety Society, and Bailey J. Hathaway, a bank director for the Bank of Monroe, who replaced G. B. Harleston as the bank’s cashier. (B. J. Hathaway, Receipt, 25 Jan. 1837, JS Office Papers, CHL; “Bank of Monroe,” Painesville [OH] Republican, 29 Feb. 1837.)  

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

  40. 40

    “Bank of Monroe,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 24 Feb. 1837, [3]. Bailey J. Hathaway, who was appointed cashier at the same gathering, announced the new positions to the public. S. A. Davis, the editor of the Universalist paper Glad Tidings, and Ohio Christian Telescope, visited Kirtland in February or March 1837 and wrote, “We had not the pleasure of seeing Joseph Smith Jr. Sidney Rigdon, or O. Cowdery, three leading men of this sect, as they had gone to Michigan on business for their Banking Institution.” (“Bank of Monroe,” Painesville [OH] Republican, 29 Feb. 1837; “Kirtland,—Mormonism, &c.,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, 3:491.)  

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  41. 41

    Bank of Monroe, Account Statement, [Monroe, MI], for Kirtland Safety Society, ca. Apr. 1837, CHL.  

  42. 42

    “Monroe Bank,” Daily Cleveland Herald, 18 Mar. 1837, [2]; “Monroe Bank,” Ohio Star (Ravenna), 30 Mar. 1837; “Bank of Monroe, Michigan,” Herald (New York), 12 Apr. 1837, [2]; “Broken Banks and Fraudulent Institutions,” Daily Herald and Gazette (Cleveland, OH), 4 Dec. 1837, [1].  

    Daily Cleveland Herald. Cleveland. 1835–1837.

    Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

    The Herald. New York City. 1835–1837.

    Daily Herald and Gazette. Cleveland. 1837–1839.

  43. 43

    See An Act to Prohibit the Issuing and Circulating of Unauthorized Bank Paper [27 Jan. 1816], Statutes of the State of Ohio, of a General Nature [1841], pp. 136, 137, secs. 1–4, 12. The charges were first brought 9 February, with an additional lawsuit adding Parrish as a defendant on 14 March. Rounds charged these individuals because, in their positions in the Kirtland Safety Society, they had signed notes issued for loans or exchanges. JS and Rigdon were elected officers, Parrish served as the main clerk, and Whitney, Williams, and Kingsbury acted as temporary officers in January. Rounds may have been encouraged in pursuing this litigation by Grandison Newell. After the trials for JS and Rigdon, Rounds transferred the judgments to Newell, suggesting he had an interest in the case. (Case Costs, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds Qui Tam v. JS [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Execution Docket G, p. 105; Case Costs, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds Qui Tam v. Rigdon [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Execution Docket G, p. 106, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.)  

    Statutes of the State of Ohio, of a General Nature, in Force, December 7, 1840; Also, the Statutes of a General Nature, Passed by the General Assembly at Their Thirty-Ninth Session, Commencing December 7, 1840. Columbus, OH: Samuel Medary, 1841.

    Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Execution Docket G. Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.

  44. 44

    See “Anti-Banking Company,” Painesville (OH) Republican, 19 Jan. 1837, [2]–[3]; “A New Revelation—Morman Money,” Cleveland Daily Gazette, 12 Jan. 1837, [2]; “Mormon Currency,” Cleveland Daily Gazette, 20 Jan. 1837, [2]; and “For the Republican,” Painesville Republican, 16 Feb. 1837, [2]–[3]; see also Walker, “Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell,” 60–105; and Hill et al., Kirtland Economy Revisited, 49–50.  

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

    Cleveland Daily Gazette. Cleveland. 1836–1837.

    Walker, Jeffrey N. “The Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell: A Legal Examination.” BYU Studies 54, no. 3 (2015): 33–147.

    Hill, Marvin S., C. Keith Rooker, and Larry T. Wimmer. The Kirtland Economy Revisited: A Market Critique of Sectarian Economics. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1977.

  45. 45

    An Act Further to Amend the Act Entitled, “An Act to Prohibit the Issuing and Circulating of Unauthorized Bank Paper,” Passed January 27, 1816, and to Repeal Certain Acts and Parts of Acts Therein Named [23 Mar. 1840], Statutes of the State of Ohio [1841], p. 144, sec. 8.  

    Statutes of the State of Ohio, of a General Nature, in Force, December 7, 1840; Also, the Statutes of a General Nature, Passed by the General Assembly at Their Thirty-Ninth Session, Commencing December 7, 1840. Columbus, OH: Samuel Medary, 1841.

  46. 46

    Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U, pp. 353–359, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.  

    Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U. Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.

  47. 47

    Transcript of Proceedings, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds Qui Tam v. JS [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Record Book U, pp. 362–364; Transcript of Proceedings, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds Qui Tam v. Rigdon [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Record Book U, pp. 359–362, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; Account Statement from Perkins & Osborn, 28 Oct. 1838, JS Collection, CHL. Perhaps because of the confusing and contradictory nature of Ohio banking laws, JS and Rigdon’s lawyers, William L. Perkins and Salmon Osborn, submitted a bill of exceptions, the first step in appealing the judgment, but no formal appeal was ever made.  

    Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U. Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.

  48. 48

    The charter also included the names of Benjamin Adams, Nehemiah Allen, and Benjamin Bissel, who were not members of the church and were not stockholders in the society. These individuals, all influential men from Painesville, may have been added in hopes of strengthening the petition or lessening religious prejudice. (Journal of the Senate of the State of Ohio, 365; Letter to the Editor, Daily Herald and Gazette [Cleveland, OH], 8 Sept. 1837, [2].)  

    Journal of the Senate of the State of Ohio; Being the First Session of the Thirty-fifth General Assembly, Begun and Held in the City of Columbus, Monday, December 5, 1836, and in the Thirty-fifth year of Said State. Columbus: James B. Gardiner, 1836.

    Daily Herald and Gazette. Cleveland. 1837–1839.

  49. 49

    Journal of the Senate of the State of Ohio, 366.  

    Journal of the Senate of the State of Ohio; Being the First Session of the Thirty-fifth General Assembly, Begun and Held in the City of Columbus, Monday, December 5, 1836, and in the Thirty-fifth year of Said State. Columbus: James B. Gardiner, 1836.

  50. 50

    See An Act to Incorporate the State Bank of Ohio and Other Banking Companies [24 Feb. 1845], Acts of a General Nature [1845], p. 51, sec. 69.  

    Acts of a General Nature Passed by the Forty Third General Assembly of the State of Ohio, Begun and Held in the City of Columbus, December 4, 1844, and in the Forty Third Year of Said State. Columbus: Samuel Medary, 1845.

  51. 51

    Agreement with Ovid Pinney and Stephen Phillips, 14 Mar. 1837; J. W. Briggs, Bond, Kirtland, OH, 8 Mar. 1837, JS Office Papers, CHL.  

  52. 52

    See Historical Introduction to Discourse, 6 Apr. 1837.  

  53. 53

    “Anniversary of the Church of Latter Day Saints,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, 3:488.  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  54. 54

    Woodruff, Journal, 9 Apr. 1837.  

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

  55. 55

    See Historical Introduction to Deed to William Marks, 10 Apr. 1837.