JS, Agreement, with , , Hancock Co., IL, 21 Oct. 1839; handwriting of ; signatures of JS and ; witnessed by ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket.
Bifolium measuring 11⅝ × 7½ inches (30 × 19 cm) when folded. The document was trifolded in letter style and then folded again. The text block appears on the first three pages; the final half of the third page is blank, and inscribed a docket on the fourth page. The agreement was likely retained by JS. It was included in the JS Collection (Supplement) between 1974 and 1984.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection (Supplement), 1833–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 21 October 1839, JS entered into an agreement with pertaining to the operation of a ferry between , Illinois, and , Iowa Territory. In April 1839, the had obtained rights to operate a ferry in connection with the purchase of land from . In this case, a “ferry” did not refer to one watercraft but to “the right of transporting passengers over a lake or stream.” Therefore, the church’s ferry would operate with multiple boats, though this agreement suggests that Davis would use a specific horse ferry—a boat “propelled by two horses, one on each side, working a treadmill.” On behalf of the church, helped and Davis purchase the horse boat, which had likely been used in a previous ferry operation in the area. On 19 September 1839, Abraham O. Smoot reported that “the fery at Commerce is now in the hands of the bishops.”
With the groundwork already in place, the met on 20 and 21 October 1839 to consider officially establishing the ferry. This agreement with carried out the council’s decisions. On 20 October, the high council first determined to restrict independent ferry services and “disfellowship any person of said Church that shall ferry or carry over the people or freight— to injury of the ferry.” This decision conformed to state law, which protected those licensed to operate ferries—and who were therefore responsible for paying annual taxes—by assigning them “exclusive privilege” of ferrying services in the area. The council then allowed for the previously purchased “horse boat [to] be repaired out of the sale of Church land.” Finally, the council selected Davis to serve as captain of the ferry for the following year. On 21 October, after the high council met again to finalize the terms of Davis’s employment, the arrangement was drawn up as an agreement between JS and Davis. Davis was to turn over the profits to JS every week and report to the high council every month. He would be paid thirty dollars a month for managing the ferry animals, apparatus, staff, and business.
This agreement was prepared by , who was appointed JS’s clerk by the high council at its 21 October 1839 meeting. The copy featured here was retained by JS.
Isaac Galland to George W. Robinson, Bond, 30 Apr. 1839, Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 12-G, p. 247, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Agreement with George W. Robinson, 30 Apr. 1839. Galland had previously received these rights from the Illinois legislature. (An Act to Incorporate the Commerce Hotel Company [28 Feb. 1839], Incorporation Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 154, sec. 11.)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Illinois Office of Secretary of State. Enrolled Acts of the General Assembly, 1818–1993. Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
“Ferry,” in American Dictionary . In defining this term, Noah Webster noted his belief that using the term to refer to “a boat or small vessel” had become “entirely obsolete, at least in America” (italics in original).
An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.
An Act to Provide for the Establishment of Ferries, Toll Bridges and Turnpike Roads [12 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 307, sec. 9.
The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.
Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. Draft. CHL.
This article of agreement had, made and agreed upon, by and between Joseph Smith Jr (Treasurer of the ) of The Town of — Hancock County State of Illinois— of the first part— And of the Town of — Iowa Territory of the second part—
Witnesseth— That the party of the second part— for and in Consideration of the sum of Thirty dollars to him to be paid per month— doth hereby bind himself to take charge of— and attend to in all particulars— The Ferry owned by said Church— And Situated betwixt the said abovementioned Towns— Viz: To hire and keep up a sufficient set of hands for all necessary boats which may be required on said ferry— hire horses if necessary— provide the Ferry horses with proper and sufficient supplies of provender— and see that all the boats belonging to said ferry as well as all horses and apparatus belonging thereto be carefully and properly seen to and used by the hands under his directions. That the Boats be kept in proper repair and always in readiness to accommodate the public without any unnecessary delay on the part of those to whom the respective craft used on said ferry may be intrusted. And in fine see to and keep in good and proper regulation, (as far as in his power) all the apparatus as well as the business of said ferry— And all this on account of and at the expence of the said party of the first part— And subject always to his control and directions— or to the Control and directions of his deputy or deputies which may at any time be appointed by the said party of the first part to act in his absence— touching said ferry and the superintendence thereof.— Also— To make returns of— and account for weekly [p. ]