Agreement with Isaac Hale, 6 April 1829
JS and , Agreement, , Susquehanna Co., PA, 6 Apr. 1829; handwriting of ; signatures of JS and , witnessed by and ; notations of payment added in handwriting of and , with signatures of ; two pages; JS Collection, CHL.One leaf measuring 12¾ × 8¼ inches (32 × 21 cm). Two dockets are inscribed on the verso: “Old article” in unidentified nineteenth-century handwriting; and “Bond for deed | from Isaac Hale | to | Joseph Smith Jr” in a twentieth-century hand. Payments made on the agreement are recorded on the top of the verso, each notation written at a different time. ’s handwriting style in this document matches his handwriting style of Revelation, March 1829 [D&C 5].Wilford C. Wood purchased several documents on 10 July 1937 from Charles Bidamon, Emma Smith’s stepson. Among the documents was an item Bidamon described as “Bond for deed and Deed to property from Isaac Hale to Joseph Smith Jr.” This designation closely matches the docket note on the original manuscript. The LDS church purchased the document from Wood several days later.
In November or December 1827, JS and moved from , New York, to , Pennsylvania, where Emma’s parents, and , lived. JS and Emma soon moved onto a thirteen-and-a-half-acre lot adjoining the Hales’ residential property, a lot with a small house recently vacated by Emma’s brother David Hale. The terms JS agreed to when he moved into the house are unknown, but he recalled that by 1829, “we had become reduced in property and my wives father was about to turn me out of doores & I had not where to go.” Fortunately for JS, arrived in Harmony on 5 April 1829, after the “Lord appeared unto [him]” and he became “desiorous to come and write” as JS dictated the of the . Cowdery later wrote, “On Monday the 6th, I assisted him in arranging some business of a temporal nature, and on Tuesday the 7th, commenced to write the book of Mormon.” The “temporal business” included writing this agreement for JS to purchase the property and home from Isaac Hale and serving as witness to it. Cowdery likely also contributed some or all of the $64 handed to Hale that day as the initial payment toward the purchase price of $200. Cowdery had recently collected a teacher’s salary of $65.50 but did not necessarily have that entire amount with him when he arrived in Harmony; he may have made a $13 payment to a grocer in Lyons, New York, and may have used some of the total for travel expenses. JS and Emma were financially strapped—whether they or any other friends or relatives were able to contribute is unknown.The agreement and the down payment gave JS more autonomy from his in-laws and enabled him and to focus almost exclusively on the translation for the next two months. was apparently flexible about the terms, requiring only the payment of interest when JS failed to meet the 1 May 1830 deadline for the second and final payment. As noted on the back of the agreement, he accepted JS’s 21 June 1830 payment of interest owed on the unpaid installment and waited until 26 August 1830 to receive payment in full. Though JS and moved to within days of making the final payment, and to in early 1831, they did not sell the property until long after their departure from . In June 1833 they sold it to , who owned land that bounded the eastern side of the property.
Knight, Joseph, Sr. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 3470.
“Mormonism,” Tiffany’s Monthly 5 (May 1859): 46–51; (July 1859): 119–121; (Aug. 1859): 163–170. Tiffany's Monthly. New York City. 1856–1859.
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Manchester Commissioners of Common Schools, report “To the Superintendent of Common Schools of the State of New York,” 1 July 1829, microfilm, Manchester Town Office, Clifton Springs, NY, Public School Records, 1828–1915, BYU.
Jameson, Hugh. Docket Book, 1828–1829. Typescript excerpt in editors’ possession.
Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.