Agreement with Jacob Stollings, 12 April 1839
- Source Note
On 12 April 1839, merchant of , Missouri, entered into an agreement with JS, stating that Stollings would forgive debts to his store if JS would recover account books stolen from the store. The books were taken in mid-October 1838, during the conflict between Latter-day Saints and anti-Mormons. Earlier in October, Latter-day Saints were expelled from in Carroll County, Missouri, making it clear that civil authorities would not protect church members from extralegal violence. Having forced the Saints from De Witt, anti-Mormon Missourians turned their attention to Latter-day Saints in and other settlements in . In response, church leaders in , Caldwell County, decided to engage in aggressive self-defense rather than rely on unpredictable militia troops for protection. In ’s words, the Saints planned “to scatter the mob” and “to destroy those places that harbored them” in Daviess County, particularly Gallatin, which was the county seat and a vigilante haven.On 18 October 1838, led about eighty Latter-day Saint men to to expel anti-Mormon vigilantes, burn buildings owned by vigilantes and their sympathizers, and confiscate essential goods as wartime appropriations. Latter-day Saint Morris Phelps, a participant in the expedition, stated that the town’s residents scattered when they recognized the Mormons. The Saints targeted ’s grocery store since it was believed to be a “place of rendezvous” for anti-Mormons. The store clerk, Patrick Lynch, later testified that he escaped the building just as the Latter-day Saints approached. From a secluded position, he watched the men secure the building and move goods into the street. The Mormons then apparently burned the store. Oliver Huntington, a Latter-day Saint living at at the time, later recalled that as he watched from a distance, he observed smoke “rising towards Heaven.” When the men returned to Adam-ondi-Ahman, Huntington saw that goods confiscated from the store were deposited in ’s home.Presumably among the goods were a ledger, three daybooks, and “one day book of Groceries.” Lynch later testified that he searched for the ledger, three day books, and promissory notes estimated to be worth $300 in but was unsuccessful, although he did find in ’s home some promissory notes from non-Mormon customers. , likely also searching for the missing items, apparently ransacked the Smith residence in following JS’s arrest.In the November 1838 preliminary hearing, no witnesses placed JS in Gallatin during the expedition on 18 October; several witnesses testified that he remained in to direct the Mormons’ several military operations in . Nevertheless, around 10 April 1839 a Daviess County grand jury indicted JS, as well as other Latter-day Saints, for burning ’s store, stealing items from Lynch, and committing other crimes in the county.On 12 April 1839, met with JS and proposed to forgive the debts that Latter-day Saints had incurred when trading in his store in 1838 if JS would assist in locating the missing account books. After the meeting, Stollings produced a formal statement of the agreement, which he noted “shall be a receipt in full to all intents and purposes,” indicating the agreement would also be considered a receipt if the books were returned within four months. By the time Stollings completed the written agreement, JS and the other prisoners had been temporarily moved to while their guards prepared to transport the men to on a change of venue. Stollings therefore sent the agreement and a cover letter to JS in Adam-ondi-Ahman. The agreement evidently remained in JS’s possession during the prisoners’ escape from Missouri a few days later and their journey to . The agreement was copied into JS Letterbook 2 by sometime between June and 30 October 1839; the original is apparently not extant.
Nauvoo, IL. Records, 1841–1845. CHL. MS 16800.
Phelps, Morris. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 271.
(aWilliam W. Phelps, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. , in State of Missouri, “Evidence.” bWilliam Morgan, Affidavit, Daviess Co., MO, 21 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; Sampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. ; Patrick Lynch, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. ; Joseph McGee, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. ; George W. Worthington, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. , in State of Missouri, “Evidence.” cPhelps, Reminiscences, 10, 11.)
Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.
Phelps, Morris. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 271.
Huntington, Oliver B. “History of Oliver Boardman Huntington,” 1845–1846. BYU.
Statements against William E. McLellin and Others, ca. 1838–1839. CHL.
Document Containing the Correspondence, Orders, &c., in Relation to the Disturbances with the Mormons; and the Evidence Given before the Hon. Austin A. King, Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri, at the Court-House in Richmond, in a Criminal Court of Inquiry, Begun November 12, 1838, on the Trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and Others, for High Treason and Other Crimes against the State. Fayette, MO: Boon’s Lick Democrat, 1841.
Historical Department. Nineteenth-Century Legal Documents Collection, ca. 1825–1890. CHL. CR 100 339.
Smith, Hyrum. Diary, Mar.–Apr. 1839, Oct. 1840. CHL. MS 2945.