Perkins & Osborn on behalf of Mead & Betts, Agreement with [agent] on behalf of JS, , Geauga Co., OH, 2 Aug. 1839; handwriting of and unidentified scribe, possibly ; one page; Hiram Kimball Collection, CHL. Includes docket.
Single leaf measuring 12½ × 7½ inches (32 × 19 cm), with thirty-nine printed lines (now faded). The document was folded for carrying and filing. A docket in unidentified handwriting on the verso reads “Mead & Betts”. The agreement was retained by and later came into the possession of his daughter, , and then other members of the Kimball family. This document and other papers in the possession of the Kimball family were donated to the Church History Department in 2013.
See the full bibliographic entry for the Hiram Kimball Collection in the CHL catalog.
On 2 August 1839, of the law partnership Perkins & Osborn drafted on behalf of the mercantile firm Mead & Betts an agreement with , who was acting as an for JS and the . The purpose of the agreement was to resolve debts owed to Mead & Betts by the , Ohio, mercantile firm , which was operated by church members , , and . The debts were reflected in three promissory notes, which were signed by Cahoon, Carter, and Hyrum Smith as principals and by twenty-nine individuals, including JS, as sureties. The sureties were liable for the debts if the principals defaulted; however, instead of seeking payment from the three principals, Perkins pursued payment from all thirty-two signers. In the agreement, Granger arranged payment on behalf of JS and the other signers and not only on behalf of Cahoon, Carter, and Hyrum Smith.
The earliest documented transaction between a Latter-day Saint firm and Mead & Betts occurred in 1836, when Cahoon, Carter & Co. bought goods from the store. The debts owed to Mead & Betts and to three other firms in New York—, Holbrook & Ferme, and Halsted, Haines & Co.—were renegotiated on 1 September 1837 with the help of . Two -area firms were involved in these renegotiations: Cahoon, Carter & Co. arranged to pay its outstanding debts to Mead & Betts and Halsted, Haines & Co., while arranged repayment with Holbrook & Ferme. Unfortunately, no information is extant on the arrangements with the firm John A. Newbould, but the amounts listed on invoices from the firm suggest that the 1 September agreement combined the debts owed by Cahoon, Carter & Co. and Rigdon, Smith & Co. In the renegotiation with Mead & Betts, , , and were named the principals on the three promissory notes, each for over $1,000, and JS and twenty-eight other Latter-day Saints signed as sureties.
Presumably, Perkins & Osborn directed the 2 August 1839 agreement to because of his role as an agent for the and for the church. In this role, Granger was instrumental in addressing outstanding financial matters. By October 1838, he had successfully settled several debts that the First Presidency and other church members owed to merchants. In a May 1839 general of the church in , Illinois, Granger was directed to preside over church affairs in and continue his efforts to resolve the First Presidency’s debts. In Granger’s capacity as agent, he took responsibility for settling the outstanding debts to the four merchants specified in the 2 August agreement. His involvement suggests either that JS was willing to assume responsibility for the debts or that Perkins & Osborn was focusing primarily on JS in efforts to obtain payment.
It is not known which party initiated the 2 August agreement. may have proactively approached Perkins & Osborn or the merchants in an effort to repay the debts. Alternatively, may have presented Granger with a compromise in which Mead & Betts would settle the debts without lawsuits if the firm received partial payment in land. Whatever the case, the terms of the agreement appear to be generous, allowing Granger a year to provide Mead & Betts with land valued at half the amount owed; in return, the New York firm would forgive the other half of the debt. However, the agreement was conditional upon the same arrangement being made between Granger and the three other New York mercantile firms—John A. Newbould, Holbrook & Ferme, and Halsted, Haines & Co. One other agreement, made with , is extant. This agreement was also written by Perkins & Osborn and was apparently created around the same time as the featured agreement. In the Newbould agreement, the firm’s agent, Charles Taylor, agreed to similar terms of repayment, indicating that Granger successfully negotiated with at least one of the three mercantile firms specified in the featured agreement.
As JS’s agent in , retained the 2 August agreement with Mead & Betts, as well as other agreements to resolve JS’s debts. These agreements were apparently never filed with JS’s other papers.
A copy of one of the three notes given to Mead & Betts was recorded in probate records used in lawsuits against the estates of JS and Hyrum Smith. (Hyrum Smith et al., Promissory Note, Kirtland, OH, to Mead & Betts, 1 Sept. 1837, Mead & Betts v. Estate of JS, Illinois State Historical Society, Circuit Court Case Files, CHL.)
Illinois State Historical Society. Circuit Court Case Files, 1830–1900. Microfilm. CHL. MS 16278.
Granger died in Kirtland in 1841. At the time of his death, he was still working to resolve financial matters for JS and the church, and he likely possessed relevant financial documents, such as the Mead & Betts agreement. (Obituary for Oliver Granger, Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1841, 2:550; JS History, vol. C-1 Addenda, 11.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
As Attornies for Messrs Mead & Betts we have in our hands for collection thru several notes of hand of Messrs Joseph Smith Jr and thirty one others of the to said Mead & Betts all dated Sept 1, 1837 viz
And by authority from Messrs Mead & Betts we hereby agree with that if within one year from the first day of October next he shall pay or cause to be paid in cash or good farming land cultivated or wild, & if in lands by good warrantee deed or deeds with unencumbred title, located any where between the Atlantic Ocean and the western border of the State of , fifty pr cent of the whole amount of said notes and the interest thereon, & shall pay or secure to the staisfaction of Perkins & Osborn their fees and charges in respect of said notes, and also the demands have against said Perkins & Osborn have against the members of said church or any of them for fees and legal services, then the said Mead & Betts will deliver up to the said or his order the said notes— If paid in lands the same are to be applied appraised by good judicious freeholders being Township or county officers and not members of the Mormon Church so called at its real value in cash
It is expressly stipulated that this writing shall not be obligatory unless Messrs Halsted Haines & Co John A Newbould & Holbrook & Firm [Ferme] or those holding the notes given them come into the arrangement—
By giving the promissory notes to Granger, the firm would relinquish its claim to the debts owed. Granger, as an agent for JS and the others, could then cancel the notes, such as by removing the signatures, to ensure the notes did not reenter circulation.
An agreement with John A. Newbould written circa 2 August 1839 shows that the firm accepted the same terms as those in this agreement with Mead & Betts and suggests that the other two mercantile firms perhaps also accepted the terms, though no written agreements for these firms have been located. Perkins may have written agreements for John A. Newbould, Holbrook & Ferme, and Halsted, Haines & Co. at the time he wrote the agreement for Mead & Betts. (Charles Taylor for John A. Newbould, Agreement with Oliver Granger, ca. 2 Aug. 1839, Hiram Kimball Collection, CHL.)