JS, , and , Bond for property in , Hancock Co., IL, to JS as trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4 Jan. 1842; signed by JS, , and ; acknowledged by . Featured version copied 18 Apr. 1842 in Hancock County Bonds and Mortgages, vol. 1, pp. 221–223; unidentified handwriting; Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL. At some point, these pages were torn from the volume, resulting in some loss of text. For more complete source information, see the source note for Appointment as Trustee, 2 Feb. 1841
On 4 January 1842 members JS, , and signed a bond transferring land in , Illinois, to JS as trustee-in-trust for the . The bond identified ninety-one lots and a couple of incidental smaller properties in Nauvoo being sold to JS for $1. Despite this purchase price, the members of the First Presidency bound themselves as liable for $27,300, an amount equaling $300 per lot for ninety-one lots, likely reflecting the perceived value of the land.
The apparent intention of this transfer was to legally place the land in the church’s possession via its trustee-in-trust, the legal for the church; however, the amount of land being sold vastly exceeded the amount that a religious organization could own under law. According to the Act concerning Religious Societies, passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 1835, religious organizations could “purchase a quantity of land not exceeding five acres.” The majority of lots in this bond were an acre each.
It is unclear why the First Presidency transferred only the selected land and not other land on the peninsula. It may be noteworthy that all the lots listed in this bond were in the northern half of the , on land purchased from the partnership of , , and on 12 August 1839. No property from the church’s other early land purchases on the peninsula—those from Hotchkiss and , from , and from —was included in this transfer from the First Presidency to JS as trustee.
The bond was recorded in the county clerk’s office in , Illinois, on 18 April 1842. ’s assistant, , inscribed the original signed copy of this bond, which includes signatures not only of JS, , , and Richards but also of county clerk .
On 21 October 1839 the Nauvoohigh council recommended that Nauvoo lots be sold for $500 each, with no lots sold for less than $200 or more than $800. Not all of the lots listed in the 4 January 1842 bond were full lots; many—particularly those abutting the Mississippi River—were fractional lots with a lower value than full lots. (Nauvoo Stake High Council Minutes, fair copy, 21 Oct. 1839, 26.)
Nauvoo Stake High Council Minutes, ca. 1839–ca. 1843. Fair copy. In Oliver Cowdery, Diary, Jan.–Mar. 1836. CHL.
See Bond from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–B; and Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 12-G, p. 274, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195; Hancock Co., IL, Bonds and Mortgages, 1840–1904, vol. 1, pp. 31–32, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,776, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.
Know all men By These presents that we Joseph Smith & of the County of and State of are held and firmly bound unto Joseph Smith as Sole Trustee in trust for the of the County of and state of his successors in office and assigns in the Sum of twen[ty] seven thousand three hundred Dollars for the payment of which well and truly to be made we bind ourselves our heirs executors and administrators firmly by these presen[ts]
Now the condition of the above obligation is s[uc]h that [p. 221]
Illinois law stipulated that a religious organization could be incorporated in the state with a default set of powers and responsibilities if the organization submitted to the county recorder the name of the organization and the names and election dates of those elected or appointed to serve as trustees legally responsible for the organization. An organization could appoint one to ten trustees. In compliance with this law, JS was elected the sole trustee-in-trust for the church on 30 January 1841, and notice of his election was filed with the Hancock County recorder three days later. (An Act concerning Religious Societies [6 Feb. 1835], Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1835], pp. 147–149; Appointment as Trustee, 2 Feb. 1841.)
Incorporation Laws of the State of Illinois; Passed at a Session of the General Assembly, Begun and Held at Vandalia the 6th Day of December, 1836. Vandalia, IL; William Walters, 1837.