Deed from Daniel H. and Eliza Robison Wells, 4 February 1843
and , Deed for property in , Hancock Co., IL, to JS as trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4 Feb. 1843; handwriting of ; signatures of and ; witnessed by ; certified by , 8 Feb. 1843, on behalf of JS, 8 Feb. 1843, and , 8 July 1844; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes dockets.
Single leaf, measuring 13⅜ × 16⅜ inches (34 × 42 cm). The recto is ruled with thirty-four horizontal lines (now faded) with header space. On or after 8 February 1843, the verso was ruled with six vertical lines and certified in ink (now faded). A recorder’s certification on a slip of paper measuring 2¼ × 7⅝ inches (6 × 19 cm) is affixed to the front page of the deed with a red adhesive wafer. The certification is a printed form with additions made by in July 1844. Marked water damage has resulted in segments of faded text on both the deed and the certificate.
On 8 February 1843, , acting as JS’s clerk, certified the deed. On or after 8 July 1844, the deed was docketed by Clayton, who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844 and as temple recorder from 1842 to 1846. The document was also docketed by , who served as JS’s scribe from 1843 to 1844 and as clerk to the church historian and recorder from 1845 to 1865. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets and its inclusion in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
JS, Journal, 29 June 1842; “Clayton, William,” in Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:718; Clayton, History of the Nauvoo Temple, 18, 30–31.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
Clayton, William. History of the Nauvoo Temple, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 3365.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 4 February 1843, and issued a deed in , Illinois, to JS as trustee-in-trust for the for the property upon which the Nauvoo was already being constructed. JS purchased the land for $1,100.
At the October 1840 , church members resolved to “build a house for the worship of God,” and , , and received appointments as the . The following January, a revelation instructed the Latter-day Saints to “build a house unto my name, for the Most High to dwell therein.” The revelation further stated that the was to be built “on the place” where JS and the Saints had “contemplated building it,” as God had chosen that spot for the building. During the next month, Cutler and Cahoon “laid out the foundation of the building” and others “commenced to dig the cellar.” The cornerstones of the temple were officially laid in April 1841, and construction continued throughout 1841 and 1842. By January 1843, the Saints began holding meetings on the temporary floor of the temple.
Although the Saints had been constructing the since early 1841, the church did not actually own the land on which the temple was being built. It is not clear what prompted the push to buy the land for the temple block in February 1843, but this purchase occurred amid a flurry of real estate transactions that JS considered or executed in January and February 1843. During this time, sold the church all four lots of block 20 in the Wells’s Addition to . This block—bound by Knight and Mulholland streets on the north and south and by Woodruff and Wells streets on the east and west—was on the central promontory of the Nauvoo bluffs above the peninsula flats and the . This land purchase transferred into the custody of the church a key property it had been using since at least February 1841, facilitating continued construction work on the temple.
On 4 February 1843, , Illinois, surveyor inscribed this copy of the deed, which was then retained among JS’s papers. Records indicate that forgave $600 toward the price of the property on 8 February 1843 and was then credited with a donation of that amount in the temple committee’s records. It is unclear whether Wells ever received payment for the additional $500.
The certification on the reverse side of the deed explains that recorded a copy of it in the Registry of Deeds Book A on or shortly after 8 February 1843. On 8 July 1844, recorder certified the original copy of the deed and then copied it into Hancock County Deed Book M that same day. The original copy of the deed from which the other two copies were made is featured here.
Although Daniel H. Wells later joined the church and became a prominent leader in the faith, at this time he was not a Latter-day Saint. Unlike her husband, Eliza Robison Wells never became a member of the church. (Junius F. Wells, “Wells Family Genealogy,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Jan. 1915, 5; Wells, Defender, 84–85, 100.)
Wells, Junius F. “The Wells Family Genealogy.” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 6 (Jan. 1915): 1–16.
Wells, Quentin Thomas. Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2016.
The temple was located at the top of the bluffs above the peninsula, between Knight and Mulholland streets and on the east side of Wells Street. (Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:27, 43]; Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, p. 43, Wells’s Addition to Nauvoo, 4 Apr. 1840, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
This Indenture, made this fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Three, between , of the County of and State of , of the first part, and Joseph Smith, Sole Trustee in trust for the , of the said County of and State of , Witnesseth; that the said , for and in consideration of the sum of Eleven Hundred Dollars, lawful money of the , to him in hand, well and truly paid by the said Joseph Smith, Sole Trustee in trust for the Church aforesaid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, has granted, bargained, sold, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, release, convey and confirm unto the said Joseph Smith, Sole Trustee in trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, his successors in Office and Assigns forever, all that tract or parcel of land lying and being in the and aforesaid, known and designated as Lots numbered (1) one (2) two (3) three and (4) four, in Block No. (20) twenty, in Wells’ Addition to ; Together with all and singular, the privileges and appurtenances, to the same belonging or in any wise appurtaining, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof. To have and to hold, the said premises hereby bargained and sold, or meant, or intended so to be, with the appurtenances, to the only proper use and behalf of the said Joseph Smith, Trustee in trust for the Church aforesaid, and his successors in Office and Assigns forever. And the said , for himself and for his executors, administrators and assigns does promise, covenant and agree to and with the said Joseph Smith, Sole Trustee in trust for the Church aforesaid, his Successors in Office and Assigns, that before the ensealing and delivery hereof, he was the true and lawful owner of the premises hereby granted, and has good right, full power, and lawful authority to sell and convey the same in manner and form aforesaid: And further, that he the said and his heirs; executors and administrators will Warrant and forever Defend the aforesaid premises, with their appurtenances; and every part and parcel thereof, unto the Sd. Joseph Smith, Trustee in trust for the aforesaid Church, his Successors in office, and Assigns forever, against all persons claiming or to claim, by, from or under him, them, or any of them, or by, from or under any other person or persons whomsoever.
In witness whereof, the said together with , wife of the said , who hereby relinquishes all right of dower in the said premises, have hereunto set their hands and seals on the day and year above written
Signed and sealed in presence of .
State of Illinois, ss.
Before me , an acting Justice of the Peace within and for said , personally came , the above named grantor and acknowledged the signing and sealing of the above Deed to be his voluntary act for the use and purposes therein expressed and the said being examined by me separate and apart from her said , and the contents of the said Deed being fully made known to her upon such seperate examination, declared that she did voluntarily sign, seal and acknowledge the same, and that she was still satisfied therewith.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and Seal, this Eighth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred forty three
The Wells’s Addition to Nauvoo was made on 4 April 1840. It consisted of approximately three blocks, running north to south from Macomb Street to Commerce Street, by six blocks, running west to east from Wells Street past Wilcox Street. (Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, p. 43, Wells’s Addition to Nauvoo, 4 Apr. 1840, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)