JS and , Deed for property in , Geauga Co., OH, to , 10 Apr. 1837; signed by JS and ; witnessed by and ; certified by . Featured version copied in Geauga County Deed Record, vol. 23, pp. 536–537; handwriting of ; Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH. Transcription from a digital color image made of original in 2011.
Volume measuring 16½ × 11¾ × 3¼ inches (42 × 30 × 8 cm) and including 618 pages, plus 17 pages of an index of grantors and grantees. At an unknown time, the original cover and binding were replaced with a maroon leather binding, then later covered with a cream canvas cover with maroon leather corners. The volume contains 319 leaves measuring 15⅝ × 10 inches (40 × 25 cm). In the mid- to late nineteenth century, a page-for-page transcript of the volume was created; the transcript is also housed at the Geauga County Archives and Records Center.
This volume was in the possession of the Geauga County Recorder from its creation until 1996, when it was transferred to the newly organized Geauga County Archives and Records Center. Includes notations, redactions, and archival marking.
On 7 and 10 April 1837, JS and transferred a significant amount of land to in six different land transactions. The deed featured here, for land on which the in had been built, was one of these six transactions and is representative of the other deeds transferring land to Marks. Even though each of the deeds between JS and Marks listed a precise monetary amount, it is possible that money was not exchanged and that JS instead transferred the titles for the land to Marks without payment.
The land sold in the featured deed was originally purchased from on behalf of the in 1833, and a revelation on 23 April 1834 gave over a portion of the land. Excluded from Johnson’s stewardship was the land for the , which the 23 April 1834 revelation stipulated should be given to JS. As a result, Johnson deeded the land to JS on 5 May 1834. However, the 1834 deed includes a later note that a new deed was created in January 1837, again transferring the land from Johnson to JS, because the 1834 deed “was supposed to be illegal.” The new deed in 1837 was likely required because Johnson did not hold the title to the land in 1834, although he may have thought he did; he went on to acquire the title from in 1836. A new deed was also needed because the 1834 deed had not excluded a portion of the lot owned by the Methodist Episcopal Church. The 1837 deed to JS was careful to omit this portion specifically.
The reason for JS’s sale or transfer of this land to in April 1837 is not certain, but JS may have been trying to protect the from being sold to pay his debts or the debts of other church members. In June and October 1836, mercantile partnerships formed by church leaders in had purchased goods in , and promissory notes made out by the firms of Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery and Cahoon, Carter & Co. were due in April 1837. JS was liable for these debts, which the partners may have not been able to pay. According to records of later litigation, the firms defaulted on some of these notes. JS may have been concerned that as a result of litigation on these debts, important land—such as the land on which the House of the Lord was built—might be taken from him. JS faced lawsuits related to unpaid promissory notes and other debts throughout 1837, and judgments for such trials often resulted in the sheriff seizing an individual’s land or other assets and then selling them at auction. The House of the Lord was the largest asset held by the church and represented a significant investment; tens of thousands of dollars had gone into building, finishing, and furnishing the edifice. Had the land or building been seized for debts, it would have been a severe blow to the church, both financially and spiritually.
On 11 July 1837, transferred the title to the land he had received from JS to the mercantile firm of Mead, Stafford & Co. Marks deeded the land as part of an agreement in which JS, , , , , and mortgaged the to the firm.
Newel K. Whitney to John Johnson, Deed, Geauga Co., OH, 23 Sept. 1836, Geauga County Deed Record, vol. 22, pp. 497–498, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; Historical Introduction to Deed from John and Alice Jacobs Johnson, 5 May 1834; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 24, p. 100, 4 Jan. 1837, microfilm 20,240, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.
Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.
Marks was likely functioning as an agent for JS by holding this land for him. Ownership of the church’s Kirtlandprinting office and the church’s newspaper Messenger and Advocate were also transferred to Marks in April 1837. Marks was later appointed as an agent for Kirtland bishopNewel K. Whitney in September 1837, and Marks may have been acting in a similar capacity in this instance. (“Notice,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, 3:496; Minutes, 17 Sept. 1837–A.)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Transcript of Proceedings, 24 Oct. 1837, Eaton v. JS and Cowdery [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837]; Transcript of Proceedings, 24 Oct. 1837, Newbould v. Rigdon et al. [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U, pp. 277–278, 351–353, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.
Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U. Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.
“Sheriff’s Sale,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 22 Feb. 1838, ; Case Costs, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds v. JS [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837]; Case Costs, 24 Oct. 1837, Rounds v. Rigdon [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Execution Docket Book G, pp. 105–106, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; see also Madsen, “Tabulating the Impact of Litigation on the Kirtland Economy,” 232–235.
To all people to whom these p[r]esents shall come Greeting. Know Ye that we Joseph Smith Jr and wife of said Joseph Smith Jr. of the Township of County of Geauga and State of Ohio. for the consideration of Five hundred dollars received to our full satisfaction of of the Town of County of Geauga and State of Ohio do give grant bargain sell and confirm unto the said the following described Tract or Lot of land situate in No. 9 in the 9th. Range of townships in the in the State of and which is also in the County of and is known as part of Lot No. 30 and is bounded as follows to wit [p. 536]