Following a December 1830 revelation instructing to gather to , church members began migrating there from . A month later, JS relocated his family to , Ohio. Then in December 1832, another revelation commanded the Saints to build a in Kirtland. Church members dedicated themselves to building the temple, which was finally dedicated in March 1836. Additionally, JS and other church leaders became involved in several different business ventures, which included purchasing large parcels of land, operating mercantile stores, and establishing a bank. These ventures helped provide land, material goods, and financial assistance to the increasing number of church members migrating to northern Ohio during the mid-1830s.
Besides documents related to specific businesses such as the mercantile stores and bank, JS’s financial records comprise forty extant documents created between August 1834 and December 1837. The vast majority of these transactions took place between July 1836 and September 1837. Records detail various financial transactions related to the settlement of debts (sometimes using land), the construction and eventual mortgage of the , the purchase of mercantile goods, and everyday exchanges of goods, services, or money. Several of the documents in the collection are promissory notes that demonstrate church leaders making purchases or borrowing and loaning money on behalf of the church. Receipts, pay orders, and invoices—related to the purchase of sundry material goods, temple construction costs, or legal fees—are among the more routine financial documents included here.
The amount of money exchanged in these financial transactions varied widely, from nearly $7,000 JS and others agreed to pay Claudius Stannard for close to two hundred acres of land to eighty-four cents Joseph Wright borrowed from JS. Other transactions have a less specific monetary amount. For example, in November 1836 JS signed a five-year indenture to fund the education of ’s fifteen-year-old son, , likely in exchange for his labor and assistance. In December 1835 and January 1837, JS published notices in the church newspaper Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate asking readers to pay the postage on letters mailed to him and refusing letters with unpaid postage.
In perhaps the most significant transaction during this period, JS, , , , , and signed an agreement in July 1837 mortgaging the to the firm Mead, Stafford & Co. Church leaders did this in an effort to repay debts and avoid further litigation against the Kirtland mercantile firms, some of which had incurred large debts assisting in the completion and furnishing of the temple.