A. Miles, Letter, Brunswick, Medina Co., OH, to JS, , Geauga Co., OH, 21 Mar. 1837; manuscript and printed form; handwriting probably of A. Miles; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal markings, and docket.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 8⅛ inches (25 × 21 cm) when folded. The upper left corner of the third page is embossed with an oval paper-mill insignia containing a bird with a parcel hanging from its neck. Above the bird are the words “JOHN BUTLER | HARTFORD CT”. Below the bird are two leafy branches that are crossed. The first and second pages are inscribed; the third contains a printed advertisement for the Western Bank Note Engraving Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The letter included enclosures of sample banknotes and promissory notes.
The letter was folded in two patterns. First, the document was trifolded in letter style, addressed, and sealed with two red adhesive wafers, partially extant. Second, the letter was folded in a four-panel roll fold for filing and was docketed in red ink by : “Mch 21. 1837 | A. Miles to | Joseph Smith”. The docket indicates the letter was in institutional custody no later than the mid-1850s (likely earlier). The letter first appeared in the Church Historian’s Office inventory about 1904.
“Letters to and from the Prophet,” ca. 1904, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.
The 21 March 1837 letter featured here was sent to JS by one A. Miles, a business agent for the Western Bank Note Engraving Company in , Ohio. The letter consisted of a handwritten message from Miles soliciting engraving orders, a printed business notice from the company, and sample banknotes and promissory notes. Miles likely contacted JS because of his position as an officer of the .
The Western Bank Note Engraving Company was started by two engravers, William Woodruff and Zelotus H. Mason, probably around 1836. They were working to establish a clientele for their new business by January 1837, when they printed a notice announcing their services in at least one newspaper. Their efforts to find business may have been made more difficult by the fact that the Ohio legislature granted no new bank charters in the legislative sessions from 1836 to 1838, even though many representatives petitioned for banks in these sessions.
The Kirtland Safety Society had already commissioned the firm of Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty to engrave notes for their institution. These notes bore the institution’s original name, the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. It appears that Miles or the engravers he worked for, Woodruff and Mason, learned of the society’s January 1837 restructuring and sent enclosures of examples for engravings with the company’s new name, the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, likely hoping the Safety Society would purchase new engravings from them. However, there is no record of further communication between JS and Miles.
Woodruff and Mason had created their partnership by the end of 1836. Woodruff was born in Philadelphia around 1797. He trained under the respected engraver George Murray and worked in Philadelphia from 1817 to 1824. He moved to Ohio and was working as an engraver in Cincinnati by 1825. Little is known about Mason. By 1839, Woodruff had a new partner, a Mr. Hammond. (See “Western Bank Note Co.,” Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette, 24 Jan. 1837, ; “William Woodruff,” in U.S. Customs Service, Proof of Citizenship . . . for the Port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1792–1875, Record Group 36, microfilm, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC; Stauffer, American Engravers upon Copper and Steel, 295; Hall, Cincinnati Directory for 1825, 107; and Bank Notes and Stock Certificates, Ohio Obsolete Paper Money Collection, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland.)
Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette. Columbus. 1825–1837.
U.S. Customs Service. Proof of Citizenship Used to Apply for Seamen’s Certificates for the Port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1792–1875. Record Group 36. Microfilm. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC.
Stauffer, David McNeely. American Engravers upon Copper and Steel. Part 1. New York: Grolier Club of the City of New York, 1907.
Hall, Harvey. The Cincinnati Directory, for 1825, Containing the Names of Its Citizens, Their Occupations, Places of Residence, and Places of Nativity; Alphabetically Arranged. With a Variety of Other Matter. Cincinnati: Samuel J. Browne, 1825.
Ohio Obsolete Paper Money Collection. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland.
I have been appointed by Messr [William] Woodruff & [Zelotus] Mason Agent for this section of the — should you wish any Bank note Engraving executed— you will please forward me your orders & it shall be done to your satisfaction