, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 19 May 1842; handwriting of ; one page; Helen Vilate Bourne Fleming, Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal notations, and docket.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm). The document was trifolded twice in letter style for transmission and sealed with a red adhesive wafer, a remnant of which remains on the verso of the second leaf. The document was also trifolded for filing.
, who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844, docketed the document. The letter came into the possession of , the daughter of and ; Whitney retained this letter and other papers. The letter was passed down in Whitney’s family and came into the possession of her granddaughter Helen Vilate Bourne Fleming. The letter and other papers were passed down to Fleming’s daughter Helen Marian Fleming Petersen. Shortly after Petersen’s death in February 1988, one of her children found this letter and other items in a box in her home. By December 1988, the materials had been donated to the Church Historical Department (now CHL).
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.
See the full bibliographic entry for Helen Vilate Bourne Fleming, Collection, 1836–1963, in the CHL catalog.
On 19 May 1842, wrote from , Illinois, to JS in , Illinois, regarding a recent conversation they had had about land. In their discussion, Leal, a resident of Fountain Green, was apparently acting as an for , a investor. Leal had visited Nauvoo two days earlier, on 17 May, and met with JS. The following day, JS and accompanied Leal on a trip to view a section of land southeast of Nauvoo, near Sugar Creek. Apparently satisfied with the land in question, JS agreed to pay for first right of refusal in purchasing the land from Sheldon. As an agent, Leal presumably held a power of attorney in order to facilitate transactions and grant first claim to the land. But in Leal’s 19 May letter he clarified that he lacked the authority to permit JS to make improvements on the land and stipulated that JS should not undertake any improvements until Sheldon granted permission. Although JS had arranged to purchase the land, he never did so. In 1844, Leal inquired whether JS was still interested in purchasing the land but indicated there might be problems with the land’s title.
The original sent copy of the letter, featured here, bears a docket by , indicating that it was received in .
JS’s journal identifies Sheldon as the owner of the land in question. Sheldon moved to Delhi, Delaware County, New York, in 1824 and was a prominent figure in the community, holding such positions as county clerk and village president. Clark Leal was born in Kortright, Delaware County, New York; his father, Judge Alexander Leal, helped found the town of Delhi, where Sheldon lived. The two men may have been acquainted in Leal’s youth, or Sheldon may have been acquainted with Leal’s relations. It is likely that Sheldon hired Leal as his agent after Leal moved to Illinois. (JS, Journal, 18 May 1842; History of Delaware County, N.Y., 61, 150, 152, 157, 168; McClaughry, Genealogy of the Mac Claughry Family, 267.)
History of Delaware County, NY, with Illustrations, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Some Pioneers and Prominent Residents. New York: W. W. Munsell, 1880.
McClaughry, Charles C., comp. Genealogy of the Mac Claughry Family: A Scoto-Irish Family Originally from Galloway, Scotland, Appearing in Ireland about 1600, and Emigrants to New York in 1765. Anamosa, IA: No publisher, 1913.
According to JS’s journal, he contracted to purchase the northeast quarter of section 15. The contract was “for the refusal of the Same at $3 per Acre,” meaning that JS had the right to purchase the land before any other interested party. (JS, Journal, 18 May 1842.)
I take the earliest opportunity to Inform you that on Examination of the Letter from the of the S E q[uarte]r of Sec 15— 6 North 8 west allows Me no at authority to permit any Improvement on the abovementioned Land It only allowed it on the S W of 32— 5 north 8 west which I had Mistaken for a general authority you will therefore not therefore make any improvement on the land untill I Shall Receive an an answer fron the authorizing the Same
Though this letter indicates that the land JS was considering purchasing was the southeast quarter of section 15, JS’s journal indicated that the men visited the northeast quarter. It is not clear if JS had decided to purchase a different quarter section, or if either Leal or Richards made an error when identifying the land’s location. (JS, Journal, 18 May 1842.)