, Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to JS, 25 Apr. 1837. Featured version copied [between ca. 29 May and ca. 27 June 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, p. 35; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
wrote the letter featured here in reply to a letter she had received from JS, which is no longer extant. JS and left , Ohio, earlier that month and remained absent from Kirtland for much of April and May because of threats made against JS’s life. JS’s location during his time away is unknown, but on 25 April—the same day Emma wrote this letter—he was arrested and released by sheriff in relation to a lawsuit for unpaid business debt.
In the letter, informed JS of the family’s welfare, noting her and their children’s unease at his absence. She also referred to tensions in and a lack of faith among some members, writing, “If I had no more confidence than some I could name, I should be a sad case indeed.” This is one of the earliest indications of unrest among the Kirtland Saints in the spring of 1837; the turmoil would develop over the next few months into direct opposition against JS.
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. 351–353, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; see also Historical Introduction to Letter from Newel K. Whitney, 20 Apr. 1837.
Geauga Co., OH, Court of Common Pleas, Record Book U. Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH.
Your letter was welcomed both by friends and foes, we were glad enough to hear that you was well, and our enemies think they have almost found you, by seeing where the letters were mailed. We are all well as usual except is not quite as well as common. Our family is small and yet I have a great deal of business to see to, Brother Tenny has not moved yet, and he does not know when he will, we have taken possession of all the room we could get.
I have got all the money that I have had any chance to, and as many goods as I could well, I have not got much at , no money at all, there is so many a watching that place that there is no prospect of my getting any thing of consequence there.
Brother Knights will tell you better about the business than I can write, as there is but a moment for me to improve. I cannot tell you my feelings when I found I could not see you before you left, yet I expect you can realize them, the children feel very anxious about you because they dont know where you have gone; I verily feel that if I had no more confidence in God than some I could name, I should be in a sad case indeed but I still believe that if we humble ourselves, and are <as> faithful as we can be we shall be delivered from every snare that may be laid for our feet, and our lives and property will be saved and we redeemed from all unreasonable encumbrances.
My time is out, I pray that God will keep you in purity and safety till we all meet again.
“Brother Tenny” might be William Tenney Jr. or his father, William Tenney Sr., both of whom were living in Kirtland in 1836. According to biographies of William Tenney Jr. and Eliza Webb Tenney compiled by one of their descendants, the couple purchased a house and lot from Jared Carter in late 1835 that was near JS’s home. Emma’s reference to more space may refer to trying to acquire land from the Tenneys. It is also possible that one of the Tenneys was boarding in JS and Emma’s home north of the House of the Lord and that they were trying to reclaim the space. (Kirtland Elders Quorum, “Record,” 30 Jan. and 29 Apr. 1836; The Twelve Apostles [Kirtland, OH: ca. Apr. 1836], copy at CHL; Morris, “William Tenney and Eliza L. Webb.”)
Kirtland Elders Quorum. “A Record of the First Quorurum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841. CCLA.
The Twelve Apostles. [Kirtland, OH: ca. Apr. 1836]. Copy at CHL.
Morris, Rod. “William Tenney and Eliza L. Webb.” The Morris Clan. Accessed 9 June 2016. http://www.themorrisclan.com.
Vinson Knight may have been the courier who delivered Emma Smith’s letter to JS and apprised him of business matters in Kirtland and Chester. Knight served as a clerk for the store run by the firm H. Smith & Co. in Kirtland, and he may have worked in the Chester store as well. He was also a counselor to BishopNewel K. Whitney. (H. Smith & Co., Store Daybook, July–Nov. 1836, in Belnap, Account Book, CHL; Minutes, 13 Jan. 1836.)
H. Smith & Co. Daybook, July–Nov. 1836. In Gilbert Belnap, Account Book, 1836–1874. CHL.