, Letter, , New Haven Co., CT, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 19 Dec. 1842; handwriting of ; one page; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal notation, postal stamps, docket, redactions, and notation.
Bifolium measuring 10 × 7⅞ inches (25 × 20 cm) when folded. The upper left corner of the recto of the first leaf contains a circular embossment, now illegible. The first page is inscribed, whereas the second and third pages are blank. The letter was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer.
, who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854, made a graphite notation regarding the reception of the letter on the first page. Richards also inscribed a docket in black ink: “ | Jany 19— 1842”. At some later point, possibly in 1845 while reviewing the letter for inclusion in JS’s history, Richards canceled “Jany” and replaced it with “Decr” using graphite. Richards’s docket and redactions suggest that the letter was retained with JS’s personal correspondence. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office (later Church Historical Department) circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The letter’s early docket, redactions, and its inclusion in the circa 1904 inventory and in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 19 December 1842, wrote a letter from , Connecticut, to JS in , Illinois, stating his intention to visit the following spring to renegotiate the terms of their financial agreement and asking JS to send more frequent reports on affairs at Nauvoo. As one of JS’s major creditors, Hotchkiss was alarmed in spring 1842 when JS announced that he had filed for bankruptcy, and Hotchkiss’s concern had since increased because he believed that JS was ignoring his letters. On 26 November 1842, JS wrote to Hotchkiss explaining that he had not received his letters for a few months, claiming that they may have been stolen by the Nauvoo . JS also discussed his latest understanding of how his bankruptcy petition would affect his debt with Hotchkiss, though he emphasized his intentions to pay for the purchased land. In a postscript, JS suggested they renew their agreement, presumably with an altered schedule of payments. Hotchkiss responded to JS on 19 December with this brief letter stating his intentions to visit Nauvoo in the spring to meet JS and “make some arrangement relative to the property.” Hotchkiss also acknowledged the difficult circumstances JS was in but nevertheless admonished him to keep him more frequently informed of conditions in Nauvoo. Hotchkiss mailed his letter to JS on 20 December 1842, and it likely arrived in Nauvoo on 25 January 1843. JS apparently did not respond to this letter.
Beneath the date of the letter Willard Richards noted, “recd. 25th. Decr 1842.” Because it would have been impossible for a letter to travel from Connecticut to Illinois in just five days, he presumably wrote the wrong month and year in this notation. Richards’s docket for this letter evidences similar confusion, as it states the letter was written “Jany 19— 1842.”
19th Decr. 1842
Rev. Jos. Smith
D. Sir— Yours of 26th. ultimo is just at hand and in reply to it I shall merely say that it is probable you will see me out at next spring when it will afford me much happiness to meet you and make some arrangement relative to the property at that place— It has been apparently impossible to obtain any very correct information respecting the state of affairs at your untill my friend visited when from him I received an account in considerable detail— I am aware that your time is necessarily much occupied and also that persicutions have recently driven you often from but still I have thought that you could write me more frequently and now beg you to do so as I am greatly interested in all that transpires in the City of
Make my respects to all my friends and accept for yourself my sincere well wishes.
Gillet, one of Hotchkiss’s business partners, traveled to Nauvoo in summer 1842. Little is known about his visit, and he returned home to Lake Fork, Illinois, by 23 July 1842. Sometime after his return, Gillet presumably informed Hotchkiss about conditions in Nauvoo via letter. (Bond from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A; John Gillet to Smith Tuttle, 18 Sept. 1842, Gillett Family Papers, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.)
Gillett Family Papers, 1736–1904. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.
In a 30 June 1842 letter he wrote to Hotchkiss on behalf of JS, William Clayton stated that “a great pressure of buisness” prevented JS from writing a longer letter. While JS had not mentioned his time spent in hiding in fall 1842 in his November letter to Hotchkiss, news of the ongoing attempt to extradite JS to Missouri was circulating in newspapers throughout the country, including several in and around New Haven, Connecticut. (Letter to Horace Hotchkiss, 30 June 1842; see also, for example, “Gov Carlin and Joe Smith,” and “The Mormons,” Connecticut Courant [Hartford], 27 Aug. 1842, ; News Item, Connecticut Courant, 15 Oct. 1842, ; and “Two Hundred Dollars for Joe Smith,” and “Joseph Smith,” Columbian Register [New Haven, CT], 15 Oct. 1842, .)