Isaac W. Stathem, Letter, , Philadelphia Co., PA, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 10 May 1843; handwriting of Isaac W. Stathem; dockets in handwriting of and ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL.
On 10 May 1843, Isaac Stathem wrote a letter from to JS in , Illinois, to inquire about land arrangements Stathem had made in Nauvoo and to claim that he and his wife had been unjustly disfellowshipped by the Philadelphia of the church. Stathem purchased land in Nauvoo in 1841 and then entered an agreement with , who owned an adjoining tract, allowing Morrison to rent Stathem’s land and house for thirty-six dollars a year. Stathem also entered into an agreement with a “Mathews”—probably —for additional land. In 1842, brought a suit against Stathem in the Circuit Court for nonpayment of a forty-dollar debt. When Stathem did not show up for the trial, the court ordered that a house owned by Stathem that was “a few paces North of the Store of Arhur Morison” be sold to pay the debt. This was probably the same house Morrison was renting from Stathem. If so, Stathem seemed unaware of the court order; he had previously asked to collect the rent from Morrison and pay it to Mathews as partial payment on the land, and he stated in the 10 May 1843 letter featured here that he expected that Young had collected another year’s rent. Young may have been involved in the transaction because he had made his own arrangement to purchase some land from Mathews. Stathem may have agreed to purchase some of the land Young bought from Mathews.
Sometime before February 1842, Stathem arrived in , where he was a supporter of , the presiding of the Philadelphia . When Winchester and a group of his supporters split off from the rest of the branch and began meeting in a new building, Stathem followed them. One branch member referred to Stathem as one of Winchester’s “immediate Friends that Constantly surround him.” Stathem ran into difficulties after and set the Philadelphia branch in order under ’s leadership as presiding elder. Hess informed Hyrum Smith and JS in February 1843 that Stathem and his wife (whose name is not known) were “keeping a Kind of tave[r]n and oyster house” in Philadelphia “for prostitutes and their associates to resort.” The Stathems were also accused of prostituting Sister Miller, a young woman who had come to live with them after her parents disowned her because she converted to the church. The Stathems countered these charges by accusing Miller of immorality.
As a result of testimony regarding the Stathems’ accusations against Miller, Stathem’s wife was charged with defamation of character and using profane language. The first charge was “laid under the table” by the , a decision that believed was orchestrated by and his supporters. Stathem’s wife confessed to the second charge of using profanity and was exonerated. However, two months later, a “Select Council of ” disfellowshipped the Stathems based on Hess’s charge that they were “keeping a house of ill-fame.” Isaac Stathem composed this 10 May letter to tell JS his side of the story and to seek information about his property dealings.
The lack of postal markings on the letter suggests a courier delivered it to . The courier may have been , who was present at a 27 May 1843 meeting held to consider his standing in the church. Although three other letters written by members were read at this meeting, the minutes of the meeting do not mention Stathem’s letter. No response from JS has been located.
May 10th 1843
Dear brother in the Lord
I embrace this oppertunity to Let you [k]now that I and my wiffe has not forgot you and famaley. we are well at present and and in hopes those lines will find you all well.
I have bin striven hard this last year to get a nuff [enough] a head to come out this spring but by being Cheeted out of a good deal I am a fraid that I will not be able to come out this spring but it is my wish.
but I wish you to [k]now I left my Retens [returns?] and bisness in ’s hands and he has not bin the man to send me anney word concerning it I sent him a letter last spring and at the same time send sent out a small pa[ck]age of goods by brother Coplen & others those goods was directed to you and I stated in the letter I wished those goods sold and the proseeds paid over to Brother Mathes on that Land I bought of him like wise enformed him that when Morrissons [Arthur Morrison’s] year was up their would be from 10 to 15 dollers due me thar and for to Collect those moneys and pay them over [to] Mathews and get a settlement with Mathews and Lat me [k]now by a letter what the ballence was comeing and I would get the money a[nd] send it out the first oppertunitey but I have not never bin able to [k]now how the things stands [p. ]