, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 Nov. 1841; handwriting of ; one page; Helen Vilate Bourne Fleming, Collection, CHL. Includes docket and endorsement.
Single leaf, measuring 12¼ × 7⅞ inches (31 × 20 cm). The letter was written on the recto only and trifolded twice in letter style. The document was folded again for filing. The verso bears an endorsement in the handwriting of : “Answered”. The leaf has been torn from a bifolium.
A docket by , who served in a clerical capacity for JS from 1841 to 1842, indicates the document was retained by the office of JS in 1841. It is unclear when the letter left JS’s possession. The letter was in a collection of papers held by Helen Vilate Bourne Fleming, a descendant of and . The collection was 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 Petersen’s home. By December 1988 the materials had been donated to the Church Historical Department (now CHL).
See the full bibliographic entry for Helen Vilate Bourne Fleming, Collection, 1836–1963, in the CHL catalog.
On 1 November 1841 member wrote a letter to JS in , Illinois, to follow up on a previous communication regarding a proposed land transaction. In a nonextant letter written in summer 1841, Vance had asked JS to exchange Vance’s farm in nearby , Illinois, for land in so Vance could move there. Vance was informed, likely by , that JS thought it best for Vance to remain where he was. Although Vance wanted to act in accordance with the counsel he had received from church leadership, he stated his case once more in this letter and expressed hope that JS would help him “appropriate” his property toward church projects.
’s original request was likely in response to January 1841 counsel from the of the church urging the Saints to to and . In October, the church’s newspaper Times and Seasons printed additional “valuable instructions” concerning the gathering in Nauvoo and the donation of goods and labor toward the construction of the . Those living “for many miles distant around” Nauvoo were invited to appropriate some of their abundance and “enlist in the glorious enterprize.” As a resident of , living just four miles east of , Vance would have been among those asked to donate goods to the cause, and he offered to appropriate some of the value of his property toward the construction of the and the temple and the printing of the scriptures. He also proposed retaining $200 from the property for himself but left the final decision to JS.
had sent his previous letter to JS by courier, likely , and because the letter featured here lacks postage, it is likely that Vance also sent it to JS by courier. Although no response has been located, a notation on the letter from JS’s clerk indicates that it was received and answered.
“To set apart for, or assign to a particular use.” (“Appropriate,” in American Dictionary.)
An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.
Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.
Walker, Kyle R. “‘As Fire Shut Up in My Bones’: Ebenezer Robinson, Don Carlos Smith, and the 1840 Edition of the Book of Mormon.” Journal of Mormon History 36, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 1–40.
Ill. Nov 1st 1841
Brother Smith you will recollect I addressed you a line last Summer by Wm in relation to the propriety of exchanging my farm for one in , as an opportunity then offered, informed me, you thought it most expedient for me to stay where I was, now you could not infer from that letter that I solicited permition to stay, neither do I wish to be understood so at presant, for I do Know that I <feel> perfectly resigned & subject to the council & instruction of the , but thinking it highly probable that my case might be an execption to a general rule, or to the instructions previously published in the times & Seasons, I therefore laid my case before you requesting the mind & will of the Lord concerning me, determined at the same time to make any sacrafise that he might require so I feel yet, and as informed me you was some what thronged at that time, and might not have duely considered or reflected on the subject I again lay it before you
Now in regard to the Subject presented this morning it is this, I have 280 Acres of land 9 Miles West of 10 Miles East of in in 4 miles of the County line of , which I consider worth 7$ per acre but owing to the presure of time I cant sell it, which I wish to appropriate (with the execption of, say 200$,) in that way which will be most expedient for the promotion of the work of the Lord I have proposed in my own mind a part to the a part to the & the balance to the printing of the Scriptures If otherwise however would be more advisable I am subject to council. Now you will please devise a plan ways & means by which this property can be brought to bear on the subject & oblige one who esteems you as a friend & brother in the new & everlasting Covenant
Along with the First Presidency’s instruction to gather to Hancock County, which was shared early in 1841, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had recently published counsel concerning land and construction in Nauvoo. In order to help the church pay the debt on and obtain titles to Illinois land purchased from Horace Hotchkiss, members residing in the eastern United States were asked to trade their land for Illinois property. Titles to those eastern lands would then be used as payment toward the debt to Hotchkiss. Church members already in the Illinois area were invited to contribute goods and labor toward the temple construction in Nauvoo. Vance presumably meant to obey this counsel by offering a portion of the proceeds from his farm’s sale to the temple construction and printing of the scriptures. It is unclear how Vance’s proposal might have been an “exception to a general rule.” Vance may have deviated from normal procedure by asking JS to help him sell land that was so close to Hancock County and by wishing to retain some of the money for himself. (“An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:568.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.