Letter from John Vance, 1 November 1841
John Vance, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 Nov. 1841; handwriting of John Vance; 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).
On 1 November 1841 member John Vance 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.Vance’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.Vance 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.
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.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
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.