Letter from Lester Brooks and Others, 16 November 1841
, , , and , Letter, , Lake Co., OH, to JS, the , , , and the , , Hancock Co., IL, 16 Nov. 1841; handwriting of ; signatures of , , , and ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal notations, docket, and notation.
Bifolium measuring 12 × 7⅝ inches (30 × 19 cm), with thirty-seven faint gray lines printed on each page. The letter is written on the first three pages in blue ink, with signatures in black ink. The document was trifolded twice in letter style and then sealed with a red adhesive wafer, addressed, and inscribed with postage and postal markings. The second leaf was torn, likely when the letter was opened, and wafer residue remains on the second leaf. There is also separation along the folds of the second leaf. The verso of the second leaf contains a docket and a notation.
A docket by was presumably made on or shortly after 13 December 1841, when Richards was appointed as JS’s scribe. A notation was later added, apparently by a clerk or secretary for Andrew Jenson, who served as assistant church historian from 1897 to 1941. The letter was listed in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from circa 1904. By 1973 this document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The early docket, notation, inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection indicate this letter has remained in continuous institutional custody since its receipt.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 16 November 1841, , , , and — leaders in , Ohio—wrote to JS and other church authorities in , Illinois, seeking clarification on ’s standing in the church and on efforts to expand the church in Kirtland. Despite the ’s published directive to the Saints to to Nauvoo and locations in , Babbitt, who had served as Kirtland’s presiding church authority since October 1840, openly encouraged church members to settle in Kirtland instead. By so doing, he created confusion among some church members who were deciding whether they should move to Nauvoo or continue to build the church in Kirtland. At the church’s October 1841 general in Nauvoo, spoke disapprovingly of Babbitt’s actions, and the conference voted to disfellowship Babbitt until he could “make satisfaction.”
Meanwhile, members and leaders of the church in moved forward with plans to establish a printing office there and to continue operating Kirtland as a “ of the church,” apparently believing they were acting in accordance with the desires of JS and other church leaders in . Kirtland leaders, for example, maintained that establishing a press would more effectually “promulgate the gospel; as it is already well known that the press can spread the principles of religion farther and faster, through the medium of mail, than the orator in the pulpit.” The press, they believed, would aid “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the great gathering of these last days; and the better to overcome error with truth, and evil with good, and to assist the saints to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.”
responded to news of the church’s efforts to build up the city in a letter that was excerpted in the 1 November 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons. His letter reminded all church members that they were commanded to gather to . Referring to Kirtland’s church leadership, he declared that their actions were “not according to the spirit and will of God,” and he further discouraged establishing a printing press in Kirtland. In sum, Hyrum Smith contended that the continued building up of Kirtland contradicted the church’s efforts to gather the Saints to Nauvoo and to build the and its baptismal font there. He declared that any “proceedings otherwise than to put forth their hands with their might to do this work, is not according to the will of God.” On 2 November, JS revoked ’s legal authority to act as JS’s in Kirtland and replaced him with . With Babbitt’s standing in question, and , counselors in the Kirtland stake , took on the role of acting presidents of the stake.
and the other leaders mailed the 16 November 1841 letter featured here from the post office the same day they wrote it. The letter arrived in by at least 15 December 1841, when the First Presidency wrote a reply. In that response, the First Presidency encouraged leaders in Kirtland to “do what you can in Righteousness to build up Kirtland but do not suffer yourselves to harbor the Idea that Kirtland will rise on the ruins of Nauvoo.” The First Presidency reminded the Kirtland leaders that Nauvoo was the central gathering place and that it was “not right to attempt to persuade those who desire it, to stop short” of coming to Nauvoo.
We address you in the name of <the> Lord and in humility, for we truly feel humble in our present condition, and think it necessary to inform you how we are situated, and as brethren of the same chosen family, ask what we shall do in future, so that a more perfect understanding may exist between this and . We hold this truth the dearest of all, that if wearenotone we are not the Lord’s, and if we do not uphold each other’s hands the Lord will not uphold ours.
Our , , as appears by the minutes of your October , has been disfellowshipped, till he makes satisfaction &c— Having the spirit of the Lord and his prophet to guide you in all your doings we know you go for righteousness; and as we live to grow wiser and better, we do sincerely hope and pray, that, not only satisfaction on s case, but on every thing relative to , may be made. It is true, had just disengaged himself from the mercantile business he was connected with: and from what we had seen and heard of his proceedings here, we had great hopes that would rise from its former desolation to honor the cause of the Lord in common with ,— and we still believe, when you ascertain our good feelings for your welfare; for yours is ours, and all is the Lord’s, that you will be as ready to forgive wherein we have erred, as we are ready to ask forgiveness wherein we have gone astray from the commandments of our heavenly Father. contains some good hearted well meaning ,— as [p. ]