Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 January 1832
, Letter, , Jackson Co., MO, to JS, , Kirtland Township, OH, 28 Jan. 1832; handwriting of ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes postal markings and redactions.Bifolium measuring 15⅝ × 10¼ inches (40 × 26 cm). The letter was tri-folded twice in letter style for mailing, addressed, and sealed. The front and back of the second leaf, which was used as the wrapper for mailing the letter, bear residue from morsels of an adhesive wafer that were removed. The bottom half of the front of the second leaf originally contained a printing bill for , but it was excised from the document and is no longer extant. Half the address block and postmarks are now missing from the wrapper because of the excision of the bill. The inscriptions “Bad” and “◊◊” appear at the top of the back of the second leaf in unidentified handwriting. A mark in red pencil follows ’s signature. The letter was later folded in half and tri-folded for filing purposes. All folds are partially broken, and there is a slight loss of inscription from the separations and holes in the filing folds. The letter has undergone conservation.The custodial history of this document is uncertain. The letter was initially sent to JS and is listed in the 1973 register of the JS Collection—which suggests continuous institutional custody.
This 28 January 1832 letter from provided JS with important information about the welfare of the Mormon community in . Cowdery and were directed in a November 1831 revelation to travel to , Jackson County, Missouri, carrying copies of JS’s revelations, which the church planned to publish. They were also instructed to take with them money donated by church members to aid in purchasing land in the Independence area. Departing on 20 November 1831, Cowdery and Whitmer arrived in Independence on 5 January 1832. On 23–24 January, they held a two-day in the home of in , Missouri; they supplemented it with a special conference on 27 January at ’s residence in Independence. As clerk of the conferences, Cowdery kept the minutes and shortly thereafter copied them into this 28 January letter to JS.The minutes highlight the continued development of in northwestern and the role of leaders such as and in that development. As , Partridge was responsible for overseeing the purchase of land in Jackson County in concert with Gilbert, who was an agent to the church in . Partridge also had the task of providing Saints with their “,” and Gilbert was directed by revelation to operate a in to generate revenues with which to purchase more land and to provision the church members who settled it. The minutes contain accountings from both Partridge and Gilbert of the moneys expended by them and a report from Partridge on land purchases. The minutes also record discussions concerning plans for schools for the Saints, the need for more skilled craftsmen to come to Missouri, and other subjects. In addition to the minutes, ’s letter includes a transcript of a note from Partridge to JS, a few words of general correspondence from Cowdery himself, and a list of projected costs of printing the revelations, which was to be conveyed to .’s letter was written to JS, who was living in , Ohio, but it was sent to in , Ohio, even though there was a post office in Hiram. Cowdery had directed previous correspondence from to Whitney, who served as the postmaster of Kirtland, in part because he believed Whitney’s position allowed Whitney franking privileges, which gave him “the benefits of free postage.” JS may have obtained the letter when he made a short visit to Kirtland from 29 February to 4 March 1832, or someone from Kirtland could have brought the letter to JS in Hiram before then. Regardless of the method of delivery, it is clear the letter reached Kirtland because in March, several leaders issued charges of misconduct against the Missouri conference based on their reading of Cowdery’s minutes. Also, the list of printing costs intended for Harris was cut from the letter, as Cowdery suggested, and presumably given to him.
A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth Day of September, 1817; Together with the Names, Force, and Condition, of all the Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States, and When and Where Built. Prepared at the Department of State, In Pursuance of a Resolution of Congress, of the 27th of April, 1816. Washington DC: E. De Krafft, 1818.A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1829; together with the Names, Force, and Condition, of All the Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States, and When and Where Built. Washington DC: William A. Davis, 1830.A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1831; together with the Names, Force, and Condition, of All the Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States, and When and Where Built. Washington DC: William A. Davis, 1831.
Post-Office Laws, Instructions and Forms, Published for the Regulation of the Post-Office. Washington DC: Way and Gideon, 1828.
Hartley, William G. “Letters and Mail between Kirtland and Independence: A Mormon Postal History, 1831–33.” Journal of Mormon History 35, no. 3 (Summer 2009): 163–189.