, Letter, , Ontario Co., NY, to JS, [, Susquehanna Co., PA], 6 Nov. 1829. Featured version copied [between ca. 27 Nov. 1832 and ca. Jan. 1833] in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 6–8; handwriting of JS; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.
composed this letter in response to JS’s letter two weeks earlier. By this time Cowdery had been involved with the printing of the Book of Mormon for several weeks, and here he provided JS with a brief update of that work. He also informed JS of the estimated date of completion and explained that illness had delayed the work. In the postscript, Cowdery noted his progress copying the original Book of Mormon manuscript. Pages of the resulting “printer’s manuscript” were then delivered to the printer, , ensuring that if the copy were damaged, either through mischief or carelessness, the original would still be preserved. The sentiments and language of Cowdery’s expressions of faith in the letter reveal his familiarity with passages from the manuscript.
begin to write of the mercy mercies of God I know not when to Stop but time and paper fails I would inform that and went out to last week they had a joyful time and found all in as good health as could be expected thinks of comeing to the South in the course of two or three weeks and will callculate to take back that horse the printing goes rather Slow yet as the type founder has been sickbut we expect that the type will be on and Still think we<he> will finish printing by the first of febuary we all send respects to yourself and ——
My dear Brother I cannot hardly feel to close this letter as yet without informing you that we received one from from Masacuchusetts [Massachusetts] dated the 25th Oct. he informs us that he wishes to hear from us and know of our wellfare he says he has talked conside[r]able to Some respecting our work with freedom but others could not because they had no ears my great desire is that we may be faithful and obedient and humble children of Christ here that we may meet together in his kingdom of Eternal Glory to go no more out to Spend an Ete[r]nity where the we wicked cese from troublingand the humbl and penitent child in christ finds rest I remain with much Esteem and profound respect your Brother and compa[n]ion in tribulation and persecution in the kingdom of patience and hope of a Glorious reserrection in christ our Savior and redemer Amen
Joseph Smith Jr
<Let[ter] 5> P S I have Just got to alma commandment to his Son in coppyinng the manscrip we are all in tolerable hea[l]th here but my health is poor [p. 8]
Cowdery was likely referring to a compositor or typesetter, whose ill health would have certainly delayed the process. Founding—that is, cutting and casting—type was a highly specialized skill, and none of those assisting with the printing of the Book of Mormon is known to have been a type founder. It is possible that JS made a transcription error when he copied this letter into the letterbook.
The printing of the Book of Mormon was completed in March 1830, and the volume was first advertised for sale in the Wayne Sentinel, a newspaper also published in Grandin’s shop. (John H. Gilbert, Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892, photocopy, CHL; “The Book of Mormon,” Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 26 Mar. 1830, .)
Gilbert, John H. Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892. Photocopy. CHL. MS 9223.
Wayne Sentinel. Palmyra, NY. 1823–1852, 1860–1861.
Although Marsh’s letter is not extant, in a later history he wrote that after becoming familiar with the Book of Mormon during its printing, he “corresponded with Oliver Cowdery & Jos Smith.” During a trip from his home in Charlestown, Massachusetts, to New York in late summer or early fall 1829, Marsh visited Harris at Grandin’s printing office and obtained from him a proof sheet of the first sixteen pages of the Book of Mormon. He took the pages home to show members of his family, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, became early believers in JS’s work. (“T B Marsh,” , Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL; see also Thomas B. Marsh and Elizabeth Godkin Marsh to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, [ca. 11 Apr. 1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.)
Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.
Abbott Family Collection, 1831–2000. CHL. MS 23457.
The prophet Alma addresses his three sons—Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton—in Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 323–340 [Alma 36–42]. Cowdery by this point had created 261 pages of the printer’s manuscript, which ultimately numbered 464 pages.
The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.