, Letter, , Lake Co., OH, to JS and , , Hancock Co., IL, 3 Jan. 1842; handwriting of ; four pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal notations, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 12½ × 7⅞ inches (32 × 20 cm). All four pages are inscribed in black and blue ink. filled the recto and verso of each leaf, leaving space for the address on the verso of the second leaf. The fourth page of the letter also included writing to the right and left of the address block that was added after the letter was trifolded twice in letter style. It appears that McBride erased this text with a knife and then rewrote the content vertically across the text on the recto of the first leaf. Following this alteration, the letter was addressed, sealed with a red adhesive wafer, and postmarked. There is wafer residue on the fourth page. The letter appears to have torn when it was opened, resulting in some loss of text on the left side of the first and fourth pages and the right side of the second and third pages. It was later refolded for filing.
The document was docketed by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. Another docket was inscribed by , who served as a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office (later Church Historical Department) from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets as well as its inclusion in the circa 1904 inventory and in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 3 January 1842 member wrote a letter from , Ohio, to JS in , Illinois, reporting on the state of JS’s and the church’s outstanding financial obligations. McBride was given power of attorney after church members at a held in Nauvoo the previous October voted that he “go, settle, and if possible close a business concern left in an uncertain condition by deceased.”
In 1838, as the majority of church members migrated from to , JS empowered several men to act as the church’s financial to settle debts that had accrued between 1835 and 1837 from building the and supplying mercantile businesses in and around Kirtland. In 1839 a general conference of the church appointed presiding officer over the church in Kirtland; in conjunction with this appointment, the authorized Granger to act as a church agent to settle outstanding debts on behalf of JS and other church leaders.
While settled many church debts over the following years, he failed to convey information about these settlements to JS with the expected regularity and detail. This meant that JS, as the church’s president and trustee, often had an incomplete picture of the church’s outstanding financial debts, which sometimes resulted in confusion. In October 1840, under the mistaken assumption that Granger planned to return to in the fall, a church conference voted to replace him with as the presiding officer in ; JS also empowered Babbitt to act as the church’s financial agent in Kirtland. After learning that Granger intended to remain in Kirtland and was still performing his duties, JS sent him a letter explaining the leadership change and urging him to work together with Babbitt. Granger’s communications regarding the settlement of earlier debts continued to be sparse, however, leaving JS in a difficult position in terms of responding to creditors and ascertaining the church’s financial position. In May 1841, after learning that Granger’s health was in decline, JS requested an update on his progress in settling church debts. JS received no further correspondence from Granger. Less than four months later, Granger died in Kirtland.
In October 1841 a church conference voted to withdraw fellowship from and to appoint , who was apparently in attendance, as the church’s agent in . At the time, McBride was a counselor in the Kirtland . JS granted him power of attorney later that month, and McBride likely left for Kirtland shortly afterward. Given the uncertainty about ’s success in settling church debts, it is likely that JS asked McBride to assess the church’s financial situation in Kirtland and write to him as soon as possible.
On 3 January 1842 wrote the featured letter to JS outlining some of the church’s outstanding debts and seeking JS’s counsel on how best to settle them. Specifically, McBride described the money owed for his transactions as an agent in ; McBride’s own efforts to collect a promissory note from a “Br More,” likely Henry Moore, and to pay taxes on church land; and the status of two legal s that creditors held against the church farm in . McBride also informed JS that Latter-day Saint Abel Owen and his family were stranded in Kirtland and living in a “suffering condition.” McBride added three postscripts, one of which was directed to and concerned the liquidation of a debt that More apparently owed Smith. It is possible that one or more of the postscripts were added on 4 January, the day the letter was mailed. JS likely received the letter in a couple of weeks later. Though there is no extant response from JS, McBride continued to resolve church debts as an agent of the church in subsequent years.
See Reuben McBride to William Marks, 4 June 1843, copy, CHL; JS, Journal, 15 Sept. 1843; and Reuben McBride to JS, Bill, 6 May 1845, Illinois State Historical Society, Circuit Court Case Files [Cases pertaining to Mormon Residents], 1830–1900, CHL.
McBride, Reuben. Letter to William Marks, 4 June 1843. Copy. CHL.
Illinois State Historical Society. Circuit Court Case Files, 1830–1900. Microfilm. CHL. MS 16278.
Lands here or in the east so it will be nessessary for to do something if imediately I talked with he thought they could not sell the farm but they are calculating to prove there was a fraud in it advised me to let them sell it and then Defend it you must write imediately and let me know what to do, as soon as cort sits th<e>y then will get a right to sell it it was prised at $16 an acre cort will set in March or april, y the farm of Jonathan Herington [Harrington] you wanted I should find out about[.] there was arangmints made between and of for to turn out this farm with two others viz Alonzo Reeds farm at $2100,00 and Abel Owens at $700,00 Heringtons at $1000,00 to and Son in rote to to know if they wood except of them in the way they had agreed at the same time advising them to do so no doubt but what they would have done so he but one of the men had gone to Europe and the other had gone or sick and before he could get an answer sent some notes to that had signed and atached those three farms as his property I understand he Deeded them to his son but says the was put on before the Deeds was put on record but how that is I do not know s Dying all proseedings stop[p]ed and there can be no more done till an administrator apointed that is the situation of those farms as I have learned Abel Owen lives here his farm was his all[.] he is a man that is not able to work he cannot get to the west his family is in a suffering condition they have to be helped[.] he has some notion to [page torn] a and try to get his Land back but h[page torn] and it will cost conciderable if he should get it [page torn] if you have any advise to give or a word of consola[page torn] it might perhaps do him some good
Write and give <me> all the information you can tell me [page torn] to Do and what to do it with and I will do the best [I] can you must uphold me for I have a great opposition if you have any thing sp[i]ritual that would be fror my good it will be thankfully received I hope the Lord may bless you and deliver you from all your Enemies I do not think of any thing more at present I will Write as often as I find anny thing worth writing about
Yours in the bonds of the
Br. I went and saw Br More he had bought him a house and four acres of Land he said all the money he had was 70 Lbs and out of that he had paid his fare to but when he got to he was persuaded to come here he says he has written you a long letter by and wants you to sell his property and take your pay and pay Br and if it lacks any thing he will pay the balance he says he gave you $170, for the carriage and sold it again $17,00 he thinks you took the advantage of his ignorance is his counciler I thought I would do nothing about it till I heard from you if you can git your pay there you had better[.] Since I came here he has sold his house and Land [p. ]
In October 1840 Oliver Granger acquired several farms—totaling about two hundred acres—in Oswego County, New York, from Jonathan and Julia Harrington, Alonzo and Betsey Reed, Thomas and Elizabeth King, and Abel and Betsy Owen. The land was to be exchanged for land in Illinois or Iowa Territory. Apparently, Granger arranged with Reuben Hitchcock, attorney and district judge of the court of common pleas, to deed the Harrington, Reed, and Owen farms to the New York mercantile firm John Hitchcock & Son as payment for debts church leaders owed. (Abel Owen and Betsy Owen to Oliver Granger, Deed, 10 Oct. 1840, Hiram Kimball, Collection, CHL; JS per William Clayton to Jonathan Harrington, Receipt, 8 July 1842, JS Office Papers, CHL; Oswego Co., NY, Deeds, 1792–1902, vol. 32, pp. 33–36, microfilm 1,011,773; vol. 34, pp. 157–158, microfilm 1,011,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Benjamin Elsworth, Palermo, NY, 18 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:219–220; see also, for example, John Hitchcock & Son to Cahoon, Carter & Co., Bill, ca. 12 Oct. 1836, JS Office Papers, CHL.)
Kimball, Hiram. Collection, 1830–1910. CHL.
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
As McBride noted, several individuals had competing claims to the land. It appears that before John Hitchcock & Son could respond to the proposed settlement, William Perkins, a Painesville lawyer representing Oliver Granger in resolving debts, sent the promissory notes Granger had signed that promised the farms, located in Oswego County, New York, as payment to the New York firm. After this arrangement was made, Granger apparently deeded the properties to his son Gilbert Granger. Perkins apparently argued that the arrangement to use the Oswego land as payment was in force before Granger deeded the land to his son.
Owen sold his farm, located in Palermo, New York, to churchagentOliver Granger on 10 October 1840 for $700. The Owen family was apparently living in Kirtland by August 1841. (Abel Owen and Betsy Owen to Oliver Granger, Deed, 10 Oct. 1840, Hiram Kimball, Collection, CHL; Kirtland Elders Quorum, “Record,” 8 Aug. 1841.)
Kimball, Hiram. Collection, 1830–1910. CHL.
Kirtland Elders Quorum. “A Record of the First Quorurum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841. CCLA.
“Br More” likely refers to Henry Moore. He apparently owned property in block 151, lot 2, in Nauvoo, though it is unclear whether this is the property mentioned here. (JS to Henry Moore, Agreement, 23 Dec. 1840, JS Collection [Supplement], CHL; Miller, “Study of Property Ownership: Nauvoo,” 151; “A List and Description of All Taxable Lots and Lands Lying within the Fourth Ward of the City of Nauvoo,” 1842, p. 6, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)
Miller, Rowena J. “Study of Property Ownership: Nauvoo; Original Town of Nauvoo, 1839–1850,” ca. 1965. In Nauvoo Restoration, Inc., Corporate Files, 1839–1992. CHL.