Letter from Seth Richards, 31 January 1842
Seth Richards, Letter, Bentonsport, Van Buren Co., Iowa Territory, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 31 Jan. 1842; handwriting presumably of Seth Richards; one page; photocopy in Zenos Gurley, Correspondence and Miscellaneous Documents, ca. 1839–1844, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City. Includes address, postal notations, docket, and archival marking. Transcription from photocopy.This letter was likely inscribed on a bifolium, as were many other contemporary letters sent to JS. The photocopy shows that the letter was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, sealed with an adhesive wafer, and postmarked. There is wafer residue on either side of the address panel. The letter 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. The location of the original document is unknown. The photocopy of the document used for transcription was donated to the Utah State Historical Society around 1961. An archival inscription, written in the right margin of the photocopy, reads “Gift of SA Murdock.”
On 31 January 1842 merchant and land owner Seth Richards wrote a short letter to JS in , Illinois, offering to sell land and a charter for a dam near Bentonsport, Van Buren County, Iowa Territory. A former resident of , Richards moved in 1837 to Iowa Territory, where he operated a mercantile store in with his partner George Howe; the pair later moved the store to Bentonsport, located nearly thirty miles northwest of Nauvoo. In January 1839 the territorial legislature of Iowa authorized Richards, Howe, and another partner, Henry Eno, to build a dam on the between North Bentonsport and South Bentonsport. Construction on the dam and its attending lock reportedly began the following year and continued until at least 1843. In addition to undertaking mercantile and dam construction ventures, Richards and Howe purchased over five hundred acres of federal land in by December 1841.In his letter Richards indicated that some Latter-day Saints desired to build a dam and mill on the . Though there is no extant evidence that members proposed to build a dam on the , individual church leaders had previously petitioned for or promoted the construction of dams on the . Richards mailed the letter from Bentonsport; a docket by indicates it was received in , but no reply is apparently extant.
Hall, Henry, ed. America’s Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography. Vol. 2. New York: New York Tribune, 1896.
Ellery, Harrison, and Charles Pickering Bowditch. The Pickering Genealogy: Being an Account of the First Three Generations of the Pickering Family of Salem, Mass., and of the Descendants of John and Sarah (Burrill) Pickering, of the Third Generation. Vol. 2. Cambridge, MA: University Press, John Wilson and Son, 1897.
Biographical and Historical Record of Clarke County, Iowa. . . . Chicago: Lewis, 1886.
The Statute Laws of the Territory of Iowa, Enacted at the First Session of the Legislative Assembly of Said Territory, Held at Burlington, A. D. 1838–’39. Dubuque, Iowa Territory: Russell and Reeves, 1839. Reprint, Des Moines: Historical Department of Iowa, 1900.
Iowa Writers’ Program, Work Projects Administration. Bentonsport Memories. American Guide Series. [Bentonsport, IA]: Work Projects Administration, 1940.
Local Laws of the Territory of Iowa, Enacted at the Session of the Legislature Which Commenced on the First Monday of December, 1843 . Iowa City, Iowa Territory: Hughes and Williams, 1843.
General Land Office Records. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior. Digital images of the land patents cited herein are available at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/.