Letter to Emma Smith, 12 November 1838
JS, Letter, , Ray Co., MO, to , , Caldwell Co., MO, 12 Nov. 1838; handwriting of JS; three pages; JS Materials, CCLA. Includes address, wafer seal, and redactions.Bifolium measuring 12½ × 7½ inches (32 × 19 cm). The document was trifolded twice in letter style, sealed with an adhesive wafer, and addressed. Later, the leaves became separated and were numbered in graphite. The upper left and right corners of each leaf contain a small hole, perhaps indicating the use of a fastening device. The upper left corners of the leaves were fastened together with staples. Adhesive tape was later applied to both leaves. The letter likely remained in the Smith family’s possession until transferred to the archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ).
On 12 November 1838, JS wrote to his wife from , Missouri. He and six other church leaders—, , , , , and —were in the custody of state officials. After spending five days in , Missouri, the prisoners were transported to on 9 November. In Richmond, they and forty-six other Latter-day Saint defendants were scheduled to appear before Judge at a criminal court of inquiry, or preliminary hearing, to determine whether the state possessed sufficient evidence to hold a full trial on charges of treason and other crimes allegedly committed during the recent conflict. For the remainder of the month, JS and his companions were held in “an old log house,” while the forty-six other prisoners were confined in the unfinished Courthouse.The day the hearing was scheduled to begin—12 November—JS wrote this letter to , perhaps from the log house jail or the county courthouse. He acknowledged receipt of an apparently nonextant missive from Emma, expressed his love and affection for her, wrote personal notes for each of their children, and included a prayer that he would be reunited with his family. He also described the loyalty and unity among the prisoners, affirmed his innocence, and explained that attorneys and had agreed to represent him and his companions. JS noted that Lieutenant Colonel was screening the prisoners’ correspondence, which may have influenced how JS crafted his letter. JS indicated that a “Brother Babbitt,” whose identity remains uncertain, would carry the letter to .