JS, Letter, , PA, to , , Hancock Co., IL, 20[–25 Jan.] 1840; handwriting of JS; one page; Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, Chicago History Museum. Includes addressing, postal markings, and archival markings.
One leaf, measuring 12 × 7½ inches (30 × 19 cm). The document was folded for mailing and was sealed with a red adhesive wafer.
presumably retained possession of the letter until she died in 1879. Following her death, found the letter in Emma’s old home. According to archival markings on the document, he presented it to the Chicago Historical Society (now Chicago History Museum) on 12 June 1885, and the letter was included in the Charles Gunther Collection after the collection was purchased by the society in 1920. As early as 1962, the letter was moved to the Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons.
Motley, “Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, 1832–1954.” A 12 June 1885 letter from Joseph Smith III states, “I enclose to you a letter from my father to my mother, dated 1840, which if of any value to the archives of your society, please accept. In a late visit to my old home Nauvoo I discovered this and one or two others, and thought one would be acceptable to you.” (Joseph Smith III, Lamoni, IA, to Albert D. Hager, Chicago, IL, 12 June 1885, Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, 1832–1954, Chicago History Museum.)
Motley, Archie. “Collection of Manuscripts about Mormons, 1832–1954.” Unpublished descriptive inventory, 1962 (with later revisions), for collection held at Chicago History Museum. Accessed 17 Apr. 2017. http://chsmedia.org/media/fa/fa/M-M /Mormons-inv.htm.
Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886. Microfilm. CHL. MS 8136.
In early 1840, JS wrote his wife a letter—one of the few surviving letters written entirely in JS’s hand—in part to update her on his plans to return home from the eastern . JS did not include a complete date, writing only “20th 1840.” The letter’s postal markings and text indicate that the intended date was 20 January 1840. The corrected place name in the date line suggests that JS started composing the letter on 20 January while in and continued writing it several days later while in , Pennsylvania. JS spent his time in Chester County visiting members while awaiting word that the church’s petition for redress had been brought before the Senate. JS had been away from Emma and their children for nearly three months; in this letter he expressed his hope to be reunited with his family as soon as possible.
Postal markings on the letter indicate that JS mailed it to on 29 January 1840. It is unknown when Emma received the correspondence, but mail between the church delegates and their correspondents in , Illinois, usually arrived in three to four weeks.
Smith, Walter W. “The History of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Branch.” Journal of History 11, no. 3 (July 1918): 358–373.
< Pa>[January] 20th 1840
My Dear and beloved
I recieved a letter from which cheared my heart to learn that my Family was all alive yet my heart mourns for those who have been taken from us but not without hope for I shall see them again and be with them therefore we can be more reconciled to the dealings of God I am now makeing all hast[e] to arange my business to start for home I feel very anxious to see you all once more in this world the time seems long that I am deprived of your sosiety but the <lord> being my helper I will not be much longer I am determined to st[art]for home in a few dayes our [bus]iness I expect is before the house of congress now<and> I shall shallstart for in a few daysand from there home as soon as posible I am filled with constant anxiety and shall be until I git home I pray God to spare you all untill I git home my dear my heart is intwined arround you and those little ones I want <you> to remember me tell all the chi[l]dren that I love them and will come home as soon as soon as I can yours in the bonds of love your Husband utill [until]Death &c—
JS used similar language to describe how he and others must cope with the deaths of loved ones in a 6 June 1832 letter to Emma, in which he lamented the death of Hyrum Smith’s nearly three-year-old daughter. (Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832.)
The church’s memorial was first read to the United States Senate on 28 January 1840. (Journal of the Senate of the United States, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., 28 Jan. 1840, 138.)
Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the First Session of the Twenty-Sixth Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, December 2, 1839, and in the Sixty-Fourth Year of the Independence of the Said United States. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1839.