JS, Letter, , Jackson Co., MO, to , , Caldwell Co., MO, 4 Nov. 1838; handwriting of JS (signature now missing); three pages; JS Materials, CCLA. Includes address, wafer seals, and redactions.
Bifolium measuring 12½ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm), with thirty-five printed lines per page. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, sealed with wafers, and addressed. Later, the letter was refolded, perhaps for filing. JS’s signature was subsequently cut from the second leaf. The leaves eventually became separated and were reattached with staples. At some point, the two leaves were numbered in graphite. The letter likely remained in the Smith family’s possession until it was transferred, on an unknown date, to the custody of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ).
According to Richard Howard, former historian for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a high-ranking church official in the early twentieth century cut JS signatures from documents—a common practice at the time. (Richard Howard, email to Rachel Killebrew, 5 Jan. 2015, copy in editors’ possession.)
Following JS’s late October 1838 arrest in , Missouri, he wrote to his wife on 4 November 1838. JS and his fellow prisoners—, , , , , and —arrived in Independence, Missouri, around noon on 4 November in the midst of a severe storm. The prisoners were lodged in a large “old log house” situated on Maple Street, immediately north of Independence’s public square and courthouse. In the evening, the prisoners were “provided with Paper and writing Materials and Candles,” and JS wrote the following letter to Emma Smith, recounting the prisoners’ reception in Independence and expressing anxiety for her welfare. The absence of a postmark suggests the letter was hand delivered. JS may have sent the letter by way of a “Mr Collins,” who on 7 November carried a letter from inmate Parley P. Pratt to his wife, , in Far West. By the time Emma Smith received this letter, she and her children had likely been evicted from their residence and were probably staying at the home of and in Far West.
In 1842 Emma Smith testified that following JS’s arrest, George M. Hinkle, the previous owner of the Smiths’ house in Far West, entered the home, stole Smith family possessions, and “used Coersive measures to drive Witness [Emma Smith] and her Family therefrom, the Premises & House.” She also explained, “I went with my Children to the House of George W. Harris in Far West Missouri.” (Minute Book 2, 6 July 1838; Emma Smith, Deposition, Nauvoo, IL, 22 Apr. 1842, JS v. George M. Hinkle [Lee Co. Dist. Ct. 1842], CHL.)
JS v. George M. Hinkle / Lee County, Iowa Territory, District Court. Joseph Smith v. George M. Hinkle, 1841–1842. CHL.
November 4th 1838
Jackson Co— Mo—
My dear and beloved , of my bosam, in tribulation, and affliction, I woud inform you that I am well, and I amthat we are all of us in good spirits as regards our own fate, we have been protected by the boys, in the most genteel manner, and arrived here in <the> midst of a splended perade, thisa little after noon, instead <of> going to goal [jail]we have a good house provided for us and the kind[e]st treatment, I have great anxiety about you, and my lovely children, my heart morns <and> bleeds for the brotheren, and sisters, and for the slain <of the> people of God, I, proved to be a trator, to the , he is worse than a hull who betraid the army at , he decoyed <us> unawares God reward him, Itold<>was a goingtold , that he was a going to leave the Church,says he thinks much less of him now then before, why I mention this is to have you careful not to trust them, if we are permited to be stay any time here, we <have> obtained a promice that theywe may have our families brought to us,what God may do do for us I do not know but I hope for the best always in all circumstances although I go unto death, I will trust in God, what outrages may be committed by the mob I know not, but expect there will be but little <or> no restraint Oh may God have mercy on us, [p. ]
Parley P. Pratt recalled, “It was now past noon, and in the midst of a great rain. But hundreds crowded to witness the procession, and to gaze at us as we were paraded in martial triumph through all the principal streets—our carriages moving in the centre, while the brigade on horseback were formed in front and rear, and the bugles sounded a blast of triumphant joy.” (Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 46.)
William Hull (1753–1825) was a Revolutionary War veteran, territorial governor of Michigan, and brigadier general of the army in the northwest United States during the War of 1812. On 16 August 1812, while quartered at Fort Detroit, Hull surrendered to a much smaller British force. In the wake of the capitulation, other perceived traitors in the war were condemned as being “worse than Hull.” (Taylor, Civil War of 1812, 154–173, 196.)
Taylor, Alan. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies. New York: Vintage Books, 2011.
Michael Arthur, who was not a member of the church but was friendly to the Saints, indicated that “small companies” of armed men were “constantly strolling up and down Caldwell county . . . insulting the women in any and every way; and plundering the poor devils [Latter-day Saints] of all the means of subsistence.” (Michael Arthur, Liberty, MO, to “Respected Friends,” 29 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; see also Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)