JS, Letter, , IN, to , , OH, 6 June 1832; handwriting and signature of JS; addressed by ; four pages; Manuscripts about Mormons at Chicago History Museum. Includes postmark, redactions, docket, and archival marking.
Bifolium measuring 9¾ × 7⅞ inches (25 × 20 cm) when folded (and trimmed). JS signed the letter at the bottom of the recto side of the second leaf of the bifolium. He then closed the bifolium and turned it over, so that the verso of the second leaf became the recto of the first leaf, and added the postscript regarding the intent for to return with them at the top of this page (upside down in comparison with the rest of the letter). The bifolium letter was folded for mailing in double tri-fold envelope style, addressed by , and sealed with half an adhesive wafer. A docket, “ June 6, 1832 | Joseph Smith Jr.,” appears at the edge of the address panel. The placement of the docket suggests the letter was initially kept folded for storage. This docket was apparently written by , which suggests that the letter was kept for a time in JS’s . If so, the letter was eventually returned to the possession of , because it was found among her papers when she died. In 1880, her son donated the letter to the Chicago Historical Society (now Chicago History Museum). For a time, it was kept there in a scrapbook of autograph letters. The letter was attached to a leaf, which was cut short so the letter would fit within the book. The letter is also slightly trimmed, which was probably done in connection with placing it in the scrapbook. It was subsequently excised from the scrapbook, but the leaf stub is still attached to the folded edge on the back of the letter.
See Joseph Smith III, Plano, IL, to Albert D. Hagan, Chicago, IL, 22 Oct. 1880, microfilm, Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886, CHL. In this letter to Hagan, Joseph Smith III discussed a piece of correspondence from his father to his mother that he found after his mother’s death and that he wanted to donate to the Chicago Historical Society. Although he did not identify the item as this 6 June letter, the JS and Emma Smith correspondence held at the Chicago Historical Society, together with subsequent correspondence between Smith and Hagan, suggests that the 6 June 1832 letter is the only possible letter to which he could be referring. An old typescript made by the Chicago Historical Society makes the same identification. (Joseph Smith III, Lamoni, IA, to Albert D. Hagan, Chicago, IL, 12 June 1885, microfilm, Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886, CHL; JS, Greenville, IN, to Emma Smith, Kirtland, OH, 6 June 1832, typescript, Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886, CHL.)
Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886. Microfilm. CHL. MS 8136.
A note on an old transcript of the letter locates the source as “Autograph Letters vol. 16, pp. 33–36.” The recto pages of the letter still bear the visible marks of the now-erased graphite inscriptions of page numbers “33” and “35.” Volume 16 of the Autograph Letters collection at the Chicago History Museum is no longer extant. However, volumes 5 and 21 of that collection, which are still intact, provide examples of how loose documents were attached to a scrapbook. (JS, Greenville, IN, to Emma Smith, Kirtland, OH, 6 June 1832, typescript, Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886, CHL.)
Chicago Historical Society, Collection of Mormon Materials, 1836–1886. Microfilm. CHL. MS 8136.
After spending two weeks transacting church business in , Jackson County, Missouri, JS left for by stagecoach on 6 May 1832 with and . Near New Albany, Indiana, Whitney broke his ankle and leg in an accident with the stage. While Rigdon traveled on to , Ohio, JS stayed with Whitney at “Mr Porter’s public house” in , Indiana—about a dozen miles west of New Albany—while Whitney recuperated. JS described the delay in Greenville as “very unpleasent,” and a later JS history indicates that he experienced loneliness and homesickness, as well as physical illness.
On 2 June, arrived in from —probably after hearing about JS and ’s situation from . Harris informed JS and Whitney that their immediate families were well; he may have also brought a letter from Whitney’s wife, , which JS references in his letter. On 6 June 1832, JS penned a letter—likely at Porter’s public house—to his wife . The letter is one of the few surviving pieces of correspondence written entirely in JS’s own handwriting. JS expressed his melancholy and concern for Emma and his daughter, , and offered condolences for his brother and sister-in-law , who had just lost their three-year-old daughter.
After being folded and sealed, the letter was addressed to in by . The folds in the letter and the posting show that it was mailed, probably by JS or , at the post office in .
JS History, vol. A-1, 214. Mr. Porter’s brother was the doctor who took care of Whitney’s leg. Three Porter men (all apparently brothers) were in Greenville at this time: Daniel, James, and Julius. One source states that Daniel was a tavern keeper and postmaster and that James was a doctor. This same source explains that, at some point (no date is given), Julius succeeded his brother as tavern keeper and postmaster. Another source says that Daniel was a physician, not a tavern keeper. According to William Newnham Blaney, who visited Porter’s public house during the winter of 1822–1823, the tavern “was without exception the most clean and comfortable I had ever been in since I crossed the Alleghenies.” (1840 U.S. Census, Greenville, Floyd Co., IN, 299; History of the Ohio Falls Cities, 2:295–296; Wilson, “Pioneer Towns of Martin County,” 296; “Clan C,” 621.)
Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.
History of the Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches. Vol. 2. Cleveland: L. A. Williams, 1882.
Wilson, George R., ed. “Hindostan, Greenwich, and Mt. Pleasant. The Pioneer Towns of Martin County.—Memoirs of Thomas Jefferson Brooks.” Indiana Magazine of History 16 (Dec. 1920): 285–302.
JS departed with Whitney a few days after writing the letter, and by the end of the month they were back in Kirtland. In 1842, Rigdon recalled that JS and Whitney reached Kirtland “about 4 weeks after I arrived,” which was 26 May 1832. (JS History, vol. A-1, 215–216; Sidney Rigdon, Statement, ca. 1842, Historian’s Office, JS History Documents, ca. 1839–1856, CHL; Cahoon, Diary, 26 May 1832.)
Historian’s Office. Joseph Smith History Documents, 1839–1860. CHL. CR 100 396.
Cahoon, Reynolds. Diaries, 1831–1832. CHL. MS 1115.
The Indiana Gazetteer, or Topographical Dictionary of the State of Indiana. 3rd ed. Indianapolis, IN: E. Chamberlain, 1850.
June 6th Floid [Floyd]Co 18321832
I would inform you that has arrived here and braught the pleasing news that our Familys were well when he left there which Greately Cheared our hearts and revived our Spirits we thank our hevenly Father for his Goodness uto unto us and <all of you>you, arrived on Satterdaythe Same week he left haveing a prosperous time we are all in good health s leg is gaining and he thinks he Shall be able to to perform his Journy so as to get home <about>as Soon as the 20th my Situation is a very unpleasent one although I will endeaver to be Contented the Lord asisting me I have visited a grove which is Just back of the town almost every day where I can be secluded from the eyes of any mortal and there give vent to all the feelings of my heart in meaditation and praiyr I have Called to mind all the past moments of my life and am left to mo[u]rn and Shed tears of sorrow for my folly in Sufering the adversary of my Soul to have so much power over me as he has <had in times past> but God is merciful [p. ]
After leaving for Missouri, JS instructed Emma Smith by letter to live with Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney, wife of Newel K. Whitney, in Kirtland, Ohio. JS gave this instruction in part because he feared his family was not safe in Hiram, Ohio, because of the violence he experienced there in late March (which JS believed contributed to the death of Joseph Murdock Smith, his adopted son). But Emma was unable to stay with the Whitneys because Elizabeth Whitney’s aunt Sarah Smith (who resided in the Whitney home) insisted that there was no room in the home for Emma. Emma’s situation was unsettled until JS returned; she stayed at the homes of Reynolds and Thirza Stiles Cahoon, Frederick G. and Rebecca Swain Williams, and JS’s parents. A later JS history recounts that when he returned from Missouri, he found Emma “very disconsolate.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; JS History, vol. A-1, 209; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 13, ; JS History, vol. A-1, 205–206, 209.)
Harris apparently traversed the more than three hundred miles to Greenville, Indiana, within five days. He may have caught a stagecoach in Chagrin (now Willoughby), Ohio, which was approximately three miles northwest of the Mormon community in Kirtland. From Chagrin, Harris probably traveled southwest to Cleveland and then south again toward Columbus, following the main roads. From Columbus, Harris may have continued south to Cincinnati and then west to Greenville. He evidently arrived on Saturday, 2 June 1832. Since he brought news of the 29 May death of Mary Smith, he must have departed on or after that day. (North America Sheet VIII, Ohio, with parts of Kentucky and Virginia 1844; Map of Ohio, 12 Sept. 1832.)
North America Sheet VIII, Ohio, with Parts of Kentucky and Virginia. In Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Vol. 1. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844. Digital image on David Rumsey Map Collection, accessed 7 May 2012, http://www .davidrumsey.com.
Map of Ohio Compiled from the Latest and Most Authentic Information. Hartford, CT: Willis Thrall, 1832.
In a letter to William W. Phelps written several weeks later, JS recounted, “I often times wandered alone in the lonely places seeking consolation of him who is alone able to console me.” These reflections may have prompted JS to compose “A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist,” which he wrote later in the summer. Part of this history recounts how JS, “from the age of twelve years to fifteen,” became “excedingly distressed” because of his sins, leading him to “cr[y] unto the Lord for mercy.” The history then recounts that the Lord appeared to JS, telling him “Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; JS History, ca. Summer 1832.)