JS and , Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to Father Bigler, , Adams Co., IL, 27 May 1839. Featured version copied [between 27 May and 30 Oct. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, p. 13; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 27 May 1839, JS and wrote a letter addressed to “Father Biggler”—likely a member of the Bigler family in , Illinois—asking him to loan money to the . Knight had recently been appointed a , an assignment that involved overseeing church financial matters. JS and Knight were also members of a committee appointed to select and purchase land for the church. The church had recently bought land in and was planning to purchase land in . Struggling to obtain the necessary funds for these purchases, JS and Knight requested that Bigler loan the church five or six hundred dollars.
copied the letter into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between 27 May and 30 October 1839. At the bottom of the letter, Mulholland identified the recipient as “Mr John Biggler, Ill.,” but there is no evidence of a John Biggler residing in or Quincy at the time of this letter. The 1844 rough draft notes of JS’s manuscript history repeat the name John in connection with this 1839 letter and include a margin notation reading “Letter to J. Bigler.” When the letter was copied into the manuscript history in spring 1845, scribe changed the name to , suggesting that someone with firsthand knowledge of the original 1839 letter or of the Bigler family informed Bullock that Bigler’s forename was Mark.
was the patriarch of the Bigler family living in in 1839. The Biglers joined the church in in 1837, and in March 1838 Mark and Susanna Ogden Bigler’s oldest son, , traveled to , Missouri, to purchase land. During this trip, he became acquainted with JS. The majority of the Bigler family moved to Far West by fall 1838, but they left in February 1839 to escape the conflict in , settling soon after in Quincy. Mark Bigler, who remained in Harrison County, Virginia (later West Virginia), to settle business, joined his family in Quincy in spring 1839. Although it is unclear whether JS knew Mark Bigler, Jacob Bigler helped JS and his family move from Quincy to in May 1839.
JS and likely wrote the letter in JS’s home at , Illinois. The original letter is not extant, and it is unknown who acted as scribe; JS may have dictated the letter to Knight. The letter was given to , who traveled to as part of his assignment to collect money from church members. It is not known whether or another member of the Bigler family loaned funds in response to JS’s letter.
We have thought well to write you by , on the subject of our purchase of lands here, in order to stir up Your pure mind to a remembrance of the situation in which we have been placed by the act of the of the having appointed us as a Committee to transact business <here> for the Church. We have as is known to the Church in general; made purchases, And entered into contracts And promised payments of monies for all which we now stand responsible.
Now as money seems to come in too slowly in order that that we may be able to meet our obligations— we have determined to call upon the liberality of Father Biggler through the of , And request that he will place in his hands for us, the sum of five or six hundred dollars for which he shall have the security of the said Committee, also, through the agency of , And the thanks of the Church besides.