JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , [, New Haven Co., CT], 10 Dec. 1841. Featured version copied [ca. 10 Dec. 1841], in JS Letterbook 2, p. 216; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
JS wrote a letter to on 10 December 1841, responding to two letters Hotchkiss wrote in October and November regarding ongoing land dealings. Two years earlier Hotchkiss, a land speculator from , along with his partners and , sold to JS and the much of the land in the , Illinois, area that became . Hotchkiss wrote to JS on 11 October 1841, informing him that he had received from church some parcels of land in full payment of the smaller of two obligations the church owed Hotchkiss. In the same letter, and a subsequent one dated 9 November, Hotchkiss offered to credit $3,000 toward the larger debt in exchange for some additional church-owned properties in that Ivins proposed transferring to Hotchkiss.
Though these two transactions with demonstrated the church’s efforts to pay and his partners the money owed them, the church was already falling behind on the interest payments due on the larger of two land purchases from Hotchkiss. , JS, and had agreed on 12 August 1839 to purchase approximately four hundred acres from Hotchkiss, , and for $110,000. This amount included $50,000 in principal due in twenty years, along with forty interest payments of $1,500 each, two being due each year for twenty years. By the time JS wrote this letter to Hotchkiss in December 1841, the first four of the interest payments on this land, totaling $6,000, were due.
The poverty of many of the Latter-day Saints moving to meant that much of the land the church sold to them was purchased on long terms, resulting in little immediately available money to pay , , and . JS had raised the issue at the October 1841 general of the church in Nauvoo, and a plan was devised by which Saints moving to Nauvoo would turn over property they were leaving for payment to Hotchkiss and his partners, whereupon the immigrating Saints would be given land of equal value in or around Nauvoo. Notice of this arrangement was published in an open letter by the , and JS wrote of the plan to Tuttle on 9 October. Apparently after seeing the letter to Tuttle and a copy of the Times and Seasons issue reporting on the conference, Hotchkiss wrote to JS on 9 November, acknowledging that he was pleased with the report of the conference and discussing his proposal to purchase the additional land offered by .
JS apparently dictated his 10 December response to , who then copied it into JS Letterbook 2, probably around the time the original was written. Because the original letter is apparently not extant, the copy is featured here. responded to JS’s letter on 30 December 1841.
Your two letters, dated Oct. 11th & Nov. 9th 1841 have both been recd, and that of the 9th Nov. is now before me.
I am glad that you are pleased with the proceedings of our last , relative to the “”; Concerning which, together with some unpleasant feeling which had originated, partly from a misunderstanding between us, and partly through the inefficiency, neglect, or sickness of , I wrote to yr. friend and partner , some time since, which no doubt you have seen before now, and with which I hope you are also satisfied.
I have handed your request to the of the “Times & Seasons”, who will forward you the papers desired,
I am glad that settled with you the $2500— note, but sorry that you suffered yourself to loss lose in the sale of the land you had of him,
As regards the , and the one hundred and thirty seven acres of pine land, which you propose to allow the Church three thousand dollars for, I have to say in reply, that I have consulted, not only my own feelings as “Sole Trustee in trust” for the Church, but also the feelings of those of the Church whose opinions I can always rely upon in such matters, and the conclusion is that thirty two hundred dollars is the least the property ought to be sold for. You can therefore have it for three thousand two hundred, which is considerably less than it cost the church; we are willing to make a partial sacrifice in the property, but under the circumstances, think that you can afford to give us two hundred dollars more than you proposed.— The Health of our place is at this time pretty good, & we hope it may continue to improve with the improvement of the .— I remain Very Respectfully &c.
In his letter of 9 November 1841, Hotchkiss stated he was “gratified in the perusal yesterday of the proceedings of your Conference relative to the ‘Hotchkiss purchase’ published in the Times and Seasons.” The conference minutes published in the 15 October issue of the Times and Seasons briefly mentioned the purchase by reporting JS’s instruction that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles write a letter to the Saints about a plan to repay Hotchkiss. The resulting “Epistle of the Twelve, To the brethren scattered abroad on the Continent of America” recommended that Saints moving to Nauvoo from the eastern United States transfer their property to Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and Gillet to pay the church’s debts to these men. That letter was included in the same issue of the paper, and Hotchkiss likely read it as well. (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 9 Nov. 1841; Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841; “An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:568.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
JS wrote to Tuttle on 9 October 1841 regarding the four interest payments (for $1,500 each) then due but not yet paid to Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and John Gillet. JS informed Tuttle that Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland had been sent to the eastern United States with power of attorney to sell or transfer church properties and thereby acquire the $6,000 due. Hyrum returned from the trip before making payment, leaving it to Galland to do so. JS informed Tuttle that Galland had means in his possession to pay the entire amount due but that for some unknown reason Galland had failed to pay Hotchkiss or to report his activities to church leaders. On 18 January 1842 JS signed a statement, published in the 15 January issue of the Times and Seasons, revoking Galland’s power of attorney. (Letter to Smith Tuttle, 9 Oct. 1841; Revocation of Power of Attorney, 18 January 1842; JS, “Special Notice,” Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1842, 3:667.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Cook’s Mills (later Cookstown) was a small town in Burlington County, New Jersey, located just a few miles away from Hornerstown, where Ivins lived. (Fort, “Account of the Capture and Death of the Refugee John Bacon,” 151; Fleming, “Early Mormonism in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey,” 78.)
Fort, George F. “An Account of the Capture and Death of the Refugee John Bacon.” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 1, no. 4 (1846): 151–153.
Illinois law allowed each religious organization incorporating in the state to elect up to ten trustees, who would be legally responsible for all physical property owned by the organization. Pursuant to this law, JS was elected on 30 January 1841 as the “sole Trustee in Trust” for the church. (An Act concerning Religious Societies [6 Feb. 1835], Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1835], p. 147, sec. 1; Appointment as Trustee, 2 Feb. 1841.)
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835. Vandalia, IL: J. Y. Sawyer, 1835.
The area in which Nauvoo was located was prone to malaria, particularly on the marshy flats in the lower part of the city along the Mississippi River. By winter 1839 plans were being made to begin draining the land—an improvement that significantly reduced the number of health issues in the area. (Crosby, Reminiscences, 11; see also Proclamation, 15 Jan. 1841.)
Crosby, Caroline Barnes. Reminiscences, no date. In Jonathan Crosby and Caroline Barnes Crosby Papers, 1848–1882. CHL.