JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , Geauga Co., OH, 11 Sept. 1839. Featured version copied [between 11 Sept. and 3 Nov. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 71–73; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 11 September 1839, JS wrote to in response to a letter Galland had written from Chillicothe, Ohio, on 24 July 1839. In late April, Galland had sold church leaders his home in , Illinois, as well as extensive acreage in the in . Galland was by JS in Commerce and to the office of on 3 July 1839, and he departed for the next day. Having sold their home in , Galland and his family were temporarily living in Chillicothe.
In his 24 July letter, informed JS that he had informally proselytized during the journey to . He devoted most of the letter to recounting conversations with fellow boat passenger and former senator Arnold Naudain, to whom Galland sold a copy of the Book of Mormon, and with Chillicothe resident Dr. Benjamin Owen Carpenter, with whom Galland debated repeatedly about theology. JS responded to Galland’s detailed report of his philosophical conversations with Carpenter by noting the simplicity of the gospel and warning of the fate of those who, like Galland’s interlocutors, were prideful in their interpretation of gospel principles. JS also described the growth of the and of the area in the two months since Galland’s departure. JS sent his response to rather than to Chillicothe because Galland had concluded his letter by saying he expected the following week to “set out for and Kirtland” and would later return to Chillicothe.
JS’s scribe copied the letter into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between 11 September 1839 and Mulholland’s death less than two months later on 3 November. If sent a response, no such letter has been located.
Bennett, Henry Holcomb, ed. The County of Ross: A History of Ross County, Ohio, from the Earliest Days, with Special Chapters on the Bench and Bar, Medical Profession, Educational Department, Industry and Agriculture, and Biographical Sketches. Madison, WI: Selwyn A. Brant, 1902.
as the truth except by a few, among whom were “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble”— whilst the majority have contented themselves with their own private opinions, or have adopted those of others according as their address their philosophy, their formula, their policy or their finesse may have attracted their attention or pleased their taste.
But Sir of all the other criterions whereby we may judge of the vanity of these things, one will be always found true, viz: that we will always find such characters glorying in their own wisdom, and their own works, whilst the humble saint, gives all the glory to God the Father and to his son Jesus Christ, whose yoke is easy and whose burthen is light— and who told his disciples that unless they became like little children— they could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
As to the situation of the here, matters go with us as well as can <reasonably> be expected, we have had considerable sickness amongst us, but very few deaths, and as the greater part are now recovering, we yet hope to have shelters provided before the winter shall set in.
Since you left here we have purchased out all interest hereabouts— his farm we have laid out additional to our Town — and the Town of we hope also to build up.
Some of the “” And others have already started for Europe, and the remainder of that mission we expect will go now in a few days.—— According to intelligence recieved since you left, the work of the Lord rolls on in a very pleasing manner, both in this and in the old country.— In many hundreds have of late been added to our numbers; but so—even so it must be, for, “Ephraim he hath mixed himself withthe among the people”. And the Saviour hath said “my sheep hear my voice” and also “he that heareth you heareth me”. And, “Behold I will bring them <again> from the north country and gather them from the coasts of the earth[”] &c &c And as John heard the voice saying “come out of her my people”, even so must all be fulfilled, that the people of the Lord may live when “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”.
There has quite a number of families gatheredupherea up here already and we anticipate a continuance, especially as upon enquiry we have found that we have not had more than a ratio of sickness here, notwithstanding the trials we have had, and the hardships to which we have been exposed.
Calculating as we do upon the mercy and power of God in our behalf we hope to persevere on in every good and useful work even unto the end that when we come to be tried in the balance, we may not be found [p. 72]
Until the Latter-day Saints drained the marshy flats along the Mississippi River, Commerce-area residents frequently contracted malaria. According to JS’s history, when the Saints first arrived, “Commerce was so unhea[l]thy very few could live there.” A composite (though potentially incomplete) obituary published in the December 1839 issue of the Times and Seasons identified three individuals—Zina Baker Huntington, Sterry Fisk, and Harriet Maria Fisk—who died in the Commerce area between the time of the Saints’ arrival and the writing of this letter to Galland. Another thirteen died before the obituary was printed at the end of the year. Many years later, John L. Butler recalled that JS had talked to him about the problems and possibilities of the area. Butler remembered JS acknowledging that it was “a low marshy wet damp and nasty place” but also stating that if the Saints “went to work and improved it it would become more healthy and the Lord would bless it for our sakes.” (Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 11 June 1839, 59; “Obituary,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:32; Butler, Autobiography, .)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Butler, John L. Autobiography, ca. 1859. CHL. MS 2952.
The original plat of Nauvoo, drawn twelve days earlier, divided most of the peninsula into blocks and lots. Some of the preexisting Commerce plat was subsumed by the new Nauvoo plat, as was all of the plat of the neighboring undeveloped town of Commerce City. Scribe Willard Richards recorded in JS’s history that at the time the church purchased Galland’s and Hugh White’s land at the end of April 1839, “there were 1 stone house 3 frame hou[s]es & two block hou[s]es which constitu[te]d the whole city of commerce. Between Commerce And Mr Davison Hibba[r]ds,” which was just beyond the southern boundary of the Nauvoo plat, “there was 1 stone & 3 Log houses, including the one I [JS] live in, & those were all the houses in this vicinity.— & the place was literally a wilderness.” (Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, pp. 10–11, Commerce Plat, 24 May 1834; pp. 26–27, Commerce City Plat, 28 Apr. 1837; pp. 37–39, Nauvoo Plat, 3 Sept. 1839, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 11 June 1839, 58–59.)