JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , [, Daviess Co., MO], 27–28 June 1839. Featured version copied [between 28 June and 30 Oct. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, p. 50; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 27 June 1839, JS wrote to , a merchant, providing an update on an agreement the two men made just before JS’s escape from Missouri in mid-April 1839. The agreement regarded account books that were apparently taken from Stollings’s store during the military operations in , Missouri, on 18 October 1838. In the April agreement, Stollings and JS established that if JS assisted in recovering the account books within four months, Stollings would forgive debts that church members incurred as customers at his store during 1838.
After JS relocated to , Illinois, he wrote this letter to on 27 June, reporting that the account books had not been located. JS suggested that Stollings ask —who had helped raid the store and presumably still lived in —regarding the whereabouts of the books. The next day, on 28 June, JS added a postscript to the letter, stating that someone reported seeing Avard with the books but did not know where they were now.
JS may have written the letter with the expectation that would recover the books from and would then forgive the debts that church members owed him. Because the original letter is apparently not extant, it is unknown whether JS wrote the letter or relied on a scribe. It is also unknown whether or by what means the letter was sent, whether it reached Stollings, and how he reacted to it if he received it. copied the original letter or a retained copy into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between 28 June and 30 October 1839.
In answer to yours concerning those books I have to say that I have made enquiry concerning them as far as I consider there is any prospect of obtaining them for you, and not having been able to trace them in the least degree I have determined to give up the pursuit, I would recommend you to enquire after them of , as the only chance I know of at present. Your’s &c &c J. S. Jr
Mr . P S. Since writing the above I have ascertained of one man (who told me) that he saw have the Books, but what he did with them he knows not.
Following the state militia’s occupation of Far West, Missouri, beginning on 1 November 1838, Avard renounced the church, and he was a key witness for the prosecution in the November 1838 hearings. In spring 1839, when the main body of the church migrated to Illinois, Avard remained in Missouri. On 17 March 1839, he was excommunicated in absentia at a church conference in Quincy, Illinois. Avard and his family relocated to Madison County, Illinois, by mid-1840. (Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 123–124, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA; “Extracts of the Minutes of Conferences,” Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, 1:15; 1840 U.S. Census, Ridge Prairie, Madison Co., IL, 99; 1850 U.S. Census, Township 3 N R 6 W, Madison Co., IL, 474[B].)
Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.
In his November 1838 testimony, Avard acknowledged his participation in the expedition to Gallatin, Missouri, on 18 October 1838, although he offered no specifics regarding his activities. Latter-day Saint Morris Phelps, who also participated in the Saints’ activities in Gallatin, later recalled that “Sampson Avard in his rage hurled a pine brand into it [Stollings’s store] which melted it to ashes.” (Sampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. –, State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Jud. Cir. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Phelps, Reminiscences, 10.)
Phelps, Morris. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 271.