Letter to Jennetta Richards Richards, 23 June 1842
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , Berkshire Co., MA, 23 June 1842; handwriting of ; address in handwriting of ; two pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket.
Single leaf measuring 12¼ × 7⅝ inches (31 × 19 cm). Document was trifolded twice in letter style for transmission. It was later folded twice horizontally for filing.
The document was given to the Church Historian’s Office at some point in the mid-nineteenth century—perhaps by ’s husband, —where it was docketed by , who appears to have consulted it while helping to write JS’s history. Bullock served as JS’s scribe from 1843 to 1844 and as clerk to the church historian and recorder from 1845 to 1865. The letter was listed in inventories that were produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early docket, circa 1904 inventories, and inclusion in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 23 June 1842, JS dictated a letter in , Illinois, to , the wife of his scribe and close friend, , while she was residing with her husband’s sisters in , Massachusetts. Jennetta and Willard had met in early 1838 while Willard was serving as a missionary in . They married in September 1838 and remained in England until spring 1841, when they traveled to the with a group of Latter-day Saints. In May 1841 they arrived in Richmond, where Willard’s sisters and Nancy lived. Jennetta remained in Richmond while Willard continued on to Nauvoo. During the couple’s separation, Jennetta struggled to adjust to life in Richmond and expressed her concerns to Willard in letters that are no longer extant. By June 1842 the couple had been apart for over a year, and Willard made plans to undertake a short mission to the eastern United States to transact business for the , collect donations for the Nauvoo , and help his family move to Nauvoo.
Around this time asked that JS write to her, and although he had not yet met her, in his reply he addressed Jennetta as a friend and expressed his desire to meet her and offer her counsel and instruction. JS’s letter also emphasized his affection for and reliance on her . In December 1841, Willard had been appointed JS’s private secretary as well as the temple recorder. In these roles, Willard kept JS’s journal, wrote and answered much of JS’s correspondence, and recorded the many financial documents JS received as and trustee-in-trust for the church. With JS’s many ecclesiastical and municipal responsibilities, Willard Richards and other scribes, like , provided crucial assistance in running JS’s Nauvoo office.
, who had assumed ’s clerical responsibilities as Richards prepared to depart, served as JS’s scribe for this letter. Richards inscribed the address and was the intended courier. The letter bears no postal markings, as Willard carried it with him when he left on 1 July 1842 to travel to . likely received the letter around 15 July when Willard arrived in Richmond.
In an early 1842 letter replying to Jennetta, Willard wrote: “My Sisters are not your enemies & I perceive by your letter you do not count them such.— I am glad to see your feelings are kind towards them. I am aware, that you & they have not understood each others feelings, & movements, & wishes.” He went on to reassure her: “I can explain many things to you when I see you.— they have meant many things for good which have appeared strange & unreasonable. all things may yet be put to rights.” (Willard Richards, [Nauvoo, IL], to Jennetta Richards Richards, [Richmond, MA], ca. Feb. 1842, Jennetta Richards Richards, Collection, CHL.)
Agreabley to your request, in the Midst of all the bustle, and buisness of the day, and the care of all the boath at home and abroad. I now imbrace a moment to adress a few words to you thinking peradventure it may be a consolation to you to know that you too are remembered by me as well as all the saints. my hearts desire and prayr to God is all the day long for all the saints and in an especial and poticular [particular] manner for those whom he hath chosen and anointed to bear the heaviest burthens in the heat of the day among which number is your raised received a man in whom I have the most implicit confidence and trust you say I have got him so I have in the which I rejoice, for he has done me great good and taken a great burthen burden off my shoulders since his arrival in never did I have greater intimacy with any man than with him may the blessings of Elijah crown his head forever and ever. we are about to send him in a few days after his dear family he shall have our pray’rs fervently for his safe arrival to their imbraces and may God speed his Journey and return him quickly to our society. and I want you beloved Sister, to be a Genral in this matter, in helping him along. which I know you will he will be able to teach you many things which you never have heard you may have implicit confidence in the same. I have heard much about you by the and in consequence of the great friendship that exists between your and me and the information they all have given me of your virtue and strong attachment to the truth of the work of God in the Last Days I have formed a very strong Brotherly friendship and attachment for you in the bonds of the Gosple, Although I never saw you I shall be exceedingly glad to see you face to face and be able to administer in the name of the Lord some of the words of Life to your consolation and I hope that you may be kept steadfast in the faith even unto the end, I want you should give my love and tender reguard to familey and those who are friendly enough to me to enquire after me: in that region of Country, not having but little time to apportion to anyone & have <having> stolen this oppertunity I therefore subscribe myself in haste your most Obedient Brother in the fulness of the Gosple Joseph Smith
In a February 1842 letter, Willard conveyed JS’s praise: “Joseph says he has been searching all his life time to find a man after his own heart, in all things, that he could trust with his business, & he has found him. who do you think it is? Dr Richards. will not this compensate for the loss of his company a little while my love?” (Willard Richards, [Nauvoo, IL], to Jennetta Richards Richards, [Richmond, MA], 26 Feb. 1842, Jennetta Richards Richards, Collection, CHL.)
This would have included not only what the apostles might have told him since their return from Great Britain but also their comments in earlier letters. The letters written by the Twelve Apostles while they were serving missions in England from 1840 to 1841 often commented on the health and well-being of their fellow apostles and their families. The apostles also sometimes added postscripts for their family in letters written by other apostles. Jennetta wrote a short postscript in one of Heber C. Kimball’s letters to his wife, Vilate Kimball. (Heber C. Kimball, Manchester, England, to Vilate Murray Kimball, Nauvoo, IL, 7 Oct. 1840, Heber C. Kimball, Collection, CHL.)
Kimball, Heber C. Collection, 1837–1898. CHL. MS 12476.
In a February 1842 letter to Jennetta, Willard noted: “Let us be patient and wait on the Lord— Jennetta, your faith has sometimes been weak as you have said, but I can truly say this work is of God, there is no mistake.” Given the friendship between Willard and JS, Willard may have discussed Jennetta’s concerns with him. (Willard Richards, [Nauvoo, IL], to Jennetta Richards Richards, [Richmond, MA], 26 Feb. 1842, Jennetta Richards Richards, Collection, CHL.)