Letter to the Church in Colesville, 2 December 1830
JS and , Letter, , Seneca Co., NY, to “Dearly beloved in the Lord” [church members], [, NY], 2 Dec. 1830. Featured version copied [ca. 1871] in , History, 196–211; unidentified handwriting; private possession. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Newel Knight and the Church in Colesville, 28 August 1830.
This letter gives instructions to the church members in , New York, in general but also addresses JS’s brother in particular. At the time JS and wrote it, Hyrum and his wife, , were living in Colesville with and his wife, . Hyrum Smith and Newel Knight were engaged in preaching in the area. The letter included a copy of a recently received letter from , who reported on the great success he and his three missionary companions were experiencing in the area around , Ohio. The entire letter, including Cowdery’s communication, was eventually copied into Newel Knight’s autobiography.
This letter was apparently part of an ongoing correspondence, not all of which is extant, between JS and members of the church in . Like JS’s August 1830 letter to members in Colesville, it reflects a belief in an imminent Second Coming and cites international political conflict and natural catastrophes as evidence that “the prophecies of the Book of Mormon are fulfilling as fast as time can bring it about.”
The apocalyptic content of the letter raises the possibility that it may also have been intended to prepare the Colesville branch for the forthcoming exodus of church members from New York to Ohio, declaring as it did that the “time is soon at hand that we shall have to flee whithersoever the Lord will, for safety.” The inclusion of Cowdery’s letter, with its encouraging commentary on the work in Kirtland, may have helped prepare members in Colesville to respond positively to the call to leave New York and remove to that distant location. However, no other evidence indicates that JS was contemplating a move to Ohio prior to the 30 December revelation. (See Revelation, 30 Dec. 1830 [D&C 37:2–3].)
for the debt, if they only could obtain your body. They were there with carriages. Therefore beware of the Freemasons, This from yours &c.
Geauga Co. Ohio
Novr. 12th. 1830
Our beloved brethren
We arrived at this place two weeks this day, On our journey we called at the Buffalo tribe, but stayed a few hours only but left two books with them. We then traveled [p. 207]
Hyrum Smith belonged to Palmyra’s Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112. When he left for Colesville, he owed a small debt to Alexander McIntyre, the Smiths’ family doctor. Lucy Mack Smith paid the debt in corn and beans but was subsequently visited by several men seeking payment. Not believing her that the debt had already been paid, they were about to take stored corn when William Smith arrived and forced them to leave. (Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minute Book, 30 Dec. 1841; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 4, –; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 181–184.)
Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minute Book. / “Record of Na[u]voo Lodge Under Dispensation,” 1842–1846. CHL. MS 3436