Letter to the Presidency in Kirtland, 29 March 1838
JS, Letter, , Caldwell Co., MO, to “the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Kirtland,” , Geauga Co., OH, 29 Mar. 1838. Featured version copied [ca. mid- or late Apr. 1838] in JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, pp. 23–26; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes use marks. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838.
About two weeks after JS’s arrival in , Missouri, he wrote the following letter to the of the church in , Ohio: , president, and and , assistant presidents. In the letter, JS recounted the difficulties of the journey from Kirtland in the middle of winter, his safe arrival in Far West, and information regarding and his family, who had stopped traveling for several days because of illness. JS and his family had pushed on, arriving in Far West on 14 March. , Rigdon’s son-in-law, arrived two weeks later, on 28 March, with news that Rigdon would probably arrive soon.
JS’s letter to the presidency also reported that the problems with and , former members of the presidency, had been recently “a[d]justed” by and in collaboration with the . JS conveyed expressions of friendship for those in Kirtland and relayed a vision he had seen of , which JS interpreted as an indication that God would deliver Marks from his enemies. JS requested that the Saints migrating to bring seeds for vegetables, fruit trees, and hay and bring well-bred cattle and horses. With the letter, JS enclosed a copy of the “Motto of the Church of Christ of LatterdaySaints,” which he had composed for the church upon arriving in .
Although the original letter sent to the presidency is apparently not extant, made a copy of the letter in JS’s “Scriptory Book.” Robinson apparently made this transcript from a retained copy of the letter sometime in mid- or late April.
John Smith and Clarissa Lyman Smith, Kirtland, OH, to George A. Smith, Shinnston, VA, 1 Jan. 1838, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL; Hepzibah Richards, Kirtland, OH, to Willard Richards, Bedford, England, 18–19 Jan. 1838, Willard Richards, Papers, CHL.
Smith, George Albert. Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322.
Richards, Willard. Journals and Papers, 1821–1854. CHL.
The letter references the enclosure of the motto, stating that the motto was transcribed in the Scriptory Book. This indicates that the Scriptory Book, which begins in and is almost entirely in Robinson’s handwriting, was started sometime between Robinson’s arrival in Far West on 28 March and JS’s composition of the letter on 29 March. Although Robinson began the book at this time, with an account of JS’s arrival in Far West and a copy of the motto, he apparently did not add anything further to the book until the middle of April, at the time of the excommunications of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer. The title page of the Scriptory Book is dated 12 April 1838, the date of Cowdery’s church trial, and editorial notes between the various documents that Robinson transcribed into the book explain how the events documented in the various transcripts led up to the excommunications of Cowdery and Whitmer. (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, pp. 15–32.)
to this place, but have prevailed nothing, We have no uneaseness about the power of our enimies in this place to do us harm Br & family arrived here soon after we did in go[o]d health. Br Br & Br arrivd here when we did, They were with us on the last of our journey which ad[d]ed much to our sattisfaction, They also are well They have provided places for their families & are now about to break the ground for seed, Being under the hand of wicked vexatious Lawsuits for seven years past my buisness was so dangerous that I was not able to leave it, in as good a situation as I had antisipated, but if there are any wrongs, They shall all be noticed so far as the Lord gives me ability & power to do so, say to all the brotheren that I have not forgotten them, but remember them in my prayers, Say to that I remembr her, Also Br Br Stong & family Br & family, Finally I cannot innumerate them all for the want of room I will just name Br Knights the &c. My best respects to them all for the want of room & I commend them and the of God in to our Heavenly Father & the word of his grace, which is able to make you wise unto Salvation I would just say to , that I saw in a vision while on the road that whereas he was closely persued by an innumerable concource of enimies and as they pressed upon him hard as if they were about to devour him, It <&> had seemingly attained some degre[e] of advantage over him But about this time a chariot of fire came and near the place and the Angel of the Lord put forth his hand unto & said [p. 25]
For an example of correspondence from dissidents, see Lyman Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to Oliver Cowdery, Richmond, MO, 21 Aug. 1838, photocopy, CHL.
Cowdery, Lyman. Letter, Kirtland, OH, to Oliver Cowdery, Richmond, MO, 21 Aug. 1838. Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Photocopy at CHL.
JS incurred several thousand dollars of debt while living in Kirtland, primarily as a result of building the Kirtland House of the Lord.a Prior to leaving for Missouri, he appointed William Marks and others to oversee efforts to pay church debts.b
Sarah Burt Beman was the widow of Alvah Beman, with whom the Smith family had been friends since before the organization of the church in 1830. (Noble and Noble, Reminiscences, ; Pratt, Autobiography, 117–118; “Mormonism—No. II,” Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859, 167.
Noble, Joseph B., and Mary Adeline Beman Noble. Reminiscences, ca. 1836. CHL. MS 1031, fd. 1.
Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.
“Mormonism,” Tiffany’s Monthly 5 (May 1859): 46–51; (July 1859): 119–121; (Aug. 1859): 163–170. Tiffany's Monthly. New York City. 1856–1859.
Possibly Ezra Strong Sr. (1788–1877) or Harvey Strong (1803–1875). (Backman, Profile, 69; Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Northwest Illinois District, Church Records, 1866–1870, pp. 4–5, microfilm 1,927,666; Berrien Co., MI, Death Records, 1867–1929, 1934–1967, vol. A, p. 158, microfilm 945,406, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Backman, Milton V., Jr., comp. A Profile of Latter-day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio, and Members of Zion’s Camp, 1830–1839: Vital Statistics and Sources. 2nd ed. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1983.