JS, , , , , and , Mortgage for property in , Geauga Co., OH, to Zalmon H. Mead, Robert Mead, and Jonas Stafford of Mead, Stafford & Co., 11 July 1837; handwriting of and ; signatures of JS, , , , , and ; three pages; Hiram Kimball Collection, CHL. Includes seals and dockets.
Two leaves, each measuring 12⅜ × 7⅞ inches (31 × 20 cm). Both leaves contain thirty-eight lines, now faded. A handwritten seal follows each of the signatures. Different ink flow beginning at the signatures indicates the document may have been composed in more than one session. Four adhesive wafer halves attach the leaves together at the top. The document was folded in a parallel fold twice and docketed three times by . The document was subsequently folded in half again. Complete tears at the folds were conserved in 2013.
This manuscript, along with other personal and institutional papers kept, were inherited by , husband of Granger’s daughter Sarah Granger Kimball. Hiram Kimball’s papers and other manuscripts were in the possession of Preston W. Kimball, a descendant of Hiram’s brother Phineas, until they were given to LeRoy L. Kimball (no relation), founder of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc. The Hiram Kimball Collection was donated to the Church History Library in 2013.
On 11 July 1837, JS, , , , , and signed the agreement featured here, mortgaging the in , Ohio, to Zalmon H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead, the principals of the mercantile firm Mead, Stafford & Co. JS and his associates had previously done business with Mead, Stafford & Co. in October 1836, when their own mercantile firms—Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery and Cahoon, Carter & Co.—purchased goods in New York City to be sold in their stores in and around Kirtland.
The 11 July 1837 mortgage was written by , Ohio, lawyer , who was likely acting on behalf of Mead, Stafford & Co. Earlier mortgage agreements involving JS had been large land purchases and had given JS and his co-financers access to the land before they had completed payments on it. In the case of the agreement featured here, the , or temple, was mortgaged to Mead, Stafford & Co., but JS and the church retained use of the building as they paid off the mortgage. The land on which the House of the Lord was built was also involved in the mortgage agreement, but because JS had transferred the title from himself to in April 1837, a separate deed was made on 11 July 1837 to convey the land title from Marks to Mead, Stafford & Co. The terms of that deed were dependent on the mortgage agreement featured here.
As part of the mortgage agreement, JS and his five cosigners sold the to Mead, Stafford & Co., who held it as collateral for the debts owed the company. In order to pay off the debt and regain the title to the House of the Lord, JS and the five other men signed three promissory notes, due annually to Mead, Stafford & Co. on 8 July from 1838 to 1840 and amounting to $4,393.77, not including interest. The sum of the promissory notes specified in the assignment was not equivalent to the original $4,500 that the firm agreed to provide JS and his five cosigners, but the addition of interest would have increased the amount due on the promissory notes beyond the $4,500. According to the agreement, if JS and his associates paid these three notes, the sale and assignment of the House of the Lord and the land it was built on would become void. If they failed to pay the three promissory notes, then Mead, Stafford & Co. could take possession of the edifice and everything therein after 8 July 1840.
The first promissory note, which was due on 8 July 1838, appears to have not been paid. This meant that Mead, Stafford & Co. could bring a lawsuit against JS and the other men on the outstanding debt. The firm did not do so, however, and in his role as an agent for the church continued trying to resolve the debt. According to a May 1841 letter from JS to Granger, the mortgage for the appeared to have been resolved by that time.
Mead, Stafford & Co. was a wholesale grocery and commission business composed of Jonas Stafford and brothers Zalmon and Robert Mead. The firm was in operation from 1834 to 1839. In 1839, Jonas Stafford left the partnership, and Zalmon and Robert formed a new firm named Z. & R. Mead, which they ran from 1839 to 1841. (Mead, History and Genealogy of the Mead Family, 377; “Co-Partnership Notice,” New-York Commercial Advertiser, 4 Feb. 1839, ; Longworth, Longworth’s American Almanac , 543; , 429; , 455; , 490.)
Mead, Spencer P. History and Genealogy of the Mead Family of Fairfield County, Connecticut, Eastern New York, Western Vermont and Western Pennsylvania from A.D. 1180 to 1900. New York: Knickerbocker, 1901.
Commercial Advertiser. New York City. 1820–1863.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Fifty-Ninth Year of American Independence. . . . New York: Thomas Longworth, 1834.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, of the Sixty-Second Year of American Independence. . . . New York: Thomas Longworth, 1837.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, of the Sixty-Fourth Year of American Independence. . . . New York: Thomas Longworth, 1839.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Sixty-Sixth Year of American Independence. . . . New York: Thomas Longworth, 1841.
Reuben Hitchcock was born in 1806 to Peter Hitchcock and Nabbie Cook. He moved to Painesville, Geauga County, Ohio, and was admitted to the Ohio bar around 1831. He served as the prosecuting attorney in Geauga County in 1835 and 1838–1839 and was involved in legal proceedings against JS during that time. On 11 July 1837, Hitchcock and Eli T. Wilder began advertising their partnership in a legal practice. (History of Geauga and Lake Counties, 23, 61–62; “Death of Judge Reuben Hitchcock of Painesville,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 13 Dec. 1883, ; “Law Notice,” Painesville Telegraph, 21 July 1837, .)
History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Pioneers and Most Prominent Men. Philadelphia: Williams Brothers, 1878.
Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 24, pp. 211–213, 11 July 1837, microfilm 20,240, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also Historical Introduction to Deed to William Marks, 10 Apr. 1837. Marks’s willingness to sell the title to Mead, Stafford & Co. suggests that in April 1837 he was likely acting as an agent for JS and holding the right to the land rather than purchasing the land for his own use. The printing office and the church newspaper it printed, the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, were also transferred to Marks, as JS and Rigdon’s agent, in April 1837. (See Historical Introduction to Deed to William Marks, 10 Apr. 1837; and “Notice,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, 3:496.)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Two of the promissory notes are extant and are held in private possession. Photographs of the notes show no endorsements or cancellations to indicate any payments were made. The note due on 8 July 1839 has court information recorded on the back of the note relating to possible litigation in 1841 and 1849.
According to debts recorded in Willard Richards’s 1837 journal, the three firms owed Mead, Stafford & Co. at least $3,761.90 by March 1837. An additional debt listed in the journal, for $404.47, is not attributed to a specific firm but could account for additional debts to Mead, Stafford & Co., which would bring the total owed to $4,166.37. If Mead, Stafford & Co. forgave a general amount rather than a specific debt, they would be making a profit from the three promissory notes rather than agreeing to a deficit. (Richards, Journal, 1837; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 24, pp. 211–214, 11 July 1837, microfilm 20,240, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
A bill sent to JS in 1838 from the legal partnership of Hitchcock & Wilder provides evidence of a possible lawsuit. The promissory notes to Mead, Stafford & Co. are listed as outstanding debts. The bill states that no suit had been brought. (Hitchcock & Wilder to JS and Sidney Rigdon, Bill, between 9 July and 5 Nov. 1838, JS Collection, CHL.)
Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.
JS, Nauvoo, IL, to Oliver Granger, 4 May 1841, copy, JS Collection, CHL. In October 1843, when JS compiled his outstanding debts in order to file for bankruptcy in Illinois, he did not include the promissory notes given to Mead, Stafford & Co., suggesting he considered the debt paid. However, the verso of one of the promissory notes due in 1838 and 1839 bears court filing notations dated April 1849, which suggests it was brought as evidence of an outstanding debt against JS’s estate. (William Marks to JS, Deed, 11 Feb. 1841; JS, “Schedule of Debts,” ca. 4–6 Oct. 1843, CCLA; JS and Others to Mead, Stafford & Co., Promissory Note, 11 July 1837, copy, CHL.)
Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.
Smith, Joseph. “Schedule of Debts,” ca. 4–6 Oct. 1843. CCLA.
Smith, Joseph. Promissory Note to Mead, Stafford & Co., 11 July 1837. Copy. CHL.
Know all men by these presents, that we Joseph Smith junior , , , , and of , County of Geauga and State of Ohio, in consideration of the sum of four thousand five hundred Dollars received to our full satisfaction of Zalmon H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead merchants of the City of trading under the name and firm of Mead Stafford & Co, do hereby bargain, sell, assign and transfer to the said Zalmon H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead merchants of the City of trading under the name and firm of Mead Stafford & Co as aforesaid, their heirs and assigns, all the right, title, and interest, which we, or either, or any of us leave in and to the in situate in aforesaid, called also the “” and in and to the land on which the same is situate, and including and hereby expressly selling and conveying to the said Zalmon H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead their heirs and assigns all the right, title, and interest which we or either of us have in and to any and all furniture used in and about said , and in and to all ancient curiosities, writings paintings or & sculpture, therein contained and an kept, and including also, and hereby expressly understood selling and conveying to said Zalmon P H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead <any and> all the debts in any manner due and owing to us or either or any of us for services renderd, materials furnished, or advances of money or other property made for the building & <furnishing> of said house, and particularly a debt of about six <sixteen> thousand Dollars due said , , and for advances made towards the building & furnishing of said — To have and to hold all the premises aforesaid to the said Zalmon H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead, their heirs or assigns forever <to their own proper use & behoof forever—> On the
The condition of the above instrument is such that whereas we the said Joseph Smith junior, , , , , and have this day executed and delivered to the said Zalmon P H. Mead, Jonas Stafford, and Robert W. Mead our three joint and several promissory notes all duly executed by us and all bearing even date herewith [p. ]
The ancient curiosities and writings likely included the Egyptian mummies and papyri. The mummies were displayed in the upper rooms of the KirtlandHouse of the Lord for a time. Although the mortgage agreement initially included the Egyptian artifacts, an addendum signed by JS, found at the end of this featured text, excluded them from the mortgage. (Woodruff, Journal, 25 Nov. 1836; for more on the Egyptian artifacts, see Book of Abraham Manuscript, ca. Early July–ca. Nov. 1835–A [Abraham 1:4–2:6].)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.