, Note, [, Geauga Co., OH], to JS, [, Geauga Co., OH], 9 Jan. 1836. Featured version copied [ca. 9 Jan. 1836] in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, p. 102; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS, Journal, 1835–1836.
At “about 11, oclock” in the morning on 9 January 1836, JS was attending the when he received a note from , asking him to attend a feast for the “poor & lame” at Whitney’s home. JS then “dismissed the School in order to attend to this polite invitation with [his] & .”
As the ’s in , Ohio, had the responsibility to care for the poor and support those in need. When he was appointed bishop on 4 December 1831, Whitney was directed to “receive the funds of the church” and then to reallocate money and goods to the “poor and needy and he who hath not wherewith to pay.” As early as September 1832, a revelation commanded Whitney, as bishop, to “travel round about and among all the churches searching after the poor to administer to ther wants by humbling the rich and the proud.” On 7 October 1835, JS gave a blessing to Whitney that focused on his role as bishop and reminded him of his responsibility to the poor in Kirtland. That blessing also contained spiritual promises for Whitney if he would “deal with a liberal hand to the poor” and “exalt the poor and humble the rich.” The December 1835 issue of the Messenger and Advocate likewise featured an article that alluded to teachings about charity found in the Old Testament and JS’s revelations. It admonished church members generally to “remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support.”
In early January 1836, and his wife, , hosted a three-day gathering of the church community’s poor in . After attending the first day of the event on 7 January, JS wrote in his journal that he “attended a sumptuous feast at Bishop N. K. Whitneys this feast was after the order of the Son of God the lame the halt and blind wer invited according to the instruction of the Saviour.” The “bountiful refreshment, furnished by the liberality of the Bishop” was accompanied with joyful prayer and song, and gave patriarchal blessings to Newel K. Whitney’s parents and others in attendance. Though Elizabeth Ann Whitney later remembered that JS and his two counselors were “present each day, talking, blessing, and comforting the poor,” JS’s journal indicates that he instead studied at the Hebrew School on the second day of the feast, 8 January 1836. Perhaps Newel K. Whitney sent the 9 January note featured here because of JS’s absence the previous day. In any case, Whitney explained that “the voice of the spirit” told him that the poor would be blessed if JS came to the final day of the gathering. According to JS’s journal, he “attended the feast” on 9 January at which “a large congregation assembled a number was blessed under the hands of father Smith, and we had a good time.”
The original note is no longer extant, and JS’s journal preserves the only known copy. The residue of an adhesive wafer in the journal suggests that the original, likely written by on the morning of 9 January 1836, was temporarily attached to a journal page while JS’s scribe copied the note into the journal.
“Good Understanding Giveth Favor,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, 2:239. The wording found in the Messenger and Advocate article is similar to that found in a 9 February 1831 revelation, especially to the later version of that revelation found in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, which stated, “Thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties, for their support.” (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–31]; Doctrine and Covenants 13:8, 1835 ed. [D&C 42:30].)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Thus saith the voice of the spirit to me, if thy Brother Joseph Smith jr will attend the feast at thy house this day (at 12 ocl) the poor & lame will rejoice at his presence & also think themselves honored—
The modest house of Newel K. and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, located across the road from their store, measured 28½ feet by 25½ feet, with a 20-by-12-foot summer kitchen attached in the rear. (Staker, “Thou Art the Man,” 88.)