Committee (including JS) on Vacating the Town Plats of and , Report, to the Nauvoo City Council, , Hancock Co., IL, 5 Feb. 1841; handwriting of and JS; signature of JS; Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL. Includes docket, mathematical equations, and archival markings.
Single leaf measuring 8¾ × 7¾ inches (22 × 20 cm). Fragments of a signature at the top of the recto show that the document was cut from a larger leaf. The document is ruled with twenty-six horizontal lines and one vertical line, all in blue ink (now faded). The document was inscribed in blue and brown ink and has four horizontal filing folds.
city records were kept in the Church Historian’s Office as early as the 1840s. This report appears to have been in institutional custody since its creation.
On 5 February 1841, JS, , and oversaw the creation of a report to the city council of , Illinois, regarding the town plats of and . Two days earlier at the first meeting of the Nauvoo City Council, they were tasked with considering Mayor ’s recommendation to eliminate the plats of Commerce and Commerce City, which had been subsumed by the new city of Nauvoo. As chair of the committee, JS signed the report, which recommended that the town plats of Commerce and Commerce City be vacated and merged with the plat of Nauvoo through a new survey of the lands.
Town plats were legal documents required for the incorporation of any city in . The plats of , , and had previously been surveyed in 1834, 1837, and 1839, respectively, and were recorded with . While acts of municipal incorporation in Illinois contained language specifying that new towns or cities could not rearrange or tamper with previously adopted plats, the 1839 purchase of Commerce City and the Nauvoo act of incorporation brought the plats of Commerce and Nauvoo both under the jurisdiction of the Nauvoo City Council. In fact, the description of the physical lands of Nauvoo as put forth in section 1 of the Nauvoo charter specifically included “the town plats of Commerce and Nauvoo.” Though later Illinois state legislation shows that town plats were typically vacated through an act of the state legislature, the Nauvoo City Council apparently deemed the alteration or of the earlier Commerce and Nauvoo town plats to be within its authority.
The committee report of 5 February demonstrated the efforts of the city council to streamline urban planning and management by unifying the lands of in one plat. JS presented the committee’s report orally to the city council on 8 February. After further discussion, the report was withdrawn “with liberty to amend.” JS brought the report and resolution, apparently unchanged, before the city council again on 1 March, which resulted in the passage of a city ordinance titled “An Ordinance in relation to Roads and Town Plots.”
Two versions of the 5 February committee report exist. The version featured here is the earliest and perhaps original version of the report. It appears that JS dictated the contents of the report to , who served as his scribe. After Thompson completed the draft, JS signed his name and penned the names of the other committee members on the verso. A fair copy inscribed by Jonathan Grimshaw in the mid-1850s appears in the addenda to the manuscript for the later published “History of Joseph Smith.” Grimshaw’s copy, which contains no substantive additions, may have been copied from the Thompson draft. Because the version in Thompson’s handwriting is the earliest version and includes JS’s handwriting, it has been selected as the featured version.
See An Act providing for the Recording of Town Plats [27 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 676–678.
The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.
Commerce was surveyed and platted by Hancock County surveyor John Johnston in May 1834. Hancock County surveyor James W. Brattle certified that he completed the survey of Commerce City on 28 April 1837. The Nauvoo plat was also surveyed by Brattle and attested by him on 30 August 1839. The plat was drawn in the Hancock County plat book by John C. Mather on 3 September 1839. (Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, pp. 10–11, 26–27, 37–39, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
See, for example, An Act to Incorporate the Town of Danville [3 Feb. 1839], Incorporation Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 10, sec. 10.
Incorporation Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eleventh General Assembly, Their Session Began and Held at Vandalia, the Third Day of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Eight. Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1839.
See An Act to Vacate a Part of the Town Plat of Wesley City, in the County of Tazewell [3 Mar. 1843], Laws of the State of Illinois [1842–1843], pp. 294–295; and An Act to Vacate the Town of Rock Island City [20 Feb. 1843], Laws of the State of Illinois [1842–1843], p. 299.
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Thirteenth General Assembly, at Their Regular Session, Began and Held at Springfield, on the Fifth of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty-Two. Springfield, IL: Walters and Weber, 1843.
Your committee to whom was reffered that portion of the address of his honor the , which he recommended the propriety of vacating the Towns plats and the city of , in and incorporating them with the city plot of would respectfully report: That they consider the reccommendation contained in the address as one of great importance to the future welfare and prosperity of this , and if carried into effect would make the streets regular and uniform and materially tend to beautify this city. We would therefore respectfully reccommend that the survey of the City of be carried through the town plots of and the City of as soon as it may be practible.
All of which is respectfully submitted
We would therefore reccommend to the council the passage of the following Resolution
That the Town plots of and be vacated and that the same stand vacated from this time forth. and for ever and that the same be incorporated with the City of from this time henceforth and for ever.