Letter from Benjamin Winchester, 18 September 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Sept 18th 1841
Dear Brother in the Lord
Having a few leisure Moments I set myself down to write a few lines to you Although it is some time since I have written to you yet I assure you that I have the same respect for you both in your public and private capassity that I ever had
<​*​> I have learned from a letter from addressed to one of the brethren in this that and are set apart to preach in Mass. Now when was here he requested me to accompany me to that place but did not mean which I promised to do but did not wish to be understood that [page torn]ould remain there any great length of time I have already performed that mission and assisted in commencing the work in that We published an “Address to the citizens of that a copy of which I will mail to you with this letter Now if it is possible for me [p. [1]] to be excused from going to at present I wish to be One reason is that can do as much preaching there as they <​we​> both could another is that I have supported myself <​and family​> with the exception of our board for the last year therefore, it has of necessity involved me in debt. To pay my debts I published the “Gospel Reflector” and other pamphlets thinking that I could realize proffit enough to meet my engagements but I have not sold enough <​to​> realize any benifit from the proffit of them Hence if I leave here my debts being unpaid it my creditors will be dissatisfied and make me trouble Again my health is verry poor at present I am afflicted with the Asthma when attacted with it some times for a week I cannot lay down It is generally brought on by cold easterly winds which are so frequent in the New England states Indeed I am not able to travel and preach as I have in former days If you should request me to go south to Ba[l]timore or else where I will try to go as soon as possible If you I could get any thing to do in to for a [p. [2]] livelyhood I should like it very much There is much printing to do in and as I am prety well <​somewhat​> acquainted with that buisness perhaps you could get me a situation of that kind
is here and talks of staying till spring but whether he will or not a I cannot tell neither do I care for it not any of my business All I have to say is that the way the repremand given in the “Times and Seasons” is explained away is a caution it amounts to this the Lord and you were mistaken H[e] pretends that he has not got mon[ey] enough; to this, I say he had money enough according to his own state ment when he arrived here first to overtake in or which he might <​have​> done had he been expeditious And he says that has enough to bear the expenses of them both I think that he has given up the idea of overtaking in Europe but thinks of sed a going immediately to without passing through the interior of Europe dont understand me that I wish to accuse to you for I do not— It seems to me that will be on his way back before gets there [p. [3]]
The work of the Lord is prospering in this section of the country I am subject to your counsel as far as is in my power Please write to me as soon as you get this if you have time for it would be a treat to have a letter from you
I never regretted the death of any man more that <​than​> that of and I said whose will “who can fill his place”
Yours respectfully
Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith
Hancock Co
<​ pa SEP 18​> [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    It is unclear when Winchester last wrote JS since no other letters from Winchester to JS have been located. Some of Winchester’s letters to various individuals did, however, appear in the church’s newspaper. (See “Important Church News,” Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:109; and Benjamin Winchester, Philadelphia, PA, 10 Feb. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:104.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  2. 2

    It is not clear why this asterisk was inscribed.  

  3. 3

    Lorenzo Barnes was one of the clerks at the 16 August 1841 special church conference at which Brigham Young assigned several individuals to embark on proselytizing missions. Two of the individuals named at that meeting were Benjamin Winchester and Erastus Snow, who were called to go to Salem, Massachusetts. (See Minutes, 16 Aug. 1841.)  

  4. 4

    Hyrum Smith and William Law passed through Philadelphia in early July 1841, having previously traveled through Salem Massachusetts. At that time, they asked Erastus Snow and Benjamin Winchester to go to Salem and “try to establish the kingdom in that city.” (Snow, Journal, 1841–1847, 3.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

  5. 5

    TEXT: Possibly “that I could” or “that I would”.  

  6. 6

    Snow and Winchester departed Philadelphia for Salem on 14 July 1841. Winchester left Salem by 9 September to return to Philadelphia. (Snow, Journal, 1841–1847, 5, 13.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

  7. 7

    According to Snow, after he and Winchester held a meeting at a crowded hall in Salem, they “wrote an address to the citizens of Salem and vicinity setting forth our doctrine in short inviting them out to hear us preach. It contained 8 large royal octavo pages. We got 2500 copies printed.” In addition to explaining the doctrine and beliefs of the church, the address refuted negative claims and perceptions about the church and its founder. It also featured Snow and Winchester’s testimony of the Book of Mormon and a brief history of the persecution of the Latter-day Saints in Missouri. (Snow, Journal, 1841–1847, 13; Snow and Winchester, Address to the Citizens of Salem, 1–8; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:171.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

    Snow, Erastus, and Benjamin Winchester. An Address to the Citizens of Salem and Vicinity. Salem, MA: Salem Observer Press, 1841.

    Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.

  8. 8

    The editor of the Times and Seasons published the Salem address in two parts: the first in the 15 October 1841 issue and the second in the 15 November 1841 issue. (Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:574–576; 15 Nov. 1841, 3:578–584.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  9. 9

    For more on Winchester’s confidence in Snow’s proselytizing, see Benjamin Winchester, Nauvoo, IL, to Erastus Snow, 12 Nov. 1841, in Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1841, 3:605.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  10. 10

    Winchester served as the editor of the Philadelphia-based Gospel Reflector, the first issue of which was released on 1 January 1841. It was printed twice a month until 15 June 1841, with “each number containing 24 royal octavo pages.” The first issue of the Gospel Reflector stated, “The object the publisher has in view, in publishing this work, is to further the cause of righteousness, unprejudice the minds of the prejudiced, and set the principles of our Holy Religion before the public in a plain and precise manner.” The paper also sought to combat false rumors about the church, to outline the leading principles of the Latter-day Saint faith, and to aid in the church’s missionary efforts in the eastern United States. (Nameplate, Gospel Reflector, 1 Jan. 1841, 1; Nameplate, Gospel Reflector, 15 June 1841, 297; “To the Reader,” Gospel Reflector, 1 Jan. 1841, 1.)  

    Gospel Reflector. Philadelphia. Jan.–June 1841.

  11. 11

    The special church conference of 16 August 1841 had already appointed John Murdock to travel to and preach in Baltimore, Maryland, and Samuel James to go to Washington DC. (See Minutes, 16 Aug. 1841.)  

  12. 12

    Page expressed similar expectations about the length of his stay in his 1 September letter to JS. (Letter from John E. Page, 1 Sept. 1841.)  

  13. 13

    The reprimand referenced by Winchester here refers to the notice printed in the 15 January 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons, which stated: “Elders Orson Hyde and John E. Page are informed, that the Lord is not well pleased with them in consequence of delaying their mission, (Elder John E. Page in particular,) and they are requested by the First Presidency to hasten their journey towards their destination.” (Notice, Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1841, 2:287.)  

  14. 14

    Page made similar statements about his and Hyde’s financial situations in a 1 September 1841 letter to JS. (Letter from John E. Page, 1 Sept. 1841.)  

  15. 15

    Page had previously expressed a lack of confidence in Winchester. (See Letter from John E. Page, 1 Sept. 1841.)  

  16. 16

    According to the Philadelphia branch records, more than fifty individuals were baptized into the church in Philadelphia during the first nine months of 1841. (“Names of the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Philadelphia,” in Philadelphia Branch Record Book.)  

    Philadelphia Branch, Record Book, 1840–1854. CCLA.

  17. 17

    JS’s brother Don Carlos Smith passed away on 7 August 1841. Notice of his death was published in the 16 August 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons. (See “Death of General Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:503; and Eliza R. Snow, “Lines, Written on the Death of Gen. Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:504.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  18. new scribe logo

    Stamped in blue ink.  

  19. 18

    TEXT: When the manuscript is unfolded, the address and postal markings appear immediately before the final paragraph of the letter.  

  20. new scribe logo

    Postal place and date stamped in blue ink.