Letter from John E. Page, 1 September 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Sept 1 1841
To the President and council of the <​— At— ​>
Dear Bretheren in the Lord
I am hapy to say that I am well I believe my health is absilutely perfect— I hope in the Lord this may reach your hands finding you well— I have just heard of the suden death of Bro— which at the first gave me a senseation of astonishment that I never senseed before on hearing the news of the death of my bretheren
At first my heart said why was it <​so​> Lord for a moment I must say I was not reconciled; but soon the scene was changed— the spirit like a gentle mesenger rested upon me and whispered the consolating tidings to my anxous heart saying all is wright and all was well with our much beloved and high esteemed Bro — he has only gon[e] on a short errand to act in a more gloryfyed sphere in the great concerns of the Kingdom of God in makeing the nesisary arrangements with the saints in light preparitory to the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ who will come with the voice of the archangel and the sound of Gabrils <​trump​> bringing all the saints with him—
I feel that the death of must be a very severe blow upon his in her declineing years and also to the companion of the decd. [deceased] as well as to <​the​> rest of the surviveing relitives and also to the church as a body— Pl[e]ase tell for be <​me​> <​be​> comforted be reconciled rejoice in the Lord that it has been the Providence of our heavenly father <​to​> bless her with haveing the honor and glory of raising so worthy an heir of the highest mansion of our heavenly Fathers house— say to the mourning and much afflicted of the decd. Be comforted and dry up <​your​> tears the <​and​> say the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away and blessed be the name of the Lord— Shall not the God of all the Earth do right— yes sister the Lord has placed in a higher state of action and soon the veil will rend and then we shall see [p. 1] the of the most high God with a shineing retinue of the heavenly host attending down the skye Ranked with Micheal— Gabrel and the Prop[h]ets Joshua Gideon and the rest of those high Priests of God and Martialing charecters with Jesus the great head of of the first born made perfect as their great leader to take possession of the Earth chain the Devil and conquer Death and him that has the power thereof which is the Devil— with those bright and glorious prospects before you do not mourn as those that have no hope but regard that you[r] names are writen in heaven and that becaus we are blessed with the everlasting gospel and and the eternal of endless life whic[h] is the assureance and seal to life— glory— and imortality beyond the grave— hold on to the integrity of the Lord in that he has said Blessed is the dead that die in the Lord— from henceforth (I E henceforth from the time of the ministry of the everlasting gospel) for they rest from their labours and their works do follow them— To all the relitives of the decd. and the church as a body— May the God of peace speak peace to your mourning Spirits and make up the loss of with a more copeous effusion of the holy Spirit to your full and complete sanctifycation and ultimate salvation in the Kingdom of God even so in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ— Amen
A few words concerning my Mishion and then I close— It is now a few days over one year since left me in the latest account I have had of him was a letter dated the 8 of June 1841 he was then in expecting to start in a day or two for of Germany his letter was addressed to of I was in some two or three weeks I returned to this on busyness I shall return to soon— left the city of on the 13 of Feby with upwards of $500 and clothed in first rate style sufficient for years besides a good suply of the best of provisions for his [p. 2] voiage across the ociean— I am here with only $160 and but indiffernt clothes— let it be rem[em]bered by all the that had with him and concequently took with him all the means that we had raised for our mishion from of Adams Co. of Ill— to the city of excepting 23 dollars and 31 cents he left in my hands as he left me he alwa[y]s carryed the bag— at we parted for a few days for me to answer a call for preaching in a vilage called Milton wher I raised a verry respectable church in the mean time went to where in my absince he published a second Edition of the “Apeal to the American people” (2000 copies) when I arrived the work was about completed after disposing of as many of them as posible and suplying the market about and the adjacient county country he left me with some fourteen of or fifteen hundred on hand, <​to​> dispose of them the best way you can <​says he​> while I go ahead and visit with Churches in &c. saying to me stay and finish up the preaching that seemed nessesary to be done at that time in — I stayed till near the last of Oct and built up a church in — I then considered that had gon ahead and suplyed the market with the sale of the “Appeal” so I thought best in order to sell my Books I would go back to Milton &c and market my lumber that had so gracefullly lodged on my hands as his lackey— I found as quick a sale as I could reasonablely expect— however before navigation opened in the Spring— for me to return to and thus procede to left in Feb for Europe takeing all with him for he had visited every church in his way and raised in all the a very very liberal donations in the name of us both— and to make his plan effectual he has extoled me in every Branch to be something a great deal more than common [p. 3] as a preacher in order to stimulate the people to benevolence for our mishion and I must say he caried the matter through very effectually for he has left but very little behind him for me to glean— tho the in done the hansome thing by me <​yes​> more than I expected all things I considerd— experience has proved the correctness of my step in going back to <​to​> sell my “Appealsfor since I returned to and on the track of I have found but little sale for he had suplyed the market so I have some on hand yet
So it is has gon and that too on the strength of my money and I am here but not discouraged nor disheartened— I delight in the cause and the mishion it is a long road that has no turn my faith is I shall prehaps see as soon as if I should tarry till next Spring in If I can rais $100 more I mean to put right strait for and touch a<​t​> the European cities as I return seeing is there and will give the news as he goes and I will give the news as I return and that will make a vericty [veracity]—
There is one thing I am sure of and that is this— before I would left and took all the means with me and left behind as he has me; I would have suffered my head to have gon to the block or my body to the burning stake— Fair play or no play is the beauty of all plays— besides raising moneys for the mishion has raised money for some land purposes to some considerable extent besides sending some hansome suplyes to his family where as I have not sent one cent though I left the<​m​> as poor as poor can be— the fact <​is​> I am willing to serve the church but I do not like to be treated with contempt— Your in Christ—
[p. 4]
I send this communication by our verry worthy bro— I must say in justice <​to​> Bro. that <​I​> have been very much pleased with the Spirituality of and also his zeal with which he has laboured in the vineyard of the Lord since I fell into his society in and about he has been blessed of the Lord to add many souls to the Kingdom in this region of country— he is truly a destroying storm to sectarianism— I believe is a little apt like myself to labour to[o] hard for our own personal good health— I think I have reformed a little for my own good and I think if would try to do so to[o] it would militate for his good in the better engoyment of good health at least <​his​> lungs would hold out better— is humble spiritual and industerous in the cause and is worthy of the highest confidence of the —— I must say that if there is any Elder in the church that <​has​> reason to be thankful for the joys of the last day work of the Lord It is my humble self that in the midst of many infirmities for the want of more literary advantage than what I have enjoyed I feel quite humble in the presance of the refinement of the cities of & ; but the truth is mighty; and bears me conqueror through— so much so that is it seems my that the name of <​truth​> for singularity sake or truth sake or some sake or other the people will runn <​earnestly​> to here that great mormon say something peculiar to that kind of faith called Mormonism— I have had to contend much with the ministers of men who preach for hire and divine for money by the way of debate but from the first till the last It has been the means of opening the eyes of the people and waken up the enquiry after truth and the honest who will investigate do see the folly of our percicuters and the ignrance of the age relitive to the matters of religion— [p. 5] and so seeing many rush to the standard of the Lord and embrace the truth for truth sake— Let me therefore congratulate you by by saying I have had the great privilage of either or seeing baptised or confirming as many as 200 Souls since I left home the 15 day of April 1840— so the work rolls on and I rejoice in it. the Isreal of God is rallying to the Standard of truth— I have great access to the people in a new course of argument which I have adopted and that is this— I have lately availed myself of the purchase of Stevens and Catherwoods travels in Guatamalia or central America in which those gentlemen have exhibited by seventy plates the anticquities of that count[r]y which when compared with the book of Mormon so comp<​le​>tely proves the truth and divinety of the book of Mormon there is not a dog left to stir a tongue in an attempt to put down the collateral testimony which those records afford me in proof of the Book of Mormon— Next or second argument is the fullfillment of the Prophetical sayings which are in the Book of Mormon itself which stood in future to 1830 to be fullfilled in proof of itts own divinity— so that the day has gon by forever and gon by forever for any one high or low rich or poor learned or unlearned to sustain a position successfully against the Book of mormon or itts author or itts witnesses— I can truely say that with me every akeing void is filled I ask no more than I have allready obtained for argument to sustain tryumphantly forever the divine claims of the Book of Mormon— Suffer me here to say that it would be well for some efficient or could be sent to such an one as would sustain the confidence of the Branch to Preside <​over​> of that Branch— for at the present time there is a feeling exhisting in the hearts of some concerning Elder— [p. 6] that I think cannot be removed better than to change the this is not saying which is wrong or which is write— but my humble opinion is that has not been as wise in all things as he might have been and I presume the members have of the have not looked on the course and conduct of as <​in​> that charitable light that they might do— — is very sanguine and unyealding in his course of econemy concerning matters and things in the — and there are some of the members of the same propencity and those of the first class of respectibility in the Branch— so I think that all that is stric<​t​>ly ne[ce]ssary to be done is that the Branch have a new President there is yet a great work to be done in this there is many additions made to the Branch almost every week and many who are fully convinced of the truth <​of the​> faith who only stay back for the sake of a popular name and some say to me that they will not join while Presides of so I think to change the Pastors it will maker fatter calves—
I will here give you the plain sentiment of my heart as it really is before God without dissimilation or varnishing for the better or for the worse and trust providence for the event whether it throws me high or throws me low concerning — I will do him Justice in all things he is an efficient man for the place he is in and more compitent than myself to perform the mishion apointed him— I shall therfore <​neither​> say nor do any thing to lay a hindering cause before him in his mishion I hope the God of Isreal will bear him conquerer through to perform his mishion for the good of But to Justice also to myself I must say and I will indipendantly say that from his course of conduct with me in his treatment to me in assumeing over me as tho I was not of as much importance as himself— I do not want to neither will I seek to accompyny him in the ministry <​only by positive commandment of the Lord—​> [p. 7] it is true I have not had the oppertunity of acquireing that degree of literary science as he has done— yet I feel that my feeling are as fine and as delicate as his— I am a man that allways was willing to pull in an even yoke with my fellowmen but I am not willing to submit to an assuming disposition neither willingly suffer myself to be treated with neglect or to become any persons lacky or foot Page without proper resentment— I would not have you understand by this that I wish to be excused from my mishion no by no means— I have always delighted in the Idea of speaking comfortably to and my heart and soul is as much engaged in the cause as ever and my faith is I shall yet see and preach the gospel where Christ and his apostles Preached it— But I do think that any man that would treat me with that neglect that has me he would betray me in a more criticle hour if by so doing he could save his own life (read the story of the two bears)
The fact of the in returning to euro from Europe haveing not means to return home without raising means in tells me there is a poor chance for me to rais means in Europe to go to see<​ing​> also that has done there as he has here gone ahead and raised all for us both and gon with the same— I think that I shall see sooner by staying in this winter in order to rais means as I think I can rais three dollars in where I can one dollar in Europe— I have what would take me in Europe and get me some clothes when I get there and then I mus[t] stop till I can rais means to procede to as has all in my name and his own also— I must close by saying that I hope to ever sustain you confidence and an intrest in you Prayers of faith—
yours in the bonds of the New Cov.
Joseph Smith Jr and And his council— Write me at — No— 13. Oliver Street care of
<​Give my love to the Twelve and all the —​> [p. 8]


  1. 1

    This probably refers to JS and his counselors in the First Presidency, though it may also refer to the entire Nauvoo high council.  

  2. 2

    On 7 August 1841, Don Carlos Smith died unexpectedly at the age of twenty-five. Two days later, Don Carlos “was buried with military honors, holding at the time of his death the office of Brigadier General of the 2nd Cohort of the Nauvoo Legion.” He was remembered as a “kind affable, generous, and pious character.” Page was not the only Latter-day Saint to write heartfelt condolences for the loss of Don Carlos Smith. Lyman O. Littlefield also wrote a letter extolling Don Carlos’s virtues, as did Benjamin Winchester. (“Death of General Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:503; “To the Memory of the Late Brigadier Gen’l Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:514–515; Letter from Benjamin Winchester, 18 Sept. 1841; see also Ebenezer Robinson, “To the Patrons of the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:511.)  

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

  3. 3

    See 1 Thessalonians 4:16.  

  4. 4

    See John 14:2.  

  5. 5

    See Job 1:21.  

  6. 6

    Don Carlos Smith had served as the president of the high priests quorum in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo. (Minutes, 15 Jan. 1836; Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839.)  

  7. 7

    See Revelation 14:13.  

  8. 8

    For more on the early missionary companionship of Hyde and Page, see Letter from Orson Hyde, 28 Sept. 1840.  

  9. 9

    Orson Hyde was still in London on 15 June when he wrote a letter to JS. In that letter he expressed regret that “Elder Page had been so tardy in his movements, that objections were made to him.” Hyde continued: “Most gladly would I have hailed him as a companion to the Oriental Continent; but my hopes of that are fled. I shall go alone, or find some other person in all probability to go with me.” (See Letter from Orson Hyde, 15 June 1841.)  

  10. 10

    Cincinnati was the publishing and printing center of the western United States at this time. “Apeal to the American people” refers to Sidney Rigdon’s tract, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri, second edition (Cincinnati: Shepard and Stearns, 1840). Hyde and Page printed and distributed Rigdon’s tract. According to a notice in the Times and Seasons, the second edition was published by Hyde and Page and was being sold in Nauvoo. (Teaford, Cities of the Heartland, 13–16; Sutton, “Cincinnati as a Frontier Publishing and Book Trade Center,” 142–143; “Also,” Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1841, 2:288.)  

    Teaford, Jon C. Cities of the Heartland: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Midwest. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

    Sutton, Walter. “Cincinnati as a Frontier Publishing and Book Trade Center, 1796–1830.” Ohio History 56, no. 2 (Apr. 1947): 117–143.

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

  11. 11

    According to an early American steamboat directory, ice on the Ohio River usually broke up in February, opening the river for navigation. In March 1838 the chief engineer of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad reported that “the navigation of the Ohio River opens always by the 1st of March, and generally by the middle of February.” (Lloyd, Lloyd’s Steamboat Directory, 50–51; Documents Submitted by the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road Company, 12; Lass, Navigating the Missouri, 89; see also Roberts, Improvement of the Ohio River, 14, 25.)  

    Lloyd, James T. Lloyd’s Steamboat Directory, and Disasters on the Western Waters, Containing the History of the First Application of Steam, as a Motive Power. . . . Cincinnati: James T. Lloyd, 1856.

    Documents Submitted by the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road Company, in Behalf of Their Application to the Legislature of Virginia. Richmond, VA: Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, 1838.

    Lass, William E. Navigating the Missouri: Steamboating on Nature’s Highway, 1819–1835. Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark, 2008.

    Roberts, W. Milnor. Practical Views on the Proposed Improvement of the Ohio River. Philadelphia: Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1857.

  12. 12

    Earlier in 1841, William Smith assisted with missionary work in Iowa Territory and remained there until the April general conference in Nauvoo, when he was appointed to travel and collect funds for the Nauvoo temple. William eventually received a different commission from his brother Hyrum Smith: while he traveled in the eastern United States, William was to acquire land deeds to help pay off debts to Horace Hotchkiss for land purchased in Nauvoo. (“Truth Prevailing,” Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1841, 2:350; Minutes, 7–11 Apr. 1841; Letter from William Smith, 5 Aug. 1841.)  

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

  13. 13

    See Letter from William Smith, 5 Aug. 1841.  

  14. 14

    A letter from John Cairns published in the Times and Seasons referenced Page’s proselytizing efforts. Cairns wrote that in mid-January 1841, he and Page visited many towns and villages in Ohio and Indiana, where “hundreds acknowledged Mormonism to be the only truth if the bible was true; so, that those who formerly were enemies, because of reports, are now friends and advocates.” (John Cairns, Nauvoo, IL, July 1841, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 2 Aug. 1841, 2:491.)  

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

  15. 15

    The work Page refers to here is Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1841), a two-volume work by John Lloyd Stephens. In the 15 June 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons, a lengthy summary of the book called it an “interesting account of the Antiquities of Central America, which have been discovered by two eminent travellers who have spent considerable labor, to bring to light the remains of ancient buildings, architecture &c., which prove beyond controversy that, on this vast continent, once flourished a mighty people, skilled in the arts and sciences, and whose splendor would not be eclipsed by any of the nations of Antiquity.” In early September 1841, John M. Bernhisel sent a copy of Stephens’s book to JS via Wilford Woodruff, who was returning to Nauvoo from New York at that time. (“American Antiquities,” Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:440; Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 8 Sept. 1841; Woodruff, Journal, 9 Sept. 1841.)  

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

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  16. 16

    Benjamin Winchester became the presiding elder in Philadelphia in April 1840. (Philadelphia Branch Record Book, 6 Apr. and 16 Nov. 1840.)  

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

  17. 17

    Though it is unclear how many more members had joined the Philadelphia branch at the time of Page’s 1 September letter, at the 6 April 1841 conference held in the city, Benjamin Winchester reported that the Philadelphia branch consisted of “214 members, including 13 Elders, in good standing.” That number was up only marginally from the 207 members reported at a conference held in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on 18 July 1840. According to the Philadelphia branch records, more than fifty individuals were baptized into the church in Philadelphia during the first nine months of 1841. (Philadelphia Branch Record Book, 6 Apr. 1841; Minutes, Brandywine, PA, 18 July 1840, in Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:106; “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.

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

  18. 18

    For more on the mission to Jerusalem, see Orson Hyde, Letter Extract, Franklin, OH, 7 July 1840, in Times and Seasons, Aug. 1840, 1:156–157; Letter from Orson Hyde, 15 June 1841; and Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840.  

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

  19. 19

    TEXT: This insertion was inscribed vertically along the bottom right edge of the page.  

  20. 20

    Although Page mentioned two bears, he may have actually been referring to Aesop’s fable “The Travellers and the Bear,” in which there are two men and one bear. The fable reads: “Two men being to travel through a forest together, mutually promised to stand by each other in any danger they should meet upon the way. They had not gone far before a Bear came rushing towards them out of a thicket; upon which, one being a light nimble fellow, got up into a tree; the other falling flat upon his face, and holding his breath, lay still, while the Bear came up and smelled at him; but that creature, supposing him to be a dead carcase, went back again into the wood, without doing him the least harm. When all was over, the spark who had climbed the tree came down to his companion, and, with a pleasant smile, asked him what the Bear had said to him; ‘for,’ says he, ‘I took notice that he clapt his mouth very close to your ear.’ ‘Why,’ replies the other, ‘he charged me to take care for the future, not to put any confidence in such cowardly rascals as you are.’” In essence, Page was suggesting that Hyde did not act as a true friend and that Page no longer trusted Hyde because Hyde was not willing to remain with Page on their mission. (Croxall, Fables of Aesop, 83–84.)  

    Croxall, Samuel. Fables of Aesop and Others: Translated into English with Instructive Applications, and a Cut before Each Fable. New ed. London: A. Millar, W. Law, and R. Cater, 1792.

  21. 21

    TEXT: This insertion was inscribed along the top left edge of the page.