Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 12 July 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

July 12, 1841.
Dear Brother,
I have received your favor of the 13th of April, informing me that it would be impossible to enter any land except prairie at Congress price, and kindly offering to procure a suitable place for me if I should advise you to do so. Enclosed you will receive a certificate of deposite for four hundred and twenty five dollars on the Greenwich bank in this , and you will have the goodness to purchase as soon as a a favorable opportunity offers (for I presume it will advance rapidly in price) as large a tract of good land, with a sufficient quantity of timber, in a healthful location, and within a convenient distance, say one two or three miles of , as you can for about five hundred dollars, the remaining seventy five I will remit to you on or before the 1st of July of next year. Be pleased to have the deed recorded and retain it in your possession until the balance is paid, for I suppose it will not be necessary to execute a mortgage on the property for so small an amount. Of the value of the improvements I care but little as my object is to procure as large a tract of land as I can with my limited means. When you have made the purchase, you will please to rent it to such a tenant and on such terms as you would if it were your own. You will greatly oblige me by immediately acknowledging the receipt of the enclosed certificate, and writing me when you have effected a purchase. [p. [1]] I have delivered your Message to the Bretheren here respecting your reply to their letter on the subject of for the dead. We were rejoiced to here that you were delivered out of the hands of wicked and ungodly men. It was reported that you designed making us a visit about the latter part of May, we therefore anxiously expected you, but it is superfluous to add that were disappointed. I have for several weeks past transmitted the New York Evangelist to the Editors of the Times & Seasons, if it is of no service to them, please say to them if they will return a no. I will discontinue sending it. arrived in this on the 6th instant, on his way to , and will sail for in a few days. has not yet returned from the state of . We have had the pleasure of a flying visit from Elders , & . I tender to you my grateful acknowledgments for your kind offer to attend to this affair, but it is with some reluctance that I accept it, for your are no doubt almost overwhelmed with business.
With sentiments of the highest Regard I am yours in the Gospel
176 Hudson street
P. S. delivered three discourses yesterday to crowded congregations, and requests me to present his best respects [p. [2]] to the authorities of the and desires that you would inform his family that he is in the enjoyment of good health. He gives exceedingly flattering accounts of the progress of the work where he labored during the past winter & Spring and this summer.
[p. [3]]
<​ JUL 12​>
Joseph Smith
Hancock County
Illinois [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 13 Apr. 1841. The Land Act of 1820 set the cost of public lands at $1.25 per acre. (Rohrbough, Land Office Business, 141.)  

    Rohrbough, Malcolm J. The Land Office Business: The Settlement and Administration of American Public Lands, 1789–1837. New York: Ocford University Press, 1968.

  2. 2

    JS did not purchase land for Bernhisel until early the next year. On 4 January 1842, JS informed Bernhisel that he had purchased land on his behalf from Peter Haws. JS stated he would record and file the deed to the land. (JS, Nauvoo, IL, to John M. Bernhisel, New York City, NY, 4 Jan. 1842, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 221–222.)  

  3. 3

    See Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 15 Dec. 1840. The version of the letter that was accessible to Bernhisel was published in the Times and Seasons, 1 Jan. 1841, 2:258–261.  

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

  4. 4

    JS was arrested on 5 June 1841 based on a requisition that former Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued to Illinois governor Thomas Carlin to extradite JS as a fugitive from justice. After obtaining a writ of habeas corpus at Quincy, Illinois, JS attended a hearing in Monmouth, Illinois, on 8 June and was discharged on 10 June 1841, when the arrest was ruled invalid. (“The Late Proceedings,” Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:447–448.)  

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

  5. 5

    The New York Evangelist was a periodical run by members of the New School Presbyterian Church and was known for its pro-abolitionist stance. (Davis, “New York Evangelist,” 14–23.)  

    Davis, Hugh. “The New York Evangelist, New School Presbyterians and Slavery, 1837–1857.” American Presbyterians 68, no. 1 (Spring 1990): 14–23.

  6. 6

    Page had been appointed to accompany Orson Hyde to Jerusalem on a mission to gather information concerning the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land. Page decided against traveling with Hyde and did not meet him in New York when Hyde departed for England. In a nonextant letter sent from New York in early spring 1841, Hyde asked JS for permission to continue his mission without Page. In a follow-up missive of 17 April 1841, Hyde, who was by then in England, notified JS that he had indeed left the United States without his traveling companion and expressed hope that he was justified in this action. (Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840; Recommendation for Orson Hyde, 6 Apr. 1840; Letter from Orson Hyde, 17 Apr. 1841.)  

  7. 7

    Wilford Woodruff returned from a mission to the British Isles in May 1841. On 27 May, he accompanied Bernhisel, Willard Richards, and George A. Smith on a tour of New York City and the shipyard. The next day, Woodruff departed for Maine to reunite with his wife, Phebe Carter Woodruff, and meet their newborn son. (Woodruff, Journal, 27–28 May and 2 June 1841.)  

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

  8. 8

    After returning prematurely to Nauvoo from his mission with Isaac Galland to the eastern United States, Hyrum Smith left Nauvoo with William Law and Wilson Law to try again to execute payment on the debt owed to Horace Hotchkiss. George A. Smith mentioned seeing all three of them together in Philadelphia on 21 June 1841. (Authorization for Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland, 15 Feb. 1841; JS History, vol. C-1, 1205; see also Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 24 July 1841; and George A. Smith, Journal, 21 June 1841.)  

    Smith, George A. Journal, 22 Feb. 1841–10 Mar. 1845. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 2, fd. 4.

  9. 9

    This address was located on the lower west side of Manhattan Island.  

  10. 10

    Page had been preaching and selling pamphlets in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Milton, Ohio, and in Philadelphia. (Letter from John E. Page, 1 Sept. 1841.)  

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    Stamped in brown ink.  

  12. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

  13. new scribe logo

    Stamped in brown ink.