Letter from Joseph Wood, 14 March 1843

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Bonhomme Mo. 14th March A. D. 1843.
Dear ,
Perhaps some of you think the Devil has got me before now, and if he has not, it is full time he should; but be that as it may I am yet in the land of the living and hope long to be— and though some brethren are perhaps, prejudiced against me and <​have​> laid several things to my charge having only heard one side, (which things by the by they will find a great difficulty in proving) yet I do not deny the faith, nor would I if I had a thousand devils to fight, and <​nor​> in times of trial and difficulty betray brethren to death and <​nor​> rob them of their property— and here allow me to assert that no case of seduction can be proved against me!
I have been practicing Law in this for some time, and have become quite celebrated as a criminal lawyer, so much so indeed that I am somtimes, in special cases, called to the city of to confront what is called, by some at lea[s]t, the most powerful cou[n]sel in the .
I went to the other day to defend a man charged with Larceny, but before I commenced his defence, I was informed that one of my brethren was in jail charged with an attempt to Murder , on going to the jail I found there , he wanted counsel, I promised to appear & also engaged as an assistent he is a fearless attorney, faithful to his client, and the best criminal Lawyer in the , he is the only Lawyer that dread in argument in the , so far as I <​as​> my acquaintance extends and I am acquainted with the most celebrated— I promised him $2,50 to assist me if is the p[e]rson I sup[pose] him to be; if he is Joseph’s friend—
They have sent him in Irons to , and if the church want him saved, steps must be taken quickly— I think he can be acquitted, if in time, the right means are used.
will be principal witness against him, but I am informed that there <​are​> men in who know of so much of his rascality that his testimony may be impeached— he should quit breathing— He has for some time <​been​> telling lies about the church [p. [1]] and Joseph under the name of lecturing against mormonism in order to excite prejudice and hatred against, and some fools have believed him, but the most enlightened believe that he is a knave, if I could meet with him sometime when I am in the humour & about half shaved I would give him hell to such a degree that he would hate ever after.
Now when you receive this if you intend to do any thing for , recollect, it must be done immediately: therefore if you intend to help him as soon as you receive this send some man in whom you can put confidence, with to me immediately, and send with him about Four hundred Dollars, suppose you send , unless he is very much altered I k[n]ow him to be trusty and a battalion himself though he has but one arm. If you send I will immediately go up and try for a change venue, for I am informed they intend to try him in , and if they do he is a gone sucker— he must get a change of venue— all that I will demand for my services will be but little over my expences, and the loss that I will necessarily incur by neglect of other business or the employing another Lawyer to attend to my business <​during​> my absence— I don’t want a mormon convicted, that people are too near my heart for me to bear the thought—
Now don’t send a fool here who will blab & gab and get himself into difficulty, but if you send any one, charge him to ask no questions nor answer any, nor tell where he lives, nor his business, but only that he has heard of me as a lawyer and has come for advice, and not that he is personally acquainted with me.
My office <​is​> in at Hillsboro Jefferson County, but I am about half the time in ab[o]ut three miles of Manchester. whomsoever you send, let him come to by water and from thence to Manchester by stage, and there let him enquire where I reside, and any person in Manchester can tell him— I Board with a man by the name of James Pruet & when he gets there if I am off on business, or at my office at Hill’s boro, he must wait till I return or send Mr Pruet after me, he is a very clever [p. [2]] man and never fails to come after in cases of <​me when persons​> Want to see me on business of importance.
If you do not send write to me, but if you intend to help you must send, if you write, direct the Letter To Joseph Wood Esqr
Attorney & Cou[n]sellor at Law & Solicitor in
Manchester St Louis Missouri.
has informed me that Bro is dead, and there has been some disention among you, for this I am sorry. On a settlement I owe a few Dollars which I will pay to his widow when I come up— I have intended to come to for some time, but I could not well leave off business, and besides, although I have money owing to me, yet it is as much as I can do to collect enough to pay my Board & defray my expenses at court—, and people never think of a Lawyer’s fee for six or eight months after receiving services, except in criminal cases; the truth <​is​> my debtors are good, but times are so hard that they cannot get money, and the releaf law is such, that by law, you <​I​> cannot colle[c]t under a year or fifteen months after commencing an action.
This letter is intended for Joseph & the counsel or those to whom you and Joseph may think meet to show it, as well as yourself— told me to direct it to you.
Dear Brethren I am in the Abrahamick Faith, Your Brother Joseph Wood
To. Rev. Joseph Smith, Bish. The Presidency.
N. B. I have written this in haste and have left out several things I would have stated had I had time. [p. [3]]
Hancock County
<​Fox Creek Mo March 21st​>
<​Recd. Wednesday 26 april​> [p. [4]]


  1. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Postmark in unidentified handwriting.  

  3. new scribe logo

    Endorsement in the handwriting of Newel K. Whitney.