Letter from Lester Brooks and Others, 16 November 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, Ohio, Nov 16, 1841.
Dear Brethren in the Lord,
We address you in the name of <​the​> Lord and in humility, for we truly feel humble in our present condition, and think it necessary to inform you how we are situated, and as brethren of the same chosen family, ask what we shall do in future, so that a more perfect understanding may exist between this and . We hold this truth the dearest of all, that if we are not one we are not the Lord’s, and if we do not uphold each other’s hands the Lord will not uphold ours.
Our , , as appears by the minutes of your October , has been disfellowshipped, till he makes satisfaction &c— Having the spirit of the Lord and his prophet to guide you in all your doings we know you go for righteousness; and as we live to grow wiser and better, we do sincerely hope and pray, that, not only satisfaction on s case, but on every thing relative to , may be made. It is true, had just disengaged himself from the mercantile business he was connected with: and from what we had seen and heard of his proceedings here, we had great hopes that would rise from its former desolation to honor the cause of the Lord in common with ,— and we still believe, when you ascertain our good feelings for your welfare; for yours is ours, and all is the Lord’s, that you will be as ready to forgive wherein we have erred, as we are ready to ask forgiveness wherein we have gone astray from the commandments of our heavenly Father. contains some good hearted well meaning ,— as [p. [1]] well as wicked men. are saints every where.
We had made arrangements, as you have learned ere this from our minutes, to establish a printing office here to act in common with you; Our object was good, considering it was to be church property, and, if, after we made the trial, it was not found expedient for this place to retain it, it could easily be removed to , and be used for the great cause, there, and be a valuable acquisition, as it was our intention to have it contain besides the founts of English, founts of Hebrew and Greek letter. We have gone so far, that it would rather seem a loss to abandon the undertaking now: nevertheless, brethren, we shall be guided by your counsel, knowing that the Spirit of the Lord will not direct you to reject any thing that would opperate for the good of all.
Perhaps the Lord has directed to quit as a to ; in which case we only want you to let us know the fact, and inform the trustees what shall be done with the “, and Church property, and so forth, for we are ready and willing to do the will of the Lord. We mean to be saved, and, if we can, help Save others as help mates with you, “the Lords anointed.”
Now, beloved brethren, that there may be a more perfect understanding relative to “men and measures” for , in future, give us your counsel on s case; upon the printing office, and upon whatever may be for the good of all— that unity, peace and love, may grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength, till that which is perfect shall come. Pray the Lord to have mercy upon us, and we will do the same for you; for the prayers of the saints are among the sweetest [p. [2]] odors of heaven. Wisdom works no wrong; and union makes us strong: and so
In the bonds of the new and everlasting covenat
We ar, brethren;
.) acting .
To Joseph Smith and the rest of &c , and (Prest) and the rest of the “.” [25 lines blank] [p. [3]]
<​ O.​>
<​Nov. 16—​>
<​Paid 25​>
Joseph Smith & and others
Hancock Co.
(Ill.) [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    See Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:27]; and Old Testament Revision 1, p. 16 [Moses 7:18].  

  2. 2

    Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841.  

  3. 3

    The mercantile business may have been connected to resolving outstanding debts of the church. JS had encouraged Oliver Granger to work with Babbitt to resolve those debts, primarily by obtaining and then transferring land deeds to New York merchants as payment for the debts. Granger likely gave Babbitt a power of attorney to assist him in these efforts. (Letter to Oliver Granger, 26 Jan. 1841; Letter to Oliver Granger, 4 May 1841; for more on Babbitt’s endeavors to relieve church debts, see Letter from Almon Babbitt, 19 Oct. 1841.)  

  4. 4

    Church leaders in Kirtland planned to name their newspaper The Olive Leaf, likely after a JS revelation colloquially known by the same name. (“Kirtland Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1841, 3:588; Historical Introduction to Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:1–126]. For more on the decision to establish a printing office and newspaper in Kirtland, see Letter from Almon Babbitt, 19 Oct. 1841.)  

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

  5. 5

    In printing terminology, a font is a complete assortment of letters, figures, symbols, and spaces of a specific typeface cast in one size and weight. (Rummonds, Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices, 1:213, 232–233; 2:990.)  

    Rummonds, Richard-Gabriel. Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress. 2 vols. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press; London: British Library, 2004.

  6. 6

    JS and Hyrum Smith had recently reiterated that no confusion should exist about the directive to gather to Nauvoo and locations in Iowa Territory, but Babbitt’s declarations continued to confuse church leaders in Kirtland. (See Letter to the Saints Abroad, 24 May 1841; Letter to Oliver Granger, 30 Aug. 1841; and Hyrum Smith, Letter Extract, Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1841, 3:589.)  

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

  7. 7

    Questions regarding the potential sale of the House of the Lord and other church property in Kirtland likely arose among Kirtland leaders in response to the call to gather to the Nauvoo area and in the wake of Oliver Granger’s death in late August 1841. Granger had been JS’s agent in Kirtland, tending to JS’s property interests in that place since 1840. As the church’s trustee-in-trust, JS held the deed to the Kirtland House of the Lord as well as other lands there, but some lands were likely entangled in Granger’s estate. After Granger’s death, there appears to have been a struggle to clarify what Granger owned personally and what he held as an agent of JS and the church. (See Letter to Oliver Granger, 4 May 1841; Deed from William and Rosannah Robinson Marks, 11 Feb. 1841; and Gilbert Granger, Memorandum of Deeds, to JS, 3 Mar. 1842, Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU.)  

  8. 8

    In their 15 December 1841 reply, the First Presidency said Almon Babbitt must “offer satisfaction” in accordance with the vote of the October 1841 general conference. (JS, Journal, 15 Dec. 1841.)  

  9. 9

    In a letter excerpt published in the 1 November 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons, Hyrum Smith stated, “Your doings and your organizations, and designs in printing, or any of your councils, are not of me, saith the Lord.” However, in a reply to the 16 November 1841 letter featured here, the First Presidency stated, “As you have made great exertions, according to your letter, to establish a printing press, & take care of the poor, &c. since that period, you may as well continue operations according to your designs. & go on with your printing, & do what you can in Righteousness to build up Kirtland.” (Hyrum Smith, Letter Extract, Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1841, 3:589; JS, Journal, 15 Dec. 1841.)  

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

  10. 10

    See Revelation 5:8.  

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    Original signatures of Lester Brooks, Zebedee Coltrin, Thomas Burdick, and Hiram Winters. Signatures are in black ink.  

  12. 11

    Lester Brooks and Zebedee Coltrin served as counselors to Almon Babbitt, who was the president of the Kirtland stake. Brooks and Coltrin were “unanimously elected” to serve in this capacity at a conference in Kirtland on 22 May 1841. (Minutes, Kirtland, OH, 22–24 May 1841, in Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:458.)  

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

  13. 12

    Hiram Winters had served as a counselor to the bishop Thomas Burdick since 22 May 1841. Reuben McBride was the other counselor to the bishop. (Minutes, Kirtland, OH, 22–24 May 1841, in Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:458.)  

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

  14. new scribe logo

    Postal place in unidentified handwriting.  

  15. new scribe logo

    Postal date in unidentified handwriting.  

  16. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.