Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 7 May 1831

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

May 7— 1831
Our dearly beloved Brethren
I have nothing partickuler to write as concerning the & because of a short journey which I have <​just​> returned from in consequence of which I have not writen to you since the 16th. of the last month <​I​> and went into the county East which is about 40 miles and in the name of Jesus called on the people to repent many are of whom <​are I​> believe earnestly [p. 12] searching for truth and if cincerely I pr[a]y they may find that precious treasure for it seems to be wholly fallen in the streets that equity cannot enter in the letter we received of <​from​> you we were informed that the opposition was great against you now our beloved brethren we verily believe that we can also rejoice that we can are counted worthy to suffer shame for his name for almost the whole country which consists of Universalists Ath[e]ists Deists Presbyterians Methodists <​Baptists​> & professed Christians Priests & people with all the Devels from the infernal pit are united and foaming out ther own shame God forbid that I should bring a railing accusation against them for Vengence belongeth unto him who is able to repay & herein brethren we confide. I am informed of an other Tribe of lately who have abundence of flocks of the best kind of sheep & cattle and manufacture blankets of superior quality the tribe is very numerous they live three hundred miles west of Santafee and are called navahoes why I mention this tribe is because I feel under obligation to communicate <​my breth[r]en evry informati[o]n respecting th[e] Lamanites & ab[out].​> to you all my Labours and travels believeing as I do that much is expected from me in the cause of our Lord and not doubuting but I daily am remembered before the throne of the most high by all of my brethren as well those who have not seen my face in the flesh as those who have
We have begin to expect our brother soon we have heard from him only when he was at we are all well (bless the Lord) and preach the gospel we will if earth and hell oppose our way and we dwell in the midst of Scortions for in Jesus <​we​> trust grace be with you all Amen
PS I beseach you to remember & write & direct to me Jackson County Missouri
[p. 13]


  1. 1

    At this time, Kaw Township, Missouri, was bounded on the west by lands the government assigned to various Indian tribes and on the north by the Missouri River. The settlement where Cowdery was staying was “about Eleven miles from Indipendence.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831.)  

  2. 2

    This 16 April letter is not extant. In his 8 April 1831 letter to Ohio church members, Cowdery wrote, “We thought that we shall write evry week.” However, the missing 16 April letter appears to be the only one sent by Cowdery between 8 April and 7 May. (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831.)  

  3. 3

    Cowdery and Ziba Peterson apparently baptized a dozen or so persons in Lafayette and Jackson counties in the months that followed, including Rebecca Hopper, whom Peterson married on 11 August 1833. (Romig, “Lamanite Mission,” 30–32; Lafayette Co., MO, Marriage Records, 1821–1919, vol. B, p. 21, 11 Aug. 1831, microfilm 959,414, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    Romig, Ronald E. “The Lamanite Mission.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 14 (1994): 25–33.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  4. 4

    See Isaiah 59:14.  

  5. 5

    This letter from church leaders in Kirtland is not extant and the date of its composition is unknown. However, the previous letter to Cowdery from the Kirtland area, written during a time of poor weather, took approximately a month to arrive at its destination. The letter mentioned here was therefore likely written sometime in early April 1831.  

  6. 6

    See Acts 5:41.  

  7. 7

    See Jude 1:9, 13; and Romans 12:19.  

  8. 8

    After its founding in 1827, Independence quickly became the eastern terminus for the Santa Fe Trail and the starting point for many western travelers, so Cowdery may have had ready access to such information about the Navajo people from local travelers.  

  9. 9

    This insertion was likely added in the wrong place by Frederick G. Williams when he copied this letter into JS’s letterbook. He apparently intended to insert the caret between the words “you” and “all.”  

  10. 10

    Pratt had presumably carried the letter from Cowdery to Superintendent William Clark requesting permission for the Mormons to proselytize among the Indians. When Pratt arrived in St. Louis, Clark was away from the city and had been at least since 9 January 1831. John Ruland, subagent of Indian affairs, conducted business for Clark in his absence until sometime in March. Pratt likely arrived in Kirtland in April, but he soon left on a short mission to the Shakers and a subsequent mission near Kirtland. (John Ruland, [St. Louis, MO], to John Henry Eaton, [Washington DC], 9 Jan. 1831, U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency, Records, vol. 4, p. 198; William Clark, St. Louis, MO, to John Henry Eaton, [Washington DC], 31 Mar. 1831, U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency, Records, vol. 4, p. 207; Historical Introduction to Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49]; Pratt, Autobiography, 64–65, 73.)  

    U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency. Records, 1807–1855. Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Also available at kansasmemory.org.

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  11. 11

    TEXT: Possibly “Scor[ta]tions”, meaning “fornicators.” Alternatively, Frederick G. Williams may have mistranscribed Cowdery’s biblical wording “scorpions” (see Ezekiel 2:6).