Letter to Horace Hotchkiss, 10 March 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Copy of a Letter to Mch 10— 1842
Dr. Sir
I received yours dated Feby 7th. a few days since and have ascertained that Mr has wrote <​written​> to Mr Thomas W. Ivins instructing him to Deed the land specified in your Letter according to contract which Letter might not have had time to reach Mr Ivins previous to you writing on the 7th.
<​1st.​> I have received a proposition to exchange lands from Mr. John M. Crane of Pleasant Hill Montgomery Co, I[ndian]a which I take the liberty to lay before you in his own words.
I now proceed to give a description of my real estate; First, the property where I now live in this place; one lot with two dwellings, both two Story buildings, a frame Smithing Shop, good Stabling, a good well of water, and ten acres of land with Timber and fire wood for the use of this property. The above stated property is worth $700.00. I have also 160 acres of land one mile East of this place with a good hewed log dwelling, good Stabling, about 60 acres of cleared land, good fencing, two wells of good water, and plenty of Stock water. I bought of a man who mortgaged it to the State funds of or the nine per cent fund for $500.00 and I gave him $650.00 for his right and pay out the Mortgage when due, which will be on the first of July 1843. I will take the amount I paid for it and give a Deed subject to the Mortgage. I have 1 Lot in Newton, Fountain Co, Ia five miles from this place with a good Frame Barn on it lying in the heart of the Town. I will take $350[.]00 for it. I have also 1 half acre of Town lot in Dublin Wayne Co Ia, on the National Road east of Indianopolis that I will take $350.00 for [p. 230]
<​2nd.​> I have also received a communication from Dr Barton Robinson who has property in the neighbourhood of to the amount of $5,000. and proposes an exchange for property in , and I understand is willing to take the property. If it meet your approbation, please let me know.
<​3rd.​> I would also make mention of of , Ia, who proposes to pay over to you property to the amount of $20,000 or $50,000 real Estate, in & around & now Sir, if this and such like property will answer your purpose I shall be able to satisfy all your demands immediately or as soon as the transfers can be effected.—
If you are agreed to s taking any or all of the property specified as above & will please inform him of the same and he will receipt the property to the individual of whom he receives it, that receipt together with your letter of approval will be a sufficient voucher for me to settle with those who shall thus help to liquidate your claim on me
This Sir, is the most encouraging communication I am able to make to you, for the State Bank of is down, or rather the public have ceased to take her notes & there is no money in circulation & all business is transacted by barter; and I see no prospect of any better <​times​> or any prospect of our being able to render you any better compensation than that above stated, if I could I would gladly do so.— But for your interest, as an honest man I must recommend you to get your pay the first chance that offers.—
I assure you Sir— that the very kind feelings manifested in your letter are reciprocated on my part and that nothing that I can do shall be wanting to accomplish every thing to your satisfaction
I remain Sir your friend Most Respectffully
Jos. Smith
clerk [5 lines blank] [p. 231]


  1. 1

    Hotchkiss wrote to JS on 7 February 1842 regarding approximately 140 acres in New Jersey that James Ivins offered to sell to Hotchkiss, Smith Tuttle, and John Gillet on behalf of the church. The purchase price of $3,200 was to be applied toward the $6,000 in interest the church currently owed Hotchkiss and his partners. In the letter, Hotchkiss reiterated his interest in acquiring the property and noted that he had not heard from Ivins after agreeing with JS to make the purchase. (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 7 Feb. 1842.)  

  2. 2

    Crane’s letter to JS is apparently not extant, and neither is any correspondence from Barton Robinson or Charles Modesitt, who are mentioned later in the featured letter as having property to transfer. It is possible that these proposals for land trades were obtained through the efforts of church agents like Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland during their missions or were sent directly to Nauvoo. A conference of the church in Nauvoo in October 1841 and a subsequent open letter from the Quorum of the Twelve recommended a new plan for paying the debts owed to Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and Gillet whereby church members would transfer land they owned elsewhere in the United States to the land speculating partnership in return for land of equal value from the church in or around Nauvoo. (Minutes and Discourse, 1–5 Oct. 1841; Brigham Young et al., “An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:567–570.)  

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

  3. 3

    Gillet lived in Lake Fork, Logan County, Illinois. (John Gillet, Lake Fork, IL, to Smith Tuttle, Fair Haven, CT, 10 June 1841, Gillett Family Papers, 1736–1904, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.)  

    Gillett Family Papers, 1736–1904. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.

  4. 4

    In his History of Illinois, former governor Thomas Ford wrote, “In February, 1842, the State Bank, with a circulation of three millions of dollars, finally exploded with a great crash, carrying wide-spread ruin all over the State, and into the neighboring States and territories.” Ford attributed the failure of the bank to the federal government’s refusal to accept state bank specie for public lands, the bank’s excessive lending to the state legislature (to the amount of $294,000 by the time Ford came to office), and the bank’s printing of small denominations of paper money (one-, two-, and three-dollar notes). These factors combined to catastrophically devalue the banknotes in circulation. (Ford, History of Illinois, 223–227; see also “State Bank of Illinois,” Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1842, 3:728–729.)  

    Ford, Thomas. A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847. Containing a Full Account of the Black Hawk War, the Rise, Progress, and Fall of Mormonism, the Alton and Lovejoy Riots, and Other Important and Interesting Events. Chicago: S. C. Griggs; New York: Ivison and Phinney, 1854.

  5. 5

    In addition to containing friendly closing remarks, Hotchkiss’s 7 February letter included the following note: “I see by the public prints that you are progressing in population wealth and improvements beyond any precident and this state of things aside from any pecuniary consideration can give no person greater pleasure than myself.” (Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 7 Feb. 1842.)