2477114

Letter to Emma Smith, 13 October 1832

Images of this item © Community of Christ and licensed to the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Inquiries about high-resolution images of this item for scholarly use should be directed to the Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri.
 
20
Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
Geauga Co
Ohio
[date stamp]
 
<20>

Postage rate in red ink in unidentified handwriting.  


Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
Geauga Co
Ohio
[date stamp]11

TEXT: Postal place and date stamp in red ink. “NEW-YORK | OCT | 13” printed within circular date stamp.  


Previous
JS wrote a letter to his wife Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
on 13 October 1832 from a hotel

Also known as Merchants’ House. Four-story edifice with columned entrance and arched sign on roof. Located at 88 Pearl Street (oldest street in city). JS and Bishop Newel K. Whitney journeyed to New York City, fall 1832, and stayed at hotel. While at hotel...

More Info
in New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

More Info
, New York. JS’s letter indicates that he and Newel K. Whitney

3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...

View Full Bio
had been staying at the hotel at least a couple of days. The letter references an earlier communication to Emma during the same trip, but only this one is extant. JS was in New York with Whitney, who had been commanded in a revelation dated 22–23 September 1832 to travel to the cities of Boston

Capital city located on eastern seaboard of Massachusetts at mouth of Charles River. Founded by English Puritans, 1630; received city charter, 1822. Population in 1820 about 43,000; in 1830 about 61,000; and in 1840 about 93,000. JS’s ancestor Robert Smith...

More Info
, New York City, and Albany

State capital and county seat, located in eastern-central part of state on west bank of Hudson River. Area settled by Dutch, 1612. Known as Fort Orange and Beaver Wyck, 1623; name changed to Williamstadt, 1647. Capitulated to English forces, 1664, and renamed...

More Info
to “warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel.”1 To “fulfill the Revelation,” as Whitney later remembered, he and JS left Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
probably sometime in early October and traveled to New York City; Providence, Rhode Island; Boston; and throughout New England.2

Newel K. Whitney, Statement, ca. 1842, Historian’s Office, JS History Documents, ca. 1839–1856, CHL. JS’s account, which differs from Whitney’s recollection, says that JS and Whitney went to Albany, New York City, and Boston. It is likely JS and Whitney went through Albany on their way to New York City since Albany was the terminus of the Erie Canal on the Hudson River and they likely traveled by canal. Whether they traveled to Providence is unclear; it may be that Whitney’s recollection on this point is correct and that JS’s history did not include Providence because the history was relying on the list of cities given in the 22–23 September 1832 revelation. (JS History, vol. A-1, 240.)  


According to a later JS history, the entire trip was a “rapid journey.”3

JS History, vol. A-1, 240.  


The 22–23 September revelation specifically told Whitney

3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...

View Full Bio
to preach, and some records indicate that he and JS made efforts to do so. Samuel Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

View Full Bio
, who was preaching in New England in fall 1832, wrote in his journal that the mother of a Boston

Capital city located on eastern seaboard of Massachusetts at mouth of Charles River. Founded by English Puritans, 1630; received city charter, 1822. Population in 1820 about 43,000; in 1830 about 61,000; and in 1840 about 93,000. JS’s ancestor Robert Smith...

More Info
church member told him in November “that Joseph had been to Boston & Prophecied u[n]to that citty.” Whitney recalled that the pair also met Bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

View Glossary
Benjamin T. Onderdonk of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

More Info
.4

Samuel Smith, Diary, 26 Nov. 1832; Newel K. Whitney, Statement, ca. 1842, Historian’s Office, JS History Documents, ca. 1839–1856, CHL.  


As this letter to Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
mentions, JS preached in New York as well. Much of the time on the trip, however, was spent purchasing goods for Whitney’s Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
store

In Apr. 1826, Whitney purchased quarter-acre lot on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads and built two-story, 1500-square-foot, white store. Mercantile store also functioned as Kirtland Mills post office. Whitney met JS at store, 4 Feb. 1831....

More Info
, which was designated as a storehouse

Both a literal and a figurative repository for goods and land donated to the church. The book of Malachi directed the house of Israel to bring “all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house.” In JS’s revision of the Old Testament...

View Glossary
for the church under the governance of the United Firm

An organization that supervised the management of church enterprises and properties from 1832 to 1834. In March and April 1832, revelations directed that the church’s publishing and mercantile endeavors be organized. In accordance with this direction, the...

View Glossary
.5

Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:42]; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 229–230; Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832.  


JS and Whitney may have also attempted to negotiate a loan for the firm, but if so, they were apparently unsuccessful.6

The United Firm gave Whitney responsibility to secure a loan for the firm in a meeting circa 1 May 1832. (Minutes, ca. 1 May 1832; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 231.)  


While in New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

More Info
, Whitney and JS stayed in lower Manhattan at the Pearl Street House and Ohio Hotel

Also known as Merchants’ House. Four-story edifice with columned entrance and arched sign on roof. Located at 88 Pearl Street (oldest street in city). JS and Bishop Newel K. Whitney journeyed to New York City, fall 1832, and stayed at hotel. While at hotel...

More Info
, located at 88 Pearl Street.7

There was also apparently an “Eastern Pearl-street House” located at 309 Pearl Street, and there may have been a “Western Pearl Street House” located at 307 Pearl Street, but JS referred simply to the “Pearl Street House” without an east or west designation. (Williams, New-York as It Is, 153; Classified Mercantile Directory, 73–74.)  


Pearl Street ran for over a mile between the East River and Broadway: from the Battery to a point one block from Five Points, where it arced to the west until it intersected Broadway. According to an 1834 guidebook, the street featured “numerous spacious warehouses” and was “the principal seat of the dry goods, and hardware business.”8

Williams, New-York as It Is, 18–19; see also Colton, Topographical Map of the City and County of New-York, 1836.  


While Whitney

3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...

View Full Bio
had traveled to New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

More Info
in 1825 for business purposes, the largest cities JS had visited were Salem, Massachusetts, and Cincinnati

Area settled largely by emigrants from New England and New Jersey, by 1788. Village founded and surveyed adjacent to site of Fort Washington, 1789. First seat of legislature of Northwest Territory, 1790. Incorporated as city, 1819. Developed rapidly as shipping...

More Info
, Ohio, neither of which had a population close to that of New York City, which had over two hundred thousand residents.9

“N.K. Whitney Book, 25 Sept., 1825,” Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 188. The United States Census Bureau reported that Salem had a population of 13,895 and Cincinnati had a population of 24,831 in 1830. When JS visited Salem as a boy in 1816, it likely had a population of about 12,700. In 1830, New York City had 202,589 residents. This did not include Brooklyn, which had another 12,406. (Gibson, Population of the 100 Largest Cities, [30]–[32].)  


Although JS in his letter expressed wonder at New York City and its “great inventions,” he also reflected negatively on the inhabitants of the city, perhaps because the 22–23 September 1832 revelation intimated that they were in the throes of wickedness. The letter and its lengthy postscript give a glimpse into JS’s and Whitney’s activities in New York City, including JS’s discussions of religion with a young man he met in the city and Whitney

3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...

View Full Bio
’s work in selecting goods for his store. JS also wrote of his desire to be with his wife Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
and daughter, Julia

30 Apr. 1831–12 Sept. 1880. Born in Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio. Daughter of John Murdock and Julia Clapp. After death of mother, adopted by JS and Emma Smith at age of nine days. Lived in Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, 1831. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co....

View Full Bio
, and of his concern for Emma’s condition. JS had left his wife in an advanced state of pregnancy in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
.10

JS stated that he returned from his trip “on the Sixth of November, immediately after the birth of my son, Joseph Smith 3d..” (JS History, vol. A-1, 240.)  


Since the couple had already lost three children shortly after birth,11

JS Family Bible; JS History, 1834–1836, 9.  


JS likely felt anxiety for both his wife and the baby.
This letter is one of the few extant letters written entirely in JS’s own handwriting. Addressed to Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

View Full Bio
in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
, the letter bears a New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

More Info
postage mark dated 13 October on the wrapper. Emma apparently received the letter and kept it in her possession, though it may have been kept for a time in JS’s office in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
. It was evidently passed down in her family and later into the custody of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ).

Facts