26102

Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 March 1831

 
Mr. Hyram Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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Harpers Vill Harpursville

Also spelled Harpersville. Post village located on banks of Susquehanna River. Population in 1842 about 200. JS wrote letter from Kirtland, Ohio, 3 Mar. 1831, to brother, Hyrum, by way of Harpursville post office.

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Broome Co.
N. Y.
Kirtland mills

Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...

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. O)
2512

This indicates the price of the postage, twenty-five cents.  


9 march)
[p. [4]]
 
Mr. Hyram Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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Harpers Vill [Harpursville]

Also spelled Harpersville. Post village located on banks of Susquehanna River. Population in 1842 about 200. JS wrote letter from Kirtland, Ohio, 3 Mar. 1831, to brother, Hyrum, by way of Harpursville post office.

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Broom[e] Co.
N. Y.

Postal markings in handwriting of Kirtland postmaster Newel K. Whitney.  


Kirtland mills

Located in Newel K. Whitney store in northwest Kirtland on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads. Whitney appointed postmaster, 29 Dec. 1826. JS and others listed “Kirtland Mills, Geauga County, Ohio” as return address for letters mailed, 1833...

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. O)
2512

This indicates the price of the postage, twenty-five cents.  


9 march)
[p. [4]]
Previous
The first directive given in the 9 February 1831 “Laws of the Church” was for the men ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

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as elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

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to go two by two “in to the regions westward” to preach the gospel and build up the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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.1

Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:4, 8].  


Shortly thereafter, another revelation urged the elders to congregate 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...

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, Ohio, the area where church members, including JS, had begun gathering. The revelation directed that the elders should be contacted “by letter or some other way.”2

See Revelation, Feb. 1831–B [D&C 44:1].  


This letter, in which JS informed members of the Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

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branch

An ecclesiastical organization of church members in a particular locale. A branch was generally smaller than a stake or a conference. Branches were also referred to as churches, as in “the Church of Shalersville.” In general, a branch was led by a presiding...

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of recent events and directed his brother Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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to come to Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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, was sent in response to that revelation.
JS sent the letter to Harpursville

Also spelled Harpersville. Post village located on banks of Susquehanna River. Population in 1842 about 200. JS wrote letter from Kirtland, Ohio, 3 Mar. 1831, to brother, Hyrum, by way of Harpursville post office.

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, Broome County, New York. In late September 1830, following financial difficulties, Hyrum

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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and his family moved from their log house in Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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to Newel Knight

13 Sept. 1800–11 Jan. 1847. Miller, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, ca. 1809. Moved to Windsor (later in Colesville), Broome Co., New...

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’s house at Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

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, New York.3

Knight, History, 183; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 178–179. The location of Knight’s farm in Colesville Township is unknown. It is also not known why Hyrum Smith moved to Colesville. At the time, Levi Daggett, a resident of Palmyra, was attempting to collect a debt from him for shoeing horses. (Daggett v. Smith [J.P. Ct. 1830], Pierce, Docket Book, 77.)  


Whether Hyrum ever lived in nearby Harpursville is unknown; Newel Knight’s house may have been closer to the Harpursville post office than to the Colesville post office.4

In March 1831, the post offices in Colesville and Harpursville were only four miles apart. Alternatively, Hyrum Smith could have been staying at the home of Emma Smith’s sister Elizabeth Hale Wasson, who lived in Harpursville until 1836. In early July 1830, JS took refuge from hostile Colesville residents at her house. (Table of the Post Offices in the United States, 44; Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County, 57; History of Lee County, 851; see also 1825 New York Census, Colesville, Broome Co., NY, [8], microfilm 806,800, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; 1830 U.S. Census, Colesville Township, Broome Co., NY, 44; and JS History, vol. A-1, 47.)  


JS included within his letter a copy of a letter from Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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that described Cowdery’s efforts to preach to the American Indians west of Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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.5

Cowdery’s letter is the first of three extant letters he sent from Missouri reporting on his mission to the Indians. (See Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831; and Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 7 May 1831; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28].)  


Cowdery wrote his letter soon after he and fellow missionaries arrived in western Missouri and crossed into what is now Kansas to preach among the Shawnee and Delaware Indians. Addressed to his “dearly beloved bretheren” in Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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, the letter was Cowdery’s first communication to the newly baptized church members 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...

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since the missionaries’ departure in mid-November 1830.6

Cowdery and his fellow missionaries likely left Kirtland no later than 22 November 1830. Cowdery wrote that the group arrived in Kirtland on 29 October 1830, and Parley P. Pratt later wrote that the group preached in Kirtland “two or three weeks.” Pratt also recounted being arrested and standing trial near Amherst, Ohio—fifty miles from Kirtland—several days after they left Kirtland. These events were mentioned in a newspaper article dated 26 November 1830. (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 12 Nov. 1830; Pratt, Autobiography, 50–53; “Beware of Impostors,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 14 Dec. 1830, [2].)  


JS introduced Cowdery’s epistle by writing to Hyrum

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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, “We hav[e] recieved a leter from Olover dated independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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Jackson County Missouri January the 29th 1831.” Though JS was in Kirtland when the letter was received, Cowdery did not know that JS would be one of the recipients. The revelations directing church members to gather to Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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were dictated after the missionaries had departed, and Cowdery would have expected JS to be in New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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.7

Revelation, 30 Dec. 1830 [D&C 37:3]; Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:32]; Pratt, Autobiography, 49–51. Other evidence supports the possibility that the participants in the mission to the Lamanites did not know JS had already moved to Kirtland or that church members in New York were in the process of moving to Ohio. A 14 February 1831 letter from Cowdery to superintendent of Indian affairs William Clark indicates that Cowdery believed the church to be headquartered in New York. Pratt, who left Missouri in mid-February on a journey to the East, later recorded that upon his arrival in Kirtland in spring 1831, “the news was that the whole Church in the State of New York . . . was about to remove to Ohio.” (Oliver Cowdery, Independence, MO, to William Clark, [St. Louis, MO], 14 Feb. 1831, U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency, Records, vol. 6, p. 103; Pratt, Autobiography, 64–65.)  


Cowdery’s letter demonstrates his concern for the recent converts in Ohio and suggests that those converts were also interested in hearing news of his mission to the Indians.

Facts