26102

Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 March 1831

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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Geauga County Ohio
March 3th 1831
Brother Hyram 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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we arived here safe and are all well I have been ingageed in regulating the Churches

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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here as the deciples are numerous1

Figures vary, but there may have been several hundred converts by this time. (See Porter, Study of the Origins, 114–115; and Backman, Heavens Resound, 51.)  


and the devil had made many attempts to over throw them it has been a Serious job but the Lord is with us and we have overcome and have all things regular2

Regarding the church’s situation at Kirtland, JS recalled in his later history that “some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them.” Matthew S. Clapp, who had been a member of Sidney Rigdon’s Mentor, Ohio, congregation, criticized those who converted to Mormonism, claiming that “a scene of the wildest enthusiasm was exhibited. . . . Sometimes, in these exercises, the young men would rise and play before the people, going through all the Indian manoeuvres of knocking down, scalping, ripping open, and taking out the bowels. . . . At other times they are taken with a fit of jabbering that . . . they call speaking foreign languages by divine inspiration.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 93; [Matthew S. Clapp], “Mormonism,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 15 Feb. 1831, [1]; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, Feb. 1831–A [D&C 43].)  


the work is brakeing forth on the right hand and on the left3

See Isaiah 54:3.  


and there is a great Call for 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...

View Glossary
in this place we have recieved a leter from Olover 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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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 these are the words which he has written saying—
My dearly beloved bretheren after a considerable lengthy journy4

According to Parley P. Pratt, Cowdery and his fellow missionaries traveled fifteen hundred miles from New York to Missouri, the last part of which was on foot in early January, “through trackless wilds of snow.” (Pratt, Autobiography, 54–55.)  


I avail myself of the first opertunity of communicating to you a knowledge of our situation that you may be priviledged of writing to us for we have not heard any thing from you since we left you last fall we arived at this place a few days since5

Peter Whitmer Jr. later reported that the missionaries arrived in Independence on 13 December 1830, more than six weeks before Cowdery wrote this letter, but he was likely mistaken about the date. (Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, [1].)  


which is about 25 miles from the Shawney indians on the south Side of the Kansas River

Begins at convergence of Smoky Hill and Republican rivers and ends at confluence with Missouri River near Kansas-Missouri border. Mormon missionaries arrived in area to teach American Indian tribes, by Jan 1831. After 1830, Shawnee Indians dwelt on south ...

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at its mouth & delewares on the north6

In the aftermath of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, “Old Northwest” Indian tribes such as the Delaware and Shawnee were resettled by the United States government in the newly created Indian Territory, in what is now eastern Kansas. (See Prucha, Great Father, 243–248.)  


I have had two interviews with the Chief of the delewares who is a very old & venerable looking man7

The leading Delaware chief at this time was Kikthawenund (also named William Anderson). He was a Delaware leader for more than a decade and had negotiated his people’s removal to the new agency in Indian Territory, arriving with his people there only months before Cowdery’s visit. Parley P. Pratt later reconstructed the missionaries’ interviews with the Delaware, including Cowdery’s explanation of the Book of Mormon to the assembled council. (Weslager, Delaware Indian Westward Migration, 209–219; Weslager, Delaware Indians, 360–371; Pratt, Autobiography, 56–60.)  


after laying before him & eighteen or twenty of the Council of that nation the truth he said that he and they were very glad for what I their Brother had told them and they had recived it in their hearts &c—8

Two months later, Cowdery wrote that the blacksmith who did work for the Delaware reported that “the principle chief says he believes evry word of the Book & there are many more in the Nation who believe and we understand there are many among the Shawnees who also believe.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831.)  


But how the matter will go with this tribe to me is uncirtain nether Can I at present Conclude mutch about it the wether is is quite Severe and the snow is Considerable deep which makes it at present quite dificcult traveling about9

The winter of 1831 was marked by extraordinary snowfall. (See Atkinson, “Winter of the Deep Snow,” 48–50.)  


I have but a short time to write to you my beloved Bretheren as the mail leves this place in the morning [p. [1]]
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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Geauga County Ohio
March 3th 1831
Brother Hyram [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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we arived here safe and are all well I hav[e]  been ingageed in regulating the Churches

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...

View Glossary
here  as the deciples are numerous1

Figures vary, but there may have been several hundred converts by this time. (See Porter, Study of the Origins, 114–115; and Backman, Heavens Resound, 51.)  


and the devil had  made many attempts to over throw them it has  been a Serious job but the Lord is with us and  we have overcome and have all things regular2

Regarding the church’s situation at Kirtland, JS recalled in his later history that “some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them.” Matthew S. Clapp, who had been a member of Sidney Rigdon’s Mentor, Ohio, congregation, criticized those who converted to Mormonism, claiming that “a scene of the wildest enthusiasm was exhibited. . . . Sometimes, in these exercises, the young men would rise and play before the people, going through all the Indian manoeuvres of knocking down, scalping, ripping open, and taking out the bowels. . . . At other times they are taken with a fit of jabbering that . . . they call speaking foreign languages by divine inspiration.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 93; [Matthew S. Clapp], “Mormonism,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 15 Feb. 1831, [1]; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, Feb. 1831–A [D&C 43].)  


 the work is brakeing forth on the <right> hand and on the  left3

See Isaiah 54:3.  


and there is a great Call for 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...

View Glossary
in this  place we hav[e] recieved a leter from Olover [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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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 Janua ry the 29th 1831 these are the words which he has  written saying—
My dealy dearly beloved bretheren  after a considerable lengthy journy4

According to Parley P. Pratt, Cowdery and his fellow missionaries traveled fifteen hundred miles from New York to Missouri, the last part of which was on foot in early January, “through trackless wilds of snow.” (Pratt, Autobiography, 54–55.)  


I arived avail  myself of the first opertunity of communicating to  you a knowledge of our situation that you may  be priviledged of writing to us for we have not  heard any thing from you since we left you  last fall we arived here at this place a few  days since5

Peter Whitmer Jr. later reported that the missionaries arrived in Independence on 13 December 1830, more than six weeks before Cowdery wrote this letter, but he was likely mistaken about the date. (Whitmer, Journal, Dec. 1831, [1].)  


which is about 25 miles from this the  Shawney indians on the south Side of the Kan sas River

Begins at convergence of Smoky Hill and Republican rivers and ends at confluence with Missouri River near Kansas-Missouri border. Mormon missionaries arrived in area to teach American Indian tribes, by Jan 1831. After 1830, Shawnee Indians dwelt on south ...

More Info
at its mouth & delewares on the north6

In the aftermath of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, “Old Northwest” Indian tribes such as the Delaware and Shawnee were resettled by the United States government in the newly created Indian Territory, in what is now eastern Kansas. (See Prucha, Great Father, 243–248.)  


 I have had two interviews with the Chief of that  that the delewares who is <a> very old & venerable  looking man7

The leading Delaware chief at this time was Kikthawenund (also named William Anderson). He was a Delaware leader for more than a decade and had negotiated his people’s removal to the new agency in Indian Territory, arriving with his people there only months before Cowdery’s visit. Parley P. Pratt later reconstructed the missionaries’ interviews with the Delaware, including Cowdery’s explanation of the Book of Mormon to the assembled council. (Weslager, Delaware Indian Westward Migration, 209–219; Weslager, Delaware Indians, 360–371; Pratt, Autobiography, 56–60.)  


after haveing laying before him  & eighteen of or twenty of the Council of that nation  the truth he said that <he he> and they he and thy they  were very glad for what I their Brother had  told them and they had recived it in their  hearts &c—8

Two months later, Cowdery wrote that the blacksmith who did work for the Delaware reported that “the principle chief says he believes evry word of the Book & there are many more in the Nation who believe and we understand there are many among the Shawnees who also believe.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 8 Apr. 1831.)  


But how the matter will go with this  tribe to me is uncirtain nether Can I at present  Conclude mutch about it the wether is mtch  is quite Severe and the snow is Considerable  deep which makes it at present quite dific cult traveling about9

The winter of 1831 was marked by extraordinary snowfall. (See Atkinson, “Winter of the Deep Snow,” 48–50.)  


I have but a short time  to write to you my b[e]loved Bretheren as the  mail leves thi[s] place in the morning [p. [1]]
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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...

View Glossary
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.

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