26048

Letter to Oliver Cowdery, 22 October 1829

Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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— Oct. 22d— 1829——
Letter, 6
Respected sir I would in form you that I arrived at home on sunday morning the 4th. after having a prosperous journy, and found all well the people are all friendly to us except a few who are in opposition to evry thing unless it is something that is axactly like themselves and two of our most formadable persacutors are now under censure and are cited to a trial in the church for crimes which if true are worse than all the Gold Book business.1

By fall 1829, it was well known in the region that JS claimed to have plates and to be translating them. In June 1829 the Wayne Sentinel reported on the rumors surrounding the translation of the “Golden Bible” and explained that “most people entertain an idea that the whole matter is the result of a gross imposition and a grosser superstition. It is pretended that it will be published as soon as the translation is completed.” Jonathan Hadley of the Palmyra Freeman also reported that by early August 1829, JS’s translation of the plates was “generally known and spoken of as the ‘Golden Bible.’” The Freeman incredulously reported JS’s claims: “Now it appears not a little strange that there should have been deposited in this western world, and in the secluded town of Manchester, too, a record of this description: and still more so, that a person like this Smith (very illiterate) should have been gifted by inspiration to find and interpret it.” Newspapers as far away as Ohio reprinted this denunciation of the “Golden Bible.” (News item, Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 26 June 1829, [3]; “Golden Bible,” Palmyra (NY) Freeman, 11 Aug. 1829, [2], italics in original; see also, for example, “Golden Bible,” Niagara Courier [Lockport, NY], 27 Aug. 1829, [2]; “Golden Bible,” Rochester [NY] Daily Advertiser and Telegraph, 31 Aug. 1829, [2]; “Golden Bible,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 22 Sept. 1829, [3]; and “Golden Bible,” Salem [MA] Gazette, 2 Oct. 1829, [1].)  


we do not rejoice in the affliction of our enimies but we shall be glad to have truth prevail. there begins to be a great call for our books2 in this country the minds of the people are very much excited when they find that there is a copy right obtained3 and that there is really books about to be printed I have bought a horse of Mr. Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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and want some one to come after it as soon as convenient Mr Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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has a prospect of getting five or six hundred dollars he does not know certain that he can get it but he is a going to try and if he can get the money he wants to pay it in immediately for books4

There is no evidence that Stowell ever provided JS with these funds or received hundreds of copies of the Book of Mormon, which a $500 or $600 investment would have procured.  


we want to hear from you and know how you prosper in the good work, give our best respects to Father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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& Mother

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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and all our brothers and Sisters to Mr. Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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and all the company concerned tell them that our prayers are put up daily for them that they may be prospered in evry, good word and work and that they may be preserved from sin here and from the consequence of sin here after and now dear brother be faithful in the discharge of evry duty looking for the reward of the righteous and now may God of his infinite mercy keep and preserve us spotless untill his coming and receive us all to rest with him in eternal repose through the attonement of Christ our Lord Amen
Joseph Smith Jr
Oliver H 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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5

This line indicated that Oliver Cowdery was the addressee of the letter. Although Cowdery generally signed his name “Oliver Cowdery” or “O. Cowdery,” he also sometimes used “Oliver H P Cowdery” but never explained what either initial stood for.  


[p. 9]
Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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— Oct. 22d— 1829——
<Let[ter], 6 >

This scribal notation, in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, numbered the letter in JS Letterbook 1.  


Respected sir I would in form you that I  arrived at home on sunday morning the 4th. after  having a prosperous journy, and found all well  the people are all friendly to <us> except a few who  are in opposition to evry thing unless it is some thing that is axactly like themselves and two  of our most formadable persacutors are now  under censure and are cited to a tryal trial in  the church for crimes which if true are  worse than all the Gold Book business.1

By fall 1829, it was well known in the region that JS claimed to have plates and to be translating them. In June 1829 the Wayne Sentinel reported on the rumors surrounding the translation of the “Golden Bible” and explained that “most people entertain an idea that the whole matter is the result of a gross imposition and a grosser superstition. It is pretended that it will be published as soon as the translation is completed.” Jonathan Hadley of the Palmyra Freeman also reported that by early August 1829, JS’s translation of the plates was “generally known and spoken of as the ‘Golden Bible.’” The Freeman incredulously reported JS’s claims: “Now it appears not a little strange that there should have been deposited in this western world, and in the secluded town of Manchester, too, a record of this description: and still more so, that a person like this Smith (very illiterate) should have been gifted by inspiration to find and interpret it.” Newspapers as far away as Ohio reprinted this denunciation of the “Golden Bible.” (News item, Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 26 June 1829, [3]; “Golden Bible,” Palmyra (NY) Freeman, 11 Aug. 1829, [2], italics in original; see also, for example, “Golden Bible,” Niagara Courier [Lockport, NY], 27 Aug. 1829, [2]; “Golden Bible,” Rochester [NY] Daily Advertiser and Telegraph, 31 Aug. 1829, [2]; “Golden Bible,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 22 Sept. 1829, [3]; and “Golden Bible,” Salem [MA] Gazette, 2 Oct. 1829, [1].)  


we do not  rejoice in the affliction of our enimies but  we shall be glad to have truth prevail[.] there  begins to be a great call for our books2 in this  country the minds of the people are very  much excited when they find that there is a  copy right obtained3 and that there is really  books about to be printed I have bought a  horse of Mr. [Josiah] Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

View Full Bio
and want some one to  come after it as soon as convenient Mr Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

View Full Bio
 has a prospect of getting five or six hundred dol lars he does not know certain that he can get  it but he is a going to try and if he can get the  money he wants to pay it in immediately  for books4

There is no evidence that Stowell ever provided JS with these funds or received hundreds of copies of the Book of Mormon, which a $500 or $600 investment would have procured.  


we want to hear from you and  know how you prosper in the good work, give  our best respects to Father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

View Full Bio
& Mother

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

View Full Bio
and all our  brothers and Sisters to Mr. [Martin] Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
and all  the company concerned tell them that our  prayers are put up daily for them that they  may be prospered in evry, good word and work  and that they may be preserved from sin here  and and from the consequen[c]e of sin here after  and now dear brother be faithful in the discharge  of evry duty looking for the reward of the righteous  and now may God of his infinite mercy keep an<d> pre serve us spotless untill his coming and receive us all to rest with him in  eternal repose through the attonement of Christ our Lord Amen
Joseph Smith Jr
Oliver H Cowd[e]ry

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...

View Full Bio
5

This line indicated that Oliver Cowdery was the addressee of the letter. Although Cowdery generally signed his name “Oliver Cowdery” or “O. Cowdery,” he also sometimes used “Oliver H P Cowdery” but never explained what either initial stood for.  


[p. 9]
JS wrote this letter from Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Pennsylvania, to 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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, who was overseeing the printing of the Book of Mormon in Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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, New York. Four months earlier, on 11 June 1829, JS had obtained a copyright for the book,1 and after he and Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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negotiated with local printers, Harris mortgaged his farm on 25 August to cover the cost of printing.2

Indenture, Martin Harris to Egbert B. Grandin, Wayne Co., NY, 25 Aug. 1829, Wayne Co., NY, Mortgage Records, vol. 3, pp. 325–326, microfilm 479,556, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. For a later account of the negotiations, see “Recent Progress of the Mormons,” Albany Evening Journal, 31 July 1854, [2]; see also “Prospect of Peace with Utah,” Albany Evening Journal, 19 May 1858, [2]; and “From the Troy Times,” Albany Evening Journal, 21 May 1858, [2].  


By early September, E. B. Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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, publisher of Palmyra’s Wayne Sentinel, began printing the pages, assisted by compositor John H. Gilbert. Oliver Cowdery made a second copy of the Book of Mormon manuscript and, assisted by 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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, delivered the copied pages to the printer in twenty-four-page bundles.3

John H. Gilbert, Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892, photocopy, CHL; see also Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, 3, 31–33.  


Just weeks after printing began, JS left Palmyra for his home in Harmony, arriving on 4 October.
This may have been JS’s first trip back to Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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since late May, though he may have visited in July or August to tend to planting and harvesting on his farm.4

See JS History, vol. A-1, 21–34. Historical sources lack sufficient detail or consistency to determine whether JS’s early October return to his home was the first time he had been back since leaving five months earlier to finish the translation or whether it was a subsequent return.  


His journey from Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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in October may have been undertaken in order to tell others about the publication of the Book of Mormon. This letter explained that his trip to Harmony was “prosperous” and that many were requesting books once they were printed. JS explained that the “minds of the people are very much excited” at his obtaining a copyright and at the prospect of having an actual book in their hands. His news about a copyright and progress on the printing may also have appealed to individuals interested in purchasing the books in bulk. For instance, Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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, who according to the letter was interested in purchasing five or six hundred dollars’ worth of books, needed the copyright to protect his potential investment. The copyright protected the book’s market value by legally barring printers from publishing the manuscript without JS’s permission.5

See Historical Introduction to Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829.  


JS also urged 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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to be faithful in the “discharge of evry duty,” the principal of which involved overseeing the printing of the book. JS no doubt expected Cowdery’s response to contain an update on the publication process. Followers of JS in the Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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area welcomed the letter, and Cowdery wrote JS that “it was gladly received by us all[.] we rejoice to hear that you are well and we also rejoice to hear that you have a prospect of obtaining Some mony.”6

Facts