43991218

Letterbook 1

in these last days as we are not willing to Idle any time away which can be spent to useful purposes doors are opening continually for proclaiming the Spirit of bitterness among the people is fast subsiding, and a Spirit of enquiry is taking its place I proclaimed last Sunday at Chardon

Located eight miles south of Lake Erie and immediately east of Kirtland Township. Settled by 1812. Included village of Chardon. Population of township in 1820 about 430; in 1830 about 880; and in 1840 about 1,100. Two of JS’s sisters resided in township. ...

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our county seat I had the court house, there was a general turn out, good attention and a pressing invitation for more meetings which will be granted if the Lord will when we return from this tower tour, Bro Joseph is going to take a tower tour with Brother George James

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

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, of Brownhelm as soon as he (George

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

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) comes to this place, we hope our brethren that the greatest freedom and frankness will exist between you and the 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...

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27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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not withholding from each other, any information from us but communicate with the greatest freedom lest you should produce evils of a serious character and the Lord becomes offended: for know assuredly if we by our wickedness bring evil on our own heads the Lord will let us bear it till we get weary and hate iniquity Bro Frederick

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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wants you to say to Bro John Burk

4 Feb. 1793–8 June 1853. Innkeeper, farmer. Born in Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Charles Burke and Esther Robinson Bohannon. Married first Abigail Fellows, 13 Mar. 1821, in Fairfield. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1823. Baptized into...

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that the man from whom he expected to get the mill stones has run off so he will not be able to get them but Brother Burk

4 Feb. 1793–8 June 1853. Innkeeper, farmer. Born in Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Charles Burke and Esther Robinson Bohannon. Married first Abigail Fellows, 13 Mar. 1821, in Fairfield. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1823. Baptized into...

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can get them at St Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as fourth...

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of the same mans make
We conclude by giving our heartiest approbation to evry measure calculated for the spread of the truth in these last days and our strongest desires and sincerest prayers for the prosperity [p. 53]
in these last days as we are not willing to Idle  any time away which can be spent to useful purposes  doors are opening continually for proclaiming  the Spirit of bitterness among the people is  fast subsiding, and a Spirit of enquiry  is taking its place I proclaimed last  Sunday at Chardon

Located eight miles south of Lake Erie and immediately east of Kirtland Township. Settled by 1812. Included village of Chardon. Population of township in 1820 about 430; in 1830 about 880; and in 1840 about 1,100. Two of JS’s sisters resided in township. ...

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our county seat [I]  had the court house, there was a general  turn out, good attention and a pressing  invitation for more meetings which will be  granted if the Lord will when we return  from this tower [tour], Bro Joseph is going to  take a tower [tour] with Brother George James

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

View Full Bio
, of  Brownhelm as soon as he (George

28 Oct. 1796–30 Oct. 1864. Farmer. Born in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Stephen James and Hannah Schofield. Moved to Brownhelm, Huron Co., Ohio, ca. July 1817. Married Caroline Weed, 28 June 1822, in Huron Co. Baptized into LDS church...

View Full Bio
) comes  to this place, we hope our brethren  that the greatest freedom and frankness  will exist between you and the 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

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

View Full Bio
 not withholding from each other, any information  from us but communicate with the greatest  freedom lest you should produce evils  of a serious nature character and the  Lord becomes offended: for know assured ly if we by our wickedness bring evil  on our own heads the Lord will let us  bear it till we get weary and hate iniquity  Bro Frederick

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

View Full Bio
wants you to say to Bro  [John] Burk

4 Feb. 1793–8 June 1853. Innkeeper, farmer. Born in Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Charles Burke and Esther Robinson Bohannon. Married first Abigail Fellows, 13 Mar. 1821, in Fairfield. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1823. Baptized into...

View Full Bio
that the man from whom he exp ected to get the mill stones has run  off so he will not be able to get them  but Brother Burk

4 Feb. 1793–8 June 1853. Innkeeper, farmer. Born in Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Charles Burke and Esther Robinson Bohannon. Married first Abigail Fellows, 13 Mar. 1821, in Fairfield. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1823. Baptized into...

View Full Bio
can get them at  St Louis

Located on west side of Mississippi River about fifteen miles south of confluence with Missouri River. Founded as fur-trading post by French settlers, 1764. Incorporated as town, 1809. First Mississippi steamboat docked by town, 1817. Incorporated as fourth...

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of the same mans make
We conclude by giving  our heartiest approbation to evry measure  calculated for the spread of <the> truth in  these last days and our strongest desires  and sincerest prayers for the prosperity [p. 53]
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“Letter Book A,” JS Letterbook 1, [ca. 27 Nov. 1832–ca. 4 Aug. 1835]; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, JS, Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

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, and 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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; ninety-three pages, including one inserted leaf of an incomplete index (table of contents); JS Collection, CHL. Includes redactions, use marks, and archival marking.
This letterbook was inscribed in a medium-size, commercially produced blank book. The book’s ledger paper is horizontally ruled with thirty-six (now faint) blue lines and vertically ruled with four red lines; the paper in the final gathering, however, is missing the horizontal lines. The original book apparently contained nine gatherings of twelve leaves each, but eight leaves were cut from the final gathering.1

The remnants of five of the leaves are visible. The eight excised leaves are no longer extant.  


The text block was likely sewn all along over recessed cords, but the book underwent conservation efforts in the late twentieth century and was rebound. The leaves measure 12⅝ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm). The pastedowns and flyleaves were blank white paper. The volume was constructed with front and back covers of pasteboard and a tight-back case binding with a brown calfskin quarter-leather binding. The bound volume measures 12⅞ × 8 × ⅞ inches (33 × 20 × 2 cm). The outside covers are adorned in shell marbled paper, with brown body and veins of blue and red. The front pastedown bears the inscriptions “c=c/i” and “/i=”, possibly original merchandising notes.
The first three leaves of the volume contain JS’s earliest extant attempt to write a history of his life.2

These three leaves were later cut from the volume but have since been reattached. For further information about these leaves and the history inscribed on them, see JS History, ca. Summer 1832.  


Later, the book was turned over so the back cover became the front and the last page became the first. One or more texts were inscribed in this side (the back) of the book on the eight leaves that were later cut out, as is evident from inscriptions visible on the remaining stubs of the excised leaves.
The volume was also repurposed as a letterbook. The letterbook begins on the recto of the fourth leaf in the front of the book (immediately following the history). The letters occupy ninety-three pages. The book’s pagination also began anew with the copied letters. The first page of letters bore the inscription “1a”, which is only partially extant on the now-trimmed page but is complete in photocopy and microfilm copies at the Church History Library.3

The photocopy may have been made from the microfilm. The letterbook was filmed on 12 November 1968. (Microfilming Report, entry no. JP 1068, Historical Department, Microfilm Reports, 1949–1975, CHL.)  


Page 78 is blank. The front flyleaf is now missing—possibly because it bore a title related to the history and was removed when the volume was converted to a letterbook. The letters were copied with quill pens in ink that is now brown. The pagination appears to have been added at different times and possibly in different hands. There are 101 blank pages between the end of the letter transcripts and the excised pages in the back of the book. There is illegible ink transfer on page [130] from a loose leaf document that was placed between pages [130] and [131] before its ink had dried. There are also smudges of ink on some of the succeeding pages.
At some point, Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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began an index or table of contents that identifies the letters copied into pages 1–25 of the letterbook. This incomplete index is inscribed on paper that does not match the original ledger paper. It was apparently a loose leaf inserted in the volume—as is Williams’s index to the contents of Revelation Book 24

At some point, Williams’s index for Revelation Book 2 was attached with adhesive wafers to the inside front cover of the revelation book. (See JSP, MRB:412–413.)  


—although it is currently bound in the front of the volume as a result of the late twentieth-century conservation. The index is horizontally ruled with forty-three manually inscribed graphite lines.5

This index does not list the history.  


The front cover of the book is labeled “Letter Book | A”, in black ink. The “A” is written in a formal style that matches the covers of other manuscript volumes in the holdings of the Church History Library. On the spine, a paper label with the hand-lettered title “KIRTLAND LETTER BOOK” was pasted over an earlier, now only partially visible title, “L[tr?] | B[k?]”, written in black ink. These inscriptions are in unidentified handwriting. A small “3” is stamped in dark brown ink at the bottom of the spine. Graphite use marks and copy notes on some pages were apparently made in connection with work on JS’s 1838–1856 history.
A reconstruction of the physical history of the artifact helps explain the current material context of the document. Photocopy and microfilm images of the book, as well as an inspection of the conservation work now present in the volume, indicate that the text block separated from the binding at some point. The entire volume was rebound, apparently in the 1990s, including the formerly loose leaf containing a partial index of letters. The back flyleaf was replaced with a leaf of laid paper.
Letterbook 1 was used 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...

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, Illinois, during the compilation of JS’s 1838–1856 history6

See, for example, JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4; compare JS History, vol. A-1, 240–243.  


 and is listed in the inventory of church records made in connection with the exodus from Nauvoo.7

“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1].  


The volume is likely accounted for in subsequent Historian’s Office inventories, which list multiple letterbooks.8

“Inventory. Historian’s Office. 4th April 1855,” [1]; “Historian’s Office Inventory G. S. L. March 19. 1858,” [1], Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.  


It is also listed in the 1973 register of the JS Collection.9

Johnson, Register of the Joseph Smith Collection, 7.  


These archival records indicate continuous institutional custody.
JS evidently wrote his history on the first three leaves of the book in summer 1832.10

See Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4. For more information on the dating of the history, see Historical Introduction to JS History, ca. Summer 1832.  


The excised pages in the back of the book were apparently inscribed sometime after the history and before the letterbook. On 27 November 1832, while residing at Kirtland, Ohio, JS wrote a lengthy letter to William W. Phelps, who earlier that year had settled at Independence, Missouri. JS’s missive included a reminder emphasizing the importance of record keeping and history writing to the young church.11

JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4.  


JS’s dispatch to Phelps coincided with a new record-keeping initiative in Ohio and became the first entry recorded in what was subsequently designated “Letter Book A.” Beginning on the recto of the fourth leaf in the front of the book (immediately following the history) are ninety-three pages of copied outgoing letters, dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. The copy of JS’s 27 November 1832 letter to Phelps was apparently copied into the book from the original letter before the original was sent.12

It is possible that a fair copy of the letter was made on loose leaves before it was sent, and that this fair copy was later used to make the copy of record in JS Letterbook 1. There is no evidence, however, of an intermediate copy.  


In the next nine pages, Frederick G. Williams and JS copied six items of Oliver Cowdery correspondence from 1829 and 1831. The remainder of the book appears to be a register of outgoing correspondence that was continually updated as letters were written (and before they were sent). Williams made most of the copies, with Orson Hyde, Cowdery, and JS occasionally helping. There are copies of thirty-four letters. The letters reflect ongoing communications within the church, especially from the church members in Ohio to the church members in Missouri. Pages 38–44 contain explanations of a plat for the city of Zion (in Jackson County, Missouri) and plans for a temple to be built there. These explanations were also sent from Ohio to Missouri. The volume appears to have been used as an active register of letters throughout 1833 and 1834. A final item copied into the volume was a letter written on or soon after 4 August 1835, the date of a council whose resolutions were transmitted in the letter.13

JS, Letter, Kirtland, OH, ca. 4 Aug. 1835, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 90–93.  


The first seven letters in the letterbook are numbered, possibly in an early attempt to create a registry of documents. The entire record was apparently created in Kirtland.

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