53991682

Letterbook 2

a stranger, though as I sincerely hope as a friend; for such I assure you I feel  myself to be, both towards you collectively as a people, and individually as sufferers.
If it should not be convenient for any one to come up, about the  7th or 8th March, pleace write me by the mail. Say to Mr Rigdon that I regret  that I was absent when he was at my house, I cannot visit Quincy untill  after my return from Burlington, when I think if it is thought necessary I can.
Accept dear Sir, for yourself, and in behalf of your church and  people, assurance of my sincere sympathy in your sufferings and wrongs, and  deep solicitude for your immdediately relief from present distress, and future triumph ant conquest over every enemy. Your’s truly

Edward Partridge to JS and Others • 5 March 1839

Quincy Ill. March 5th. 1839
Beloved Brethren
Having an opportunity to send direct to you by br  Rogers, I feel to write a few lines to you. Pret. [Sidney] Rigdon, Judge [Elias] Higbee, I[srael] Barlow  and myself went to see Dr [Isaac] Galland week before last. brn, Rigdon, Higbee, and myself  are of opinion that it is not wisdom to make a trade with the Doctr. at present, possibly  it may be wisdom to effect a trade hereafter. The people receive us kindly here, they  have contributed near $100 cash besides other property for the relief of the suffering among  our people. Brother Joseph’s wife lives at Judge Clevelands [John Cleveland’s], I have not seen her  but I sent her word of this opportunity to send to you. Br Hyrum [Smith]’s wife lives not  far from me, I have been to see her a number of times, her health was very poor when  she arrived but she has been getting better, she knows of this opportunity to send.  I saw Sister [Harriet Benton] Wight soon after her arrival here, all were well, I understand that she  has moved out about two miles with Father & John Higbee who are fishing this spring.
Sister [Eunice Fitzgerald] McRae is here living with Br Henderson and is well I believe she knows  of this opportunity to send. Br [Caleb] Baldwin’s family I have not seen, and do not know  that she has got here as yet, She may however be upon the other side of the river  the ice has run these three days past so that there has been no crossing, the weather  is now moderating and the crossing will soon commence again.
This place is full of our people, yet they are scattering off nearly all the while. I  expect to start tomorrow for Pittsfield, Pike Co, Ill, about 45 miles, S. E from this  place. Br Geo. W. Robinson told me this morning that he expected that his [p. 3]
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On 27 November 1832, while residing at Kirtland, Ohio, JS wrote a lengthy letter to William W. Phelps at Independence, Missouri. JS’s missive emphasized the importance of record keeping and history writing in the young church. JS began by noting that he wished “to communicate some things which . . . are laying great with weight upon my mind.” He then observed, “Firstly, it is the duty of the lord[’s] clerk whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church reccord of all things that transpire in Zion . . . and also there manner of life and the faith and works.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832.)
This emphasis on record keeping was not widespread at the time. Scholar Dean C. Jessee has observed, “So primitive were some aspects of record keeping in nineteenth-century America that much of the early Latter-day Saint experience was a pioneering effort. . . . Although Mormon record keeping was inaugurated by [an] 1830 revelation, details for carrying out that commandment were largely hammered out on the anvil of experience in the years that followed.” (Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3 [1976]: 27.) During a brief span in the early 1830s, JS and those working under his direction commenced the systematic collecting and recording of critical documents pertaining to church governance and administration. From that time to the end of JS’s life, correspondence-copying, revelation-recording, minute-taking, journal-keeping, and history-writing activities remained imperative commitments.
Items of correspondence were first recorded in what was subsequently designated Letterbook 1. Created from circa November 1832 to circa August 1835, it consisted of ninety-three pages preserving a record of early church-related communications dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. A second letterbook, featured here, was apparently begun in 1839 and continued to circa summer 1843. It became a repository primarily for letters, but also other items dated from 17 June 1829 through 9 February 1843. Items were copied into the volume, later designated Letterbook 2, by JS-appointed scribes including James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, Howard Coray, Willard Richards, William Clayton, John Fullmer, and George Walker. Letterbook 2 contains over 150 items of correspondence and other documents, arranged primarily in chronological order. An index created at the time outlines the contents of the 246 pages of letters and other documents. Previously, the volume had been used as a business ledger for the Rigdon, Smith and Company store in Chester, Ohio.
A title page designates the volume as “Copies of Letters, &c. &c. 1839, AD.” The first entry in the letterbook, labeled “Speech of General Clarke, To the Saints at Far West. 6th. Novr 1838,” contains the text of General John B. Clark’s oration on that occasion. Among its varied contents, the volume includes copies of a letter from JS to Emma Smith in June 1834; four letters written by Emma to JS from 1837 and 1839; three letters from Edward Partridge, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, respectively, written in March and April 1839 to JS and other prisoners confined in the jail in Liberty, Missouri; two letters sent by JS and Elias Higbee while in Washington DC in December 1839 to Hyrum Smith and others in Nauvoo, Illinois; a letter sent from England by Brigham Young in May 1840 to JS in Nauvoo; a poignant exchange of letters between William W. Phelps, who had been cut off from the church, and JS in summer 1840; and an exchange in June and July 1842 between JS and Illinois governor Thomas Carlin. The ledger also preserves nine sets of minutes from various meetings, five petitions concerning the Saints’ treatment in Missouri, an 1840 memorial ascribed to JS, and an 1841 inventory of the contents of the Nauvoo House cornerstone, among other miscellaneous documents.
The last document copied into Letterbook 2 appears on manuscript page 245, a letter from JS to Richard M. Young, U.S. senator from Illinois, dated 9 February 1843. Though there are a substantial number of blank pages preceding the index beginning on manuscript page 369, it is not known why the copying of documents into Letterbook 2 ceased. However, the following circumstances regarding JS’s clerks may have been factors: James Mulholland died in December 1839, Robert B. Thompson died in August 1841, and Howard Coray served a mission to Pennsylvania during 1842–1843. Willard Richards and William Clayton began extensive work on Joseph Smith’s history in early 1843 while continuing to perform other clerical and secretarial duties. Documents dated after 9 February 1843 that might have been expected to be copied into the letterbook were, in many instances, recorded in JS’s history. In any event, the record closed with the 9 February 1843 letter, and there is no evidence that a third letterbook was either contemplated or begun.

Facts