Letterbook 2

Emma Smith to JS • 25 April 1837

Dear Husband
Your letter was welcomed both by friends and  foes, we were glad enough to hear that you was well, and our enemies think they have  almost found you, by seeing where the letters were mailed. We are all well as usual except  Mother is not quite as well as common. Our family is small and yet I have a great deal  of business to see to, Brother Tenny has not moved yet, and he does not know when  he will, we have taken possession of all the room we could get.
I have got all the money that I have had any chance to, and as many goods as I could  well, I have not got much at Chester, no money at all, there is so many a watching  that place that there is no prospect of my getting any thing of consequence there.
Brother Knights will tell you better about the business than I can write, as there  is but a moment for me to improve. I cannot tell you my feelings when I found  I could not see you before you left, yet I expect you can realize them, the children feel  very anxious about you because they dont know where you have gone; I verily feel that  if I had no more confidence in God than some I could name, I should be in a sad case  indeed but I still believe that if we humble ourselves, and are <as> faithful as we can be  we shall be delivered from every snare that maybe laid for our feet, and our lives and  property will be saved and we redeemed from all unreasonable encumbrances.
My time is out, I pray that God will keep you in purity and safety  till we all meet again.
Kirtland April 25th.
Mr Joseph Smith Jr

Emma Smith to JS • 3 May 1837

Kirtland May 3rd 1837
Ever affectionate husband, myself and the children are well  Father and Mother are not very well, tho not dangerous. I do not know what to  tell you, not having but a few minutes to write, the situation of your business is such as  is very difficult for me to do any thing of any consequence, partnership matters give every  body such an unaccountable right to every particle of property or money that they can  lay their hands on, that there is no prospect of my getting one dollar of current money  or even get the grain you left for our bread, as I sent to the French place for that wheat  and brother Strong says that he shall let us only have ten bushel, he has sold the hay  and keeps the money, Dr [Warren] Cowdery tells me he can’t get money to pay the postage of  the office. I spoke to Parish [Warren Parrish] about the money, and he appeared rather indifferent [p. 35]
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.