53991682

Letterbook 2

Benjamin Benson to JS • 12 November 1837

Dear Brother in the Lord, Having reflected on the short interview we had last evening respecting the dream (or vision as you may think proper to term it) and as you stated several times that you should like to have it wrote so that you could take it home with you to 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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, I therefore consent to give a statement in as short a manner as I can, without going into every minute circumstance. To wit.—
In the year 1795, I then being in the Town of Pompey, County of Onondagua and State of New York; I then being 22 years old; seeing and viewing the ancient Indian Forts and trates thereof through that part of the Country; my mind was anxiously led to contemplate and reflect on where those Indians came from, or from what race of People they sprang from, and oftentimes heard it stated that these Indians were natives of this Continent, and that they were created and placed here at the creation of the world. Then said I the Bible cannot be true, for it (The Bible) says that all the human family sprang from Adam &c, and that at the time of the flood, the whole earth was covered with water, and that all flesh died, except what were in the ark with Noah, then with things taking place, and I firmly believing that the Bible was true, my heart’s desire was to God in solemn prayer to know where and what race of people these Indians sprang from, It was made known (whether by dream or vision I will leave that for you, to judge) An angel as I thought came to me and said, Come along with me and I was immediately on a beast like a horse, and the angel at my left hand with his feet about the same height that my feet were as I sat on the horse, and in this position was conveyed to near the place where the record was deposited and he said stop here, and the angel went about 4 or 5 Rods and took in his hand a book, and on his return to where I stood, as I thought there were many stood with me; One said, what book is that? And the answer was, it is a bible, a bible, the word of God, a record of a people that came from Jerusalem, the fore fathers of these Indians, And it also contains a record of a people that came from the Tower of Babel at the time the Lord confounded the language and scattered the people into all the world, and it the Book Ether; and then with great anxiety of heart I asked if I might have the book, and answer was that it was not the Lords time then, but it should come, “and you shall see it,” and then said look, and as I looked, I beheld a man standing as I thought at a distance of two hundred yards, and the angel said “there is the Man that the Lord hath appointed &c, and he is not yet born.” I have related it in short, as I have not time now to give a full detail of all that I had a view of. Yours with respect.
Benjamin Benson
November 12th 1837
Joseph Smith Jr Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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N, B At some further time if the Lord will I will be more full if you should wish it. I shall direct this to you as a letter and you can act your Judgement in either keeping it to yourself or publishing it by making use of my name. [p. 51]

Benjamin Benson to JS • 12 November 1837

Dear Brother in the Lord, Having reflected on the short  interview we had last evening respecting the dream (or vision as you may  think proper to term it) and as you stated several times that you should like  to have it wrote so that you could take it home with you to 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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, I  therefore consent to give a statement in as short <a> manner as I can, without  going into every minute circumstance. To wit.—
In the year 1795, I then being in the Town of Pompey,  County of Onondagua and State of New York; I then being 22 years old; seeing  and viewing the ancient Indian Forts and trates thereof through that part of  the Country; my mind was anxiously led to contemplate and reflect on where  those Indians came from, or from what race of People they sprang from, and often times heard it stated that these Indians were natives of this Continent, and  that they were created and placed here at the creation of the world. Then said  I the Bible cannot be true, part of for it (The Bible) says that all the human  family sprang from Adam &c, and that at the time of the flood, the whole  earth was covered with water, and that all flesh died, except what were in  the ark with Noah, then with things taking place, and I firmly believing  that the Bible was true, my heart’s desire was to God in solemn prayer to  know where and what race of people these Indians sprang from, It was  made known (whether by dream or vision I will leave that for you, to  judge) An angel as I thought came to me and said, Come along with me  and I was immediately on a beast like a horse, and the angel at my left hand  with his feet about the same height that my feet were as I sat on the horse, and  in this position was conveyed to near the place where the record was deposited  and he said stop here, and the angel went about 4 or 5 Rods and took in his  hand a book, and on his return to where I stood, as I thought there were many  stood with me; One said, what book is that? And the answer was, it is a bible,  a bible, the word of God, a record of a people that came from Jerusalem, the fore  fathers of these Indians, And it also contains a record of a people that came from  the Tower of Babel at the time the Lord confounded the language and scattered  the people into all the world, and it the Book Ether; and then with great anx iety of heart I asked if I might have the book, and answer was that it was  not the Lords time then, but it should come, “and you shall see it,” and then  said look, and as I looked, I beheld a man standing as I thought at a distance  of two hundred yards, and the angel said “there is the Man that the Lord hath ap pointed &c, and he is not yet born.[”] I have related it in short, as I have not  time now to give a full detail of all that I had a view of. Yours with respect.
Benjamin Benson
November 12th 1837
Joseph Smith Jr Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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.
N, B At some further time if the Lord will I will be more full if you should  wish it. I shall direct this to you as a letter and you cannot act your Judgement in either  keeping it to yourself or publishing it by making use of my name. [p. 51]
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Letterbook 2, [1839–ca. summer 1843]; handwriting of Howard Coray

6 May 1817–16 Jan. 1908. Bookkeeper, clerk, teacher, farmer. Born in Dansville, Steuben Co., New York. Son of Silas Coray and Mary Stephens. Moved to Providence, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, ca. 1827; to Williams, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania, by 1830; and...

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, James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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, Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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, John Fullmer

21 July 1807–8 Oct. 1883. Farmer, newsman, postmaster, teacher, merchant. Born at Huntington, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Fullmer and Susannah Zerfass. Moved to Nashville, Davidson Co., Tennessee, spring 1832. Married Mary Ann Price, 24 May 1837...

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, William Clayton

17 July 1814–4 Dec. 1879. Bookkeeper, clerk. Born at Charock Moss, Penwortham, Lancashire, England. Son of Thomas Clayton and Ann Critchley. Married Ruth Moon, 9 Oct. 1836, at Penwortham. Baptized into LDS church by Heber C. Kimball, 21 Oct. 1837, in River...

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, and George Walker; 271 pages, including twenty-six pages of an index; JS Collection, CHL.
This letterbook was inscribed in a large-size, commercially produced ledger book measuring 14¼ × 9½ × 1¾ inches (36 × 24 × 4 cm) with leather-covered boards. It contains 238 leaves. The leaves, which measure 13½ × 8⅞ inches (34 × 23 cm), are vertically ruled with eight single red lines and three interspersed double red lines and horizontally ruled with thirty-nine blue lines and one double red line at the top or bottom of the page depending on how the ledger book was turned. The book was originally used as a financial ledger book for Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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, Smith, and Co., beginning in September 1836; eighty-three pages of financial entries were inscribed. In April 1839, the book was inverted, and what would have been the back of the book for the financial firm became the front of a letterbook. A title is inscribed on the blank leaf before the letterbook that reads “Copies of Letters, &c. &c. 1839 AD.” Following the title page, there are 245 pages of inscribed letters. There is a mix of contemporaneous letters, earlier letters, church records, and church business records. The first fifty-one pages of Letterbook 2 contain letters on the 1838 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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difficulties, and many of them appear to be copies of letters that JS or others received while in jail in Liberty, Missouri, in winter 1838–1839. These pages also feature copies of letters sent to and from church leaders in Quincy

Located on high limestone bluffs east of Mississippi River, about forty-five miles south of Nauvoo. Settled 1821. Adams Co. seat, 1825. Incorporated as town, 1834. Received city charter, 1840. Population in 1835 about 800; in 1840 about 2,300; and in 1845...

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and Commerce

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

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, Illinois, in spring and early summer 1839; JS’s journal provides evidence that he was “employed dictating letters and attending to the various business of the Church” during this time, indicating that this volume was an active letterbook, with letters being contemporaneously copied into it. On page 52, following a 27 June 1839 letter and a 12 November 1837 letter, the copies of much earlier letters began to be inscribed; these letters include a letter originally written on 29 July 1833 by John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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with a postscript by William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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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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and JS, which is followed by a letter from JS to Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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dated 4 June 1834 and a 17 June 1829 letter from Jesse Smith to 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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. Copying these documents may have coincided with the writing of JS’s history or with the writing of the history of the difficulties in Missouri per JS’s instructions in March 1839. The active recording of contemporaneous letters continued after these few earlier letters until February 1843.

Facts