53991682

Letterbook 2

as to getting the temporary house erected which you desired, I have not been able to  find any person willing to take hold of the job, and have thought that perhaps  you may meet with some person at Quincy who could take it in hand.
Business goes on with us in quite a lively manner and we hope  soon to have the acquisition of Brother [George W.] Harris and family, with other friends to  assist us in our arduous, but glorious undertaking. Our families are all well  and as far as we have knowledge all things are going on quietly and smoothly—
Yours &c &c
Joseph Smith Jr

JS and Emma Smith to John Cleveland • 24 May 1839

Commerce Ill, 24th May 1839
Dear Mr [John] & Mrs [Sarah Kingsley] Cleveland,
We write you in order to redeem our pledge which we  would have done before now, but that we have been in the midst of the bustle of  business of various kinds ever since our arrival here, we however beg to assure  you and your family that we have not forgotten you, but remember you all, as  well as the great kindness and friendship which we have experienced at your  hands. We have selected a lot for you just across the street from our own  beside Mr [George W.] Harris’, and in the orchard according to the desire of Sister Cleveland  and also one on the river adapted to Mr Clevelands trade. The various busi ness attendant on settling a new place goes on here at present briskly while  all around and concerning us goes on quietly and smoothly as far as we have  knowledge. It would give us great pleasure to have you all here along with  us, and this we hope to enjoy in a short time.
I have also remembered Rufus Cleveland to  the Surveyor, and am happy to <be> able to say that the land in Ioway Territory far  exceeds my expectations, both as to richness of soil, and beauty of locations  more so than any part of Missouri which I have seen. We desire to have  Mr Cleveland and his brother come up here as soon as convenient and see our sit uation, when they can judge for themselves, and we shall be happy to see them  and give them all information in our power. Father Smith and family  arrived here yesterday, his health rather improves. We all join in wishing  our sincere respects to each and every of you, and remain your very sincere  friends.
Joseph Smith Jr
Judge Cleveland & Lady
Quincy Ill. [p. 12]
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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