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1102701

Joseph Smith iii

I am the son of said Joseph Smith and Emma Smith,

and would like to see the original of the letter,

as I have other letters from him by which I could identify it.

Joseph  Smith III, 18321914.  Prophet-President of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 18601914.  Typed Letter Signed, Joseph Smith, one page, 8˝” x 11”, on stationery of the Office of the First Presidency, Lamoni, Iowa, July 1, 1901.

This is an exceedingly rare letter by Smith, the son of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Mormon Church, and his wife, Emma Hale Smith.  We have found no other letters written by him in auction records.

This letter relates to events in early Mormon history.  After losing the 1838 Mormon War, the elder Smith and other church leaders were jailed in Liberty, Missouri, while awaiting trial.  Smith wrote letters to many of his followers to dispel the notion that he was a fallen prophet.  In a letter dated March 21, 1839, he wrote his wife that the “salvation of my soul is of the most importance to me forasmuch as I know for a  certainty of eternal things.  If the heavens linger, it is nothing to me.” 

Here Smith III, having seen a proof press copy of the 1839 letter, asks to see the original in order to authenticate it.  He writes, in part:  “I thank you for the proof press copy of the purported letter from Joseph Smith to his wife Emma, from Liberty Jail, Missouri, March 21, 1839.  If you know the address of Mr. C. P. Birge, will you confer the favor of sending it to me.  I am the son of said Joseph Smith and Emma Smith, and would like to see the original of the letter, as I have other letters from him by which I could identify it.

The 1839 letter was indeed authentic.  We understand that it is now in the church archives.

Joseph Smith, Jr., was killed in jail in 1844.  By the late 1840s and early 1850s, the Mormon church essentially divided into two groups, the followers of Brigham Young, who had moved to Utah, and those who remained in Missouri.  The Missouri faction split with president James J. Strang over his practice of plural marriage, to which they remained opposed, and looked to a son of Joseph Smith, Jr., to lead the church.  Ultimately, in 1860, Smith III announced that he had received inspiration from God to do so.  He was installed as president in a conference at Amboy, Illinois, on April 4, 1860, and led the church for the next 54 years until his death in 1914.

He reorganized the church, which became known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Some of those who adhered to the reorganization established a colony in Lamoni, Iowa, and in 1881 Smith moved there, making Lamoni the new headquarters of the church. 

Smith has signed this letter, written from Lamoni, with a large 4” gray fountain pen signature and a paraph underneath.  The letter has one horizontal and two vertical mailing folds, one of which goes through the “S” in “Smith,” and some edge chipping and a little toning at the upper left margin.  There are also a couple of old dealer or collector pencil notations, one at the bottom front margin and one in a corner on the back.  Overall it is in very good to fine condition, and the rarity outweighs any defects.

Unframed.

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