Edward Stevenson's 1888 Visit to Liberty Jail
Correspondence to and from Liberty Jail
Hyrum Smith wrote to Sister Clarinda Grinnals to thank her for taking care of his family, his sick wife Mary, the baby, and their five children during his incarceration. Hyrum's letter also includes instructions to his oldest children.
Liberty, March 16, 1839
I feel to write a few lines to you in token of that friendship you have manifested towards my family. I feel grateful to you for your kindness and know not when I shall be able to reward you for your trouble. If God will preserve my life, you shall be rewarded for all your trouble.
The name of that woman to whom you was very kind in her sickness is printed in sacred remembrance in my heart. That child you have nourished so kindly brings your name in sacred remembrance and it cannot be forgotten. I want you should stay with the family and never leave them. My home shall be your home for I shall have a home though I have none now. Though age shall cause the strength of nature to fail, yet my house shall be your home. I shall not fail. I am sensible that your strength has been much exhausted for the benefit of my family. May God grant that I may be able to reciprocate your kindness. May the Lord bless you and give you health and better days. Clairinda, remember that your benefactor and protector who has been as kind to you as an own father is now in prison for his religion. I wish you should call to mind the instructions I have given you. I want you should be steady and prayerful. Be kind to the woman that you call your mother. Let mother give you one of the Books of Mormon and write your name in it. I want you to seek every opportunity to read it through. Remember me both night and morning in your prayers. May the Lord bless you. Take care of the little children. Lovina, my child, you must be a good girl and be kind to your mother and to your little brothers and sisters, be steady and read your book. You may have my small took of Mormon. You must try to read it through. Pray for your father that the Lord may help him to come home. Little John, little Hiram, little Jerusha and little Sarah, you must be good little children till father comes home. He will come as soon as he can.
Hyrum Smith [Letter from Hyrum Smith to Sister Grinnals, l6 March 1839, Liberty Jail, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, UT; Cottle, Liberty Jail and the Legacy of Joseph, 125].
19 March 1839: Four letters were received at the jail. One was from Bishop Partridge (5 March). Two others were from Don Carlos Smith to Joseph and Hyrum, Wm. Smith to Joseph and Hyrum (6 March), and the fourth was from Emma to Joseph (7 March).
On this same day, Hyrum wrote to Mary F. as follows:
Mary my dear: [Hyrum had received a letter from Brother Partridge through the hand of Brother Rogers. He had only scraps of paper to write on.] I was somewhat disappointed that I did not hear from you and the family by your own hand. Bro. Partridge says he informed you of the opportunity of sending by Bro. Rogers. I do not know but you were sick. [He expressed feelings of anxiety] [A]nd perhaps some kind angel or brooding spirit may manifest all things to me by dream or vision. God has said that he would deliver us from the power of our enemies in his own due time. We try to be as patient as possible. I desire to hear from you by your hand if it is possible. You must excuse my form [of] writing. My nerves are somewhat effected and my hands are this evening quite swollen and fingers are stiff and painful with the rheumatism We have appealed to the supreme judges habeas corpus. We think they will set us free. Pray for us. Pray for me. My affection? for you is incessant. Yours in the bands of true friendship and love till death…
20 March 1839, Hyrum again wrote to Mary:
Mary my dear companion, this morning Bro. Rogers came in to see us and thinks he will not return [in] under two weeks. I wrote a short line this evening to you not knowing that I would have an opportunity of writing this morning. They thought they would be at liberty before this time and would be with you so [I] have written much. Our guards are very strict and have been since Elder Rigdon went away from here. The people have been suspicious that he would send a strong force to set us at liberty so they have been more strict. I slept a good day and night but our freedom is close at hand. God is with us and we know the will of God... Bro. Rogers informed us this morning that he called on you and informed you that he was coming here but you gave him no answer. I do not wish to sorrow your feelings if they are innocent but I thought it strange that you did not send one word to me when I thought you knew that I was so anxious to hear from you.
[Imagine my disappointment at not receiving information concerning] the little babe or those little children that lies near my heart although my heart feels wounded today wist [sic] I write yet my heart is tender like that of a child's not withstanding my experienced manhood and age. The tears do obstruct my writing hand on my weakness. My desire has been to make you as comfortable as possible but you know I have been prevented. Be assured you have my warmest affections and ever will till death... This [visiting] brother knows nothing of the family except yourself. You were upstairs and did not come down to see him nor to give him any information only he learned by others that your health was improving. This fact was good news. Time will bring about all things and we must be patient in tribulations and wait the will of God be done. I have no fears of my salvation for God is my judge… Hyrum Smith [Cottle, Liberty Jail and the Legacy of Joseph, 126, 128,].
Mary F., Quincy, Illinois, to Hyrum, Liberty, Missouri, [sometime before 11] April 1839.
My dear husband: I received yesterday a large packet of letters from you which took nearly all my pleasure time to read through the day which I did with mingled feelings of pleasure and grief. I assure you I had thought it very long before I heard from you your first letter only came to hand a little more than a week ago… I am sure if I could have known that you would be in confinement so long I should by no means have omitted to write to you often although I might have to do it while other[s] slept? As I am now doing to write on the receipt of yours…
…Oh Hyrum… so many things crowd up my mind which I should like to tell you but cannot in this way that I long to see you, that I may explain all things to you as I wish to do. As Elder Rigdon told me some time ago that he had given you an account of our situation so I shall skip over may things leave them to be explained when I have the pleasure of seeing you… I am now… enjoying good health and fast recovering my strength which is greatly needed after near five months sickness in which [I] have been entirely unable to take care of the household affairs…My dear you say if you have forsaken me you might - write and let me know it be this feelings of a familiar nature I thought if I had not proved to you in the course of the 9 or 10 months I had lived with you that I cared for your own and the welfare of family. I would in further endeavors to do so.... I observe a spirit moving through the whole which seems to strengthen attachments to you and if I should again be permitted to enjoy your (company?) I hope to prove to you that I am a never failing friend.... My dear husband I have finished my letter and send it off by a brother but as no one knew where you would be, it was sent back to me. I was sorry but am now glad as I have this day received a letter from you dated April 6 and wish to make a few remarks in answer to it. In the first place I would say that your wrapher [?] is safe at home also your saddle bags - which were sent home before you left Far West. The brother told me I might bring them with me as you would they expected be here as soon as you were but in this I was disappointed. In the next place I must beg of you to say no more about me having forsaken you or the family. It gives me so much pain of mind that I can hardly bear it. I again tell you that such a thought never entered my heart. Don't my dear be uneasy about any of the children. Little Joseph Jr. he's to near my heart to be neglected but I will take this to heart and I promise you that if this is necessary that your mind may be easy respecting the family that they shall continue to receive all the care and attention I am capable of showing them until your return and afterwards it shall not be lessened. We are all quite well in health at this time excepting brother Thompson who has been so closely confined to writing during the setting of the court that he is now quite layed up. He desires me to give his particular love to you and to say that if he had not been so much engaged he would have written. My sister also with all the family send their sincere love to you and I subscribe myself your most affectionate friend and companion in tribulation.
- Mary Smith [Cottle, Liberty Jail and the Legacy of Joseph, 135-38,].