Friday, August 8, 2014

Letters of Edward Hunter

Edward Hunter was a mid-level economic advisor to Joseph Smith Jr in Nauvoo; he had been a gentleman farmer in Pennsylvania interested in religion (Whittacker, Biography, pp.2-5) and had hosted the Nantmeal Seminary on his property as a locus of preaching from the various sects (p.3).
His initial Mormon contacts were in the spring of 1839 via the mission of Elder Elijah H. Davis, whose right to speak Hunter defended (p.3). Joseph Smith Jr stayed with Hunter during Smith's trip of meeting with President Martin van Buren (p.4). Hunter moved to Nauvoo in 1842, giving $7,000 cash to Joseph Smith Jr and $5,000 to the Church as contributions (p.4). Hunter became Bishop of the Nauvoo Fifth Ward in November of 1844 (p.5). When the Saints left Nauvoo in 1846, Hunter left behind an estimated $50,000 worth of property (p.5).

This sketch does no justice to his friendship with Edwin D. Woolley, with whom he attempted to form a mercantile association to offset the influence of the gentile business community (see my post on Arrington, p.117).


The following is a mere excerpt of the collection of Edward Hunter. Hunter received way more letters, invitations and receipts of business then are indicated here. The selection is based on interest of the moment and intra-collection comparison. 

Collection: Folder 4

Docket Book of Edward Hunter Esq, father of Bishop Edward Hunter, 1798-1809, 274 pp.

Collection: Folder 5

A letter of recommendation for the young Edward Hunter
Pittsburgh, October 5th, 1816
Mr Jos. Charles
Dear Sir: The bearers Mr. Edward Hunter and Lewis Davis are two young gentlemen who this morning handed me an introductory letter from a friend, who supposed I was at St Louis, referring them to me for the necessary information on the country as strangers, etc.
These gentlemen inform, its their intention of purchasing land and residing in the country provided they are pleased. I have therefore referred them to you who I hope will render them every assistance in this way you can and which attention will confer a favor on your friend.
& oblige (Signed) John Cromwell
In his letter from July 29th, 1821, Isaac Bailey writes to Edward Hunter to let him borrow, as their sizes agree, a set of clothes---shirt, cravat, pantaloons, stockings, shoes---hidden in a paper package so that Bailey can be admitted to the bar as an Attorney at Chester Court. This was related to Bailey connecting up with a Dr. Darlington, "the member of Congress of this place", about which Bailey wrote in a second letter the next day, July 30th, 1821.

Invitation to Edward Hunter for party at Thomas Pucker's November 3rd, 1823.
Invitation to Edward Hunter for dinner at William Hening's November 9th, 1823 [literally "5th day the 25th of the 9th Month" ???].
Invitation to Edward Hunter for dinner by Lydia Gannett, November 4th, 1824.

A receipt
This Oct. 19th 1825 of Edward Hunter esq forty dollars // $40.00 on account for Mary Congle. <signed> John Robinson

Collection: Folder 6

Edward Hunter was selected as the executor of the Testament of Isaac Rees in the Delaware County Court, Aril 21st, 1826.

Invitation to the January 1st, 1827 New Years Ball at Chester.

Articles of Agreement with John Fischer of Hamilton, regarding a farm in West Nantmeal, Chester County, of 172 acres, Oct 25th 1827.

A Hymn on Death (Ju;y 30th, 1826)
Nain man thy fond persuit forbear // Repent thy end is nigh // Death at the farthest cant be far // O think before you die //
Reflect thou has a soul to save // Thy sins how high they mount // What are they hopes beyond the grave // how stands they dark account
Death enters and there [is] no defence // His time theres none can bell [???] // He'll in a momemnt call the[e] hence //  To heaven or to Hell
Thy flesh perhaps thy chieffest care // shall crawling worms consume // But oh distraction stops not there // In hills beyond the tomb
To day the gospil [sic!] calls today // sinners it speake to you // Let everyone foraske his way // and mercy will ensure  
Rich mercy, clearly bought with blood // How vile soever [???] he be // Abundant pardon peace with god // all given entirely free

Collection: Folder 7 

Letter from William Hunter (brother) to Edward Hunter, dated July 18th, 1831, regarding the wetness conditions of a meadow and the price of beef, supposedly risen from 5 to 7 Dollars, as per a butcher conversation William had, with an expectation of $8. This prompted William to have his cow and calf sent to the market, which he is requesting Edward to do.

January 31st, 1832, J.P. Baugh wrote to Edward Hunter due to his inability to pay his debts, having been unable to sell for 6 months his "Basks" [???], but hoping to pay in March. The news prompted Edward to make calculations in the margins of the letter.

Family Letter from August 12th 1832, from William to Edward, reporting on the state of their friend Job Bishop, who is reported to "read the Bible frequently", and of William's family, whose member Sally, who had "bad spells" and was attended to by a doctor who made encouraging noises.

Letter from William to Edward, September 11th 1832, about the price of sheep for sale; William had seen an especially interesting flock going for $2.75 a head, but was unsure whether a top flock was necessary and requested his brother to be on the look-out for 30 to 40 good head. Sally was still under the weather, though.

Letter from William to Edward, October 2nd, 1832, again discussing the price and sale of sheep, as William was not happy with the flock he had acquired from Caleb, finding them too light and not enough fat. He also told Edward that the flock Edward had sold to Davis was well talked about by their acquaintance Boyl. Sally was still sick.

Check to Edward Hunter, issued by the Chester County Bank, in West Chester, March 30th, 1833, to the amount of $3128.35. 

Letter from William to Edward, November 2nd, 1833, reporting the difficulties of selling the cattle to the butchers of Germantown. William had shown the cattle, but they were considered not fat enough, and the butchers wanted to pick the best seven and pay $21.50 for the lot. Both parties decided to give the other side an opportunity to get a better deal, and the plan was to re-congregate in seven days, at which point they would take them if they had found no better cattle. William awaited his brothers' instructions.

Bill of sale for land in Newton Township, Delaware County, on December 19th, 1833, to the highest bidder in an open bid, and specifies one dollar survey fee for the land to determine the acreage of sale. The seller has to pay $300 immediately, either in cash or by acceptably secured note which has to be cashable in 30 days, and then the next two thirds of the sum by April 1834, and the remainder before April 1835, together with interest at a rate of 5% per annum. In return the buyer will receive a Deed of Conveyance clear of all encumbrances. The exception to the encumbrances is the lease of a 20 feet wide strip of road, held by William Hunter, along the property of the deceased Robert Mendenhall, as a private road.

A bill of receipt of John Webster to Edward Hunter
Ree [?] December 21, 1833 of Edward Hunter Thirty Five 60/100 being the five per cent of purchase money for lots no 4 and 3 delineated in a draft & the size one hundred and twenty two feet on Turnpike, and one hundred and twenty feet on Rail-road. --- The five per cent is according to the conditions of public sale. ---- $36 60/100 ---- John Webster (sig)
Promisary note from D.B. Ubil
Springton Forge Oct 2nd, 1834 // $800 // Nine Days after date I Promise to pay at the Bank of Chester County to the order of Edward Hunter & Lesuna [???] Liberty [???] Eight hundred Dollas without Defaleation. Credit the Drawer // Edward Hunter (sig) // D.B. Ubil (sig)

Collection: Folder 8

Business Letter from Jonathan B. Chrisman of Springton Forge to Edward Hunter, dated February 22, 1838, wanting thirty seven dollars per acre for the land, not 36 as they had discussed earlier, and as his final offer ("When making a calculation I find I cannot take less than 37 dollar an acre for the land").
[We must assume that the clearly legible Feb 22 1838 date is a writing-mistake by Chrisman, as the remainder of the deal plays out in 1839.]

They must have struck a deal eventually though, because on February 23, 1839, they signed an article of agreement on that land (unfortunately very difficult to read, but there is a transcript in Folder #9), which spells out the exact lay of the land and the agreed to price of $37 per acre. A computation at the end of the document suggests that the purchase price was $1312.57.

George Chrisman then sent Hunter a letter on April 1st, 1839, regarding the title to the land.
Mr Edward Hunter --- Coventry Hill, APril 1, 1839 --- This is to certify that with regard to the Land bought of my land John, off of the Springton Property,  that I will guarantee that you shall have A Deed in fee Simple, clean of all incumberancy, before the First Day of May, or as soon as a release can be obtained, from a mortgage held by Ann Hunter and dowry held by Mary Williams late Croudel. The first amounting to three hundred and eighty three and 33/100. And any payment that you may make that be considered the first payment on the property according to the Article of Agreeement. --- <Witnesses & Signature>
On November 5th, 1839, the Orphans' Court of Chester County, Pennsylvania, made Edward Hunter the guardian of Ellen and Thomas Lewis, minors.

Collection: Folder 9 (Transcripts)

From the last will of Linda Ford, which Edward was the executor for, he dispersed $7.50 to Rebecca Parsons, sometimes via William, on March 16th, 1833 (Folder 7); October 14th, 1836 and on December 4th, 1838 (both Folder 8). 

Collection: Folder 10

A difficult to read receipt from Nauvoo (!) in 1840, concerning $19.97, being the balance of an account, signed by W. P. Crowly [???]

Schooling bill for Thomas and Ellen Lewis, $3.87 1/2, paid to Alexander Marshall, July 18th, 1840, via Morgan Ron Lewis. 

A promissory note for $100 dated October 21st, 1840. executed by Elija Malin Jr.

A bill by Thomas F. Albright of Philadelphia, dated December 24th, 1840, where Edward Hunter had purchased two Gold Watches for a total of $52, and sundry other <illegible> charges of $5, $2 and $9 respectively. 

Collection: Folder 11

Letter by Edward Hunter, from Nauvoo, dated May 6th, 1841, to his uncle. He describes the lay of the city; the quality of the soil; comments on the 700 men Nauvoo Legion to suppress mob intimidation; (f2) he comments on Baptism of the Dead as a principle. 

At this time Hunter was beginning to extricate himself from his businesses in Pennsylvania. A promissory note of $800 drawn up for Baldwin Ackland of Chester County, dated April 13th 1841, may be an indication of this.

In Nauvoo, Edward drew up an $1,100 promissory note for Joseph Smith Jr, coming due April 1st 1842, for purchase city lots. A separate note from September 18th, 1841, is to the same amount of money. 

On November 21st, 1841, Edward was receiving correspondence from Nauvoo, from James Rodeback the builder of his house, on the progress it was making; his workmen were fighting for control; the cellar dividing wall had been drawn up wrong; Rodeback is still looking for his own place, Church land being too dear and the swamp to wet; Rodeback and Hunter have shared acquaintances in Chester County; Rodeback complains about the bad quality of tools and requests that augers and chisels be brought from Pennsylvania for him.

Collection: Folder 12

A letter of good standing from the Church at Brandywine, made out by Elijah Malin and Jacob Bauer, to Edward Hunter, dated May11th,1842.

On July 11th, 1842, James Rodeback wrote out a note to let the Temple committee have $4 from his account with Mr Edward Hunter.

A bill from Woolley's Store ($11~6 1/2).

A downpayment from September 1st 1842 on a town lot, 80 acres, dated September 1st, 1842, of one hundred dollar. 

A letter from E. Malin, September 13, 1842, discussing the Mormon lectures by Bennett, where Bennett claims that Mormons take Joseph Smith Jr to be God. 

A letter from West Chester, by David McConkey, to Edward Hunter, dated September 14, 1842, concerning a transaction involving $2,000 and difficulties with regard to executing that transaction.

A letter from his sister, Elizabeth Bishop, of Philadelphia, writing Edward October 1st, 1842, about how low the prices have become and what is to be had in Philadelphia, but how nobody seems to have any money. The reply to the letter last was delayed by a three week spell of tooth ache.

Collection: Folder 13

A slip for paying city taxes in Nauvoo
City of Nauvoo, July 6th, 1843, Received of Edward Hunter the sum of 9 dollars and 70 cents, being the amount of tax due the said city for the year AD 1842 in the 4 ward. Personal property, valued at $4.40, amount of $2.20. Description of Land and town lot: Lot No 2, Block 82, valued at $1,000; amount of 5 dollars; Lot No 1 on Block 83, valued at $200; amount of 1 dollar; 2 lots vers. 182, Block 9, valued at $300, amount of $1.50
Letter from Philadelphia, August 19th, 1843, from Edward's sister Hannah Hunter, reporting among other things on a flood in Delaware county that ripped away mills and other water-powered factories and drowned many people ("we have had one of the greatest floods in Delaware county that ever was known there it has swept 51 bridges away and a great many Mills and factories and houses and a great many people was drowned").

A large consignment of iron wares from G.W. Vauleer, at St Louis, for Edwin Hunter, Esq, Nauvoo, via the Steamboat St Louis Oak, for cash, amounting to $816.07, dated August 21st, 1843, and containing iron bars, plough parts, bundles and bands, boilers and cast steel.

A note of $100, made out by A.W. Vaileer, from September 15th, 1843, and payable to Edward Hunter, is in the folder as well.

Business correspondence with West Chester, PA, from Dec 4th, 1843, between Edward and David McConkey, regarding payments and releases.

Collection: Folder 14

With the March 19th tax assessment, his personal property had risen to $605, and his landed property to $1675, requiring Edward Hunter to pay $11.90 in city taxes. 

Letter of David McConkey to Edward Hunter, March 20th 1844, regarding a $465 mortgage payment by Mr William Convoy, as well as an outstanding business balance of $1200. David also over-wrote his check by $100 and mentioned this in the postscriptum.

Quit-Claim-Deed of David Wood to Joseph smith, dated April 13th, 1844, for $280, to the "West half of the North West quarter of Section 12, Township 6 North in Range 8 West of the fourth principal Meridian on the tract appropriated for military bounties and appropriated in the original patent to Rowland Harris". 

Bill of Amos Davis to E.D. Woolley, dated Nauvoo APril 28th, 1844, concerning boots, fabric, buttons, clothes for a total of $161.45 in goods and $49.80 in cash.

A.W.Vauleer acknowledges receipt of $250 from Edward Hunter, Esq, Nauvoo, via Mr. Chatheam [sp?], and pads the letter with weather information about the rain and the height of the river.

Collection: Folder 16

A notebook of transactions against various people and account, for various goods and services received.

Bibliographical Record

David J. Whittacker (comp), Edward Hunter Collection --- MSS 1582, Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU, Provo UT.

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