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Mormon, Emigrant Trail, Gold Rush Correspondence and

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Lot 1744 Details

Description
Personal papers and correspondence archive of Mrs. Sally Gear, wife of Philoness (also spelled Philonas and Gere or Geer). This archive chronicles the story of faith of an original member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints under the direct leadership of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. It is unclear if Mr. and Mrs. Gere are of any direct relation to Smith or any of the 12 chosen Apostles. The Gere family resided in Massachusetts in the 1820s and 1830s, but actively corresponded with the early Smith followers and missionaries, who headed west to settle Kirtland, Ohio, Missouri, Nauvoo, Illinois and Iowa, as well as those who continued along to the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City and the Emigrant Trail to California. The Gere's supported Joseph Smith and the Mormon emigrants and missionaries both spiritually and financially, throughout their journey west, but it wasn't until about 1845, after receiving a letter from Luman A. Shirtliff (Shurtliff) who was a well-known missionary and one of the "Saints" involved with establishing the Mormon settlement in Salt Lake City, that the Gere's were finally persuaded, because of their devout faith in God, to relocate to the Nauvoo, Illinois/Council Bluffs, Iowa region to tithe and support the Latter Day Saints effort to build the "City of Saints". Altogether the archive contains 18 different handwritten documents containing dozens of names and family relations tied to American History and the struggles, triumphs and faith of the early Mormon emigrants. Letters have significance to not only early LDS History, but also the California Gold Rush, and the early Emigrants and Wagon Trains crossing the Midwest and western states to build a better life, including the Donner Party. The papers contained herein are invaluable to historians and collectors interested in the early American Pioneers true life experiences in the early-mid 1800s. Date: 1829 - 1880sContained in this historic collection:1. An 1839 letter written by Sally Gere (Gear, Geer Gere) determined by writing a writing sample of the 1848 Council Bluffs letter signed by Mrs. Gere.The letter is written to Mrs. Eliza Ann Phelps, a possible relation to a well-known family of the American Revolution. The Phelps family name is extensively researched genealogically and much information is available online. The letter speaks of a ".... brother in law that has been crazy, he undertook to murder his family, his family consisting of my Mother and my Sister and her four little children, but through the mercy of God they all escaped. He was carried to the insane Hospital....." The remainder of the letter talks of faith and religion, and perfectly illustrates the disillusionment with the established churches and Christianity felt by many God fearing men and women of the time. It is that very disillusionment which is believed to have been what inspired the revelations of Joseph Smith and his eager following of believers in the Church of Latter Day Saints. She states on page two, "We have some accounts in the newspapers about the people called Mormons, but there is no good spoken of them excepting they call them a harmless inoffensive people, and this, I think, is saying more and better than we can say of our Churches in these regions at the present day. For they stigmatize all who differ from them in their views and feelings, they have forgotten or never knew that they should speak evil of no man, that they should bless and curse not. It appears to me that the faith of Jesus has departed from our churches, for they have no signs whereby the world may know what they are believers (the Ministry in particular.) The sick are not cured and their sins forgiven them through the laying on of their hands as Jesus commanded. The lame the blind the deaf the dumb and the broken hearted are not made whole under their hands...." This letter includes a fully transcribed typed copy.2.This is by far the most significant being a letter by an early Mormon Missionary, famous Mormon autobiographer and early political figure of Salt Lake City named Luman A. Shirtliff, and is handwritten personally to Mr. and Mrs. Sally and Philoness/Phelonas Gear/Gere. The letter was sent March 23th, year unknown from Nauvoo, Illinois and speaks of the (recent) murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith (1844) and the continued attempts of the “mob characters to obtain a writ” to take some of the men who witnessed the murder of the prophets. That dates this letter to the year of 1845? Most of the Mormons were forced out of Nauvoo beginning in February 1846. In the letter Shirtliff speaks of the government taking all of the groups’ chartered rights and how they have petitioned in vain for protection. He declares that “every thread and sinew that bound us to this nation is cut and we are severed from this once republican government-therefore we are bound to stand or fall in obeying the command of God…” The purpose of Shirtliff's letter is to solicit donations to pay for the labor required to complete the second Mormon Temple in Nauvoo, which was only half complete when Joseph Smith was killed. The first Mormon Temple was erected in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836. The letter specifically states, “the object of this letter is to convey to you the necessity of your coming here this spring and paying your tithing for the building the Temple….” Shirtliff goes on to advise the Geres to “sell your property if you can get ¾ the value in such things as you can get here with, if not, let it out one year. You can come cheap by water this spring – come here pay one tenth of all you possess to build the temple, stay here this summer and you will receive such instruction pertaining to the will of God and his kingdom as is beyond your present comprehension, which will cause your souls to expand and you to be able to understand the important station you may fill if you come up to your privilege. If not someone will take your crown, for a king you may be if you will step forward & obey what is required of you from time to time and be faithful in keeping God’s command…” It cannot be understated that, for a devout believer, this letter leaves the recipient very little choice in the matter of relocation. This letter includes a fully transcribed, typed copy.3. The third letter is from Sally Gere and evidences the fact that she and her husband were convinced by Luman A. Shirtliff that in order to claim their "crowns" and become "kings" who were "faithful to God's command" they must sell everything they owned, and move west to tithe 10% of their entire life's fortune to assist in the effort to finish the Temple in Nauvoo. Mrs. Gere sent this letter back east October 5th, 1848 concerning the establishment of the Council Bluffs region from Indian lands. She references the leaving of the wagon train in April the previous year (1847) which was the wagon train known to have been left by Brigham Young in order to establish Salt Lake City. She explains their settlement as their second, because 'the Government ordered all the people off from the indian territory and forbid them settling anymore on indian lands " (the west side of the river). She goes on to say "The City was broken up last April (1848) between 6 and 700 wagons went onto the Rocky mountains, which was about one fourth of the inhabitants of the City, the remainder moved over the river onto the Iowa Territory.....the indians that inhabited the land are called Pattawatomies, Government has bought them out and given us liberty to settle here, we have a county organized 'tis called Pottawatomy County. (Iowa)." Geographically she also mentions Counsel Point, and Canesville, where the post office was located. This letter includes a fully transcribed, typed copy. The following points along the Mormon Trail from Nauvoo are all possible locations of the Gere's first two settlements during this time.Mount Pisgah (153 miles west of Nauvoo) – As they entered Potawatomi territory, the emigrants established another semi-permanent settlement that they named Mount Pisgah. Several thousand acres were cultivated and a settlement of about 700 Latter-day Saints thrived there from 1846 to 1852. Now the site is marked by a 9-acre park, which contains exhibits, historical markers, and a reconstructed log cabin. However, little remains from the 19th century except a cemetery memorializing the 300 to 800 emigrants who died there.Nishnabotna River Crossing (232 miles west of Nauvoo) – From Mount Pisgah the trail proceeds past the modern towns of Orient, Bridgewater, Massena and Lewis. Just west of Lewis, the 1846 emigrants passed a Potawatomi encampment on the Nishnabotna River. The Potawatomis were also refugees; 1846 was their last year in the area.Grand Encampment (255 miles west of Nauvoo) – From the Nishnabotna River, the trail proceeds past present-day Macedonia to Mosquito Creek on the eastern outskirts of present-day Council Bluffs. The first emigrant company arrived on June 13, 1846. At this open area, where the Iowa School for the Deaf is now located, the LDS emigrant companies paused and camped, forming what was called the Grand Encampment. From this site on July 20, the Mormon Battalion departed for the Mexican–American War.Kanesville (later Council Bluffs) (265 miles west) – The emigrants established an important settlement and outfitting point at this site on the Missouri River, originally known as Miller's Hollow. The emigrants renamed the settlement as Kanesville, honoring Thomas L. Kane, a non-LDS attorney who was politically well connected and used his influence to assist the Latter-day Saints. From 1846 to 1852, it was an important LDS settlement and the outfitting point for companies traveling to present-day Utah. Orson Hyde, an Apostle and ecclesiastical leader of the settlement, published a newspaper called the Frontier Guardian. In 1852 the major LDS settlements at Kanesville, Mount Pisgah, and Garden Grove were closed as the settlers moved on to Utah. After 1852, however, the Church continued to outfit and supply emigrant companies (mostly LDS converts coming from the British Isles and mainland Europe) at this community, now renamed Council Bluffs, until the mid-1860s, when the terminus of the First Transcontinental Railroad was extended to the west. [Ref: www.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon trail]4. This is a 1849 letter sent to Mrs. Philones Geer in Council Bluffs, Caines ville, Pottawatomies, Iowa from Lucinda Witherell, "Sister in the New and Everlasting Covenant" living in Chester Village in Western Massachusetts. "New and Everlasting Covenant," is a covenant long considered to be referring directly to the practice of plural marriage; but the validity of the revelation is rejected by the LDS Church, which does not consider it to be authentic. {Ref: Deseret News, Church Section. June 18, 1933, "Furthermore, so far as the authorities of the Church are concerned and so far as the members of the Church are concerned, since this pretended revelation, if ever given, was never presented to and adopted by the Church or by any Council of the Church, and since to the contrary, an inspired rule of action, the Manifesto, was (subsequently to the pretended revelation) presented to and adopted by the Church, which inspired rule in its terms, purport, and effect was directly opposite to the interpretation given to the pretended revelation, the said pretended revelation could have no validity and no binding effect and force upon Church members, and action under it would be unauthorized, illegal, and void.}. Still, since the time of John Taylor (1808 – 1887) an English religious leader who served as the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1880 to 1887 the "New and Everlasting Covenant" is a covenant used by Mormon fundamentalists and opponents of LDS theology to condone the practice of polygamy, but this justification that the practice of plural marriage is a true covenant in LDS scripture is invalid and an incorrect interpretation of the scripture in the Book of Mormon, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints official position on the topic. [Ref: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2015/12/the-new-and-everlasting-covenant] This letter is a plea for news of those western emigrants who "have gone over the mountain", news of the Church and expresses the desire of the write to join the brethren in the west and "have the privilege of living with the Saints of God". The letter states, "We get no information (in the East) respecting the Church except what we get from the papers that the first Company that went over the mountain many of them starved to death and those that went through lived on the flesh of those that died and since they have got there many of them have been killed by the Indians. I wish you would write us the facts in this matter." This can only be a direct reference to the Donner Party cannibalism. This letter includes a fully transcribed, typed copy. 5. This is a letter sent from Tehama, California in 1855 to Mrs. Gere from a friend, implies that Sally and Philoness Gere were finally persuaded to join the effort on the Western Front. While there is no cover address available and it is not specifically stated where the letter was sent to, in the first line the writer states she “stopped at your house last spring on the road to California”, a clear indication that the Geres must have finally left Massachusetts, if only temporarily and settle somewhere on the Missouri River near Council Bluffs. The writer goes on to talk of her journey along the Mormon trail to California, the trials and tribulations she and her party faced, run-ins with Indians along the way, who stole 23 of their best horses, and her brief visit to Salt Lake City, where she and her husband had a “long talk with an old man, who had much to say about Brigham Young and appeared to think every word he said is law and gospel.” Throughout this letter, the writer gives sporadic details about her journey west, which lead the reader down the one early path of the Mormon trail, from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City, but peculiarly splitting from some of their party at the Humboldt River and choosing to take the “Nobles” route, instead. The route, called Noble's Road, left the main trail near Lasson's meadow (now Rye Patch Reservoir) in Nevada, and bypassed most of the large Applegate-Lassen loop north almost to on the Oregon-California border. This reasonably easy wagon route followed the Applegate-Lassen Trail to the Boiling Spring at Black Rock in Black Rock Desert and then went almost due west from there to Shasta, California, in the Central Valley via Smoke Creek Desert to present-day Honey Lake and present-day Susanville before passing North of Mt. Lassen and on to Shasta near present-day Redding. The writer eventually settled in Colusa, California. Aside from this particular letter’s significance in placing the Gere’s near Nauvoo, Illinois, this letter also hold much value to researchers and historians interested in the emigrant trails to California in the mid 1800s. This letter includes a fully transcribed, typed copy.6. Four documents related to a loan of $2,000 given May 1st, 1856 by Sally and Philoness Gere to Mr. John B. Beers of Council Bluffs.7. Correspondences written to Sally Gere over a several decade period.8. Four-year log of meteorological observations from an unknown location. It is included because the writing is identical the the known writing sample of Sally Gere.
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Mormon, Emigrant Trail, Gold Rush Correspondence and

Estimate $3,000 - $7,000Jul 11, 2019
Starting Price $1,500
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Ships fromReno, NV, United States
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