This is the second letter preserved in the Church History Library from Levi Jackman to his family (from the same manuscript and microfilm: MS 4453). The first letter was dated July 27th, 1835. In Levi’s autobiography, he marks the following day with this entry:

Tuesday, July 28 – (My birthday) I commenced work on the temple, and worked 194 days. The House was dedicated on Sunday, March 27, 1836. During my stay in this place I boarded with Elder Runals Cahoon. It was a fine family and enjoyed myself in their society. All the important circumstances that took place in these days are recorded in history. I would only say that I believe that as great things were heard and felt and seen as there was on the day of Pentecost with the apostles.

Depending upon how he counted (days of the calendar, work days?), this would conclude his his construction efforts on the Kirtland temple around February 7th, 1836. This second letter is dated February 26th, 1836,right around the time that his work on the temple had concluded. In his letter, he makes mention that the lower room is in the hands of the painters. As Levi was a carpenter, this would have meant that his work there would have been done, though there is no word on whether he continued to work on other portions until it’s dedication nearly a month later in March. Meetings were being held in the building before the dedication, so Levi’s work was probably wrapping up, and his homesickness is evidenced in this letter:

Kirtland, Feb 26th 1836

Beloved wife and family,

I again sit down to write a few lines to you. I sent a letter last week and at that time I could not get any money and I thought it doubtful when I should get any, but very luckily and equally unexpected, Brother Cahoon got some and let me have five dollars this week and I improve the first opportunity to send it. The mail goes West tomorrow P.M. and it will not likely reach you the last of March. That will be some time from this time when I am writing it, and for the very cause that the distance is so great.

And while I am running my pen along over the paper, I reflect and say is possible that I am at so great a distance from my family, is it a fact that eight or ten hundred miles lays stretched along between me and the wife of my bosom, the choice of my youth, and with her our children, the pledge of our love, the gift of Heaven, and not only so, but an aged mother who has been a partner with us through prosperity and adversity, whose prayers, together with the rest of my family, daily are sent to God for my welfare. And that is not all, with them are brethren and sisters with whom I have passed through seasons of joy and sorrow, seasons of prosperity and adversity, yea, as it were all things but death itself, who still love God and pray for me as I do for them. Yes, I have left them all and many and wide are the prairies, and many the widespread valleys of timber, and many and deep are the rivers that separate us, many has been the day since we parted, and many suns will set behind the southern skies before, before we shall enjoy each other’s society again. Many a songster of the grass will warble forth his note of gratitude to God from the widespread branches of the sturdy oak, and mingle their voices with their kindred songsters who choose a humbler seat amidst the violets and on the green shady willows beside the murmuring stream before we shall join our voices in praise to God in that place where you are which is so far from this.

Why have I made so great a sacrifice? Why have I torn myself from such a society? Was it for honor or riches or ease or pleasure or a good name among the world? This could not have been the object, but it was for the salvation of souls. This being the case, have I in any degree accomplished the business for which I started? I think I have.

I frequently receive letters from that little band in Illinois which were introduced into the Kingdom by Brother Baldwin and myself. They still remain steadfast and have eight or ten more added to their number and they say they thank the Lord that they ever heard our voices. They are getting ready to move on next summer, so I think that I have not left all for naught, for I think that when we and they shall meet together in our Father’s Kingdom and join with angels and the hosts of Heaven to sing praises to God and the Lamb, I think that our moment of this employment in the company in such a place would sink into everlasting forgetfulness [and] all that we have sacrificed to fetch it about, when we realize that through our suffering they [are] saved and crowned with us in the Kingdom of God.

Then let us be patient and not think that we are called to do hard things, even if we do have to be parted for a little season, it is all working for our happiness and for the happiness of others. I am sensible that you have many trials to pass through, having the charge of a family and in low circumstances of life and health, not having any land, neither home that you can call your own, living as pilgrims and strangers in a strange land and deprived of my company, having large boys to manage, and I do not know how they behave. I am sensible that you have trials which [are] grate and unavoidable, but one thing I do know, that is God is our friend and he will fetch things round for the good of his people in the end.

I do desire that the children would live in love and in obedience because such will be saved and well with Christ in heaven.

As it respects means, I have but little, we have had a good chain of winter, a few days ago[it] thawed some, but since that time we have had a real storm and it is now very cold.

The lower room is in the hands of the painters and I think in about three weeks it will be ready for meetings, ant it is likely the whole house will be done in April.

I suppose that you have heard that the second seventy have been chosen and Brother Follett is one of them.

It is a general time of health. The Hebrew scholars are mostly doing well. I informed you in my last letter that I was paying some attention to it, but for want of books, etc., I have deferred it until we get one established in Zion when I can attend to it [with] better advantages. Brother Phelps and many others can translate very well. A great many of the apostates have come back by the door. William Bunch has not come yet but he feels very bad many times.

I do not know of anything more of news at this time but I desire that meetings should be kept up that you all may be strengthened one of another. Tell the brethren from me to be faithful to watch and not faint for the day of redemption draws near and I hope that you all will be ready that there may not be anything to prevent the cause of God from moving on when it starts. Tell my brethren and sisters that I remember them all in my prayers and I want they should remember me. May God bless you all, amen.

Levi Jackman

(Exterior is addressed to:)

Paid 25

Angaline Jackman

Liberty, Clay County, Missouri

Levi’s eloquent and gentle words about his wife and his family have touched me, and brought the man to life. What a treat to have such a personal and intimate look at one of our ancestors!

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