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Forgotten 1842 legal documents reveal Joseph Smith lawsuit, insight into Latter-day Saint history

SHARE Forgotten 1842 legal documents reveal Joseph Smith lawsuit, insight into Latter-day Saint history
A notice from Joseph Smith’s attorneys, Miron Leslie and Roswell Field, in the case of Joseph Smith vs. Marshall Brotherton.

A notice from Joseph Smith’s attorneys, Miron Leslie and Roswell Field, in the case of Joseph Smith vs. Marshall Brotherton, March 1842.

Missouri State Archives, St. Louis

Newly discovered documents in a Missouri court archive that involve a legal case against Joseph Smith have provided new insight into the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The documents present the case of Joseph Smith v. Marshall Brotherton in the St. Louis County Circuit Court, dated March 1842.

In October 1841, the Latter-day Saint church leader sent men to buy supplies for a store he planned to open in Nauvoo, Illinois, in January 1842.

One of those men, George Miller, traveled to New Orleans. During his return trip, Miller was sued by two people to whom he owed money in St. Louis, Missouri. The newly acquired goods were attached to the lawsuit and seized by the sheriff.

Joseph Smith countersued, claiming the goods did not belong to Miller, but to the church.

The documents, only recently found as court archivists sifted through old files and papers in the St. Louis court system, include depositions about church business and testimonies about the character of Joseph Smith and other church leaders.

“Not only does it give more insight into how church leaders and members were perceived during that time, it also gives another perspective of the business and dealings that Joseph Smith was part of in the 1840s in Nauvoo,” Jeffrey Mahas, a historian for the Church History Department, told The Church News.

Read the full story for the outcome of the lawsuits at TheChurchNews.com.