21. Bonds signed by Joseph and Hyrum Smith (1840)

Background: An 1831 Illinois law allowed for the captain or commanding officer of a newly organized independent company of militia to petition the governor to furnish the company with muskets, rifles, cannons or field pieces, swords, and other arms. Along with the petition, a bond payable to the governor or his successors in office was required to ensure the safe storage, care and readiness of the arms for use should they be required by the State at any time. The bond was to be approved by a judge in the county where the company was formed and filed with the Secretary of State. In the late 1830s and early 1840s, members of the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) began moving to the area around present-day Nauvoo. Many of the settlers, including church founder Joseph Smith, had fled Missouri following tensions between Mormons and non-Mormons. By 1840, the church leaders sought to form an independent militia.

The Document: This bond to Governor Thomas Carlin in the amount of $1,200 is in consideration of one six pounder cannon, 75 swords, 75 brace of pistols and accoutrements. It was signed by Wilson Law, John Snider, and Joseph Smith and was approved by Judge Peter Lott of the Fifth Judicial Circuit on October 1, 1840. A similar bond for $1,000, signed by Joseph Smith's brother Hyrum, requested 85 swords, one six pounder cannon and accoutrements and was approved by Judge Peter Lott on the same day.

Note: While most of the bonds at the Illinois State Archives were issued to elected or appointed state and local officials, prior to 1917 bonds were occasionally issued to private citizens, including these bonds issued to Joseph and Hyrum Smith. These bonds are available at the Illinois State Archives as part of Secretary of State Record Series 103.068, "Executive Section Bonds of State Officials."