A letter to Joseph Smith, dated 8 Jan 1844, St. Louis, from Dan Jones
My Dear Friend!
I wrote to you from St. Louis by the HBl Genl Brooks and again by mail. I have not as yet heard anything from you. Tis with the most painful sensation that I write you this letter & yet I deem it my duty towards you, as well as myself to give you a fair and impartial account of some of the transactions on board since I saw you. In the first place when Mr. Clayton left me at St Louis, we differed some in our settlement (altho I have not disputed any of his accounts) only in regard to the amt of cash of yr first purchase to be deducted out of yr Bill. However, it never occured to me that any difficulty shd arise from that between us, especially as I did not then, nor have I since once asked for a divident, nor even my wages, but in full faith depended on a fair & amicable settlement, which I always have and ever will be ready to do with you, & regardless of whatever misrepresentations may have been made to you from other sources, you promised at my particular request to hear me also before you would decide & may God forbid that the first thought shd enter my heart to wrong you in word or deed, for I am well aware that you have been wronged enough by yr enemies, & now I pledge myself as willing as ever, as all risks to render you any asistance in my power in person and principle. I make these assertions, because I have reason to think by various circumstances as well as by information that the tongues of slander & deceit have been busy
to misrepresent my character towards you. I have considerable difficulty with Mr. Derby not only on account of neglecting his business by dissipating habits to the extremes of any I ever knew in this situation, I have remonstrated with against his almost incessant propensity to gambling but in vain as a proof which in one instance only will I mention when he gambled in a tavarn after bed time lost what money he had with him, gave the cook, a boy of 15 yrs the keys to go on board and bring him $30 out of the office, which he did. The consequence was that that boy had money to lend all hands, nor could I imagine at the time when he could have had so much money, nor is this a solitary instance by any means, but to the contrary, as you may easily ascertain by all on board that his conduct since on board has been highly immoral & negligent in the extreme to your loss as well as mine, nor is it to be wondered at that he has never given me any account of what the Boat has been doing since she left Nauvoo. I have never asked him for a divident, but to know what the Boat was making & Mr. Derby from the commencement has obstinately refused to inform me of the profit or loss, or how he disposed of the proceeds, I have not yet found out what she made on Ills. River, & then I wd ask him who had possession of what little property I had & the proceeds of years of hard labor, his only answer was, twas not my business to know, that I had nothing to do
with him and he never wd give me any satisfaction. Under the existing circumstances I wrote to yrself for redress, he boasting that he represented much the larger interest. I am afraid that neither of us will ever find out how much the Boat has made; this much however I know, that of the proceeds of this trip from Red River over a hundred Dolls cash which he recd fr freights here, he either will not or cannot account for up to this time. In short his conduct has been such throughout as wd have merited yr highest disaprobation. & Dear Sir I asure you that nothing short of the high regard which I had, & I pray ever will have for you has forbid my treating him, as I wd any other person of the alike conduct, according to his demerit. But tis likely he will have his story to tell. Then we have only to avert to proof which is abundant on board here, or I shd be pleased if you wd apply for particulars to gentleman at St. Louis who was an eye witness to his conduct. Address to E. H. Hubbard, Boston house, St. Louis. But to change the topic, (as tho' twas impossible to do business amicably in these days) Mr. Holister came here (report came ahead of him from St. Louis &c) [with] a facsimile of his own statement that he had claims against the Boat to the (?) amt. that he was coming to take charge of her &c. The consequence was that a store bill of $135 left unpaid at St. Louis was sent here before Mr. Holister came and attached the Boat. I had not a
Dollr nor could I effect a loan here by adding some cost. I put off the judgement. Mr. Derby had over that amt in hand & refused to let me have it to pay that off. Mr. Holister refused to do anything unless I would give him comand of the Boat. The boat had been damaged by breaking the guards which had to be repaired. He wd not assist unless I ws give him command &c. I had at length offers of freights to various places by drawing on which would have enabled me to repair & pay the above. I consulted Mr. Holister, but he emphatically declared that boat shd not leave here unless he went Master of her. I insisted on Mr. Holister going on the boat as Clerk, offered the whole controul of the business part of the boat & no divident to be made until the river opened & we shd return and settle with you. But this to no purpose. When on the eve of complying, even with his stern command, then I was informed that a firm here had a claim set from the foundry at St. Louis for castings & shaft before we left (of $179) (on which they had a colateral) to be sued on if any change shd take place on the Boat. I informed Mr. H. of this. I sent a friend to negociate with him to become equally interested with me and do the best we could until we should return, that I would acct to you for whatever difference might be at the same rate since it could not be ascertained until we settled. But in return I was answered that Mr. H. would accept of no proposition
short of the comand of the boat, altho she shd be sacrificed, and unless I comply'd that day, in the morning he would positively take the Boat from me &c. And in view of all these facts (for facts they are, every assertion susceptible of positive proof) what should I have done, what else could I have done under these circumstances? Could I have had yr advise, you would doubtless have referred me to that first and fundamental principle in the Law of Nature, which is also an attribute in Nature's God, a duty I owe my wife & children, I mean self preservation (?) you have (?)!! To this last resource I have been ultimately driven by the above conduct. But Oh, how shall I satisfy and thoroughly convince you & yr worthy family that I have no guile in my heart, no disposition but what will compare with strict equity and justice; if to the contrary I fain wd involke the powers above to reveal it to you & deal with me according to my conduct in the whole affair. But this I hope [will] suffice for not writing since I left St. Louis. & I shall take it a favor if you will please write an answer [soon?]. I shall come up myself there if they deem it best for the Boat to remain here. __________? Mr. Holister will probably find fault with my proceedings, & yet twas the only [course] that could be pursued, for he cannot raise funds to liquidate her or to run her. The gentleman whom I have put in my place is a married man, a good Boatman
who will doubtless make money with her, & as he told me today will advance for Mr. H. what may fall on his part & give him a good situation, when he could not otherwise have saved himself. I do not apprehend any difficulty nor have I doubt that you & me have misunderstood each other, but at any rate, I shall be ready to do what is right by man to man. I shall write again in answer to yrs, if I don't come up before. (?) Please give my kind respects to yr family, to Jane, my enquiring friends at Nauvoo; on board in the New Orleans. Jany 8, 1844.