Emma Smith to Joseph Smith III – Datura Salve Recipe

The version presented here has been modified grammatical and spelling clarity where possible.

It should also be noted that this salve was likely non-psychoactive, and was essentially a herbal version of Vick’s Vapor Rub. Nevertheless, the reason why this is important is it shows that Emma Smith was familiar with working with psychoactive plants.

Nauvoo, Illinois
January 20th, 1867

Dear Joseph [Smith III],

I am highly gratified to find my house quiet, and I think it will be so all day for it blows and snows right from the country where you live, we have had but a few days of very severe cold weather so far this winter the river has not been closed here yet, but if it keeps on as it is doing now it will be before long

 I am very thankful that you are getting along so well with the manuscripts [of the Inspired Version / Joseph Smith Translation], and have truly faithful companions to help you. God bless them with the light of His spirit. It is true that not every Latter Day Saint could be trusted to copy them, and I did not trust many of them with the reading of them and I am of the opinion that if I had trusted all that wished for that privilege you would not have them in your possession now.

Tell Brother Rogers that Lizzie and her little ones are in good health at present, and have been well provided for. So far the money he sent her is all she has had from the church, Alex has sent her some money and will send her more as soon as he gets her answer of the receipt of what he has sent her. She has no money now and will have to be helped a little before long if Alex does not send her some.

The matter of your taxes had been under consideration by Pa Bidamon and Pa Austin two days before I received your letter containing the fifteen dollars just as you advised us to do in your letter, so Pa Bidamon and myself keep still about the money received and will let Pa Austin do what he can. If he makes out anything well, if not we will see that the taxes are paid, though our taxes are very high this year, yours is sixteen dollars. You understand Pa Austin can do nothing himself towards paying anything, but thinks he can get the rent of the ice house in advance and then try the church for the balance. If he succeeds Pa Bidamon wants to know if he may apply the fifteen dollars on that school money debt as he has got the Squire to wait till the first of April before he issues an execution. The little paper with my name on it that is on the Tribune says June 23rd, 1867. 

Now let Emma [Josepha Smith] write as often as she likes to, it will do her some little good, and it certainly does me a great good. I do not know that anyone really envies me; the satisfaction I enjoy in receiving so many such kind good letters, but one thing I do know is that there are a great many parents that would be proud if not thankful if their children and grandchildren had the affection and talent to write to them as mine do to me. That little New Year letter that Emma sent me is a gem, and I shall preserve it as long as I live. I can read your letter very well if Carrie [Lucinda Smith] and Zaida [Viola Smith] did help to write it, and the ideas are very well connected, notwithstanding the altercation between brothers Shippy and Robinson.

I sent the big bible as you directed, hoping and praying that it may accomplish its mission and be as much comfort and consolation to you as it has been to me, I have kept it lying on my little table ever since David [Hyrum Smith] went away, and now I have got the old bible that Judge Young gave to your Father, which you will recollect was printed in 1650.

Now Joseph pardon me for forgetting to send you the directions for making that salve before this. I should have made some and sent it with the old bible but I was not well enough to do it then, and I expected you would not like to wait any longer for the book than could be helped, so I will tell you now how I make the salve.

Of sweet elder bark a good large handful after it is scraped, and as much jimson leaves and buds if they are green and tender enough to be pounded up fine, put them in a skillet or small kettle, and cover them with water and boil them about twenty minutes, then take it of and when cool enough strain the liquor through a cloth that is strong enough wringing so as to get all out of the dregs that can be got, then put the liquor back in to the kettle and boil it about half away, then put half a pound of mutton tallow, half a pound of beeswax and let it simmer nearly down to a fry, then take it off and put one ounce of camphor gum into it and stir it keeping it warm till the gum is all disolved. Try it on a rag and if too soft put a little more wax; if too hard, a little tallow. If you want a salve that will drain, take a part of what is made and dissolve a small piece of rosin in it. Now if you did not save any jimson last fall you can make it with the elder alone. The first camphorated salve I ever made was just mutton tallow and beeswax, and camphor alone and it was then thought to be an excellent article. If you have not the jimson and elder let me know it and I will send you the salve ready-made.

All I can do for the committee and brothers Blair and Shippy to recompense them for their kind remembrance of me is to pray that our Heavenly Father will bless them both temporally and spiritually and that the records which I was the then humble instrument in saving may be in their hand a perfect shield to parry off all the malignant thrusts of the enemies of the truth you say news to me. Why? I have none. I do not believe I have any of any kind, not even lies. I believe the tattlers have all got tired of telling me anything I cannot tell. Why? Unless it is because they have to tell somebody else their tales before they can get them into circulation.

It may be interesting to you that Mr. Waldenmyer and M.M. Mornell have gone to Springfield to get a charter for our railroad.

It is reported that there is a convention called to meet at St. Louis on the first of Feb to take into consideration the construction of the Canal around the rapids, three delegates from Nauvoo ten from Warsaw ten from Keokuk, etc. etc. I have not seen the notice, but understand it is in the St. Louis Democrat; this sheet is longer than a gnat’s wing, but not large enough to take all I would like to send.

[upside down top of page 4] God keep my dear children all safe till I can see them all again. Your mother Emma Bidamon

[upside down top of page 3] Now Joseph fetch Carrie [Lucinda Smith] and Zaida [Viola Smith] down here in the spring and I will turn out Fredy and Vida to mach [sic] them in turning up matters and things while anyone is writing.