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CCr Jul 30 '29

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The  Boston  Daily  Globe.
Vol. ?                                  Boston, Mass., Monday,  April 18, 1881.                                  No. ?


Secrets of the Endowment House Revealed.

One of the Victims Relates Her
Sad Experiences.

Disgusting Ceremonies of a Salt Lake Marriage.

Our telegraphic columns told the story recently of Miss Caroline Owens, the second wife of John Miles, the Mormon, by whom she was lured from England to Salt Lake and induced to become his wife on the pretence that he had no other. After the ceremony, nevertheless, she was introduced to one Emily Spencer as her husband's first wife, in consequence of which revelation she lived a life of misery and torture. In the Chicago Inter-Ocean she thus describes the scenes that were enacted in the Endowment House on the day of her marriage:

"The Mormon Endowment House is a plain adobe building, two stories high, built like a small dwelling-house, so as not to attract attention. There are blinds to all the windows, which are nearly always kept down. On a certain day I went to the Endowment House at 8 o'clock in the morning, taking with me my endowment clothes, consisting of garments, robe, cap, apron and moccasins. I believe people used to take their own oil, but that is now discontinued, as fees are charged. I went into a small room attached to the main building (designated in the plan by the name of the reception room, which was crowded with men and women having their bundles of clothing. The entrance door is on the east side; and in the southeast corner there is another, next to which the desk stood, where the clerk recorded the names. Around the north and west sides were benches for the people to sit. On going up to the desk I presented my recommend from the bishop in whose ward I was staying, and George Reynolds, who was then acting as clerk, asked me my name, those of my parents, when and where I was born, and when I was

Baptized Into the Mormon Church.

That over, he told me to leave my hat, cloak and shoes in that room, and taking up my bundle, I went into the room marked 3 on the plan, where I sat waiting till it came my turn to be washed. One of the women, an officiating high priestess, told me to come behind the curtain, where I could hear a great deal of splashing, and subdued conversation. I had to step into a long bath, about half full of water, when another woman proceeded to wash me. I objected strongly to this part of the business, but she told me to show a more humble spirit. However, when she got down to my feet, she let me go, and I was turned over to the woman, who had spoken to me first, and whose nome was Bathesheba Smith, one of the widows of Apostle George A. Smith. She wore a large, shiny apron, and her sleeves tucked up above the elbows. She looked thoroughly like business. Another woman was standing beside her with a large wooden spoon and some green olive oil in a cow's horn. This woman poured the oil out of the spoon into Bathsheba's hand, who immediately put it on my head, ears, eyes, mouth, and every part of my body, and, as she greased me, she muttered a kind of prayer over each member of my body: My head, that I might have a knowledge of the truths of God; my eyes, that I might see the glories of the kingdom; my mouth, that I might at all times speak the truth; my arms, that they might be strong in the defence of the gospel; my bosom -- I do not want to tell this part of the story, but I do want people to know the truth, and how disgusting and indelicate this thing is.

Mormon People Deny Many of These Things,

and civilized and decent people can scarcely realize that this institution is as infamous as it really is, but I solemnly assert that these things do exist. To continue: My bosom, that I might nourish the children whom I might raise by my husband (I was not then married, but expected to be), and that I might raise up a goodly seed, that they might be pillars of strength to the upbuilding and strengthening of God's kingdom on earth. And so she got down to my feet, when she hoped they might be swift in the paths of righteousness and truth. She then turned me over to the women who had washed me, and who wispered my new and celestial name in my ear. I believe I am to be called up on the morning of the resurrection by it. It was Sarah. I felt disappointed. I thought I should have received a more distinguished name. She told me that my name must never be spoken, but often thought of, to keep away evil spirits. I should be required to speak it once that day, but she would tell me in what part of the ceremony, and that I should never again have to speak it. She then told me to put on my garments. These are made in one piece. On the right breast is a square, on the left a compass, in the centre a small hole, which is called the 'stone.' We were told that, as long as we kept them on, no harm could befall us, and that, when we changed them, we were not to take them all off at once, but slip out a limb at a time, and immediately dive into the clean ones. The neck was never to be cut low, or the sleeves short, as that would be patterning after the fashions of the Gentiles. After this I put on my clothes, and in my stocking feet waited with those who were washed and anointed until she had finished the remaining two or three. This done, the little calico curtains were drawn aside, and t

The Men and Women Stood Revealed to Each Other.

The men looked very uncomfortable, and not at all picturesque. They only had their garments and shirts on, and they really did seem as though they were ashamed of themselves, as well they might be. Joseph F. Smith then came to where we were all waiting, and told us that, if we wanted to back out, now was our time, because we should not be able afterward, and that we were bound to go right through. All those who wanted to go through were to hold up their hands, which, of course, everyone did, believing that all the good and holy things, that were to be seen and heard in the House of the Lord were yet to come. He then told us that, if ever any of us attempted to reveal what we saw and heard in the house, our memories would be blighted, and we should be everlastingly damned, for they were things too holy to be spoken of between each other, after we had once left the Endowment House. All were then told to be very quiet and listen. Joseph F. Smith then went away. In a few minutes we heard voices talking loudly, so that the people could hear them in the adjoining room. I afterward found out, in passing through, that it was the prayer-circle room. It was supposed to be a conversation between Elohim (head god) and Jehovah. The conversation was as follows:

"Elohim to Jehovah -- 'Well, Jehovah, I think we will create an earth; let Michael go down and collect all the elements together and found one."

"Answer -- 'Very well, O Lord God, it shall be done.'

"Then, calling to another, we could hear him say: 'Michael, go down and collect all the elements together and form an earth, and then report to us what you have done.'

"Answer -- 'Very well, O Lord God.'

"The man they called Michael then left the prayer-circle room and came through the room they called the World, into the Garden of Eden, the door of which was shut that faced the places where we were standing, listening and waiting. He remained there a second or two, and everything was quiet. At the end of that time we heard him going back the same way, to where Elohim and Jehovah were waiting. When he got back, he said:

"'I have collected all the elements together and founded an earth. What wouldst thou have me do next?'

"Using the same formula every time, they sent him down to the world, they then told him to separate the land from the water, light from darkness, etc., and so they went regularly through the creation; but they always told him to come up and report what he had done. When the creation was supposed to be finished, Michael went back and told them it was very fair and beautiful to look upon. Elohim then said to Jehovah that he thought they better go down and have a look at it, which they did, and agreed with Michael that it was a beautiful place; that it seemed a pity it should be of no particular use, but thought it would be a good idea to create man to live in it and cultivate these things. They then came out of the garden of Eden (which was supposed to have been newly finished), and, shutting the door after them, came to where we were standing. We were then told to shut our eyes, and Jehovah said to Michael, 'Give me a handful of dust, and I will create man.' We were then told to open our eyes, and we saw a man, that he had taken from

The Crowd, Standing Beside Jehovah,

and to whom Jehovah said: 'I will call thee Adam, for thou shalt be the father of all my kind.' Jehovah then said it was not good for man to be alone, so he would create a woman and helpmeet for him. We were again told to close our eyes, and Adam was requested to go to sleep, which he obligingly did. Jehovah was then supposed to take a rib from Adam's side and form Eve. We were then told to open our eyes and look upon the handiwork of the Lord. When we did, we saw a woman taken from among the crowd, who was standing by Adam's side. Jehovah said he would call the woman Eve, because she would be the mother of all mankind. The door of the Garden of Eden was then opened, and we all marched in with our little bundles, the men going first, as they always take the precedence, and we ranged ourselves round the room on benches. The four sides of this room are painted in imitation of trees, flowers, birds, wild beasts, etc. The ceiling was painted blue, dotted over with golden stars. In the centre of it was the sun, a little farther on the moon, and all around were the stars. In each corner is a Masonic emblem. In one corner is a compass, in another the square; the remaining two were the level and the plumb. On the east side of the room, near the door, was a painted apple tree, and in the northeast part of the room was a small wooden altar. After we had seated ourselves, Jehovah told Adam and Eve he thought they could eat of every tree in the garden except this apple tree, for on the day that they ate of that they should surely die. He then took his departure, and, immediately after, in came a lively gentleman, dressed in a plain, black morning suit, with a little apron on, a most fiendish expression on his face, and joyfully rubbing his hands. This gentleman was

Supposed to Be the Devil.

"Certainly, his appearance made the supposition quite easy. (By the by, I afterward saw that same gentleman administering the sacrament in the tabernacle on Sundays.) He went up to Eve and remarked that it was a very beautiful place, and that the fruit was so nice. Would she like to taste one of those apples? She demurred a little and said she was told not to, and, therefore mustn't. But he pretended to pluck one of the painted apples and give it to her, and she pretended to eat it. He then told her to ask Adam to have some, and she did. Adam objected strongly to tasting, knowing the penalty, but Eve eventually overcame his scruples, saying: 'Oh, my dear, they are so nice, you haven't any idea, and that nice old gentleman here (pointing to the devil) says that he can recommend them, and you need not be afraid of what Jehovah says.' Adam consented, and after he said, 'Oh, what have I done, and how foolish I was to listen to you.' He then said that he could see himself, and that they had no clothes on, and they must sew some fig leaves together. Every one then made a dive for his apron out of the little bundles. This apron is a square half-yard of green silk, with nine fig leaves worked on it in brown sewing silk. A voice was then heard calling tor Adam, who pretended to hide, when in came Jehovah. He gave Adam a good scolding, but finally told him that he would give him certain instructions, whereby he would have a chance to regain the presence of his Father and God, after he was driven out into the world. These instructions consisted of grips, and the garments he wore would protect him from all evil. (Mormons say of these garments that the pattern was revealed

Direct from Heaven to Joseph Smith,

and are the same as worn by Adam.) They then put on their caps and moccasins, the women's caps being made of Swiss muslin; it is one yard square, rounded at one corner so as to fit the head, and there are strings on it which tie under the chin. The moccasins are made of linen or calico. The men's caps are made exactly like those of pastry cooks, with a bow on the right side. I should here mention before I go further that Bathsheba Smith and one of the priests enacted the parts of Adam and Eve, and so stood sponsors for the rest of us, who were individually supposed to be Adams and Eves. They then proceeded to give us the first grip of the Aaronic or lesser priesthood, which consists in putting the thumb on the knuckle of the index finger, and clasping the hands round. We were then made to swear to obey the laws of the Mormon church and all they enjoin, in preference to those of the United States. The penalty for revealing this grip and oath is, You will have your throat cut from ear to ear, and your tongue torn from your mouth, and the sign of the penalty is drawing the hand, with the thumb pointing toward the throat, sharply across and bringing the arm to the level of the square, and with the hand upraised to heaven, swearing to abide the same. We were then driven out of this into the room called the world, where there were three men standing at a small altar on the east side of the room, who were supposed to represent Peter, James and John, Peter standing in the centre. He was supposed to have the keys of heaven. Men representing the different religious sects then came in and presented their views and said they wanted to try and save these fallen children. In doing this they could not refrain from exaggerating and

Coarsely Satirizing the Different Sects

they represented. Previous to their coming in, however, Peter had presented us the gospel of Christ, at least he told us that Christ had come to die for the original sin, but we had come to work out our own salvation, and that in the last days a prophet should be raised up to save all those that would believe in his divine mission; consequently, these different representatives were told that their doctrines did not suit the people, and that there was something wanting in their faith, so they could go. Then the devil came in and tried to allure the people, and bustling up to the altar, Peter said to him: 'Hello, Mr. Devil, how do you do to-day? It's a very fine day, isn't it? What have you come after?'

"The devil replied that he didn't seem to take to any of these so-called Christian religions: Why didn't they quit bothering after anything of that kind, and live a life of pleasure, etc. However, he was told to go, and that quickly.

Peter then gave the second grip of the Aaronic or lesser priesthood, which consists of putting the thumb between the knuckles of the index and second fingers, and clasping the hand around. The penalty for revealing this is to be sawed asunder and our members cast into the sea. The sign of the penalty was drawing the hand sharply across the middle of the body. To receive this grip we had to put on our robes, which consisted of a long, straight piece of cloth reaching to our feet, doubled over and gathered very full in the shoulder and round the waist. There was also a long, narrow piece of cloth tied around the waist, called 'the sash.' It was placed on the right shoulder to receive the grip. The people wear their aprons over it. The men then

Took the Oath of Chastity,

and the women the same. They don't consider polygamy at all unchaste, but said that it was a heaven-ordained law, and that a man, to be exalted in the world to come, must have more than one wife. The women then took the oath of obedience to their husbands, having to look up to them as their gods. It is not possible for a woman to go to Christ, except through her husband. Then a man came in and said that the gospel, which during these few minutes' intervals had laindormant for 1800 years, had been again restored to earth, and that an-angel had revealed it to a young boy named Joseph Smith, and that all the gifts, blessings and prophesies of old had been restored with it, and this last revelation was to be called the latter-day dispensation. The priests pretended joyfully to accept this, and said it was the very thing they were in search of, nothing else having had the power to satisfy them. They then proceeded to give us the first grip of the Melchizedek or higher priesthood, which is said to be the same that Christ held. The thumb is placed on the knuckle of the index finger, and the index finger is placed straight along the palm of the hand, while the lower part of the hand is clasped with the remaining fingers. The robe for this grip was changed from the right to the left shoulder. We were then made to swear to avenge the death ot Joseph Smith, the martyr, together with that of his brother, Hyrum, on this American nation, and that we would teach our children and children's children to do so. The penalty for this grip and oath was disembowelment. We were then marched into the northeast room, the men always going first, designated the prayer-circle room. We were here made to take

An Oath of Obedience to the Mormon Priesthood,

and now the highest or grand grip of the Melchizedek Priesthood was given. We clasped each other round the hand with the point of the index finger resting on the wrist, and the little fingers firmly linked together. The place on the wrist where the index finger points is supposed to be the place where Christ was nailed to the cross, but tore out, and he had to be nailed again, and so you place your second finger beside the index on the wrist; it is called the sure sign of the nail, and if the grip is properly given it is very hard to pull apart. The robe was changed from the left to the right shoulder to receive this grip. The men then formed a circle round the altar, linking their arms straight across, and placed their hands on one another's shoulders. The high priest [knelt] at the altar, then took hold of one of the men's hands and prayed. He told us that the electric current of prayer passed through the circle, and that was the most efficacious kind of prayer. The women stood outside of the circle, with their veils covering their faces, the only time throughout the ceremony that they did so. The prayer over, they all trooped up the staircase on the north side of the house, into the room called the instruction room, where the people sat down on benches on the west side of the room. Facing them, about midway between floor and ceiling, was a wooden beam, that went across the room from north to south, and from which was suspended a dirty-looking piece of what was once white calico. This was called 'the vail,' and is supposed to be an imitation of the one in Solomon's Temple. On this vail are marks like those on the garments, together with

Extra Holes for Putting the Arms Through,

and a hole at the top to speak through. But before going through the vail we received a general outline of the instructions we had received down stairs. This over, the priest took a man to the vail, to one of the openings, where he knocked with a small wooden mallet that hung on the wooden support. A voice on the other side of the vail, (it was supposed to be Peter's) asked who was there, when the priest, answering for the man, said: 'Adam, having been faithful; desires to enter.' The priest then led the man up to the west side of the vail, where he had to put his hands through and clasp the man or Peter (to whom he wispered his new name, and the only one he ever tells, for they must never tell their celestial names to their wives, although the wives must tell theirs to their husbands) through the holes in the vail. He was then allowed to go through to the other side, which was supposed to be heaven, and this is where a strong imagination might be of some use, for anything more unlike heaven I cannot conceive. The man having got through, went to the opening and told the gate-keeper to call for the woman he was about to marry, telling him her name. She then stepped up to the vail. They couldn't see each other, but put their hands through the openings, one of their hands on each other's shoulder, and the other around the waist. With the arms so fixed, the knees were placed within each other, the feet, of course, being the same; the woman's given name was then whispered through the vail, then her new celestial name; then the priestess, who stood by to instruct the woman, told them to repeat after her

A Most Disgusting Formula or Oath.

I cannot remember it all thoroughly, but what I do consists of "the heart and the liver, the belly and the thighs, the marrow and the bones." The last and highest grip of the Melchizedak priesthood was then given through the vail. They then released their hold of each other, and the priestess, taking the woman to an opening, knocked at the same as they did at the men's entrance, and the gate-keeper having asked, 'Who is there?' and the priestess [having] replied, 'Eve, having been faithful in all things, desires to enter.' Eve was accordingly ushered into heaven.

After we got through we saw Joseph F. Smith sitting at a table recording the names of those who were candidates for marriage. He wrote the names in a book and then he wrote the two names on a slip of paper to be taken into the sealing room to the officiating priest, so that he might know whom he was marrying. After having given this slip of paper to the priest, we knelt at a little wooden altar. He then asks the man it he is willing to take the woman as his wife, and the woman it she is willing to take him for a husband. They both having answered yes, he tells the man that he must look to God, but the woman must look to her husband as her god, for, if he lives in his religion, the spirit of God will be in him, and she must therefore yield him unquestioning obedience, for he is as a God unto her, and then concludes by saying that he having authority from on high to bind and loose here upon earth, and whatsoever he binds here shall be bound in heaven, seals the man and woman for time and all eternity. He then tells the man and woman to kiss each other across the altar, the man kneeling on the north side and the woman on the south, and so it is finished. Sometimes they have witnesses, sometimes not; if they think any trouble may arise from a marriage, or that the woman is inclined to be a little perverse,

They Have No Witnesses,

neither do they give marriage certificates, and if occasion requires it and it is to shield any of their polygamous brethren from being found out, they will positively swear that they did not perform any marriage at all, so that the women in this church have but a very poor outlook for being considered honorable wives. When the marriage ceremony was over, we came out of the 'sealing room,' and I crossed 'heaven' into the ladies' dressing-room, where, after having dressed and my husband paid the fees, we took our departure, together with that of the 'holy spirit.' It was 3:30 p.m. when we left, I having gone there at 8 o'clock in the morning. You can probably imagine how fatigued one feels after listening all the time to their incessant talking. Certainly at the end of the time one feels more like taking nourishment than listening to the prompting of the 'Holy Spirit.' I should perhaps have remarked before that the priests when going through the house, wear their ordinary clothing, and come straight into 'the house of the Lord' with their dirty top-boots on, as though they had just come off a farm, while we, poor sinners, were obliged to walk in our stocking-feet, lest the floor should be defiled. The little addition attached to the main building on the west side, and in which is the font, is used for baptizing people before they can be allowed to go through the house, and is quite a separate affair from the washing and anointing. People are generally baptized a day or two before they go through the house. I was baptized the night before. On this same evening I was told that [as] I was going through the house ot the Lord on the following day; I must pay the very strictest attention to everything I should see and hear, as it would be for my benefit hereafter."

As the lady recounted these things her great black eyes burned with the fire of subdued wrath and the fierceness of a wronged woman's scorn. She had evidently not told half of the shallow imposition of the mummery to which she had been subjected.

Notes: none


New  Haven  Evening  Register.
Vol. XLI.                        New Haven, Conn., Monday,  December 19, 1881.                        No. 292.

Now that methods for the rooting out of Mormonism are being warmly agitated, the manner In which the sect originated becomes of interest. Mr. Joseph Miller, who has reached the advanced age of 92 years and lives at Ten Mile, O., [sic] declares that the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, now deceased, was the author of the "Book of Mormon." Mr. Spaulding, who was an enthusiastic archaeologist, was of the opinion that the American continent was at one time peopled by a colony of ancient Israelltes and that this colony were the progenitors of the "mound-builders." Imbued with this idea, he wrote a fictitious history of the ancient race, under the titIe of the "Lost Manuscript Found," and originally intended it for publication but finaIly gave up the idea. This was about the year 1812. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon sect, in some way came in possession of the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding's novel and, changing the title and making some emendations, attempted to palm it off upon the public as having been discovered by him in some mysterious manner, claiming it to be a revelation from God. That the book was a clumsy forgery on the part of Smith has been tbe common belief, but that it was stolen rather than forged, as is asserted by Mr. Mills is an entirely fresh version, of the origin of lhe celebrated "Book of Mormon."

Notes: none


Vol. ?                           Boston, Mass., Wednesday, November 19, 1884.                           No. ?

                                              For the Boston Investigator.

MR. EDITOR: -- The INVESTIGATOR, like Col. Ingersoll, strenuously defends monogamy, and as zealously opposes polygamy. The sanctity and purity of marriage have no more earnest supporters and defenders than the Editor of the Investigator and Col. Ingersoll. The former has exemplified this in his controversy with a citizen of the Golden State, in some of the late issues of the Investigator.

The defender of polygamy seems, to overlook the character and claim of the founder of Mormonism. Mr. Joseph Smith. He was born in Sharon, (Vt.,) in 1805, and was killed by a mob in Carthage, (Ill.,) June 27, 1844. Joseph is described as having been born in the lowest walks of life, reared in poverty, educated in vice, without claim to common intelligence, coarse and vulgar in deportment. Such was the founder of Mormonism! If his own words be credited, as they seem to be confirmed by eye-witnesses. Joseph Smith was at the same time God's vicegerent, a tavern keeper, a prophet, a libertine, a minister of peace, a Iieutenant-general, a ruler of tens of thousands, a slave to his basest passions and appetites, a profane swearer, a preacher of righteousness, a worshipper of Bacchus, mayor of a city, a bar-room fiddler, a judge on the judicial bench, an invader of the civil, social and moral relations of men, and, withal, exercising absolute authority and power over "Latter-Day Saints." Such was the character of the Mormon prophet, the founder of Mormonism!

His father, Joseph Smith, removed from Vermont to Palmyra, (N. Y.,) in 1816, where he opened a beer shop. The time of the Smiths was mostly occupied in hunting, fishing, and trapping. The Smith family comprised nine children, were regarded as an illiterate, whiskey-drinking, shiftless, indolent, irreligious race, and Joseph was noted as the laziest and most worthless member of the family. From the age of twelve to twenty, he is remembered as a dull-eyed, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy, an indolent, vagabondish, worthless character. The phrenologist could have marked the organ of secretiveness as very large, and that of conscientiousness, "minus." He read such books as Stephen Burroughs and Captain Kidd. The Bible, especially the prophets, he read, with the Book of Revelation. And he was regarded by Christian people as "disgustingly blasphemous."

In September, 1819, in digging a well in Palmyra, a stone was found of peculiar shape, resembling a child's foot. Joseph fancied this and carried it home and kept it. He pretended to see wonderful things by its aid. It became the acorn of the Mormon oak.

The fame of Joseph's money-digging had become wonderful, as had his visions and spiritistic yarns. He pretended that when engaged in secret prayer in the wilderness, an angel of the Lord appeared to him with the glad tidings that "his sins were forgiven," and proclaiming that "all the religious denominations were believing in false doctrines, and that none of them were accepted of God as his church and kingdom;" also that "he had received the new revelation." He now arrogated to himself the authority of "the spirit of revelation," he being endowed with the gift and power of "prophet, seer, and revelator."

His money-digging disciples gave credit and circulation to his wonderful revelations. On this assumption of his supernaturalism, he announced to his friends that he was "commanded" to go on a fixed day and hour, alone, to a certain spot revealed by an angel, and there take out of the earth a metallic book of great antiquity in its origin, written in mystic characters of the long-lost tribe of Israel, and the power to translate was given to the chosen servant of God, "Joe Smith." This was his pretension and claim. He told a frightful story of the display of celestial pyrotechnics on the exposure of the mystical books. The angel appeared, confronting 10,000 devils with their menacing sulphurous flame and smoke to deter him from his purpose.

This book was heralded as the "Golden Bible," "The New Bible," or "Book of Mormon." Skcats, in his Etymological Dictionary, says the word "Mormon " is a pure invention, and, it may be added, so is the ecclesiastical sect called Mormons, the disciples and followers of Joseph Smith, -- "called the prophet, who announced in 1823, in Palmyra, N. Y., that he had a vision of the angel Moroni. In 1827, he said that he found the book of Mormon, written on gold plates, in Egyptian characters." -- It was printed in 1830. It was followed by his book of doctrines and covenants of the Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints in 1832. The Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith. multiplied and seemed to prosper until 1844, when their establishment in Nauvoo, (Ill.,) was sacked and destroyed by a mob, when the leader and his brother were killed.

Brigham Young, another Vermonter, assumed the "Presidency of the Twelve Apostles" and became the leader. In 1848, they established themselves in Salt Lake City in Utah Territory. Their number is estimated at some 100,000, more or less. Its recruits have been very largely derived from England, Wales, and the north of Europe. The original impulse towards Mormonism is the craving among the ignorant after the continuance of a visible governing, miracle working authority in religion, which accounts for the adoption of the coarse and ludicrous pretensions of such a person as Joseph Smith is represented to have lived through his whole history and dispensation by persons who still live. His Book of Mormon, as described by one of the earliest historians of the sect, is nothing but a plagiarism from an unpublished romance, in Biblical style, written by Solomon Spalding, born in Ashford, (Ct.,) 1761, and died in western Pennsylvania in 1816. He became an evangelist in 1787, and removed to Salem, (Ohio,) and about 1812 he wrote a work of fiction, suggested by the opening of a mound in which were found human bones and relics indicative of a former civilized race. He entitled it, "The Manuscript Found." In 1814 he went to Pittsburg, (Pa.,) where he was followed by Sidney Rigdon, then a printer in the office of Patterson, of Pittsburg, (Pa.,) who died in 1826 [sic], and afterwards a noted Mormon, an accepted oracle by the sect. Disputations on theology were his peculiar delight.

Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith were confederates in getting up this delusion, and Rigdon made a copy of it. Spalding's "Manuscript" was submitted to Patterson in view of publication on joint account, but it was not done. The manuscript remained in Patterson's office until 1816, when it was reclaimed by the author, who in that year removed to Amity, (N. Y.,) [sic] where he died in 1827 [sic]. The manuscript rermained in the widow's possession until stolen from a trunk in Otsego County, where she removed about the time the "Book of Mormon" began to be publicly mentioned. There is no doubt of the book of Spalding having become the "Book of Mormon." Such is only a meagre sketch of the founder and founding of Mormonism, which did not recognize or sanction polygamy. This did not become the characteristic doctrine and practice of Mormons until a revelation was made to Joseph Smith in 1843, a sketch of which will be given in another communication.
Boston, Nov. 1, 1884.

Note: The above account is filled with historical errors. Even its title might be subject to dispute, by any reader who noticed the tenet of sanctioned polygamy which is part of Solomon Spalding's one known extant manuscript.


Vol. ?                                  Boston, Mass.,  January 8?, 1885.                                  No. ?



The origin of Mormonism has been read by the world through the Spaulding romance and Anthon letter spectacles, which revealed fraud and imposture only, proving Smith and his followers knaves or fools; and yet I believe the verdict of history will be that the Spaulding manuscript never fell under the eyes of Smith, while the characters from the plates did fall under the eyes of Prof. Anthon. Still, the cry of "Fraud! fraud!" is heard on every hand, from reputable authors and liberal editors no less than from venal and bigoted writers. It is hard for the world to admit it has borne false witness against the Mormons, and that, in its attempt to put down Mormonism, it has told more lies about it than it was charged with telling about itself. But what a different complexion is given to the argument, if the Book of Mormon was not taken from the Spaulding manuscript...

Jules Remy, the French savant, and by far the ablest and fairest writer on Mormonism, does venture this one remark: "Did Smith himself find any such plates? Likely enough; he is known to have been called 'the manly [sic - money?] digger,' and there would have been nothing extraordinary had he, in his frequent diggings, been the first to find objects similar to those which we know Wiley afterwards dug up in 1843." And he says, "But what is certain is that Joseph must have known of Spaulding's romance," etc., thus crediting Smith with having found both the plates and the manuscript.... But mark that, according to the anti-Mormon theory, while prospecting with the [seer] stone, the boy finds golden plates engraved with mysterious characters, and a manuscript purporting to give a history of the ancient inhabitants of America! What philosophic mind even can say there is "nothing extraordinary" in this? ... Now, let me ask, who would not have faith in such a stone, and count it as something more than a mere geologic curiosity? And it is strange that Smith should use the stone, which had discovered the plates, in the translation of those plates? And is it surprising that he should have availed himself of the manuscript, if he found one, as affording some clew to the subject matter in the ancient record? ...

Note 1: The exact date and content of the above article are undetermined. It may have been published as late as Sept., 1884. The writer of the essay makes the illogical assumption, that since Joseph Smith made use of what some people call a "seer stone," that he therefore discovered ancient plates containing the story of the Book of Mormon engraved upon them. This is an invalid deduction -- (1) because there is no existing proof that Smith ever found such plates by any means; and, (2) even if he did discover some metal plates in conducting money-digging searches, he need not have found those things just because he possessed such a stone; and, (3) even if he did have such plates, there is no existing proof that they bore authentic ancient engravings recording the Book of Mormon narrative. Smith's hometown newspaper, in 1821 published an account of metallic plates having been recently uncovered in upstate New York-- but they were not the product of any ancient civilization and were not located by any supernatural method. No doubt various curious metal objects were unearthed in Smith's area from time to time, having absolutely no connection with the biblical "urim and thummim" nor to prehistoric "Nephites."

Note 2: If the writer of the above item was a Mormon, the essay was obviously not intended for a Latter Day Saint audience (who would have rejected the faith-demoting notion of Smith having found the "Nephite Record" with a peepstone). The writer's changing of the term "money-digger" to "manly digger" is a not to subtle indication of an artful intent -- that is, a desire to make Joseph Smith, Jr. appear to have been a "prospector" after mineral riches, rather than the magus-director of a cult-like band of deluded, treasure-seeking followers. Though the writer may thus elevate Smith's peepstone above the level of "a mere geologic curiosity," he simultaneously reduces Solomon Spalding's "Manuscript Found," to a mere literary curiosity, susceptible to an innocent discovery by the "prospector." The result is a set of historical absurdities, unpalatable to both Saint and Gentile alike.


Vol. ?                                  Boston, Mass., Thurs.,  May 21, 1885.                                  No. ?



Editors of The Index: --

I was born in Canada West, county of Leeds, March 6, 1809, of poor but respectable parents, who were able to give their children but the slight education attained by a few months' attendance at the public school. Books for instruction consisted of the Bible, Webster's spelling-book, the English Preceptor, a geography, and an arithmetic. There was but one newspaper in the county, and that not well patronized. My parents were strictly orthodox in their religion, belonging to the Methodist Church. In consequence, I was taught all the materiality of God and the devil, the endless joy of heaven and the eternal misery of hell.

This church I joined at the age of twenty-two years, and was a most conscientious member and advocate of their principles; attended the local and circuit preaching, and upheld the church with money and prayers. But I was puzzled to see some of my less zealous brothers repeatedly become drunk and beat their families, then come to church and pray for and get (?) forgiveness, and evince such ecstatic joy and peace of mind unattainable by myself, ever making the best endeavor to attain Christian perfection. I thought of the passage in the Bible where God says each one shall be rewarded according to his merits, and asked the minister for an explanation. He answered by referring to the parable of the prodigal son, and the words of Jesus concerning "the one sinner that repenteth." But I was not satisfied. There was evident injustice in the cases at hand.

While in this state of mind there came a man into our neighborhood named Blakesly, calling himself a Mormon, or one of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, a disciple of Joseph Smith. He claimed that Smith was a prophet of God, ordained by the hands of holy angels to bring in a new dispensation of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all the gifts pertaining as described in the New Testament, where the Holy Ghost was given by the imposition of hands. He declared that the gifts of healing the sick, speaking in tongues, interpreting, prophesying, etc., which had been lost for centuries, were restored. At first I doubted his ability to sustain these claims. But soon afterward converts were made and baptized to organize a church; and when I had seen good old men whom I had known from childhood, whose veracity could not be doubted, arise and speak in unknown tongues, another immediately arise and interpret, interpret songs and sing them in the same tune as the first, and saw the sick healed, like many others, I thought God had revealed himself through his servants as in the days of the apostles, and became converted.

And why should I not, being already a firm believer in the Bible? For had not Jesus said unto his disciples, "And greater things than these shall ye do, for I go to the Father"? And, after his death and resurrection, he appeared to them, upbraiding for their unbelief, saying: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; and these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name, they shall east out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and, if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them, they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following." Elsewhere we find (Cor. xii.), "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another faith, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another interpretation of tongues."

Here we found them fulfilling the words of Christ and the apostles those signs following which had been said should follow the believer, all working in harmony with and exemplification of Bible teaching. How could these poor blinded Bible worshippers deny it was the true gospel and the church to uphold?

The Book of Mormon is mistakenly supposed by many to do away with the Bible. Instead, it is simply an extra addition to it, in full doctrinal harmony, teaching faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, baptism for the remission of sins, and the giving of the gifts of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by the authority of the priesthood, and giving the history of the ten lost tribes of Israel, said to be the aborigines of this continent. It is claimed to be a revelation from God written on plates by these aborigines, hid up, to come forth by his will to restore them. Joseph Smith being God's chosen instrument of discovery, revelation, and prophecy.

One of the prime teachings of Mormonism, for which it has Biblical authority, is the gathering together of the saints from the four quarters of the globe against the coming of the Saviour. Joseph Smith, being the prophet to guide the affairs of the dispensation, appointed Kirtland, Ohio, as one of the points of gathering, another in Jackson County, Missouri. In this latter place, some of the teachings and practices so incensed the people that they drove them out across the Missouri River into counties of Clay and Caldwell. And soon they were driven from the State by force of arms by authority of the governor, the alleged reason for so doing being that they were stealing the property of their neighbors and causing insurrections among the Indians. They then settled at Nauvoo, Ill. About this time, I emigrated from the East through Kirtland to Nauvoo.

But, previous to this, doubts had begun to arise in my mind regarding "the gifts," from the fact that many of the prophecies and warnings had proven false and unwarranted; and I had become satisfied that they were not inspired of God, but perhaps from evil or ignorant spirits. And now my doubts were strengthened by the reports of the unsuccessful attempts to settle in Missouri. It was not in harmony with the perfect knowledge of God that he should have inspired that appointment. I now felt anxious to investigate the whole affair. And, for the purpose of learning as nearly the truth as possible regarding the finding of the plates and the translation of the Book of Mormon, I stopped at Kirtland and interviewed Martin Harris, he being one of the witnesses of the Book. I asked him if he saw the plates. He said, "Yes." Then, "Did you see with the natural eye?" He answered, "No: an angel of God appeared and showed them to me." I had read in a pamphlet that Harris claimed he had seen Christ and the devil. I now asked if this was a fact, and he said it was, -- that Jesus was the handsomest man he ever saw, and the devil looked like a jackass. "Yes," interrupted his wife, "and you were fool enough to get out your hounds, and follow it for half a day."

At this time, Harris was trying to establish a claim to the leadership of the Church. He was but an ordinary-looking and ignorant farmer, whose every appearance warranted him a good dupe and fit subject for assisting Joseph in his plans. It was his money procured by selling his farm that paid for the printing of the first edition of the Book of Mormon.

I also called upon Oliver Cowdery, another of the witnesses. He was then an apostate, and advised me to go no further, and referred me to another man regarding the proceedings at far west [sic - Far West?] Missouri. From that honest old man, I received an account that, together with the bad appearance of the society I found at Nauvoo, greatly increased my scepticism.

Still, I was not satisfied of entire fraud, as none had disclaimed the purity of Smith in the beginning, nor the inspiration and truth of the Book of Mormon.

After my arrival at Nauvoo, I investigated the reports of the practice of polygamy and consecration, and learned satisfactorily that Smith and the other leading men did practice polygamy, it being later publicly taught; and that there was a society of "Danites" organized for carrying on theft, -- or consecration, they termed it, -- their work not being publicity proclaimed. These things were extremely obnoxious to me; and I openly declared them to be in violation of the laws of right, and therefore not prompted of God.

Being conversant with the book of Doctrine and Covenants, a book written by Joseph, I relied upon the declaration therein found, where God said of Joseph, if he sinned, "He shall be taken away, and he shall not have power, but to appoint another in his place." I believed Joseph had sinned in these things, and therefore looked for him "to be taken away." I looked for the further fulfillment of the prophecy in the appointment of a successor; for it was one of the prime teachings of the Church that it could not live without a head. Sidney Rigdon claimed to be the rightful successor by virtue of his high office, he being one of the prophet's two councillors, -- Hiram Smith, the other councillor, having been killed with his brother. By virtue of their office as "president," the "twelve apostles" claimed the leadership. All documents drawn up by them were signed, "The Twelve Apostles, Pres."

There was still another claim made by James J. Strang, based upon the proper ground of appointment. Had he asserted his claim immediately, personally, and with the self-assurance and vigor which carries convictions, and which later characterized him; he would doubtless have won the allegiance of a large majority.

He was but slightly known, having been but a short time a member of the Church, and was not at Nauvoo at the time of Smith's death; and the other aspirants, of course, disputed his claim, and declared the letter of appointment from Joseph, which he showed, to be a forgery. A few were converted of the genuineness of the letter and his right of succession, and became his followers. Others there were who did not deny the letter being from Joseph, but claimed it was not written in expectation of his own death, but simply the appointment of Strang as the head of a new "stake," or "colony," to be "planted" at Voree.

His church grew to considerable strength on Beaver Island, where later they located; and there, in the year 1856, they disbanded at the time of the assassination of Strang, who made no appointment of a successor, but advised them each to take care of himself. Rigdon retained a small following, which were soon scattered. The majority of the people supported Brigham Young, making him their leader by a vote, and basing the selection on the fact of his being the chief of the "twelve apostles."

The non-fulfilment of the prophecy regarding the appointment shattered my remaining faith in the religion. It failed at what had become for me the testing point, and must be false I now decided; and this decision necessarily included the Bible in my renunciation, for I had found them through all to be much alike and harmonious. Thus, my eyes were opened to make clear, unprejudiced investigation of it (the Bible), which has been followed by the perfect conviction of its being but accumulated works of many men, and not of God. In the workings of "the gifts" there is now evidently nothing unusual or miraculous. Speaking in tongues and interpreting is easily explained by believers in modern Spiritualism, and for disbelievers yet to be explained by science. Healing by laying on hands is but the combined effect of faith and animal magnetism.

I will add, regarding the Mormons, that they give allegiance to no people or government except their own. They believe themselves God's chosen people, and that eventually all others will be destroyed. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned," is essentially their motto; and, had they the power, they would destroy all disbelievers, impatient of leaving that work to the Lord.

Yet we can scarcely believe them more bloodthirsty than other Christian sects, when we think of the past persecutions of Protestants and Catholics, or even of present utterances reported from these pulpits regarding the extermination of the Mormons, and of the treatment they have received at the hands of many.

Of the Church of Joseph Smith, Jr. [sic - Joseph Smith III?], of which he is president, and not prophet, I understand there are none of the disgraceful features of the old, and it differs but slightly from other Protestant sects. They are loyal to the government, do not teach consecration, gathering, polygamy, or present prophecy.
B. G. WRIGHT.    

Note 1: Benjamin Guyal Wright, the son of George and Phoebe Whitley Wright, was born Mar. 9, 1809 in Johnstown, Leeds, Ontario. He died July 25, 1900, in Wrightsville (named after himself), Jackson Co., Wisconsin. As late as 1832 he was still living in Canada -- he was probably baptized there in about 1834. During the late 1840s he joined the Church of James J. Strang and rose in that group's ranks to become President of Strang's Voree Stake and a member of the High Council, (his brother Phineas was one of Strang's twelve apostles). Benjamin moved from Voree to St. James and married his second wife, Adaline Elizabeth Ballard, at Strang's colony on Beaver Island, Michigan, on July 9, 1853. During the 1880s (when he wrote his letter to The Index, he was living at Alma (named after the Book of Mormon prophet), Jackson Co., Wisconsin.

Note 2: Given Elder Wright's high status within the Strangite church, it seems rather remarkable that he suffered from doubt regarding the authenticity of the Mormon religion even prior to 1850 (when Oliver Cowdery died). His letter to The Index passes over the chronology of his notable Mormon career far too quickly.

Note 3: The Salt Lake City Deseret News, in the summer of 1885, took some notice of the series of "Mormonism" articles then being published by the Boston Index.


Vol. XXXVII.                                Boston, Thursday, May 21, 1885.                                No. 21.


This volume, by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, contains a clear and readable account of the origin and growth of Mormonism. It is a timely and important book, in writing which the author has had peculiar facilities due to her being a relative of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, the author of the romance, The Manuscript Found, upon which -- it having been stolen -- the so-called Book of Mormon was based. Mrs. Dickinson gives helpful recollections of Mr. Spaulding's character and of his book, describes the manner in which Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and others formed their conspiracy, traces the rise and progress of the Mormon body, follows it in its wanderings and settlements in Missouri and Illinois to its establishment in Utah, sets forth the peculiarities of the system, insists upon its treasonable and subversive attitude towards our national Government, distinguishes between the Utah Mormons and the Josephites, or non-polygamous Mormons, many of whom live in New England, and, in general, presents a comprehensive, spirited and valuable study of the subject.

Not its least interesting features are the accounts of the author's personal interviews with various people in her search for full information. She believes, and seems to show, that there are further facts, which she has failed to obtain, and which probably never will be revealed in this world, which relate to the composition of the alleged Mormon revelation upon the basis of Mr. Spaulding's story. But whether the proof of the essential identity of the former with the latter ever be secured or not, no reader of this book will be likely to reject the author's conclusion that they are identical in the main. Mrs. Dickinson has furnished some fresh facts on the subject and has recast the history of it in her narrative into a form which deserves and will secure a wide reading, especially just now when public attention is turning so directly upon the Mormons. In rewritIng it some minor errors should be corrected, e. g., "Parley 1'. Pratt" [p. 31], "Orley P. Pratt" [p. 45], and "Orley B. Pratt" [p. 48] seem to mean the same man. [Funk & Wagnalls. $1.00.]

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXVII.                                Boston, Thursday, July 30, 1885.                                No. 31.

-- Solomon  Spaulding  Not  its  Author. --

Just how many inquiries have come to Honolulu in regard to a manuscript in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, who came from Ohio to this city in 1879, to reside with his daughter, Mrs. J. M. Whitney. Mr. Rice was at one time editor of the Painesville (O.) Telegraph, having in connection with his partner, Mr. P. Winchester, in 1839 bought that newspaper, with all the appurtenances of the printing office in connection with it, from Mr. Eber D. Howe, the former proprietor, In the mass of material turned over to Mr. Rice was a small parcel that was labeled in pencil "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek." The parcel never had been opened till last summer, when Mr. Rice was looking over his papers, in search of memorabilia, in regard to the early anti-slavery movements in Ohio, in which he had actively engaged. He then found that it was the story written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding who, it has been claimed, wrote the "Book of Mormon," which Joseph Smith, Jr. published as an inspired translation of certain records, in regard to the American Indians and their connection with Christianity, engraved on golden plates, and found by him on the top of a hill in Palmyra, N.Y. In the rubbish of a printing office that manuscript of Mr. Spaulding's for which diligent search has hitherto been made in vain, has been as effectually lost as if it had been entombed in some forgotten Indian burial cave, to be strangely resurrected in these islands in the Pacific Ocean.

When President Fairchild of Oberlin College visited Honolulu last summer, he had the opportunity of examining this manuscript. In the Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 1885, he inserted a brief paragraph, expressing the opinion that this was not the original of the Book of Mormon, The Mormons came to the Hawaiian Islands in 184,6, seeking proselytes, and have now on Oahu quite a settlement, with fifteen "missionaries." They are anxious to secure and publish the manuscript, as the best refutation of the claim that has been made that Rev, Solomon Spaulding was the real author of the Book of Mormon. The statement of a few facts, however, will be convincing proof enough to any unprejudiced mind, both that this manuscript can not be the original of the Mormon Bible, and that Rev, Solomon Spaulding has no valid claim to have written any such book. It was through an article by Rev, D. R. Austin in the Boston Recorder for 1839, that the claim was made for Mrs. Matilda Davidson, of Monson, that the Book of Mormon was written by her former husband, Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

The facts in regard to Mr. Spaulding are briefly these: He was born in Ashford Conn., in 1761; graduated at Dartmouth, 1785; was pastor of a church in Connecticut, 1787, but; left the ministry and went into business with his brother Josiah, in Cherry Valley, N. Y. In 1809 he removed to Conneaut, O., and thence, in 1812, to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he resided two years. Thence he removed to Amity, Pa., where he died in 1816.

Conneaut and Painesville are in the northeastern corner of Ohio, not far from Kirtland, where, in 1831, Joe Smith established the Mormon Zion. He professed to have been told of the existence of the plates in 1823, but did not obtain them till 1827, nor was the translation finished till 1830. Then the first Mormon church was organized April 6th, 1830, of six members. In October four Elders set out on a mission to the Indians in the far West, and on their way, at Kirtland, O., made 130 converts to the Mormon faith, the number being increased the next spring to 1000.

This was largely through the influence of Sidney Rigdon, formerly a Campbellite preacher, then residing at Kirtland, and in acquaintance of Parley P. Pratt, one of the four Mormon Elders, who gave him a copy of the Mormon Bible that had then just been printed. Early in 1831 Rigdon visited Joe Smith, and in consequence of his representations, Smith removed to Kirtland.

Howe published, in 1834, from the office of the Painesville Telegraph, a book called Mormonism Unveiled, in refutation of the pretensions of Joe Smith. This book was prepared by Dr. D. P. Hurlbut, now or lately residing in Sturgis, Mich. He had been at one time connected with the Mormons, but had left them and wrote this expose of their foolish and absurd notions. It was in this book that it was first claimed that Rev. Solomon Spaulding was the real author of the Book of Mormon. The claim seems to have originated in the statement of Henry Lake of Conneaut, at one time a partner of Mr. Spaulding. Mr. Lake, on hearing the Mormon Bible read, exclaimed that it was the same story that Spaulding had read to him twenty years before from his Manuscript Found. John Spaulding testified that his brother Solomon, about the year 1812, was writing a book called the Manuscript Found, showing that the American Indians are descendants of the Jews. "Their arts, sciences and civilization were brought into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities found in various parts of North and South America. [After their battles] they buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common in this [section of the] country." His wife corroborates this testimony and says: "The names of Nephi and Lehi are yet fresh in my memory as being the principal heroes of his tale." These testimonies are confirmed by Messrs. Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, Nahum Howard, Artemas Cunningham, John N. Miller and others, and also as has been said above, by the widow of Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

After Mrs. Spaulding's death this widow removed to her brother's, Mr. Harvey Sabine, Onondaga Hollow, N.Y. In 1820 she married Mr. Davidson and removed to Hartwick, N. Y., removing thence, [in] 1832 to Monson, Mass., to reside with her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry. She had up to this time in her possession a small trunk with some manuscripts of her husband, but left it, in 1832, with Mr. Jerome Clark, in Hartwick. At Mr. Sabine's solicitation, she authorized Dr. Hurlbut to examine this trunk, and take the manuscripts he might find for comparison with the Book of Mormon. Only one manuscript was found, which purported to be a short unfinished romance, deriving the origin of the Indians from Rome, by a ship driven to the American coast while on a voyage to Britain, before the Christian era.

It is this manuscript which, through the purchase of the Painesville printing office, fell into Mr. Rice's possession, has been kept by him all these years in ignorance of its character, and is now brought again into public notice. On the last leaf is written: "The Writings of Solomon Spalding. Proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John Miller and others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession. D. P. Hurlbut." The paper on which the manuscript was written is of poor quality, yellowed and softened by age, six and a half inches wide by eight inches long. One hundred and seventy-one pages are numbered and written out in full, but the threads which kept them together are broken, and pages 133 and 134 are missing. On the back of page 132 is the beginning of a letter in different handwriting. "Fond Parents I have received 2 letters this Jan 1812."

The story has not the slightest resemblance in names, incidents or style to anything in the Book of Mormon... [a description of the story with extracts follows] ...

There is no attempt whatever to imitate Bible language, and to introduce quotations from the Bible, as in the Book of Mormon. On the contrary, Rev. Solomon Spaulding seems to have been a man who had no very high regard for the Bible ... [more extracts follow] ... it would seem improbable from such avowed belief that Rev. Solomon Spaulding was an orthodox, minister, who wrote the Book of Mormon in Biblical style while in poor health, for his own amusement. The statement is more probable that he wrote this Manuscript Found with the idea of making a little money, if he could find some one to print it for him.

It is evident from an inspection of this manuscript, and from the above statements that whoever wrote the Book of Mormon, Solomon Spaulding did not. The testimony of the Conneaut people after the lapse of twenty years, as to their knowledge of the contents of Spaulding's story, the Manuscript Found, is not to be relied upon, imperfect and contradictory as it is. The supposition that Spaulding wrote another story, which he carried with him to Pittsburgh, to the office of Patterson and Lambdin, to be printed; that he left it there, where it was found in 1822 by Rigdon when he worked in that office, and that Rigdon took this manuscript with him and published it through Joe Smith in 1830 as the Book of Mormon, is a most violent supposition, unsupported by any evidence whatever; Rigdon in fact, having never met Smith till after the publication of the Mormon Bible. That Spaulding ever wrote any other romance seems to have been disproved by the date, 1812, found in the latter part of this manuscript, and by the correspondence of its contents with what it was found Spaulding had actually written, while, on the contrary, all that is known of Joe Smith, his money digging, his religious ranting, his schemes for getting a livelihood, corroborate the belief, in view of all the facts of the case, that he, and he alone, is the author of the Mormon Bible, and the founder of the Mormon Church.

Note: Charles M. Hyde, D. D. was the President of the North Pacific Missionary Institute in Hawaii and an influential Protestant Minister in Honolulu in the 1880's. He was a friend of Lewis L. Rice and Rice allowed him to borrow and read the Spalding manuscript discovered in Hawaii in 1884. His article regarding that manuscript was probably written early in 1885 but was delayed in its publication in The Congregationalist.


The  Literary  World.

Vol. XVII.                                  Boston, Mass., April 3, 1886.                                  No. 7.


The Recently Discovered "Solomon Spaulding" Manuscript
and the Book of Mormon.

To the Editor of the Literary World:

The difficulty, with all our means of publication, of getting facts correctly stated is curiously illustrated in connection with the above caption. On January 28th a special despatch was telegraphed from Chicago to the leading papers in New York, saying that a "Professor Samuel S. Partello declares that he has discovered the veritable Spaulding romance from which, it is said, Joseph Smith wrote his 'Book of Mormon."' Who Professor Partello is I do not know, but that he should put forth such a claim as this is astonishing, for the facts to which he refers were brought to light and published to the world several months ago. In the summer of 1884 President Fairchild of Oberlin College was in Honolulu visiting Mr. L. L. Rice, an old friend, and a former anti-slavery advocate and editor. At President Fairchild's suggestion, and while he was with him, Mr. Rice examined his stores of old documents to select out anti- slavery publications for presentation to the

Oberlin College Library. In the process this celebrated manuscript of Spaulding's was found, and thoroughly examined, and its contents noted. President Fairchild at once announced its discovery and briefly described it in the Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 1885. This announcement was widely copied in the press and extensively commented upon. The manuscript was presented by Mr. Rice to the library of Oberlin College, and in January, 1886, President Fairchild gave a more extended account of it and of its bearing upon the supposed origin of the "Book of Mormon." Meanwhile the Mormons sent to Oberlin and had a copy made from which they have republished the manuscript to prove that the "Book of Mormon" neither had any connection with this nor with any romance which such a writer could have produced. With this conclusion of the Mormons President Fairchild fully agrees, and so it would seem must every one who gives the matter careful attention. The question is not one of much intrinsic importance, since the "Book of Mormon" is neither better nor worse whether it was original with Smith or whether he borrowed its drivelling nonsense from somebody else. But when such standard writers as Professor Fisher thinks it worth while to state it as a fact that the "Book of Mormon" was largely borrowed from Spaulding's manuscript; and a Chicago professor thinks it an honor worth claiming and telegraphing to New York that he has discovered the long-lost romance, the public is probabably sufficiently interested to give attention to the real facts. In this case it would seem that the press by its power of giving currency to ill-apprehended statements of facts is in more danger of concealing than of revealing the truth. It remains to be seen whether we can successfully correct the erroneous statements about this document so that it shall not go into future encyclopaedias as teaching the exact opposite of what it really does. If not we may well be thankful that the Christian documents were launched upon the world at a time when one day's news did not totally erase the memory of the news of the day before.

G. Frederick Wright.

Note: Mr. Wright inserted a similar notice in the Oberlin Review of Feb. 20, 1886.


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Tuesday, October 18, 1887.                                  No. ?


Joe Smith's Finding of the Book of Mormon
at "Gold Hill."

(Written by J. F. Peck for the Republican.)

Happening to be placed in a position where I became acquainted with Mormonism in its inception. I have frequently referred to its incidents, more or less fully among friends, and have often been solicited to write out my recollection of the events of that time. I was then at an age when such occurrences make lasting impressions, and especially so, if it is claimed that there is something supernatural about the matter. As the years increase and the Mormon institution has grown to its present proportions, I have thought it might interest the people of to-day to know something of its beginnings, from one who had abundant opportunities to observe what was going on, even if he lacked in judgment to estimate its character or speculate as to its results.

In 1829 and'30 I was a stripling in a dry goods store in the village of Palmyra, Wayne county, N. Y., in the outskirts of which miniature city Joseph Smith, Jr., familiarly and universally called "Joe," resided at the time, as he had done for a considerable period previously. Joe was one of those "ne'er-do-well" persons without any regular occupation, that are so often found hanging about such towns; doing odd jobs occasionally, when driven to it by sheer necessity to keep from starving. His principal occupation seemed to be digging for gold at night and lying in bed during the day, till he would be driven to make some effort in employments of less doubtful result than money digging, to maintain an existence. Joe in his excursions after gold carried a "divining" rod to tell him where there was hidden treasure, and he left many holes in the ground about that region, which testified that he could work if the spirit moved. He had all the superstitions of the money diggers of that day, one of which was that the digging must be done by night and not a word must be spoken, for at the first utterance the gold would fly away to some other locality; in fact, Joe claimed that he had more than once been upon the point of reaching some great treasure, when, in his eagerness some unlucky exclamation would escape him, and presto! the treasure would vanish from under his feet.

This, as I was informed, had been Joe's manner of life and occupation for some years prior to the time I knew him. Finally, however, he claimed to have found a veritable bonanza in the shape of heavy gold plates beautifully engraved in some ancient language or characters. He pretended to have found these on the top of a singular hill in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, N. Y., directly by the side of the road leading from Canandaigua to Palmyra, and which from that time was always called "Gold Hill." I call the hill singular from its shape and relation to the surrounding country, for it was entirely isolated, rising from a substantially level plain in an almost ellipse, some eighty feet high and about 200 yards long by 50 wide, while its slopes were as regular, neatly rounded and symmetrical as if constructed by the most accomplished civil engineer. How much the peculiar features of the hill had to do with its selection by Joe as the location for his find, it would be difficult to decide; but he had dug it over pretty well in search for treasure, and he might easily have imagined that it had been constructed by the hand of man in some remote age, and hence an inviting field to a seeker after hidden gold; while I have often thought that the peculiarities of the location where Joe pretended to have found the plates, had its effect in securing some of the early proselytes, who were acquainted with the spot. The plates Joe described as being about five by eight inches in size, and very thick; but how thick he never stated. At first he did not claim that these plates were any new revelation, or that they had any religious significance, but simply that he had found a valuable treasure in the shape of a record of some ancient peoples which had been inscribed on imperishable gold for preservation. The pretended gold plates were never allowed to be seen, though I have heard Joe's mother say that she had lifted them when covered with a cloth, and that they were very heavy -- so heavy, in fact, that she could scarcely raise them, though she was a very robust woman. What Joe at that time expected to accomplish seems difficult to understand, but he soon began to exhibit what he claimed to be copies of the characters engraved on the plates, though the irreverent were disposed to think he was more indebted to the characters found on China tea-chests than to any plates he had dug up in Manchester. Before long, however, a new party appeared on the scene in the person of one Sidney Rigdon, and thenceforward a new aspect was put upon the whole matter.

Rigdon was one of those keen, sharp fellows who, had he lived in our day, would have been a broker dealing with the "lambs" on margins, or, as a "confidence man," hanging around in our principal cities and looking out for victims. He is the man who at a later day, it is said, directed the Mountain Meadow massacre [sic!]. Very soon after his advent it was given out that the plates were a new revelation, and were a part of the original Bible, while Joe Smith was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish it among men. Rigdon, who from his first appearance was regarded as the "brains" of the movement, seemed satisfied to be the power behind the throne. Not only were pretended copies of the engraved plates exhibited, but whole chapters of what were called translations were shown: meetings were held, which were addressed by Smith and Rigdon, and an active canvass for converts was inaugurated. Strange as it may appear from the absurdity of the claims put forth, and the well-known character of Joe Smith, these efforts were to quite a degree successful, particularly among the farmers of the vicinity, quite a number of whom that were regarded as equal in intelligence to the average rural population became enthusiastic proselytes to the new faith.

One feature of the claim in relation to the translation from the plates was quite in character with other claims that have been from time to time set up by the Mormon church down to the present day. Joe Smith was of course, an illiterate man, and some way must be provided for the translation of his record. But Joe (or Rigdon) was equal to the emergency, for he claimed to have found with the "Gold Bible" (as they then always called it) a wonderful pair of spectacles, which he described as having very large round glasses, larger than a silver dollar, and he asserted that by placing the plates in the bottom of a hat or other deep receptacle, like a wooden grain measure, he could put on those spectacles and, looking down upon the plates, the engraved characters were all translated into good plain English, and he had only to read it off and have it recorded by a copyist.

This claim, with all its absurdity, was not more absurd than one that was made to me personally bu one Martin Harris, who was one of the early and most faithful proselytes. Harris was a farmer of good property, residing about a mile from the village, with whom I was well acquainted as a customer of the firm where I was employed. On one occasion I had been sent out on horseback on a colllecting trip, and returning in the early evening, as I passed the house of Mr. Harris he came out, and joining me we rode on together toward the village. It was a beautiful evening in October, and as we were riding in an easterly direction, the full moon which was just rising, made everything before us look most charming. As I made some remark upon the beauty of the moon, he replied to the effect that if I could see it as he had done I might well call it beautiful. Boy-like, I was at once anxious to know in what way he had enjoyed such exceptional facilities for observing the beauties of the moon, and plied him with questions: but beyond the assertion that he had actually visited the moon in his own proper person, and seen its glories face to face, he was not disposed to be communicative, remarking that it was only "the faithful" that were permitted to visit the celestial regions, and with that turned the conversation in less ethereal channels.

Smith and Rigdon labored diligently to secure converts, and before long it was announced that the "Gold Bible" was to be published in book form. Alvah Strong, then proprietor of the Wayne Sentinel, and afterward of the Rochester Democrat, took the contract to print and bind 5000 copies for $5000, -- Martin Harris, before mentioned, mortgaging his farm for that amount to raise the funds for the work; and business soon began in earnest. Joe, with his lieutenant, Rigdon, had a board shanty erected in a remote field, which no human being was allowed to enter except these two worthies, and from this primitive study all the manuscript for the publication of the Gold Bible was brought to the printing-office. As the office was in the third story of the same block, and directly over the store where I was employed, I was allowed to come up-stairs and read from the proofs as much as I chose; though in fact I never became greatly interested in the work.

The publication was pushed with spirit, but until it was completed not a copy was allowed to leave the office, but every volume was packed in an upper room, and the pile they made struck me at the time and has since been vividly in my mind as comparing in size and shape with a cord of wood, and I called it a cord of Mormon Bibles. Not long after the publication was completed they began their preparations for a removal, and ere long the parties with their converts, packed up all their belongings and left for Kirtland, O. This removal was not "on compulsion" from any complaints of their neighbors, like those they were subsequently compelled to make from Kirtland and Nauvoo, but all seemed to enter into it readily, and with the utmost cheerfulness, though many abandoned homes of great comfort and comparative wealth. In the exodus there were farmers who were customers of the firm where I was employed, that sold their farms to the amount of about $45,000, all of which was committed to the care and tender mercy of Joe Smith, and the votaries committed themselves to his care and guidance.

On the doings of the fraternity after they left Wayne county, I have no knowledge beyond published reports, to which others have had equal access, but there is one circumstance which may have escaped attention. After they settled in Kirtland they established a bank. Those were called "wild cat" days, and the banks grew up like mushrooms all over the West. The moneyed institution they started was "The Kirtland Safety Society Bank," but as it turned out, all the safety was on the side of the Mormons, for it was always taking in but never paying out, except in their promises to pay which they never redeemed. They had their bank notes engraved in the highest style of the art by Underwood, Bald & Spencer of Philadelphia. who were the leading engravers of that day; and in various ways they made quite a show of [banking and managed] to get their bills into circulation, to a considerable extent. Some years afterward, when they were driven out of Nauvoo, a quantity of these bills came into the hands of the receiver of their effects who resided at Quincy, Ill., he gave me some $50 or $75 of that currency, in order, as he said, that I might never be out of money. I gave most of it away to friends. but I have still a ten dollar note dated February 13, 1837, signed by "S. Rigdon Pres't, and "J. Smith, Jr., Cash'r," which I retain in order to fulfil the intention of the gentleman who gave it to me. This "J. Smith, Jr., Cash'r" was the original Joe, and Rigdon was his mentor at Palmyra.

This is in brief a history of the first beginnings of what has grown into the powerful hierarchy of the present day, which seems to bid defiance to the United States government. That such a man as Joe Smith with his antecedents could inaugurate such a movement seems almost incredible, yet this is a true unvarnished history of the rise of this remarkable sect. If there is anything saintly in the "church of the latter day saints," as they now assume to style themselves, they must be an improvement on the original founder.
     Springfield, October 13, 1887.

Note 1: The writer of the above communication was Joseph Franklin Peck (1810-c.1890), a member of the extended Peck family of Lima, Livingston Co., NY. He may have been a relative of Everard Peck, the Rochester historian. Joseph Franklin Peck, (the son of Watrous and Betsey) was born in West Bloomfield (then Bloomfield), Ontario Co., NY on May 20, 1810. On Oct. 14, 1833 he married Clarissa Minor/Miner, daughter of Jeremiah Minor of Lima, Livingston, NY. Jeremiah may have been a relative of the Miner family who owned "Miner's Hill" near the Joseph Smith residence. The couple lived in West Bloomfield until 1836, when they moved to the adjacent township of Lima, in Livingston Co. They remained at Lima until after 1860. Clarissa died in Elmira, Chemung Co., NY in 1868. By 1877 Mr. Peck had moved to Springfield (where the 1880 federal census listed him residing in 1880).

Note 2: Much of the historical detail related in the 1887 Peck letter was evidently based upon authentic observations of Joseph Smith and Smith's early associates, in and around Palmyra, but several aspects of Peck's recollections appear to be rather questionable. His reference to Chinese characters on tea-chests is similar to earlier published statements regarding the characters on the bogus "Kinderhook plates." Other parts of Peck's account read something like vague paraphrases from Pomeroy Tucker and other early writers on Mormonism. His detailed references to Sidney Rigdon, operating openly in public view, with Smith in the Palmyra area before the Book of Mormon was published, are unlikely personal memories. Perhaps Mr. Peck exaggerated his knowledge of actual happenings, or perhaps he provided muddled embellishments of Rigdon's documented appearances in the Palmyra area after the Book of Mormon was published. Peck resided in the area as late as 1860 and must have picked up some of his "Joe Smith" information from local friends and neighbors, because he says: "This, as I was informed, had been Joe's manner of life and occupation for some years prior to the time I knew him." However, if any of Peck's assertions regarding Rigdon's activities are accurate, they may provide additional eye witness support for the Spalding-Rigdon authorship claims.

Note 2: A good deal of the contents of the 1887 Peck recollections inexplicibly turn up as part of the alleged personal memories of a certain "Daniel Hendrix," in an article originally entitled "The Origin of Mormonism," published in various papers like the New York Buffalo Courier between 1897 and 1899. The basic story of the Hendrix article was evidently taken down in the form of an alleged interview with the deponent conducted by Henry G. Tinsley in 1893 and first published by the San Francisco Chronicle on May 14, 1893. Possibly Mr. Tinsley invented the person of "Daniel Hendrix" as a means whereby to concoct a set of false recollections critical to Joseph Smith and Mormonism. If this were actually the case, then Tinsley must have based his Hendrix fabrication upon the unique and obscure account supplied by J. F. Peck (who only claimed to have personal knowledge of the 1829-30 period in Palmyra, while the Hendrix story extends the experience there back to 1822).

To complicate matters even more, the Washington D. C. Evening Star of Jan. 28, 1905 published an article entitled "How Mormons Began," which credits as its source a written "reminiscence" given by Hendrix, "with the help of his neice," kept in San Jacinto, California. How a transcript of this purported document reached the Star, is left unstated, save for a passing mention of its having been "seen and read recently by a visitor in San Jacinto from Washington." Because of these unusual developments (and because its often unique content), the various renditions of the Hendrix recollections are best consigned to the "semi-fictional" history files. It is possible that Henry G. Tinsley came across an unattributed copy of the 1887 Peck communication, and (not knowing that it had already been published) subsequently created the "Hendrix" character as a plausible name he could affix to that anonymous source. If this was the case, then somebody also took broad literary liberties in reproducing this unattributed Peck testimony.

Note 4: Henry Greenwood Tinsley was born Apr. 20, 1861 in Lyons, Wayne Co., New York and died Dec. 15, 1920 in Pomona, California. After graduating from Cornell University in 1883 he was employed briefly at his father's newspaper, the Lyons Republican. According to a report in the New York Fulton Times, he left Lyons during the last week of March, 1885, "to accept a temporary engagement on the reportorial staff of the Sun." Tinsley remained at the Sun until 1887, when he took up the editorship of the Pomona Progress in California. It might be productive to search the back files of that town's Progress and the Review to see how those papers portrayed Mormons and Mormonism under Tinsley's editorial hand.

Note 5: Although Tinsley's 1893 "Hendrix" appropriation of Joseph F. Peck's reminiscences has been published on this and other web-pages for several years, modern writers on Mormonism continue to cite "Hendrix" as though he were a real, valid source for early Mormon history. For example, on pp. 137-38 of his 2000 thesis, Mark Ashurst-McGee says: "After reading Daniel Hendrix's newspaper interview, Diedrich Willers wrote to him, 'I have heard of him as a day laborer in this county [Seneca] for a couple of years prior to 1830, when he used to use a rod of some kind in pretending to hunt water for farmer wells' {or minerals.}" If Rev. Willers never heard back from "Hendrix," it was because no such person ever existed.


Vol. 83.                       Montpelier, Vermont,  Wed., October 26, 1887.                       No. 3.

The Book of Mormon.

J. F. Peck, who became acquainted with Mormon in its inception, furnishes the following account of the finding of the "Mormon Bible" to the Springfield Republican:

"In 1829-'30 I was a stripling in a dry-goods store in the village of Palmyra, Wayne county, N. Y., in the outskirts of which miniature city Joseph Smith, Jr., familiarly and universally called 'Joe,' resided at the time, as he had done for a considerable period previously. Joe was one of those 'ne'er-do-well' persons without any regular occupation that are so often found hanging about such towns; doing odd jobs occasionally, when driven to it by sheer necessity, to keep from starving. His principal occupation seemed to be digging for gold at night and lying in bed during the day, till he would be driven to make sime effort in emplpyments of less doubtful result than money-digging to maintain an existence. Joe in his excursions after gold carried a 'divining' rod to tell him where there was hidden treasure, and he left many holes in the ground about that region which testified that he could work if the spirit moved. This, as I was informed, had been Joe's manner of life and occupation for some years prior to the time I knew him. Finally, however, he claimed to have found a veritable bonanza in the shape of heavy gold plates beautifully engraved in some ancient language or characters. He pretended to have found these on the top of a singular hill in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, N. Y., directly by the side of the road leading from Canandaigua to Palmyra, and which from that time was always called 'Gold Hill.' I call the hill singular from its shape and relation to the surrounding country, for it was entirely isolated, rising from a substantially level plain in an almost ellipse, some eighty feet high and about 200 yards long by fifty wide, while its slopes were as regular, neatly rounded and symmetrical as if constructed by the most accomplished cicil engineer. How much the peculiar features of the hill had to do with its selection by Joe as the location for his find it would be difficult to decide; but he had dug it over pretty well in search for treasure, and he might easily have imagined that it had been constructed by the hand of man in some remote age, and hence was an inviting field to a seeker after hidden gold; while I have often thought that the peculiarities of the location where Joe pretended to have found the plates had its effect in securing some of the early proselytes, who were acquainted with the spot.

The plates Joe described as being about five by eight inches in size, and very thick; but how thick he never stated. At first he did not claim that these plates were any new revelation, or that they had any religious significance, but simply that he had found a valuable treasure in the shape of a record of some ancient peoples which had been inscribed on imperishable gold for preservation. The pretended gold plates were never allowed to be seen, though I have heard Joe's mother say that she had lifted them when covered with a cloth, and that they were very heavy -- so heavy, in fact, that she could scarcely raise them, though she was a very robust woman. What Joe at that time expected to accomplish seems difficult to understand, but he soon began to exhibit what he claimed to be copies of the characters engraved on the plates, though the irreverent were disposed to think he was more indebted to the characters found on China tea-chests than to any plates he had dug up in Manchester. Before long, however, a new party appeared on the scene in the person in one Sidney Rigdon, and thenceforward a new aspect was put upon the whole matter. Rigdon was one of those keen, sharp fellows who, had he lived in our day, would have been a broker dealing with the 'lambs' on margins, or, as a 'confidence man,' hanging around in our principal cities and looking out for victims. He is the man who at a later day, it is said, directed the Mountain Meadow massacre [sic!] Very soon after his advent it was given out that the plates were a new revelation, and were a part of the original Bible, while Joe Smith was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish it among men. Rigdon, who from his first appearance was regarded as the 'brains' of the movement, seemed satisfied to be the power behind the throne. Not only were pretended copies of the engraved plates exhibited, but whole chapters of what were called translations were shown; meetings were held, which were addressed by Smith and Rigdon, and an active canvass for converts was inaugurated. One feature of the claim in relation to the translation from the plates was quite in character with other claims that have been from time to time set up by the Mormon Church down to the present day. Joe Smith was of course, an illiterate man, and some way must be provided for the translation of his record. But Joe (or Rigdon) was equal to the emergency, for he claimed to have found with the 'Gold Bible' (as they then always called it) a wonderful pair of spectacles, which he described as having very large round glasses -- larger than a silver dollar -- and he asserted that by placing the plates in the bottom of a hat or other deep receptacle, like a wooden grain measure, he could put on those spectacles and, looking down upon the plates, the engraved characters were all translated into good plain English, and he had only to read it off and have it recorded by a copyist.

Smith and Rigdon labored diligently to secure converts, and before long it was announced that the 'Gold Bible' was to be published in book form. Alvah Strong, then proprietor of the Wayne Sentinel, and afterward of the Rochester Democrat, took the contract to print and bind 5,000 copies for $5,000 -- Martin Harris, a farmer, mortgaging his farm for that amount to raise the funds for the work -- and business soon began in earnest. Joe, with his lieutenant, Rigdon, had a board shanty erected in a remote field, which no human being was allowed to enter except these two worthies, and from this primitive study all the manuscript for the publication of the 'Gold Bible' was brought to the printing-office. As the office was in the third story of the same block, and directly over the store where I was employed, I was allowed to come up-stairs and read from the proofs as much as I chose; though in fact I never became greatly interested in the work. The publication was pushed with spirit, but until it was completed not a copy was allowed to leave the office, but every volume was packed in an upper room, and the pile they made struck me at the time and has since been vividly in my mind as comparing in size and shape with a cord of wood, and I called it a cord of Mormon Bibles. Not long after the publication was completed they began their preparations for a removal, and ere long the parties with their converts, packed up all their belongings and left for Kirtland, Ohio."

Note: The so-called "Hendrix" testimony is thought to have been the 1893 fabrication of Henry Greenwood Tinsley, editor of the Pomona Progress in southern California. See notes attached to the original J. F. Peck communication, published in the Springfield Republican of Oct. 18, 1887.


Vol. ?                                  New Haven, August ?, 1889.                                  No. ?


It is well to put on record all authentic statements regarding any widely published documents; and for this reason we print the following, relating to that remarkable imposition, The Mormon Bible, An additional reason for doing this exists in the fact that several different copies of the alleged Spaulding manuscript are in existence; and when the reputed Bible is compared with some of these, the discrepancies are so great as to lead disinterested persons to deny that Solomon Spaulding was the real author of the precious invention. The facts stated below give a true account of the probable fate of the real manuscript.

                                                    July 28, 1889 [Longmeadow, Mass.]

Copy of Conversation with Dr. McKinstry

by Charles R. Bliss

This afternoon I had a conversation with Dr. J. A. McKinstry of Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He is the grandson of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, the reputed author of the Mormon Bible. He told me he had heard frequent conversations of his mother and of her mother -- Mrs. Spaulding -- concerning the manuscript from which the Mormon Bible is believed to have been produced. His declaration is as follows: viz., that they had frequently told him that they had compared the manuscript in question with the Mormon Bible, and found them to be in all essential respects one in the same. The grandmother said that she used to hear the manuscript read by Mr. Spaulding, and that the words "Nephi," "Lehi," "Mormon" and many others were invented by him; that the history in its main body was found by her, on reading the Mormon Bible, to be identical with the manuscript. She was much disturbed to find that a manuscript written by her husband was so used. It was impossible for his mother, on comparing the [Mormon] Bible and the manuscript, to reach any other conclusion than that the Bible was taken from the manuscript.

His mother affirmed that her father, on reading this manuscript from time to time to his neighbors, was advised by them to have it published; and he carried it to a printer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with that purpose in view. One of the employees in that office was Sidney Rigdon, Smith's companion and follower. After some time Mrs. Spaulding obtained the manuscript again; and it was put, with other fragmentary manuscripts, in a trunk belonging to the family.  Some years after the Mormon Bible appeared the widow of Solomon Spaulding -- Dr. McKinstry's grandmother -- was called upon by a man named Hurlbut, with recommendations by responsible persons saying that he was employed by a man who was preparing an expose of Mormonism to collect facts for him, and asked her to give him an order to take the manuscript for the purpose of examination. The lady, wishing to do all she could to repair the evil of the manuscript, gave him the order; and he obtained possession of not only that manuscript but of others in the trunk.

The manuscript was never again seen by its [owners.]...

Note: The date of this clipping is uncertain, as is the newspaper from which it came. A note on the clipping says "Palladium, Aug. 1889." The original article perhaps came from an early August issue of the Springfield Republican.

Maine articles have been moved to a new location

St. Albans  Daily  Messenger.
Vol. ?                                  St. Albans, Vermont, March 31, 1897.                                  No. ?


Brigham Young and Smith Natives of State.

[ Boston. Globe. ]

The proposition of the people of Utah to place a statue of Brigham Young in the statuary hall at Washington as a representative citizen of that state brings to mind the fact that the president of the Mormon republic is numbered among the famous sons of Vermont.

Brigham Young was born in Whitingham, among the highest hills of Windham county, on June 1, 1801. The village of his nativity is now an apt illustration of Goldsmith's "Deserted Village."The old church has gone into decay and is rapidly falling in ruins. Its dwellings are those of the long past, many without paint for half a century, presenting a sorrowful picture of what was once a prosperous community.

The farms of the township are desolate, in fact, many of them abandoned. Some religious zealots attribute the town's desolation to the fact that it was the birthplace of the "infamous Mormon prophet."

Brigham Young's father was a farmer, whose lands are now among the abandoned farms. Brigham himself learned the trade of a painter and glazier, and early left home. He originally united with the Baptist church, but joined the Mormons in 1832. The same year he was ordained "elder;" in 1835 was made an "apostle," and in 1844 succeeded Joseph Smith as president, a position he held until his death in Salt Lake City, Aug. 29, 1877.

About 1825 there arose at Middletown, Vt., a body of religious enthusiasts who were led by one Jacob Wood, who claimed to be guided in their movements by a "divining rod," and the people were much excited over their ceremonies, and many efforts were made to find gold, silver and other metals, accompanied with the performance of certain religious rites.

Residing in the town at that time were Rev. Solomon B. Spaulding, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and in the adjoining town of Poultney, Oliver Cowdery.

Joseph Smith was a native of Sharon, Vt., born in 1805. Spaulding was a native of the town. An aged man now living, who was a country merchant there at that period, and distinctly remembers all these persons, and narrates many of their peculiarities, gives personal descriptions of several of them.

Smith, it is asserted, was "poor, ignorant, and dessolute." Young was the brightest and brainiest of the company. The people of the community called the divining rod affairs, in after years "the Rod Scrape," and others knew it as "the Wood Scrape."

Smith, Cowdery and Young finally drifted away to western New York, and the Wood family emigrated to Ohio and settled near Cleveland. A descendant of this family became an eminent lawyer, who was for 17 years governor of the state.

Spaulding, Young, Smith and Cowdery apparently were very much interested in the "Wood Rod Affair," but did not take part or become converts to the religious sect that were so firm believers in the power of the "divining rod," but afterwards made it available in the establishment and promulgation of the Mormon doctrines.

The Book of the Mormons, it is asserted, was written by Rev. S. B. Spaulding, who had some learning. It is said he wrote the Book of Mormon as an historical romance, and buried the manuscript in the town of Manchester, N. Y., and the divining rod was brought into use in discovering its place of concealment.

The history of the "Latter Day Saints" is too familiar to need repetition. Smith came near wrecking his church. At this juncture Brigham Young, who was an individual of indomitable will, by his eloquence, executive ability, shrewdness and zeal, soon made his influence felt, discarding many of the doctrines taught in the alleged Mormon Bible.

He resurrected the church, perfecting a further and new organization with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery and Orson Hyde, bith of whom were also former residents of Rutland county.

The suggestion of placing Brigham Young's statue as a historic figure in the national statutary hall at the capitol has brought to the front these scraps of unwritten history in his career not generally known, although they have been incidentally alluded to by writers upon the history of and in some of the works on Mormonism, and more at length in Frisbie's history of Middletown, which met with rapid sale, and the edition was quickly exhausted.

Note 1: The journalist in his article has most certainly made some critical errors, in citing the memory of the "aged man now living." The Wood cult's heyday in Middletown was at the turn of the century, and did not last as late as "about 1825." By that date Solomon Spalding was almost ten years deceased and Joseph Smith had moved to New York. Although the Spalding family did help found the town, there is no record of a Rev. Solomon B. Spaulding residing there, either at the turn of the century or as late as 1825.

Note 2: The article's mention of a "divining rod" being employed in the purported finding of golden plates in New York does not match the accounts given in the standard LDS histories, but it may reflect early stories in circulation regarding that discovery. It is, however, absurd to accuse Solomon Spalding (who died in Pennsylvania in 1816), of burying his manuscripts in a hill near Palmyra, New York.

Vol. ?                                  Boston, Mass., July 18, 1897.                                  No. ?

The  Book  of  Mormon
and the Spaulding Manuscript.

Seymour B. Young

The appearance of the Book of Mormon awakens in the memory of certain persons, who heard chapters read by the author of a work called the Manuscript Found, and detected an extraordinary resemblance between the two.

The well attested fact was revealed that about 20 years before Smith made his discovery, an highly educated clergyman of Cherry Valley, New York, married and with his wife settled at Salem, Ohio, where, his health giving way, he was obliged to leave work as a preacher.

He was deeply interested in the theory then much discussed that the North American Indians were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, especially as in the vicinity of New Salem were many mounds erected by the early settlers of the country, and he conceived the idea of writing a Kind of a religious novel, having that theory as its basis.

He therefore devoted the leisure of three years to the preparation of the work, which was written in the quaint style of language to be found in King James' authorized version of the English scriptures.

In order to give it the antique character claimed for it, it was entitled the Manuscript Found, and in the preface, was said to have been made from a record made by one of the lost nations and recovered from the earth where ages before it had been deposited by Moroni, the son of Mormon, the prophet in the manuscript, and in it was given most of the pretended history found in the Book of Mormon, and there is unquestionable testimony that the author read many chapters of it to his wife and neighbors as early as 1813.

The possession of the manuscript by Smith and Rigdon is as clearly proved as the strongest circumstantial evidence can establish a fact.

During the early years following the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 6, 1830, there was one man who received some notoriety. That man was Solomon Spaulding. Although he was several years dead, his writings known as The Manuscript Story brought him, for the time, some local fame. Solomon Spaulding, the gentleman above referred to, lived during the latter part of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. His death occurred about the year 1816. A few years prior to his death his mind seemed to run on ancient and archaic subjects, and under the influence of these thoughts he wrote what he himself designated Manuscript Story. This was a short history of the ancestors of the American Indians, which in his romance he represents as having deciphered from ancient characters, found on rolls of parchment which he had discovered in a stone cave, in an excavation near his home on Coneaught Creek, Ashtabula County, Pennsylvania. With the parchment were Indian bows and arrows and other relics. At his death he left this romantic or historic production in possession of his widow.

In 1834, nearly five years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, an apostate by the name of D. P. Hurlburt learned of the existence of this Manuscript Story by Mr. Spaulding, and conceived the idea of publishing it in connection with a book that he was about to issue as an expose' of Mormonism, under the title, Mormonism Unveiled. The contents of this volume were to be dedicated entirely to statements in opposition to the divinity of the mission of the Prophet Joseph and also against the truth of the Book of Mormon. Mr. Hurlburt, therefore, visited the widow Spaulding and requested the loan of her husband's manuscript, stating to her that he wished to make it a part of the book he was about to publish in opposition to the Mormon Church; and as he expected to make it appear that the Manuscript Story, written by her husband, was the origin of the Book of Mormon, he was convinced that a ready sale would be found for the book, and that the manuscript would contribute to that ready sale. He promised that he would share with her the profits emanating therefrom. Mr. Hurlburt obtained possession of the manuscript, and in connection with E. D. Howe & Co., with whom he had contracted for the publication of Mormonism Unveiled, examined the Spaulding production. However, not finding it to resemble in any particular, the Book of Mormon, they suppressed it, and Mr. Hurlburt informed Mrs. Spaulding that her husband's manuscript had been destroyed in a fire which had recently occurred in the Painesville printing office, where the document was deposited, awaiting publication. 1

Although an agreement of co-partnership was entered into between D. P. Hurlburt and the Howe Publishing Co., of Painesville, Ohio, the Messrs. Howe soon learned of the unreliable character of Mr. Hurlburt and shook him off entirely. They themselves continued in the disreputable labor of manufacturing falsehoods concerning the Mormon Church and the Book of Mormon in particular, and finally published the volume, Mormonism Unveiled, retaining all the falsehoods that Hurlburt had been the author of, but discarding the author. In this volume Mr. Howe tried to make it appear that the Spaulding story or Manuscript Found was indeed the original from which the Book of Mormon was written; but instead of publishing Manuscript Found, thus enabling the public to judge regarding its similarity to the Book of Mormon, Mr. Howe procured. affidavits from apostates and bitter enemies of the Mormon Church, who stated that they were witnesses to the fact that the two books were identical. Among the statements sent forth by the authors of Mormonism Unveiled were the following: Sidney Rigdon, who had formerly resided at Pittsburg, where Mrs. Spaulding had lived for a short time, had procured the dead clergyman's production from Lambdin and Patterson, printers of that city, and had enlarged and amplified the original, and with the help and cunning of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, had added the religious portions, and palmed it off on the public as an ancient and inspired record. This false and insinuating statement found many believers, and even to this day among non-Mormons generally, is accepted as authentic and reliable.

Now, let me here state, in regard to the associations of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, that these two men never met until some time after the translation of the Book of Mormon, and not until 5,000 copies of the same had been published and distributed. Sidney Rigdon himself states that he was converted to the principles of Mormonism by reading the Book of Mormon, and at the same time he became convinced of the divinity of the record and of the divine mission of its translator.

In the year 1884, fifty years after the alleged destruction of the Spaulding manuscript, Mr. James H. Fairchild, president of Oberlin College -- one of the most prominent institutions of learning in the state of Ohio -- spent his summer vacation at Honolulu, in the Sandwich Islands. Here he met an old friend, formerly the publisher of the Painesville Telegraph, Mr. L. L. Rice, who had taken up his abode in Honolulu, with his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Whitney. On the occasion of a visit to Mr. Rice, President Fairchild suggested to him that he look through his numerous papers, thinking that he might find some anti-slavery documents that might be of some historic value.

The search began and ere long their attention was attracted to a good-sized squarely folded package of papers tied securely together with an old-fashioned tow string. The following descriptive sentence was written on the outside covering of the package: "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek."2

The title of the paper struck these gentlemen with amazement, and they finally concluded that this was the very manuscript which was supposed to be the origin of the Book of Mormon; and with this belief, Mr. Fairchild and Mr. Rice, being more honest than others who had come to the same conclusion, sent to the Mormon missionary headquarters for a Book of Mormon. With the help of Mr. Whitney and also of a Mr. Bishop, a very influential gentleman residing at Honolulu at that time, they began the reading of the Book of Mormon and the Manuscript Story of Solomon Spaulding, and continued the same until they had read and carefully compared them from beginning to end; and they then and there came to the conclusion, and so stated, that the two productions were entirely unlike. Mr. Rice, although loath to part with the old manuscript, gave it to President Fairchild, only reserving the original long enough to have it copied word for word, and line for line, bad spelling and bad grammar included. President Fairchild brought the manuscript of Solomon Spaulding home with him, and deposited it among the relics of Oberlin College, Ohio -- where it now is -- and with it the following statement:

The Story of the Origin of the Book of Mormon in the Traditional Manuscript of Solomon Spaulding, will probably have to be relinquished. Mr. Rice myself and others compared it (the Spaulding manuscript) with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two, either in general or detail. There seems to be no name nor incident common to the two. The solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the manuscript. Some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon will have to be found if any explanation of its origin is necessary.

Mr. Rice could only account for his having come into possession of the Spaulding Manuscript in that it was among the old papers and other property which he had purchased with the Painesville printing office. The manuscript had evidently lain in this office since D. P. Hurlburt deposited it there in the year 1834. President Fairchild, evidently desirous that the truth should be widely known in regard to his conclusions concerning the two productions, published in the New York Observer of February 5, 1885, a facsimile of his statement above given. This statement in the New York Observer attracted the attention of President George Reynolds, soon after its publication, and he clipped it from the paper and mailed it in a letter to President Joseph F. Smith, at Honolulu, who was at that time on his third mission to the Sandwich Islands. President Joseph F. Smith called upon Mr. Rice, and after much persuasion, won the consent of that gentleman to a loan of the copy which Mr. Rice had made of the Manuscript Story, with the promise from President Smith that he would publish the same in book form, and would return the copy to Mr. Rice after the publication, and with it, twenty-five copies of the book. This contract was sacredly kept by President Smith; for he immediately forwarded the manuscript to the Deseret News Publishing Co., and they at his request, published a small edition of it, in its exact wording.

The testimony of Mr. Fairchild and his confreres, coming as it does from men who are not believers in anything pertaining to Mormonism, is the kind of evidence the world is bound to accept. Their testimony on this matter, they being unbelievers in the sacredness of the Book of Mormon, cannot be controverted. It stands as a complete refutation of the slanderous reports of Hurlburt, Howe and others, that the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript was the source from whence came the Book of Mormon. In addition to this we have the testimony of tens of thousands of believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, devout followers of the Prophet Joseph, all uniting in testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon.
1 The manuscript was not destroyed at that time, however, nor at any time subsequent, but was providentially preserved until fifty years later, when it was brought forth through the efforts of President Joseph F. Smith, after its long seclusion, and published by the Deseret News Company , in 1886. It then was put into a pamphlet of 113 pages.
2 The following was also endorsed on the wrapping: "The writings of Solomon Spaulding, Proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John Miller, and others. The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession" -- D. P. Hurlburt. -- Editor.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Hartford  Courant.

Vol. ?                                  Hartford, Conn., Friday, October 8, 1897.                                  No. ?


The Rev. Dr. Parker Tells the Story
of its Origin

The Mormon church was the topic of the Rev. Dr. E. P. Parker in the chapel of the South Congregational Church last evening. The three New England men, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, natives of Vermont, and to Solomon Spaulding, who was born in Ashford in this state, the Mormon church is greatly indebted; Vermont having provided its organization and working force, and the Connecticut man furnishing the brains of its literature.

Joseph Smith's parents were of the thriftless class and emigrated into New York, when it was young, living in Manchester, Palmyra, and Fayette. When Smith was 15 years old, possibly influenced by some of the hysteric revivals of religion which were common in those days, (1827,) he had alleged visions in which an angel appeared to him and revealed to him that the Bible of the Western world, supplementary to the Bible, was buried near by. In response to this he pretended to have fiund in a stone box a volume six inches thick, with leaves 8x7 inches, of thin gold, and held together by gold rings. These leaves were covered with minute characters in "reformed Egyptian tongue." In order that these characters could be read, there was found with the golden book marvelous spectacles of crystals set in a silver bow. Smith, who was an Illiterate man, had it translated by one Oliver Couderay, to whom he conveniently dictated the translation, the work having been paid for by a farmer, one Martin Harris, and upon the statements of these men this alleged revelation was put forth as the book of Mormon. Harris afterwards renounced Mormonlnm and retracted his statement. But there was the foundation upon which Joseph Smith practiced upon the credulity of people, and founded the Mormon church.

The book of Mormon is a curious affair, not doctrinal, except as it disusses certain notions, but is a strictly historic document. The story it tells is practically this: After the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel a group of Hebrew refugees drifted across the Pacific and landed in the southern section of California, and from this colony descended the inhabitants of the western part of the continent even to the Esquimaux.

About 600 BC a second colony settled on the coast of Chile and their descendants worked their way as far north as Missouri, the mound builders and cliff dwellers caring for them. Jesus also appeared on the western continent and reference is made to the passage in John in which Christ says, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold," referring, according to the Mormon Idea, to the lost tribes of Israel. The good descendants were of the tribe of Nephi, and the bad, the rebellious ones, fought with them, and came near extinguishing the good ones altogether in a battle near Lake Ontario. Of the survivors one woman [sic] saved the book of Mormon, which was down successive generations and finally buried where Joseph Smith found it. Such is the Mormon story and the Mormon book.

Tho actual origin of. the book, as has been proved, is traced to Solomon Spaulding, who was born in Asford, in this state, [graduated in 1790 at Dartmouth] and afterwards settled in Cherry Valley. He was of a romantic turn of mind and wrote many novels, none of which met with much favor. In 1810 or 1812 he a romance to account for the American Indian as descended from the lost tribes of Israel. This was fancied to have been discovered In a cave. While it was in Pittsburg in a printing office, a man named Rigdon made a copy of it and in some way it came into the possession of Joseph Smith. Public comparison of the Spaulding document with the book of Mormon proved conclusively the fraudulent claim made for the fundamental book of the Mormon church.

Dr. Parker reviewed the history of the Mormon church under Joseph Smith at Kirtland and Nauvoo, at which latter place Smith was shot by an angry mob disgusted with his immoralities. Its marvelous career under Brigham Young, and commented upon [by] such great material growth having sprung from such a confession of fraud intermingled with religion and business sagacity. Its success was due to the elaborate organization which Brigham Young set in motion, and the great ability as a leader he manifested

Polygamy having been abolished, an Infusion of Gentiles having taken place, there was the probability that Utah would become very much like other states. It is surprising to know that recently Elder Edwards of the Mormon church has been established in New York in charge of the church in the Eastern states; that there are three thousand Mormons in these states, [---- ---- ] and there are nine elders in each of them.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XVI.                         Portsmouth, N. H., Monday, January 8, 1900.                         No. 4662.



He Shows How It Reaches Out Its
Tentacles to Destroy American Homes --
Its Teachings and Its Dangers --
A Synagogue of Satan.

Text: "The synagogue of Satan." -- Revelations 2. 9.

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was born in Sharon, Vermont, 1805. His mother was a superstitious fortune teller. His father was illiterate, indolent and intemperate. The boy was raised with bad environments, without the advantage of an education. At 15 years of age in an exciting revival he professed conversion and began at once to claim that he saw visions, that Peter. James and John appeared to him with revelations from heaven. There was in him a strange mixture of religious emotion and base immoralities.

About 1827 Joseph Smith met one Sydney Rigdon who had lived in Pittsburg, and had become acquainted with the manuscript of a novel written by Mr. Spaulding, in which the American, Indians are described as the descendants of the Babel builders. This manuscript, with Scriptural additions by Sydney Rigdon, was the basis of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, however, claimed that he was guided by an angel to a hill near Palmyra, New York, where he found some gold plates which had been buried there for 1,400 years and on which was written in strange characters God's revelation to him. While he translated the characters on these plates he concealed himself behind a bed blanket stretched across one corner of his mother's [sic] kitchen, and dictated them to a scribe who sat on the other side of the banket.

Dr. D. J. McMillan, in his "Historical Sketch of Mormonism," says: "Three kinds of charges followed Smith, everywhere and to his death, namely: Immorality, to cover up which the doctrine of spiritual marriage and the practice of polygamy began to be justified under certain restrictions as early in 1836. The second charge which invariably followed him was dishonesty in the matter of money, as the Kirtland bank certainly shows. A theft was third. To justify his acts he asserted that the Mormons were Gods' peculiar people, to whom it was God's purpose to give the whole world and all that is therein; it was not stealing therefore to take what belongs to oneself. Any one who associated with the Mormons as late as 20 years ago heard this justification of theft urged again and again in the pulpit, as well as in private life." -- In the city of Nauvoo, Ill., Joseph Smith was arrested and put in jail on a charge of having taken for a spiritual wife Mrs. Foster. A mob gathered, broke into the jail and shot him.

Brigham Young, "a man of strong will, imposing presence, a genius for administration, and a sensualist," became his successor. Before he died he "had 199 wives, a multitude of descendants, and lived like an oriental prince. The decencies of civilization would not allow the Mormons to live in peace. Brigham Young, therefore decided to take his colony beyond the reach of Christian civilization, so that they might wallow in their moral filth to their heart's content. They settled on the shores of Salt Lake, and began a system of missionary activity which has increased their numbers to about 240,000. Every Mormon man before he can reach a position in the church must give, free of charge, two years of missionary work. Their system of tithing pours millions of dollars into their treasury.

A careful study of the doctrines and practices of the Mormon church will reveal that it is a veritable synagogue of Satan, an octopus with eight slimy tentacles.


It longest tentacle reaches with blasphemous assumption after God himself, and would dethrone him. Mormonism is the most degrading system of polytheism of which I know. It teaches that there are many gods, and the great God is supreme because he has the largest number of wives and children. This God became Adam in the Garden of Eden, and Eve was one of his wives which he brought with him. Men may become gods by the practice of polygamy, and every Mormon will be great in proportion to the number of wives he marries. It is an established principle that men become like the object of their worship, and such a god of lust cannot fail to make his worshipers incarnations of sensuality.


Another slimy tentacle reaches after Christ Himself, and would degrade our blessed Lord to the level of the lustful Turk. Mormonism with unblushing blasphemy contends that Jesus was a polygimist; that Mary, Martha, and the women who ministered unto him were his numerous wives. Such a conception of Christ is so horrible that one hates to mention it, lest the very thought may grieve the Spirit of God, whose mission it is to glorify Jesus.


Another tentacle reaches after the Bible, and would set it aside as the infallible revelation of God. Mormons claim that the Bible is inspired, while the "Book of Mormons," the "Doctrines and Covenants," and the "Pearl of Great Price" are equally inspired. Now they go so far as to say that the Bible was good enough for the Jews and is good enough for the Gentiles, but God speaks to the "Latter Day Saints" with new revelations. The word of Brigham Young was accepted, therefore, as more authoritative than the words of Christ or Paul. It is claimed that God spake to-day through the Mormon priesthood, and the latest revelation is the best. These Mormon books have borrowed much from the Bible, and mixed with It their follies and filth. In trying to make converts they magnify their own vagaries.


Another tentacle reaches out after the church with unblushing audacity. It is claimed that only Mormons can be saved. All Gentiles -- and by Gentiles they mean all who do not submit to the Mormon priesthood -- will be cast into hell. Mr. Roberts, who has been recently elected to Congress, in his book. "A New Witness for God," says: "Men who hold the priesthood possess Divine authority, thus to act with God, and by possessing part of God's power they are in reality a part of God. Men who honor the priesthood only honor God, and those who reject it reject God." Another high authority says. "He that rejecteth the priesthood will be damned."


Still another tentacle reaches after the nation. Mormonism is a conspiracy against the United States government, and has more than once resistied its authority. Mormon prophets contend that the whole earth has been given to their church as a rightful inheritance. No government has a right to dictate to them. They are the supreme law. Judge King, a representative in Congress from Utah, said in a public address, "Mormonism has come to make the whole earth one nation, one people, one faith." They have no less ambition than to become the supreme power in the United States and the world. We may laugh at this presumption, if we please, but all the same we have in our midst an organization, led by master minds, whose purpose is to subdue, sooner or later, this fair land to its sway. Dr. A. C. Osborne, in his book on the "Mormon Doctrine of Heaven and Earth," states the case fairly in these words: "Their sacred books teach that non-Mormons or Gentiles stand in the same relation to the Mormons as the Canaanites stood to the Israelites under Joshua, that the lands and lives of all Gentiles have been forfeited by Divine decree, and may be taken by Mormons with impunity, for all the inhabitants of the earth are usurpers and trespassers on their inheritance. The assassination or spoliation of an unbeliever is to a Mormon no crime, and may be a great virtue. Under this teaching assassinations have repeatedly occurred in the history of Mormonism, not of individuals only, but of whole companies of men. The complete annihilation by order of the church authorities in the Mountain Meadow Massacre in 1857 of 120 men and women and children on their way to California, is a case in point. For this crime John D. Lee, a Bishop of the Mormon church, who commanded the attacking party of Mormons, was tried in the United States Courts, convicted and executed."

In an address delivered September 21, 1856, Brigham Young said: "The time is coming when justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet, when we shall take old broad sword and ask, Are you for God, and if you are not heartily on theLord's side you will be cut down. It is to save them, not to destroy them. There are sins that blood of a lamb or goat or turtle doves cannot remit: but they must be atoned for by the blood of man. Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant. I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance if their lives had been taken and their blood spilt upon the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now the angels to the devil." -- This is a plain exposition of what Mormons call "atonement by blood." If Gentilea will not be saved by submitting to the Mormon priesthood, they must be saved by being murdered.

I have been told by one who lived twelve years in Silt Lake City, and had made a careful study of the Mormon question, that every Mormon receives what is called a garment of investment, which has two slits across the heart and one across the abdomen, and it means that if they prove disloyal to the Mormon church they will be disemboweled and pierced through the heart with two daggers. Such disemboweling and heart-piercing are not unknown in the history of Mormonism. I would not be an alarmist, but I believe the time is coming when the United States army will have to give its attention to the secret temples and organizations in some western states. In comparison with this great conspiracy the Ku Klux movement was child's play.


A sixth tentacle reaches after the home, and wraps its slimy length about the sacredness of wifehood and motherhood. Polygamy is not an incident in the Mormon system; it is its backbone and heart. Without it Mormonism cannot live. When the United States government decided that polygamy should be abolished and polygamists punished, the president of the Mormon Hierarchy soon had a vision which permitted them to submit to this law, but they publicly assert that it is only a temporary submission. No woman can go to heaven without being married to a Mormon; and, if she has been thus married, she is certain of a place in Paradise, however vile her character. Not a few homes have been broken up by Mormon elders, who have induced wives of reputable men to submit to a secret spiritual marriage in order that their souls might be saved. They go so far as to claim that a man still living can marry a woman who has died, and one of the Mormon elders has really been married to the Empress Josephine, who will be one of his many wives when he gets to heaven.

There is living in Utah to-day a Mormon who has only one wife in the flesh, but who has been married to at least four in the spiritual world. He expects, when he dies, to have a high position in heaven, because he will have so many wives to greet him on his arrival. It is a sad fact, which ought to move to tears of pity, that many Mormon women become so degarded as to be in favor of this arrangement. Some of them have boasted in public that they are polygamous wives. It is a hopeful sign that the young people who attend public schools and come in contact with Christian civilization, are revolting against oriental sensuality in the home, and are refusing to practice polygamy. There is no doubt, however, that the present elders of the Mormon conspiracy are in favor of polygamy, and that it is the heart and life of Mormon theology.

Congressman-elect Roberts, in an article published some time ago, said: "The fact of God's approval of plural marriages in ancient times is a complete defence of the righteousness of the marriage system introduced by revelation through the prophet Joseph Smith," and he practices what he preaches by living as he pleases with two or three so called wives. Mormonism would displace the home with the harem.


Another tentacle reaches up after heaven itself and would destroy its purity. Dr. Osborne truly says: The Mormon god is a man. He is a monster of sensuality. He holds his place as supreme only because he has more wives and a more numerous progeny than any other, and he is merely one of a multitude of gods who are his peers in everything but sensuality. The Mormon Saviour is a like sensualist. He is next in rank and dignity to the eternal Father, because he has cohabited with more women and begotten more children than any other person except his father. The Mormon heaven is a Turkish harem, and its only reward is boundless license in sensuality. His personal reward in eternity is dependent solely upon the extent to which he has gratified his lust in this life, or has joined to him by the proxy marriage of deceased women those whom he may cohabit and beget children in the future life."

"If the human mind has ever devised anything so infamous I know not where it may be found. Christian missionaries among the most degraded subjects, so far as I have knowledge, have never found anything which as a system was so utterly debased and debasing. Add to these doctrines concerning the fact that one-half the human race, the entire female sex, has no personal relation to God or heaven, and no possible hope for the future life except as saved irrespective of character and solely by marriage to a Mormon, and we have the lowest possible depth to which in any religious system the human mind can go. There are doctrines taught in almost every Mormon family in Utah, and publicly in their religious assemblies concerning Christ and heaven, that would make blush the vilest occupant, of the vilest house in the vilest streets in great cities, for however vile men and women who have been brought up in a Christian land may be, they do think of God and of Christ and of heaven as pure."

Shall all this blasphemous impurity be taught and inculcated as of Divine authority here in our communities, by those who openly proclaim that they will ultimately destroy our government, overthrow our religion and possess our whole land, and we meantime stop our ears and ignore the fact. Let us know what the facts are, revolting though they be, that we may see aright and act aright concerning this unparalelled iniquity. Viewing its relation to God, to Christ, to the Bible, to the church, to the nation, to the home and to heaven. Mormonism is the modern masterpiece of Satan. He poses here as a messenger of light, in order that he may displace the true light of God and Christ and heaven, for this world and the next.


All that I have said goes to show that the most dangerous tentacle of this octopus is that which wraps itself about the souls of men and women. Mormonism teaches that man did not fall by sin, but was really exalted by it. God led him into sin for his own good. The only sin denounced by Mormonism is that of disloyalty to their organization. Lying, gambling, theft adultery and the whole catalogue of crimes are virtues, if committed in the interest of Mormonism. These I know are hard words, but the unvarnished truth ought to be told. In one of Brigham Young's published addresses he says, "I have many a time in this stand dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can: we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and in every shade of character that you can mention. We can pick out elders right here in Israel who can beat the world at gambling, who can handle cards and cut and shuffle them with the smartest rogue on God's footstool. I can produce elders here who can shave their smartest shavers and take their money from them. They can beat the world at any game. We can beat them because we have men here that have lived in the light of the Lord, that have the holy priesthood and hold the keys of the kingdom of God.'' -- Was anything more debasing ever uttered by human lips?

Mormonism teaclies that all sins are washed away in baptism, and they baptize the same person many times. Indeed, whenever a Mormon commits a crime he needs only to be immersed again in order to atone for it. And what is worse, they practice baptism for the dead. A living Mormon may be baptized for any person who died in sin. One of their elders declared that all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were in heaven, because he had been baptized for each one of them. One of the Mormon priests said: "I will have my fill of sin and then some one will be baptized for me." This wile of the devil induces men to continue in sin.

When a Mormon missionary enters your house, he will talk in the most pious and orthodox way of faith in Christ, repentance and baptism until he wins your confidence and converts you to the sympathy with the church of "Latter Day Saints." They teach what they are told to teach by their superiors, whether it be true or false, and they always pursue the line of least resistance. By all means they would win some, and thus strengthen their conspiracy against the United States government, while they destroy the souls of their dupes before they begin to destroy their homes and their happiness. They will furnish money for transportation to Utah. Let no self-respecting man or woman receive them into his house. Let every lover of God, of Christ and His church stand against this synagogue of Satan. Be faithful to them, pray for them, love their souls while you hate their system. Pity the thousands of poor people all over the world who have been enticed by their snares and induced to leave their homes with the hope of bettering their condition in America. Send missionaries to every Mormon settlement, men and women brave enough to denounce their errors, while they preach Christ as the Saviour of their souls. The real Jesus whose name they have blasphemed and degraded, can save a Mormon as easily as any other sinner. To Him be all the glory.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Thursday, May 31, 1900.                                  No. ?


Well Known Longmeadow Physician.


His Grandfather Supposed Author of Book of Mormon.

Dr. John A. McKinstry, 69, died this morning between 5 and 6 o'clock, in his home in Longmeadow. He was born in Monson, his parents being Dr. John McKinstry and Matilda Spaulding McKinstry. His father was of Scotch descent, and his mother was the daughter of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who is believed to have been the author of the Book of Mormon. He wrote it as a story, and left it among some papers in Western New York, and it is believed that it was stolen by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and given as a revelation from heaven.

Dr. McKinstry studied with his father and a noted physician in Western Massachusetts. He began practice in Springfield many years ago, and achieved a high reptutation. Later he removed to Washington, and for six years was examining physician for the pension bureau, traveling far and wide over the country in attending to the duties of his office. In the late seventies he came to Longmeadow; and bought the Quartus Cooley place. He was in ill health, and did not expect to practise, but as his health improved he began to have patients, and finally had nearly the whole practice of the town, and was often called to Springfield. He was an excellent physician, skilful, a student, exceedingly kind, always bringing comfort and cheer into the sick room, and was greatly beloved in the community. He held town offices for several years, having been selectman, and a member of the school committee.

Four years ago last winter he suffered an attack of blood poisoning, caused by infection from a patient, and this nearly caused his death at the time. He kept on with his practice for about two years, but he never fully recovered, and has been a great sufferer much of the time since. He joined the Congregational church in January 1898.

His first wife, who was Miss Elizabeth Douglas before her marriage, died in the summer of 1893. In November, 1894, he married, for his second wife, Miss Delia Gage. She and her young son, John Alexander, survive him. He also leaves two sisters, Mrs. Seaton of Longmeadow and Miss Mary McKinstry of Washington. An infant child of the doctor died many years ago in Springfield.

Note: It is passing strange that a local physician, dying in western Massachusetts at the turn of the century, would have his obituary sub-headed with the line "His Grandfather Supposed Author of Book of Mormon." However, the allegation of that fact was such a strong one that it haunted and distinguished the McKinstry family for decades. John A. McKinstry, Sr. gave at least two published interviews in which he addressed the Book of Mormon authorship claims, one in 1877 and another in 1889. For more on John and his family, see the "The McKinstries of Monson" in the on-line historical presentation, The Spalding Saga.


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Friday, June 1, 1900.                                  No. ?


Dr. J. A. McKinstry Passes Away After a Long Illness.

Dr. J. A. McKinstry died at his home in Longmeadow at 6 o'clock yesterday morning, after a long period of nerve debility and physical weakness. He gave up his practice about two years ago, but was able to be about the house until within a few days of his death, which was hastened by heart failure. Dr. McKinstry in appearance was rather tall and of a striking figure and the above picture represents him as he is remembered when in active practice some years ago. His family is of Scotch descent. John McKinstry, the first of the name to come to this country, was graduated from the university of Edinburg in 1712, and settled near Boston as a Presbyterian minister. In 1733 he removed to Ellington, Cr., and there his descendant, Oliver, the father of Dr. McKinstry, was born in 1791. After practicing some years in Connecticut, Dr. Oliver McKinstry moved to Monson, where he married Matilda, the daughter of Rev. Samuel [sic] Spaulding, the author of a historical romance entitled, "Manuscript Found," from which it is believed the Mormons stole the greater part of their Bible. John Alexander was the second son of Dr. Oliver McKinstry. He attended the schools and academy of Monson, and studied with his father and also with Dr. Alvin Smith of Monson and Dr. Davis of Three Rivers. His medical education was then continued at the Albany medical college, from which he was graduated in 1853. The following four years he practiced in the states of New York and Wisconsin. In 1857 he located in Coventry, Ct., but after the death of Dr. Cady of Monson in 1861, he complied with an earnest request to return to Monson, where he practiced for seven years, when an inherited tendency to lung trouble decided him to give up his practice, and two years were spent on the Maryland coast. His health being much improved, he returned North and for three years was located on Armory hill in this city, when his health for the second time becoming impaired, he went to his sister's in Washington, D. C., and accepted the position of medical examiner for the pension bureau, where he served four years, traveling through the South and West.

His health then being sufficiently restored to resume his practice, he went to Longmeadow, where he bought the Quartus Cooley place, taking the practice of Dr. T. L. Chapman. Dr. McKinstry was a doctor of the old school, but did not neglect the study of new methods, and for more than 20 years he had been in constant practice, entering nearly every home in Longmeadow and some in this city, as the family physician, and by his empathy and faithfulness secured the esteem and confidence of his patients. Dr. McKinstry will be remembered not only as physician, friend and neighbor, but also for his interest and prominence in town affairs. He was a member of the Congregational church, a staunch republican, and had served two years on the republican town committee. For 10 years in succession he was a member of the school board, retiring in 1891 to be re-elected in 1894 for an additional three years. In 1882 he was chosen one of the board of health, and the following year elected selectman, assessor and overseer of the poor, in which capacity he did good work for seven years. In 1884 he was chosen highway surveyor. In 1985 and 1896 he again served as selectman, assessor and water commissioner. Dr. McKinstry's service covers some important years in the history of the town. As one of the committee at the Longmeadow centennial in 1883, he rendered able assistance at that interesting event. He was a member of the building committee when the East Longmeadow town hall and school0house were built, and by virtue of his office he dealt with the Springfield street railway company in 1896 in granting a franchise and location for the electric road. In the course of his service the Main street was relocated and bounds set from the city line to the Connecticut state line. His interest in the property of the town only ceased with his life.

Dr. McKinstry was married to Elizabeth Douglas in 1855. The only child of this union died in childhood, and the mother in 1893, and the following year he married Adelia Gage, who, with their little son, John Alexander, survives him. Dr. McKinstry also left two sisters, Mrs. Frances Seaton of Longmeadow, and Miss Mary M. McKinstry of Washington, D. C. The funeral will be held to-morrow morning and the burial will be in Monson.

Note: The following day, the same newspaper ran a short item reporting on Dr. McKinstry's funeral. The services were conducted by the Rev. Dr. Barnes of the Longmeadow Congregational church.


Boston  Daily  Globe

Vol. ?                                Boston, Mass., Sunday, September 11, 1904.                               No. ?


Did you know that Joe Smith, the Mormon prophet, was a candidate for President of the United States just 60 years ago? And that there was a rally held in his interest right here in Boston? And that Brigham Young himself was the spellbinder on that occasion? ...

The national ticket... and Rigdon, which Smith himself placed tn nomination at Nauvoo. [illegible lines follow]

... toward Mormonism, and with a most unsatisfactory result, announced himself a candidate for the [office] of President, with Sidney Rigdon, a Mormon apostle of Nauvoo, as a candidate for vice president. The name given to the ticket was "National Jeffersonian."

The Boston Bee of June 18, 1844, said: "At a Jeffersonian convention, as we learn from the Haverhill Banner, holden in Bradford, Mass, on Saturday, 15th June, it was resolved to support Gen. Joseph Smith of Nauvoo, for the Presidency, and to have a state convention of the Jeffersonian Democracy, who are in favor of free trade and sailors rights, on the first day of July next in Faneuil Hall."

"Faneuil Hall was not the scene of the so-called [convention], the managers of the affair doubtless refused the edifice for a convention. By the following, inserted inserted in such of the local papers as would publish it, it appears that the hall finally selected for this Boston convention of the Mormons was the old Melodeon, now the Bijou Theatre, on Washington St... [illegible lines follow]

Note: The vaunted "convention" was previewed in Bostonís Franklin Hall, beginning with an LDS regional conference, on June 29th. Seven Mormon apostles were present. The next day the conference continued, featuring addresses by OrsonPratt, Lyman Wight and Wilford Woodruff. The following day (Monday, July 1st) the "Massachusetts State Convention of Jeffersonian Democracy" was held in Boston's Melodeon Hall. Joseph Smith was then nominated as their presidential candidate, although he had by that time been dead four days. Shortly after that, the first news of the Smith brother's assassination in Carthage Jail reached Boston.


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Sunday, June 21, 1908.                                  No. ?


Some Comments Suggested by the Appearance of a New Edition.

A new edition of "The Book of Mormon" [has been published]... so much for the origin of the book... [several lines missing from clipping]

... The immediate occasion of Spaulding's elaborate invention of the history of an unknown ancient people was the discovery of ancient human remains in mounds near Conneaut, O., where in 1812 he had an iron foundry. He called his book "Manuscript Found," and regarded it as a great liberary production. No publisher could be found who agreed with him on this point, and when he died in 1816 the manuscript was found in a trunk along with sermons and other literary effects. His widow, who became Mrs. Davison, and lived with her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, in Monson, Mass., from 1828 to 1844, asserted in 1839 that Sidney Rigdon, conspicuous in the Mormon Church, borrowed her husband's manuscript while it was in the hands of a publisher in Pittsburg, and took a copy of it. A thorough study of the relation of the Spaulding manuscript to the "Book of Mormon" was made by the late President James H. Fairchild of Oberlin College, who some 20 years ago secured for the college library the Spaulding manuscript, or a second manuscript by him, which had found its way to the Sandwich Islands. If there was no other Spaulding manuscript the accusation of plagiarism falls to the ground, but many witnesses were found who recollected another "Manuscript Found," which was very like the "Book of Mormon." ...

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Saturday, June 27, 1908.                                  No. ?


To the Editor of the Republican: --

I have been reading your account of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the Republican of June 25. When I was a young woman I met Mrs. Spaulding, then Mrs. Davison, at the house of her sister, Mrs. Sessions, at South Warren, and heard her tell the whole story. She had then just received a letter from Rev. Dr. Storrs, I think of New York, inquiring what had become of the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding, and she told in detail the story of the writing of it and then the lending until she lost track of it. I may be the only person living who remembers Mrs. Spaulding or has heard the story at first hand. I am now 88 years old, and I don't know that any of my early associates are living.
                                              MRS. EMILY A. WOODS.
Worcester, June 26, 1908.

Note 1: Evidently the report published in the Sunday Republican of June 21st sparked sufficient reader interest to induce the editor to insert an article on the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship into the Republican of the 25th. This second Book of Mormon article had not yet been located for transcription.

Note 2: According to an 1841 letter written by Rev. John Storrs (1801-1854), pastor of the First Congregational Church in Holliston, Massachusetts (not New York), he first contacted Spalding's widow via two of her neighbors, "Dr. Ely and from Mr. Austin." His contact with these gentlemen probably began during the late winter or early spring of 1839. In a prefatory letter that he attached to Mrs. Davison's 1839 published statement, Rev. Storrs explains his initial communication to the widow's home in Monson, in these words: "Having heard incidentally that there was a lady in Monson, Ma., whose husband now dead was the author of the book, I requested in a note, Rev. D. R. Austin, Principal of Monson Academy, to obtain of her, for my benefit, and to be used as I should think proper, a certified account of its origin with her husband; for the character of which lady I wished the venerable Dr. Ely and himself to avouch."

Note 3: The "Mrs. Sessions" mentioned by Emily A. Wood was Elizabeth Sabin Sessions (1775-1846). She was married to Harvey S. Sessions of Warren, Worcester, Massachusetts. Their son was the Rev. Alexander Joseph Sessions, who was born at Warren in 1809. Warren is about fifteen miles northeast of Monson, where Spalding's widow lived at the time recalled by Emily A. Wood.


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Sunday, November 10, 1910.                                  No. ?


Middletown Believes They Are to Be Found in the
Exploits of Certain Teasure-Hunters.

(Written by J. E. Naylor for the Sunday Republican.)

Hidden treasure and strange prophecies are the springs of the great stream of Mormonism that is to-day breaking its banks and penetrating into every part of the world. The story goes like this, if we accept the account of an old booklet limited in circulation and nearly forgotten. The prenatal cause of the movement commenced with a trouble maker named Nathaniel Wood. Wood was a preacher who moved to Middletown, Vt., and when the Congregational church was built there, offered his services as minister. He was rejected and later dismissed from the church because he tried to "upset things." Wood was a determined man and hated to be defeated, so he established meetings of his owb and soon had quite a congregation. His favorite theme was on the judgments of God. "He regarded himself and his followers as modern Israelites or Jews, under the special care of Providence; that the Almighty would not only specially interpose in their behalf, but would visit their enemies, the Gentiles (all outsiders), with his wrath and vengeance."

At the time that Wood was hammering away on his doctrines before good-sized audiences, a man named Winchell came to live with a Mr. Cowdry near the Middletown line. Winchell also was a trouble maker. He had been a counterfeiter in another part of Vermont and was a fugitive from justice. When Winchell moved to Middletown he began using the hazel rod to locate hidden treasure and tell fortunes. With his cunning and trickery he was able to lead the natives in more than one wild goose chase after buried gold chests, which were never discovered. Wood and Winchell, the two trouble makers, became acquainted and worked together with hazel rods, generally getting the poorer people to do their digging for them under promise of part of the treasure. The Woods, for there was quite a family of them, soon began to use rods to divine sickness, business prospects, and anything they wanted to know regarding the future. Their principal rod for prophesying they called "St. John's rod."

Many queer stories are told about their digging schemes. Here is one, as an illustration: Wood one day found, by using his rod, that by digging in a certain cellar he would find a chest of money. He called a gang of men together and they began operations. After digging a while they consulted the rod again and found that the chest was hidden under a stone. The bars struck the chest. Then the men hurridly dug again and again ran their bars down, but the chest was not there. They dug around the stone and again their bars struck the chest. Sometimes the chest was there and sometimes it had mysteriously disappeared: After digging further, they finally got hold of the chest and dragged it partly out, when suddenly it stuck and they became powerless to budge it. Wood laid a Bible on the chest and they all went to get someone to come and pray over it. When they returned, Bible and Chest were gone. Wood declared that it was because of the lack of faith on the part of one or more of the party. The sharp rascal held his dupes in this way.

The Woods had numbers of revelations. Once they had a revelation that they should build a temple. After they had erected the rafters they had another revelation to stop the work at once. It was revealed to them that their rods could collect all the gold and silver in the earth so they would have enough to pave the streets of the New Jerusalem. Finally they prophesied an earthquake, put the whole neighborhood in terror, ans when the earthquake did not run on schedule, the Woods thought it best to move away.

Now, it is claimed by the people of Middletown, Vt., that the Woods are the source of Mormonism. Here is the proof in a nutshell: --

First, the religious views of the Woods and Mormons are practically the same.

Second, Joe Smith was born in Vermont and moved with his father to Palmyra, N.Y.

Third, Winchell, who had been a disciple of Wood, went to Palmyra, N.Y., the home of Joe Smith, and got Joe's father digging for hidden treasure when Joe was quite young. Later Joe took a hand and kept on until the time he found his golden Bible.

Fourth, Cowdry, who had been a disciple of Wood, moved to Palmyra, N.Y., and his son, Oliver Cowdry, became a leader under Joe Smith in founding Mormonism. It was this Oliver Cowdry who claimed to have been one of the witnesses to Joe Smith's revelations, and to have written the Book [of] Mormon as it was deciphered by Smith from the golden plates.

It is said of Joe Smith: "That his extreme youth was spent in idle, vagabond life, roving in the woods, dreaming of buried treasures and exerting the art of finding them by twisting a forked stick in his hands or by looking through enchanted stones. He and his father before him are what are called 'water witches,' always ready to point out the ground where wells might be dug and water found."

It is an interesting question: If Wood of Middletown, Vt., had remained loyal to the Congregational church of that place, would there be any Mormons to-day?

Note 1: The majority of the information presented in the above articles appears to have been reproduced from Barnes Frisbie's 1867 book, The History of Middletown; and thus cannot be consultd as an independent source for facts regarding the "Wood Scrape." However, the account given in this 1912 article is probably more factual than another recollection of the same history, published in the Boston Globe in in 1897. See also a subsequent article on this topic, published in the Republican of Sept. 13, 1925.

Note 2: The journalist's remarks about "Joe Smith's" "youth" being "spent in idle, vagabond life, roaming in the woods, dreaming of buried treasures, and exerting the art of finding them by twisting a forked stick in his hands..." were copied from page 252 of Gov. Thomas Ford's 1854 History of Illinois. J. E. Naylor's quotation of Ford represents one early effort to associate Barnes Frisbie's assertions about the Wood cult's "rodsmen" with the Smith family's reported similar use of divining rods, in New York in later years. For what may have been a continuation of the Woods' divining rod operations (also in New York), see E. C. Emerson's 1898 Our County and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Jefferson County New York, p. 573ff


Vol. ?                                  Springfield, Sunday, Sept. 13, 1925.                                  No. ?



Middletown Springs Probably Real Beginning
of Mormonism -- Rutland Events.

From our Special Correspondent

Rutland, Vt., Sept. 12 -- The town of MiddletownSprings in this county was the scene of the prculiar "Woods scrape." as it was called, which occurred in 1800, and is considered by several authorities as the real beginning of Mormonism in Vermont; this state also being the birthplace of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

The religions of both Wood and Smith were much the same at the start. The father of Joseph Smith lived at Poultney, Vt., at the time of the Wood affair, and had a hand in it. While Winchell, directly concerned in the curious proceedings at Middletown Springs, went from there to Palmyra, N. Y., where Smith's Mormon religion obtained its first footing.

In addition to these facts it is said that Oliver Cowdry's father was also in the "Woods scrape," afterward going to Palmyra. Here Cowdery and Winchell, and later their sons, engaged in searching for money with the hazel rod. An unprejudiced survey of the Middletown Springs affair, however, is the best proof that it gave rise to the Mormon doctrines of Joseph Smith.

The Wood families were early settlers of Middletown Springs and came from Bennington, Vt. Some of them were in the town as early as 1782 and were originally from Norwich, Ct. In 1800 they outnumbered any other family in the vicinity. One Nathaniel Wood, who was a preacher, offered his services in the pulpit after the organization of the Congregational church. His proposition did not meet with a ready welcome by any means. Deacon Jonathan Brewster, having known Wood in Connecticut, as a man who delighted in controversy and neighborhood difficulty, opposed the idea with vigor, and Wood's proposition did not find favor in the community.

Wood, however, was a member of the Middletown Springs church until 1789, when that body passed the following resolution: "That Joseph Spaulding, Lewis Wood and Increase Rudd be a committee to confer with Mr. Nathaniel Wood and tell him his fault -- namely, of saying one thing and doing the contrary, and persisting in contention, and saying in convention that he wished for a council." A council offered to settle the matter for Wood, but he utterly refused. Wood was evidently a public nuisance and in October, 1789, the church excommunicated him.

There is something to be said on the side of Wood, however. He was a very ambitious man, had a strong will and good mental power and could not endure defeat. Being thus excluded from the church, he began holding meetings of his own, principally in the homes of his sons. At this time his doctrines included a belief in supernatural agencies and special judgments of God upon people. He was no doubt a fanatic, but of his zeal there can be no doubt. Colossal and extravagant as were his beliefs, the fact remained that they had an electric power to attract. In evidence of this, such was Wood's tenacity of purpose and his influence upon others that he had drawn into his circle nearly as many as constituted either of the other congregations which were composed of dyed-in-the-wool early Protestants.

How Wood exerted such an amazing and almost hypnotic power over the people is beyond comprehension, for he had few redeming qualities. His followers he assumed to regard as modern Israelites, or Jews, who were undfer the special guardianship of the Almighty, while the Gentiles, that is, all who were opposed to him, would suffer for their actions.

Such was the situation of Wood and his followers when the new phase of the affair was developed through the use of the witch hazel rod for the discovery of buried treasure and money digging. The Woods did not begin this feature of the business but they were ready to assume it when the opportunity came. A man calling himself by the name of Winchell came to town and made himself popular by using the hazel rod. He went to the house of Mr. Cowdry near the line between Wells and Middleton Springs and stayed there for some time, he becoming intimate with that family. Mr.Cowdry was the father of Oliver Cowdry, who later became a noted Mormon and claimed to have written the Book of Mormon.

It is probable that while Winchell was at the Cowdry home he began his impositions in the way of money-digging. Later, in the year 1799 he went to Ezekiel Perry's in the extreme south part of the town and remained there all winter, keeping himself secreted from public gaze. In the spring of 1800 he became a little bolder and he confidently assured several persons that there was money buried in that locality and that he could find it with the rod. His mysterious incantations led him to a spot where he ordered the party to dig for two days, and dig they did, finally displaying signs of giving out. The rod was again consulted and Winchell said they must find a big rock under which the treasure would be found. A large rock was found soon after but Winchell advised them to wait until sundown when not a word was to be uttered or the treasure would not be found. After much prying and lifting on a rock so heavy as to defy their efforts, one of the diggers stepped on another's foot, causing the latter to cry out: "Get off my toes!" Winchell then exclaimed, "The money is gone! Run for your lives!"

The suspense had been terrible and to have it broken so suddenly was too much and every man sropped his tools and ran from the spot. Winchell had got what little money the dupes had while the digging was going on, which was doubtless his prime object.

Soon after this affair Winchell made the acquaintance of Wood, whom he found ready and anxious to join in his ignoble work. They began to use the rod, the elder Wood using it mostly as a means of revelation, from which he deduced numerous prophecies. The Woods did not do much of the actual labor of digging, leaving the hard work for their followers. The rods-men, as they were called, became absolutely infatuated and gave up most of their time to the folly.

Among the numerous instances of impositions practiced on the credulous people was a pretended revelation to the Woods that they must build a temple, the timber was prepared and the frame raised as far as the rafters when another revelation out an end to the project. "Priest Wood" as he was called, grew frenzied on the matter of religion. He predicted an earthquake for January 14, 1801, which would destroy unbelievers, just prior to which occurrence the angel of death would also raise havoc with the people.

At last the appointed day arrived and nervousness was in the air in the town. Up to the evening of this day most of the people had looked unconcerned upon this folly of Wood's but now they became suddenly aroused and many were much alarmed. They feared that some evil might befall them, not through supernatural agencies, but through some of Wood's followers who might turn "destroying angels" and kill some of the inhabitants.

Capt. Joel Miller [sic - Miner?] was commander of the militia of the town and he hastily collected his company. The men were placed as sentinels and patrols in different parts of the town, with orders to allow no person to pass, unless they could give a satisfactory account of themselves, and especially to have an eye out for "destroying angels."

There was no sleep that night among the inhabitants but the morning came without any earthquake, or was injury done to any of the inhabitants or their property, except Jacob Wood's crockery was broken up in his house, and lay on the floor in fragments. The upshot of this curious affair was that Winchell proved to be Wingate, a notorious counterfeiter hiding from justice. It is quite possible that the fanaticism of Wood was a shield for the counterfeiter's operations.

Note 1: This article mostly quotes and paraphrases the 1867 account provided by Barnes Frisbie, without adding much additional information. For example, the reference to Mr. Increase Rudd was taken directly from Frisbie.

Note 2: The Increase M. Rudd (1734-1803) who, in 1789, joined with his neighbor, Joseph Spalding, to warn the heretical Congregational Church member Nathaniel Wood of his errors, was the paternal uncle of Erastus Rudd of Springfield, PA, who joined the Mormon Church in 1832 and who had earlier been a neighbor of Solomon Spalding (then residing in adjacent Conneaut, Ohio). Erastus' father was John Rudd, who lived next to Solomon Spalding back in Richfield, Otsego Co., NY and who may have served with Solomon in the Continental Army. John Rudd's older brother, Increase M. Rudd, was evidently buried in Middletown, Rutland Co., VT, shortly after the infamous 1800-01 Middleton "Wood Scrape" which some early historians credited with giving rise to Mormonism. It should also be recalled that Middleton lies adjacent to Poultney (where the Rev. Ethan Smith later was the local minister), and adjacent to Wells, (where Oliver Cowdery's father and family were living when Increase died).

Note 3: Increase's 1789 warnings to Nathaniel Wood evidently had no effect, except to further alienate Wood from the Congregational Church. Wood's cultic activities reached a peak in 1800-1801, and he soon afterward departed for New York. These facts put Solomon Spalding into direct contact with the brother of a witness to the 1800 "Wood Scrape." It is even possible that John Rudd, Spalding's friend, was in Middletown during the divining-rod delusion and money-digging that went on there. Since the Spalding family helped found Middletown, it is equally likely that Solomon Spalding visited his relatives in that place before he moved to New York (just prior to the "Wood Scrape"). While Spalding probably was not present in Middletown during the "Wood Scrape," he almost certainly heard something of its events -- either through the Rudd family, or through his own Spalding relatives who lived there. And, of course there are the old accounts of Ethan Smith having loaned his friend Solomon Spalding a "Lost Tribes of Israel" manuscript story, and of a similar "Lost Tribes of Israel" manuscript in Spalding's handwriting (a copy of the early Ethan Smith story?) being preserved in Middletown as late as 1871.


The  Hartford  Courant.

Vol. ?                                  Hartford, Conn., Sunday, January 3, 1926.                                  No. ?


Congregational Minister's Phantastic Romance
Plagiarized for Smith's "Golden Bible"

If Brigham Young lived in the present age of bobbed hair and powdered faces and short skirts would he have stopped at thirty wives? After looking over the girls at Salt Lake City Mark Twain placed Brigham Young in the role of a [liberator], the doer of a "deed of open handed generosity, so sublime nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence." Life was just one wedding tour [after] another for the much married gentleman from Utah, a life in which Connecticut played an important part, for in this state was born the author of the "Mormon Bible," and one of Young's ablest cabinet ministers. We know that the "Book of Mormon" had for its foundation "Manuscript Found," a fanciful romance written purely and simply as an entertaining story, as an outlet for such thoughts as [man] may have, by an ardent Congregational minister, [pIagiarized] by Apostle Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, another of the original twelve [sic], it became a vehicle for the rise of a new religion, a source of grief for all related to its author. That "Manuscript Found" had been stolen for use as Apostle Smith's Book of Mormon was not discovered until publication of the "Golden Bible." And not only did the worthy apostle steal his material, but also did he go so far as to charge that "some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost to recover again" the original document.

Withering Attacks

The source of the Mormon work was a moot question a century ago when its contents suffered the most withering attacks from New England clergymen and Mark Twain, most brilliant New England satirist. And strangely enough it was a New England divine who unconsciously furnished the keystone for this arch of Mormonism, Rev. Samuel [sic - Solomon?] Spaulding, who saw the light of day in the village of Ashford, Connecticut [in 1761]...

'The Book of Mormon,' or 'Mormon Bible' of Joseph Smith, which the superstructure of Mormonism was erected [in] about 1830, was originally the literary production of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who wrote it as a work of fiction about 1813 and called it 'Manuscript Found.' He never published it, however, and the original manuscript afterward [fell] into the hands of Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, who knew of its production, and [it] later appeared, with some alterations, as the Mormon Bible.

The above statement is well authenticated. It is interesting to read Joseph Smith's charge that his original work was stolen. This charge is to be found in original copies of the Mormon Bible.... One such copy is at the Connecticut Historical Society.... Smith's work contains the notation: "Copyrighted by Joseph Smith, jr., June 11, 1829."

Sidney Rigdon, one of the founders of the first Mormon church, was a printer," and the Spaulding family have traced him, showing that he was employed in the printing office where the "Manuscript Found" was left...

Note: Much of this lengthy clipping is illegible. A better copy of the transcript will be posted here at a later date.


The  Hartford  Courant.

Vol. ?                                  Hartford, Conn., Tuesday, July 30, 1929.                                  No. ?


... [Seeing] that a lecture upon the Book of Mormon was recently given in Hartford prompts me to send you this extract from the "History of Windham County" printed in 1889, as being of interest: -- "Rev. Solomon Spauldlng was born in Eastford, educated at Dartmouth College and preached in Western New York. When out of health for his diversion he wrote a legendary story of the Indians, which is supposed to have furnished the basis of the Book of Mormon. His brother Josiah, who was with him when he wrote the legendary tale and heard him read his manuscript, said it was so similar that, when he read the Mormon Bible he usually knew what was to come before he read the pages. Rigdon, an elder afterward high in office, borrowed the manuscript of the widow under the alleged purpose of using it to refute Mormonism, but would never return it to its owner."...

Note 1: Source: Richard M. Bayles' 1889 History of Windham County, Connecticut.

Note 2: For other references to Spalding having briefly been a preacher in New York, see the statement given by his brother Josiah in 1855, as well as the 1857 recollections of Cephas Dodd.

Note 2: Abner Jackson, writing in 1880, said: "[Solomon Spalding] was a clergyman of the Presbyterian order, and for a time a settled pastor in the city of New York. So said his brother John Spaulding and others in the neighborhood, who heard him preach. It was said that failing health caused him to resign the pastorate.

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