(Newspapers of New York)

Misc. New York City Papers
1880-1899 Articles

1820-1839   |   1840-1849   |   1850-1879   |   1880-1899   |   1900-1999

BDE Jun 26 '80  |  Ind Jul 20 '82  |  Ind Jul 27 '82  |  Times Sep 03 '82  |  Ind Sep 21 '82
Ind Aug 16 '83  |  Ind Aug 23 '83  |  ETel Nov 08 '83  |  ETel Nov 23 '83  |  Sun Jul 20 '84
Times Jul 26 '84  |  Obs Feb 05 '85  |  Ind Apr 02 '85  |  Trib May 18 '85  |  Times Sep 08 '85
Ind Sep 10 '85  |  Times Sep 20 '85  |  Ind Oct 01 '85  |  Trib Dec 11 '85  |  Times Dec 17 '85
Ind Jan 07 '86  |  Trib Jan 29 '86  |  Trib Jan 31 '86  |  Ind Apr ?? '86  |  Trib Apr 02 '86
Watch Sep 09 '86  |  Times Jan 16 '87  |  Sun Feb 08 '88  |  Times Feb 26 '88  |  Times Mar 05 '88
Times May 27 '88  |  Trib Jun 15 '88  |  BDE Aug 23 '89
Times Apr 27 '90  |  Press Apr 09 '93  |  Times Jun 18 '93  |  Sun Mar 21 '97  |  BDE Jan 12 '99
Trib Jan 30 '99  |  Times Jul 03 '99  |  Times Sep 21 '99

Articles Index  |  New York Herald  |  New York Observer


Vol. ?                       Brooklyn,  New York City,  Saturday,  June 26, 1880.                       No. ?


Gath's Observations on the
Western Reserve.

Facts and Fiction Gathered from Various
Sources -- The Region in Which Garfield
Lives -- The Browns of Different Ilk,
Home of Ben Wade -- Where a Religious
Revival Began, and how it Affected the
People About Ashtabula.

(Special Correspondence of the Eagle.)

Cleveland, Ohio, June 17.      
...Hereabouts occurred the great revival of religion in 1803, called


or the hysterics. An old historian describes it in divisions, under the heads of "the falling exercise," "the jerking exercise," "the rolling exercise," "the running exercise," "the dancing exercise," "the barking exercise," and "visions and trances."

These religious emotions were about the only ones to affect the hard, inexpressive people, about Ashtabula. The Mormons came in, twenty-eight years later, and in 1831 settled at Kirtland, Ohio, on the Reserve, and in the very next township to that where Garfield taught school at Chester. They made converts all round about them, established a mill and store and got up a bank without a charter, of which Joe Smith was president and Sidney Rigdon cashier. For alleged fraudulent dealings both Smith abd Rigdon were tarred and feathered in a neighboring town, in 1832. There the head of the Mormon government took the style of the "First Presidency." Brigham Young, at the age of thirty-two arrived at Kirtland, and was made an elder and began to preach there. At teh same place the "quorum of the twelve apostles" was organized and sent out to preach, Brigham Young among them. A costly temple was consecrated at Kirtland in 1836, and missionaries dispatched to England, In 1838 the bank at Kirtland failed, when Garfield was seven years old, and Smith and Rigdon fled in the night to Missouri.

General Garfield has always had a soft side in his nature for the supernatural. He said to me on one occasion: "There was a woman at Kirtland who had fits and she was brought before Joe Smith, who was a man of the largest presence and of a very warm magnetism. He looked at the woman, talked to her and made her stand before him and get under his influence and then, while all the people looked, he cried to her in a voice of thunder: 'I command that you come out of her!'"

It is the universal testimony in the vicinity that he did, literally, cast out a devil.

Kirtland is the township, five miles square, that stands between Chester, where Garfield taught and Mentor, where he now lives. On the east of it is Chardon, the county seat, laid out in 1808, and named for the proprietor of the township, Peter C. Brooks, of Boston, perhaps of Charles Francis Adams' family. Here, as in all this region, there is a Baptist church in almost every town. When Garfield was nine years old Chardon had 440 inhabitants and was the seat of all the trials. When Garfield taught school at Geauga Academy it was under the patronage of the Free Will Bpatists, Hiram College under the Campbellite Baptists.... GATH.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                New York, Thursday, July 20, 1882.                                ?

The American Octopus -- Mormonism.



Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                              New York, Thursday, July 27, 1882.                              ?

The Utah Commission Report.



Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                             New York City, Sunday, September 3, 1882.                             No. ?




DETROIT, Aug. 25. -- One of the most singular episodes of western frontier history is that of the Mormon Kingdom, which flourished for nearly 10 years on Beaver Island, at the foot of Lake Michigan, and was overturned in 1856 by the murder of its founder and the forcible dispersion of his followers. Two gentlemen of this city have in the last few years, as leisure permitted and in a spirit of co-operation, gathered together considerable material, documentary and otherwise, relating to the Manitou monarchy, and this fact makes possible now a detailed narrative of the incidents attending its rise and fall. Mr. Henry A. Chaney, the reporter of the State Supreme court, made Beaver Island the objective point of his vacation jaunt a few Summers ago, and examined the relics of "King Strang's" reign and talked with a score of men who were active in the ranks of his retainers or his foes. The results of these observations and interviews were subsequently embodied in an entertaining paper which Mr. Chaney read to a local literary association known as the October Club, but which has never been published. This sketch was afterwards turned over by its author, with all his notes and a few pamphlets, to Charles K. Backus, the Assistant Commissioner of Immigration of this State, who examined newspaper files and corresponded with men who were connected or came in contact with Strang or the sect which he led. With the information gathered from such a variety of sources Mr. Backus prepared the article upon "An American King" published some time since in Harper's Magazine. The story is worth telling with somewhat more of detail, and the writing of this letter has been preceded by a careful examination of the material still in the possession of Mr. Backus.

The following facts as to the early history of King Strang are given in a manuscript biography prepared by one of his sons (Charles J. Strang, of Lansing, an entirely trustworthy man), from data furnished by his mother, with the addition of a few circumstances mentioned in a letter from a surviving sister, or recorded in the columns of old newspapers: James J. Strang was born in Scipio, N. Y., on March 21, 1813, but his farmer-father, [Clement Strang], removed to Hanover, Chautauqua county, in 1816, and he lived in that town until his manhood. He received only the ordinary education of a country school, followed by a short term at the Fredonia Academy, but he was an industrious student, carrying books with him to his work, prominent in the local debating clubs, and noted especially for the excellence of his memory. At 12 years of age he joined the Baptist church, and was for some time an active member. At 21 he commenced the study of law with borrowed books, and while working on a farm two years afterwards he was admitted to the Bar, and was soon married to Miss Mary [Perce], who lived with him, bearing him [three] children, until he adopted polygamy. After his marriage he practiced law at Mayville and at Ellington, edited a paper at Randolph, worked on a farm, traveled on various business errands, and lived a somewhat roving life. At one time taught school, and at another delivered temperance lectures; he also held for a short term the Postmastership at Ellington. Finally in 1843, he emigrated to Burlington, Racine county, Wis., and there entered into a partnership as an attorney with Mr. C. P. Barnes. As a boy he is described as eccentric, self-confident and bright; as a young man he was energetic, glib tongued, and exceedingly anxious to make his name distinguished.

In January, 1844, some of the itinerant Mormon missionaries aroused his interest in their cause and persuaded him to visit Nauvoo, where he found Joseph Smith at the zenith of his career. Strang's conversion was prompt, and his promotion rapid. On Feb, 25, 1844, he was baptized into the communion of the Latter Day Saints; on March 3, he was made an Elder, and commenced at once his work in the Mormon ministry. In the following June, Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered by the mob at Carthage, and Strang at once claimed to have been appointed the dead prophet's successor. The basis of his claim was afterward set forth by him in a small pamphlet (Gospel Tract No. IV., Voree, Wis., 1848) entitled "The Diamond." It declares that "a letter of appointment," written by Joseph Smith at Nauvoo on June 18, and mailed there on June 19, came to Strang in the mail at Burlington, Wis., on July 9. In those times of irregular and slow postal service in the West these dates were not unnatural; their significance lies in the fact that the letter thus appeared to have been written some days before and received some days after the killing of the prophet. It was couched in the usual phraseology of the Mormon documents, a wordy imitation of the Scriptural style, and contained an account of a celestial vision in which his impending fate was apparently revealed to the writer, and he was told that to James J. Strang "shall the gathering of the people be, for he shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin, and I will establish it." The original of this letter is still in existence, and has a postscript which does not appear on the printed version. This postscript asks for occasional reports of progress, from which it would seem as if "the stake of Zion" in Wisconsin was to be a branch of the Church, and as if the letter did not refer to the prophetic succession. Evidently its suppression in the pamphlet was intentional.

On the strength of this "appointment," which he declared had been foreshadowed to him in a vision at the exact hour of "the martyrdom of Joseph," Strang promptly and vigorously pushed his claims to the Mormon Presidency, although hot even half a year had elapsed since his baptism. He was briefly conspicuous in the struggle that ended in the triumph of Brigham Young's personal force and shrewd strategy, but was speedily driven from the main field of the contest. Lieut. Gunnison in his "History of the Mormons" (chap v.), says:

"The struggle for the Seer succession followed. Rigdon, as second in rank, claimed promotion also, by former revelations, declared himself assigned to be their prophet. He called a meeting and proclaimed his position as head. James J. Strang contended for the place of Seer, and showed letters over the deceased Prophet's signature, assuring him that he should be the successor in the event of Joseph's death. But the College of the Twelve had other views, and by a vote on the subject they declared that definite instructions and the last will and testament of Joseph had been delivered to them in secret council. It revoked all former designations and devolved the choice upon them. Under the management of their sagacious chief they elected the Peter of the Apostles, Brigham Young, to the responsible station. * * * This enthronement drove Rigdon with a party to Pennsylvania, where in a short time his influence vanished and the band dispersed. Strang founded a city on the prairies of Wisconsin, and had a numerous colony; he ultimately removed to Beaver Island, in Lake Michigan, and assumed the title of King of the Saints, where the small kingdom still exists. These bodies and their leaders were excommunicated by the great majority under their proper Seer, as was also William Smith, another competitor for the throne, and a party in Texas headed by Lyman White."

In Strang's case excommunication was accompanied by the widespread circulation of pamphlet attacks upon his character. Of all the aspirants he was the only one, save Brigham Young, who displayed any genuine qualities of leadership. Defeated at Nauvoo, he returned to Wisconsin, and, maintaining his prophetic claims in published letters and in sermons, gathered a body of followers with whom he founded the city of Voree, at what is now known as Spring Prairie, Wis. His disciples were there organized into a single community, owning all things in common and living as one family. They were called the Primitive Mormons, and the Voree Herald was established as their organ; from the same printing establishment was also issued a series of tracts setting forth the new Mormon doctrines. The sacred books of this sect were four in number, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith's "Book of Doctrines and Covenants," and "The Book of the Law of the Lord," the latter having been translated by Strang from eighteen metallic plates, which he claimed to have miraculously discovered, and which he said were "written long previous to the Babylonish captivity." Strang performed several "miracles" of this sort, closely resembling those with which Smith so successfully bolstered up the original imposture.

The community at Voree grew steadily under Strang's energetic leadership, but in 1846 he determined to plant a colony on the Lake Michigan archipelago, and in the following year he visited Beaver Island at the head of a prospecting party. In the face of the resistance of the few traders already in possession, and amid many hardships, they thoroughly explored it and decided to settle there. This is the largest of the many islands scattered thickly through the north-eastern extremity of Lake Michigan, divided into three groups, known by the names of Manitou, Fox and Beaver, and organized into the county of Manitou by the state of Michigan. It is 15 miles in length by 6 in width, contains several thousand acres of fertile and well-watered lands, and has one of the finest natural harbors upon the chain of great lakes. These islands now contain an isolated community of small farmers, wood-cutters, traders and fishermen, are visited only irregtularly by passing vessels, and are chiefly known as valuable fishing stations. Thirty-five years ago they were sparsely inhabited by Indians and Indian traders, and were camped upon occasionally by fishing parties; but little or nothing else was known of them even at the principal lake ports. Strang believed that there he could establish his Church on a secure temporal foundation, and could escape that hostility of Gentile neighbors which had proved so fatal to Smith's settlements at the Far West and Nauvoo. Convenient visions, duly communicated to the faithful for their edification and guidance, then ordered him not merely to gather his people at Voree, but to also take them to "a land amid wide waters and covered with large timber, with a deep, broad bay on one side of it." There was accordingly some emigration from Wisconsin to Beaver Island in 1847-8, but it acquired considerable proportions in 1849-50, and in the latter year the headquarters of the Primitive Mormons were removed from Voree to the new village at Beaver Harbor, to which the name of St. James had been given in honor of its founder. The Voree Herald was then succeeded by the Northern Islander, an exceedingly creditable specimen of backwoods journalism. The communistic principle was abandoned, and the saints became the owners of their own homesteads. In July, 1850, the government of the Church was thoroughly reorganized "by the Union of Church and State," and the formation of a kingdom, with Strang as King. Precisely the nature of his claim to the royal title is thus stated by one of the most intelligent of his followers, Wingfield Watson, who still lives at Boyne, Charlevoix county, Mich.:
"Mr. Strang did claim to be a King only to the Mormon people, and upon the same principles, and the same only, upon which Moses, Melchisedec, Elijah, Elisha, Noah, Enoch, Peter, Joseph Smith, and all the great and leading prophets of God claimed that office since the world began, namely, by an appointment by revelation and an ordination under the hands of angels; and as none of those persons ever proposed in any way to be King only to those who, after a proper investigation of his claims and character, chose to receive him as such, so it was with Mr. Strang. By virtue of this ordination he claimed to hold the conjoint kingly, prophetic, and apostolic office held by all the above mentioned personages."
This adjustable claim of kingly authority amounted practically to this: Among his own people, and despite the occasional revolt of one or a few individuals, Strang was supreme and ruled them as he wished from first to last. They believed that obedience to his commands was a duty, and his missionaries did not hesitate to at times assert that "Strang's was the only valid government on earth." Their leader, however, carefully kept his monarchial pretensions for home consumption, and not only submitted to national and State authority, as required, but was shrewd in using the machinery of the civil law to advance his own ends as opportunity offered. The general domestic regulations of his kingdom are thus described in a manuscript prepared by his wife:
"The discipline of the church in the matter of temperance and morals was very strict. The use of tea, coffee, and tobacco, as well as of liquors, was prohibited. The temperance laws of the state were strictly enforced with especially good effect among the fishermen and Indians. Polygamy was introduced during the Winter and Spring of 1849. At first it was talked of quietly and secretly among the leaders and afterward publicly and openly among the people. It was not looked upon favorably, and there were never over 20 cases of plural marriages upon the islands. No man had more than three wives except Strang. His first wife left him in 1851, two years after he married his second; in 1852 he married a third, and in 1855 two more. No man was permitted to take more than one wife unless he showed means and ability to give them abundant care and comforts. Prostitution and lewdness were discountenanced alike in both sexes, and it was as necessary for a man to be careful of his character and reputation as for a woman."
The county and township officers required by law were elected as in other parts of the State, but those positions were not used by members of the Mormon Church, except when required by circumstances. Of course, in dealing with those outside of the Church it was necessary to resort to the civil law. By-laws for the kingdom were adopted and published, and every household possessed a copy. They were very strict in all that regulated society, morals, and religious observances, and absolute obedience was enjoined. The seventh day was set apart as the Sabbath, and every person physically able was commanded to attend church on that day. The saints were required to pay one-tenth of all they raised, earned, or received into the public fund, and the tithing was used for improvements, taking care of the poor, and paying State, county and township taxes. No other tax was levied. Schools were organized and flourished finely. A printing-office of sufficient capacity to print all the papers, books, pamphlets, tracts, &c., needed for the church was maintained, and became a strong arm in the association. No betting or gaming was permitted, but the rules were very liberal in the matter of amusements. Many improvements were made upon the Beaver, while small settlements were planted on neighboring islands. A Mormon tabernacle was also built, and Strang's cabin was raised to the dignity of a frontier palace by the erection of two additions connected with the main building by covered ways.

Between the Gentiles and the Mormons of lower Lake Michigan a warfare was waged fully as bitter as that which drove the disciples of Joseph Smith from Missouri to Illinois, and from the Mississippi to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. For three years the traders at Beaver Island, and the Indians incited by the traders, endeavored by all means short of murder to check the Mormon immigration. Then the numerical strength changed to the side of the Saints, and they proceeded to retaliate vigorously. They soon succeeded, after first coming to an understanding with the Indians, in getting rid of most of the Gentiles, and were left practical possessors of the islands. Their relations with the fishermen and the settlers at Mackinac and neighboring points on the mainland never became friendly. Each party charged the other with gross crimes, and both, at every opportunity seized the weapons of the law to aid them in the conflict. Bloody collisions were not infrequent, and the feud finally became a murderous one. The Mormons were well provided with pistols and muskets, and were the proprietors of a small cannon; they also had boats of their own, and, more important still, their movements were guided by definite authority, and were dreaded and not those of a mob. Gradually they got the better of their unorganized enemies, and for the last half of King Strang's reign they were dreaded and not despised. Some incidents will illustrate the desperate nature of this border warfare. In 1850 the fishermen planned a Fourth of July celebration at Beaver Island, which was to reach a patriotic climax in the forcible expulsion of the Mormons, but the firing of a national salute from a shotted cannon and the parade of armed Saints in large numbers brought that project to an inglorious termination.

Somewhat later a Mormon constable attempted to arrest the Gentile brothers named Bennett, who had assaulted an Elder of his church. They resisted and a fight ensued, in which one of them was instantly killed, and the other lost a hand, while the officer was seriously wounded. A year or two afterwards the Mormons elected the Sheriff of the (new) county of Emmet, and he undertook to summon jurors from Pine River (now Charlevoix) on the mainland. The settlers there treated this as an attempt to abduct some of their number for malicious purposes, and drove the Sheriff off by a fusilade from guns and pistols which badly wounded six of his posse. The mere dread of the anger caused by this deed sufficed to promptly scatter the Pine River settlers, and the faith of the fugitives in their own prudence was soon confirmed by the erection by the islanders upon a convenient spot of a lofty gallows bearing suggestive inscriptions addressed to "The murderers of Pine River." Minor collisions and affrays were of constant occurrence, while the Mormons were denounced as mere outlaws.

On the other hand, Strang, in the Northern Islander and in his pamphlets, declared that his followers were a law-abiding and peaceable people, who were persecuted by gangs of drunken desperadoes, and were held responsible for offenses never committed, or for depredations which were, in fact the work of their noisiest accusers. He also wrote letters to papers in New-York, Rochester, Detroit and Chicago, defending the Mormons with no little plausibility. Strang's literary attainments were of fair character. A paper of his upon "The Natural History of Beaver Island," which can be found in the ninth annual report of the Smithsonion Institution, is written in excellent English and with an easy style. As an especially strong point upon his side of the argument he pointed to the fact that although he and his followers were frequently arraigned in the courts on charges ranging from petty larceny to high treason, in no single case did conviction follow. A notable trial was that which took place in Detroit in the summer of 1851. In May of that year the United States authorities decided to proceed against Strang and his confederates for trespassing on the public lands, stealing timber, counterfeiting, mail robbing, &c. The armed steamer Michigan was placed under the orders of District Attorney George C. Bates, and, with a force of Deputy Marshals, sailed to Beaver Harbor. It was expected that the service of the warrants would be resisted or evaded by the Mormons, but all the accused promptly surrendered themselves, and a few of their chief men were taken to Detroit for trial. The testimony in the case was, however, taken at Beaver Island, before United States Commissioner W. D. Wilkins by agreement between counsel, Col. A. T. McReynolds appearing with Strang himself for the defense. Over 100 witnesses were examined, and the mass of evidence thus collected was submitted in the United States District Court at Detroit, before Judge Ross Wilkins, in June, 1851. The court-room was crowded, and the progress of the trial was watched with eager interest by the people of this city, and was reported at unusual length by its papers. Strang made an exceedingly effective speech to the jury, complaining bitterly of persecution and dramatically describing himself as a martyr to his religious convictions. The Judge's charge was emphatic in cautioning the jury against yielding to sectarian prejudice, and the result was a verdict of acquittal. This decided triumph greatly strengthened Strang's hold upon the reverence of his followers and increased the general opinion of his capacity.

In 1852 the king became a legislator. The score of new counties of the north-western quarter of the lower peninsula of Michigan formed at that time what was known as the Newaygo district. It was of immense extent, and its few centres of settlement were widely scattered. The result was that five Legislative candidates were voted for, the Mormons solidly supporting Strang, who received a very decided plurality. An attempt was made to arrest him on some charge and thus keep him away from Lansing, but he used his privilege as a legislator to escape that snare. Next his seat was contested on constitutional and other grounds. He showed skill in the management of his own case in this instance, made a forcible speech before the House, and was admitted by a vote of 49 to 11. In 1854 he was re-elected, and this time he took his seat without resistance, thus serving two terms as a member of the State House of Representatives. King Strang also dabbled in politics a little, co-operating in the main with Democrats, who were at that time in power in Michigan. "The Mormon vote" he controlled absolutely, and used it to secure advantages for his community and to make bargains that would help on his schemes of personal or Church advancement. In one or two doubtful State contests the action of the islanders under his leadership became a matter of solicitude to party managers, and one or two trips were made to St. James on political errands by that now veteran negotiator, John H. Harmon. Strang did not lack for political ambition. While at Lansing he broached a scheme for subdividing Michigan which embodied a plan for the erection of a new Mormon territory. This, of course, received no encouragement, and then he applied to Robert McClelland, of Michigan, who was then Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Pierce, for an appointment as Governor of Utah, promising that his administration should be attended by the uprooting of Brighamite Mormonism in the Salt Lake Valley.

The end of King Strang's reign came in 1856. Externally the affairs of the "kingdom" were then at their zenith, but serious internal troubles had arisen. Polygamy had proved a source of discontent, and gave excuse for revolt against Strang's rigid discipline in small matters. Jealousies also sprang up at times between him and the more intelligent of his disciples. Soon after the occupation of Beaver Island the most effective of his preachers, a strolling actor named George J. Adams, became insubordinate and was excommunicated. He failed in an attempt to organize a revolt and joined the Gentiles; he made several futile attempts to break up the new settlement, but finally gave up the contest. Later, the most capable of Strang's followers, an educated Baltimorean named Dr. H. D. McCulloch, became disaffected, and he successfully stimulated the hostility to the King both on Beaver Island and along the shore until it bore tragic fruit. Two men named Bedford and Wentworth had been subjected to public discipline. One of them had been severely whipped, and, as he believed, by Strang's orders, although this was denied. They were eager for revenge, and determined to kill the Mormon leader whenever it could be done with any hope of escaping the fury of his followers. The result was thus narrated in the columns of the Northern Islander of June 20, 1856:
"MURDEROUS ASSAULT. -- On Monday last the United States steamer Michigan entered this harbor at about 1 o'clock P. M. and was visited by the inhabitants promiscuously during the afternoon. About 7 o'clock Capt. McBlair sent a messenger (Alex St. Barnard, the pilot) to Mr. Strang requesting him to visit him on board. Mr. Strang immediately accompanied the messenger, and just as they were stepping on the bridge leading to the pier, in front of F. Johnson & Co.'s store, two assassins approached in the rear, unobserved by either of them, and fired upon Mr. Strang with pistols. The first shot took effect upon the left side of the head, entering a little back of the top of the ear, and, rebounding, passed out near the top of the head. This shot, fired from a horse-pistol, brought him down, and he fell on the left side so that he saw the assassins as they fired the second and third shots from a revolver, both taking effect upon his person, one just below the temple, on the right side of the face, and lodged in the cheek bone, the other on the left side of the spine, near the tenth rib, followed the rib about two inches and a half and lodged. Mr. Strang recognized in the persons of the assassins Thomas Bedford and Alexander Wentworth. Wentworth had a revolver and Bedford a horse-pistol, with which he struck him over the head and face while lying on the ground. The assassins immediately fled on board the United States steamer, with pistols in hand, claiming her protection. The assault was committed in view of several of the officers and crew from the deck of the steamer, also of Dr. H. D. McCulloch, F. Johnson, and others, and no effort was made to stop it. Mr. Strang was taken up by a few friends and some of the officers of the boat and carried to the house of Messrs. Prindles, where the surgeon of the steamer made an examination of his wounds and declared recovery hopeless. Process was taken out for the apprehension of the assassins, and the Sheriff of the county called on Capt. McBlair for their delivery. The Captain refused to give them up, saying that he would take them to Mackinac and deliver them into the hands of the civil authorities of the State there. The steamer left the next day, carrying off all the persons supposed to be implicated in the affair, thus affording military protection to murderers and overthrowing the sovereignty of civil law."
All the parties suspected of any share in the homicide were taken to Mackinac on the Michigan, and were there enthusiastically received by the people and speedily discharged from nominal custody. Strang was removed in a few days to Voree, where he died on July 9. He was buried at Spring Prairie, Wis., and his family, which consisted of five wives and 12 children, lived in that neighborhood for a short time, but finally scattered. Shortly after his removal from St. James a mob of angry fishermen and others descended upon the Mormon settlement, burned the temple, sacked the "royal palace," and drove the subjects of the fallen monarch from the islands in hot haste. The dispersion of the Beaver Island Mormons was complete, and they have since ceased to profess any organized existence. The men (or their successors) who expelled the Saints are still in possession of the fruits of conquest. They dwell in the abandoned homes, substantial cabins of hewn logs, vine-clad and surrounded by little gardens. The office of the Northern Islander has become a boarding house, and is now "the best hotel" in St. James. The island nomenclature alone preserves the traditions of the fallen kingdom. The village on Beaver Harbor is still St. James. The excellent road which leads into the interior is still the King's highway. The largest of the inland lakes is called Galilee, and a trout brook which winds through a ravine near the eastern shore is the Jordan. The Mormon tabernacle is a mere mound of charred ruins; Catholicism has become the dominant religion of the island, and is represented by a handsome chapel.

Note: Some reprints add this passage: "At the time of the dispersal there were about 2,500 in the colony. The prophet had four wives, excluding his first. L. D. Hickey had three and all the other polygamous families two wives."


Vol. ?                              New York, Thursday, September 21, 1882.                      No.         ?

Profanities and Pollutions of the
Mormon Apostasy.



Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                              New York, Thursday, August 16, 1883.                              No. ?

The Fate of Mormonism.



Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                              New York, Thursday, August 23, 1883.                              No. ?

Mormonism -- Its Strengths and Weaknesses.



Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XVII.                         New York City, Thursday, November 8, 1883.                         No. ?


Some Interesting Sketches of Joe Smith's
Early Life.

(From the Cincinnati Enquirer.)

Long before the Erie road was built there was a little settlement on the north bank of the river near Susquehanna, Pa., called Harmony, and just west of it Joe Smith, the afterward founder of Mormonism, lived from 1821 to 1829, and here he married his first wife. Emma Hale. From all accounts he was a lazy, idle, shrewd, plausible, schemer and pretender. who made a precarious living by his wits, was a general favorite with the women and had considerable influence over certain of the men. When he first came to the county he engaged in timbering, but it was too laborious work for a man of his disposition to follow with good will, and he began to look around for an easier means of livelihood. About this time a resident of Susquehanna county named Jack Belcher. while employed at the salt works near Cebus, became possessed of a "seeing stone" that, it was alleged, had the miraculous power of enabling those who looked into it to see the whereabouts, of lost articles and hidden treasure. It was a green stone, with brown, irregular shaped spots on it, and was in size about as large as a goose egg. When he brought it home and covered it with a hat Belcher's little boy was the first to look at it in the hat, and as he did so be said be saw a candle. The next time he looked into it he exclaimed. "I've found my hatchet" (which had been lost two years), and he immediately ran to the place shown him in the stone, and sure enough there was the hatchet, though heavily rusted by exposure to the weather. The boy was soon beset by neighbors far and near, who desired him to reveal to them hidden things, and tradition says he succeeded wonderfully. The fame of the seeing stone soon reached Joe Smith's ears, and he quickly saw how its possession would enable him to make money rapidly and with ease. He bought the stone of Belcher and at once set up for a "seer" on his own hook. A straggling Indian told him there was treasure buried in Turkey Hill, and Smith got him to indicate as nearly as possible the exact locality, he then gave out that he had seen in the stone an immense amount of buried treasure, and great was the excitement in the little community at the information. Joe induced a moderately well to do farmer named Harper, who lived near by in New York State, to go in with him and furnish the capital needed to dig for the buried wealth. They hired a number of men and began digging on what is now the farm of Jacob L. Skinner. After digging the depth Indicated by Smith no trace of the treasure was discovered, whereupon Mr. Harper became discouraged, Smith, who was as tricky as a snake, then pretended that there was an enchantment about the place that was removing the treasure further and further away, and said that Harper must get a perfectly white dog and sprinkle the blood over the ground, and that would dispel the obnoxious charm. Work was suspended and a search for a perfectly white dog was begun. None perfectly white could be found in the neighborhood. Smith said perhaps a perfectly white sheep would answer. One was procured, killed and its blood sprinkled over the around and the work of excavation was resumed. No trace of the treasure was found, though six holes, one of them fifty feet in diameter and twenty feet deep, were dug. After expending over $2,000 in this fruitless labor Mr. Harper refused to put up any more money and the digging ceased. Smith said that God Almighty was angry at them for attempting to palm off the blood of a white sheep on him for that of a white dog and so had allowed the enchantment to remove the treasure which was there when they began operations. notwithstanding this failure. Smith audaciously assumed to be possessed of supernatural powers and was in the habit of "blessing" his neighbors' crops for a monetary consideration. On one occasion a fanner, who had a piece of corn that was planted late and on a moist piece of ground, felt a little dubious about its ripening, and paid Smith to bless it. It happened that it was the only piece of corn in the neighborhood that was killed by the frost. When Smith was twitted about the fact he got out of it by saying that he had made a mistake, and had put a curse instead of a blessing on the grain. He didn't return the farmer the money he had paid for a blessing, however.

Note: See also the Syracuse Sunday Herald of June 6, 1909, as well as Blackman's History of Susquehanna Co. page 577.



Vol. XVII.                         New York City, Friday, November 23, 1883.                         No. 5,664.


A Visit to the House in Which It Was Written.

(From the Cincinnati Enquirer.)

Last Sunday, in company with the Hon. George A. Post, member of Congress elect from the Fifteenth Pennsylvania district, I paid a visit to the old home of Joe Smith, and saw the room in which the Book of Mormon was written, at Smith's dictation, by Harris and Cowdry. The house stands on the north bank of the Susquehanna, two miles west of the Twin River, and is distant about sixty feet from the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad. The old house is one story high, and, with its kitchen, is about twenty-four by fourteen feet. At present it is occupied by ex-sheriff McCune, who was born in the room in which the Book of Mormon was transcribed, "though I ain't much of a Mormon," said he, "for one wife is enough for me." Mr. McCune's father bought the house and farm from Joe Smith, and to the former he built a two-story addition. The buildings are very rickety at present, and look as though they would tumble down from rot and age in a few years. They are often visited by tourists from abroad, who generally ask Mr. McCune for a small bit of wood or shingle as a momento of their visit. The "money holes" Smith had made in his search for the buried treasure are about a half mile from the house. Though their sides are caved in, they are still visible, and one of them is filled with water, an endless spring having been tapped during its excavation.

Not many rods from the hiuse is a country graveyard, in which are interred the remains of one of Joe Smith's children. No slab or headstone marks the spot, and its precise location is known to only a few of the older people. Many of Smith's wife's kinfolk still reside in and about this country.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  [   ]  Sun.
Vol. LV.                           New York City, Sunday, July 20, 1884.                           No. 161.




The Original Manuscript Said to be in the
Hands of a Man who Heard the Message
from Heaven -- Whitmer's Strange Story.

Richmond. Mo., July 18 -- Several prominent members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are now in this city on a curious errand. David Whitmer, the only Iiving witness of the alleged miracle by which the Book of Mormon was given to the world, is a resident of this town. He is a very old man but he retains his vigor a marvelIous degree and his memory is still good. He has a fine old home here, where he has lived for many years, respected by all. No man in the State stands higher in the estimation of his neighbors. He is eminently pious and lives his religion. Mr. Whitmer's possession of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon has long been known to members of the Church, but he has steadily refused to part with it, though often solicited to do so. The polygamous Mormons have made several efforts to gain possession of the coveted papers, but Whitmer has declined to listen to any proposition they might make. The gentlemen now here are prominent officials of the organization in Missouri, Iowa, Ohio and New York. Many errors have crept into the numerous editions of the book during the met twenty years and it was thought desirable to compare the present version with the original text before the death of Mr. Whitmer, who holds most tenaciously to the manuscript. This examination is still in progress. Several verbal errors have been discovered, and in a few entire sentences have been found to have been perverted. The original contains no authorization of polygamy, as the version in use in Utah does, and these gentlemen denounce the Mormons of that Territory in the severest terms.

Mr. Whitmer's faith in what he claims to have seen is remarkable. He recited experience at the time of the revelation to his visitors as follows: "In 1828 when I lived in Ontario county, N. Y. there was great excitement over the discovery by Joseph Smith a farmer in our neighborhood, of a great treasure. Nothing was known of it in a definite way by my family until the next year, in June when Smith visited my father's house. While there he was busily engaged in the translation of the book which I learned he had found in the form of gold plates, on the hill Cumorah, about two miles from Palmyra. I saw the plates frequently in Smith's hands, but, as the characters inscribed thereon were something like Egyptian hieroglyphics, I could make nothing out of them. Smith, however, had no difficulty in deciphering them, and as he dictated Oliver Cowdrey wrote. I asked Smith once how he came to find the plates, and he told me that the place on the hill was pointed out to him by an angel in dazzling apparel. They were in a stone casket, and purported to be the history of the Nephites, a nation that passed away. The plates, as I saw them, were fastened with three rings. About half of them were loose and movable, but the others were solid, as if sealed. Smith said in explanation of this that the angel had told him very impressively that the loose plates alone were to be used, and that the sealed portion was not to be tampered with.

"I became interested in the matter as Smith was a man of good repute. After the plates had been translated six months having been passed in the work, the same heavenly visitant appeared to Smith and reclaimed the tablets, informing Smith that he would replace them with other records of the lost tribes that had been brought with them from Asia and that they would all be forthcoming when the world was ready receive them. I saw this apparition myself, gazed with awe on the celestial messenger and heard him say: 'Blessed is the Lord and he that keeps his commandments.' Then as he held the plates and turned them over with his hands so that we could see them plainly, a voice that seemed to fill all space was heard, saying: 'What you see is true. Testify to the same.' Oliver Cowdrey and I, standing there, felt, as the white garments of the angel faded from view, that we had received a message from God, and we have so recorded it. Two or three days later the same angel appeared to Martin Harris while he was in company with Smith, and placed the same injunction upon him. He described the sight and his sensations to me, and they corresponded exactly with what I had seen and heard. In his translation of the tablets Smith used a small oval or kidney-shaped stone which seemed endowed with the marvelous power of converting the characters on the plates, when used by Smith, into English. He would then dictate and Cowdray would write. Frequently one character would make two lines of manuscript, while others made but a word or two. I can assert emphatically, as did Cowdrey, that while Smith was dictating he had no manuscript, notes, or other means of knowledge save the seer stone and characters as shown on the plates.

"As an evidence of our belief in the divine origin of the book, I can say that Martin Harris, one of the witnesses, mortgaged his farm for $1,500 for the purpose of having it printed, and we all contributed time and money for the purpose of circulating it. A few years ago Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, who had been sent from Utah to secure the original mauscript, came here and after a careful examination Elder Pratt assured those present that the writing was in the hand of Oliver Cowdrey. He declared that the archives at Salt Lake were incomplete without it, and he offered me any reasonable sum for it, but I refused to part with it, as I regarded it as a sacred trust."

Mr. Whitmer's beliefs have undergone no change. He has refused to affiliate with any of the various branches of the Church that have sprung up through false teachings, and he rests his hopes of the future "on the teachings of Christ, the apostles and the prophets, and the morals and principles inculcated in the Scriptures." He also declares that the Book of Mormon is but the testimony of another concerning the truth and divinity of Christ and the Bible, and that that is his rock, his gospel, and his salvation. Having been misrepresented by the various branches of the Church, he recently had the following proclamation printed, and having many copies of it in his possession he gives them to his callers

Unto all nations, kindred tongues and people unto whom these presents shall come: It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell county, Mo., that I in a conversation with him last summer denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon:

To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now if he did not then, and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement: That I never have at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book, as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all my statements, as then made and published. "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear." It was no delusion. What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.

And that no one may be deceived or misled by this statement, I wish here to state that I do not endorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil, shocking to the moral sense, and the more so because practiced in the name of religion. Jt is of man, and not of God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself.

I do not endorse the change of the name of the Church, for as the wife takes the name of her husband, so should the Church of the Lamb of God take the name of its head, even Christ himself. It is the Church of Christ.

As to the high priesthood, Jesus Christ himself is the last great high priest. This too after the order of Melchisedec, as I understand the holy Scriptures.

Finally, I do not endorse any of the teachings of the so-called "Mormons," or Latter Day Saints, which are in conflict with the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as taught in the Bible and Book of Mormon, for the same gospel is plainly taught in both these books as I understand the Word of God.

And if any man doubt, should he not carefully and honestly read and understand the same, before presuming to sit in judgment and condemning the light which shineth in darkness and showeth the way of eternal life as pointed out by the unerring hand of God?

In the spirit of Christ, who hath said, "Follow thou me, for I am the life, the light, and the way," I submit this statement to the world. God, in whom I trust, being my judge as to the sincerity of my motives and the faith and hope that is in me of eternal life.

My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of the truth.

And all the honor be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is one God.   DAVID WHITMER.

Appended to the above are the signatures of many of the most prominent citizens of Missouri all bearing testimony Mr. Whltmer's probity and purity of life.

It is not known what disposition he will make of the manuscripts his possession. The papers have been cut up into printers' "takes," and are soiled to some extent, but the hand-writing is very plain and not a word is missing. The non-polygamous Mormons in this section are increasing in numbers, principally by reason of the profound respect for the faith which Mr. Whltmer's blameless life has inculcated.




One Island Pitted with Holes by Treasure
Seekers -- A Rusty Box Found that was
Believed to Have Been Emptied
of its Gold.

"There aint nothin' nervous lookin' about me, is there?" said a tall sturdy follow with a broad New England dialect to the writer and yet he continued, "they try to tell me that the things I see atout here last winter were all in my eye. One man said I had visions and another chap informed some people that I was off my base. But there aint nothin' the matter with me and I aint no believer in ghosts. "I'll tell you how it was," he added "and you kin judge for yourself. Last fall I got a job that kept me off and on Well's Island all winter, and about all the time I slept in a room in one of the cottages there. I was lonely and dismal but I got used to it. I reckon it was about a week I'd been sleepin' there, when one night I woke up with a jump and found myself sittin' up in bed all in a kind of a flurry, and for a minute I didn't know what was up. Gradually I began to notice a light, and in half a minute from the time I woke up the room was so bright that you'd a-thought there was a lamp lit in the room; but I'd put it out and I knew there was no moon. Thinking perhaps there was a fire somewheres, I jumped out of bed and got into the next room where the blind was open, and the first glimpse I had of the outside I tell you, took me all aback. There was a stream of light about four feet high standin' up right so that at first I took it for the figure of a man; but It begun to wave to and fro and kind of separate into sparks so that it lighted up the ground for twenty-five feet around.

"Yes, it did kind o' startle me; but I stood lookin' at it for ten minutes, to make sure I wasn't gettin' fooled. While I was staudin' I heard the click of somethin' just like a pick strikin' against a stone and then says I, 'Ghosts don't snake a noise and I reckon I'll go out.' So I creeps down stairs, got to the side door and took up a paddle that I had; then I turned the key and jumped through the door, and give a yell. And what do you 'spose? I found myself standin' in the pitch dark, not a flicker, not a sound but the moanin' of the wind a-whistlin' through branches and the rustlin' of the fall leaves that hadn't fell. I stood there a minute with the paddle up, a-Iookin' round, expectin' to got a whack from one side or another; then I got back to the house, lit a lantern, and went out agin feelin' kind of queer and the farther I went round the house the queerer I felt, for there warn't the sign of a livin' thing about. I wandered round for half an hour, stoppin' to listen, whoopin' and hollerin' once in a while just to let 'em know I was there, but nary an answer, and so I finally went back.

"Dream it!" exclaimed the man. "Why, Lord bless you! I reckon I didn't do that in my sleep. Well, it was about mornin' when I got asleep, and I didn't see the light any more that night. The next day I went over the ground again and right where the light was the night before I found somethin' that I had passed over then. The ground had been turned up and buried again, just as if some one had been diggin.' I got a shovel and dug there too, and found the ground had been loosened for about three feet down; so I dug till I struck hard-pan -- a big rock -- and among the rubbish I hove up was this." And the speaker held up a coin that was suspended to a cord watch-chain.

"You see it's an English silver piece," he continued, either 1630 or 1730, I can't make up my mind which, so I made up my mind that some one had been diggin here in the night and had taken up some silver. Here the piece is, and yet they have the cheek to tell me I imagined it. No I didn't give up the job, and about a month later I was waked up by some one hammerin' on the door at about midnight, and when I went down a feller that lived unit there sung out and wanted to know if the house was on fire. He said that he happened to lie in bed so that he could see out, and he see'd a big light all about the house, and thinkin' it was on fire, he'd come over. I took him in, and he stayed all night, and near monin' jest before daylight, we both woke up, and right in the room was that same curious light; jest enough brightness about to make things gloomy. Well, sir, the chap in bed with me says, 'Bill, there aint no use talkin', the old place is haunted.' 'Nonsense,' says I, 'there's somethin' goin' on that is mighty curious, but it aint no ghosts Spirits don't come round after buried money.' Well I see that same light several times after, and one night after I'd gone out and made a fool of myself for about the forty-fourth time I says, 'I'll get the inside track of this or bust.' So I rigged up a bed in the little shed where the cook sleeps in the summer where I could see everythin' that was goin' on. I believe I slept there three nights, when I woke up jest like I had before, and at the little window I see the ugliest face against the glass that you ever see -- black rollin' eyes and flat nose. There was a mallet for killin' pickerel lyin' on the chair and grabbin' it I let drive. There was a crash of glass, a yell and a scufflin' and with a leap I was at the door, but it wouldn come open; so I backed off and went at it, takin' the hinges right off, and fallin' out on to a big barrel that somebody had piled up against it. I was jest in time to hear a splash of an oar, and knew of course that somebody had been there, and the way I yelled at 'em was a caution, but never a word. The next mornin' there was a hole two foot sleep within five foot of the door and round about was footprints. I thought I might as well finish the work so I dug away all day, and at last gave up; and yet," said the narrator, "they tell me I'm off my base."

"What the man relates," said an old summer resident of the island, later to the writer, "is without doubt true. I happen to know, and if you will come with me I will show you a curiosity," Following along a roadway and passing up a hill the gentleman took the writer to the side of an elevation about a mile from the north end of the island and an eighth of a mile from the Ianding where there were certainly the evidences of excavation. In some places the ground was fairly honeycombed as if by gigantic cliff swallows; in other parts wide holes were dug; smaller ones, older probably and partly filled up, were at the foot of many of the trees, and apparently some one had made a systematic excavation.

"The most of this," the gentleman said, "was done by some negro waiters at a hotel here last year, a more superstitious lot you never or heard of. They got hold of some old yarns to the effect that Capt. Kidd's gold was buried here, and on the strength of it they went to work It was reported that one fellow was well repaid for his labor, as he suddenly left, and nothing was ever heard from him and it was afterward found out that he had spent a greater part of his nights off in the woods. I have no doubt that gold has been buried here and a curious circumstance came undor my own observation some years ago. There was an accident on the river, and a number of men were brought to one of the islands where I happened to be visiting. There was a Rochestor physician among them, and the man was so severely hurt that we had to undress him. Around his waist was a large belt. He was insensible, and as no trace of his name or address could be found, the belt was opened. The only contents were a very careful map of Wells [sic - Wellesley?] Island, with the compass marks on it and a long lot of descriptive matter in Spanish, and as no one could read it and there were no names in it to show who he was, we returned it to its case. The man finally recovered and the first thing he asked for was the belt and he was so excited over the fact that we had opened and looked at it that he almost had a relapse, but when he found that we could read the writing he seemed to brighten up, though he acted in a suspicious manner and left soon after. Two weeks later I saw him land from one of the night boats at Alexandria Bay, and some nights after I heard that there great excitement at Wells [sic - Wellesley?] Island. Several people had seen some curious lights, and there was a general feeling of nervousness. The light was seen one night about a thousand yards from one of the houses, and a party started after it, but when they got to the place there was nothing but a big hole to show that another Kidd treasure hunter had been on hand. The man was seen boarding a steamer with a bag, and he undoubtedly was the one men who was lucky enough to find the buried treasure."

Money is not the only thing dug for hereabouts; the locality being for curiosities of all kinds. A man at Alexandria Bay has over 500 arrow heads of the most perfect design and finish, which he has picked up on the various islands around here. A man from Watertown, however, made the most remarkable find. Being introduced by a friend to look about for an island and buy one, he made a business of going the rounds, and finally attempted to purchase one on the Canadian side, but failed. He put up a cottage, however, and one day called my attention to a grove of pine treesn asking me if I saw anything peculiar about them. I looked at the clump from all sides and finally discovered that they were planted in regular order to resemble a coil like a snake, occupying in all about a hundred feet.

"That's just the conclusion I arrived at," said my friend. "I cut away all the underbrush to get rid of the mosquitoes, and saw it at once. Then I made up my mind that it must mean something. I believed that the coil represented a snake and as there were three trees at one end I supposed that was the head; so there I began to dig. Well, to make a long story short, my friend had dug down some ten feet when he came across an old silver tankard; then a wooden box that had evidently contained papers at one time, though empty now, with the exception of a great seal with the letter 'X' followed by the word Rex; then came an old sword, evidently made for two hands, but so rusty that it was also eaten in pieces; spurs, buttons, several steel or iron spear heads completed this curious collection, and, though nearly the entire place was dug up, nothing else was found."

Note 1: From John R. Colombo's Mysteries of Ontario: "Wellesley Island -- According to local historian James E. Robinson, there are numerous tales of buried treasure on Wellesley Island, located in the St. Lawrence River not far from Kingston, [Ontario, Canada]. During the French-Indian wars, the French forces were defeated at Poplar Bay. On the shore the French buried a cache of gold and other priceless objects. Before returning to France, the last remaining French soldier drew a map which showed the location of the buried treasure. Apparently the map was in existence as late as 1914. Its present whereabouts is as much of a mystery as the locale of the buried treasure."

Note 2: From John C. Van Tramp's Prairie and Rocky Mountain Adventures: "Money, reputation, and learning were essential in the promulgation of the new gospel. Smith lacked these, and he at once sought for then among his credulous neighbors. His earliest disciples were his father and two brothers, whom the world would willingly believe were accessories in a most unblushing imposture. They immediately spread the wonderful story of the golden book. It was confirmatory of a legend long known to money-diggers in Canada, that a golden Bible was somewhere buried. The credulous among the people of a sparsely populated district listened, wondered, and believed..."

Note 3: From The Tryal of Capt. William Kidd for Murther & Piracy: "I'd a bible in my hand, when I sail'd, when I sail'd, I'd a bible in my hand, when I sail'd, I'd a bible in my hand, by my father's great command, But I sunk it in the sand, when I sail'd...."


Vol. XXXIII.                                 Saturday, July 26, 1884.                                 No. ?


There lives to-day in Richmond, Mo., an old man named David Whitmer, the only surviving member of the little band of fools and knaves who assisted Joe Smith in the work of founding the Mormon Church. This old man, who is said to have led a "blameless life," declares that he has in his possession the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and several members of that branch of the Mormon Church which does not uphold polygamy have recently called upon him for the purpose of comparing late editions of the book with the so-called original text.

The remarkable growth of Mormonism in Utah and elsewhere, and the efforts made by the ablest statesmen of our day to check that growth and put an end to the vile practices of polygamous Mormons, have tended to give the Mormon problem great prominence in the minds of thinking men, but there are undoubtedly thousands of intelligent citizens who know very little about the origin of the Mormon organization. Without the so-called Book of Mormon, Joe Smith would have accomplished very little in the way of founding a religion. The strong church that now controls the great Territory of Utah, holds the balance of political power in two or three other Territories, and sends missionaries to all parts of the civilized world, was born in the mind of a smart rascal, who devised the scheme while living on a farm in this State sixty years ago, and it has for its written authority a stolen novel. It is not the original manuscript of this novel which Whitmer guards so carefully, but a copy of the original, written by Oliver Cowdery, who was either Smith's dupe or a partner in the conspiracy. The Book of Mormon was written by the Rev. SOLOMON SPALDING, a graduate of Dartmouth College, who amused himself by composing historical and speculative romances relating to the origin of the races that formerly inhabited this continent. The manuscript of one of these tales was stolen by SIDNEY RIGDON, and Smith afterward declared that it was a translation of some hieroglyphics inscribed upon metal plates whose hiding place in the soil of Ontario County had been revealed to him by an angel of the Lord. After Smith had published his stolen "Scriptures" the fraud of which he had been guilty was fully exposed by the relatives of Mr. Spalding, (one of whose daughters is still living;) but the rascal's dupes clung fast to their delusions. The original book, as published by Smith, denounced polygamy, and the "revelation" authorizing each "Saint" to take several wives was not received by Smith until 1843.

This old man Whitmer was one of three witnesses who testified when Smith published his stolen novel, that an angel of God came down from heaven and laid before their eyes the plates that bore the characters of which the book was said to be a translation. Whitmer's associates were Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. Cowdery wrote the manuscript from dictation, while Smith, concealed behind a suspended blanket, pretended to translate from the exhumed plates. Whitmer is approaching the end of his days, firm in his faith, and apparently ignorant of the fact that he was the associate and ally of one of the greatest rascals of this century, and that he aided this rascal in building an institution most foul and demoralizing. Upon one subject, however, the old man's head is clear. He heartily denounces polygamy. "It is a great evil," says this owner of the manuscript, "shocking to the moral sense, and the more so because practiced in the name of religion. It is of man and not of God, and it is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself."

Notes: (forthcoming)

The New York Observer excerpt from Feb. 2, 1885 has been moved: to here

Vol. XXXIV.                          New York, Thursday, April 2, 1885.                         ?

The Crisis In Utah.



Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Monday, May 18, 1885.                                 No. ?



In speaking about the visit of the Mormon delegation to President Cleveland, Senator Vest, of Missouri, said yesterday:

"I have always regarded the Edmunds bill, in one of its features as striking at the most holy of connections -- the marital relation. Under that bill the wife may be brought into court and compelled to tell what has passed between herself and husband under the sacred cover of marriage." The bill pretends to uphold the Christian marriage of one man to one woman, but really strikes it the most dangerous blow ever known. Why, a man may be wed to one wife for thirty years, and then remove to Utah and become afflicted with the polygamous craze. The woman may be opposed to it in every form, but she can, under the Edmunds bill, be forced to come into court and swear away the liberty of the partner of her youth. She is still his wife. Why, such a thing is simply damnable -- outrageous. The only excuse that Edmunds could make for it was that the husband could not be convicted without the testimony of the wife. Bayard and Garland voted for the bill. I told Bayard that with his views of the sacred character of the marriage relation he was doing wrong. Garland had an excuse. The people who were murdered at Mountain Meadow came from Arkansas. I stood up in the Senate and opposed the bill, as I would again. They called me a Mormon out in Missouri, but I went on the stump and defended my action and was sustained. Yet our people are as bitterly opposed to Mormon polygamy as the people of any other State. We drove Brigham and Joseph Smith and their followers out of the State. The remains of the walls of the old Temple of Zion still stand at Gallatin. It is a beautiful spot, on a high hill, overlooking the country for miles around. The Mormous certainly had an eye for beauty in choosing it. If old General John B. Clarke had had his way he would have wiped out Mormonism right there. He captured the Mormons and condemned Young and Smith to be shot. He was just about to execute them when Colonel Donaphin came up with a Clay County regiment. He told Clarke that it wouldn't do to shoot them without communicating with the Governor, whose name was Boggs. A messenger was sent to Boggs at the Capital, and he came in person to Gallatin. Meanwhile Young and Smith had agreed to leave the State if released. When Boggs came he agreed to those terms, and the Mormons went back to Nauvoo, Ill., where Smith was shot.

" A curious commentary on the operations of the human mind came recently to my attention in connection with this affair. There is a man living at Chillicothe, Ohio, a well-known merchant, who was with the Mormons at Gallatin [sic - Far West?]. He told me that Smith and young gathered the women on the inside of the Temple. The men all got outside or on the walls, and were instructed to kneel in prayer. The prophets told them that there was no danger whatever, as the angels of the Lord would come down and sweep the Missourians off the face of the earth. Well, General Clarke, not having any fear of angels, just deployed his troops, surrounded the temple and scooped them all in as captives. It was the failure of the angels to come to the rescue that persuaded the Chillicothe man that Smith and Young were false prophets, and he left the Mormons soon after. But nolonger ago than last year he argued with me at some length the genuineness and authenticity of the Mormon Bible as a revelation from Deity."

Note: "Senator Vest, of Missouri" appears to have been mistaken in his recollection of there being a built-up Mormon temple in Missouri in 1838.


Vol. ?                       Brooklyn,  New York City,  Sunday,  June 7, 1885.                       No. ?

The very name of Mormonism is a stench to the nostrils of all decent Americans. They know and hear too much of it already. Nevertheless, the work entitled "New Light on Mormonism," by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, does contain much information as to the beginnings of these "Latter Day Saints," and especially on the fraudulent origin of Joe Smith's "Book of Mormon," which was based on a romance called "The Manuscript Found," written by Mrs. Dickinson's mother's uncle by marriage, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who died in 1816. This manuscript was borrowed under false pretences and never returned. Joe Smith had been a servant in the author's family in his youth. The statements and affidavits of all the living persons who knew the facts form a very interesting appendix confirming the narrative, a brief introduction to which bears the name of the late Thurlow Weed. The book is published by Funk & Wagnalls.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXIV.                             Tuesday, September 8, 1885.                             No. 10,613.


(under construction)


Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXVII.                      New York, Thursday, Sept. 10, 1885.                      No. 1919.



This famous lost manuscript of Solomon Spalding has obtained its very considerable celebrity as being the supposed original document from which the Book of Mormon was in part derived, Very many pages have been written about it in different books discussing Mormonism, as being with little doubt the source from which the associates of Joseph Smith derived much of the alleged contents of the golden plates. A late article in the Century Magazine, also a recent address of Mr. Joseph Cook, published in THE INDEPENDENT, have made such reference to the Spalding manuscript. Our knowledge of its contents, however, has hitherto been confined to what has been obtained from the memory of a number of persons who had read it some fifty years or more ago, none of whom are now living. The manuscript itself disappeared from sight long ago, in some way unknown.

By the favor of its present possessor, it is my privilege to announce that this long-lost and noted document has lately been discovered to be in existence here in Honolulu. About five years ago, the Hon. L. L. Rice, of Oberlin, O., came hither to make his home with his only daughter. Last July it occurred to the venerable gentleman to make some examination of a box of old papers, which had accumulated during twenty-five or thirty years of his life as a newspaper editor and publisher in Cleveland and other places in Northeastern Ohio. Among these was a small package, wrapped in strong buff paper, tied with stout twine, and plainly marked on the outside in pencil, in Rice's own handwriting, "Manuscript Story, Conneaut." The exterior of the package was familiar to its owner, but he had never inspected the contents. He now did so. It disclosed an old manuscript book of some two-hundred closely-written pages, carefully sewn in book form, about seven inches by six. It is brown with age. The first twenty leaves have been much handled, and, in consequence, somewhat gnawed and damaged by insects, without great injury to the writing. A few flyleaves remain attached to the end of the book, on the last of which, in a rough hand, is inscribed as follows:

   "The writings of Solomon Spalding proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others.
   "The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession. *  *  * D. P. Hurlbut."
Mr. Rice is wholly unable to remember how or when this package came into his possession. He has no knowledge of any of the persons above named. Some forty years ago, Mr. Rice was editor of the Painesville Telegraph, about thirty miles from Conneaut, the residence of the Rev. Solomon Spalding, then deceased. He conjectures that it must have been put into his hands at that period for perusal, perhaps for publication. Since then Mr. Rice resided for twenty-seven years at Columbus, where he was at one time private secretary to Governor Chase, and for the last twelve years of his residence there supervisor of public printing. He personally knew Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, at Kirtland, their first location in the same county as Painesville.

Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Spalding manuscript is not sham Hebraistic, but in ordinary English. It contains, perhaps, no quotations from the Bible, unlike the other, which transfers large portions of Isaiah and other books. Both devise a number of uncouth names for their characters; both record a series of desperate wars; both narrate a voyage across the Atlantic in ancient times, and a settlement in North America. What other resemblances exist, I am not prepared to state.

I append a copy of the first few pages of the Spalding manuscript, given verbatin et punctuatin. The  *  *  * indicate where the manuscript is eaten away.


"Near the west bank of the Conneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character, situation, and number of those people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and imagination I hapned to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort, & it lay on the top of a small mound of Earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters which appeared to me to be letters -- but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription. With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone -- But you may easily conjecture my astonishment when I discovered that its ends & sides rested on stones, & that it was designed as a cover to an artificial cave. I found *  *  * examining that its sides were lined with *  *  * built in a connical form with *  *  * down -- & that it was about {page 2} eight feet deep. Determined to investigate *  *  * design of this extraordinary work of antiquity -- I prepared myself with necessary requisites for that purpose and decended to the Bottom of the Cave. Observing one side to be perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom, I began to inspect that part with accuracy. Here I noticed a big flat stone fixed in the form of a doar. I immediately tore it down & so, a cavity within the wall presented itself -- it being about three feet in diameter from side to side & about two feet high. Within this cavity I found an earthen Box with a cover which shut it perfectly tite. The Box was two feet in length -- one & half in breadth one & three inches in diameter. My mind filled with awful sensations which crowded fast upon me would hardly permit my hands to remove this venerable deposit, but curiosity soon gained the assendancy, & the box was taken & raised to open *  *  * When I had removed the cover I  *  *  * that it contained twenty-eig *  *  * of parchment. & that when *  *  * {page 3} appeared to be manuscrip written in eligant hand with Roman Letters, and in the Latin Language.

"They were written on a variety of Subjects. But the Roll which principally attracted my attention contained a history of the author's life & that part of America which extends along the great Lakes and the waters of the Mississippy.

"Extracts of the most interesting & important matters contained in this Roll I take the liberty to publish ---

"{p. 4} To publish a translation of every particular circumstance mentioned by our author would produce a volume too expensive for the general class of readers. But should this attempt to throw off the veil which has secluded our view from the transactions of nations who for ages have been extinct, meet the approbation of the public, I shall then be happy to gratify the more inquisitive and learned part of my readers by a more minute publication. Apprehensive that skeptical illiberal or superstitious minds may cen *  * re this performance with great acrimo *  *  * I have only to remark that they will b *  *  * ved of a great fund of entertainment *  *  * {p. 5} of a contrary disposition will obtain. My compassion will be excited more than my resentment and there the contest will end.

"Now, Gentle Reader, the Translator who wishes well to thy present and thy future existence entreats thee to peruse this volume with a clear head, a pure heart, and a candid mind. If thou shalt then find that thy head and thy heart are both improved it will afford him more satisfaction than the approbation of ten thousand who have received no benefit.

"CHAPT. I.                
ARRIVAL IN AMERICA.               

"As it is possible that in some future age this part of the Earth will be inhabited by Europeans & a history of its present inhabitants would be a valuable acquisition, I pro *  *  * to write one & deposit it in a box secured *  *  * so that the ravages of time will have no effect upon it that you may know the Author I will give a succinct account of his life and of the cause of his arival -- which I have extracted from a manuscript which will be deposited with this history.

"The family name I sustain is Fabius, being descended from the illustrious general of that name. -- I was born at Rome & received my education under the tuition of a very Learned Master. -- At the time that Constantine had arived at that city & had overcome his enemies, & was firmly seated on the throne of the Roman Empire, I was introduced to him as a young Gentleman of genius & learning, and as being worthy of the favourable notice of his imperial majesty -- He gave me the appointment of one of his secretaries, & such were the gracious intimations which he frequently gave me of his high approbation of my conduct that I was happy in my station.

"One day he says to me -- Fabius you must go to Brittain & carry an import *  *  * to the General of our army there *  *  * {p. 7} sail in a vessel & return when she returns. Preparation was made instantly and we sailed. The vessel laden with provisions for the army -- cloathing, knives and other impliments for their use had now arrived near the coasts of Britain when a tremendous storm arose and drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean. Soon the whole crew became lost & bewildered."
The foregoing will suffice as a sample of the book. The party reach America and settle there, removing, after two years, to the Ohio region. Long accounts of the inhabitants and their wars are given, which I have not examined. The book having already achieved such note, partly, perhaps on the principle omne ignotum pro mirifico, further inquiry into its contents may be in order, which its venerable possessor has not been disinclined to gratify. Whatever result may be arrived at as to its supposed connection with the Book of Mormon, it furnishes at least a unique piece of literary history.
                                                    HONOLULU, HAWAIIAN ISLANDS.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXV.                             Sunday, September 20, 1885.                             No. 10,623.





Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 19. -- A shrewd and venturesome rascal, who won a large amount of fame of a questionable character, departed from this life on July 14, 1876, when Sidney Rigdon died at Friendship, Allegany County, N. Y. His part in the founding of Mormonism, and the wonderful influence he exercised on the ignorant and credulous people about him, leading them to adopt the new faith, have never been fully understood; and in the overshadowing impudence of Joseph Smith and the powerful leadership of Brigham Young, Rigdon's part in this wonderful melodrama of religion has not attracted the share of attention it deserved. In a recent ramble through Mentor and Kirtland and an examination of a number of old, but by no means dry, documents some new facts touching Rigdon have been found which seem worthy of record. It is not generally known that he was a Disciple, or Campbellite minister before his foray into Mormonism, and that the great Alexander Campbell once challenged him to a debate as to the truth of Mormonism, which he declined. The Disciple Church demanded of its pulpit teachers no regular ordination, and accordingly Rigdon's natural power of oratory and the surface knowledge he had gained while knocking about the world enabled him to step directly into the pulpit and make good use of his talents.

Rigdon was born in Pennsylvania. He acquired a fair English education and learned some Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He learned the printer's trade, and rambled about after the manner of his craft. At the age of 23 he entered the ministry, and from the doctrines he enunciated it was afterward evident that he had even then seen the Spaulding manuscript, which subsequently appeared as the Mormon Bible. He was in Conneaut, Ohio, when Spaulding read his book to his neighbors, and there is evidence to show that he followed Spaulding to Pittsburg and made a copy of the book while it was in a printing office in that city. Rigdon wandered through the northern part of Pennsylvania for several years, of which little account has been kept, preaching when he could obtain engagements and making a close study of the Bible. In these wanderings he was thrown into the company of Joseph Smith through the aid of Orley B. Pratt [sic], who was then a tin peddler. In some manner not made known by either, and never fully plain to any one, these master minds of knavery, Smith and Rigdon, concocted their scheme, prepared their Mormon Bible from poor old Spaulding's manuscript, and arranged a plan by which they could make a living by imposing on the credulity of others, for no one who knew the man ever imagined they had any higher object in view. Rigdon settled in Mentor, Ohio, ready to give the new religion a welcome when his co-conspirators should introduce it in that fruitful field. During the Winter preceding the advent of the book and its sponsors Rigdon absented himself from his home for weeks, explaining to no one his whereabouts and behaving in a mysterious manner on his return. That he was with Smith during these absences promoting the scheme there can be little doubt. He prepared the ground with great care, so that when the time for planting the seed should arrive it would take firm root. He declared to his people that he had not the full comfort in his religion he should have, and behaved like one who was waiting for more light. He aided in the formation in his neighborhood of a society of fanatical persons who held their property in common, were looking for some wonderful event to take place in the world, and were prepared to embrace anything novel that should happen along their way. Rigdon managed matters with consummate skill and laid the foundations with a hand that showed him to be a genius in that species of fraud. Finally the movement was made. In the latter part of October, 1830, four men -- of whom Oliver Cowdery was one -- went to Mentor, carrying with them the Book of Mormon. They hailed as brothers, the Brethren of the Reformation, as the small society previously mentioned seems to have been named, asking them to accept the new gospel as one sent from heaven. Many read it and pronounced it a fraud. A part of the congregation accepted it. Rigdon played his part with consummate skill. He read the book with the air of one who had never heard of it. The strangers decided to form a congregation. In one night they baptized 17 persons. Rigdon pretended to be much displeased with their course, and asserted that they were proceeding without authority from the Scriptures. They replied that they had prayed for a sign, and an angel had come to them. Rigdon suggested that the devil might have appeared to them. Cowdery made a polemic set at him, and they argued the question for some time. Rigdon finally said he would ask God for a sign. This scene had been conducted in the presence of the people, and when he came back in two days and with apparent earnestness and emotion declared that the sign had been revealed to him, and that he was convinced that Mormonism was a truth and a revelation from heaven, its effect on his simple-minded followers may be imagined. Rigdon was baptized by Cowdery. He seemed to be altered to such an extent that his wife said the religion must have been of Divine origin, else it could not have produced so wonderful an effect.

In three weeks Rigdon went to New-York to meet Joseph Smith, while Cowdery and the other Elders moved to Indiana [sic]. Before their departure they openly declared that Smith was the prophet predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy xviii, 15, and applied to Cowdery the prophetic declarations which have always been supposed to apply to John the Baptist as the harbinger of the Christ. Immediately after Rigdon had gone East and the others West a scene of wild excitement broke forth, and, if the good Disciple farmers of Mentor and Kirtland came to the conclusion that the devil had taken possession of their neighborhood, one certainly cannot wonder at the belief. The young people especially seemed to be troubled. They would fall to the floor suddenly and roll about as if in agony; women would drop in the snow and lie there with no other covering than the sky. They would make grimaces and creep about on their hands and feet. In the midst of the excitement the young men would suddenly arise, go through the motions of killing and scalping imaginary enemies and engage in wild war dances. At other times they would run as though they were pursued. They would mount stumps and preach to imaginary congregations, baptize ghosts, jabber in a strange manner, and call it the gift of tongues from Divine power, and chase balls of fire over the hills.

Cowdery and his colleagues pretended to work miracles. A young woman had been confined to her bed two years. They prayed over her, laid hands on her, and in the name of Jesus Christ told her to arise and walk. There was no movement on her part. On the following day they persuaded her to leave her bed and make the trial. She took three or four steps, fell in a fainting condition, and had to be assisted to her bed, where she remained. Cowdery to conceal this failure declared that he had not told her to arise, and when confronted by witnesses his explanation was that he had not said it in earnest, but in a laughing, joking manner. A man in Painesville was in the last stages of consumption. Cowdery said he could heal him and tried it, while Rigdon declared he would get well "if there was a God in heaven." The man soon afterward died. Rigdon returned from his visit to Smith about the 1st of February. Two of his friends from Mentor called on him, and one of them has left a manuscript account of the visit. They asked him the reason for his hope and belief in Mormonism. He responded that he was tired and had lost sleep, and did not care to enter into any explanation of the matter at that time. They became involved in an argument, during which one of the visitors denounced the new religion as false. Rigdon sprang to his feet in forgetfulness of the patience and humility he had recently professed, and shouted: "Sir, you have insulted me in my own house. I command silence. If people that come to see us cannot treat us with civility, they may walk out of the door as soon as they please." The visitor apologized and Rigdon explained that had been so long trampled on and abused that he could bear it no longer. He denied that he had been angry, although he said there was sufficient cause for anger. He praised Joseph Smith, and said he fully believed in him.

A few days afterward Smith arrived at Kirtland on what seems to have been his first visit to the place. As the famous "Laws of the Church of Christ" were issued on Feb. 22, 1831, the month in which both Rigdon and Smith went to Kirtland from New-York, they were probably concocted by the precious pair and then issued as a revelation. The document contained "a commandment to the Elders," and special mention was made of the beloved "servants Joseph, Sidney and Edward," who were none other than Smith, Rigdon, and Partridge. There was no hint of polygamy in the document, as it was expressly ordered that "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else." Rigdon seems to have been a natural orator and a magnetic leader of men. He was versatile in his gifts, witty, shrewd and scheming. When the Mormon settlement was finally made at Kirtland he had no property to put into the common stock, but he had an influence and a personality which probably did more than anything else to afford them a foothold and aid their rapid growth. He became their advocate, and preached with great power and a thrilling eloquence. He could sway a crowd wonderfully, and there is a well authenticated account of his going into the Chagrin River to baptize one convert, and preaching with such power while standing in the water as to lead 30 who had not been before affected to enter the water and yield to the new faith. He often swooned either by force of his emotions or for theatrical effect, and was a power in the community. In 1832 Brigham Young joined them. The marriage certificate given to Mary Ann Angel, of Kirtland and Young yet exists in the books of the Probate Judge at Chardon, under the date of Feb. 10, 1834. Rigdon was a member of the first Presidency at Kirtland, Smith and F. G. Williams being the others, When the missionaries were sent west, in [1834], Rigdon remained in Kirtland, and during that year [authored] a volume entitled "The Book of Doctrines and Covenants" and "Lectures on Faith." He was probably the ablest man and the best scholar then in their church. On one occasion he announced that an angel had appeared to him and commanded him to visit Queen Victoria and hurl her from her throne if she should refuse to embrace Mormonism. There is no record that he ever attempted to execute the order. He founded the famous Kirtland Bank that flooded the country with worthless notes and became its President. He originated numerous schemes for money making, and was a leader in all the movements of his people, Smith being usually put forward as the figure head. In 1840 the Mormons emigrated to Nauvoo, Ill., and in 1844, when Smith was killed, Rigdon was shut out of the leadership by the superior force and cunning of Brigham Young, and on his refusing to recognize Young's authority he was given over to the devil to be buffeted for a thousand years. When he left Nauvoo in anger and disgust the Danites were ordered to hold him in sight, and an intimation was given him that he would do well to hold his peace.

Rigdon returned to Pittsburg, and practically dropped out of sight. No public importance is attached to his subsequent career, which was passed in obscurity and often in want. He was at times seen in the places where he had before wielded so much power, and in his old age is said to have been of remarkable personal appearance and to have had a pleasing address and wonderful memory. He returned to his belief in the Disciple doctrine after forsaking Mormonism -- in which he probably never had a belief.

Note 1: The above article shows a heavy dependence upon the less than reliable writings of Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson. Her unfounded accusations -- that Rigdon was a printer; that he "followed" Solomon Spalding from Ohio to Pennsylvania; that an "Orley" Pratt introduced him to Joseph Smith, etc. etc. -- are all contained in her 1885 book New Light on Mormonism.

Note 2: Much of the story of the first advent of Mormonism at Mentor was adapted for the above article from the Feb. 15, 1831 testimony of Matthew S. Clapp and it may have been Clapp (or a member of his family) who preserved the "manuscript account of the visit" with Rigdon mentioned in the article. Given the circumstance that Clark Braden, Arthur B. Deming, and Edmund L. Kelley were able to uncover a great deal of local, first hand testimony concerning the Mormon stay in northern Ohio -- conducting their research at approximately the same time as this article was written -- it is surprising that the anonymous author was unable (or unwilling) to cite a single unique source for the uneven historical pastiche presented above.


Vol. XXXVII.                      New York, Thursday, Oct. 1, 1885.                      No. 1922.


Professor in the Baptist Theological Seminary,
Louisville, Ky.

An important advance has just been made in Mormon research. The first connected and satisfactory account of the business was given by the Rev. C. M. Hyde, D. D., of the North Pacific Institute, in the Congregationalist for the 30th of July, 1885. THE INDEPENDENT of the 10th of September, 1885, likewise supplies a notice, from the hand of the Rev. Sereno E. Bishop, of Honolulu. These statements, in connection with the brief allusions to the subject that were made by Pres. James H, Fairchild, in the Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 1885, pp. 173-4, have placed the student in a situation to pronounce upon the question of the genuiness and the importance of the document that has just been brought to light.

Mr. E. D. Howe, of Painesville, O., has written what must still be regarded as the best of all the hundreds of works that have been devoted to elucidate the history of Mormonism. None have been favored more highly than himself, alike by faculty and by opportunity; his industry was also of the most exemplary sort. It will be remembered that when he was preparing the materials for his book, entitled "Mormonism Unveiled," he had the enterprise to send one D. P. Hurlbut, first to Onondaga County, N.Y., and afterward to Monson, Mass., in order to confer with Mrs. Matilda Davison, whose first husband was the Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

The results of his praiseworthy exertions were, in this special instance, every way unsatisfactory. Like many another good wife, Mrs. Spaulding (Davison) was very indefinitely acquainted with the doings of her husband, particularly as respects his endeavors in the line of literary venture. Mr. Howe sets forth the following summary of her acquaintance with the matters in question: "She states that Spaulding had a great variety of manuscripts, and recollects that one was entitled the 'Manuscript Found'; but of its contents she has now no distinct knowledge. While they lived in Pittsburgh, she thinks it was once taken to the printing-office of Patterson & Lambdin; but whether it was ever brought back to the house again, she is quite uncertain. If it was, however, it was then with his other writings in a trunk which she had left in Otsego County, N. Y. This was all the information that could be obtained from her." (Howe, pp. 287-8.)

It would have been a happy thing for Mrs. Spaulding (Davison), and also for the student of Mormon history, if both herself and other members of the Spaulding family could have been content to abide by the comfortable ignorance which she displayed in the year 1834. Many other assertions and suggestions were later added by them, which have been almost uniformly incorrect, and, what is worse, misleading.

Since the old trunk had been left in Otsego County, the place of her latest residence in New York, Mr. Hurlbut was provided with an order directed to its custodian, Mr. Jerome Clark, of the township of Hartwick, by the terms of which that gentleman was required to place the literary contents of it in the hands of the bearer. These Hurlbut took away with him and fetched to Painesville, where he committed them to the care of Howe. Howe reports, p. 268:

"The trunk, referred to by the widow was subsequently examined, and found to contain only a single MS book in Spaulding's handwriting, containing about one quire of paper. This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found on twenty-four rolls of parchment in a cave on the banks of Conneaut Creek, but written in modern style, and giving an account of a ship's being driven upon the American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short time previous to the Christian era, this country then being inhabited by the Indians. This old manuscript has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognize it as Spaulding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing by going further back with dates, and writing in the old Scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance the 'Manuscript Found,'"

The description of the Honolulu Manuscript which has now been supplied, renders it reasonably apparent that it is the same document as that which Hurlbut obtained from the old hair trunk in the garret of Jerome Clark. For example, Howe declares that the production under his hands, "purported to have been translated from the Latin." The Honolulu Manuscript affirms that the original from which it was derived "appeared to be manuscript, written in eligant hand, with Roman letters, and in the Latin language. *  *  * To publish a translation of every particular circumstance mentioned by our author would produce a volume too expensive for the general class of readers." Howe asserts that the original was claimed to have been discovered "in a cave on the banks of Conneaut Creek"; a full description of this cave may be read in the "Introduction" of the Honolulu Manuscript, which indicates that it was situated "near the west bank of the Conneaught River."

Further, the performance which Howe had inspected "was written in modern style," and the witnesses to whom he applied asserted that it bore "no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'" President Fairchild reports that the present owner of the Honolulu document, "Mr. Rice, myself and others compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two in general or in detail." Professor Hyde also declares: "The story has not the slightest resemblance in names, incidents or style to anything in the Book of Mormon. *  *  * There' is no attempt whatever to imitate Bible language, or to introduce quotations from the Bible." This agrees to a nicety with the fact that the witnesses whom Howe consulted assured him that Solomon Spaulding had "told them that he had altered his first plan of writing by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old Scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient." The above is fully confirmed by such extracts as Mr. Bishop has furnished for the use of THE INDEPENDENT.

Howe also states that the book which Hurlbut had fetched from its hiding place in the old trunk gave "an account of a ship's being driven upon the American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain;" the Honolulu book describes how "the vessel laden with provisions for the army, clothing, knives and other impliments for their use had now arrived near the coast of Britain when a tremendous storm arose and drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean. Soon the whole crew became lost and bewildered."

Howe likewise reports his document as further representing that at the moment when the ship landed on the American coast the country was already "inhabited by the Indians;" according to the description supplied by Professor Hyde, the same is true of the Honolulu Manuscript. He says: "The wanderings of the shipwrecked party to the west are next described, and account given of the people, the Ohons, then living in the interior, with their manners and customs, and their wars with king Bombal and the Kentucks. Hadoram, king of Sciota, the emperor of Lambak and the allied nations under Habosan, king of Chianga, Ulipoon, king of Michegan, etc."

In conclusion, Howe affirms: "This old manuscript has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognize it as Spaulding's." Mr. Bishop records an inscription that is found on the last page of the Honolulu Manuscript, as follows:

   "The writings of Solomon Spalding proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others.
   "The testimonies of the above gentlemen are now in my possession. *  *  * D. P. Hurlbut."
On the other hand, there are certain discrepancies between the description supplied by Mr. Howe and those which have been recently given to the public, For example, Howe says that the romance was "found on twenty-four rolls of parchment." The Honolulu Manuscript mentions "twenty eig *  *  * of parchment," but this difference may be explained by reference to the fact that Howe, being naturally disgusted with the poverty of the document for his purposes, had cited it from memory, without giving himself the trouble to refer to the text.

Again, Howe asserts that the "MS book in Spaulding's handwriting contained about one quire of paper;" but Professor Hyde declares that, in the Honolulu book, "one hundred and seventy-one pages are numbered and written out in full." It is not a violent supposition to refer this second discrepancy to the same explanation as that given in the foregoing instance; and therefore it may be allowed to press the point that Howe speaks in general terms of "about one quire of paper."

Once more, Howe gives the date of the disaster which brought a Roman ship to the American coast differently from the Honolulu book, affirming that it fell out "a short time previous to the Christian era," while the original in Honolulu plainly signifies that the occurrence took place during the reign of the Emperor Constantine. This appears to be still another case where Howe trusted to his memory, without being at the trouble to consult the work before him.

Howe further declares: "The fact also that Spaulding, in the latter part of his life inclined to infidelity is established by a letter in his handwriting now in our possession." This letter was likely given a place in the middle of the manuscript for convenience of preservation and reference. It is an interesting circumstance that it has probably also been recovered along with the Honolulu book. Professor Hyde reports: "There are two manuscript leaves in the parcel, of the same size and handwriting as the other 171 pages of manuscript. A few sentences will show the views of the writer:
"'It is enough for me to know that propositions which are in contradiction to each other cannot both be true, and that doctrines and facts which represent the Supream Being as a barbarous and cruel tyrant can never be dictated by infinite wisdom. *  *  * But, notwithstanding I disavow my belief in the divinity of the Bible, and consider it a mere human production, designed to enrich and aggrandize its authors, yet, casting aside a considerable mass of rubbish and fanatical rant, I find that it contains a system of ethics or morals which cannot be excelled on account of their tendency to ameliorate the condition of man.'"

It may be worthwhile to inquire concerning the process by which this document was conveyed to Honolulu. Professor Hyde reports that, in the year 1839, just five years after it was deposited with Howe by Mr. Hurlbut, the former sold his printing office and the Painesville Telegraph, of which he was the editor, to Messrs. L. L. Rice and P. Winchester, who continued to carry on the business. Shortly after Rice and Winchester purchased the effects of Howe, they are believed to have bound up a certain stock of the loose sheets of Howe's Mormonism Unveiled," and to have sent them forth a second time into circulation. At any rate, there is an edition of that valuable production which is dated: Painesville, 1840, which goes under the title of "History of Mormonism," but which, with the exception of the title page, is asserted to be the same work as Howe had published in 1834. The parties in question were amply entitled to proceed in this way; for the reason that the unbound sheets above described were a portion of their purchase from the owner of the printing office.

After forty years of active labor, Mr. Rice retired from business, and in the year 1879 went to reside with his daughter, Mrs. J. M. Whitney, at Honolulu. In the month of July, l884, he received the honor of a visit from President Fairchild, of Oberlin College, who suggested that Mr. Rice should examine his collection of pamphlets, for the purpose of finding out whether he might have in it some rare productions relating to the conflict against slavery in the United States. Giving himself to the labor of this enterprise, his plans were rewarded by the discovery that has here been discussed. In his paper for the Bibliotheca Sacra, President Fairchild says: "Mr. Rice has no recollections how or when this manuscript came into his possession." But subsequent consideration, it would appear, has suggested to his mind the forgotten transfer of the Painesville Telegraph, "with all the appurtenances of the printing office." Perhaps the Honolulu Manuscript was not even mentioned in the transaction, because, before the year 1839, Mr. Howe had lost it out of sight and out of mind amid the rubbish of his establishment. Meanwhile, for the past five and forty years, both himself and Hurlbut have been exposed to a shower of old-wives' gossip and ignorant suspicion. Not withstanding Mrs. Spaulding (Davison) in the year 1834 was entirely unable to declare what fate had befallen the "Manuscript Found," and could not be at all sure that it had ever been returned from the printing-house of Patterson and Lambdin in Pittsburgh, it has been confidently claimed that Hurlbut actually recovered it in the old hair trunk, sold it to the Mormons, who destroyed it, and with the money obtained from that source, purchased a farm near Gibsonburg O.

Mr. Howe, in his turn, could give no account of it. He said it was in his possession "till after the publication of 'Mormonism Unvailed,' and then disappeared, and was lost, I suppose by fire." It will vindicate the reputations of both these gentlemen that it has now been brought to light. Professor Hyde gives us notice that Mormon missionaries of the Island of Oahu are eager to publish the Honolulu book. in order to show that it has no connection with the Book of Mormon. Nobody ever claimed that such a connection existed, who had any kind of right to form a judgment. This entire investigation has no bearing of any sort upon the issue whether Spaulding was the author of the Book of Mormon. That question rests upon grounds that are quite aloof from any that have been here traversed, and must be judged upon its own merits. But it is hoped that no obstacle will be placed in the way of Mormon missionaries who may desire to perform such a service to science and to Messrs. Howe and Hurlbut. A certified copy might speedily be committed to their charge. The original would be safe and serviceable in the keeping of the Librarian of Oberlin College.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Friday, December 11, 1885.                                 No. ?


CHICAGO, Dec. 10 (Special). -- A private telegram was received here to-day from Richmond, stating that David Whltmer, known to the Mormons as one of "The three witnesses," is lying critically ill there. He is elghty-one years old. The history of the Mormon Bible recites that on September 22, 1827, the angel of the Lord put into the hands of Joseph Smith plates and two transparent stones through which the plates could be read. Smith took the plates, and, putting on as spectacles the urim thummim as the stones were called, read to Oliver Cowdery the saored records. These writings were printed in 1830, and are known as the Mormon Bible. Appended to the book was a statement signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris; hence the name of "The three witnesses." They said:

"We declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon."

Several years afterward all three of the witnesses quarrelled with Smith, renounced Mormonism and acknowledged the falsity of their testimony. The telegram was received here by one of the granddaughters of Whitmer and indicates that he can live only a short time.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXIV.                                 Thursday, December 17, 1885.                                 No. ?



RICHMOND, Mo., Dec. 16. -- David Whitmer, one of the founders of the Mormon Church, and a resident of this quaint and interesting village for almost a half century, lies at the point of death, and is not expected to live until morning. At the famtly homestead are gathered the children, grand children, and great-grandchildren of the dying patriarch, and bedside his deathbed is the devoted woman who linked her life and fortune with his more than 50 years ago. Whitmer was born in Pennsylvania in 1805, and lived for a number of years near Watkins Glen, in New-York State. There, in 1829, he claims to have seen the plates which Joseph Smith translated into the Book of Mormon, and to have been present during the work of translation. Whitmer became one of the apostles of the new church and moved with it to Ohio. When the church was driven from Ohio it found refuge in Missouri. Whitmer has lived in Richmond ever since, and has been Mayor and Councilman of the town. He owns what is said to be the original manuscript from which the Book of Mormon was printed, and has refused an offer of a very large sum for it from the Mormon Church. Whitmer has always opposed polygamy, and has been a respected citizen of Richmond.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXVIII.                      New York, Thursday, Jan. 7, 1886.                      No. 1936.



THE INDEPENDENT of September 10th contained an article by the Rev. Sereno E. Bishop concerning a paper that has been discovered among the effects of L. L. Rice, formerly of Ohio, and now residing at Honolulu, S. I., which he attempts to prove is the long-lost romance called "The Manuscript Found," written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

The historians of Mormonism have generally expressed the belief that the religion of the Latter Day Saints was formulated by Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith from a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding, and loaned to D. P. Hurlburt by Mrs, Spaulding.  (1.) The question has been, what became of that manuscript; and here the statement made by the Rev. Mr. Bishop assumes importance.

As the author of the articles on the origin of Mormonism alluded to in The Century -- then Scribner's Magazine -- by Mr. Bishop, and having thoroughly investigated the history of the Spaulding Manuscript for the purpose of defending the memory of an upright man in "New Light on Mormonism,"  recently published (2.) I have asked permission to answer Rev. Bishop.

Several months since, the direct information was communicated to me of the time-worn manuscript in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, and the prevailing opinion in Honolulu as to its being the genuine production of Solomon Spaulding, etc. It seemed then, as it does now, that this discovery was of slight significance in rembrance of a conversation with E. D. Howe and D. P. Hurlburt, in the autumn of 1880. Mr. Howe is still living at Painesville, O., and although very aged at the time of the talk alluded to, was of sound mind and memory. He is the author of the first book on Mormonism, called "Mormonism Unveiled." He admitted to me that a manuscript was given to him by Hurlburt, in 1834 (page 72 "New Light on Mormonism"), said it was "lying around his office for twenty-five years," and did not know what became of it. Later, in this conversation he said: "I believe Hurlburt had two manuscripts, which he obtained from Mrs. Spaulding, the one he gave to me having no resemblance to the  "Book of Mormon." (3.) When asked if he thought Spaulding wrote a story from which Rigdon and Smith made the "Book of Mormon," he replied, with emphasis: "Certainly I do." He also gave it as his firm conviction that the Mormons destroyed the manuscript delivered to them by Hurlburt, saying: "The Mormons had too much at stake to let it exist."

It will be seen in chapter 5th, that, in the interview with Hurlburt, he stoutly denied, before witnesses, that the original Spaulding Manuscript was in Illinois, as had been reported. The impression conveyed in this talk, was that which has been above suggested, that he found two manuscripts in the old trunk to which Mrs. Spaulding  gave him access: (4.) the one he gave to Howe, which was unimportant, and the other which he sold to the Mormons; the romance which Spaulding had written and rewritten, and had submitted to a publisher in Pittsburgh, with a view of having it printed, and where Rigdon had copied it without permission.

Mr. L. L. Rice was the successor of E. D. Howe in the publication of a newspaper at Painesville; and when Howe sold out to Mr. Rice, it is not only possible, but probable, that the manuscript attributed to Spaulding's authorship may have been among the papers "lying around" in the editorial sanctum, and carried by him (as he admits) first to Columbus, O., and later to Honolulu.

That Spaulding was a voluminous writer of essays, stories, etc., and that he made several attempts with the romance before he had satisfied his own ideal of the history of a prehistoric race who had inhabited America, has been the sworn testimony of many persons who were acquainted with him.

It is rumored that the Mormons welcome the Honolulu Manuscript as disproving the Spaulding origin of their religion; but as the editor of the Presbyterian Banner has well said, in view of their publication of this Manuscript: "It would simply prove that this recently discovered story is not the one which Spaulding himself was so anxious to have printed,  and nothing more." (5,)

        [[The Independent Editor's Comments, supplied by Wm. H. Whitsitt]]  

(1.) There is reason to conclude that the name "Manuscript Found" was a generic title applied by Mr. Spaulding to each of his writings in the department of American archaeology. Both the Honolulu Manuscript and the Book of Mormon must have been known by that designation.

It is wholly a blunder to suppose that the particular "Manuscript Found" which fell into the hands of Mr. Rigdon was ever "loaned to D. P. Hurlbut by Mrs. Spaulding." The only document that came into his keeping is now in Honolulu: Hurlbut's signature inscribed on the flyleaf in 1834, will serve to identify it almost beyond any question.

Concerning the fate of the other "Manuscript Found," now known as the Book of Mormon, Mrs. Spaulding herself was in total ignorance. During the year 1834, when the events must have been comparatively well fixed in her memory, "she thinks it was once taken to the printing-office of Patterson & Lambdin; but whether it was ever brought back to the house again, she is quite uncertain." The good lady was too much concerned in her lardable exertions to keep the wolf away to give any special heed to the useless driveling of her shiftless husband. The above expression of the year 1834 sets forth all the knowledge she had relating to the business.

In the year 1839, however, she became certain that the manuscript was returned; but she had no right to become certain of it. There is evidence on record to the effect that the letter which was published above her signature in the year 1839 was not produced by Mrs. Spaulding, but by other parties, who desired to employ her simplicity to "strike a blow" against Mormonism. It is full of errors and could not have emanated from a person of her truthful temper. The "blow" which was there aimed at Mormonism has, unhappily, contributed much to aid and comfort Mormonism. The letter is dated the first of April; it is an evil "April fool" which cannot too speedily be set aside.

It is believed that never for a moment in her life did Mrs. Spaulding have in her possession the performance which came into the hands of Rigdon. It was likely left at the printing office as a bundle of useless rubbish when the family removed from Pittsburgh to Amity, in the year 1814, and sold to Mr. Rigdon for a mere song at the bankruptcy of Butler & Lambdin on the 1st of January 1823. Rigdon was at that time pastor of the Baptist Church, and somewhat later a tanner. He was never at any time a printer. 

(2.) If the proofs that the author has "thoroughly investigated the history of the Spaulding Manuscript" are supplied in the volume entitled "New Light on Mormonism," it is plain there must be a mistake somewhere. The Appendix, however, is valuable, and kindly thanks are due for it. 

(3.) Probably nothing more than the expedient of a feeble, aged gentleman to get quit of an importunate visitor. Moreover, it was six and forty years since the occurrences in question had befallen. Howe had no good right, at that remote period, to such an injurious opinion. Why was it not mentioned in the volume he sent forth in 1834? 

(4.) A splinter new theory. Only last spring the author says that her opinion, after a careful study of the matter is that Hurlbut made a copy of the original manuscript (obtained from the trunk) which he sold to E. D. Howe of Painesville, to use in writing the book "Mormonism Unveiled," and sold the original to the Mormons, who destroyed it ("New Light" p. 63). Nowhere in previously published Mormon literature is so much as a hint given of two separate "Manuscripts Found" that were contained in the old hair trunk. In 1834 Mrs. Spaulding could not be sure what documents were kept in that receptacle. Examination displayed the fact there was that but a single "Manuscript Found" in the trunk; this Hurlbut fetched to Painesville; it is now at Honolulu. 

(5.) It will also serve to vindicate the memory of Howe and Hurlbut against the suspicions to which they have been exposed. Advice from Mr. Rice represents that two separate editions of the Honolulu Manuscript are under the press; one of them at the charge of the Utah Mormons, and the other under the direction of the Reorganized Church. Both are welcome to all the comfort they can derive from it.

In conclusion, it may be announced that Mr. Howe passed away at Painesville, Ohio, on the 10th of November. His production, entitled "Mormonism Unveiled," is the most valuable single work that has appeared against Mormonism. Nearly all other writers copy from him, often at third or fourth hand. The book is uncommonly scarce; the copy we use was purchased for ten dollars, and is easily worth twenty dollars. Excellent service might be rendered to students of Mormonism, if it were published in a new edition, with annotations by a competent editor. -- EDITOR OF THE INDEPENDENT.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Friday, January 29, 1886.                                 No. ?



CHICAGO, Jan. 28 (Special). -- Professor Samuel S. Partello, writing to one of the newspapers, declares that he has discovered the veritable Spalding romance from which, it is said, Joseph Smith wrote his "Book of Mormon." Professor Portello says: "By the favor of the correspondent, now in Honolulu, it is my privilege to say that the long-lost and noted document has lately been discovered in the hands of Mr. L. L. Rice, a Honolulu resident, who removed from Oberlin, O., there about five years ago. Not long ago it occurred to the venerable gentleman to make an examination of a box of old papers which had accumulated during a period of twenty-five or thirty years of his life as a newspaper editor and publisher in Cleveland and other places in northeastern Ohio. Among those musty and dust-laden papers there was a small package wrapped in strong buff paper, tied with a piece of stout twine and plainly marked on the outside in pencil, in Mr. Rice's own hand; "Manuscript Story. Conneaut."

The exterior of the package seemed somewhat familiar to its owner, but yet he could not definitely fix on his mind the events in connection with his possession of it, and he did not remember having inspected its contents. He lost no time now in making an examination of it, calling in subsequently the writer's informant and another friend. The examination disclosed an old manuscript book of some two hundred closely written pages, carefully sewn in book form, about 7 by 6 . It was brown and dusty with age. The first twenty pages show the effects of much handling, and are somewhat gnawed and damaged by insects, but no great injury to the writing has been done. A few extra outside leaves remain attached to the back of the book, on one of which in a rough hand is inscribed:

"Writings of Solomon Spaulding, Proved by Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others.

"The testimonials of the above gentlemen are now in my possession.   D. P. Hurlbut."

Mr. Rice was wholly unable to account for how or when this manuscript came into his possession. He says that he has no knowledge of the persons whose names are mentioned above. Some forty of fifty years ago Mr. Rice was editor of The Painesville Telegraph, about thirty miles from Conneaut, the residence of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, then deceased. He conjectures that it must have been placed in his hands at that period for perusal and subsequently for publication. He personally knew Samuel [sic] Rigdon, one of Smith's right-hand men and later a Mormon apostle, their first location being at Kirtland, in the same county in which he lived.

Unlike the Mormon Bible, Spaulding's manuscript as found is not sham Hebraistic, but in ordinary English. It contains no quotations from the Bible, unlike the other, which transfers large portions of Isaiah and other books. Both devise a number of uncouth names for their characters; both record a series of desparate wars;,both narrate a voyage across the Atlantic in ancient times, and a settlement in North America. But whether this manuscript is the original is yet to be proved, although there have been witnesses who have stated that Spaulding told them that he had altered his first plan of writing by going further back with dates and writing in the old scriptural style in order that it might appear more ancient. But a closer comparison of the two nooks should be carefully made before accepting the manuscript as the original work of Spaulding. Below will be found a copy verbatim from Mr. Rice's find. The asterisks indicate where it is illegible or obliterated: * * *


"Near the west bank of the Conneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character, situation, and number of those people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and imagination I hapned to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort, & it lay on the top of a small mound of Earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters which appeared to me to be letters -- but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription. With the assistance of a leaver I raised the stone -- But you may easily conjecture my astonishment when I discovered that its ends & sides rested on stones, & that it was designed as a cover to an artificial cave. I found *  *  * examining that its sides were lined with *  *  * built in a connical form with *  *  * down -- & that it was about {page 2} eight feet deep. Determined to investigate *  *  * design of this extraordinary work of antiquity -- I prepared myself with necessary requisites for that purpose and decended to the Bottom of the Cave. Observing one side to be perpendicular nearly three feet from the bottom, I began to inspect that part with accuracy. Here I noticed a big flat stone fixed in the form of a doar. I immediately tore it down & so, a cavity within the wall presented itself -- it being about three feet in diameter from side to side & about two feet high. Within this cavity I found an earthen Box with a cover which shut it perfectly tite. The Box was two feet in length -- one & half in breadth one & three inches in diameter. My mind filled with awful sensations which crowded fast upon me would hardly permit my hands to remove this venerable deposit, but curiosity soon gained the assendancy, & the box was taken & raised to open *  *  * When I had removed the cover I  *  *  * that it contained twenty-eig *  *  * of parchment. & that when *  *  * {page 3} appeared to be manuscrip written in eligant hand with Roman Letters, and in the Latin Language.

"They were written on a variety of Subjects. But the Roll which principally attracted my attention contained a history of the author's life & that part of America which extends along the great Lakes and the waters of the Mississippy.

"Extracts of the most interesting & important matters contained in this Roll I take the liberty to publish ---

"{p. 4} To publish a translation of every particular circumstance mentioned by our author would produce a volume too expensive for the general class of readers. But should this attempt to throw off the veil which has secluded our view from the transactions of nations who for ages have been extinct, meet the approbation of the public, I shall then be happy to gratify the more inquisitive and learned part of my readers by a more minute publication. Apprehensive that skeptical illiberal or superstitious minds may cen *  * re this performance with great acrimo *  *  * I have only to remark that they will b *  *  * ved of a great fund of entertainment *  *  * {p. 5} of a contrary disposition will obtain. My compassion will be excited more than my resentment and there the contest will end.

"Now, Gentle Reader, the Translator who wishes well to thy present and thy future existence entreats thee to peruse this volume with a clear head, a pure heart, and a candid mind. If thou shalt then find that thy head and thy heart are both improved it will afford him more satisfaction than the approbation of ten thousand who have received no benefit.

"CHAPT. I.                
ARRIVAL IN AMERICA.               

"As it is possible that in some future age this part of the Earth will be inhabited by Europeans & a history of its present inhabitants would be a valuable acquisition, I pro *  *  * to write one & deposit it in a box secured  *  *  * so that the ravages of time will have no effect upon it that you may know the Author I will give a succinct account of his life and of the cause of his arival -- which I have extracted from a manuscript which will be deposited with this history.

"The family name I sustain is Fabius, being descended from the illustrious general of that name. -- I was born at Rome & received my education under the tuition of a very Learned Master. -- At the time that Constantine had arived at that city & had overcome his enemies, & was firmly seated on the throne of the Roman Empire, I was introduced to him as a young Gentleman of genius & learning, and as being worthy of the favourable notice of his imperial majesty -- He gave me the appointment of one of his secretaries, & such were the gracious intimations which he frequently gave me of his high approbation of my conduct that I was happy in my station.

"One day he says to me -- Fabius you must go to Brittain & carry an import *  *  * to the General of our army there *  *  * {p. 7} sail in a vessel & return when she returns. Preparation was made instantly and we sailed. The vessel laden with provisions for the army -- cloathing, knives and other impliments for their use had now arrived near the coasts of Britain when a tremendous storm arose and drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean. Soon the whole crew became lost & bewildered."

The foregoing will suffice as a verbatim sample of the book as taken from the manuscript found by Mr. Rice.

The party reach America and settle there, removing after two years to the Ohio region. Long accounts of the inhabitants and their wars are given, which I have not closely examined. The book having achieved such note, it would not seem out of order to make further and more direct inquiries into this manuscript, and which Mr. Rice would seemingly approve of. Whatever may be the result, its supposed connection with the "Book of Mormon" will furnish at least a valuable piece of literary history.
                            Prof. Samuel S. Partello.

Note 1: The Tribune reprinted this article from the Chicago Morning News of 1886. Partello's source in Honolulu was the Rev. Sereno E. Bishop. See Bishop's article in the NYC Independent of Sept. 10. 1885. This "special" news report from Chicago did not go unnoticed by the Mormons. See the response of the Editor of the Saints' Herald on  Feb. 21, 1886

Note 2: Note 2: The Tribune reprint was read by James A. Briggs, an old-time former resident of the Kirtland area, who had once served as D. P. Hurlbut's attorney. Briggs responded to the Partello report in a letter published in the Tribune on Jan. 31.


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Sunday, January 31, 1886.                                 No. ?



To the Editor of the Tribune:

SIR: A special dispatch in your paper from Chicago says that the manuscript written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who was born in Ashford, Conn., in 1761, graduated at Dartmouth in 1785, and who in 1809 moved to Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, had been found by L. L. Rice, of Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, formerly of Ohio. In 1840 Mr. Rice was the Editor of The Painesville Telegraph, a Whig paper, formerly owned by E. D. Howe, the author of the book "Mormonism Unvailed," printed in 1835 by him. In a letter to me dated Honolulu, Dec. 4, 1885, Mr. Rice says: "After the death of my wife in 1877, at Oberlin, I came out here to be with my daughter Mary (Mrs. Dr. Whitney). I have a pleasant home here -- am in good health for a man now eighty-five." This is the Mr. Rice from whom the news comes to you of the manuscript of Spaulding.

In the winter of 1833-34, a self-constituted committee, consisting of Judge Allen, Dr. Card, Samuel Wilson, Judge Latham, W. Corning and myself, met at Mr. Corning's house, in Mentor, now known as the Garfield Farm, to investigate Mormonism and the origin of the Mormon Bible. Dr. D. P. Hurlbut. whose name is mentioned in the article in your paper this morning, was employed to look up testimony. He was present with the committee and had Spaulding's original manuscript with him. We compared it, chapter by chapter with the Mormon Bible. It was written in the same style; many of the names were the same, and we came to the conclusion, from all the testimony before us, that the Rev. Sidney Rigdon, the eloquent Mormon preacher, made the Mormon Bible from this manuscript. Of this the committee had no doubt whatever.

About this time Dr. Hurlbut had some trouble with the Mormons at Kirtland, where they had built a temple and he had the prophet, Joseph Smith, arrested on a warrant of a justice of the peace for assault and battery. He had an examination before two justices in the Old Methodist Church in Painesville. It lasted three days. Judge Benjamin Bissell was the attorney for Smith and I was the attorney for Dr. Hurlbut. The examination produced much interest. Cowdery, Hyde and Pratt, Mormon leaders, were there with "Joe" Smith. I said to Mr. Bissell, "let us get from 'The Prophet' his history of the finding of the 'golden plates.'" Mr. B. consented and for two days we had The Prophet, "Joe" Smith, on the witness stand. He swore, that is, under oath, that he found the golden plates buried in the earth in a field in Palmyra, N. Y., and when he found them he was kicked by an unseen foot out of the hole in which they were placed. All present knew that it was a Mormon lie.

Rigdon was a natural orator, and had much native genius. He got the manuscript in Pittsburg at the printing office of Mr. Robert Patterson, the father of the present Mr. Robert Patterson, who has published an interesting history of Mormonism, showing without a doubt that the Rev. Sidney Rigdon was the compiler of the Book of Mormon.

In 1879, Dr. Hurlbut was living at Gibbsonburgh, Ohio. In a letter to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburg, he says: "I gave the manuscript with all my other documents connected with Mormonism to Mr. Howe." Mr. Rice was the successor of Mr. Howe in The Telegraph, and this accounts for his possession of the "manuscript found" at this late day in an island in the Pacific Ocean.

L. L. Rice was well known on the Western Reserve, Ohio, as one of the earliest and ablest of the anti-slavery Whigs. He has lived to see the "incurable injustice," slavery, abolished in the land of his birth, and to bring at this late date to light the Spaulding manuscript.   Yours truly,
                                            JAMES A. BRIGGS.
Brooklyn, Jan. 29. 1886.

Note: James A. Briggs' assertion that D. P. Hurlbut had Joseph Smith arrested and brought to trail during the winter of 1833-34 was first published in the International Review in Aug. 1881 and again in the Cleveland Leader in Jan. 1884. James A. Briggs has been largely ignored by writers of Mormon history. One author who took Briggs' claims at face value was William H. Whitsitt, the first biographer of Elder Sidney Rigdon. Whitsitt says: "The white feather was so apparent that the faithful at Kirtland began to suspect the prophet was incompetent for the position he was holding. Possibly it was a too open suggestion of that color, which brought about the personal conflict between Joseph and D. P. Hurlbut, for which the latter had the prophet arrested on a charge of assault and battery, that was heard for the space of three days before a magistrate's court in the old Methodist church of Painesville (Letter of James A. Briggs, counsel for Hurlbut, in New York Tribune, January 31, 1886)." See his "Sidney Rigdon, the Real Founder of Mormonism, pp. 800-801.


Vol. XXXVIII.                                    New York City, April ?, 1886.                                   No. ?


Homer nods sometimes, and so does Tyrtaeus. The Tribune caught us in the error of cabling as a new poem one which had been published two years before. Now the Tribune publishes in a long telegraphic dispatch from Chicago the discovery in Honolulu of that Spaulding manuscript of Mormon interest, of which our Hawaiian correspondent sent us word about a year ago, and which has since formed the basis of long and learned discussions. Indeed we saw lately an examination paper of a theological class in church history, in which it was fully considered.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Friday, April 2, 1886.                                 No. ?


To the Editor of the Tribune.

Sir: On January 28 a dispatch was sent from Chicago to the New-York papers to the effect that "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;'" whereupon there follows a statement of facts which is somewhat remarkable for its omissions. Who Professor Partello is I do not know, but I do know that he has no right to claim to be the discoverer of the aforesaid manuscript.

The now somewhat celebrated manuscript was discovered a year and a half ago among Mr. Rice's papers in Honolulu, when he was looking them over at the suggestion of President Fairchild, of Oberlin, and in his presence. The manuscript was given to President Fairchild and is now in the library of Oberlin College. President Fairchild published a short account of it in Bibliotheca Sacra, in January, 1885, which was very largely commented upon, and a fuller account in the number for January, 1886. The Mormons sent to Oberlin for a copy and have printed it for general circulation.

So far from its being the source of the "Book of Mormon, examination shows conclusively that it is not, and pretty conclusively demonstrates that the "Book of Mormon" could have had no connection with anything Solomon Spaulding ever wrote. Hence the reason why the Mormons are so ready to republish it.
Oberlin, O., March 20, 1886.  G. FREDERICK WRIGHT.

Note 1: For more on Samuel S. Partello, see the notes appended to the Chicago Morning News of Jan. 28, 1886. Partello was a homeopathic doctor and teacher living in the Chicago area in the 1880s. Two sources identify "Dr. Samuel S. Partello" as an employee of the Red Cross, who was in Cuba during the Spanish-American War -- and another source calls him a "well known traveler and lecturer."

Note 2: See also Mr. Wright's short article in the Feb. 20, 1886 Oberlin Review, which was reprinted in the April 3, 1886 issue of the Literary World. There Mr. Wright re-states his "pretty conclusive" opinion: "the Book of Mormon neither had any connection with this [Oberlin MS] 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." Fairchild and Rice would both later amend their initial deductions, in order to express conclusions more favorable to the possibility of Spalding's writings having been incorporated in the Book of Mormon.

Note 3: Another article on this topic was published in the Oberlin Review of Oct. 24, 1885 -- and was probably written by Mr. Wright: "The movement inaugurated nearly two years ago, to gather for the College Library the anti-slavery literature of the country, reached the Hawaiian Islands. The result was a valuable contribution to the collection, and in addition, a somewhat interesting manuscript forwarded by Hon. L. L. Rice, now of Honolulu, formerly of Oberlin, to be preserved in our College Library. --- The interest of this manuscript does not pertain principally to its intrinsic character, but to its authorship and history, and the light which it may possibly throw upon the origin of the Book of Mormon. During the last fifty years it has been customary with those who have written against Mormonism to claim that the Book of Mormon had its origin in a manuscript story written by one Solomon Spaulding who lived in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1810-12. The cyclopaedias, and the anti-Mormon writings in general, give this as the origin of the book. The unquestionable facts are that Solomon Spaulding, living in Conneaut nearly seventy-five years ago, wrote a story giving an account of the early inhabitants of this country -- the Mound-builders. This story he was accustomed to read to his neighbors from time to time, as one chapter after another was added to it. He represented that his story was a translation from some ancient records which he had found in a mound near his own dwelling. --- Twenty years later, when the Book of Mormon was brought into Northern Ohio, one of Spaulding' s old neighbors, on hearing it read, was struck with the idea that it sounded like the old story that he had heard Spaulding read. The account given in the preface of the book corresponded with the account given by Spaulding of the finding of his manuscript, and he was accustomed to call it "The Manuscript Found." The idea of this resemblance gained currency, and the testimony of many of those who had heard Spaulding 's story was gathered to prove that the Book of Mormon was in substance the same as the old manuscript. In 1835, E. D. Howe, of Painesville, was about to publish a book against Mormonism. An essential point in this attack was to prove the identity of the Book of Mormon with Spaulding's story. Spaulding had died in Pennsylvania in 1816, but Mrs. Spaulding was still living in Monson, Massachusetts, and D. P. Hurlbut of Conneaut, by arrangement with Howe, visited Mrs. Spaulding to obtain, if possible, the old manuscript. He received from her an order to examine an old trunk which she had left in Hartwick, N. Y., which contained the manuscript. This manuscript he was permitted to take with him on the promise of returning it again to Mrs. Spaulding. When Mr. Howe came to examine the manuscript which Hurlbut brought him, he found that it bore no resemblance to the Book of Mormon except in the account of its finding. He, however, published his book, maintaining that Spaulding's manuscript was the foundation of the Book of Mormon, and sustaining the theory by the testimony of Spaulding's old neighbors. Of course, he held that there must be another Spaulding manuscript beside that which Hurlbut brought him. The manuscript sought by Hurlbut was never returned to Mrs. Spaulding. In 1839 Mr. Howe sold out his office, and Mr. Rice came into possession. In this way, undoubtedly, the manuscript fell into the hands of Mr. Rice, and has remained in his possession until the present time; but he has no recollection of having ever examined it until it turned up among his papers a year ago while he was looking for anti-slavery documents. --- This manuscript Mr. Rice has sent to the Oberlin College Library. It is in small quarto form, containing about 175 closely written pages, old and soiled and worn with use. On a blank page is a certificate of D. P. Hurlbut, that the manuscript was Solomon Spaulding's, as testified to by several men of Conneaut, whose names he gives. Of course the finding of this manuscript does not disprove the theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon, but it brings a somewhat strong presumption against it. Like 'The Manuscript Found,' as described by those who heard it, it is represented as the translation of an ancient record discovered in a mound, and it is an account of the inhabitants of the country, the Mound-builders, but in other respects it does not correspond with the traditional 'Manuscript Found,' nor with the Book of Mormon."



Vol. ?                             Thursday, September 9, 1886.                             No. ?


Additional Light on the Question, Who Wrote It?

Competent Testimony from a Leading Citizen of Brooklyn, N.Y.,
that the Rev. Sidney Rigdon "Got Up" the Mormon Bible --
Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" the Basis of Its Historical Portion --
Rigdon and Joe Smith -- interesting connecting links.

Editor of the Watchman:

In the year 1833-'34 I was one of a self-appointed committee that met in the home of Mr. W. Coming, Mentor, O., for the purpose of investigating the origin of the Book of Mormon. Dr. D. P. Hurlburt had been in New York and Massachusetts looking up testimony; we had the manuscript of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding before us, that we compared with the Mormon Bible, and we had no doubt that from Spaulding's writings the Rev. Sidney Rigdon got up the Mormon Bible. I am convinced of it now. Here are some of the reasons:

The "Manuscript Found," written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, O., in 1809-'12 was the basis of the historical portions of the Mormon Bible, if any credibility is to be given to positive human testimony. Now what is this testimony? John Spaulding, a brother of Solomon, of Conneaut, says:
I visited my brother, and he told me he had been writing a book; it was entitled "Manuscript Found," of which he had read to me many pages. It was a historical romance, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the Lost tribes. It detailed their journey from Jerusalem by land and sea till they arrived in America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi . . . I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and, to my great surprise, I find nearly the same historical matter, names, etc., as they were in my brother's writings . . . He commenced about every sentence with "and it came to pass" or "now it came to pass," the same as in the Book of Mormon, and, according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious part,."
Mrs. Martha Spaulding, wife of John Spaulding, says: "I have read the Book of Mormon, which has brought to my recollection the writings of Solomon Spaulding, and I have no manner of doubt that the historical part of it is the same that I read and heard read more than twenty years ago. The old obsolete style, and the phrases of 'and it came to pass,' &c. are the same."

Henry Lake, the partner of Spaulding, from Conneaut in September, 1834 [sic.]: "He, Spaulding, frequently read [to] me from a manuscript which he was writing, which he entitled "Manuscript Found,"... I spent many hours in hearing him read said writings, and became well acquainted with its contents... One time when he reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the Book of Mormon, I find to my surprise that it stands just as he read it to me then... I have no hesitation in saying that the historical part of the Golden Bible is principally if not wholly taken from the "Manuscript Found."

In the story of Laban in the first book of Nephi, where Nephi says, "They did speak many hard words unto us their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod," whereupon an angel appears and says: "Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod?" Consistency would require that the number, whether plural or singular, should in both cases be the same. The oversight is in itself a trifle, but its occurrence in both the Spaulding Manuscript and the Book of Mormon is an unanswerable proof of identity.

John N. Miller in 1833 says:
In the year 1811 I was in the employ of Henry Lake and Solomon Spaulding at Conneaut, engaged in rebuilding a forge. While there I boarded in the family of said Spaulding several months. I was soon introduced to the manuscript of Spaulding and perused it as often as I had leisure. He had written two or three books or pamphlets on different subjects, but that which more particularly drew my attention was one which he called the "Manuscript Found,"... I have recently examined the Book of Mormon, and find in it the writings of Solomon Spaulding from beginning to end, but mixed up with Scripture and other religious matter... Many of the passages of the Mormon Book are verbatim from Spaulding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni... are brought to my recollection by the Golden Bible.
Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith and Nahum A. Ward [sic] of Conneaut testify in the same manner and to the same things as being in the "Manuscript" as in the Mormon Bible. Some eight or ten other persons of irreproachable character testify as to the identity of the "Manuscript Found," as they had read it and heard it read, with the Mormon Bible. And their testimony has never been impeached or denied

I have believed since the spring of 1834 that Rigdon got up the Mormon Bible out of the "Manuscript Found," and there are many persons who have testified to Rigdon's connection with the manuscript. They have testified to the intimate acquaintance of Rigdon with Lambdin of Pittsburg, the partner of Patterson, printer, with whom Spaulding left his manuscript. The Rev. John Winter, D. D., says in 1822-'23, upon one occasion he was in Rigdon's study, when he (R.) took from his desk a large manuscript, and said in substance: "A Presbyterian minister, Spaulding, whose health had failed, brought this to the printer to see if it would pay to publish it. It is a romance of the Bible."

Mary W. Sevine [sic] a daughter of Dr. Winter, writes: "I have frequently heard my father speak of Rigdon having Spaulding's manuscript, and that he got it from the printers to read as a curiosity; as such he showed it to father; and at that time Rigdon had no intention of using it as he afterwards did; for father always said Rigdon helped Smith in his scheme by revising and making the Mormon Bible out of the Rev. Spaulding's manuscript." The Rev. J. A. Bonsall of Rochester, Pa., a stepson of Dr. Winter, says he "repeatedly heard Dr. Winter say that Rigdon had shown him the Spaulding manuscript romance... which manuscript he had received from the printers."

Mrs. Amos Dunlap of Warren, O., writes: "When I was quite a child I visited in Mr. Rigdon's family. He married my aunt. During my visit he went into his bedroom and came out with a certain manuscript, seated himself by the fire, and commenced reading it. His wife came into the room and exclaimed "What! you studying that thing again? I mean to burn that paper." "No! indeed, you will not. This will be a great thing someday."

Mr. Z. Rudolph, father of Mrs. Gen. Garfield, knew Sidney Rigdon very well, and says: "During the winter previous to the appearance of the Book of Mormon Rigdon was in the habit of spending weeks away from his home, going no one knew where... When the Book of Mormon appeared Rigdon joined in the advocacy of the new religion, and suspicion was at once aroused that he was not ignorant of the authorship of the Book of Mormon.

The Rev. Adamson Bentley, a very intimate friend of Rigdon, their wives were sisters, writing to the Rev. W. Scott, another friend of Rigdon of many years, says that "Rigdon told me there was a book coming out, the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates, as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance." The Rev. Alexander Campbell, one of the strong and learned men of his time, known all over the land, confirms the truth of the conversation between "Father Bentley," as he was well known on the 'Western Reserve,' and Sidney Rigdon. These witnesses prove that Rigdon had the "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spaulding, without any doubt. Now as to Rigdon's acquaintance with Joe Smith, "the Prophet."

Mrs. D. Horace Eaton of Palmyra, N.Y, in a sketch on the "Origin of Mormonism," says: "Early in the summer of 1827 a 'mysterious stranger' seeks admittance to Joe Smith's cabin. The conference of the two is most private. This person, whose coming immediately preceded a new departure in the faith, was Sidney Rigdon, of Mentor, O." Mrs. Eaton is confirmed in her statement by P. Tucker, Esq., of Palmyra. Rigdon was the first Mormon preacher in Palmyra.

Joseph Smith of Lamoni, Ia., has sent me a copy of the "manuscript" found by Mr. L. L. Rice of Honolulu and published by the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints. This is not a copy of the "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spaulding. Mr. Joseph Smith of Lamoni assumes too much when he says: "This newly-found 'missing-link' completes the chain of evidence that the 'Manuscript Found' never was and never could be made the occasion, cause, or germ of the 'Book of Mormon.'"

The "manuscript" published at Lamoni is another one of Spauldlng's, and has no more to do with the authorship of the Book of Mormon than it has with the authorship of that most wonderful of all poems, the Book of Job, or the authorship of Junius' Letters. It proves nothing.

At the meeting at Mr. J. Corning's in Mentor, in 1834, I have no doubt we had this very identical "manuscript" now published among the papers submitted by Dr. Hurlburt. We also had a copy of the "Manuscript Found," that was compared with the Mormon Bible and satisfied the committee that it was the basis of the Mormon Bible. I have said and believed since 1834 that I had seen and examined the original "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spaulding, out of which Sidney Rigdon got up the Mormon Bible. I believe, as Dr. Hurlburt stated, that he "sold the manuscript for $400." It is certain that he had it, and who but the Mormons would buy it? Three years ago I wrote to Hurlburt and asked him about the "Manuscript Found." He did not answer my letter. He is now dead. He was once a Mormon.

For some reason in 1833 he had some difficulty with "the Saints" in Kirtland. The last known of the "Manuscript Found" it was in Hurlburt's hands. It was not given to Mr. Howe of Painesville, O.

Now there is no doubt that the Rev. Solomon Spaulding wrote the "Manuscript Found": that the historical part of the Book of Mormon was taken from that manuscript, if human testimony is to be relied on as of any validity. That Sidney Rigdon had the original manuscript in his possession, read it first as a curiosity, and then used it to get up the Book of Mormon, a sham, a fraud, and a deception, and that he was the first to preach the delusion -- are facts. This fact should not be lost sight of -- that Solomon Spaulding wrote two or more pamphlets on different subjects.
                                            JAMES A. BRIGGS.
No. 177 Washington Street, Brooklyn.

Note: This letter by James A. Briggs was apparently written to the Editor of the New York Watchman on or about September 5th. It was reprinted in the Chicago Daily Tribune on Oct. 2, 1886. See comments appended to the Tribune reprint for more details.


Vol. ?                             New-York,  Sunday,  January 16, 1887.                             No. ?



Recent legislative action directed toward Utah, polygamy, the financial corporations of the Latter-Day Saints, and the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company renders these two books, with the pamphlets, quite opportune reading. The author of "The Mormon Puzzle" tells us that too many of the writers on Mormonism have assumed an acquaintance with the people and their ways derived from a few hours' or days' sojourn in Salt Lake City. There are "show happy families," especially run as pleasing spectacles for gobe mouche tourists and legislators, "who are never taken by surprise on an off day of misery." Such spectacular exhibitions convince the traveler that all Mormon interiors are types of domestic felicity and that the men and women are all representatives of a State where industry, thrift, wealth, and prosperity flourish. Then, on the other hand, there are the Gentiles, who are the bitterest of enemies. These give no single good trait to the Saints, and fill the traveler's ear with horrible stories of the brutalities and crimes of the Mormon people. The Rev. Mr. Beers has been in actual contact with Mormons and non-Mormons, lived among them for some years, and believes himself fully competent to present the situation as it is. With everybody else the author believes that this Mormon puzzle can be solved, and without recourse to violence.

There is more than one mistake made in regard to the Mormons, for quite generally it is believed that Mormonism and polygamy are synonymous. The author thinks that polygamy "is only a comparatively trifiing and non-essential part of Mormonism." Polygamy did not belong to the original teachings of Joe Smith. "For ten years after the church was founded it was not heard of, and it was not openly taught for twenty years." But whether vindicated by the seer or not, it does exist, is heathenish, immoral, degrading to men and women, is contrary to the laws of the United States, and punishable as a criminal offense. It would be unjust to insist that "the Mormons are a horde of sensualists, because there are many Mormons who are not polygamous; but from what can be learned about them quite indifferent as to what kind of a God they may worship or what printed text they pin their faith to, the Saints, or the followers of Jo Smith, set at defiance the Constitution of the United States. Their's is a political system cherishing ideas and aims utterly alien and inimical to democracy. The head man or head priest or President of this sect claims civil and religious and temporal authority. Though the Constitution of the United States may declare that all men are "free" and "equal," the probabilities are that human rights go for little in Mormondom, and that, claiming a certain infallibility, the Mormon leaders hold by terrible oaths their followers in bondage. Did not Brigham Young claim that his people could do nothing without his knowledge and approval, "even to the ribbons a woman should wear?" Their persons, their services, their property are all under the control, not of themselves individually, but of their leaders.

Mormons are recruited from the most ignorant and credulous. They are gathered from the lowest classes of the peasantry of England, Germany, and Scandinavia, and in our land the poor rural element of the Southern States, commonly called the "cracker" element, is a favorite and successful field of Mormon missionary labor, because the Elders find as much ignorance and credulity among the poor whites of Tennessee, Georgia, and the neighborhood as they do among the low classes of Europe. The Rev. Mr. Beers tells us that the "Mormon leaders take great pains to keep their people in ignorance, learning and intelligence being at a discount."

Notwithstanding all the charges against the Mormons, ignorance and superstition not being punishable under the Constitution, anybody in the United States has a perfect right to believe in an American Mohammedanism so long as he does not interfere with his neighbors' well-being. But when incorporated in this belief, wedded to it, and inseparable from it, there are political or social elements which, if carried out, run counter to the laws, not only of our country, but of civilization, we should be unwise did we not use our best endeavors to scotch this hideous tail to Mormonism, which is polygamy.

The author of "The Mormon Puzzle" certainly wishes to adhere as closely as he can to the Constitution of the United States and dreads any violation of its fundamental principles. He believes that the prohibitory and repressive measures tried on the Mormons for the last thirty years have all failed, and the longer they are tried the worse will be the result. There are three measures proposed by the author, the first of which he however lays no stress upon, and that one is the abolition of female suffrage in the Territory; but what he and many others think would at once set at work a new leaven in Utah is to form a national colonization scheme, and this we, too, believe to be perfectly feasible. Ex-Gov. Murray has in his official documents shown what are the mineral and agricultural riches of the Territory, and by developing these mines and tilling these fields by immigrants of the proper class the power of the Mormons within the Territory and beyond it would be curtailed, and in time absolutely squelched. There would be a return to the normal American condition of things. Another method advised by the Rev. Mr. Beers is the establishment of free schools all over the Territory. If the Mormon hierarchy holds the key of the situation because the people within the State are generally steeped in ignorance and superstition, education will loosen the hold of the Mormon priesthood. Immigration, good solid immigration, fostered by aid societies, shipments by the carloads of solid Germans to Utah, would soon work a revolution. As for ourselves, we are incline!l to believe that human crotchets being everlasting, our grandchildren will see Mormons, but as individual curiosities, and the American citizen of fifty years from to-day will wonder at the bother we are making about the Saints at the close of the nineteenth century.

The Rev. M. T. Lamb's "The Golden Bible" tells of that nonsense attributed to Jo Smith, and declared to have been read by him by means of the stone spectacles, designated by him as the Urim and Thummim. Jo Smith was an illiterate man, and incompetent to concoct such a rigmarole as the "Book of Mormon." There can be no possible doubt as to the origin of this stuff. It was written by one Solomon Spaulding, and Jo Smith got hold of the manuscript in some manner or other and appropriated it. It shows a leaning to all the "isms" of the day, and has a tinge of Millerism in it, and is anti-Masonic, catching a reflection from the Morgan row of more than fifty years ago. Of course for Mormonites the vast amount of trouble Mr. Lamb takes to show that the "Book of Mormon" is a wretched fraud may serve it useful purpose. An educated man need not read a line of the "Book of Mormon" without being assured of how foolish it all is, and how archaeologically and in every other way false. The author provokes a smile occasionally. When, in discussing some kind of winged personage which flutters before the Nephites, Mr. Lamb naively asks, "How is that for an angel? What a delightfully polite old Mormon party that must have been who said, 'Brethren, adieu!'"

Mr. John Codman's pamphlet on "The Questions of the Day" gives some idea as to what may be the possible effects of anti-polygamous legislation. He is by no means complimentary to the women of Utah. "Law and public opinion are brought to bear in all exactly opposite direction from their exercise elsewhere on a kindred vice!' In other words, it is not the men alone who are vicious, and the guilt of the thing lies in equal part on the women. Mr. Codman. does not think that the women, especially those coming from Northern Europe, are forced to accept polygamy, but they take to it without "the slightest compunction." It is either that or a life of servitude "Why," asks Mr. Codman, "why do not people other than Emigrant Commissioners interest themselves in the welfare of the women of other lands who come here?" Certainly there must be many well-to-do Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish women of means and position in New York who might find a way of warning the peasant women of their own country from taking that fatal step which degrades them? Such aid and advice has been occasionally given at Castle Garden to Norse girls, who have thus been saved. These peasant women fresh from the fiords have no knowledge they are in controversy with the laws of their new country, should they ever enter into a polygamous state. Might not a publication of the facts widely spread abroad, written in Norse or Swedish or Danish prevent at least women from recruiting the Mormon ranks and becoming the mothers of bastards? At the conclusion of this brochure Mr. Codman introduces some interesting matter, having the authority of no less a personage than a son of the founder of Mormonism. The Mr. Joseph Smith of to-day, though believing implicitly in his prophetic sire, declares his opposition to polygamy. The Josephites do try in a feeble way to prevent the spread of polygamy and maintain a few men in the Territories, who may be supposed to preach against the Mormonism -- the flagrant Mormonism of today. In this movement of the Josephites Mr. Codman believes he sees his opportunity. Let us, he says, "help the Josephites," and make a party within the party. "By preaching the Mormon, doctrine as they claim that it was once delivered to the Saints" they will convert men from the great sin which we all deplore without driving them into atheism and despair.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  [   ]  Sun.
Vol. LV.                         New York City, Wednesday, February 8, 1888.                         No. 161.

The  Mormon  Bible.

To the Editor of The Sun -- Sir: Now that David Whitmer, the last surviving witness to the authenticity of the Mormon Bible is dead, it is to be hoped that the original manuscript in his possession will be made public and critically examined. Joseph Smith is said to have dictated the translation to Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery, two other witnesses with him to the existence of the golden plates on which the book is said to have been engraved about the year 600 B.C. These plates Joseph pretended to find near Manchester, N. Y., in 1827. The translation was published at Palmyra, N. Y., in 1830. The book was probably written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who died in 1816 at Amity, Pa., about 35 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. He wrote it for amusement, and took it to some printers in Pittsburgh for publication. Joseph's translation was made at Harmony, Pa., about 25 miles from Pittsburgh. In 1833 the following affidavit was made before Judge Baldwin at Palmyra by Peter Ingersoll:

"One day Joseph came to me. 'Yesterday,' said he, 'I found some beautiful white sand. I took off my frock and tied up several quarts of it and then went home. The family were anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the Golden Bible. So I very gravely told them it was the Golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it. And now,' said Jo, 'I have got the d____d fools fixed, and I will carry out the fun.'"

The Mormon Bible condemns polygamy, but a later revelation to Joseph sanctions it.     W. H. B.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 36.                         New-York,  Sunday,  February 26, 1888.                         No. 11,385.




PALMYRA, N. Y., Feb. 25. -- The demise of David Whitmer at Richmond, Mo., on the 25th of January last brings up many memories of the Mormon Bible, which took its origin, or a part of it, at "Gold Bible Hill," in the town of Manchester, four miles from Palmyra, on the road to Canandaigua. Mr. Whitmer was one of "The Three Witnesses" who swore by everything that was holy that they saw an angel of God come down with the golden book, which Joseph Smith interpreted. Subsequently all of these three men renounced Mormonism and declared their testimony false.

The Smith family came here from Vermont, which State was at that time -- about 1815 -- very much stirred regarding the mysteries of the divining rod. The elder Joseph Smith did odd jobs all about this neighborhood. The younger Joseph Smith (who was afterward the founder of the Mormons) gave his assistance occasionally. One day, in September, 1819, Joe's fathers and brothers were engaged in digging a well for Mr. Clark Chase, and Joe was lounging about the work with some of Mr. Clark's children when the stone, which resembled a child's foot, was thrown out of the well. The Chase children claimed the curiosity, as it was considered, but Joe seized and retained it, subsequently claiming that by its use he was enabled to discover the whereabouts of stolen property, locate the place where treasure was buried and such like impostures until the alleged finding of the magic spectacles with the golden book -- the spectacles thenceforward taking the place of the stone. This small stone was the famous "peek stone" with which young Joseph Smith claimed miraculous powers. In a kneeling posture, with a bandage on his eyes, so luminous was the light without it, with the stone in a large white stovepipe hat, and this hat in front of his face, he saw things unutterably wonderful, He could reveal, full too well, the place where stolen property or wandering flocks could be found. Caskets of gold stored away by the Spaniards or Capt. Kidd, coffers of gems, Oriental treasures, the "wealth of Ormus and of Ind" gleamed beneath the ground in adjacent fields and woodlands. Digging became the order of the night and sleep that of the day. Father and brothers, decoyed neighbors, and all who could be hired by cider or strong drink were organized into a digging phalanx. They sallied forth in the darkness. Solemn ceremonies prefaced the work. Not a soul was disturbed by the spades till Joe's mystic wand, the witch hazel, guided by the sacred stone, pointed out the golden somewhere. Entire silence was one condition of success. When hours had passed and the answering thud on the priceless chest was about to strike the ear, some one in a rapture of expectance always broke the spell by speaking, the riches were spirited away to another quarter, and the digging must be resumed another night.

This air of mystery prepared the way for greater pretensions on the part of Smith. Only a mile from the dwelling house of the Smith family was the farm of Alonzo Sanders, which included what is to-day known as "the Hill Cumorah," where the Angel Moroni announced to him the presence of the "Golden Plates," giving an account of the fate which attended the early inhabitants of America. With these plates would be found the only means by which they could be read, the wonderful spectacles known as the "Urim and Thummim." Joe was not averse to such a revelation, for his hazel rod and his "peek stone" had already failed him. There had been various religious awakenings in the neighborhood, and when the various sects began to quarrel over the converts Joe arose and announced that his mission was to restore the true priesthood. He appointed a number of meetings, but no one seemed inclined to follow him as the leader of a new religion. In September, 1823, an angel appeared to him. forgave his many lapses from grace, and announced the golden plates.

These plates, however, were not found for several years. In the meantime Joe Smith had been absent at Susquehanna and other places to work up the religious side of his assertions.

The time having come to secure the treasure, Smith returned to Palmyra and commenced to dig for the golden plates. The late William Van Camp of Lyons told the writer that as a boy at the time he heard that one night the spades struck a strong box. Thunder and lightning followed. The box sank deeper, and Smith explained the loss by the lack of faith on the part of the diggers. At last the plates were secured on the night of Sept. 22, 1826, the Prophet relating that he had been hit hard by the chief devil, who wished to have the plates remain concealed. Of the three witnesses named above, Martin Harris came back to this vicinity and died here; Oliver Cowdery moved to Missouri with the Mormons and was expelled, and David Whitmer abandoned them to their fate.

Time would fail us to give many of the details of the alleged translations of the plates in the small farmhouse in Susquehanna. No one about here had any faith in the book, Clark Chase even refusing to make a box in which the plates might be transported to Susquehanna, his prospective pay being in the profits of the book. So Smith hid them in a bag of beans and took them over to Susquehanna on horseback. The translation from the plates was a matter of several weeks. Martin Harris of Palmyra furnished the money for the work. When it was done Joe Smith and the three witnesses brought the translation here. At that time -- from September, 1829, to March, 1830 -- Mr. Van Camp (quoted above) and Major John H. Gilbert were working in the office of the Wayne Sentinel, E. B. Grandin, proprietor. During these months The Book of Mormon was in process of printing. The office was in the third story of a building now known as the "Exchange Row," in the principal street of Palmyra. The foreman was Mr. Pomeroy Tucker, who afterward published a work on Mormonism. Major Gilbert was a compositor and also a dancing master. His duties in the latter calling took him away from his "case" so frequently that Van Camp "distributed" in order to give him a chance to work the next day. The "copy" was on ruled paper -- an expensive thing in those days -- and the letters were so closely crowded that words like "and" or "the" were divided at the end of the line. The copy was in Cowdery's handwriting, but it was produced from a tightly-buttoned coat every morning by Hyrum Smith. One day's supply only was given at a time, and this was taken away at night.

There were no marks of punctuation in the copy -- a sore trial to both Tucker and Gilbert in "reading proof." At such times Cowdery occasionally "held the copy." In the absence of Cowdery the proofreaders often resorted to the orthodox Bible to verify some foggy passages. The "matter" was "paged" so that 32 pages could be printed at a time on one of Hoe's "Smith" six-column hand presses. After the sheets had been run through once and properly dried, they were reversed and printed on the other side, The bookbinder then folded them by hand and severed them with an ivory paper-cutter. The result was that 2,500 large sheets made 5,000 small sheets with 16 pages printed on each side.

It seems to be very well settled, both from direct and circumstantial evidence, that the alleged translation was adapted, if not more closely copied, from a book entitled "The Manuscript Fund," [sic} which had been written by a roving minister named Solomon Spaulding, and which he tried in vain to have published. This manuscript was in a printing office at Pittsburgh for several months, and was readily accessible to Sidney Rigdon, who was then engaged in the translation and in the subsequent spread of Mormonism. Rigdon afterward became an apostate, and died in Friendship, Allegany County, a few years ago. The original manuscript of Spaulding's work was lost for many years; but in 1885 it was discovered in the Sandwich Islands, and it is now in the library of Hiram College, in Ohio,

But what became of the original manuscript of the Mormon Bible? This is where David Whitmer becomes of interest. There were, years ago, rumors that he had these pages in his possession, and the writer sent to him a plain inquiry, which brought back this answer:

RICHMOND, Mo., Dec. 27, 1879.                

DEAR SIR: In reply to your inquiry can say that I am one of the witnesses referred to and am yet alive.

I have in my possession the original manuscripts referred to, and they are in a perfect state of preservation and I know of what I speak. Yours truly, &c.
                                  DAVID WHITMER.

Some months later the following came from a member of the family:

"David Whitmer requests me to say to you that it is not wisdom in him to grant your request at this time to have a page of the original manuscript photographed, &c.

"If granted he would be called upon by others perhaps in the same way, and it might lead to much annoyance, if nothing more.

"They are in his possession in a good state of preservation, and have been seen by many of our citizens, including lawyers, doctors, professors of learning, editors, and preachers of various denominations. He regards his as a sacred trust, and we feel curious to know the import of your article, as well as the character of the illustration, if any is intended. Of course he could not comply under any circumstances without knowing what would accompany the insertion of the photograph."

It is known that Mr. Whitmer was dared by the Mormons to produce the manuscript; also that he was threatened if he did not produce it. To neither of these hostile actions did he ever pay the slightest heed. It is the universal opinion that only a part of this manuscript ever found its way into print as the Mormon Bible. Therefore the exposure of the whole manuscript to the world is an event that is looked forward to with the greatest interest by all those who have made the Mormons and their doings a matter of study and investigation. There may be much in the pages now about to see the light which will explain some of the early record of the Mormons by furnishing links that are missing, and by reconciling testimony that is conflicting. The result of the exposure, therefore, cannot but be beneficial all around.

Note: A portion of this article was derived from Mrs. Horace Eaton's 1881 paper entitled, "The Origin of Mormonism." Other parts appear to rely upon the story told by Pomeroy Tucker in his 1867 book, The Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism. Much of the article, including the story of Smith, the plates, and the thunder and lightning, as told by William Van Camp, first appeared in Frederic G. Mather's 1881 article, "The Early Days of Mormonism." It is possible that Mather himself wrote this 1888 article for the New York Times.


No. 11,392.                       New-York,  Monday,  March 5, 1888.                       Vol. 37 No. 2.


To the Editor of the New-York Times:

The article in your paper of yesterday on Mormonism contains some errors. The Rev. S. Rigdon, who unquestionably compiled the Mormon Bible from "The Manuscript Found" of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth College, never was an "apostate" from his Mormon faith. He was a man of much native eloquence. If the testimony of credible witnesses is to be believed, he got up the Mormon Bible. "The Manuscript Found," said to have been found in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice, who died at Honolulu on the 14th of April, 1886, is no more like the Mormon Bible than the Book of Job is like "Pope's Essay on Man." I have a copy of the "Manuscript" that Mr. Rice had in his possession, and it came to him when he bought the printing office of the Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph of the late E. D. Howe, author of "Mormonism Exposed." It was among the papers of the office, and on the wrapper was written, "A Manuscript Story." When President Fairchild of Oberlin College was on a visit to his old friend, Mr. Rice, in Honolulu, a few years ago, he asked Mr. Rice to examine his documents, to see if he could not find some anti-slavery pamphlets for the library of Oberlin College. Mr. Rice was one of the first anti-slavery editors in Ohio. Among them Mr. Rice found this "Manuscript Story." It was copied "ver batim et literatim," and printed by Joseph Smith, a son of the Prophet; and I have now a copy of the little book, also a letter from Mr. Rice, telling how it was found, and of his giving it to President Fairchild to be presented to the library of Oberlin College, where it is now for safe keeping, and of no special value. Mormonism was a great fraud. I lived for some eighteen months in Willoughby, Ohio, in 1832-4, within two and a half miles of the Mormon Temple in Kirtland; knew Jo Smith, Cowdery, Pratt, and Hyde, leaders of the faithful; heard Jo Smith in a justice court, where he was before it on a charge of assault and battery, testify as to his finding the "Golden Plates" of the "Mormon Bible," and how he was kicked out of the hole in the earth where he was digging, when he struck the plates, by an unseen power. If there had been a newspaper reporter at that three days' hearing, in the old Methodist church in Painesville, it would have been one of the interesting and curious chapters in history. What a blessing reporters are! We cannot be too thankful for them.           JAMES A. BRIGGS.
115 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, Monday,
Feb. 27, 1888.

Note: The above letter to the Editor of the New York Times was very likely the last such comments ever submitted for publication by James A. Briggs, prior to his death later that same year. An excerpt from this letter appears in Dan Vogel's Early Mormon Documents I, p. 206. Briggs' final account of his encounter with the Kirtland Mormons is not much different from the story he had told previously in various letters to several different newspaper editors. See, for example, his similar letter of mid-April, 1887, written to the Editor of the Washington Daily Evening Star and reprinted in the Cleveland Leader.


No. ?                              New-York,  Sunday,  May 27, 1888.                              Vol. ?


EARLY DAYS OF MORMONISM. PALMYRA, KIRTLAND AND NAUVOO. By J. H. Kennedy, 12mo. pp. 275. Charles Scribner's Sons.

Of books on Mormonism, as a belief, innumerable have been the issued. It would have been hardly possible, for writers to discuss such a topic without references to the founders of the creed, but the introduction of Joseph Smith or of Brigham Young have been but of secondary importance. There really has been no work which gives in a plain, concise, and complete manner the plain story of the birth of Mormonism. It has seemed as if not worth the while to write about its origin in a cool and unbiased manner. Mr. Kennedy has taken on himself the task of telling "the story of the inception and growth of that remarkable body of" misleading and misled men, "from the birth of Joseph Smith to his tragic death in Carthage Jail." To accomplish this, the author, with that keenness of appreciation which belongs to the journalist, has not been satisfied with hearsays. Studying carefully that enormous amount of published matter relative to Mormonism, for its certification he has sought for himself among the musty records of County Court Houses and has examined the files of newspapers published in the days of Joseph Smith. The book is not controversial. The endeavor has been made to keep it clear from any shadings of personal belief. It is not the purpose of Mr. Kennedy to show how absurd were the claims of Joseph Smith. Though the author is careful to intimate that this is not his object, no man in his senses can read this plain and unvarnished history without being horrified at man's credulity, and he will recall what Faraday said: "I declare that I, taking the average of many minds that have recently come before me (and apart from that spirit which God has placed in each) and excepting for a moment that average as a standard, I should far prefer the obedience, affections, and instincts of a dog before it. "Early Days of Mormonism" is a work which, having taken years to write, is as nearly correct as careful preparation can make it. Those who may wish hereafter to write of the political, moral, or social condition of the Mormons may consult Mr. Kennedy for that basis of facts on which they can build.

How was it that without premeditation Smith was the creator of Mormonism? It was the rapid growth of an ugly plant in a soil which was prepared for it. "The atmosphere in which Joseph Smith was reared was saturated with ignorant superstition," and shall we say that now there are no zones in our own country where such abnormal conditions do not exist? Joseph's power as a seer was dreamed of by his mother before he was born.

After the Revolution there came a period of religious revivals, beginning in 1796. Just then as now physical phenomena -- jerkings, rollings, dancings -- were supposed to be direct manifestations of Divine interpositions. Why should we think that strange? Are there not many who think to-day that hypnotic conditions are blessed indications of His will? All lslamites and some Christians believe in it. The revival increased in force, and in 1801 reached its level and continued at high-water mark for many years after. Innumerable were the sects formed. Men believed that the time was ripe for a great change in man's condition. Something strange and marvelous was soon to come.

"A declaration of Divine power or apostolic commission that to-day would be assigned to the mental derangement or speculative quackery that had been the cause, was at that period in danger of finding enough who would believe it and be spiritually elated or depressed by the message it conveyed.'"

Fitted, then, to the times, Joseph Smith was born at Sharon. Vt., on the 23d of December, 1805. The father, of the same name, was implicated in making counterfeit money, but escaped the penalty by turning state's evidence. At times Joseph Smith, Sr., dug for hidden treasure. In 1816 Smith and his wife, Lucy Mack, migrated from Vermont to Palmyra, N. Y. The father worked occasionally and kept a cake shop, Smith was a vagrant, and small thefts in the neighborhood were attributed to him. In his "Origin Rise, and Progress of Mormonism" Pomeroy Tucker writes: "The Smith family, (at this period) were popularly regarded as an illiterate, whisky-drinking, shiftless, irreligious race of people." Jo Smith's mother was given to reveries, told fortunes. She undoubtedly planted in her son that seed which bore fruit in his future. Jo had no education, and the books he read are said to have been vicious. At 12 years of age one who knew him described him as "a dull-eyed, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy, noted only for his indolent and vagabondish character and his habits of exaggeration and untruthfulness." It is a mistake, however, to believe that Joseph Smith had not latent power. As he advanced in years he became interested in religious controversy. His memory was retentive. He began to show some rude eloquence of speech. He was not afraid to tackle the most complex and mysterious of Scriptural texts and expound them. He knew as much as those who listened, and probably because his hearers could not understand him they were, if not convinced, at least amazed. He joined on probation the Methodist church at Palmyra. One thing Jo Smith despised, and that was manual labor. He resolved "to make cunning take the place of muscle." Brigham Young declared that the 'Prophet was of mean birth; that he was wild, intemperate, even dishonest and tricky in his youth." In 1833 62 residents of Palmyra made a declaration that Joseph Smith, Sr., and his son Joseph were in particular considered entirely destitute of moral character and addicted to vicious habits. They spent most of their time digging for money, and the citizens of Palmyra state that the holes are still visible where they had made their excavations.

Finding water, digging wells, and the employment of the forked hazel rod was the business of the Smith father and son. In 1819 the famous Peek stone was found. That worthless bit of stone was the foundation on which Jo Smith reared Mormonism. It advertised him. By means of the stone Kidd's fortune was to be discovered. He raised some money from dupes in 1820 to defray the expenses of digging. From 1820 to 1827 at irregular intervals the money digging was continued, and if no gold was found Jo Smith was acquiring the knowledge how human idiots could be led. Now, Jo had Divine visitations. He saw lights, Messengers of God, so he said, came to him. One, of them told him of the book written on gold plates containing the everlasting Gospel as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient races of the world. And so the Golden Bible was launched. Where did Jo get the idea of the Golden Bible? Mr. Kennedy traces back this metallic publication to something Jo Smith had read in a Canadian paper, where for the gullible of that time, a paragraph had been published about a Golden Bible. Peter Ingersoll, who was a neighbor of the Smiths, says that the prophet made this ingenious remark about the find: "I have got the d___d fools fixed, and will carry out the fun" -- the fun relative to the Golden Bible.

So, Smith did "get the fools." No one was to look at the book, for to get a glimpse at it was to perish. He pretended to have the plates in a box, but one bolder than the rest, Hussey, whipped ofl the cover and there was a large brick. Jo was equal to the emergency; the Golden Bible had been supernaturally changed.

What was all this nonsense worth to the Smiths? Local notoriety and ultimately money. "The foundation of a new sect was an after thought." How Smith was brought in connection with Sidney Rigdon, the latter the brains of Mormonism, is not known. Anyhow, the Spaulding manuscript was used as a translation of' the golden, plates and Martin Harris furnished the money for the printing of "The Book of Mormon." That Harris had the printing done as a mercantile venture there can be no question. To protect the goods Smith had a special revelation as to price, which was to be $1.25 per copy. It was a dismal failure. Then Joseph had another revelation. His father could act as salesman. Working off books old Smith knew something about, for his father-in-law Mack used to sell a biography of himself. Old Jo cut prices, and swapped the "Book of Mormon" for sides of pork, bacon, or corn. Once the father settled a debt by means of the books at 80 cents each, which was a big discount.

Step by step. giving dates with the utmost precision, Mr. Kennedy follows Joseph Smith. Fanatic zeal, credulity, and imposition were all factors, and none handled them more cleverly than Jo Smith. Calmly, impassionateIy, the author keeps track of all the windings and doublings. People who are ignorant of the many methods made to raise money in the early Mormon period do not know of the Kirtland Safety Society, which issued bank notes. As there were law dangers which threatened such issues, under the Kirtland Safety Society notes were printed these words, "anti-banking company." At first glance one could not see the added words because of their diminutive size. Smith's name as Treasurer appears on the bill with Rigdon's. Mr. Kennedy writes of the beginning of a sect which includes now in Utah's 123,000 Mormons, and he believes their total number to be 213,000.

What is to be commended in Mr. Kennedy is his strict impartiality. So many citizens of the United States forget that the very cornerstone of our liberty is absolute freedom of belief. We have no more right to suppress Mormonism in the United States than Islamism; but the instant, by any of its acts or tenets, a religion is found to advocate usages in contravention with the laws of this country, to which laws all sects owe allegiance, the Government has a perfect right to command that such usages be abandoned. Mormons may then believe all the silly stuff sharp Jo Smith invented, but not one of them should be permitted to have more than one wife.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Friday, June 15, 1888.                                 No. ?




By J. H. Kennedy, 12mo. pp. 275. Charles Scribner's Sons.

Though Mormonism has a considerable literature there was room for another book upon the earlier history of that false religion, and the purpose of Mr. Kennedy in undertaking this labor was praiseworthy. So far as he has fulfilled that purpose his book is satisfactory, moreover, and it may at once be admitted that it does afford, within the lines of a general survey, a more impartial and accurate view of that early history than can be found elsewhere. Its fault is that it does little more than outline scenes, events and states of society and sentiment which are full of interest and value, and even the sketches of which here given indicate far more than is expressed. Mr. Kennedy, in fact, appears to have perceived clearly what was needed for the elucidation of obscure points in the development of Mormonism, but to have undervalued much material, the free use of which would have added greatly to the value of his book.

In his first chapter he justly examines the spiritual conditions prevailing in the Western and the further Eastern States it.tag the youth of Joseph Smith. Such an inquiry is absolutely indispensable to a clear understanding of what (followed. The period was one of intellectual and religious ferment. A young and vigorous rural population, having broken away from the traditions of Puritanism, drifted on a sea of wild speculation. The emotional side of the pioneer character was morbidly susceptible. Superstition, accompanying ignorance, smoothed the way for every conceivable fantasy. The democratic spirit, undisciplined by broad experience, revolted from all authority. There seemed, to a great many of these daring seekers after new light, no reason why prophets, seers, Messiahs even, should not rise from out the American wilderness as naturally as on the plain of Bethlehem or the desert of Sinai. In regard to the supernatural, credulity was hardly less rife than at the time of the witch mania. The young men dreamed dreams and the old men and women saw visions. When young Joseph Smith dug up an oddly shaped stone and pretended that he could divine by it after the manner of Dr. Dee, his simple neighbors accepted his claims, and on the strength of his wondrous "Peek Stone,'' wasted time and substance in repeated efforts to find the treasures supposed to have been buried by Captain Kidd.

Joseph's mother was what would in Scotland have been called "a spae woman." She had the second sight. She claimed clairvoyance. She heard voices and saw mystic visions. Doubtless the boy inherited some special tendency to "other-worldliness," though it is not less certain that, his enterprise once launched, he guided and tended it with a single eye to the attainment of material prosperity. But it would be a mistake to conclude that Mormonism grew wholly out of fraud on the one side and credulity on the other. Mr. Kennedy's narrative makes it quite clear that Smith possessed special natural gifts of the kind which in all ages have insured success in undertakings dependent upon popular favor. One of these gifts, loosely indicated at the present day by the phrase "personal magnetism," proved very useful to him. He could influence most people when brought in contact with them. He was "very persuasive"; and so no doubt was his ally, Sidney Rigdon. Smith had no moral sense. His blood and training were alike against him. Born of a family of vagrants, loafers, chicken-thieves, whiskey-drinkers and cheats, and bred to be lazy, shiftless and dishonest, nothing was more likely than that he should avail himself of the first opportunity to impose upon his fellows. As to the precise method of the initial imposition -- the Golden Bible, that it is to say -- it is to be regretted that no clear evidence exists, nor has Mr. Kennedy been able to add anything new to the mass of conflicting statements already in print on the subject. The Solomon Spaulding theory remains undemonstrated and all the others fall far short of the requirements of valid testimony. Whether Joe Smith invented the Mormon Bible himself, or was helped by Rigdon's more fertile fancy, or appropriated and altered Solomon Spalding's story, will now probably never be known.

The worldly wisdom of the young impostor was strikingly shown in his cautious adherence to the main lines of old Bible doctrine in framing his spurious revelations. He knew better than to shock the inbred religious conservatism which even the most radical reformers were still unconsciously influenced by. The novelties of his creed were reserved for the earthly organization of the Church. The central aim was to establish Joseph Smith in power and prosperity. It is true that his prudence was not equal to the demands on it. When he attained power he lost his judgment, in fact, and the clearest evidence of this is his fatally rash attempt to measure himself with the strength of the State and the Nation. The expulsion of the Mormons from Kirtland, Zion, Far West and Nauvoo was unquestionably lawless and outrageous, and indicates the essential barbarism of the men who were active in the work of persecution; but the arrogance and intolerance of the Mormon leaders as certainly set the example of aggression, and their wild taunts and open hostility to American forms of government must have deeply incensed the Western men, who, however rough they might be, were patriotic to the core.

The collapse of the Kirtland experiment was due primarily to Smith's wild-cat banking, but secondarily to the great financial stringency of 1837. In the other cases disaster was caused directly by the enmity of the surrounding communities; an enmity fanned by slander and calumny to white heat. Mr. Kennedy should have gone more into detail at this point. Scarcely anything is now known of the real processes by which the Mormons became so hateful to their neighbors. It is indeed certain that the grossest fictions were circulated about them; that they were charged with as many crimes as the Jews in the Middle Ages; that they offended the conservatism of an ignorant outside element; that their political venality and time-serving finally lost them the confidence of both parties; but all this needs to be told at greater length, and it cannot be credited that the material has already disappeared. Much more, also, could have been related concerning the sojourn at Nauvoo, perhaps the most singular episode in the history of the United States; for there one man, and he a vulgar impostor, actually succeeded in establishing a religious despotism within an American State, and with the unanimous consent of the State Legislature was given powers which naturally put him above the jurisdiction of the State. A more astonishing spectacle surely was never seen than when both parties vied with another in fulfilling the demands of Joe Smith, though those demands tended directly to the creation of a separate power and government, not merely unknown to, but in contravention of, the principles of American democracy. A careful study of that Nauvoo episode would well repay the historical student.

Nauvoo, however, turned the sham prophet's head and brought about his downfall. The prosperity of the new city was wonderful and seemed unlimited, but the more Smith had the more he wanted. No doubt the adulation of his dupes had much to do with fixing his delusion. He actually believed at last that he could be elected President of the United States, and announced his candidature gravely. This was the beginning of the end, but it is clear that had the man not been murdered he would speedily have brought himself into collision with the Government, State or National, and have been put down. As it was, his murder, which was a cowardly and cruel crime, was the very best thing that could have happened for his Church. The martyrdom of Joe Smith proved the foundation of Mormonism. It peopled Utah, built Salt Lake City, cemented the power of Brigham Young, and made possible that long struggle between law and fanaticism which has continued to this day, and of which the end is not even yet in sight.

Note: See also the Cleveland Plain Dealer for Feb. 7, 1886 and July 23, 1901


Vol. 49.                   Brooklyn,  New York,  Friday,  August 23, 1889.                   No. 232.

The Late James A. Briggs.

An old and useful public servant is lost in the death of James A. Briggs, whose brief obituary appeared in yesterday's Eagle. He is best known by the people of this State as a member of the State Board of Assessors. For years he took part in the continually recurring but apparently hopeless task of equalizing the valuations for purposes of state taxation of the several counties of New York. He is perhaps hardly to blame for the failure to secure an entirely satisfactory result. The subject of taxes and assessments was his study, not only from the point of view of abstract principle, but also in the light of large observation and experience. Probably he made a more determined effort to obtain justice for the great cities than was made by any other State Assessor. Mr. Briggs was a strong partisan. He was among the original Republicans of Ohio and was active in the canvasses of that State, where he lived many years, though born on the banks of the Hudson, and also in the New York campaigns. It should be said that he never permitted his political sympathies to color his official action. In one of the letters which have been of late familiar to readers of the Eagle he recalled the fact that he lost reappointment because, in the opinion of one of the "leaders," Mr. Briggs, in a report of his, or some statement in regard to it, refused to pervert facts in order to make a small point in favor of "the party." Personally Mr. Briggs was an interesting and companionable man. To a bright intelligence he added an extensive knowledge of the history of public affairs for half a century and he was an authority on names, dates and events in the stirring period with which he was contemporaneous. He was often seen in newspaper offices and was widely liked and will be honored and regretted by the practical workers of journalism.

Note: The Eagle of the 22nd also printed this notice: "James A. Briggs died at an early hour this morning of apoplexy at his home, 62 Orange street. While his death was sudden, the announcement of it will not occasion much surprise to his friends, as Mr. Briggs had been in feeble health since he received a paralytic stroke four years ago. He was born in Red Hook on the Hudson in 1811 and had been a resident of Brooklyn for the past sixteen years. He started life as a lawyer and when a young man went West. Many years of his life were spent in Cleveland, O., where he displayed great political activity and acquired a reputation in that and other Western States as a campaign orator. He was made a deputy collector by the later President Chester A. Arthur, but previous to his Federal service was a State Assessor. The body will be taken from Brooklyn to-morrow to Cleveland for burial."


No. ?                       New-York,  Thursday,  April 27, 1890.                       Vol. ?





LAMONI, Iowa, April 24. -- Joseph Smith, son of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, is to-day the spiritual and temporal leader of 20,000 people who accept the Bible and the Book of Mormon as their guides in all matters of religion, who repudiate Brigham Young and his successors in the Utah branch, have established and yet maintain missions in the Salt Lake Valley for the purpose of warning the Brighamites from the crime and folly of polygamy, and who have been declared by an Ohio court to be the legal successors to the original Mormon Church of Palmyra. Kirtland, and Nauvoo.

When in 1880 this so-called Iowa branch of Mormonism was making a legal fight for the old temple at Kirtland, upon which the elder Joseph had staked so much, and in which he had claimed to hold converse with Moses, Elias, and the Most High, it was officially declared by Judge L. S. Sherman of Lake County "that the plaintiff, the reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is the true and lawful continuation of and successor, to the said original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, organized in 1830, and is entitled in law to all its rights and property."

When the younger Joseph and his followers, half a dozen years ago, made a pilgrimage Back to Kirtland to hold an annual conference in the old temple they had purchased and refitted, a spasm of horror ran through staid Ohio over the prospect of a few hundred Mormons, with a dozen wives each, descending upon Lake County to preach and practice their peculiar doctrines, and the lack of knowledge there as to the existence, teachings, and moral conduct of this most exemplary branch of the Mormon Church is general throughout the land to-day, where seven men out of ten know absolutely nothing of this son of the Prophet Joseph and the results that have come from his teachings and work.

The statistical report of the reorganized Church gives, for 1888, a total membership of 20,678, and for 1889, 22,163; again of 1,485. This report was made at the April session of 1889, and the leaders of the Church now state that from the reports already received tram their various fields of labor this figure will by April, 1890, touch close on 25,000. These figures cover actual enrolled communicants ever eight years of age, and do not Include many, possibly hundreds, who affiliate with the Church but are not enrolled. In commenting upon these figures, when furnishing them, President Smith said to the writer: "Were all these incorporated I would feel safe In saying that we would number over thirty thousand, and put in our children and the number would be still larger. We added by baptism 1,743, ths other additions were upon certificates of standing or membership, mainly before my father's death in 1844."

The term "reorganized," as here used, signifies that the Church is a reorganization of the elements of which the parent Church was competed at the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, upon the basis of faith, church government, and doctrine then embodied in the published and authentic documents of the Church. The original Church was organized in 1830, and was at first called " The Church of Christ," but as there was already existing a denomination under that name the words " Jesus" and " Latter Day Saints" were introduced by resolution and vote to secure recognition and protection under the law of the land. By 1844, when the founder of the Church and his brother were murdered in Carthage Jail, the humble membership of six had been swelled to a figure somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000, as estimated by Smith and others. This number had been converted and baptized into the new faith under the missionary efforts of the elders upon a confession or belief in which there was no plural wife system of any sort, and no hint of disloyalty to the United States. There were, according to the best information that can now be obtained, at Nauvoo and in Hancock County, Ill., in the zenith of the Prophet's power, some 26,000 of the Church membership.


When Smith had fallen a victim to the wrath of his enemies, and the, claims of Rigdon, Strang, Bishop, and others to the prophetic successorship had been pushed aside by the strong and ruthless hand of Brigham Young, the great hegira to the wilderness of Salt Lake occurred. It is usually supposed that the mass of believers in Mormonism, as that faith then prevailed, went with Brigham to the West. This is a mistake. The statistics of Utah show that in 1850, the first census year after the settlement of the Mormons there, there was population of a little over 11,380: In 1860, 40,273; in 1870, 86,789, and in 1880,143,963. From statistics furnished by the Mormons Utah to the public last year there were 9 apostles, 75 patriarchs, 3,719 nigh priests, 11,805 elders, 2,065 priests, 3,382 teachers, 11.610 deacons, and in families other than officers 81,889, equal to a total of 113,704.

These figures are given to emphasize the fact that the missionary work of the Church during the prophet's lifetime, without polygamy, resulted in an addition to the Church of from 150,000 to 200,000, in the space of fourteen years, or from April 6, 1830, to June 27, 1844; and that after forty-five years from Smith's death, or from June 27, 1844 to 1889, there are not 150,000 in the Utah Church, notwithstanding the additions of plural marriage, proselyting, and natural increase.

The fact is that there were many hundreds, and perhaps thousands, who would not and did not accept the rule of Young and the dogma of polygamy. The prophet's surviving brother, William Smith; his sisters, Sophronia McClary, Catherine Salisbury, and Lucy Millikin, with their families; his wife, Emma, and her family, were all among these who refused credence to Young: The greater number of those who were at Nauvoo, in other sections of Illinois, and in other States of the Union, became as shepherdless sheep when their leader was killed, and scattered away from the settlements they had made and erected new homes where they could, many taking part in the associations and church divisions above referred to, but many more quietly settling down to take care of themselves and await the development of events. One by one the various associations failed; William Smith at Covington, Ky., and Palestine, Ill.; Sidney Rigdon at Pittsburg. Penn., and the Cumberland Valley; Lyman Wight in Texas; Alpheus Cutler in Iowa: James J. Strang at Voree, Wis., and on the Beaver Islands in Lake Michigan. The thousands who had followed them were left headless and scattered, as at first. In 1861 a few who were settled in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, all of them members of the Church on the death of Smith, set themselves lovingly and resolutely to the task of gathering these separated fragments together, basing their appeal upon the right of membership and the laws given to the Church through the administration of Joseph Smith, which were to be found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.


These faithful few succeeded in arousing great interest among their brethren of the early days, and in June, 1852, a conference was held at Beloit, Wis. An organization was determined upon, committees of conference and missionaries were appointed, and a determined effort set on foot to find and enroll the many scattered members, isolated or in groups, an over the Northwest. This effort was quite successful, and in April, l860, a conference was held at Amboy, Lee County, Ill., at which about three hundred members were represented. The Prophet's wife, Emma, and his son Joseph united with the movement at this conference upon the baptism they had received the original Church, young Joseph having been baptized, at his father's own hands some time before his death. From this humble start has the Reorganized Church grown, steadily and sorely, until now it numbers its 35,000, scattered all over the globe, but with its headquarters here. From the conference minutes of 1888 it is learned that in England it has a membership of 608; in Scotland, 15: in Wales, 173; in Canada, 880; in Nova Scotia, 26; in the Society Islands, 725, and in Australia, 188.

Joseph Smith, the Presiding Elder in name and the spiritual and temporal leader in fact, has had an eventful life in some respects, which compensation has followed close upon trial in many ways. He has never been self-seeking, and his present labor has been laid upon him at the hands of the Church and not because of his own ambition. Men generally give him credit for sincerity, also, he certainly holds the confidence and affection of his Church.

He was born at Kirtland, Ohio, in November, 1832, at a time when the Church was in its youth and just learning what germs of expansion and growth had been planted within it. He has a dim recollection of the exciting scenes amid which his boyhood was passed, and can relate many incidents that made a lasting impression upon his mind. He remembers a visit, in company with his mother, to the Missouri jail into which his father had been cast, "the removal to Illinois." to quote his own language, "the crossing on the ice, the return of my father from captivity, and the subsequent arrival at Commerce. With the sickly season that ensued upon the settlement made at Commerce, and subsequently Nauvoo, my active life began. At my mother's direction, and under her active ministration, I aided to care for those whom the malaria of the swamp, incident to the new country, struck down with the fever. Once, with a house full of fever-stricken patients, a tent in the yard furnished shelter to mother and children, while with tender and sleepless solicitude she cared for those placed in her charge; father absent, and others with their hands full caring for their own, left no help to her save that of her little boys, the oldest only able to carry water from the spring to cool the parched tongue and quench the fevered thirst." In the fall of 1843, or the spring of 1844, he does not remember which, he was baptized by his father at the foot of Main-street, Nauvoo. "During the latter year," he adds, "and before the death of my father and Uncle Hyrum, I was blessed by the first in the presence of quite a number of the prominent Elders in the Church, this blessing being confirmed just prior to the tragedy at Carthage."

There is little doubt that Joseph intended the successorship to fall upon his son, and that he was murdered by the mob before he could make the claim of the son secure. Bishop John D. Lee, in that remarkable confession and life record written just before his execution for the Mountain Meadows massacre, in writing of the final days at Nauvoo makes use of these words:

"It was then understood among thee Saints that young Joseph was to succeed his father, and that right justly belonged to him. Joseph the Prophet, had bestowed that right upon him by ordination, but he was too young at that time to fill the office and discharge its solemn duties. Some one must fill the place until he had grown to more mature age. I heard Mother smith, the mother of Joseph the Prophet, plead with Brigham Young, with tears, act to rob young Joseph of his birthright, which his father, the Prophet, bestowed upon him previous to his death. That young Joseph was to succeed his father as the leader of the Church, and it was his right in the line of the priesthood. 'I know it,' replied Brigham; 'don't worry or take any trouble, Mother Smith: by so doing you are only laying the knife to the throat of the child. If it is known that he is the rightful successor of his father, the enemy of the priesthood will seek his life. He is too young to lead this people now, but when he arrives at mature age, he shall have his place; no one shall rob him of it.' When the time came, according to his own words, for Joseph to receive his own, Joseph came, but Brigham received him not. He said, as an excuse, that Joseph had not the true spirit; that his mother had married a Gentile lawyer, and had infused the Gentile spirit into him; that Joseph denied the doctrine of his father's celestial marriage. Brigham closed the door and barred him from preaching in the Tabernacle, and raised a storm of persecution against him."


The son Joseph and his widowed mother remained in Nauvoo until 1847, when the last named became the wife of Major L. C. Bidamon, the "Gentile lawyer" above referred to. Joseph spent some time as clerk in a store and then ventured into a small mercantile business of his own en a few hundred dollars advanced by his mother, but it did not prove a success. He spent some time upon a farm, became a railroad sub-contractor upon the Warsaw and Rockford Road, in which he sunk a season's work and $800. But it was during this year, 1853, that he received "the first serious impressions" concerning his connection with the work of his father. The causes that led to these impressions may be related best in his own words:

"That spring, if my memory is correct, there was a large emigration to Utah, a part of which was camped at Keokuk, twelve miles below Nauvoo, on the Iowa side of the Mississippi river. A delegation of them visited Nauvoo, and with one of them, whose name, it I learned, I do not now remember, I had a long conversation respecting Mormonism. I had talked with many upon the matter, but had never taken the subject into very earnest consideration. This person urged that I was possibly doing a great wrong in allowing the years to pass by unimproved. I stated to him that I was ready to do any work that might fall to my lot or that I might be called to do. I had no fellowship with the leadership in the Salt Lake Church, and could not then give my sanction to things there; my prejudices were against them. In the Summer and Fall several things occurred that served to bring the question up: my sickness brought me near to death; my coming of age and my choice of a profession were all coincident events, and during my recovery I had opportunity for reflection, as for weeks I could do no work.

"One day, after my return to health was assured, I had lain down to rest in my room; the window was open to the south, and the fresh breeze swept in through the trees and half-closed blinds. I had slept and woke refreshed, my mind recurred to the question of my future life and what its work should be. I had been and was still reading law, and it was partially decided that I should continue that study. While weighing my desires and capabilities for this work, the question came up: will I ever have any thing to do with Mormonism? If so, how and what will it be? I was impressed that there was truth in the work my father had done. I believed to Gospel so far as I comprehended it. Was I have no part in that work as left by him?

"While engaged in this contemplation and perplexed by these recurring questions the room suddenly expanded and passed away. I saw stretched out before me towns, cities, busy marts, Court Houses, courts, and assemblies of men, all busy and all marked by those characteristics that are found in the world, where men win place and renown. This staid before my vision till I had noted clearly that choice of preferment here was offered to him who would enter In, but who did so must go into the busy whirl and be submerged by its din, bustle, and confusion. In the subtle transition of a dream I was gazing over a wide expanse of country in a prairie land; no mountains were to be seen, but far as tbe eye could reach, hill and dale, hamlet and village, farm and farmhouse, pleasant cot and homelike place, everywhere betokening thrift, industry, and the pursuits of a happy peace were open to the view. I remarked to him standing by me, but whose presence I had not before noticed. 'This must be the country of a happy people.' To this he replied: 'Which would you prefer, life, success, and renown among the busy scenes that you first saw, or a place among these people without honors or renown I think of it well, for the choice will be offered to you sooner or later, and you must be prepared to decide. Your decision once made, you cannot recall it, and must abide the result.' No time was given me for a reply, for as suddenly as it had come, so suddenly was it gone, and I found myself sitting upright on the side of the bed where I bad been lying, the rays of the declining sun shining athwart the western hills and over the shimmering river. From that hour, at leisure, at work or play, I kept before me what had been presented, and was at length prepared to answer when the opportunity for the choice should be given."

In the Winter of 1855 the young man went to Canton, Ill., where he remained nearly a year in the study of the law. He was elected Clerk of the City Council, and served for a time as Deputy Postmaster. But amid all his secular pursuits he was still revolving in mind his relation to the church his father had planted, and endeavoring to discover his duty toward It. Influential Mormons of Salt Lake, who either desired to bring him under Brigham Young's influence, or who hoped that he might supplant the then great leader of the Church, endeavored to persuade him to go to Utah and cast his lot in with Mormonism as there preached and practiced. But his opposition to polygamy, and his utter disbelief in it, stood in the way.

"Much of my opposition to polygamy (Joseph himself writes) has been charged to my mother's teaching and influence. Mother's influence may have had something to do with controlling my youth, but she did not trouble herself to teach me anything specially in regard to that tenet. I knew what she had said at times to others, and that she was opposed to it. I never questioned her upon the subject until near the close of her life. I relied upon what was given me concerning my own action in the premises, and trusted to my own judgment upon the records of the Church as published."


The question of his definite connection with the Church was not settled until 1859, when he became satisfied that in that direction lay his duty. There came, he declares, a spiritual manifestation similar to the one heretofore described, in which he was told:

"The Saints reorganizing at Zarahemla (in Wisconsin) and other places is the only organized portion of the Church accepted by Me. I have given them My Spirit, and will continue to do so while they remain humble and faithful."

A correspondence was opened with the leaders of the Church, and Joseph and his mother were invited to meet with the Reorganized Conference, to be held at Amboy, Lee County, Iowa, in April, 1860, stern old Elder Marks adding to the invitation these determined words:

"We have had enough of man-made prophets, and we do not want any more of that sort. If God has called you, we want to know it. If He has, the Church is ready to sustain you; If not, we want nothing to do with you."

The mother and son left Nauvoo on April 4, in the face of one of the fiercest tempests that had blown that Spring. "My mother," declares Joseph, "made the characteristic remark that thus it had been all through her life; that whenever she set out to do anything for the Gospel's sake the Old Boy seemed to be in the elements trying to prevent." The Saints assembled at Amboy received the Prophet's son with open arms, and there was little question of his being chosen to the headship if he was willing to accept it. It we may accept the testimony of the Saints' Herald, then, as now, the organ of the Reorganized Church, a scene of some excitement followed the first appearance of Joseph and his mother, recalling vividly the events of Kirtland and Nauvoo of a third of a century before.

"On the evening before the commencement of the late conference," says the Herald, "a prayer meeting was held at the house of Brother Stephen J. Stone, in the vicinity of Amboy. After the meeting had commenced and the Spirit had rested copiously upon the saints. Brother Joseph and his mother came into the meeting. They were welcomed by the Saints assembled rising to their test. That event was exceedingly solemn and impressive. Nearly all that were there shed tears of joy. The gifts of the Spirit were poured out on that occasion in an eminent degree. The gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues were given to many the mighty power, witnessing the reality of Joseph's calling as a prophet at the Lord, and the great work which the Lord will perform through him. The Saints generally, and perhaps we may say universally, received the witness of the Holy Spirit that Joseph was chosen of God to be the successor of his father."

On the day following, Joseph was formally presented to the conference, and made an address. It was not long, but comprises one of the most interesting documents of modern Mormonism. In touching upon the doctrine of polygamy, he said

"There is but one principal taught by the leaders of any faction of this people that I hold in utter abhorrence. That is a principle taught by Brigham Young and those believing in him. I have been told that my father taught such doctrines. I have never believed it, and can never believe it. If such things were done, then I believe they were never done by Divine authority. I believe my father was a good man, and a good man never could have promulgated such doctrines."

Upon the conclusion of his address it was formally moved and unanimously carried that he should be received as a prophet and the successor of his father in the church. He was then

ordained as president of the high priesthood, and entered almost immediately upon what has since been his life work.



When Joseph, the son of the Prophet, had thus become the head of the Reorganized Church, it was thought by many that endeavor should be made to rebuild Nauvoo, and the President retained his home there until 1860, in the hope that this desire might carried into effect. But the opposition to Mormonism that twenty years before had put Joseph and Hyrum to death, that laid siege Nauvoo and drove its inhabitants west and north and south, was still in force in Hancock County, as the leaders of this small branch the Church seen discovered to their cost. Carthage, in whose jail the Prophet and his brother had been shot, called an excited mass meeting. In which resolutions were passed declaring that "we earnestly pretest against the return of the Mormons to Nauvoo; that they will not be allowed by the people of Hancock County to return and make such settlement." Other gatherings that spoke with like significant import were held in other places; while In one meeting at Nauvoo a resolution was added recommending "Joseph Smith to go to other parts to preach, pray, and practice his religion." But Joseph continued his ministrations, preaching in Illinois and Iowa; and holding weekly meetings in Nauvoo until the conference In 1866 required him to remove to Plano, Ill., to take active charge of the Herald, the organ of the Church. He went willingly. "I therefore made the necessary preparation, resigned my office of Justice of the Peace and also School Director, each of which I had held for seven and a half years, and in January, 1866, removed to Plano. I entered upon the duties of editor and manager of the Herald without previous experience; remained the active discharge of the duties of the office until June, 1872, when the Board of Publication took possession of the business affairs." He has remained in the associate editorship until the present time. In connection with W. W. Blair. The Herald is the recognized organ the Church, and each week presents a truthful record of the work in the various mission fields. The subsequent removal of the Church headquarters to Lamoni, Iowa, the purchase of the old temple at Kirtland, and the mission efforts for the conversion of the Mormons at Salt Lake, are among the marked features of the recent history of the Reorganized Church, one feature of which alone will be touched upon here.


Brigham Young and the leaders of the Utah Church had no encouraging words for the sister church to the east. The great Mormon "Lion of the Lord" arose in his place in the Bowery, and thundered against Joseph and his claims with all the power ot his vehement nature and huge lungs: "As to the subject the Prophet Joseph (what shall I call it) Josephism; you have heard of that young Josephism; It is a humbug, and of the devil But despite this declaration the East sent missionaries to the West, and the work was began under Brigham's very eyes. In the Summer of 1863 Edmund C. Briggs and Alexander McCord were sent as the first missionaries to Utah, the last named having been a member of the famous Mormon battalion enlisted for the Mexican war, who served until honorably discharged. Briggs was a young man of unusual address and power. Neither had ever had any connection with the teaching or practice polygamy.

These men were met by the open and active hostility of Young, who refused to allow them to speak in any building or upon any grounds in the territory over which he had control. They laid their case before the Acting Governor and Gen. P. B. Connor, who gave them assurance of protection if needed. They persevered and found some who were not only disposed to hear, but who had become tired of Young and awake to the conviction that plural marriage was a heresy and productive of great evil and wrong Elder John Stiles opened his house, wherein the missionaries rested and preached anti-polygamy Mormonism to such as would bear. The conference records of 1864 of the Reorganized Church contain this entry illustrative of the Western work:

"We have six (Western) branches of the Church, with Presidents, as follows: Sacramento branch, Cornelius Bagnall; San Frascisco, T. J. Andrews; Folsom, Jeremiah Thomas; Dry Creek, Thomas Phillips; Watsonville, George Adams.

"April 6, 1864, was a great day in Utah with the Reorganized church, for on that day was held the first General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints In the Rooky Mountains under the Presidency of Joseph Smith. It was the prophecy of that which shall more abundantly appear when Israel of the Mountains are redeemed and Latter-Day Israel in every mad shall have one shepherd and one fold. The report set forth that about one hundred members have joined the Reorganized Church in Salt Lake city, and fifty-two in Provo City, North Ogden branch reported thirty members. The work very prosperous in Weber County and surrounding country. Several Elders who had been engaged the ministry said they found the people every, where they traveled mere or less dissatisfied with Brighamism, believing their leaders were ambitious of worldly honors sad self-aggrandizement under the cloak of religion, but through fear and intimidation they were prevented from avowing their sentiments publicly."

A striking and curious illustration of the fear held by members of the Utah church of Young and his associates is found in the fact that no sooner was a Utah Mormon led to embrace the faith as taught by the missionaries of Joseph, than straightway he got out of the Territory and set his face to the East. In a letter penned by R. H. Atwood, in Salt Lake City, on Nov. 23, 1864, we find this comprehensive plaint:

"As soon as as baptise any into the Reorganization they are for leaving this country as soon possible. We no sooner get a place open than the Saints leave and the ground has to be broken over again. If they had not hurried away we should now have had three or four times the number of places open."

Those who were under Brigham's iron rule twenty-five years ago knew better than the missionaries how hard and heavy it could become, and what quiet but relentless persecutions and punishments could be meted out those who had fallen under the displeasure the Church.

From that day until the present the Reorganized Church has maintained its missions at Salt Lake, its active ministers there have been few in number but strong in purpose, and among them may be mentioned J. W. Gillen, E. C. Brand, Alexander M. and. David Smith, younger brothers of Joseph; Z. H. Gurley, W. H. Kelley, G. E. Deuel, M. T. Short, R. J. Anthony, J. B. Evans, and W. W. Blair. The last named spent some years in Utah and California, and under his ministry a chapel was built in Salt Lake City, in which regular services have been kept up. This has been done with much trouble and expense, for as soon as converts were made from the dominant Church they were so treated that it was sometimes needful and always pleasant to emigrate, as above described.


President Smith personally visited Utah in 1876, and spoke four times in the Liberal Institute in Salt Lake City, a building erected the interests of the church of Zion, free thought, and advanced morality, and once in the ward meeting hones, in Union Fort. He made no application for the Tabernacle, or other public buildings controlled by Young, as these had been denied his co-workers, and he could not accept what had been refused them. He did not meet Young, as the latter was away upon his yearly journey to St. George, in Southern Utah.

During the Summer and Fall of 1885 Joseph again went West, spending six months in Utah, Idaho, and Montana, principally in Utah, and preaching in the schoolhouses, in various chapels of the Methodist Church, in masonic halls, theatres. Mormon chapels, and other places, as opportunity offered. He made yet another visit to Utah in 1888, and again in June, 1889, and remained there and in Idaho until December. During that time he was permitted to occupy the Mormon meeting houses at Soda Springs, Oxford, Logan, Richmond, Hyrum, Brigham City, Plain City, and Lehi. At American Fork he occupied a hall belonging to the Young Men's Association. "Personally," said Mr. Smith, in touching upon this point to the writer, " I have no complaint to make of ill-treatment while laboring in Utah.

But others of our Elders have not received fair and courteous treatment. As a rule we have not been permitted the use of their public buildings, nor have we been met in discussion on the topics of difference, although each and all of the Reorganized Church Elders have been ready, and offered ample opportunity for such discussion."

The Saints' Herald, during these missionary absences, kept the church informed of all the movements of her representatives, by weekly letter, in many of which were given interesting glimpses of the toils and troubles of those who dared to beard the lion of polygamy in its very den. An occasional extract may be profitable:

"There is very apparent," writes Joseph in 1888, "a much more cordial feeling among those of the church here that I meet than I ever experienced before. If it is commiseration for me in my erroneous and benighted condition (?) I am grateful for it; and if it be a true bending to the logic of events and the truth, I thank God for it, as it evinces the dawn before the coming spiritual day."

"I asked the Bishop for the use of the meeting house that night," writes Elder J. T. Davis, "but he could not consent until he had consulted his counselors, and when he did, they could not consent without consulting the President of the Stake, who lived about sixteen miles off. Two liberal-minded young men offered me the use of the dancing hall over their store, and so I occupied that that night and spoke to a good houseful of earnest people."

"We are doing," declares Elder R. J. Anthony, "but little in this field, yet we are not discouraged. Many have withdrawn from the Brighamite Church never to return again, and from good authority we learn that many others may soon do likewise if that Church does not abandon the heretical dogma of polygamy."

The same Elder, in his report to the General Conference of 1889, declares:

"I have traveled in Utah, Idaho, and Montana as circumstances warranted. As a rule I find the Saints striving to do their duty. There seems to be a gradual gain in the liberal ranks from the power and rule of the Utah Church, while the church as a body assumes the same defiant attitude toward the Government as formerly. It is plain to be seen that there is a breaking loose from priestly rule. Ogden, at their February election, went liberal for the first time in the history of the people. I mention this to show the forces that are working against polygamy and priestly rule."

The work performed by the Reorganized Church in Utah, although not so prolific of results as the opponents of polygamy might desire, has been sufficient to impress upon one student of Mormonism, John Codman, the idea that the true solution of the Mormon problem is to equip a large number of the Iowa missionaries and turn them loose in the Utah field. He cries out to the Christian world:

"Throw aside for the occasion your sectarian prejudices. Contribute liberally your money to sustain these worthy men. Send hundreds of them to carry their tracts and to preach in every city, town and hamlet in Utah. They will accomplish a work beyond the powers of all other Christian sects. By preaching the Mormon doctrine as they claim that it 'was once delivered to the Saints,' they will convert men from the great sin which we all deplore, without driving them into atheism and despair."

Although a proper understanding of all the great questions at issue would show this scheme to be impracticable, the fact that it has been proposed is significant as showing the impression this mission work has made upon the mind of one candid observer.


The Reorganized Church has condensed into brief space an epitome of its faith and doctrines which presents the whole theology of a system that claims to be that of the original Mormon Church. The main points thereof are as follows: Belief in God, the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgressions; that through the atonement of Christ all men may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; that these ordinances are faith in God and Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the resurrection of the body; that the dead in Christ will rise first, and the rest of the dead will not live again until the thousand years have expired; that men shall be judged, rewarded or punished, according to the degree of good or evil they shall have done; that a man must be called of God and ordained by the laying on of hands to preach the Gospel or administer the ordinances; that the same organizations should exist as that in the primitive Church -- apostles prophets, pastors, preachers, evangelists, &c.; that in the Bible is contained the word of God, so far as it is translated correctly; that the canon of Scripture is not full, but that God, by His Spirit, will continue to reveal His word to man until the end of time. The further significant declarations of their faith are presented in the subjoined extracts:

"We believe in the powers and gifts of the everlasting Gospel, viz., the gift of faith, discerning of spirits, prophecy, revelation, healing, visions, tongues, and the interpretation ot tongues, wisdom, charity, brotherly love, &c.

"We believe that marriage is ordained of God, and that the law ot God provides for but one companion in wedlock for either man or woman, except in cases where the contract of marriage is broken by death or transgression.

"We believe that the doctrines of a plurality and a community of wives are heresies and are opposed to the law of God. The Book of Mormon says: 'Wherefore, my brethren, hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none; for I, the Lord God, delightest in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me, saith the Lord of hosts.'

"We believe that men should worship God 'spirit and in truth,' and that such worship does not require a violation of the constitutional law the land."

The publishing department of the Church has issued a number of documents adverse to the polygamous tenet of the Utah Church, among which may be mentioned, "The Bible versus Polygamy," by Elder David H. Smith; "Polygamy, Was it an Original Tenet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," by Alexander H. Smith; "Polygamy Not of God," by Joseph Smith; "One Wife or Many," by Joseph Smith. The Bible, as translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, a number of Mormon hymn books, the life of Joseph Smith, and varied assortment of tracts, may also be enumerated among the publications of the Church.

Joseph Smith is now in his fifty-eighth year, possesses a fine physique and a vitality that has never been impaired by intemperance or rashness in any way of living. He does not suggest the clergyman, but rather the lawyer; and his features carry a suggestion of industry and will, rather than a high order of intellect. He has been compelled to lead and combine into one body a varied class of believers, who are disposed to follow impulses of their own in spiritual things, and his success so far has been rather because of his tact and good sense than from any high order of generalship. The Mormons of the Reorganized Church are not objectionable as citizens in communities where they are known upon their own merits, and not by the odium that attaches to Salt Lake. The majority are taxpayers and farmers, and no class of men anywhere are stronger in their loyalty to the Federal Government.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  [   ]  Press.
Vol. VI.                               New York City, Sunday, April 9, 1893.                              No. 1,957.


Their Bible's Wronged Printer Dying
While They Celebrate.


How Joseph Smith Defrauded Him of His All -- New History.

While elaborate dedications for the great Mormon temple are in progress at Salt Lake City, Utah, the man who gave to Mormonism its religious guide book, lies ill almost unto death at Palmyra, N. Y., and wholly unrewarded by the church for which he once staked and lost his all.

Major John H. Gilbert, when Joseph Smith first claimed to be prophet, lived in the same town with him -- Palmyra. Smith was the ne'er-do-well of the village. He was completely illiterate, being unable either to read or write, and his family, whose home was little better than a hut, bore a reputation none too good. But while Joseph was idling until his aversion to work became one of the hamlet's petty scandals, he was also thinking. The fruit of his thought came when he announced to incredulous townspeople that he had dug out of a neighboring hill a set of gold plates bearing strange signs. Divine inspiration, be said, had guided him to the spot and it was to divine inspiration, also, that he afterward attrlbuted his translation of the hieroglyphics on the tablets. So far as is known no one ever saw these plates and there could be found in Palmyra then only three people who believed that they existed. To-day not one person in the village has faith in the existence of the plates, the honesty of Smith or the Mormon doctrine. Smith s home gave no converts to the faith, which ho originated.


His translation of the plates was accomplished in a curious way. Going to the foot of the hill in which he claimed to have discovered them, he dug a cave into its side, perhaps 18 feet in length and 8 feet square. The locality was then wild woodland, but the timber has since been cleared away and the wooden uprights supporting the entrance to the cave are still visible.

Across the centre of this cave Smith hung a heavy curtain. Behind this curtain he sat with his plates, while in front was stationed a man of some education who had once been a schoolmaster, but who had lost friends and position through drink. To this ex-schoolmaster Smith dictated the precepts which he claimed that God told him were written on the golden plates. The schoolmaster worked by the light of a small lantern, and once or twice it was necessary to barricade the entrance to the cave to keep out angry villagers who were scandalized by what they considered Smith's sacrilegious proceedings. The result of the schoolmaster's labors was a closely written manuscript of about 60,000 words, which after careful revision became the Book of Mormon.


The next thing to be done was to find a publisher for this Mormon Bible. For a long time Smith's efforts in this direction were unsuccessful. Finally he succeeded in interesting Major Gilbert, the town's only printer, in the venture, although he could not convert him to the new faith. To print so large a volume required greater capital than Gilbert had at his disposal, and he was forced to mortgage his home, his furniture, and in fact everything he had, in order to get sufficient funds. Finally the edition was struck off. Smith obtained possession of it (some say by stealth), and Major Gilbert was never paid for his work. The loss almost ruined him. He is now an old man, having passed his 87th birthday, but he still remembers with great bitterness his youthful experience with the originator of Mormonism...


The adventures of Smith after he left Palmyra are familiar to most newspaper readers. His unholy church prospered despite public indignation. The temple which it is now in the midst of dedicating cost many millions of dollars, and is probably the most elaborately decorated building in America...

Note 1: Compare the above report with the much longer, more detailed (and more reliable) articles that ran in the New York Times of June 18, 1893 and in the New York Herald of June 25, 1893. In the Herald article there is no mention of Major John H. Gilbert, "lying ill almost unto death at Palmyra, N. Y." Instead, the Times mentioned that Major Gilbert was "still in the best of health," while a seemingly vigorous Gilbert "cheerfully" provided the Herald information such as this: "I remember the incidents connected with the printing of that [Mormon] Bible as plainly as if they had happened yesterday. The Mormons first submitted the title page. I kept a copy of it, also the proof sheets of the book, which are now on exhibition at the World's Fair in Chicago." The Times reported that the original printing press from 1830 was "to be taken to the World's Fair" and that Major Gilbert would "be there with it." -- However, the fact that the aged Gilbert did not accompany the old press and his 1830 prized proof sheets to Chicago may provide a hint that his health was indeed poor by mid-1893. In an obituary notice subsequently published in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle of Jan. 27, 1895, it was said of Gilbert: "He suffered a stroke of paralysis some time ago and ever since had been slowly but surely failing."

Note 2: The Press's assertion, that "Major Gilbert was never paid for his work" on the Book of Mormon publishing project must certainly be wrong. He was then an employee with the Wayne Sentinel and Martin Harris's payment for the book's publication would not have gone directly into Gilbert's pocket, in any event. Perhaps Gilbert was indeed "forced to mortgage his home, his furniture, and in fact everything he had" around the time the book was offered to the public. But, if so, it seems unlikely that he blamed any such loss upon Martin Harris (or any other early Mormon) failing to pay a debt owed to him.


No. ?                           New-York City,  Sunday,  June 18, 1893.                           Vol. ?


Major John H. Gilbert of Palmyra Says
Oliver Cowdry Wrote Most of the Copy.

PALMYRA, N.Y., June 17 -- A party of Mormons from Wood's Cross, Davis County, Utah, has been in Palmyra this week. The place has a lively interest for all Mormons, for it was here that Mormonism had its birth. Brigham Young used to live with Deacon Snow two miles south of the village of Port Byron, and, when he left, was owing the Deacon quite a board bill. After he became rich, Mr. Snow wrote him about it, and before long Brigham Young appeared to settle the account. He paid Deacon Snow the bill with compound interest, which, after the lapse of so many years, amounted to a tidy sum.

The Mormon Bible was printed by Major John H. Gilbert of Palmyra. The first edition was of 5,000 copies and was printed on an old-fashioned Washington hand press. This press is now doing duty in the office of the Rose Farmer, published in Rose, Wayne county, N. Y. On it every week the paper is pulled off and the old press is still in good running order.

Major Gilbert was ninety-one years old April 13. Every year, on his birthday, he visits the office of the Palmyra Dispatch and sets up a stick of type, just to be sure that he has not forgotten how. He is still in the best of health. There are several original copies of the Mormon Bible in this village. Major Gilbert has one which was given him by a Salt Lake City clergyman. The original manuscript is in the possession of David Whitmer of Richmond. Mo., who acquired it as one of the three witnesses who saw the plates dug up from which the story was written. The other two who claimed to have seen the plates were Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdry, both of Palmyra. Harris died sixty miles from Salt Lake City, and Cowdry at Richmond, Mo.

The press is to be taken to the World's Fair, and Major Gilbert will be there with it. The Bible was printed in the old Wayne Sentinel office. The Mormons claim that Joseph Smith had a great deal to do with having the Bible printed. This is not the fact, for Major Gilbert says the prophet was only in the office once during the printing of the book, which took from August, 1829, until March, 1830. Smith did not personally furnish a page of manuscript to the printer.

Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to pay for the job, which cost $3,000 for 5,000 copies. Egbert B. Grandin took the contract and Major Gilbert was the printer who executed it. The volume was of 590 pages, set in small pica; printed sixteen pages to the form. Most of the manuscript was written by Oliver Cowdry.

Joseph Smith found the plates in 1827 in Cumorah Hill, town ot Manchester, Ontario County, on the direct road to Canandaigua, about three and a half miles from Palmyra. The farm at that time belonged to Anson Robinson, and is now the property of George Sampson.

Major Gilbert weighs about 150 pounds, has snow-white hair and beard, and is at ninety-one able to read without glasses. He is an accomplished violin player, and owns an instrument for which he has refused $120. He lives with his daughter, and has two sons living, one of whom is a resident of Long Island City.

Note: The Times report was reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle of July 9, 1893. Its contents were almost certainly then viewed by Pomona newspaper editor, Henry G. Tinsley. At the time Tinsley had just published his own text of purported eye-witness recollections relating to the printing of the 1830 Book of Mormon, etc. Tinsley may have subsequently seen the Times report, saying that "Major Gilbert is still in the best of health," and then decided to wait in taking his highly questionable "Daniel Hendrix" story nation-wide. After Gilbert's death, Tinsley resurrected his 1893 account and spread its story far and wide, through many newspaper reprints.


The  [   ]  Sun.
Vol. ?                               New York City, Sunday, March 21, 1897.                              No. ?




Smith's Untidy Attire -- The Finding of the
Golden Plates and How the Inscriptions
Were Translated -- Printing the Bible.

(read original article in St. Louis paper)

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 59.                 Brooklyn,  New York,  Thursday,  January 12, 1899.                 No. 17.


Arguments Advanced by a Champion
of the Latter Day Saints.

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:

On Sunday evening the Rev. A. C. Dixon, pastor of the Hanson Place Baptist Church, lectured... I was really surprised to think that a Brooklyn minister would speak to a Brooklyn congregation regarding the Spaulding story. Many years ago it was widely published that the Book of Mormon originated from the writings of one Solomon Spaulding. This statement has always been denied and known to be false by the Latter Day Saints. The original manuscript of the "Spaulding Story" was obtained over ten years ago by Joseph F. Smith, nephew of Joseph Smith, and has been published by the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Utah. This manuscript is now in Oberlin College, Oberlin, O. When compared with the Book of Mormon there will be found to be no resemblance. Read the following from President Fairchild of the above named college, as printed in the New York Observer of February 5, 1885:

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 with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two, 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 must be found, if any explanation is required.

This is the kind of evidence that is acceptable. Mr. Dixon said that the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon afterward denied their testimony. That is also incorrect. In the Book of Mormon, near the fly leaf, will be found a statement made by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris.... This testimony they never denied, notwithstanding all of them left the church. Oliver Cowdery at one time was Joseph Smith's secretary, and for years was a prominent man aming the Latter Day Saints. Later he was excommunicated and became an opponent of Joseph Smith. When asked if he believed the Book of Mormon to be a divine record he answered, "No, I know it." He afterward re-joined the church and died a member thereof. David Whitmer was not numbered with the Latter Day Saints since the early 40s, and died some years ago in the State of Missouri, being a non-member at his death. Upon being questioned as to the statement in the Book of Mormon, under which his name had appeared for years, he said: "As sure as the sun shines and as sure as I breathe, an angel of God showed us the plates (of Book of Mormon). Martin Harris re-joined the church, emigrated to Utah and died a firm member...

Mr. Dixon says that Latter Day Saint missionaries have insulted lady members of his church by offering them their literature to read. He evidently believes this, for he refused to accept some reading matter after his sermon on Sunday Might.   G. H. CROW.
    Brooklyn, January 10, 1899.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                                 New York City, Monday, January 30, 1899.                                 No. ?





Mrs. H. S. Caswell is secretary of the woman's department of the Congregational Home Missionary Society, of this city. The society and its representatives have been interested historically in the overthrow of Mormonism, and consequently in disabusing its adherents and advocates of their errors. Mrs. Caswell is one of the women who are enlightening the public on the origin and history of Mormonism and nullifying the attempted revival of it in the West. She says:

"In conversation with an apostate Mormon I was put in possession of some interesting facts concerning Joseph Smith's mother, which had been given to the Mormons by a woman who was born and brought up in Palmyra, N. Y., where Mormonism originated -- for this false religion really had its origin in the brain and heart of an ignorant, deceitful mother.

"Joseph Smith's mother moved in the lowest walks of life, but she had a kind of mental power which her son inherited. They were both victims of a vain and vivid imagination, and were both noted for a habit of extravagant assertion. Both could look a listener full in the eye and without a blush or the least confusion, improvise the most startling statements and vivid stories. If any one detected an inconsistency and alluded to it, a subterfuge was always at hand. An old man who knew them well said: 'You can't face them down. They'll both lie, and stick to it.'

"Mr. Smith used to do family washings at the houses in the village. If articles were left on the line to dry and were not secured by their owners before midnight the washer was the winner. In these nocturnal depredations she was assisted by her boys, who took occasion also to visit the poultry yards and grain bins. Joe never worked except at 'chopping bees' or 'raisings,' when whiskey was the impetus and reward. The mother of the high priest of Mormonism was superstitious to the last degree. The very air she breathed was inhabited by familiar spirits, and she turned many a penny by telling fortunes.

"When Joseph was very young Mrs. Smith made up her mind that one of her sons should be a prophet, and the weak husband and father agreed with her that of the nine children Joseph was the genius, and Joseph should be the prophet. The mother then began to impress this idea upon the mind of the boy, and with such success that at last he rarely smiled, never laughed and never indulged in fun because it would not be in keeping with his vocation. His mother inspired and aided him in every scheme of duplicity and cunning.

"Joseph Smith could not write, but he could read, and the bad books which he read had much to do with the origin of Mormonism. The autobiography of Captain Kidd, the pirate, was his supreme favorite. One day, when Joseph was fifteen years old, while watching his father, who was digging a well, he saw a stone of curious shape. It bore some resemblance to a child's foot. This little stone became the acorn of the Mormon oak. This was the famous Palmyra 'seer' or 'peek stone,' with which Joseph Smith was accustomed to divine. Being instructed by his mother, this boy of fifteen now set up a claim to miraculous power. He was placed in a kneeling posture, with bandaged eyes. A large white 'stovepipe' hat, in which was placed the wonderful stone, was held in front of his face. Under these circumstances he could reveal things unutterably wonderful. He could reveal only too well where stolen property might be found. While gazing at the stone in the hat he could see caskets of gold and gems hidden by Captain Kidd and the Spaniards. He could see treasures of marvellous value beneath the ground in neighboring fields and woods. Digging became the order of the night in that town, and sleep the order of the day. All who could be hired by strong drink were organized into a digging phalanx. They were commanded to dig in the darkness. Solemn ceremonies prefaced the work. Not one sod could be disturbed, by a spade until Joe Smith's wand of witch hazel, guided by the sacred stone, pointed out the place of the concealed. treasure. Entire silence was one condition of success.

"After hours of hard work, and when the answering thud was about to strike the ear and everybody was in a rapture of expectancy, some one was sure to break the silence by speaking; the spell was broken, the treasures were spirited away to another quarter, and the digging must be resumed on another night. Thus matters went on for seven years. Very little attention was paid to these performances of Joe Smith by respectable people near his home, but lovers of the marvellous came from a distance to look at Joe and the excavations, and the air was filled with mystery, which was quite favorable for future developments.

"The perseverance and audacity of Joseph Smith were boundless, but he alone could never have wrought out the institution of Mormonism. In 1827 a mysterious stranger inquired the way to Joseph Smith's cabin, and the neighbors began to note a sudden intimacy between the two men, followed by many private and mysterious conferences. The stranger was Sidney Rigdon, a backslidden clergyman from Ohio. Rigdon was somewhat of a literary genius, versatile in his gifts, shrewd, wily, deep and utterly unprincipled. Soon after his appearance on the scene Mormonism began to assume a local habitation and a name. The angel began to talk more definitely to Joe Smith.

"'Your sins,' said the angel, 'are all forgiven. None of the present religious faiths are acceptable to God. You, Joseph. Smith, shall found a sect which the Almighty will own and bless.'

"The angel told Joseph that the North American Indians were a remnant of the Israelites, that their inspired writings were hidden beneath the ground, that these writings were to be intrusted to him and him alone, as no other human being could see them and live. Following the directions given by the angel. Joseph Smith proceeded alone to the hilltop Cumorah, in eminence four miles south of Palmyra, and afterward testified that he found there a series of golden plates on which were written in hieroglyphics, the records so important to the new dispensation. In the box with the plates he found a pair of huge spectacles -- the Urim and Thummim -- by the aid of which he would be able to decipher the curious hieroglyphics,

"Joseph Smith then found it convenient to visit his relatives [sic] in Pennsylvania. By a strange coincidence Rigdon was there also. In a few weeks Joseph returned to his home, in Palmyra, with an accurate translation of the golden plates. He prevailed upon a farmer in the vicinity to mortgage his farm and pay for publishing this translation. The venerable printer was John Gilbert, of Palmyra. The printing was done in 1830 and thus originated the 'Book of Mormon' or Mormon Bible.

"The natural question which now faces us is this: Who wrote those hieroglyphics on the golden plates? Surely not Smith nor Rigdon. Let us go back a little. When Joseph Smith lay in his cradle at Sharon, V., in 1809, a Congregational minister, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth College, left Vermont [sic - New York?] and went to Ashtabula County, Ohio. He was obliged through failing health to give up preaching. He was eccentric, and amused himself by writing romances on different subjects. Mr. Spaulding became intensely interested in the Indian mounds of Ohio, some of which were opened near his house. He had a theory that these mounds gave evidence of an extinct race higher in the scale than the American Indian. With this theory in his mind he wrote a story, clothing it in Scripture language, describing in a fanciful manner the wanderings, wars, exploits, etc. of this primeval people.

"His friends asked him to print this fanciful story. He had moved to Pennsylvania, and left the manuscript with a publisher in Pittsburg named Patterson. For some reason this manuscript was never printed. After three years it was returned to the author, who died in 1816. Without doubt Mr. Spaulding's manuscript is the Golden Bible, or Book of Mormon.

"But how did Rigdon or Joseph Smith get hold of this manuscript? Joseph Smith was at one time a teamster in the family of Mrs. Spaulding's brother. He could easily have secured this manuscript, which was thrown into an unlocked trunk in the garret. Rigdon was a printer in the office of Patterson and could have easily copied the manuscript during the three years it was lying in that office. He had heard of Joseph Smith, and knew him to be the man who could carry out, with his aid, a lucrative imposture. How did Rigdon hear of Joseph Smith? It was through a tin peddler from Palmyra, N.Y., by the name of Pratt, who was travelling through Pennsylvania.

"Rigdon and Smith grossly altered Spaulding's manuscript to adapt it to the code of the Latter Day Saints. When new commands were given by the angel to institute the divine priesthood and polygamy, Rigdon's pen was ever ready to add to the manuscript, imitating Mr. Spaulding's Hebraic idioms. Mormonism was now fairly started. Smith prophesied, Rigdon and Pratt preached, another baptized, and the farmer paid the bills. But no prophet is accepted in his own country, and so the angel said, 'Move to Kirtland, Ohio.' This was near Rigdon's old parish. From this place they were soon expelled by the righteous indignation of of an outraged people.

"In 1844 Joseph Smith, when only thirty-six years old, was assassinated in Nauvoo, Ill. In 1856 Pratt was assassinated in Arkansas. After the decease of Joseph Smith, Rigdon naturally aspired to leadership, but was defeated by Brigham Young, who expelled him from the church and gave him over to the buffetings of Satan. Rigdon has since died

Eight years ago Mormonism was apparently crushed by the Government. Its leaders were in prison, its property was confiscated, its credit fatally impaired. It sued for mercy. To-day Mormonlsm is triumphant and arrogant. Its property is restored its citizenship guaranteed by Statehood. To-day it throws down the gauntlet to the nations of all the earth, and tells them that every government is the heritage of the followers, of Joseph Smith."

Note: The New York Congregational Home Missionary Society had not changed its opinion about Mormonism in the eighteen years that had elapsed since Mrs. Dr. Horace Eaton of Palmyra had addressed a smiliar meeting, giving a very similar speech. In fact, Mrs. H. S. Caswell's 1899 text reads like a copy of Eaton's revised lecture, as published in the Society's Origin of Mormonism tract. Reporting on old Palmyra area traditions, regarding members of the Joseph Smith, Sr. family, Mrs. Eaton said: "You couldn't face them down. They'd lie and stick to it." In 1899 Mrs. Caswell repeated that assertion, word-for-word. Both speakers state that the young Joseph Smith was fascinated with the "autobiography of Capt. Kidd, the pirate" -- with Mrs. Caswell remarking that it "was his supreme favorite." No such publication has ever been discovered; although it is possible that some ephemeral pamphlet with that title was in circulation in New York state during the 1820s.


No. ?                          New-York City,  Monday,  July 3, 1899.                          Vol. ?

Pittsburg  the  Home  of  Mormonism.

From The Pittsburg (Penn.) Post.

The Rev. Dr. W. A. Stanton, in the course of three sermons to be delivered from his pulpit at the Shady Avenue Baptist church, will attempt to prove that Pittsburg is the home of Mormonism. He claims that Joseph Smith, who, tradition has it, was shown through Divine revelation the gold-rimmed palm leaves [sic!] whereon was written the basis of the Mormon doctrine and faith, stole a manuscript formulated by Sidney Rigdon from a Pittsburg printing office, which is the actual foundation of Mormonism. The Rev. Dr. Stanton has been making a special study of this question for more than four years, and claims to have ample proof of his assertions. He lately returned from the Pacific Coast and Salt Lake City, where he had been looking up data on the subject.

Notes: (forthcoming)


No. 15,507.                       New-York,  Thursday,  September 21, 1899.                       Vol. 49.


The Original Manuscript Said to be in a Missouri Town.

From the St. Louis Republic.

Richmond, Mo., Sept. 15. -- The original manuscript of Joseph Smith's "Book of Mormon," the Bible of the Mormon Church, is kept in a bank vault in this town. The Elders of the Mormon Church in Utah made different attempts in past years to get possession of it, but failed. Once they offered $100,000 in cash for the old and yellow manuscript, but its keeper, David Whitmer, one of the founders of the Church, refused the offer because he believed the Utah branch of the Church wished to get hold of the manuscript to insert into it by forgery a clause that would authorize and sanction the practice of polygamy. Last week two representatives of the Mormon Church of Utah were here making another attempt to buy the manuscript.

This original manuscript, written at the dictation of Joseph Smith, is now in the possession of George W. Schweich of this town, a retired merchant, the grandson of David Whitmer, who was one of the three witnesses to the writing of the manuscript. The manuscript of the "Book of Mormon" contains 600 large sheets of linen paper the size of foolscap, written closely on both sides. The paper is yellowed with age and the ink is faded to brown. The pages are bound together with strings of yarn. The manuscript contains 350,000 words. It was written in 1829.

Notes: (forthcoming)

Back to top of this page.

Articles Home Page    |    News Articles Index    |    History Vault
Oliver's Bookshelf    |    Spalding Library    |    Mormon Classics

last updated: Apr. 30, 2013