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News Articles Index  |  New York City Papers  |  Otsego Co. Papers

Vol. LXIII.                     Rochester, N. Y., Monday, February 26, 1900.                       No. ?



Murder of Joe Smith Saved Mormonism as a Body.


His Strong Hand Rapidly Welded the Body Together Which
Smith's Arbitrary and Lawless Acts Had Threatened to Disband.

Written for The Democrat and Chronicle.

In the course of some investigations into the origin of Mormonism, the writer has had placed in his hands some carious and interesting documents. No one of them has added much to what is common property, in the various histories of this movement, but some of them have a local color and contemporary freshness which gives them special interest. Among these have been several old and rare papers which contain much concerning the Mormons at Nauvoo, Ill.

It is, of course, well known that the Mormons settled first at Kirtland, Ohio; from there they migrated to Independence, Jackson county, Mo.; driven from here they went into Clay and Cass [sic - Caldwell?] county, until in 1838, driven from Missouri, they settled in Illinois on the Mississippi river at the place subsequently known as Nauvoo. Both political parties tumbled over one another in their zeal to push through the legislature a bill granting to Joe Smith and other incorporators, a city charter with unheard of privileges, an act which lay at the bottom of much of the later trouble. Here then a city was laid out, and soon contained several thousand inhabitants with every outward sign of prosperity. Better still, the leaders, especially Joe, were growing rich, for whenever it was necessary he had a new revelation which commanded them to furnish "my servant Joseph" with what he desired. June 27, 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum were murdered, shot by a mob. The papers from which I quote have to do with this important period in Mormon history.

A correspondent of the St. Louis Weekly Gazette, of May 18, 1844 gives a long account of a personal interview with the prophet. He devotes much of his space to a description of the prophet.

Joseph Smith -- Prophet, Priest, Prince of Mormonism and generalissimo of the armies of the faithful: To this high and mighty magnificate had I the honor of presentation, on the day and year first above written (April 26, 1844). My first impression was by no means satisfactory to myself and certainly not flattering to my host. General Smith is in stature and proportion a very large man; and his figure would probably be called a fine one, although by no means distinguished for symmetry or for grace. His arms and hands seemed never to have been developed by physical toil, and the latter are quite small for his proportions.

And so on through most of a column. There was something about the prophet's eye which seemed to fascinate the writer as it did many others. It was not "very bright," nor "very thoughtful," but "quite as crafty as I ever beheld."

Considerable interest attached to the prophet at this time, for he had been nominated by his friends for the presidency to run against Clay and Polk. To both these distinguished men Joe had written letters demanding of them a categorical answer to certain questions, among them what they would do with or for the Mormons if elected. Their answers were not satisfactory, and so the prophet became a candidate and issued his manifesto announcing his policy on national questions if elected. But the rifles of the mob removed him from the necessity of carrying out that policy for a presidential term. The editor says:

Our correspondent at Nauvoo gives rather a minute description of General Joseph Smith. Should the great Mormon ever find himself in prison bounds -- which he probably never will -- this description of his person will save the turnkey some little trouble, if he chooses to avail himself of it, for his prison books.

The correspondent also gives an account of his meeting Joe's mother, who was a sharp, shrewd old lady, with apparently implicit faith in her son, whom she had been fond of declaring to be the "genus" of the family. She discoursed to him on the Egyptian mummies then in her care, and showed him the translations made by Joe from the papyri wrapped around the bodies. These detailed the history of the kings who were contemporaries of Abraham and other Old Testament worthies, and they gave considerable information about them, all of course in striking confirmation of the prophet's previous discoveries at the hill Cumorah. Palmyra. The correspondent confesses that he does not know how the prophet came into possession of these things. It is a curious story and illustrates, as almost everything connected with this arrant humbuggery does, the gullibility of many people.

It was 1833, when the Mormons were still at Kirtland, that a traveling showman, Michael H. Chandler, visited the place with a collection of curiosities, among them some mummies, then a rare thing in America. Chandler's goods were for sale, and the church, under Joe's direction, purchased the mummies. Joe at once proceeded to read the papyri upon the bodies, and the showman gave him this unique indorsement:
This is to make known to all who may be desirous concerning the knowledge of Mr. Jos. Smith. Jr., in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in my possession, which I have in many cities shown to the most learned, and from all the information that I could ever learn or [meet] with, I find that of Joseph Smith, Jr., to correspond in the most minute matters.
            MICHAEL H. CHANDLER.
Traveling with, and proprietor of, Egyptian Mummies. *

It will be noticed that the genial showman apparently told the truth in this letter. Joe was delighted. He writes:

Much to our joy we found that one of these rolls contained the writings of Abraham; another the writings of Joseph. Truly we could see that the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of truth.

Scholars translated these papyri differently, but that is a small matter; Moroni, the angel who wrote the Book of Mormon, did not help them.

For some time thereafter these valuable relics were shown to visitors upon the payment of fifty cents. "That," said the guide to one, pointing to a scroll on the wall, "is the handwriting of Abraham." "And this is Jacob's ladder," a picture of a ladder leaning against the wall. It is needless to say that this wonderful possession and miraculous confirmation of Mormon claims increased the reverence of the people for their prophet.

I have been unable to trace the history of these curios after the visit of the St. Louis correspondent to Nauvoo. Whether they were lost in the immediately succeeding troubles, or whether the angel Moroni has taken charge of them, or whether they are still preserved at Salt Lake, I know not. They served, however, for a time the purposes of Joseph Smith, Jr., the great American impostor.

I have also examined a copy of the Nauvoo Expositor. vol. 1, No. 1, dated June 7, 1844. It is the only number ever printed, as the office outfit was destroyed by a mob under orders from the municipal council before another issue. Only a thousand copied of this issue were printed, and many of these were destroyed in the same way, so that there are probably very few copies in existence. The paper carries the name of six men as publishers, all but one of whom were professed Mormons. Sylvester Emmons was editor, and he, so one of the publishers informs me, probably regarded Mormonism as a sham, but thought there was money in it.

Some of the revelations contained here of the moral conditions in the city would not be permitted in print now. The Mormons themselves were divided and quarreling; Smith's arbitrary and immoral course was wrecking the church; while the indignation of the Gentiles of this part of Illinois was gathering in a storm soon to break. Six columns of the paper are filled with the "Preamble, Resolutions and Affidavits of the Seceders from the Church at Nauvoo." It is verbose and grandiloquent. The authors affirm their faith in the religion of the Latter-day Saints as originally taught by Smith, contained in the Old and New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Covenants, but they declare that some of the doctrines "taught secretly, and [denied] openly," by Joseph, are "heretical and damnable in their influence, though they find many devotees." They had appealed to Joseph who, while admitting his guilt, would not make public acknowledgement of his sins, saying "he would rather be damned, for it would detract from his dignity, and would consequently ruin and prove the overthrow of the church. We would ask him, on the other hand, if the overthrow of the church was not inevitable, to which he often replied that we would all go to hell together, and convert it into a heaven by casting the devil out; and says he, hell is by no means the place this world of fools suppose it to be, but, on the contrary, is is quite an agreeable place; to which we would now reply, he can enjoy it if he is determined not to desist from his evil ways; but as for us, and ours, we will serve the Lord our God."

Then follows a long account of the way in which "many females allured by fair promises from many lands have been brought to Nauvoo, and then under oaths the most solemn and alleged revelations from God through, the prophet and others, are taught the doctrine of spiritual wifery to their destruction," in words which cannot be further quoted here. The evidence is abundant, contemporary and unimpeached, that Nauvoo was a veritable Sodom at this time. The unspeakable vileness, practiced under alleged divine revelation, is almost incredible. In passing, it in also to be noted that profanity, according to abundant testimony, was a characteristic of Smith and many of the other leaders.

Among the other charges is that of teaching "the doctrine of many gods" (still a part of the Mormon creed); and they declare that Joseph has set up an inquisition which executes its decrees in an arbitrary and lawless manner. Thus early in its history did the most damnable things in Mormonism appear. "Heaven-daring, hell-deserving, God-forsaken villains," are some of the elegant phrases applied to Joe and his friends. Affidavits follow supporting the charge that the doctrine of "spiritual wifery," afterwards officially promulgated at Salt Lake, had been read to the faithful and was being practiced by many. As showing the extent to which the leaders were ready to go, I quote this further item of news.

The city council have passed ordinances, giving the municipal court authority to issue the writ of habeus corpus in all cases when the prisoner is held in custody in Nauvoo, no matter whether the offender is committed in the state of Maine, or on the continent of Europe, the prisoner being on the city under arrest.

The city charter, dictated by Mormons and passed without a dissenting vote in the legislature, conferred extraordinary powers, in the use of which state and national officials were implicated, but this last was too much, and added to the rising storm.

But the expositor had gone too far. A meeting of the city council was hastily summoned, the offending paper read, and an exciting debate followed. Rebellion within the Mormon capital and exposure of the abominable practices needed to be stopped with a strong hand. Joe Smith, John Taylor, and others denounced the article, and urged the necessity of removing the "filthy, libelous, seditious sheet from our midst." This resolution was finally adopted.

Resolved by the city council of the city of Nauvoo, that the printing office, from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor, is a public nuisance, and also all of said Nauvoo Expositors which may be or exist in said establishment; and the mayor is instructed to cause said printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct.

The mayor was the prophet himself and he lost no time in ordering the papers, presses and office fixtures to be carried into the street and burned. The troubles between the state and the city, the Gentiles and the Mormons, grew rapidly now. Smith and others were arrested, finally lodged in the jail at Carthage, where the murder occurred June 27th, as already stated.

There can be little doubt but that the murder of the prophet saved Mormonism as a compact religious and political body. Most of the factions were reconciled and those who were intractable were promptly expelled. Henceforth their prophet was a martyr, and the strong hand of Brigham Young rapidly welded the body together. Joe was wrecking it by his practices, but more by his numerous revelations; Brigham was sharp enough to see this, and only one revelation from him is recorded in the Book of Doctrines and Covenants. Persecution, as always, only served to strengthen and multiply the persecuted.
Canandaigua, N. Y., Feb. 23, 1900.

Note: Evidently the Democrat-Chronicle's correspondent was the same "John Q. Adams" whose name appears in various contemporary Ontario Co. newspapers, as a member of the "Manchester Grange," etc. Mr. Adams' information source appears to have been Dr. Charles A. Foster (1815-1904), the brother of Robert D. Foster -- see the Democrat-Chronicle of Nov. 30, 1899 and the Nauvoo Expositor of June 7, 1844.


The Wayne County Journal.

Vol. ?                           Palmyra, N. Y., Saturday, August 18, 1900.                           No. ?


...This reminds us of a story Septimus Sanders tells. It seems that in the early days of Joe Smith, the prophet, a comely handmaiden of Joseph became mysteriously and unbeknownest to anybody, save perhaps Joseph, who, if the truth be told, was no "Joseph," in an interesting condition. Uncle Joe finally announced it to be another case of celestial conception, the coming of the second Messiah, but much to the disgust of the self-appointed prophet, and to the amusement of the bystanders, the production was only that of a small urchin of the female persuasion -- "a little she-Jesus" -- as Tim says.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. LXIII.                     Rochester, N. Y., Wednesdy, November 07, 1900.                     No. ?


Reminiscences of Hon. Lewis E. Smith, of This City.


The First Was at Kirtland, Ohio, In 1838, Contrasted With One
at Salt Lake City Fifty Years Later -- His Deductions.

There lives in this city, at No. 300 Mt. Vernon avenue, in what was formerly the old Gregory homestead, a large and handsome country residence, but upon whose fertile acres the city has encroached until it is now a charming suburban home near Highland park, a remarkable old gentleman who, if he lives till the 25th of this mouth, will be 88 years old. He is Hon. Lewis E. Smith, and his father was one of the early pioneers of Livingston county, where the son was born and reared. He practiced law in that county till compelled, on account of ill health, to seek a more active and out-of door life. For some time he traveled for General Wadsworth, locating lands in the West, which later have added wealth to the already large estate of this pioneer family.

Mr. Smith served as supervisor of Livingston county for a number of years, being chairman of the board for one term, and he also represented his county in the assembly for two years. In 1871 he removed to this city, taking up his residence on the farm which is now his home, and with him live his son, George H. Smith, a well-known attorney of this city, and his family.

Mr. Smith, Sr., is active, and his mind is bright and unimpaired, in spite of his more than four score years, though his general health is not as robust as formerly. As usual, he voted the straight Republican ticket yesterday. He has many reminiscences of the "good old times," at his tongue's end. In an interview recently, he gave a reporter of this paper an interesting account of his observations of Mormonism, which has come under his notice at various times during his long life, giving him an opportunity of studying this peculiar sect at "close range," so to speak.

The first time was at Kirtland, Ohio, a former and early stronghold of the Latter Day Saints, where Mr. Smith was present at a most remarkable meeting. Mr. Smith believes that, possibly, if this strange theological fungus, known as Mormonism, had not been prosecuted [sic] with such relentless cruelly in the early years of its growth, its devotees might have fed upon one another, like a pack of hungry wolves, and eventually wrought their own destruction, or disintegration, from the very nature of their hideous practices, and the flagrant dishonesty of their leaders.

An account of this remarkable meeting at Kirtland follows, in Mr. Smith's own words:

"Several articles have been published, lately relating to Mormonism and its history, none of which (so far as I know) refer to a scene which I witnessed at Kirtland, in Ohio.

"In December, 1838, I traveled on horseback from Livonia, Livingston county, N.Y., to Cincinnati, Ohio. On my way I stopped over Sunday, about nine miles from Kirtland, Ohio, with Redman Clark, whose wife was Maria Woodruff, of Livonia.

“They were converted to Mormonism at Geneseo, in Livingston county, and moved West with several others from that locality. On Sunday morning we went to the meeting at the Mormon Temple, at Kirtland. It was an oblong rectangular building of stone, with a basement said to be occupied with firearms and ammunition (whether truly, I did not learn). It was of peculiar construction inside. At the center of each end of the large interior were four successive tiers of pulpits or desks, with seals, each successive tier being higher, and backward from the lower, and reaching almost to the ceiling, which was sixteen or seventeen feet high. Each tier had three desks or seats. The lower tier was about three feet from the floor; the others rose in regular grades back to the wall. On the front of the tiers at one end of the hall was the letter "A," in gilt, Indicating the Aaronic priesthood.

"In the upper tier sat Joseph Smith, Sr., father of Joseph Smith, the prophet. By his side was the father of the wife of the prophet Joseph Smith.

"In the next lower tier was Joseph Smith, the prophet, on the right; with his brother, Hiram Smith, on the left, and Sidney Rigdon between them. Rigdon was the head of the Aaronic priesthood, and supposed to typify Aaron. As Aaron was the spokesman of the prophet Moses to the children of Israel, so Rigdon was the spokesman of the prophet Joseph Smith to the Mormon people, or Latter Day Saints.

"This term 'Latter Day Saints' had a special and peculiar significance. They held that the children of Israel had lost favor with the Lord, and had ceased to be His chosen people.

"Joseph Smith, the prophet, claimed that he had a revelation instructing him how to translate the characters on the golden plates, said to be found in a hill in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, N.Y.

"This translation was the Book of Mormon, and professed to treat of the history of a race long since passed away. The teaching and example of this vanished race, and the tenets set forth in the Book of Mormon, would be (they claimed) the guide of a peculiar people of modern times, whom the Lord would raise up to be His chosen people, in the place of the children of Israel -- hence the name 'Latter Day Saints.'

"In one of the two lower tiers I noticed Edmund Bosley, whom I knew in Geneseo, and in the other Mr. Beaman, whom I knew in Livonia, N. Y. At the other end of the hall similar pulpits or desks and seats had the letter "M" in gilt in front, indicating the Melchisedec priesthood. The seats here were occupied by men I did not know. At the "A" end, the comers on each side were occupied by stairs leading from the floor up to a point about even with the upper tier, and used, as I saw by the audience, for seats. During a portion of the session I sat upon these stairs.

"There was a full audience. Just before the time for the morning meeting to commence, Mr. Rigdon rose and said that, previous to the meeting, he would state that the committee they had sent to Missouri to look over the former land of the Lamanites (they were accustomed to refer to the Indians or aborigines us "Lamanites"), reported that the prospects were favorable, and that they had brought from the brothers in Missouri a proposition to make a brother there naming him the president of the Mormon organization. On the completion of this statement he said. ‘Those in favor say aye.'

"Immediately three or four persons in the audience rose to speak. All seemed very much in earnest. Rigdon recognized one, saying all should have a chance. The speakers, one after another, proceeded to arraign the officers for their course in the financial management of their society. Some spoke of their swindling bank operation; others charged the prophet, Joe Smith, with using the church money for his own benefit. One candid appearing man said he and his family joined the great and glorious faith of the Latter Day Saints in the East, and came West to enjoy Its blessings with the brethren. He sold his property for $5,000, and brought the money with him. He asked the brothers here what he would better do with It They told him to put it into the Mormon bank, which he did, only saving out $30 for immediate use.

"When that was gone, he went to the bank for more, and could not get anything. He and his wife and family of five children had to work by the day, or job, at anything they could get to do, to keep from starving. He said he did not know how it was, but he was satisfied there was something wrong somewhere.

"Others accused the prophet of squandering the church funds. Rigdon, with his smooth, pleasant voice, tried to keep peace, but without avail. Hiram Smith, the prophet's brother, who was a good speaker, tried also, but the accusations continued till the prophet, who was a good speaker, became so annoyed that he defended his course, but did not stay the charges.

"Mr. Harris, one of the witnesses of the golden plates of the Mormon Bible, said that he once thought Joseph Smith was a true prophet sent by the Lord, but he had come to the conclusion he had fallen from grace, and was now controlled by the spirit of the devil.

"The accusations, with discussion and defense, continued through the entire day without intermission. I think it was about 10:30 o'clock in the morning when the talk began, and we sat there without any dinner, and without any intermission, until approaching darkness. The attendance did not perceptibly diminish, so intense was the interest. Many were waiting for a turn to speak, till the dusk of the evening. Then Rigdon stated that the discussion had continued as long as was profitable, and adjourned the meeting without taking a vote.

"Many waited outside the temple afterwards, gathered in little knots, and talked over the events of the day. I heard it said in the crowd that more truth had been told there that day than ever before, or than ever would be again. Afterwards I called Mrs. Clark's attention to the trouble in the meeting, and she said, 'Yes, it was intended to try them and reprove them,' and she would not be surprised to see the saints shed each other's blood there in the holy temple.

"In the spring of 1888 I stopped at Salt Lake City Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday, during the great world's gathering of the Mormons. The great tabernacle, said to be capable of seating 15,000, was insufficient to seat the great multitude,, and many were compelled to stand during the services. People of all classes, conditions and colors had embraced the doctrines and usages of Mormonism and had gathered to celebrate its triumphant success. Those of the lower classes showed marks of their former condition, but were dressed in clean garments, though of ever so plain and cheap a material, while many nun and women of apparent culture appeared in the rich and fashionable apparel of the time.

"The addresses that 1 listened to called for a high standard of morals to be applied in the every-day life of the people. In religious teachings, the main emphasis was laid oh principles that would not be objectionable to the greater proportion of the Christian churches of to-day; as, for crumple, trust in God, and faith in Christ. The Book of Mormon and the peculiar tenets of the Mormon church received slight mention. All that we know to be objectionable was kept studiously In the background.

"A stranger, knowing naught of the peculiar tenets and institutions of Mormonism, viewing the vast assemblages and hearing the addresses, would say: 'This is surely a strong, united and industrious people. They have not hesitated to gather into their fold many of the lower classes from many nations and many parts of the world, and they are elevating and improving them.'

"The contrast between Mormonism as presented to my view at Kirtland in 1838, and at Salt Lake City, fifty years later, was certainly striking. At Kirtland a few, newly-gathered converts, quarreling among themselves or charging their high officials with dishonesty, seemed to furnish all the conditions favorable to speedy disintegration.

"At Salt Lake City, In 1888, a strong, united and orderly body, seemingly having confidence in one another, and in its leaders, and compassing the continents and the isles of the sea in its proselyting, seemed even to the unsympathetic and suspicious observer to present wonderful elements of strength . and possibilities of further growth.

"Apparently, It was persecution that saved the day for Mormonism, and forced upon it a unity, a harmony and a zeal that it evidently would never have developed if left to itself. Opposed, ostracized, driven from one location to another, persecuted even to the murder of their prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hiram, they emerged, as they would say, chastened, and as we must admit, united, strengthened, progressive and powerful."

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XXII.                   Syracuse, New York, Sunday, January 20, 1901.                   No. 1,076.


Geneva, Jan. 19. -- The inhabitants of the three counties, Wayne, Ontario and Seneca all know Jason Esty, who makes his headquarters in Palmyra, but who spends much of his time traveling over the adjacent counties, always on foot and always carrying his violin.

"The Professor," as he is called, receives a warm welcome at every house. He is beloved by the children, and the familiar old tunes which he plays waken tender memories and often bring a tear to the eye

Though nearly 80 years old, he is remarkably agile and prefers walking to any other means of locomotioni. He has accumulated considerable means and during the last fifteen years has given much time to working out the history of the Esty family.

On his father's side he is a direct descendant of the three Esty brothers, Jason, Mark and Abner. who in 1623 emigrated from England and settled in Massachusetts. On his mother's side he is a descendant of the French Hugenot family, De Sparr, who emigrated from France and settled in Canada in the sixteenth century.

Mr. Esty was born in Vermont, in 1820, and when 17 years old he followed the trend of civilzation westward. He reached Albany by the way of Whitehall, and taking passage upon the packet boat Eliza arrived in Palmyra on September 8th, 1837, and he has since lived there. He remembers the Mormon excitement and relates some facts concerning Mormon history which he says have never been told. Mr. Estey says:

"When I arrived in Palmyra I entered the collector's office and met a tall man with brown hair, fine features and an intellectual forehead. It was Maj. John Gilbert, the first man to print a Mormon Bible. Major Gilbert told me that the first hill two miles south of Palmyra, on the east side of Canandaigua pond, was Cave hill. Half way up the hill can still be seen a depression, which marks the entrance to the cave in which Joseph Smith translated the gold plates from which the Book of Mormons [sic] was printed. The cave was entered by a tunnel from sixty to seventy feet long, conical in shape and high enough for a man to stand erect. At one time the entrance was laid up with stone. The inside of the tunnel was hard pan. The pick marks could be seen in walls and floor. Much has been said concerning the hill to the south and east where Smith claimed he found the plates, but I never have seen anything regarding Cave hill, and I have read everything on Mormon history. There has been some talk in and around Palmyra of opening up this tunnel."

Mr. Esty has been spending some time with friends and relatives in this city and is now in Seneca Falls.

Note 1: Jason Esty's interest in "the cave in which Joseph Smith translated the gold plates" was probably sparked by the fact that "Cave hill" was located on the farm owned by Esty's wife's brother-in-law, Chauncey Miner (1818-1873), father of Wallace W. Miner (1843-1934) who later "partly restored the old cave."

Note 2: For more information regarding Joseph Smith's cave, see the New York City Journal of Commerce of Dec., 1841, the Broome Republican of Feb. 2, 1876 the Auburn News & Democrat of Oct. 7, 1886 and the Shortsville Enterprise of March 18, 1904.

Note 3: LDS apologist Hugh Nibley mocked the idea of Joseph Smith having an artificial cave in Miner's Hill in his 1961 The Myth Makers, Part 1: The Crime of Being a Prophet ("The wonder-cave"). However, modern examination of the hill has turned up conclusive evidence for the excavation being real.



Vol. XXII.                   Syracuse, New York, Sunday, March 3, 1901.                   No. 1,082.


Canandaigua, March 2. -- Mormonism had its birth in Ontario county, a few miles northeast of Canandaigua, in 1827, when "crazy Joe Smith," as he was known by his neighbors, dug from the earth, at a point now known as Mormon hill, the plates, Urim and Thummim, from which he claimed to formulate the Book of Mormon. In Ontario counity and the town of Canandaigua Brigham Young embraced that belief and taught and preached it in this locality for some time. When Brigham Young declared for Mormonism he was a common day laborer, employed by Capt. George Hickox, and at the old Hickox homestead near Canandaigua are found relics of the great Mormon, in the shape of furniture and other examples of his ingenuity. The chair on the piazza, in the picture, was made by Brigham Young.

Young came to Canandaigua from Auburn in the early part of the '20s, having left the printing trade, which he followed in Auburn, because it did not suit his temperament. The whole family came, including Young's three brothers, two sisters, his wife and their four children. This large number of people had to be supported by hard labor. Young did not relish continual strivrng for, a mere living and improved his opportunities for reading and acquiring knowledge. He was converted to the Reformed Methodist faith in 1830, and became an exhorter, frequently leading the meetings of the neighborhood at old "No. 9 meeting house."

The Hickox, family still tell, how Young borrowed $1 of his employer and sawed wood to pay the loan. He was something of a cabinet maker and made considerable furniture of a fair sort. A chair is kept in the Hickox family that Young made for them.

In 1832 strangers appeared in the vicinity, talking about the new religion of Mormonism. At the last of their visits they found Young at work with his employer in the field. After a few minutes' quiet talk with them Young walked over to Mr. Hickox and said: "I am not going to work for you any longer, sir. I am going to do something better -- preach the everlasting gospel."

He then left and went about this section preaching for a time and then with others started for the West.

He wrote to the Hickox family at intervals till his death. A letter from him, written about the time of his 75th birthday, gives an insight into some of his domestic relations. It is as follows:
Salt Lake City , U. T. Feb. 19th, 1876.           
George Hickox, Esq., Canandaigua, N. Y.
      My Dear Sir -- It was an unexpected pleasure to receive a letter ftrom an old friend like yourself, and the news your favor contained of many whom I had not heard of for years, brought to my recollections varied scenes and sayings of days long since past. Old. No. 9, I recollect right well, with many other places and persons, the VanNormans, the Hickoxs and others, who flourished forty-flve years ago.

In thinking of myself I picture the young man I was in those days you knew me. I can scarcely realize that I have lived nearly seventy-five years on the earth, but I am extremely thankful that I am enjoying exceptional health.

I have three of my sons now living in the State of New York, one a raliroad man in New York, another a Lieutenant in the United States engineers and stationed at Willet's Point, the third, a few years younger, is studying at the School of Engineers at Troy. I have also a son in the Naval academy at Annapolis, another studying law at Ann Arbor, Mich., and two in England, preaching the principles of the everlasting gospel. The rest of my boys are in this Territory; I suffered a severe affliction in the loss of my eldest son, Joseph A., who died last July, in the flower of his youth and usefulness. * * *

I felt amused and interested in your statement that a chair made by me would occupy a place in your centennial supper, to be held next Tuesday. I have no doubt that many other pieces of furniture and other specimens of my handiwork can be found scattered about your section of the country, for I have believed all my life that what was worth doing was doing well, and have considered it a part of my religion to do honest, reliable work, such as would endure for those who employed me as to attend the services of God's worship on the Sabbath. If you ever pass this way call and see me; I shall be glad to see you. * * * With many kind remembrances, I remain your friend.
BRIGHAM YOUNG.           

Note 1: For an introduction to accounts relating to Brigham Young's 1830-31 residence in the Canandaigua township of Ontario County, New York, see notes appended to the clipping from the Ontario Republican Times of Aug. 27, 1857. -- Both the article writer and Brigham refer to "old. No. 9," which was a settled area in the southern part of Canandaigua township. The unusual name originated in the fact that Canandaigua was twice as large as most of the surrounding townships. Its northern half comprised a section of land in the tenth tier of townships and its southern half fell into the 9th tier -- thus the designation "No. 9" for Canandaigua's southern half, generally, and more particularly, for its southern farming area west of the lake (see map). In the late 1820s and early 1830s the largest settlement in "No. 9" was the hamlet of Cheshire. -- In his 1911 A History of Ontario County, Charles F. Milliken says: "In 1811 a house of worship was erected, and was known as No. 9 meeting house. It was a popular place of worship for many years. In 1873 it was taken away. Services in Canandaigua had then become much more attractive. It is evident from the foregoing that No. 9 took a prominent part in early days in the making of the history of the township of Canandaigua."

Note 2: The "old No. 9 meeting house" was situated at the intersection of what is now Woolhouse Road and County Road 32, a couple of miles southwest of Canandaigua city limits. Today only the abandoned Woolhouse/Hunn Cemetery marks the spot where Brigham Young preached Reformed Methodism in 1830-31 (and probably Mormonism, in the same building, in 1832-33). Old No. 9 meeting house is undoubtedly the church where the Reformed Methodist congregation organized by his younger brother met and worshiped, a couple of years prior to Brigham's 1830 arrival there. In his Feb. 3, 1858 autobiographical sketch, Phinehas Young says: "Soon after this [in 1824?] I went into the town of Canandaigua, Ontario Co., and commenced preaching in a little village called Cheshire, which was said to be the wickedest place in western New York. I was very successful in my labors and soon raised up a [Reformed Methodist] branch of forty-five members, and then returned home [to Auburn?], after an absence of forty-one days." -- Besides Brigham and Phinehas, one other member of the Young family also resided temporarily in the township. The Widow Susannah Young Little is said to have lived in Canandaigua Village near (or with) the Ebenezer Hale family. Mr. Hale shown on page 114 of the 1830 Ontario County census list: W. W. Phelps appears on page 118 of the same tabulation. George Hickox, Brigham Young and their neighbors in "old No. 9" appear later in the list, on pages 127-132. One report has Susannah returning, along with her new husband (William B. Stilson), to live in Canandaigua in 1830. If so, she remained there only a short time, before moving on to Albany and other places.

Note 3: George's Syracuse Herald photo computer enhanced by grindael. For more on George Hickox, see the Syracuse Post-Standard of Aug. 13, 1899.


Vol. LXIX.                   Rochester, New York, Sunday, March 10, 1901.                 No. ?


Call to Preach Came to Him at Canandaigua


True Story of Joseph Smith's Finding of the Mormon Bible
and What the Volume Really Was -- Its Make-up.

Written for The Democrat and Chronicle.

Although many people are aware that Mormonism had its birth in Ontario county, a few miles northeast of Canandaigua, the county seat, when in 1827 "crazy Joe Smith," as he was best known by his neighbors, delivered the bowels at the earth at a point now known as "Mormon Hill" of the mysterious plates, Urim and Thummim, from which he claimed to have formulated the text-books of Mormonism, few persons know that it was also in Ontario county and the town of Canandaigua that Brigham Young, the great Mormon leader, the founder of Salt Lake City and the greatest modern polygamist, adopted the tenets of that religion, and taught and preached it in that locality some time before he and others of the faithful took up their pilgrimage in search of the "land of promise," where they sought to shut themselves off from the rest of the world.

At the time Brigham Young became converted to Mormonism he was a common day laborer employed by Captain George Hickox, and at the old Hickox homestead near Canandaigua are still found relics of the great Mormon, now priceless, in the shape of furniture and other specimens of his ingenuity. Young went to Canandaigua from Auburn, in the early part of the '20's, having left the printing trade which he practiced in Auburn, but which did not suit his temperament, for the more broadening and independent work of an agriculturist. The whole family came, including Young's three brothers, two sisters, Young's wife, and four children. This large number of people had to be supported by hard labor. Young did not relish the continual striving for a mere living and at that early time evinced an ambition for a broader field of labor. His thirst for learning was early manifested and he seized all opportunities for reading and acquiring knowledge. He was converted to the Reformed Methodist faith in 1830, and diligently studied his Bible, becoming quite an exhorter and frequently leading the meetings of the neighborhood, at old "No. 9 meeting house."

It is still told by the Hickox family how Brigham Young borrowed $1 of his employer and sawed wood to pay the loan. He was something of a cabinet maker and made considerable furniture of a very fair sort. A chair is still retained in the Hickox family that Young made for them.

In 1832 some strangers appeared in the vicinity talking about the new religion of Mormonism, recently discovered by the Prophet Smith in the town of Manchester, and they soon succeeded in proselyting Young. At the last of their visits they found Young at work beside his master in the field. After a few minutes' quiet confab with them Young walked over to Mr. Hickox and said, "I am not going to work for you any longer, sir. I am going to do something better -- preach the everlasting gospel." He then left and went about in this section preaching for a time, then with the others who were looking for their Mecca started on the Western trip.

He frequently wrote to the Hickox family, and the correspondence continued at intervals till the time of his death. A letter from him written about the time of his seventy-fifth birthday, gives an interesting insight into some of his domestic relations. Portions of it are as follows:

Salt Lake City, U. T.           
19 Feb., 1876.           
George Hickox. Esq., Canandaigua, N. Y.:
        My Dear Sir: It was an unexpected pleasure to receive a letter from an old friend like yourself, and the news your favor contained of many whom I had not heard of for years brought to my recollections varied scenes and sayings of days long since past. Old No. 9, I recollect right well, with many other places and persons, the Van Normans, the Hickoxes and others who flourished forty-five years ago. In thinking of myself I picture the young man I was in those days you knew me. I can scarcely realize that I have lived nearly seventy five years on the earth, but I am extremely thankful that I am enjoying exceptional health. I have three of my sons now residing in the state of New York, one a railroad man in New York, another a lieutenant in the United States engineers, and stationed Willet's Point, the third, a few years younger, is studying at the Naval Academy at Annapolis: another studying law at Ann Arbor, Mich. and two in this territory. I suffered a severe affliction in the loss of my eldest son. Joseph A. who died last April in the flower of his youth and usefulness. * * * I felt amused and interested in your statement that a chair made by me would occupy a place in your centennial supper to be held next Tuesday. I have no doubt that many other pieces of furniture and other specimens of my handiwork can be found scattered about your section of the country, for I have believed all my life that what was worth doing was worth doing well, and have considered it a part of my religion to do honest, reliable work, such as would endure for those who employed me, us to attend to the services of God's worship on the Sabbath. If you ever pass this way, call and see me. I shall be glad to see you * * * With many kind remembrances, I remain your friend.

The text of the above is written in a fine feminine hand, signed by a scrawling yet legible and characteristic signature. When Brigham Young died on August 29, 1877, he was then considered the third wealthiest depositor at the Bank of England, where most of his personal wealth was in keeping.

The lives of the two prophets of Mormonism, Smith and Young, are similar in some degree; both were born of poor, humble parents, and were nearly the same age. It was Joseph Smith, Jr., son of Joseph Smith, of Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, who came to the light of the world in 1805, that afterwards made Mormonism a matter of history. The Smiths were poor and numerous. They emigrated to Palmyra in 1816. At this time Joseph became known as a money digger, a searched for hidden wealth, and he claimed among other things to have supernatural aid, including a magic mirror by which he could locate wealth, but as the family always remained poor, the people placed little faith in his abilities. He was a general ne'er-do-well, shirking everything that looked like work, and continually hunting for some means to get a living without labor.

Young was born in 1801, converted into Mormonism in 1832, and his whole family accepted the faith when he did. Up to that time he had had no settled vocation, going from one thing to another, first a farmer, then a painter and glazier, then a printer, then a cabinet maker and again a fanner, till he adopted the work that entailed little manual labor, that of preaching. Smith soon secured adherents, and the first among those were Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt, of Manchester. Then came Young, and others followed in order later.

Young was elected governor of Utah in 1850, after strife and struggles for independence from the United States government and after Young and the [1,000?] or more followers had striven long to [get] the power to run their territory to suit themselves. Up to that time lawlessness had been rife and the days of the "Danites" were then uppermost.

Smith had a hard time getting his Mormon bible printed, but finally the task was undertaken by John H. Gilbert, of Palmyra, and one other. Mr. Gilbert and [his] partner had a hard time getting the execrable manuscript of the illiterate Smith into shape and the first bible was not so satisfactory as it might have been from a literary standpoint. Later editions printed in 1830 [sic] by other persons are more presentable.

The plates described by Smith as those revealing the text of the bible to him and said by him to have, been pointed out by special divine mandate, correspond [in] description by those who have seen them to resemble the "glyphs" found in the "mound builder" sections, consisting of [curiously] wrought metallic plates with hieroglyphical characters thereon. They are thought to have been secured in indirect manner from mounds similar to those found in [-----] and Ohio, and which are well known to scientists as remnants of Aztec and Egyptian races.

It is certain that Smith had some assistance from one more versed in matters spiritual than himself, for his talk at that time was interspersed with a half scientific, half illiterate jargon that was meant by him to pass as inspired utterances, but which at times revealed the ignorance of the speaker as to the subject matter on which he spoke.

According to the legendary account adopted by the Mormons as to the true origin and correct history of the Book of Mormon, it is claimed that a portion of their history runs back to that extremely remote age, when the tongues were confounded at the Tower of Babel. They hold that at the time of that event the tribes of this earth were scattered abroad and that the migrations of one particular colony were directed by the Lord, who led the favored few across the sea to the Western continent, now called America.

The Mormon history records the progress of the opposing nations of Nephites and Lamanites. The former appeared to have been highly favored of God. The most noted prophet of the golden age of the Nephites was "Mormon," who made an abridgment of the sacred record which contained the history of his forefathers, narrated the prophecies made to them, and sketched the events [surrounding] the introduction among them of the gospel. After appending the history of his own time, Mormon was ready to leave this earth, and having laid him down to [die -----] the task of concealing the [-----] plates was imposed upon his son, Moroni. From this point begins the history of the Mormon bible. In order to preserve from the impious hands of the Lamanites the plates, Moroni deposited them carefully in the earth, in the locality then called the Hill Cumorah, now known as Mormon Hill," situated in the northeastern part of Ontario county, where the records, after being carefully sealed, were buried several feet below the surface of the hill at a date given as A. D. 420. There they lay till fourteen centuries had passed, until on the 22nd day of September, 1827, "an angel of the Lord directed Joseph Smith, Jr., (the original prophet) to exhume the long-buried history."

Mormon history goes into considerable detail as to the vicissitudes that [beset] Smith, in his attempts to "translate" and publish the Book of Mormon. But it is recorded that he finally escaped to the northern part of Pennsylvania, where in peace and solitude, by the aid of the wonderful crystals set in the spectacle bows, [found] with the plates (the Urim and Thummim), he translated the unsealed portion of the records into the English language ["in] obedience to the Divine Command."

The real history of the so-called Mormon bible is that it was the invention of the fevered brain of a Cherry Valley [recluse?] clergyman named Solomon Spaulding, who after long researches in Ashtabula county, O., where he found food for a [fanciful?] imagination in the Aztec mounds and American antiquities. with which the [region] was rich, conceived the idea of writing a fabulous history of the long [extinct?] races, adopting his hypothesis that [the] manuscript was found in one of [these] mounds. A printer mimed Rigdon, employed in an office where Spaulding's manuscript was submitted, is said to [have] stolen it, and finally submitted it to Joseph Smith, whose fame as a "money digger" had become widespread, and in whom [he] was personally interested.

The Book of Mormon or the Mormon bible, is a rarity nowadays, indeed it [is] almost an unknown quantity, very few [being] possessed outside the [----es] of Mormonism. The title page of this book is as follows:

[replica of title page - not copied]

Note: Although the above article purports to have been "Written for The Democrat and Chronicle," it is largely a reprint of the report featured in the Syracuse Herald of March 3, 1901, with some added paragraphs, obtainable from practically any turn of the century encyclopedia. The Democrat and Chronicle piece gives the impression that only "Portions" of Brigham's Feb. 19, 1876 letter to Mr. Hickox have been reproduced. Inspection of the letter-press copy of the original (preserved in pages 206-207 of Young's 1875-76 letters) verifies that the entire text of the letter was transcribed for the March 3rd Herald article.



Vol. XV.                   Watertown, New York, Saturday, April 13, 1901                     No. 42.

Brigham Young's Widow.

The Salt Lake City Tribune of April 4 publishes a picture and a sketch of Zina Diantha Huntington Young, one of the surviving widows of Brigham Young, the former famous head of the Mormon church. She is a native of Watertown and a sister of the late Dr. John D. Huntington. She was born at Watertown, Jan. 31, 1821. She was descended from revolutionary stock, and her father, one of the first physicians in New Hampshire, fought in the war of 1812. When 15 years of age, Zina Huntington embraced the gospel of the Latter-day Saints, and soon after went to Kirtland, O., with her father's family. Later she moved to Nauvoo, where she married a man named Henry Jacobs, but this not proving a happy union, she was divorced from her husband. In 1841 she was sealed to the Prophet Joseph for time and eternity. After the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, she was united in marriage for time to Brigham Young, becoming his 20th wife, and with the Saints left Nauvoo in the month of February, crossing the Mississippi on the ice. In May, 1848, began the journey to Utah, arriving there in September of that year.

The Tribune says: "When the relief society was reorganized in Utah by President Young, Mrs. Young was one of the first identified with that work, being made treasurer of the society. Later she became first counselor to Mrs, Eliza R. Snow Smith, and upon her death became the president of the relief socleties in all the world. She was also instrumental in making sericulture successful in Utah, and was a physician of no mean skill. In fact, in all departments of women's labor. Mrs. Young has always been found at her post, doing her share of active work in the best manner possible."

Notes: forthcoming


The Utica  [     ]  Observer.

Vol. LIV.                       Utica, New York, Saturday, October 19, 1901.                         No. 147.

Lorenzo  Snow,  the  Fifth  Mormon  President.

The death last week, at the Beehive, in Salt Lake City, Utah, of Lorenzo Snow, who has been for several years President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as the Mormons style themselves, removes from the activities of life a man who was obstinate in his faith, persistent in his polygamy, able in the discharge of his executive duties, and a father in Israel; as he died at 87.

The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith, a Vermont Yankee, whose parents brought him to the State of New York while he was a boy and settled near Palmyra, Ontario county, where Joseph grew to young manhood, engaged in the useful work a farm laborer. Then he obtained possession of the manuscript of a religious romance written by the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, and which after undergoing a few alterations, he gave to the world as the new Mormon Bible, which he pretended to have received Written on plates of gold by God's hand, who was an Egyptian according to the intent of the prophets." The prophet Joseph found dupes enough to swallow his stories and when he established the first church of Mormonism in Palmyra he Immediately announced that he had been elected President of the whole Mormon band and that as such he was ready to receive tithes from all the faithful. For fourteen years his Presidency continued and then in June, 1844. Joseph Smith was attacked by a mob of self-styled Christians in Illinois who proceded to hang [sic] him till he died. Next Brigham Young became President and for the next thirty-three years he defied Uncle Sam or flirted with him (when Millard Fillmore was President did he not make Brigham Young Governor of Utah Territory? an office he refused to relinquish to his duly appointed successor until compelled to do so by Federal troops); and he collected [wives] like a Jewish Patriarch; and married wives to the number of more than twenty-five; and ruled the church that Joseph Smith had founded on the Rev. Solomon Spaulding's religious romance with a rod of iron; then he died and John Taylor succeeded to the presidency. But John was an old man when elected president and he died in a few years without doing much good or harm. He was followed by Wilford Woodruff, during whose incumbency a revelation from the Almighty was received suspending the practice of polygamy in the Mormon Church. This revelation dovetailed so neatly with the Edmonds law that some of the unregenerate thought the Lord had taken to compromising. After the death of President Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow was made president and he continued to exercise the functions of the office down to last week, when he died. He is to be followed by Joseph F. Smith, grandson [sic] of the "prophet," and a comparatively young man. Each of the presidents of the Mormon church has had a life lease of power: that of Smith and Young extending over a period of forty-eight years; and Lorenzo Snow's bringing it up to sixty-two years, which is more than six-sevenths of the life of the church.

Notes: forthcoming



Vol. XXI.                     Auburn, New York, Tuesday, January 7, 1902.                     No. 2.

The Monster Abomination.

Rev. Solomon Spaulding was for some time in poor health, and to while away the time he wrote a preposterous religious romance. One Joseph Smith somehow got hold of that book before it was printed, and published it as a revelation of heaven, calling it the "Book of Mormon," and from that publication came Mormonism, the monster abomination of the earth. Rev. Solomon Spaulding might have been, better engaged than writing that book of falsehoods. However much time we have, we never have time to do wrong. Harness January for usefulness, and it will take the following months in its train. Oh, how much you may do for God between now and the 31st of next December! The beautiful "weeping willow" tree was introduced by Alexander Pope into England from a twig which the poet found in a Turkish basket of figs. He planted that twig, and from it came all the weeping willows of England and America; and your smallest planting of good may under God become an influence continental and international....

Notes: forthcoming


Vol. LXXIII.             Albany, New York, Wednesday, October 29, 1902.             No. 22,431.




Original Mormon Church as Founded by Joseph Smith was Monogamic.


Testimony of Founder's Family and Others Shows Bible Rule
Prevailed up to 1876.


Son of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Founder of Mormonism.

The popular supposition is that American polygamy was the outgrowth of the faith, doctrine and practices instituted by Joseph Smith, the putative founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which was organized April 6, 1830, in the state of New York. The object of this paper is to correct this popular supposition so far as the facts warrant conclusions as to ts origin.

First  Mormons  Monogamists.

One of the basic principles upon which the church organized by Joseph Smith and his associates was founded was the principle of direct revelation from God to man at any time when God had a people upon the earth whom He recognized as His. Accepting this principle and in direct pursuance of it the Book of Mormon, called by those outside the church "The Golden Bible," was discovered, translated and put before the American people as a revelation from God. This work was published in 1830. In it is a direct instruction against the practlce of polygamy, in form and substance as follows:
"But the word of God burthens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord. This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures; for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which things was abominable before me, saith the Lord, wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out bf the land of Jerusalem by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. Wherefore I, the Lord God, will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. 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, delighteth in the chastity of women." -- Book of Mormon, page 116.

The Church in regard to the domestic relation.

Subsequently to this, in 1831, in a revelation given to the church in Kirtland, Ohio, after the removal of the church from New York state, a system of laws was given in which occurs the following:
Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else; and he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out. Thou shalt not commit adultery." -- Doctrine and Covenants.

Not a great while after this declaration upon the subject was made, a mission to the Shakers was contemplated, and before the men who were to undertake it started upon their journey they askrd of the authorities of the church what should be their attitude and their teaching among the Shakers upon the subject of marriage, as the Shakers had in their faith abandoned the marriage relation end held to celibacy. The authorities of the church made the matter the subject of prayer and were instructed as follows:
"And again I say unto you that whoso forbiddeth [man to] marry, is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man; wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation; and that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made. -- Doctrine and Covenants.

Polygamy Condemned in Ohio.

This revelation to the church fixed the relation between the sexes in the domestic economy as monogamlc. The authorities of the church and the united eldership recognized these revelations as commandments to the church, and it became the organic law of marriage, and, was publicly acknowledged as such in a solemn assembly of the church held at Kirtland, Ohio, August 17, 1835. There was presented to that body an article carefully prepared and unanimously accepted, as follows:
"All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife and one woman but one husband, except tn case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." -- Doctrine and Covenants.

It will be seen by this that so far as ecclesiastical law of the church with regard to the marriage relation is concerned, it Was purely monogamic, and that any rule of faith or practice which contravened or disregarded the herein stated could not legally become a tenet of the church.

In New York, where the church was organized, the statue laws prohibited bigamous or polygamous marriages and punished the same by penalties inflicted upon all persons connected with such marriages. The laws of Ohio ware similar to those of New York, and In every state and territory of the United States in which the church existed and flourished similar statute laws had been enacted and were upon the statute books. This was also the case in the foreign countries to which the missionaries were sent and where church propagandizing was carried on. This fact was well known to Joseph Smith and all others connected with him In church building. The church members were under obligation by virtue of their belief in present revelation to conduct themselves as good citizens of the state and make their church rules and regulations conform to statute enactments.

State Laws Approved.

In a revelation given in August, 1831, the following commandment concerning the law of the land was given to the church and placed among its rules of discipline
"Let no man think that he is a ruler, but let God rule him that judgeth according to the counsel of his own will; or, in other words, him that counseleth and sitteth upon the judgment seat. Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land; wherefore be subject to the powers that be, until He reigns whose right it Is to reign, and subdues all enemies under His feet. Behold, the laws which ye have received from my hand are the laws of the church, and in this light ye shall hold them forth. Behold, here is wisdom." -- Doctrine and Covenants.

The church could not fail to know that if the revelation was from God, as they believed it to be, they would not at any time be commanded to perform any act or accept any rule of faith that would require them to disregard or break the laws enacted by the state. That plural marriage does require a disregard for and a breaking of the laws of the land whenever and wherever It Is practiced in any civilized country need not be argued; It is self-evident xxx It Is therefore contrary to the organic law of the church and also contrary to the law of the land.

From the organization of the church, April 6, 1830, to the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. June 27, 1844. was a period of but little over fourteen years. During this period of time the church existed under this monogamlc rule, and up to the date of their death no other rule of faith or practice was known to the church. The monogamic marriage law, first published in 1835, in the book of discipline, was incorporated in every successive edition of that work until the year 1878, both those published in America and those published in England, before and after the death of Joseph Smith, and it was not until the fall of 1878 that this monogamlc declaration of faith was stricken from this book of discipline, by order of President Brigham Young, and a supposed copy of a revelation, purported to have been given to the church through Joseph Smith in 1845, was inserted In its place.

New Doctrine Introduced.

No public presentation or acknowledgment of the dogma of plural marriages was ever attempted or made until August 27, 1852, eight years and two months after the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and this was done at a special conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the direction of President Brigham Young. At this conference Orson Pratt, one of the chief apostles of the Utah church, made the first public presentation and defense of the dogma, acknowledging it to be such first presentation in the following words:
"It Is quite unexpected to me, brethren and sisters, to be called upon to address you upon the principle which has been named -- namely, a plurality of wives. It is rather new ground for me -- that is, I have not been in the habit of publicly speaking upon this subject -- consequently we shall have to have to break up new ground." -- Journal of Discourses, volume I, pages 63 and 64.

When President Brigham Young presented this document, he did so stating that it was a copy which had been in his private possession and subject to his control, and of the existence of which no one was aware besides himself and those to whom he may have seen fit to show it. In attempting to account for its being a copy he stated that the original had been burned by the wife of Joseph Smith, the prophet, but the wife of the prophet distinctly affirmed until the day of her death in April, 1879, that she never saw, read or heard read or had in her possession, or burned, such a document. As to the rectitude and honor of the wife of the prophet there can be no question.

The foregoing. together with the fact that there was not upon record any paper or journal or organ of the church or any tract or printed sermon or article written or published during the lifetime of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, in which the dogma and practice of polygamy or plural marriage was presented, taught or defended, and the further fact that both Joseph and Hyrum Smith are on record as denouncing anything of the kind as late as the spring of 1844, just prior to their deaths, is evidence conclusive that the dogma and practice had no place in the church by virtue of introduction or sanction from them. To this may be added what is to reasoning and practical men an almost indisputable argument: No children were born to Joseph Smith or Hyrum Smith in plural marriage or polygamy.

Bible Rule Prevailed.

As an additional line of evidence as to the rule of marriage being monogamic in the church at the time of its organization and subsequently up to the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith the following may be of value:
"Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law, to govern my church; and he that doth according to these things shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned if be continues." -- Doctrine and Covenants.

This revelation or commandment was given to the church In February, 1831, and the scriptures which they had at that time were the Bible, King James's version, and the Book of Mormon. The rule of marriage as given in Genesis ii, 24, Matthew xlx. 5-10 and Mark x., 6-9 was simply and purely monogamic, as but one companion in wedlock at a time was contemplated in the scriptures thus cited. It is also a fact that in the countries where the Latter Day Saints have made effort to propagandize and build up churches the equality of the sexes has been marked, there being in the United States and territories where they have had the most success and the largest organization an excess of men over women at marriageable ages -- that is, between the ages of 15 and 39.

As late as February 1, 1844, the official organ of the church at Nauvoo, Ill., the "Times and Seasons," contained this notice:
"Notice -- As we have lately been credibly informed that an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown. has been preaching polygamy and other false and corrupt doctrines in the county of Lapaer. state of Michigan, this is to notify him and the church in general that he has been cut off from the church for his iniquity, and he is further notified to appear at a special conference on the 6th of April next to make answer to these charges.
"Presidents of the Church."

Prophet's Wife Testimony.

In corroboration, Emma Smith, the wife of the prophet; made the following statements in reference to the practice of plural marriage:
"There was no revelation on either polygamy or spiritual wives.

"No such thing as polygamy or spiritual wifery was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death that I have now or ever had any knowledge of.

"I know that he had no other wife or wives than myself, either spiritual or otherwise."

John Taylor, editor of the "Times and Seasons," after the prophet's death (and later the successor to Brigham Young as president of the Utah church), in the issue of that Journal for January 15, 1845, stated:
"Suppose we say a word concerning the prophet's wife, Mrs. Emma Smith. She honored her husband while living. and she will never knowingly dishonor his good name while his martyred blood mingles with Mother Earth."

As corroborative evidence as to the time when polygamy was introduced, George Q. Cannon, who was one of the presidency of the Utah church as counselor to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, and well known to the public as one of the leading men of the church in Utah, said on January 11, 1871:
"A prevalent idea has been that this prejudice against us owes its origin and continuation to our belief in a plurality of wives, but when it is recollected that the mobbings, drivings and expulsions from cities, counties and states which we endured and our exodus to these mountains; all took place before the revelation of that doctrine was publicly known, it will be seen that our belief in it has not been the cause of persecution. ... Joseph and Hyrum Smith were persecuted to death previous to the church having any knowledge of this doctrine." -- Journal of Discourse, vol. 14, pp. 165-66.

H. B. Clawson. son-in-law of President Brigham Young, made this statement:
"Polygamy at that time was unknown among those of the Mormon faith.... The doctrine of polygamy was not promulgated until they got to Salt Lake -- not, in fact, until some little time after they arrived there." -- Salt Lake Herald, Feb. 9, 1882.

Young Forced it on Church.

It was a part of the on written law of the church that documents purporting to be revelations could not become binding upon the church and accepted as rule of law to govern the church until such revelations had passed critical examinations before the leading quorums of the church, and if successfully passed upon and endorsed by the several quorums, they then passed to the general assembly for approval or disapproval, under the law of "common consent." There is no evidence on record that has been accessible to the writer that the purported revelation presented by President Young August 29, 1852, was ever at any time presented to the respective quorums of the church, or ever acted upon by any assembly or public meeting of the church as a document for approval or disapproval. No action of the body to which it was presented in 1852 was either had or asked for by President Young. He simply presented it with the boastful statement that it contained as doctrine a small portion of the world is opposed to, but I can, deliver a prophecy upon it. Though that doctrine has not been practiced by the elders, this people have believed in it for years." -- Supplement, Millennia Star; vol 15. p. 31.

That prophetic statement to which he referred was as follows:
"And I tell you -- for I know it -- tt will sail over and ride triumphantly above all the prejudice and priestcraft of the day; it will be fostered and believed in by the more intelligent portions of the world, as one of the best doctrines ever proclaimed to any people."

Tricked into Adopting It.

The writer of this article challenged this point In Logan, Utah, in [1887], and one of the then acting apostles of the Utah church publicly stated that he was present when the supposed revelation was sustained by a number of thousands of the church, membership in assembly. Subsequent inquiry furnished the evidence that instead or the document having been read, examined and criticized, or arguments for or against it having been heard, one of the leading elders upon the stand took up a book, supposed to be the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and said, "I move that we sustain the Book of Covenants," which motion prevailed, there being no negative vote called or opportunity given for a negative vote. This was after the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants from which the original monogamic section was stricken out and the so-called revelation on plural marriage printed in the book In its stead. So that the point is clear that no such examination of the document was had as was contemplated in the church rule regarding revelations before they became binding upon the people.

The sons of the prophet contend that they and other church members who were baptized into the church prior to the death of Joseph Smith and Hyrum, his brother, have the right as members and officers of the church to a critical examination of any and all revelations by which the doctrines and practices of the church are to be changed or the rules subverted. This is one of their contentions, that no such opportunity for examination has been afforded them.

Joseph Smith Vindicated.

The foregoing shows clearly the time when the dogma and practice of plural marriage, or polygamy, became a part of the tenets of the so-called Mormon church. William Hepworth Dixon in his work, "New America," writing of his visit to Utah, states as follows:
"Still no proof has ever yet been adduced to show that Joseph either lived as a polygamist or dictated the revelation in favor of a plurality of wives That he did not openly live with more than one woman is admitted by all -- or nearly all; and so far as his early and undoubted writings are concerned, nothing can be clearer than that his feelings were opposed to the doctrines and practices which have since his death become the high notes of his church."

He further adds:
"It is my firm conviction that if the practice of plurality should become a permanent concept of this American church, the saints will not owe it to Joseph Smith, but to Brigham Young."

This he states after he claims to have tested the evidences which were presented to him.

Polygamy Injured Church.

Joseph and Hyrum Smith were leaders in an active effort at spreading the new faith, together with their associates, and were successful in building up a church which, at their death is said to have numbered 150,000 communicants and that without the dogma or practice of plural marriage. Of this estimated number not above 10,000 to 15,000 emigrated immediately to Utah, the remainder scattering in different parts of the states repudiating the new philosophy and repudiating the rule and authority of President Brigham Young. After the introduction and public presentation of polygamy there ensued an almost wholesale apostasy and abandonment of the church, both in the United States and Europe. It is estimated that some 15,000 left the church in one year. During the prevalence of the dogma and practice in Utah there was almost a cessation of propagandising efforts, in the United States, especially, and in many parts of Europe.

In 1850 President Wilford Woodruff stated to the church in Utah in substance that he was permitted to advise the church to cease the practice of plural marriage, and there was an apparent abandonment of the dogma, since which time there has been an apparent revival of propagandising efforts in the United States and elsewhere, and the elders of said church do not present or defend publicly that portion of the faith, though they do say in private, when questioned, that they still believe in it.

Smith's Sons Monogamous.

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which claims to be the original church in succession, with which the sons of the prophet are identified, has been a strong opponent of the doctrine of plural marriage, and has been successful in organizing churches based upon the original tenets of the church as presented by Joseph and Hyrum Smith before their death, and are monogamic in both teaching and practice.

Notes: forthcoming



Vol. LVIII.                 Syracuse, New York, Saturday, December 6, 1902.                 No. 290.


Want to Know Why Their Critics
Don't Try to Convert Them.


Elders George W. Bruce and Erastus F. Rose, the exponents of Mormonism, attended a meeting at the Rescue Mission in State st. last evening. Elder Bruce was introduced and gave his testimony, as did others. He did not touch upon Mormonism, but said although a stranger in the city he was not a stranger to the Spirit.

Elder Bruce said to-day: "Why does not some one try to convert us. That doesn't seem to have occurred to any one. People just object to our trying to convert others, but make no effort to convert us."

The elders say they may attend church to-morrow.

The Rev. J. E. Allen will preach "The Mormons" at the Brown Memorial church and the elders say they would like to hear him.

They state they will continue their work quietly here.

About Joe Smith.

Mormonism is of more than a general interest to Syracuse for, while the fact is not generally known, the famous "seeing stone" by which Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, was enabled to "see things," was picked up in this city.

When the 19th century was new, Jack Belcher of Susquehanna county, used to come to Syracuse to buy salt. One day, while drawing salt on the Salina road, he picked up a peculiar brown and green stone, shaped like a goose egg. Belcher believed it was a seeing stone and took it home. There, according to a narrative of a neighbor published in the history of the county, the stone was a wonder. Belcher's boy covered the stone with a hat and saw a candle. Later, says the neighbor, the stone was used to locate lost children. A hatchet lost by the boy was located by the aid of the stone after being lost two years.

Joe Smith was in the county, about that time and conceived the idea of making a fortune out of the stone. He secured it and first started to dig for treasure. He failed because, as he said, "the rule of silence was broken and the enchantment removed."

Some time after this Smith moved to Ohio and a letter was written by Isaac Hale in response to inquiry as to Smith's character and history. The letter told about the "seeing stone" and how Smith ran away with the writer's daughter and married her. According to the letter Smith's occupation was pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat. In this way he pretended to discover minerals. His manners were careless and he was saucy and insolent to his father.

It was in 1826 that Smith married Hale's daughter and went to Palmyra, where he claimed he found the plates from which he wrote the Book of Mormon. Mr. Hale, in the letter, says that Smith brought a box which he said contained the plates. Hale was allowed to look at the plates. The plates were then hidden in the woods.

About this time Martin Harris appeared and wrote down the book interpreted by Smith. The manner which Smith read the plates was with the stone in his hat and the hat over his face. The plates were at the same time hidden in the woods.

The letter concludes as follows: "I conscientiously believe that the whole Book of Mormon (so-called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary, and in order that its [fabricators] might live upon the spoils of those who swallowed its deception." The letter signed by Isaac Hale and sworn to. Where the stone is now is not known.

Alva Hale, son of the writer of letter, makes the statement published in the history that Smith told him that his gift in seeing with a stone was gift from God. Smith told him at another time that this peeping was d__d nonsense."

Another statement verified is to the effect that Smith said God had deceived [him] and that was the reason he would not show the plates.

Notes: forthcoming



Vol. LXXV.                   Syracuse, New York, Friday,  February 13, 1903.                   No. ?

New  Light  on  Book of Mormon.

To the Editor of the Post-Standard:

Inasmuch as the citizens of your community have recently been greatly interested in the "Mormon question" it seems to me that the following information will be received with a certain attention. The facts which have recently come into my possession should set at rest forever the claims and contentions on which the Mormons ground their faith.

Every religion must have a creed or book, a person or a dogma which is authoritative and secure from the attacks which a reasonable science and a modern knowledge are sure to make. Mormonism has no such authority.

"The Manuscript Found" from which the "Book of Mormon" was formulated has been very conclusively proved to be the work of Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

Mr. Spaulding was a graduate of Dartmouth College and a clergyman of some literary ability. At any rate, while living in Conneaut, Ohio, he became interested in certain earth mounds which were in close proximity to his home and caused an examination of them to be made. As a result of this investigation he wrote his manuscript, which was filled with ideas and figures quite unusual and out of proportion to the thought of the ordinary mortal.

The manuscript was taken at his death, with other personal effects, to Onondaga Valley (called "Hollow" at the time) to the residence of William H. Sabine. Mr. Sabine was a lawyer of distinction, and a personal friend of Judge Conkling of Utica and of other prominent men in this part of the State. The manuscript was kept in a trunk filled with other writings, letters, novels and the like.

Mrs. Anna T. Redfield, who in 1832 was a resident of Syracuse, remembered the manuscript distinctly when she was 84 years of age. She, and others, read the "Book of Mormon" and remarked upon the remarkable similarity which it bore to this writing of Mr. Spaulding.

The reason soon became apparent. Joseph Smith had been a teamster and out-of-door workman for Mr. Sabine after he had been released from the Onondaga County jail in 1817. An examination of the records will prove this assertion. Smith heard the tales reported concerning this remarkable manuscript and in all probability conceived his plan and purpose, which resulted in a book which is fallacious and deceptive in its origin, purpose and persuasion.

No wonder that Thurlow Weed wrote of him in 1882: "With my knowledge of Joseph Smith it has been for more than half a century the occasion of surprise and regret that such a vulgar impostor should have obtained a following which is even now drawing proselytes from Europe."

This new information may be explored in "New Light on Mormonism" by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson.   G. C. RICHMOND.
Syracuse, Feb. 12.

Notes: forthcoming


Geneva Daily Times.

Vol. ?                               Geneva, New York, Tuesday, April 5, 1903.                               No. ?



The Hill at Palmyra Where the Mormon Bible
Was Found -- Early Days of the Saints --
The First Prophet.


Palmyra, N.Y., April 5. -- The testimony now being presented before the Senate committee appointed to investigate the eligibility of Apostle Reed Smoot, proving the continued prevalence of the practice of polygamy among the Mormons of Utah is bringing that sect into increased notoriety and their picturesque history is being dug up by lovers of the mysterious and bizarre.

The scene of the birth and early day of this religion, and the Mecca of devout Mormons, is this village and township of Palmyra, in Western New York, for here it was that Joseph Smith, jr., first prophet of the Latter Day Saints "lived and moved and had his being." Four miles south of the village, just over the county line, stands Mormon Hill or the "Hill Cumorah" of the Mormon Bible, on whose grassy slopes the prophet dug and found the golden plates engraved with characters which he read by Divine aid.

In Palmyra too the first version of the bible was printed. The old Washington hand press, No. 63, built by Robert Hoe & Co., is still on exhibition, the property of Fred W. Clemons, editor and proprietor of the Wayne Country Journal at Palmyra, N. Y., and is viewed with veneration by the faithful pilgrim, while the very man who set the type was living but a few years ago. "Major" Gilbert was a hale nonagenarian who celebrated each birthday by setting a stick of type to "keep his hand in," possibly with the hope of printing Bibles in the world to come. All honor to his memory.

That Joseph Smith has gone to a better land is not believed by those of the old inhabitants who knew him as a neighbor. They say he was idle and shiftless, a dreamer, a treasure seeker and addicted to chicken raising. The family came from Vermont in the early years of the last century and settled near Palmyra. They soon gained notoriety as diviners and fortune tellers. The mother is now conceded to have been the genius of the family. She had an acute mind but it was perverted by ignorance and superstition. She often gave out hints that one of her sons was to be a prophet.

The son Joseph began his prophetic career by finding an opaque stone shaped somewhat like a child's foot, which he hoarded, and in which he soon claimed to have found strange properties. He called it a "peek stone" and he declared that by putting it in his beaver hat and holding the latter close up to his face he could detect the whereabouts of underground springs, lost property and hidden treasure.

Smith in the early '20s paid several visits to settlements in the Alleghany mountains in Pennsylvania, where the settlers were more credulous than those in Palmyra. On a certain wilderness hill his peek stone discovered a ton of silver bars which had been buried by weary Spaniards as they trudged up the Susquehanna. As soon as Smith could collect enough followers the digging was begun and several excavations were made, one of which was fully thirty-five feet in diameter and as deep. The diggers had proceeded with great labor and were just ready to grasp the silver when Smith announced that it had suddenly moved three hundred feet to the northeast. Again the faithful set to work and again the silver flitted away. The third hole had been sunk about fifteen feet when the treasure slid over near the original hole. A black dog was then killed and its blood sprinkled on the ground, after which the treasure did not move far away, but frequent tunneling proved unavailing, and when Smith announced that one of their number would have to be sacrificed, the diggers at last rebelled and went on strike. This story has been verified by old residents of Susquehanna who were eye-witness.

Several years later when Smith had set up as a prophet he frequently visited that neighborhood. A number of witnesses in the vicinity of Nineveh remember that he set a day for that village to sink, but that he afterwards repented and withdrew his curse. He did, however, announce that on a certain evening he would walk on the water. The place of his selection was watched by boys until one of Smith's followers was seen to construct a bridge of planks just under the surface. Watching their opportunity, the boys removed some of the planks. Before Smith attempted to walk he exhorted his followers to have strong faith, and when the bridge suddenly gave way beneath him he paddled ashore and exclaimed, "Woe unto ye of little faith! Your faith would not hold me up!"

Coming back to the days of the treasure-seeking we find that from 1820 to 1827 Smith persevered in the practice, retaining his following with wonderful cunning, and gradually developing his pretensions, which culminated in the pretended discovery of the golden plates and the promulgation or the Book of Mormon.

Smith claimed that as early as 1823 the "Angel Moroni" had appeared to him and told him that he would find golden plates which he should be able to translate, but it was not until the night of September 22, 1826 [sic], that, according to the faithful, the golden plates were taken from the "Hill Cumorah." Smith, according to his own story, at once hid the plates in the woods, but was able to translate them at a distance by means of his "peek stone" and beaver hat. It is said that he dictated his translation to Oliver Cowdry, one of his three followers.

The funds for printing the book were provided by Martin Harris, a well-to-do farmer, who mortgaged his farm for $3000. The printing was done in the office of the Wayne Sentinel, E. B. Grandin proprietor, during the winter of 1829-30.

The "copy" was on ruled paper and the writing was so crowded together that the smallest monosyllables were often divided between two lines. The copy was in Cowdery's handwriting, and only enough for one day was brought in each morning by Hyrum Smith, the prophet's brother, who always called again at night to take it away. There were no marks of punctuation in the copy -- a sore trial to Pomeroy Tucker, the foreman and Gilbert in reading proof. At such times Cowdery had to be called in to assist, or the orthodox bible was referred to for enlightenment on some foggy passage.

The completion of the work was celebrated by Martin Harris, who invited the printers to his house. He introduced them to his wife, who bowed coldly and took no pains to welcome them. At length Harris asked for the cider pitcher and went to the spot indicated by his wife. Returning with it to his wife he showed her a large hole in the bottom. "Well" said Mrs. Harris, "It has as much bottom as your old bible has."

The narrative told in the Book at Mormon is as follows:

Some six hundred years prior to the advent of Christ a band of Israelites was inspired to seek the promised land, which proved to be Central America, where they greatly increased. A vicious and ambitious Jew named Laman was detected in a conspiracy, whereupon he and his adherents were driven forth and migrated northward. These were the progenitors of the American Indians. A portion of the tribe, however, became a "fair and delightsome" people, and withdrew from their savage fellows, who finally surrounded them at the scene of the discovery of the plates and slew them to the number of 200,000. Mormon and his son, Moroni alone escaping. This son, obeying his father's injunction, buried the tablets containing the sacred history of this wandering tribe. It being recorded that he who found them should become a prophet.

The accepted theory for the origin of this account is that it was written as a romance by one Solomon Spaulding, whose manuscript was rejected by a Pittsburg publisher and fell into the hands of Sidney Rigdon, who worked in the office at the time and later became acquainted with Smith, and after the alleged finding of the golden plates became a missionary in the promulgation of the faith. The doctrines enjoined in the faith were those which were being agitated in Western New York at the time. The doctrine of polygamy, however, was not incorporated in the faith until after Smith's death.

The physical appearance of Smith has been recorded. In height he was over six feet, of stout build but wiry; his hair and complexion were light; his eyes were blue and mild, and "he did not look as if he knew enough to fool people so," as one old lady expressed it. Another person who saw him in later years said: "General (?) Smith is in stature and proportion a very large man: and his figure would probably be called a fine one, although by no means distinguished for symmetry or grace. His arms and hands seemed never to have been developed by physical toil, and the latter are quite small for his proportions."

It seemed impossible to account for Smith's hold on his followers, ignorant and superstitious though they were, except by the theory that he possessed hypnotic power, which he doubtless inherited from his mother. His greatest triumph was embodied in the affidavit of the three witnesses, who testified as follows:

"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for His voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown to us by the power of God, and not of man: And we declare with words of soberness that an angel or God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen! "OLIVER COWDERY. "DAVID WHITMER, "MARTIN HARRIS."

It has been claimed that these three witnesses sooner or later all left the faith, but it is only fair to say that this is not true. In 1887 David Whitmer, one of the witnesses, published a pamphlet in defense of Mormonism. He was then living in Richmond, Missouri, with that branch of the Mormons who did not accept Brigham Young's revelation enjoining the practice of polygamy.

It is believed by many that these witnesses were sincere and that their vision was a demonstration of Smith's hypnotic power. The scene has been described by the Rev. M. T. Lamb, formerly a Christian missionary among the Mormons.

"The scene is laid in the woods whither Harris, Cowdery and Whitmer have resorted to be convinced by Joseph that his book is of God. The witnesses are seated upon a log when the prophet appears. He prays and labors with them, but the heavens give no sign. There is a disturbing force present, and the prophet locates it in Harris and asks him to withdraw. Then he kneels down by the other two, and at last the vision is vouchsafed. A shining form bearing the plates appears and the men fall prostrate. Harris is then recalled, and alone Smith wrestles with his stubborn will. At last to him also appears the angel, and the testimony of the church is complete! The prophet has played a great game and he has won. We may leave him to enjoy his victory as heartily as any juggler on the banks of the Euphrates."

Before tracing farther the adventures of Smith and his followers after the publication of the Book of Mormon, we will describe some picturesque features of their doings.

The place where this splendid fraud was planned was an artificial cave which the conspirators had dug in a sidehill to the south of the highway running from the old Palmyra plank road to the residence of Mark Jefferson. The entrance to this cave was guarded by an iron-plated door, and the cave itself was fully sixty feet in length and ten feet high. At the end was a broad chamber furnished with a rude table and stools. Here it was that the treasure-seekers were wont to meet and consult the "peek stone," and in the later days the first converts to the new faith made it their rendezvous before they began to hold public meetings for the purpose of making converts. It is stated that Darius Pierce, at the head of a party of neighbors surprised one of the nocturnal assemblies and that a lively time ensued.

Another meeting place was the log cabin in the woods where dwelt the Smith family. Sometimes these meetings were interrupted by thunderings overhead, as if the Lord were answering their prayers from heaven. In later years when the building was torn down several cannon balls were found concealed under a false roof over the rafters. They could be moved by a string so as to give forth rolling sound as of thunder. This is the method employed in modern theaters for the same purpose.

As soon as the printing of the bible had been completed, Smith and his followers, Harris, Cowdery and Whitmer began to travel about the country seeking converts and selling copies of the book. The canny farmers of that region, however, were as a rule able to discern Smith's true character, and that prophet was without honor in his country. He often attempted to prove his semi-divine nature by various devices. He twice attempted to walk upon the water but in each case the planking gave way and he was ingloriously ducked.

The writer's grandfather, a Walworth farmer, was approached by Smith one day while he was at work beside the fire in a copper shop which he maintained on his farm. He became impatient of Smith's extravagant claims and at length offered to put Smith in the hot coals as a test; whereupon the prophet desisted and withdrew, never to return.

In the early days of the church "speaking with tongues" was much in vogue, and the tongues were alleged to be those of vanished Indian races. The mysterious gabble which was heard at the prayer meetings infected the imaginations of the small boys who heard it, and they would imitate fluently upon the streets. One of these boys, so it is related, was invited by Sidney Rigdon to speak at prayer meeting and the lad carried away by the excitement of the occasion, fairly outdid himself in vehement nonsense. Then Rigdon arose and gravely announced that a revelation from God had been transmitted through the boy. This he proceeded to translate amid great excitement. Finally he exclaimed "The boy has gone beyond me. I can't find words to express the wonder of it all." And thus he finished.

The first "Church of Christ of the Latter Day Saints" was organized in Fayette, Seneca County; on April 6, 1830, but converts were not as plenty as the ambitious leaders desired, so Smith soon had a "revelation" commanding them to go to Kirtland. Ohio. This revelation was the first in a long series reaching to the present day. They are made generally by the leader or "prophet" as he is styled. These revelations are embodied in the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" which is the real bible of the Mormons, containing as it does the doctrines which they profess.

At this time [monogamy] was as much a cardinal doctrine with the Mormons as in churches generally. The following was among the specific directions given to the church by revelation in 1831: "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

This was moral and unequivocal and creditable to Smith, and it was not until several years after his death that polygamy was adopted, at the suggestion of Brigham Young who slandered the dead by declaring that Smith had before his death received revelation countenancing polygamy.

The early part of the year 1831 found the Mormons settled in Kirtland, whither Rigdon had preceded them and where the clever swindle was resorted to of having him sensationally converted to the supposedly strange religion. Smith and Rigdon started a wild-cat bank and to support their credit, they showed visitors several copper boilers, apparently full of gold coin, but after two years of prosperity they were compelled to flee from a sheriff's warrant. The rest of the band soon followed them to Independence, Missouri, whence they were obliged to flee in 1840 to Illinois. There, on the banks of the Mississippi they founded the town Nauvoo, which grew to be a large city; and there on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot while attempting to escape from a mob.

Thus died one of the false prophets of whom this country has produced so many. A Frenchman who was studying English history was led to remark: "The Anglo-Saxons have invented a hundred religions, but not one soup." If America is the home of religions then New York State is their birthplace, notably that part of the State west of the Oneida lake. The counties of Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga, Wayne and Monroe have been called the Land of Faiths. Spirituallsm, Mormonism, a half dozen sects of Quakers, and the Cardiff Giant, the greatest frauds of the nineteenth century, were products of Western New York. The home of the Fox sisters, where spirit rappings were first heard, is but a few miles east of Palmyra.

To complete the fame of this image we must mention that it was the birthplace of the late Admiral William T. Sampson, and it is an interesting fact that at the time of his death he was the owner, and his brother the occupant of the famous "Mormon Farm." The hill is now the property of the Sampson estate.

From this place, at different periods, went these two men, Sampson and Smith, One was quiet, but energetic and industrious; the other was ostentatious, but incurably lazy and idle. One went eastward to build up his country's navy and to uphold her might upon the sea; the other marched westward to build up his fortunr, and there in the farthest recesses of the wilderness to escape his country's laws. One died from the poison darts of envy and criticism; the other from the bullets of a mob. Both were great, but only one was good.
[W. C.]

Note 1: This article was an illustrated wire service feature item and thus appeared in several American newspapers. Other than its mentions of Joseph Smith's cave (partly copied from the Canandaigua Ontario County Times of 1874), hot coals and canon balls, the article supplies little unique information relating to Mormon origins. The incident of Sidney Rigdon having been present at a Palmyra "prayer meeting," probably have occurred in December of 1830 (if it happned at all), because Rigdon is not known to have otherwise attended meetings in that place. There is an obscure report that Rigdon and Smith visited briefly with Martin Harris at Palmyra in 1837, but no firm evidence exists for Rigdon having attended religious meetings at that time.

Note 2: For an earlier, fanciful description of Smith's cave, see the Palmyra Journal of July 27, 1898.


The Daily Palladium.

Vol. XL.                 Oswego, New York, Wednesday, September 23, 1903.                   No. 213.


Finding of the Mormon Bible Eighty Years Ago.

Joseph Smith is Long Since Dead, But Polygamy
Thrives in the Philippines...

Eighty years ago -- September 22d, 1823 -- was discovered the Mormon Bible on which the Church of Latter Day Saints base their belief. Within fifty miles of Oswego --as the crow flies -- Joseph Smith claimed that the tables were delivered to him by an angel. Smith was born in Vermont in 1805, and at the age of fifteen moved with his father's family to the old homestead in what is now Wayne county. From all accounts he wasn't much of a fellow, illiterate and adverse to work. He claimed that on the night of September 21st, 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to him three times, informing him that God had a work for him to perform and that a record, written on gold plates, giving an account of the ancient inhabitants of America and the dealings of God with them, was deposited on a particular hill in the neighborhood. With the records were two transparent stones, in silver bows, called the Urim and Thummim. Looking through these silver bowed stones, the plates became intelligible. September 22d, 1823, the angel of the Lord placed in Smith's hands the plates, with the Urim and Thummim. They were thin plates, a little thinner than common tin, 7x8 inches in size and about six inches in thickness, bound by three rings running through the whole. From these plates Smith read off the book of Mormon, or Golden Bible, to Oliver Cowdery. It was printed in 1830. Appended to it was a statement signed by Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, who testified that they knew of their own knowledge that the book was inspired. Afterwards they quarrelled with Smith and repudiated their testimony. Smith and his followers went to Missouri, were driven out of that State and went to Illinois, where was built up we city of Nauvoo, which reached a population of several thousand people. In 1832, Brigham Young, a painter and, glazier, from Vermont, dropped into the camp and after Smith was killed he took command and the Mormons went to Utah. It is alleged that Smith organized within the ranks of the Mormons the Danites. It until 1838 that Smith introduced the practice of polygamy. It is now stamped out by law, excepting in our new possessions in the far East, where General Sumner says it is practiced by the Mormons. Smith and Young both became rich out of their Mormon connection. John Alexander Dowie is not the only one who knew how to play the game.

Notes: forthcoming



Vol. 24.                         Syracuse, New York, Sunday, October 11, 1903.                         No. ?

Onondaga  Academy....

It will be less than another decade before Onondaga Academy celebrates its one hundredth birthday. For nearly a century the venerable institution of learning has lain peacefully in the beautiful valley, its bell ringing out the call to study, its stone walls sheltering hundreds of eager boys and girls preparing themselves to become worthy and helpful citizens and to fight the battle of life strongly and well. Every citizen of Onondaga county takes a pride in the historic old academy, and is rejoiced to be able to subscribe to the claim made by its trustees and its teachers, that never has it been so prosperous as at the present time.

The history of the old academy has been told and retold so often that, it is unnecessary to give more than the barest outlines of its beginnings. It was organized in 1812 by Dr. Caleb Alexander, a Presbyterian clergyman, whose fame as an "able, cultivated and ambitious man" has come down to posterity.... On August 16th, 1812, at a preliminary meeting, held in Onondaga Hollow (now Onondaga Valley), upon application made by the Rev. Caleb Alexander, subscription papers were prepared for the establishment of "an academy for the instruction of youth," to be located not more than 100 yards from the Seneca turnpike road....

In October, 1813, orders were given for the erection of an academy building, seventy-four by thirty-four feet. Building operations were begun that winter, but the house which was made of stone, was not ready for use until the spring of 1815, and not entirely completed until the middle of 1816. A belfry was added, at an additional cost of $30, and the tin on its roof shone like silver for many a mile distant.... The belfry was constructed to receive a bell, which had been purchased Albany and brought to Onondaga Valley on a freight wagon. The bell had been presented to the academy by Joshua Forman, and is still in use....

The rules of the young academy were similar to those adopted by almost all the early colleges in the country. They were very rigid, and the strictest religious observances were demanded from the students. But in spite of the monitorial system of self government, there was very little discipline, as the principal lived a mile away, managing his farm. Students were detected in all sorts of offenses and brought to trial. The first case recorded is that of Robert C. Owen, whose offense was card playing. He was convicted and expelled. Who his associates in the game may have been is not now known. It may be that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, played with him, for Joseph was at that time living at the home of William H. Sabin as a chore boy, and he was much given to card playing and kindred amusements....

Note: According to the generally accepted historical chronology, Joseph Smith Jr. (who was then in his tenth year) was traveling on the road from Vermont to Palmyra, New York during the fall of 1816, when Onondaga Academy opened its doors. His route of travel would probably have taken him through the Potsdam-Stockholm area of St. Lawrence County, New York, and then south and west through Utica and Syracuse. While young Smith would have been in the right place at about the right time to have attended classes at the academy, there is no reason to suppose that he did any such thing. If he interrupted his journey at any point along the line of travel, the more likely place for a lay-over would have been among his father's relatives in St. Lawrence County.



Vol. 24.                         Syracuse, New York, Sunday, October 25, 1903.                         No. 1,220.


First Ballot For John Quincy
Adams for President.

Began Voting When a Hat
Was the Ballot Box,


Wonderful Record of Dr. John Stafford, Who Has
Never Missed an Election, Spades and
Makes His Own Garden and Attributes
His Long and Healthful Career to
Temperate Living.

SHORTSVILLE, Oct. 24. -- Few, if any, men now living can boast of a voting record as remarkable as that of Dr. John Stafford, now of Rochester, but formerly a resident and practitioner of the town of Manchester.

In 1824, when John Quincy Adams was a candidate for the Presidency, the polls for the town of Manchester were in a cider house at the rear of the King residence, on the Clifton road, midway between Shortsville and Clifton Springs. At that time Doctor Stafford, then a strapping youth of 10, broad-shouldered and boasting quite a beard, went to the polls to see the fun. In those days a hat was passed around for the ballots, and when the bearer of this approached the youth, his friends urged him to cast his vote, too, saying he looked old enough. Acting on their suggestion, he cast his first ballot, which no one challenged, for John Quincy Adams. Since that time he has always been in line at election time, and says he hopes to swell a Republican majority in 1904.

Father a Revolutionary Sailer.

Doctor Stafford was born in Stafford street, town of Manchester, March 15th, 1805, and is the only surviving member of a family of seven children, five of whom were younger than himself. His father, who enlisted as a sailor at the beginning of the RevoIutionary war, had many and varied experiences, being captured by both the French and Spaniards, and being forced to fight under the flag of each. He was finally taken as a prisoner of war to Cuba, and there placed in a dungeon, where he remained for months. Escaping at last, he boarded a vessel which landed him, without coat or hat, at Baltimore just as the bells were tolling the death of Washington.

Sought Education.

When grown to manhood Doctor Stafford became dissatisfied with the knowledge he had acquired at the district school, and entered the Palmyra academy, walking to and fro, six miles a day. Later he attended Hobart college at Geneva, and completed his medical course at the office of Dr. Samuel McIntyre of Palmyra, receiving a diploma from the State censors.

Cultivates His Garden.

Although in his ninety-ninth year Doctor Stafford is very energetic and well preserved. Always an enthusiastic gardener, has now quite an extensive plot of ground under cultivation, which he spaded, planted and cared for without assistance. A special kind of turnip seed he walked three miles to get, one day this summer.

His boyhood was passed in the same neighborhood of Joe Smith, of Mormon fame, and he is, perhaps, the best living authority on the origination of Mormonism.

During his whole life he has been a temperance and anti-tobacco enthusiast, and attributes his longevity in part to his temperate mode of living.

Onondaga Valley Tradition of
Book of Mormon.

Probably there is no one of the religious sects that have come to light within the last century which has made so many converts as has the faith of the Mormons. They have multiplied as the sands of the sea; they have been brought from foreign countries, as well as from every corner of the American continent. The founders of Mormonism claim for it that it is the one true religion; that its doctrines were given by divine revelation and that those who truly live up to the beliefs inculcated by its teachings are sure of salvation. Its opponents, on the contrary, declare that its doctrines are pernicious and that the evil which it has done has far exceeded that of avowed and acknowledged sinners. And so far from its early history having been written on plates of gold and hidden in the earth to be revealed by an angel to "Prophet" Joseph Smith, that it was stolen from a romance written by a man whom Smith never saw in life, of which tale and its adaption for the purposes he may have had in view even then, he had heard during his boyhood, when he worked as a choreboy in the family of William H. Sabine of Onondaga Valley.

Many persons are familiar with the fact that Smith was at one time a member of Mr. Sabine's household, and at the same time that his sister, Mrs. Solomon Spaulding, widow of the author of the "Manuscript Found," lived with him. But very little attention seems to have been given to the important features by those interested in local history -- that there is, in reality, little doubt that it was at this period that the seed was sown in the mind of a precocious and scheming lad from which was afterward developed the "Church of the Latter Day Saints.

Mr. Sabine, it will be remembered, was a [farmer in Onondaga and ---- ---- ----- ---- ------ his sister, after the death of Mr.] Spaulding, was left a widow and in reduced circumstances, he invited her to make her home with him for as long as she would, so she came from her home in Conneaut, O., bringing with her her little daughter, and all her personal effects, chief among which was a small hair covered trunk, containing a number of manuscript tales and verses, written by her late husband.

Mr. Spaulding had been an invalid for years, and had whiled away the weary hours of his illness by the composition of those works, some of which are said to possess no small degree of merit. He had been ordained a Presbyterian clergyman, but had been obliged to give up preaching, on account of his health. He was a man of education and a close student of anything pertaining to antiquity. In near proximity to his residence at Conneaut, there were some earth mounds which greatly interested him, and in order to investigate them, he had a large and vigorous tree cut down, which upon examination was found to be 1,000 years old. Buried within the mound were various evidences of a prehistoric race, relics of a civilized condition, mingled with gigantic human bones. This discovery naturally excited him and fired his imagination. He is said to have been the first person to speculate and write upon the origin of the various earth mounds in the Mississippi valey and the surrounding region, and had long held a theory that the peopling of this country by a race which had possessed the whole continent, having the refinements of civilization, and which had in some unaccountable manner perished. The relics discovered by his excavations seemed to confirm this idea: here he found visible proof that his ideas were not the vagaries of a disturbed fancy, and he immediatly began to write a new [-------- history theme for its basis]...

[---- ---- ------- ------ the Bible contained] the most antique style of composition, and so he imitated the Scriptures, as the most ancient book in the world, and his knowledge of the classics and histories of olden times enabled him to introduce the odd names which were noticed by his friends, and which were afterward easily distinguished by them. In common with all antiquarians Mr. Spaulding was acquainted with the fact that the Mound Builders were supposed to have been very religious, as well as superstitious, and upon this knowledge he based the central idea of his story.

The plot of his romance as conceived and written by him was as follows: Among the prehistoric momentos discovered by his workmen in their excavations [were some] plates covered with hieroglyphics...[discovered and that he ---- ---- ---- story of the] people whose wrongs and whose wanderings had been thereon inscribed. He altered the plot of his novel after writing a portion of it. The emigrant Jews whose story he professed to relate, were in the first instance, fitted out at Rome for their travels, but, on rewriting the manuscript, Mr. Spaulding started them from Jerusalem, with Levi and his four sons, under divine direction.

Mr. Spaulding was a rapid writer, and as his story progressed from day to day, he read it aloud to his wife and his neighbors, all of whom were greatly impressed with it. He called it "The Manuscript Found," and it purported an account of the peopling of America by the lost tribes of Israel, the tribes and their leaders having very [unusual] names [among] them, "Mormon," "Moroni," "Lamanite" and "Nephi"... [------- ----- nowhere else in literature ----- ------ ] ... afterward "discovered" Book of Mormon.

So much interest was awakened by this romance and it was at the time such a distinction to write a book that the author determined to publish it. For this purpose, Mr. Spaulding removed to Pittsburg, where he had a friend named Patterson who was a publisher, to whom he gave his manuscript for inspection, hoping that its publication would not only establish his reputation as an author, but would place himself and family beyond the reach of want. In the employ of Mr. Spaulding's friend Paterson, was a young printer named Sidney Rigdon, who figured twenty years later as a preacher among the Mormons. After weeks of delay, Mr. Patterson decided not to publish "The Manuscript Found," and returned it to the author, telling him to polish [it up as there was money to be had ---- ----] Mr. Spaulding did not, [however ----- ----- and Mr. Spaulding made no] attempt to find another publisher, and the romance was put away and received no further attention.

After Mr. Spaulding's death in 1816, when Mrs. Spaulding came to Onondaga Valley to make her home with her brother, there was again talk of publishing the manuscript, but no decisive steps in regard to it seem to have been taken. It was, however, the subject of much conversation in the family. Among the servants of the Sabines at that time was, as has been said, Joseph Smith, a youth fond of card playing and other kindred amusements, and not bearing the best of reputations for veracity or fair dealing. He was the third of a family of nine children, and his home was in Palmyra, from which village, however, he was in the habit of making excursions, from time to time, when, as the neighbors said, "the town grew too hot to hold him."

It was during one of these exoduses that he came to the Valley and hired out to Mr. Sabine. He had every opportunity, had he wished to do so, to examine "The Manuscript Found," as the horsehair trunk was in the attic of the house and no special attention was paid to what it contained. There is every reason to believe that he read the story and became familiar with it at the time, and that some years after, when chance or fate threw him and Sidney Rigdon together, the plan was concocted for founding a new religion and making a fortune out of the superstition and credulity of the people.

Just where Smith and Rigdon met has never been positively determined, but it is certain that about 1820 the scheme of the Mormon faith was concocted between the two and arrangements made to develop it as early as circumstances would permit and money could be procured for the purpose.

In 1830 Mrs. Spaulding, who had married for the second time, and was then living with her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, at Munson, Mass., heard a great deal about a new religion called Mormonism. The report that it was founded upon Solomon Spaulding's manuscript quickly followed to the surprise of everyone connected with the author of that remarkable work. Then a report was carried to them that a great meeting of Mormons had been held at Conneaut, O., and that on one occasion when the "Book of Mormon" was read before the assemblage, many persons who were present recognized its similarity to the story called "The Manuscript Found," with which [---- ----- ------ -----]

Mrs. Spaulding, was not a little excited over what she heard of the Mormons, and she expressed a firm conviction that Rigdon had copied the manuscript which had been in Mr. Patterson's office at Pittsburg. She also said that Mr. Spaulding had assured her that he recovered his original manuscript when Mr. Patterson refused to publish it, and that the Mormons agreed with her in this conviction and felt that their exposure and ruin were certain if the Spaulding manuscript remained in existence, is proved by the trick which they practiced to get it into their possession. A Mormon convert, a physician [sic], named Hurlburt, visited Mr. Sabine at Onondaga Valley, to procure a letter of introduction to Mrs. Davison, with a request from him to let Hurlburt have the manuscript to compare it with the "Book of Mormon" and expose the latter if a forgery or a plagiarism. This was undoubtedly a plan suggested by Joseph Smith, who was acquainted with his former employer's [peculiarities]. Mrs. Davison at first did not feel willing to give up the manuscript, but [later] did so, on condition that it should be returned to her. No member of the Spaulding family, however, has ever seen it since.

The foregoing facts are [certified] in the "New Light on Mormonism," written by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, the grand-daughter of William H. Sabine. The following letter, however, written by [John] Clift, grandson of John Forman, a brother-in-law of Mr. Sabine, seems to [say] that the traditions of the [Sabine] and Forman families, Onondaga [vallely], were more nearly concerned in the [history of] Mormonism than is generally known.

To the Editors of The Herald:
     In an article published in The Herald [of] Sunday, October 11th [concerning the] academy, allusion is made [to Joseph Smith] the founder of Mormonism [as ------ ----- the] early years of the [academy, living at] the home of William H. Sabine [at Onondaga] and he was much given to "card playing and kindred amusements."

It was at the house of [Judge Joshua Forman] at Onondaga Valley that [------ ------ ------] the book entitled "The Manuscript Found" [was] left for a long time by [the widow of] Solomon Spaulding [---- -----] Mrs. Sabine, who was [the sister of] Judge Joshua Forman [----- ---- ------] of Syracuse. [The manuscript was ------ ----] by Joseph Smith [----- ----------- -------------- ------- -----]. for a long time and then Mr. Spaulding took it to the printing office at Onondada Valley, where Smith was apprenticed, to have it published, but his friends dissuaded him, thinking it would be derogatory to his character as a clergyman, and it was left there until after his death, when Smith stole it. Mr. Spaulding was a victim of consumption and wrote the romance to beguile the tedious hours of illness.

John Forman, a brother of Judge Joshua Forman, was an earnest student of Biblical lore and had reached the conclusion that the aboriginal inhabitants of America were descendants of "the lost tribes of Israel." Joseph Smith was acquainted with him and after he had arranged the manuscript to his satisfaction and concocted the story of his discovery, translation of the plates of gold, etc., he called on Mr. Forman and asked him to read it and pass his opinion on the merits of the book. Mr. Forman sat up all night to read it and became satisfied it was a fraud. (He was not aware until later that the original manuscript was Mr. Spaulding's). When Smith came for it the next day Mr. Forman told him to go ahead, there were fools to believe almost anything and he would probably find people to believe that.

The late Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, who was a granddaughter of William H. Sabin, in the early eighties wrote a book entitled "New Light on Mormonism," giving probably the most correct account obtainable at this time of the whole affair as she knew of it as having transpired in her own family. I have endeavored to obtain a copy of this book ever since the Mormon elders invaded Syracuse last spring, but it is out of date and as yet I have not succeeded. It should be published in every place where they undertake to teach their vile fraud.

A Herald reporter called at the home of Mr. Clift, No. 109 Pinnacle street, to inquire as to evidence in support of the story. Mrs. Clift, who is a cousin of her husband, and is as well acquainted with the family tradition as he, told the reporter that she had heard the statement embodied in the communication of her husband made many times by her grandfather, John Forman, and that she had no reason to suppose other than that the "manuscript found" would have been printed by the Redfield Brothers of Onondaga Valley, had not Mr. Spaulding's relatives objected on the ground that it was not a suitable work to be published over the signature of a clergyman. She also absolutely confirms the story of the Book of Mormon having been submitted to her grandfather by Smith for his perusal, and asserts that she herself had heard him tell how he informed the "prophet" that the "divine revelation" was a fraud, and that there was [---------- ------ ------] so long by [-------- ------- ---- the world].

Note 1: This article featured photographs of the house of the late William H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, New York and his sister's "old hair trunk," which was supposed to be the carrying case for Solomon Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." Whether or not the trunk in the photo was the same one left at the Jerome Clark residence at Hartwick, New York, is unknowable at this late date. It does, however, provide an example of the type of luggage Solomon Spalding might have used during the first years of the 19th century.

Note 2: Both of the historical scenarios presented in the above article are implausible. Joseph Smith, Jr. was too young to have been employed in the William H. Sabine residence at Onondaga Valley during the period when Solomon Spalding's widow resided there -- and he was certainly then too young to have re-written a manuscript work of fiction supposedly viewed by Mr. John Forman. It is marginally possible that some member of the Smith family was briefly hired to work on Sabine's farm, but there is absolutely no evidence to support such a theory.

Note 3: While Solomon Spalding may have visited the Sabine home in Onondaga during his own period of residence in New York State, there is no reason to suppose that he was ever there after he moved from New York to Ohio. It is thus highly unlikely that Spalding submitted any novel to the "Redfield Brothers of Onondaga Valley," for their inspection or for possible publication.

Note 4: For more information regarding Dr. John Stafford and his "boyhood" having been "passed in the same neighborhood" as the Manchester home of the young Joseph Smith, Jr., see the Herald of Mar. 16, 1904.


Watertown  Daily  Times.

Vol. XLIII.                  Watertown, New York, Saturday, November 28, 1903.                   No. 282.

A  Visit  to  Mt.  Cumorah.

The Birthplace of Mormonism and the
Traditions Which Surround it.

Unsavory Reputation of Joseph Smith in Palmyra, N.Y.
Where the New Doctrine Was Established -- Copy of First
Mormon Bible in Possession of Hon. Pliny T. Sexton.

(Written for the Times by George A. Fuller.

Few realize what the Mormon church is doing to secure a foothold in the eastern states and it may surprise some people to know that there are Mormon churches in several towns in New York state, where services are conducted regularly by the Mormon elders. One of these churches is located at Niagara Falls and another at Penn Yan, while an energetic proselyting is being carried on in Syracuse, Utica, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, much to the disgust of the W.C.T.U. which has begun an active crusade against these latter day saints.

The writer recently paid a visit to Palmyra, the old home of Joseph Smith, and through the courtesy of P. S. Aldrich, was given an opportunity of visiting Mount Cumorah, where the olden plates were said to have been found by Smith, and many other interesting places associated with the early history of Mormonism, including Smith's old home.

Mount Cumorah, or "Mormon Hill" as it is more commonly called, is located about four miles from Palmyra, on a farm now owned by Hon. Pliny T. Sexton, one of the regents of the university of the state. As we approached the hill, we noticed a large bare spot near the summit and asked our escort if that was the spot where the golden plates were dug up. He replied that it was so reported, but added that his theory was that the hill was so poisoned by Mormonism that the grass never grew after Joe Smith walked on it.

Hon. Pliny T, Sexton, one of the most genial of men and a lifelong resident of Palmyra has many interesting reminiscences of early Mormon history and has in his possession the original copy of the Mormon Bible.

Prior to 1827 Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism, was looked upon by his neighbors as an ignorant, shiftless, dishonest, intemperate mortal, who regarded the world as owing him a living, and who was not at all particular how he got it, so long as it was not by hard work. Possessed of a certain amount of natural cunning, it was the sole aim of Smith to live by his wits. In 1823, while digging a well on a farm near Palmyra, a curious stone was dug up, having the form of a little child's foot. The stone was regarded as a pretty object of curiosity by its finders, but when Smith saw it he claimed to be able, by looking through it, to see many strange things, and could forecast the future. This stone was given to Smith and is often mentioned in Mormon writings as the "peekstone."

There can be little doubt that Smith found enough credulous people to believe his stories for it was about this time that he conceived the idea of founding a new religion. In clearly understanding Mormon history, one must remember that Joseph Smith was both intemperate and illiterate, and utterly incapable of writing the book which he calls the Mormon Bible. In proof of this the story is told of him that he was once returning home at night in an oxcart, so much under the influence of liquor that he lay in the bottom of the cart asleep. Some boys, meeting the outfit, turned the oxen into the fence corner and unyoked them, and turned them loose. Sometime afterwards the besotted Smith awoke from his drunken slumber and sat up remarking, "Am I Joe Smith or am I not? If I am Joe Smith then I have lost a yoke of oxen, and if I am not Joe Smith then I have found a cart."

By the aid of the "peekstone" before mentioned, Smith claimed to be able to locate buried treasures, and the manner in which he used this stone to keep the Smith family in meat is worthy of a better cause. The credulous believers in Smith's supernatural powers would assemble at midnight in some lonely spot, a favorite haunt being a cave in the side of a hill near Smith's house. [One] of the seekers after treasure would be instructed by Smith to bring a sheep to the rendezvous, which was always done. Absolute silence having been enjoined on all spectators, Smith would cut the sheep's throat and allow it to wander in a circle, scattering the blood until it dropped. Then in the darkness the sheep would be quietly spirited away by some of the Smith family, and for years it was a standing joke in Palmyra that the dooryard fence of the Smith place was always adorned with a fresh sheep pelt. The spectators at these nocturnal gatherings were always carefully chosen from the credulous believers in the supernatural, and were pledged to silence during the incantations. After waiting some length of time some one would get tired and speak, when Smith would announce that he had the treasure almost located by means of the "peek-stone," but that the spell was now broken and they would be compelled to [------] [--------].

[------- ----- ---] Tower of Babel and who finally came to the western continent. The story was written but never published, and in some way fell into the hands of Smith, who conceived the idea of working on the credulity of the public to make them believe the record had been buried and through a direct revelation from the Almighty to Smith to have been discovered. So well did he play his part in the scheme that some of his neighbors came to believe in the truth of his statements, and one Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to furnish Smith with the money to print the first Mormon Bible.

In 1830 there was a printer in Palmyra by the name of John Gilbert, who was hired by Smith to do the printing. Smith claimed that the gold plates could only be read by means of two stones discovered with them and so he would come to the printing office every morning with three or four sheets of paper so poorly written that it could hardly be read and totally devoid of punctuation marks. Then, behind closed and locked doors, the sheets would be corrected and set up and printed on an old-fashioned hand press. For every sheet printed for Smith, John Gilbert secretly kept one for himself, and this book he kept as long as he lived. Shortly before his death he presented it to his lifelong friend and neighbor, Pliny T. Sexton, who keeps it in a safe in his office, where it was shown to the writer.

A few years ago Kate Field visited Utah and examined what purported to be the original manuscript of the Mormon Bible. She later visited Palmyra to consult with Maj. Gilbert to ascertain if he could furnish any evidence pertaining to the authorship of the manuscript, and he said he could identify it anywhere, since much of it was so poorly written that he had to rewrite it and punctuate the whole manuscript.

The farm and home of Joseph Smith at Palmyra are now owned by William Chapman, who tells many interesting reminiscences of the visits paid by Mormon pilgrims to this Mecca. He sleeps in the bedroom formerly occupied by Smith, and says it is not very pleasant to have visitors swarm over your premises, and especially to photograph your bedroom early in the morning before the bed is made.

We saw no fresh sheep pelts on the fence, but we did see a well kept farm with a beautiful field of alfalfa near the house, and orchards loaded with red and golden apples, but nothing to remind us of the originator of the most gigantic humbug ever perpetrated.

Notes: forthcoming


Utica Herald-Dispatch

Vol. LVI.                         Utica, New York, Saturday, November 28, 1903.                         No. 13.




Tried to Get Him to Recommend His Remedy for Use at the
Masonic Home -- Cured a Headache for Sheriff Brownell.

Dr. E. J. Stephens was much surprised this morning when he found that he had been given as a reference by Arthur B. Deming, the crank who succeeded in getting by the guard of the President at New York yesterday and handing him a letter. This letter was as follows:

"President Roosevelt:
"It is well to pay homage to the dead, but it is of greater Importance to preserve life. Please read carefully the article on the medical value of charcoal which is inclosed. Doctor Stephens, the chief physician at the Masonic House, Utica, thanked me for loaning him a copy. I know it will absorb all impurities in the blood, tumors and cancers, and prolong Emperor _____."

Deming came to Utica last summer and went about selling charcoal put up in bottles. He called on Doctor Stephens among others and exhibited a card upon which was written the name of Sheriff Brownell and a statement that he, Deming, had cured a case of sick headache for the sheriff in 15 minutes.

"I saw right away that he was crank," said Doctor Stephens this morning, "but he seemed to be all right on everything except charcoal. He told me about curing Mr. Brownell's headache and wanted me to chew some of his remedy.

"'I understand you are a physician at the Masonic Home,' he said.

"I replied that I acted in that capacity some times.

"'Well,' he said, 'I would like to have you use my remedy there. It would save a lot of them.'

"I told him that all supplies were purchased from local merchants and got rid of him by telling him to go and see them. He was a smooth talker and was simply off on charcoal."

Deming visited various places in the city, but nowhere did he seem to be anything more than a harmless crank.

The police of New York never made such elaborate arrangements for the protection of the President as they did yesterday when he attended the funeral of a friend there. Five hundred and sixty men were detailed as a special guard and orders given to close every avenue of entrance to the church where the funeral was held to all unauthorized persons. At about 10:15 o'clock a benevolent looking, white whiskered old man with a small black handbag tried te get in by the front door. He made so much fuss that the sexton of the church opened the door and came out.

"I have a message to deliver to President Roosevelt," said the stranger nodding as though he knew the sexton.

"If you have a message for the President," said the sexton, "take it to the side door."

The old man hurried around to the side door. The Rev. H. F. Taylor had been at this door admitting persons who had reason to be in the church. With him was a maidservant. The Rev. Mr. Taylor left the girl in charge just before the end of the service. He told her not to let anybody else in.

Four policemen were in the rectory hall to keep out unauthorized persons from that direction. But when the old man with the handbag presented himself to the girl at the door and said he had been sent there by the sexton, Mr. ClarK, with a message for the President, he was admitted at once.

The man said he thought he had better reduce the message to writing to save the President's time, and asked for writing paper. The girl showed him into the reception room and gave him some of the rectory stationery, with which he busied himself. He asked her to let him know when the President was coming out of the church. She did.

The President came out accompanied by Police Commissioner Greene, Secretary Loeb and Inspector Brooks. Mrs. Roosevelt and Mrs. Cowles, with Captain Cowles were close behind. As the President was passing the reception room the stranger with the message darted out and thrust an envelope containing the letter printed above into the President's hand. The President took it instinctively and looked at it.

It was addressed to "The Hon. T. Roosevelt. President," and across its face was scrawled something to the effect that within was "a cure for Emperor William's throat."

The President handed the envelope to Secretary Loeb and ignored the white whiskered old man's efforts to get into conversation with him. Mr. Loeb turned the envelope over to inspector Brooks, who had already grabbed the old stranger by the shoulder. By this time the whole party was on the rectory steps. Inspector Brooks turned his prisoner over to another officer, who took him to court.

Later Deming was sent to Bellevue Hospital. There he gave his residence as Jersey City. Some time ago Deming attracted considerable attention as the steamship Cedric was leaving the White Star pier on the trip on which she carried J. Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Carnegie as passengers, by making a speech about them, taking as his text "Go to ye rich men," denouncing millionaires and calling on them to repent and give up their riches. He was not arrested then.

Notes: forthcoming



Vol. LIX.             Syracuse, New York, Wednesday, December 2, 1903.             No. 287.


New York Police on Trial for Permitting
Deming to Reach President.


NEW YORK. Dec. 2. -- Arthur B. Deming, the charcoal cure crank, who managed to get past President Roosevelt's bodyguard of police on the occasion of James K. Gracie's funeral, and who handed to the President a long manuscript, telling of the wonderful cures his medicated charcoal could affect, was released yesterday in the custody of his friends by Supreme Court Justice Fitzgerald on a bail bond of $500 being furnished. Deming was brought to court on a writ of habeas corpus and his counsel, W. H. Wingate, told Justice Fitzgerald that Deming was not dangerous. He might be enthusiastic on the subject of charcoal, but he was harmless otherwise and his friends were willing to take him over to Jersey City and care for him.

Roosevelt Was Displeased.

Police Captain Cottrell and several detectives and patrolmen were put on trial yesterday for neglect of duty in failing to catch Deming before he got to the President.

[graphic - not copied]


The most interesting facts brought out at the hearing were that the President was displeased at the police in allowing Deming to reach him and that it was Mrs. Roosevelt who pointed out the crank to the police and asked that he be arrested.

It was Inspector Brooks and Munro Ferguson who brought out these facts. Mr. Ferguson is a friend of the President and had charge of part of the funeral arrangements.

Entrances Were Pointed Out.

Mr. Ferguson told of his having pointed out the many entrances to the church to Inspector Brooks and Captain Cottrell.

"I saw Deming hand a piece of paper to the President," he said, "and at first thought he was an acquaintance. Then I suspected that something was wrong and I pushed the President along and requested him to get into his carriage.

"As he reached the carriage, the President turned to Commissioner Greene and said, 'How did that man get this to me?' and handed over the letter. The President then got into his carriage.

Mrs. Roosevelt Caused Arrest.

"In the meantime Mrs. Roosevelt was standing on the sidewalk, waiting for the carriage: She seemed nervous and worried. Then this fellow Deming came out of the door and Mrs. Roosevelt, turning to Inspector Brooks, said: "That is the man. Please arrest him. Take him away.'"

Notes: forthcoming


The Auburn Bulletin.

Vol. 82.                       Auburn, N. Y., Wednesday, February 17, 1904.                       No. 7,463.



Two Interesting Papers Read Before
County Historical Society.

First Was Prepared by William Hayden and Told of
Brigham Young, and the second by Eugene Lindsay
Finn Told of the Aboriginal Cayugas.

In view of the extreme cold of last night the meeting of the Cayuga County Historical society Ionded and proved a most interesting and enjoyable one. Two papers were read, the first being "Incidents in the Lives of Three Prominent Men Who Lived in Cayuga County." It was prepared by William Hayden, of Unadilla Forks, who formerly resided at Port Byron. The greater portion of it was devoted to Brigham Young, who formerly lived near and afterwards in Port Byron, and he is well remembered by the author of the paper. Because of the inability of Mr. Hayden to be present, the paper was read by Lewis E. Lyon, as was also the second paper on "The Aboriginal Cayugas," which was prepared by Eugene Lindsay Finn, of New York, formerly of this city. Mr. Hayden's paper was as follows:

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Cayuga County Historical society:

"In appearing before you at this time, it is not my intention to give a lengthy historic account of any single person, but simply to recall a few incidents in the lives of three individuals, former residents of this county. Some of those facts came under my personal observation, while many more were received from friends and associates of the parties concerned.

"It will be remembered that until the completion of the Erie canal, this section was to be reached only by the most primitive modes of transit -- horse and wagon, or on foot. At that time, West of Utica was considered by New England people 'the far West.' With the advent of this 'new water way' villages began to spring up along its course, affording inducements for settlement for enterprising persons from older localities.

"At Port Byron a large water power was being developed and a flouring mill then in process of erection was destined to surpass in capacity anything in the United States. This and other advantages made it especially attractive to many in search of employment and new homes

"At about this time, three young men from different sections of the East, each possessed of more than ordinary ability, arrived in Port Byron. They soon formed an intimate acquaintance which was life lasting. They were often together and their close friendship obtained for them the appellation of the 'three wise men from the East."

"One of these was a boot and shoe maker (no ready-made foot-wear was then to be had), one was a machinist, while the third was an expert in wood work, [a] skill to which he added a general knowledge of paints and painting. The boot and shoe maker located in rooms of a new building (still standing) on the corner of Main an Rochester streets. The machinist found a small room in the corner of a saw mill where he had the advantage of water power.

"These men were soon made aware that while a new country might afford opportunities whict an older one did not, it also had its draw-backs, not incident to less recently settled sections. Having a commenced business with a small amount of capital and not being able to get pay for their labor, they soon found themselves in embarrassing circumstances and as a consequence, were obliged to suspend and to look to other fields for employment, where Dame Fortune should be more merciful to them.

"The first mentioned of these two became a founder of a business which has continued until now and has expanded until its activities today reach all portions of the civilized world, the railroad express. He also founded and endowed a college for women which has graduated some of the brightest intellects in the Nation. This school should be the pride of every citizen of Cayuga county and future generations shall honor the name of Henry Wells.

"The machinist found himself, if possible, in a worse dilemma than did his friend, the boot and shoe maker. Instead of a great rush of customers with cash in hand to pay for their work, as he had pictured, he found but few and their visits, like those of angels, were few and far between. Some brought rusty guns with broken locks to be repaired, for which they usually wished to remunerate him with the pelt of some wild prey, whose capture they anticipated, and thus desired to discount. His cash receipts meanwhile were less than sufficient to pay his board. When not engaged to work for others, he old not pass his hours in idleness. His mind and muscle were kept actively engaged day and night and, while many of his friends believed that he was pursuing a phantom, he was positive that he could construct a machine which would revolutionize a great industry and ameliorate the condition of working women.

"Having completed a model from which believed he could construct a perfect working machine, he found it necessary to remove to some locality where he could have better facilities for the completion of his work. A few months later it was announced from the Patent office that letters patent had been granted for a perfect working sewing machine and today millions in use in all parts of the world have made the name of Isaac Singer a household word.

"The third of the trio was to become as famous as his companions, being the founder and builder of a State and the head of a religious sect with followers and believers numbering hundreds of thousands from all quarters of the globe.

"Brigham found employment to do such work as might be required of him at 50 cents per day in a pail factory, then a new enterprise in this portion of the State. The factory was located on the Owasco outlet one and one half miles South of Port Byron and five miles North of Auburn, by way of State street. The building in after years for more than half a century was known as Hayden's Woolen factory, a landmark still in existence and one which many in this audience will readily call to mind.

"Brigham, as he was familiarly called, was first employed at painting wooden pails -- the work being done in a manner so satisfactory as to call forth many compliments from the proprietor, Mr. Parks. Brigham suggested that there was still a chance for improvement if the paint could be properly prepared. This, declared, could be done with slight additional expense and, once arranged for, would enable Mr. Parks to dispense with the services of one man, while the work itself would be better done

"It was agreed that Brigham was to make the improvement in one day, Mr. Parks to furnish the required material. That evening Brigham selected his lumber and at dawn of day he was found busy at his task. At noon he had a small water-wheel completed and, while the other operatives were at dinner, he drew the water from the flume, adjusted a gate and had his wheel in running order upon their return.

''His wheel had an upright shaft some five or six feet high with a slant of 35 or 40 degrees. On the top was arranged a frame to hold a large old-fashioned dinner pot, Into which the paint was put with a cannon ball weighing 25 pounds. When the wheel was set in motion it would revolve in one direction, while its slanting position would cause the ball to roll in the opposite direction. The idea was that the continued rolling of the ball would grind or pulverize the paint to the desired fineness. This improvement was pronounced by all a complete success and thereafter Brigham was consulted in regard to all proposed alterations and improvements upon the premises.

The canon ball above mentioned was captured from the British at Saratoga in 1777 by a relative of Brigham's (father or uncle) who carried it to his home more than 100 miles on foot. Brigham himself brought it from Vermont. He left it with my brother and for many years it was used to grind indigo as it had formerly ground paint. It is now in the possession of my brother, John Hayden.

"That Mr. Young was quick to discern and instantly to comprehend a situation was amply illustrated a short time after commencing his work in the factory. The floors of the factory were covered with pine shavings and the only fire protection was numerous pails in each room, filled with water. A thunder storm had begun and was fast reaching its height. As it had become too dark for work, the machinery was stopped and most of the workmen, with several outsiders, had congregated on the second floor when a most terrific crash came, throwing stove and stove pipe in all directions and filling the room with ashes and dust. Almost as quick as the lightning itself, Brigham caught up two pails of water and started for the lower floor shouting to the others still standing as if paralyzed. 'Every man get a pail of water and watch for fire!' It was conceded by all that his prompt action alone saved the building from destruction. The slight effects of this lightning stroke are still pointed out to those curious to see.

"Several persons in Port Byron and vicinity conceived the idea that it was possible to construct a perpetual motion machine, one that would produce power to run itself indefinitely, and in efforts to contrive such an apparatus had spent much time and money. Some of these came to consult Brigham on the subject, hoping to enlist his acknowledged skill in the enterprise. After spending some time in picturing to him the great pecuniary benefits and the renown of having solved a problem that had for ages baffled the skill of mechanical engineers and scientists, he was asked for his opinion as to its feasibility. In answering, Brigham smiled and, pointing to a large basket standing near, said: 'When one of you will get into that and carry himself up that flight of stairs, I will believe it possible to carry out [your] ideas.'

"School house debating societies were in vogue in those days and one being announced to occur in the school house near by, Brigham was invited to attend. He went with the intention of being a listener only, but was drawn in as a participant, and at the close was looked upon as the lion of the evening.

"In the course of his argument, he drew the portrait of a would-be smart young man so perfectly that one in the audience took it all to himself and springing to his feet he threw off his coat, declaring his intention to whip Brigham there and then. Older ones finally persuaded the young man to keep quiet, though he repeated his threat to do the whipping as soon as they were out of doors. Brigham, in a very calm manner, merely noticed the threat by saying that he was not a fighting man, but that if attacked, he should most assuredly defend himself and that the result must determine who had received the whipping. It is needless to say that he was not attacked.

"One incident in the life of Brigham Young of which I was an eye witness will never be effaced from my memory. Little Willie Carpenter, a lovely boy of about three years, was allowed to go and meet his father, a workman in the carding machine building about 10 rods South of the pail factory. When the little one did not return as expected, an alarm was given and a search begun. Brigham at once concluded that if the boy had fallen into the raceway, the current would have drawn him into the flume and out of sight. He immediately plunged in and, after a few moments of swimming and feeling about in the raceway, the body was found and brought out.

"The frantic mother caught the limp little body in her arms and it was sometime before Brigham could persuade her to allow him to take measures to resuscitate the child. It was too late, however for life was extinct. I have often heard it remarked afterward that Brigham shed more tears over the loss of this little child than did its own father.

"Another incident comes to mind in which Brigham was a prominent figure. The lady of the house in which several of the factory help boarded rebelled at being obliged to carry the water for culinary purposes from a spring some 30 to 40 rods distant and requested Mr. Parks to have a well dug near the house.

"Mr. Parks proposed to have it dug about 10 rods North of the house at a point where the ground was lower and argued that the expense would be proportionately less. This idea not being in harmony with the wish and convenience of the lady, a somewhat heated discussion arose and, not being able to harmonize the situation, it was finally agreed to appeal the case to Brigham. After listening to the arguments on both sides, he decided that the place for the well was near the house, assuring Mr. Parks that the fact that the ground was higher at that point was no reason why water could not be secured with no greater depth of digging, calling his attention to the fact that the spring from which water was then procured was much higher than the ground upon which the house stood.

"Mr. Parks had many excuses for not digging the well, the strongest being that no man could be found with the necessary skill to lay the stone in stoning it up. To this objection Brigham proposed that if Mr. Parks would furnish help after the close of the day's work in the factory, he would himself undertake the stoning up of the well and would guarantee its permanence.

"This generous proposition was readily accepted and work on the well speedily begun. At a little less than 20 feet a good stream of water was reached, which has continued to flow copiously until the present day. Some 10 nights of hard work for three or four hours each night and the well was completed and ready for use. Mr. Parks expressed himself as much pleased and with his customary generosity presented Brigham with a dollar which it was afterward said that Brigham tossed into the well as a thank offering. This I will not vouch for, but I do know that when the well was being cleaned some 20 years afterwards a silver Spanish dollar was found.

"While Brigham was employed in the pail factory, a young lady friend of the proprietor's family who was in the habit of visiting there was introduced to him and this was the beginning of Brigham Young's acquaintance with a very worthy young woman, Angeline Works. As their acquaintance ripened, her visits were thought to be a little more frequent, or, at least, they were noticed more. Her long walk home in the evening would have been monotonous, not to say dangerous, if indulged alone, therefore Brigham, with characteristic gallantry, used to accompany her, her home being distant from his boarding place about four miles, or one mile South of Throopsville.

"As might have been expected, only a few of these long walks were enjoyed before arrangements for marriage were entered into and on the morning of the wedding day, while we were at our breakfast, a sharp rap called my father to the door. A short conversation ensued, after which father and his visitor went to the barn and soon we saw Brigham drive out of the yard with our horse and wagon. (Buggies and carriages were then unknown luxuries in that section.) My mother wished to know why father would allow Brigham to take his horse when his rule was to refuse it to all enquiring young men. His reply was that Brigham was not like most young men, for he knew enough to use a horse and not abuse it and, besides that, he was going to bring home a bride. The last idea was a conundrum to me, but was explained and always remembered.

"Wedding trips to Washington or other distant places had not at that time been invented, so in a few days Brigham and his wife were installed in the house near the new well, the family formerly living there having moved.

"Were Mr. Young alive and here as a listener, I do not think that he would object to my giving you a brief description of the house and its surroundings. Having occupied the house more than a score of years myself, during the first years of which with my young wife, the house was just as it had been in former years, I may speak as an authority.

"This section was originally covered with a heavy growth of heavy timber, mostly hemlock on the hills, which had been recently cut away, leaving at the time of which I write, the ground nearly covered with stumps. The house was a frame building 13 feet wide and 24 feet in length, a short story and a half high, devoid of paint inside or out, standing with the end toward the road nearly opposite the old factory and directly in front of the old bridge crossing the outlet between Throopsville and Port Byron.

"In the East end was an old-fashioned fire place and large chimney, with stairway on one side and a small pantry on the other. Two rooms were partitioned off on the West end for bedrooms, being about seven feet square. The intervening space was parlor, sitting-room, dining-room and kitchen combined The lower rooms of the house were roughly mastered but were without the luxury of a cellar.

"This house, being but little inferior to the best, and much superior to many in the neighborbood, we had no reason for complaint, but rather much to be thankful for in the comforts it afforded.

"Brigham was accounted a great reader, the Bible receiving the first and greatest share of his attention, after which ancient history and the weekly paper claimed his interest, dailies not being printed at that time. Sunday afternoon when the weather was suitable, he would usually be seen with his books occupying a rustic seat under a large sycamore tree beside the creek.

"After working in the pail factory about two years, Mr. Parks, the proprietor, died, and, not being certain of steady employment, Brigham accepted a good offer to work at the boat yard in Port Byron and moved to that village. Here he was soon put in charge of certain portions of the work of building boats for the Erie canal and would often be sent into the wood with gangs of men to select timber suitable for the work.

"In after years I have heard the proprietors of the boat-yard say that Brigham would do more work in a given time and better work from his help without trouble than any man they had ever employed.

"While engaged in boat building, the air became filled with rumors of a new revelation, to the effect that a new Bible written upon golden plates had been dug out of the earth at Palmyra, a canal village 25 miles west of Port Byron. Each day brought new accounts of the wonder and each account would differ from its predecessor. Finally Brigham determined to investigate for himself, expecting to be able to expose it as a fraud.

"Accordingly, on a Saturday morning he boarded a west-bound canal boat and Sunday morning found him in Palmyra, where he spent the day with those who had been investigating the subject. Becoming interested, he spent several succeeding Sundays in like manner and, instead of exposing the new teaching as a fraud as he had anticipated doing, he became a firm convert to the doctrines there expounded."

"In a conversation with the late D. B. Smith, for many years one of the leading merchants of Cayuga county and an intimate acquaintance of Brigham, he remarked to me with emphasis that Brigham Young was as fine a specimen of young manhood as he has ever known, one that would have made his mark in whatever community his lot might have been cast.

"Mr. Young having been called upon to remove to Ohio at a date earlier than he had anticipated, was obliged to do as his two friends had done when they bade farewell to Port Byron, following also a precedent which was largely a custom in those days, i. e., to leave a few unpaid bills behind him. Before leaving, however, Mr. Young called upon each and all of his creditors, obtaining from each the amount of his indebtedness and assuring each that he would receive the same, he bade them a friendly good bye. Friends in Port Byron occasionally received letters of remembrance from him and in the Spring of 1866 a son was sent with a list of such debts, all of which were duly paid with a goodly amount of interest.

"As regards Brigham's political opinions, I remember but little. My early recollections would lead me to conclude that the strife between contending parties waxed as warm as in later years. One little incident may be related in which Brigham was the star actor. He was a great favorite with the small boys then quite numerous in the pail factory neighborhood. Having on this occasion collected what would in the parlance of to-day be called 'a pack of kids' (the narrator was one of them) he took them onto the bridge and arranged them in a row and after making them a short speech on good manners for boys, he ordered all to take their hats in their hands and do as he did and to holloa as loudly as possible. 'Now, all at once, swing your hats and hurrah for Andrew Jackson.' "

Mr. Finn's paper on "The Aboriginal Cayugas" recited the early history of the Cayugas down to their settlement on the East shore of Cayuga lake and adjacent territory, and continued: "History informs us that the Cayuga nation, comprising 10 tribes, were entitled to 10 sachems, (one-fifth of the whole number of representatives) in the Grand Council of the Six Nation Confederacy. Wisdom of the sachems and bravery and heroism of the chieftains and warriors particularly distinguished them throughout the confederacy.

"During the middle of the Seventeenth century French missionaries found the Cayuga Indians, numbering about 300 warriors, occupying villages in the vicinity of Cayuga lake. A half century later an interesting event happened in the birth of an Indian whose name will ever stand in bold relief in Indian annals. I refer to Tah-gah-jute the second son of Shikelimus (grand sachem of the Cayugas) born about 1720 in the principal Indian village at Oco or Was-kough, (signifying crossing or stepping stones) which occupied the present site of the city of Auburn."

Continuing, the paper said that 10 years later Shikelimus and his two sons migrated to Shamokin, Pa., and here Tah-gah-jute was baptized with the name Logan in honor of James Logan, secretary of the province. On the death of his father Logan became grand sachem of his people.

At the conclusion of the papers votes of thanks were tendered the authors and to Mr. Lyon for reading them and there were remarks by Gen. C. D. Mac Dougall and Rev. William E. Roe, D. D.

Note 1: The above telling of Brigham Young's stay at Hayden's Mills (Auburn) is the most lengthy and detailed account available from that period in President Young's early career. As it comes from an eye witness and was never rejected by the Yiung family, it can be accepted as a fairly accurate set of recollections. The mentions of Henry Wells and Isaac Singer are barely informative, and it appears that Mr. Hayden did not know either of those two men very well. However, he identifies the trio of 1820s Port Byron residents as sharing a "close friendship" that brought them "often together." In Susa Young Gates' 1929 radio address (later published as a pamphlet under the title Brigham Young Patriot, Pioneer, Prophet and Leader of the Latter Day Saints) the narrator spoke of Brigham's early associates and listed "Among these friends... Henry Wells of Wells-Fargo fame." For more on Wells, see George Arms' 1941 article, "The Story of Henry Wells," in Americana, XXXV (1941) pp. 249ff.

Note 2: Most 19th and 20th century LDS renditions of Brigham Young's biography omit the c. 1827 episode mentioned by William Hayden, regarding Brigham's trip to Palmyra to investigate Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. (One of the rare exceptions can be found in the the article "Brigham Young in His Earlier Years," in the Deseret Evening News of Dec. 20, 1913, p. 68). Even the LDS Young Woman's Journal of July 1904, which quotes extensively from Hayden's address, leaves out Brigham's reported investigative trips to Palmyra. Perhaps this was because the Mormon writers deduced that Brigham had moved his family to Oswego on Lake Ontario by that time, and so they mistrusted Hayden's recollection. The story is feasible, however. In an address given in Salt Lake City, on April 6, 1855, Brigham is reported to have said "I was somewhat acquainted with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, not only through what I read in the newspapers, but I also heard a great many stories and reports which were circulated as quick as the Book of Mormon was printed, and began to be scattered abroad." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 249.) Of course the Book of Mormon was not yet published during the period when Brigham resided at Port Byron -- and it was just barely being circulated by the time he left Oswego, for Mendon in 1830 -- so the time period for his personal recollections of this matter should probably be restricted to 1827-1829. In an interview with the New York Sun's reporter, Melville D. Landon, in 1877 Brigham reportedly said: "when I was 26 old -- this was in 1827, and I was living on [Ontario] Lake -- I picked up a Palmyra newspaper one day and read this paragraph: 'A young man named Joseph Smith, formerly of Palmyra, but now living in Manchester, N. Y., claims to have received a spiritual revelation from God, They say a messenger from God has visited Smith in person, surrounded by a halo of glory, and given him information in regard to the aboriginal prophets of this continent. The angel delivered to Smith six golden plates, engraved with Egyptian characters. These characters, when translated, go to show that Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, appeared on this continent, had American apostles and prophets, and that one of these prophets wrote an account of Christ's doings in America and hid it in the earth.'"

Note 3: President Young need not have depended entirely upon the newspapers to hear that "a new revelation... written upon golden plates had been dug out of the earth at Palmyra," however. His friend Henry Wells had a mother-in-law living in Palmyra at the time -- and evidently in the very house Joseph Smith, Sr. had occupied there, before moving a couple of miles south to a farm in nearby Manchester. Wells gave an account of his traveling (in company with his wife and mother-in-law) that same short distance, in what must have been late 1827 or early 1828, to speak with Lucy Mack Smith: "Mr. Wells made of this an errand on which to visit their [the Smiths'] house, and with his wife and her mother, rode some two miles to their humble dwelling.... He then asked to see the notorious plates.... The volume of plates was encased in a cotton bag, which he was not permitted to open.... He thought they did not possess the weight of metallic plates, but conjectured that they were slate stone." If Brigham received similar first-hand information from an acquaintance (such as Henry Wells), it is not unreasonable for the reader to believe that he would have gone to Palmyra and "spent the day with those who had been investigating the subject," or to accept the possibility that he "spent several succeeding Sundays in like manner."


Vol. XXII.                      Shortsville, New York, Friday, March 11, 1904.                        No. 11.

Manchester  in  the  Early  Days.




As was stated in the preceding article, the Smith family were firm believers in the truth of various legends which designated Mormon Hill as the depository of large deposits of untold treasure. Night after night had the father and sons, Alvah and Joseph, delved and dug in different spots, but so far as the outer world knew their search was never rewarded with success. Occasionally they would tell of important discoveries, but these stories were always related to some person whose pecuniary or other substantial assistance they desired, and so their marvelous tales soon came to be received with many grains of allowance, and finally were greeted with the cold stare of unbelief. They claimed to have in their possession a miraculous stone which although it was densly opaque to ordinary eyes, was still luminous and transparent to the orbs of Joseph, Jr. This stone was one of the common horn blende variety; some of which may be picked up any day on the shores of lake Ontario. It was kept in a mysterious box, carefully wrapped in cotton.

As an illustration of the ludicrous manner in which this stone was made to innure to the physical prosperity of its owners, the following well authenticated anecdote is related: It was claimed that Joseph, Jr., by placing it in a hat could discover by looking into the hat the precise spot where the hidden treasure was buried. Among the many dupes which were victimized by this story, was one William Stafford. They repeated the tale to him time and time again, with such solemn asseverations of its truth, that at last he began to believe that there might be something in it, and so consented to join them in one of their midnight expeditions. When the evening which had been agreed upon came around, he hied him to the Smith domicile, and there awaited developments. Soon Joseph joined the circle before the hearth, bearing with him the stone carefully concealed in a well worn and antiquated beaver. Seating himself, he placed his face where his pate ought to have been, and after peering intently into the recesses thereof, made the encouraging announcement that he saw a pot full to overflowing with glittering shiners, and that he could lead the assembled coterie to the precise spot and by a little dilligent digging combined with a strict observations of all the conditions imposed, they could speedily exhume the same, and make a pro rata division of the contents thereof. No time was now lost in getting under way, and arming themselves with shovels, pick axes and implements of a like nature, they started forth with Joseph and the magic stone at the head of the column. "Tramp, tramp, tramp" they went "marching on," through the forests and across the fields, until after a long and weary march their leader commanded a halt. Joseph, Sr. now came to the front and produced a piece of twine with a sharp pointed stake attached to each of its ends. A solemn injunction to preserve the strictest silence was now laid upon every one of the party, as it was said that the Evil One was around listening, that if he heard them, he too would then know where the buried gold was, and before they could dig down to it, would spirit it away to some other locality, and thus deprive them of the fruits of their nocturnal travels and labors. Joseph now advanced on tip toe to the spot he had selected, and taking one of the stakes from his father, forced the same into the soil, while his worthy sire unwound the string, and firmly grasping the other stake in his hand proceeded to strike out, and "swing around," the magic circle within which the treasure was to be found. Work was now commenced in earnest. Silently and mysteriously the delvers delved. Not a word was uttered, not even a whisper disturbed the profound and unearthly silence; the laborers hardly dared to breathe, and the only sound which was heard was that which was made by the instruments of excavation as they went deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. Time rolled on, the minutes lengthened into hours, the pile of disturbed earth grew larger and larger, the hole grew deeper and deeper, the laborers grew wearier and wearier, until they began to be doubtful of success. The advent of the coming morn was near at hand when the [pseudo] prophet with drew himself into a thicket, and after looking into the cavernous depths of the superannuated chapeau, dolorously announced to his followers, that some of the prescribed conditions had been violated, and that Satan had carried off the concentrated riches to some other locality. They dug no longer but went to their homes, where it is suspected that they did ample justice to the matutinal meals. Before separating however, Joseph took another look into the hat, and made the encouraging announcement that his precious pebble had revealed to him the precise spot where [Le Diablo] had secreted his ill gotten and recently acquired wealth. He told them that inasmuch as the prophet of lies had now got the lucre into his possession, it would be necessary when they dug again to use some extraordinary means of enchantment to drive him away; that he had a mortal aversion to blood drawn from any bleeding animal, and that the stone had revealed to him the important fact, that if a black bell wether should be led around the circle with its throat cut and bleeding, Satan would be completely outwitted, and their recovery of the treasure would be the certain result. Now it so happened that Mr. Stafford was the owner of an animal which fully answered to all the prescribed conditions, but of course Jo did not know this fact! Oh no, he was a prophet and a seer, and therefore could not burden his mind with such small matters, as to which particular one of all his neighbors was the owner of a lusty, black bell wether. But some of the party remembered the fact, and brought it to the attention of Joseph. Immediately Mr. Stafford was importuned by one and all to consent to the sacrifice of his sheep, which he finally did. What was one sheep in comparison to the untold wealth which had haunted his dreams, and which when acquired, was to bring to him comfort and ease luxury for the balance of his life? This little matter having been satisfactorily adjusted, and having agreed upon the time when the performance should take place, the party separated.
(To be continued.)

Note 1: The above extract from "Manchester in the Early Days" was reprinted from the Canandaigua Ontario County Times of June 23, 1875. The "Manchester in the Early Days" installments were composed by Charles W. Brown (1848-1897). His set of serialized historical articles were published in the Times between October 21, 1874 and July 14, 1875. The Shortsville Enterprise appears to have reprinted the entire old article series during the year 1904. --- The Ontario County Journal of Oct. 22, 1897 published this short notice: "The death of Charles W. Brown occurred at his home on High street on Thursday evening, from an attack of malaria fever. The deceased was about 49 years of age and was a son of Hiram L. Brown, from whose residence his funeral was held on Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock. The community mourns the loss of one of her best citizens for he was respected and beloved by all. He had served for some time as one of the magistrates of the town...."

Note 2: Mr. Brown was obviously born too late to have been an eye witness to the earliest days of Ontario County's Farmington township (eventually divided into Farmington and Manchester township), and thus had to rely upon preserved records and memories of the old settlers for the history he compiled. Among the sources he consulted would have been surviving members of the local Stafford family -- his own father-in-law, Dr. John Stafford (1805-1905) had lived immediately south of the Joseph Smith, Sr. family, on Stafford Road. In a subsequent article, published in the Reorganized LDS Saints' Herald in 1881, Dr. Stafford appears to have backed off a little from confirming certain accounts previously circulated relating to his family's early interactions with Joseph Smith and the first Mormons. However, Mr. Brown's 1874-1875 historical sketches can probably be relied upon as providing an unvarnished version of past events, told to him as representations of the factual recollections of early northern Ontario County residents. It appears to have served as the foundation for the first substantial township history, published in book form in 1876.


Vol. LXIX.                   Rochester, New York, Tuesday, March 15, 1904.                  No. ?




Doctor is Well Versed on Mormonism, Having Been Associated with
Joseph Smith in His Early Days on Family Farm in Manchester.


Dr. John Stafford, of No. 27 Byron street, will celebrate to-day his ninety-ninth birthday, surrounded by relatives and intimate friends, at his home. Though nearly 100 years old, Dr. Stafford is in good health and has been looking forward with a good deal of pleasure to spring, that he may plant his garden. Dr. Stafford has a plot of about a quarter of an acre that he has worked for a number of years. Four years ago he planted peas in the little plot two days before his birthday, but, in the words of one of his family, "he didn't attempt it this year."

Dr. John Stafford was born on Stafford street, in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, March 15, 1805. He is the only surviving member of a family of seven children, five of whom were younger than himself. Dr. Stafford's father served in the Revolutionary war. He had many and varied experiences. He was captured by the French and Spanish in turn and forced to fight under the flag of each nation. He was taken to Cuba and there lodged in a dungeon, where he remained for many months. He escaped and boarded a vessel that landed him at Baltimore without coat or hat, just as the bells of the city were tolling for the death of Washington. One of the greatest pleasures of the doctor to-day is derived from relating incidents in the life and experiences of his father.

Dr. Stafford, after reaching manhood, decided to acquire an education, and with that end in view he entered the Palmyra Academy. He walked six miles each day over the rough country roads to school, the ox team being too slow for him. Later he attended Hobart College, in Geneva, and completed a medical course in the office of Dr. Samuel McIntyre, of Palmyra. He received his diploma from the State Censor, a high honor, being one of two out of live contestants of his class to pass the rigid examination. While in the office of Samuel McIntyre he taught Colonel McIntyre, the son of Dr. McIntyre, of Palmyra, his A. B. C.'s. The time he spent with the young man is among the pleasantest memories be holds to-day.

Dr. Stafford is an authority on Mormonism. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, worked on the Stafford farm, and young Stafford was thrown in contact with him. Dr. Stafford was present at the first Mormon baptism. In 1824, when John Quincy Adams was a candidate for the presidency, the polls for the town of Manchester were in a cider house in the rear of the King residence on the Clifton road, midway between Shortsville and Clifton Springs. Dr. Stafford then a robust youth of nineteen, broad and hearty and with a beard, went to the polls with some older friends to see the fun. In those days a hat was passed around for the ballots. As the bearer of the hat passed in frout of young Stafford, his friends urged him to vote. He looked old enough. Acting on their suggestion, Stafford cast his first vote, which no one challenged, for John Quincy Adams.

From the foundation of the Republican party to the present day Dr. Stafford, has always been a staunch follower of its principles. He is one of the few living men who worked on the Erie canal when it was put through ths part of the country. While he stoops slightly, Dr. Stafford is energetic and is able to get about with amazing agility.

The story of Dr. Stafford's life, especially that part devoted to the practice of medicine, would fill a book. He was seldom in the house for any length of time. Houses were few and far apart and he made long trips from patient to patient. He had several smallpox patients. He had different suits hung up in the woods near each patient's home and would change his clothes in zero weather, stripping to the skin, before going into the house. Upon coming out he made another change before continuing his journey.

Note 1: Dr. John Stafford (1805-1905) was the son of William and Mary Cook Stafford of Farmington (Manchester), Ontario Co., NY. William Stafford (1776-1863) was the brother of Jonathan, Joshua, Jr., Abraham, John, Thomas and David Stafford, all sons of Joshua Stafford, Sr. (1749-1809) of Tiverton, Newport Co., Rhode Island. Joshua was one of the first settlers of Farmington (later Manchester). Dr. John Stafford should not be confused with his "Uncle John" Stafford (1779-1849), who was reported in 1885 as having once been a money-digger, along with Joshua, Jr., on the Joshua Stafford, Sr. farm (located in Manchester a little south of the Joseph Smith, Sr. farm) by Cornelius R. Stafford (1813-c. 1890).

Note 2: Dr. John Stafford's claims to have been a witness to some early Mormon history were first published in an early 1875 issue of the Canandaigua Ontario County Times, where Charles W. Brown (his son-in-law) stated: "Dr. Stafford is well acquainted with the beginnings of Mormonism. He knew the Smith family well, and was present at the first baptism, when old Granny Smith and Sally Rockwell were 'dipped' and came up 'white as snow.'" -- Years later Dr. Stafford provided a statement of his recollections of Joseph Smith, Jr., etc., (published in the RLDS Saint's Herald of June 1, 1881) in which he said: "My father, William Stafford, was never connected with them [the Joseph Smith, Sr. family] in any way. The Smiths, with others, were digging for money before Joe got the plates. My father had a stone, which some thought they could look through; and old Mrs. Smith came there after it one day, but never got it. Saw them digging one time for money; (this was three or four years before the Book of Mormon was found), the Smiths and others." Although his son John avowed no connection between William Stafford and the Smiths, William provided D. P. Hurlbut with a statement in 1833 in which he admitted "Joseph Smith, Sen., came to me one night, and told me, that Joseph Jr. had been looking in his glass, and had seen, not many rods from his house, two or three kegs of gold and silver, some feet under the surface of the earth: and that none others but the elder Joseph and myself could get them. I accordingly consented to go, and early in the evening repaired to the place of deposit." See also Dan Vogel's EMD 2 pp. 59-63 and John L. Brooke's The Refiner's Fire, pp. 151-154, 50-53, 364 n. 14-15.

Note 3: A shorter version of this article was previously published in the Syracuse Journal of Nov. 13, 1903. For more on Dr. Stafford's recollections of Joseph Smith, etc., see the March 16th issue of the Democrat-Chronicle and the Syracuse Herald of Oct. 25, 1903.


Vol. LXXII.                   Rochester, New York, Wednesday, March 16, 1904.                  No. ?




Aged Doctor Says Smith's Mother Had a Good Deal to Do
With the Book of Mormon -- Joseph Looked in a Hat for Revelations.

All yesterday friends of Dr. John Stafford were calling at his home, No. 27 Byron street, to congratulate him upon reaching his ninety-ninth birthday. The aged physician had recently been suffering from the grip, but yesterday found him in good condition. For years his family has held a reunion on his birthday.

Yesterday the family party included children and grandchildren, as fellows: Mrs. Mary R. Brown, her son, C. M. Brown, and daughter, Mrs. D. A. Eton, all of Shortsville, and Miss Jane L. Stafford and Mrs. Frank Fritz, who reside in Rochester. The doctor's son, William J. Stafford, of Albany, was expected to arrive on a late train, Mrs. E. S. Barr, of Carthage, N. Y., a daughter, was unable to be present. The man almost a century old was the recipient of many gifts. Though during the cold weather he keeps indoors. Dr. Stafford is in the open air almost all day long in summer. His family sees no reason why he should not live to be more than a hundred years old.

In 1800, when the town of Manchester stood in a wilderness. Dr. Stafford's father, William Stafford, settled there in the street which now bears his name. He had been a soldier in the Revolution. John, now the aged physician, was for many years a practitioner in the town of his birth. During school days and early manhood he was well acquainted with Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism. Of Smith the doctor has some amusing recollections.

"I suppose I knew him as well as any one," he said yesterday, when questioned regarding his acquaintance with the Mormon leader. "I went to school with him, He was a strong, healthy boy, but was not considered remarkably bright. The people around town always thought his mother had more to do with writing the Book of Mormon than Joseph did. Even after the Smith family moved to Palmyra they said that they believed rich treasure was buried in that section. The mother of the family said that her family was going to get rich. A son, Alvin, went out West in search of wealth, but was unsuccessful and in a short time returned.

"It was soon after this that they began to write the book. They lived on what is now the Chapman farm. A man named Oliver Cowdry wrote the book. It was our belief that the old lady did a good deal of the dictating. It was said that Joseph would put his face into a hat and while thus gazing into darkness, would experience the revelations that enabled him to compose the Book of Mormon. When they had completed the work they tried to sell copies of the first sheets to people in the town, but they did not sell. People around there had no confidence in Mormonism.

"The Smiths heard that there were riches on the banks of the Delaware river, brought there by pirates. In search of which Joseph went into Pennsylvania. While there he married Miss Emma Hale. She returned with him to the family home. I do not think she accepted Mormonism. Whenever the people of the town had corn huskings or anything of that sort they were sure to invite the Smiths. They were lively and they always had their share of whisky.

"Close by the Smith house there ran a brook. Mormonism had a few followers in the country roundabout, and they were baptized in this brook. First came old 'Granny' Smith. Joseph claimed to have received revelations fitting him to perform baptism. I can remember to-day a part of the service he used. It was: 'Having authority given me by Jesus Christ I baptise thee, Lacy Smith, in the name of [the] Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' Brigham Young was one of his converts. He found him in Canandaigua. Joseph Smith was said to have wanted to marry for his second wife the daughter of Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon was interested in Mormonism for a time, but he opposed the marriage of his daughter to Smith. Joseph did not get Rigdon's daughter. Later Rigdon left Mormonism.

"I do not remember of any of the Smith family being baptised, excepting the mother. They were a curious family and superstitious in a great many ways."

Note 1: The March 4, 1905 issue of American Medicine, published this short notice in its "Obituaries" column: "John Stafford, who would have been 100 years old on March 15, February 24, at his home in Rochester, N. Y. He was perhaps the oldest physician in the State, having been born in Manchester, Ontario county, N. Y., and educated at Hobart College, receiving his diploma from the old board of censors. He practiced In Manchester, N. Y., until 1875, when he removed to Rochester." The 1874 Manchester land ownership map shows Dr. Stafford's office in that village near the intersection of cross and water streets." For additional information regarding Dr. John Stafford see the notes appended to the Herald's issue of March 15th.

Note 2: Dr. Stafford says: "The people around town [Manchester] always thought his mother [Lucy Mack Smith] had more to do with writing the Book of Mormon than Joseph did." Unfortunately Stafford does not state when this opinion prevailed. Mrs. Smith wrote a biography of her son, and thus was a known writer. If the local opinion of her connections to the Book of Mormon pre-dated her own writing career, then it must have been based more upon her perceived ability to write a book of latter day revelation, than it was upon any particular piece of literary composition that her neighbors were aware of. See Orsamus Turner's 1851 article for a similar recollection of Mrs. Smith's role in incipient Mormonism. While Stafford says "It was our belief that the old lady did a good deal of the dictating;" Turner amplifies the assertion, by saying "the book itself is without doubt a production of the Smith family, aided by Oliver Cowdery... an intimate of the Smith family." In a slightly re-written reprint of the same history, Turner adds: "The mantle of the Prophet which Mrs. and Mr. Joseph Smith and one Oliver Cowdery, had wove of themselves -- every thread of it -- fell upon their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr."

Note 3: Dr. Stafford recollects: "A son, Alvin, went out West in search of wealth, but was unsuccessful and in a short time returned." Alvin arrived in the Palmyra area near the beginning of 1817 and died in Manchester on Nov. 19, 1823, at age of 25. His whereabouts are unaccounted for between May, 1818 and April, 1820 -- so perhaps his travels "out west" occurred during that period. Although there are numerous possibilities as to the destination of Alvin's reported journey, one choice then open to him would have been to join the annual migration of Ontario county families to northeastern Ohio. Before 1830 a significant number of these Ontario Co. pioneers had settled on newly cleared farms in Auburn twp., Geauga Co., Ohio, including George Antisdale, Roger Antisdale and Isaac Butts, who settled there in 1817-18. The Antisdales had occupied on the next farm west of the Joseph Smith, Sr. family, in northeastern corner of Farmington township, and some members of the family continued to reside there until late in the 19th century.

Note 4: Another possible reason for Alvin's traveling away from home would have been to secure paid employment as a treasure-seer. While such work did not pay particularly well, it offered the seer the promise of a share in any rewards resulting from the "search of wealth." Despite some allegations of his being viewed as the Smith family prophet, there is no firm evidence that Alvin worked as a seer. Joseph, on the other hand, did follow that occupation. See D. Michael Quinn's Early Mormonism and the Magic World View page 52, where he says: "the 1820 census supports the claims of [John B.] Buck, [Russell C.] Doud, and [William L.] Hine that by 1821 Joseph Smith was working as a treasure-seer during the summers in places distant from his home." Mrs. Sarah Fowler Anderick, speaking of this approximate timeframe, also says of Joseph Smith, that "He was from home much summers." For more on Joseph Smith's "westward wanderings," see this list.


Geneva Daily Times.

Vol. ?                         Geneva, New York, Wednesday, March 16, 1904.                         No. ?



Cast His First Vote for John Quincy Adams.
Other Notes and Personal Items.


Shortsville, March 16. -- Many old acquaintances throughout this section will be interested to learn that Dr. John Stafford of Rochester, formerly of Manchester, celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday yesterday, March 15, 1805. Dr. Stafford was born on Stafford street, in Manchester. He was one of a family of seven, five being younger than himself, and is now the only living representative. His boyhood was passed in the same neighborhood with Joseph Smith of Mormon fame, and he witnessed the first Mormon baptism. On reaching manhood he concluded to acquire a more thorough education and entered the Palmyra academy. Later he took a course in Hobart college, Geneva, and finally completed Hs medical studies in the office of Dr. McIntyre of Palmyra. He then located in Manchester village, where he practised medicine for many years. In 1845 he was united in marriage with Miss Nancy Hurlburt of that village, who is also living. In 1824, when John Quincy Adams was a candidate for the presidency, the polls for the town of Manchester were located in a cider house at the rear of the King house on the Clifton road, midway between Shortsville and Clifton Springs, and Dr. Stafford, then a strapping youth of nineteen, broad and hearty with a stubby beard, went to the polls with some older friends to see the fun. In those days a hat was passed for the ballots, and as the bearer paused in front of the youth, his friends urged him to vote, too, saying he looked old enough. Acting on their suggestion, he cast his first vote for John Quincy Adams.

Although bowed and bent with years, Dr. Stafford is still an energetic, well-preserved man, and gets about with amazing agility

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LX.                       Syracuse, New York, Thursday, March 17, 1904.                       No. 66.



Reformed Mormon Elder Bays says Apostle Will Do This In Order
to Be Seated In the Senate -- First Gun Against Mormonism in Syracuse.


The first real active step against Mormonism and the inculcation of its doctrines in Syracuse was taken this afternoon at the Brown Memorial Church in Davis St., when the Rev. D. H. Bays, who some time ago left the Mormon faith, which from a child he had been taught to believe, held what he called a "conversation." Many [residents?] of Syracuse were present and asked the former elder many questions pertaining to the Mormon belief: Tonight at the church he will deliver a [lecture] on "The Mormon Church and Why I Left It."

The Rev. Mr. Bays arrived in the city yesterday and was met by Mrs. Ella M. Curtis, president of the Federation of Christian Women of Syracuse, an organization formed to work in opposition to the "Mormons. Mr. Bays was [-----] this afternoon at the home of Mrs. Van Patten in Davis st. He is apparently more than [50] years old, bright and thoroughly in earnest in his crusade against Mormonism.

He told the reporter that Mormonism is a fraud from the ground up; that the Mormons are deceptive and not to be trusted. His parents were beguiled into embracing the faith when he [the---] was but eight years old. They were deceived by the elders who converted them he said. He gave some interesting facts about Mormonism and polygamy and also had something to say about the Smoot matter which has been before the Senate committee.

About Smoot.

"I know very well," he said, "that the Senate committee, [will give] Smoot the opportunity to renounce Mormonism on condition that he be seated in the Senate; that Smoot will renounce his religion and he will do it by the sanction and direction of the president and apostles of the Mormon church, and [then], when he has served his term in the Senate, he will go back to Utah and wallow again in the mire of his belief. [He] would renounce his religion and the officers of the church would direct him so to do if thereby he could be seated in the Senate and the Mormons therefore have a representative in the lawmaking body of the United States.

"There are two Mormon churches, the Reorganized church and the old Utah church. President Joseph F. Smith, who has been in Washington answering questions at the, Senate hearing, is president of the old church and the members of his church still uphold polygamy and they believe it a right and probably many of them still practice it. The: re-organized church professes not to uphold polygamy. I understand that the elders who are now proselyting in this city belong to the old church or the one, the members of which uphold polygamy. the Senate committee.

Law Violations.

"All the members of the old church believe in polygamy. They have [conspired] to violate the law from the beginning. Their pretense, the manifesto against polygamy issued when Utah [desired] to be admitted for Statehood, was simply one of the many Mormon deceptions made to gain an end. When one has seen as much of the Mormons as I have, he knows whereof he speaks. I fear that the committee from the Senate will be too lenient with Smoot.

"I left the Mormon church after I had been one of its elders and had preached its doctrines for 17 years. I failed to attend one of their conferences and wrote to the secretary that I intended to resign from the church. I became distrustful of the Mormon religion from the many disgusting things I had seen and heard: and I spent five years in considering the matter.

"Then I was convinced that it was a fraud from the ground up. I then told the people that I had no further use for the Mormons or their belief, but they will not let a man withdraw from the church without a fight. They prefer charges against him afterward and seven years after I had withdrawn, they preferred charges against me. I understand that the elders here have been looking up my record. I am glad they have done so.

Spiritual Wives.

"I do not have to guess the things I tell about Mormonism. I do not have to trust to report from others. I have been there and I know it all in all; its bare fraud. Why, I knew a man who was the old Joseph Smith's body guard and he told me he had stood guard over Smith and waited outside while the alleged prophet went to visit his spiritual wives and you know what they are.

"When I got my eyes open I left the church. The Mormons are clever in inducing people to join their belief. They quote from the Bible and then give an ingenious theory and get people to believe in them. from a Biblical polnt, just by deception and mis-construction.

Two Mormon Churches.

"There are now two Mormon churches, as I have said. Joseph F. Smith is president of the old, and his cousin, Joseph Smith, is a leader of the reorganized. The reorganized church is much more dangerous than the other, although Iit does discard polygamy. Is there polygamy in Utah and do men still practice it? There is, as Smith has told the committee, and men still practice polygamy, although not the general rank and file of the membership of the church.

"Joseph Smith, the original prophet, found his famous seeing stone near Syracuse, I am told, and he obtained it from another man by lying to him. It is all lies, or the greater part of it is. Three out of fou factions of the Mormons believe in and uphold polygamy, and the elders here, I believe, are of the faction that upholds that disgraceful belief. Joseph F. Smith, the Mormon president, who has testified at Washington, is, I say, a rascal and a scoundrel. The old Joseph, who found his famous golden tablets at Palmyra, well you know what he is. The simple fact of that is a disgrace upon New York State."

Tonight's Meeting.

The Mormon elders have been especially invited to attend the meeting to-night and it is expected that there may be a scene. Mrs. Ella M. Curtis and other women are determined to either drive the elders from the city or else convert them.

All sorts of stories about the Mormons have been heard by the women. Mrs. Van Patten and Mrs. Williams where the reformed elder is boarding while In the city, told a reporter to-day that they had heard that the elders had "been flirting with girls," but she refused to tell the name of the women whose daughters, it is alleged, were flirted with by the elders.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LX.                           Syracuse, New York, Friday, March 18, 1904.                           No. 67.



Tumultuous Scene at Brown Memorial Church When
Reformer Bays Had Finished Address on Mormonism and
He Was Tackled by Elder Misener.


The lie was passed in the Brown Memorial church last evening when amid heartless hisses and jeers, in the face of united opposition and with indignation blazing from his eyes, Elder Jesse S. Misener of the Mormon church stood for 20 minutes near the pulpit of the church and refuted the statements made by the Rev. D. H. Bays, a former Mormon elder, who during a long speech had arraigned Mormonism and the Strangites in bitter terms, laid bare some of the horrible practices, told of the blood curdling oaths and denounced the Mormon church, and its disciples in good round terms.

Such a scene has probably never here been witnessed in a house of God in Syracuse. At one time it looked as though a general riot, or at least melee, would be precipitated.

"There were cries of "Down with the Mormons!" "Put them out!" "The wretches."

Women with righteous indignation hissed the two Mormons in the church. [They] crowded around, them, jeered [them] and called them bad people. But [in spite] of the opposition a plucky little Mormon, scarcely 21 years old, stood his ground bravely and gave the former Mormon, the Rev. Bays, argument, characterizing the statements of Bays as false. "I wonder," he said, "how you can stand here before your God and say such things as you have said."

Church Packed.

Brown Memorial church was crowded last evening to hear the Rev. Mr. Bays talk against the Mormons. People sat in chairs, in the aisles and many stood near the doors. The Rev. Mr. Bays, as told in The Journal yesterday, was for 27 years an elder of the Mormon church and left it because, as he says, he was disgusted with its teachings and could see nothing in it but deception. He told of the tablets which Joseph Smith No. 1 had claimed to receive from an angel, and on which were the original commandments on which Mormonism was based, by the "prophet." He told of how Smith had claimed that these tablets were written in Egyptian. Bays had sent fac-similes of these plates to famous Egyptologists and they had told him there was not an Egyptian character on the plates nor in fact any character of any oriental or other language whatever.

Challenges Mormons.

He opened by saying that if there was any Mormon preacher in the house, he would let him speak and deny those statements if he could. He told of Oliver Cowdry, who swore that he was with Smith when the angel descended from Heaven and presented the plates to the apostle on a table. He said that as an elder he had baptized as many as twenty preachers. He had been a Mormon at seven years of age because his parents were in that church; had been deceived into joining it by the wily Mormons.

"They bait their hooks with soft words and the sucker bites," he continued. "I have seen a Mormon leader, one of the keenest rascals, the most unscrupulous villains the world ever saw, lay his polluted hands on the head of a little boy to cure him and that, too, while that Mormon leader was soaked in whisky.

"But few of you know that there has ever been a kingdom under the Stars and Stripes in this land of ours, but such there was. A man named James Strang founded a kingdom in Michigan and he called it the Kingdom of God. I heard my own father curse that desolate place until the atmosphere was tinged with gray and the odor of sulphur penetrated the olfactory nerve.

Strang issued an order that all women in the kingdom should wear bloomers. The women refused and that led eventually to the death of Strang."

The Mormon Oath.

Then an unusual thing took, place, Mrs. Ella M. Curtis, president of the Federation of Christian Women, read the oath which Bays says was the one taken by Mormons to avenge the enemies of the church and the apostles. This oath was in substance that if any [-----ed] to avenge the enemies of the apostles he was to "be disemboweled and his throat cut." Two men of the congregation then faced each other with their arms about each other's shoulders and so they could see in all directions, while Bays said that was the way in which the oath was administered. The oath Was to be fulfilled even to the destruction of the United States government.

Bays then told of the Mountain meadow massacre and said it was because of the killing of Pratt, an elder of the church, who had stolen a gentile's wife that the massacre was committed according to the oath.

Sensational Scene Begins.

It was at the conclusion of this talk the sensational scene took place. The Mormon elders sat in the middle of the house and at the conclusion of the speech Misener made his way toward Bays who was standing near the pulpit with the Rev. Ezra Tinker and several of the congregation. He was introduced and the two shook hands according to Marquis of Queensbury [rules]. Misener was mild at first. They said each other they were glad to meet "Yes," said Misener, "I am glad to meet you, but you have made some statement here to-night that are not right. You have misrepresented us. There is no oath in the Mormon church such as you have described."

"Everything I have said it true." said Bays;

"They are False."

"They are not. I say some of the things you have said are false," said Misener warmly, his eyes flashing fire. Then the great audience surged about the pulpit to hear the dispute. The Mormon and ex-Mormon were surrounded and stood as it were in an arena.

"Any fool can dispute," said Bays at length. "You are young and you do not know all that has taken place in the Mormon church. And I tell you that what I have said is true."

"It's false," shrieked Misener. "My word is as good as yours if I am young. You never were a Mormon. You were a Strangite. Now what church do you belong to? Tell us that. You have given no proof of your statements and you cannot. ["] ["]I challenge any Mormon. I challenge Joe Smith of [Lamoni], the man whom you hate and all of the old church hate to dispute me.["]

"I hate no man; I love them all," responded Misener.

Both men seemed angry. Misener shook with indignation and Bays' eyes shot out "sparks of fire." Pointing his finger at the elder he said: "You have never seen the Serpent perform in the Garden of Eden, have you? You never saw a Mormon get down on his belly and crawl like a snake because it was one part of their religion."

"Neither have you," said Misener. "And no such thing was ever done. What you say is false. How can you face your God and say such things! Your story is good and well learned, but you have no proofs."

Bays then said warmly: ["]Joe Smith is ashamed of your church and [Lamoni] is ashamed of you, because you favor polygamy. You believe in polygamy, don't you? What have you got to say about Joseph F. Smith, who admits that he was living with five women after the manifesto and against the laws of the land?"

"I honor Joseph Smith for what he has done, for not deserting his wives," responded the Mormon so all could hear.

"Down With Him."

Then the excitement was most intense. A woman shrieked "Down with him! Put the Mormon out!" There was one long almost unanimous his, that could be heard outside the church. There were jeers and scoffs. One man said: "Give the Mormon, fair play." The crowd surged nearer to the contestants. For a moment it looked as though the thing would become more that a battle of words.

The Rev. Ezra Tinker saw what might come and he shouted from the pulpit: "Let us adjourn and go home and come to-morrow night."

Misener then offered his hand to Bays and the latter reached out his. But as he did so he said something and the Mormon drew back his hand. The handshake was a failure.

A tidal wave of anti-Mormonism has come over Syracuse.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XXVIII.                            Syracuse, New York, March 18, 1904.                            No. 8357.



First In the Kingdom of God, Then in the Reorganized Church of
Latter Day Saints -- Mormonism in its Texas, Iowa
and Michigan Manifestations.

The Rev. D. H. Bays, who was brought-up a Mormon and who for more than twenty years was a minister in one branch of the church, spoke last night at the Brown Memorial M. E. church against Mormonism and in the interests of the work of the Federation of Christian Women, which has undertaken to drive the Mormon elders from Syracuse and to combat proselyting by the Mormons. Mr. Bays was rather a disappointment because it transpired that he was never in Utah and never a member of the polygamous church.

Mr. Bays, who says that he does not want to be called a "reformed Mormon," was never a polygamist and was never in Utah. He was born in Texas, and there his father and mother were converted to Mormonism through the efforts of Mormon missionaries. The family went to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan and joined what was known as "The Kingdom of God." Mr. Bays didn't like the ways there and after a time the "king" was driven out, the "kingdom" disrupted, and Mr. Bays joined the Reorganized Mormon church in Iowa, and in that church served as a minister. It is this sect which never countenanced polygamy.

Mr. Bays began by referring to the Reed Smoot case, saying that if it became necessary for Smoot to renounce Mormonism -- or give up his seat in the Senate he would renounce Mormonism. Mr. Bays said that Smoot would do this with the consent of the of officers of the church, and that then after he had finished his term of office he would go back to Mormonism. Then Mr. Buys sailed into the Church of Latter Day Saints. "It was conceived in sin, brought forth in iniquity, and is at once the child of deception and fraud," he began. Mr. Bays said that he could honor some of the Mormons, for they wore conscientious men, but he would not "tolerate their abominable system."

Mr. Bays said that the story that a man named Spalding had written some manuscript, intending it for a story, and that it was found by Joseph Smith and made into the Book of Mormon, was not so. Mr. Bays said that the story was an old one, but entirely false. He said: "It makes no difference whence it came. Mormonism is thoroughly bad and ought to be rooted out. It is not necessary to trace its origin."

The Finding of the Tablets.

Mr. Bays then told of the finding of the tablets at Palmyra by Smith. He said that the Book of Mormon claims that the characters on the tablets were Egyptian and that they were written by the Jews who came from Jerusalem, but the entire colony died. Smith had gone out into the woods one day to pray, because he wanted to have divine guidance in the matter of joining one of the churches at Palmyra and he didn't know which sect to take up with. While praying he had a visit from God. and his Son, the book states, and afterward there were more visions, and finally the tablets were placed before Smith, He being told that none of the churches were right, but that the truth was on the tablets. Mr. Bays said thay he had proven by many authorities that the characters upon the tablets were not Egyptian: or any other known language, and that even if they were Egyptian, the Jews would not have written them in Egyptian. One man who said that he saw John the Baptist come down in a flood of light and ordain Smith to the priesthood, later deserted Smith.

The Reorganized Church.

Then Mr. Bays began to tell about his connection with the Mormon church, saying that he had been a minister in the reorganized or non-polygamous branch for twenty-seven years. "I have never been in Utah," he said, "but belonged to the Iowa branch. When I was a boy my parents lived in Texas and there the Mormon missionaries came. They made; converts through deception. They would go to a good Methodist or Presbyterian or Baptist and show him in the Bible where God appointed apostles and prophets, saying that if God appointed them they must continue in the church. Tha Mormons then showed that their church was the only one which had these, and also the only church whose high priests could cure by laying on of hands. It was all there in the Bible and the argument had weight. I used the same arguments when I Was a Mormon minister, and during all during all of that time I baptized twenty ministers of the gospel into the Mormon faith. I am sorry for it and I am going to undo as much of it as I can. With such arguments they baited their Mormon hook and then landed the suckers."

Mr. Bays wasn't getting along fast enough in his own experiences to satisfy the Rev. Dr. Ezra Tinker, chairman of the meeting and pastor of the church, and he interrupted Mr. Bays with the question:

"How came you to be reconverted, that's what we want to hear?

"The Kingdom of God."

Mr. Bays told about being baptised into the Mormon church when he was 8 years old, then of his father packing up and starting for "the kingdom of God."

The place. Mr. Bays said, had been called an Eden and was cracked up to be a paradise on earth, the finest place in the universe, Mr. Bays continued.

I used to think that my father had some religion -- he had been a Methodist -- but if he ever had any he lost it then and there. He was a soldier along the Texas frontier under Sam Houston, and he'd learned a few [---] down there, and the way that he cussed that kingdom up and down when he set eyes on it turned the whole place blue. It was nothing but a few sand hills and some scrub pine. They called it the "kingdom of God," but it was the most God-forsaken place I ever saw. James [Strang], known as King James, ran the place, and he had four or five wives. There was another fellow there, referred to in a so-called "prophecy" as "my servant, George Miller in whom there is no guile." Well, he had the most gall, for a fellow that had no guile that I ever saw. Father got disgusted with the place, sold everything he had except some mule feed for the mules and waited for a boat. The boat didn't come and we had to stay in the "Kingdom of God" all winter with, scarcely anything to eat. Along toward the last we finished up the mull feed. Those fellows in the "kingdom of God" were the worst set of thieves that I ever heard of. They seemed to think that it was proper to rob the Gentiles, and they supported King James and his five wives with the proceeds of what they stole.

King James Gets Unpopular.

Finally King James required every woman in the "kingdom" to wear bloomers. There were a few pretty decent men there and they rebelled as did their wives. One man said that his wife wouldn't wear bloomers and King James said that no man could disobey his orders without walking over his dead body. A day or two after that the man who disobeyed the king was taken out into some birches and "birched." I went along to see the fun and they made me lay it onto him, too. Then the man who was whipped shot King James a few days afterward, and the whole colony was driven off by an uprising oŁ the indignant Gentiles. King James went, back to the wife whom he had deserted to become head of the colony, and he died there. I got sick of it all then and joined the reorganized church.

After a collection had been taken Mr. Bays told of the Mormon oath, where every man promises to avenge the prophets, and the penalty for violating the oath is awful. The man is to be disembowled, and several other things are done to him. Mr. Bays said that the Mountain Meadow massacre was a result of this oath. A Mormon stole a man's wife and children. The man followed and killed the Mormon. The Mountain Meadow massacre which followed was the vengeance of the Mormons. Mr. Bays will talk to-night at the Wesleyan church.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXII.                      Shortsville, New York, Friday, March 18, 1904.                        No. 12.

Manchester  in  the  Early  Days.




(Continued from last week)

The appointed night again came on and the same party was again assembled in the best room of the Smith mansion, but outside the door might have been heard the occasional jingling of a bell, which told that the black bell wether was on hand, prepared and ready for the sacrifice. The same performance of hat gazing was again gone thro with, and once again they started forth. At length they arrived at the designated spot, far removed from the former one. Again the same cautions as to silence were uttered, again the stakes were planted and once again the magic circle was drawn. The wether led by the hand of his master was brought to the circle, and as his mild eyes rested confidently upon the group, he received the death dealing stroke. His throat was severed, as per directions of the horn blende pebble, and as his life blood welled forth, he was led around the ring pouring it on the ground as he staggered and stumbled along. The single revolution was at length completed and poor bell wether was left to expire as best he might, while his cruel and avaricious executioners seizing their implements commenced eagerly to throw out the earth. Will you believe it, dear reader? They didn't find a dollar; there was no money there, nor no pot to put money in. How long they worked is unknown, but it was until the prophet in embryo had again consulted the stone, and so gave to his dupes some reason for their failure, which undoubtedly was as simple and foolish as the whole proceeding had been. But now a singular circumstance occurred; Mr. Stafford on looking for the carcass of his black bell wether, undoubtedly having in view a broiled leg of mutton, was somewhat nonplussed to find that it had disappeared as mysteriously as the coveted riches; he also made the farther discovery, and a singular coincidence it was, that the seer's paternal progenitor was also missing. The fact was that while Stafford had dug, Smith had dressed the carcass, and when its absence was discovered was far advanced on his homeward route. When Mr. Stafford learned, as learn he did, that for a few days the Smiths had regaled themselves on mutton chops, &c., he lost all faith in human nature, the scales fell from his eyes and he saw that he had been victimized. It may be that the investment of the black bell wether in the course of time proved to be a profitable one, as it assuredly did, if thereby he was saved from a belief in the Bible hoax. They might have made a Martin Harrisof him, but knowing that a hooked fish is not apt to bite the second time, they never attempted to hoodwink him again.

Many instances of a similar nature occurred, always resulting in some substantial gain to the exchequer or the cellar of the Smiths, but this one must suffice as an illustration of them all. Soon other stories of a more mysterious and uncanny nature still began to be put in circulation, the most notable of which was the following: They pretended that "while digging for money at Mormon Hill they came across a chest, three by two feet in size, covered with a dark colored stone. In the center of the stone was a white spot about the size of a six pence. Enlarging, the spot increased to the size of a twenty-four pound shot, and then exploded with a terrible noise. The chest vanished and all was utter darkness." This palpable fraud was whispered in the ears of the credulous, with what design cannot be told, but that they had some sinister object in view cannot be reasonably doubted.

Among the other methods which the Smith family employed to "keep the wolf from the door," was that of manufacturing and selling oil cloths. This work was principally performed by Mrs. Smith. She wove the threads and painted the cloths herself, and when a sufficient stock was found to be on hand, it was her custom to start out herself and hawk her wares from door to door. This afforded a good opportunity for the dissemination of her doctrines and she improved it. It was while she was thus engaged that she commenced to prophesy the advent of a new religion of which her son was to be the prophet. By this means, a sense of expectation for the coming of some great event, was diffused thro the community, and so when it was announced that Joseph had actually found the massive golden tablets, there were some whose credulity led them to believe that the story was a truthful one, because it had been predicted, while still another class who had doubted the prophecy, began to have faith in it because of the seeming confirmation of it which was made by the discovery of the tablets. But by far the major portion of the community had sense enough to see that neither the prophecy nor the event had any proof of their verity, except what came from the Smiths, and to see that if their statements were to be unquestionably accepted as the truth, it was easy enough to manufacture any pretended event, to confirm the prophecies which had fell from their lips. While these mysterious hints were being circulated thro the community, the conspirators had excavated for their own use a hole in the ground. This was nothing more nor less than an artificial cave which they had dug in a side hill now owned by the Chauncey Miner heirs. This hill may be found at any time on lot 77 of the original survey, to the south of the highway running from the Palmyra Plank road to the residence of Mark Jefferson. It is situated about equi-distance between the terminii of the road and faces to the north. The entrance to this cave was guarded by an iron-plated door." The cave itself was about sixty feet in length and ten feet high. From the door for a distance of forty feet, there was a hall fifteen feet wide which led to the chamber beyond. This chamber or audience room was twenty feet square, and was furnished with one rude table and half a dozen uncouth stools. It was here that the secret meetings of the plotters were held up to the time they commenced holding public meetings for the purpose of making converts. In this small recess, secure from any interference by skeptical persons, by the flaring light of a tallow candle, was the plan of operations fully discussed and decided upon. It is stated that Darius Pierce, one of the sons of Nathan, at the head of a party of his associates surprised the parties when they were assembled together in one of their [nocturnal] consultations and that a lively time ensued. And now the fulness of time had come, "all things had conspired together for good," and the incipient fraud was on the eve of its consummation. One morning as the settlers went to their daily work a strange rumor was passed from mouth to mouth that the night before, the Smiths in one of their midnight expeditions had commenced digging on the north-western spur of Mormon Hill, and had been rewarded by the discovery of several golden tablets, which were covered with hieroglyphics. The rumor spread from house to house, but dilligent inquiry failed to discover any evidence beyond that of the Smiths themselves, which would serve in the least to verify the statement. But the seed had been implanted in the minds of the credulous, and for a brief time was left to grow of its own volition. Other rumors soon began to circulate, to the effect that Joseph, the prophet, was engaged in a translation of his discovered record of antiquity, which was soon to be printed in common English and submitted to the inspection of an unregenerated world.

Celebrated His Ninety-ninth Birthday.

..[Dr. John Stafford, now of Rochester, celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday on Tuesday] ... Dr. Stafford is well acquainted with the beginnings of Mormonism. He knew the Smith family well, and was present at the first baptism, when old Granny Smith and Sally Rockwell were "dipped" and came up "white as snow"...

Note 1: The above extract from Charles W. Brown's serialized history of Manchester township, was reprinted from the Canandaigua Ontario County Times of June 23, 1875. Presumably the next portion of Brown's text dealt with the formation of the Mormon church at Manchester, c. 1829-30. W. H. McIntosh's 1876 history provides this relevant detail: "A meeting was held at the house of Joseph Smith Sr., in June [sic] 1830. The exercises consisted of readings and interpretations of the new Bible. Smith Sr., was installed "Patriarch and President of Latter-Day-Saints.” Cowdery and Harris were given limited and conditional offices. From the house the party adjourned to a brook near by, where a pool had been made by the construction of a small dam. Harris and Cowdery were first baptized at their own request. The latter, now qualified, administered the same rite to Joseph Smith Sr., Mrs. Smith, his wife, Hiram Page, Mrs. Rockwell, Dolly Proper and some of the Whitemer [sic] brothers. Calvin Stoddard, a neighbor, early believed in Mormonism."

Note 2: Although only tangentially related to its accompanying report, an 1869 engraving published by Austin W. Cowles, provides the earliest known illustration of the sacrifice of "Mr. Stafford's" prized "black bell wether." --- For more information on Charles W. Brown and his "Manchester in the Early Days" articles, see notes appended to the first half of this clipping, in the issue for March 11th.


Elmira  [   ]  Telegram.

Vol. ?                             Elmira, New York, Sunday, March 20, 1904.                             No. ?



Susquehanna County, Pa., Was the Home of the Mormon Prophet,
Joseph Smith, and There He Compiled or Translated,
the Book of Mormon, of Which So Much Has
Been Said and Written, For and Against.

In view of the recent investigations concerning Senator Reed Smoot, of Utah, who is charged with being elected through the agency of the Mormon church, and therefore an upholder of polygamy, it may be interesting to note that it is a fact of which we are not particularly proud, that Susquehanna county harbored Joe Smith at the period when he was engaged in the compilation, or, rather, the translation, of the Book of Mormon.

Joe Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, was twice a resident of Susquehanna county, as will be seen from the following historical facts. The original part of the house now occupied by Nathan Skinner, and formerly owned and occupied by the late ex-Sheriff B. F. McKune, located about two miles down the river, below Susquehanna, in Oakland township, was built by Joe Smith sometime between the years 1825 and 1829. The house is still in a fairly good state of preservation, as the accompanying photograph shows.

The House Near Susquehanna, Pa., Where the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith,
Compiled or Translated the Mormon Revelations.

According to Miss Blackman's "History of Susquehanna County," published in 1873, Joe Smith is said to have been a resident of this locality prior to, and immediately after he conceived the idea of being "Prophet." He is described as having been a tall, strong man, light complexioned, who frequently became intoxicated. His features were not prepossessing in appearance, and were far from bearing the stamp of intellect. His education was limited -- so much so, that when he was translating the "Book of Mormon" he was obliged to employ a person who could write.

His first wife was Miss Emma Hale, daughter of Isaac Hale, one of the pioneers of Susquehanna county. Becoming infatuated with Smith, She eloped with him, and was married somewhere in New York state in February, 1826, "without the approbation or consent" of her father. They lived for a short time at Palmyra, N. Y., where Smith claimed to have had a "vision" which revealed to him the location of the metal plates upon which he claimed were inscribed the hieroglyphics from which he translated the "Book of Mormon," or "Golden Bible."

The story of his finding these plates is as follows: After receiving his "vision" he and his wife went into the forest on horse-back. Suddenly the wife's horse stopped. Commanding her to remain where she was, he pressed on, alone, until at some distance further his horse's nose "touched a tree." Dismounting, he found the precious "Golden Bible" a little beneath the surface, at the roots of a tree. Concealing it under his coat, he returned to where he had left his wife, and together they returned home, where he hid the precious (?) plates beneath the hearth-stone. When, after a short time they returned to Oakland, the plates were moved, hidden a barrel of beans. Later they were hid in a pit on the side hill above the house. He allowed no one to look on these plates, claiming that they were to be for the eyes of his first born son; although he once did show his father-in-law, Isaac Hale, the outside of the box in which he claimed they were.

The translation of the plates was accomplished in the old house shown in the accompanying photograph, by Smith placing the famous "seeing stone" in the crown of his old stovepipe hat which he held reversed. He would then thrust his face into the hat and dictate to his amanuensis the "vision" which he saw. This stone is said to have been a little longer than a goose egg, and of about the same thickness. It was green with irregular brown spots, and is said to have been purchased by Smith from one, Jack Belcher, of Gibson, who came into possession of it while drawing salt at Salina, N. Y. Belcher bought it, because it was said to be a "seeing stone." Upon arriving home, it was covered with a hat. Belcher's little boy, upon being allowed to look into the hat, said, "I see a candle;" upon looking the second time he exclaimed, "I have found my hatchet!" (which had been lost for two years) and immediately ran to the spot shown him by the stone, and strange to say, the hatchet was there!

The stone became quite famous, which probably accounts for Joe Smith's purchasing it, as he is said to have conceived the idea of making a fortune through its use. In fact, the first records of his residence in Susquehanna county tell of his posing as a locater of treasure, and there are diggings on the hill side above the old house, where Smith and one Harper, of Harpersville, N. Y. endeavored to locate the hidden treasure. Harper is said to have expended $2,000, when he became discouraged and refused to go any farther. At this point Smith claimed that there was an "enchantment" about the place which kept removing the treasure further away, while they dug. He explained that the only way to break this "enchantment" was to obtain a spotless white dog, kill it, and scatter its blood over the ground of the diggings. The country was searched far and near, but no spotless white dog could be found. The wily Smith overcame this obstacle by asserting that he thought a white sheep would do as well. Accordingly, a white sheep was killed and dragged around the bottom of the pit, after which the digging was resumed. When the treasure failed to be forthcoming, Smith explained that the Almighty was displeased with them for attempting to palm off on Him a white sheep for a white dog, and had allowed the "enchantment" to remove the treasure altogether.

The ruins of these diggings are still to be seen on the hill side in Oakland, above the old house, and opposite the brow of Turkey hill. The "Book of Mormon" was published in 1830 at about which time Smith removed to Ohio, where he founded a church. From Ohio he went to Independence, Mo., and from there to Nauvoo, Ill., where on June 27, 1844 he and his brother Hiram, were shot by a mob of 200 men.
C. D. BURTON.             
Lanesboro, Pa., March 15.

Note 1: By the turn of the century nearly all of the Great Bend area old-timers, who had interacted with Joseph Smith, jr., during his residence there, were gone. Their demise put an end to the publishing of first-hand accounts. Most of the subsequent relevant newspaper reporting relied upon Blackman's History of Susquehanna County, (1873) or, occasionally, Mather's "Early Days of Mormonism" (1880). For a partial bibliography of on-line 19th century periodical reports on this subject, see Great Bend Articles.

Note 2: In 1840 Caleb Jones, an investigator of Mormonism who lived near Philadelphia, published the following item on page 19 of his Mormonism Unmasked: "I received from a friend, the testimony of two persons of Susquehannah county, given January 27th, 1840, viz: Ichabod Buck, and Nathaniel Banker, who declare upon oath, that they were acquainted with J. Smith, and that he commenced his Mormonism about four miles from the residence of said Ichabod Buck. That said J. Smith seduced Mr. Isaac Hale's daughter, and ran away with her into the State of New York; that in the opinion of all intelligent persons, so far as they are acquainted, Smith is an impostor of the blackest kind; and that he was a cunning designing knave, whose moral character was bad in all respects; and that with most of his followers, the delusion has altogether subsided in this county, where it started. The deposition of Mr. Banker adds, that the Mormon testimony, in one of their bibles, which he then had before him, affirms that the golden plates, with their engraving, were brought by an angel, and laid before the eyes of Smith and eleven more, and that said Smith translated them." --- Mormon missionary Erastus Snow was visiting the Philadlephia area in 1840 and he responded to Mr. Jones' report thusly: "many religious editors in this city... [have repeated] the same falsehood, viz: -- that Joseph Smith seduced and stole away the daughter of Isaac Hale, of Susquehanna Co., Pa.... Mrs. Smith... was about twenty-two years of age, and consequently at liberty to act for herself. When after they had courted and promised to marry, her father's assent was refused for no other reason than Mr. Smith's religion; the rest of the family being willing they were married while he was absent on a journey."



Vol. LXXVI.                     Syracuse, New York, Sunday,  April 10, 1904.                     No. ?



Great Mormon Leader Taught and Preached there Before
Removing to Salt Lake City.


CANANDAIGUA. April 9. -- While most people of this section know that Mormonism had its inception and birth in Ontario county, a few miles northeast of this place, when in 1827 the so-called "Crazy Joe Smith" delivered the bowels of the earth of the mysterious plates, Urim and Thummim, [etc.] from which he claimed to have formulated the textbooks of Mormonism, and by that alleged excavation made famous the heap of earth now known far and wide as Mormon Hill, it is not generally known that it was also in Ontario county and in the town of Canandaigua that Brigham Young, the great Mormon leader, the founder of Salt Lake City and the greatest modern polygamist, adopted the tenets of that "religion," and taught and preached it in this locality some time before he and others of the faithful took up their pilgrimage in search of the "land of promise" where they sought to shut themselves off from the rest of the world.

At the time Brigham Young became a convert to Mormonism he was a common day laborer employed by Captain George Hickox, and at the old Hickox residence near this village are still found many relics of the great Mormon, now priceless, in the shape of furniture and other specimens of his handiwork and ingenulty. Among these relics is a chair that Young made, he combining the art of cabinet making with others of his versatile talents.

Young came to Canandaigua from Auburn in the early part of the '20's, having left the office where be practiced the printers' art in that city because it did not suit his temperment, he preferring the more broadening and independent work of an agriculturist. His family, at that time, consisted of his wife and four children, while with him were also at this time his three brothers and two sisters. It was a continual strife to provide for this large family, and Young did not relish the grind of daily labor any too well, though necessity compelled it. He early evinced an ambition for broader field of labor and became very religious. He seized all opportunities for acquiring knowledge, and after being converted to the Reformed Methodist faith, in [1826?] he became a diligent Bible student, so that he was finally called to act as a leader of religious gatherings and became an unlicensed exhorter, conducting many vigorous campaigns at the "Old Number Nine" school house or "meeting house," as it was better known. The building still stands, although it has been transformed into a humble dwelling.

In the year 1832 strangers appeared in the vicinity preaching a new religion called Mormonism, said to have been recently discovered by the Prophet Smith in the town of Manchester. Finally one day after they had repeatedly visited Young, and gradually proselyted him, they called at the Hickox farm and found the object of their search at work in the field with his master, Mr. Hickox. Stepping aside with them Young conversed briefly and then turned to Mr. Hickox and said: "I am not going to work for you any longer, sir. I am going to do something better -- preach the everlasting gospel."

He went about in this section for some time preaching, and then started with the others, who were on the lookout for their Mecca in the Far West.

Young corresponded with the Hickox family for some time, at intervals up to the day of his death. His last letter to them was when he was about 75 years of age, and evidenced an entire sense of satisfaction at the results of his life work.

When he died, on August 22, 1877, Young was then considered the third wealthiest depositor at the Bank of EngIand, where most of his personal means were in keeping.

Note: This article adds almost nothing substantial to the one published by the Syracuse Herald on March 3, 1901. See Cheshire area map for location of the "Old Number Nine meeting house," Hickox farm, etc.



Vol. I.                         Binghampton, New York, Thursday, April 14, 1904.                         No. 4.


Story of How Joseph Smith Began His Work

Practical Jokes Are Played on the "Prophet" by the Scoffers

Broome county has the distinction of being the first place In which Mormonism was accepted as a religious belief. It was the home, for a time, of its founder, and here was formed the nucleus of the band that has grown into an organization world-wide in its scope.

Near the village of Nineveh, where the Susquehanna wends its way through rich meadows toward the sea, is a farm now owned by Charles Bush, which was formerly the center of the Mormon settlement. Here, in an old log cabin, long since passed into decay and around which an orchard has grown, was preached the first Mormon sermon ever heard in America. Here, too, Joseph Smith, the "Prophet," lived, expounded his doctrines and gathered a band of followers.

Addison Wilder is the only living man who was in Nineveh at the time the Mormon leader was there, seventy-five years ago, and, although 83 years old, his mind is still bright and active and he has vivid recollections of the "Prophet" and of some of the peculiar incidents in his career at Nineveh.

Joseph Smith's first appearance in Broome county was not in the role of a prophet but as a poor farmer -- a day dreamer who cared little for tilling the soil; who was much addicted to the use of intoxicants and whose one ambition was for the sudden acquisition of wealth through the discovery of a gold mine.

He was a tall, well-proportioned man, of splendid physique, light complexioned, with a mass of light brown hair that hung in profusion over his forehead. And, although he was unable to write his own name, he had a good command of English and a peculiar earnestness of manner that stood him in good stead when, later, he conceived the idea of becoming a prophet and attempted to inculcate into others his religious ideas.

Smith came from Oakland, Pa., which had been his home for some time, and where he had married the daughter of Isaac Hale, a hardy pioneer whose opposition to Smith seemed to strengthen the girl's infatuation for him and finally resulted in their elopement.

Taking up his residence in a log house near the little village of Ouquaga, be continued his listless life, wandering much among he hills, often under the influence of liquor, while his wife cheerfully did the farm Work and looked forgivingly upon her husband's peculiarities.

During these tramps Smith carried with him a transparent stone covered with beeswax, which he had procured from the driver of a salt wagon in Saline, N. Y., and which he called a "seeing stone." He claimed that with it he was able to locate hidden treasure.


One day, in company with several others, he called on a man in the neighborhood named Stow [sic - Stowell?] and asked him to direct the party to Monument hill, where he said there was a gold mine. Stow consented, and, upon their arrival at the foot of the hill, Smith said: "Do you see a stump on which there seems to be something resembling fur?"

The stumps with which the place was literally covered were scanned closely and, finally, one of the party noticed one, the top of which was covered with fine black slivers which all agreed resembled fur. Smith told them all to be seated while he went through a series of ceremonies with the seeing stone," placing it in his high hat while he examined it closely with his head on the ground.

"There is a vein of gold 25 feet under this place," said Smith. If Mr. Stow will board the men while digging we will begin work at once and I will give him stock in the mine in payment."

When this offer was refused by Stow, Smith told the men to go to work while he went after a three-gallon jug of whisky. They did as he commanded, and, although a hole twenty-five feet deep was dug, they failed to find any gold. Smith claimed their failure was due to the fact that they did not have sufficient faith in what he had told them.


Prior to this, when Smith was living in Oakland, he, in company with a man named Harper, after whom Harpersvllle is named, dug for gold until Harper had expended $2,000 in the enterprise. When he refused to go any further Smith said that the place was "enchanted" and the only way to break the "enchantment" was to get a milk white dog, kill it and scatter the blood around the ground. Diligent search failed to reveal the presence of a milk white dog in the country, and the ingenious Smith said he thought a white sheep would do as well.

Accordingly, a sheep was killed and the blood was scattered around the diggings. When failure was again the reward of their efforts Smith said: "The Almighty is displeased with you for having tried to palm off upon him a white sheep for a white dog, and He has allowed the 'enchantment' to remove the gold from this place."

Shortly after this Smith moved to Palmyra, where he claimed to have found the plates from which he translated the "Book of Mormon," or "Golden Bible," which task was accomplished at his house In Oakland, where he moved after a short stay in Palmyra. In translating these plates Smith would hold the seeing stone in his hat, and, thrusting his face down near it, would unfold to the young man he hired to do the writing the vision he had seen.

Shortly after the "Golden Bible" was completed Smith came to Nineveh, and preached his first sermon in the log house on the Bush farm. Among those who attended the first of the meetings was Addison Wilder, who, then as now, lived but a short distance away. George Collington, a fun-loving soul who never tired playing practical jokes on the "Prophet," and a young man named Davenport.


Smith was successful from the first in making conversions to Mormonism, and soon had a large number of followers, twelve of whom were appointed "Apostles." On meeting nights these "Apostles" stayed in a back room while the rest were taking their seats and until the voice of the leader was heard telling them to come out, stand before the "Prophet" and receive his blessing.

One night, as they were going through that part of the ceremony, Smith, in blessing them, made use of the expression: "You, who have come to take the places of the Apostles of old." Young Davenport dropped from a hole In the ceiling above and said "That is a lie." The Prophet so far forgot his dignity as to chase the youngster nearly a quarter of a mile.

Once Smith was telling in earnest and eloquent words how anxious he was to join the angel throng above, a hollow, mocking voice from above called out: "I am the devil and must have Joe Smith's soul tonight." Smith turned pale, wavered a little, and then realizing that some one was attempting to play a practical Joke on him, continued the discourse. Several listeners, however, rushed from the building, greatly excited and frightened. Davenport admitted, afterwards, that he was concealed in the garret and took the authority to represent himself as the devil.


But, although many had been converted to the new faith. Smith continued to dream and long for greater power. He thought that, if he could perform a miracle, none would be too high to pay him homage. Accordingly he cudgeled his mind until he devised a plan that promised success, and at the next meeting he announced that, on the following Sunday, in accordance with a command that had come to him in a vision, he would walk upon the waters of Pickerel pond, (quite a large sheet of water on the Bush farm) and that he depended on the faith of his people to keep him from sinking.

The news that the prophet was to walk on the water traveled rapidly through the valley and many declared that if there really occurred a repetition of the miracle at Galilee, never again would they question his claims to supernatural power.

When George Collington heard of this, he decided to keep a pretty close watch on the Mormon leader and when, on the night previous to the miracle, long after dark, he saw Smith going toward the pond with a load of plank, he was not slow in seeing the possibilities for a practical Joke. He watched the Prophet as he took a boat and drove stakes in the ground where the water was deep, placing the planks on them until he had constructed a long plank walk, about an inch below the surface of the water and far from the shore.

On the following night, a great crowd lined the shores of Pickerel pond, awaiting the arrival of the wonder-worker. At last, it was announced that the "Prophet" had come and a hush fell upon the queer crowd of Gentiles, Mormons and "Apostles."

The rays of the harvest moon lighted up the pale face of the leader, glittered on the bright raiment that he wore, and cast a hazy light over the waters. Here was to be re-enacted the scene that, long ago, mystified the philosophers and wise men of the East.

Slowly, and with measured tread, Smith walked down to the boat, got in and pushed away from the shore, his eyes fixed intently on the water. At a point some distance away, he stopped, raised his face toward heaven for a moment, alighted from the boat and stood upon the water. The miracle was indeed complete!

Joseph Smith, the "Prophet," whom the Gentiles ridiculed, was walking on the water, and all must needs do him reverence. The people on the shore stood on tip-toe lest they miss any part of the strange spectacle. Smith, who had been moving slowly and cautiously, started at a faster pace. when, suddenly, there was a great splash and the Prophet was floundering in the water. His "power" had suddenly gone, and not being much of a swimmer, it was with the greatest difficulty that he reached the shore. When finally he did, he told his followers that their faith was not strong enough to hold him up, and for that reason, he had to sink. But he endured the jeers of the Gentiles all the way home, for, with his clothes and hair full of water, he bore little resemblance to a religious leader.

Afterward George Collington told how he had taken out one of the planks laid by Smith.


Many years before this time, when there were few white settlers and many Indians in Nineveh, the red men were often seen boiling water, which, when evaporated, left a deposit of salt. It was concluded that there was a salt spring in the locality, but its situation was unknown.

Smith heard of this, and with the zeal that had characterized his operations when in search for gold, he began looking for salt. The "seeing stone" came Into use again. It revealed salt on a farm In the vicinity, but unfortunately Smith said the salt, like the gold, was twenty-five feet under the ground. Work was begun, and when the men had made an excavation nearly twenty-five feet deep, a Harpursville man told George Collington that a bushel of salt would be furnished free if he would see that it was put In the bottom of the diggings.

To this Collington readily agreed, and after, the Mormons had gone home he emptied the salt in the hole and went away. Next day when the Mormons came to work and found that the water at the bottom of the hole was light colored, they investigated and found that it was salt water. Each one procured a sample bottle, and the joyous news that salt had been discovered, spread rapidly. Their happiness was of short duration, however, for the supply of salt was soon exhausted.'


Traces of these diggings are still to be seen on the farm of Burr Collington, son of George Collington. The earth along the sides has caved in many times, but there is still quite an excavation, which is usually filled with water, and in which many cattle have been drowned.

This was Smith's last attempt to find hidden treasure. Afterward he directed his energies to advancing Mormonism.

He began a series of meetings in a schoolhouse, near his former home at Ouquaga, which soon resulted in the conversion of two young women. When his old neighbors, who were familiar with his former life, heard that the girls were to be baptized in the river the following Sunday, their indignation knew no bounds. One of the enraged farmers, meeting Smith on the way to church a few days after the baptism, threw rotten eggs and a bucket of blue dye at him. This so dampened the Prophet's zeal that he discontinued the meetings shortly afterwards, and decided to go West.

The Mormons in his band abandoned their homes for the uncertain fortunes of life In the almost unknown West. The party first went to Ohio and later to Nauvoo. Ill., where the Prophet was shot by a mob of 200 men.

Note: In 1825-26 Joseph Smith, Jr. was occasionally employed by Joseph Knight, Sr., whose farm near Nineveh bordered on Pickerel Pond (and included a small portion of the little lake). The only Smith "miracle" in that place, acknowledged by Mormon historians, was his casting a devil out of Newell Knight. Thus, it appears that Addison Wilder at least had the time and place of the first Mormon miracle correct in his memory, (even though no reliable history acknowledges the "walking on water episode"). See also the Press of May 20th, where the scene is transferred to "Perch pond." For more on George Collington and Smith's purported "walking-on-the-water," see the Broome Republican of July 28, 1880.


Vol. LXXII.                       Rochester, New York, Thursday, April 28, 1904.                       No. ?



Investigation at Washington Recalls the Early History
of the Mormon Church -- Converts Were Baptized in
Seneca Lake -- The First Conference Was Held at Fayette.


Geneva, April 27. -- The Smoot hearing in Congress has revived interest here in the early history of Mormonism. since Mormonism had its birth but a few miles from here, just across Seneca lake. To be exact, the Mormon church was first organized at the house of Peter Whitman, a Pennsylvania German farmer, residing upon a farm in the southeastern part of the town of Fayette, Seneca county, April 6, 1830.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, who was born at Sharon, Vt., December 23, 1805, removed in 1815 to Central New York, with his parents. In after years he made it known that as early as September 22, 1823. he had recovered certain plates, known as the "golden plates," buried in a hill in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, about four miles south of Palmyra, which plates, however, he did not remove from their place of deposit until four years afterwards.

These plates contained inscriptions in unknown characters or letters, which, soon after he had examined them, in September, 1827, while living at the home of his wife, in [Harmony], Pa., to translate and transcribe into English. with the aid, as he alleged, of certain mysterious seer stones which he called Urim and Thummim.

In June, 1828, Joseph Smith removed from Pennsylvania to the residence of Peter Whitmer, where the work of translation progressed, assisted by Oliver Cowdery and David John [sic] Whitmer, son of Peter Whitmer. [T]he Book of Mormon was first printed by Egbert E. Grandin at Palmyra, and was issued in 1830.

The organization of April 6, 1830, alluded to, was perfected by Joseph Smith, then known as the prophet, and five others, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Hyrum Smith and Samuel H. Smith. As early as June, 1829, David Whltmer and Hyrum Smith were baptised by Joseph Smith by immersion in Seneca lake, and one John Whitmer was baptized by Oliver Cowdery.

The first public meeting after the organization referred to was held at the house of Peter Whitmere, April 11, 1830, at which Oliver Cowdery preached. The same day Hiram Page, Catherine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anna Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer and Elizabeth Whitmer were baptized, and April 18th. the same year, Peter Whitmer, Sr., Mary Whitmer. William Jolly and Elizabeth Anna Whitmer were baptized.

In June, 1830, nine converts in addition to those named were baptized in Fayette, and a number of others were from time to time baptized by immersion in Seneca lake, Seneca river, Thomas and Kendig creeks and other streams not far from the Whitmer farm. Preaching services were held In 1830 and 1831 at Peter Whitmer's house and at Whitmer's schoolhouse nearby.

The first conference of the Mormon church was held in Fayette June 1, 1830, at which thirty members were present. The second general conference was held in the same town September 1, 1830, and continued for three days, while a third conference was held in the town January 2, 1831. In the latter part of January, 1831, Joseph Smith and wife, Sidney Rigdon and others removed to Kirtland, O.

The Whitmer and Jolly families accompanied, or soon after followed them there. At Kirtland a temple was erected and in 1834 Joseph Smith was chosen president of the Mormon church. In 1838 the Mormons then remaining in Kirtland and vicinity decided to move to Missouri, whither a large colony had preceded as early as 1831. locating at Independence, in Jackson county, and afterwards In Clay county, in that state.

Meeting with much opposition in Missouri, the Mormons removed in 1839 to Nauvoo, Ill., on the Mississippi river. There a city was founded, of which Joseph Smith was several times elected mayor. But there again a conflict arose, and in 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were incarcerated in the county Jail of Hancock county, at Carthage, Ill., where both were killed by a mob, June 27, 1844.

Note: This article was also featured in the Syracuse Journal on the same day.



Vol. LX.                         Syracuse, New York, Thursday, April 28, 1904.                         No. ?



Converts Were Baptized in Seneca Lake -- First Conference
Held Just Across Seneca Lake from Geneva
-- Story of Organizing.


GENEVA. April 28. -- Mormonism had its birth but a few miles from here, just across Seneca lake. To be exact the Mormon church was first organized at the house of Peter Whitmer, a Pennsylvania German farmer, residing upon a farm in the southeastern part of the town of Fayette. Seneca county, April 6, 1830.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, who was born at Sharon. Vt., December 23, 1806, removed in 1816 to Central New York with his parents. In after years he made it known that as early as September 22, 1823, he had recovered certain plates known as the "golden plates," buried in a hill in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, about four miles south of Palmyra, which plates, however, he did not remove from their place of deposit until four years afterwards.

These plates contained inscriptions in unknown characters or letters, which, soon after he had examined them in September, '27, while living at the home of his wife in Harmony, Pa. [he began] to translate and transcribe into English, with the aid, as he alleged, of certain mysterious seer stones which he called Urim and Thummim.

In June, 1829, Joseph Smith removed from Pennsylvania to the residence of Peter Whitmer, where the work of translation progressed, assisted by Oliver Cowdery and David John Whitmer, son of Peter Whitmer. The Book of Mormon was first printed by Egbert B. Grandin at Palmyra, and was issued in 1830.

The organization of April 6, 1830, alluded to, was perfected by Joseph Smith, then known as the prophet, and five others, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Jr., Hyrum Smith and Samuel H. Smith. As early as June, 1830. David Whitmer and Hyrum Smith were baptized by Joseph Smith by immersion in Seneca lake, and one John Whitmer was baptized by Oliver Cowdery.

The first public meeting after the organization referred to was held at the house of Peter Whitmer, April 11, 1830, at which Oliver Cowdery preached. The same day Hiram Page, Catherine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anna Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer and Elizabeth Whitmer were baptized, and April [15], the same year, Peter Whitmer, sr., Mary Whitmer, William Jolly and Elizabeth Anna Whitmer were baptized.

In June, 1830, nine converts in addition to those named were baptized in Fayette, and a number of others were from time to time baptised by immersion in Seneca lake, Seneca river, Thomas and Kendig creeks and other streams not far from the Whitmer farm. Preaching services were held in 1830 and 1831 at Peter Whitmer's house and at Whitmer's schoolhouse nearby.

The first conference of the Mormon church was held in Fayette June 1, 1830, at which thirty members were present. The second general conference was held in the same town Sept. 1, 1830, and continued for three days, while a third conference was held in the town Jan. 2, 1831. In the latter part of January, 1831, Joseph Smith and wife, Sidney Rigdon and others removed to Kirtland, O.

The Whitmer and Jolly families accompanied or soon after followed them there. At Kirtland a temple was erected and in 1834 Joseph Smith was chosen president of the Mormon church. In 1838 the Mormons then remaining in Kirtland and vicinity decided to move to Missouri, whither a large colony had preceded as early as 1831, locating at Independence, in Jackson county, and afterwards in Clay county, in that State.

Meeting with much opposition in Missouri, the Mormons removed in 1839 to Nauvoo, Ill., on the Mississippi river. There a city was founded, of which Joseph Smith was several times elected mayor. But there again conflict arose, and In 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were incarcerated in the county jail of Hancock county, at Carthage, Ill., where both were killed by a mob, June 17, 1844.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXII.                     Shortsville, New York, Friday, April 29, 1904.                       No. 18.

Some Old Manchester Families.

In Captain Brown's valuable series of articles, "Manchester in the Early Days," which the Enterprise has been republishing, no mention is made of the fact that the Pratts were closely related to the McLouths and Peirces. These families play such a prominent part in the early history of the town, and are so widely "connected" that a few words to their genealogy ...... history.

It is customary to regard Berkshire county, Massachusetts, as the original home of the early settlers of Manchester and Farmington. It is true that they did come to Western New York from the Berkshire Hills, yet I doubt if that locality has been their home for any great length of time. During a week's search the only vestige that I could find of their residence there, or of any kindred still surviving, was one house where Dr. McLouth lived in the village of Cheshire. Evidently, they simply stopped there a few years on their way westward. The Pratts and McLouths and Peirces and many other early Manchester and Farmington families were from Eastern Massachusetts, from Bristol County, especially from the neighborhood of Taunton. In this region traversed by the Taunton Providence trolley line, Peirce and Pratt are even today, very common family names, and upon old tombstones, they everywhere occur. This explains also, why so many of the early Manchesterians were Baptists of the Welsh decent. For this part of Bristol County, was settled by a Baptist congregation from Wales, about 1663. The Rehoboth-Swansea church which they then established is still in existence, the oldest Baptist church in Massachusetts.

Ebenenzer Pratt Sr., to whom extended references has been made in Capt Brown's history, ancestor of all the Manchester Pratts, had a sister, Mary, who married Lawrence McLouth, the ancestor of the McLouth family in America. Mary Pratt McLouth never really lived in Western New York, but died there while on a visit, in 1808, and was one of the first persons buried in the Manchester burying-ground. The quaint and crudely cut inscription on her brown-stone tombstone is one of the curiosities of the old graveyard.

Lawrence McLouth and Mary Pratt, his wife, had seven children: 1. John, commonly known as Deacon John McLouth; 2. Lawrence; 3. Peter; 4. Mary, married Nathan Peirce; 5. Solomon; 6. Lewis, commonly known as Dr. Lewis McLouth; 7. Betsey.

John's family had been spoken of in the history. Lawrence's children were: 1. Frederic; 2. Polly, married Perez Antisdale; 3. Esther, married David Holland; 4. John; 5. Clara, married _______ Wells.

Peter, whose wife was Lydia Osgood, had seven children: 1. Walter; 2. Alanson; 3. Thomas; 4. Harriet; 5. Cyrus; 6. Lyman; 7. Marshall. The children of Mary and her husband Nathan Peirce were given in the history. Betsey married _____ Harland and their children were: 1. Amanda, married William Dewey; 2. Eliza; 3. Mary. Lewis was the only one of the family that settled elsewhere than in Manchester-Farmington. His home was Walworth, Wayne Co. He was, if I mistake not, the ancestor of Charles McLouth of Palmyra, of Dr. McLouth, who practiced medicine for many years in Cheshire, Mass., and of Lawrence McLouth, now professor of German in the University of New York.

The original Lawrence McLouth never visited Western New York. I am under the impression that he died before the family went from Taunton to Berkshire County. He is a strange, half-legendary character, and therefore full of interest for his descendants. He came from Ireland about the middle of the 18th century, but always maintained absolute silence in regard to his family and live in the old country. His own wife was never able to clear up this mystery. There is a tradition that his parents, who lived in Dublin, wanted him to enter the priesthood; that he objected, having become tainted with Protestant views; and that one day instead of going (blacked out) .. and then came to Boston. There are several things that make this story plausible. The only belongings that he brought with him were a Greek Testament and a French Catholic prayer-book. These books are now in the possession of Mr. Carlos Peirce Osgood, of Manchester. Again, Louth County, whence the name is evidently derived, is not far from Dublin. His daughter, my mother's grandmother, always insisted that he never received, as long as he lived, any manner of word from the other side. Here in the New World he followed the vocation of school master and there is another tradition, to the effect that our president John Adams, was at one time a pupil of his. It is said that he was learned, bright and witty; often sarcastic; somewhat eccentric; and a little lazy; withal, a typical Irishman. He is an important personage for Manchester and Farmington, for throughout the nineteenth century, his descendants constituted a large contingent of the populations of these towns.

Nathan Peirce, who married Lawrence McLouth and Mary Pratt's daughter Mary, has been mentioned in the Brown history. He came to Western New York with his brother-in-law, John McLouth in 1795, the year after their cousins, Ebenezer and Elkanah Pratt, had migrated, and perhaps is company with their uncle, Ebenezer Pratt Sr. Although Nathan Peirce was a comparatively young man when he died in 1814, he was regarded as a leader among the pioneers of the town. Of commanding presence and inspiring personality, he had a finely cut Roman face - everyone loved and honored him. His son Ezra used to tell me how all day long people would keep coming to him for advice about their farming, their business affairs, and family difficulties. He was born in Reboboth in 1770; but when a child his father removed to Berkshire county, to Lanesborough, the town adjoining Cheshire on the southwest. The father's name was also Nathan. He was a gold and silversmith as well as farmer. He entered the Continental Army as a Captain in Seth Warner's regiment of Green Mountain Boys and died of small pox in camp, before Quebec, in April 1776. Miss Clara Peirce who resides on the Peirce farm in Manchester, has in her possession, a portion of Captain Peirce's muster roll as well as a pair of spoon- moulds, that he used in his trade. Captain Peirce's father was yet another Nathan. He was born in 1716, and was for many years minister of the Baptist church of Rehoboth, the church that had been organized after the old original Welsh church was removed to Swansea.

If I remember correctly, Capt. Brown erred in making the third Nathan Peirce, the Manchester pioneer, a captain in the Revolutionary army, instead of his father. As indicated above, he was not born until 1770.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. I.                         Binghampton, New York, Friday, May 20, 1904.                         No. 35.



It Was There That Joe Smith Married the Pennsylvania Girl
with Whom He Eloped.

There is a curious temptation for many communities to pepper local history with traditions of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, and the little village of Afton is only one of many others in the state which claims to be the original spot where the Lord buried his divine word for an unknown man to dig up. They tell of many things that Mormon Joe did during the few years in the early part of the past century in and about Afton, while eking a miserable existence for himself. The same is true up in Seneca county, this state, and down in Susquehanna county, Pa. But Afton outclasses them all. According to the chronologists of that locality, Joe Smith arrived at Afton in February, 1826 [sic - 1827?], on an eloping tour, his companion being a young woman named Emma, or Eliza Hale, the daughter of a farmer down in Harmony, Pa. They first made their appearance at the home of Deacon Stowell, tradition says, and one of Deacon Stowell's boys with his two girls took the strangers in a sleigh, and crossing the river at Stowell ferry drove to the house of Zachariah Tarbell, Justice of the peace, who tied the matrimonial knot. This account is confirmed, they say, by Noble Buck, who was one of the witnesses to the ceremony. Then followed the "career" of Mormon Joe, who divided his time between Afton, Harpersvllle and Nineveh, which caused people to talk. Another thing has been discovered exclusively by Afton people. There were two Joe Smiths.

The younger one was selected by Providence to go down the river and turn up Cornell creek, which he followed until he reached a lonely spot at the head of a gulch. There he climbed over a pile of rocks 20 feet high and began digging. He made an opening 9 feet high and 13 feet wide and went into the ground 75 feet, and then lifted out the golden plates. A few years ago people were living who measured the excavation. Joe had cribbed it with pine boards to keep the opening intact as a proof that he obtained the sacred plates in that spot.

Tradition is not as exact about the many queer things that happened to Joe Smith around Afton after that. Some woman is said to have made an affidavit that she saw the train of covered wagons drawn by oxen, which conveyed Joe Smith and his few followers out into the West. Another recalled that Justice Neally once tried Joe for vagrancy, and several witnesses have declared in the corner grocery that it was a common thing for Joe to cast devils out of his friends.

George Collington, Smith Baker's father, and Elijah Stowell were boys when Smith drew crowds to the shore of Perch pond after dark and showed them that he could walk on the water. Boy[s] like, these three urchins determined to learn the trick, and so one day they got there ahead of the time for the show and found planks laid upon saw horses a few inches under the water. They fixed the planks in such a manner that when Joe stepped out blithely to show that he was possessed of miraculous power, singing as he danced on the water:

"Jesus walking on the sea,
Simon Peter, follow me."

he took a plunge bath that was not in the programme.

Nobody doubts that this all happened, because a man named Knight, near Nineveh, had [the] plank which suddenly disappeared.

In a house which stood near the schoolhouse at Nineveh where a man named Thompson lived, Joe Smith translated the golden plates. No one doubts that Joe had a Morman Bible about this time, because Preston Wilkins, at Wilkins settlement, saw "a load of them in a wagon."

About this time, too, there was a good deal of digging for hidden treasure near Afton, and back of Nineveh. Deacon Stowell, they say, had a dream in which he was directed to a mine of treasure, and for some time he and Joe Smith ran the excavation business in opposition. Not a dozen years ago one of Deacon Stowell's holes in the ground could be seen a mile out of the village of Afton. At last he and Joe Smith struck up a sort of partnership arrangement and went to burrowing, in company on shares. For a few years Joe and Eliza [sic] Hale Smith were householders. The residence they occupied is pointed out to any one who cares to cross the Afton bridge to see it.

Finally the business of casting out devils, walking on the water and translating golden plates behind a curtain became dull, and Smith turned his attention to digging post holes. They became a drug [sic] in the market, and Smith and Stowell returned to the hunt for treasure. Right there Stowell seems to have passed out of public life, and Smith then turned his attention to a new feature.

Public interest flagged and something had to be done. Smith decided to sacrifice a "black slut dog" by tying the dog to a stake and burning it. This shocked the community, but drew a crowd. The stake was seen for years afterward, proving the authenticity of the incident. Ben Wakeman's father also saw the slut tied to the stake.

Then Joe suddenly retired to private life and a stagnation in shows lasted several months. At last Deacon Stowell's craving for hidden treasure returned and he sent out a search for his old partner. Jim Coots learned that Joe had gone to Palmyra. There were no telephones in those days, so Deacon Stowell waited until he heard of a neighbor who was packing his mule train for a trip to Western New York. This was in 1826. He sent word to Joe that he had found a bargain lot of interesting spots for digging, and Joe returned to Afton. With a few private sleuths who had become interested in the game on their tracks, Smith and Stowell led several midnight chases, until within a month they had made the country around Afton look like a prairie dog settlement. After that Smith packed up and departed from the country.

Note 1: The writer of the above account was evidently relying upon an imperfect chronology, for he has Joseph eloping with Emma Hale a year earlier than that event actually occurred. The story probably is correct at the end, where Joseph Smith is said to have left the Colesville area "in 1826." The writer fails to tie Smith's 1826 departure to his being "tried... for vagrancy," however. The better informed recollections of A. McMaster were re-printed in the Chicago Inter-Ocean of July 16, 1881, where that source says: "the object of the trial being to compel him [Smith] to leave the neighborhood, it was arranged that the officer in charge should give him a chance to escape. His counsel having whispered this in his ear, he embraced the opportunity given, and with the best strides his long legs could make he betook himself across the fields to the woods, all the crowd roaring with laughter, to see the great prophet run. This ended his work in Chenango County. He went into Pennsylvania, and afterward returned to Broome County, New York, where he was again arrested."

Note 2: A modern LDS historian, Richard L. Bushman, writes this in his 2005 Smith biography: "Joseph spent most of 1826 in southern New York. He went to school and worked for Stowell in Bainbridge, and possibly labored in Joseph Knight Sr.'s carding mills... in Colesville... Joseph returned to Manchester in the fall of 1826" (pp. 52-53). None of this informs the reader as to where Smith went in 1826 immediately following his March 20th escape from justice. Dan Vogel (EMD4 p. 177) notes that Smith's school attendance in South Bainbridge (Afton) "was likely during the winter of 1825-26." Emily M. Austin, writing in 1882, neglected to mention Smith's pre-trial hearing of March 20th, but remarked that Smith and his money-digging associates gave up their searching "in despair, and Joseph went home again to his father's in Palmyra," (p. 33). Emily's recollection is reinforced by a statement of Smith's lawyer, John Reed, given in 1844, in which he said: "Joseph... After living in that [Colesville] neighborhood about three years... told his particular friends that he had had a revelation from God to go to the west about eighty miles, to his father's, in which neighborhood he should find hid in the earth, an old history written on golden plates... Joseph Knight, one of the fathers of your church, a worthy man, and my intimate friend, went with him." Mr. Reed's story of the aftermath of the 1826 Bainbridge hearing should not be confused with his somewhat parallel account of Smith's 1830 Bainbridge/Colesville trials, which Reed gave in an 1861 letter to Brigham Young. Near the end of his letter Reed's chronology of Joseph Smith's early legal troubles becomes very muddled: "... after the cause was left to the court they in a few minutes cleared him from the complaint -- then the people had made those calculations to abuse him and I was downstairs to amuse the people whilst my colleague and the Mormons got Joseph out of the house and he went down to Great Bend in Pennsylvania and there translated his Bible..."


Broome  Republican.

Vol. 73.                        Binghampton, New York, Saturday, June 4, 1904.                        No. 50.


The Deposit Courier announces that six pound to eight pound shad have suddenly appeared in the river at that village, after being absent for many years. When the Delaware and Hudson canal was constructed a high dam was built for it at Lackawaxen, which effectually shut out the shad. The canal to now in a state of dilapidation, and part of the Lackawaxen dam has been washed out. That enables the shad to reach the spawning waters of their ancestors. In Indian days shad came up the Susquehanna river and were plentiful as far north as Otsego Lake. There are a few people in Binghamton who can remember when shad were caught here. There were many such people here twenty-five years ago, but a quarter of a century has thinned the ranks of the pioneers. One of the incidents remembered at Susquehanna of Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet is that he indulged in shad-fishing and too much whiskey at the same time. A few years ago there were several pioneers who retained distinct recollections of Joseph Smith and his shad-fishing exploits.

When the Pennsylvania canal was built high dams at Towanda and other points stopped the shad and deprived the people of this section of a vast amount of good food and sport. The Pennsylvania canal was abandoned thirty years ago, but the dams still stand to keep back the shad. It is possible that something can be done to remove them, lower them, or to construct fishways over or around them, and thus restore to the people of the upper Susquehanna river, the Chenango and Chemung a supply of shad. The subject concerns all the people above Towanda including residents of Great Bend, Haltstead and Susquehanna. It is an interstate matter.

Note: From H. P. Smith's 1885 History of Broome County: "History of the town of Colesville... The inhabitants of this town in early days, in common with others settling along the river, had the benefit of the excellent shad fishing which then existed here. They were caught in seines, or dams of brush were made and the fish driven down stream into the close confinement of small pools, and caught, and they supplied the settlers with what proved a welcome variety in their otherwise monotonous bill of fare.... Joe Smith came from Vermont to this vicinity when a boy and attended school here. His particular field of work, after he came back here as saintly prophet, was a little east of Nineveh, near where Joseph Knight had a carding-mill, about two miles above Centre Village." (pp. 324, 328, 332)


Vol. LXXII.                     Rochester, New York, Friday, November 11, 1904.                     No. ?





The Mormon Bible Was Published in
That Office While He Was Learning
His Trade -- Remarkably Well
Preserved for His Age.


Palmyra, Nov. 10. -- Franklin P. Rogers, a former well-k,own resident of this place, and who was undoubtedly the oldest practical printer in the state, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Lucy Rogers Hill, at Charlton City, Mass., on Tuesday, and his remains were taken to Pultneyville, this county, for burial to-day.

Mr. Rogers was born in Sodus, Wayne county, but he came to Pulmyra when a young lad and learned the printer's trade, working in the office of the old Wayne Sentinel, which was then published by Pomeroy Tucker. At the time the Mormon Bible was published in this village Mr. Rogers was in the office, and although quite a young man he did considerable of the typesetting on the book. Later Mr. Rogers received an appointment in the government printing office at Washington, and he worked there several years.

For the past twelve years he had resided with his daughter, Mrs. Donald McPherson, in this place, but at her death about, a year and a half ago he went to Charlton City, where he had since resided. He was 84 years of age and was known all over Palmyra and vicinity, and his perfect health and fine physical appearance were the wonder of all who knew him. He was seen on the streets of Palmyra every day and would walk around, as lively as a boy of twenty years.

He was very familiar with all historical events of Wayne county, and his perfect memory made him valuable to anyone who was writing up or talking of history. He was a man that had always been very regular in all his habits, which undoubtedly accounted for his good health up to the time of his death.

Note: See Larry C. Porter, "Book of Mormon, Printing and Publication of," in Book of Mormon Reference Companion, ed. Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 134, 135-36, citing Porter, "The Book of Mormon: Historical Setting," 53-54; Franklin P. Rogers obituary, newspaper, n.p., November 2, 1904, courtesy Don Enders; and Anna L. Maxson, great-great-granddaughter of E. B. Grandin, personal correspondence to Larry C. Porter, Toledo, Ohio, June 3, 1998. -- Porter elsewhere also includes mention of Franklin P. Rogers as "a nine-year old boy and youngest brother of Grandin's wife, Harriet, who was reported to have assisted in the typesetting process" and "A. [Amos?] S. Sanford."


Vol. LXXII.                     Rochester, New York, Saturday, November 26, 1904.                   No. ?


He Had an Interesting Career -- Conducted
a Newspaper Which was Destroyed
by Mormons -- Served in Civil War.


Canandaigua, Nov. 25. -- After a lingering illness, Dr. Charles A. Foster, well known in Canandaigua, died at the Memorial Hospital, shortly after noon to-day, of apoplexy. Deceased was a man of considerable importance and usefulness to his adopted country in his yonger years. He was born in Warwickshire, England, September 1, 1815, and was brought to this country at a tender age, by his parents, who located in Palmyra, Wayne county.

Young Foster was ambitious and embarked on his career before he reached his majority, going West with his brother, the late H. Clark Foster, and settling at Navoo, [Illinois], which was at that time the Mecca of the growing sect of Mormons, the place where they at first tried to establish a permanent colony. The brothers Foster started a newspaper, and as they with others of that community opposed the Mormon faith, and did not hesitate to use the columns of their newspsper for the purpose, they soon lost their business by the destruction of the plant, by the followers of Brigham Young.

The deceased then took up the study of medicine, and after he left college went South, where he located in Mississippi. He was from the first highly respected in that section, though strong in his Northern ideas of Republicanism, and as a result was forced into politics and was elected for several terms on the State Legislature. When the Civil war broke out Dr. Foster was early selected to positions on the medical staff of the federal army, and was in charge of the Government Hospital at Memphis, Tenn., later the State Hospital at Natchez, and in 1864 was in charge of the general medical staff and the main hospital of the Northern army, on the Jeff Davis plantation in Mississippi.

While the period of reconstruction was at its height Dr. Foster was elected mayor of the city of Vicksburg, Miss., and served several terms with honor to himself and the satisfaction of his constituents. After a short period of civil life and the practice of his profession he removed to the North, going to Auburn, N. Y., where he remained until eighteen years ago, when he came to live in this village with a nephew, William L. Foster. Until compelled by ill health to retire, Dr. Foster had continued to practice his profession. Aside from nieces and nephews he is survived by no relatives.

Note 1: See also the Democrat-Chronicle of Nov. 30, 1899 and February 26, 1900. Lucy Mack Smith's biography of her son, Joseph, identifies this brother of Dr. Robert D. Foster as the person in Nauvoo who "tried to shoot Joseph -- Joseph held his hand and prevented him..." For more on this subject, see William Foster Cosman's 1969 "Biography of Charles Ambrose Foster."

Note 2: The Warsaw Signal of May 8, 1844 published a letter from Foster, in which he said: "We verily believe in the sentiment that 'Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God,' and with the arms and heart that God has given us, we will fearlessly and faithfully maintain our rights [as Mormon dissenters in Nauvoo]." The Signal of June 11, 1844 published another interesting letter from "C. A. Foster" -- presumably sent from Nauvoo. By June 12th Foster had departed the Mormon city and was aboard the Mississippi riverboat, "Osprey" -- See his letter in the Sangamo Journal of June 27, 1844.



Vol. II.                 Binghampton, New York, Monday, December 12, 1904.                 No. 53.


It is Reported That Salt Lake City Polygamists
Are to Transfer Old House.


Special to The Binghampton Press.

Susquehanna, Pa., Dec. 12. -- There is a report that the old McKune homestead, at West Susquehanna, in which Joseph Smith, assisted by Harris, Coudery, et al., "translated" the Book of Mormon, or "Mormon Bible," will be purchased by the Mormons of Salt Lake City, to be placed in their great museum.

Delegations of Mormons, have, from time to time, visited the old homestead, which is situated Just west of the Erie railroad station in this place, and which is in a fair state of preservation. In the little cemetery nearby rest the remains of Smith's first child. There can still be seen traces of excavations made by Smith and his dupes in their unsuccessful search for gold and other precious minerals.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. LXXIII.                 Rochester, New York, Saturday, February 25, 1905.                 No. ?


Dr. John Stafford, probably the oldest physician in the United States, died yesterday morning at 6 o'clock at his home in this city, No. 27 Byron street. Had he lived until March 13th he would have been 100 years old. He had been ill about two weeks, contracting a cold that resulted in pneumonia.

Dr. John Stafford was born in Stafford street, in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, March 13, 1805. He was one of a family of seven children, five of whom were younger than himself. His father served in the Revolutionary war and had many and varied experiences. He was captured by the French and Spanish in turn and forced to right under the flag of each nation. He was taken to Cuba and there lodged in a dungeon, from which he escaped after many months. He boarded a vessel that landed him at Baltimore without coat or hat just as the bells of the city were tolling for the death of Washington. One of the greatest pleasures of Dr. Stafford's life was derived from relating incidents in the life and experiences of his father.

Dr. Stafford, after reaching manhood, decided to acquire education, and with that end in view he entered Palmyra Academy. He walked six miles each day over the rough country roads to school, the ox team being too slow for him. Later he attended Hobart College, in Geneva, and completed a medical course in the office of Dr. Samuel McIntyre of Palmyra. He received his diploma from the State Censor, a high honor, being one of two out of five contestants of his class to pass the rigid examination.

The decendent [sic] was [an] authority on Mormonism. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, worked on the Stafford farm, and young Stafford was thrown in contact with him. Dr. Stafford was present at the first Mormon baptism. In 1824, when John Quincy Adams was a candidate for the presidency, the polls for the town of Manchester were in a cider house in the rear of the King home in the Clifton road, midway between Shortsville and Clifton Springs. Dr. Stafford, then a robust youth of 19, broad and hearty, with a beard, went to the polls with some older friends to see the fun. In those days a hat was passed around for the ballots. As the bearer of the hat passed in front of young Stafford, his friends urged him to vote. He looked old enough. Acting on their suggestion, Stafford cast his first vote, which no one challenged, for John Quincy Adams.

From the foundation of the Republican party to his death, Dr. Stafford was a staunch follower of its principles. He worked on the Erie canal when it was put through this part of the state. While he stooped slightly, Dr. Stafford was energetic and was able to get around with amazing agility, until his last illness. The story of his life would fill a book. In the practice of medicine he made long trips from patient to patient. He had several smallpox patients. He had different suits hung up in the woods near each patient's home and would change his clothes in zero weather, stripping to the skin before going into the house. Upon going out he made another change before continuing his journey.

In 1843 he married Miss Nancy Hurlburt, of Manchester, who survives him. He also leaves one son, William J. Stafford, of Syracuse, and four daughters, Mrs. Frank J. Fruz, of Manchester, Mrs. Eugene S. Barr of Carthage, Mrs. Mary Stafford Brown, of Shortsville, and Mrs. Jane L. Stafford of this city. The funeral will be held in Shortsville and only relatives and old family friends will attend.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Geneva Daily Times.

Vol. ?                               Geneva, N. Y., Saturday, February 25, 1905.                               No. ?


Death of Dr. John Stafford,
Formerly of Shortsville,
at Rochester.



Shortsville, Feb. 16. -- Dr. John Stafford, for many years a very prominent practitioner in this vicinity and a resident of the village of Manchester, died at his home in Rochester at 6 o'clock yesterday morning, after an illness of two weeks. He attained an age which few people reach -- ninety-nine years, eleven months and nine days, and had he lived until the fifteenth of March, would have completed a century.

Dr. Stafford was born on Stafford street, in the town of Manchester, March 15, 1805, being one of seven children, five of whom were younger than himself, and all of whom he outlived. He received his early education in the district school of that neighborhood, and after reaching manhood concluded to fit himself for a professional career, and entered the Palmyra academy, three miles away, and daily walked the six miles to and from, as the ox-team was too slow for him. Later he attended Hobart College, at Geneva, and then completed his medical course in the office of Dr. Samuel McIntyre, in Palmyra, receiving a diploma from the state censors, which was considered a high honor. In 1845 he was married to Miss Nancy Hurlburt of Manchester, who survives him.

His boyhood was spent in the same neighborhood as that of Joe Smith, of Mormon fame, and he was present at the first Mormon baptism. He assisted his uncle, who had a contract for digging a portion of the Erie Canal through the region known as Hen-peck, and voted for John Quincy Adams In 1824.

Dr. Stafford is survived by his wife, one son, William J. Stafford of Syracuse, and four daughters, Mrs. Mary Stafford Brown of Shortsville; Miss Jane L. Stafford of Rochester; Mrs. Eugene Barr of Carthage; Mrs. Frank J. Frits of Rochester. The funeral will be held in Shortsville.

Note 1: View 1852 map of Manchester township, with Stafford and Smith farms in upper left hand corner -- also an aerial view of the Stafford farm.

Note 2: From C. F. Milliken's 1911 History Of Ontario County, p. 418: "About the year 1830, Joe Smith and his followers left the town of Manchester with their unsold bibles and removed to Kirtland, Ohio, where Rigdon had already established a church. Their wanderings from place to place have become well known history. From Kirtland they went on to Nauvoo, and after a brief stay in Missouri on to Utah. where they found a permanent resting place. -- Crooked brook, of Mormon fame, runs through the northwest part of the town, and it was in the waters of this stream that the Mormons baptized their early saints. Dr. Stafford, an old resident of the village of Manchester, was present at the first baptism."


Vol. LXIX.                   Rochester, New York, Monday, March 13, 1905.                     No. ?


Shortsville, March 12 -- Mrs. John O'Tier, one of the old residents of this town, died at her home on Stafford street very suddenly on Saturday, aged 71 years. She was apparently in her usual health until the moment of her death, and was quietly sitting in a chair when the end came. Mrs. O'Tier lived on the old Stafford homestead, where Dr. John Stafford, the centenarian who recently died in Rochester, was born. She is survived by her husband and three sons, Frank O'Tier, of Rochester, Jacob O'Tier, of Farmington, and John O'Tier, of East Palmyra.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Montrose Democrat.

Vol. ?                         Montrose, New York, Thursday, June 29, 1905.                         No. ?

As to Joe Smith.

William Smith, brother of Mrs. McIntosh, is a very interesting personage to converse with. He has lived in this vicinity nearly all of his life and remembers many of the personages who figured so largely in the early settlement of the tovvn and neighboring districts. As a boy he remembers of seeing Joseph Smith, who afterwards became head of the sect known as the Mormons, who founded Salt Lake City in Utah. Mr. Smith remembers too of seeing Emma Hale whom Joe Smith married, says she was often a visitor at his father's house and his recollection of her is that she was a very pretty girl. He remembers of seeing the "peeping stone" which Joe put in his hat and pretended to discover money by so doing. The stone was similar to the speckled stones which are still to be found along the river shore. Mr. Smith's father, Jonas Smith, built the house once occupied by Joe Smith, which is still standing near Oakland, this side of Susquehanna. This is the house which the Mormons talk of purchasing and removing to Salt Lake City. Mr. Smith remembers also of seeing the painting on the rocks something over a mile up the river, which is now effaced, and that it was the picture of on Indian Chieftain in his canoe. Mr. Smith says that both Indian and his canoe were quite plainly to be seen.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The Lawrence Republican.

Vol. LXXV.                 Ogdensburg. New York, Wednesday, July 19, 1905.                 No. 41.



While various opinions are held by press and public as to the proposed Mormon monument tp be erected in Royalton, Vt., the birthplace of Joseph Smith, the founder of the sect, the utilitarian view, says the St. Albans Messenger, appears to be the most popular among the great majority that, while utterly repudiating with disgust and indignation the fradulent character of Mormonism as a revealed religion, nevertheless see in the establishment of this shrine an opportunity for "substantial financial benefit to the people of Randolph and Sharon in inducing an increase of summer visitors."

This is somewhat in line with, the peculiar mental process that sanctifies the sale of ginseng to the Chinese to be used by the trusting Celestials for purposes that the Yankee merchants know beforehand the root cannot possibly accomplish. Probably it would be put down as the refinement of hairsplitting to argue the existence of any ethical problem in this lucrative business, at least, so long as it is lucrative, and The Messenger will not attempt it.

But there is a phase of this Mormon monument affair that it seems to The Messenger should not be disregarded and that is, that, whatever the legal, right of any person within the peace to set up a public memorial to any man or men, idea or instution, under the heavens, past, present, or possibly to come, the stubborn fact remains that this monument is to be erected to commemorate a deliberate and unmitigated fraud. It does not matter that the people that propose to erect it do not think so. It does not matter that in their hearts, perhaps, they are performing a sacred duty in loving devotion to what they believe to be true religion. The Messenger will not impeach, their motives. It simply says that the great intelligent world outside of Monmondom knows that their so-called religion cannot even appeal to the uncertain records of the dim past to bolster up its pretensions by the negative proof of getting the benefit of the doubt, but that it was deliberately and wantonly manufactured out of hand in a generation within the century when the details of the fraud and the identity of the persons participating in it were commonly known to any number of credible witnesses. There is no mystery whatever about Mormonism, it is an out-and-out lie.

So The Messenger says that while, under the Constitution and the laws of the land, men may erect monuments to Joseph Smith if they want to and while they and other men may make pilgrimages to the spot as to the shrine of the founder of a religion, it is none the less the duty of every self-respecting man in Vermont, compelled by law to "tolerate" other men's opinions, to lose no proper occasion for pointing out to the world at large that "toleration" of this Mormon, shrine must not be construed to mean acquiescence in the idea it is meant to typify. It may be true that the planting of this monument in Royalston may help somebody to sell another bag of peanuts or get a quarter now and then for feeding a tourist's livery horse. It may be that in the complex reflexes of that curious utilitarian scheme of political economy in which we find ourselves placed whether we will or no, there is an occasional dollar to several Vermont towns in having this memorial to a humbug set flown among them. But it is a humbug, just the same.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Democratic  [     ]  Herald.

Vol. XX.                             Clyde, N. Y., Wed., Sept. 6, 1905.                             No. 29.


Mormons Seek Manuscript of Joe Smith's Bible.

A special dispatch to The Rochester Herald from Newark says eighty-three years ago Sunday Mormonism as a faith was given to the world by Joseph Smith, familiarly known in Palmyra, where he lived, as Joe Smith. Joseph Gilbert, of that village, and a prominent lawyer of Newark and Wayne county, lived for 38 years in sight of Mormon Hill, or "Bible Hill," as it is called, and many times had occasion to direct pilgrims to the Mecca of Mormonism.

This wonderful hill is located about 4 miles south of the town of Palmyra in the town of Manchester. At the north end of the hill and near the top is a barren spot where it is claimed Smith found the gold plates for the Mormon Bible. The original manuscript of Joseph Smith's "Book of Mormon," the Bible of the Mormon Church, is kept in a bank vault in Richmond, Mo. 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 by forgery a clause that would authorize and sanction the practice of polygamy.

It was only a week or so ago that representatives of the Mormon Church of Utah were there making another attempt to buy the manuscript. Smith's occupation for two years was digging gold. He claimed that be had more than once been on the point of reaching some great treasure when, in his eagerness, some unlucky exclamation would escape him and the treasure would vanish from under his feet, for he was full of superstition.

Finally in the fall, September 3, 1822 [sic], he went about the village of Palmyra telling people of the great bonanza he had at last found. He went into minute details about the size, weight and beauty of the carvings on the golden tablets and the strange characters and the ancient adornments. The people were skeptical and several in the place began to feel that Joe was a remarkable man after all. Joe declared he found the plates on the hill six miles south of Palmyra, on the main road between that place and Canandaigua. The first few months Joe refused to tell that there was any religious significance to the treasure; but simply that he had found valuable records of some ancient people.

The plates were never allowed to be seen, although Joe's mother had lifted them when covered with cloth and declared they were too heavy. Through the work of Sidney Rigdon, a partner Joe took in, to push the treasure, the alleged divinity of the golden plates began to spread abroad. It was given out that the plates were a new revelation and were part of the original Bible, and that Joe Smith was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish among men.

Meetings were held at the Smith residence and in the barns of adjoining farms, which were addressed by Smith and Rigdon. and an active canvass for converts was inaugurated. Joe Smith was uneducated and some way must be provided for the translation of his record. So he claimed to have found with the gold plates a wonderful pair of spectacles, and he asserted that by placing tbe plates in the bottom of a deep receptacle he could put on those spectacles and look down upon the plates, when the engraved characters were all translated into English, and he had only to read it off and have it recorded.

Smith and Rigdon and a man named Harris worked off converts to the new faith. The three traveled all over the State. Smith relating stories connected with tbe finding of the plates, while the others worked to find converts. Some money was obtained and copies of the manuscript were to be printed in Bible form, but there came a halt, for Mrs. Harris, wife of Martin Harris, who had become so disgusted with her husband that one morning she threw in the fire all the Bible manuscript that had been brought to him for review by Smith. The loss was made good by Harris, which was about $300. The copy of the "Book of Mormon" was prepared in a cave that Smith and others dug in the side of this hill on the farm owned by the Miner family.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LVI.                             Clyde, N. Y., Thurs., Sept. 14, 1905.                             No. 87.


Seek  Manuscript  of  Joseph  Smith's
Book  for  Unknown  Purposes.

Eighty-three years ago Mormonism as a faith was given to the world by Joseph Smith, familiarly known in Palmyra, a small village west of Newark, where he lived, as Joe Smith. Joseph Gilbert, a prominent lawyer of Wayne county, lived for 38 years in sight of Mormon Hill, or "Bible Hill," as it is called, and many times had occasion to direct pilgrims to this Mecca of Mormonism. This wonderful hill is located about four miles south of the town of Palmyra, in the town of Manchester. At the north end of the hill, and near the top is a barren spot where it is claimed Smith found the gold plates for the Mormon Bible. The original manuscripts of Joseph Smith's "Book of Mormon," the Bible of the Mormon Church, is kept in the bank vault in Richmond, Mo. 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 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 by forgery a clause that would authorize and sanction the practice of polygamy.

It was only a week or so ago that representatives of the Mormon Church of Utah were there making another attempt to buy the manuscript. Smith's occupation for two years was digging gold. He claimed that he had more than once been on the point of reaching some great treasure when, in his eagerness, some unlucky exclamation would escape him and the treasure would vanish from under his feet, for he was full of expectation.

Finally in the fall, September [of] 1822, he went about the village of Palmyra telling people of the great [treasure] he had at last found. He [next] told minute details about the size, weight and beauty of the engravings on the golden tablets and the strange characters and the ancient [workmanship?]. The people were [--------] and several in the place began to think that Joe was a remarkable man after all. Joe [pretended] he found the plates south of Palmyra, on the [main] road between that place and Canandiagua. The first few months Joe refused to tell that there was any religious significance to the treasure; he simply said he had found [------] records of [some] ancient people.

The plates were never [showed or] seen in the [---- ----- -----] ... out that the plates were a revelation and were [ones] of the original Bible, and that Joe Smith was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish them among men.

Meetings were held at the Smith residence and in the barns of adjoining farms, which were addressed by Smith and Rigdon, and an active canvas for converts was inaugurated. Joe Smith was uneducated and some way must be provided for the translation of his record. So he claimed to have found with the gold plates a wonderful pair of spectacles, and he asserted that by placing the plates in the bottom of a deep receptacle he could put on these spectacles and look down upon the plates when the engraved characters were all translated into English and he had only to read it off and have it recorded.

Smith and Rigdon and a man named Harris worked off converts to the new faith. The three traveled all over the state, Smith relating stories connected with the finding of the plates, while the others worked to find converts. Some money was obtained and copies of the manuscript were to be printed in Bible form, but there came a halt, for Mrs. Harris, wife of Martin Harris, who had become so disgusted with her husband that one morning she threw in the fire all the Bible Manuscript that had been brought to him for review by Smith. The loss was made good by Harris, which was about $300. The copy of the "Book of Mormon" was prepared in a cave that Smith and others dug in the side of this hill on the farm owned by the Miner family.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                 South Dayton, New York, Thursday, August 16, 1906.                   No. ?

[Beginning of article missing] ... In the history of this county, the axe will always play a prominent part. Through its instrumentality, the forests have been razed, the desert has been made to "bloom and blossom as the rose," savagery has been made to give back before this emblem of higher civilization, and communities and cities have strung into existence. It is not a bad suggestion once made in congress that on the coat of arms of the United States be blazoned an axe, rampant, on a field, green.

As to who was the first settler in this region, history, as usual is rather vague. It is commonly believed that Leman H., and James P. Pitcher were the first to clear for themselves a place in which to work and live. Others followed in their wake and the beginning of South Dayton probably dates from the time when Robt. F. Ewing made the locality feel the impress of his splendid personality.

Concerning the early history of our village, the following has been written especially for this anniversary number of the News:

In 1830 and 1840 there was a great Mormon excitement here, and the prevailing religions here at that time were Mormons and Methodists. The great Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, came here occasionally and held services in a large house which stood on the site where Mrs. Hampton Phillips' house now stands.

This building was 30 x 50 and three stories height, and at one time nine families occupied it, mostly Mormons. This house stood for a great many years and was finally torn down by Homer Wheelock.

When the Mormons left New York state Joseph Smith went with them and the Nickersons, who owned the great house and all the land on which the village of South Dayton now stands, went with him, after selling their property to the Smith brothers of Hanover, who afterwards sold it to Homer Wheelock.

In those days peddlers used to go on horse back carrying packs on their backs. One day a peddler came with his horse and a small stock of goods. The man put up at the Mormon headquarters and was never seen to go away...

Note 1: The following is found in chapter 19 of Inez S. Davis' The Story of the Church: "In the month of September [1833], one Freeman Nickerson who had a large and prosperous farm consisting of two hundred acres on Conewango Creek, in the town of Dayton, Cattaraugus County, New York, took a journey to Kirtland with his wife. Elders had preached in his home at various times, and at length he and his wife were baptized... On the 5th of October, the Nickersons with Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith started for Canada."

Note 2: Joseph Smith's personal diary contains this entry: "Saturday the 12th [October 1833, came to] the house of father Nickerson... Sunday the 13th held a meeting at Freeman Nickerson['s]   had a large congregation Brother Sidney preached & I bear record to the people the Lord gave his spirit in [a] marvelous manner...


Watertown  Daily  Times.

Vol. XLVII.                                 Watertown, N. Y., Sat., Mar. 23, 1907.                                 No. 87.

"Book of Mormon."

The "Book of Mormon" proved to be a literary plagiarism, being a free paraphrase of a romance written by the Rev. Solomon Spalding in 1810, the manuscript of which came into the possession of Joseph Smith, and he. sitting behind a curtain, dictated it to Oliver Cowdery, who, seated out of sight of the reader, wrote the matter as it was given him. Smith pretended that the book was discovered to him by revelation and dug up from the side of a hill not far from Palmyra, in the county of Ontario, N. Y. The claim was made by Smith that the writing on the plates was engraved in "reformed Egyptian," which he was unable to read until magic spectacles, which be called his Urim and Thummim, were given to him, enabling him both to read and translate into English. The spectacles and the plates have disappeared, and the story of the dictation makes tolerably clear the manner in which the "Book Mormon" had its origin.

Note: Note: The same report appeared in the Canton, NY St. Lawrence Plaindealer on Apr. 16, 1907 and in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle of May 20, 1907.



Vol. XXX.                             Binghampton, N. Y., Fri., June 21, 1907.                             No. 61.




By Jasper T. Jennings.

Some 82 years ago a tall and strong young man of llgrht complexion and quick, furtive expression. came to the settlements along: the north side of the Susquehanna river, about one and one' half miies below the present borough of Oakland, to locate and dig for hidden treasure. He came with several illiterate adventurers, whom he had deluded into believing that the Spaniards had centuries before buried vast quantities of gold and silver in that vicinity, which he could locate for them.

This strange young man, ignorant and unlettered, was one of the most eccentric of mortals. He possessed the power of reading human nature almost to perfection; and, being shrewd and quick to perceive, he held control over less positive minds to an astonishing degree. He had bought a seeing or "look" stone of one Jack Belcher of Gibson, by which, he had assured them, he could unlock the secrets of the most profound mysteries. It was a smooth, oblong, dark colored stone, with small brown spots interspersed over its surface, and was about the size of a goose egg.

His manner of using it was to place it in a hat and then place his face therein, drawing it closely about in such a manner as to exclude all light, when, he claimed, he could behold all earthly things. He had told the men wonderful stories of what Mr. Belcher had seen and done by the aid of the stone, how he had found a lost child, how he had found long lost articles, and many incredible stories told with such apparent sincerity and earnestness that the simple minded men believed him. And when he pictured in glowing language the vast wealth that would soon be theirs they were ready to go to the very ends of the earth with him.

The sequel was they had engaged him to come to this region of the distant frontier to tell them by his magic art where to dig for the rich Spaniards' gold, where the foot of a Spaniard never trod. Such was Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, then but a little over 20 years of age. Traces of these diggings are even yet plainly discernible on the hillside above the McKune cemetery. By charms, divinations and incantations he managed to delude the people who were with him, and thus eke out an existence without work. But as they neared the place where he had assured them the treasure was to he found and no traces of it could be seen, he told them something had been said or done that had broken the enchantment, and he could not see it any longer. They finally became discouraged and gave up the job.

About this time Smith began to pay attention to Emma Hale, daughter of the well known pioneer, Isaac Hale, who resided in the near vicinity, and asked of her father her hand in marriage. He was Informed that he was a comparative stranger and followed a business that could not be approved, and therefore the request must be denied. Smith went away, but some time later came back, when Mr. Hale was away from home, and carried off his daughter to Palmyra, N. Y., where they were married.

In a short time they returned, when he informed her father that he had given up his incantation or wizard business and was going to settle down and work for an honest living. Her brother, Alva Hale, went to Palmyra with them and moved their furniture to her father's house, in the present townshlp of Oakland. This was in 1827. He now gave up his wild ideas of divination and enchantment for another scheme more daring and preposterous than any he had ever attempted before.

He claimed to have had visions and revelations from heaven. While praying for light and spiritual guidance, as is asserted, two angels appeared to him and made the announcement that he was God's chosen apostle and prophet to establish a new religion and preach the true gospel to an unbelieving world. A few days elapsed and another angel appeared, clothed in glorious raiment, and with countenance bright and dazzling as the lightning, announcing himself as a special messenger from the throne of God, to reveal the spot where the golden Mormon Bible was concealed. It was the evening of the 21st of September, 1823. By the next morning he was visited again by the divine messengers and commanded to go to the hill of Gomorah. [sic] about four miles from Palmyra, and unearth the sacred book of the new religion.

Repairing to the spot, according to the direction of the angel, he came to a strong stone box, the corner only of which was visible, having been washed bare by the storms of a thousand years. Within he found three short pillars, upon which lay the sacred oracles of the Most High, while underneath, upon an ancient appearing breastplate, was a bow like a pair of spectacles with two beautiful stones clear as crystal set therein. These he was to look through in making his prophesies and disclosing the hidden future, and were said to be identical with the Hebrew Urim and Thummim. The youthful prophet stood gazing upon the wonderful objects with awe and mute amazement. Suddenly the familiar angel came and the brightest vision of his life took place. The windows of celestial beauty were opened, and all the glories of heaven stood revealed. A moment later the evil spirit passed slowly by, followed by his long black retinue of misery and wickedness. And then, after refusing Smith the golden book until the "fullness of time had arrived," the angel vanished, and the young seer was alone.

Four years passed by, and at length, on the morning of the 22d of September, 1827, he received the long sought treasure. The leaves, or plates, had the appearance of pure gold, seven by eight inches in size, forming a volume about six inches thick, held in place by three rings. Placing it under his coat, he carried it to his home in Palmyra and hid it beneath the great stone hearth before the rude stone fire place. When they moved to Oakland the "golden Bible' was brought there in a barrel of beans. Mr. Hale saw the box, but was not permitted to look inside; and as he had no faith in Smith's stories and they did not agree in regard to his alleged supernatural powers, the plates were taken away and hid in the woods.

He now began to preach the new doctrine and to declare that power was given him to bless and to curse mankind, and to perform miracles as Jesus had done 1,800 years before. The people scouted his ideas as base fabrications and wild delusions unworthy of the consideration of an intelligent public. To convince them he proposed the performance of a miracle in their presence. He gave out word that on a certain day he would walk on the water, that all might see and be convinced.

On the night before he went down to the bank of the river and selecting a spot favorable for his design, where the people could see, but in such a position that they could not readily detect deception. Bringing some planks to the spot he proceeded to build several stone piles under the water upon which to place the planks with stones and fastenings to hold them down firmly and in such a manner that they could not be seen easily seen from the other shore where the audience was to assemble. He worked several hours fixing up the plan, and as he went up to the house in the small hours of the bright moonlight morning, he no doubt chuckled within himself at how easily he would surprise and dupe the unsuspecting settlers.

But two or three of the young men of the place, well knowing the character and reputation of Smith, had seen him going down to the in the evening and they resolved to watch him. After he had accomplished his work and gone back to the house they went down to the spot and discovered what he had done. To walk carefully out on this ill-provised submerged, feeling their way with stout sticks, was the work of but a few moments. They soon had one of the planks removed where the water was quite deep and sent it down the current; after which they returned to their homes to keep their counsel until the morrow.

The morrow came and quite a number assembled at the hour and spot designated to see the announced miracle performed. They knew Smith to be a strange and eccentric specimen of humanity with natural talents for magical and mysterious performances, but they looked upon them as sleight-of-hand, or necromancy, and were not disposed to believe them as the work of a chosen prophet of God. At the appointed time Smith came down to the river. He had a sort of solemn look upon his face, almost as though he half feared to do what he was about to attempt in the face of God and man, it was a more daring feat of deception than he had ever attempted before. He was perceptibly agitated as he seemed to offer a silent prayer, or incantation, and then he stepped firmly but slowly out upon the water, sinking only about to his knees as he proceeded. The people knew the water was deeper, and some gazed with wonder, half inclined to believe it must be some supernatural agency. Slowly and carefully he proceeded, feeling his way as he went, cautiously stepping over the stones that helped to hold the ends of the planks in place, and approached the spot where the plank had been taken out. There was a half suppressed smile on the face of two or three of the boys, while others put on a more grave aspect, but no word was spoken. He reached the last stone, and stepped over the next plank. It was not there. The result can readily be imagined. He plunged headlong into the river with a loud splash, where for a few moments he was in danger of drowning. The promised miracle had turned out a complete failure. An outburst of laughter rose on the calm air, while the discomfited prophet walked away.

Of course, after such an exhibition as this there was little chance for such a prophet's work In that section. Shortly afterward he retired to the privacy of his own room and procuring a scribe to write for him put on the huge spectacles he had found with the plates and proceeded to translate the hieroglyphics of his gold Bible. About 1830 he moved back to Palmyra, N.Y., where the translation was completed and where he duped parties and obtained money to get it published. The written manuscript, pretending to give the ancient history of the American Indians, claiming that they were one of the lost tribes of Israel and the descendants of Joseph, together with many good moral maxims, was soon delivered to the printer, and the Mormon Bible was thrown upon the world.

He now entered upon his religious work with new zeal and ardor. On the sixth of April, 1830, he organized the first Mormon church, at Manchester, Ontario county, N. Y., with 30 members. Persecution commenced at the outset. Had It not been for this the Mormon church would not have been what it is today. Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdrey and Parley P. Pratt joined the faith, and being educated and active, became efficient co-workers in the Mormon cause. They proceeded to Kirtland. O., where they soon gathered over a thousand converts around them. Then Smith came with his little band of followers, where he was hailed with every demonstration of joy. He no longer placed an oval "look stone" in his hat and buried his face therein to read the future, as had once been his custom when seeking for hidden treasure. Everything was revealed by special revelation.

Hundreds flocked around them to hear the strange doctrine, many to become converts and remain, and many to go away and join the army of persecution. Public opinion waxed warm against them Smith was tarred and feathered. He now pretended to receive another revelation to go to the far West, and the entire band migrated to Missouri. Missionaries were sent out in every direction to gather the saints to the new Jerusalem, and they increased until they numbered 12,000. But persecution followed them, and they were forced to remove to Illinois. Settling at Nauvoo and calling in the members from every section, they organized anew and proceeded to build a temple.

A short period of prosperity and peace now ensued. But it was only the lull before the storm. Civil dissensions and disputes arose among them, and ere long others besides the prophet declared that they too had received revelations from heaven, and among other things the monstrous authority for one man to have several wives. Rumors of immoral doctrines and practices spread throughout the state and a newspaper was established at Nauvoo to expose their crimes. By the order of Smith the printing press was demolished and the materials scattered. Warrants were issued against Smith and 17 others and officers sent to arrest them. They were, however, overpowered by the Mormons and driven from the city.

The people now resolved to take the matter into their own hands, and collecting around Nauvoo they threatened to lay the place in ashes. The Mormons fortified the city, raised a legion of armed defenders and prepared to resist the power of the State. The flame of civil war seemed ready to burst forth. The peace of the State was menaced. The Governor took the field in person. At length the Smiths surrendered themselves as prisoners and were confined in Carthage Jail, charged with treason. On the evening of the 27th of June, 1844. an excited mob overpowered the guards, broke into the Jail and the prisoners were shot.

Thus perished Joseph Smith, the Mormon founder, at the age of 39 years. That he was an extraordinary man no one can doubt. He seemed to possess the peculiar power of governing the minds of others and bending them to his desires. His power for promoting good or evil was, therefore, immense. On the death of Smith, Brigham Young took the lead as prophet, priest and king. Then the exodus began over the plains and the Rocky Mountains to the Salt Lake Valley, where they founded a new city, and where they have since remained. Strange indeed that from such a low and illiterate beginning a sect of such proportions could have grown. Had it not been for the hand of continued persecution it would have amounted to no more than Dowieism. Today they number by hundreds of thousands and their missionaries are in all lands.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The Wayne County Journal.

Vol. XXXVII.                     Palmyra, New York, Thursday, July 11, 1907.                     No. ?


From the Rochester Herald.

Manchester, July 5. -- Since the recent pilgrimage of the Mormons to "Gold Bible Hill." two miles north of this village, to view the place where Joseph Smith claimed to have discovered the golden plates, upon which Mormonism was founded, the oldest residents of Manchester here been recalling incidents connected with the founding of this religious sect, many of which are of an interesting nature and to the outside world generally unknown.

Joeeph Smith, the founder, was born in Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, on December 23, 1805. At the age of 10 years Smith removed with his parents to Palmyra, and four years later came to the town of Manchester.

The reputatation of the family is said to have been of the worst, and it is reported that they avoided honest labor, were intemperate, untruthful and often suspected of sheep stealing and many such offences. These accusations are generally denied by Mormons to-day. The statement is handed down from the persons who were well acquainted with Smith at that time the he was often heard to say that even if they were true he had never done anything half so bad as King David did.

It is said that from the earliest period in this town he was regarded as a visionary and a fanatic; a mere impostor, a person who in no sense partly believed in his own mission, but who, on the contrary, felt that he was the cheat that people of this vicinity generally suposed that he was, and it has been said that a man with less nerve would have broken down under such a tempest of oppositon and hate as his preaching excited in this community.

Smith was often heard to remark that shortly after coming to this town he began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and that he had gone from one denomination to another and could find nothing but a great clash of religious sentiment. Then he began to go into secret places and spend hours in prayer. Finally an angel appeared to him; this fact not being made known to residents until the angel made its second appearance, which was on the evening of September 21, 1823, and on this occasion he often stated that it seemed as if his house were filled with a consuming fire, and a vision appeared before him with a countenance like lightning and who proclaimed himself to be an angel of God.

This angel informed Smith that his prayers had been heard, that his sins were forgiven, and that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand and that he had been selected as an instrument in the hands of God to preach the gospel in iw power and fullness to all nations. He was also informed where the "golden plates" were deposited, which were records of ancient prophets that at one time existed on the American continent.

The angel advised Smith to go and view those plates which were hidden in the ground. So Smith and a few followers spent many evenings on this great hill digging for those golden plates, but as Smith claimed, he was not yet holy enough to obtain possession of them.

An amusing incident connected with his digging for those plates was recently related by C. P. Osgood, to whom it was told by his grandfather, Ezra Pierce, and who is known to be one of the young men of the early days who had an abundance of courage and was always ready to play a joke on friend or foe. As the digging for those supposed plates was usually carried on at night and at that time had been in progress for several evenings, a huge cave had been made on the side of the hill not far from the top.

As they were unsuccessful, Smith explained to the men who were doing the digging that there were evil influences which were keeping them from finding the plates. As he made those remarks Mr. Pierce and a companion who had quietly crept up to the side of the cave, dropped a huge black sheep on the working Mormons, which caused consternation in the party, all supposing that it was his satanic majesty, and no more searching was done that night.

Shiith told his followers that the blood of a lamb would keep the devil away, and it is said that a neighboring farmer lost his bell wether that night, and a circle was found around the cave in the morning made with the sheep's blood.

On the night of September 22, 1827, Smith claimed that an angel of the Lord placed the wonderful records in his hands. They were engraved on plates nearly eight inches long by seven wide, and bound together by rings. Each plate was a little thinner than ordinary tin, and found with them was a pair of stone spectacles, called by Smith "Urim and Thummim," consisting of two transparent stones set in a rim on a bow fastened to a breastplate by which Smith was enabled to read and translate the ancient records.

When translating Smith sat behind a blanket hung across his room to keep the sacred records from profane eyes, while a neighbor sat outside and copied down the translations made by Smith.

Undeterred by exposure, ridicule and hostility, Smith and his associates persevered in preaching their doctrine. The prophets' house was frequently beset by mobs and evil-designing; persons, and it is stated that on several occasions he claimed that he was shot at and narrowly escaped with his life. This fearless courage continued to bring him disciples and on April 6, 1830, the "Church of Latter Day Saints" was first organized in the town of Manchester.

It is stated that about two months after the church was organized baptismal services were being held a short distance from Smith's home, each one of the disciples being led into a small brook and, after being plunged beneath the waters, the convert was told that he was now white as snow. After witnessing the operation for a while several young men bent on mischief proceeded to Smith's home and procured a pail of whitewash, and going to the hen house baptized the hens in the pail, and on leaving hung a card on the door stating that "all are now white as snow."

Smith kept his ground stubbornly for a while, but the ministers of the gospel kept up such a ceasless fire that in January, 1831, Smith and his followers considered it prudent to remove to anoother state, and later, established themselves at Kirtland, Ohio, which. was then intended to be the seat of the New Jerusalem.

Now, after many years, Mormons from far away visit the places where their religion was founded, and when in conversation with them one and all will remind you of the proverb, that a prophet receives no honor in his own country.

Note 1: From Willard Bean's Scrap Book, Copied at Palmyra, N. Y. Aug. 25, 1932: "Carlos Osgood, Manchester, N. Y. --- Says his father was slightly younger than the prophet Joseph Smith -- Says he has lived long enough so he wouldn't say anything was impossible. Strange things have happened. Says his father says there was nothing esp. startling about the Prophet -- He worked occassional at digging wells & used to carry a stone in his hat. My Uncle Derious [sic - Darius?] Pierce who lived here while they were digging for the plates. He says they used to sacrifice a black sheep at mid night & he says the Smith family lived on mutton for a no. of days after. This may just be a sheep story I don't know. --- No doubt many exaggerated and colored stories have come down and it is hard to pick out the genuine from the other. I have known many who have known the Prophet but they're all gone. -- I wrote an article once about Dist. no. 11 of Manchester & I said then that I didn't know whether or not Joseph Smith went to school there but I found out later that he did attend school there. I found this thru Ezra G. Smith of El Paso, Tex. His uncle Moses C. Smith attended with the Prophet & once they had an altercation. It ended in a fight. It was probably just a boy's scrap. Ezra lives at 3030 Memphis St. in El. Paso. --- The Prophet was very well known here abouts. Father once says Joseph was once working in a harvest field for one Russell Stoddard. It was a very hot day & Joseph had on an overcoat all buttoned up. They asked him why. He said to keep the heat out. I've heard Father [tell] that a good many times. --- My grandfather Pierce said they were putting up the frame of a barn and my grandfather Ezra Smith & Joseph Smith were there -- my grandfather was a young giant -- about 16 or 18 yrs. old. The Prophet was some years older. Like most pioneer gatherings of that nature while the crowd were gathering they endulged in wrestling & feats of strength and my grandfather & the Prophet pulled the stick so they sat on the ground & put their feet together took hold of the stick & tried to find out which one could pull the other up. and grandfather told me. Says Joe was quite a good solid boy but I just gave him one good twitch and Joe went clean over my head. My grandfather was tremendously strong. He was a powerful man. -- Carlos P. Osgood."

Note 2: For another report of the "white as snow" description being applied to early accounts of Mormon baptisms, see "Celebrated His Ninety-ninth Birthday," in the Shortsville Enterprise of March 18, 1904.


The Wayne County Journal.

Vol. ?                        Palmyra, New York, Thursday, March 19, 1908.                        No. ?


From the New York Tribune.

Certain fond hopes of all Latter Day Saints were lately realized by the official purchase of the home in New York State where the revered prophet and founder, Joseph Smith, entertained the angel who "tipped him off" on the construction of a new religion. The house at Palmyra ha been a Mecca for Saints for the last thirty years, and now, as the property of the church, acquired at an expense of $23,000, it will be furnished with suitable relics and kept in good condition to receive augmenting bands of pilgrims from distant Utah and all parts of the earth. There will possibly be an admission fee for Saints or Gentiles or both.

Angels were a scarce commodity in western New York during the early part of the nineteenth century, yet on September 21, 1823, a full-fledged and able-bodied angel came unto Joseph Smith and said he had an important message to deliver. This happened in a grove somewhere back of the house, and the trees are still standing to bear witness to the event. The angel, after ascertaining that Joseph was the right member of the Smith family, said that his own name was Moroni. Joseph was dumfounded at this information. Moroni went on to say that there was a book engraved on golden plates containing the "fullness of the everlasting gospel." These plates were buried in a hill four miles from Palmyra, and the name of the hill was Cumorah, to which any spirit could direct him. Joseph thanked the angel and said he would be very glad to dig up the plates, especially since they were gold.

The prophet went to the hill and dug up the plates, which he found to be as represented. He took them home, washed them in the kitchen and spent the next seven years in translating the golden manuscript and trying to get editors to accept It. All declined with thanks, saying the style was a little too heavy and that it was a bad season to launch a new religion. The opportunities for serial publication and syndicate distribution did not then exist. Smith was therefore forced to take chances on the "Book of Mormon" himself, issuing it in 1830, while he lived at Lafayette, near the place where he dug up the plates.

Eleven citizens of Palmyra made affidavit to accompany the book, that they had seen the original golden plates and believed that Smith had translated them faithfully. The literary critics, not foreseeing that the book was destined to be one of the best sellers, reviewed it with sarcastlc phrases and said that Confucius and Mahomet had turned out better fiction. Smith was undisturbed by criticism and moved to the Middle West, where there was already a growing appreciation of literature among the ancestors of Booth Tarkington and George Ade. He also became a martyr there.

The apostles of the Mormon church began negotiations several years ago with W. Avery Chapman, owner of the Smith house at Palmyra, for the purchase of the place. Mr. Chapman knew that the premises were valuable on account of their angelic associations, although land in the neighborhood sells for about $10 an acre, and he held out for the goodly sum the apoetles lately paid. The house looks common enough to the material eye, and so does the grove where the celestial envoy chatted with Joseph. The trees are ordinary trees such as one might see in Bronx park. But the trees saw what Smith saw, and they still stand to bear witness, though Smith is dust.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                             Syracuse, New York, Sunday, June 6, 1909.                            No. ?


A Tow-headed young man, dull of eye and sallow of complexion, once upon a time loafed on the streets and sat upon the cracker barrels of Palmyra, a village about fifty miles west of Syracuse.

His ragged trowsers were patched in divers and sundry places. Suspenders made of sheeting served to hold them in uncertain fashion. Commonly he a "hickory shirt," black with dirt; a battered slouch hat, through the holes of which stuck wisps of his yellowish hair, and shoes so worn that they afforded scant protection for his feet in winter.

He was the village ne'er-do-well. By commom consent he was called shiftless and "worthless." With sage wags of their heads, the wiseacres used to say:

"Well, Joe Smith, he won't ever come to no good end."

Whether the wisacres were right wrong depends upon the point of view. For "Joe" Smith, village loafer, is to-day regarded by thousands of earnest persons as prophet and seer, ambassador of the Almighty. He was the founder of Mormonism, a religion known where never people never heard of Palmyra.

Most readers of The Sunday Herald know that Joseph Smith claimed to have discovered the golden plates of the Mormon Bible near Palmyra, but little has been published hereabouts concerning his life there. Stanley Moore of this city, who is connected with the Beebe syndicate, has been collecting facts about what the guide books call "points of interest" along the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern railroad, and in this task has gathered some interesting data about the Smith family's life in Paymyra.

It was in 1816 that the Smith family came to Palmyra from Vermont, where, in restless fashion, they had moved from village to village. The household consisted of the parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Smith, and nine children, the fourth of whom was Joseph.

With the Smiths it was indeed case of many children and little money. The father, a dreamy, lazy man, did little or nothing; the mother gained a scanty income by painting oil cloth table covers and celling them to the neighbors. The children, dirty of face and poorly clothed, played in the streets.

Two years later the Smiths, influenced by the roving spirit, moved again, this time to a plot of land two miles south of the village. Here, though possessing no lawful title, they "squatted," building a small log house with four rooms.

Peddled Cakes in the Streets.

In a shiftless way they raised few vegetables, chopped cordwood and made brooms to sell in the village. When there were Fourth of July celebrations in town or other occasions that attracted crowds the Smiths, ragged parents and ragged children, might be seen peddling cakes and maple sugar in the streets. Thus they managed barely to exist.

Mr. and Mrs, Smith and several of the children could neither read nor write. Joseph had picked up a smattering of learning, however, but he was only less illiterate than the rest. A Mormon biographer says of htm: "He could read without much difficulty and write a very imperfect hand and had a very limited understanding of the elementary rules of arithmetic. These were his highest and only attainments, while the rest of those branches so universally taught in the common schools throughout the United States were entirely unknown to him."

With pole in hand he was happiest when idling in the sunlight on the bank of some stream waiting for a bite, or in tramping through the dense woods that then covered the land, hunting squirrels and other game. When the report of his gun awoke the echoes, those who heard used to say, "that it's that shiftless Joe Smith after squirrels again."

He Liked to Dream.

No, "Joe" didn't like to work. Generally taciturn, he was a dreamer. He liked to lie in the grass and scheme. with all his laziness and his other faults -- which, it is commonly agreed, included deceit, whiskey drinking and a love of mischief -- Palmyra folk attributed to him a certain cunning. He loved to plan things, and when he broke his habitual silence, to astonish folks by some absurdity or exaggeration

Withal he was not quarrelsome, and though he was never heard to laugh, was regarded as good natured. When he called at the Palmyra Register office for his fathers paper the printer's boys used to blacken his face, but "Joe" never got seriously angry. The boys who bought the ginger cakes that he sold on Fourths of July palmed off pewter two shilling pieces on him. Yet. next to hunting and fishing and dreaming in the grass, he liked to lounge in front of the stores on the main street of the village.

Naturally enough "Joe" Smith became interested in things of a mysterious or mystical nature. It was in the blood. His mother's father, Solomon Mack -- who in his old age used to ride about Connecticut on horseback peddling his autobiography -- had dreamed dreams. In his 76th year, he says in his book, he seemed on several occasions to see "a bright light in a dark night" and to hear voices calling to him. One of his sons also dreamed dreams. He became a member of a peculiar sect of those days known as "Seekers" -- a sect whose members believed that by prayer and fasting they could obtain the "gifts" of the apostolic age. One of his mother's sisters was a dreamer of dreams. Long invalid, she claimed to have been "borne away to the world of spirits" and healed.

They All Saw Visions.

The mother herself, ignorant and illiterate, was a dreamer of dreams. While praying in a grove for her husband's soul she saw a vision that assured her that he was to be converted, And, finally, the father, though the wife was often concerned for his spiritual welfare, had testified to having seen visions and to have been "cured of a lameness" by a certain mystical dream.

So the Smiths were users of "divining rods," by which one may discover gold and silver, and of "seeing stones" and "crystals," by gazing in which one may see wondrous things and prophesy of the future. "Old man Smith," as the neighbors called him, had searched for Captain Kidd's treasure in Vermont and had there used a forked hazel switch to find underground streams of water. "Joe" the younger when sttll a youth, professed to having his father's gift.

According to the narrative of Mrs. Smith herself, Josiah Stoal, an old man living in Chenango county, "came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys by which he could discern things invisible to the naked eye." Stoal, we learn in the prophet's own biography, had heard that there was an old Spanish silver mine in Harmony, Susquehanna county, Pa., and he had men digging there in an attempt to uncover the hidden treasure. It Is probable that "Joe" used a "seeing stone" in his search.

"Seeing Stone" From Syracuse.

The stone that he probably employed came from Syracuse, or Salina, as it was then called. J. B. Buck of Susquehanna county, in a published statement, says:

"The stone... was the possession of Jack Belcher of Gibson, who obtained it while at engaged in drawing salt. Belcher bought it because it was said to be a 'seeing stone.' I have often seen it, It was a green stone, with brown irregular spots on it. It was a little larger than a goose's egg and about the same thickness When he brought it home and covered it with it with a hat, Belcher's little boy was one of the first to look into the hat, and as he did so he said he said he saw a candle. The second time he looked into it he exclaimed, 'I've found my hatchet!' (it had been lost two years), and immediately ran to the spot shown him through the stone, and it was there. The boy was soon beset by neighbors far and near to reveal to them hidden things, and he succeeded marvelously. Joe Smith, conceiving the idea of making a fortune through a similar process of 'seeing,' bought the stone of Belcher and then began his operations in directing where hidden treasures could be found. His first diggings were near Captain Buck's sawmill at Red Rock."

Smith, it had been explained, had been in Susquehanna county. He was called there by Stoal to search for the Spanish silver. In this enterprise he was unsuccessful, as he was in several others for which he was employed Pennsylvania.

Young "Joe" Elopes.

But while engaged there in this curious business he at least got a wife and that in a romantic way. He boarded for a while in the household of Isaac Hale, and there fell in love with Hale's daughter. Emma. The father, who was a strict Methodist, objected to Joe Smith as an adventurer and refused his consent to a marriage. So the lovers eloped and were married just across the State line in New York by a justice of the peace on January 18th, 1827. He took his bride back to Palmyra, where for several months they remained with the Smith family.

But in the following August he returned to Harmony, Pa., to get some household effects belonging to his wife. When he arrived at the Hale home he found no warm welcome.

"You have stolen my daughter and married her," said Mr. Hale. "I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money -- pretend to see [in] a stone and try to deceive people."

Joe made a solemn promise to abandon his work with the "seeing stone," and his father-in-law said he would aid him if he would return with his wife to Pennsylvania and go into some honest business. This Smith agreed to do, but after returning to Palmyra the members of the family urged him so hard to continue his "seeing" that he changed his mind. For a time he went back to the old stone and crystal gasing, which he had practiced long before he had gone to Pennsylvania.

Digging for Treasure.

Indeed, the entire Smith family was engaged in that superstitious practice, pretending to reveal for money the whereabouts of things lost by the neighbors. They repeatedly searched for treasures in the region about Palmyra, but no record has been kept of their ever finding any. But there were enough credulous persons in the vicinity to enable them to add a little to their income with the divining rod and the seeing stone.

The digging for buried treasure was usually done at midnight in the full of the moon. Good Friday was regarded as the best date. "Joe" would balance the divining rod over the ground until it seemed to be drawn by some unseen force toward the earth. At the spot where it pointed Smith would direct his assistants to dig.

He made it a rule that absolute silence should be maintained during the ceremonies. To explain failure to find the hidden riches -- and there is no record that he ever was successful -- he used to say that some one, tempted of the devil, had spoken at the crucial moment, thus destroying the spell.

It was after "Joe's" return from Pennsylvania to seek his wife's effects and while he was engaged again in these treasure hunts that the alleged discovery of the golden plates was made. Accounts of this fabled event vary so greatly that there seems to be no getting at the truth. But certainly the account given by his mother at thet ime the Mormon Bible was published is the most vivid and picturesque.

"At the expiration of the year (says this account) he (Joseph) procured a horse and light wagon and proceeded with his wife to find the hidden treasure. When they had gone as far as they could with the wagon Joseph took the pillow case and started for the rock. Upon passing a fence a host of devils began to screech and to scream and make all kinds of hideous yells for the purpose of terrifying him and preventing the attainment of his object, but Joseph was courageous and pursued his way in spite of them. Arriving at the stone, he again lifted it with the aid of superhuman power, as at first, and secured the first or upper-most article, this time putting it carefully into the pillow case before laying it down,

He Obtains the Tablets.

"He then attempted to secure the remainder, but just then the old man appeared and said that the time had not yet come for their exhibition to the world, but that when the proper time came he should have them and exhibit them, with the one he had now secured; until that time no one should be allowed to touch the one he had in his possession; for if they did they would be knocked down by some superhuman power. Joseph ascertained that the remaining articles were a gold hilt and chain, and a gold bal! with two pointers... Joseph then put the rock back, took the article in the pillow case and returned to the wagon. The devils, with more hideous yells before, followed him to the fence; as he was getting over the fence one of the devils struck him a blow on the side where a black and blue mark remained three or four days; but Joseph persevered and brought the article safely home. I weighed it and it weighed thirty pounds. It consisted of a set of gold plates about six inches wide and nine or ten Inches long. They were in the form of a book."

The remarkable discovery created no excitement in Palmyra. "Joe" Smith, the idler and hunter of lost treasures, was too well known for intelligent persons to take stock in his claims. But "Joe" and hunter of lost treasures busied himself in translating, or pretending to translate, the inscription on the golden tablets.

Translating the Inscriptions.

Soon he moved with his wife from Palmyra to his father-in-law's house in Pennsylvania. There he continued the work, enlisting the aid of one Martin Harris, a superstitious farmer who lived near Palmyra. Some accounts say that he did the translating by looking at the inscriptions through the great spectacles found with the tablets, others that he used the "seeing stone," just as he had used it in trying to find buried treasure. Harris took down the words as they came from Smith's lips, and later the work of acting as amanuensis fell to one Oliver Cordery [sic], a blacksmith turned district school teacher.

In June, 1829, he transferred the scene of operations to the home of Peter Whitmer of Fayette, Seneca county, a village not far from Syracuse.

The historical part of the Mormon Bible, unbiased historians say, was provided by means of a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth college, and later preacher and teacher. It was a fanciful account of the history of the supposed ancient inhabitants of America. In some way it fell into the hands of Smith and was probably incorporated in his new scriptures. After Mr. Snaulding's death his widow and only child went to live with Mrs. Spauldlng's brother. W. H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, now practically a suburb of Syracuse. The effects that they took with them there included an old trunk containing the manuscript in question.

He Comes Back to Palmyra.

Joe Smith's last appearance In his home town, Palmyra, was In 1829, when, with the manuscript of his "translation" practically completed, he went there to have it published. Backed by his brother Hyrum, Cowderly [sic] and Harris, he first applied to Egbert B. Grandin, publisher of the Wayne Sentinel, who, after seeing what a confused jumble of words the manuscript contained, refused to take the job at any price. Later, however, he undertook the work, making a contract to print and bind 5,000 copies for $5,000 and taking as security a mortgage on Harris's farm. Statements from the printers who worked on the book show that, as might have been expected, the syntax, spelling and punctuation were extremely bad.

It was given to the world in 1830. Palmyra was not at all agitated by the published revelation. It knew Joe Smith.

With about thirty members present, the first conference of the new Mormon church was held In Fayette the same year. By special revelations the church was directed to move to Ohio. How the Mormons, constantly growing in numbers, wandered through the West until they eventually found a haven in Utah every schoolboy knows.

Joe Smith, village loafer, fisherman, hunter, searcher for hidden treasure, never returned to his home. To-day the memory of this dreamer is revered by multitudes of believers.

Note: Although the above article brings together several different fragments of history relating to the Syracuse area, it provides nothing in the way of unique source material. The writer (who appears to have primarily copied from Pomeroy Tucker's 1867 book) introduces a few errors of his own -- such as the notion that the parents of Joseph Smith could not read and write.



Vol. XXXIII.                     Utica, New York, Sunday, August 29, 1909.                     No. 17.


The announcement that the dedication of the monument to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, at Sharon. Vt., is to be made a sort of state occasion, the Government officials lending the dignity of their presence to the ceremonial. while United States Senator Reed Smoot will deliver an address, has aroused some natural indignation in the State. A monument to Smith may seem appropriate in Sharon, as he may have been the most illustrious son of that village, which, indeed, does not figure conspicuously in American history: but he was a brutal, illiterate impostor, scarcely to be comprehended as the victim of self-delusion, and the State of Vermont should have nothing to do, officially, with the dedication of his monument.

Sharon can have no remembrance of Joseph Smith. When a child he removed with his parents to Palmyra, N. Y. Here he led an idle and somewhat disreputable life. One day he declared that on September 21, 1823, the Angel Moroni had appeared to him, announcing that God had work for him to perform, and that buried in the earth in a certain spot a few miles distant was a record inscribed upon gold plates, giving an account of the early inhabitants of America and of their fate, and With this record would be found a kind of spectacles through which alone the writing could be read.

Four years later Smith declared that the angel had placed the plates in his hands, together with the spectacles. He described the plates as being about eight inches long by seven wide and connected by rings so as to form a volume about six inches thick. The plates were inscribed on both sides with hieroglyphic characters in a language no longer extant, but which he was able to decipher and understand by the use of the miraculous spectacles. Smith professed to have dictated in English the contents of these plates to Oliver Cowdery, who acted as his amanuensis, the plates themselves mysteriously disappearing as they were successively transcribed. The manuscript thus prepared was printed at Palmyra in 1830 under the title of "The Book of Mormon, etc." To it was prefixed a certificate signed by Cowdery and two others to the effect that they had seen and handled the plates. Subsequently all three of the witnesses fell out with Smith and declared the whole matter to be a hoax. Smith was soon joined by Sidney Rigdon, a printer by trade, who had also aspired to found a new religion, and the two gained a small body of followers and in 1831 went to Kirtland, O., where they built a temple and set up a fraudulent bank. It Is probable that Rigdon himself wrote the Book of Mormon. Smith and his followers were driven from place to place until finally, at Nauvoo, Ill., they built up a town of 1500 inhabitants. Here smith put forth the doctrine of polygamy. This raised a schism among his followers. On May 6, 1844, Smith destroyed the presses of a paper that [accused?] him. The militia was called out to prevent a war of factions. The Governor of Illinois, on guaranteeing the [personal] safety of Smith and his brother induced them to surrender. They were taken to the jail at Carthage, and a guard placed for their protection. On the evening of [June] 27 a mob dispersed the guard and began firing into the jail. The Smiths made a desperate defense but both were killed.

Smith had energy and courage. He helped, somewhat, to blaze the trail westward, but he was an enemy of this country, and a moral reprobate. The monument to his memory is an insult to the intelligence of the people in its neighborhood, and if Reed Smoot comes eastward to eulogize its subject, he will certainly not increase the measure of respect he may have secured in this part of the country. As for the Vermont State officers, the manifold duties of the harvest season will surely keep them from meddling with such a deplorable ceremony

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LXVI.               Syracuse, New York, Thursday, September 8, 1910.               No. 215.

Will Mormon Church Succeed in Ambition
to Rule America?


The current issue of Pearson's carries a striking letter by Richard Barry, entitled "The Political Menace of the Mormon Church," in which is set forth the story of the alliance between the Mormon Church and the Republican party. This story tells how Jos. F. Smith, the present head of the church, threw practically the whole Mormon vote, normally Democratic, to the Republican party in exchange for the admission of Utah to statehood, and how the alliance made at that time has been renewed at various times since.

"In Salt Lake City lives an old man with five wives and 43 children," says Barry. "He is the political friend and ally of Wm. H. Taft, for the reason that he controls six senatorial votes and the electoral votes of three states. In Wyoming he is a millionaire: in Idaho he is a millionaire; in Utah he is a multi-millionaire. On Wall Street and in Washington he is alike a power, one of the guiding forces of the Republican party to-day.

"This old man -- Jos. F. Smith, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- is not brilliant in any sense. However, he has an average shrewdness and an average intelligence.

"Three hundred and seventy-five thousand people believe that Joseph Smith is in direct communication with God.

"Those 375,000 people have more political power than any million in the United States, because they are a unit. From the very beginning the purpose of the Mormon Church to dominate in political affairs has been clear and undeviating. In 1844 Joseph Smith, the first prophet, had himself nominated as a candidate for President of the United States. But that was all bravado.

"No king ever exerted more despotic authority than did Brigham Young, the second prophet. His word was law. In those early Utah days Young adopted into the endowment ceremony, by which all neophytes are baptized into the Mormon Church, the oath of blood atonement, which still exists as an integral part of the ritual. This oath is:


"'I do solemnly promise and vow that I will pray and never cease to importune high heaven to avenge the blood of the prophet upon this nation, and that I will teach this to my children, and to my children's children unto the third and fourth generation.'

The present Jos. F. Smith, U. S. Senator Reed Smoot, and every other Mormon in good standing has taken this oath.

"The present-day Mormons believe that the United States of America has only been ushered into its present august state that it might fitly be prepared for the final dominion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"In 1880 Bishop Lunt said: 'Our church has been organized only 50 years, and yet behold its wealth and power! We look forward with perfect confidence to the date when we will hold the reins of the United States government. That is our present temporal aim. After that we expect to control the continent.'

"That was in 1880. Let us see what a generation has accomplished toward fulfilling the prophecy.

"In the early '90s, as the story goes, there appeared on the streets and in the homes and clubs and offices of Salt Lake City a personable young man named Ike Trumbo. Everybody liked him. He became the go-between in the deals between the church and the Republican politicians.


"The first deal was made over the admission of Utah to statehood. The price in money which the church is supposed to have paid for this was $100,000, turned over to Trumbo, and part of which at last reached the coffers of the National Committee.

"Of course money was not all that was paid. It must be remembered that the Republican party and the Mormon Church were natural enemies. But the party in power was Republican, so the leaders of the church, after ratifying their agreement, passed the word to the priesthood; the priesthood passed it to the brethren and sisters. Presto! A great majority of Mormon voters suddenly discovered that they had been Republicans all their lives without knowing it.

"An election for a constitutional convention resulted in an overwhelming Republican victory.

"In 1896 Utah went Democratic by 61,000. It was a 'mistake' for which the leaders abjectly apologized to Senator Hanna, then chairman of the Republican National Committee. As a matter of fact the 'mistake' was due to the tardiness of Hanna in making his deal with Trumbo.

"In 1900 Hanna made his promises and received his contribution in due time. That year Utah went Republican.

The next big deal came In 1904 when the church agreed to deliver to the Republicans the electoral votes of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho in exchange for a cessation of the movement for an amendment of the Constitution granting Congress the power to legislate concerning polygamy, a defense of Reed Smoot, and a disposition of federal patronage in Utah and surrounding states in obedience to the wish of the Mormon hierarchy.

The agreement is still binding. All Mormon influence will be found with the Republican party again this fall.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                     Fairport, New York, Wednesday, November 8, 1911.                     No. ?

The  Source  of  the  Book  of  Mormon.

The foundation of the Mormon faith and the source of the Book of Mormon may be stated briefly as follows:

In the reign of Zedekiah, six hundred years before the birth of Christ, a Jewish family with a few friends and retainers left Jerusalem; being warned of God that a great destruction and captivity were at hand, and journeyed eastward in search of the "land of promise." After much wandering and the death of the Patriarch [sic], they reached the sea, where Nephi, the eldest son of the family, who had succeeded his father in the Patriarchate and Priesthood, was directed by the Lord to build a boat. Having completed this task, the ship was equipped with a "double ball and spindle," which served the exact purpose of the modern mariner's compass. They embarked and after various adventures with storms they landed in Central America. Here they increased rapidly in numbers until a schism arose, and one Laman, with his followers, refused [any] longer to obey the true Priesthood, for which they were cut off from the rest of the people and condemned to be a "brutish and savage "people, having dark skins and compelled to dig in the ground for roots and hunt their meat in the forest like birds of prey." These Lamanites became the American Indians, while the Christian party were known as Nephites, who spread all over North and South America and left the wonderful ruins found on this continent. The Lamanites and Nephites waged warfare almost continually. Finally the two hosts encountered in a mighty battle south of Lake Ontario in this State, and made a last stand at the Hill Cumorah (Mormon Hill) about 430 A. D. Here the fight was waged until the whole land was covered with the dead. It is recounted that two hundred and thirty thousand Nephites were slain and nearly as many Lamanites. The Lamanites, however, were victorious. The little remnant of the Nephites were captured by them, only two making their escape, Mormon, one of the High Priests, and his son, Moroni. The various Kings and Priests of the Nephites had kept a careful record of its history, which Mormon put in one volume, to which he added a book of his own and gave them to his son. The latter finished the record on golden plates, gave it the name of the Book of Mormon, and buried them. In the Hill of Cumorah, being assured of God that fourteen centuries later, a great prophet, would arise and restore them to man. In Joseph Smith that promise was fulfilled. An angel appeared to him and revealed to him the secret of the buried plates, which he found and translated into the present Mormon Bible.

Such is the book of Joseph Smith's account of it. Opposed to this is another account of the origin of the Mormon Bible. In the year 1812, according to the other story, a written work called "The Manuscript Found" was offered to a Mr. Patterson, a publisher in Pittsburg, Pa., by the author, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding. This gentleman was born in Pennsylvania [sic] and was "a graduate of Dartmouth and for many years a Presbyterian minister. Being fond of writing he wrote "The Manuscript Found" more as a recreation than with any intention of making use of it. It was supposed to be an historical romance and an effort to account for the early settlement of America. Friends induced him to offer it for publication and he proposed that Mr. Patterson bring it out, with a preface giving an imaginary account of its having been taken from plates dug up in Ohio. Sidney Rigdon, who later figured so prominently in Mormon affairs, was then at work in Patterson's office and when he died in 1826 [sic], the manuscript, which had been left with him, could not be located. Mrs. Spaulding had in her possession a complete copy of the story, but this disappeared in 1825 [sic] while Joseph Smith was digging a well at a place in Ontario county, where she was staying. Mrs. Spaulding afterward testified that it had been taken from her trunk. When the Book of Mormon was published in Palmyra, Mrs. Spaulding and a brother of Solomon Spaulding and several others who had heard him read his fanciful tale, forthwith claimed that the Mormon book was nearly identical with "The Manuscript Found," varying only in certain interpolated texts and doctrinal points.

One. day in 1829 [sic - 1823?] while Joseph Smith was assisting his father and brothers in digging a well; an occupation often pursed by them, a very curious stone was found somewhat resembling an infant's foot in shape and size. The stone was taken possession of by Smith and it played a prominent part in all the succeeding events of his life. He presently attributed to the stone most wonderful supernatural powers, pretending that it revealed to him hidden stores of gold, water etc., and it was partly [with] its help that he was enabled to translate the golden plates. The well where the stone was found is probably still in existence. It is, or was, located on a place owned by Clark Chase on Canandaigua street, just beyond the town line and on the farm owned by the late Timothy Sniders. The hiuse stood on the west side of the road on the hillside, a little south of the point where the hill [ends?] on the north. The old wood colored house fell to pieces some years ago, but the cellar and foundation wall could be easily located.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XXXIV.                   Binghampton, N. Y., Friday, February 16, 1912.                   No. 262.



Centennial Will Be Observed at Church March 3, 4 and 5


Isaac Hale, One of Founders, Father-in-law of
Joseph Smith, Mormon Leader

Susquehanna, Pa., Feb. 16. -- The Lanesboro M. E. Church will celebrate its centennial on March 3, 4 and 5, next. Sunday will be devoted to centennial services, the Rev. Dr. O. L. Severson preaching the centennial sermon.

The original members of the church 100 years ago included John Comfort and his wife in whose home (almost on the site of the present home of Thomas A. Carr) the first services in Lanesboro were held. John Comfort was the father of the Rev. Dr. Elias Comfort, an eminent preacher and author in the Methodist Church, and grandfather of Dean Comfort of the Fine Arts College of Syracuse University.

Another of the first members was Isaac Hale, at whose home, about one mile below Oakland and on that side of the Susquehanna river, services were often held.

Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, married Miss Emma Hale daughter of Isaac Hale, against her father's wishes. Joseph Smith with his father boarded for a while at the Hales' while the Smiths loafed or dug for hidden treasure, which young Joseph claimed to see by means of a peepstone concealed in his hat.

Isaac Hale, who was a mighty hunter, did not approve of the shiftless ways of young Smith and forbade the marriage. So young Smith and Miss Hale ran off to New York State and were there married.

Isaac Hale was buried in the McKune Cemetery and his tombstone bears this unique inscription: "The body of Isaac Hale, the hunter, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stript of its lettering and gilding, lies here, food for worms, yet the work itself shall not be lost, for it will, as he believed, appear in a new and more beautiful edition, corrected and amended." It is believed Joseph Smith wrote this inscription on his father-in-law's tombstone.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                           Geneva, N. Y., Tuesday, November 12, 1912.                           No. ?



Rev. Charles B. Perkins Tells
of His Experiences With
Men of That Faith.


To the Editor of the Times:

Sir: --The recent visit of two Mormon missionaries to this city, referred to in your paper editorially a few evenings since, and more at length in a communication from Rev. Mr. Negus, recalls to the mind of the writer the razing of the old Hancock county court house at Carthage, Ill., within a year or so, the building in which Joseph and Hyram Smith were arraigned for trial, sixty-eight years ago last June. The Mormon capital was at Nauvoo, a little to the northwest of Carthage, on the Mississippi: a beautiful site for a town, one of the fairest in the whole length of the great river. It was the third settlement of Smith and his followers, who to the number of some where [---- ---- ----] his character was too well known to make the task of building up a new religion centered in him as the latter-day prophet of the Almighty an easy one. The first point chosen by Smith for his New Jerusalem, was Kirtland, Ohio; the second Caldwell county, Missouri. In Kirtland, Smith and his partner in fraud, Rigdon, among their other activities, organized a wild-cat bank; and upon its failure they went to Missouri. There they soon found themselves environed by a hostile population, whose ire had been aroused by what the historians frankly characterize as Smith's ''gross profligacy." Acting under his leadership, the Mormons became more and more at odds with their neighbors, until in the end there was open conflict between them and the state authorities. In connection with this state of affairs Smith was arrested, and with him Rigdon, upon the three-fold charge, of murder, treason and felony. Smith escaped from jail and joined his followers who, to the number of some 15,000, had proceeded to Hancock county, Ill.

Nauvoo was founded in 1840. Its charter gave it extraordinary powers and enabled its rulers to exercise virtual sovereignty over its citizens. Smith was at the head of the city government as well as of the church. The place prospered in a material way, growing rapidly, the people being in the main a sober, industrious, if to easily deluded class.

In July 1843, Smith published a "revelation" authorizing and commending plural marriages. There was something of a revolt in the church itself, at this, and the protesting party found a spokesman in one Dr. Foster, who edited the Nauvoo Expositor. The answer of Smith to Foster's protests and criticisms was an order to pitch his printing outfit into the river; which was promptly carried out. Foster also, was expelled from the church. He was not however, the kind of man to endure this sort of thing tamely, and he procured the arrest of the two Smiths, with sixteen others who had been condemned in the wrecking of his printing establishment.

Smith prepared to resist. He had organized a regular military force, and threatened to use it against the state militia which had been called to the scene of trouble. Bloodshed seemed imminent, when Gov. Ford appeared in Nauvoo, and by his exertions a conflict was avoided. The prisoners were lodged in the Carthage Jail, and later, all but the two Smiths were admitted to bail

And now an open rupture having taken place between the "saints" and the "Gentiles," the danger of the community grew, fed by the tales; of which the air was full, of the high handed acts of the "saints," and in particular, the scandalous living of Joseph with his concubines. The public hostility reached white heat when it was learned that the trial had been postponed, after the arraignment of the prisoners, June 20, 1844. Fear was felt that justice was in danger of defeat through some of the law's intricacies. On the evening of June 27th. an armed body of citizens, estimated at 200, their faces smeared with black, red and yellow paint, forced the doors of the jail and riddled the bodies of Joseph and Hyram Smith with bullets.

The old jail is yet standing or was a few years ago, and visitors were pointed to stains on its walls and floors where the blood of the murdered men spattered, as the bullets went through their bodies.

The whole vicinage was aroused after the shooting, as it was believed that the Nauvoo "Legion," Smith's military corps, 3,000 strong, would endeavor to avenge the deaths of their leaders. But wise counsels prevailed among the Mormons, who seemed thoroughly cowed. Many of the inhabitants made haste to leave the beautiful city, and in September 1846, an attack on the town forced such as remained to follow. Nauvoo was abandoned. In 1848 the temple was burned, a structure on which much money of the faithful had been expanded.

Joseph and Hyram Smith were buried, but until two or three years ago, their graves were unmarked. A monument erected by some Mormons from Salt Lake City now designates the resting places of their shattered bodies

The "Gentiles" of Nauvoo and vicinity had great provocation, but the killers of the Smiths not only committed a crime, they were guilty of a moral blunder of the gravest nature. The court would have settled Joseph Smith's polygamous practices and a discredited ''revelation" would have resulted, had his case been permitted to come to trial. As it was, his silent taking-off raised him at d him once, in the estimation of his followers to the ranks of the martyrs of faith; and the further outrages committed on the community only served to bind the Mormon people more closely to their pitiful delusion.

In judging of the Mormons, people ought to be particular to discriminating between the common people and the members of the hierarchy. The ordinary Mormon citizen, whether in Utah or in New York, (I learn that there are Mormon converts here) is about as fair a type of citizen as you will easily find. There are a good many of them scattered through Iowa, where they dropped by the way, from sickness or other causes, in their dreary trek to the Salt Lake valley, after being driven from Nauvoo. I have known some of them. I know of an aged preacher and pastor in a town in Van Buren county, who has been a citizen of the place for a great many years, and who possesses the respect of everybody in his community. There was one Mormon family in my town, Keosauqua, when I settled in the place 16 years ago. Mr. Brown was one of our best citizens. He had been a brave soldier in the Civil War and was chaplain of the local Grand Army post. His son's family was connected with my own church. On my calling on him, which I did at his invitation, he promptly produced his well-worn Bible, and handing it to me asked to read a chapter and offer prayer. As I ran through the leaves of the Bible I observed that there was hardly a page in which passages were not marked. As I spoke of this, Mr. Brown said, "Yes sir, I know that book. You couldn't misquote a sentence from it anywhere, that I wouldn't catch you at it."

It is just here that the strength of the Mormon delusion lies. Joseph Smith was a pretty poor figure of a man, by all accounts, but he was wise in some things. He was eminently wise in not discarding the Bible. Keeping the Bible, he added to it his spurious Book of Mormon, a piece of work so palpably and cheaply fraudulent, that nobody would have been deceived by it had it stood alone. Its pretended connection with, the Bible however, gained him his following, and that pretended connection holds the rank and file of Mormondom today. If it can be made to appear that there is a scriptural basis for it, almost any kind of a delusion will find adherents. Witness John Alexander Dowie and his church.

It is wonderful how sincere the Mormon people are. My friend Brown believed in anointing, the sick with "holy oil" and related to me how he had at, one time raised his wife from the very verge of death; and after the doctors had given her up, by such anointing and the power of prayer.

And referring again to Mormon morality, there is a town in southern Iowa in which there is a college under Mormon control. It is a Mormon town, i. e., the Mormons are in a majority there, I believe there is but one church beside theirs, a Methodist church. A friend of mine has been professor of mathematics in the Mormon college for sixteen or seventeen years. He gave me the most glowing account of the orderliness and morality of the town. I asked him if any pressure was put upon him in a religious way; (he had been connected with the church in Iowa City while a student at the University). He answered "No. There is perfect freedom of faith." This liberality might be accounted for, perhaps, by the fact that this Mormon town is in the midst of a non-Mormon community. But the morality is certainly not "put on."

It is declared on good authority, that polygamy is yet practiced in Utah and the other states having a large Mormon population, in spite of the federal statutes. Moreover, it is added that the new polygamy is of a darker type morally then the old, inasmuch as, being illegal, husbands cannot acknowledge their plural wives, or their children by them. So far as this is true, and that it is true I do not doubt, it seems to me that in a generation or two it may be expected to cure itself. What boy or girl, after arriving at the age of reflection, could continue to reverence a religious institution that denies to him or her the right to an open and legal fatherhood? It would appear that the shame and humiliation of such a condition, would lead every such person, not only to leave the Mormon church but to oppose its pretensions.
CHAS. E. PERKINS,          
Geneva, N. Y., Nov. 12, 1912.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LXIX.                       Syracuse, New York, Friday, February 7, 1913.                      No. 33.



Bloodiest Chapter in American History is
Recalled by Baker's Story.


Identified When Rescued by Birthmark on Each of His Forefingers.

MARSHALL, Tex. Feb. 7. -- W. T. Baker, 56 years old, living at Leslie, six miles south of here, is the younget of the 17 surviving children of the Mountain Meadow massacre, which occurred in Utah, in September, 1857, when 120 men, women and children from Arkansas were waylaid and brutally murdered by Mormons and Indians. His father, mother, oldest sister, several aunts and uncles were killed, and two of his sisters escaped.

Mr. Baker way born at Harrison, Ark., Nov. 15. 1856, being the son of G. W. Baker. He was nine months old when the massacre occurred, and when rescued in 1859 was about three years old.


His two sisters, who escaped, are Mrs. Sarah Gladden, now of Checotah, Okla., and Mrs. Betty Terry of Harrison, Ark. At the time of the massacre they were about three and five years old, respectively.

The story of the massacre furnishes one of the bloodiest chapters in American history. One hundred and thirty-seven Arkansas emigrants from Carroll County, of which Boone was then a part, were en route to California in search of permanent homes. They were commanded by Capt. Alexander Fancher, and had a long wagon train, 900 head of cattle, many mules and horses and considerable money.

When they reached Mountain Meadow, Utah Territory, they were waylaid and massacred by Mormons and Indians, in September, 1857. Only 17 children, 10 girls and seven boys, between the ages of nine months and nine years, escaped. This emigrating party was said to form the wealthiest train in horses, mules, cattle, wagons, carriages, property and money that ever attempted to cross the plains in that year.

Capt. J. H. Carlton of the United States Army was sent two years later to bury the bones of the dead and to learn what he could about the crime. He proceeded from Los Angeles. Cal., and made a careful examination. He interviewed Mormons and Indians, who lived near. The Mormons claimed the Indians were responsible for the massacre, but the Indians said they were led by 200 Mormons, and the order to exterminate the wagon train came from Salt Lake City.

Captain Carlton found the bodies of children murdered in their mothers' arms, and human hair hanging to the bushes where the crime occurred. He erected a monument over the bodies of the murdered people, on the north side of which was inscribed:


"Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay." On the reverse side was inscribed: "Here 120 men, women and children were murdered in cold blood in September, 1857. They were from Arkansas."

Mr. Baker stated that while he lived at Harrison. Ark., Capt. James Lynch of Calhoun County stayed over night with him and told him how he had helped to rescue the children from the Mormons. Captain Lynch wore old, rugged clothes into the settlement where it was thought the children were located.

It seems that he pretended to be traveling and that some of his wagons needed repairing. He got permission to camp in a desirable location until his wagons could be repaired. Here the exact location of the children was found and [the] Mormons were ordered to produce them or suffer what might follow.

It is stated that one of the wives of John D. Lee was keeping two of the little girls, and when the rescuers were approaching the house she ran away. When a demand was made for the girls, Mrs. Lee said that if she had known some one was coming after the children she would have burst out their brains against the gate post.

Credit is given Dr. Jacob Forney, superintendent of Indian affairs In Utah, for obtaining these children in that state. When he obtained them their names had been changed to prevent identification or inquiry, while in possession of the Mormons. Brothers and sisters were kept separated, but were allowed to see each other once in a while. They were poorly fed and clothed.

Dr. Forney placed these children in charge of Major Whiting of the United States Army, who brought them from Salt Lake City. Utah, to Fort Leavenworth. Kan., and was met there by Col. W. C. Mitchell of Arkansas.


Colonel Mitchell, who lost three sons and all their families, took charge of the children at Fort Leavenworth, August 25, 1859, and reached Carrollton, Carroll County, with them on Sept. 16 of the same year, and distributed them to their relatives. On the trip they wore red flannel suits.

Charles Mitchell, one of Colonel Mitchell's sons, married Sarah Baker, sr., an aunt of Mr. Baker and a sister to G. W. Baker, his father.

When the children were being distributed, a dispute arose as to whom the baby, W. T. Baker, belonged. He was claimed by both the Baker and the Mitchell relatives. It was known that Charles Mitchell's baby and G. W. Baker's were about the same age, and that one or the other was killed in the massacre. The dispute was not settled until Grandma Baker, known as "Aunt Polly," was called in.

She said that if it were the Baker baby, there was a birthmark on each of its forefingers -- no nails. This was found to be true and the baby was identified as W. T. Baker. And to-day this mark is easily detected, each of the forefinger tips being as smooth on the top side as it is on the bottom.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Utica Herald-Dispatch AND DAILY GAZETTE.

Vol. LXV.                              Utica, N. Y., Tues., March 11, 1913.                             No. 97.


An Address by the. Rev. F. S. Eastman Before
The Utica Clerical Union.

That Mormonism was founded on fraud, that it has flourished on avarice and lust, until it has become a menace to the United States, was the statement of the Rev. F. S. Eastman of New Hartford, in an address at a meeting of the Utica Clerical Union in Grace Church yesterday. The speaker declared that the "Book of Mormon" published by Joseph Smith, as a revelation found written on tablets of stone unearthed by him, was proved to have been taken verbatim from a romance written by Solomon Spalding.

Mr. Eastman said that the rapid growth of the Mormon sect, until they number nearly 500,000, was due to the fact that they have 2,000 missionaries at work securing converts. The doctrine of plural marriage, he said, still stands in their "Book of Doctrine and Covenants." Said he: "From Smith and his successors the constant charge has been: "We intend taking the whole United States."

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LXIX.                             Syracuse, N. Y., Fri., Dec. 19, 1913.                           No. 302.


St. Louis Authority Says That Plates Were
Translated in Cayuga County.


Original Mormon Came Here from Jerusalem in Year 604 B. C.

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 19. -- A story that "the original copper [sic] plates from which the Second Book of Mormon was written were 'planted' in an Indian mound in Pike County, Ill., in the '40s by the father of W. D. Fugate, 1926 Obear av., St Louis, in a plot to trick the Mormon leader, Joseph Smith." was assailed by George W. Schweich of Richmond, Mo., an authority on Mormon history. Schweich said there is no Second Book of Mormon.

"The gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith were found by him on Hill Cumora, near Watertown, N. Y., in 1829." Schweich said. "The plates are covered with reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics. They are thin, and about the size of ordinary writing paper. The plates form a stack about four inches tall, and are held at one end by a ring, which serves as a binding. The book was translated in the home of my grandfather, Peter Whitmer, sheriff of Cayuga County, N. Y., and printed more than a decade before the date of the alleged hoax In Illinois."


Schweich told how Lehi, the original Mormon, had sailed with his family in a small boat from Jerusalem to South America in 604 B. C. Lehi, he said, had been warned by God to leave Jerusalem because it soon was to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar for its iniquity.

"Two of Lehl's sons rebelled against him and were cursed by God," Schweich said. "Their skin became bronzed. They were the original American Indians and were known as Lamanites. The descendants of the other son remained white and were called Nephites. These two races fought incessantly and their last stand was at Hill Cumora, where Smith found the plates. The keeper of the plates and other relics was the only white man to survive. He added a short description of the battle before burying the plates. This was several centuries before Christ came to America."


"Besides the gold plates, the mound contained brass plates on which the old Mosaic Bible was written in Hebrew. Their history dates to the flight of Lehi from Jerusalem in 604 B. C. There also was found the armor and sword of Laban, which a son of Lehi had obtained on the hasty departure. The son found Laban the treasurer of the Sanhedrin intoxicated, and slew him. The sword has a scabbard of gold and a blade of the finest Damascus steel. In the hilt is set a diamond as large as a partridge egg.

"The movement started in 1829, is growing and will continue to do so. Ten years hence a migration will have carried most of the Mormons from Salt Lake City to Independence, Mo. Independence then will be the Zion of the Mormon Church and the Utah city a Gentile town."

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Troy  Times.

Vol. LXIV.                       Troy, New York, Saturday, November 14, 1914.                       No. 121.


Interesting Talk by Dr. Mitchell Brook
in the First Baptist Church --
Early Days and Joseph Smith.

The Mormon religion was the subject of an interesting address by Rev. Dr. Mitchell Bronk in the First Baptist Church last night. He said that he was peculiarly adapted to speak on the subject, as he was born and reared near Palmyra, where the Mormon religion first attracted attention. It was on the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, where Joseph Smith found the gold plates and Bible, which formed part of the material which led up to the religion. Rev. Dr. Bronk spoke of the unsuccessful efforts of Joseph Smith to obtain converts to the new faith. He also related several stories which were told by his grandfather concerning the early part of the religion. Rev. Dr. Bronk said that of the many histories of the Mormon religions the one written by Pomeroy Tucker was probably the best, because Mr. Tucker worked in the printing house where the first Mormon Bible was published.

Note 1: The Rev. Dr. Bronk's lecture was advertized in the Troy Times of Nov. 13th, with this notice: "Dr. Mitchell Bronk of the Second Baptist Church will speak at the First Baptist Church this evening on Mormonism: Its Genesis and Its Influence." Dr. Bronk's lecture will have additional interest because he lived for a time at the place where Joseph Smith of Mormon fame claimed to have found the gold plate which revealed Mormonism to him."

Note 2: Unfortunately none of Bronk's Mormon History lecture notes appear to have been preserved. While some of his articles published in the Shortsville Enterprise touch briefly upon the topic of the early New York Mormons, Bronk's collection of "stories which were told by his grandfather concerning the early part of the religion" are not known to have ever been published, nor is there any mention of these family anecdotes included among Rev. Bronk's papers, on file in BYU's Lee Library.



Vol. ?                             Syracuse, N. Y., Sunday, March 12, 1916.                            No. ?



Visit Recalls Story of Elders Who Visited Theresa
Century Ago and Made Many Converts.

Watertown. March 11. -- The recent arrival here from Utah of two Mormon elders charged with spreading in this region the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is not the first effort to "plant a stake of Zion" in this locality. Upwards of a century ago some of the most famous prophets of the faith proselyted here with such zeal and power that from several north country communities went forth long wagon trains of converts to join the colony ruled by Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Nauvoo; while at a later date from this section went recruits to the reorganized church established by Joseph Smith, Jr., in the old temple built by his father at Kirtland, O. The prophet Strang drew a few North country converts to his island kingdom at Beaver Island, in Lake Michigan. Two of the prophets of the new religion took as wives daughters of Jefferson county, and from Jefferson went to join the saints battling against the Gentiles in Illinois, the giant blacksmith known as Captain Fearnaught," who sealed his faith with his blood, being literally hacked to pieces by a Gentile mob.

The towns of Theresa, Cape Vincent, Redwood and Antwerp, in Jefferson county, and of Hopkinton and Pierrepont, in St. Lawrence county, were the most affected by the Mormon evangelistic effort that was made throughout this section of the State, about 1833. The Smiths and their followers, driven forth from Palmyra, where in the Hill Cumorah, near Manchester, were found the golden plates revealing the new doctrine, after having erected at their "City of Zion," near Kirtland, O., the imposing stone temple that crowns Kirtland heights to this day, sent out missionaries to preach the doctrines of the Book of Mormon to "heathen" lands, and this North was one of the first regions visited, the evangelists selecting Theresa as the scene of their initial labors.

Appeared in Theresa in 1832.

"While the actual advent of the Mormon missionaries did not occur until the early summer of 1833," according to the account of the crusade given by an old chronicler, "the few remaining residents of Theresa who witnessed the attempt to found branch of Zion there are of the opinion that the saints from their settlement at Kirtland sent out one of their number the preceding winter to 'spy out the land,' after the custom of the Israelites." According to the same old chronicler, "about the month of January, 1882, a talented young lawyer named Alanson Pettingill, whose father, Deacon Pettingill, was a leading citizen of Butternuts, Otsego county, arrived at Theresa and was for several weeks a guest of Capt. Nathaniel Lull, the captain's wife, having boarded with the Pettingill family when a teacher at Butternuts." While the young man said never a word about Mormonism, according to the same old chronicler, it was remarked that he was greatly interested in the religious status of Threresa and the surrounding communities, and made several visits to this city, Redwood, Plessis, Antwerp, and Cape Vincent, inquiring at those places into the religious situation. It was learned later on, the old Theresa writer states, that young PettingiII had joined the Mormons the previous year, and afterward became the president of the "Kirtland Safety Society bank," which, not being chartered, could not legally collect its loans, and in trying to collect by "shotgun persuasion," Pettingill, who was quicker with the pen with the trigger, lost his life. It may be of interest to note in passing that the "wildcat" currency issued at Kirtland was later redeemed dollar for dollar in gold at Salt Lake City.

One afternoon, the June following [sic - June, 1835?], Pettingill's visit to Theresa, while the villagers were "working out their poll tax" under the generalship of Path-master DeGraase Salisbury, an open carriage drawn by a span of white horses was seen approaching. It contained six fine looking men in broadcloth and shiny beavers and with flowing patriarchal beards, all of whom wore green, gold-bowed spectacles, one of whom read from a small open book for the instruction of his companions. They proved to be Parley P. Pratt, the distinguished Hebrew scholar, afterward assassinated at Nauvoo [sic - Arkansas?]; David Whitcomb [sic], one of the "witnesses" who testified to seeing the golden plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon with the aid of the "Urim and Thummim," and Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde and Samuel and Eden Smith, all men of culture and scholarly attainment, who had come to "proclaim to the Gentles" the new and true faith in obedience to a revelation of Joseph Smith.

New Faith Expounded.

That night, it is related, a meeting was held in the old village school house at Theresa, occupying, the site of the present George Yost home, the throng that assembled filling the building and the overflow listening at open doors and windows, as the tenets of the new faith were expounded. There are still living old residents of Theresa, it is said, who on that occasion, as children, saw "the original Book of Mormon," a little volume of blue-ruled note paper about two inches in thickness, which David Whitcomb who transcribed it as deciphered from the golden plates by Joseph Smith while they sat behind a bed blanket in a corner of the smith cabin at Palmyra, guarded with jealous care. There had been recent stirring religious revivals at Theresa and all through the section, and the seed sown by the missionaries fell upon soil ready for its reception, and many were converted.

During the ensuing summer fresh deputations of missionaries were constantly arriving by boat from Kirtland, Ohio, at Sacket Harbor and Cape Vincent, traveling thence across the country, to the headquarters at Theresa, to spread their gospel through all this region. They held great meetings in school houses, groves and even in barns, keeping the religious fervor at fever heat. They claimed to "speak in an unknown tongue," to heal the sick by the laying on of hands, and even to raise the dead to life, and the "people marveled as they did of old."

Restores the Dead to Life.

It is related by old residents of Theresa that a fever-stricken boy, Thomas Gale whose parents lived in the Parker settlement, was instantly restored to health when annointed by one of the Mormon elders. During the same summer, it is related, a young girl, whose parents, David Rosenbarger and wife, lived near Hyde lake, apparently died after a short illness. The parents, converts of the new faith, kept the body from burial for three days, until the arrival, of Orson Pratt, who, after wrestling in prayer beside the body from midnight until the gray of dawn, annointed the brow of the girl and asked that all leave the room, moment later recalling the weeping friends to show them their daughter restored to life.

As the converts to the new faith from Theresa were largely drawn from the Methodist church, whose doctrines were similar to those of the early Mormons as regards the atonement and mediation of Christ, Elder Phelps of the. M. E. flock took up the cudgel of argument against the ''heresy," and there were until recently old residents of Theresa who recalled always with amusement the famous debate at the old school house at the west end of the village between Phelps and David Patten, the village blacksmith, swarthy giant who was a pillar of the new faith. Patten, who "knew the Bible by heart from lid to lid," as he was wont to boast, was profuse in Scriptural quotation, and the elder was fairly bombarded with texts into taking refuge in sarcasm and ridicule, squinting through his fists in imitation of Joe Smith usting the "Urim and Thummim" to decipher the golden plates.

Meetings Held In Redwood.

At Redwood great Mormon meetings were held on the hill above Butterfield lake, where the old fair ground was then located; the Plessis school house was the scene of many Mormon conversions, and the old village hall at Antwerp was utilized for meetings by the missionaries, while big gatherings were held here in a grove at Huntingtonville near the eastern suburbs of the city. Meetings were held at homes of John and Henry Ackley at Cape Vincent, and at Millen's bay.

About 1834 the converts to the faith began to dispose of their farms and stock and outfit with "prairie schooners" to join the Mormon caravan for Kirtland, O., the emigrant train of thirty wagons starting from this city in June of that year and being led by Dr. William Huntington, sr., the founder of the hamlet at Huntingtonville, near this city, a soldier of the war of 1812, and previous to locating here, a leading physician of New Hampshire. In his big wagon rode his daughter, Ziana Dianina Huntington, then a handsome girl of 15, who was destined to be the spiritual wife of the prophet, Joseph Smith, and the twentieth wife in the flesh of Joseph's successor, Brigham Young; also in the wagon rode a little boy of 3, who in later years was well known as the leading dentist of this city -- Dr. John D. Huntington -- who died here a few years ago and just before the death at Salt Lake City of his sister. "Aunt Ziana" Young, as the widow of Brigham was known to the people of all Utah.

Giant Smithy in the Party.

The party also included David Patten, the giant Theresa, blacksmith, who sold shop and goods at auction to "join the Saints," and who was accompanied by Amos Patten, his venerable father, and Ira Patten, his brother; the latter after many years of wandering being furnished with money by the late Alexander Cooper of Theresa to return home, dying at Theresa a few years ago. Warren Parrish, a member of a wealthy Theresa family, one of the first converts there, sold his farm in the "Deacon Sill" neighborhood and joined the train led by Dr. Huntington and David Patten, acting as clerk of the general assembly of the Church of Latter Day Saints in 1835, when the covenants of their faith were adopted by unanimous vote. He tried, it is related, to convert his venerable father, who had emigrated with him, to the new faith, but the old gentleman resented the proselyting zeal of his son by "pitching into" the youth of 50 years with his cane and thoroughly chastising him, after which the old man returned to Theresa to die in his early faith at the home of his son-in-law, Thompson Brooks.

Among the Theresa emigrants was "Uncle Jerry" Cheeseman and his son, Alonso, the latter, after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Nanvoo and the subversion of the doctrine of spiritual wives promulgated by Joseph under divine revelation into polygamous practice by Brigham Young, leaving the Nauvoo colony and joining the "Stangites." Alonso Cheeseman died a few years ago at Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, where the revelator and prophet, Strang had founded his Island kingdom. Alonso's wife was a member of the Rulison family, still numerous and influential in Jefferson county, and her young cousin, Amelia Hutchins, became the wife of Strang. The town of Cape Vincent contributed to the Mormon immigrant train John and Henry Ackley and their families of the Warren Settlement, a family named Guthrie, living on Indian Hill, and a family named Witherbee, from near Millen's Bay. From Rutland went Jeremiah Peige, who after becoming an official of the church and taking several wives, apostatized and made a revelation, which was published, of what he claimed were the secret rites of the endowment house. Henry Ackley of Cape Vincent, also left the Mormon colony and settled in Pennsylvania.

Converts From Hopkinton.

The town of Hopkinton in St. Lawrence county sent to Watertown a band of emigrant Mormons with half a dozen wagons, to join Dr. Huntington's party bound for Kirtland. This Hopkinton detachment included Amos Phelps and Norman Meacham and their families, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Meacham, and Mrs. Hiram Meade and their two daughters, and Stephen Meacham, wife and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Guerly Smith and their five daughters, and Polly and Susan Moses.

After living at Kirtland for a year or two the party of converts from Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties emigrated to the Mormon colony, at Nauvoo. Here Dr. Huntington became one of the wealthy and influential men of the colony, but during the troublous times of 1837 lost all of his property, and soon after died. His son, William Huntingdon, jr., was the official undertaker of the community. Soon after the death of the father, Ziana Dianthe Huntington, who was a strikingly handsome woman of about 20 years, and who had been divorced from Henry Jacobs, a Mormon elder to whom she was married when barely 16, was sealed to the prophet, Joseph Young, as is claimed, for "eternity." In the following July, during the epidemic of malaria which raged at Nanvoo, the widow of Dr. William Huntington died, and the family was broken, up, John, afterward a dentist of this city, then a boy of 16, being taken into the family of Joseph Smith, where his sister was the seventh spiritual wife, as is claimed. John was apprenticed to the editor of the Mormon paper, where he learned the typesetter's trade and assisted in getting out the second edition of the Book Of Mormon, the former schoolmaster, Sidney Rigdon, who had married [sic] Sally Smith, the prophet's sister, and to whom the authorship of the Book of Mormon has often been attributed, reading the proof of the volume and occasionally directing such changes as a new vision of the prophet inspired, it is related.

John D. Huntington aided his brother, William, to prepare for burial the body of Joseph Smith after he was shot by a mob at Carthage on June 27th, 1844, and when the threatening aspect of the Gentiles seemed to forbid a public funeral, [he] helped William to bury the remains of the leader in the cellar of his apostoIic residence, just the rear of the partially finished Nauvoo temple with its gigantic gold plated eagle [sic - angel?] on the dome, melted in the fire that destroyed the big church on the night when the Mormons were driven out to wander across the deserts with Brigham Young as their Moses.

Patton Hacked to Pieces,

During the strenuous days before the expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo, David Patten the Theresa blacksmith, was in the thick of the fray wherever there was trouble, leading a company of the Nauvoo legion [sic] from a settlement called Far West in their fight against the State troops under Governor Bogg. Afterward in the fight at Crooked River, when the saints were pitted against the citizens of Ray, Clay, Carroll and Caldwell counties, Patton, whose reckless daring had earned for him the title of "Captain Fearnaught" was hacked to pieces by the corn knives with which the opposing forces were armed in lieu of sabres.

The few distant relatives of Mrs. Young in this section have always contended that she was never married to Joseph Smith, and that she was the second and legitimate wife of Brigham Young, instead of the twentieth wife, as always claimed by the Utah papers, the first wife, as claimed by the Watertown relatives, having died before the marriage of Brigham and Ziana Dianthe Huntington.

Note 1: See also the Syracuse Herald of Dec. 11, 1898. The two Herald articles share much of the same text and the "old chronicler" referred to appears to have been John A. Haddock, in his 1895 History of Jefferson County. The Herald's March 12th article was reprinted in the Ogdensburg St. Lawrence Republican of March 15, 1916.

Note 2: The Herald writer seems to have conflated accounts printed in the 1886 History of Calwell County, of Elder Patton's death by gunshot and another report of one of Patton's troops (James Holbrook) being "cut up" with "corn knives, or 'swords'" in the same Missouri battle.

Note 3: The article writer's attempt at conveying local history gives the false impression of David Whitmer ("Whitcomb") having been in Jefferson County, New York along with the visiting Council of Twelve Apostles in June of 1835. Whitmer and his missionary companion, Hyrum Smith, did not arrive in the area until several weeks after the Mormon leaders had departed. See notes appended to Salt Lake Tribune article of Apr. 4, 1901.



Vol. ?                             Syracuse, N. Y., Sunday, April 9, 1916.                            No. ?



Watson L. Palmer Spent Boyhood Says on the Smith
Homestead in Vermont, Walls of Which Still Stand.

Watertown, April 8. -- The fact that a resident of this city once dwelt on the old Joseph Smith farm homestead among the mountains of Vermont, where was born the country boy who as revelator and prophet was destined to influence the lives of over a million people during the century since his birth and to found a church that boasts a living membership of over 400,000, may be of interest just at this time, when the doctrine and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is attracting such wide attention here owing to the recent arrival of two Mormon elders to spread the tenets of their faith in this community. Watson L. Palmer, a carpenter boarding on Main street, this city, spent several years of his boyhood on the old Smith farm lying partly in the township of Sharon and partly in the town of Royalton, Windsor county, Vt., and is possessed of much interesting information regarding the Smith family and the boyhood of the founder of the Mormon Church.

Joseph Smith, the "revelator," who was a son of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, and was born on December 23d, 1805, in a little log house located across the town line between Sharon and Royalton, the ruins of which are being now carefully preserved, came according to Palmer of good, though in nowise remarkable, stock, the maternal grandfather Solomon Mack, whose homestead the Smiths occupied at the time of the "revelator's" birth, having been a veteran of the old French war and also of the Revolution. The father of the "revelator," Joseph Smith, sr., was a sort of a wandering ne'er-do-well, sometimes nicknamed by the thrifty Vermonters of Sharon "Shiftless Smith," whose six sons wore bom in five contiguous towns, Joseph being the only one born during the sojourn of the family on Grandfather Mack's farm, the family moving when the boy was two years of age to South Royalton, a few miles away, and later to Lebanon, N. H., and finally bringing up when Joseph was a lad of about fourteen vears at Palmyra, N.Y. where his career as a "revelator" commenced and where his biography is usually begun, his birthplace being dismissed usually that it was "in Vermont."

Smith Was Considered Odd.

Joseph was too young when he left the vicinity of his birthplace in Vermont to have made much of an impression on the community of farmers residing thereabout, though it is still a tradition there, handed down by those who knew the lad, that he was even then considered "queer," being given to wandering alone about the rocky hilIsides and holding converse with beings invisible to others, the farm folk about him asserting that he "was cut out for a preacher." "Aunt Abbie" Smith, a distant kinswoman of the lad's father, according to the fireside legends of Sharon and South Royalton as related in Mr. Palmer's boyhood days, foretold at the time of his birth that he would be a prophet of the Lord and would die a martyr," and when the news came back to the little farming neighborhood among the hills of Vermont where Joseph had first seen the light, of the wonderful city and temple he had built at Nauvoo and of his death at the hands of a mob at Carthage, Ill., the old farmer's wives of the section, as Mr, Palmer's father often told him, recalled the aged woman's oft-repeated prophecy.

For a few decades after the death of Joseph Smith, the "revelator," the fame of his successor, Brigham Young, the "prophet," who led the Mormon hosts succesfully from burning Nauvoo across the great plains to found the mountain State of Utah, obscured that of the original founder of the sect, but since the death of Brigham and the repudiation by the Church of Latter Day Saints of the doctrine of polygamy, of which he was the foremost advocate, if not, as the "Josephites" claim, the originator, the old reverence for the name of Joseph Smith is again stirring the hearts of the Mormon sect, and steps have been taken to erect at the scene of his birth a suitable monument. With the above object in view the officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints few years ago purchased the boulder-strewn farm up among the hills of Windsor county, Vermont, where the "revelator" was bom, which they are taking steps to transform into a fine park where cottages will be erected for the entertainment pilgrims to the Mormon shrine.

Mormons Get Deed of Property.

From C. H. Robinson and wife, who were the owners of the farm at the time of the purchase, the trustees of the Mormon church secured a deed conveying to them sixty-five acres of land lying along both sides of the line separating the towns of Sharon and Royalton and comprising the old Solomon Mack farm, copies of all deeds affecting the plot of land being carefully transcribed and filed in the office of the church historian, in the great Mormon temple at Salt Lake City, the deed from C. H. Robinson and wife to Joseph F. Smith, nephew of Joseph, the ''revelator," and the fifth prophet to succeed him as head of the church, undoubtedly being the last transfer of the land that will be made, at least for ages to come.

The little frame farm house in which Mr. Palmer, who gives the accompanying facts regarding the Joseph Smith homestead, dwelt while his father, Asa Palmer, was a tenant on the farm, was situated over on the Royalton side of the town line which divides the premises. Mr. Palmer states, and as the foundation walls of the old Smith log cabin stood squarely across the town line, there had always been a dispute between the residents of the adjoining towns as to which community could claim the honor of being the birthplace of the "seer and revelator," but the matter, according to Mr. Palmer, was settled at the time the property was conveyed to the Church of Latter Day Saints in the summer of 1905, in favor of the town of Sharon. One of the church trustees, a Mr. Pratt, according to the account given by Mr. Palmer, produced at that time a little book made of blue ruled foolscap paper such as was used for school copy books three score years ago, containing in the handwriting of Lucy Mack Smith the complete biography of her son, which gives Sharon, Vt., as the town in which he was born and "the log house on the farm of her father, Solomon Mack," as his birthplace. In the same little volume it was recorded that he was born in the "east room," and the eastern side of the little house, as shown by the foundation walls, is, according to Mr. Palmer, over on the Sharon side of the line.

Ruined Walls Still Untouched.

The ruined walls of the old house have not been allowed, to be so much as touched by the Mormons since they came into possession, Mr. Palmer says, but when he left Windsor county a few years ago, plans were being made for erecting a few feet to the eastward of the foundation walls and at the crest of the hill on which the humble home stood, a magnificent memorial monument the designs of which had been prepared by the artists who designed the Mormon temple years before, and which were in the hands of the trustees who purchased the plot and were exhibited by them to quarry men of that section. The design called for, Mr. Palmar states, a massive block of Vermont granite, from which would rise a perpendicular shaft thirty-eight and one-half feet in height, a foot for each year of the "revelator's' life; this simple but imposing column to be highly polished an to be inserted from base to pinnacle with quotations from prophetic utterances of the founder at Mormonism.

Following the departure of the Smith family from Lebanon N. H., whither they had drifted after leaving Sharon, Vt., they located at Palmyra in Western New York, as has so often been related, at a time when the entire country was greatly stirred by a wonderful religious awakening. The exhortations of the revivalists so wrought upon the mind of the always visionary Joseph that the lad of 14 was in "sore perplexity" as to the truth, and he sought out a lonely place in a deep wood, where, as he wrestled in prayer, he saw in a vision an angel, "Moroni," who told him none of the established doctrines were right, but that he was called to discover the true faith, and later he was informed of the golden plates hidden in the hill "Cumorah." He visited the spot each recurring September until 127, when he was allowed to obtain possession of the plates and commenced with the aid of the stones, "Urim and Thummim," their translation, which in 1829 was completed and the Book of Mormon" was published. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized that year at [Manchester, New York].

Joseph and his brother, Hyrum, led their followers to Nauvoo, Ill, where they founded a village, built up industries, erected a temple with a huge golden angel on his pinnacle and were the dictators of a flourishing community. Here, as they multiplied, trouble arose, and the "saints" came into armed conflict with the State. Threatened by mob violence, Joseph and Hyrum gave themselves up to the protection of the authorities, and were locked up on the second floor of the Court House [sic - Jail] at Carthage, the county seat. On June 27th, 1844, a mob of over 1,000 infuriated men attacked the Court House, Hyrum being shot down through a window [sic - door]. Joseph fought desperately with a pistol in either hand until his ammunition was spent, when he leaped from the Court House window and was riddled with bullets and instantly killed in mid-air, before he struck the ground, thus completing his apothesis in the minds of his followers. So bitter was the anger of ths mob against the "revelators" that William Huntington, a former Watertown man and the official undertaker of the Mormon colony, at Nauvoo, dared not place the body of Joseph in the coffin that was buried by his followers beside the walls of the great temple, but interred the bullet-riddled corpse secretly that [illegible]...

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XLV.                                 Fairport, N.Y., January 24, 1917.                                 No. 43.


Story of the Rise of This Peculiar Religion
in Early Days of Wayne County

That period in Wayne county when the Erie canal was dug, and which started the prosperity of the western portion of the State is also notable as the period when "Joe" Smith of Palmyra hatched out his Mormon religion. The remarkable rise of this religion in Wayne county is a peculiar circumstance, and its early history in the county in the region of Manchester and Palmyra is worthy of careful note. Although Smith claimed to have dug up the plates from which the Mormon Bible was translated, and although the printing of the Bible was done at Palmyra, yet it is to the credit of Palmyra that people that they did not "take" to the doctrine, and aside from Martin Harris and a few others the local converts were few in number.

The following story of the rise of Mormonism is taken from a History of Wayne County, written by Prof. W. H. McIntosh.

Mormonism had its origin with the family :of Joseph Smith, Sr., who came in the summer of 1816, from Royalton, Vermont, and settled in the village of Palmyra. The family consisted of nine children, viz., Alvin, Hiram, Sophronia, Joseph, Samuel H., William, Catherine, Carlos and Lucy. Arrived at Palmyra the elder Smith opened a "cake and beer shop," as his sign indicated, and the profits of the shop, combined with occasional earnings by himself and eldest sons at harvesting, well-digging and other common employments, enabled him to provide an honest living for the family. The shop, with its confectionery, gingerbread, root-beer and such articles, was well patronized by the village and country youth, and on public occasions did a lively business. A hand-cart fashioned by Joseph Smith, Sr., was employed to peddle his wares on the streets. For two and a half years the family resided in the village, and in 1818 settled upon a wild tract of land located about two miles south of Palmyra. Anticipating a removal hither, a small log house had been built, and in this they made their home for a dozen years. The cabin contained two rooms on the ground floor, and a garret had two divisions. Some time after occupation a wing was built of slabs for a sleeping apartment.

The land thus settled was owned by non-resident minor heirs, who had a local agent to look after it; hence the squatters were not disturbed. Mr. Smith finally contracted for the land, made a small payment and occupied the tract until 1829 when the new religion was ushered into existence. The family were an exception to Vermonters, and did little to improve their state or clear the land. A short time before leaving the farm they erected the frame of a small house and partially inclosed it, and here they lived in the unfinished building until they took their departure. The old cabin was put to use as a barn. The Smiths left in 1831, and that once wild tract, the abode of the squatter family, is now a well-organized farm located on Stafford street, running south of the village. The Smiths obtained a livelihood from this lot by the sale of cordwood, baskets, birch-brooms, maple sugar and syrup, and on public days resumed the cake and beer business in Palmyra. Much the larger portion of the time of the Smiths was employed in hunting, trapping muskrats, fishing and lounging at the village. Joseph, Jr., was active in catching woodchucks, but practically ignored work.

Nocturnal depredations occurred among neighbors, and suspicion rested upon the family, but no proof of their being implicated has been adduced. "A shiftless set" was an appropriate designation to the Smiths, and Joseph, Jr., was the worst of the lot. During his minority he is recalled as indolent and mendacious. In appearance dull-eyed, tow-haired, and of shiftless manner. Taciturn unless addressed, he was not believed when he did speak. He was given to mischief and mysterious pretense, was good-natured and was never known to laugh. Having learned to read, the lives of criminals engrossed his attention, till from study of the Bible he became familiar with portions of the Scripture and especially found interest in revelation and prophecy. Revivals occurred, and Smith joined a class of probationers in the Methodist church of Palmyra, but soon withdrew.

In September, 1819, the elder Smith and his sons Alvin and Hiram, in digging a well near Palmyra, threw up a stone of vitreous though opaque appearance, and in form like an infant's foot. This stone was secured by Joseph, and turned to account as a revelator of present and future. In the role of fortune-teller, small amounts were received from the credulous, and the impostor was encouraged to enlarge his field by asserting a vision of gold and silver buried in iron chests in the vicinity. The stone was finally placed in his [hand?] to shade its marvelous brightness when its services were required. Persisting in his assertions, there were those who in the spring of 1820 contributed to defray the expenses of digging for the buried treasure. At midnight, dupes. laborers and himself, with lanterns, repaired to the hillside near the house of Smith, where, following mystic ceremony digging began by signal in enjoined silence. Two hours elapsed when just as the money-box was about to be unearthed someone spoke and the treasure vanished. This was the explanation of the failure, and it was sufficient for the party. The deception was repeated from time to time in the interval between 1820 and 1827 and, despite the illusory search for money, he obtained contributions which went towards the maintenance of the family.

A single instance illustrates the mode of procedure at a search for money. Assuming to see where treasure lay enthroned, Smith asserted that a "black sheep" was necessary, as an offering upon the ground, before the work of digging could begin. William Stafford a farmer, had a fat black wether, and agreed to furnish the sacrifice in consideration of an equitable division of the results of the venture.

The party repaired with lanterns at the appointed hour of the night to the chosen spot; Smith traced a circle, within which the wether was placed and his throat cut, the blood saturated the ground, and silently and solemnly, but with vigor, excavation began. Three hours of futile labor ended, when it was discovered that the elder Smith, assisted by a son, had taken away the sheep and laid in a stock of mutton for the family use. Such were the foolish and worse than puerile acts which served as a prelude to the crowning act in the life of Joseph Smith, -- the inauguration of Mormonism.

In the summer of 1827 a stranger appeared, and made frequent visits at the Smith cabin. Smith announced a vision wherein an angel had appeared and promised the revelation of a true and full gospel, which should supersede all others. Again the angel: appeared to Smith, and revealed "That the American Indians were a remnant of the Israelites, who, after coming to this country, had their prophets and inspired writings; that such of their writings as had not been destroyed were safely deposited in a certain place made known to him, and to him only, that they contained revelation in regard to the last days; and that if he remained faithful, he would be the chosen prophet to translate them to the world."

Fall came, and Smith assumed the role of a prophet. He told his family, friends and believers that upon a fixed day he was to proceed alone to a spot designated by an angel, and there withdraw from the earth a metallic box of great antiquity, -- in short, a hieroglyphic record of the lost tribes and original inhabitants of America. This mystic volume Smith alone could translate, and power was given him as the Divine agent. The expectant revelation was duly advertised, when the prophet, with spade and napkin, repaired to the forest, and at the end of some three hours returned with some object encased in the napkin. The first depository of the sacred plates was under the heavy hearthstone of the Smith cabin. Willard Chase, a carpenter and joiner, was solicited to make a strong chest wherein to keep the golden. book in security, but no payment being anticipated. the interview was fruitless. Later, a chest was procured and kept in the garret. Here Smith consulted the volume upon which no other could look and live. William T. Hussy and Ashley Vanduzer, intimates of Smith, resolved to see the book, and were permitted to observe its shape and size under a piece of canvas. Smith refused to uncover it, and Hussy, seizing it, stripped off the cover and found -- a tile brick. Smith claimed to have sold his visitors by a trick, and, treating them to liquor the matter ended amicably. A huge pair of spectacles were asserted to have been found with the book, and these were the agency by which the translation was to be effected. A revelation of a Golden Bible, or Book of Mormon, was announced, and the locality whence the book was claimed to have been taken has since been known as "Mormon Hill," and is located in the town of Manchester. Smith described the book as "consisting of metallic leaves or plates resembling gold, bound together in a great volume by three rings running through one edge of them; the leaves opening like ordinary paper book." Translation began, and the result was shown to ministers and men of education. The "Nephites" and "Lamanites," were outlined as the progenitors of the American Aborigines. The Bible was evidently the basis of the work, and sections of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Matthew were almost bodily employed. Smith, being unable to write, sat behind a blanket and evidently read to his scribe whose name was Oliver Cowdery, who had been a schoolmaster, and wrote at dictation. It was desirable to get the manuscript into print. George Crane of Macedon, a Quaker, and a man intelligence, was shown several quires of the "translations." His opinion was asked and his aid solicited. Mr. Crane advised Smith to give up the scheme, or ruin would result to him and, as is well known, the Friend spoke prophetically.

Followers may be obtained for any creed. He formed an organization denominated "Latter-Day Saints." They are enumerated as Oliver Cowdery, Samuel Lawrence, Martin Harris, Preserved Harris, Peter Ingersoll, Charles Ford, George and Dolly Proper, of Palmyra, Ziba Peterson, Calvin Stoddard and wife, Sophronia, of Macedon, Ezra Thayer of Brighton, Leeman Walters of Pultneyville, Hiram Page of Fayette, David Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, as well as Christian, John and Peter, Jr., of Phelps, Simeon Nichols of Farmington, William, Joshua, and Gad Stafford, David and Abram Fish, Robert Orr, K. H. Quance, John Morgan, Orrin and Caroline Rockwell and Mrs. S. Risley and the Smith family. A man named Parley P. Pratt from Ohio stepped off a canal boat at Palmyra and joined the organization. Martin Harris desired the new book printed and avowed to his wife his intention of incurring the expense. She knew that the result would be a loss of the farm, and while her husband slept, secured and burnt the manuscript. The burning she kept secret, and Smith and Harris, fearing that they might be produced, dared not rewrite the manuscript. Again translation was effected, this time within a cave dug in the east side of the forest hill and guarded by one or more disciples. In June, 1829, Smith, accompanied by his brother, Hiram, Cowdery and Harris, called on Egbert Grandin, publisher of the Wayne Sentinel, at Palmyra, and inquired the cost of an edition of three thousand copies. An estimate was furnished but publication refused. An application to Thurlow Weed, of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer, at Rochester, met a like rebuff, and Harris was advised "not to beggar his family." Elihu F. Marshall, a book publisher of Rochester, gave terms. Mr. Grandin was again visited, and: a contract was made whereby for three thousand dollars five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon were printed, bound and delivered in the summer of 1830. Harris gave bond and mortgage in security for payment. John H. Gilbert did the type-setting and press-work, and retained a copy of the book in the original sheets. Harris and his wife separated. She received eighty acres of land and occupied her property in comfort until her death. The mortgaged farm was sold in 1831. It is land located a mile and a half north of Palmyra. Anticipating profits from the sale of the work. Smith obtained cloth for a suit of clothing from the store of David S. Aldrich of Palmyra, and in November, 1829, went to northern Pennsylvania, where he was married by Sidney Rigdon, after the Mormon ritual, to a daughter of Isaac Hale.

In June, 1830, the organization took place. Smith read and expounded some passages of the new Bible, and then installed his father as "Patriarch and President of the Church of Latter Day Saints," while Harris and Cowdery were invested with limited authority. Baptism was administered by Smith to Cowdery, and Harris, and their baptisms were conducted by Cowdery. The pool where the rite was celebrated was formed by obstructing a brook near the place of assembly. Smith was not baptized, he averring that brother Rigdon had performed the ceremony in Pennsylvania.

A few days elapsed, and a party of about a dozen went to Fayette, and similar observances in the presence of a congregation of about thirty persons, followed. Sidney Rigdon, a renegade Baptist clergyman, resident in Ohio, had so far kept in the background. He now came to Palmyra, as the first regular Mormon preacher. All the churches were closed to him, but the hall of the Palmyra Young Men's Association was opened, and a small audience assembled to hear the first discourse. The attempt was never repeated by Rigdon or any other of his creed in Palmyra. In the summer of 1830, the Mormon founders removed to Kirtland, Ohio, and from Rigdon's former congregation increased their number, till over one hundred persons had embraced Mormonism. The imposture was now under headway and the "prophet" and his followers had departed from Western New York, and with them we had done. It remains to account for the production of the Book of Mormon, which, however heterogeneous, has nevertheless evidence of scholastic ability in the design. Its authorship is attributed to Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who in 1793, having graduated from college, settled in Cherry Valley, and thence removed to Ohio. The region in which he settled abounded in ancient mounds, of whose builders no knowledge is existing. Mr. Spaulding beguiled his hours in a fanciful sketch of their origin, and the race which then existed. The work was entitled, "The Manuscript Found," and was completed in 1812. The manuscript was sent to a Mr. Patterson at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the idea of joint publication. It was not printed, and in 1816 was reclaimed by the author, who died in 1827 [sic] at Amity, New York. The manuscript was "missed or stolen" from the widow, and the "Book of Mormon" came into notice. It is believed that Sidney Rigdon, a printer at work for Patterson, had copied the manuscript and brought it into Smith's possession.

From the plot of shrewd, unprincipled men a creed had gone out whose disciples grew strong by persecution, crossed the great plains to Salt Lake, and then founded a community which enrolled its thousands of followers, and set at defiance moral law and national authority. Foreign converts, halting from the train at Palmyra, gaze upon Mormon Hill with open-mouthed awe and wonder as the pilgrims at an eastern shrine, and the pioneers who knew the Smiths and their deception, look on in pity and contempt. They depart and join the "saints" -- now in their evil days -- the period of their dissolution.

Note 1: The above excerpt from W.H. McIntosh's 1877 "History of Wayne County" was paraphrased primarily from Pomeroy Tucker's 1867 book.

Note 2: The town of Fairport is today a southeastern suburb of Rochester. In 1917 it was still a detached village, just across the county line from Wayne County.


Democrat  [     ]  Chronicle.

Vol. LXXIII.                             Rochester, N. Y., Sun., Mar. 18, 1917.                             No. ?


From time to time various prophets have arisen whose cleverness has been the means of calling to their standard a sufficient number of followers to make their revelation imposing. The most striking example in our country was Joseph Smith, who came to be known as "the Mohammed of the West," the founder of the Mormon States.

There must have been something exceptional in the man, for Smith was known in the little New York village of Manchester, where he resided, as an idle, intemperate and illiterate person, yet when he told his wonderful story of divine revelations and the discovery of a new religion, he found many willing dupes.

According to Smith's own account of himself, his mind was at a very early age exercised religiously, and that on the evening of September 21, 1823, when he was but eighteen years old, the angel Moroni appeared before him as a messenger from the Lord, instructing him in the secret purposes of the Most High, and announcing the divine will to be that he, Smith, should become a spiritual leader and commander to the nations of the earth.

He claimed he was also told that there was a bundle of golden or metallic plates deposited in a hill in Manchester, which contained some lost Biblical records, and with which were two transparent stones, set in the rim of a bow of silver, which were anciently known as the Urim and Thummim, and that by looking through these stones he could see the strange characters on the plates translated into English.

These plates were about eight inches long by seven wide, and a little thinner than ordinary tin, and were bound together by three rings running through the whole. From these plates, with hieroglyphics in a language called the Reformed Egyptian, Smith, sitting behind a blanket hung across the room to keep the sacred records from profane eyes, read off, through the transparent stones, the "Book of Mormon" to Oliver Cowdery, who wrote it down as Smith repeated it.

This volume of several hundred pages was printed in 1830. Appended to it was a statement signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, who had become professed believers in Smith's supernatural pretentions, and are called by the Mormons, the "three witnesses." In after years, however, these witnesses quarreled with Smith, renounced Mormonism and avowed the falsity of their testimony.

As to the transcript on the paper, one of the golden plates having been submitted to Professor Charles Anthon, of New York, for his inspection, that eminent scholar gave as his opinion that the paper was a kind of scroll, consisting of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets, Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes; Roman letters, inverted or placed side-ways, were arranged and placed in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source.

Shortly after the purported discovery of these Mormon scriptures, the first regularly constituted church of the faith was organized in Manchester, April 6, 1830, and from this time and event dates the Mormon era. The first public discourse was preached by Oliver Cowdery. On the first of June the first conference of the church was held at Fayette, N. y., and from this on for some time converts multiplied rapidly, gaining greatest headway in the Middle West. To-day Salt Lake City is the Mormon Zion, and while the doctrine is not gaining any material headway, yet its capital city is prospering and bids fair to long remain a seat of interest of the fake delusions of the intemperate and illiterate Joseph Smith, of Manchester, N. Y.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LXXIII.                               Buffalo, N.Y., Mon., Mar. 4, 1918.                              No. 42.

Origin  of  Mormonism.

Editor Buffalo Express. -- In her address on Mormonism on February 10th at the Richmond Avenue Church of Christ, Mrs. Luis L. Shepard demonstrated good knowledge of the subject as it relates to the Utah Mormon church, which is an [apostate] church, having departed from the original teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Its members, led by Brigham Young, migrated west from the banks of the Missouri river into Utah, via the "cart brigade," taking all of their effects in a two-wheeled hand cart[s]. Arriving in Utah, Brigham rebaptized and reconfirmed all of his adherents out of the original church into what is known as the Mormon church. Brigham took the name of the original church for his organization, adding doctrines of his own to those which are taught in the Book of Mormon -- the Adam-God worship as set forth in the temple endowment service, the blood atonement, polygamy and the doctrine of revelation (Matt. xvi. 17), which is the corner-stone of the Mormon church. Brigham at once put this doctrine into practice by having a revelation and taking Lamech, Abram, Jacob (Gen. iv. 13; xvi., xxix), David and Solomon as his authority; took upon himself more wives, encouraging his adherents to do likewise. The Book of Mormon, which he pretended to follow, denounces polygamy in Jacob ii. 23-27, in these words: "Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. Wherefore, my brethren, hearken unto 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."

Having organized his church Brigham became a menace to the entire country through his priesthood, which claims "to be a part of God, and has power in all things, spiritual and temporal. It is the only representative and agent of God on earth and possesses the only right to baptize and power to save souls. It alone has the right to preach the gospel, to administer any ordinance whatever and has power to bless or curse. It is the only civil government, and finally it will be the only government. It alone has power to give the holy ghost or to receive a revelation from God; and after giving its verdict no person has a right to think for themselves upon such subject further." The original church (an assembly of which is in Kensington) takes the Book of Mormon literally as its textbook and follows its teachings. It was organized on April 6, 1830, with six members in the house of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, Seneca county, N. Y. It is known as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," and has no connection whatever with the Brighamite church. The two churches wage perpetual warfare against each other.

The Book of Mormon was originally an historical novel, with Solomon Spaulding of Conneaut its author. His manuscript was loaned to Sidney Rigdon of Pittsburg, who after the death of Mr. Spaulding added 23 chapters literally from the Bible, with numerous sermons of his own to the Spaulding "manuscript found," which manuscript now lies in Oberlin college. Oberlin, O. He took the whole manuscript to Palmyra, Wayne county. N. Y., put it in a stone box and planted it on the side of a hill near the top on Admiral Sampson's farm, four miles south of Palmyra. Joseph Smith's father, being let into the secret by Rigdon, sent Joseph, with David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris as witnesses. In their presence Joseph dug up the manuscript and the Book of Mormon soon appeared. The church was organized with Joseph Smith as president. After his death Brigham Young, an apostle defeated for head of the church, apostasized with many adherents.
Buffalo, Feb. 27th.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. LXXIII.                               Buffalo, N.Y., Mon., Mar. 10, 1918.                              No. 48.

Origin  of  Mormonism.

Buffalo, March 7th.    
Editor Buffalo Express. -- Your issue of the fourth inst. contains a letter from Frederick B. Stanton under the above heading. We appreciate the fair manner wherein he shows the great difference between the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the apostate Mormon church of Utah. If all preachers, lecturers and writers, who may have access to the facts, were as fair, the people would soon cease confounding the true Latter Day Saints with the iniquitous church of Salt Lake City.

He is, however, mistaken as to the origin of the Book of Mormon. Neither Solomon Spalding nor Sidney Rigdon had anything to do with its origin or publication. The plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated came into the possession of Joseph Smith in 1827. It was translated and printed by March, 1830. Sidney Rigdon was not acquainted with Joseph Smith, nor did he ever see a Book of Mormon until Parley P. Pratt visited him in October, 1830, and presented him with a copy, which caused him seriously to consider the claims of the Latter Day Saints. Oliver Cowdery, who did write the Book of Mormon, says: "I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith." "Sidney Rigdon did not write it, Mr. Spalding did not write it." (Church History, volume 1, page 145.) That manuscript in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery is in the archives of the church at Lamoni, Ia.

In their work, "Mormonism Unveiled," published in 1834, E. D. Howe and D. P. Hurlbut originated the idea that the Book of Mormon was copied from the work of Solomon Spalding. Others have copied it from them. They gathered eight witnesses, who depended upon their remembrance of hearing some fragments of Spalding's work read twenty years before. The evidence was void of proof.

The following extracts taken from a paper read before the Northern Ohio and Western Reserve Historical Society on March 23, 1886, by James H. Fairchild, who had possession of the original "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spalding:
"This manuscript (the Spalding) is now in my possession, and it is at hand this evening. The manuscript has no resemblance to the Book of Mormon, except in some very general features. There is not a name or an incident common to the two. * * *

The names of persons are entirely original, quite as remarkable as those in the Book of Mormon, but never the same. * * * The only important question connected with this manuscript is what light, if any, does it throw on the origin of the Book of Mormon? This manuscript clearly was not the basis of the book. * * * Now it is difficult -- almost impossible, to believe that the religious sentiments of the "Book of Mormon" were wrought into interpolation. They are of the original tissue and substance of the document, and a man as self-reliant and smart as Sidney Rigdon, with a superabundant gift of tongue and every form of utterance, would never have accepted the servile task. There could have been no motive to it, nor could the blundering syntax of the Book of Mormon have come from Rigdon's hand. He had the gift of speech which would have made the style distasteful and impossible to him." Western Reserve Historical Society, vol. 3, pages 187-200.

Buffalo, March 6th.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Elmira  [   ]  Telegram.

Vol. XL.                             Elmira, N.Y., Sunday, August 11, 1918.                             No. 15.


A Visit to Turkey Hill, Where Joseph Smith Dug Up the Plates,
Which the Angel Had Revealed to Him...

Susquehanna, Pa., Aug. 10. -- Just why two young women should select the home of Mormonism for a short summer vacation, I cannot, perhaps, satisfactorily explain. But let me say, in all this nation, at this time of the year, there is no prettier place than this. During the present warm spell one can not find a lodge in any vast wilderness so cooling and so soothing as the banks of the Susquehanna -- some twenty odd miles above the Great Bend. This is the river that is so familiar to us at Wilkes-Barre. We have frequently followed these waters from Wilkes-Barre to where the river enters the Chesapeake bay. But that is another story. I am writing this letter on the river bank, in front of the cottage of Ed Searl, former clerk of the federal court that sits now and then in the city of Scranton. This cottage is in Oakland and Oakland is the place where the Book of Mormon was written. The building in which that famed book was written is still standing and is near the saw mill of Captain Buch [sic - Buck?]. We have visited the house in which Prophet Joseph Smith wrote his mysterious revelations. We have seen where the excavations were made, where the tablets of stone were hidden and unearthed on Turkey Hill. We are told that after the excavation came a quarrel between Smith and the witnesses and then the plates were transferred to Manchester, Ontario, county, New York, and re-resurrected there. We are told the present followers of Smith have it that on the memorable night of September 21, 1832 [sic], the Angel Mormon appeared to Smith thrice. Each time the angel informed Smith that God had a special mission for him to perform; that there had been previously written, upon gold plates, an account of the ancient inhabitants of America and God's dealings with them, which was deposited in a hill near Manchester, N. Y.; that with these plates were two transparent stones in silver bows. The angel informed Smith the stones were anciently called Urim and Thummim, and that on looking through the stones the writing on the gold plates would become decipherable.

According to the stories handed down by the old settlers of this place the angel, which appeared to Smith, was in the form of a straggling Indian, who passed through this section of the county. This Indian angel told Smith he could find on the highest point of Turkey hill, three miles from this town, in Oakland township, rich treasure and that Smith, assisted by Oliver Harper, began digging for the treasure. It is said the two spent $2,000 before they abandoned the search. Four excavations were made. The largest was a quarter of a mile north of the Susquehanna river and about 120 rods southeast of the house where Smith lived. It was in 1825 that Smith made his debut in Harmony and appeared and reappeared at intervals till 1829. In 1830 the Book of Mormon was published. Tradition has it that one of the divining stones which was alleged to have been part of the Urim and Thummim spectacles, was bought of "Hack" Gibson of this county. It was [a] green stone, about the size of a goose egg, with brown irregular spots, and is said to have been seen by a number of the early residents of this county. Smith's Book of Mormon and the Church of the Latter Day Saints, so the folklore of the county says, were mere afterthoughts suggested by failure to find the treasure that the Indian promised, but Smith's imagination yielded treasure beyond belief in prompting him to propagate the new religion which he founded. It was between Susquehanna and Great Bend, near Captain Buck's sawmill, that Smith made his first excavation in these parts. But he abandoned it after a time and commenced to dig in Harmony, now Oakland township, where he pretended to find first the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. It is said early in his career Smith assumed the air of a seer and prophet. One of the marks of his calling showed itself in blessing -- always for a consideration -- the crops of his neighbors. It is said that in application Smith could not always determine the distinction between a blessing and a curse. It is said he blessed a late piece of corn, but in spite of the owner's financial and priestly precaution and Smith's benison, the frost got the corn and when Smith learned of the success of Jack Frost he said he must have inadvertently cursed instead of blessed the corn. It is said Smith was careless in his personal appearance. In the rear of the house that now stands was the room in which Smith wrote the book. He hung a blanket across the room to keep the sacred records from profane eyes, stationing his secretary on the opposite side of the blanket, to whom he pretended to read the narrative from the plates which he had unearthed in the Susquehanna diggings. At the time three witnesses vouched for the truth of Smith's revelations, his secretary Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. Some years later Smith and the witnesses had a row and the witnesses denounced Mormonism, declaring the revelations were a fraud.

We are told the circumstances under which the book was printed, were as follows: "Under the title of 'Manuscript Found,' one Solomon Spalding wrote a novel, using the finding of the plates of the book of Mormon ism a basis. In trying to get the story put in book form in Pittsburgh, the manuscript fell into the hands of a printer who, afterwards became associated with Smith, largely, it is believed, from having the manuscript in his possession. The manuscript "was edited in biblical form, interlaid with several hundred scriptural quotations, without credit, and printed as the Book of Mormon. The fact that the First Latter Day church was organized in Manchester, N. Y., April 6, 1830, doubtless is responsible for the story the plates were taken from the New York hills. But such a claim is knocked in the head by the four half-filled excavations made by Smith and his associates in Oakland township, together with the tradition handed down. This is the birthplace of Mormonism. and all other claims are unfounded.

"The book says that after the destruction of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues, America was settled by one of its people. In the sixth century Lehi and his son located in South America and from them the Indian descended. The book further claims that after the resurrection Christ came to this, country and preached here. With the final destruction of the civilized people, through a series of wars, God commanded the angel Mormon to record the events which had transpired, and secrete the same. The angel obeyed and Smith claims the angel pointed out to him the spot where the record was buried....
L. H. B.        
On the Green Banks of the Beautiful Susquehanna. August, 1918.

Note 1: "Smith, assisted by Oliver Harper, began digging for the treasure..." --> No compelling evidence has yet been uncovered, to demonstrate that Smith and Harper knew each other, much less that Harper was Smith's assistant. Harper's wife, on the other hand, was certainly involved with Smith in treasure hunting in the Great Bend area, with Joseph Smith and others, after her husband's 1824 murder. For a fanciful deptiction of this relationship, see Marian Wells' 1985 novel The Wishing Star, in which a young Jenny Timmons arrives at Mrs. Harper's house just as news of her husband's death is received. The girl observes from a distance such subsequent events as Jason Treadwell's apprehension and execution, along with Mrs. Harper's continuing involvement in money-digging. Joseph Smith eventually appears on the scene to con Mrs. Harper, Josiah Stowell and others in new money-digging schemes.

Note 2: For additional newspaper items on this topic, see Great Bend Articles.



Vol. ?                             Cuba, New York, Friday, September 17, 1920                            No. ?


Republican Party Born at Friendship --
A Founder of Mormonism also
from Same Place.

The village of Friendship claims a distinction which the greatest city of the country might envy, namely, that it was the birthplace of the Republican Party. A recent editorial of the Jamestown Post has recalled this to mind. It remarks that the origin of the party is generally traced back to the great meeting "under the oaks" at Jackson, Mich., on July 6, 1854. The following quoted from the bulletin of the Republican National Committee, seems, however, to indorse the claim of Friendship to the honor.

"A meeting was held there (at Friendship, N. Y.) May 16, 1854, at which five men, headed by Mr. Cole, organized, adopted the name 'Republican' and appointed a committee to call a nominating convention in the fall. The Genesee Valley Press; published by A. N. Cole and Gen. James S. Wadsworth printed what was called the 'Republican platform' and the nominations of the party. Mr. Cole had asked Horace Greeley for suggestions as to a name. "Republican" said Mr. Greeley 'no prefix, no suffix, just plain Republican.'"

"Allegany county," says the Friendship Register, "has continued in the Republican column all through the years. Under the leadership of men like the late Justice Hamilton Ward of Belmont; the late W. J. Glenn of Cuba, long doorkeeper of the House of Representatives; Charles H. Brown of Belmont, now a justice of the supreme court; and Frank R. Utter of Friendship, now fiscal supervisor of state charities, the county has gained and held a prominent place in the councils of the party, befitting its fame as the birthplace of Republicanism."

Friendship also had a part in initiating a great movement of another sort -- for one of the founders of a world-famous religious body was a native of Friendship'. This was Sidney Rigdon, often spoken of as "the brains" of the original Mormon cult. It is generally believed (outside of the Mormon church) that it was he who furnished Joseph Smith with the manuscript to which Smith added a portion to produce the "Book of Mormon." The question is in dispute, but there is some evidence that a quondam clergyman, named Spalding, wrote a romance to explain the origin of the mounds of Ohio in which he gave the American Indians a Hebrew origin. It is supposed that this manuscript was submitted to a printer in Pittsburg and that it thus came into the hands of Rigdon, who was at one time a compositor there. At any rate the "Book of Mormon" is for the most part a similar story with illiterate interpolations which seem to be drawn from events in the life of Smith and theological discussions which raged in his neighborhood previous to the time of the appearance of the book.

Sidney Rigdon was a man of education -- it is related that he taught Latin and Greek to the father of Mrs. James A. Garfield -- and he had been a Baptist minister and later belonged to the denomination of Disciples of Christ. Whether or not he furnished Smith with the groundwork of the Book of Mormon, at any rate he was until the latter's death his chief advisor and was one of the three who constituted the first "presidency" of the church. After Joseph Smith's assassination, as the sole survivor of this presidency he claimed the succession to the place of the prophet, but seems to have been cheated out of this by a manoeuver of Brigham Young. He suffered many persecutions in common with his leader -- at one time was driven temporarily insane in this way, it is said. As soon as Brigham Young had made himself of supreme authority he had Rigdon tried for threatening treason and he was "cut off from the Church." The Encyclopedia Britannica says that he later "attempted with brief success, to establish in Pittsburg a Church of Christ, Independent of the Latter Day Saints, but based on much the same plan. He spent his last years at Friendship, Allegany county, New York."

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XXXVII.                               Buffalo, N.Y., Sun., Sept. 26, 1920.                              No. 2.



Mormonism, too, had its beginning
in Allegany county village.

Special to The Buffalo Express.

Cuba, Sept. 25 -- Residents of Friendship, Allegany county, contradict the theory that the origin of the Republican party may be traced back to the great meeting under the oaks at Jackson, Mich., on July 6, 1854. The Republican national committee indorses the claim of Friendship to this honor...

Friendship, according to data just uncovered, also had a part in initiating a great movement of another sort. One of the founders of a famous religious body was a native of Friendship. His name was Sidney Rigdon, often spoken of as the brains of the original Mormon cult.

Records show that it was he who furnished Joseph Smith with the manuscript to which Smith added a portion to produce the Book of Mormon.

Sidney Rigdon, who was a man of wide education, taught Latin and Greek to the father [of] Mrs. James A. Garfield and he spent his last few years at Friendship.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                             Cuba, New York, Friday, October 8, 1920                            No. ?


Stranger from Utah Said to Have Visited
Friendship Seeking His Old Papers.

The following interesting story appears in a recent issue of the Friendship Register:

"A stranger from the west, probably from Salt Lake City, Utah, dropped into our office one day, recently, and made enquiries as to the old inhabitants of this place who might have intimately known Sidney Rigdon, once a resident of this place and said to have been one of the founders of the Mormon religion. He also wished to find someone intimate enough in the home of Hon. E. W. Hatch; who is a grandchild of Mr. Rigdon, and who was away at the time, to give him an introduction to Miss Florence Hatch, then in charge of the home here, so that he could gain access to the Judge's library, where he was certain that valuable informatory papers of the life of Sidney Rigdon might be found. The stranger was especially interested in a secret which Mr. Rigdon was said to have died with, which was, according to records, to have been published after his death, but which was never published. The stranger made a number of calls on the older residents who knew Mr. Rigdon and heard many strange tales concerning his connections with [Mormons] from Utah, to this place, of bullet proof rooms in the bank which was established here by his aid and influence, to protect himself from Mormon snipers who were after him and others in this vicinity, etc., etc.

"The stranger told us that without doubt Sidney Rigdon was the most famous personage that this village ever produced. He has three grandchildren living who are intimately known to all local folks: Judge E. W. Hatch, Mrs. Ira Briggs and Mrs. S. M. Norton, now of Pittsburg."

Note: The following excerpt is from Arch Merrill's 1952 book Shadows on the Wall: "[Sidney Rigdon's son-in-law, Gen. George W. Robinson... a minor figure in the Mormon hierarchy, became an important man. He built a brick store and a mill and became president of a bank. The villagers called him "General" and his handsome house with the tall gables and the roomy porches at Main [sic - Mill?] and East Water Streets was a showplace of the town. -- But no one ever found out what fear drove the prosperous "General" to bar the ground floor rear windows of his home or what treasure he guarded there, not even trusting the vaults of his own bank. -- One story concerns the appearance of two strange men in Friendship. They were looking for the one-time fiscal officer of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Hearing of their visit, Robinson, so the story goes, dashed to his house, grabbed up a satchel and boarded a train for Buffalo. On his return the strangers had left, their mission unexplained. Then the bars went up on the windows of the tall white house. -- Another village tradition has Robinson barring his windows because of his fear, an echo of old feuds within the church, that some night some vengeful visitor might come to do him bodily harm, perhaps even take his life. But "the General" was not the type to give way to idle fears. He seems to have been a resolute and forceful individual. One thing is certain. For whatever reason they may have been placed there, the bars are a reality. I have seen them."



Vol. ?                               Geneva, N. Y., Friday, April 8, 1921.                               No. ?

Birthplace  of  Mormon  Church
Near  Waterloo.


Joseph Smith Came to Village Frequently After Making
His Home in the Peter Whitmer Farm House,
Two Miles Southwest of Town.


Waterloo, Apr. 8. -- History tells us that the Mormons, who are at present generally believed as a majority to be situated in tne vicinity of Salt Lake City, Utah, really originated in the neighborhood of Waterloo and Fayette, and later migrated west under the oppression of the more firmly established religious sects which were at that time located here.

"Mormon Joe" or Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet came to these regions in or about the year 1830; making his headquarters in the farm house of Peter Whitmer, two miles south-west of the present village of Waterloo, which was the birthplace of the Mormon church.

It was there that Joseph Smith first declared the golden plates and the divinity, which he claimed to have unearthed on a hill near Manchester, Ontario County, and it was at Whitmer's where he received and promulgated "the revelation" for establishing the church, and where the organization was also effected.

For several weeks following his arrival, Joseph Smith is recorded to have been shut up in Whitmer's house, hours at a time, engaged in translating the characters engraved on the plates, which he termed the "reformed Egyptian." With two bright clean stones in his hands -- stones similar in appearance to those gathered in fresh water on a gravelly beach -- he sat intently gazing upon them and uttering sentences which were written down by a companion named Oliver Courdney [sic]. Thus was produced that great volume of manusscript upon which the Mormon church rests the claim of divine inspiration. Smith called the two stones he used, through which he interpreted the inscriptions on the golden plates, his "divine optical instrumentat." He said that they "had a spiritual reflection upon the plates."

In the meantime he obtained such funds as he required through working days in cutting timber, burning brush and ditch-digging. Neighbors came in from time to time out of curiosity, but were never permitted to see the plates; Smith always declaring that they were too sacred for profane eyes.

The half dozen followers he obtained at that time, he took one by one (as each professed the faith) to the nearest shore of Thomas Creek, a small stream flowing near the eastern extremities of the village, and baptised them. He also invited as many as could be reached to attend his meetings at the Whitmer House.

At last he ostentatiously enrolled in the "book of life" his assistant Oliver Courdney and Hymen Smith, Peter Wilmer. Jr., Samuel H. Smith and David Wilmer on the sixth day of April, 1830; organizing the Mormon church.

The following June a Mormon conference was held on the shore of Cayuga Lake. Delegate Cannon says that the organization of the church was made on a day and after the pattern directed by God in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, who was twenty-four years of age at that time. The revelation gave the name by which the church was to be called as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

To outsiders, especially residents of Waterloo, where Smith was an occasional visitor, and which was then a small village "Mormon Joe," as Smith was generally called, occasioned no end of fun and comment. He was often seen on the outskirts of the Village, by people who have said that it was his custom to pace slowly along some favorite walk with his hat in his hand, crown downward, steadily gazing into it.

It was at that time that Smith attracted the attention of Brigham Young who was then a lad, one of the five sons of John Young, who lived in the town of Tryone, Schuyler county. It was said by one Lewis Halsey that John Young was a revolutionary soldier from Whittingham, Mindham Co., Ct., who becamo "a traveling tinker and mender, and a poor farmer;" and that his sons spent most of their time hunting and fishing; usually in harvest time crossing Seneca Lake to work for farmers in Romulus. That is probably how Brigham Young became acquainted with Smith.

The latter upon quitting this country with his followers repaired to Kirkland, Ohio, from whence the colony shortly migrated to Nauvoo, Ill., where Smith met his death,

The followers of the newly founded Mormon religion then journeyed across the plains to Utah, and settled in the vicinity of that which is now Salt Lake City.

Note: The above article is essentially a reprint from page 91 of the 1903 "Grip's" Historical Souvenir of Waterloo, N.Y., retaining that earlier account's numerous spelling and factual errors.


Democrat  [     ]  Chronicle.

Vol. LXXXIX.                             Rochester, N. Y., Sun., July 17, 1921.                             No. ?

Farm House Where Joseph Smith and Five Converts
Organized Mormon Church Still Standing
in Fayette Town, Seneca County.

(graphics - not copied)

The upper picture shows the old Whitmer homestead in the town of Fayette, two and one-half miles south of Waterloo, Seneca County, where in 1830 Joseph Smith and five followers organized the Mormon Church. The lower picture shows Thomas creek, near the farm house, in the waters of which the first converts were baptized by Joseph Smith.

Seneca comity, in addition to its many other natural and historical features, is also recorded as having been the scene of the organization of the first church of the Mormon religion, and tourists pacing through the northern port of the country may see in the township of Fayette, approximately two miles south of Waterloo, the old Whitmer homestead where the first Mormon services were held in the year 1830.

From an autobiography left by Joseph Smith, the founder of the religious body commonly called the Mormons, but which is officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as from a sketch of his life said to have been written by his mother, it would appear that he was born in Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, the son of a farmer. He was born in 1805, and organized his church in 1830, the year of his arrival at Fayette, where he made his headquarters at the farm home of Peter Whitmer.

Mormon Shrine at Palmyra.

Previous to this he had lived on a farm near Palmyra, which to-day is known as the Joseph Smith Farm and is maintained by the Mormons as a sacred shrine of their religion. Near this farm are the sacred woods in which Smith said an angel appeared to him and told him where he would find the golden plates buried on the side of Mount Cumorah not far away. Mormon tradition has it that [he] translated these plates in 1827 in the house which still stands on the Palmyra farm, and in recent years Elder W. W. Bean, in charge of the farm, found in the attic what he believes was the stand used by Smith at that time,

For several years [sic - months?] following his arrival at Fayette Jo[seph] Smith is recorded to have been shut up in the Whitmer house for hours at a time. According to his own statements, he retired "to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord * * * after having received many visits from the angels of God. unfolding the majesty and glory of events that should transpire in the last days; on the morning of September 22, 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands." These records were stated to be engraven "in Egyptian characters," on plates which had the appearance of gold, and with then Joseph Smith further seated, though in the vaguest way, that he found a "curious instrument, which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate."

What Angelic Record Told.

Through the medium of this instrument he professed to be able to translate the records, which were said to have been written by Mormon, a Jewish prophet, and to contain a history of ancient America from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. His own account of what was contained in the records was "that, America in ancient times was inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of Babel, and the second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph.

"The Jaredites were destroyed about the time the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle toward the close of the fourth century. This book also tells us that our Savior made his appearance on this continent after his resurrection, that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists -- the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinance gifts, powers and blessings as were enjoyed on the eastern continent: that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions; that the last of the prophets who existed among then was commanded to write an abridgement of their prophecies, history, etc., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and should be united with the Bible."

Published Book in 1830.

Joseph Smith first made known the discovery of the engraved plates to the members of his own and to his father's household. These became his first converts. When the news spread, the prophet says; "My house was frequently beset by mobs and evil-designing persons. Several times I was shot at and very narrowly escaped, and every device was made use of to get the plates from me." He succeeded, however, in gathering together a number of believers. In 1830 he published "The "Book of Mormon," which had been translated from the plates by the aid of the curious spectacles called the Urim and Thummim. In carrying out that work. Joseph Smith always retired behind a screen, whence he dictated the record to "a scribe" named Oliver Cowdrey, who, like himself, had been baptized by an angel to fit him for the task. After the translation had been completed, the plates were shown to eight witnesses, and the angel again made his appearance to Joseph, at which time he delivered up the plates into the angel's hands, in whose hands they remain even to this day.

The foregoing is a brief account of the discovery and translation of the "Book of Mormon," according to the prophet's own statement, but there is another story told of the authorship, viz. that the volume was founded upon a religious romance entitled "The Manuscript Found," written by one Samuel [sic] Spalding, a Presbyterian [preacher]. The manuscript of this work is said to have been taken to New York by the preacher's widow ten years [sic - months?] after his death, with the view of finding a publisher for it, but by some means it came into the possession of Smith or an associate of his named Rigdon.

First Followers Enrolled.

When all was in readiness for the organization of the Mormon Church, Smith ostentatiously enrolled in the "Book of Life" his assistant, Oliver Cowdery. [Hyrum] Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith and David Whitmer, on April 6, 1830, and the Mormon Church was established with six members. The few followers he obtained at that time, he took one by one, as each proclaimed the faith, to the nearest shore of Thomas creek, a small stream flowing near the eastern extremities of the village, and baptized them. He also invited, as many as could be reached to attend his meetings at the Whitmer house.

The following June, a Mormon conference was held on the shore of Cayuga lake. Delegate Cannon says that the organization of the church was made on a day and after the pattern directed by God in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, when he was 24 years old. The revelation gave the name by which the church was to be called as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

From that time on the sect increased with astonishing rapidity, and churches were set up in Ohio, Indiana, lllinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri and New York. Despite ridicule, persecution, tarring and feathering, the work went on until in the fall of 1839 there was a general migration to Illinois, where the Mormons founded the city of Nauvoo the beautiful on the banks of the Mississippi. Soon, from a wild tract, the spot became a city of 1,500 well built houses with more than 15,000 inhabitants, and Joseph Smith as "seer, prophet and revelator" of his own city, possessed commanding influence in Nauvoo, but was being constantly embroiled with the civil authorities of the state of Illinois.

An 1844 the governor of the state issued a warrant against Joseph Smith as the instigator of a riot, during which the printing offices and premises of a "gentile" newspaper were destroyed by the Mormons. The prophet at first made symptoms of resistance and called out his militia, of which he was lieutenant colonel [sic - general?], but subsequently offered to surrender if the governor would provide a guard for his society [sic - security?] until his trial should take place. He was lodged in Carthage jail under a small guard selected, it is assumed, from Smith's enemies. A few days afterward a mob of turbulent ruffians broke into his prison, fired into the room where he was confined and killed his brother Hiram, who was incarcerated with him. The prophet attempted to effect his escape through the window, but was taken and shot. His body was interred by his followers with the greatest of solemnity, and he became the martyr of his sect, which, in consequence of its founder's fate, increased even more rapidly than before.

Subsequent to the death of Joseph Smith, a Mormon prophet named Brigham Young, of whose early life nothing authentic has been published, was chosen as "prophet and revelator." He soon proved equal to the position. Foreseeing the utter hopelessness of contending against the people of Illinois, backed perhaps, by the government of the United States, he besought his followers to quit Nauvoo and proceed far beyond the most outlying settlement of the Federal government. Resolved to place an almost impassible barrier between the "saints" and their persecutors, he selected a vast sterile tract beyond the Rocky Mountains, called the Valley of Great Salt Lake.

Now Have Beautiful Temple.

The settlement of this country subjected the Mormons to the greatest of hardships, but through all they persevered and to-day the Valley of Great Salt Lake is one of the most prosperous in the country, and Salt Lake City is by far one of the most beautiful and most modern cities in the United States. The Mormon religion, which was founded by Joseph Smith and a handful of followers in the township of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, in 1830 has grown into an organization comprising hundreds of thousands, and instead of the modest farmhouse where the first service was held almost a century ago, there stands in Salt Lake City a temple which is regarded as one of the [------] ecclesiastical structures in this country.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XXVIII.                           Geneva, N. Y., Thursday, April 26, 1923.                           No. 271.



Found Near Scene of Smith
Revelation in Palmyra.


Preachers Who Make Discovery
Incline Toward Supernatural.


Rochester, April 26 -- Two itinerant evangelists, Charles E. Driver of Jamison City, Pa., and Melvin M. Lawton of Philadelphia, profess to have discovered two metal plates on Mormon Hill, four miles south of Palmyra, where Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, received, as he alleged, from an angel nearly 100 years ago, tablets whose inscriptions were made the basis of Mormonism. Instead of being a continuation of the Smith revelation, the two evangelists say, the latest discoveries refute the Mormon belief.

Rev. Fay C Martin, pastor of the Church of God, Palmyra, last night gave a translation of the plates. One inscription, he said was "repent ye." The larger one supplements this with the injunction, "Ye must be born again." The Greek of the inscriptions is modern, varying somewhat from the style of letters used in Biblical records.

The plates have the appearance of ordinary copper plated metal sheeting, such as is used for lining roof gutters. One is three by seven inches and the other, two by seven inches. They look as if they were trimmed into shape by shears and the inscriptions appear as tho' someone had used a punch to make the indentations which form the letters. The preachers who are personally interested in this "find" profess to believe that further revelation is necessary and probable.

The new plates bear no evidence of wear, nor do they have the patina that metal laid in earth acquires. Mr. Driver and Mr. Lawton, the discoverers of the plates, say they were walking on Mormon hill last Friday when they were attracted by two newly stirred patches of earth. They dug into it, they declare, and found the tablets between two flat stones.

Joseph Smith lost several plates at the time of his "discovery." He said an angel took them away and promised to return at the proper time. In explaining the alleged loss of these plates, Mr. Martin said it was due to Smith's tardiness at dinner time. He said: "The facts that I tell have been related to me in confidence by a Palmyra resident whose father was an an intimate acquaintance of Martin Harris, who assisted Joseph Smith in translating and publishing the Mormon bible.

"Mrs. Harris was extremely jealous of her husband's share with Smith in the task of translating the supernaural plates, and was especially angry with Smith because he was habitually late to his meals. One day when Smith was particuarly late to dinner, Mrs. Harris left the dining room, usually kept locked, gathered up all the papers on the table there, put them in her apron, carried them back downstairs and dumped them into the fire.

"Immediately afterwards, Smith declared that an angel had visited him in his room and taken away the tablets with the promise to return them at a proper time. Mrs. Harris confessed on her deathbed her part in the destruction of the untranslated plates."

Mr. Martin is a Palmyra boy and well acquainted with Mormon history and traditions.

Elder Bean of the Mormon church and representative for that organisation, in and around Palmyra, is skeptical of the new "find."

"As a matter of fact," he said "the Mormon church is too well established to fear any refutation by such means. I am willing to debate this matter and to allow Mr. Martin to pick his own text for reference to establish that the Mormon faith is as firmly founded and as well based in Scripture as any other."

He seemed inclined to be satirical over the finding of copper plates and referred to the fact that the original plates which Joseph Smith discovered were of gold.

Note 1: See also theTroy Times of Apr. 25, 1923, the Olean Evening Herald of May 01, 1923 and the New York Times of Apr. 26, 1923. The American Mercury Magazine of January, 1925 contained an advertisement on page 31, saying: "Rev. Charles E. Driver, Safe, Constructive evangelism. Former Pastor. Experienced evangelist. Eminently successful. Finest Testimonials. Write for open dates. Palmyra, N.Y."

Note 2: Comments published in the Shortsville Enterprise of May 10, 1923 served to clear up the mystery behind these copper plates.



Vol. 41.                     Shortsville, New York, Thursday, May 10, 1923.                       No. 19.



Recently daily papers were carrying big stories about the discovery of more plates on Mormon Hill, about four miles north of this village. Although much was said, yet few were impressed by the find. The following story is copied from a recent issue of the Palmyra Journal, and is reprinted by us only as a matter of record:

The announced interpretation of the inscriptions on the two plates found by the Rev. Charles E. Driver, a noted evangelist, while he was visiting Mormon Hill, where the discovery was made, drew a large crowd to the Church of God last night.

A series of evangelistic meetings has been in progress in the church for several days and the discovery came as a climax to these meetings, which closed last night.

According to the story told by Mr. Driver, Rev. Fay C. Martin, pastor of the Church of God, and Melvin Lawton, evangelist singer were on Mormon Hill last Friday evening, near the spot where Joseph Smith claimed to have been shown the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was written, when they noticed a freshly-turned spot in the hillside. Upon scraping back the dirt and lifting out a large boulder they discovered the plates.

Last night the plates were exhibited to the audience and Rev. Mr. Driver gave a translation of the meaning of the inscriptions.

The first plate, four by two inches, has the Greek word "Metanoeite" stamped upon it, which, according to translators, means "Repent Ye." The second plate, nearly four inches square, is inscribed with four words, "Dei Nnas Gennetheuai Anosen" which the men translate as "Ye must be born from above."

Rev. Driver points to two verses in the Bible to which he relates the translations. They are St. Mark 1:15 -- "And saying, The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel," and St. John 3:7 -- "Marvel not that I said unto thee; ye must be born again."

Upon this cryptic message Rev. Mr. Martin, Rev. Mr. Driver and Mr. Lawton are agreed rests the "refutation" of the Mormon creed and church. The translation of tablets was done by Rev. Mr. Driver and Rev. Mr, Martin, both of whom acknowledge to a rudiamentary familiarity with Greek letters.

The plates themselves appear to the lay eye to be anything but supernatural in origin, for to all appearances they are made of ordinary copper-plated metal sheathing, such as is used by plumbers for lining roof gutters. The corners have been beveled away and the edges show the marks of tin shears -- angelic, perhaps.

The plates are bright and shiny. There is no evidence of their having been in the ground for any length of time. The rude characters appear to have been engraved with a small prick punch. The lettering is entirely in capitals.

Rev. Fay C. Martin, pastor of the Church of God, is a Palmyra boy and well acquainted with Mormon history and traditions. He is sincere in his belief that the copper plates are genuine, their metal at least, and that they were placed in the hill for some unknown reason, preferably as a "refutation" of Mormonism. Rev. Mr. Driver and Mr. Lawton concluded their evangelistic labors in Palmyra last night and will leave immediately for other fields. They have made a number of converts here.

Willard W. Bean, representing the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Western New York, requested the privilege of the floor, but the evangelist refused to allow him to speak. Mr. Bean refused to make a statement and left the church shortly. After translating the words on the plates, none of those connected with the affair would assume responsibility of making a definite statement that the plates were not the work of a human hand. Instead they allowed the congregation to accept or reject the truthfulness of their find.

The coming centennial anniversary of the founding of Mormonism, which is to be observed in September at Palmyra and to which Mormons are expected to make a pilgrimage, is believed by many to be a reason for the apparent "plant" into which the clergymen were led. Newspaper men and villagers have gone over the hill thoroughly in an attempt to find the spot where the plates were found but were unable to discover it.

Note: See also the Geneva Daily Times of Apr. 26, 1923.


The Ogdensburg Advance.

Vol. LVII.                   Ogdensburg. New York, Thursday, July 26, 1923.                   No. 30.




It is not generally known that Joseph Smith, one of the founders of the Mormon church and the one who claims to have found the plates of gold revealing Mormonism, once lived in Potsdam. But such is a fact and was told George A. Cameron of Evanston, Ill., an Ogdensburg boy, by George L. Albert Smith, an apostle of the Mormon Church and a grandson [sic] of Joseph. Smith. He lived in the Sandstone Village two years, going from there to the home of his father in Palmyra, N. Y. It was here that he claims to have had the vision and where he found the plates of the Mormon bible on Sept. 22, 1827. The book was printed in the office of the Wayne Sentinel, a convert defraying the expense by mortgaging his farm. Brigham Young lived in Canandaigua and the first Mormon society was formed in Fayette in 1830. From Palmyra Joseph Smith went to Nauvoo, Ill., where he was killed by a mob.

Note 1: An assertion published in the Gouverneur, NY Free Press of Dec. 18, 1889 echoed the claim stated above -- saying that "Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, lived in this county [St. Lawrence County, NY] when a boy, and that the Mormons at the present time have missionaries laboring in the town."

Note 2: LDS President George Albert Smith (who not Joseph Smith's grandson) is not known to have ever stated that the founder of the Mormon Church resided in the Potsdam-Stockholm area -- neither did his father, Church Historian George A. Smith (who was Joseph Smith's cousin) ever hint of any such thing. Then again, George A. Smith performed some editing upon the manuscript of Mother Lucy Smith's biography of her son, and as Church Historian he was in a position to censor the publication of any problematic family history. Lucy Mack Smith and her children almost certainly stopped with her husband's relatives in St. Lawrence county, while on their way to Palmyra late in 1816 -- and yet there is no mention of any such detail to be found in her account. It is possible that some portion of the 1816 chronology has been suppressed. See notes appended to the article in the Oct. 11, 1903 issue of the Syracuse Herald.

Note 3: Members of extended Smith family lived in Potsdam Township township and nearby places. Joseph Smith Sr. went on a mission to Potsdam with his son, Don Carlos, in 1830, and again, with his brother John Smith, in 1836. Joseph Smith's grandparents Asael Smith and Mary Duty Smith settled in that township (in Stockholm) with Asael Jr. in the early 1800s. Asael Sr. appears in the 1810 and 1820 census as do other members of the Smith family in the early 1800s. -- George Albert Smith was born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence county, New York, on the 26th of June, 1817. He was the son of John Smith, the sixth son of Asael and Mary Smith. John Smith was therefore a brother of the Prophet's father, and George Albert and the Prophet were cousins. In the fall of 1828, Asael Smith, grandfather of the subject of this note, received a letter from Joseph Smith, Sen., informing him of some of the visions the youthful Prophet had received. Soon after this a letter from the young Prophet himself was received by John Smith, and read in the hearing of George Albert. The letter declared that the judgments of God would overtake the wicked of this generation unless they repented. The letter made a deep impression upon George Albert; while his father remarked that "Joseph wrote like a prophet." In August, 1830, Joseph Smith, Sen., visited his brother John, bringing with him the Book of Mormon, a copy of which he left at the former's residence. During the temporary absence of his uncle, who was visiting other branches of the family, George Albert championed the Book of Mormon, and answered objections urged against it by the neighbors who came in to examine it. Meantime he formulated some objections of his own, which his Uncle Joseph on his return answered to his complete satisfaction; and he never afterwards ceased to advocate the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Notwithstanding this conviction, however, he was not baptized for another two years.



Vol. XLI.               Shortsville, New York, Thursday, November 7, 1923.                 No. 45.



J. W. Williams of Palmyra has written the following account of the birth of Mormonism, making an interesting if not strictly true story of an event of 1823:

It was only a short time ago that the nation read an amazing report in the newspapers to the effect that two plates had been found on Mormon hill, refuting the Book of Mormon. This hill is situated a short distance from Palmyra village, on the state highway between Palmyra and Manchester. Thousands of tourists pass this spot; but few of them realize that it is the most historical in the history of Mormonism. On this Hill Cumorah, Mormonism received its birth.

Perhaps no event of modern times so agitated or upset the equilibrium of the religious world as did the bold announcement by the boy, Joseph Smith, the 14-year-old son of a Western New York farmer, in the year 1820, when he declared he had been visited by heavenly messengers. Everybody, with the exception of his immediate relatives and possibly a few near friends, who couldn't doubt his sincerity, believed his claims spurious. He naturally became the butt of neighborhood jokes and was ridculed and abused, much to his discomfort; for there never seemed to be any doubt in his mind but what he had really and actually conversed with personages from the other world, and wondered why he should suddenly become so unpopular for believing his vision true. But the months went on, then a year; then two years; then the third year, with no more visits from the great unseen world, even his best friends and possibly his own kinsfolk at least became luke-warm as regards his claims. It was after the third year had elapsed, when he was meditating on the situation and wondering just how he stood with the Lord, that he kneeled down before retiring, and with a heavy heart, sought God earnestly for forgiveness of his youthful sins.

This was on the night of September 21, 1823. He prayed earnestly, and while yet engaged in his supplication, the darkness began to fade away, and a glory appeared, until his room became lighter than at noonday. In the midst of this light, standing by his bedside, with feet a little above the floor, stood an angel. It had on a robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly Smith had ever seen. The hands were bare, also the arms, a little above the wrists. The feet, and ankles were also bare, as likewise was the head and neck, so that the angel's bosom could be seen. The room was very bright, but not so exceedingly bright as immediately about his person.

The angel said he was sent from God, and that his name was Moroni, and that he had formerly lived on this continent. He told Joseph Smith that the Lord had a work for him to perform and that his name would be both good and evilly spoken of among all nations,kindreds and tongues. He told him of a sacred record that was deposited in a hill nearby, which contained a history of the ancient people who inhabited this continent of which the American Indians are but a remnant. He also said that this was inscribed on gold plates which had been abridged from 600 B. C. and 425 A. D., and contained an abbreviated history of their people from the time they landed probably on the Chili coast in South America, Central America, Mexico, Yucatan and finally in what is now the United States, much of the time being harrassed by their degenerate and fanatical enemies. The civilized white race, so relentlessly pursued by the red warriors, were gradually reduced in numbers and finally made their last stand among the hogback hills of Western New York.

The angel told Smith that.he was the last of a line of prophets among his people known as Nephites. That his father's name was Mormon, and prepared a record from a number of sets of plates; and before his father's death had turned them over to him (Moroni), who was the custodian; and that he had hidden the plates in the hill just before his people were exterminated by their enemy, the Lamanites (Indians), about the year 425 A. D.

The messenger shewed the hill to Joseph Smith in a vision. So vividly was it shown that he could see the very spot where the plates were deposited. The messenger also quoted much scripture to Joseph Smith, among them being part of the third and fourth chapters of Malachi, 22d and 23rd verses of the third chapter of Acts and the second chapter of Joel, explaining them as he went along. He gave Smith implicit instructions as regards his duties, after which the light began to concentrate about the person of the messenger and he ascended as it were through a conduit into heaven.

Note: The Enterprise editor's mention of this faith-promoting story as being "not strictly true story," was probably the typical reaction of the sceptical Ontario county readers of 1923. The boilerplate story was contributed by Elder Joseph W. Williams of St. George, Utah, who spent several years in upstate New York as a missionary, choirist and pageant worker, (and later served as a mission president in Auburn and Newburgh). See his photograph, published in the 1938 Improvement Era, accompanying an article he co-wrote, based in part upon a 1904 report copied from the Auburn Bulletin.


Democrat  [   ]  Chronicle.

Vol. 92.                           Rochester, N. Y., Wed., September 17, 1924.                           No. ?

Mormon Hill and Bible Proofs, Not Mentioned in
Sexton's Will. May Be Acquired for Memorial.


Palmyra. Sept. 16. -- The death of Pliny T. Sexton has aroused speculation as to what disposition will be made of Mormon Hill and printer's proofs of the first Mormon bible, which he owned. The Mormon Church reveres the hill as the birthplace of the Mormon faith and the faded proofs are regarded as a relic of great historical value. Information given to the public concerning Mr. Sexton's will does not include mention of this property.

The executors are authorized to dispose of all property not specifically bequeathed, so it is assumed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise the Mormon Church, will endeavor to obtain possession of the hill and the bible. The latter is officially known as "The Book of Mormon," upon which the Mormon faith is founded. The hill is known to the Mormons as Hill Cumorah, and is located six miles south of this village near the village of Manchester.

It is known that during the life of Mr. Sexton overtures were made on behalf of the Mormon Church to purchase the hill, but so far as known, he never chose to fix a price. Two years ago an officer of the church said that on various occasions he had communicated to Mr. Sexton the desire of the church to buy the property, suggesting that a price be named or that negotiations be opened. It was said to be part of the plan of the church to expend about $100,000 in erecting a suitable memorial on the spot. The same official said that while the church would be glad to obtain the book, it was his conjecture that Mr. Sexton would give it to the state museum at Albany.

A depression in the side of Mormon Hill near the top, is pointed out as the spot from which Joseph Smith uncovered the golden plates on which was inscribed the message of the angel Moroni. A short distance from the hill is the Joseph Smith farm, owned by the church. Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, lived here as young men. In the "sacred grove" nearby, Smith received his first visitation from a heavenly messenger, who, according to Mormon history, returned from time to time until Smith was prepared to make his great find.

Golden Plates Translated.

When the golden plates were unearthed, Smith is said to have taken them to the farm house. In the front room of which he translated them. Buried with the plates he is said to have found two odd stones, and by looking through these was enabled to decipher the message on the plates. Sitting behind a curtain, he read aloud while Oliver Cowdry, on the other side of the curtain, wrote down his words. The Smith farm is in charge of Elder W. W. Bean, who lives there with his family. The furnishings of the house is much as it was a century ago, containing scores of articles used by Smith and his brother.

After the Book of Moroni [sic] had been translated, a printer, John Gilbert, of Palmyra, was engaged to put it in book form. Gilbert is said to have retained for himself a complete set of the proofs, which in due course came into the hands of Mr. Sexton. The latter kept them at his bank and was always glad to permit visiting Mormons or others interested to inspect them.

Anniversary Celebrated.

Last year the Mormon Church observed the hundredth anniversary of the first visitation of the angel to Joseph Smith. Hundreds of Mormon missionaries from various parts of the world and the highest officials of the Church attended the ceremonies at the farm and on Mormon Hill. Mr. Sexton never interposed any objection to the Mormons or the curious visiting the hill; in fact, he permitted free access to it. He made no use of the property. On the occasion of the anniversary last year the hope was expressed by a number of those present that the church might acquire possession. The presence of Dr. Heber J. Grant, president of the church; members of the Twelve Apostles, or governing body; the presiding bishop and other officials lent color to a rumor that a deal might be completed, but nothing was [done]. Part of the week's ceremonies consisted of raising the Cumorah-Ramah flag up the hill.

Elder Bean said that should the church require the hill property it would undoubtedly use every effort to make it one of the show places of the section. He said [he] had in mind that the church probably would beautify it and erect a memorial somewhat on the same plan as the memorial that marks the birthplace of Brigham Young in Whitingham, Vermont.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The Oswego Palladium.

Vol. LXI.                             Oswego, N. Y., Wed., Sept. 17, 1924.                             No. 220.



Where Joseph Smith is Said to Have Unearthed Golden Plates
Carrying Bible of Their Religion.


PALMYRA. Sept. 17. -- The death of Pliny T. Sexton has aroused speculation as to what disposition will be made of Mormon Hill and printer's proofs of the first Mormon bible, which he owned. The Mormon Church reveres the hill as the birthplace of the Mormon faith and the faded proofs are regarded as a relic of great historical value. Information given to the public concerning Mr. Sexton's will does not include mention of this property, but the executors are authorized to dispose of all property not specifically bequeathed, so it is assumed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise the Mormon Church, will endeavor to obtain possession of the hill and the bible. The latter is officially known as The Book of Mormon, upon which the Mormon faith is founded. The hill is known to the Mormons as Hill Cumorah, and is located six miles south of this village near the village of Manchester.

It is known that during the life of Mr. Sexton overtures were made on behalf of the Mormon Church to purchase the hill, but so far as known, he never chose to fix a price.

A depression in the side of Mormon Hill near the top, is pointed out as the spot from which Joseph Smith uncovered the golden plates on which was inscribed the message of the angel Moroni. A short distance from the hill is the Joseph Smith farm, owned by the church. Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, lived here as young men. In the "sacred grove" nearby, Smith received his first visitation from a heavenly messenger, who, according to Mormon history, returned from time to time until Smith was prepared to make his great find.

When the golden plates were unearthed, Smith is said to have taken them to the farm house. In the front room of which he translated them. Buried with the plates he is said to have found two odd stones, and by looking through these was enabled to decipher the message on the plates. Sitting behind a curtain, he read aloud while Oliver Cowdry, on the other side of the curtain, wrote down his words. The Smith farm is in charge of Elder W. W. Bean, who lives there with his family. The furnishings of the house is much as it was a century ago, containing scores of articles used by Smith and his brother.

After the Book of Moroni had been translated, a printer, John Gilbert, of Palmyra, was engaged to put it in book form. Gilbert is said to have retained for himself a complete set of the proofs, which in due course came into the hands of Mr. Sexton. The latter kept them at his bank and was always glad to permit visiting Mormons or others interested to inspect them.

Last year the Mormon Church observed the hundredth anniversary of the first visitation of the angel to Joseph Smith. Hundreds of Mormon missionaries from various parts of the world and the highest officials of the Church attended the ceremonies at the farm and on Mormon Hill. [Mr.] Sexton never interposed any objection to the Mormons or the curious visiting the hill; in fact, he permitted free access to it. He made no use of the property

Notes: (forthcoming)


Jefferson County Journal.

Vol. ?                                Adams, N. Y., Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1924.                                 No. ?



Paper prepared and read by Frances Littlefield Wood, at the D. A. R. meeting, Nov. 20.

To portray the early history of Ellisburg and Woodville, to forcibly impress upon your minds, the hardships and struggles which the first settlers endured is indeed quite impossible in the short confines of this paper. As you are doubtless aware that the early history of Woodville is very closely linked with that of my husband's family -- and consequently mine -- I trust you will pardon many personal and family references which under other circumstances would be considered rank egotism on my part. For what follows I am indebted to the admirable treatise on Jefferson County by the Hon. E. C. Emerson; to the Genealogical and Family History of the County of Jefferson by the late B. A. Oakes and of course to our own family records.

In many respects the hisory of the town of Ellisburg is unlike that of any other civil division of Jefferson County. From its settlement in 1797 Ellisburg has been, in a measure, an independent town and its history has been different frdm surounding towns. True, it was a part of the Macomb purchase and on April 11th, 1796, Agent Constable contracted to sell to Marvel Ellis of Troy, all of what is now Ellisburg, except a marshy tract near the lake which was known as the Brown and Eddy tract. As there was no land agent on this latter tract soon became peopled with squatters and temporary undesirable settlers, from whence came the name "No God," which applied to the section and is heard even now occasionally. Mr. Ellis purchased Ellisburg with the exception of "No God" but as he only paid a small part of the purchase price down and gave a large mortgage for the balance, the executors of Wm. Constable finally deemed it best to foreclose the mortgage and thereby reobtain title to the land. This was done in 1804 and Mr. Ellis was rendered insolvent. Nothing daunted by his failure he kept on with his work of settling the village of Ellisburg and with Lyman Ellis and others, he made great progress under most trying circumstances. It was at this time that our grandfather, Ebenezer Wood, purchased from the Wm. Constable executors the land on which we now live -- and the deed to which is now in our safe.

In all the Black River country, no town possesses ancient history equal to Ellisburg. As early as the year 1615, Samuel de Champlain with a party of French and Indians crossed the western border of the town on an expedition into the Iroquois, country and on his return the intrepid Frenchman followed the same course though himself badly wounded. Again in 1884, De la Barre held a treaty with the Onondagas on the lake shore at the mouth of Sandy Creek where many of his men fell sick and suffered so severely from the want of provisions that the name Bay le Famine, was given to the locality and has ever since been preserved. The next notable visitor to the place was Father Charlevoix, the French missionary, who in May, 1721, spent some time at Famine Bay and wrote of all the surroundings.

Ellisburg abounds in evidence of Indian occupation and from the mouth of Sandy Creek to the eastern boundary of the town there is hardly a farm or locality which has not disclosed some trace of the aboriginal period. The heavily timbered woods abounding in game tended to make the town of Ellisburg an ideal hunting ground. The fort at Niagara was built in 1719, and was followed by that at Oswego and the miner line of Iroquois defences, against the French and Canadian Indians; extending north from Oswego through Ellisburg were doubtless constructed some time between 1720 and 1735. Upwards of one half-dozen such defences have been located in the town though now they have disappeared from the ravages of time and the plow.

Coming down to the year 1813, we see the British coming up the south branch of Big Sandy Creek on a May morning, 200 strong in their boats. We see them land and as suddenly we see their line mowed down by the fire of Major Daniel Appling and his 150 riflemen, aided by the local militia. We see the big cable carried on the backs of men to Sackets Harbor and we are justly proud of the early history of our town.

Woods  Settlement

But now for the Woods Settlement afterwards known as Woodville. Ebenezer Wood was born in Norwich, Conn., Sept. 17th, 1771, and was the son of the Rev. Nathaniel Wood. He came to Ellisburg in the fall of 1803 to look for land. Evidently being satisfied, upon returning, he purchased from the executors of Wm. Constable 754 acres for which he paid $2,294.80 and returned in the fall of 1804 with his two brothers, Jacob and Ephriam, and also brought his saw mill irons at this time. It is said he came to Adams and from Bells Settlement, now Bellsville; he and his party cut their way down the creek through the woods. There probably was no road from Ellisburg to Woodville at that time so he came by way of Adams. In February following, more people came, including one great grandfather, the Rev. Nathaniel, who made the trip up from Rome over the Redfield turnpike in an ox sled. I have often wondered how many of us today would enjoy an ox sled trip from Rome north, in February. Little do we realize the steady spirit, the untiring zeal and the desired determination which must have pessessed our ancestors in the easbj days. Ebenezer first constructed a log cabin, then the frame house in which he kept tavern and store and in which our father, Nathaniel, was born in 1816. This building has only recently been torn down and stood just a few rods north from our present dwelling. From the first, Ebenezer was much interested in all civic and community affairs. He was engaged in various enterprises besides his store and tavern, bought and sold land, [as] the [---- ---- which --- now have ----] ably attest. He was especially active at the period of the war of 1812 and in 1817 was elected to the state legislature. We have a portion of the cloak which he wore when in Albany. He was appointed by the governor as one of the three commissioners to lay out the state road from Oswego to Sackets Harbor. In referring to the Centennial Historical Souvenir recently published by the Jefferson County National Bank we find on page 12 the following: "In reviewing the early history of Jefferson County, we find that the following men were active and prominent in all civic affairs: Ebenezer Wood, Elisha Camp, Henry Coffeen and Jabez Foster."

Ebenezer was one of the charter directors of the Jefferson County National Bank elected June 20, 1816. He served as supervisor for the town of Ellisburg, 1815-16. He served again in 1821. He was one of the trustees of the Baptist society which was formed in 1824. He had several brothers and sisters. One brother Ephraim, was the father of Amos E. Wood, who was a tanner shoemaker and justice of the peace; a pensioner of the war of 1812 and the father of Simeon T. Wood, whom we all remember, as he but recently left us and his genial smile and kindly manner is ever remembered by all who had the good fortune to know him. Another brother, Nathaniel Jr., resided about two miles north from Woodville. His son was Governor Wood of Ohio. A daughter, Polly, married Oliver Batchelor, who came in 1808 and was our first blacksmith. He installed a trip hammer and became especially famous in forging agricultural tools. He forged the iron doors for the Jefferson County National Bank. When he was 93 years old, he had voted at every election since he came to the settlement.

Ebenezer had a large family of children, there being but three surviving families left in Woodville: Miss Loretta Wood, F. Arthur Wood and our own in which I include our brother, Nathaniel Wood.

In the years gone by there has been a tannery, a paper mill, sash and blind factory, saw mill and grist mill located here. One by one they have gone until only the grist mill is left. The mercantile business, which was started by our grandfather, has been carried on more or less by our family since that time. A few of us support the Congregational church which was founded in 1836, after the Baptist society had become inactive. We have a large school building with two rooms on the first floor and a large, auditorium on the second floor in which we have our various social gatherings. A post office was early established and a hotel and cheese factory were later built. The hotel is used at present more as a dwelling and the cheese factory has recently been closed.

Much more could be written about the early days did space permit. In conclusion,. I wish to refer to two or three papers which we have in our possession. One is an account book kept by the Rev. Nathaniel Wood when he was a merchant in Middletown, Vermont. This account begins in 1802, when pounds, shillings and pence were used and terminates in 1803, when the dollars and cents came in use. We also have the assessment roll for the town of Ellisburg in the year 1813, which was of especial interest in giving the names of the residents, of that day, but above all we prize the deed which our grandfather received from James Constable, Wm. McVicker and Hezikiah B. Pierrepont, executors of Wm. Constable, dated the 26th day of May, 1804.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                             Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, April 5, 1925.                            No. ?

Onondaga Valley Home May Have Housed
Original of Mormon Bible in Manuscript


Doubters Say Faith is Based on Imaginative Tale
Written by Former Resident of Village


And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents, and we did call it the promised land.

So it is stated in the first book of Nephi, eighteenth chapter and twenty-third verse of the Book of Mormon, that being the description of the landing of the lost tribe of Israel on the shores of America in the year 589 B. C.

All this, and much more, was engraved on plates and hid in a hill near Manchester, Ontario county, to be discovered September 21, 1823, by Joseph Smith, Jr., according to the belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, better known as Mormons.

Those plates, translated, became the Book of Mormon or Mormon Bible, which is accepted today as infallible by more than 600,000 believers in its teachings and that Joseph Smith was inspired by God to dig in the hill.

Smith Farmhand at Valley.

The 600,000 believe that "It came to Pass" as the first Mormon said it did, there are others who assert Joseph Smith worked as a farm-hand at Onondaga Valley when he was a youth, an employee of William H. Sabine, and that while he was there Solomon Spaulding's writings, "The Manuscript Found," were in a trunk in that house. There are those who assert "The Manuscript Found" was purloined -- but not by Smith -- printed and labeled "The Book of Mormon."

The house, built in 1817, in which for three years was the old trunk and in the trunk, "The Manuscript Found," still stands at 9 Academy green, Onondaga Valley, and in the house now lives Mrs. Thomas W. Meachem, granddaughter of William H. Sabine.

It is a mooted subject; Mormons will and have denied it, but strong circumstantial evidence has been gathered to show that Solomon Spaulding's manuscript was the basis of the Mormon: Bible, and, for three years before it fell into the hands of men who foisted it upon a gullible and superstitious following that which is now known as the Mormon Bible lay, with a lot of other papers, in a trunk in the Sabine home, now the residence of Mrs. Meachem.

Spaulding Once Clergyman.

Solomon Spaulding was born at Ashford, Conn., in 1761. He married Matilda Sabine, only sister of Squire Sabine, as the early settler of Onondaga Valley was known. Spaulding engaged in various occupations and professions, at times being a clergyman and school principal and finally part owner of an iron foundry at what is now Conneaut, O., where, at that time, Indian mounds were opened and many relics found.

Spaulding wrote much, and these discoveries set him to writing a fanciful and fictitious history of an ancient race in America, which he described as the lost tribe of Israel, his narrative being written in the familiar Biblical phraseology, with "and it came to pass" so frequently Interjected those who read the manuscript declared this repetition made the thing ridiculous.

In the first chapter of the book of Nephi of the Mormon Bible are eight times that "it came to pass," in the second chapter 11 times and in the third chapter 15 times, "and from there on is a succession all through the book of the phrase, "and it came to pass."

Widow at Onondaga.

Spaulding moved to Pennsylvania, his "Manuscript Found" still unpublished, and died in 1816. Then it was his widow came to live with her brother at Onondaga; Valley, brining the old hair covered trunk full of papers. She then went to Hartwlck, Otsego county, marrying again in 1820, and the trunk was taken there.

It is believed the manuscript was copied while it was in the hands of a printer in Pittsburgh, before Spaulding's death, there being much circumstantial evidence to bear out this theory.

In 1830 Smith, founder of Mormonism, established headquarters at Kirtland, O.,. and proselyting was carried on in that state, while Smith went about peddling his Bible for $1 a copy. There was a meeting at Conneaut, at which selections from the Bible were read, and Spaulding's old neighbors there at once declared it to be the fiction story of the lost tribe of Israel, written by and read to them by Solomon Spaulding.

Copied by Rigdon.

Sidney Rigdon was at Conneaut when Spaulding was writing his Manuscript Found." He was working in the printing shop in Pittsburgh when the manuscript was there, and it was said by Spaulding that Rigdon copied it there. Rigdon became associated with Smith later, and he has been referred to as "the compelling genius of Mormonism."

In 1834 D. P. Hurlburt went to the home of Spaulding's widow, then remarrled, and obtained the manuscript by presenting a letter from Squire Sabine and saying he washed to compare it with the Mormon Bible to determine whether they were the same. It was not returned altho a promise had been given, and was said to have been burned. It is asserted by those who contend Spaulding's manuscript to have been the basis of the Mormon Bible this was done to destroy all evidence.

Mormons Mistreated.

Nevertheless, Mormonism grew and despite persecutions of its adherents. A temple was built [sic] at Independence, Mo., but the Mormons were forced to leave in 1838. Then they founded Nauvoo, Ill. Mormons everywhere were mobbed and mistreated. A battle waged at Carthage, Ill., June 27, 1844, and, after several had been killed and when death, seemed certain for him, Joseph Smith flung himself from a high window.

Thus died the founder of the Mormon faith, the man who as boy had been a farm-hand at Onondaga Valley, and who, in that day, claimed the gift of a seer. with his divining rod finding treasures, and being called upon to search with his supposed miraculous power the depths of that sugar loaf hill which was so long a landmark on the edge of St. Agnes, cemetery, now almost disappeared, its sand and gravel hauled away for building material.

In 1848 the Mormons migrated to Salt Lake valley, Utah, led by Brigham Young, who there, as a result of a vision, declared it to be the promised land. Mormonism and polygamy flourished, until enforcement of a law against it curbed the system of a man marrying as many women as he could support.

But Mormonism has slowly gained ground since Joseph Smith proclaimed the finding of the gold plates in the hill near Manchester, when his family were living a poverty stricken life at Palmyra, and today it has more than 600,000 adherents, despite the more generally accepted belief Solomon Spaulding wrote their Bible, unintentionally as such and only as a piece of fiction.

Mormonism paid its founders. Joseph Smith had to work as a farm hand no longer after he found the Bible. He had to go about no more with his divining rod.

"And it came to pass," when Brigham Young, died, August 20, 1877, he left 19 wives, 57 children and $1,000,000.

None of which might have happened had Squire Sabine used Spaulding's manuscript to have started a blaze on a frosty morning in the fireplace of the old house at Onondaga Valley in which, his granddaughter still lives.

Note: The above story appear to rely upon the speculation of writers on Mormonism from the time of Jonathan B. Turner onward, coupled with a few stories preserved in the Sabine family. Ellen E. Dickinson produced some similar explanations in 1884. But the fanciful account of a very young Joseph Smith, Jr. working for Mr. Sabine and then stealing the text of Sabine's late brother-in-law has no evidence upon which to rest. The tradition of Joseph Smith, Jr. having lived in the neighborhood of William H. Sabine appears to be apocryphal.



Vol. XLIII.             Shortsville, New York, Thursday, September 17, 1925.               No. 38.

Dr. John Richmond Pratt Dies at
Manchester at Age of 99 Years


Dr. John Richmond Pratt, one of the best known and oldest men in Western New York, died at his home in Main street, Manchester, shortly before 10 o'clock on Monday morning, after an illness of less than 24 hours, aged 99 years, four months and twelve days.

Dr. Pratt was a son of the late John and Sally Potter Pratt, who were among the pioneers of this section, their house, where he was born on March 2, 1826, being on the site of the present Pratt homestead. His ancestors had charge of the first post office in this locality, where letters were left each week by Indian carriers. This office was on the plot of ground where his home stands today. Mail was left there by carrier until the year 1809....

Possessed His Faculties to the End

Possessing an unusually retentive memory, Dr. Pratt was an authority on matters of town, county and state history, including the origin of the Mormon religion, about which he could tell many interesting and illuminating tales. He could recall Joseph Smith, the founder of this religion, who, it is alleged, dug up the golden plates on Mormon Hill north of Manchester, from which the Mormon bible was written. Up to the very day of his death he retained a keen interest in life and was in full possession of all his faculties. The funeral obsequies will be held at 4 o'clock this Thursday afternoon from the family home, with Dr. Mitchell Bronk of Germantown, Pa., officiating.

Note 1: Dr. John Richmond Pratt continued to live in his father's house after the death of the elder John Pratt -- Manchester's long-serving volunteer librarian. The local collection of books was always kept in a cupboard in the Pratt home, from the time John took on the duties of librarian in 1818, until the time of his death, a time span of some fifty years. Many of the original 600-plus books remained in the possession of John R. Pratt, until his demise in 1925. Later a public library was established at Shortsville by Myron M. Buck. A partial list of the old library's collection has been preserved and it offers some clues as to what titles would have been available to a curious Joseph Smith, jr., had he taken advantage of the opportunity to engage in some free reading.

Note 2: In 1932 M. Wilford Poulson interviewed Dr. John R. Pratt, who said "the place where the first Mormon baptisms took place... was near the John Stafford home about one-fourth mile farther south from where the road turns east off from Stafford St. to go to Cumorah. It was at a pond near where a turn in the road is now & where I remember once was a set of posts for a flume -- It is at a creek about a mile from the Smith place."... "This was related by Dr. [John] Stafford to Dr. Pratt himself" ...The Osgood item is preceded by Poulson's notes "From Willard Bean's Scrap Book / Copied at Palmyra, N.Y. Aug. 25, 1932." Poulson heard about Osgood from Dr. John R. Pratt, who told him that "Carlos Osgood who lives at the telephone office is much interested in Manchester history" --- Charles Comstock Richards, son of Apostle Franklin D. Richards, accompanied his father and other family members on a genealogical tour of New England in 1880. In 1947 Charles recalled that he and his father visited Palmyra, New York, and "we called upon Dr. J. R. Pratt, M.D. who told my father that he could put his hand on the manuscript which Martin Harris lost, in an hour, if it was needed"


Democrat [     ] Chronicle

Vol. 94.                             Rochester, N. Y., Sunday, April 18, 1926.                             No. ?


County Named for Revolutionary General;
Home of Mormonism and Spiritualism.

Clyde, April [16]. -- (Special Correspondence) -- Wayne county to-day is celebrating its 103d anniversary. The last century has seen the county grow from a semi-wilderness to one of the most progressive sections in the state. Facts for the following sketch were culled from local histories and furnish an interesting perspective of the history of the last century.

Two outstanding features of the history of Wayne county are the founding of two cults, the Spiritualists and the Mormons. The accounts of these groups contained in this article are but one view of highly controversial points in Wayne county's history, and are offered as they have been compiled by local historians.

Settled in 1789.

Until March, 1789, what is now Wayne county was virgin soil. Southward a line of settlements had led to the west, but what this country possessed in the way of civilization was still in the east. When the English rulers gave a charter to a colony; they made the western limit the setting sun, or the very nearest, the Pacific ocean, so the earliest formed county, west of the Hudson, was named Albany and included everything in the state to the westward.

This was in 1683, and while Mohawk, Oneida. Cayuga, Onondaga or Seneca Indians roamed at will over this vast domain, the name remained unchanged until 1772, when Tyron county was organized, embracing all that territory west of a line running north and south, through the middle point of Schoharie county, and was thus named after the governor of the province at that time, William Tryon. Following the end of the Revolution the patriotic inhabitants could not endure the name of a loyalist governor and so the county was renamed Montgomery, thus recalling the thrilling scene at Quebec.

The empire at this time steadily was moving toward the west, and in 1791, Herkimer county was formed, permitting the application of the name of the hero of Oriskany. The area included all between the present eastern boundary of Herkimer county and the eastern line of Ontario county, erected in 1789, and running along the eastern side of Lyons and Sodus. In 1794 a portion of this land became known as Onondaga county: Cayuga county was formed in 1799, and in 1804, Seneca, whose extreme northern town, Junius, included the present townships of Huron, Wolcott, Butler, Rose, Galen and Savannah.

Separated in 1823.

The geography of the state continued thus until April 11, 1823, when the upper part of Junius from Seneca county and Sodus, Lyons, Williamson, Palmyra and Ontario from Ontario county were united and became known as Wayne county, named in honor of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne.

Over the area of Wayne county planted fifteen townships, the earliest having been formed during January, 1780, Sodus, named after the bay to its north, that in the earlier days was called by the Indians, "Assorodus," meaning "silvery wayer," and Palmyra were the first formed while still a part of Ontario county: other townships of Wayne county, formed in the order named, were Williamson, Wolcott, Ontario, Lyons, Galen, Macedon, Savannah, Arcadia, Marion. Rose, Huron, Butler and Walworth.

The first settlements in Wayne county were made within the bounds of the present towns of Palmyra and Lyons, the venturesome pioneers from Connecticut or New York sailing up the Hudson to the Mohawk; then by means of a pole pushed their crafts up stream until they reached the site of the present city of Rome, when their boats and effects were moved across the country, a mile or so, to what was known as Wood creek, and thus they floated down toward Oneida lake, and to its outlet, the Oneida river, to the junction of Seneca and Oswego.

Here they turned southward and traveled up the sluggish stream until they entered the Clyde river, known in the early days as Mud creek. Up this river they moved until they dropped anchor near Lyons, a journey which had taken approximately twenty-eight days. The trip was made under the direction of General John Swift, who was their agent. The occupation of these early inhabitants was hunting, trapping and trading with the friendly Indians for food and other necessities of life.

Once Pulteney Estate.

The nine western towns of Wayne county belonged to the Pulteney estate; the eastern part, including Savannah, Galen and portions of Wolcott and Butler, constituted a part the old Military Tract; that intermediate portion, except the three south tiers of lots lying in Rose township, were compensation lands granted to the Pulteney estate for the gore between the old and new pre-emption.

The Iroquois, the general term which has been applied to the Six Nations, ranged in freedom through these wild domains. Next the French claimed the command of this wilderness. At length, they gave way to the British powers. After the Revolution, the treaty of 1783 left it in possession of the victorious colonies. But the involved Massachusetts and New York in a sharp controversy, each state insisting upon its claim to this part of the western territory, now known as Wayne, and Western New York.

This dispute was submitted for decision to commissioners, appointed by the two states, who met at Hartford, December 16, 1786, and settled by compact between the two states, in which New York "ceded, granted, released and confirmed to Massachusetts, all the estate, right, title, and property; the right of government, sovereignty and jurisdiction excepted; which the former had to a large territory west of the Military Tract, comprising the whole part of county through which the Genesee runs, from its source to where it flows into Lake Ontario." The amount of land was estimated at about six million acres. By the legislature of Massachusetts, this district, in 1788, was granted to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, for the sum of $100,000 to be paid in three installments, and from that time private property. Phelps and Gorham during that same year established a land office at Canandaigua.

Soldiers Given Land.

Besides this Massachusetts Reserve, there was the Military Tract. These constituted the two general divisions of Western New York. The Military Tract [was ordered by an act of the] New York Legislature, January 25, 1782, to be distributed among the officers and soldiers of New York State who served in the Revolution, and situated directly east of the Massachusetts Reserve, or the Phelps and Gorham purchase.

The first roads in the county were built by Charles Williams, an agent of the Pulteney estate, from Lyons and Palmyra to Sodus Point, near which nearly all of the early settlers located. Williams also laid out a city at Sodus bay, which never has been completed, From 1790 to 1794, colonists came in from Rhode Island. Long Island and Maryland. The latter brought with them several slaves: but it was soon found that slave labor was unprofitable, and the settlements did not progress with great rapidity for several years, owing to the diseases which prevailed.

The fear of Indian hostilities, and of British invasion during the war of 1812, greatly retarded settlement of this part of the state. On the return of peace, settlers began to arrive in considerable numbers, principally from New England and Eastern New York. The completion of the Erie Canal gave a new impulse to immigration during [1822]; and in a few years the flourishing villages of Lyons, Clyde, Palmyra and Newark were built up along its course. To-day the Erie canal is replaced by the Barge canal, which takes its course in this section through the old Clyde river, which was dredged to a depth that will allow boats of greater size than the small scows that plied between New York and Buffalo, and thus on through the Great Lakes. The New York Central Railroad was built through Wayne county in [1842]...

Two of the most notable events in the history of Wayne county are the rise of Mormonism in Palmyra, and the origin of Spiritualism near Newark.

The progenitor of the Mormonism belief, Joseph Smith. Jr., was born in Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, December 23, 1805. He moved to Palmyra, with his father, Joseph. Sr., and family, in 1815, and later located some two miles southwest of the village, just over the town line in Manchester. Joseph Smith, the father of the "Prophet," previous to the Mormon dispensation, supported himself and family by digging and peddling "rutes and yarbs," selling cake, beer, etc.

Dug for Money.

In 1819 the Smiths commenced digging for money for a subsistence. The vocation was noised around among the community, and not a few were credulous enough to believe that they were within reach of a "chest of gold," and thus they contributed money to the Smiths to enable them to continue their excavations. They, however, used money thus obtained for the support of the family, and in the meantime kept [their] friends in a fever of excitement while treasure hunting.

Here, it may be well to relate an incident replete with importance, from its intimate connection with the rise and progress of Mormonism. Rev. Solomon Spaulding, while residing at Conneaut, Ohio, in 1809, formed the basis of a romance purporting to give the history of a lost race of people, from the numerous mounds and relics of dilapidated fortifications in this vicinity, which inspired the idea of a literary production. His original design was merely to amuse himself and friends by the imaginary history, entitled "Manuscript Found."

It purported to have been written by one of the lost nations, and recovered from one of the mounds. After its completion it was left for perusal with a Mr. Patterson, publisher of a newspaper there [sic - in Pittsburgh?]; an he believed it possessed no real merit, Mr. Patterson refused to publish it. Spaulding neglected to call for it, and it finally was thrown among the waste paper, where it came under the observation of Sidney Rigdon, who at that time was connected with the printing office, and who took a copy of it. Rigdon, upon hearing of the doings of the Smith family in Palmyra, conceived an idea which resulted in the printing of the Mormon Bible. He at once proceeded to Palmyra, and had long and frequent private interviews with Joseph Smith, Jr., when it is supposed they formed a plan of a new religious dispensation.

Mormon Bible Written.

From this romantic legend the Mormon Bible was transposed. Joseph: Smith would repair at night to a cave in the hillside, and dictate to his amanuensis, (Oliver Cowdery) what he mysteriously translated from golden plates, which be pretended to have found while digging for money in September, 1823, five months after! Wayne county had been formed, by spirit of revelation, but was not permitted to take them from the earth until 1827, about the time the Bible was begun. The great secrecy was observed during the revelations, which only were given in the cave at night, without any light, no one besides Smith being able to read the inscription on the plates.

When it was completed, they were in a great dilemma to know how they were to get it printed. This difficulty soon was obviated by Martin Harris, a convert, who mortgaged his farm to defray the expenses. Application was made about June, 1829, to Egbert B. Grandin, the publisher of the Wayne Sentinel at Palmyra, for the printing of the book. Grandin at once advised them against the supposed folly of the enterprise. All importunity, however, was resisted by Harris, and resented with indignation by Smith.

Upon the refusal of Grandin, they applied the same year to Mr. Weed, of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer, at Rochester, and there met with a similar refusal. They afain applied to Mr. Grandin, who upon seeing their determination, consented to print it, stipulating to print 5,000 copies of the book for $3,000. The last known location of the press [on] which this book was printed, was at Rose Valley, N. Y.

The second noted event in the history of the county, transpired at Hydeville, near Newark, is the origin of modern spiritualism. Margaret and Catharine Fox and Elisabeth Fish, a niece of the sisters, were the first to discover an intelligence in mysterious "rappings" on the night of March 31, 1849. The father of the sisters was a blacksmith, honest and industrious, who pursued his trade in the small settlement of Hydeville. Those in the neighborhood who discarded the idea of its spiritual origin, affirm that it was simply a ruse between the girls to dupe their mother, who was said to be very superstitious, or to subject her to the imposition so commonly practised on April 1st. Succeeding so well, they determined in initiate the whole family, and pursue their deception, it is said, at the expense of a credulous community as a means of subsistence. Those who adhere to the belief in the validity, or superhuman origin, of the rappings, as firmly deny the assertion.

This created considerable excitement in the vicinity of Hydesville on "spirit manifestations." The people came in large numbers, from all directions, to witness this singular phenomena; some to deprecate and others to investigate its merits. About a month after its inception, the family moved to Rochester, being unable to accommodate the throng of curious and eager spectators who daily visited them.

In Rochester they gave [private] exhibitions in the halls of that place, hence the name "Rochester rappings." The incredulity of the people was aroused, and a series of investigations instituted; some claiming for it a spiritual origin, but the majority pronouncing it a humbug or delusion. From this source the great body of Spiritualists originated.

Note: Most of the above article is composed of excerpts copied from the 1867-8 issue of the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Wayne County, N. Y.


The Oswego Palladium.

Vol. ?                               Oswego, N. Y., Thursday, Dec. 23, 1926.                               No. ?

Prophet Joseph Smith, Founder of
the Sect of Mormons, Born
December 23, 1805.

Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet was born in Sharon, Vermont December 23, 1805. When a lad of ten years his parents removed to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) County, New York, and four years later settled in Manchester, a few miles distant.

Young Joseph was employed as farm hand, and could merely read and write, when, in the spring of 1820, in the midst of great religious excitement four of his father's family having joined the Presbyterian church, Joseph claimed to have gone Into the woods to pray, when he had a vision in some respects similar to St. Paul's, but was told not to join any sect.

On the evening of September 21, 1823, after retiring, he claimed to have had another vision. According to his story an angel that he called Moroni visited him and told him of a book written upon golden plates, in which was a history of the former inhabitants of this country and "the fullness of the everlasting gospel."

He was instructed to dig for the plates in the hill Cumorah, four miles from Palmyra, between that town and Manchester, He subsequently went to the spot that he had seen in the vision, found the plates of gold, but an unseen power prevented him from removing them.

Moroni, with whom Smith claimed to have had many interviews, told him that he had not kept the Lord's command, that he valued the golden plates more than the records upon them, and not till his love for gold had abated and he was willing to give his time to the Lord and translate the inscriptions would they ever be delivered to him.

It is claimed that the heavenly messenger delivered the sacred records into Smith's hands on September 22, 1827.

Smith told of his visions and to escape the jeers and ridicule of his neighbors, he went to reside with his wife's family in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he began to translate the plates, the characters on which were in a tongue styled "reformed Egyptian," by the aid of Urim and Thummim, a pair of magic spectacles, from behind a curtain, dictating the "Book of Mormon" to Martin Harris, and later to Oliver Cowdery. Smith received the priesthood of Aaron from John the Baptist and of Melchizedek from Peter, James and John.

The "Book of Mormon" was printed in Palmyra, N. Y., by Egbert B. Grandin in 1830. The "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" was organized April 6, 1830, by six "saints" at the house of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, Seneca County, N. Y. Fayette, Seneca County, N. Y.

Smith was recognized as prophet signalizing, his "new dispensation" by casting out a devil from Newell Knight of Colesville, Broome County.

The church at Fayette began to gather disciples. On June 1, 1830, thirty members were present and missionaries were sent out, among whom were Brigham Young, the two Brothers Pratt, and Sidney Rigdon, a converted Campbellite preacher. Churches were formed in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and even in Indiana and Illinois.

Then came persecution, and the "saints" selected Kirtland, Ohio, as the promised land of the Mormons. In the fall of 1881 a revelation was made known which located the heavenly city in Jackson County, Missouri, and soon two thousand had gathered in that place Here a printing press was established and a monthly and a weekly newspaper published.

In 1832 Smith was dragged from his bed one night in Hiram, Ohio, and tarred and feathered and otherwise outraged, wan left for dead.

By the time Smith reached his followers in Missouri he had had another revelation, which made him a "military leader of the people."

Quarreling and fighting between the Saints and Gentiles was constant, and the interference of state authority was invoked by the latter. The militia was called out, when after much loss and suffering, and many deaths, the Saints were driven, in the depth of the winter, across the Mississippi River into Illinois.

The prophet and his brother Hyrum, and other leading Mormons were seized and sentenced by court martial to be shot but they Were subsequently released.

Smith was afterward frequently arrested, and while at Nauvoo, Ill., refused to recognize the validity of a warrant and had the sheriff conducted out of town by the city marshal. He was then arrested and placed in jail at Carthage on the charge of treason. While he was there a mob broke into the jail June 27, 1844, and the prophet and his brother were shot to death.

Joseph Smith has been conceded one of the most remarkable figures of the nineteenth century. Starting in life without education or worldly advantage, he became a recognized leader of enthusiastic converts, who believed he was a veritable prophet of God.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Cape  Vincent  Eagle.

Vol. LV.                 Cape Vincent, New York, Thursday, March 31, 1927.                 No. 7.

Mormon Leaders Failed to Establish
Their Faith at Theresa Century Ago.


Under date of March 26, a Watertown correspondent writes as follows to the Syracuse Post-Standard: Visitors to the thriving little village of Theresa in Jefferson county to-day find a bustling country community, located in a rich agricultural territory. Growth over a long period of years has been small as in the case with similar communities, yet there were days when, but for the turn of fate, Theresa might have been in the east what Salt Lake City war, in the west.

Delving into the history of Jefferson county one finds that nearly a hundred years ago when the Mormon movement was in its infancy in Ohio that the Latter Day Saints had picked out Theresa as one of favored point and termination of their pilgrimages.

William Fayel, noted for years forcontributions to the history of Jefferson county, supplies much of the data, which has been forgotten in the lapse of time. Fayel was a native of Theresa who entered journalism and afterward moved to the St. Louis Republican as civil war correspondent. He was a friend and companion of Henry M. Stanley, famed as an African explorer.

Invade the East.

Mr. Fayel tells how in the early 30s the Mormon heirarchy located at Kirtland, O., had become stimulated to unwonted activity by the revelations alleged to have been received by the prophet Joseph Smith. Smith and some of his followers were commanded in a revelation to go to "the land of the Missouri," and in January, 1832, a delegation was named "to take their journey into the eastern countries, going from house, to house and from village to village proclaiming the doctrines of the new faith."

Some of those who came to Theresa, picked out as the destination in the northeast, were classed as belonging to the "high priesthood of Melchizedek" and the Aronic or Levitical order, while others were Seventies."

The Mormons, in their pilgrimage to Jefferson county, came by schooners up Lake Erie from Kirtland and sailed through Lake Ontario to Sacket Harbor. Then they made their wayto Theresa, a day's journey. Theresa had become the home of the Pattens and of Warren Parish, who were leading lights in the Mormon sect. David Patten was known as "Captain Fear Not" in Ohio, a name won by his bravery when Ohio state troops were called to put down the Mormon insurgents.

Famous Debate.

David Patten was a ready debater and orator, and there is recorded his famous debate at Theresa with Elder Phelps, Methodist preacher. The debate took place in the old school house at the westerly end of the village. Patten was voluable in argument and scripture quotations, while Phelps indulged in a strain of ridicule, such as squinting through his fists in imitation of Joseph Smith's peering through his "Urim and Thumin stone" while deciphering the hieroglyphic characters of the golden plates of the Book of Mormon.

One of the forerunners of the Mormon influx into Theresa was Alanson Pettingill, a young man from Otsego county, who visited Theresa, Alexandria Bay, Plessis and other villages in the winter of 1832. He posted himself as to the religious situation there. It was not known until later that he was steeped in the Mormon faith. He returned to Kirtland thereafter and the information he brought back as to Theresa and the surrounding territory was acted on.

Remarkable Cures.

The Mormons came quietly enough at first, but soon their doings and the miracles alleged to have been performed, by them were noised around. They talked an unknown tongue, according to the historian and claimed to heal the sick by "the laying on of hands, and even to restore the dead to life." Some believed, others doubted, but it is recorded that conversions were made when word was spread of remarkable cures performed by the Mormons. Converts were baptized in the murky waters of Indian Landing in the sunken gorge below the falls at Theresa. The fervor reached a considerable height, and from time to time new deputations arrived from Kirtland to infuse new life into the Mormon family and to enlarge its membership.

It is told by Fayel how one day in June, 1836, residents of the farming country near Theresa were startled to see an open barouche coming up the road, containing six spruce-looking gentlemen, wearing green goggles, one of whom was reading from an open book for the edification of his companions. They proved to be Mormons, gentlemen of culture and scholarly attainments, far superior to other expounders of their faith. One of the party was Parley P. Pratt, a celebrated Hebrew scholar, afterwards assassinated in Arkansas.

Fervor Subsides.

Under the regime of men of this type the age of miracles was relegated to the rear and more rational methods were used to bring gentiles into the fold. But Mormonism lagged and the fervor that raged for a time around Theresa subsided. Missionaries came singly instead of in the customary delegations, and some of those who arrived were of a type which hurt the cause rather than aided it.

But the Mormon church did not give up the idea of establishing itself firmly in Theresa for a number of years after its first attempt failed. In 1848 there arrived in Theresa the prophet and relelator, Strang. He held a three-day conference for all of the faith in the countryside. Strang was a young lawyer from Western New York and was known as the leader of the Mormon faction classed as "Strangites." After the death of Joseph Smith, the Mormons were divided into three factions known as the "Twelveites," the "Rigdonites" and the "Strangites."

Rigdon's Failure.

The followers of Sidney Rigdon were few in number and he failed to lead them in a successful establishment of a sect. He died after having asked to be allowed to be taken back into the fold, but his request was denied by the council at Salt Lake City when he asked that his transportation be paid to that city so he might be with the faith of his first love.

Strang claimed to have a revelation from God appointing him as successor to Joseph Smith. His conference at Theresa was held in the brick schoolhouse at the highest elevation in the village. Beside the local members the conference was attended by pilgrims from St. Lawrence county and some of the surrounding towns. Strang appointed committees and gave long addresses. Later a citizens' meeting was held and a committee named which drew up resolutions which were regarded as sufficiently complimentary to Prophet Strang and the conference by Ira Patten who had called the meeting but which was regarded as a grand joke by the committee on resolutions and the majority of members of the citizens at the meeting.

Failed to Gain Foothold.

But Mormonism failed to gain a foothold. Some of the converts migrated to the west and mingled with the faith there. Strang later established headquarters at Beaver Island in Lake Michigan near Machinaw. David Patten died leading the Mormons in the battle of Crooked River in Missouri, where citizens of several counties of Missouri fought the Mormons. In this battle Patten led his forces, men armed with corn knives, which they used as sabres. In this battle he was cut almost to pieces.

Now after the lapse of a century there is nothing left to remind anyone of the extraordinary efforts made by the early Mormon missionaries to establish their faith in Theresa. The "Twelveites" led by Brigham Young established themselves in Salt Lake City and there their religion flourished and great temples and strong organizations resulted.

But Theresa and the countryside never warmed to the Mormon influence and there is to-day not a trace left as a marker of the religious fervor of the Mormon propaganda of a hundred years ago in that section.

Note: See the Syracuse Herald of Dec. 11, 1898 for an earlier version of this report. Notes appended to the rekated Herald article of Mar. 12, 1916 provide some additional details.


Democrat  [   ]  Chronicle.

Vol. 95.                             Rochester, N. Y., Sunday, August 21, 1927.                             No. ?

Joseph Smith Discovered 'Golden Plates' of
Mormon Cult in Western New York



A high point in Western New York history is that touched by the uncovering of the "Golden Plates" and the organization of the Mormon cult in [1830]. This gave the region a place of national fame, if not of national importance.

Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were born in Vermont, and both found in the air of Western New York the inspiration that led them to leadership in the new religion, but they came into no personal or spiritual contact while residents in this [state].

Joseph Smith, upon whose "visions" was founded the new religion and whose alleged discovering of "golden plates" was made the basis of a new sacred book, was born in Sharon, Vt., in December, 1805, but he was a resident of the town of Manchester, about three miles south of the village of Palmyra, in 1820, when his call came. It was while in the woods engaged in prayer that he felt himself called of God to replace the old religious sects by one that was true and pure, he said. Three years later he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who told [of] a book, written on golden plates, and of two stones in silver bows, fastened in a breastplate and constituting the Urim and Thummim which would enable him to translate the book, he declared, These relics. Joseph said he was told, were hidden in the hill Cumorah, which is now conspicuously marked on the highway between Canandaigua and Palmyra.

Translating Plates.

For four successive years Joseph said be went to this hill, in the meantime engaged in digging for silver in Pennsylvania and in other similar enterprises, and in marrying himself a wife in the person of Emma, daughter of Isaac Hale, but it was not until September 22d, 1827, that he gained possession of the golden plates and the devices by which to translate the characters inscribed on them.

Members of the Smith family and other credulous believers in Joseph's occult powers accepted the visions and the culminating "discovery" for all that they were claimed to be; but there were neighbors who charged the young dreamer with shiftlessness and circulated stories calculated to defame his character as well as throw doubt upon the reality of his alleged dealings with the heavenly powers. But however this was, Smith, with a neighbor, one Martin Harris, understood [sic - undertook?] translation of the mysterious plates, which were sedulously screened from the profane eyes of even the prophet's [confidant?], Harris. The latter, however, was so recreant to the [trust] as to let his wife have a sight of some of the manuscript, with the result that it was lost or destroyed, and Smith turned to another scribe, a schoolmaster named Oliver Cowdery, for the help required.

It was Harris, however, who had the financial ability needed to float the work and who first took the manuscript to Rochester to Thurlow Weed, then publisher of the Anti-Masonic Enquirer, to get it printed, bat Weed refused to undertake the job.

Publisher Found.

"It seemed," Mr. Weed afterward wrote, "such a jumble of unintelligent absurdities that we refused the work, advising Harris not to mortgage his farm and beggar his family."

But a publisher of the book was subsequently found in Palmyra. Incidents relating to the correction of the numerous grammatical errors that appeared in the manuscript were related by the printers. Harris, who had been induced to finance the enterprise but who had been unable to satisfy his wife that he was not throwing away his money, tried to get Professor Charles Anthon to indorse the "Reformed Egyptian" characters on a manuscript purporting to be an exact copy of one of the Golden Plates, but was unsuccessful in the effort, the famous classical scholar denouncing it as a fraud or hoax, comprising a collection of "singular characters prepared by some person who had before him a book containing various alphabets, Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, &c., and containing anything else but "Egyptian hieroglyphics."

Five thousand copies of this first edition of the "Book of Mormon" were issued "by Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor, Palmyra. Printed by E. B. Grandin, for the Author." In later editions, Joseph Smith, Jr., is set forth as the "translator" instead of "author and proprietor" and it has gone into many editions and been translated in many languages.

The Book of Mormon, to which has been pinned the faith of hundreds of thousands of conscientious people, assumes to tell how following the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel, one of the dispersing colonies was led across the ocean to America and after being destroyed by its own wickedness, was followed by a second colony, Israelites of the tribe of Joseph. These became divided into two nations, one of them lapsing into barbarism and becoming the immediate progenitors of the American aboriginals, while the others were the Nephites, whose historian, Mormon, completed the nation's records. Mormon's son. Moroni, deposited these records inscribed on golden plates in the hill, Cumorah, where they were discovered by Joseph Smith, on September 22, 1827, according to the book.

Made Foundation of Church.

As to what was the true origin of this attempt to explain the peopling of America, there are various theories, and the mystery of how it became the basis of a world religion cannot easily be explained. That it was dug from a pit of ignorance and superstition, and that given publicity when there was intense interest throughout Western New York in matters of personal religion, with neither popular literature, talking machine, radio, or automobile to entertain the people of the rural districts, its earnest and fanatical promoters were enabled to make it the foundation of a new church.

The Mormon church was organized in a chamber of Peter Whitmer's house at Fayette, Seneca County, April 6, 1830, with an elaborate system of elders, priests, trustees, deacons, bishops, etc. Persecutions to which the founders were subjected led them to move their headquarters to Ohio, then to Missouri, and Nauvoo. Illinois, where Smith was mobbed and foully assassinated on January 27, 1844.

But this untoward event did not occur until the movement which the Prophet and his coadjutors had launched had received what turned out to be a recruit of portentious importance, in the person of another native of Vermont and also for a time a Western New Yorker. This was none other than a young man named Brigham Young. While Smith was seeing visions, uttering prophesies, receiving revelations and unearthing and deciphering golden plates in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, Young was living in the same county in the town of Canandaigua, and fifteen miles distant, where he was employed as a man-of-all-work on the farm of Captain George Hickes.

Young Added Faith.

In 1829 Brigham Young joined his father, who had settled in Mendon, Monroe County, and there a year later for the first time he saw a copy of the Book of Mormon. Keenly interested in religion, but dissatisfied with the different existing denominations, he was converted to Mormonism and on the 14th of April, 1832, was baptized by immersion. Before his clothing was dry he was ordained an elder.

During the same month he met the Prophet Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, and then began a collaboration of effort and a church development that made these two remarkable men the founders of a cult that from its obscure origin in Western New York has grown to embrace nearly a half million people and to constitute one of the wealthist and most powerful religious organizations on earth.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Watertown  Daily  Times.

Vol. LXVII.                             Watertown, N. Y., Thurs., Jan. 26, 1928.                             No. 230.

Founder  of  Mormon  Church  And  Fate
That  Overtook  Him.


Body of Joseph Smith and Brother Hyrum found After 80 Years
-- Led a Religious Movement That Underwent Persecution Until
Climax Was Reached at Carthage, Ill., Where He and Brother
Were Killed by State Militia -- Mormonism's Prophet Lived
to See His Church Thrive.

For more than 80 years after they were shot down in an anti-Mormon uprising of the people in Carthage, Ill., the bodies of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church and his brother, Hyrum, remained in unknown graves. Recently a Kansas City engineer. W. O. Hands, assisted by several members of the church at Nauvoo, Ill., came upon the bodies after a series of excavations on the site where once had stood the spring house near "The Homestead," the Smith home in Nauvoo. The events leading up to the killing of the brothers form one of the most interesting chapters in American history.

At the time Joseph Smith announced he had found plates upon which, in hieroglyphs. were inscribed the words of the Book of Mormon, western New York was the scene of religious unrest.

Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vt., Dec. 23, 1806. About 1816 he removed with his parents and seven brothers and sisters to a small farm near Palmyra, N. Y., and thence to Manchester, some six miles away,

The youthful Smith was exceptional, a born leader and organizer. His father often alluded to him as the "genius of the family," praising him for his occult powers.

It was related by the future founder of Mormonism that in 1820 he had a vision. It was followed by one three years later, both of which were In the nature of revelations, showing him the hiding place of the golden plates and other paraphernalia on a hill close by his home. Smith, who was unable to read or write fluently, entrusted the task of translation of the plates to Martin Harris and his own wife, Emma. Later, Oliver Cowdery, a blacksmith and school teacher, and David Whitmer were called in to act as amanuenses. An edition of 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon was printed early in 1830, accompanied by the sworn testimony of Cowdery, Harris and Whitmer that they had seen the original plates.

Widespread opposition to the new church developed, yet Smith went on with his work. By April, 1830, a church was organized in Fayette, N. Y. Smith was chosen first elder and then prophet, seer and revealer of the new word.

Persecuted at home, Smith went with Rigdon to Kirtland, O., where a church was organized. But their efforts to extend the faith throughout that state met with increasing hostility and in Hiram, a town nearby, they were tarred and feathered, and subsequently driven out. This, however, did not dampen their ardor. They went on with the crusade and by 1833 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church, was fairly well established in several communities.

Parley Pratt and Oliver Cowdery, by this time staunch pillars of the church, meanwhile had come to Jackson county, where, in 1831. together with Smith and Rigdon, they established a temple at Independence. Smith declared that here was to be the Zion of the Saints. But persecution followed the Mormons to Missouri, with the result that several thousand moved to Illinois, where the governor gave [sic] them grant of land on the Mississippi river. There the town of Nauvoo, now an almost forgotten community, sprang up.

When the Mormons went to Illinois they found the state divided politically between Democrats and Whigs. Both parties made a bid for Mormon support The Democratic association at Quincy condemned the treatment accorded the Mormons in Missouri and welcomed the refugees. It was not long before 800 acres of land were sold to the Mormons for the building of Nauvoo. Smith was said to have had a revelation at this time that the Zion of the Saints thenceforth would be Nauvoo and not Independence.

Nauvoo grew until it assumed the proportions of a city. Emigrants from the East and even from Europe flocked to this haven of refuge just as in later years they were to flock to Salt Lake City. The Mormon journal, Times and Seasons, published from 1839 to 1845, claimed for the community a population of 15,000, with two steam mills and other manufacturing concerns. An English traveler of the time praised the beauty of the place and commented on the fact that the streets were well laid out so as to cross one another a right angles, a fact which, he said, "will add greatly to its order and magnificence when finished."

By reason of the desire political parties to keep on good terms with the Mormons, the members of the new sect acquired exceptional powers from the state. Nauvoo was made practically independent of state control.

It was not long before Illinois came to see that an organization had sprung up within its boundaries which was like a sovereign commonwealth. The declaration of Apostle Orson Pratt that all other governments were "In direct rebellion against the kingdom of God" stirred up hostility among the rest of the Illinois population.

Joseph Smith found trouble spring up around him on all sides when the question of polygamy was brought into discussion. Although it never was proved that Smith believed in the system, enemies arose who denounced him. Quite a number seceded from the church and stared a newspaper which they called the Expositor. Smith, angered at this opposition by members of his own church, issued an order to the commander of the Nauvoo Legion to destroy the printing establishment of the Expositor. The publishers fled to Carthage, Ill., where they obtained a warrant for the arrest of Smith.

Smith, soon after being arrested, was discharged. He retaliated against his foes by issuing a proclamation in which he labeled all seceders "blacklegs, counterfeiters and debauchees."

Aroused by what they believed to be Smith's high-handed methods, the seceding Mormons held a meeting at Warsaw, a short distance down river from Nauvoo, and offered resolutions for the banishment of Smith, urging a war of extermination if he should be kept in office. Armed forces began forming and people from among the "gentiles" added their numbers to the rebellious members of Smith's flock. Governor Ford advised Smith and his associates to surrender to the authority of the state, which would give them protection. With this understanding, Smith, his brother Hyrum and an elder by the name of John Taylor, gave themselves up and were taken to Carthage where the governor placed them in the county jail and threw a guard of state militia around the building. This act of the governor's has been condemned because of the situation in Carthage, where bitter opponents of Mormonism had their headquarters. That he was ignorant of the peril cannot be proved, yet his purpose was honest. He doubtless tried to protect the prisoners.

The three were confined in an upper room of the Jail. The morning of June 17, 1844, members of the militia, under the taunts of the crowd outside and hostile to the Mormons themselves forced their way into the room. There was a shot. Hyrum fell with a bullet through his head. Joseph, attempting to leap from the window, was shot twice. Painfully wounded, he dragged himself to the window ledge, exclaiming "O Lord, my God!" and hurled himself to the ground below. Some accounts say that he was dead when picked up; others, that he was fired upon and died thus. Taylor, although wounded, recovered and later became president of one branch of the church.

The news of the murders spread consternation throughout Nauvoo. The next day the bodies of Smith and his brother were buried [in front of?] the Nauvoo temple. Although the bodies were supposed to be in the coffins boren to the graves with much pomp, it was thought at that time that sand was the only thing buried. The recent discoveries have proved that the two brothers were spirited away and interred secretly.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Democrat [     ] Chronicle

Vol. 97.                                 Rochester, N. Y., Sun., May 19, 1929.                                 No. ?

Masque  to  Commemorate  Event  in
Mormon  History.


(graphic not copied)

Ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (depicted in painting above) will be celebrated May 15, the 100th anniversary). Inset, statue of founder of Mormonism at Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City -- Mormons the world over will observe this week the event they regard as one of the most epochal In the history of their movement.

On that date in 1828, according; to records of the church, John the Baptist appeared to Joseph, Smith and Oliver Cowdery as they prayed in the woods of Pennsylvania, where they were translating from gold plates the book of Mormon, and conferred upon them the Aaronic priesthood, with the authority of baptism for the remission of sins.

Plans for observing the event have been issued from the office in the city of the presiding bishopric, which as the head of the Aaronic priesthood of the church, has charge of its temporal affairs and the welfare of its members. They include the presentation of a pageant depicting tne ordination of Joseph Smith, revered by Mormons as their prophet, and of Oliver Cowdery, his scribe, with divine authority.

A few days after the ordination, the church records declare, the apostles Peter, James and John appeared to the two men and bestowed upon them the Melchizedek priesthood, which has to do with the spiritual affairs of the church and which is under the direction of the first presidency of the church.

Plans already are being considered for the observance of the centennial of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormon Church, April 6. 1930.

The world-wide celebration is expected to continue several days and to be centered here and at other spots regarded as sacred in the history of the church.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                                 Syracuse, N.Y., March 9, 1930.                                 No. ?


Smith once Farmhand at Onondaga Valley

This part of the country, tho it is far from Utah, is interested in the centennial of Mormonism or the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for the founder, Joseph Smith, was a farm-hand at Onondaga Valley when he was a youth.

He worked for William H, Sabine and the old Sabine house, built in 1817, is now occupied by Mr. Sabine's great-granddaughter, Mrs. Thomas W. Meachem. It is at 9 Academy green, back of the Onondaga Valley Presbyterian church.

It is a singular coincidence, too, that in this house was a trunk in which was the manuscript of a story written by Solomon Spaulding, who married Matilda Sabine, the squire's sister, and left her a widow in 1816, tho she married again in 1820. His story was a fictitious history of the lost tribe of Israel, the narrative concerning its coming to America.

Joseph Smith was born in Vermont in 1805 and was 11 years old when the family came thru New York state, and finally located at Palmyra. According to his story he began having visions in 1820, and in 1823 was revealed the place where inscribed gold plates were hidden in a Palmyra hill. In 1827 he was allowed to translate them, using a miraculous pair of spectacles called Urim and Thummim, their use only permitting translation.

The Book of Mormon was printed in 1830, a story of the lost tribe of Israel, which came to America. Thereupon a church was organized at Fayette, Seneca county, on April 6, 1830, which is the centennial being celebrated. The sect built churches in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, but its adherents met with opposition, and Joseph Smith was killed by a mob at Carthage, Ill., in 1844.

In 1847 Brigham Young led a pioneer band of 153 persons into Utah, as "the promised land," and established Salt Lake City. The city grew; the church grew, but Mormonism had a hard road to travel. Many of its teachings were opposed, such as polygamy. The church has abandoned many early practices, with later "revelations," and today Mormons are accepted as people who have the same right as all other Americans, "freedom to worship God" as they will.

Note: Since Joseph Smith, Jr. was born at the end of 1805, he was probably a few months shy of being "11 years old when the family came thru" the Syracuse area late in 1816. There is no reason to suppose that the young boy then stopped to work for William H. Sabine -- months before his sister came from Pittsburgh to live there -- or that the boy ever returned to Onondaga county in later years to hire himself out there as a farm-hand. By the time Smith reportedly was having visions in the Palmyra area, the personal belongings of Spalding's widow were evidently out of the Sabine house and moved her new residence in Cooperstown, Otsego Co., NY. Later, during the 1820s, the widow's effects were moved again -- to nearby Hartwick, in the same county. It seems entirely inconceivable that Joseph Smith, Jr. purloined Spalding's text, either from its first temporary resting place in Onondaga Co., or from its later repository in Otsego Co.



Vol. ?                         Lowville, New York, Thursday, April 3, 1930.                           No. ?



Smith Was Born In Vermont in 1805
and Was Eleven Years Old When
the Family Came Through
New York State.

This part of the country, is far from Utah, is interested in centennial of Mormonism, or the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for the founder, Joseph Smith, was a farm-hand at Onondaga Valley, near Syracuse, when he was a youth.

He worked for William H. Sabine and the old Sabine house, built in 1817, is now occupied by Mr. Sabine's great grand-daughter, Mrs. Thomas W. Meacham. It is at 9 Academy Green, back of the Onondaga Valley Presbyterian church.

It is a singular coincidence, too, that in this house was a trunk in which was the manuscript of a story written by Solomon Spaulding, who married Matilda Sabine, the squire's sister, and left her a widow in 1816, though she married again in 1820. His story was a fictitious history of the lost tribe of Israel, the narrative concerning its coming to America.

Joseph Smith waff born in Vermont In 1805 and was 11 years old when the family came through New York state, and finally located at Palmyra. According to his story he began having visions in 1820, and in 1823 was revealed the place where inscribed gold plates were hidden in a Palmyra hill. In 1827 he was allowed to translate them, using a miraculous pair of spectacles called Urim and Thummim, their use only permitting translation.

The book of Mormon was printed in 18310. a story of the lost tribe of Israel, which came to America. Thereupon a church was organized at Fayette, Seneca county, on April 6, 1830, which is the centennial being celebrated. The sect built churches in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, but its adherents met with opposition, and Joseph Smith was killed by a mob at Carthage, Ill., In 1844.

In 1847 Brigham Young led a pioneer band of 143 persons into Utah, as "the promised land," and established Salt Lake City. The city grew; the church grew, but Mormonism had a hard road to travel. Many of its teachings were opposed, such as polygamy. The church has abandoned many early practices, with later "revelations," and today Mormons are accepted as people who have the same right as all other Americans, "freedom to worship God" as they will.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. 50.                       Syracuse, New York, Sunday, April 6, 1930.                        No. 2585.

Joseph Smith, Mormonism Founder,
Was Once Farm Hand in Onondaga;
Golden Tablets Idea Conceived Here


Smith as Youth Practiced 'Divining Rod Art
in Onondaga Valley

Worked for Sabine
Learned of Spaulding's 'The Manuscript Found'
in Sabine's Employ


A century and 10 years ago, a youth of possibly 20 summers, professing to be able through the employment of "divining rods" to locate hidden treasure, made his appearance in Onondaga County.

He was a strange youth, strange in appearance, with his dull eyes and flaxen hair, strange in behavior, and stranger still in his talk. His antecedents were little known, he had few, if any, intimates, and his periods of "hiring out" were both infrequent and brief.

One of his employers was William H. Sabine of Onondaga Valley, then known as Onondaga Hollow. Mr. Sabine was an eminent attorney, a brother-in-law and a law partner of Judge Joshua Forman, whose name is written large in county and State history. The stranger's stay with the Sabines as "hired man" was short, but no more so than his stay elsewhere; he was the proverbial rolling stone.

This inability to "stay put" eventually sent him to the Onondaga County Jail, then located at Onondaga Hill, for "vagrancy and debt." Before and after, he was engaged to "locate" water with sticks of witch-hazel, and there is a further local tradition that he was employed as a "seer" to seek for gold in one of Onondaga's hills.

Eventually, as strangely as he had appeared, he dropped from sight and the "Hollow" knew him no more. That was a century and ten years ago.

... Joseph Smith... the founder of Mormonism was the strange youth who a century an 10 years ago worked for Onondaga farmers as teamster and field laborer when he felt like it, but who spent the greater part of his time solemnly practicing the mystic art of the "divining-rod."

The "Gentile" world today acknowledges Smith's claim to a niche in American history as an empire builder: to him and those thousands of earnest believers who followed him in covered wagons over the weary miles to the untamed West, the nation, however it may regard his strange career and the faith he preached, owes a sizeable debt.

"The American Mahomet," as he well has been called, was about 30 years old when he founded Mormonism in Palmyra on April 6, 1830. He was born in Sharon, Vt., the date of his birth being not accurately known. His parents, Joseph Smith, Sr., and Lucy Mack Smith, were of Scotch descent. The younger Joseph was one of nine children, the others being Hyrum, Alvin, Samuel, Harrison, William, Don Carlos, Sophronia, Catherine and Lucy, an assortment of names as strange as Joseph himself.

To what extent incidents of his childhood influenced the later revelations of Mormonism's founder no one can safely say, but that they undoubtedly had something to do with his role of prophet seems certain. Long before the Smiths left the Green Mountain State to settle in Palmyra, his parents, convinced that one of their children was destined to be a religious leader, had selected Joseph as the instrument of Providence.

Mrs. Smith was deeply superstitious and dominated the family. The power she exerted was unusual in those days when the husband and father was accustomed to hold undisputed sway. Joseph was endowed with much the same talent for leadership, although it was not to be apparent until after his summer or two in Onondaga.

The reputation of the Smith family in the vicinity of Palmyra was not exactly savory. Its nominal head was a cooper, or so posed, although he actually was a jack of all trades. He dug wells; he "hired out" to farmers of the vicinity, and he was present on "training days" with beer and ginger bread for sale.

Mrs. Smith, it is recorded, "took in washings" for families in the vicinity, while the children sold products from their garden, made maple sugar in season for marketing, and wove baskets which were peddled in Palmyra.

In light of Mrs. Smith's superstitious nature, it is not surprising that she should win local notoriety as a "fortune teller." Or, too, that her son should claim miraculous powers. One of the first mystic instruments he introduced was the famous "Peek Stone," supposedly discovered on the property of Clark Chase, near Palmyra.

Through it, Joseph professed to work wonders. He could, he declared, see buried treasures of gold and silver, trace stolen and lost articles, and tell where water was to be found. The "Peek Stone" was supposedly most efficient at night, and Joseph soon attracted to himself a small body of followers who accompanied him here and there on his expeditions.

One writer, describing Smith's activities at this time, declares the "When Joe wanted fresh meat for his family, he gave out that it would be necessary to insure success by having a black sheep killed as a sacrificial offering, before going to work."

It was about this time that Mormonism's founder suddenly left his usual haunts, to reappear in Onondaga. He was away from Palmyra about four years, spending the interval in various other places, Chenango and Broome counties in New York and Pennsylvania border points among them.

This four-year absence looms large in any careful study of Smith's later career as a prophet and founder of a new religion, and supposed events during it even more closely link Mormonism and Onondaga than the mere presence here of Joseph.

While Smith was in the employ of "Squire" Sabin, the latter's household included his sister, the widow of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding. The cleric, a graduate of Dartmouth, had been forced to leave the ministry by ill-health, and some time prior to his death was interested in an iron foundry at Conneaut, O.

During his period of residence in Ohio, the Rev. Mr. Spaulding was moved to investigate some earth-mounds near his home. The excavations revealed evidences of a prehistoric race, and confirmed his belief that the American continent had once been inhabited by a people possessing the refinements of civilization.

Inspired by what the earth-mound had given up after the passage of untold centuries, the Rev. Mr. Spaulding began to write a romance. He adopted the most antique style of composition, imitating the Scriptures, and drawing upon his knowledge of the classics and histories for names and material. More important still, he pretended that he was merely translating the hieroglyphical writing on some golden plates which his workmen had discovered in the mound.

To the volume, he gave the title "The Manuscript Found." The story purported to narrate the peopling of the continent by the lost tribes of Israel. To them and their leaders, the Rev. Mr. Spaulding gave singular names -- names then to be found nowhere else in literature -- among them Mormon, Moroni, Lamanite and Nephi.

"The Manuscript Found" attracted unusual attention, and the Rev. Mr. Spaulding was finally led to submit it for publication to a Mr. Patterson, a Pittsburgh publisher. It was, however, never printed, and the original manuscript was in Mrs. Spaulding's possession, it is claimed, at the time Joseph Smith was working for her brother in Onondaga.

There are other reasons as well why "The Manuscript Found," with its singular names, its daring theme and its purported golden plate origin, was to later give Joseph Smith and the church he founded no little trouble.

Working for Patterson, when the Spaulding manuscript was under consideration was a young printer, Sidney Rigdon, who had suddenly bobbed up from nowhere. It was the Spaulding family's direct charge, later, that Rigdon, who was to become a Mormon preacher, carefully copied "The Manuscript Found."

It was presumably left for Parley P. Pratt, itinerant peddler, destined to figure in Mormon history as "The Archer of Paradise," to bring together Joseph Smith, already aware of the existence of "The Manuscript Found," through gossip in the Sabin family, and Rigdon. Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, kinswoman of the Rev. Mr. Spaulding and Squire Sabin makes the definite statement in her own book, "Smith is known to have had a copy of the Spaulding manuscript in his possession about the year 1820, or at the time these three met.

The following year, the revival spirit swept over the country, and the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches in Palmyra sought for converts. Five members of the Smith family saw the light in the Presbyterian Church, and Joseph was about to join the Methodist congregation when he claimed to have had a vision.

The angel Moroni -- note the name -- appeared in his room, he said, instructed him in the way of righteousness, and informed him that there was no true church on earth, the creeds of those in existence being "abominations in the face of the Lord."

The angel further informed him that he was "Dearly beloved of the Lord, and should be commissioned a priest after the order of Melchisedec, organizing a church of faithful persons in that line to receive the Lord in the Millennium."

Later, the angel made a second appearance, advising Joseph that "the truth shall spring out of the earth." The heavenly visitor explained that Joseph was to be led to the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, and receive from out of the ground holy and prophetic records concerning a tribe of Jews that emigrated from Jerusalem in the time of Zedekiah and were miraculously led across the ocean.

Six years were to pass, however, before the "golden plates" with their divine message, made a physical appearance.

In 1826, Joseph returned to Palmyra, bringing with him as his bride, Emma Hale, daughter of a well-to-do Pennsylvania farmer. Their marriage had been clandestine, and was much against the wishes of the girl's parents. They took up their residence in a small log house, roughly finished, near the summit [sic] shortly to go down in history as "Gold Bible Hill." There Rigdon visited them, staying for several months.

Smith's reputation as the possessor of strange powers grew magically, and it is recorded that he could "cast out devils and heal the sick." Or so those who came under his influence believed. At this same time, Smith made frequent references to golden plates he had been directed to unearth by a heavenly messenger.

Finally, on the night of Sept. 22, 1827, while Smith and the followers he had attracted were at prayer, it is claimed, the angel came out of the chasm miraculously opened in Cumorah's Hill and delivered a chest to Mormonism's founder. The angel's appearance was marked by a grand display of celestial fireworks, while the gify of the chest itself was contested by "legions of devils."

The struggles of the fiends were futile, and the chest was safely entrusted to Smith, who was told that within were golden plates on which was recorded the fate of America's earliest inhabitants. He would find it possible to read the history, the angel added, through the aid of wonderful stone spectacles. Urim and Thummim, likewise in the chest.

To his log cabin home Smith promptly took the divine gift. Opening it in secret, he later announced that it held, in addition to the six [sic!] golden plates 18 inches square, and the stone spectacles, the sword of Laban and a breastplate which had been brought by the by-gone race from old Jerusalem.

The task of translation was immediately begun. Smith, while engaged in this, stood behind a blanket, that the plates might not be profaned by curious eyes. He dictated to Oliver Cowdery, an erstwhile pedagogue, and to Reuben Hale, his brother-in=law.

The work, however, was subject to interruptions. At one time, Smith and Cowdery, professing uncertainty, went into the woods "to inquire further of the Lord." They returned with the news that John the Baptist had appeared while they prayed and had ordained them. The ungodly plotted to steal the plates, but the attempt failed. A more serious interruption was occasioned by the abstraction of 116 pages of the translation by a woman of the vicinity.

Finally the task was finished, and early in 1830, the "Book of Mormon" was published in Palmyra, being printed in the plant of the Wayne Sentinel. The cost was borne to the extent of $3000 by Martin Harris, whose interest, while presumably religious, was later acknowledged to have been financial. He hoped to reap a neat profit on his investment.

In a period when religious excitement was the rule and not the exception, the "Book of Mormon" naturally attracted wide attention, and it had a sufficient sale to qualify as a "best seller" of the day.

The first Mormon church was founded at the house of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, Seneca County, with a congregation of six -- Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith and David Whitmer. These were the first Mormon elders.

In June 1830, Fayette was the scene also of the initial Mormon conference. Thirty professed members of the faith attended.

While Mormonism was making none too steady gains in the place of its conception, its peculiar message was soon being carried out into the "Gentile" world by its elders. Undoubtedly, the fact that Palmyra and Fayette were none too distant from Onondaga, where "The Manuscript Found" and its story were familiar to many, had something to do with Central New York's coldness.

So it is not remarkable that "the prophet," as word came back of the success met by the wandering missionaries in Ohio, declared he had a "revelation" concerning a New Jerusalem in the West.

"The First Hegira" to Kirtland, O., or "Sheinar," selected by Rigdon, who was already on the scene preparing the way, followed. It was a long, hard journey, but with visions of a "Promised Land" at the end, the faithful made no complaint as they drove their heavily laden wagons overland.

Approximately 1,000 converts, testifying to the eloquence of Rigdon, Pratt, and other elders, awaited "the prophet" on his arrival at Kirtland. This was in 1832, or the year after the first Mormons had settled there. It was in the year 1832 also, that Brigham Young, who was to carry on after Joseph Smith's murder, joined the colony, coming from Vermont. He quickly was ordained an elder.

In May, 183 [sic - 1834?], the sect abandoned the name "Mormon," and adopted the designation, "Latter Day Saints."Two years later, the "Twelve Apostles" were ordered to foreign lands to seek converts....

... Illinois, too, was destined... It was at Carthage, Ill., that Joseph Smith and Hyrum, his brother, were murdered by a mob. As one writer aptly says, "He had lived long enough for his fame, and died when he could be called a martyr.

A struggle for leadership followed. It terminated with the supremacy of Brigham Young, who had hastened to Illinois from Boston, and the banishment of Rigdon, who vainly had sought to seize Smith's sceptre.

It was Young as "First President" of the church who delivered his rival over to the "buffetings of the devil for a thousand years" in the [name] of the Lord.

Note: Although the writer, Mr. Bahn, speaks of "local tradition" saying that Joseph Smith, Jr. "was employed as a 'seer' to seek for gold in one of Onondaga's hills," and appears to cite Sabine family recollections from a century past, the account given above remains almost totally undocumented and therefore almost totally unreliable. Evidently the writer derived much of his information from the equally unreliable amateur historian, Ellen E. Dickinson. The recollections of some in the extended Sabine-Spalding tradition, claiming that Joseph Smith, Jr. once worked for William H. Sabine, may have been in the family for several generations, but the tradition was founded upon no hard and fast proofs. Whatever evidence may have ever existed, placing any of the Smith family in Onondaga at an early date, appears to have been lost and forgotten long ago, as is generally the case for this sort of "folklore."


The Daily [  ] Messenger

Vol. 133.                  Canandaigua, New York, Thursday, July 24, 1930.                    No. 173.

Centennial  of  Mormonism
Draws Thousand of Faith
to Cumorah Hill Programs


Discussion of the "Book of Mormon" will form a large part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, beginning today and lasting through Sunday... Because April weather usually is inclement, celebration of the 100th anniversary was postponed until July 24, the natal day of Utah.

Lives in Smith's House

Willard W. Bean, caretaker of Cumorah hill, where Joseph Smith, first president of the church, is said to have found that gold plates that were the foundation of the Book of Mormon, will be in charge of the program, running the rest of the [week]. Mr. Bean lives in the house once occupied by Joseph Smith. He is presiding elder of the Mormon chapel in Palmyra...

Gives Own Viewpoint

"Now if Joseph Smith and those 11 [witnesses] lied about seeing the angel and gold plates, then so-called Mormonism is the most dangerous hoax and fraud ever palmed off onto the world under the guise of religion. But, on the contrary, if these men who were considered at that time, honorable men of good report, tell the truth, then 'take heed lest we be found fighting against God.'

At any rate Mormonism leaves or bases its case on this premise; either to survive or perish, and they verily believe that the Mormon tree will eventually be judged by its fruits and that truth will finally prevail.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XLIX.                 Shortsville, New York, Thursday, May 14, 1931.                   No. 20.



Before Brigham Young turned Mormon and had eighteen regular wives, numerous spirtiual wives and fifty-eight children, he worked at odd jobs in various towns of the Finger Lakes region for a dollar a day and wooed his first love in a cabin home along the old Genesee turnpike west of Auburn.

Mended Furniture

In those days Brigham never dreamed that he would found Salt Lake City. He'd never thought of polygamy as an institution which he would establish along with the "celestial law of marriage." He was simply a painter and glazier, and in a little shop in the rear of his home in Port Byron, he mended furniture. He spent a full year in the village in 1832 [sic], working for a time for David Smith, a merchant. His backyard shop was sold in 1878 to a Throop resident for ten dollars for use as a summer kitchen. He lived in many places in this region, stopping off in Auburn long enough to do considerable work on the mansion of William H. Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state. He was also a resident of Canandaigua.

They called him "Brig" among the young Lotharios of the day. For even then he "had a way with the ladies." It is recalled that the small pay coming in from odd jobs in the early settlements didn't supply enough cash to enable him to hire a horse and rig to visit his lady love, some seven miles west of Auburn, on the road to Cayuga, so many a time he walked it. Local histories fail to give the name of this first love of Brigham's. All that is revealed is a downright failure of little Dan Cupid, for Brigham and his sweetheart "broke up."

"Brig" didn't start marrying until he'd "seen the light." It was not until he was 29 years old that he saw the Book of Mormon and it was a year later when he was converted by Samuel H. Smith, the "prophet's" brother. Young Mr. Young had less than a year's schooling up to this time, but Mormonism gave him an education.

Lake Keuka Baptism

"Brig" found the new sect attracttive. It was only a few miles north of the Finger Lakes region that the cult found birth inb the alleged finding by Joseph Smith of the golden tablets on which he claimed to have been given a message from God, which was the basis of the Book of Mormon. The first Mormon converts were said to have been baptised in a creek not far from Penn Yan on Lake Keuka.

Brigham was baptised April 14, 1832, and at once threw down the paint brush and the saw to start preaching. In the autumn of that year he went to Kirtland, O., where he became an intimate friend of Joseph Smith and in the winter was ordained an elder.

This step severed his last connections with the section of his youth. He never came back to this region, but started baptising and establishing missions in Canada. The work was so much more attractive than the old dollar-a-day jobs, that "Brig" put his whole heart into it. In 1835 he was chosen one of the "twelve apostles" and a year later he became their president.

On Smith's death "Brig" was made [the] great prophet, though he had three competitors, one of whom he excommunicated soon after his own election. When the Mormons were expelled from Nauvoo, it was Brigham who valiantly led them across the plains to the valley of promise, where in 1847 he founded Salt Lake City. "Brig's" plan for forming an independent state here was frowned on by Uncle Sam, but a territory was created and he was appointed governor. When the Federal government in 1854 named a "Gentile" governor, Mr. Young's ire was roused and it required a little later a force of 2,500 troops to enforce the law.

Brigham got his most famous idea in 1852 when he promulgated the "celestial law of marriage," which he said had been revealed to Joseph Smith nine years before. Though Smith's widow and her son declared the revelation to be a forgery. Young triumphed in his plural marriage campaign and had the Book of Mormon changed to fit his case.

Most of Brigham's wives he kept in a building known as the "Lion House." In 1871 he was indicted for polygamy, but not convicted. His fifteenth spouse sued him for divorce in 1875, only two years before his death. But Young held his popularity and at his funeral 30,000 people, exclusive of his children, gathered at his bier. He never lived to see polygamy abolished by the famous manifesto of 1890, nor to return to Central New York again.

Note 1: The above article was written as Harry R. Melone's rough draft for part of the "Founding of Creeds" section of Chapter VII in volume one of his 1932 History of Central New York. However, Malone discarded most of this 1931 text when he published his book. Sentences
colored blue in the Enterprise transcription were actually added by the historian for his book, and do not appear in the original article.

Note 2: Brigham Young obviously did not spend "a full year in the village" of Port Byron "in 1832," -- for by that time he had long since moved on to temporary residences in Monroe and Ontario counties. The same claim regarding his supposed 1832 employment in Port Byron appears on page 312 of E. G. Storke's 1879 The History of Cayuga County: "Brigham Young, the noted Mormon and polygamist, resided in this locality about one year, in 1832, on lands now owned by the Haydens. He was in the employ of David [B.] Smith, a merchant of Port Byron at that time. The house in which he lived was sold in May, 1878, by Mrs. Lucy T. Hayden to James Palmer, of Throop, who removed it to his place in that town, to be used as a summer kitchen. The price paid was $10." The actual year would have been 1823, so perhaps Storke transposed the numerals in his history and Malone copied the error.

Note 3: For more information on this subject see William Hayden's article "Incidents in the Lives of Three Prominent Men Who Lived in Cayuga County," in the Auburn Bulletin of Feb. 17, 1904 (or its reprint under the title,"Brigham Young in His Earlier Years," on page 68 of the Dec. 20, 1913 Deseret Evening News.)


Vol. LI.                    Shortsville, New York, Thursday, July 27, 1933.                      No. 30.

Story  of  Mormonism  Closely
Interwoven  with  Local History.



Nearly two hundred Mormon missionaries arrived Saturday at the Joseph Smith farm to attend the annual three-day conference of the Eastern States Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The conference commenced on the sixty-eighth anniversary of the entry of the Mormons into Great Salt Lake City.

The first day, Saturday, was given over to the arrival of missionaries and was designated as Devotional day. Devotional services in the morning were followed by prominent speakers, with a program of sports in the later afternoon.

Sunday was Spiritual day. Dr. Kirkham, president of the Child's Welfare Association of the United States, spoke interestingly in morning. Baptismal services were conducted during the noon recess. And Edward P. Kimball, senior organist of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, spoke in the afternoon.

Monday was Pioneer day, which brot the conference to a close. It was observed not only locally, but by Mormons the world over as the day marking the termination of their westward migration.

Quite a number of people from both Manchester and Shortsville were attracted to these services.

A forty-foot granite monument is now being prepared by the Mormon church, to be erected on the top of Hill Cumorah, also known as Mormon Hill, situate about four miles north of Shortsville, on the Palmyra road. It is to mark the spot where Joseph Smith claimed to have found the golden plates that revealed to him the story of the Mormon Bible.

We have pages and pages of material in our files concerning both Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Most of this material is derogatory to Joseph Smith and the Mormon faith. To print it all would take more space than we could possibly command. The following is a brief summary:


Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, on December 23, 1805. Ten years later his family moved to Palmyra and four years later found them in possession of a tract of uncleared wood-land in that section township known as "Stafford Street." Here a large family lived in a small, two-room, log house. And here Joseph entered upon a career that was to make him internationally famous,

As a boy, Smith is said to have had an intelligence that varied according to the opinion of different people. Some said he was ignorant; others that his mentality was above the ordinary. A shrewd, good-natured, lazy fellow, and a teller of "tall" stories. He read the Bible a great deal and claimed to have visions. His father was often engaged in well-digging, and Joseph became a "water-finder," using the usual forked birch rod in his divinations. He had a clear piece of quartz in his possession which he found while helping his father dig a well, and which he claimed could help him locate hidden treasures. While in possession of this quartz crystal, Joseph began to make prophecies of a buried revelation which would, when discovered, reveal the histories of the ancient races and usher in a new dispensation. It should, be noted at this time that he was both an avid reader of the Bible and a finder of buried treasures.


For the story of the discovery of the golden plates, we quote the Rev. Mitchell Bronk (Shortsville Enterprise, September 3, 1892):

"It was in the night of September 21, 1823, that Joseph had his great vision. An angel, standing in the air by his bedside, informed him that on the west side of the hill on Saunders' farm, not far from the top, under a stone, in a stone box, a book of gold lay deposited, and that he was destined to make known the contents of the book to the world. The next morning he went to the hill and found everything as the angel had said.

But four years must pass before the message of the book could be read. After Smith's representation, this book was made up of thin gold plates, about 7 x 8 inches; it was six inches thick, and fastened by three clasps. The writing was what he termed "revised Egyptian."

With the book was a pair of spectacles, made of crystal, set in a silver frame. By the use of these spectacles, Smith could translate the contents of the book Into English. The translation was accomplished in a curious way. Going to the foot of the hill in which he discovered the book, he dug a cave into the hillside. Across the center of this cave Smith hung a heavy curtain, Behind the curtain he sat with his plates, while in front was a stationed a man of tome education, Oliver Cowdry. who had once been a schoolmaster, but who later turned lawyer. To this ex-schoolmaster Smith dictated the precepts written on the golden plates The result of Cowdry's labors was a closely-written manuscript of about 60,000 words which, after a careful revision, became the Book of Mormon."


The Book of Mormon tells how some 2,000 B. C, or at the time of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel, a small band of people, who by praying to God that they might be spared the confusion of their tongues, were led by His divine hand and power to the American continent. There they became a flourishing nation, but giving way gradually to Internal dissensions, they divided Into warring factions and were totally destroyed near the Hill Cumorah in 590 B. C.

Here at this last terrible battle at which but one survived there were slaughtered, according to this Book of Mormon history, thousands upon thousands, the people becoming so ravenous that even the women and children fought. Their records were later found by a people who landed on this continent about 600 B. C.

This new people, strangely enough, were descendants of the Jewish tribe of Manasseh and dwelt here for 1,000 years. They, like their predecessors, split into warring factions known as Nephites and Lamanites. The Nephites, being followers of Christ, gradually drifted from His teachings, while the Lamanites, today known as the American Indians, finally overcame the Nephites and exterminated them in an equally dreadful battle at Hill Cumorah.

However, prophets of God, laboring among those people, had through the years preserved a record of their battles and dealings with God. The last of this line of prophets had the record of the Hill Cumorah, where it lay peacefully until December 22, 1827, when this seemingly dormant old hill gave up its precious secret. Joseph Smith, yet a lad, by divine Instruction, translated and published the glorious record that aill the world might read its inspired pages.


The word Mormon is pure Greek, and means "monster." And herein lies the weak point in Mormon history. The point means nothing to us, one way or the other, but we include it so that you may have every angle of the story. In 1811, thirteen years before the Book of Mormon was written, a Presbyterian minister, Dartmouth graduate and well versed in Greek, opened an Indian mound at his home in Ohio and found in it many bones and curious relics. Immediately he conceived the idea of writing an historical romance, called "The Manuscript Found," which should give the Imaginary history of pre-historic America. He wrote the story in 1812, and offered it to a Pittsburg printer, whose foreman was one Sidney Rigdon, twenty years later a notorius Mormon preacher. After keeping the manuscript some time, the printer retuned it, declining to publish it, and in 1816 the Rev. Mr. Spaulding died.

His widow then went to visit her brother, William Sabine, on whose farm Joseph was a laborer. Mrs. Spaulding had her husband's manuscript with her. And Smith may have read it.

Now Smith knew nothing of Greek. And the argument becomes double-barrelled. If he really found the goldeni plates, then the pure Greek title lends authenticity. If he borrowed the story from Reverend Spaulding, then the pure Greek is an evidence of his theft.

There are other words, too, in the Mormon Bible which come from the Greek. The name Nephi, which occurs frequently, comes from the Greek word nephos, meaning a cloud. And Moroni comes from moros, meaning thigh, as suggested by the 16th verse of the 19th chapter of the Book of Revelations.


The book was printed by Major Gilbert, a printer in Palmyra. About 5,000 copies were struck off and they were sold around the country at $1.75 a copy. Today "Joe Smith's Bible" is a rare book. Dealers in second-hand books are glad to get a copy at almost any price. The book has gone through many editions and has been translated into many languages. It is made up of fourteen book and 115 chapters.


Although Joseph Smith and his followers preached repeatedly in Palmyra and Farmington, they made few converts. But they did meet with some succes in Seneca county and In Northern Pennsylvania. It was at Lafayette that the sect was formally organized in 1830. And it was in the next year thatthe first exodus of Mormonism took place Into the freer and more liberal West. At that point it passes out of our scope and ceases to become a matter of local history and interest.

Note: The Enterprise editor conveys the impression that the above historical matter was written by Rev. Mitchell Bronk for publication in its issue for Sept. 3, 1892. Rev. Bronk merely quoted that 1892 text, and was not its original writer.


Vol. 116.                    Batavia, New York, Thursday, January 25, 1934.                      No. 4.

Sensational  Disclosures
In William Morgan Drama


All the Actors in the Strange Case
Are Traced From the Cradle to
the Graveyard


The investigation of the William Morgan affair which so excited Batavians in the year 1826 is gradually drawing to a close. The findings of one of the most amazing and certainly one of the most far-reaching investigations into American historic matters are perhaps the most sensational that have ever appeared in regard to the Morgan story since he disappeared from Batavia, 107 years ago.

In a letter just received here, Thomas A. Knight of Brecksville author of "The Strange Disappearance of William Morgan," states that the investigation has left him broke, with every bit of property wiped away, but says he is very happy. As the years "roll by, thousands of Americans will know it was "Tom" Knight who settled the kidnap and murder stories concerning the Masonic expose writer.

This is the first story released regarding the investigation and was given by Mr. Knight to Albert F. Kleps, who had corresponded and assisted him as did Mrs. Clara T. Williams of this city, in compiling data for his book at the Batavia end. It is nothing short of being stupendous with about 15 discoveries, representing a sensation all by itself. Mr. Knight says there was one time in the course of the preparation of his book that he would readily have given $10,000 for the letter written by Morgan's wife in the year 1834. The study involved some strange happenings that followed Morgan's strange disappearance, an episode which resulted in the anti-Masonic excitement that came so close to killing Freemasonry in the United States, altogether. Mr. Knight's article protected by copyright with all rights reserved by him follows:

Obscure Matters Cleared.

The investigation was started for the purpose of cleaning up obscure matters that affected certain actors in the Morgan drama. With very few exceptions, all of these points have been accounted for. One critic has said: "More facts have turned up in the last year concerning the Morgan Affair than in the period of one hundred years prior to that time, all together.

The investigations were just as broad as the United States is wide, beginning at Massachusetts and taking in San Francisco before the major portion of the investigation was concluded. It included Grand Officers of the Masonic Grand Lodges in the jurisdictions of Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Kentucky and California. The United States War Department was kept busy answering questions and giving military records, and such notable historians as the Secretary of the American Antiquarian Society, the Librarian of Congress, and the president of the Batavia History Club, were drawn into the inquiry.

The resulting, discoveries were as startling as they were important. These may briefly be catalogued as follows:

   A -- The finding of an original letter written by Lucinda Morgan in the year 1836.
   B -- The discovery of the names of the two children of William Morgan.
   C -- The tracing of these children.
   D -- The discovery and tracing of ten grandchildren of William Morgan.
   E -- The proving of a letter written by John Riggs Crandall nearly a century ago
    [1835], in which he told about visiting the Harris family in Terre Haute, Indiana.
   F -- The tracing of almost every mile travelled by Lucinda Harris and George W. Harris.
   G -- The tracing of Lucinda Harris, into and out of the Mormon church
   H -- The discovery of documents tending to prove that Lucinda Morgan was
    the bride of Prophet Joseph Smith of the Mormon church.
   I -- The discovery of administration papers filed after the death of George W. Harris.
   J -- The discovery of additional newspaper stories regarding Morgan's
    alleged visit to Smyrna.
   K -- The discovery of facts connected with the last days of David C. Miller.

Historians Disagree.

In addition to these rather remarkable facts, investigations went forward that cleared up completely the history of the Pendleton family.

The whole investigation started immediately after the publication of "The Strange Disappearance of William Morgan," and was prompted by the appearance of that book. For more than one hundred years, historians had disagreed on certain points, and on others they confessed frankly that they were unable to give answers to some of the most innocent questions. Mystery seemed to shroud not only the Morgan Affair itself, but all of the actors who had a part in the great drama.

As well informed a writer as Dr. Rob Morris confessed his inability to trace the actions of George W. Harris, David C. Miller and Lucinda Morgan. Two children had been born to the Morgans and yet no historian was able to venture more than a guess as to the sex of the children. So ignorant were these writers of the important facts connected with the Morgan principals, that in one book Morris said that Lucinda Morgan died in Memphis, and in another of his books, he said she died in Nashville, Tennessee, three or four years later. Nor could he come to a decision as to the actual date of her death. As for George W. Harris, they said not a word, even though that gentleman turned out to be a most notable figure in American history and at one time was president pro tern of the Mormon church.

And then the investigation started. It was by no means confined to the Masons. One man, J. P. Reed, was frankly non-Masonic. In his capacity as an attorney, he forged ahead in the resulting inquiries and contributed much valuable information. On the other hand, it was Dr. William L. Cummings, 33, of Syracuse, New York, who represented the highest degree in Masonry. D. W. McGregor, Grand Historian of New Jersey, became interested in the investigation a little later than the others, but contributed his share in a most satisfactory way.

Batavian at Work.

In the meantime, hundreds of letters were being exchanged with such notable writers as Mrs. Clara L. T. Williams of Batavia, N. Y., John Black Vrooman, J. Hugo Tatsch, Alfred Moorhouse, and with the Grand Officers of California, Iowa, New York, Vermont, and other states. By common consent, the investigators used the author of this article as a sort of clearing house for the investigations. So voluminous did this correspondence become toward the last that when letters were written, they were written in triplicate and the carbon copies exchanged to save time.

Dr. Cummings was particularly well equipped for the investigation because of the fact that he had in preparation a bibliography of anti-Masonry, a work that is now in the hands of the printer and which will be a most valuable contribution to Morgan literature.

A great deal of money had to be expended in the intensive search that was being made and a great many miles had to be traveled. The author found it necessary to go to New York and later to Boston, where he examined the records of the jurisdiction. He also made a personal search of no less than three graveyards to find evidence. But when it came to the expenditure of money, Attorney Reed, occupied the most important role. Not only did he make liberal expenditures, but he literally tore the records of Council Bluffs, Iowa, to pieces before he was rewarded in discovering important missing papers. it was also Mr. Reed who discovered such important documents as the original letter of Lucinda Morgan and the letter telling about her last days and about her children and grand-children.

All of the facts brought to light have been absolutely authenticated and documented and there can be no dispute as to the conclusions, with the exception of in one particular. Lucinda Morgan's Mormon history seems to be authenticated by well known authorities, but the officers of the Mormon church emphatically deny that she was ever the wife of Prophet Joseph Smith.

The facts brought to light in this rather remarkable investigation in no way change the accepted story as to what happened to William Morgan. Historian McGregor and other notable Masons dispute the conclusion of the author that Morgan sailed away from the United States to Smyrna in Asia Minor. On the other hand, not a little new evidence has been discovered that makes the author more convinced than ever before that the unhappy traitor spent his last years in Smyrna.

The findings, with references and the documents, will shortly be published as a supplement to "The Strange Disappearance of William Morgan."

Note: Regarding Item E (above) see John Riggs Crandall's The Morgan Episode, a brief pamphlet published by The Committee on Antiquities of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, in 1907; also, Hiram T. Graves' 1882 Memoirs and Masonic History of the Late Samuel Graves, chapter 3.


Vol. LII.                     Shortsville, N.Y., Thursday, February 21, 1934.                       No. 5.

Manchester  Baptist  Church -- a  Retrospect.

by Mitchell Bronk

(The following explanatory message was sent to the congregation of the Manchester Baptist church, as a greeting during the observance on Wednesday of this week of the 138th anniversary of the founding of their church. Rev. Bronk is a former resident of Manchester, and that he was closely connected with this church in his early life is readily attested by this message. -- Editor.)

It covers 121 years. There were 16 earlier years, but their story is in any case indistinct and traditional. I look back upon the old church's past thru the recollections of my grandfather, Stephen Brewster, and my mother Cynthia.

The former became associated with the church in 1813, in which year he immigrated to Manchester from Saratoga County. Four years later he was married by Elder Shay to Anna Pierce, of the Pierce-Pratt-McLouth tribe that had brought Baptist faith and practice from Rehoboth, Massachusetts, to the Genesee country -- by way of the Berkshire Hills. This Elder Shay baptized both Stephen and Anna. He is the outstanding man among the church's early pastors. My grandfather's early religious influences had been of the New England Congregational sort, but it was natural that he should happen into this Baptist church; it was the only church of any sort in all that part, of the country; and the young men with whom he became intimate were leaders among its people. Three of them married Anna Pierce's sisters: Peter Mitchell (whose home became ultimately the parsonage, and whose name I have tried decently to bear ever since I was seven days old), "Polly;" Alvin H. West, "Sally," and Daniel Arnold, "Betsy."

I do not remember in what sort of a building the church worshipped in those days; it could not have been the log structure on John McClouth's place in which the chuch was constituted. Stephen Brewster told me all about the building of the Old Stone Church, which stood just west of the present Lehigh passenger station. If I am not mistaken, some of the stones from it are in the foundation of the present edifice. It was one of the landmarks of Western New York.

Things were always coming up to interrupt the church's advance and prosperity. The Anti-Masonry movement of 1827-1828, for instance. It caused much bitterness among the members. When the church enacted a by-law that no pastor should ever be a Mason, my grandfather, who "belonged," hotly resented the action and never thereafter felt the same toward the church. I can recollect the final reverberation of this matter. The rule had been well-nigh forgotten and Elder Root did not know about it when he came here as pastor in 1869. When they discovered that he was a Mason, a few of the older members revived the issue -- and Elder Root went! That was 63 years ago. That Mr. Root survived the ousting is witnessed by the fact that he is still living, out in Pasadena, California, at the age of 94!

Stephen Brewster told me also of exciting revival services that were held in the Old Stone building; even the gallery that ran clear around the auditorium packed to overflowing. One wonders if it was not the froth of this hectic evangelism that, overflowing into the inexplicable brain of Joe Smith, originated his amazing, preposterous Latter Day Saints-ism. How little did those Manchester elders and deacons of the eighteen-thirties realize that young Smith, with his well-locating appletree twig, was stirring up a big mess in American religious life.

Both my grandfather and my mother told me much of the Second Advent craze of William Miller that swept over Western New York in 1843. It came near wrecking the Manchester church. A vestige of it stood until recently in what I knew as "Littleville." For the Pettit wheel factory there was originally built as a community-house for the Millerites, in which they lived, robes all ready, expecting the Appearing.

The life of my mother, as some of you know, was very closely and lovingly bound up with the old church. She was baptized at the age of 16, by Elder Marvin Allen, and with the exception of a few years when she lived elsewhere, her membership lasted 49 years. As a young woman she sang in the choir. Teaching district schools up in Farmington, she would never fail to walk -- if she couldn't catch a ride -- down to Manchester to the Sunday services and the Saturday afternoon covenant meeting. It was one of the church's pastor, Elder Moore, that officiated at her marriage, and another, Elder Willson, who attended her funeral. For 15 years previous to her death she taugty a Sunday School class of young women -- several of whom are still in the church's membership.

The two ministers who most impressed me as a small boy were Elder Swick -- stately, severe, but genial -- and Elder Root, who was chummy with me. As an older boy and young man I was very fond of Elder Royce, son, by whom I was baptized, in the Outlet, in a hole in the ice!

The three things that most vividly stand out in my boyhood memories of the old church are the donation parties my Sunday School class, and the smell of the kerosene lanterns that used to stand in a row in the vestibule, of an evening service; for on dark nights everyone carried a lantern. At those donations N. K. Cole would sit at a desk and rake in the one, two and five dollar bills that the people brot for the minister, and Dwight Newton, Thomas Hawkes and Duane Arnold would look after the serving of the food. In that Sunday School class, which was taught by Miss Sarah Dewey -- and which wasn't the best behaved in the school, the regulars, besides myself, were: Clarence Cole, Bert Rice, Wayne Power, Ezra Smith and Rob and Fred Briggs. Do I alone survive?

For its large and splendid spiritual ministry to the town of Manchester thru a century and a third, we should all thank God, and for all that the old Manchester Baptist church has meant to me, of memory and blessing -- especially for the helpful start it gave me in the way of Jesus Christ -- I thank God. I greet you and pray God's blessing upon you in this your anniversary gathering.
                Philadelphia, Pa.

Large Crowd Attends Birthday Party of
Manchester Baptist Church

Over 100 persons attended the 138th birthday party of the Manchester Baptist church, held at the church on Wednesday evening. A delectable dinner was served by the ladies of the church. Dr. Adrian Taylor, superintendent of the Clifton Springs Sanitarium, was the principal speaker, and the orchestra of the Everyman's Bible Class of Shortsville furnished the music.

Rev. Mitchell Bronk, D.D., of Philadelphia, was unable to attend on account of leaving for Florida last Sunday. He sent a message, however, which will be found elsewhere in this issue. Rev. Joseph Weston of Rochester regretted his inability to attend, because of illness. His message read:

"Few things would have given me more pleasure than to attend. My memories of Manchester and my acquaintances with the Manchester people have a warm and sunny place in the round tower of my heart. Have thought of you all kindly and appreciatively a good many times, not only those that are here now but those whom we have loved long since and lost awhile. I sincerely hope that the gathering will be mellow with gladness and prophetic with hope of the many days and years which are ahead of you as individuals and as a church."

Mrs. Vera Long, of Milo, Maine, widow of the late Rev. Edwin Long, who was pastor here in the early 90s also sent a message, a portion of which follows: "As I write the faces of many of the old associates come to me and incidents that occurred during, our sojourn in Manchester arise in memory until I almost relive the days of long ago."

A message was also received from Mrs. Frances Covell, widow of the Rev. Milton Covell, whose home is in LeRoy.

Note 1: The above report from the Rev. Dr. Mitchell Bronk makes it clear that his information regarding Joseph Smith, Jr. at Manchester came from Bronk's maternal grandfather, Stephen Brewster (1792-1879). Brewster moved to Farmington (later Manchester) township from Galway, N. Y. He was living in the Smiths' neighborhood on or before Nov. 20, 1816, when he was made Senior Deacon in the local Masonic Lodge. In 1817 Stephen married Anna Pierce. Their first daughter was Cynthia Brewster, who was born in Shortsville in 1824. She married Abram Bronk in 1856 and their third child was Mitchell Bronk (1864-1950). All available records indicate that Stephen Brewster was indeed a resident of Farmington (Manchester after 1821) during the tenure of the Baptist pastor, Elder Anson Shay. In 1948 Rev. Bronk stated that "Not a little of Mormon theology accords with the preaching of Elder Shay" and indicated that Joseph Smith was present to hear some of Elder Shay's preaching. Shay's Manchester pastorate ended in 1828 and Joseph Smith, Jr. was mostly absent from Manchester from 1828 onward -- all of which dates Smith's attendance at the local Baptist Church to a period spanning c.1824 to c.1828. Unfortunately no clarifying details appear to have been preserved among Bronk's personal papers (MSS 5985; Special Collections, Lee Library, B. Y. U., Provo).

Note 2: Stephen Brewster and his grandson Mitchell Bronk were not the only New Yorkers who claimed a religious tie between the local Calvinists and the youthful Joseph Smith, who was then (mid-1820s) residing on his father's farm at Manchester. In 1870 Fayette Lapham claimed that young Joseph "became concerned as to his future state of existence, and was baptized, becoming thus a member of the Baptist Church." On the other hand, in 1888 Sarah Fowler Anderick, a former resident of Palmyra, stated: "When Jo joined the Presbyterian Church, in Palmyra village, it caused much talk and surprise, as he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord." A plausible explanation for these conflicting accounts, is that Smith officially joined neither of the denominations, but was curious enough about Calvinist religion to frequent their periodic meetings and revivals.


Vol. 116.                    Batavia, New York, Thursday, September 6, 1934.                      No. 36.

Rare Morgan Letter Found
By Masonic Students At Syracuse


All the Actors in the Strange Case
Are Traced From the Cradle to
the Graveyard


(By Dr. William L. Cummings.)

Some two years ago a small voluntary group of Masonic students undertook an intensive study of the "Morgan Affair" with the view of unearthing any documentary evidence concerning it which might be in existence. Many rare finds were made, but probably the most important of these was a two page letter written by Morgan to his wife in 1821, a little more than two years before his mysterious disappearance.

Until the discovery of this letter the only known specimen of Morgan's handwriting was his signature appended to the by-laws of Western Star Chapter No. 35 of Royal Arch Masons, located at Batavia, N. Y.

The finding of this letter was the result of a somewhat curious series of circumstances. In fact It might almost be termed a lucky accident. Several months ago the librarian of the New York Public Library informed Thomas A. Knight who had written him relative to any evidence relating to the Morgan Episode that might be in their possession, that they had a negative photostat of a letter written by Morgan to his wife. David McGregor, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of New Jersey investigated the matter and noted that the photostat bore the stamp of H. H. Sullivan and Company of Rochester and Syracuse. The writer of this article then took up the matter and discovered that the original letter was in the Library of the University of Rochester, being one of the items in a collection of material on the history of Western New York acquired by that library several years ago.

This letter throws much light on the personality of Morgan and goes a long way towards proving that he was not the illiterate character he has been represented to be by numerous writers. It is a typical specimen of the late Georgian period style of correspondence. Although it contains a few misspelled words it indicates that its writer was rather above the average of education for his time.

The penmanship of the letter is clear and distinct and the letter itself is in very good condition considering that it is now 110 years old.

Transcript of Letter.

The following is an exact transcript of the letter:
"Batavia, September 4, 1824.           
Dear Wife:
   "How shall I begin? O! [afflicting] thought, ere this reaches you, my daughter, my Harriett, will be no more, (if I can depend on what I have heard), my Harriett did I say? My all I might have said, for I feel like there was nothing left to supply her place. With delightful anticipation I had looked forward to her for consolation and comfort in the wane of life. But alas! It has pleased the Divine Disposer of [all human] events to take her to himself. Grant me I pray O, God a spirit of Christian resignation to all thy holy dispensations.

"My dear wife I pray God that you may be able to bear this loss better than I do, or can. It is a great loss to me. Let us take consolation from this consideration, none could have given her to us but the Lord, none could have taken her from us but the Lord -- The Lord hath given her, and the Lord hath taken her, and blessed be the name of the Lord.

"My health was (I thought) a little better but I cannot tell what effect this shock may have on it. I feel thankful and do rejoice with you on account of your safe deliverance and good health. I had not [received] your letter nor Mr. D's when he passed here. All with whom I advised opposed my attempting to go to Rochester in my present feeble debilitated situation. My Doctor's opinion was that it would inevitable produce a relapse that would probably terminate my existence. [These] are the reasons, together with some others (tho these are sufficient), which prevented my attempting to come. I trust they will be satisfactory.

"I shall expect a few lines from you next Sunday. Do not conceal my letters from Messrs, Green & Wilson families [lest] some suspicious wicked spirit should propagate some falsehood to my injury and your peace of mind.

"O! for the exhilarating support & sweet consolations of religion I pray God.
My sorrows I then might asperage,
In the ways of religion and truth;
I might learn from the wisdom of age
And be cheerd by the sallies of youth;
Religion: what treasure untold,
Resides in that heavenly word
'Tis more precious than silver or gold
Or all that this earth can afford.
"Mr. Loring has a few little jobs to do about his house. I wish to do them for him if my strength will permit, and asked Mr. D. if he would try to send me some tools for that purpose -- he told me he thought he could contrive them to Brock Port. I only spoke to him about a trowel. I find I shall want others, ask him if he will be good enough to send a bag that is in your room as far as Brock Port, I can get them from there any day.

I wish to make Loring some compensation for his great kindness if I possibly can. I do not recollect to have seen [my] water pot after we left Dr. Strong's if it was left there please send for it.

"It gives me great pleasure to hear that you are so pleased with the people where you live and that they are so very kind to you, every [favour] conferred on you is honored conferred on me.

"Have you seen Esq. Walker, I believe is the name. I mean the gentleman who lived in the country and made brick.

"My attention is arrested by the toling of the bell. On inquiring the cause, I am told that an infant 17 months old has just left this Tabernacle of Clay. Who knows but she and Harriett are travelling companions to the shores of eternity. As they wing their way through the vast unmeasured [and unmeasurable] space, methinks I hear them praising their heavenly father for having taken them from this lower world, taken them from the tempter and [from] temptation, snatched them as a brand from the fire. Methinks I hear the sanctified millions who surround the throne of the great I AM with joyous acclamation [hailing] the approach of my little infant on the way [thro] the trackless expanse saying:

Child of the summer, charming rose,
No longer in confinement lie,
Arise to light, thy form disclose,
Rival the spangles of the sky.
Thy rains are gone the storm is o'er
Winter retired to make the way,
Come then thou sweetly blushing flower,
Come lovely stranger, come away --
The sun is [drip'd] in beaming smiles,
To give thy beauties to the day
Young zephyrs wait, with gentlest gales,
To fan thy bosom as they play.

Since all the downward [tracks] of time,
God's watchful eye surveys
O! Who [is] so wise to choose our lot
And regulate our ways.
Since none can doubt His great love,
Unmeasurably kind,
To His unerring gracious will,
Be every wish [assigned],
Good when he gives, supremely good,
Nor less when he denies;
Ev’n [crosses] from his sovereign hand
Are blessings in disguise

"Then let us take consolation from considerations of this kind my dear wife, always taking care to discharge our duty towards all that is committed to our care, so that we escape self-condemnation and leave the rest with God.

"May I hope that Harriett [still] lives. You will think me tedious, perhaps troublesome. I [leave] the subject, but I shall not live to forget it.

"Do excuse me for saying a word or two more on the subject of self-condemnation. Of all the afflictions on earth self-condemnation is the greatest, and on the other hand a self approving conscience affords us the most perfect and lasting happiness.

"We need not regard the [oppressions] and calumnies of mankind when we know that our God knows that we are innocent. The innocent are often censured and the guilty escape, but a steady perseverance in well doing [brings] us at last to the full enjoyment of ceaseless and imperishable happiness.

I shall if able to be at Rochester on the 14th inst. as a witness at Heart's tryal. If you can send the tools please send my old hat, for if I spoil this, I shall not be able to purchase one shortly, and 3 or 4 days work in the mortar would [completely] do it.

"Please send for Mr. Dyer when you receive this, you may let him read it, there are no secrets in my letters. Mr. Bates is just starting, [&] I must close this, as usual."
Yours affectionately

Reference Is Puzzling.

The reference to the child, Harriett, presents a peculiar problem. Mrs. Morgan had given birth to a child on August 23, 1821. It has generally been claimed that this girl, who was named Lucinda Wesley Morgan, was born in Batavia, but the records of the Morma'n Church, of which Mrs. Morgan became a member after her marriage to George W. Harris, give the place of birth of this child as Rochester.

Lucinda Wesley Morgan married David Bates Smith, a Mississippi River steamboat Captain, at Nauvoo, Illinois. She died near Mehama, Oregon, in 1882.

It is known that Morgan also had a son, named Thomas Jefferson Morgan, who died near St. Louis, Mo., about 1864. He was born at Batavia, N. Y., in July, 1826.

Several great-grandchildren of William Morgan are still living in Oregon and Idaho, but none of them know anything about the child, Harriett. In his letter-Morgan expresses some uncertainty as to whether his daughter died or not, and it may be that she did not die. Possibly it was the recently born daughter who was not expected to live, for even though the father refers to her as Harriet, Mrs. Morgan may have exercised a woman's prerogative and given her a name of her own selection.

Note 1: Cummings' 1934 Nocalore transcript of the envelope side of the letter reads: "Mrs. Luccinda Morgan -- Please give my gaugles to Mr. D. & put my old blue pantaloons in the Bag."

Note 2: Where Cummings' Nocalore version of the text differs substantially from that published by the Times, the most reasonable interpretation of the University of Rochester holograph is placed within parentheses. For proper quotations consult the Rochester holograph: Morgan, William: September 4, 1824 --- Letter to Lucinda Morgan. --- Written in Batavia, NY. --- Individual Manuscripts Collection D.472:Dr. 3, Rare Books & Special Collections, Rush Rhees Library 225.


Vol. 116.                    Batavia, New York, Thursday, September 13, 1934.                      No. 37.

What Became of Lucinda Morgan
Famous William Morgan's Wife



(By Dr. William L. Cummings.)

Among the many perplexing problems connected with the so-called "Morgan Affair" of more than a century ago, none has proved more puzzling than the final fate of Mrs. Lucinda Morgan, wife of William Morgan, whose sudden disappearance from Batavia, in September, 1826, at which time he was engaged in writing an alleged "expose" of the Secrets of Freemasonry, gave rise to the long period of anti-Masonic excitement.

Dr. Rob Morris in his "Political Anti-Masonry" and his ''Life of Eli Bruce" tells two conflicting stories regarding Mrs. Morgan, neither of which have ever been authenticated. These stories have been repeated over and over by other writers, but it is only within the past few months that the true facts of the case have been established.

Lucinda Morgan was the daughter of Rev. Joseph Pendleton, of the Virginia family of that name, and was born in Washington County, Virginia, in 1803. She was married to William Morgan at Abington, Virginia, by Rev. Thomas Colley, on October 7, 1819, when she was 16 years old.

Married on the Quiet.

The common version of the story is that Lucinda Pendleton met William Morgan, who was a journeyman mason by occupation and nearly thirty years her senior, while she was on a visit to some relatives, and became infatuated with him. Not long afterward he came to Washington County and paid court to her, but as the match was strenuously opposed by her father, chiefly on account of the difference in her age and that of Morgan, they quietly slipped away to the nearby town of Abington, where they were married.

The movements of the newly wedded couple are somewhat obscure during the next two years. It is commonly assorted that they lived in Richmond, where Morgan was engaged in some kind of mercantile enterprise.

We next hear of them in York, Upper Canada (now Toronto, Ontario), where it is claimed that Morgan was connected in some capacity with the business of brewing. In 1822 they removed to Rochester, N. Y. David Seaver in his "Freemasonry at Batavia, N. Y.," says that for some time Morgan rotated around Monroe and Ontario Counties, or wherever he could find employment. They lived for a time in LeRoy, N. Y., and finally located in Batavia.

At the time of Morgan's disappearance, Mrs. Morgan was left with two small children, the elder a daughter, born in 1824, and the younger a son, born a short time before his father's disappearance. She continued to live in and about Batavia. According to French's "Gazetteer of the State of New York," the little village of Morganvllle in Genesee County is named for Mrs. Morgan who resided there for some time.

On November 23, 1830, she was married to George W. Harris, a silversmith of Batavia. They lived in Batavia until 1832, when they emigrated West, and In 1834 became connected with the Mormon Church in which Harris rose to high rank, becoming a bishop.

Batavia Letter Found.

A letter written by Mrs. Morgan-Harris in 1836 to a friend in Batavia, shows that at that time they were living in Clay County, Missouri. Later Harris went to Pottawatamie County, Iowa, and on March 12, 1856, brought an action for divorce against his wife on the grounds that she had wilfully, deserted him and without reasonable cause absented herself for more than the space of three years. The notice to the defendant in the action was returned marked "Not Found," and at the April term of the District Court, Mrs. Harris, falling to appear, to answer to the complaint in the action, a decree of divorce was granted to Harris by default. Harris died at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on November 23, 1857.

At Nauvoo, Illinois, the Mormons had a newspaper called "Times and Seasons," some files of which have been preserved. In the May, 1840, issue of this paper under the title "Hymenial" appears this item:

"In this place, on the 9th inst., by Elder Seymour Brunson, Mr. David B. Smith to Miss Lucinda W. Morgan. From the last named couple we acknowledge with pleasure the receipt of an elegant slice of bride cake. In return we wish them long life, much joy and felicity, peace and plenty."

Lucinda Wesley Morgan was the daughter of William and Lucinda Morgan. David Bates Smith was a Mississippi River steamboat captain. After the death of Lucinda Wesley Morgan-Smith, in 1882, Judge Charles Betts of Freeport, Illinois, wrote a letter of condolence to her husband, and incidentally asked him some questions. Captain Smith's reply ultimately came into the possession of Miss Sara K. Stevens of Batavia, who permitted the ''Christian Cynosure," the official organ of the National Christian Association, to publish it in their issue of September, 1899. It is as follows:
"Received yours of Nov. 27 and appreciate your sympathy, for my affliction is very, great. Your questions I will answer. Firstly, my dear wife's maiden name was Lucinda Wesley Morgan, born in Batavia, N. Y., August 23, 1824. Thomas Morgan, her brother, also born in Batavia, in 1826, was two weeks old when his father, William Morgan, was abducted. He died near St. Louis in 1863. Their mother, Lucinda Morgan Harris, died at Memphis, Tennessee, in 1856. Your family name I have heard my wife speak of often, but if you recollect her you must be old as well as myself. I have buried a large family of children, only one left of ten; but yet my greatest affliction is in the loss of my dear wife, a woman beloved by every one that knew her. Believe me, dear sir, your well wisher,
                                                        D. B. SMITH.''

Letter Authenticated.

This letter has been thoroughly authenticated. Judge Charles Betts was the son of Robert Betts, and was born in Batavia in 1822, some two years before the elder of the Morgan children, and may well have known them in childhood. He studied law and was admitted to practice at Rochester, in 1842. Removing to Freeport, Illinois, he became very prominent. A very complete sketch of his life will be found in the book entitled "Makers of Illinois."

Rainey's Directory of Memphis, 1855, lists David B. Smith, engineer, residence Auction between Second and Third streets. Paschall's Memphis City Directory, 1856-57, lists D. B. Smith, engineer, house Auction, east of Bayou, thus establishing Smith's residence in that city at the time he states as the death of Mrs. Morgan-Harris.

The letter is dated from Mehama, Oregon. The residence of David Bates Smith there in 1882 has been authenticated through three different sources, viz: the postmaster at Mehama, the sheriff's office of Marion County, and D. R. Cheney, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Oregon, the latter of whom having located the place of burial of David Bates Smith and his wife, Lucinda Wesley Morgan-Smith, at Gates, Oregon, and furnished the writer with photographs of their tombstones.

The one surviving child mentioned in the Smith letter was Don Alonzo Smith. He had a son named David Bates Smith. Both of these are dead, but the wife of the latter is still living and has very kindly furnished the writer with much interesting information concerning their family history.

Although the grave of Mrs. Lucinda Morgan-Harris in Memphis is apparently unmarked, the investigation made has proven conclusively that she died at the home of her daughter in that city in 1856, about the time the decree of divorce was granted her second husband.

Note: ...


Democrat [  and  ] Chronicle.

Vol. ?                           Rochester, New York, Sunday, March 17, 1935.                           No. ?


By Marie Murphy

All that remains of a once flourishing settlement that years ago was the most progressive and important in Seneca County are two houses erected in the beginning of the 18th Century, a modern school house, and a barn that was once part of the leading tavern on the Albany-Buffalo turnpike.

The forgotten village, the "Kingdom" or "Canton," as the name appears in the county records, had its beginning in 1808. It covered many acres midway between Waterloo and Seneca Falls. It dates from the year that Lewis Birdsall settled there, built the first brick house in the vicinity from sand and clay taken from the property and built so well that the house still stands in excellent condition.

The name "Kingdom" was derived from the "Devil's Kingdom," an appelation given to the settlement early in its history through its reputation. It was regarded as the "toughest" spot along the Buffalo turnpoke. It had a reputation here for gamesters, adventurers and fighters who made their headquarters at a tavern run by Pontius Hooper, rough and swaggering, who arranged cock fights, fox chases, wrestling matches, prize fights and horse races.

Canal men, stage drivers and travelers over the Western Turnpike knew the place. Over the canal and through the waterway that led to Cayuga and Seneca lakes, "Devil's Kingdom," with its locks on the two-mile level, was the stopping place for a bit of excitement. Stage coaches traveled the route from 1800 to 1815 and then to some extent were supplanted by packet boats that tarried there while their passengers rested and dined.

On the north side of the river in 1810 there was a tavern, a red school house, grocery, blacksmith shop, a half-dozen houses, flour mill, saw mill and cooper shop. Across the river on the south side there was a big settlement about the locks of the canal. Abundant water power afforded mill sites that later were developed on both sides of the river.

It was around the Lewis Birdsell house, still standing and occupied, that the dignity of the hamlet contrasted with the rough element. In an upper room there was a court chamber where Judge Knox, who lived a little to the west, administered stern justice and his neighbor, John Burton, the lawyer and surveyer who mapped all the villages and hamlets, defended or prosecuted as the occasion presented itself. Many of the Burton maps now on record in the county clerk's office here are referred to today by attorneys in drawing deeds or conveying property. The Birdsall house is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Van Riper.

Note: The above item appears to be a condensation of a larger article published in the Democrat-Chronicle of March 12, 1922, under the title of "'The Kingdom,' Once Thriving, Little Known." The 1922 article was, in turn, an updated reprint of Harrison Chamberlain's 1903 Seneca Falls Historical Society paper, "The Kingdom." See also the Hilton Record of Nov. 20, 1924, for a similar reprint of the 1903 paper.


Vol. LIII.                   Shortsville, New York, Thursday, June 20, 1935.                     No. 25.

A New Birthplace Found for Mormonism.

Ernest U. Smith, writing in the last issue of the Honeoye Falls Times, has the following to say, which makes interesting reading, if true:

"In my article on religious organizations of the town of Mendon, publishd in The Times, May 2, 1935, it was mentioned that in 1832 Brigham Young began preaching Mormonism; the fact is, the town of Mendon is the scene of the origin of Mormonism.

"A few years before 1832, Joseph Smith came to Mendon village, bringing with him a couple of flagstones which he claimed he dug up out of the ground near Palmyra. In a house located between 'Yankee Tom's' hotel and the Lehigh Valley tracks, he wrote the Mormon bible. While there, Brigham Young and one Heber Kimball became his first converts, but it does not appear that others from the town became interested. So, the first congregation of Mormons, numbering three, was organized in Mendon."

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. LIII.                   Shortsville, New York, Thursday, July 4, 1935.                     No. 27.

Another Birthplace Found for
the Origin of Mormonism.


In our issue of June 20th, we copied an item from the Honeoye Falls Times in which Ernest U. Smith says, "the town of Mendon is the scene of the origin of Mormonism." The followng article, copied from a "Historical Souvenir of Waterloo, N. Y." published in 1903, apparently disputes this statement. We quote:

MORMAN JOE, born near Waterloo -- Joseph Smith, the Morman prophet, came to Waterloo, or rather the town of Fayette, across the river, about 1830. He made his headquarters at the farm house of Peter Whitmer, two miles southwest of the village, which was the birthplace of the Morman church; for it was there where Joe Smith first declared the golden plates and their divinity, which he claimed to have unearthed on a hill near Manchester, Ontario county, and it was at Whitmer's where he received and promulgated "the Revelation" for establishing the church and where it also effected the organization. Several weeks following his arrival, Smith was shut up in Whitmer's house, hours at time, engaged in translating the characters engraved on the plates which he called "Reformed Egyptian." With two bright clean stones in his hands -- stones similar in appearance to those usually gathered in fresh water on a gravelly beach -- he sat intently gazing upon them and from time to time uttering in baritone, sentences which, as he spoke them, were written down by a companion named Oliver Courdnay [sic]. Thus was produced that great volume of manuscript upon which the Morman church rests the claim of divine inspiration. Smith called the two sones he used, through which he said he interperted the golden plates, his "divine optical instruments." He said they "had a spiritual reflection from the plates."

In the meantime, he obtained such funds as he required, by days', work at cutting timber, burning brush, and digging ditch. Neighbors came from time to time out of curiosity but were never permitted to see the golden plates. Smith told them the plates were too sacred for profane eyes.

The half a dozen followers he obtained at that time, he took one by one, as each professed the faith, to the nearest shore of Thomas creek, a small stream flowing near the eastern end of the village, where he baptized them. Then he invited as many as could be reached to attend his meetings at Whitmer's house. At last he ostentatiously "enrolled" in "the book of life" his assistant, Oliver Courdney, and Hymen [sic] Smith, Peter Wilmer [sic], Jr., Samuel H. Smith and David Wilmer, and on the 6th day of April, 1830, organized the Morman church at Wilmer's house. The following June, a Morman conference was held on the shore of Cayuga lake. Delegate Cannon says the organization of the church was made on a day and after a pattern directed by God in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, who was 24 years of age at the time. The revelation gave the name by which the church was to be called as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

To outsiders, especially residents of Waterloo, where Smith was an occasional visitor and which was then a small village, "Morman Joe," as Smith was generally called, occasioned no end of fun and comment. He was often seen in the outskirts of the village, by people still living who say that it was his custom to pace slowly along some favorite walk with his hat in his hand, crown downward, steadily gazing into it. This led his scoffers to say that he was communing with the spirits -- midgets that occasionally infest unclean heads.

It was at that time that Smith attracted the attention of Brigham Young who lived in the town of Tryone, Schuyler county. Lewis Halsey says that John Young was a revolutionary soldier from Whittingham, Windham Co., Ct.; who became a "traveling tinker and mender and a poor farmer;" and that his sons spent most of their time hunting and fishing; usually in harvest time crossing Seneca lake to work for farmers in Romulus. That was probably how Brigham became acquainted with Smith. The latter, upon quitting this country with his followers, repaired to Kirtland, O., whence "the church" shortly migrated to Nauvoo, Ill., where Smith met his death.

Notes: (forthcming)


Commercial  Advertiser.

Vol. LXV.                       Canton, New York, Tuesday, June 1, 1937.                       No. ?


Although Mormonism is usually connected with Utah it succeeded in getting quite a foothold in Hopkinton and Nicholville back in 1843. Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, was a cousin of Royal Smith, [of] Nicholville, near Hopkinton, which may have influenced Mormon apostles in seeking converts in that locality.

In the winter of 1843 an elder of the Mormon faith by the name of Appleton, and an apostle, Joseph Meacham, who also had relatives in he locality, invaded Hopkinton and began their evangelistic work.

The two held meetings in various places, preaching, exhorting and expounding their doctrines. Most of the meetings were held in a little red schoolhouse on the road beween Nicholville and Dickinson Center. They aroused considerable interest in their doctrines and gained imany converts who were baptized in the then new faith at Dickinson.

In the following spring the leaders gathered their converts together, fitted out several wagons with canopy tops of prairie schooner fashion and started out for the then meeca of Mormonism, Nauvoo, Ill. Other groups joined them en route. Before completing the trip some of the converts from the Nicholville-Hopkinton area became disgusted and sought to return home but discovered getting into Mormonism was a lot easier than getting out.

Stephen Meacham was the only member of his family who succeeded in returning; the Mormons keeping his wife and children.

Meacham was a greatly changed man as a result of the tortures and hardships he underwent as well as the Ioss of his family. Broken in spirit, he took to the woods, built himself a bark shanty where he lived winter and summer until his death in 1869. During the many years he lived as a hermit he hunted and fished every day and was known far and wide for his prowess with rod and gun. His father, Thomas Meacham, probably was the most noted hunter in Adirondack history and Meacham Lake is named in his honor.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Democrat [  and  ] Chronicle.

Vol. ?                     Rochester, New York, Wednesday, January 11, 1939.                     No. ?

Scene of Anniversary Supper.

Members of First Baptist Church in Manchester will observe the
142nd anniversary of the church society, with special events in
the church tonight. The Rev. Leon L. Swarthout is the
present pastor. Thirty have served church.

Manchester Baptists Plan
142nd Anniversary Fete
Manchester -- The First Baptist Church of Manchester today will celebrate the 142nd anniversary of the founding of the society in the village.

The occasion will bring all members together in a supper starting at 7 p. m. in charge of the Ladies Executive Committee of the church. Ainsworth M. Bennett will act as toastmaster and Mrs. Robert Chambers of Shortsville will relate stories of the church history told to her by her father, A. J. Letting, a former preacher in Manchester.

The Baptist Society originated in the village in 1796, when a group of the early settlers of Farmington, as it was called before being changed to Manchester, gathered at the home of John McLouth and voted to send for Brother, Elder David Irish of Scipio, N. Y., to come and form the church in this section.

On Feb. 13, 1797, the following founders of the society, with Irish, signed the covenant, officially starting the organization: John McLouth, Asa Reed, Peter Pratt, John McCumber, Johnathan Rice, Jedediah Dewey, Ebenezer Pratt and Stephen Brewster. A log meeting house was erected on a spot near what is now known as the Whitney farm, between Shortsville and Manchester on the main highway, and the church began to grow rapidly so that a stone church was built on a site near the present Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks, bordering the main road, at a cost of $9,000.

Due to money matters disturbing the meetings of the society, gatherings were abandoned temporarily. In 1830, the Phelps Church sent a preacher to the village, and the Manchester group became a branch of the Phelps Society until 1832, when the members again took over the name, The First Baptist Church of Manchester.

The year 1849 brought the erection of the present Main Street edifice, which was of wood, at cost of $4,000. In 1875, at a cost of $2,500 the building was repaired and in 1900 the outside brick walls were added. The 2,000-pound bell in the tower of the church was moved from the old stone building shortly after completion of the present church, and was rung several months ago, for the first time since the signing of the Armistice in 1918, when eager but too-strong arms tugged in joyous celebration of the event, breaking part of the flange.

Of the 30 pastors who have served the Manchester Church, only three still are living. The Rev. Leon L. Swarthout Is the present preacher, having served his congregation for the past 17 years. The two remaining surviving pastors are Eugene Lower, now in Ohio, and Frank Eden D. D of Oregon. The Rev. Anson Shay served the Manchester society for the longest period of any of the 30 pastors, his services were during the years, 1804-1828. The present parsonage, in Center Street, was given to the church in 1859 by Peter Mitchell.

Note 1: See the Shortsville Enterprise of Jan. 5, 1967 for another 20th century article on this church.

Note 2: The following excerpt is from Rev. Mitchell Bronk's 1948 article, "The Baptist Church at Manchester" -- "The Antimasonry disturbance was not yet over when the church had to stand by and witness the birth of a new religion, or pseudo-religion. Writers on Mormonism have paid too much attention to Palmyra and not enough to Manchester in connection with Joe Smith -- my old townsmen never dignified him with "Joseph!" But Gold Bible Hill (Cumorah, forsooth!) is in Manchester, not Palmyra, and the Smith family lived in our town. They traded at Manchester and Shortsville. Joe's amanuensis, Oliver Cowdery, had taught the Manchester school. What more concerns us here, however, is the fact that Joe occasionally attended the stone church; especially the revivals, sitting with the crowd -- the "sinners" -- up in the gallery. Not a little of Mormon theology accords with the preaching of Elder Shay. It is significant that immersion became the form of baptism practiced by the Saints. It should be pointed out that in the eighteen twenties the Manchester area was experiencing an unusual amount of religious excitement -- excitable religion. ---- The newfangled religion created little disturbance in the church. In fact the people of the town didn't take Joe seriously; or didn't know what to make of his revelations. It did, however, cause religious confusion and unsettlement among the religious ignorant and erratic. There was a feeling of Good Riddance when the hegira took place, and some of us natives of Manchester have always been ashamed that Manchester gave Mormonism to the world...."


Democrat [  and  ] Chronicle.

Vol. 107.                           Rochester, New York, Mon., Apr. 10, 1939.                           No. ?

Mormonism Born 109 Years Ago in Fayette.

Waterloo -- Mormonism was founded in the Town of Fayette, a short distance south of here 109 years ago.

Records reveal that the first Mormon Society, or the first Church of Latter Day Saints, was organized on the Peter Whitmer farm in MacDougall Road, on Apr. 6, 1830.

For nearly a year the society flourished in this vicinity, there being three conventions and numerous additions to the membership of the faith that founded Salt Lake City, Utah,

The Whitmer farm of 100 acres today is operated by Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Stoner, who leased it from W. W. Bean, Palmyra, overseer of the Mormon property in Western New York.

Mr. and Mrs. Stoner, although they have not embraced the Mormon faith, come in contact with Mormons from all parts of the country who annually visit the Seneca County farm to see where Joseph Smith organized his church with six members.

Tradition has it that Smith, who located at the Kingdom, a mile east of Waterloo, about 1821 went into the town of Fayette about 1830 whereon, Apr. 6 of that year, he organized the Mormon Church and baptized the first convert.

Smith obtained financial assistance from men living in the vicinity to whom, in confidence, he made known his "divine inspirations." He had with him an assistant, Oliver Cowdery, who transcribed what Smith, behind a curtain professed to read from the golden plates, "the Inspired word of God." Smith declared he had a vision in which Moroni, an angel, revealed to him the hiding places of golden plates concealed centuries before by Mormon, a prophet.

Smith, records say, found the plates buried in a hill near Palmyra. Accompanying them were two transparent stones arranged in the form of spectacles. After surmounting many difficulties, the work was completed and the book was published in 1830.

An enrollment of six members was needed to effect a legal organization in New York State. With Smith and Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Peter Whitmer and David Whitmer, the church was formed Just 109 years ago this past Thursday.

Smith and his wife and others residing in Fayette moved in the latter part of January, 1831, to Kirtland, Ohio, where a temple was built and in 1834, Smith was chosen president of the Mormon Church there. In 1873 [sic - 1837?], the Mormons residing in Kirtland and vicinity moved to Missouri. Meeting with opposition in that state they moved in May, 1839 to Nauvoo, Ill., where a city was founded of which Joseph Smith was several times chosen mayor.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Commercial  Advertiser

Vol. LXVII.                         Canton, New York, Tuesday, April 18, 1939.                         No. 3.

Joseph Smith, Latter Day Saint.

By Elizabeth Baxter

The sect of Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, originated with Joseph Smith, who was practically illiterate, being scarcely able to read or write even the simplest of words. Smith, it is said, was a rank impostor of the blackest order. It is possible that he was partly the dupe of his own outrageous delusions, for hypocrisy is seldom found unmixed, and the most atrocious deceivers are usually, in some respects, fooled by their own antics.

Joseph Smith was born in Vermont in 1805. His parents were loose, unsettled, unambitious creatures who, apparently incapable of lifting an honest finger, sought to earn their living and -- they hoped! -- sudden riches by digging for long-buried pirate treasures.

Smith's talent for deceit turned his spurious efforts to clairvoyance. Putting in his hat a certain stone, of which he was very fond, and hiding his head, he claimed that he was miraculously able to point out where his friends and acquaintances would be most successful in their digging for hidden gold. Deception is suggestive and its effects are cumulative, so Joseph Smith advanced from one grandiose lie to another. He even pretended to receive authentic visions from Heaven, and of course there were a few who not only believed his tales but loudly swore to their divine truth. His wonderful visions did not, however, alter the course of his life, which was at the time, according to the admissions of his own people, vain, abandoned and dissolute.

He pretended to have been told by heavenly spirits that the American Indians were the descendants of the ancient Israelites; that the hue of their skins had been changed to punish them for their sins; that they had emigrated, miraculously, to America at an early period of the world's history; that their records were a divine preservation and revelation of the hitherto unknown Book of God; that he, Joseph Smith, was the faithful one entrusted to exhibit it to the world.

Another revelation, more definite still, told him, he declared, where the sacred book was buried. His father and brothers, armed with spades, consequently hied themselves to the spot he indicated and dug up a quantity of earth. A huge chest met their view only to be supernaturally removed from their astonished sight. Again they uncovered part of the chest and again it vanished. The process was repeated a third time. Thunder crashed and forked lightning danced before their eyes, causing them to drop their spades and flee in abject terror.

Joseph alone remained behind them. As he was slowly leaving the scene there appeared before him, standing on a silvery cloud, the vision of an avenging angel, who spoke to him in a fear-inspiring tone as lightning continued to flicker, and forthwith upbraided him severely for attempting to communicate the awful, holy secret.

Later still, he said, angelically directed, he went alone to the forbidden spot, took the chest, buried it under his own hearth-stone, and left it unopened, being, he declared, forbidden to explore its secret contents. Together with the book he professed to have discovered "two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow," which were to enable him to read its wonderful hieroglyphics.

Hidden from his followers by a heavy curtain, Smith pretended to look through the transparent stones, as if they were spectacles. He repeated aloud what he saw and a scribe recorded his words. The severest of possible judgments was invoked against the lowly scribe in case he drew near to or dared look upon the be-spectacled. Smith.

Sidney Rigdon [sic - Oliver Cowdery?] was the writer of "The Book of Mormon" at the dictation of Smith, who professed to have found mysteriously inscribed golden plates illegible to everyone except himself. "The Book of Mormon" was comprised of fifteen different books and dealt with a period of 1000 years ending in the year 420. Smith solemnly gave his oath that he had given true testimony from the golden plates. Oliver Cowdery David Whitmer and Martin Harris swore to his imposture. Others corroborated the fabrication.

Mormonism's great stress on baptism for the remission of sins and its thesis that God possessed human form had attracted over thirty converts by June 1, 1830. Meanwhile, Smith was violently oppossed, persecuted and, once, even tarred and feathered by an angry mob. Mobs tracked him and his followers, caused riots wherever a Mormon settlement was founded, sacked the houses of the Mormons, and compelled them to be always warily on the move to distant territories. They moved as far westward as Missouri.

Wherever he traveled, Joseph Smith organized his followers into a bodyguard to protect him. His brother Hiram, was his "captain." Another brother was "armor-bearer." John Smith, an uncle, joined the band, went to Utah, and became a high-priest of the Mormon Church. This John Smith was one of the first settlers of Potsdam, N. Y., where he was, according to Durant's "History of St. Lawrence County, 1749-1878," "quite a respectable citizen." Another uncle [sic - cousin?], George A. Smith, who was also a native of Potsdam, N. Y., attained the same position and enjoyed it for many years. Samuel Smith, another of the fertile Smiths, continued to dwell in Potsdam.

Smith's career seemed to have the blessing of Providence. When part of his followers revolted against him, the leader fell from his horse in attempting to ford the Missouri River and was conveniently drowned. He escaped the cholera which soon afterwards thinned the ranks of the Mormon army, and successfully evaded a wholesale attempt to massacre the Mormons.

He was perpetually on the move. His first settlement, at Kirtland, was vacated when his creditors momentarily threatened to catch up with him. He scuttled to Illinois, where he formed a town called Nauvoo, of which he was mayor, president, prophet, and lieutenant-general. Millions of dollars were spent in constructing a magnificent Mormon temple at Nauvoo. By 1837 the brain wave known as Mormonism had spread, rather shockingly, as far as conservative EngIand.

Smith, meanwhile, lived the life of a sultan. When he reviewed his "army" he was attended by "six ladies on horseback, who were dressed in black velvet and wore waving plumes of white feathers, and rode up and down in front of the regiment, in the not too grammatical phraseology of Newhall, a nineteenth century writer and lecturer on the subject of Mormonism. Newhall wrote that Smith was "very sociable, easy, cheerful, obliging, and kind, and very hospitable -- in a word, a jolly fellow, and one of the last persons I would have supposed God might raise up as a prophet or priest."

Part of Smith's phenomenal popularity -- for he did deeply appeal to a certain class of people -- was cemented by his imitation of the Mohammedan doctrines which permitted the faithful as many wives as they could take care of. His promotion of the "spiritual wives" idea led to bloody fighting among the Mormons of Nauvoo and the surrounding settlers. In the course of the fray Joseph Smith and one of his brothers were shot. Sidney Rigdon attempted to vault into the vacant throne, but was expelled from the society, and Brigham Young was made the leader.

Again the Mormons were forced to emigrate. Driven from Nauvoo they fixed their residence in the Great Salt Lake Valley, which they reached after well-nigh incredible hardships. There they formed a large settlement; built a mighty temple; profited by the California gold rush; established a perpetual emigration fund to aid all those who were attracted toward their very earthy Paradise; increased and multiplied with the efficacy and rapidity of jack rabbits.

They worshipped Smith, the psychopathic stuffed shirt, as a martyr, and clad his memory with anything and everything but the figurative strait-jacket which saner men than he have literally worn.

Smith, the prophet, found time to modestly take part in matters political, and even put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. He wrote and published "General Smith's Views of the Government and Policy of fhe United States."

He pandered, in life, to the vices and lusts of inferior men. He remains, in death, a mysterious and profane epitaph for the race of man.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                         Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, September 23, 1945.                           No. ?


Mechem House Was Built in 1816.


Far out in the Valley, called for many a year, Onondaga Hollow, sits the Meachem home which has a history of the most romantic sort. Its exact location is 9 Academy Green, just off Seneca Turnpike, and it nestles back among the trees with a quiet, satisfied air.

It has not been occupied since last December, when Mrs. Thomas W. Meachem died, and an auction sale of furnishings was held there yesterday, but it has not been abandoned, for just down the driveway, at 7 Academy Green, stands its nearest relative, another charming home built in the most modern manner.

That is occupied by Joseph Forman Sabine Meachem, head of the family now...

The old house was built in 1816, and while it now seems far from the center of town, its setting was at that time the most aristocratic of various hamlets in this locality. It could have called itself "uptown" with perfect justice because not until decades after it had been put up did the city of Syracuse come into being. Clinton Square and all of what is now downtown were then just salt marshes.

One of the family's connections, Joshua Forman, is known as the founder of Syracuse. In fact he has been called the city's "inventor." for he was one of the moving figures in getting the Erie Canal put through, then had the legislature pass laws which lowered the level of Onondaga Lake and drained the marshes.

William H. Sabine, the great-grandfather of J. F. Sabine Meachem, erected the house, and it has been in the family's possession ever since.

Joseph F. Sabine, son of the builder, was born in this house and lived there for some time. Later, while his twin brother kept the house he moved downtown... The family carries on, but what final disposition will be made of the old house lies in the hands of J. F. Sabine. He has not offered it for sale as yet...

Note: See also the article "House with a Dual History" in the Syracuse Post-Standard of Feb. 16, 2002 and the picture on page 274 of Evamaria Hardin's 1993 Syracuse Landmarks.



Vol. LXVI.                  Shortsville, N.Y., Wednesday, February 4, 1948.                     No. 5.

AT MANCHESTER, N. Y. -- 1797-1947

by Mitchell Bronk

(Continued from last week)

In 1815 the Ontario Association, organized the year before, met at Manchester. Thirty-five churches were represented, with a total membership of 1790. The moderator was Thomas Tuttle, and the preacher of the opening sermon, William Roe.

The fine new building brought the congregation little blessing. Did it make them "puffed-up?" Anyhow, the dozen years that followed are the darkest period of the church's history. The disastrous reaction that now set in, in national affairs, and economic conditions was partly responsible. "The whole community was buried three feet in debt it could not pay." The building debt that had been carelessly assumed proved a millstone. Recrimination and dissension prevailed among the members. Anti-masonry began to make trouble. In a minute of one of the covenant meetings it is stated that the church "had long been in a lingering situation." In 1828 the long-extended pastorate of Elder Shay came to an end. For a time the minister at Orleans -- a daughter church -- served also for the Manchester field. The title to the stone church property became tangled and in jeopardy. Finally there was some sort of reorganization under the name, "The First Baptist Church and Society of Manchester;" Manchester having been set off as a township separate from Farmington. My understanding is that a faction of the members afterwards never admitted that there had been a real disorganization or a union with Orleans.

In 1831 with the coming of Marvin Allen things began to brighten. Elder Allen was a pacifier, a "smoother." He was, too, a strong evangelist; he had revival after revival, with many baptisms and many restorations. In 1836 the membership was 175; the largest in the Ontario Association. Harley Miner and James G. Moore were successors of Elder Allen, of whom I used to hear very good reports.

In considering the low estate into which the church drifted in the years 1816-1831, more account should be taken than has been customary of the Antimasonry agitation. A Masonic Lodge had been started at Manchester in 1816. Nearly all of the men of the Baptist church joined. The Lodge's first installation of officers was held in the church. The Morgan affair of 1826 stirred the town profoundly, for it was from nearby Canandaigua jail that Morgan was taken -- or at least suddenly disappeared. In the agitation that ensued churches were split, friendships broken, and politics deranged. After the Manchester Lodge disbanded, as it did in 1827, the church made a bylaw that no Mason should ever occupy the pulpit. It alienated my grandfather, Stephen Brewster, from the church, but his brother-in-law, Peter Mitchell, who was also a Mason, remained active. As recently as 1873 the rule referred to, long forgotten, was used to push out a minister whom some did not want.

The Antimasonry disturbance was not yet over when the church had to stand by and witness the birth of a new religion, or pseudo-religion. Writers on Mormonism have paid too much attention to Palmyra and not enough to Manchester in connections with Joe Smith -- my old townsman never dignified him with "Joseph"! But Gold Bible Hill (Cumorah, forsooth!) is in Manchester, not Palmyra, and the Smith family lived in our town. They traded at Manchester and Shortsville. Joe's amanuensis, Oliver Cowdery, had taught the Manchester school. What more concerns us here, however, is the fact that Joe occasionally attended the stone church; especially the revivals, sitting with the crowd -- the "sinners"-- Up in the gallery. Not a little of Mormon theology accords with the preaching of Elder Shay. It is significant that immersion became the form of baptism practiced by the Saints. It should be pointed out that in the 1820's the Manchester area was experiencing an unusual amount of religious excitement -- excitable religion.

The newfangled religion created little disturbance in the church. In fact, the people of the town didn't take Joe seriously; or didn't know what to make of his revelations. It did, however, cause religious confusion and unsettlement among the religious ignorant and erratic. There was a feeling of Good Riddance when the hegira took place, and some of us natives of Manchester have always been ashamed that Manchester gave Mormonism to the world.

Far more troublesome to the religious life of the Genesee Country and the Manchester church than the Antimasonry movement and Incipient Mormonism was the Second Coming excitement of the eighteen thirties and forties, instigated by William Miller, a Baptist. It swept over this part of NewYork State in great waves of fanaticism. Women were busy tailoring their translation robes; farms and businesses were disposed of as soon to be superfluous, and community houses were put up where families might live, awaiting the Coming. A factory building that used to stand by the Outlet, a mile or so west of Manchester, was originally built for this purpose. I do not know how many of the Baptist flock put their faith in William Miller, but when I would ask why this one or that one of our town kept away from the church and had "no use for religion," I would be told: "He was a Millerite; that did it." Thus Miller's tinkering with Scripture, and prophetic arithmetic and "times and seasons" shattered the faith of many.

Hydeville was only a few miles from Manchester, across in Wayne County. There, in 1848-1850, Spiritualism had its beginning, as a sectarian body. The Fox sisters, the rappings, the communications and levitations created no little stir in the larger world, and of course in Manchester; but the 'ism was too far away from the gospel as they knew it to attract any of the Manchester Baptists.

At the middle of the nineteenth century the world was modernizing, and the old stone church was becoming old-fashioned. There was much talk of a new meeting-house, to be built down nearer the village. In 1849 lots were purchased, adjoining the burying ground. The building was speedily erected, of wood, at a cost of only about $3200. That it was well built, even at that figure, is attested by the fact that some of the structure is still in use in the present church, after nearly a century. According to a custom of the time, the pews were sold -- auctioneered off -- and became the legal property of the holders. Ours cost $50. The pews had doors. There were sittings for strangers, but not in your pew! The bell that had hung in the old stone church for two score years was transferred to the new building, where it now hangs. The dedication took place January 16, 1850, in the third year of Elder Wiggins' pastorate. Elder Stanwood of Rush preached the sermon from Revelation 2:10. It is to be hoped that he used only the last clause of the verse!
(Continued next week)

Note 1: The Rev. Dr. Mitchell Bronk's serialized historical sketch of the Manchester, New York Baptist congregation was simultaneously published in The Chronicle A Baptist Historical Quarterly, XI:1 -- see that compilation for the remainder of Bronk's report.

Note 2: Rev. Bronk's information regarding Joseph Smith, Jr.'s attendance of services at the Manchester Baptist Church during the 1820s was evidently a reminiscence passed down to him from his grandfather, who was a member of the congregation at that time. See Rev. Bronk's article if the Feb. 21, 1934 isssue of the Enterprise, for the first known publication of this attendance claim.


The Democrat-Chronicle

Vol. ?                          Rochester N.Y., Sunday, November 18, 1951.                             No. ?

"The Mormon Exiles"

(read 1952 version of this article)


Note: A lengthy historical piece featuring a considerable amount of information related to Elder Sidney Rigdon's extended family in the post-Nauvoo era -- one of a series of articles on old New York that Arch Merrill wrote for the Democrat-Chronicle.


ns Vol. I.                     Belmont, New York, Thursday, April 16, 1959.                     No. 42.

Friendship Man's Secret Unknown.

We are indebted to O. O. Mulkin of Friendship for bringing the following clipping from the Olean Times Herald to our attention:

What secret lies buried in a Friendship grave that each year draws a pilgrimage of Mormon church leaders to its side?

The man who gave life to the mystery at the age of 83, died in 1876 -- it may have died with him.

Sidney Rigdon was born in Pennsylvania. His path crossed that of the Mormon leader, Joseph Smith. Later, the two forged a bond that would grow into one of the world's greatest religions.

It was while Rigdon was employed in Pittsburgh that book written by a man named Spaulding was brought to him to be printed. The volume depicted the American Indians as having been one of the Lost Tribes of Israel and it told fanciful tale of its settlement in America.

Some historians calculate that Rigdon provided Smith with a copy of the book and that it became the translated version of the "golden plates" Smith discovered on a hill near Palmyra.

Although Rigdon denied all connection with the Spaulding work, he became a close disciple of Smith. Persecuted, the two men fled westward to Kirtland, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Many times Rigdon was stoned and once was dragged over frozen ground until he was near death. He became a church leader and was considered next in authority to Smith himself. Once he was nominated for vice-president and Smith for president by the Mormons and their friends.

Following the Mormon adoption of polygamy and Smith's attempt to make Rigdon's attractive daughter, Antoninette [sic], his plural wife, Rigdon returned with his family to Pittsburgh. On hearing of Smith's death at the hands of a mob in Carthage, Illinois, he hastened back but was too late. Brigham Young had seized command and had Rigdon excommunicated. Rigdon made a half-hearted attempt to establish a rival church after his return east but soon gave it up.

After a few years spent in Pennsylvania, he moved to Allegany County and onto a farm on Jackson Hill near Cuba. In 1847 he moved to Friendship. The house in which he lived still stands on Main Street.

A figure now about whom many a tale had been spun, Rigdon declined to discuss his experiences, but let word slip shortly before his death that he carried a secret and intended to reveal it.

If he did have a secret worth telling, it went with him to his grave. Some forty years after Rigdon's death, several distinguished patriarchs from Salt Lake City appeared in Friendship, seeking the location of the Rigdon grave. They also asked permission to search papers and documents for a clue to the secret. The request was tersely denied by Rigdon's grandson, former Supreme Court Judge Jeremiah Hatch.

The Rigdon secret has intrigued generations, and some history sleuths believe it may have revealed his connection with the Mormon Bible. At any rate, just the hint of it has been enough for a handful of Mormon church representatives who each June, in Maple Grove Cemetery, stand and mark his passing.

Notes: (forthcoming)

Serving the Wayne County Towns of Palmyra, Macedon, Walworth and Marion

Vol. XLVI.                          Palmyra, N. Y., Thurs., Aug. 6, 1959.                             No. 18.




Since America was first heralded as a land of religious, freedom, it has become the home of a multitude of various religious sects. Almost every American sect had its origin in Europe, and grew in strength and popularity here in America. Every American, regardless of race or color, it allowed to follow his own religious beliefs, according to the Bill of Rights. A vast system of churches stretches across our country. Protestant and Catholic believers dwell in every section of our land.

There is, however, one particular religion which has aroused the attention of many Americans ever since it started. The Mormon faith originated in America, and has since grown to great strength despite endless persecution. It is therefore my purpose, in this essay to present the basic facts and principles of the Mormon religion; which is much disputed and little understood, and to try to erase any false beliefs which still exist.


Mormonism is the nickname for the system that embodies the principles and the spirit of original Christianity. Although the religion itself was born in the early part of the nineteenth century, it is indirectly traced back to very early times in history.

According'" to Mormon tradition, an adventure story lies behind the religion. Mormons believe there Were originally three colonies of people who came from the Old World and settled in America for twenty-five hundred years.

The first, group, led by a man named Jared, left the Eastern Continent, for what is now America, soon after the confusion, of tongues at the Tower of Babel. These people sailed across the sea, landed on thr North-American continent, and settled on the land. They grew prosperous, multiplied and later divided into two rival nations which exterminated each other until only one man was left. This man was called Coriantumr.

About six hundred B.C., the second group, led by Lehi, left Jerusalem set sail, and landed in South America. They too multiplied, and the descendants of two brothers, Nephi and Laman, became two nations.

The third party, led by Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah, left Jerusalem and also landed in South America. Four hundred years later they were discovered by the Nephites who united with them.

The Lamanites, descended from Laman, increased in number in North America. They were savages; yet they were great builders of civilization. The Nephites, descended from Nephi, displayed Christian methods and grew in numbers in South America, later spreading northward to North America. The two tribes joined and enjoyed two hundred years of peace, but then trouble came. The Lamanites received an apostasy and destroyed the Nephites. By three hundred eighty-four A.D., the Lamanites controlled the Western Hemisphere and ruled until Columbus discovered America.

Mormon was a commander of the Nephites and collected their sacred writings when he felt his tribe was in danger of being subdued. Mormon, the historian, wrote an abrigment of Nephite history on golden plates to be preserved for all time. These plates he entrusted to his son, Moroni who buried them in the Hill Cumorah in 421 A.D., near Palmyra, New York, where they rested until they were revealed to Joseph Smith by Moroni, a resurrected being.

However, Mormonism as a religion originated with the birth of Joseph Smith, the son of poor parents and relatives, on December 23, 1806, in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont.

In 1816, when Joseph was ten, his family moved to Palmyra and later bought a farm two miles south of Palmyra. They first built and lived in a log house of four rooms; two down and two upstairs. In 1822, they started to build the home on Stafford Road, Palmyra, and moved into it in 1823.

While the Smith family in general was respected in this neighborhood Joseph was often reviled for his ignorance and for his mysterious ways.

About the year 1820 there was a tremendous religious revival, and pastors were urging people to join their particular church. Although his mother, 2 brothers, and one sister joined the Presbyterian faith, Joseph was partial to the Methodist church but did not join it because his was confused and uncertain.

The education of Joseph Smith was very limited although he did have a good knowledge of the Holy Bible. One day when he was reading from the pages of this book, he found a certain passage, which aroused his attention. It reads:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."

These powerful words struck Joseph at a time when be was baffled with religious questions, and he decided to follow the words of the Bible, and ask God for wisdom.

He arose early the next morning and went to a woods near his home where be prayed to the Almighty. While he was intent upon his praying, a great force struck him so he could not speak. A pillar of light fell upon him, and two Heavenly Beings dressed in flowing robes stood before him. One of these Heavenly Beings called him by name, and Joseph knew at once that it was God and his Son Jesus, They forgave Joseph's sins and told him that none of the churches were right. It was revealed to Joseph by these two glorified personages that the Gospel of Jesus was yet to be restored and that he, Joseph, was to be an instrument in its restoration and the establishment of the true Church of Christ. Joseph was told to prepare for the work in God's kingdom which was to be his responsibility. These two blessed persons disappeared, and the first vision was over.

Joseph pondered much over his strange experiences. He was despised and persecuted by the townspeople for saying that he had received a vision from God. But as time passed the suspicion toward his family and him passed and they were again accepted by their neighbors.

During the next few years Joseph is reported to have had several heavenly visitations. One particular vision, however, merits our attention. On the night of September 21, 1822, Joseph was praying for forgiveness of his sins when a brilliant light flooded his room and a glorified person stood near the foot of his bed. Joseph was frightened but managed to grasp the significance of the vision. The exalted person told Joseph that he was God's messenger, Moroni.

(This is believed to be the same resurrected Moroni who buried the records of the early American tribes so many centuries ago.)

Moroni informed Joseph that he was to have an important task in the world. He also told Joseph that there was a book, written on golden plates and giving an account of the early inhabitants of the land, buried in a certain hill. On these plates, also, would be found the fulness of the Gospel as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient people. With the golden plates there would be two stones in silver bows fastened to a breast-plate. These instruments, known as Urim and Thummim, were to be used in translating the golden plates.

Moroni further quoted prophesies from the Old and New Testaments. He warned Joseph not to tell anyone of these plates which contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. With this bit of warning, the greatest vision ever received by Joseph was over. Joseph was stunned by his strange vision, and minutes later the angel reappeared to him and repeated the same story. The angel had convinced Joseph that he was destined for a part in God's kingdom.

On the following day after this remarkable vision concerning the golden plates, the angel again appeared to him and told him to inform his father of his visions and commandments. Joseph did as he had been instructed and was ordered to carry out the commandments of the angel.

So Joseph, led by a vision, went to a large hill which has since been named Hill Cumorah, which is located near Palmyra, New York. On the west side of the hill near the top, he found a box containing the golden plates. While he was marvelling over the plates, the angel again appeared to him, the heavens opened, and two figures were shown to Joseph. They were the Lord and the Prince of Darkness, which represented good and evil and were shown to Joseph so that he might be able to distinguish between them and wipe out the wicked one, the Prince of Darkness.

Joseph was informed that the plates were sealed by a prayer of faith and contained the Gospel of Jesus as if was given to the early inhabitants of the continent. Joseph would not be allowed to take the plates until four years from that day.

News of Joseph's second vision spread to his neighbors through a friend of the Smith family, Martin Harris, who was the first person to believe Joseph's ideas. He was a religious enthusiast and later joined Joseph to form the new religion.

Sometime after Joseph's second vision, Josiah Stoal came to Palmyra and persuaded Joseph to accompany him to Pennsylvania to dig for gold and hidden treasure. Joseph took this opportunity as he was being persecuted at home. In Chenango County, Pennsylvania, Joseph boarded at the home of Isaac Hale where he met Emma Hale, who became his wife on January 18, 1827.

This trip which Joseph took subjected him to much ridicule. He was called everything from a "gold digger" to a "treasure seeker." Any absurd story was synonymous with his name.

On September 22, l827, Joseph went to Hill Cumorah for his annual meeting with Moroni. [There] in a vision he received instructions for translating and caring for the records given him. Then the golden plates, Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate were entrusted to him.

People soon learned that Joseph had received some miraculous plates. But Joseph, true to his word, told them that the plates were a sacred charge and that no one else could see them. He kept these plates hidden under a hearth stone in the Smith home and tried to translate them when he was alone.

In order to complete the translation in privacy, Joseph and his wife moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, the home of his father-in-law. Martin Harris, by now Joseph's best friend and ally, gave him fifty dollars to help cover the expenses in translating the plates. Joseph spent all his time in working on the plates with the aid of the Urim and Thummim.

After Joseph had copied the characters and made a beginning translation, Martin Harris took this manuscript to New York, to be valued [sic] by Professor Charles Anthon who said they were Egyptian,- Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic. He would not give him the plates because they were sealed. However, when he discovered the truth of how Joseph had found the plates, he tore up the certificate which he had made, saying that the characters were genuine and refused to be a part of any such religious fantasy.

In 1828, Harris returned to Harmony, and he and Joseph began the translation of the plates. The first plate contained the writing of Lehi, a minor prophet, who warned that Jerusalem would destroyed and led a colony to the wilderness, across the ocean, and to the west coast of South America.

When Harris and Smith had completed a translation of the plates satisfactory to themselves, Harris took the manuscript to Palmyra and showed it to his friends who would not believe that such a thing could be trae. A tragedy occurred when the manuscript was stolen and never found. This happened because Joseph had disobeyed his orders. Also, Moroni took the plates from him along with the Urim and Thummim and did not return them to his possession until September, 1828.

Another person, Oliver Cowdery, a school teacher who boarded with the Smiths, became interested in Joseph's story. He offered to help in the translation of the rest the plates, and visited Joseph on April 5, 1829. Then the two began the trinslation with Oliver acting as scribe.

On May 15, 1828, when Oliver and Joseph were praying in the. woods, an angel, believed to be John the Baptist, acting under the direction of Peter, James, and John, came to them and conferred the Priesthood of Aaron upon them. Joseph and Oliver baptized and ordained each other into the Aaronic Priesthood, and thus received the Holy Ghost and prophesied concerning the rise of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored soon thereafter).

After the memorable experience, of the conferring of the Aaronic Priesthood upon them, Joseph and Oliver were more able to translate the plates. However, they were often threatened, by mobs, Joseph's father-in-law, Isaac Hale, had to protect them.

While translating the plates, Oliver and Joseph discovered that the Lord wouid provide three witnesses to the sacred plates. One day Oliver, Joseph, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer, who had since joined the group, went to woods to pray. They prayed vocally for several hours but received no answer. Harris withdrew from the rest thinking he was the reason for their inability to receive a vision. An angel then appeared to Oliver, David and Joseph and showed them the plates, revealed to them by God's power, and translated through Him. Joseph went to Harris who was praying in another part of the woods, and praying together, they received the same vision. Thus, these three, men, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer were the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, which now carries their testimony...

Later at the banks of the Susquehanna River, the Melchizedek Priesthood which was restored prior to the Three Witnesses manifestation, by Peter, James, and John, Christ's chief Apostles, who came as resurrected beings, was received by Joseph and Oliver from them.

Joseph Smith received the copyright for The Book of Mormon on June 11, 1829. After the translation was finished, Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer and Hiram Page gathered at Joseph's home to discuss plans for the publication of the book.

In July, 1829, eight more men gave their testimony to the Book of Mormon... Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jun., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith.

Three of these eight died out of the church, but not one of them denied his testimony concerning the Book of Mormon.

After this Moroni reappeared to Joseph and ordered him to return the plates to "Hill Cumorah and Joseph obeyed him. When he reached the hill, it opened up, and he went into a room, saw a table on which were the records of the Nephites, and deposited the plates on that table.

After much, deliberation, E. B. Grandin of Palmyra, New York, manager and owner of the Wayne County Sentinel, agreed to publish the Book of Mormon and make five thousand copies for three thousand dollars. The Book of Mormon was written on fools-cap paper in solid block form, without capitals or punctuation. The title page said: "Joseph Smith, Author and Proprietor."

Martin Harris mortgaged his home to guarantee payment of the publication of the book. When it failed to sell, Harris had to sell one hundred fifty acres of his land to meet the cost of the book. The Book of Mormon proved to be a source of controversy. Some people believed that Joseph had stolen it from the Spaulding story, which had been written some years before.

Many converts were added to the new faith started by Joseph Smith. From Palmyra, the converts were Oliver Cowdery, Samuel Lawrence, Martin Harris, Preserved Harris, Peter Ingersol, Charles Lord, and George Proper. Ziba Peterson and Calvin Stoddard joined the faith from Macedon, New York. Ezra Thayer came from Brighton, Lee Walters from Pultneyville, Hiram Page from Phelps, Orin Rockwell and Gad Stafford from Manchester. In all about twenty converts were baptized by Joseph and Oliver.


The twenty converts and many other persons interested in the Mormon principles met at the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, for the purpose of organizing a church, Joseph Smith presided over the meeting and told the audience that he was commanded by the Lord to organize a church which would be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [sic - Church of Christ?]. Joseph also explained his heavenly manifestation, the Holy Priesthood, and the keys of the apostleship giving him authority to officiate to Christ's names. The people accepted Joseph as a teacher in God's kingdom. Then Joseph ordained Oliver Cowdery as an elder in the newly founded church, and Oliver likewise ordained Joseph. All members present at this meeting took communion and received the Holy Ghost. Certain members of the new church were ordained as officers of the Priesthood and held the confidence, faith, and prayers of the entire church body.

At this first meeting Joseph Smith organized the Mormon Church with six members. They were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Samuel Smith, and David Whitmer.

Another meeting was held at the home of Peter Whitmer on April 11, 1830. At that time Oliver Cowdery preached his first public discourse on the new gospel six more members were added to the church by baptism and confirmation. Then, on April 18, seven more members joined the folds of the new faith

Meanwhile Joseph and Oliver moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, on the invitation of Joseph Knight of Colesville, New York. In Colesville they baptized more converts and established the first branch of the Mormon Church.

The first church conference was held in Fayette, New York, on June 1, 1830, with over thirty members present. After this meeting Joseph was unable to return Colesville because public opinion was too much against him. Joseph received a Warrant for arrest on the charge of claiming he received a revelation direct from God. He was arrested in Broome County but was not convicted, for there was no evidence against him.

In August 1830, Parley Pratt born in Canaan, Columbia County, New York, came to Newark, New York. He was a disciple of Alexander Campbell who organized a religious sect of disciples. Pratt was a Bible student and could not believe in Campbell's source of authority. Thus, Pratt decided to start out on his own and, preach in Newark. There he heard about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon which interested him greatly. Hyrum Smith, brother of Joseph, told Pratt about the events leading to the translation and the publication of the Book of Mormon. Pratt became convinced of the truth of the Mormon faith and was baptized in Seneca Lake by Oliver Cowdery. He later became a member of the Mormon Church and was ordained as an elder sometime later. Pratt was an active, member in the Mormon Church and a strong pillar in the Mormon faith.

Another meeting of the newly-organized church was held in Peter Whitmer's home on September 1, 1830, when matters pertaining to doctrines and church organization were discussed and explained, but opposition grew steadily toward Joseph and his new religion. Three hundred men gathered to rid the country of Joseph Smith whom they believed to be a disturbing element in the land.

In a conference held on September 24, 1830, Cowdery, Pratt, Peter Whitmer and Ziba Peterson were sent on a mission to the Indians. These men went to Mentor, Ohio, and met Sidney Rigdon, Pratt's former pastor. They held a meeting in his church; this meeting greatly impressed the people. One hundred twenty-seven persons were baptized and admitted to the Mormon Church. Rigdon was ordained to carry on the local missionary work. Later Rigdon and Edward Partridge of Kirtland, Ohio, west to Fayette, New York, to meet Joseph. Orson Pratt joined them there, and these three men became strong members of the church.

At a church conference, it was decided that Kirtland. Ohio, would become the home of the Latter-Day Saints. Rigdon, Partridge, and Joseph Smith moved to Kirtland February 1, 1831, to effect a perfect organization of the Mormon Church in that city. They built a beautiful temple in Kirtland which was soon thronged by hundreds of Mormon followers.

However, they were persecuted so much in Kirtland that a group of them went to Illinois, where they founded a prosperous community, naming it Nauvoo, which means beautiful. But their enemies rose up against them, and Joseph and his brother Hyrum, were forced to leave Nauvoo, and return to Carthage, Illinois where their enemies [seized] them and thrust them in jail. Here, on June 27, 1844, he was killed by a mob while waiting trial on a variety of false charges. Hyrum was killed by a bullet fired by the enemy through the jail door which was still closed and locked.

During Joseph's fourteen years of ministry he was arrested, tried, accused of almost every crime known to man, was called names which are usually applied only to men of disreputable character, and at the time of his murder was being tried for treason.

Joseph is called a prophet of God by his followers. The Mormon Church has its foundations in Joseph's revelations, the truths he taught and the authority of the Priesthood restored in him, which Joseph tells about in his own story. He was the first President of the Mormon Church and restored the pure gospel of Jesus to be applied to everyday life. He translated the Book of Mormon, organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints under the guidance of the Lord, and revealed the doctrine of the Church.

He was a material leader, building a temple at Kirtland, Ohio, founding the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, starting schools and universities, building other cities, and planning for the welfare of his people through agricultural and industrial organizations.

A builder of human welfare, a spiritual teacher, and a doctrinal leader, he taught the Bible and preached the restored Gospel of Christ, complete and well-organized. Joseph gave the world a rational idea of the origin of man....

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                              Binghamton, N.Y., Sunday, July 17, 1960.                                No. ?

Susquehanna's First Settlement

Great Bend Celebrating Centennial


Sunday Press Correspondent

Great Bend, Pa. -- Great Bend, which last night began a week-long centennial celebration of its incorporation as a borough, was the first settlement in Susquehanna County.

Naturally, a number of firsts are attributed to Great Bend: the first white child born in the county, Enoch Bishop Merriman (or Merriam) born in 1787, the first church, the first doctor and the first postmaster. The bodies of the first minister, and of the first murderer to be hanged in the county, are buried in Great Bend cemeteries. Great Bend was settled by men from New England who had camped in the region with General Sullivan's Army in 1779 and who had remembered the beauty of the region and recognized its possibilities.

When cautioned about the abundance of wild animals in the area, they are quoted as saying they were not afraid of bears "after hearing Ethan Allen swear."

Great Bend township, which included Harmony, Oakland and Hallstead, as well as Great Bend, was known as Willingborough (sometimes Wheelingboro) until 1814.

In the late 1800s the railroad station stop was called Lodersville for a time in honor of the president of the Erie railroad. However, the location of the town where the Susquehanna River turns sharply to the north to reenter New York State seemed to make the same Great Bend most appropriate.

Great Bend had the first church in the county, a Congregational church which later changed to the Presbyterian denomination, and eventually became the First Presbyterian Church of Hallstead, across the river.

The first minister, the Rev. Daniel Buck, usually called "Priest" Buck, lived for a while near Red Rock, then moved to the Flats in the vicinity of the Carl farm. Mr. Buck probably was the first doctor in the county. His grave and, that of his second wife, are in the Episcopal burying ground in Great Bend.

The Newman Cemetery just outside the borough contains the unmarked grave of a person who achieved distinction in a far different way -- Jason Treadwell who was hanged in 1825 on the first gallows ever erected in Susquehanna County.

Mr. Treadwell was convicted of the murder of Oliver Harper of Lanesboro. His death sentence occasioned a long and heated discussion in the newspapers and among the people on the subject of capital punishment.

A school, the second in the county (the first was in Harford) was established in one room of a log dwelling in 1800. Early schoolmasters were Alba Dimon and Abijah Barnes. The school term was of only a few months duration each year. The teachers were not especially trained, but usually were chosen from among the better educated farmers or mechanics.

A male teacher earned about $8 a month, and a woman about half that amount. When Great Bend built a schoolhouse. the teacher's salary was raised to $10 a month.

The first church building was a combination church and school. 20 by 40 feet, erected not far from where the railroad now crosses Church Street. It had a partition which could be let down to form two classrooms and pulled up for church services. The building was available to any denomination that wanted to worship there.

The steeple atop the building was suggested by a humorous resident who expressed himself as so eager to see something in the valley pointing to heaven that he would contribute an extra $10 toward a belfry.

Others increased their contributions, too, and the steeple was built. It was painted white, but the building itself was never painted. However, at a time when most of the people were living in log houses with roofs made of slabs split out of logs or hemlock boughs, the church was a frame building with sawed pine siding and covered with pine shingle.

Regular mail service was established in 1798 with a messenger bringing the mail from Wilkes-Barre once every two weeks. Letter postage cost about 20 cents then.

Among the early doctors in Great Bend was a Dr. Jonathan Gray who advertised that he would charge 25 cents for every mile or under that he had to travel and a dollar for every six hours he sat by the bedside of a patient with a fever.

However, he offered his services free of charge to anybody who could prove himself less able to pay than the doctor was to go without the money, whatever that statement meant.

Dr. Eleazar Parker, who came to Great Bend in 1807, has a number of "firsts" to his credit. He performed a bronchotomy, removing a watermelon seed from a little girl's lung, and introduced vaccination against smallpox into the county.

He became Susquehanna County's first postmaster in 1808, preceding by one month the appointment of a postmaster in Bridgewater appropriately named I. Post.

When the borough was established, with R. T. Stephens as its first burgess, Great Bend had four or five hotels, three churches and several small industries, in addition to the usual places of business.

Changing needs and ways, largely brought about by modern transportation, have decreased the number of hotels to one and have caused the Erie Railroad to discontinue passenger service.

Many men of the town formerly employed by the railroad have been forced to find other work. The old carriage factory site now is occupied by a factory making castings of aluminum, a metal not in use in 1860. Other industries have gone, but new ones have replaced them.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                              Utica, N.Y., Thursday, August 8, 1963.                                No. ?

21st Hill Cumorah Pageant Opens

Oneida County may well have played host for a short time to a modern Moses; a man many believe was directed by God to transcribe buried plates into what is now the Book of Mormon....

In 1817, the family of 12-year-old Joseph Smith was driven by poverty from the hills of Vermont and traveled across New York State -- very likely through Oneida County -- to Palmyra.

Neighbors did not like the Smiths. They were, it was said. given to belief in revelations, and spent most of their time digging for buried treasure in the surrounding hills....

In 1830 the first Book of Mormon was published...

Critics of Mormonism have charged historical aspects of the Book of Mormon bear remarkable resemblance to a book written in 1816 by a Presbyterian minister, Solomon Spaulding. They also say that the books theology was perpetrated by revivalist Sidney Rigdon, who they say often visited Joseph during the "translation."

They charge that during Joseph's original description of his "vision" he never mentioned God or an angel, but told only of a bleeding ghost. The first detail of heavenly apparitions is given, they say, in the Prophet's autobiography published -- in 1838 -- [and] actually "ghosted" by Rigdon.

The critics point to the Smith-Rigdon translation of the Bible as rewritten, in part, to prophesy of the coming of a redeemer named Joseph.

Yet, for two million believers the visions of a teen-ager on Hill Cumorah are the seeds of a religion that eventually traveled westward with Brigham Young.

It is this vision which was celebrated last night.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                     Belmont, New York, Thursday, May 20, 1965.                     No. ?

Friendship Man's Secret Unknown.

Due to the work in research of the publicity division of the Sesquicentennial much information on our past residents has come to light. Among some of our elder settlers was one Sidney Rigdon and his wife, Phebe.

They came to Friendship in 1847, lived first on Depot Street, then moved in with their daughter and son-in-law, the E. B. Wingates, in the house next to the Fire Hall.

This house was last occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Buzzard, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Buzzard, Jr. Here Sidney Rigdon lived for 27 years and died on July 14, 1878.

His family of 12 children had all moved away and passed on, so very little mention has been made of any of them since the late 1920's. In correspondence with the church and conversation with their elders, we have discovered many interesting facts about Sidney and their beliefs.

On May 6, H. Lester Petersen, president of the Cumorah Mission, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon); Elder Grant M. Andrus, director of Hill Cumorah Bureau of Information; Elder Young and Elder Botts (both from Utah), missionaries working in the Dansville area, came to Friendship to discuss our plans for the Sesqui and how they could participate in them. It was definitely decided a religious service should take place but it was impossible to set a date.

On May 13th, President Petersen and Elder Andrus returned and after a meeting with Sesqui members and Rev. Robert E. Washer, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fnendship, it was decided they will hold their service at the First Baptist Church at 1 p.m., on July, 25th. They will bring a bus load of their talent, hand, plus a choir. They will all be busy rehearsing for the Palmyra Pageant to begin July 27th through the 31st. This service will be open to the public. Richard L. Evans, one of the present 12 apostles of the Modern-Day Church of Jesus Christ, has been contacted as speaker and will be here if he can work it in his schedule.

Mr. Buzzard has offered his house (the one Sidney Rigdon lived in) to the Sesqui Committee, and if all the details can be worked out they plan to have it open during the Sesqui celebration. President Petersen has assured them that if possible two elders of the church will be on hand all through the week to inform people and answer their questions. Here is an opportunity to learn how some of our fellow men worship and to better understand why....

Note: See also the Friendship, NY Sesqui-Centennial Times of July 25-31 1965.



Vol. 92.                      Shortsville, N.Y., Thursday, January 5, 1967.                         No. 51.

Manchester Baptist Church
To Observe 170th Birthday

The First Baptist Church of Manchester will celebrate the 170th anniversary of its founding next week at a "Reunion and Rededication Sunday" on January 8, and at the annual church meeting on Wednesday, January 11th....

This account of the organization of the First Baptist Church of Manchester is taken from "Mancheser in the Early Days" written by William H. Brown and first published in 1871 in the Ontario County Times, and later reprinted in the Enterprise:
"On the 24th day of November 1796, at the residence of John McLouth, there were assembled together a few persons who were desirous of advancing the cause of Christ in the new settlement; the following was the result of their prayerful deliberations and consultations. We quote from the records of the church:

"Farmington, Ontario County, and State of New York. 24th day of November 1796. A number of Brethern and Sisters of the Baptist order, from different parts, being awakened to a sense of their duty, and finding some desire to promote that innocent cause of Christ here in this plantation, and conferring upon the same, agreed to write to Elder David Irish, of Scipio, to come, with some of his brethern, and on the 14th day of January, 1797, came the Elder and Brethern Timothy Baker and Asa Caswell, from Scipio and Aurelius.

"Jan. 18th -- The Brethren and Sisters present, held a conference to see if we could unite in church fellowship. Sent a request to the churches of Scipio and Aurelius to send the Elder and Brethern to sit in Council with us the 11th of February next, to see if they could give us fellowship as a Church of Christ in sister relation to them.

"Farmington, February 11th, 1797 -- By a request from a number of Baptist brethren and sisters a council met; from the church in Scipio, Elder David Irish and Brother Smiten lrish; from Aurelius church, Brethren Timothy Baker, Samuel Chapin and Samuel Austin. Chose Elder D. Irish Moderator, and John McLouth Clerk. Looked into their situation to see if we could give them fellowship as a Church of Christ in Gospel order. The brethren of the council consulted upon the matter and adjourned to the 13th day, at 10 o'clock.

"February 13th -- The Council above mentioned, after due deliberation, gave us fellowship as the First Baptist Church of Farmington.

"That when Elder David Irish made Ms visit, in company with the brethren Baker and Caswell, to this community, which was thirsting for 'the waters of life,' he must have held religious services and preached to his friends words of encouragement, congratulation and advice, may we think he safely assumed; and so we locate the first religious meeting of our pioneers, at the house of John McLouth, on the 14tih day of January, 1797. Here they assembled themselves together to reverence and worship that Higher Power which [they] devoutly believed had thus far been round about them in their struggles with the difficulties which they had been compelled to meet and conquer. The hands which were calloused and wearied by the constant use of the ax and the flail, now supported brows which were bent reverently in prayer. Those voices, whose principal occupation had been to 'whoa, haw' the teams of oxen through devious intricacies of the forest roads, were now joined in songs of praise and thanksgiving. Undoubtedly their singing was not of the operatic order; they were, in all probability, destitute of any musical instrument whatever to assist them in their devotional exercises; they were not instructed by a Chapin or a Cuyler; but who can doubt that their orthodoxy was not as acceptable as that of a Patton, their love, for Christ as all-embracing and liberal as that of a Beecher or a Swing?

"Although, this organization was christened in its infancy 'The First Baptist Church of Farmington,' still all of its church edifices were erected in the present limits of Manchester, and then the division of the town occurred in later years [1882], it, too, changed its name, so that now, as it has been for years, it is known as 'The First Baptist Church of Manchester.' But not only was this the first church organized in the town, but it also claims, with a little justifiable pride, to be the first Baptist church which was ever formed or organized in this State west of Cayuga Lake."
John McLouth's log house was located just south of the present Lehigh Valley Railroad underpass on Route 21. Church members continued to meet in his home until 1810, when a stone meeting house was erected nearby at a cost of $9,000. In 1849 the present site on South Main Street, about a half mile to the north, was purchased and a frame building erected, which cost $3,200. In 1890, a baptistry was added to replace use of the Canandaigua Outlet for baptisms. On Oct. 10, 1900, a third building was dedicated. This cost $5,250. It is basically the present building, often repaired and remodeled, and on which extensive work was done in 1964.

Note 1: For a near contemporary photograph of the Manchester Baptist chapel see the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle of Jan. 11, 1939. A mention of Joseph Smith's attendance of this comgregation's early meetings was published in the Shortsville Enterprise of Feb. 4, 1948.

Note 2: Mor background information on this congregation see "Town of Manchester" in the 1876 History of Ontario Co. and "The Town of Manchester" in the 1911 A History of Ontario County



Vol. ?                              Rochester, N.Y., April 25, 1974.                                No. ?

Palmyra Cave Mormon 'Holy Ground?'


PALMYRA -- A cave that may have been used by Mormon prophet Joseph Smith about 150 years ago is being uncovered by a local farmer. Smith, who was born in Palmyra founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Children discovered the cave about 11 years ago, but eventually mud and dirt blocked the entrance. Bulldozers have cleared the cave opening after the farmer decided last week to investigate the 20-foot long cave,

"I really think I've got something here," said Andrew H. Kommer, the farmer on whose land the cave is located.

The cave is about 7 feet high and 8 feet wide and is carved into a rock-hard clay hillside. It is about a quarter mile off Miner Road south of Palmyra. Yesterday Kommer and two other men prepared to protect the cave from the public by installing 1 1/2 inch iron bars and locked doors. Kommer, 60, who is not a Mormon, said that "ever since my childhood I have heard rumors about a cave." Kommer purchased his Palmyra farm in 1952. Shortly afterward he hired a bulldozer operator to uproot bushes on the hill, he said.

"This was done in the fall," he said. "During the following spring the rains washed the soil down the hill and a small cavity developed on the east side of the hill. I became aware of the opening by some children in the neighborhood who had been scouting around on the slope of the hill."

The children walked through the hole and into the cave, They reported the discovery to their parents.

"It happened about 11 years ago," said Donald Nichols, father of one of the children involved. Nichols yesterday helped Kommer and Gerald Henderson at Palmyra fasten bars and doors to the cave. Over the past decade the hole leading to the cave filled with dirt.

"I have always hoped to learn what might exist underground at that particular spot," said Kommer yesterday. He said a bulldozer was hired to do work on his farm last week and that he decided to have the dozer dig near the cave site.

The cave was built so that water would drain away from it. The walls and ceiling of the cave appear to have been dug or picked by hand. According to Kommer, a few years ago a Mormon visiting Palmyra tried to reach the cave but was stymied by the concrete-like hillside.

An article in the New York Herald on June 25, 1893, told of the cave being located on the hill. A landslide had made the cave inaccessible to the public. The Mormon prophet had [evidently] constructed doors to the cave, which have since rotted, the article said. In digging this week some rotten door planks were uncovered.

The unearthing of the cave this week may clear up a mystery about the exact location of the cave. According to a book written in the 1920s by historian Thomas Cook, "no trace of the old Joe Smith cave can be found."

Note 1: A photograph accompanying the above article bears this caption: "Andrew Kommer, right, assisted by Don Nichols, left, and Gerald Henderson, enclose entrance to cave that may have been used by Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Note 2: Palmyra editor Abner Cole was perhaps the first person to publicize Joseph Smith's excavation exploits south of Palmyra. According to Dan Vogel, Cole was particularly interested in Smith's activities around what later came to be called "Miner's Hill," because he had owned that piece of property a few years before the proto-Mormons dug their tunnel into the hillside: "The Locations of Joseph Smith's Early Treasure Quests," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Fall 1994) pp. 204-207. In his Reflector for Jan. 18, 1831, Cole contrasts the prophetic careers of Smith and "the impostor of Mecca," noting that "Mahomet... retired to a cave in mount Hara, where he... [received] passages which he pretended had been revealed to him by the ministering angel." In his issue of Feb. 14, 1831 Mr. Cole says a little about the Smith family's money-digging and mentions the money-diggers' claims that "great treasures" of the "Ancient inhabitants" of the region "remained secure" from theft "in large and spacious chambers" in the earth, in and around Ontario county, New York. In his 1830 "Book of Pukei" satires, Cole makes further mention of the local money-diggers' preoccupation with " treasures, hidden in the bowels of the earth," but he does not specifically refer to their activities at Miner's Hill.

Note 3: The next writer to offer significant relevant comments on the Ontario county digging was reporter James G. Bennett of the New York City  Morning Courier and Enquirer. In that paper's issue for Aug. 31, 1831 Bennett informed his readers, that "A few years ago the Smith's... caught an idea that money was hid in several of the hills which give variety to the country between the Canandaigua Lake and Palmyra... the Smith's and their associates commenced digging, in the numerous hills... in the town of Manchester... On the sides & in the slopes of several of these hills, these excavations are still to be seen." To this report, Bennett added the strange intelligence, that a "famous Ohio man made his appearance" in the midst of the New York money-diggers -- a "Henry Rangdon or Ringdon" -- and that when "this person" (the Rev. Sidney Rigdon) "appeared among them, a splendid excavation was begun in a long narrow hill, between Manchester and Palmyra... Ringdon partly uniting with them in their operations." How much truth may reside in this story, it is difficult to say; but from 1831 forward there were certain people who declared that Sidney Rigdon was more or less secretly connected with the mysterious hillside excavations made south of the Smith home.

Note 4: Eber D. Howe's 1834 book, Mormonism Unvailed, was written and published at a considerable distance away from the Ontario digs, but Howe's associate, D. P. Hurlbut, in 1833, managed to collect a few scraps of useful information in the Palmyra area. In a statement signed by 51 citizens of Palmyra, those local folks certified that the Smiths "spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures."William Stafford, a Manchester resident interviewed by Hurlbut, testified that the Smiths "would say, also, that nearly all the hills in this part of New York, were thrown up by human hands, and in them were large caves" and that in these hidden hill chambers were "large gold bars and silver plates." In examining the 1833 statements collected by Hurlbut, the modern reader gains the impression that the Mormon Smith family asserted that practically every pile of glacial gravel in their neighborhood was an ancient Nephite mound, full of secret chambers, accessible only by tunneling in from the outside.

Note 5: Although local residents in the Manchester area knew, from an early day, that Joseph Smith, Jr. and his diggers had tunneled into Miner's Hill, further publication of information on the cave construction appears to have been lacking until Pomeroy Tucker's Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism came out in 1867. Tucker wrote about Joseph Smith's money digging and occasional concealment in dark chambers, as early as May 26, 1858, but he did not provide any specific details regarding the cave in Miner's Hill until his 1867 book was published. On pp. 48-49 of that work, Tucker reports: "The work of [Book of Mormon] translation this time [1829] had been done in the recess of a dark artificial cave, which Smith had caused to be dug in the east side of the forest-hill near his residence, now owned by Mr. Amos Miner... [others said he] only went into the cave to pay his spiritual devotions and seek the continued favor of Divine Wisdom. His stays in the cave varied from fifteen minutes to an hour or over -- the entrance meanwhile being guarded by one or more of his disciples... This excavation was at the time said to be one hundred and sixty feet in extent... [with] a substantial door of two-inch plank, secured by a corresponding lock. From the lapse of time and natural causes the cave has been closed for years, very little mark of its former existence remaining to be seen. Like James G. Bennett before him, Tucker introduced the secretive presence of Sidney Rigdon into his telling of the Mormon story. Although Tucker's account allows for the possibility that Rigdon occasionally "hid up" his reverend self in the Miner's Hill cave, the writer does not specifically make that claim -- nor does he offer much in the way of evidence demonstrating Rigdon's secret presence among the Smiths in New York or Pennsylvania.

Note 6: Most subsequent accounts of Smith's Miner's Hill tunnel appear to have been directly or indirectly influenced by Tucker's 1867 account. One narrative not dependent upon Tucker was an 1861 British novel, that put Smith and Rigdon together, operating both money and scriptural counterfeiting schemes, by torch-light, inside just such a cave -- the novel even supplies a fanciful illustration of the nefarious business. A more substantive account was offered as supplementary evidence by Rev. Clark Braden in the 1884 Braden-Kelley Debate, conducted in Kirtland, Ohio. Rev. Braden quotes Samantha Stafford Payne thusly: "She was a schoolmate of Smith. His reputation was bad... After Smith came back from Pennsylvania, his followers dug a cave in a hillside not far from here. They conducted the work of getting up Mormonism in it. I was in it once. It can be seen to-day. The present owner of the farm, Mr. Miner, dug out the cave, which had fallen in. The cave had a large, heavy plate door and a padlock on it. The neighbors broke it open one night, and found in it a barrel of flour, some mutton, some sheep pelts, and two sides of leather..." Braden probably quoted Samantha's testimony from a now lost article published in the Michigan Cadillac Weekly News of April 6, 1880. A Samantha Payne affidavit, dated June 29, 1881, was published in the Ontario County Times of July 27, 1881, but it contains no mention of Miner's Hill.

Note 7: The publication of statements like those made by Samantha Payne stirred some Mormon elders to conduct interviews among the Smith's old neighbors and publish the more or less favorable results in their own periodicals. The RLDS Saints' Herald of June 1, 1881 contains a number of these generally positive reminiscences regarding the Mormon Smith family. However, since the interview texts were censored prior to publication, the unpublished interviewers' notes (now in the Dan Vogel document series) should be consulted to obtain more accurate and complete readings. Lorenzo Saunders saw the Smiths digging in Miner's Hill prior to the close of 1825. Saunders also told one interviewer that Smith informed him that it was "in a cave, where I began the first translation of the inspired pages." Ezra Pierce recalled that Abel Chase had visited "the cave with the Smiths where the sheep bones were found." He added, "people used to think they were making counterfeit money" in the tunnel -- which, by 1881, was "all caved in." Major John H. Gilbert said that Smith and his helper(s) "translated" the Book of Mormon "in a cave;" but he probably took this idea from Tucker's book. Nevertheless, Elder George Reynolds reprinted Gilbert's allegation in his "Joseph Smith's Youthful Life," published in the Juvenile Instructor for Oct. 1, 1882, and Elder Rudolph Etzenhouser repeated the same in his 1894 book, From Palmyra to Independence. See also George Q. Cannon's acknowledgement of the mysterious cave in his July 5, 1873 Juvenile Instructor piece, "Visit to the Land and Hill of Cumorah."

Note 8: Around the turn of the century the old neighbors' recollections of events at Miner's Hill began to take on a surrealistic tone. Following Tucker's 1867 lead, the survivors and their interviewers seemed convinced that Joseph Smith did his Book of Mormon translation in a hidden chamber, such as the one he dug in Miner's Hill. Palmyra historian Thomas Cook says, in his Palmyra and Vicinity, that Smith encountered his ministering angel in "a cave. There he would meet him and reveal to him the hieroglyphics on the golden plates." Walter H. McIntosh, in his History of Wayne Co., N. Y., states that the final stage of the Book of Mormon translation "was effected... within a cave dug in the east side of the forest hill." Accounts by Daniel Hendrix were published in 1899 and 1905, in which he asserted that "The copy for the Book of Mormon was prepared in a cave that Smith and others dug... on Gold Hill... Some one of the converts was constantly about the mouth of the cave, and no one but Smith and Alvin [sic, Oliver?] Cowdry... were allowed to go through the mouth of the cave. Rigdon had some hopes of converting me, and I was permitted to go near the door, but not so much as to peep inside. Smith... read aloud, and Cowdry, who was seated on the other side of a screen or partition in the cave, wrote down the words as pronounced by Joe."

Note 9: Perhaps the most whimsical reconstruction of events inside Miner's Hill was the account penned by the Rev. Dr. William H. Whitsitt, in his 1891 manuscript, "Sidney Rigdon, The Real Founder of Mormonism." On pp. 394-396 Whitsitt says: "Lucy Smith declares that... 'my husband, Samuel and Hyrum retired to a place where the family were in the habit of offering up their secret devotions to God'... likely the cave that is mentioned by Pomeroy Tucker, who says that Smith had caused a dark artificial cave to be dug in the east side of the forest hill near his residence, now owned by Mr. Amos Miner. Mr. Tucker adds that Joseph was accustomed to spend some of his time in this cave, of which the entrance was meanwhile guarded by one or more of his disciples... [here] it would be easy for Sidney [Rigdon] to secrete himself ... [and] When the eight fresh witnesses were duly assembled in this favorable situation, Mr. Rigdon would experience no special embarrassment in playing the role of an angel... It may be supposed that Rigdon had the entire [Spalding] manuscript at hand in a... rear portion of the cave... [where] the witnesses were invited to inspect... the matter... Lucy Smith reports... 'the angel again made his appearance to Joseph, at which time Joseph delivered up the plates into the angel's hands'... [this] signifies that Sidney came forward from the recesses of the cavern to which he had recently retired took.... the manuscript, and set forth on his journey back to his home in Mentor Ohio." On pp. 515-516 Whitsitt adds the following to his reconstruction: "Lucy Smith declares... the family were ejected... during the Spring of 1829, and went to reside with their son Hyrum Smith... in Manchester...Hither was brought... the recently completed manuscript of the Book of Mormon; here was prepared the curious artificial cave... for the purpose of guarding that treasure from harm... hence were carried from day to day that portion of the copy... [which was] safe to intrust to the printers... The homestead is now said to be owned by Mr. Amos Miner..." Whitsitt is obviously wrong in many particulars of time and space -- but he still manages to offer his readers a fascinating tale of Sidney Rigdon's intrigues in the artificial cave.


Vol. ?                              Syracuse, N. Y., May 1, 1974.                                No. ?

Mormons Find No Cave Link

PALMYRA -- Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City announce that no apparent record has been found to indicate a cave recently uncovered near Palmyra was dug by Mormon prophet Joseph founder of the Church. Hill Cumorah is two miles south of the cave uncovered on Miner's Hill by Andrew Kommer, a Palmyra farmer. A spokesman for the church -- [the] church's historian could not find any apparent record of Joseph Smith ever having dug such a [cave]. He said the only reference to such a cave in Church history was made in a speech by Brigham Young in 1877. Young said he was told that the gold plates on which the Book of Mormon was written were contained in a cave on Hill Cumorah, now the site of this church's annual pageant. A local history written in the 1920s and an article which appeared in the New York Herald in 1893 said there was a cave on holy ground on Miner's Hill. The reporter said he visited the cave. According to those reports, [the] Mormon angel Moroni instructed Smith to dig a cave at the hill and to translate the plates there.

The cave found by Kommer is seven feet by eight, the approximate size of the cave referred to in the newspaper article. The newspaper article and book descriptions of the cave are considered legend rather than authenticated stories by the church. The Church spokesman said Smith translated the gold plates in many places throughout the area in the 1820s.

Note: Essentially the same article appeared in the Syracuse Herald Journal on Monday, May 6, 1974.


Serving the Southwestern Wayne County Towns of Palmyra, Macedon, Walworth and Marion

Vol. XLVI.                              Palmyra, N. Y., May 1, 1974.                                No. 18.

Cave Dug by Mormon Prophet, Church Founder

PALMYRA -- Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, are playing it down, but Palmyra dairy farmer Andrew Kommer says he thinks he's "got something" and has already begun taking measures to protect it. Last week Kommer brought bulldozers to a site on Miner's Hill, on Miner Road, to uncover a cave that he says was dug by prophet and founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, 150 years ago.

A bulldozed path leads the way to the side of the hill where Kommer and two workers spent most of last week clearing the cave and erecting iron bars to "keep the sightseers from hurting themselves."

An official in the Mormon historian's office in Utah said no records could be found to indicate that Joseph Smith dug the caves in Question. But a local history written by historian Thomas Cook in the 1920s said that Smith dug several caves in search of holy ground in which to translate the hieroglyphics found on golden plates containing the text of the Book of Mormon. According to Cook's account, Smith was told by a guardian angel that the first two caves he dug were not on holy ground. A third site, on the east side of Miner's Hill, was satisfactory to the Angel Moroni, so Smith dug a forty-foot cave. Doors were fastened and "every evening, just a twilight, for the next three months he visited the cave, always accompanied by two or more, but always entering the cave alone."

"For several years this cave remained practically intact. After it had commenced to fall in, Wallace W. Miner, a grandson of Amos Miner, the owner of the hill at that time, partly restored the old cave. The grandson, who is now over eighty years of age, owns and occupies the farm, but no trace of the old Joe Smith cave can be found," the early 1920[s] account reports.

A New York Herald newspaper article in June, 1893 also makes reference to the site. The reporter said he visited Cave Hill "where the Mormon plates were translated * * * exactly halfway between Mormon Hill and Palmyra." Miner's hill is about halfway between Hill Cumorah and Plamyra.

He said the cave was still sound and partly visible, but the "earth has been washed down by storms and the opening to the cave nearly filled so that it cannot be entered at present."

Jim Young, 26; 171 Canandaigua Road, Palmyra said when he was "12 or 13" he and another boy, Dick Van Haneghan, discovered the cave on Miner's Hill while exploring. He said they could crawl a "few feet" into the cave on their hands and knees, but could not stand up or penetrate further than that.

Kommer said he had known about the cave "all along" and had wanted to uncover it, but had not had the chance until now. "The dairy business is a little slow, and I'm partially retired, so I thought I'd take a look under," he said.

Reporters inspected the cave shortly after supports had been added and bars erected at the mouth of the cave which is about six feet high at the largest point in the middle and 10-12 feet long.

Kommer said he may sell the land to the Mormons if they are interested or may allow tourists, who flock 200,000 strong along nearby Canandaigua Road to Hill Cumorah to see the annual "America's Witness For Christ" (Mormon Pageant), to view the site. Tourists will not be allowed into the cave.

Notes: (forthcoming) on Monday, May 6, 1974.


Vol. ?                              Syracuse, N. Y., July 12, 1977.                                No. ?

Pageant in Palmyra Nears

The epic story of the [1977] version of the Hill [Cumorah Pageant]

Again this [year] the pageant will be under the direction of Dr. Harold I. Hansen of Brigham Young University. This will be his last year after directing every pageant since its humble beginning in 1937. It has been hailed as most elaborate religious outdoor pageant in the Brilliant staging and lighting have combined with music of such majesty as to thrill hundreds of thousands. The outdoor stage with its open cover of stars literally comes alive. The pageant begins with a with a little-known but fascinating story of Christianity in ancient According to Mormon the events portrayed in the pageant began in 600 B.C. the records of those events lay hidden in Hill Cumorah until until 1827. These records first came to light when a young Joseph Smith unearthed the plates. He translated and published the ancient records. The Book of Mormon. The records tell of a people who left Jerusalem about 600 years before the time of Christ. Following a prophet of [God] they made their way to a new and unknown the American continent.

Now known as the Book of the records witness that Jesus is the [Christ] and that his gospel is here to be enjoyed by all who will partake. The pageant carries that message.

Note: The above text contains several errors -- it will be updated when a legible copy of the clipping is obtained for transcription.


  Herald [     ] American

Vol. ?                              Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, July 17, 1977.                                No. ?

Mormons answer challenge

By Richard Palmer

PALMYRA -- Three southern California researchers recently have claimed they have new evidence challenging the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

The book contains the sacred writings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

The Book of Mormon is the basis of the Hill Cumorah Pageant, scheduled here at 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and July 26 through 30.

Based on the opinions of three handwriting "experts," the researchers have declared that portions of the Book of Mormon were written by a Congregational minister and novelist named Solomon Spaulding.

Spaulding died more than 10 years before Joseph Smith is said to have received the revelations from God through golden plates.

Henry Silver, one of the handwriting experts consulted by the researchers, together with Wayne Cowdrey, one of the researchers, visited Mormon Church headquarters in Salt Lake City late in June. They mot with church historian Dr. Leonard J. Arrington.

Silver said he had not seen the original manuscript of either the Book of Mormon or the Spaulding papers and that it would be impossible to make any definitive conclusions except from the original manuscripts.

The church claims the unidentified scribe of the 12 pages in question is believed to be either Reuben Hales, brother of the wife of Joseph Smith, or Martin Harris of Palmyra, who financed the printing of the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon.

Dr. Arrington said, "It would require us to believe that Spaulding had written 12 pages in his copy book, that those 12 pages somehow drifted 14 years later into the hands of an unrelated young farmhand a long distance away, that this young man while dictating the Book of Mormon inserted those 12 pages into this manuscript, part of the way through his narrative, and that those 12 pages matched exactly the size and texture of the paper which was just ahead of itT and after it in the manuscript, and that they match ink and the language style and content of what the young man had dictated before and after those pages in 1829.

"The whole idea is preposterous."

Dr. Asahel D. Woodruff, director of the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center, said there existed an increasing avalanche of authenticating discoveries.

He said the most obvious case is the gold plates themselves. Prior to about 1850, no such records on thin gold sheets, in a stone box, were know to modern man.

Since that time, however, they have turned up by the scores all over the world dating in origin from around 3,000 B.C. to 800 A.D. In this respect, Joseph Smith's announcement was the unspoken prediction of those later finds.

Another claim that was regarded as ridiculous for some time was that the writing was about a Jewish form of knowledge and recorded in the language of the Egyptians. One of the most dramatic verifications of this is less than five years old.

An Egyptian scholar, Dr. Sammi Hanna, has recently translated the book from English into Egyptian. To his astonishment, the language which is awkward to English speakers, fell easily and with great meaning into the Egyptian forms of language and thought.

He cited hundreds of cases in language structure alone to show this. A very subtle test in this case is the presence or absence of "modernisms" in the book. A modernism is such a word as can't, or a title such as Mister, Miss, Doctor, etc. or the use of surnames, which came into general use about 1040 A.D., long before the days of Joseph Smith but also long after the period of time described in the book.

Further, in no instance is there a letter q, x, or w in an uncorrupted proper name in the translated Book of Mormon.

No modern names for wearing apparel occur in the book such as skirts, pantaloons, waistcoats, collars, cuffs, gloves, boots, shirts, etc. Also, many places described in the Book of Mormon have been located by explorers and archaeologists, according Woodruff.

He concluded, "Today, the Book of Mormon is one of the world's all-time best sellers, with a remarkable impact upon people. It has been discovered to be the most powerful single element in causing readers to affiliate with the church.

"It is literally fulfilling its own prophecy of worldwide distribution and impact. In that light, and in view of its contents, it will indeed be interesting to see what handwriting research finally amounts to."

Notes: (forthcoming)


  Herald [     ] American

Vol. ?                              Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, January 15, 1978.                                No. ?

New book revives
Mormon controversy

Researchers claim 'Golden Tablets'
based on novel

By Richard G. Case

The Book of Mormon," divine revelation or literature?

The quarrel has gone on for years about tho religion founded nearly 150 years ago by a farm boy in Upstate New York.

Was the foundation of the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 3.1 million members, a message from God, revealed on golden plates dug from a hill near Palmyra?

Or was "The Book of Mormon" actually based on a novel written by an obscure Protestant minister who once lived in Central New York and died before the accounts dictated by Joseph Smith were published in 1830?

A new book adds fresh fuel to the argument and an old house on Syracuse's South Side figures in the strange, complex story of many sub-plots.

The publication is "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" by three California men, Dr. Howard Davis, Wayne L. Cowdrey and Donald R. Scales (Vision House, Santa Ana, Calif. 257 pp., $4.98 paperback).

Davis, who has a doctorate, is described in the book as a researcher, Scales, a writer, and Cowdrey, a descendant [sic] of Oliver Cowdrey, who worked with Joseph Smith in publication of "The Book of Mormon" at Palmyra.

On the basis of research begun in 1974, the authors say they came to the "firm and studied conviction" that "The Book of Mormon" is "not a genuine revelation from God at all but was derived from a novel written by Solomon Spaulding."

Spaulding, who died in 1816, was a New Englander who lived in New York state between 179$ and 1809. His wife Matilda, was the sistor of one of early settlers of the Onondaga Valley area of Syracuse, lawyer William Sabine.

The new book argues that the authors are convinced 'The Book of Mormon's" source was an unpublished novel Spaulding began to write in 1812, when he was in ill health. Spaulding called the novel "The Manuscript Found."

Ironically, those who follow the book's theory contended the manuscript was stolen from Spaulding after he left it at a print shop in Pittsburgh.

Until recently, no trace of Spaulding's original had be-en found.

The authors, however, claim to have found a portion of the novel's manuscript during their research. It was, they contend, in the history office of the Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City as part of the original "Book of Mormon" dictated by Smith.

The 12-page handwritten segment was carried by church historians as the work on an "unidentified scribe" among Smith's associates. The new book includes notarized statements from experts indicating the handwriting matches that of known samples of Spaulding's.

Numerous textual similarities between Spaulding's work and the Mormon scripture also are cited by the authors. The book includes several statements from friends and members of the Spaulding family who heard the minister read and discuss his book. Each remarks resemblances they noted after reading "The Book of Mormon."

Spaulding's novel supposedly dealt with "hieroglyphic writing" exhumed from mounds which told the story of America in terms of a "lost tribe" from Israel. Some of the proper names, including that of Mormon, were alleged in the original.

The church, for its part, long has denied the Spaulding connection. As recently as last August, when the authors announced discovery of the 12-page section in Mormon archives, a statement from the Salt Lake City headquarters said a church historian had "conclusive evidence refuting charges by three California anti-Mormon researchers concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon."

The answer of Mormon historian Dean C. Jesse« is discussed in the book as well.

Solomon Spaulding was born in Connecticut and trained as a Congregational minister. He married Matilda Sabine in 1795 and soon after moved to Cherry Valley in upstate New York, where he ran a store with his brother and was first principal of Cherry Valley Academy.

Later, the family moved to Richfield Springs, where they ran a store and speculated in land in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Spaulding's health was poor at this time, according to the book, and he "experimented with writing novels." When his business failed, he moved to Ohio and then Pittsburgh in hopes of printing and selling "Manuscript Found," his second novel.

After Spaulding's death, his widow and daughter moved to Onondaga Valley to live with the Sabines. The lawyer's house, built in 1816, still stands at the end of Academy Green. It is the home of Sabine's great, great granddaughter, Mrs. H. Gillis Murray and her husband.

A copy of the Spaulding manuscript, at that time, lay in a horsehair trunk in the Sabine house.

Later, Mrs. Spaulding remarried and moved from The Valley. The trunk stayed behind, for a time, with the Sabines, and later was sent to the home of her new husband near Cooperstown.

According to the widow's later testimony, made shortly after "The Book of Mormon" appeared, the manuscript was loaned to a man, on the basis of a letter of introduction from William Sabine, who wanted to compare it to the "The Book of Mormon."

It was not seen again, according to the family. The account put together for the new book by the CaHfornians claims Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" manuscript was read by, and perhaps copied, by a young minister, later a Mormon convert, named Sidney Rigdon.

The book says Rigdon was in Pittsburgh at the time and through a friend who worked for the printer, had the opportunity to "borrow" the manuscript. This later was denied by Rigdon, who joined Joseph Smith at Palmyra about the time "The Book of Mormon" appeared.

The quarrel over the origin is almost as old as the founding of the Mormon church. A statement by Spaulding's widow, outlining what she said was conversion of an "historical romance" into a "new Bible." appeared in a Boston newspaper in 1839.

Later, in 1880, an account was published, with recollections of friends and family members of Spaulding's original, in "Scribner's Monthly."

The article was expanded into a book on the controversy, "New Light on Mormonism." by Ellen Dickinson, in 1885. Mrs. Dickinson was Sabine's granddaughter.

The book includes the 1880 statement of Ann Treadwell Redfield, a well-known figure in the history of Syracuse. Mrs. Redfield was an educator, author and wife of Lewis, one of the county's pioneer journalists.

She recalled, while principal of Onondaga Academy, visiting the nearby Sabine house in 1818 and meeting Mrs. Spaulding, Mrs. Redfield said she did not read the manuscript but often heard it discussed.

When the "Book of Mormon" appeared, she said she got a copy and compared her recollections. They were the same.

"Mrs. Spaulding," Mrs. Redfield wrote, "believed that (Rigdon) had copied the manuscript while it was in Patterson's printing office in Pittsburgh. She spoke of it with regret."

Mrs. Murray, the present occupant of the Sabine house, said last week she was very familiar with the Spaulding-Mormon controversy, from not only reading earlier accounts but family recollections. She has not seen the new book but did receive letters from the authors seeking information on the family.

No, she said with a laugh, she and her husband, who are restoring the family home, have not found any pages of the "missing" manuscript in the house "so far."

The Onondaga Historical Association file on the argument reflects its age and durability. In 1903, for example, a Syracuse newspaper carried an account of the controversy, which included a picture of Mrs. Spaulding's trunk.

Drawing on recollections of the Sabine family, it also included the statement that Joseph Smith, as a young man, had worked as a "servant" and "farm hand" for William Sabine. This, it was alleged, was during the period Mrs. Spaulding and her daughter stayed with the Sabines and had the trunk with them.

The most recent statement on the subject from church headquarters in Salt Lake City said Mormons "still declare the Book of Mormon is precisely what we have always said it was."

Notes: (forthcoming)


  Herald [     ] American

Vol. 100                              Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, July 6, 1980.                                No. 5204

New interest in Mormon legend

By Richard Palmer

(graphic of Wm. Sabin house not copied)

The 150th anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) has revived, interest in an old legend concerning the one-time presence in Onondaga Valley of its founder, Joseph Smith.

The story, dating back more than 150 years, is that Smith as a young man spent some time working as a farm hand for Squire William H. Sabine, a prominent local attorney and businessman. Sabine's brother-in-law and law partner was Judge Joshua Forman, whose name is firmly etched in local history.

Smith's alleged tenure as a hired hand for Sabine was short. His inability to "stay put" eventually sent him to the Onondaga County Jail, then located at Onondaga Hill, on a charge of "vagrancy and debt" This and other statements made by historians down through the years seem to be based more on legend than fact. No record has been found to substantiate the claim he was arrested.

10-year-old vagrant?

Also, at the time Smith is supposed to have been in this area, he wouldn't have been more than 10 years old; Authorities were not in the habit of arresting children.

This "link" to Sabine forms the foundation of the story of how Smith conceived the Book of Mormon, which Latter-Day Saints members place second only to the Bible as holy writ.

The old story of how Smith came upon the Book of Mormon was started late in the summer of 1833 when Dr. Philastus Hurlbut, then recently excommunicated from the Mormon church for immorality, learned of a manuscript written some 20 years before by the late Rev. Solomon Spaulding. Hurlbut said he discovered the Spaulding manuscript was similar to the Book of Mormon, and then proceeded to try and tie Smith with it.

Hurlbut obtained remarkably similar affidavits from Spaulding's relatives, friends and neighbors, two of whom remembered details about it Supposedly, the Spaulding manuscript was an "historical romance" about the "first settlers" of America, and was entitled "Manuscript Found."

Local connection

The people who distinctly remembered hearing Spaulding read his story aloud said he made references to names and stories contained in the Book of Mormon. They had extremely keen memories considering the fact that more than 70 years had elapsed since the death of Spaulding and the time they gave the affidavits.

The local connection is that Spaulding's widow was the sister of Squire Sabine and was living in the valley with him at the time Smith was a hired hand. Somehow, Smith supposedly got access to the Spaulding manuscript and from this fabricated the Book of Mormon.

The Spaulding manuscript eventually found its way to Oberlin College in Ohio, where it remains today. When scholars discovered this manuscript and the Book of Mormon were in no way similar, the theory then was put forth that there must have been another manuscript, which may have "fallen into the hands of the Mormons."

No Biblical overtones

Numerous efforts to "expose" the Book of Mormon as a fraud using the Spaulding theory as a basis have proved fruitless. One non-Mormon historian found, "this manuscript clearly was not the basis of the (Book of Mormon) book."

The manuscript at Oberlin College does not contain any Biblical overtones.

It begins: "Near the west bank of the Conneaught (sic) river there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character, situation and numbers of those people, who far exceed the present Indians in works of art and ingenuity, I happened to tread on a flat stone..."

Another story is that the manuscript was made available to Smith through Sidney Rigdon, one of the early church leaders who later defected. Rigdon denied this, however, claiming he did not meet Smith until after the Book of Mormon was printed in 1830.

Accepted story

The Spaulding manuscript story has been told and retold in newspapers, magazines and numerous other publications, many of which have copied each other, repetition after repetition, until many people have accepted it as "Gospel."

There are no official records of Joseph Smith ever having been in Onondaga Valley, although his father may have passed through on the way west to Palmyra. An 1841 newspaper clipping in the files of the Onondaga Historical Association noted the passing of Joseph Smith through the city on a missionary journey from Nauvoo, Ill. However, this was some 30 years after Smith was supposed to have worked for Squire Sabine.

The story of the Book of Mormon will be presented at the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant near Palmyra later this month. The event annually draws upwards of 100,000 visitors.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Syracuse Herald Journal

Vol. ?                              Syracuse, N.Y., July 14, 1985.                                No. ?

A Small Chocolate-colored Stone Gave him
the Vision to Start a Faith.

Joseph Smith was the son of a farmer. He lived near Palmyra at a time when myths were believed. He had this hardened piece of the earth he carried in his britches. It was called a seer stone by [some, and] a peep stone by others. Joseph said him the gift of seeing hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth in its [-------] it would reveal the most enduring of treasures for Joseph. Some people said they remembered the day in 1822 when the stone showed [up]. A [man ----- ----] was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph to assist me after digging about 20 feet below the surface of the [ground] we discovered a singularly appearing [stone] which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the [well] and as we were examining Joseph put it in his hat and then his face into the top of [his hat]. The next morning he came to me and wished obtain the alleging that he could see in [the stone].

The stone had the shape of a high-in- stepped shoe. It was about as big as the small egg of a hen. It was composed of layers of different colors passing diagonally through it. Chocolate in one person and very hard and smooth. Joseph was not alone in his belief. Money-digging was a passion in that strip of land between Ontario and the canal. Buried treasure guarded by spirits was spoken of. It is still spoken of. People spoke of Joseph too. It was he could find not only treasure but lost possessions. Someone [said] he found a pin in a pile of shavings with the help of the stone. Word got around about this boy who looked into his hat. There was an old gentleman in Chenango County by the name of Josiah Stowell. He farmed on both sides. of the Susquehanna around Bainbridge and farther south in Pa. He heard Joseph could [see] things invisible to the natural [eye].He heard too about a silver mine opened by the Spaniards around Harmony. He wanted Joseph to come to the river valley and get the treasure for him. Joseph wrote Josiah [a--- -----] should not dig more until you first discover if any valuables remain. You know the treasure must be guarded by some clever spirit and if such is discovered so also is the treasure. So do take a hazel stick one yard long being new cut and leave it [just] in the middle and lay it asunder on the mine so that both inner parts of the stick may look one right against the other one inch distant. there is treasure after a while you shall [see] them draw and Join together again of themselves. Let me know how it [---- ----].

Later Joseph went to see about the treasure himself. He and Josiah's dug the silver mine at which I continued to work for nearly a [month] without success in our undertaking... I finally prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after [---] in the river country around South which became the village of Afton after Joseph [----- ------] a visitor is told the [-----] and even the envy and [---- --] felt for the man...

[In one story] he announced he was going to walk on water. Some local lads discovered planks hidden under the water of a local pond. They removed the supports. When Joseph tried [his miracle] he [fell] into the water.

We also have the record of Joseph's trial as a disorderly person. This came about a few months after he abandoned Josiah Stowell's empty holes in the ground. Some of the diggers were [----- and] they brought Joseph up on charge before the Bainbridge justice of the peace. Josiah Stowell was positively [----- ---] knew the prisoner [could and] professed the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone... he did not exactly find but got a piece of which resembled... he thinks that he and prisoner had.... for buried [treasure]... and prisoner said that it was in a certain root of a stump five feet from the surface of the and with it would be found a tail-feather said Stowell and prisoner thereupon commenced [-----] found a tail-feather but money was [---- ---] [---- ----] that he supposed the money had moved Howard Stowell swore Joseph had looked into a [hat] to tell where A chest of dollars were buried in Windsor [-----] marked out .size of chest in [-----]

Jonathan Thompson told the court Joseph used his hat in another search for a buried chest. he had been put into the ground by two Indians who quarreled. One killed the other and threw the body into the pit with the trunk. When Jonathan and Joseph they failed because of an trunk kept settling away from under them while digging they continued constantly moving yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them other prisoner said that it appeared to him that salt might be found at Bainbridge and that he is certain that prisoner can divine things by means of said stone and as prisoner looked into his hat to tell him about some money witness lost 16 years ago and that he described the man that witness supposed had taken and... disposition of the court record... thereupon the Court finds the defendant Joseph may have stopped digging for money then.

He didn't stop dreaming. The stone stayed in his pocket. The visions began. In a short another sort of gold was found. This happened in a [------] near Ontario County. It was said if it were not for his [-----] this would not have happened. An angel appeared to Joseph and [----- ----] [where they golden and] gave me directions how to obtain [-------] According to [------] the plates contained the history of an early civilization of our hemisphere and an appearance of the resurrected Christ. Joseph dictated his revelations to a secretary. Sometimes this was his [--------] who he met while working for the Stowells. The manuscript grew over many [years] Joseph moved farm to Pennsylvania to upstate New York. One witness left us an account of how Joseph worked in a farm house at the north end of Seneca [Lake] [He] would put the seer stone into a [hat] and put his face into the [hat] drawing it closely around his face to exclude the [light] and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine [then a] piece of something resembling a parchment would appear and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would [appear] and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to his principal scribe and when it was written down and repeated by Brother Joseph to see if it was [correct] then it would disappear and another character with the interpretation would [appear].

Joseph's The Book of [Mormon] was published in 1830 at Palmyra. [In] April he began The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From that he was known as Joseph the prophet. Fourteen years [later] he was assassinated by a mob at Ill. The church today has nearly 6 million members around the [world]... [these] people, we call them Mormons, return to Ontario County and the other places Joseph lived when he was a.boy. They hold a pageant at the drumlin south of Palmyra which they know as Hill Cumorah. The houses Joseph lived in have been turned into [------] which Mormons call shrines. And in a safe in Salt Lake in the office of the first president of the [Church] rests another souvenir. Joseph's chocolate in color [peep stone]...

Notes: (forthcoming)


  Herald [     ] American

Vol. 105                              Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, March 9, 1986.                                No. 6600

A debate swirls about a manuscript
lost in a house in the Valley

By Dick Case

The old house at the southern end of Syracuse has seen a lot of history. And there is some history it may not have seen.

Did it once hold a manuscript that could have knocked out the foundations of a religious organization of 6 million members?

The house is William Sabine's, built next to Onondaga Creek and the turnpike 170 years ago. It sits in a grove at the end of Academy Green. William was a pioneer settler of the Onondaga Valley area of the city. He practiced law. Today, his great-great-granddaughter, Lettie Murray, and her husband Gill, live there.

Sabine's sister, Matilda, married a New England preacher named Solomon Spaulding. Solomon died the year the lawyer built his brick house by the stream. He never lived at Onondaga Valley yet his spirit flickers there, now and again.

It flickered again recently, when a lot of public attention was given to another manuscript, this time in Salt Lake City. That was when two people died in bombings police said were related to sale of documents about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons.

No one died 100 years ago, but there were furious arguments about Solomon Spaulding's manuscript. Some people claimed it was the real basis of "The Book of Mormon," the bible of millions of members of that church. Mormon officials said this notion was ridiculous.

Solomon Spaulding married Matilda Sabine in 1795. Shortly, they moved from New England to the upstate village of Cherry Valley. He ran a store with his brother and was the first principal of Cherry Valley Academy. Later, the Spauldings lived in Richfield Springs. Solomon's health was poor and in 1812, he experimented with writing novels.

One of the fictions -- it was unpublished at his death -- he called "The Manuscript Found." It was supposed to have been about hieroglyphic writing exhumed from mounds. The writing told the story of a "lost tribe" from Israel that ended up in North America. One of the characters was named "Mormon."

After Spaulding's death, his widow and daughter moved in with the Sabines at Onondaga. Among the things they carried to the house was a horsehair trunk. In the trunk, so the story went, was the manuscript of Solomon Spaulding's unpublished novel, "The Manuscript Found."

Trouble was, that manuscript was lost, after a while.

Did it stay at Onondaga? The trunk did, after Matilda remarried and moved again. Later, it caught up with her at Cooperstown.

According to the widow's testimony about this, given shortly after "Book of Mormon" was published in 1830 at Palmyra, the manuscript was loaned to a man who wanted to compare it to the new writings of prophet Joseph Smith.

Then it disappeared. Perhaps for good. At least until 1978.

A young minister, later a Mormon convert, is a key to the conspiracy theory. He was Sidney Rigdon

The theory is that Rigdon was in Pittsburgh at the same time Spaulding left his manuscript at a print shop. Through a friend, who worked for the printer, Rigdon had the opportunity to "borrow" the novel and copy it. The next stop was Joseph Smith's writing table.

Rigdon was with the prophet at Palmyra about the time the Mormon bible was published. He denied the Spaulding theory ever happened. Mormons believe their founder translated "Book of Mormon" from golden plates found in a hillside near Palmyra.

Denials didn't stop the Spaulding story. It raveled on for years.

Perhaps the first published discussion appeared in a Boston newspaper in 1839. This account was based on Mrs. Spaulding's theory that her husband's "historical romance" had been converted by Smith and Rigdon into the Mormon bible.

In 1880, Scriber's Monthly ran a story about Solomon Spaulding. This was expanded into a book, "New Light on Mormonism," by Ellen Dickinson, published in 1885. Dickinson was William Sabine's granddaughter.

One of the statements in the book came from Ann Redfield. principal of Onondaga Academy. She said she had visited the Sabine home in 1818 and met Mrs. Spaulding. Mrs. Redfield explained while she hadn't read the manuscript, she heard it discussed many times. When "Book of Mormon" appeared, she said she compared it to her recollections. They were the same.

Later commentators pointed out how ridiculous it is to assume Joseph Smith, founder of a worldwide religion, had neither the wit, nor the knowledge, to write "The Book of Mormon." They pointed out it was identical in style to his later writing.

The old story got a good jolt in 1978 when a book came out that said the research of the three authors had taken them to the conclusion, "Book of Mormon" was "not a genuine revelation from God at all but was derived from a novel written by Solomon Spaulding."

The authors of "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" claimed to have found a section of the Spaulding manuscript. The Mormon Church had it all the time, they said, as part of the original dictated by Joseph Smith nearly 150 years before in western New York.

Notes: (forthcoming)

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