(Newspapers of Pennsylvania)

Misc. Pennsylvania Newspapers
1900-2010 Articles

1810-19   |   1820-39   |   1840-42   |   1842-43   |   1844-49   |   1850-99   |   1900-2010

PCG Mar 13 '01  |  Harrisburg Patriot Oct 28 '01  |  PitPress Jul 16 '03  |  NCN Oct 07 '03  |  PitGaz Sep 27 '05
WashObs Sep 27 '05  |  WRep Oct ?? '05  |  Ind. WkMsgr. Feb 06 '07  |  Gaz-Times Mar 23 '11  |  Gaz-Times Apr 17 '11
CharlMail Aug 29 '11  |  SewickHer Nov 09 '12  |  SewickHer Nov 16 '12  |  SewickHer Nov 23 '12  |  PitPress Nov 24 '12
WashObs Feb 07 '22  |  CharlMail Aug 04 '27  |  AltMr Sep 20 '27  |  DLTimes Dec 28 '29  |  NewsDis Feb 12 '36
ErieTimes Jan ?? '38  |  PitPress Jul 24 '52  |  WRep Apr 01 '55  |  Obs-Rep. Sep 18 '72  |  Obs-Rep. Nov 07 '73
ConCourier Jun 25 '76  |  News-Rec. May 28 '77  |  Obs-Rep. Sep 12 '81  |  PitPress Aug 08 '82  |  GetTimes Aug 31 '82
Post-Gaz Oct 01 '95  |  Post-Gaz Dec 23 '07  |  Obs-Rep. Apr 18 '08

Articles Index   |   Philadelphia Newspapers   |   Adams County Newspapers


The  Pittsburgh  Commercial  Gazette.

Vol. 115.                             Pittsburgh, Wednesday, March 13, 1901.                             No. 195.


Eccentric Solomon Spaulding Who Wrote "The Manuscript Found."


Sidney Rigdon, a Pittsburgh Printer, Had Manuscript ans
It Reached Joseph Smith.


BY A. S. JESSOP -- Staff Correspondent

SCENERY HILL, PA. March 12 -- Standing in the little grave yard in the town of Amity, on Ten Mile creek, but a short distance over the hills from the town is a little mound and the remains of what was at one time a headstone that bore this inscription:
      In Memory of
Who Departed this Life
October 20, A. D. 1816.

    Kind cherubs guard the sleeping clay.
      Until the great decision day.
    And saints complete in glory rise,
      To share the triumph of the skies.
"Poor, unfortunate, somewhat unbalanced, yet honest, and well-meaning Solomon Spaulding," speaks Thomas Gregg in his book, "The Prophet of Palmyra," of the man whose bones lie in the little grave yard, and of the man who never knew when he wrote for amusement, that his writings would be distorted into being the foundation of a creed.

Solomon Spaulding was a native of the state of New York. He was highly educated and a graduate of Dartmouth college. He was a Presbyterian preacher, but after his marriage in Cherry Valley, N. Y., nothing is known of his ocupying a pulpit. He went to New Salem, Ashtabula county, O., where he obtained a large tract of land and built a forge. The town is now Conneaut.

In 1812 he broke, both financially and in health. For recreation he investigated the mounds in that locality, and started a story that he would read to his friends and neighbors from time to time as he would add a chapter. The matter was written as if from a departed race, and assumed the name of the "Manuscript Found." It was the opinion of the people that Spaulding read to them as fast as he deciphered the manuscript. Spaulding's acquaintance with the classics and ancient history enabled him to introduce names never before heard of.

Spaulding moved to Pittsburgh, where he kept a little store. He became acquainted with the [people? of?] Pittsburgh [and? with? Rev. Robert Patterson] [editor?] of the Presbyterian Banner, then published by Patterson & Lambdin. He submitted his manuscript to Mr. Patterson, who told him to trim it a little and prepare a title page, and that he would publish it. In some way, perhaps through carelessness on both the part of Patterson and Spaulding, it was in the office for two years.

Employed in the office as a printer was a man named Sidney Rigdon, who was also pastor of the First Baptist Church. He read the manuscript, and is known to have had the manuscript in his possession for a time. Spaulding had hard work to make a living in Pittsburgh, so, with his family, he went to Amity, Washington county, where he conducted the tavern. He was a man who never laughed and seldom smiled, yet is described to have been pleasant. He was full 6 feet in height, slender, dark, slow in speech and never trifling.

He had the manuscript with him at Amity and used to amuse the frequenters at the tavern by reading it to them. Because of the expressions in it he was known as "Old Come-to-Pass." [He died?] and [was soon?] forgotten [------- ---] his widow went soon after to her people in Massachusetts and married again. She died in Hamden county Mass., in 1844.

It was on September 21, 1823 that Joseph Smith claimed that he had his "revelations," and was commanded by the angel to let the plates of gold lie buried for four years. Rev. John Winter, one of the early ministers of the Baptist Church in western Pennsylvania and Ohio, stated that in the winter of 1822-23 he saw in Rigdon's house in Pittsburgh, a copy of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." It is also known that Rigdon was at Palmyra, N. Y. as early as 1827.

Smith's four years was up on September 27, 1827, and he claimed that he dug up the plates which, being interpreted, gave the "New Revelation, or the Book of Mormon," out of the side of a hill near Manchester, Ontario county, N. Y. Rigdon was seen in the neighborhood several times.

Soon after the publication of the book Rigdon was with Smith continually. The people about Amity and those in Pittsburgh and also New Salem, O., who had heard Spaulding read his work, the "Manuscript Found," recognized it immediately when they heard read the "New Revelation, or the Book of Mormon." The only differenc between the two was, Spaulding claimed that the first was a romance, while Smith claimed that the letter was a revelation from God. Both begin with the Lost Tribes of Israel, and the same peculiar names are used in both books. The general impression at the time was that Rigdon had copied Spaulding's manuscript and given it to Smith. Nothing has since come up in history to disprove this opinion. Much ha[s] been added to prove this conclusion.

In 1830 Rigdon was at Mentor, O., and after that continually with Smith. In 1836 Rigdon was president of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, with a capital of "not less than $4,000,000. In July 1837, the bank failed. In 1838 Rigdon and Smith organized the "Danites, or Destroying Angels," at Far West, Caldwell county, Mo., because they did not like the way the church at that place was being conducted. It was the "Danites" that were responsible for the Mountain Meadows massacre in 1843 [sic] and numerous other crimes. Rigdon was one of the founders of Nauvoo in 1839.

On February 15, 1844, the Mormon newspapers presented the names of "Gen. Joseph Smith for president and Sidney Rigdon for vice president of the Ubited States." The names remained at the head of the papers until the office of the Nauvoo Expositor was destroyed on June 10, 1844. Smith was killed in jail on June 27.

Then Sidney Rigdon and Brigham Young each wanted to be head of the Church. Rigdon had told some of his friends that if he was elected president that he would lead the "hosts" to Pittsburgh and there start a new "Zion." This did not suit the faithful, who wanted to go west, and when it came to a vote "only about ten" were in favor of Rigdon. He was then kicked out of the church and returned to Pittsburgh, where he died in the early 70s.

Probably 50 persons have sworn to statements that Spaulding's romance was the basis of the Mormon Bible, although of course, it has always been denied by Mormons. The widow of Spaulding said it was, and so did his brother and his daughter. In 1880 Mrs. M. S. McKinstry, Spaulding's daughter, in a sworn statement, said the original manuscript was obtained from her in 1834, by a man named Hurlburt, who represented to her that he wanted to compare it with the Mormon Bible. He was a Mormon and all evidence is that he wanted to secure the manuscript to remove it for the advance of the Church.

Note: The above article fits in with those others published in the Pennsylvania press during the 1860-1899 time-span (as a sort of a summary of their combined expression of the Spalding authorship claims) and is retained here as the final item in that series. Its content is riddled with factual and conceptual errors and cannot be trusted in most of the details it relates. However, the article stands as a fair example of those abating reports, still being written around the turn of the century, the content of which had not yet been impacted by the discovery of the Spalding manuscript in Hawaii, nor by a growing consensus among several scholars of that period -- that Joseph Smith, Jr. had the ability to write the Book of Mormon by himself.


The  [     ]  Patriot.

Vol. ?                                Harrisburg, Penn., Monday October 28, 1901.                               No. ?


The church was filled with people who listened with bated breath, and tense drawn faces to Dr. Hill's awful expose of the purposes, degradation and curse of Momronism... In his sermon Dr. Hill said... "Having lived in Utah but little short of five years, and having made a close and critical study of Mormonism during this period, I think that I am able to speak truthfully and intelligently with reference to this history, doctrines and purposes of this so-called religion.

"First of all, I charge it with being a system of fraud, founded upon falsehood, inconsistency and deceit. It is the revelation of lying lips. Every stone cries out of its walls, 'deceit, deceit,' and every beam of its timber answers back, 'deceit.' The Book of Mormon is surrounded by myth, but not mystery. It is the most gigantic fraud in the history of the world's literature, sacred or profane. The claim that it is a revelation from God, made through Joseph Smith, is as ridiculous as it is absurd.

"This book was written by Rev. Solomon Spauldin [sic], a retired Congregational minister, who had moved to Ashtabula county, O., for his health. He became engrossed in the study of the mounds in that part of the state, and finally wrote a romance, set in Biblical phraseology, describing the wanderings, wars, expeditions and fate of these mound builders, whom he attempted to identify as the lost tribes of Israel. This manuscript was placed in the hands of a publisher in Pittsburg, by the name of Patterson, but for some reason it never went to press. About this time there worked for Patterson a man by the name of Rigdon, who had once been a Disciple minister and was thoroughly versed in theological knowledge. Gaining possession of this manuscript, he took it to his friend, Joseph Smith, and together, as the evidence conclusively proves, they concocted the deplorable fraud, through which hundreds of thousands have been beguiled from truth and virtue into the meshes of Mormonism.

"In harmony with its origin, every page of Mormon history is written over with falsehood, treachery, and deceit. The representatives of the priesthood scour the length and breadth of our own land and invade the old world seeking converts, and every convert won is entrapped by glaring fraud and misrepresenatation. They do not take the Book of Mormon, but the Bible. They preach its doctrines and salvation through Christ. They sing our songs and in every way hide their real character. Through this channel there comes a steady influx upon us of foreigners...

"But when these foreign converts reach Utah, they are given a perfect revelation of Mormonism. The Bible is relegated to the rear, and the Book of Mormon is brought forth. The Saviour of the world is placed in the background, and Joseph Smith held up before them as the heaven-sent prophet of the latter day.

"Mormonism is Pagan Polytheism. All saints are to evolve into gods.

"It is a system of cruelty and murder. They have men they call angels. Their angels wear nboots, and under their robes carry loaded weapons to kill those who refuse to subscribe to their doctrines. They are the much dreaded 'Danites.' I have stood in the cellar where a woman and her two children were murdered in cold blood because they refused to adopt the faith. I have stood in the place where Dr. Williams was slain by the 'Angels' in cold blood, because of a dispute about a medicinal spring. I have stood in the gate where the United States district attorney was called out of his house at midnight, and in cold blood shot down by these same 'Angels,' because he did his duty. It is a religion of blasphemy and immorality...."

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. XX.                               Pittsburgh, Pa., Thursday, July 16, 1903                               No. 194.


Two missionaries of the Mormon Church, Elder Jesse L. Smith, of Magrath, Canada, and Joseph Glover, of Lehi, Utah, are at work building a Mormon church, 40x26 feet in size, near the Fairview school house in Quincy township. This church will be the first sanctuary of this denomination constructed in this county, but it is not the first contemplated. More than half a century ago an attempt was made to build a huge Mormon temple on the McLanahan farm along the creek west of town and to found a settlement of Mormons which should be the parent of the church in the United States.

After the killing of Joseph Smith and Hiram Smith at Carthage, Ill., by a mob, on the 27th of June, 1844, the leadership of the Saints naturally belonged to Sidney Rigdon; but Brigham Young, an ambitious man and a more recent convert to the faith than Rigdon, was chosen first president. His talented competitor was cut off from the communion of the faithful, cursed, and solemnly delivered over to the devil, "to be buffeted in the flesh for a thousand years." In a short time Rigdon, with a band of faithful followers, came eastward to Pittsburg, where they established a paper to promulgate their doctrines. While Young and his associates were flying to Salt Lake City, Rigdon with his adherents sought a congenial field among the conservative inhabitants of the Keystone State, locating at Pittsburg. Their work there did not prosper, however, and in a short time two emissaries sent out by Rigdon appeared in Antrim township. After looking over a number of farms they finally selected the McLanahan farm as the site of their city, declaring: "This is the place the Lord has shown us in visions to be the site of the city of New Jerusalem." Shortly afterward, Peter Boyer, a wealthy farmer of Allegheny county, came on and contracted with Mr. McLanahan for his farm there of about 400 acres, at $14,700. Boyer paid $6,000 in advance, and gave a mortgage for the remainder or the purchase money. The purchaser took possession in the spring of 1847, and in a short time Sidney Rigdon, Elders Hyde and Huber, Judge Richards, William E. McClellan, Hatch, Hinkle, Zody, Grimes, Ringer and others joined them. The band numbered, all told, about 150. Most of them moved upon the farm, where they intended to lay out a grand city, build a magnificent temple and establish extensive manufacturing establishments. Some of them located in town, and some engaged in various business enterprises.

Among other enterprises in which they embarked was the publishing of a newspaper, the Conococheague Herald, of which this paper is the lineal descendant. The original press brought here by Robinson, the Mormon printer, is still preserved in this office.

They did some preaching in town, but were unsuccessful in arousing, on the part of the community, the opposition which threy had hoped for to make their cause popular.Rigdon boasted that the conflict would rage until the streets of the town were drenched with blood. When the conflicts did not materialize, however, he declared that there was not in the churches of the town religion enough to save a nest of woodpeckers.

Idleness prevailed among the Mormons here and the money brought with them was soon consumed. The house, the barn, the corn crib, the smokehouse even, were used as dwelling places. Crops of grain were allowed to go to waste. Finally the time for the payment of the mortgage notes arrived, but no money for that purpose was available. Mr. McLanahan foreclosed, in August, 1849, and all the visions of the future great city disappeared. Some went to Utah, and some joined the Gentiles and remained here. Of these, the last one, a woman, died here about 10 years ago.

There has been a Mormon congregation at Tomstown for a number of years, with a varied membership of from 25 to 40. The Mormon doctrine, minus polygamy, has been taught by local preachers and missionaries who have frequently visited them. Recruits have at times left the community to move to Utah and take up their lives with the faithful there. --   Greencastle, Pa., Echo-Pilot.

Note: Much of the above report was taken from M'Cauley's 1878 Historical sketch of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The writer may have also consulted an 1897 pamphlet produced by Benjamin M. Nead. See also Nead's expansion of that account, as "The History of Mormonism with Particular Reference To the Founding of the New Jerusalem In Franklin County," in Vol. 9 (1923) of the Kittochtinny Historical Society Papers. Mormon historian George L. Zundel emulated Nead's reporting, in his article "Rigdon's Folly" (Improvement Era 47:4, April 1944), where he said: "One bright day in September 1845, two strangers on horseback appeared riding along the Mercersburg-Greencastle pike in Antrim township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. From their actions it was evident that they were searching for something very important. They frequently stopped, looked over the country, and engaged in earnest conversation. As they reached the top of the bridge spanning the Conococheague Creek, about one and a half miles west of Greencastle, they brought their horses to a halt and for some time minutely surveyed the country to the north. The object of their search had evidently been found. They were viewing the four hundred-acre farm of Andrew G. McLanahan, Esq. Before them was the meandering Conococheague Creek with its willowed banks and its sparkling waters on their way to join the waters of the mighty Potomac. They were looking on some of the richest farm land in the famous Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania. It was a peaceful scene. -- Presently one of them said, 'This is the place the Lord has shown us in visions to be the site of the city of the new Jerusalem.' Not long afterward these two strangers were on their way back to Pittsburgh to report their findings..."



Vol. XXIV.                               New Castle, Penn., October 7, 1903.                              No. 25.


Mrs. J. H. DeVore, who is lecturing in this county for a week under the auspices of the National Reform Association, spoke three times Sunday. In the evening she made a strong address at the Reformed Presbyterian Church; in the afternoon she spoke at a union meeting at the United Presbyterian Church, and in the evening a large audience heard her talk on Mormonism at the Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church.

At the Reformed Presbyterian Church where she spoke at 11 o'clock, the building was crowded and her address created a profound impression on her hearers.

She began her address by saying that she was very much rejoiced to have the privilege of addressing a congregation of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, especially of Covenanters, as her ancestors were of that denomination, and one of them, the Duke of Argyle, perished as a martyr to that cause, being beheaded in 1611.

Continuing, she said: "I come to you this morning as an exponent of the evils of Mormonism. The founder of this iniquitous and most blasphemous sect, for religion it is not, was Joseph Smith, son of a laundress of such questionable character that the family was obliged to move from place to place on account of the kleptomaniac practices of Mrs. Smith.

"The Mormon Bible," or "Book of Mormon," as it is called, was a poor, trashy novel, she said, written by a man named Spaulding, who could not get a publisher to issue it. A Washington county man by the name of Sidney Rigdon, an adventurer, in collusion with Smith, invented the scheme whereby the so-called revelation was received. The plates supposed to be miraculously sent, it is asserted, were first buried by Smith in New York State, and then dug up by him at the pre-arranged time. Rigdon then rewrote Spaulding's novel and it became the sacred revelation, as it is termed, or "Book of Mormons."

Mrs. DeVore gave a graphic account of the Mountain Meadow massacre which occurred in 1857. She said that the emigrant train consisting of 160 persons passed through Salt Lake City and was so fine and prosperous looking that Brigham Young ordered 18 or 20 of his apostles, and a large body of [Indians?] to attack the train, kill the emigrants and secure the property. This was done. Only a few women and children being saved. A year or two later a young girl who had been spared and taken by the Mormons, saw a shawl on one of the Mormon women and said that it was her mother's shawl. It cost her her life, for she was taken by a man into the mountains and never heard of afterwards. Mrs. DeVore said that for this great outrage, in murdering the emigrants, nothing was done by the government until 20 years afterwards, when one man was hung. All the others escaped punishment.

She gave a sketch of the life of Roberts and Smoot, saying of the latter that he was one of the 12 Mormon apostles and that all such were obliged to take an oath against allegiance to the national government. No Mormon can enter the Mormon temple without first having taken this oath against the government. She said the Mormons had not only millions, but billions of money, and were thus able to do an immense amount of harm if their course was not checked by the people of the nation rising up against them. She spoke of the petitions against the seating of Smoot which are being circulated, and said she hoped they would be widely circulated and signed in this county.

Mrs. DeVore will speak in the Seventh ward Wednesday night, and the following day she will address the National Reform convention at New Bedford.

Note 1: The National Reform Association was a Christian group, primarily dedicated to governmental reform. However, from time to time, the NRA promoted political efforts against "the Mormon Kingdom." Frank J. Cannon served as the spokesman for that organization's "crusade" of 1914.

Note 2: Mrs. DeVore evidently picked up her Mother-Smith-a-thieving-laundress theme from the previous lectures of Palmyra resident, Anna R. Webster Eaton.


The  Pittsburgh  Gazette.
Vol. 120.                              Pittsburgh, Wednesday, September, 27, 1905.                               No. 61.



Large Number of People Attend Ceremony
Held at Amity in Memory of
the Rev. Mr. Spaulding.


(Special Telegram to the Gazette.)

WASHINGTON, PA., Sept. 26. -- The handsome monument to the memory of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding was dedicated this afternoon at Amity, this county. Several hundred people were in attendance. Prof. J. K. Lacock of Canonsburg, was master of ceremonies and addresses were made by the Rev. Dr. W. F. Brown, Canonsburg; Hon. E. F. Acheson, Washington; Dr. E. F. Dodd, Van Buren; D. H. Fee, Canonsburg; the Rev. J. W. McKay, Waynesburg, and Dr. A. F. Fletcher of Pittsburgh.

Prof. Lacock made the historical address. The Rev. Mr. Spaulding was pastor [sic!] of the Amity Presbyterian Church early in the last century. He was born at Ashford, Conn., in 1761, and died at Amity in 1816. He was a graduate of Dartmouth college, and served in the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, with his brother, he purchased large tracts of land in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, but the war of 1812 caused them heavy losses and Solomon Spaulding went to Pittsburgh in 1814. He went later to Amity, where he died. The headstone over his grave crumbled away, and money for the monument dedicated today was raised by popular subscription.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                     Washington, Pa., Wednesday, September 27, 1905                     No. ?

A Monument Erected and Dedicated to
Memory of Solomon Spaulding.




Staff Correspondent.

(under construction)

Note 1: This article contains the statement of Dr. Elias Dodd, son of Cephas Dodd. Elias also spoke at the Aug. 28, 1879 Centenary of the Tenmile Churches, on the same topic -- his father and Solomon Spalding.

Note 2: Essentially the same story was featured in the Reporter on the same day. A preliminary report of the planned ceremony ran in the Observer of Sept. 25th, under the heading: "A Monument to Solomon Spaulding."

Note 3: Earle R. Forrest, in his 1926 history, says this of Spalding: "Originally there was erected over his grave a plain sandstone marker, but with passing years, this was entirely carried away piece by piece by relic hunters, until in 1899, it had entirely disappeared and even parts of it under the ground had been dug up. The location of the grave would have been lost but for the fact that several old men living in that vicinity, remembered it and could even dig down and find what was left of the tombstone. Everyone in the Amity section and for that matter in all of Washington County, firmly believes that Mr. Spalulding's manuscript was the original of the Book of Mormon. In 1905, the people of Amity, by popular subscription, raised a sum of money to erect a substantial granite marker over the grave before its location should be entirely lost. The original [inscription] on the first headstone had been preserved, and this was placed on the monument. It was unveiled September 26, 1905, with appropriate ceremonies which were attended by hundreds of people. -- Among those present was Elias F. Dodd of Van Buren, who was then well past eighty years of age. Mr. Dodd's father had personally known Solomon Spaulding and had heard him read portions of his manuscript at Amity. Mr. Dodd on the occasion of the dedication stated that his father had related to him passages from the Spaulding manuscript which he claimed were almost identical with the Book of Mormon."


The Washington Reporter.

Vol. ?                                   Washington, Pa., October ?, 1905.                                   No. ?


Evidence to Show That the Book is Identical With
One Written By Spaulding at Amity


Quite a bit of interest or curiosity has been in evidence, recently, over the question of the origin of the Mormon Bible, which Joseph Smith professed to have received as a revelation from heaven and transcribed for the Latter Day Saints.

The manuscript was written by Robert [sic] Spaulding, of Amity, as attested by Mr. Tunnis Miller, of our town who formerly lived at Ten Mile, Washington county. Mr. Miller, who is vigorous in mind and body, although in his 80th year, has furnished the Times with the following statement touching his knowledge of the books origins:

"I often heard my father say that he had examined a copy of the so-called Mormon Bible, in manuscript, which was written by Robert Spaulding, of Amity. Mr. Spaulding and my father were well acquainted and were very good friends, and Spaulding often invited my father to his room and would read passages from his manuscript.

"Mr. Spaulding was in quite poor health for some time and wrote this manuscript to pass away the time and for amusement. It was written in an ancient style, and as he was a clever writer, my father said it was highly interesting. The house in which it was written is a very old one and is still standing at Amity, and is occupied by Alexander Bolton. I do not know exactly when this manuscript was written, but I judge it must have been along from 1814 to 1823.

"When on his deathbed, Mr. Spaulding requested my father to assist Mrs.Spaulding in settling the little estate, which he did after Spaulding's death. He also made his coffin and helped bury him in the Amity cemetery. After Mr. Spaulding's death, his wife, being in moderate circumstances sent the manuscript to Pittsburg to have it published in book form, hoping to help maintain herself by its sale. Unfortunately for her however, the manuscript was reported "lost" and was not found for sometime, when it was discovered in the possession of Joseph Smith in New York state, who claimed it to be a revelation from God. My father believed the manuscript and the book to be identical, and the production of Robert Spaulding."
Tunnis Miller      

Note: The exact date of this article remains undetermined -- it was evidently first published in a Pennsylvania newspaper called "The Times." Tunnis Miller (1825-1921) was the son of Amity old-timer Joseph Miller. Tunnis was "in his 80th year" during 1905.


Indiana  Weekly  Messenger.

Vol. 52.                                 Indiana, Penn., February 6, 1907.                                No. 9.

"Book  of  Mormon."

The "Book of Mormon" has been proved to be a literary plagiarism, being a free paraphrase of a romance written by the Rev. Solomon Spalding in 1816,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 spectacle s. which he called his Urim and Thummim, were given to him, enabling him both to read and translate into English.

The spectacles and the metal plates have disappeared, and the story of the dictation makes tolerably clear the manner in which the "Book of Mormon" had its origin.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                                 Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 23, 1911.                                 No. ?


Pittsburgh Figured Considerably in
the Beginning of Mormonism.



Many of you have forgotten, if you ever knew, that the great Mormon movement first flourished here, and that one of the brainy but adventurous men of this city is accredited with giving it a start.

Sidney Rigdon was a brilliant but unstable sort of man, and seemed ever ready to take up with new doctrine. For a time he was a disciple of Alexander Campbell -- of Campbell rather than of the doctrine he taught.

Those who knew him best knew him as an adventurous sort of fellow, brilliant but unstable. His manner, and his eloquence made him popular, and nothing pleased him better than to oppose the doctrines of the times. The religious history of Pittsburgh during his sojourn here was full of Sidney Rigdon.

Samuel Church, George Darsie and others who helped to establish the Christian Church, now commonly known as Disciples, were not long in sizing up the fiery Rigdon, and then he began sowing seeds of dissention. If he couldn't lead, he wouldn't follow.

Meets  Solomon  Spaulding.

About the time of his disaffection he met Solomon Spaulding, who had written a rather wonderful book, which is claimed to be the original of the Mormon Bible.

Whether Rigdon conceived the idea of calling it a revelation or not has never been finally settled, but there is hardly a doubt as to him having assisted Joseph Smith in revamping and extending Spaulding's manuscript into the Smith Bible.

But true to his nature he did not long remain an accord with Smith, but soon became a dissenter and caused troubles that have not been settled to this day.

Brigham Young was a man after the Rigdon type, but more dogged and persistent, which made it impossible for the two to work together, so Rigdon quit, and it is said by some that he started the modified church known as Latter Day SAints.

Something  About  Spaulding.

The story of Solomon Spaulding has often been told in part, but he was worthy of having a biographer who could do him justice, at the same time giving to Rigdon, Smith and Young their just dues.

Spaulding was a resident of the village of Amity, Washington county, and pastor [sic] of the Presbyterian Church at that place when he finished his manuscript. About this time it appears that Rigdon became interested in it, the story being full of mysticism, and was written in the style of the King James version.

The folks up in Conneaut, O., claim that Spaulding wrote the greater part of it while he resided there

The following, which appeared in the Conneaut News Herald, throws some new light on the affair, or at least on the characters of Spaulding and Rigdon.

The  Manuscript  Found.

"In the year 1812 Solomon Spaulding, who lived in a house where the Marcy block now stands, wrote a historical novel and called it 'The Manuscript Found.' Spaulding was a well educated man, having graduated from Dartmouth College in 1785, subsequently studying theology, but gave up the ministry on account of ill health. He then came to Conneaut and was associated in the iron business with Henry Lake until the war of 1812 ruined the concern."

"He had always been a great writer, not for pecuniary gains especially, but for the entertainment of his friends and neighbors, and there are here today a number of the old residers who remember of hearing their fathers tell about Spaulding and the great fairy tales he had written."

"Near by the town there were (and are today) a number of Indian graves and mounds supposed to be the relics of mound-builders. Spaulding caused one of these mounds to be dug away and there was revealed a number of prehistoric tools and crude weapons and also human bones of what would now be considered those of a giant. This discovery very greatly excited him and fired his imagination to such an extent that he set about to write a novel."

"He conceived the idea that among the prehistoric mementoes some golden plates covered with hieroglyphical writing had been found, and that he merely translated a story of a people whose wanderings and sufferings had been therein inscribed, and of which he had deciphered the the intrepretation. The extreme antiquity of these relics belonging to the race whose history he proposed to give, led him to adopt the most antique style of composition and so he imitated the Scriptures. The book was in short, simply an account of the peopling of America ny the lost tribes of Israel, their leaders being Mormon, Moroni, Laminite and Nephi."

"So much interest was awakened by this romance that he determined to publish it and for this purpose he removed to Pittsburgh, where he had a friend named Patterson who was a publisher.

"In Patterson's employ was a young man named Sidney Rigdon, who devised a treachery toward both the author and the publisher, and gained possession of the manuscript. Spaulding died in 1816 and, of course, his book was never published."

After changing hands several times the manuscript finally turned up at Palmyra, N. Y., in 1830, where it was printed in book form by Joseph Smith, Jr., who at the same time founded the Mormon sect. It might be added that Joseph Smith and his coajutors instead of confining themselves to the original manuscript had clumsily engrafted upon it a number of maxims, prophecies, etc., evidently taken from the sacred volume and interpolated in such a manner as to involve anachronisms and contradictions."

"In 1831 when the Mormons passed through here on their way west, Smith [sic - Samuel Smith?] endeavored to gain a few converts by reading from the "Book of Mormon," but he did not proceed far before his listeners at once recognized the work of Solomon Spaulding and thereupon branded Smith as a fraud and invited him to move on. They finally settled in Kirtland, O., near Painesville, and built a church which is standing today.

"Later the Mormons moved west and finally to Utah."

Note 1: The George Darsie mentioned in the article above was evidently the son of Elder James Darsie (1811-1891). The following quite is taken from The Disciple, Jan., 1887 (Vol. V. No 1.): "James Darsie... in 1824, at the age of twelve, he was baptized in Pittsburgh, under the eldership of Walter Scott and Sidney Rigdon, the latter having united his Baptist church with that of Walter Scott. The baptist was John C. Ashley, father of James M. Ashley, Congressman from Ohio. Darsie began to speak in church when only fifteen years of age, but was never ordained... In 1832, James Darsie and Robert Forrester of Pittsburgh made a short preaching tour into Washington county, Pennsylvania... The first Christian Church of Pittsburgh, says Elder Darsie, was organized in the year 1817. Its chief members were George Forrester, Thomas Campbell, James Darsie, Sr., James Henderson, and James Hanen. By removals it went down about 1819, but was reorganized in 1820 by Walter Scott in his school." George Darsie later became the pastor of the Disciples of Christ congregation in Ravenna, Portage Co., Ohio. For information on Samuel Church, see the Christian Baptist for Aug., 1824, along with Richardson's Memoirs of Alexander Campbell II, pp. 128-29.

Note 2: The statement made by the Pittsburgh journalist, saying that "About the time of his disaffection he met Solomon Spaulding," is most certainly wrong. Spalding died in 1816, while Rigdon was not a member of any church until 1817, when he joined the Baptist church attended by other members of his family. Rigdon was not even partly disassociated from the Baptists until 1823, and not permanently cut off from the "Regular Baptists" until 1827. It is, however, possible that Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding did meet and become acquainted during the years 1812-1816, when both of them lived in or near Pittsburgh. There is some old testimony to this effect, which is supported by additional indications that Spalding's widow knew who Sidney Rigdon was, in the days before he gained notoriety for joining the Mormons and becoming one of their topmost leaders.

Note 3: See also Wilson's follow up article in the Apr. 17th issue of the Gazette-Times.



Vol. ?                                 Pittsburgh, Monday, April 17, 1911.                                 No. ?


The Rev. Solomon Spaulding's
"Manuscript Found" and
Book of Mormon.



A few days ago there was given in this column a story from a Conneaut paper, that purported to be a true story of the famous "Manuscript Found." by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, for some time a resident of Conneaut.

It has long been contended that one Sidney Rigdon had taken the manuscript and from it he and Joseph Smith and others formulated the book of Mormon...

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the name given by Smith to the new church. Among those who indorsed the Book of Mormon, the writings of one named Mormon, were such men as Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, all men of intelligence.

It was not long until dissensions arose, and some of those who were anxious to become leaders defied the authority of Joseph Smith and began to prophesy on their own account.

Brigham Young.

Among the more ambitious and jealous ones was Brigham Young. Being a born leader of men, it was not long until he had quite a large following. Then it was that the society which had headquarters at Kirtland, O., moved westward in order to find room for the thousands of converts, all of whom wished to join the tribe of Joseph.

They moved to Nauvoo, Ill., and there their persecutions began, and from there Brigham Young led his followers to Utah and set himself up as the head of the church of Mormon, or Latter Day Saints.

It was there that he claimed to have received several revelations, some of which were at variance with the teachings of Smith, particularly relating to marriage. In the original version it was distinctly specified that a man could have but one wife. Young's revelation permitted, or commanded, as many wives as could be supported.

The Manuscript Found.

The original copy of The Manuscript Story is now in possession of Oberlin College. A correspondent sends a printed copy of this which is certified by Prof. Hurlbut, to be a true copy of this manuscript, verbatum et literatum.

It has generally been believed that Spaulding was a man of considerable learning and literary ability, but this work shows that he was neither. The story is much like what might be expected of a school boy who hadn't yet learned to compose, and not even to spell and to punctuate.

In an introduction to the story the author goes on to tell that he found it in a cave near the west bank of the Conneaut river, in a stone box in which was a lot of manuscripts written in the Latin language. One of these rolls of manuscript purported to be the story of the wanderings of a Roman youth who, together with a party of friends and fellow travelers, had been driven by contrary winds to the coast of North America.

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

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

"One day he says to me Fabius you must go to Britain & carry an important -- (obscure in manuscript) to the general of our army -- sail in a vessel & return when she returns. Preparation was made instantly and we sailed -- The vessel laden with provisions for the army -- Cloath, knives and other impliments for their use had now arrived near the coasts of Britain when a tremendous storm arose & drove us into the midst of the boundless Ocean. Soon the whole crew became lost & bewildered. They knew not the direction to the rising Sun or polar star, for the heavens were covered with clouds; & darkness had spread her sable mantle over the face of the raging deep. Their minds were filled with consternation and despair, & unanimously agreed that What could we do? How be extricated from the insatiable jaws of a watery tomb."
A Love Affair.

It wouldn't have been much of a story without some love mixed in it some where. So he proceeds to say that among those on the ship were three ladies of rank and three of commoner blood. And seeing that there was no possibility of ever getting back home they might as well make up their minds to stay.

One of the men suggested that the ladies choose husbands from among the men, which they did. There were several men left matchless. so this same chap proposed that the rest of them secure native women, who by a free application of soap and water could be made endurable. This was also agreed to and duly carried out.

The people he describes as dog-eating Indians known as Deliwannucks. A tribe just across the river was Sciota, and another country was Kentuck. There had been no war for about 400 years, but something offended the Deliwannuck emperor and he ordered the extermination of the offending tribe, which was promptly carried out. The dead were buried in great circular rows, tier upon tier, until the piles became great mounds decorating the Sciota country.

It is no wonder that he could not find a publisher in Pittsburgh even as far back as 1835.

Note: The writer appears to have known practically nothing about Mormonism. He also obviously did no historical research in his own native city of Pittsburgh. Had Mr. Wilson bothered to spend a scant ten minutes reading up on Solomon Spalding, the columnist would have realized that Mr. Spalding was not even alive in 1835 -- much less alive and searching for a publisher in Pittsburgh in 1835.



Vol. XII.                           Charleroi, Penn., Tues., Aug. 29, 1911.                           No. 27.



Maple Creek Church to be Scene
of This Year's Gathering

The 135th annual association meeting of the Redstone Old School Baptists will be 'icld Friday, Saturday and Sunday Septemebr 1, 2, and 3 at the Maple Creek church in Fallowfield township. Announcement of the meeting has been issued to th members of the association.

Last year the association met at Grafton, W. Va., and enjoyed a very successful three days session. Although most of the members of the association live in Virginia or West Virginia, it was decided to hold this year's convention at the Maple Creek church. S. A. Cleavenger will be the minnster in charge.

The Redstone Baptist Association is one of the most remarkable religious denominations in existence in this community. It was organized at Turkeyfoot, in Fayette county, in 1776, and in the early days of its existence embraced in its membership many eminent persons, who later figured prominently in religious and other circles. Among its former members were John [sic - Thomas] and Alexander Campbell, founders of the Disciples or Christian denomination. Both father and son served successively as moderator and secretary of the association. The late John Shanton, while a resident of Charleroi, had charge of the minute book which showed the handwriting of these eminent divines in recording the minutes of the annual meetings.

Another former member who afterward achieved distinction, but in a somewhat dierent manner, was the late Sidney Rigdon, who became a follower of Joseph Smith the great Morman leader. Rigdon is said have had a hand in compiling and printing the Book of Mormon, or what is known as the Mormon bible. His name and utterances were recorded in the old [minute] book of the Redstone Baptist Association, which was in the possession of Mr. Shanton while a resident of Charleroi.

Note: The present day location of the "old minute book of the Redstone Baptist Association" remains unknown -- perhaps it is lost. Some of the published minutes of that association are available on-line.


The  Herald.

Vol. X.                             Sewickley, Pa., Sat.,  November 9, 1912.                             No. 12.


Hon. Frank J. Cannon, who is to lecture here, was the first United States senator from Utah, was organizer of the Republican party in Utah and is a world traveler, author and orator. Recently he resigned from his position on the editorial staff of the Rocky Mountain News of Denver that he might give all his time to the Lyceum and Chautauqua platform.

As is alreaddy well known Senator Cannon from the platform and in magazine articles is enlightening the American people on "Mormonism." The subject of his lecture is "The Modern Mormon Kingdom." His articles on "Mormonism" have been appearing in Everybody's Magazine.

Hon. Frank L. Cannon was reared in the seclusion of the Salt Lake valley in the environment of Mormon circles a thousand miles from any other civilization. Racially a Mormon and proud of their achievements in many ways, he never avowed himself ecclesiatically a Mormon.

For years he has been fighting polygamy in the Mormon church. When the Mormons pledged themselves to do better, he interceded for them at a time when they were threatened with disfranchisement. He took a prominent part in all the public affairs of the Mormons, all the time depending on their promises of reform. His antagonism to some of their practices, however, which they persisted in despite their promises, finally resulted in his excommunication from the church.

He opposed the election of Apostle Reed Smmot to the senate, and when Smoot was finally steated Cannon withdrew from Utah, believing that little more could be done, at least for some time.

A Spendid Lecture Course.

The lecture course under the auspices of the Sewickley Home and School Association will begin at the Auditorium next Thursday evening with a lecture on "Mormonism" by Hon. Frank J. Cannon, at one time an elder in the Mormon Church and a member of the United States Senate. Mr. Cannon has recently written a book on Mormonism, which is said to be a terrible arraignment of the form of religious belief and practice. His knowledge of the subject at first hand gives him a grasp on it which will make the lecture well worth hearing.

The succcess attending the splendid course of lectures given last winter has given the lecture course committee of the association courage to attempt even better things this year, and they have arranged a splendid program....

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Herald.

Vol. X.                             Sewickley, Pa., Sat.,  November 16, 1912.                             No. 13.


A splendid lecture was given on this subject in the Auditorium last Thursday evening by Frank J. Cannon, before a large and appreciative audience. It was the first in the lecture course of the Home and School Association, and in this initial success, the Association scored a great success.

The speaker was introduced by Judge W. A. Way. In his prelude, Judge Way recited a story of surprising interest concerning the local features relating to the first publication of the "Book of Mormonism." The story was a long one and was listened to with intense interest. He then introduced the speaker of the evening.

Mr. Cannon startled his hearers with the question, "What are you going to do about it anyway?" asked in a vehement manner, went on to explain that this question was asked before the Senatorial Investigating Committee at Washington, by Joseph [F.] Smith, the acknowledged head of the Mormon Church when he was on trial for violating their solemn treatise made between this church and the United States Government, to which charges he plead guilty. He denied the right of the Senators to interrogate him, and declared he was not amendable to the government.

After some preliminaries the speaker launched into his subject: He said the people of this nation did not fully appreciate the gravity of the issue. He narrated the incidents of the war made by this government on the Mormon Church, a quarter of a century ago; that driven to desperation by their sufferings, they had appealed to the government, and as a result of the pledges made at that time, the givernment had made concessions to them that were unparalled in the history of nations. They were restored to their land, to statehood, and to citizenship; millions of dollars worth of property were taken from the schools and given to the chiefs: 100,000 of their children were legitimized" and many more concessions were given to them. In spite of all this, the leaders of the church refused to honor the treaties which they had ratified.

Mr. Cannon said the Mormon Church was an empire within itself, and that Joseph Smith was an absolute despot, with 100,000 priests subservient to his will, that the leader is entirely sincere in his appreciation of himself, and that his followers are as fanatical as any Mohamedon, that the absolute devotion of the people to the hierarchy is due to their belief in the doctrine that "sin on earth is sanctity in heaven."

He accused the church as being treasonable in doctrine and practice, with sanctioning the "oath of blood" in vengeance, using millions of money for the purpose of operating free institutions, and with teaching and practicing polygamy. He said that seven states were under its power and that its influence was greater than that of the government, [in] twenty-two years it had passed from a condition of outlawry to its present powerful position, and if this ratio was continued for two decades, its long arm would reach around the civilized world.

The remainder of the address was an exploitation of the specific charges and an impassioned appeal to the people of this land to arouse themselves against this subtle and powerful "invisible empire."

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Herald.

Vol. X.                             Sewickley, Pa., Sat.,  November 23, 1912.                             No. 14.

The Origin of the "Book of Mormon."

The following extremely interesting narrative relating to the origin of the first "Book of Mormon" was related by Judge W. A. Way as a prelude to the lecture given on "The Modern Mormon Kingdom," by Hon. Frank J. Cannon, under the auspices of the Home and School Association on Thursday evening of last week. The authenticity of the narrative, the local coloring attached to it, and the nature of the occasion, made its rendition peculiarly appropriate, and we deem it a pleasure to be able to present it to our readers"

The subject of Mormonism has an especial interest for a Sewickley audience. Few, probably, of those here tonight know that the origin of the Mormon Bible, the "Book of Mormon," is intimately associated with the history of a family that has resided in this vicinity for two generations. Many of you remember well our former neighbor, Mr. Robert Patterson, one of the editors and proprietors of the "Presbyterian Banner," who for many years lived on the river bank near Glen Osborn station, and all of you know his son, Thomas Patterson, Esq., the lawyer. Now, Mr. Robert Patterson's father was a printer and a book publisher in the city of Pittsburgh. In 1812 he was visited by an ex-clergyman named Solomon Spaulding, who desired Mr. Patterson to publish a book. This book had been written by Mr. Spaulding as a religious novel and was based based on the idea that the North American Indians were the descendants of the lost Ten Tribes of Israel. It gave an imaginary detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem by land and sea until they arrived in America under command of "Nephi" and "Lehi," and made mention of a tribe of people called the "Lamanites." Two of the principal characters in the book were "Mormon" and his son, "Moroni," and the title of the book was "The Manuscript Found." As Mr. Spaulding was unable to make satisfactory financial arrangements for the publication of this work the manuscript remained in Mr. Patterson's printing office for several years and was finally, after Mr. Spaulding's death, returned to his widow. While the manuscript was in Mr. Patterson's office it came under the notice of a man by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who was employed there. Rigdon was also a preacher. He took a great interest in this manuscript, to which he had free access, and it is thought that he made a complete copy of it. In any event there is no question but that he became thoroughly familiar with it, and without doubt made extracts from it. He subsequently left Mr. Patterson's office and formed an acquaintance with Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, about a year before the appearance in print of the Mormon Bible. It is also noteworthy that after Mrs. Spaulding received the manuscript of her husband's novel she left it for several years at her brother's, who resided in New York State in Smith's vicinity.

What actually became of the manuscript nobody now knows and nobody knows whether Smith secured the original manuscript entire or gained a knowledge of its contents from Rigdon, but one thing is certain; and that is that when the Mormon Bible was published its narrative followed precisely the lones of Spaulding's novel. The plot was the same, the names of "Mormon," "Moroni," "Nephi." "Lehi," "the Lamanites" were the same, the exact language was, in many instances, accorsing to the recollection of those who read Spaulding's manuscript, the same, and the only noticeable change was the addition of scriptural passages and religious matter which did not appear in Spaulding's original work. This coincidence was so remarkable as to challenge the attention of all those who had seen the Spaulding story, and it appeares to leave no room for reasonable doubt that this "bible," the foundation stone of the now world-famous sect, was, in a large measure, copied from Solomon Spaulding's attempt at a religious novel.

It may not be out of place, in this connection, to recount the story given by Joseph Smith of the origin of the "Book of Mormon." It is in effect that he saw in a vision an angel named Moroni, who explained to him that the Indian tribes were a remnant of Israel and that a sacred history of their wanderings had been preserved and was desposited on a hill near Palmyra, N. Y.

After having repeated communications with the angel for several years Smith finally, in 1827, when he was about twenty-two years old, is said to have disinterred these "records," which were engraved on plates which had the appearance of gold. The plates were about as thick as ordinary tin and some eight inches long and seven inches broad. They were covered on both sides with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together at one edge by three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness and was accompanied by an instrument consisting of two transparent stones set in the rims of a bow, like the glasses in a pair of spectacles. Although entirely uneducated Smith was enabled by use of these spectacles to translate the characters on the plates which he read aloud from a place of concealment behind a curtain, and what he read was taken down by amanuenses. What finally became of the plates and spectacles does not clearly appear -- certain it is that they are not now in existence. One account has it, I believe, that the angel reappeared and took them away.

No one seems to have seen them except some members of Smith's own and of a neighboring family, and the three original "witnesses" subsequently renounced Mormonism and avowed the falsity of their testimony.

This brief statement is given here in order that those of you who are unfamiliar with the Mormon account of the origin of their Bible may be in a position to form an intelligent opinion as to the probability of its truth and to judge whether this "bible" had a miraculous origin or was, in the main, a copy of Spaulding's novel. Those of you who knew Mr. Robert Patterson can vouch for his absolute fairness and accuracy. While the events I have recounted happened before he was born, the matters pertaining to the Spaulding manuscript and Sidney Rigdon were frequently discussed in the Patterson family, and Mr. Patterson was in a better position than probably any living man to determine accurately as to the identity of these documents. He gave this matter the most painstaking attention and exhaustive research, and always proclaimed it as his unhestitating conviction that Spaulding's story and the Mormon bible were practically one and the same.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                               Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, November 24, 1912                               No. ?



Not Generally Known Fact Is
Brought Out by Lecturer on Creed


Pittsburgh's intimate association with the birth of Mormonism and the part that a little Western Pennsylvania town played in the institution and promulgation of the Latter Day Saints' religion, were among the startling features of a lecture on Mormonism delivered by Miss Anna Milligan yesterday afternoon before the Woman's Union Missionary association in the Second Presbyterian church.

In her careful search for data bearing on the history of Mormonism, Miss Milligan unearthed the hitherto perhaps unpublished fact that the creed owes its original inception to a Pittsburger, Rev. Sidney Rigdon, who in 1820 was pastor of the First Baptist church of Pittsburg. Rev. Rigdon advanced such extreme views on certain subjects that he was judged heretical and dismissed from the church. He then associated with some other free thinkers, but he soon outstripped them, and they also renounced him.

Rev. Rigdon later encountered Joseph Smith, and the latter seized on his religious views and elaborated on them. He was much the stronger character and soon entirely eclipsed the originator of the new creed. When he finally discovered the golden tablets and would reduce them to book form, the work was done in Harmony, Pa., from which village the followers of Smith journeyed westward with him.

Miss Milligan told of the ardent missionary spirit that prevails among the Mormons, citing the fact that every man who becimes a member of the faith pledges himself to two years of active work in spreading the belief, and urging her hearers to regard this as a still stronger incentive in counter missionary efforts to offset the preachers of Mormonism.

She gave graphic word pictures of the conditions existing among Mormon women, and declared that polygamy is still as important a phase of the religion as

Note: The fact that the reporting journalist for a major Pittsburgh newspaper knew nothing of Sidney Rigdon's history, shows just how obscure the subject of Mormon origins had become in the Pittsburgh area by the turn of the century. There were many missed opportunities to investigate and report the events of past days in and around Pittsburgh, as those events might have been related to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the progress of Mormonism generally. But, by 1912, a hundred years had passed, since Solomon Spalding first came to the "Iron City," and all the knowledgeable witnesses were long departed from the scene.



Vol. 51.                     Washington, Pa., Tuesday, February 7, 1922.                     No. 10,061



J. F. McFarland Traces History of Mormon, Christian and
Cumberland Presbytarian Churches.

How Mormonism, the Christian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian church had their real beginnings from Washington county, or were started by men from this section, was told in a most interesting manner last evening by Attorney Joseph F. McFarland, at the February meeting of the Washington County Historical Society, which was held in the public meeting room of the court house. An interesting feature of the evening was old-fashioned music of 100 years ago played by William Cummins of Washington...

Mr. McFarland began with his history of the Cumberland Presbyterian church; then followed with the Christian Church and finally told of the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormons, showing how each probably grew out of the other. He also spoke of the general belief that the story written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding gave Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith their idea for their "Book of Mormon."

It is interesting to note in this connection that the Rev. Solomon Spaulding lived during the last years of his life at Amity, this county. The house in which he died is still standing there and is a source of great interest for all travelers through this section. During the past three quarters of a century, it has been visited by thousands. Spaulding is buried in the church yard nearby. His grave was first marked by a plain sandstone slab; but this was carried off piece by piece by relic hunters over half a century ago, and the location of the grave was known to only a few of the old residents of Amity. Before they died, and it would have been lost forever, a granite monument was erected by popular subscription of the people in that section. This was 15 years ago. Alexander Bolton was one of the main contributors to its erection and still lives in Amity.

In telling the beginning of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Mr. McFarland told how James McGeehan, a pupil of the Rev. John McMillan, Rev. Joseph Smith, and the Rev. Thaddeus Dodd, who belonging to that coterie of frontier ministers who made Washington county famous as a seat of Presbyterianism a century and a quarter ago, began preaching in the Cumberland mountains of the south. His revival methods were not approved by the Presbyterian Church, but in spite of this opposition he started the great religious movement of 1787, which swept through the south, up through Pennsylvania to the vicinity of Palmyra, New York, the home of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. This was the beginning of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

He then told how Thomas Campbell was refused admission by the Seceder Church and afterwards by the Presbyterian Church. The point in dispute between them was his refusal to subscribe to the confession of faith. Finally he got into the Baptist Church, but this same confession of faith came between them. Campbell's sermons did not conform to the Baptist faith.

In 1821, Alexander Campbell became acquainted with Sidney Rigdon and secured a Baptist pulpit for him near [sic] Pittsburg. In 1823 he was turned out by the congregation because of his teachings, and in 1827 both he and Alexander Campbell were turned out of the Baptist Association of Western Pennsylvania. They formed the Mahoning Association in Ohio, but in 1830 Campbell and Rigdon fell out over the question of having every thing in common.

Prior to 1830 Rigdon met Joseph Smith and shortly afterwards the "Golden Bible" or Book of Mormon was published by Smith. Prior to that time both had been teaching the ancient religion. He then told how Smith and Rigdon worked together in starting their new religion, on the idea of "community of goods." It is known that Joseph Smith was at Harmony, Pa. at times and Rigdon's church was near [sic] that place. The speaker advanced the idea that they got their first idea of a Mormon hierarchy from the teachings and contract of the Harmonites or Economy Society.

It is claimed that Rigdon was the man who stole Spaulding's manuscript from the Patterson printing office in Pittsburg; and he never [sic] denied this, although he lived until 1876, and was driven out of fellowship with the Mormons.

Years later a manuscript of Spaulding's was found in the Hawaiian Islands, in the hands of an American printer there. This is now at Oberlin College, and it is claimed by the Mormons to be Spaulding's manuscript. There is no denying the fact that it was written by Spaulding, for it was learned that it was secured from his widow by E. D. Howe, in 1834, who wrote "Mormonism Exposed," but it bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon. This has been published by the Mormons, and a copy is in the possession of the local historical society. Those who claim that Solomon Spaulding's revised and completed story of "The Manuscript Found" is the basis for the Book of Mormon claim that it disappeared and was probably stolen by the originators of the Book of Mormon. But this has never been proven. At any rate, the original manuscript, if another did exist, has disappeared utterly, although circumstantial evidence is overwhelming that the revised story of Solomon Spaulding is the origin and foundation of the Book of Mormon.

Note 1: The other newspaper in town, the Washington Reporter, published a similar summary of Joseph F. McFarland's lecture in its edition of the same day -- Feb. 7, 1922 -- under the title: "Three Religions Starting Here, Are Briefly Sketched." The two papers' respective reports are practically identical in their major features.

Note 2: The idea that two prior religions helped give rise to Mormonism was not original with Mr. McFarland. Two decades before, the Rev. William A. Stanton delivered similars lecture in Pittsburgh. However, he cited the region's Baptists, rather than the incipient Cumberland Presbterians, as having provided some early influences in the development of Mormonism. Stanton further developed his "three churches" ideas in an article published in the Chicago Standard of July 22, 1899 and in his 1907 book, Three Important Movements: Campbellism, Mormonism, and Spiritualism. Both Rigdon and the Campbells had brief careers as Baptist ministers, of course. The Campbells sprang from Presbyterian roots and functioned in that denomination before associating with the Baptists. As for Rigdon, he is not known to have ever been a member of any Presbyterian congregation -- but, according to one early source, Rigdon once had some ties to the Cumberland Presbyterians. One of Rev. Rigdon's early auditors mentioned that the first time he heard the fiery minister preach, it was in a Cumberland Presbyterian church. Perhaps the young Rigdon merely had a knack for obtaining the chapels of this religious group for his own preaching services, when he was working as a traveling evangelist.

Note 3: Mr. McFarland's reference to George Rapp's Harmonists as having inadvertently supplied the "idea of a Mormon hierarchy" is an intriguing one. It seems quite possible that Rapp's plan for the old Harmony communal colony served as a sort of bluepeint for Rigdon and Smith's planned "City of Zion." Rapp established two different sites for his communal experiments in Pennsylvania, and both were within a day's walk of the northern limits of Washington county. The earlier colony (Harmony) existed when Solomon Spalding first came to the Pittsburgh area, while the later establishment (Economy) was contemporary with Rigdon's brief career as an independent preacher in Pittsburgh between 1823 and 1826. Solomon Spalding arrived in the area in time to become acquainted with all three of the supposed "foundations" of Mormonism -- the Harmonists, the early Campbellites, and the Cumberland Presbyterians. For more on Rigdon's possible ties with the Harmonist movement see the notes attached to the article "The Town of Harmony" in the Nov. 2, 1814 issue of the Pittsburgh Mercury.



Vol. XXVIII.                           Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Aug. 4, 1927                           No. 51.

New Light Shed On Old Cult
And “Halcyon One” In County


The report from Waynesburg of a plan to open a supposed grave of a "halcyon individual" on the John Parkinson farm, Morris township, this [Washington] county, brings to light a curious bit of almost forgotten religious history of Washington county of more than a century ago. No doubt the "halcyon undividual" referred to was a member of either the Halcyonites, Rhodanites, [or] the New Light sects that flourished nearly a century ago in old Finley and Morris townships. The grave referred to, if a grave it really is, is probably that of a member of one of the above sects.

The Halyconites were organized about 1807 in Finley township by a man named Sergeant, who, as he maintained, had received a revelation from heaven in which, he declared, an angel had informed him that there was no hell. He preached throughout that section for three years, and had many followers, who were given the name of Halcyonites. The sect came to its death when Sergeant was arrested in Cumberland, Md., for forgery.

One of his followers was an old woman named Rhoda Fordyce, who now assumed the leadership and in addition to the old doctrine that there was no hell, she declared that it was possible for people to live on parched corn, sassafras buds and other vegetables and herbs, for a certain number of days, after which they would be translated bodily to heaven. This sect received the name of Rhodianites after the new leader.

It is reported that a man named Parker attempted to carry out the doctrine, and starved to death in the Fordyce woman's house. According to the old story she kept the body for three days and three nights, after which neighbors, who had missed him, broke into the house and found the body. It may be that his is the grave referred to in the news story from Waynesburg.

The New Light sect, made up of converts of the Halcyonites and Rhodianites, grew very strong in that section of the county after the downfall of Mrs. Fordyce. They believed in immersion as the true mode of baptism. They also believed in the foot-washing ceremony at their communion service. This sect flourished in southwestern Washington County for several years.

Note: Most of the above text was copied from Earle R. Forrest's 1926 book, History of Washington County. For more information on the Rev. Abel Morgan Sargent, Sr., see the "Halycon Inspiration" episode of the on-line Spalding Saga.



Vol. ?                           Altoona, Pa., Tuesday, September 20, 1927                           No. ?

Today in Pennsylvania History

Joseph Smith Claimed to Have Received
Divine Records for Book of Mormon,

Sept. 20, 1827.



For many years it was the general belief among religionists that the "Book of Mormon" was compiled from the manuscript of a romance entitled "The Manuscript Found," written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding of Amity, Washington county. Pa.

Rev. Spaulding was a native of Connecticut, who had graduated from Dartmouth College in 1785, and who had fought as a Revolutionary soldier. He became a clergyman and served charges in Cherry Valley and Richfield, N. Y., Pittsburgh and Amity, Pa.

He was an antiquary, much interested in Indian relics. He wrote his romance, which purported to be an account of the original people of this continent, their customs and conflicts between the different tribes. It pretended to be translated from curious inscriptions on certain tablets found in one of the Indian mounds in Washington county.

Mr. Spaulding read his manuscript to some of his friends in 1811-12, and a Mr. Patterson of Pittsburgh undertook to publish it, but failed to fulfill his contract. For several years the manuscript remained in the possession of the would-be publisher and one of his printers, Sidney Rigdon, made a copy of it.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, went to reside with his wife's family, in Harmony (present Oakland), Susquehanna county, Pa., and here began to dig for golden plates, and according to his own account, he copied the characters on the plates, which Smith claimed that a heavenly messenger had delivered into his hands on Sept. 20, 1827, and by the aid of "Urim and Thummim," a pair of magic spectacles, translated them from behind a curtain, dictating the "Book of Mormon" to Martin Harris and later to Oliver Cowdery, who joined him in April, 1829.

Smith and Cowdery frequently went into the woods to pray for divine instructions, and on May 15. 1829, they claimed that they were addressed by the materialized spirit of John the Baptist, who conferred upon them the priesthood of Aaron.

The "Book of Mormon" was printed in 1830, and the Mormon church was organized April 6, 1830, by six "saints" in Fayette, N. Y.

In the following February, Smith and the leaders of the church settled at Kirtland, O., which was declared to be the promised land of the Mormons.

About this time the preachers gave such a glowing account of [how] the golden plates, from which the "Book of Mormon" was made, had been found, that it brought to mind the story written by Spaulding twenty years before.

A suspicion was raised that the "Book of Mormon" might have been an outgrowth of Spaulding's romance. This suspicion soon ripened into a general belief, and in time became the accepted theory.

It is alleged that Sidney Rigdon, learning of Joseph Smith's digging operations through the instrumentality of necromancy, resolved he would turn the wonderful manuscript he had surreptitiously copied to good account and make it profitable to himself. An interview was arranged between Smith and Rigdon, terms were agreed upon, and the whole romance of "The Manuscript Found" underwent a partial revision, and in the process of time it turned out to be the "Golden Book, or Book of Mormon."

Soon after Smith returned to Kirtland, and during a visit to Hiram, O., with Sidney Rigdon, who had become a Mormon prophet, he was tarred and feathered.

In 1884 the original manuscript of Spaulding's romance was found and upon examination it was determined that there was not sufficient resemblance in the two books to prove that the one was a revision of the other. But after reading all the contemporary evidence given by persons who were acquainted with Spaulding, and had heard him read parts of his romance, it must be admitted that there remains a probability that the itinerant evangelist and antiquary, Solomon Spaulding, may have written the first draft of the "Book of Mormon" while a resident of the religious and social community of Amity.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. 42.                           Kittanning, Pa., Saturday, December 28, 1929                           No. 47.


By Rev. H. M. Foster, of Yatesboro.


If you were to ask one of the many Mormon missionaries who might come to your home any day what the Book of Mormon was, he would likely tell you that it was a history of the American continent and the American Indian, prior to the coming of Columbus to these shores. [Not] that was what Smith, Cowdrey and Rigdon and his other helpers tried to make out of the Spalding manuscript or from some other sources. Wherever they got it, it is too crude to have come from divine sources. Even Smith himself had told an old friend, so this man made oath, that there were no golden plates; the story of the angel was only a trick but since he had fools he was going to push it to the end.

If you were patient enough to read through this queer book which uses a style of language resembling that used in the Bible, you would soon be convinced that it was not of God, except chapter after chapter copied from the Bible. The copy from the Bible differs from the rest so much.

The story seems to try to account for the mound builders in the Mississippi valley, the ancient sun worshippers of Mexico and Central America, and other extinct peoples whom the author thought might have lived on this continent. The book is full of ungrammatical sentences and superfluous words as well as ridiculous statements. The expression "harrow up" is common; as, "Would I harrow up your souls if your mind were pure." "The more part," "the more history part," "a more great," "a more short," and "behold," are used constantly in the book. "It came to pass" is used so much that Mark Twain said that if this, with the rest of the superfluous words were taken out, there would be nothing left to come to pass. Just one more absurd statement among the many I'll mention. The general of an army in the account wanted to call the attention of his army; he took off his coat, tore a rent in it, wrote upon the rent. "He went forth among the people waving the rent of his garment in the air that all might see the writing which he wrote upon the rent." Like! the man who secured a hole and had a barrel made around it. Smith with Cowdrey and Rigdon brought together about thirty people, immersed them in a creek near Manchester, N. Y., and started that greatest of cults, Mormonism, on its way April 6, 1830, and revelations came thick and fast from this prophet.

Talking in tongues was common. Miracles were performed, so they said. Converts were made and the growth of this sect astonished everybody. They claimed the Lord had given them the earth, so they proceeded to take it. "Were they not the restored church?"

It is said they stole pigs, chickens, corn, and anything that they could find. Even tried to take their neighbors' land. Later they called this spoiling the Gentiles. People soon got tired of them and they moved on Joseph had a revelation to go to Kirtland, Ohio, and he proceeded with the saints to found the "New Jerusalem." I am told that their old church still stands where Joseph prophesied. A store, a mill and a bank were organized. Joseph was the president, Sidney Rigdon was cashier. Spurious money flooded the country. Other dishonest acts are charged to them. On March 22, 1832, they both were tarred and feathered, so they moved on. After their bank failed they fled to Missouri in 1838. They settled in Jackson [sic - Caldwell?] County. Independence, Missouri, was called the capital of the Latter Day Saints and the Mormons claimed they would soon own the earth. Joseph Smith then prophesied that a temple would be built at Independence, Mo., which would outshine Solomon's temple and around it would be gathered all the people. Jesus Christ, Peter and Joseph Smith would reign together. Each would have a great harem. The Mormons still think they will return to Missouri.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. 46                               Jeannette, Pa., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1936                               No. 237

Mormon Origins Traced to
County Baptist Leader

Attorney Lewis C. Walkinshaw, Greensburg historian especially interested in the early times of Western Pennsylvania, last night gave an enlightening talk on "Baptist Beginnings in Western Pennsylvania" before members of the Church Men's club of the Baptist Church.

With early territorial church history at his fingertips, Mr. Walkinshaw told of the first churches west of the Alleghenies. The earliest church organization, he said, was Great Bethel Baptist church, at Uniontown, organized on November 7, 1770...

Following is the complete address of Historian Walkinshaw:

The pioneers of Western Pennsylvania brought with them, in varying measure, the same type of religious life to which they had been accustomed in the Eastern settlements along the Atlantic coast. The substantial settlement of Western Pennsylvania did not begin until 1769, when the Penns opened up the lands of the 1768 Indian purchase west of the Laurel Hill. Earlier than that these pioneers took a tomahawk right, or received a military title, such as it was, from the commander at Ft. Pitt. ...

Moravian Missionary

In the period between the Forbes Expedition of 1758 and the opening of the land office by the Penns on April 3, 1769, there was the historic Pontiac's War, which brought the decisive defeat of the Indians at Bushy Run, just north of Jeannette, on August 5, 6, 1763. During these years there were only adventurers of the more daring sort, like Andrew Byerly, and Col. William Clapham, James Kenney, a Quaker merchant at Fort Pitt, kept a very fine diary during the years 1761-1763, and he tells of the Moravian missionary, Frederick Post going through to preach to the Indians. On December 31, 1761, he has this entry: "Many of ye inhabitants here have hired a schoolmaster, and subscribed about 60 pounds for this year to him. He has about 20 scholars; likewise, ye sober sort of people seems to long for some public way of worship, so ye school master reads ye litany and common prayer on ye first day to a congregation of different principles (he being a Prisbiterant), where they behave very grave, as I hear, on ye occasion ye children also are brought to church as they call it." This community service at Ft. Pitt was much similar to that conducted by an early German schoolmaster in the Harold Settlement at Ft. Allen. Then, as late as 1772, Rev. David Jones, a Baptist missionary coming through Ft. Pitt, described it as "a small town, chiefly inhabited by Indian traders and some mechanics. Part of the inhabitants are agreeable and worthy of regard, while others are lamentably dissolute in their morals." While Hannastown was the more sedate and substantial lrgal center. Pittsburgh remained a rollicking frontier town for many years, even to the days of the Revolution. None of the historical records show the organization of a church congregation earlier than that of Great Bethel, Baptist Church at Uniontown, on November 7, 1770.


While the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and the German Lutherans and Reformers came through and established their communities by way of the Forbes Road, there came up from Virginia to the Redstone country through Tygart's Valley and from Philadelphia, the Suttons, Crossley and Corbley, who lost no time in establishing churches on the upper Monongahela waters. The churches were mostly called for the streams close to which they were organized, and for the reason that here were the natural baptistries wherein the ordinance could be administered. Bethel Baptist, oldest congregation West of the Laurel Hill of any denomination, was organized by the Rev. Henry Crossley, who came from the old Philadelphia Association, organized in 1707. Then a year or two later the Rev. John Corbley, famed in the Indian massacre nearly a decade later when members of his family were murdered on their way to church, came up from the Virginia persecutions, and was instrumental in establishing Goshen, Muddy Creek, Ten Mile, and Peters Creek Baptist Churches in present Greene and Washington counties in 1762 and 1763. These and two later churches joined in organizing the Redstone Baptist association at the Goshen Church on October 7, 1776. The Presbyterians used the same name when they formed the Redstone Presbytery, an organization which began September 19, 1781, and is an active religious body today, composed of churches South of the Lincoln highway. The Redstone Baptist association was an active body during the entire period of the Revolutionary War, as its minutes show. The minutes of the old Philadelphia association show the following interesting item:

"1777. In consequence of the ravages of war, and Philadelphia being occupied by the British army, the association held no meeting this year."

But note the following entry for 1781:

"And now, dear brethren, having come to the close of our annual meeting, before we address you by our circular letter, we feel constrained to acknowledge the great goodness of God towards us, to call on you to join with us in thankfulness and praise, as well for the unanimity and brotherly love which prevailed throughout our meeting, as for the recent signal success granted to the American armies in the surrender of the whole British army, under the command of Lord Cornwallis, with the effusion of so little blood."

The older churches of the Redstone Baptist association were: Great Bethek, Uniontown, 1776; Goshen, 1772; Muddy Creek, 1773; North Ten Mile, 1773; Peters Creek, 1773; Forks of Cheat, 1775; Mt. Moriah, 1784; Salem (Rostraver Township), 1790; Big Redstone, 1794; Connellsville, 1796.

Out of this association was also formed in 1808 the Beaver Baptist association, from which was also formed the Mahoning association, as more Ohio churches were organized. Churches from the Redstone association withdrew to form the Monogahela association in 1832 and the Pittsburgh association in 1840.

Two Schisms

Two outstanding national movements have emanated from this historic Redstone Baptist association: one of them the present Christian Church, as a religious denomination; and the influential Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly called the Mormon Church, with its headquarters at Salt Lake City, Utah. After a period of unsuccessful dealings [with the Presbyterians], Thomas Campbell and his son, the Rev. Alexander Campbell, became active participants in the deliberations of [the] Redstone association from the date of their entry as delegates from the Brush Run Church in 1815. At the meeting of September 2, 1817, held at Peters Creek Church, Library, the Rev. James Estep, a former county commissioner of Westmoreland county, was the moderator, and the Rev. Alexander Campbell was clerk. At Connellsville on September 1, 1818, the Rev. Charles Wheeler was moderator, and the Rev. Alexander Campbell, clerk. At Horseshoe Church, near present Monongahela City, on September 3, 1819, the Rev. William Brownsfield, of Uniontown, was moderator and the Rev. Alexander Campbell, clerk. At Plum Run in 1820, the Rev. Alexander Campbell was moderator, and the Rev. James Estep, clerk. At Washington in 1822 the Rev. Thomas Campbell was moderator and the Rev. Isaac Pettit, clerk.

The Campbellites

The Campbells then began a vehement advocacy of their distinctive doctrines, with the result that at the meeting of December 1, 1826, at Old Redstone Baptist church, near present Smock, Pa., the Rev. Alexander Campbell, withdrew in the heat of argument, taking half the congregation with him, mounted a large boulder in the woods nearby and preached to them in support of his doctrines. That action on his part resulted in the formation of the great Christian church of today. This separation should never have taken place, and the venerable Dr. James Estep even thirty years later, having remained a staunch believer in the interpretation placed on the scriptures by the Baptists, said: "From the idea I had of Mr. Campbell, if he had been approached in kindness and Christian affection, he would have been induced to modify, if not abandon, that sentiment, but he was treated by some of the members of the association in a most impulsive manner."


Many writers attribute the genius of the Book of Mormons [sic] to the Rev. Sidney Rigdon, prominent in the annals of old Redstone Baptist association. The minutes of this association show his activities in his earlier days. He was born in the village of Library in 1793, and became a Baptist preacher in 1819. His name is carved with others in the present beautiful edifice of the First Baptist Church, Pittsburgh, showing his pastorate of that congregation, 1822-1823. He was excluded from the denomination for doctrinal errors in 1823 and became pastor of a Christian church near Painesville, Ohio, until 1830, when he joined up with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and advanced the cause of the Mormons by the building of Kirtland Temple. In his book, 'The Truth About Mormonism," Dr. James H. Snowden collects rather convincing evidence of Sidney Rigdon having communicated with Joseph Smith before the golden plates were allegedly found near Batavia, New York, on September 22, 1827. Dr. Snowden recites further testimony that Solomon Spaulding had written a manuscript entitled "The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon, or Unearthed Records of the Nephites," which was left in a Pittsburgh printing office, and which was later used by Rigdon to assist the prophet in preparing the Book of Mormons, for its printing and promulgation near Kirtland in 1830. When Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were murdered in the jail at Carthage, Illinois, on June 17, 1844, Sidney Rigdon attempted to seize the reins of church government, in the absence of the apostles of the church, but upon their return they put Brigham Young in charge, and Rigdon fled. The Mormons then trekked to Utah, and established themselves in their present formidable position.

Noted Baptists

A proper reference should be made to some of the men who helped to maintain Baptist solidarity during these early days. Rev. John Corbley served Goshen and other churches in Greene county for many years after the Indian massacre which took members of his family. At old Peters Creek church, the Rev. David Phillips was pastor for some thirty years. He was a captain in the Revolutionary War. These two Baptists ministers were mixed up in the Whiskey Insurrection, much in the same way as some of the Presbyterians, in 1794. Mr. Corbley was taken with other prisoners to Philadelphia, confined in jail for a day, and then bailed out. Mr. Phillips was also much concerned with his parishioners who were bucking the government on the whiskey tax. Dr. William Shadrach was a man of stabilizing force in the early part of the nineteenth century. He was converted at old Beula, a town in Cambria county, now extinct, and ordained at Two Lick Church in Indiana county. He was through all of the contraversies revolving about the Campbells and Rigdon, and the minutes of the old Redstone association, and the later Monongehela and Pittsburgh associations, bear testimony to his fine spirit and wise guidance. He was one of the founders of Bucknell University of later days, and its first financial agent. These Baptist folks all made their ample contribution to the history of Western Pennsylvania and in the nation. But there are a host of others who deserve the praise of present Baptist generations for blazing the Baptist path through woods of uncertainty and doubt to the commanding position which we now occupy as a denomination in the United States.

Note 1: Lewis C. Walkinshaw was a published Pennsylvania religious historian. See his 1939 Annals of Southwestern Pennsylvania, vols. 2 & 3, for relevant supplemental information. In 1937 Walkinshaw agreed to work with the Rev. William R. Pankey, "to write and publish a complete history of the churches of the [Pittsburgh Baptist] Association... [however] the sudden and untimely death of Mr. Walkinshaw has made it impossible for his unfinished manuscript to be included."

Note 2: Rev. Snowden reciting the "further testimony that Solomon Spaulding had written a manuscript entitled 'The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon, or Unearthed Records of the Nephites,'" is problematic. This assertion was originally published in 1914 by Charles A. Shook -- who, in turn, evidently received the unsubstantiated claim from Rev. R. B. Neal. The original source -- a purported Cephas Dodd statement of June 5, 1831 -- has been documented as a forgery, and there is no reliable evidence for Solomon Spalding ever having made use of this strange title.



Vol. ?                                   Erie, Pennsylvania, January? 1938                                   No. ?


with Walter Jack

A full page picture of Heber J. Grant, twenty years president of the church of Latter Day Saints in the current issue of Life. Erie insurance men knew Heber J. Grant by reputation and personally because of his prominence in the insurance world.

The space accorded to the "Mormon" church in Life may have been prompted by its security program which was put in effect in a more definite tangible way in the last few months taking off the federal relief rolls 21,000 persons and aiding more than 30,000 others. The undertaking is one of the greatest attempted by any religious body. Rigorous tithing, church and community co-operation, and a business-like, efficiently-administered church organization, conducted as a big business make possible such effort. The Mormon members of the Erie and Greenville congregations tell us they dispense their charity to both Mormon and "Gentile.

Local Associations

Many Erie people are familiar with the great domed tabernacle and its nearby spired temple at Salt Lake City. The firmer is open to visitors of other faiths. Many Erie people are also familiar with the program of promotion and publicity of the Church of Latter Day Saints at the Century of Progress, Chicago. This was dignified, and reflected the heroism of the pioneers who pushed westward into the heart of the Rockies.

There are many old families living in western New York, northwestern Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio whose cousins several generations removed are among the adherents of the faith and now reside in Utah and adjoining states. A few became restless under the stern discipline and returned.

Wolverine a Refuge

The historic Wolverine was the refuge of an early Mormon leader, James J. Strang, who proclaimed himself king and ruled on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan 90 years ago. Whenever the writer visits this old boat tied up in the Peninsula and subject to the elements, he wonders just where within it this king had refuge. Strang, according to J. J. Thompson, Mayville, curator of the Chautauqua County Historical museum, was a Chautauqua county man. He was the only man to establish a kingdom and reign over it within the limits of the United States. "King of Zion" Strang was crowned in 1850. He differed in doctrine from the main body of Mormons who were located at Nauvoo, Ill., who were driven out of Illinois in 1846. Returning to his island realm, the "King of Zion" was murdered by his followers.

Mormonism Moved Westward

Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, then twenty-five, near Palmyra, N. Y. Near Palmyra hill, was unearthed by the founder, the so-called gold plates and mystic spectacles enabling him to translate the ancient characters. After 1830, the doctrine spread rapidly. In the decade that followed, there were many converts, local ones particularly at Conneaut and Conneautville. It was during this decade that the great "Mormon Temple" was built at Kirtland, south of Willoughby, Ohio. This was to be the "New Jerusalem," The temple was abandoned, and the congregation moved westward because of "persecution."

The Kirtland temple has been reopened and restored. Regular services are held, and its congregation numbers nearly 500 widely-scattered in northern Ohio and in western Pennsylvania. This church was built a little over a hundred years ago.

Women gave their silver and their rings to be melted up for the communion service. They are said to have cut off their hair to be twisted into needed ropes, and their dishes for mortar for the plaster.

[missing sentence] This old church, four miles west of Conneautville, was torn down three of four years ago. The congregation was unable to maintain the building in repair. The great windows were too great a temptation to the stone-throwing instinct of impetuous youth.

The movement of the sect to the far west where it became established in 1848, is a matter of general knowledge. Mormon doctrines have been adapted to present day conditions by a series of "progressive revelations," and a vigorous administration by the president and apostles.

Mormonism at Conneaut

During the decade 1830-40 several Mormon families moving westward "to Zion" spent a winter on the Benedict farm in West Springfield township. Quite a number around Conneaut leaned toward, and a few openly avowed the Mormon faith. The Free Will Baptist church on South Ridge, Route 7, granted the congregation privilege of worshipping under the roof at any time, other than the regular hours of Free Will Baptist services.

The successive steps of the migration westward were from Ohio to Illinois, Missouri and to Salt Lake City. The trek westward was one of the most romantic of all the world's history. The advanced guard fitted fields and seeded them to grain. The main body following harvested the grain and ground it to flour in a mill erected for their use. It was in Utah they had hopes to build a mountain-hemmed temporal kingdom on earth. The trek of the original founders, however, proved to be important in the expansion of the nation. Senator Smoot, able in congress, was an apostle, and in early life he was a missionary to the Hawaiian Islands.

Other Mormon History

Gen. Thomas L. Kane, founder of Kane, healed the breach between the Mormons and the Federal government in 1858. Kane had been baptized by Brigham Young.

The Mormons had captured or burned three government supply trains and had cut out 800 head of oxen from another supply train in their efforts to thwart the government and protect their isolation. Kane, with authority from President Buchanan, persuaded the Mormons to make formal submission to Federal authority. Kane had acted as Mormon agent in the immediate section of Pennsylvania.

Solomon Spaulding Manuscript

Many Conneaut people hold that the fantastic manuscript of Solomon Spaulding, a Conneaut preacher and iron foundryman, was the basis of the book of Mormon. This was written 125 years ago, and had been prompted by the discovery of particularly large skeletons found in an aboriginal graveyard. Spaulding wrote his highly imaginative account of the lost tribes of Israel and associated them with probable Eries Indian remains found in the Conneaut burial place.

This manuscript was read aloud to employees in the old Rathbun mill which stood not far from the site of the present Bessemer depot. In after years Conneaut citizens who read the Book of Mormon declared Spaulding's manuscript had been appropriated by Rev. Sidney Rigdon, earlier a Lake county Disciple preacher. That Rigdon had come across the Spaulding manuscript submitted for publication, while Rigdon was employed as compositor in a Pittsburgh printing office, has been advanced as a theory. In connecting up the story Conneaut people conceived that Rigdon had framed a plot with his leader, Joseph Smith, using the manuscript as a new Bible.

Oberlin college possesses an unusual manuscript written by Spaulding. This was found by President Fairchild more than 50 years ago. E. C. Lawson, vice president of the Ashtabula Historical society, has carefully studied the style of the Book of Mormon, and agrees with others who have critically studied the style of the two. He rejects the possibility of Spaulding's authorship.

Note 1: The date of this 1938 clipping is uncertain. Apparently it appeared the same month (January) that LDS President Grant was featured in Life Magazine.

Note 2: George W. Rathbun was the proprietor of Union Mills, and a dealer in wheat flour at Conneaut, Ohio after the Civil War. His mills were located in the west side of Conneaut Creek --- Solomon Spalding's house and forge were located across the creek, below the embankment on the east side. Both in terms of time and space, it seems impossible that Spalding's auditors could have assembled in "the old Rathbun mill."


The  Pittsburgh  Press

Vol. 69                               Pittsburgh, Pa., Thursday, July 24, 1952                               No. 31

Book of Mormon

By William A. White
Press Staff Writer

Amity, Pa. -- Was the famous "Book of Mormon" written under another title by Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who died here in 1816? Innumerable arguments have failed to settle this question.

The story is that a printer in Pittsburgh copied a story written by Rev. Spaulding entitled "The Manuscript Found." And with the guidance of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, it reportedly was revised, called "The Book of Mormon" and published as the translation of inscribed gold plates dug from the earth near [sic] New York City.

Dr. Spaulding, graduate of Dartmouth, came here several years before his death. He was an antiquarian who traveled far to investigate Indian mounds and trace aborigines.

Style Resembled Old Testament

While living near Ashtabula, Ohio, he investigated mounds and found traces of forts there supposedly built by an extinct race and conceived the idea of a fictional sketch of this race. According to his widow, his object in writing it was to amuse himself and entertain his neighbors.

Written in a style resembling that of the Old Testament, he read the story to neighbors as it progressed. The report got abroad that he was writing from his deciphering of hieroglyphics on stone in the strange places he visited. Actually it was a fabulous historical romance stemming from his own imagination which he never intended to publish. An editor was permitted to read it and offered the minister a contract for publication.

Mrs. Spaulding, in a letter published in 1839, said her husband refused to permit its publication, but historians do not agree on this point. It was while the editor had the manuscript Sidney Rigdon, a printer, reportedly got possession of it long enough to copy it.

Book Published in 1830

About 1830 Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church, claiming that he had received his "revelation" seven years before and had been "led" by an "angel" to the burial place of some inscribed golden plates. In 1827 he said the "records" were delivered to him and translated into "The Book of Mormon." The book was published in 1830 at Palmyra, N. Y. and not too long afterward Smith was joined by printer Rigdon in Kirtland, Ohio, where the first Mormon Temple was built.

Persons who heard Rev. Spaulding read chapters of his fiction tale claimed immediately [that] the "Book of Mormon" appeared to be what they had heard from Rev. Spaulding's lips, with some revisions.

According to the Minister's widow the original manuscript was sent to the Ohio town and compared paragraph by paragraph with the text of the "Book of Mormon" and it was identical except for "a few pious expressions and extracts from Sacred Scriptures," which had been inserted. The author was denounced as having "palmed it off on deluded fanatics as divine" and "should be exposed to the contempt and execration he so justly deserved."

Strangely, the Spaulding manuscript disappeared after that and some historians are of the opinion there never was such a manuscript, though they have no explanation for how the story of it became so widespread and so controversial.

Rev. Spaulding's burial place in the Lower Ten Mile Presbyterian Cemetery here is marked by a modern granite stone.

Note: The writer of the above article seems to have merely paraphrased the 1839 statement given by Spalding's widow, carrying over from it certain allegations which require careful explanation, if they are to be advanced as part of the Spalding authorship claims (i. e. Rigdon being a printer, Spalding being "an antiquarian who traveled far," etc.). The writer appears to be unaware of the Spalding manuscript discovered in Hawaii and the subsequent efforts by LDS and RLDS leaders to describe that document as Mr. Spalding's only attempt at writing historical fiction. The above article is somewhat unusual in its promotion of the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship as late as 1952. By that time most writers for the public press had followed the lead of Fawn M. Brodie and had dropped the "Spalding theory" from their telling of Mormon origins.


The Washington Reporter.

Vol. 147                             Washington, Pa., Friday, April 1, 1955.                             No. 24,396


by Earle R. Forrest

(Continued From Yesterday)


...Carrons Tavern. The next point of interest is the old Carrons homestead on the south side of the pike, seven-tenths of a mile west of Moses Little’s and about a mile east of Pancake. For the last 142 years this farm has been owned by the Carrons family, and [Leslie Carrons], great-grandfather of the present Carrons sisters who still live there, came from Ireland to Washington County in 1803. He first lived near Chambers' Dam, although there was no dam at that early date. Later he moved to Amity and occupied the house in which Solomon Spaulding had lived. Spaulding gained historical fame as the author of the Mormon Bible, which many of later years claimed was taken from his manuscript entitled "Manuscript Found," although present day historians give this little credence. Carrons occupied this house as early as 1811, as shown by his old account book, and there in 1812, his son Robert, father of Robert M. Carrons, was born. Some time in 1812 Spaulding moved to Amity and Leslie Carrons went to the present Carrons farm.

... The old account book of Leslie Carrons, dating back to 1811, and still preserved by the family, contains some interesting items. While in Amity, Carrons conducted a tavern. An item dated April 20, 1811, shows that the prices charged Richard Coleman, who paid 14 cents for a pint of whiskey, hay, and lodging; and on May 10, 1811, Joseph Headly paid, 37 1/2 cents for "nights pasture, breakfast and lodging."

Some other prices of 1811 and 1812 are interesting today. Board was $1.50 a week; whisky sold for 25 cents a quart and 50 cents a gallon. Other items were: Pork 120 pounds, $3.60; 5 3/4 pounds of candies, 80 cents; 4 pounds of hops, $1; 2 bushels of potatoes, 70 cents; 12 gallons of cordial, $9.60; 1 gallon of gin, 50 cents; 1 check of victuals, 12 1/2 cents; 4 quarts of siderroyal, supper, bed and 1 gill of whisky, 27 1/2 cents.

On December 7, 1812, Dr. William Blatchy was charged 80 cents for "His dog eating a calf skin 9 pounds"...

Note 1: Mr. Forrest is mistaken in saying that "Some time in 1812 Spaulding moved to Amity" and that Leslie Carrons "occupied the house in which Solomon Spaulding had lived," because the Spalding family did not move to Amity prior to the time Carrons first occupied its "old tavern stand." Contemporary news accounts show Carrons living in that village as early as June of 1811, and other records show that his son Robert was born in Amity in 1812. Beginning in January of 1813 Leslie Carrons attempted to sell the Amity tavern. It appears that he was unsuccessful, and so he modified his plan at the end of February, to simply rent out the building to another tavern-keeper (William Seaman, who obtained his license early in 1814). Carrons' ownership of the property ceased in October, 1814, when the lot was seized and sold by the Washington County Sheriff -- evidently to help cover payment of debts Carrons owed to Henry Wick, the previous keeper of the Amity tavern. It seems that William Seaman's estate (i. e. his widow) ended up with the title to the property, even though he died in March of 1814, months prior to the October Sheriff's sale. All of this occurred before Solomon Spalding and his family arrived on the scene in November of 1814.

Note 2: Leslie Carrons maintained a residence in Amity at least as late as 1816, although he must have disassociated himself with the tavern business there when the Seamans took over its operation. As Forrest says, Carrons eventually moved his operation up to the northern border of Amwell township, where the heavily traveled National Road ran westward through Washington borough and on down into Wheeling. No doubt he made a better living in the "Carrons Tavern" mentioned by Mr. Forrest, than he had in sleepy Amity hamlet.

Note 3: According to p. 118 in Beers' 1893 Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania, there was a Joseph Seaman residing at Amity as early as 1785: "Joseph Seaman... came to Washington, this county, in 1785... [his son] Jacob... kept tavern for many years at Amity, Amwell township." This Jacob was the "J. Van Seaman" mentioned by Cephas Dodd in his 1857 letter to Col. Ringland, as having "read his [Spalding's] novel or some parts of it." Jacob Vaughn Seaman (1791-1834) evidently became the manager of Amity's tavern a year after Solomon Spalding's death in 1816. He continued as its operator until 1822, or a little thereafter. -- See Helen Elizabeth Vogt's 1981 Descendants of William Seaman of Washington County.

Note 4: William M. Seaman's 1957 Seaman, Hunt, Wright genealogy provides the following information: "About 1809 William Seaman moved to the village of Amity, in Washington County, where he purchased 54 acres of land and two lots on the main street. Here he operated a tavern, for which he was granted a license in 1814.... His will, dated March 17, 1814, and probated April 4, 1814, is recorded in Vol. 2, p. 490... Records of these court proceedings are found in the county courthouse. --- The widow, Margaret, operated the tavern in Amity, receiving a license in 1815. From 1817 to 1822 William's grandson, Jacob Vaughn Seaman, lived there and had a license to operate this tavern."

Note 5: For more on Margaret Seaman and her relationship with the Spaldings at Amity, see notes appended to the Washington Examiner of March 2, 1818. For more on Henry Wicks see notes attached to the Observer-Reporter article of Sept. 12, 1981.


Observer  [   ]  Reporter

Vol. ?                           Washington, Pa., Monday, September 18, 1972.                           No. ?

Peters Creek Historical Society  Plans
Life Review of  Washington Theologian

FINLEYVILLE -- Members of Peters Creek Historical Society will review the life and doings of the Rev. Alexander Campbell, Washington theologian and educator, on a pilgrimage to Bethany, W.Va. on Sunday, Sept. 24. Campbell not only founded Bethany College and instituted the Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church, but opened Buffalo Seminary....

The visit to the Campbell home has been on the agenda since Peters Creek Historical Society plotted its summer and fall schedule of tours to early Washington County shrines.

In this respect the life of Mr. Campbell was closely identified with the early religious history of the county. In 1810, his father, the Rev. Thomas Campbell ordained him.

The first sermon was preached by Rev. Alexander Campbell on July 15, 1810, in a grove on the Templeton farm, eight miles from Washington. The following year, he caused a frame meeting house to be built on Brush Run, where residents of [the] Buffalo Creek region worshiped.

Mr. Campbell preached his first sermon there on June 18, 1811.

The church was later removed by wagons to West Middletown.

Later it was taken to the home of Alexander Campbell in Bethany and erected in the yard of that imposing dwelling. It has been regarded as the first church of the Disciples denomination in the United States.

Alexander Campbell in 1818 opened a school for young men of the county which he called Buffalo Seminary, after its location.

History records an interesting parallel. About 1821 Mrs. Jane McKeever, sister of Alexander Campbell, founded the Pleasant Hill Female Seminary. It was located in West Middletown.

Campbell's early days were spent in Washington. He lived in a two-story log house which stood at the corner of South College Street and East Strawberry Avenue. It was razed in 1905.

Mr. Campbell had a hand in the founding of the Mormon Church, although he was never a member.

In 1821, Campbell trained Sidney Rigdon, a Washington County boy, in theology. As a result Rigdon was called to the Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. He served that charge for less than a year and, because of his diverse teachings, was deposed from the ministry. Nonplused, Rigdon joined with Joseph Smith, and obtained the famed "Manuscript Found," upon which the Book of Mormon was based.

Note: For more on Sidney Rigdon's early years, near Pittsburgh, see this web-page. For an interesting reference to Solomon Spalding's initial visit to Washington County, c. 1813, see the recollections of Rachel Leet Wilson.


Observer  [   ]  Reporter

Vol. ?                           Washington, Pa., Wednesday, November 7, 1973                           No. ?

Peters Creek Baptist Church
Is Celebrating 200th Anniversary

The Peters Creek Baptist Church, Library, is in the process of celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding.

Founded Nov. 10, 1773 by nine persons gathered together to form a church in the "New Frontier," initial meeting places were in the homes of members.

Using as a theme, the inscription on a bronze plaque on the outside of the present church which states that Peters Creek is "older than the nation," the congregation has planned several events this weekend...

The present church building is located on a portion of the 300-acre farm of the Rev. David Philips, who was ordained in 1781 as pastor of 'The Church on Peters Creek.'

Prior to the construction of a log meeting place in 1810 on Rev. Philips' farm, known as Nineveh, the congregation had met for about 20 years in a log meeting house near Bradford's Mill, presently known as Gastonville.

The records show that the Rev. Mr. Philips was serving the church in 1789 and that he also preached at Elizabeth Town and Budds Ferry, near West Newton...

In the early 1800s the church was shaken by several controversies. In 1815 several members split from the church and followed Thomas and Alexander Campbell, a father and son, to form the Campbellite Church at the intersection of Churchill and Sugar Camp roads.

In 1827 the Mormons became active in the area and Sydney Rigdon, a son of the Peters Creek church, became involved with this and established a church of The Latter Day Saints, very close geographically to Peters Creek. From that time the church congregation grew steadily in numbers and faith and in 1832 erected a brick structure to replace the log one on the present site...

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Daily  Courier.

Vol. 74.                           Connellsville, Pa., Friday, June 25, 1976.                           No. 194.

Church  of  Jesus Christ

By Charles King

The Church of Jesus Christ was organized at [Green-Oak], Pa., in 1862. Present headquarters are in Monongahela. Its basic belief is that the Gospel, or Authority of God, was restored to earth in 1830 through Joseph Smith, Jr. There is no connection or affiliation with any other church, including those who might believe in the Book of Mormon, which the Church of Jesus Christ has accepted as a Divine Word of God.

Joseph Smith, Jr. first published the Book of Mormon in 1830, after being directed by an Angel of God to translate certain brass and golden plates, which he was shown buried in a hill in the State of New York.

His troubles began almost at once, in that his converts were persecuted and driven from one place to another. They tried to make homes in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. It was in Carthege, Illinois, that Joseph and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob on June 27, 1844. Many things were attributed to Joseph Smith Jr. during this stormy period just before his death but the Church of Jesus Christ accepts none of them, especially those beliefs which are contrary to the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

The church, as organized by Joseph Smith, went into immediate confusion after his death. One man who figured prominently at this time was an Elder Sidney Rigdon. His attempts to stick to the first principles of the Restored Gospel were in opposition to the thinking of other leaders of the Church and he was denied his rightful position. He continued to preach the Gospel, however, and one of his converts was William Bickerton, who was later ordained into the ministry.

With all the confusion, persecutions, personal ambitions, and new doctrines that entered the church, William Bickerton soon found himself alone. God then directed him to set the church up again, as it had been in the beginning. He did so and the Branch of the Church on Route 201, just outside of Vanderbilt, is one of the many branches that have been established from this humble beginning.

Notes: (forthcoming)


North Hills  News Record.

Vol. 16.                             Warrendale, Pa., Sunday, May 28, 1977.                             No. 21.

Hiland  Church  named
historic  landmark

Members and friends of Hiland Presbyterian Church, 845 Perry Highway, Ross, will dedicate a plaque naming the church an historic landmark following the 10 a.m. service tomorrow (Sunday). The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has named the church one of the landmark buildings in the Pittsburgh area.

The congregation of the church predates the actual founding of Hiland. A church history, written by Mary Louise Louthan, says:

"It had been at least a dozen years since this group of worshippers started to meet on top of a rolling hill adjoining the Hilands Family property. Barnabas Hilands himself had come across the river from Pittsburgh in 1796, the same year Casper Reel brought his family to Ross Township."

The first worshippers had no meeting-house. They held services in a tent or a school house on the property as early as 1798. By 1799, the Presbytery of Ohio had assigned a supply minister to the congregation.

Hiland's first building was a log church, built by members in 1807, the year the Rev. Robert Patterson came. The Rev. Mr. Patterson was the first settled minister in Erie County, in 1802, and was pastor of the Upper and Lower Greenfield churches before coming to Hiland.

He was also principal of Pittsburgh Academy. The history says:

"It was quite a common thing for the Church to provide teachers for the schools and colleges at this time. But for the Academy, one day to become a great university (the University of Pittsburgh) to go to Erie to choose a man for its highest position was an honor indeed "

The Rev. Mr. Patterson, who served as pastor of Hiland for 25 years lived in a log house next to the Academy at Third Avenue and Cherry Street, now the site of the Post Office Building. He rode to service each Sunday on horseback.

The only easting records of early attendance at Hiland are those sent to the Presbytery by Mr. Patterson. In 1809, 44 persons received Holy Communion. Five years later, 18 new members had been added and eight lost. Forty-nine infants were baptized. Records show that in 1821, Hiland had 116 persons attending Communion service. The church history calls this a remarkable number. "When we know that in the presidential election of 1820, there were only 43 votes-cast in Ross Township."...

In 1820, the church was incorporated as Hiland Presbyterian Congregation of Ross Township. The sanctuary was built in 1836 with handmade brick carried from Ingomar by ox cart....

The "Pittsburgh Dispatch" of Sept. 23, 1903, reported about the centennial celebration at Hiland:

"Over a thousand people from Pittsburgh met to celebrate the hundredth anniversary. Most of these visitors were from families who had helped build up the congregation -- Wallaces, Criders, Sangrees, Scotts, Samuel Courtney and Mrs. James Peebles...last of the Hilands family were there. These last two had been members in Robert Patterson's time."

"Thomas Patterson, grandnephew of Robert, unveiled a tablet to his uncle's memory, while Miss Mathilda Patterson, Robert's daughter, looked on."

Note 1: George Fleming's 1922 History of Pittsburgh and its Environs, provides this information: "Robert Patterson, son of Joseph and Jane (Moak) Patterson, was born April 1, 1773, in Saratoga county, N. Y., and in 1790 entered Canonsburg Academy... In 1794 he entered the junior class of the University of Pennsylvania, where his Uncle Robert was professor of mathematics, and in 1796 he began the study of theology. In 1801, after touring about four years, he was licensed to preach, and during the next six years ministered to two churches in the vicinity of Erie, Pa. In 1807 he moved to Pittsburgh and took charge of the Pittsburgh Academy... From 1810 to 1836 he was in business as a book-seller, publisher and manufacturer of paper. From 1807 to 1833 he supplied the pulpit of the Pennsylvania church at Highland, seven miles north of Pittsburgh. It is worthy of note that the 'Manuscript Found,' supposed to have furnished the basis of the Book of Mormon, was left at Mr. Patterson's printing house. Mr. Patterson married Jane, daughter of Colonel John Canon... In 1840 Mr. Patterson retired to the country, where he passed the remainder of his life. His death occurred Sept. 5, 1854, and two years later his widow passed away."

Note 2: From the same source: Robert Patterson, son of Robert and Jane (Canon) Patterson, was born Aug. 17, 1821, in Pittsburgh, and studied law under the preceptorship of Hon. Thomas H. Baird. At the end of three years he was admitted, in October, 1843, to the Allegheny county bar... In 1863 he became joint owner and editor of the "Presbyterian Banner."... Mr. Patterson died Nov. 30, 1889. He was a man of more than ordinary ability and of unblemished purity of character. He married, Aug. 27, 1851, Eliza, daughter of Judge Thomas H. and Nancy (McCullough) Baird, and the following children were born to them: Thomas, Jane; and Elizabeth. -- Thomas Patterson, son of Robert and Eliza (Baird) Patterson, was born Nov. 14, 1856, and received his preparatory education in public schools, afterward entering the Western University of Pittsburgh. After his course at the university, whence he was graduated A. B. in 1876, A. M. in 1879, he taught for two years at Sewickley Academy, and in 1879-80 studied at Columbia Law School. On Dec. 30, 1880, he was admitted to the Allegheny county bar, and has since been continuously and successfully engaged in practice in Pittsburgh. He is now (1921) senior member of the firm of Patterson, Crawford, Miller & Arensberg, a leading law partnership of Pittsburgh. In 1904 Mr. Patterson was a government delegate to the Universal Congress of Lawyers and Jurists at St. Louis.

Note 3: William E. DuBois' 1847 book, A Record of the Families of Robert Patterson, adds this information, on page 91: "Robert, was born April 1, 1773; married August 27, 1801, to Jane Canon, daughter of a gentleman from whom the town at which Jefferson College is located, takes its name. Robert is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian church, and was formerly pastor of a church about seven miles from Pittsburg. He was also for a number of years the first partner in a very extensive book establishment, comprising a paper-mill, printing office, bindery, and bookstore. He is at present living a short distance from Pittsburg. He has had eight children, six of whom are living. 1. Juliet. 2. John, died at the age of eighteen months. 3. Jane, married May 1, 1828, to Thomas S. Clarke, merchant, of Pittsburg; died February 18, 1830, leaving one child, Maria, then six months old, that died at the age of nine months. 4. Joseph, married January 1, 1840, to Mary C. Baird, daughter of Judge Baird ; they have three sons, Robert, Thomas, and Joseph. 5. Rebecca, married July 6, 1835, to John D. Baird, merchant, of Pittsburg. Mr. B. died June 9, 1841, leaving an only son, Harvey. 6. Sabina. 7. Matilda. 8. Robert." -- See also biographical data appended to an on-line copy of Robert's 1817 book of poetry.


Observer  [   ]  Reporter

Vol. ?                           Washington, Pa., Saturday, September 12, 1981                           No. ?

And It Came To Pass...                        
The Spaulding Affair

By Harriet Branton

Washington County during the last 200 years has been the setting for more than one little cause celebre. It was assured of a place in American history books as the scene of the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s. A different sort of flap occurred in the 1930s when it shared with Greene County the nationwide notoriety resulting from the publication of the spurious Horn papers. In between there was another interesting controversy with national repercussions. This was the Spaulding affair.

It all began innocently enough with the birth of Solomon Spaulding, son of a New England farmer, in Ashford County, Connecticut, in 1761. The child of reasonably affluent parents, in those years before the Revolutionary War, Solomon was well-educated and finally dispatched to Dartmouth College, from which he was graduated with honors in 1785. Spaulding then embarked upon a career as a preacher, but bad luck seemed to trail him wherever he went. His health was poor, and after three or four years service as a minister in the Congregationalist Church he went to Cherry Valley, N.Y., and set up shop as a merchant. This didn't work out either, and in 1809 he moved his family to Conneaut, Ohio, where he began to operate a forge.

The numerous ancient Indian mounds and fortifications in the Conneaut area so fascinated Spaulding that he determined to write a "romance" which would endeavor to explain the presence of the pre-historic mound builders in this part of North America. His investigations were stimulated by a natural interest in literature and history, and the innocent, imaginative chronicle which he labored over for months became a source of entertainment not only for the author but also for an admiring circle of friends and neighbors. In those frontier days amusements were scarce; books and magazines were also rare, so it is not surprising that Spaulding's neighbors began to look forward with eager anticipation to each succeeding chapter of his novel, which he entitled Manuscript Found. The fact that so many people listened with interest to each installment as he read it to them became very significant in later years.

Spaulding's tale was basically an imaginative account of how the prehistoric Indians happened to come to that spot. His story was based on the theme that they were descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel, who wandered afar, by land and sea, until they came to America. Bloody wars followed, and the burial of the thousands of victims in great heaps explained the presence of the numerous mounds which dotted the Ohio countryside. The adventures of Spaulding's chief characters, Nephi, Laman, and Lehi, remained forever in the minds of his audience as they listened to chapter after chapter of his narrative. And they particularly noticed how frequently he began his paragraphs with the Biblical phrase "and It came to pass;" eventually they even began to refer to the author affectionately as "Old Came-To-Pass." All in all, Solomon Spaulding's tale made quite an indelible impression on his listeners.

Finally, about 1812, Spaulding decided that since his friends and neighbors were so interested in his historical novel, he would take his manuscript to Pittsburgh, try to get it published, and then perhaps live happily ever after on the proceeds. He moved to the city and there entrusted his precious work to a printer named Patterson. Regrettably the popular manuscript was not published as its author had hoped, either because of reservations on the part of the printer as to whether it would sell, or a lack of funds on the part of the author to pay for the job. In any case, Spaulding apparently left his manuscript behind and moved with his family to Amity, in Washington County, where in 1814 they settled in a rented house built in 1796 by one Henry Wicks. This dwelling came to have considerable historical importance. Of frame construction, it was the first house of its kind to be built in Amity. And it was built to last, with handmade nails, a walnut stairway, stone and clay chimney, and two large fireplaces. Used in later years as a tavern, postoffice, storeroom and office, the house became famous because the Spauldings lived there. It stood until it was razed in 1948.

During the two years in which he lived in Amity, Spaulding ran a tavern in one more effort to become a successful businessman, and he apparently gave up any hope of publishing the manuscript over which he had labored for so long. He died on October 20, 1816, at age 55, and was buried two days later in a little churchyard in Amity.

It was several years after Spaulding's death that he and his Manuscript Found achieved national notoriety in a most curious fashion. It so happened that during the 1820's, in New York state, one Joseph Smith was busily at work organizing a new religion which in 1830 was formally recognized as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church. It was at this point that Spaulding's "romance" which had been left with Patterson the printer in Pittsburgh several years earlier, became the object of a tug-of-war between the Mormons and a rather large following of Spaulding's friends, relatives, and neighbors. Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was based on information written on a collection of golden plates which he had located after the angel Moroni appeared in a vision and told him where to find them. Spaulding's friends insisted that the Book was the manuscript which he had left in Pittsburgh many years before, and a number of them produced lengthy and detailed testimonials to support their position. Charges and counter-charges regarding the authorship of the Book of Mormon have flown back and forth ever since.

An astonishing cast of characters took shape as the controversy developed. First there was the assortment of relatives who were sure that Spaulding's work and the Book of Mormon had a remarkable number of similarities in their historical narratives. Characters of the same name appeared in both works, they had similar adventures, and the frequent repetition of Spaulding's favorite phrase "and it came to pass," caused his friends to observe to one another that "Old Come-To-Pass has come to life again." All of this provided some impetus for the theory that Spaulding's narrative had somehow been lifted from Patterson's print shop and made his way to Joseph Smith's headquarters at Palmyra, New York. Two of the persons who supposedly assisted in the conspiracy were Sydney Rigdon, a native of Library Pa., who lived in Pittsburgh and frequented Patterson's print shop during the period when Spaulding left his manuscript there; and one Parley P. Pratt, a "peddler who knew everybody in western New York and northern Ohio." Both Rigdon and Pratt were early converts and ministers in the Mormon Church.

A careful account of this interesting controversy, together with testimonials supporting Spaulding and his story, appears within the pages of Boyd Crumrine's History of Washington County. Written by Robert Patterson of Pittsburgh, a son of Patterson the printer who originally accepted Spaulding's "romance" for possible publication, the account of the alleged deception makes fascinating reading even a century after its publication,

So the argument raged. Scholars on both sides have studied the tangled mass of evidence for years. The Mormons, of course, insisted that Spaulding's work bore no resemblance to the Book of Mormon. Obviously it would have been convenient if Spaulding's original could have been produced to prove or disprove the controversy. Unfortunately the original disappeared; there has been talk that it or a copy had been located, but these claims only added fuel to the dispute. As the years went by Spaulding's grave in Amity was visited by hundreds of the curious, many of whom walked away with pieces of the tombstone. By 1900 the original marker had disappeared almost entirely. It was replaced in 1905 with a monument bearing the same inscription which appeared on the original. During the heyday of the controversy there were even postcards featuring photographs of the Spaulding house in Amity, as well as the new granite marker over his grave.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the innocent author of a controversial unpublished manuscript sleeps in a peaceful Amity churchyard, while the origin of the Book of Mormon, at least in some quarters, remains a mystery.

Sources: Crumrine, Boyd, History of Washington County, Philadelphia, L. H. Everts, 1882. Forrest, Earle, History of Washington County, Chicago, 1926. Pittsburgh Dispatch, July 10, 1898. Rural Reflections of Amwell Twp., v. 2, Bicentennial Committee of Amwell Twp., 1978.

Note 1: Although the above article contains a number of significant errors, it is useful in its relaying of information regarding the tavern Solomon Spalding kept at Amity in 1814-1816. Ms. Branton credits the original construction of that building to a certain "Henry Wicks," who built the tavern "in 1796." Henry Wick (1771-1845) came to Washington County at an early date, accompanied by his wife, Hannah Baldwin, a daughter of Caleb Baldwin, Sr. Mr. Wick arrived at the village of Ten Mile in the mid-1790s and for a several years conducted mercantile business in Amwell township, where he was also a licensed tavern-keeper from 1799 to 1802. The Amity building later occupied by Solomon Spalding appears to have begun its life as the village inn under Henry Wick's management. In 1802 Wick purchased land in Youngstown, and by 1804 he had moved his family to that place. Henry Wick died there on Nov. 4, 1845, followed by his widow, in 1849.

Note 2: Henry Wick's wife Hannah was the cousin of one of his neighbors at Amity, the Rev. Cephas Dodd. Rev. Dodd's mother was Phebe Baldwin (1747-1829), the daughter of Caleb Baldwin, Sr. (1718-1775). Hannah was the daughter of Caleb Baldwin, Jr. (1752-1810), son of the senior Caleb. The younger Caleb relocated from New Jersey to Washington County, prior to his moving to Ohio in 1800. Among his several occupations he was a "tavern keeper," and thus may have been briefly involved with Henry Wick's new roadhouse at Amity. The same may be said for another Amity old-timer, Ziba Cook, who reportedly "kept tavern from 1797 many years, and was appointed justice of the peace, April 2, 1802."

Note 3: Henry Wick's name resurfaced at Amity in 1814, in the context of a legal judgment rendered against Leslie Carrons. At some point following Wick's departure from Amity, Carrons purchased the lot where the tavern stood and took over operation of the establishment. Tavern-keeping in that tiny hamlet must have been unprofitable: in 1813 Leslie tried to sell his Amity roadhouse. Unsuccessful in that effort, he rented the building out to William Seaman, who obtained his operator's license early in 1814. In October, 1814, the property was seized and sold by the Washington County Sheriff -- evidently to help cover payment of debts Carrons owed to Henry Wick. By that time William Seaman had passed away and his wife Margaret took over running the tavern. She evidently delegated the daily operation of the little hotel to Solomon Spalding and his wife, who moved there in November of 1814. For more on the Wick-Carrons-Seaman-Spalding interactions see notes attached to the Reporter of Apr. 1, 1955.


The  Pittsburgh  Press

Vol. 99                               Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, August 8, 1982                               No. 46

The Mormon Mystery

By Ann Carnahan

Are 4.4 million Mormons entrusting their destinies to scriptures taken from an adventure novel?

Are they giving 10 percent of their incomes to a church whose founder plagiarized and stole to achieve his success?

The early residents of Amity claimed the precepts of the Mormon religion were taken from a fictional tale written by one of Amity's early settlers. Many secular historians concur.

The faith's "divinely inspired" teachings, they say, are a hoax that is based on a 19th century novel written by Solomon Spalding, a highly respected Congregational minister who lived his last years in the southern Washington County village.

The Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, a native of Vermont who abhorred the divisions among the Christian churches. Though his family was Presbyterian, Smith declined to commit himself to any particular denomination.

Smith said he received several visions from God in the 1820s in Palmyra, N.Y., where his family had moved. He said God told him he was displeased with all the Christian denominations and forbade Smith to join any of them.

Smith said the angel Moroni appeared at his bedside in one of the visions and told him of a book written on gold plates, detailing the origins of North America's early inhabitants. Smith said the plates contained the everlasting gospel that was delivered by the savior to the continent's ancient Indian tribes.

The following day, Smith said, he found the box containing the gold plates on a hillside outside Palmyra. But it wasn't until several years later, he said, that God permitted him to remove the plates from the box to complete the vision and begin the Mormon Church.

Mormonism's founders adopted the Christian Bible but added three books of their own -- The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon -- which Mormons today hold as the divinely inspired word of God and on a higher level than the other books of the Bible.

The Pearl of Great Price actually was taken from prayers and writings traditionally placed in Egyptian tombs more than 2,000 years ago, according to three scholars of the religion in "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" The divine origin of the Doctrine and Covenants, the book that expouses polygamy as "an everlasting covenant," has been questioned by some Mormons and most secular researchers.

But it is the Book of Mormon, which Smith said he received from God and which has become the keystone of the Mormon faith, that may have been written in Conneaut, Ohio, and polished in Amity.

According to testimony taken from 19th century Amity residents, Spalding basked in his literary work, "Manuscript Found," which he wrote to amuse himself after his retirement from the ministry. The writings traced the origins of the American Indian back to the Lost Tribes of Israel. They depicted the wanderings and final destruction of the lost tribes and helped satisfy Spalding's appetite for adventure and romance.

Because Spalding had been a clergyman, according to documents, some of his writings reflected the antiquated style of the Old Testament. He related his stories to his friends, neighbors and relatives in Amity, who frequented the alcohol-free tavern that he operated.

"Every evening evening, the townspeople would gather to talk and tell stories," said Margaret Farabee, an Amity resident who has researched the village's early history for the past six years. "But there's no direct proof that the Book of Mormon was taken from 'Manuscript Found' other than what the early residents said."

Spalding submitted his manuscript to R & J Patterson's Print Shop in Pittsburgh and waited for his lifelong dream to come true. For some reason the novel was never published.

Spalding died penniless in 1816 and never learned what became of "Manuscript Found," which he had spent many years writing.

After the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, the teachings of Mormonism spread to churches in New Salem, Ohio, where several Amity [sic] residents had relocated. They were convinced that they had heard the same account years before as part of Spalding's work.

They enlisted Philastus Hurlbut to gather evidence against Smith and prove that Spalding had authored the account. According to Don LeFevre, today's spokesman for the Mormon church, Hurlbut had been excommunicated from the Mormon Church for immorality.

This was purely a vendetta in an effort to discredit the church on the part of Hurlbut," LeFevre said from the church's spiritual center in Salt Lake City." Any thinking scholars would have to realize that. However, there are critics of the church who cling to the Spalding theory and periodically resurrect it."

The 275,000-word Book of Mormon contains essentially the same story as that created by Spalding, the critics said, and includes phrases Spalding frequently used in "Manuscript Found," such as "and it came to pass." The principal tribal names of Moroni, Mormon, Nephites, Lamanites, characters of the same name, and similar adventures appeared in both.

Hurlbut collected lengthy affidavits, most of them from Spalding's friends and neighbors, to support claims that the Book of Mormon had been authored by Spalding. One was the testimony of Joseph Miller, Spalding's intimate and confidential friend.
"When Mr. Spalding lived in Amity, Pa., I was well acquainted with him. I was frequently at his house. He kept what was called a tavern. It was understood that he had been a preacher, but his health failed him and he ceased to preach. I never knew him to preach after he came to Amity.

"He had in his possession some papers which he said he had written. He used to read select portions of these papers to amuse us of evenings.

"These papers were detached sheets of foolscap. He said he wrote the papers as a novel. [He called it the "Manuscript Found," or "the Lost Manuscript Found."] He said he wrote it to pass away the time when he was unwell; and after it was written he thought he would publish it as a novel, as a means to support his family.

"Some time since, a copy of the Book of Mormon came into my hands. My son read it for me, as I have a nervous shaking of the head that prevents me from reading. I noticed several passages which I recollect having heard Mr. Spalding read from his 'Manuscript.'

"One passage, on the 148th page I remember distinctly. He speaks of a battle, and says the Amalekites had marked themselves with red on their foreheads to distinguish them from the Nephites. The thought of being marked on the forehead with red, was so strange, it fixed itself in my memory. This together with other passages, I remember to have heard Mr. Spalding read from his 'Manuscript.'

"Those who knew Mr. Spalding [well] will soon all be gone, and I among the rest. I write that what I know may become a matter of history; and that it may prevent people from being led into Mormonism, that most seductive delusion of the devil."

Howard Davis, who began his research for "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" in 1974, contends that a portion of the original Book of Mormon is in Spalding's handwriting. The Mormons, however, say there is little similarity between the two handwritings.

Another theory rose that Spalding's manuscript had somehow been stolen from Patterson's print shop and ended up at Joseph Smith's home in New York. One of the persons who was alleged to have assisted in this conspiracy was Sidney Rigdon, a native of Library who lived in Pittsburgh and frequently visited Patterson's print shop during the time when Spalding's manuscript was there. Rigdon was an early convert and minister in the Mormon church.

It is alleged in "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" that Rigdon, a journeyman printer, copied the manuscript and gave it to Smith and that the latter plagiarized it to create the Book of Mormon. Some suggest that Rigdon obtained Spalding's work inadvertently and gave it to Smith, who was unaware of the story's origins.

Mormons, however, dispute these theories. They say the witnesses' affidavits are of such a "suspicious similarity," both in content and wording, that their veracity must be questioned.

"The Spalding theory has dominated secular explanations for the origin of the Book of Mormon well into the 20th century," said Mormon historian Dean Jessee in a report published in 1977.

"But its popularity is based more on the conviction that comes from age and frequent repetition than on any sound evidence. The theory was born in a spirit of rancor and animosity and was perpetuated chiefly by those who sought to lash back at Joseph Smith and Mormonism. The weight of scholarly studies in the field of Mormon history during the past 30 years has effectively rejected the Spalding theory."

But in Amity, the story of Solomon Spalding, his life and works lives on. His first two sandstone slab tombstones were chipped away by relic seekers, and bolts were ripped out of his Amity home, which was razed in the 1940s.

Though the original "Manuscript Found" has never been found, Amity residents and secular historians continue to call the village the Mecca of Mormonism.

"The Mormons don't want to hear it," said Mrs. Farabee, the Amity historian. "But you never know what people have in their attics, what old documents may someday turn up. Someday we will all know the truth."

Note: See also the Gettysburg Times of Aug. 31, 1982


The  Gettysburg  Times

Vol. 80.                             Gettysburg, Pa., August 31, 1982.                             No. 203.

Church may trace roots
to Pennsylvania Village

by Ann Carnahan

AMITY, Pa. (AP) Can the Mormon Church trace its roots, through a 19th century plagiarism, to this quiet Pennsylvania village about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh?

Officials of the 4.4-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints say absolutely not.

But other historians say that Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, may have stolen an obscure adventure novel written by a part-time Amity tavern owner and preacher and passed it off as a personal revelation from God.

"The Mormons don't want to hear it," says Margaret Farabee, an Amity resident who has researched the village's early history. "But you never know what people have in their attics, what old documents may someday turn up. Someday we will all know the truth," Mrs. Farabee said.

Smith founded the Mormon church in 1830 after claiming to have received several visions from God while in Palmyra, N.Y., in the 1820s. Smith said God told him He was displeased with all the Christian denominations and forbade Smith to join any of them.

The Mormon church founded by Smith adopted the Christian Bible, but added three books of its own, including "The Book of Mormon," the keystone of the faith which Smith said he received from God

Some historians say Smith lifted "The Book of Mormon" from an adventure novel written by Solomon Spalding while he lived in Conneaut, Ohio, and in Amity. Spalding, a highly respected Congregational minister, said he wrote his book, called "Manuscript Found," to amuse himself after his retirement from the ministry and before his death in 1816.

Spalding's novel, much like Smith's book, traced the origins of the American Indian back to the Lost Tribes of Israel and, because Spalding had been a minister, was written in a style reminiscent of the Old Testament.

Historians say Spalding related his book to neighbors, friends and relatives in Amity, where he tended an alcohol-free tavern in his later years. Friends say the novel helped satisfy Spalding's appetite for adventure and romance. Spalding submitted his manuscript to a Pittsburgh print shop, but the novel was never published, according to historians.

After Smith's "Book of Mormon" was published in 1830, the teachings of the new religion spread to churches in New Salem, Ohio, where several Amity residents had relocated [sic]. They were convinced that they had heard the same accounts years before as a part of Spalding's tales.

The former Amity residents [sic] enlisted Philastus Hurlbut to gather evidence against Smith to prove that Spalding had authored the account. Hurlburt collected lengthy affidavits, most of them from Spalding's friends and neighbors, to support claims that Smith had plagiarized Spalding's work.

Modern-day Mormon officials, familiar with the longstanding controversy, say Hurlbut was biased against the church because he had been excommunicated for immorality.

"This was purely a vendetta in an effort to discredit the church on the part of Hurlbut," says Mormon spokesman Don LeFevre at the church's headquarters in Salt Lake City. "Any thinking scholars would have to realize that. However, there are critics of the church who cling to the Spalding theory and periodically resurrect it."

Historians who agree with Spalding's authorship say a portion of the original Book of Mormon is in Spalding's handwriting. Mormon officials, however, say there is little similarity between Smith's and Spalding's handwritings.

Other theories have Spalding's manuscript being stolen or removed from the Pittsburgh print shop and somehow ending up in Smith's hands.

Mormons, however, dispute the theories and say the witnesses' affidavits are of such "suspicious similarity," both in content and wording, that their veracity must be questioned.

Note: Earlier articles from Gettysburg papers are located here,


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Vol. ?                             Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, October 1, 1995.                             No. ?



Have you ever heard of a jury guzzling beer introduced as evidence in a trial?

It happened March 6, 1940, in Washington County and the jury was later reprimanded. On Jan. 26, 1961, guess what the coldest place in the United States was, at minus 22 degrees?

Would you believe Washington County?

And consider this: On July 4, 1834, Washington County formed an Anti- Slavery Society.

If those highlights of history surprise you, read on.

There's a font of facts in the 1996 Scenic & Historical calendar published by the Washington Rotary. Each date contains a different historical fact about the county. Like a bag of popcorn (minus the calories), it's hard to put down once you start....

"We have a number of Rotary charities. A lot of money is used locally. We support any number of agencies in town at their request," said T.C. Drewitz, who was the group's president last year, when the calendar was conceived...

Robin Richards, who suggested the calendar and took the photos, said she is always on the look-out for interesting subject matter....

The bite-sized historical notes are intriguing as well. The Rotary has Jacqueline Gosselin to thank for that. An office manager for Meadowlands Farm, she takes an avid interest in history and spent six weeks compiling the calendar notes.

She drew from a variety of sources: Citizens Library, records, deeds, birth and death documents and journals...

Gosselin said her most interesting entry, however, was Oct. 20, 1816. It notes the death of Solomon Spaulding, who wrote "Manuscript Found." The manuscript closely resembles the Book of Mormon and for that reason, some believe he is author of the sect's bible. The idea for Spaulding's manuscript arose from excavations in Conneaut, Ohio, in the area of an iron foundry in which he served as a partner.

His daughter recalled that Spaulding became excited when he learned workmen had dug up portions of gigantic human skeletons. The discoveries served as the basis for "Manuscript Found."

When Spaulding moved to Pittsburgh, he approached Patterson's Printing Office about printing it, but the company declined. Spaulding later moved to Amity, where he died in 1816.

When the Book of Mormon was published in 1827 [sic], people to whom Spaulding had read his story noted the similarities. Joseph Smith said the book was his translation of ancient tablets he found with the help of an angel in 1823.

"That was one of the fun stories," Gosselin said.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Vol. ?                             Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, December 23, 2007.                             No. ?


The Bickertonites.

By Russell W. Gibbons.

Depending upon those who were writing the history, the Prophet Joseph Smith was either God's spokesman or the L. Ron Hubbard of the Great Awakening of the 1830s.

Whatever this assessment, few religious figures of either the 19th or 20th century can claim the influence that Smith left following his short 14-year leadership of the church that he founded. The passions and actions that energized his followers resulted in bitter schisms that would not go away.

Though dwarfed by the 7 million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Utah church or "Brighamites" to its detractors), these branches survive with little agreement among them with the exception of the Book of Mormon.

Pittsburgh could lay claim to one of these -- known as the Bickertonites.

Following Sidney Rigdon's return to his Liberty Avenue mission in 1844, the process of conversion continued. One of those who affirmed his membership in the Rigdon church was William Bickerton, a farmer from the Elizabeth area of Allegheny County.

While he did not follow Sidney to the Cumberland experiment, Bickerton would found the Church of Christ in 1862 with a particular veneration of Rigdon. For a while he affiliated with the Utah church, but left after the LDS affirmed plural marriage.

Bickerton had previously held several conferences and in a session in 1859 his followers had designated him a Prophet and two years later as president of the church.

The church has had its headquarters for several years in Mononghela. It publishes a church journal and directs overseas mission work in more than a dozen countries. Organized in seven districts in the United States, it claims more than 10,000 members.

The Bickertonites have had fraternal relations with other non-Brighamite sects, including the Hedrickites headquartered in Missouri and the Strangites in Michigan.

Note: Read more here



Vol. ?                             Washington, Pa., Friday, April 18, 2008.                             No. ?

Authors look into Spalding,
Book of Mormon has local connection

By Christie Campbell

Is it possible that in 1814 a man living in Amity wrote a novel that would become the basis for a religion now with 13 million members worldwide?

Wayne Cowdrey, Howard Davis and Arthur Vanick, authors of the book "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Spalding Enigma" believe it is. Published in 2005, their book argues that a former preacher, Solomon Spalding (or Spaulding), wrote a manuscript that would later come to be known as the Book of Mormon.

Founded in 1830 in a small town in upstate New York, today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members in most countries of the world. In the Washington Ward there are three churches, in Washington, Monongahela and Waynesburg.

Along with the Bible, the Book of Mormon serves as scriptural basis for the LDS Church. In it, a man named Lehi leads his family from Jerusalem to the Americas in 600 BC. The book records succeeding generations of Nephites and Lamanites who often warred with each other. It also records that the resurrected Jesus Christ traveled to the Americas where he established his church.

Author Vanick recently spoke at the Lower Ten Mile Presbyterian Church at the invitation of the Amwell Historical Society. Spalding, who once operated a roadside tavern in Amity, is buried in the church cemetery.

Vanick's book claims that Spalding wrote a fictional tale known as "A Manuscript Found." Spalding was interested in indigenous Americans and the Lost Tribes of Israel, a hot topic in his day, and tied the two together in his tale.

Hoping his published manuscript would bring him a source of revenue, Spalding sought out Pittsburgh publisher R&J Patterson. Patterson agreed to publish the manuscript once Spalding provided the money to do so. But Spalding died before it could be published.

According to the Spalding Enigma, the manuscript was removed from the publisher by a man known as the Rev. Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon would later give it to Joseph Smith of Palmyra, N.Y., who they claim then used it to form the basis of his religion, Mormonism.

"The so-called Spalding Manuscript theory was long ago dismissed by serious historians," said Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research Web site is a non-profit group of LDS scholars devoted to providing well-documented answers to any criticism of the LDS church. FAIR has done extensive research to disprove claims that the Book of Mormon was derived from a fictional account.

Latter-day Saints believe Smith was a prophet told by God not to join any of the mainstream Christian denominations in Palmyra because they all contained incorrect doctrines. Instead, he was led to Hill Cumorah, about three miles from his family's farm, where he found the plates on which the Book of Mormon was printed by the angel Moroni, the last prophet to record the history of the former inhabitants. Printed in an ancient script, Smith was given implements with which to interpret the words into the Book of Mormon.

A lengthy review of Vanick's book has been made by Matthew Roper, a resident scholar and research assistant at Brigham Young University. In it, he provides evidence that those who have sought to discredit the Book of Mormon include people who were excommunicated from the church such as Dr. Philastus Hurlbut in 1834 and Fawn Brodie in 1948.

Roper also argues that the manuscript was not stolen from the Patterson print shop but that Spalding failed to complete it and, following his death, it was returned to his widow. Hurlbut would later ask Mrs. Spalding for this manuscript intending to prove it was the basis for the Book of Mormon. But he later returned it, saying there were not any comparisons.

"The Book of Mormon will always be an enigma for the unbeliever," Roper writes in his review of the 2005 Vanick book.

Smith first published the Book of Mormon in 1830. Thirty years later so much controversy surrounded the book and Smith's vision that even the forerunner of this newspaper, The Reporter, printed reports in 1869 from Spalding's Amity neighbors who claimed they had heard passages from the Book of Mormon first read to them by Spalding from his "A Manuscript Found."

And Alexander Campbell, founder of Bethany College and the Disciples of Christ church, also weighed in with his adverse opinion of Mormonism with a paper in 1831.

"This investigation is not yet complete," Vanick told his audience in Amity last month. "But we believe we can make as good a case as an angel giving (the book) to Joseph Smith."

Notes: (forthcoming)

Back to top of this page.

Articles Home Page   |   Newspaper Articles Index   |   HistoryVault
Oliver's Bookshelf   |   Spalding Studies Library   |   Mormon Classics

last updated: Mar. 15, 2012