Sp. Col. Index   |   Mormon Classics   |   Bookshelf   |   Newspaper Articles   |   History Vault

Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson
"The Book of Mormon"
Scribner's Monthly XX:4 (Aug. 1880)
(NYC: Scribner & Co.)

  • pg. 613  Introduction
  • pg. 614  Thurlow Weed Statement
  • pg. 615  M. S. McKinstry Statement
  • pg. 616  Manuscript Found

  • Transcriber's Comments  

  • Follow-Up Article (1881)   |   New Light on Mormonism (1885)   |   More on McKinstry

    Entire Volume XX On-Line



    Vol. XX.                                  AUGUST, 1880.                                  No. 4.


    RIVERS are as various in their forms as forest trees. The Mississippi is like an oak with enormous branches. What a branch is the Red River, the Arkansas, the Ohio, the Missouri! The Hudson is like the pine or poplar --mainly trunk.

    From New York to Albany there is only an inconsiderable limb or two, and but few gnarls and excrescences. Cut off the Rondout, the Esopus, the Catskill and two or three similar tributaries on the east side, and only some twigs remain. There are some crooked places, it is true, but, on the whole, the Hudson presents a fine, symmetrical shaft that would be hard to match in any river of the world.

    Among our own water-courses it stands pre-eminent. The Columbia -- called by Major Winthrop the Achilles of rivers -- is a more haughty and impetuous stream; the Mississippi is, of course, vastly larger and longer; the St. Lawrence would carry the Hudson as a trophy in his belt and hardly know the difference; yet our river is doubtless the most beautiful of them all. It pleases like a mountain lake.

    It has all the sweetness and placidity that go with such bodies of water, on the one hand, and all their bold and rugged scenery on the other. In summer, a passage up or down its course in one of the day steamers is as near an idyl of travel as can be had, perhaps, anywhere in the world. Then its permanent and uniform volume, its fullness and equipoise at all seasons, and its gently flowing currents give it further the character of a lake, or of the sea itself.

    When Henry Hudson discovered it, he was searching for the North-west passage to India, and he may well have hoped that this stately ebbing and flowing water led into some northern sea, by means of which the vexed problem might at last be solved.
    Of the Hudson it may be said that it is a very large river for its size, -- that is, for the quantity of water it discharges into the sea. Its water-shed is comparatively small -- less, I think, than that of the Connecticut.

    It is a huge trough with a very slight incline, through which the current moves very slowly, and which would fill from the sea were its supplies from the mountains cut off: Its fall from Albany to the bay is only about five feet. Any object upon it, drifting with the current, progresses southward no more than eight miles in twenty-four hours. The ebb tide will carry it about twelve miles, and the flood set it back from seven to nine. A drop of water at Albany, therefore, will be nearly three weeks in reaching New York, though it will get pretty well pickled some days earlier.

    Some rivers by their volume and impetuosity penetrate the sea, but here the sea is the aggressor, and sometimes meets the mountain water nearly half-way.

    This fact was illustrated a couple of years ago, when the basin of the Hudson was visited by one of the most severe droughts ever known in this part of the State. In the early winter, after the river was frozen over above Poughkeepsie, it was discovered that immense numbers of fish were retreating up stream before the slow encroachment of the salt water. There was a general exodus of the finny tribes from the whole lower part of the river; it was like the spring and fall migration of the birds, or the fleeing of the population of a district before some approaching danger: vast swarms of cat-fish, white and yellow perch and striped bass were en route for the fresh water farther north. When the people along shore made the discovery, they turned out as they do in the rural districts when the pigeons appear, and, with small gill-nets

    Pages 482 to 612 not transcribed.

     . THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON. 613

    rough experience, and the actor is a bold, eccentric fellow. But for generous, genial, kindly traits of character, the bill-poster and sign-advertiser are proverbially noted." He acknowledges a compliment to his paper thus: "Thanks; the boys in all directions are shouting the same tune, and if we did not keep a very level head, our blushes would scorch our shirt-collars." Announcing that a certain issue will be on red, green, blue and yellow paper -- "We are open," he writes, "for comment or ridicule. You ghostly white metropolitan dailies; all-powerful country weeklies; dry, stale and staid old monthlies, we've got the cake! Chew us up, annihilate us -- we can stand the blunt -- twig?"

    Probably we have gone far enough with these choice extracts; the reader is mystified by the "blunt -- twig," and we cannot enlighten him as to its meaning. Among the other contents is a catechism worth reproducing, however:

     "Q. What is advertising?
     A. The art of exciting curiosity.
     Q. What is curiosity?
     A. A feeling of inquisitiveness, which nothing short of investigation or trial will satisfy.
     Q. What is the result of creating this feeling?
     A. Prosperity and riches to the advertiser.
     Q. Who are the most inquisitive people in the world?
     A. Americans. Therefore, if you would succeed in advertising, excite curiosity, and you will hit: the mark every time."

    Some of the advertisements are metrical,
    and are worthy of Silas Wegg. Here is poetry for you:
    "Go forth in haste
    With bills and paste;
    Proclaim to all creation

    "That men are wise
    Who advertise
    In this our generation."

    "Would you have your pasting done,
    Your bills put up quite natty?
    Then do not fail to send the same
    Straightway to your friend Batty.

    "To post and paste in proper haste
    Such orders as you'll send him,
    Tis his delight; he'll do it right,
    You bet; now don't forget him.

    "He'll circulate your ads wide-spread,
    Through Mystic's pleasant valley;
    So call attention to your wares,
    That buyers soon may rally."

    The name of the paper is elaborately designed on a landscape of town and country, but both town and country are almost invisible under examples of the bill-sticker's and sign-painter's "art." The same advertisements that have appeared far and wide on rocks and fences are reproduced in miniature; the pyramids are "decorated" with the legend of "Fizzler's Bitters;" "stove-polish" is inscribed around a mountain peak, and an extended arm in the clouds, with a paste-brush in hand -- the symbol of the trade is branded: "A power in the land."



    From my earliest childhood there has been a tradition in my family that the Mormon Bible was taken from a manuscript written by my great-uncle, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding. Recently, while in Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time Mrs. M.S. McKinstry, the only child of Mr. Spaulding, and received from her lips full confirmation of the story. Mrs. McKinstry is a remarkably intelligent and conscientious woman, of about seventy-five years of age. She has lived for fifty years in Monson, Massachusetts, and has a son, who is a well-known physician at Long Meadow, near Springfield; in the same State, and a son-in-law, Mr. Seaton, chief clerk in the Census Bureau, Washington, D.C. Soon after the first excitement on the subject of Mormonism, Mr. Spaulding's widow and daughter were interviewed by the reporter of a Boston newspaper; but the following statement, taken on oath from Mrs. McKinstry, is the first full statement of the subject, and the only attempt ever made by Mr. Spaulding's family to set this matter right.

    In order to give the statement its full force, it will be necessary to prelude it by a slight explanation of some facts bearing upon the subject. Solomon Spaulding was born at Ashford, Connecticut, in 1761, graduated at Dartmouth College in 1785, studied divinity, preached a few years and then, from ill-health, gave up the ministry. He was a peculiar man, of fine education,


    614 THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.  

    especially devoted to historical study, and with a great fondness for the writing of romances. In 1812 he resided in Conneaut, Ashtabula county, Ohio. In the vicinity there are several earth-mounds, which excited his curiosity and fired his imagination. He was one of the earliest persons, if not the very first, in that part of the country to become interested in these curious monuments of a past civilization. He caused one of the mounds near his house to be explored, and discovered numerous portions of skeletons and other relics. 

    This discovery suggested to him the subject for a new romance, which he called a translation from some hieroglyphical writing exhumed from the mound. This romance purported to be a history of the peopling of America by the lost tribes of Israel, the tribes and their leaders having very singular names -- among them Mormon, Maroni, Lamenite, Nephi. The romance the author called " Manuscript Found." This all occurred in 1812, when to write a book was a distinction, and Mr. Spaulding read his manuscript from time to time to a circle of admiring friends. He determined finally to publish it, and for that purpose carried it to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a printer by the name of Patterson. After keeping it awhile, Mr. Patterson returned it, declining to print it. There was, at this time, in this printing-office a young man named Sidney Rigdon, who twenty years later figured as a preacher among the Saints. 

    In 1823, Joseph Smith, -- a disreputable fellow who wandered about the country professing to discover gold and silver and lost articles by means of a "seer stone," -- gave out that he had been directed in a vision to a hill near Palmyra, New York, where he discovered some gold plates curiously inscribed. In 1825, he called upon Mr. Thurlow Weed, who was the proprietor of a newspaper in Rochester, New York, and asked him to print a manuscript, as appears from the following statement, which has never before been given to the public: 

                    NEW YORK, April 12th, 1880.

    In 1825, when I was publishing the "Rochester Telegraph," a man introduced himself to me as Joseph Smith, of Palmyra, New York, whose object, he said, was to get a book published. He then stated he had been guided by a vision to a spot he described, where, in a cavern, he found what he called a golden bible. It consisted of a tablet which he placed in his hat, and from which he proceeded to read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon.

    I listened until I became weary of what seemed
    to me an incomprehensible jargon. I then told him I was only publishing a newspaper, and that he would have to go to a book publisher, suggesting a friend who was in that business. A few days afterward Smith called again, bringing a substantial farmer with him named Harris. Smith renewed his request that I should print his book, adding that it was a divine revelation, and would be accepted, and that he would be accepted by the world as a prophet. Supposing that I had doubts as to his being able to pay for the publishing, Mr. Harris, who was a convert, offered to be his security for payment. Meantime, I had discovered that Smith was a shrewd, scheming fellow who passed his time at taverns and stores in Palmyra, without business, and apparently without visible means of support. He seemed about thirty years of age, was compactly built, about five feet eight inches in height, had regular features, and would impress one favorably in conversation. His book was afterward published in Palmyra. I knew the publisher, but cannot at this moment remember his name. The first Mormon newspaper was published at Canandaigua, New York, by a man named Phelps, who accompanied Smith as an apostle to Illinois, where the first Mormon city, Nauvoo, was started.
                (Signed)    THURLOW WEED.

    In 1830, the Mormon Bible was printed at Palmyra, New York, by E. R. Grandin. Two years later, the Mormon religion seemed to be gaining ground. A band of thirty were settled at Kirtland, Ohio. Later, these converts, with large accessions to their numbers, went to Missouri, from which place they were expelled. They then crossed the river and made a settlement at Nauvoo, in Illinois. In 1845 they removed to Salt Lake, where their numbers have enormously increased.

    Joe Smith seems to have lacked the inventive genius common to religious fanatics. He followed the story of Mr. Spaulding with almost servile closeness. Mr. Spaulding's book purported to be a translation from some metal plates found in the earth-mound to which he had been guided by a vision.

    This was precisely Smith's story. As the new-made prophet could scarcely lay claim, with any hope of credence, to sufficient learning to translate the hieroglyphical writing, he added to the original story the Urim and Thummim, -- the great spectacles which he professed to have found in a stone box, together with the golden plates, and by means of which he could decipher the mysterious characters.

    Smith had now become a prophet, and a he proceeded forthwith to add his peculiar tenets in regard to marriage, etc. to original manuscript.

    The statement of Mrs. McKinstry is as follows:


      THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON. 615


          WASHINGTON, D. C., April 3d, 1880.

    So much has been published that is erroneous concerning the "Manuscript Found," written by my father, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, and its supposed connection with the book, called the Mormon Bible, I have willingly consented to make the following statement regarding it, repeating all that I remember personally of this manuscript, and all that is of importance which my mother related to me in connection with it, at the same time affirming that I am in tolerable health and vigor, and that my memory, in common with elderly people, is clearer in regard to the events of my earlier years, rather than those of my maturer life.  

    During the war of 1812, I was residing with my parents in a little town in Ohio called Conneaut. I was then in my sixth year. My father was in business there, and I remember his iron foundry and the men he had at work, but that he remained at home most of the time and was reading and writing a great deal. He frequently wrote little stories, which he read to me. There were some round mounds of earth near our house which greatly interested him, and he said a tree on the top of one of them was a thousand years old. He set some of his men to work digging into one of these mounds, and I vividly remember how excited he became when he heard that they had exhumed some human bones, portions of gigantic skeletons, and various relics. He talked with my mother of these discoveries in the mound, and was writing every day as the work progressed. Afterward he read the manuscript which I had seen him writing, to the neighbors and to a clergyman, a friend of his, who came to see him. Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me to-day as though I heard them yesterday. They were "Mormon," "Maroni," "Lamenite," "Nephi."  

    We removed from Conneaut to Pittsburgh while I was still very young, but every circumstance of this removal is distinct in my memory. In that city my father had an intimate friend named Patterson, and I frequently visited Mr. Patterson's library with him, and heard my father talk about books with him. In 1816 my father died at Amity, Pennsylvania, and directly after his death my mother and myself went to visit at the residence of my mother's brother William H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, Onondaga County, New York. Mr. Sabine was a lawyer of distinction and wealth, and greatly respected. We carried all our personal effects with us, and one of these was an old trunk, in which my mother had placed all my father's writings which had been preserved. I perfectly remember the appearance of this trunk, and of looking at its contents. There were sermons and other papers, and I saw a manuscript, about an inch thick, closely written, tied with some of the stories my father had written for me, one of which he called, "The Frogs of Wyndham." On the outside of this manuscript were written the words, "Manuscript Found." I did not read it, but looked through it and had it in my hands many times, and saw the names I had heard at Conneaut, when my father read it to his friends. I was about eleven years of age at this time.  

    After we had been at my uncle's for some time, my mother left me there and went to her father's house at Pomfret, Connecticut, but did not take her furniture nor the old trunk of manuscripts with her. In 1820 she married Mr. Davison, of Hartwicks, a village near Cooperstown, New York, and sent for
    the things she had left at Onondaga Valley, and I remember that the old trunk, with its contents, reached her in safety. In 1828, I was married to Dr. A. McKinstry of Monson, Hampden county, Massachusetts, and went there to reside. Very soon after my mother joined me there, and was with me most of the time until her death in 1844. We heard, not long after she came to live with me -- I do not remember just how long -- something of Mormonism, and the report that it had been taken from my father's "Manuscript Found;" and then came to us direct an account of the Mormon meeting at Conneaut, Ohio, and that, on one occasion, when the Mormon Bible was read there in public, my father's brother, John Spaulding, Mr. Lake and many other persons who were present, at once recognized its similarity to the "Manuscript Found," which they had heard read years before by my father in the same town. There was a great deal of talk and a great deal published at this time about Mormonism all over the country. I believe it was in 1834 that a man named Hurlburt came to my house at Monson to see my mother, who told us that he had been sent by a committee to procure the "Manuscript Found" written by the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, so as to compare it with the Mormon Bible. He presented a letter to my mother from my uncle, William H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, in which he requested her to loan this manuscript to Hurlburt, as he (my uncle) was desirous "to uproot" (as he expressed it) "this Mormon fraud." Hurlburt represented that he had been a convert to Mormonism, but had given it up, and through the "Manuscript Found," wished to expose its wickedness. My mother was careful to have me with her in all the conversations she had with Hurlburt, who spent a day at my house. She did not like his appearance and mistrusted his motives; but, having great respect for her brother's wishes and opinions, she reluctantly consented to his request. The old trunk, containing the desired "Manuscript Found," she had placed in the care of Mr. Jerome Clark of Hartwicks, when she came to Monson, intending to send for it. On the repeated promise of Hurlburt to return the manuscript to us, she gave him a letter to Mr. Clark to open the trunk and deliver it to him. We afterwards heard that he had received it from Mr. Clark, at Hartwicks, but from that time we have never had it in our possession, and I have no present knowledge of its existence, Hurlburt never returning it or answering letters requesting him to do so. Two years ago I heard he was still living in Ohio, and with my consent he was asked for the "Manuscript Found." He made no response although we have evidence that he received the letter containing the request. So far I have stated facts within my own knowledge. My mother mentioned many other circumstances to me in connection with this subject which are interesting, of my father's literary tastes, his fine education and peculiar temperament. She stated to me that she had heard the manuscript alluded to read by my father, was familiar with its contents, and she deeply regretted that her husband, as she believed, had innocently been the means of furnishing matter for a religious delusion. She said that my father loaned this "Manuscript Found" to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburgh, and that when he returned it to my father, he said: "Polish it up, finish it, and you will make money out of it." My mother confirmed my remembrances of my father's fondness for history, and told me of his frequent conversations regarding a theory which he had of a prehistoric race which had inhabited this continent, etc., all showing that his mind dwelt on this subject. The


    616 THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.  

    "Manuscript Found," she said, was a romance written in Biblical style, and that while she heard it read she had no especial admiration for it more than for other romances he wrote and read to her. We never, either of us, ever saw, or in any way communicated with the Mormons, save Hurlburt, as above described, and while we had no personal knowledge that the Mormon Bible was taken from the "Manuscript Found," there were many evidences to us that it was, and that Hurlburt and others at the time thought so. A convincing proof to us of this belief was that my uncle, William H. Sabine, had undoubtedly read the manuscript while it was in his house, and his faith that its production would show to the world that the Mormon Bible had been taken from it, or was the same with slight alterations. I have frequently answered questions which have been asked me by different persons regarding the "Manuscript Found," but until now have never made a statement at length for publication.
    (Signed)       M. S. MCKINSTRY.
    Sworn and subscribed to before me this 3d day of April, A. D. 1880, at the city of Washington, D. C.
    CHARLES WALTER,       Notary Public.

    I wrote this statement at Mrs. McKinstry's dictation, and was obliged to change it and copy it four times before she was satisfied so anxious was she that no word nor expression should occur in it to which she could not solemnly make oath. 

    About forty years ago, affidavits were made by John Spaulding, the brother. and Mr. Lake, the partner of Mr. Solomon Spaulding, and afterward published, containing the statement that they had heard the author read his manuscript in 1812, and that there was a striking similarity between it and the Book of Mormon; but these affidavits cannot now be found.
    There is no possible way of finding out what Hurlburt did with the manuscript which he carried away, since he has ignored the letter of application which was personally put into his hands. There was a report to the effect that he sold it to the Mormons for $300, and that they then destroyed it.

    The question remains: how did Smith become possessed of the "Manuscript Found"? Rigdon, who was in Patterson's office while the manuscript was lying there, had ample opportunity of copying it, and as he was afterward a prominent Mormon preacher and adviser of Smith, this is not improbable. Smith, however, could easily have possessed himself of the manuscript if he had fancied it suitable to his purposes, for it is understood that he was a servant on the farm, or teamster for Mr. Sabine, in whose house the package of manuscript lay exposed in an unlocked trunk for several years. At all events, it is evident that Smith had access to the manuscript, since both stories are alike, -- the peculiar names occur nowhere else but in these two books, -- and that Mr. Spaulding's romance had been read by a number of people in 1812, while the Mormon Bible was not published till 1830, and not heard of earlier than 1823. Out of the curious old romance of Solomon Spaulding, and the ridiculous "seer-stone" of Joseph Smith, has grown this monstrous Mormon State, which presents a problem that the wisest politician has failed to solve, and whose outcome lies in the mystery of the future.



    {At the dinner given by the American residents in Paris, on February 19th last, to General Lucius W. Fairchild, on the occasion of his quitting his post of Consul-General, at that city, for the office of Minister to the Court of Spain, Mr. Richard H. Dana responded to the toast respecting the diplomatic history of the United States. At our request, he has written out the notes prepared for this occasion -- Ed. S. M.}
    Mr. President, My Countrymen and Country-women: You have done well, Mr. President, in selecting as one of your subjects to-night the international relations of our country -- not only because they form one of the noblest chapters of our history, but because this place, Paris, was the birthplace of American diplomacy. Few probably consider how instantly, and with what zeal, those who had charge of our public affairs in the struggle for our independence betook themselves to international relations. They saw that the cause of our independence hung upon a war of diplomacy on the continent of Europe, and not solely upon a contest with the weapons of war at home. Before we declared our independence, immediately after Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, our Congress appointed a Committee on Foreign Affairs, and a secret agent was sent out to France, who succeeded in sending home half a million of pounds sterling, with ammunition and clothing for our troops, on the credit of a government which could be hardly said to exist; for we had not even adopted any articles of confederation. Yet


    Entire Volume XXII On-Line


    Vol. XXII.                                   OCTOBER, 1881.                                   No. 6.

    (under construction)


    created by inventing some new form in which to cast the English language.

    Our cousins on the other side of the water are a little unreasonable in expecting of us a literature cast up in some new form. They threw up their hats when Washington appeared, but Walt Whitman is a more egregious blunderer than Carlyle was, with a smaller supply of brains. We believe we appreciate all the vitalities of Walt Whitman's literary performances, but his productions, in their forms, are simply abominable. They are literary eccentricities. He will do less damage than Carlyle has done, because he has no followers or imitators, No self-respected litterateur would risk his reputation by seriously issuing a poem after Whitman's manner. Even those who praise him and his barbarisms
    would scorn the use of his forms in any production whatever.

    The English and American literatures are certain to run together and to mingle in a common stream. The two nations are constantly getting nearer to each other. They speak and write the same language, and each reads the classics of that language. Different institutions, different climates, different circumstances, will endow each literature with a different spirit, and in this spirit must be found the characterizing flavor and power of each. Each must bow to the same laws and limitations, and shun all those eccentricities of form, structure, and style which oppose the usages of the masters and confuse and sophisticate the idioms of the mother tongue.



    The  Book  of  Mormon.


    SIR: In the number of this magazine for August, 1880, appeared an article by myself entitled "The Book of Mormon." The article contained a statement, together with evidence substantiating it in part, by Mrs. McKinstry, a daughter of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, that the Book of Mormon was derived from a novel called "The Manuscript Found," written by her father in 1812, and that the manuscript of this novel was in 1834 delivered to one D. P. Hurlburt.  

    When the article appeared, there seemed to be no other proof that this manuscript was delivered to Hurlburt. Believing it to be important to follow up this clue, I recently visited Hurlburt at his home near Gibsonburg, Sandusky County, Ohio, in company with Oscar Kellogg, Esq., a well-known lawyer of that vicinity. As the result of this visit, I have received the following sworn statement: 

    "GIBSONBURG, OHIO, January 10th, 1881.

    "To all whom it may concern: In the year eighteen hundred and thirty-four (1834), I went from Geauga County, Ohio, to Monson, Hampden County, Massachusetts, where I found Mrs. Davison, late widow of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, late of Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Of her I obtained a manuscript, supposing it to be the manuscript of the romance written by the said Solomon Spaulding, called the 'Manuscript Found,' which was reported to be the foundation of the 'Book of Mormon.' I did not examine the manuscript until I got home, when upon examination I found it to contain nothing of the kind, but being a manuscript upon an entirely different subject. This manuscript I left with E. D. Howe, of Painesville, Geauga County, Ohio, now Lake County, Ohio, with the understanding that when he had examined it, he should return it to the widow. Said Howe says the manuscript was destroyed by fire, and further the deponent saith not.
               "(Signed)   D. P. HURLBURT.
    "Sworn to and subscribed before me this 10th day of January, 1881.
                    "(Signed) J. Kinniger,
    "Mayor of the village of Gibsonburg, Sandusky County, Ohio."

    In this statement Hurlburt gives the impression that he procured this manuscript from Mrs. Davison at Munson, Massachusetts, but Mrs. McKinstry, in her statement, says he got it by an order addressed to Jerome Clark, at Hartwick, Otsego County, New York, and this is undoubtedly the truth. In fact, Hurlburt admitted as much to me before Mr. Kellogg, in the conversation I had with him at his house in Gibsonburg. This is further confirmed by George Clark, a son of the above-mentioned Jerome Clark, and his wife, in two letters copied below.

    In a former statement signed by Hurlburt, -- the original of which is in my possession, -- dated August 19th, 1880, he says: "I do not know whether or not the document I received from Mrs. Davison was Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found,' as I never read it."

    In the conversation I had with Hurlburt at his house, and before Mr. Kellogg, he admitted that he "just peeped into the manuscript, and saw the names Mormon, Moroni, Nephi and Lamenite."

    The original "Manuscript Found" was in existence at Onondaga Valley, Onondaga County, New York, in 1818, as appears in the following statement, never before published. Mrs. Redfield is now living at Syracuse, New York.

                    "Syracuse, June 17, 1880
    In the year 1818 I was principal of the Onondaga Valley Academy, and resided in the house of William H. Sabine, Esq. I remember Mrs. Spaulding, Mr. Sabine's sister perfectly, and hearing her and the family talk of a manuscript in her possession, which her husband, the Rev. Mr. Spaulding, had written somewhere in the West. I did not read the manuscript, but its substance was so often mentioned, and the peculiarity of the story, that years afterward, when the Mormon Bible was published, I procured a copy, and at once recognized the resemblance



    between it and Mrs. Spaulding's account of 'The Manuscript Found.' I remember also to have heard Mr. Sabine talk of the romance, and that he and Mrs. Spaulding said it had been written in the leisure hours of an invalid, who read it to his neighbors for their amusement. Mrs. Spaulding believed that Sidney Rigdon had copied the manuscript while it was in Patterson's printing office, in Pittsburgh. She spoke of it with regret. I never saw her after her marriage to Mr. Davison of Hartwick. 

              "(Signed) Ann Treadwell Redfield."

    The original "Manuscript Found" was in existence at Hartwick, N. Y., in 1831, as appears by the following letters never before published, of George Clark, the son of the Jerome Clark above referred to:

                    "Sonoma, Cal., Dec. 30th, 1880. 
    "Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson.
    "DEAR MADAM: I remember that Mrs. Davison spent a winter in my father's house nearly fifty years ago, and left there to go to Munson, Massachusetts. A year or two later she wrote to my father to sell her effects, bureau, feather-bed, linen, etc., and remit the proceeds to her, which he did. The old trunk still remained in the garret when I sold the farm in 1864, and was given away, to whom I know not. It was worthless and empty. My wife remembers that Mrs. Davison gave her a manuscript to read during her stay with us, and that she read a part of it and returned it to Mrs. Davison, who told her it was written by Mr. Spaulding as a pastime to while away the days of sickness.
               "Respectfully yours,
                    "GEORGE CLARK."  

    Letter No. 2.

               "Sonoma, Cal. Jan. 24th, 1881.
    Mrs. E. E. Dickinson.
    "DEAR MADAM: My wife does not remember the words 'Mormon, Maroni,' etc., nor anything else of the contents of the Spaulding manuscript in question. She remembers perfectly that it looked soiled and worn on the outside. She thought it dry reading, and, after reading a few pages, laid it aside. She remembers perfectly, too, what Mrs. Davison said about it as being the origin of the Mormon Bible, and she thought it would die out in a few years. It was in 1831 Mrs. Davison left our house for Munson, Massachusetts.
               "GEORGE CLARK." 

    (My interview with Hurlbut is too long to be inserted here. The gist of it is that he admitted before Mr. Kellogg and myself that he obtained a manuscript at Hartwick, Otsego County, New York, through an order from Mrs. Davison, in 1834, which he believes was written by Solomon Spaulding, that it was called "Manuscript Found," etc., that he peeped into it and saw the words Mormon, Maroni, Nephi, Lamanite, etc.)  

    What is the fair conclusion from these new facts? Is it not that Hurlburt got the original "Manuscript Found" in 1834? It has probably disappeared. It was obviously of value to the Mormons. They have probably had it in their control, and the fate of it will never be known.

    That this "Manuscript Found" was the basis of
    the "Book of Mormon" still further appears from the following statements, never before published.

            "Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio,              "December 23, 1880.
    "I have resided in the neighborhood of Conneaut, Ashtabula Co., Ohio. sixty-six years. During all that period I have known Hiram Lake, whose statement, dated December 23d, 1880, I have read. This statement I believe to be true. I was acquainted with Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, John N. Miller, and Nathan Howard, the persons named in Hiram Lake's statement, and about 1834-5, the time of the excitement concerning Mormonism, I heard them all say that the Book of Mormon was undoubtedly taken from a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding, which they had heard Spaulding read in 1811 or 1812, called 'The Manuscript Found, or, the Lost Tribes.'              "LORIN GOULD."

            Conneaut, "Ashtabula County, Ohio,              "Dec. 23, 1880.
    "I am sixty-nine years of age, and have lived all my life in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio. My father, Henry Lake, was partner with Solomon Spaulding in 1811 and '12, in a forge in Conneaut (then Salem). About 1834, when I was about twenty-three years of age, I remember that there was a great excitement concerning Mormonism in Conneaut. My father read the Book of Mormon, or heard it read, and was familiar with its contents, and he told me it was unquestionably derived from a manuscript written by his former partnerm, Solomon Spaulding, called 'Manuscript Found. or, the Lost Tribes.' I believe my father, about this time, made an affidavit to the same effect, which was published. Since 1834 I have conversed with Aaron Wright, John N. Miller, and Nathan Howard, old residents here, now deceased, all of whom lived here in 1811 and '12, and who had heard Spaulding's manuscript read, and they told me they believed the Book of Mormon was derived from Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found.' Some or all these persons made affidavits to this effect, which were published in a book called 'Mormonism Unveiled,' edited by E. D. Howe, of Painesville, Ohio.
                 "HIRAM LAKE."

    These two gentlemen are highly respected residents of Conneaut, where the writer saw them in November last. E. D. Howe, above referred to, in conversation with me at Painesville, Ohio (the same month), gave it as his opinion that the Book of Mormon was derived from Spaulding's manuscript, and that this manuscript was of too much value to the Mormons, when it was in their possession, to allow it to escape them. The theory he advanced was that Hurlbut got the real Spaulding manuscript, but what disposition he made of it has not been told, and that the one given by Hurlburt to him was something else.

    It may be interesting to state that on my trip to Ohio, I called on General Garfield at Mentor, and conversed with him on this subject. I found that he was much interested in Mormonism. The first Mormon settlement was at Mentor, which is only three miles from Kirtland, where the first Mormon temple was built, a structure which is still in tolerable preservation. President Garfield's farm at Mentor



    was purchased from a Mormon. Mrs. Garfield told me that her father studied Latin and Greek with Sidney Rigdon; that she and her husband remember to have heard Rigdon preach. She also said that her father told her that Rigdon, in his youth, lived in that neighborhood, and made mysterious journeys to Pittsburgh. From my conversation with General and Mrs. Garfield, I gathered that they believed that Rigdon was the prime author of the Book of Mormon, and that Joe Smith was merely his tool in that matter.  

    From a statement made by John Spaulding, the brother of Solomon Spaulding, printed in a memorial or genealogy of the Spaulding family, I have learned that he (John Spaulding) believed that Rigdon, then a printer, when a very young man, was familiar with the contents of "Manuscript Found," as he resided in the neighborhood of Conneaut, and is said to have been familiar with Mr. Spaulding's writings, and that he secretly followed him to Pittsburgh, worked at his trade with Patterson, and suggested to his employer to borrow the curious romance written by Mr. Spaulding, withthe possible idea of publishing it. Many facts seem to confirm this statement.  

    During my recent visit to Conneaut, the locality of the earth-mound which so fired Solomon Spaulding's imagination was pointed out to me, as well as the site of his foundry and dwelling house. Last year some curious evidences of a prehistoric civilization, such as personal ornaments, cooking utensils, fragments of pottery, etc., were found near the old mound, and a number of families in that vicinity possess souvenirs of this kind.

                ELLEN E. DICKINSON.

    The text on remainder on page 948 in not relevant to Dickinson's article.

    The text on remainder of page 948 in not relevant to Dickinson's article.


    Transcriber's Comments

    Matilda Spalding McKinstry 1805-1891

    (under construction)

    return to top of page

    Special Collections index       |      e-mail site host       |      Home

    last revised: May 26, 2009