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Communications to Robert Patterson, Jr.

Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum (1792-1882)
(Statement of September 18, 1879)
Typescript: page 1  page 2  page 3  page 4

Isaac Craig (1792-1882)
(Letter of October 14, 1882)
Typescript: page 1  page 2  page 3  page 4  page 5  page 6

More on John Johnston family   |   Transcriber's Comments by Dale R. Broadhurst


1879 Rebecca J. Eichbaum Statement
(view enlargements: pp 1&4  pp. 2&3)

[ 1 ]   Statement of Mrs. Eichbaum.
At the request of R. Patterson, one of the editors of the "Presbyterian Banner," Pittsburgh, I make the following statement of my recollections of persons in regard to whom he has inquired. My father, John Johnston, was Postmaster of Pittsburgh for about 18 years, from 1804 to 1822. My husband, Wm. Eichbaum, succeeded him and was Postmaster for about 11 years, from 1822 to 1833. I was born August 25th 1792; and when I became old enough, I assisted my father in attending to the Post-office, and became familiar with its duties. From 1811 to 1816

[ 2 ]
  I was the regular clerk in the office, assorting, making up, dispatching, opening and dis- tributing the mails. Pittsburgh was then a small town and I was well acquainted with all the stated visitors at the office, who called regularly for mail. So meager at that time were the mails that I could generally tell without looking whether or not there was anything for such persons, though I would usually look in order to satisfy them. I was married in 1815, and the next year my connection with the office ceased, excepting during the absences of my husband. I knew and dis- tinctly remember Robert and Joseph Patterson, J. Harrison Lambdin, Silas Engles, and Sidney Rigdon. I remember

[ 3 ]
  Rev. Mr. Spaulding, but simply as one who occasionally called to inquire for letters. I remember that there was an evident intimacy between Lambdin and Rigdon. They very often came to the office together. I particularly remember that they would thus come during the hour on Sabbath afternoon when the office was required to be open, and I re- member feeling sure that Rev. Mr. Patterson knew nothing of this or he would have put a stop to it. I do not know what posi- tion, if any, Rigdon filled in Patterson & Lambdon's store or printing-office, but am well as- sured he was frequently, if not constantly, there for a large part of the time when I was clerk in the Post-office. I recall Mr. Engles' saying that "Rigdon

[ 4 ]
  was always hanging around the printing-office." He was connected with the tannery before he became a preacher, though he may have continued the business whilst preaching. R. J. Eichbaum Pittsburgh Sept. 18th 1879. This is the original of Mrs Eichbaums statement as after published. It was by Patterson given to James Cobb, Salt Lake City A. T. S.


1882 Isaac Craig, Esq. Letter
(view: pp 1&2  pp. 3&4  pp. 5&6)

[ 1 ]
Alleghany, Oct. 14, 1882. Rev. Robt. Patterson, Dear Sir: I have received the History of Washington county sometime ago, but had not, on account of the condition my eyes are in, read your account of the origin of the Book of Mormon. To comply with your request I had it read to me last night, and I think you have made good use of the ma- terials at hand, and I believe the spirit in which it is written is the proper one to command the attention of honest Mormons. Mrs. Eichbaum's statement to you is a surprise to me for two reasons.

[ 2 ]
  I. Because I called on her to learn if she could throw any light on the matter and she could give me none. This was a year or two before the date you assign for her statement -- Sept. 18, 1879. II. The intimacy she says ex- isted between Lambdin and Rigdon. In all my investigation I never found any one who knew of this. All im- pressed me with the belief that it was Silas Engles with whom Rigdon was intimate. That Rigdon had a small tannery on Penn street, near Hand, for the manufacture of book- binders sheep-skins, and supplying these to the office brought him in con- tact with Engles. This impression I obtained from John Sandersen, an old time butcher, who sold sheep pelts to Rig- don. I am sorry you used Redick McKee's

[ 3 ]
  statement, for the reason that he sub- sequently made another, which con- flicts with that you use; and the Mormons can use it with considerable effect to show how unreliable he is. Samuel Cooper's statement that "your father's office was in the celebrated Molly Murphys Row" otherwise "Clap- board Row" is new to me. I never heard of it being any other place than 4th street. Cooper whom you say was "a veteran of three wars" never smelled powder. The nearest he ever came to it was at Black Rock where they all showed the white feather. I knew him well, and was fond of listening to his yarns; but when I grew older I discovered that he was good at pulling the long-bow. I agree with you that Parley P. Pratt was the man who brought Rigdon & Smith together

[ 4 ]
  I think you might have used the statements of Isaac and Alva Hale in your closing remarks with good effect. I had some correspondence with Alva and he sent me a book containing some matter relating to Joe Smith opperations before and after he married Emma Hale, that are quite interesting. Alva moved to Northern Illinois, within 30 miles of Plano, where his sister Emma Smith ;ived and died; but he did not know, until I told him, where she lived. He wrote me that Emma never forgave him for testifying against Joe. I supposed Alva is now dead -- as he was very old when he wrote to me. Did Geo. Plumer Smith ever tell you of his interview with Emma Smith? It is very important, but he imparted it to me in confidence. Perhaps, now that Emma is dead, he might feel re- lieved from bond of silence, for the public good.

[ 5 ]
  I think you should have mentioned that Hurlbut had been a Mormon. It is my impression that he and Mrs. Rigdon could tell all that is to be told in regard to the origin of the Mormon Bible. The silence of Mrs. Rigdon is very significant to me; but that old scamp Hurlbut is such a liar that anything he would say unless corroborated would have little weight. I was glad to learn that Rev. Ehren- feld enabled you to so satisfactorally clear up the charge against John Canon. I had a friend at Harrisburg, who was going to investigate that very point, when he found friend Ehrenfeld was a head of him. I am very much astonished at Albert's conduct in the matter; the positiveness of his statement induced me to believe he must have had good authority for his state- ment. His letter in the History of Washington Co.

[ 6 ]
  seems to me to be a very contemptable way of creeping out of the affair, for he really has no foundation for his charge. The article he mentions does not in any manner implicate John Canon. I confess I was too hasty when I wrote that I would not be surprised if it was true. The fact is nearly all the prominent old settlers in Washington county have some queer antics in their records, and I am never surprised at anything said of them. Your good old father was one of the few of whom nothing out of the proper line could be said. If my eyes get better this winter I am going to make a point to find that matter regarding John Canon for my own, as well as your, satisfaction. Please excuse the appearance of this note as I can hardly see. Very truly Isaac Craig If you have two or three more copies of your article I would be glad to buy them for friends interested in the matter.


Document 2: 1901 Wm. G. Johnston comments (excerpts)

Source: Johnston, William G. Life . . . of Wm. G. Johnston PA, 1901.

Note 1:  It is interesting to note how closely the Johnston, Eichbaum, and Patterson families of early Pittsburgh interacted -- even intermarried in later years. Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum was certainly in a good position to know much about local writers, publishers, booksellers, etc. The fact that she had so little to say about Solomon Spalding may indicate that Spalding was not long or noticeably active among Pittsburgh's writers and publishers, c. 1812-1816.

Note 2:  Wm. G. Johnston says that "the postmistress" (his aunt, Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum), "was known to her towns people in general." It seems likely that she knew most of the adult pupulation in the young town -- or, at least those who sent and received mail during her many years of formal and informal employment in the Pittsburgh Post Office.

Note 3:  Wm. G. Johnston says that "The first news of Perry's victory on Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, came to Pittsburgh in a letter addressed to Mr. Johnston." The Postmaster in early Pittsburgh also often functioned as a news source for the local papers. For an earlier letter received by Postmaster John Johnston and printed for the local newspaper readers, see the report of Calvin Pease. Sr. in the Pittsburgh Mercury for August 25, 1812.









"Lull'd in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain;
Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise!
Each stamps its image as the other flies!"
ROGERS, Pleasures of Memory.




[pg. 6]
My grand father, John Johnston, the third and youngest
[pg. 7]
son of Robert, was born near Castle Derg, Ireland on Sunday, June 16, 1765 . . .

In 1787 John was married to Mary Reed, and in the same year they removed to and established their home in Pittsburgh. . . .

My grandfather, on his removal to Pittsburgh, began business on his own account, as a jeweler and watch and clock maker. He also made brass wire, and wire screens
[pg. 8]
for mills. In all matters of a public character he took an active part. . . .

In the year 1804, the position of postmaster at Pittsburgh being vacant in consequence of the death of a late incumbant -- Dr. Hugh Scott, -- President Jefferson . . . named John Johnston, and thus the appointment was duly made. . . .

[pg. 10]
. . . he [John Johnston] held the office [of Postmaster in Pittsburgh] . . . None of his successors have enjoyed the opportunity of making even an approach to his tenure in office, it having been continued to . . . 1822, -- a period of eighteen years.

After so long a service, being anxious to be relieved, his son-in-law, William Eichbaum, was, at his request, appointed his successor, and he also served for an unusually long period, viz., eleven years.

Thus the office was a sort of family affair for twenty-nine years. Mr. Eichbaum's service was through . . . the first year of "Old Hickory's" second term, when . . . he was removed . . .

During the entire official career of Mr. Johnston the post-office was at his residence on Front Street, corner of Chancery Lane, and throughout the greater part of this period his only daughter Rebecca, who in 1815 the wife of William Eichbaum, performed the main duties of the office for even after the marriage (not having changed her place of residence until about the time of her father's death) she continued at this occupation as
[pg. 11]
formerly, and the postmistress was known to her towns people in general.

The first news of Perry's victory on Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, came to Pittsburgh in a letter addressed to Mr. Johnston; and immediately on receipt of it he carried it to Mr. Scull, who issued a diminutive extra of the Gazette announcing the glad tidings . . .

In politics John Johnston was a Democrat; he was also a member of the Masonic fraternity. He died on Friday, May 4, 1827, in the sixty-second year of his age. . . .

The children of John and Mary Reed Johnston were a daughter, Rebecca, and a son, Samuel . . . Rebecca, born Saturday, Aug. 25, 1792, lived to the advanced age of ninty years, dying on Saturday, May 4, 1882. Her husband, William Eichbaum, was in many respects one of the most noted men the
[pg. 12]
city has produced. . .

My father, Samuel R. Johnston . . . received a thorough academic education, under circumstances perculiarly favorable; his instructors being men of mark . . .

Among his instructors was Rev. Robert Patterson, the first graduate of Jefferson College . . . this academic teacher was uncle of Robert W. Patterson, husband of the writer's daughter Elizabeth. Mr. [Rev. Robert] Patterson was principal of the [Pittsburgh] Academy from 1807 to 1810. . . .

[pg. 14]
On finally quitting school, he [Samuel R. Johnston] became anxious to acquire a knowledge of printing, his attention doubtless being so drawn by the fact that his brother-in-law, William Eichbaum, was a member of the firm of Cramer, Spear & Eichbaum, whose printing office was on Market Street (west side, between Front and Second Streets . . .

Mr. Eichbaum purchased the interests of his partners in 1815, and the business for the next three years was carried on by him solely; when (1818), my father [Samuel R. Johnston] becomming his partner, the firm became Eichbaum & Johnston, continuing until 1824 . . .

[pg. 15]
[In 1819 Eichbaum & Johnston] became proprietors of the Pittsburgh Gazette, which they continued to publish until the close of 1822 . . .
[pg. 16]
The book-store of this firm was on Market Street, west side, one door south of Third 

Document 3: 1939 Solon Buck comments (excerpts)

Source: Buck Solon J. & Elizabeth H. The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania PA, 1939.

Note 1:  The "the Hilands Church, some seven miles from Pittsburgh" mentioned by Buck is the Hiland (or Highland) Presbyterian Church located north of the city in Ross Twp. Rev. Richard Lea wrote: "Rev. Robert Patterson, son of Joseph, was . . . long known in Pittsburgh as a bookseller, but preaching for twenty-five years, nearly every Sabbath, in Hilands Church. He had labored previously in Erie County, Pa. He lived many years, in a hearty old age, after his resignation as pastor."

Note 2:  Buck's mention of "Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd, issued in 1812 by Patterson and Hopkins" fails to note that this hard-cover book publication was a rare venture for the firm. Patterson & Hopkins primarily sold books and generally did not print them. The business was dissolved in November of 1812 and its successors, R. & J. Patterson, were also primarily booksellers and paper manufactures -- not publishers to any great extent.

The Planting of Civilization

in Western Pennsylvania

By Solon J. Buck and Elizabeth

Hawthorne Buck.




University of Pittsburgh Press: 1939

[pg. 375]
To take Pittsburgh as an example . . . Cramer's Navigator of 1808 announces that there were then twelve schoolmasters and four schoolmustresses in Pittsburgh. The 1815 directory lists among the population . . . twelve lawyers; twelve schoolteachers; eight physicians; eight army officers; seven clergymen with charges in town; two other clergymen, on the principal of the Pittsburgh Academy and the other [Robert Patterson] the proprietor of a bookstore; six engineers; three editors; two musicians; and one architect . . .

[pg. 381]
Even in the early days western Pennsylvania had its writers, and the newspaper press was of course their first medium of publication . . . . Two outstanding local writers of poetry for the news press were "The Scots-Irishman," David Bruce, and "The Recluse," the Reverend Robert Patterson . . . Patterson was principal of the Pittsburgh Academy from 1807 to 1810, proprietor of a bookstore and a paper manufactory from 1810 to 1836, and during most of this time preacher at the Hilands Church, some seven miles from Pittsburgh. He frequently sent verse to the Gazette, and in 1817 he published under his pseudonym a book of collected poems . . .

[pg. 384]
In 1812 Patterson and Hopkins began a series entitled the Pittsburgh Town & Country Almanac for Rogues and Honest Folks. The next year Patterson published under the title of the Honest Man's Almanac, and then for three further issues he resumed the first title. . . .

[pg. 385]
Two literary magazines . . . were launched in Pittsburgh near the end of the frontier period. The first of these, which appeared in 1812, was the Pioneer, a monthly in the style of Addison, edited by the Reverend David Graham; the other was the Western Gleaner, founded by Cramer in 1813 as a "repository for arts, sciences and literature." Each of these magazines lived but a short time. . . .

The first pieces of literature not of local authorship to be published were Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd, issued in 1812 by Patterson and Hopkins . . .

[pg. 386]
In 1798 John Gilkison . . . set up . . . the first bookstore and rental library in western Pennsylvania. During the year he apparently soild forty-six books or sets of books . . .

[pg. 387]
In 1800 Gilkison died, and Brackenridge, who had financed gim, sold his stock to [Zadok] Cramer, Pittsburgh's second bookseller and librarian. After purchasing the stock, Cramer advertised the eight hundred miscellaneous volumes for sale. By 1809 he had a much larger stock . . . After Cramer had left Pittsburgh, John M. Snowden established a bookstore in the spring of 1812, but in time Robert Patterson's shop, which was opened in 1810, became the chief bookstore in Pittsburgh.


Transcriber's Comments

Mrs. Eichbaum's Statement

The Sept. 18, 1879 Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum statement, provided by her to Robert Patterson, Jr., is filed with the A. Theodore Schroeder Papers in the Special Collections of the Library of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The document is a single sheet of stationery paper, measuring approximately 20.5 by 25.0 cm., folded in the center to produce four pages of half that size. The handwriting is apparently that of Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum herself, though the possibility remains that the document may have been written by a family member or close friend of the elderly lady. The penmanship does not well match any known writing samples left by Robert Patterson, Jr. and it is unlikely that he wrote the statement.

In the upper right-hand corner of the first page there is a cataloger's notation: "(1879 Sept' 18)" This addition to the original holograph is not reproduced in the computer-enhanced scans of the document made available via this web-page. At the bottom of the fourth page is a note added c. 1900 by Mr. Schroeder, signed "A. T. S." Schroeder generally wrote the initial of his name first, and his legal name was probably "A. Theodore Schroeder." His note on page 4 confirms the evidence found in other documents in the Schroeder papers at Madison, saying that Robert Patterson, Jr. of Pittsburgh transferred some of his own materials to newspaperman James Cobb of Salt Lake City in the mid and late 1880s. From Cobb several of Patterson's letters and accompanying documents were passed on to Schroeder, who lived in Salt Lake City at the turn of the century.

The statement is dated "Pittsburgh Sept. 18th 1879." Robert Patterson Jr. published his Presbyterian Banner in that city during the late 1870s and 1880s. It appears that he met with Mrs. Eichbaum and solicited her statement in person. He was likely with her when it was written and perhaps even hand-carried it back to his office from her residence that day. Although Patterson published some articles on Mormonism in his newspaper, the Eichbaum statement is not known to have been printed in the Banner. Instead, Patterson evidently added her statement to a growing pile of research materials he and his associates had been compiling on his own father, on the Rev. Sidney Rigdon, on early Mormonism, etc. The fruits of this compiled research eventually saw print in Chapter 35 of Boyd Crumrine's 1882 History of Washington County... (Philadelphia, L. H. Everts & Co.). Patterson's contribution to that chapter was also reprinted in an 1882 booklet, entitled: Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?

The 1882 published Eichbaum statement text differs from that of Rebecca's 1879 holograph only in a few small points; they are essentially the same text. Commentary on the published text has been made available in another web-document dedicated to examining the evidentiary content of Rebecca's assertions. The holograph's text, although long known to some historians of Mormonism who have conducted research using the Schroeder Papers at Madison, was not cited in a published work until the appearance of the CD-ROM book The Spalding Enigma late in 2000. The authors of this CD publication make numerous references to the Eichbaum statement and reproduce its contents on page 703 of their book, citing "Schroeder Collection, Box 2, folder #1."

Generally speaking, the 1879 Eichbaum statement appears to be just what it represents itself to be, (i.e. the memories of a lady who knew Sidney Rigdon and others in Pittsburgh during the first two decades of the 19th century). Mrs. Eichbaum died on May 4 1882, so she was unavailable to respond to any questions later raised by investigators who happened to read Robert Patterson, Jr.'s publication of her recollections. For example, Patterson's own friend and research associate, Iassc Craig, in Oct. 1882 expressed his surprise at some of the contents of the statement, but was unable to conduct another interview with the lady, as she had by then passed away.

If the Eichbaum statement contains any mistakes or misrepresentations regarding events and persons in early Pittsburgh, those errors have not yet been discerned by any critical reader. Perhaps the only questionable part of the statement is Rebecca's memory of Robert Patterson, Sr. and Jonathan Harrison Lambdin having a "printing office." The print-shop in question was located adjacent to the Patterson store and was actually owned by Patterson's cousin, printer Silas Engles. However, since the Patterson brothers and Lambdin did publish books on Engles' press between about 1813 and 1823, the "printing office" in question may have been considered by Rebecca to have been a part of the Pattersons' publishing ventures.

The Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum statement of 1879 is a key piece of evidence linking Sidney Rigdon to Robert Patterson, Sr.'s legal ward and eventual business partner, Jonathan Harrison Lambdin. Miss Johnston served as the local postal clerk between 1811 and 1816, when the tiny Pittsburgh post office occupied no more than a corner of her father's house. She is almost certainly correct in her recollection of knowing something of Sidney Rigdon's activities in that town "for a large part of the time when I was clerk in the Post-office." Although Rebecca retired from regular work in the post office, a few months after her marriage on Oct. 12, 1815, the postal pigeon-holes were probably just moved from the residence of her father to that of her new husband. From then, until her husband William Eichbaum again moved the office, in 1824, Rebecca would have daily been close to the workings of post office and she would have been aware of the comings and goings of postal customers until at least the mid-1820s when the post office was finally established in a separate building. Her recollection of hearing the words of Silas Engles in reference to Sidney Rigdon appears to be both a valid and logical one. Like her husband William Eichbaum, Silas Engles was active in public affairs in Pittsburgh. Both men were in the printing business. Engles no doubt did call at the post office frequently, and Rebecca would have had numerous occasions on which to cross his path and hear his conversation -- at least up until the mid 1820s.

The word picture painted by Rebecca in her statement is certainly a believable one. Its subject matter warrants further investigation as an integral part of the evidence thus far uncovered in support of the Solomon Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon.

Mr. Isaac Craig's Letter

The Oct. 14, 1882 Iassc Craig, Esq. letter is currently in the possession of this writer (Dale R. Broadhurst of Hilo, Hawaii). The document is on three sheets of ruled stationery paper, measuring approximately 14.5 by 23.0 cm., folded in thirds to fit inside an envelope (nolonger extant). The handwriting is apparently that of Isaac Craig himself. Its handwriting has not yet been compared with other Isaac Craig holographs on file in Pittsvurgh.

Isaac Craig, Esq., (1822-1899) was the son of Neville Burgoyne Craig (1787-1863), one of Pittsburgh's first historians and the editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette during the 1830s. Like his father before him, Isaac Craig was a wealthy gentleman, an attorney, an author, an historian and a recognized authority of the history of the Ohio Valley and Western Pennsylvania. Isaac lived in the so-called 'Second Bank' section of Alleghaney City, across the Alleghaney River from his family's previous home at Fort Pitt. Both of these areas now comprise part of the greater Pittsburgh area. In later life he served as Vice President of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. According to the 1890 Pittsburgh Directory, his residence was at 33 Sherman avenue, apt. A.

Isaac was a member of the Aztec Club, the Pennsylvania State Society of the Sons of the Revolution, and of various state istorical societies. It was under his guidance that the 1768-1808 "Craig Manuscript Collection" at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was assembled. This massive collection includes 40 bound volumes and approximately 5,000 manuscript items detailing the career of the Revolutionary War soldier, Major Isaac Craig. Major Craig (grandfather to Isaac Craig, Esq.) served as the U.S. Army's Quartermaster General at Fort Pitt during the 1780s. The collection also contains various papers belonging to Major Craig's sons, including those of Neville B. Craig, etc., gathered and annotated by Isaac Craig, Esq. Unfortunately it holds little material related to Isaac Craig, Esq. himself.

Exactly when and how Isaac Craig first met Robert Patterson, Jr. remains unknown. The two men, both long-time Pittsburgh residents from noted literary and publishing families, probably knew each other from an early age. The first documentation of Robert Patterson, Jr. having crossed the path of Isaac Craig came on Dec. 3, 1878, when the Rev. Samuel Williams wrote to James T. Cobb of Salt Lake City, informing him that he had "handed to Mr. Isaac Craig a copy of my pamphlet against Mormonism to forward to you." The implication is that Craig had visited the Rev. Williams, while engaged in researching Mormon origins, and that Williams had supplied the rare old pamphlet for Craig to mail to fellow Spalding claims researcher, James T. Cobb. In a follow-up letter, dated Dec. 14, 1878, the Rev. Williams informed Cobb of a mistake Craig had made "in regard to the death of Robert Patterson," the younger Patterson's late father. The image which emerges from these brief references in Williams' 1878 letters is that Isaac Craig was then conducting research in and around Pittsburgh, on Mormon origins and the Spalding authorship claims, either as Robert Patterson, Jr.'s agent or as Patterson's investigative partner. James T. Cobb, in turn, was a evidently a correspondent of Patterson, Craig and Williams.

Isaac Craig's name next turns up in the transcript of a Nov. 13, 1880 interview conducted with D. P. Hurlbut by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson. Here Mr. Hurlbut says, "there's a man named Craig, in Alleghany City... writing me about a manuscript they say I got from Mrs. Davison." It appears that Isaac Craig was cooperating with Robert Patterson, Jr. in ferreting out obscure information relating exactly which writings of Spalding's resembled the book of Mormon and whether D. P. Hurlbut had recovered those particular pages from Spalding's widow. In the same interview Hurlbut admits that Patterson had been writing to him for the same purpose as had Craig.

Although it is not widely known, Mr. Craig must have worked closely with the younger Patterson in researching the material on Mormonism which later appeared in Boyd Crumrine's History of Washington County, Pennsylvania. Probably Craig was the leg-man and Patterson the compiler and writer in this 1878-82 investigation. Isaac Craig's Oct. 11, 1882 letter now falls into place as being the first communication Craig exchanged with Patterson after the appearance of the Crumrine History. Criag generally compliments his partner Patterson in the opening lines of the letter, saying that Patterson had "made good use of the materials at hand," some of which were Craig's own contribution to the collection of sources.

Isaac Craig's name once again pops up in an 1884 report closely connected with Patterson's continuating promotion of the Spalding authorship claims. There Patterson has this to say about Mr. Craig:

"To this [Spalding claims evidence] we are now enabled to add the unequivocal declaration of another unimpeachable witness, Mr. Jas. Jeffery, of Churchville, Md. For obtaining this testimony we are indebted to Isaac Craig, Esq., of Allegheny, who has for years interested himself deeply in the origin of the Book of Mormon, and by an extensive correspondence has enlisted others in the same investigation, of which the following testimony is the latest fruit:"

What further cooperation Craig and Patterson engaged in after 1884 history has not remembered. Evidently the respective concerns of these gentlemen's last few years of life kept them from much further research and reporting of the Spalding claims.

Importance of the Craig Letter

Coming as it did, immediately after the publication of Patterson's 1882 article, Craig's letter offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Spalding studies of twelve decades past. Since Craig helped Patterson compile a good deal of the source material used in the 1882 article, his critique of it takes on the special significance of an "insider" voicing his views as to the strengths and weaknesses of Patterson's work -- the "state of the art" research into the Spalding claims of those days. For example, Craig is concerned that Patterson made use a certain Redick McKee statement, not so much because McKee's various statements of that period contained some minor contradictions, as because "the Mormons" might seize upon those supposed inconsistencies to discredit the work Patterson and Craig were engaged in. On the other hand, Patterson knowingly published several problematic admissions and assertions in his article. Where Craig seems mostly concerned with making the Spalding claims believable, Patterson appears to be more curious in uncovering the facts of the matter.

Craig expresses his surprise at the details contained in Rebbeca J. Eichbaum's statement. He had previously interviewed they lady and had been unable to pry loose from her recollections as much information as his friend Patterson had come away with. Craig's primary misgiving seems to be that Mrs. Eichbaum had not informed him of Rigdon's evident friendship with Jonathan Harrison Lambdin in old Pittsburgh. But there is a likely solution to this seeming problem. If Rigdon's main connection with the Patterson booksales and publishing business centered on the Patterson's relative and printer, Silas Engles, then his friendship with Lambdin may have been a transitory one. Rigdon may have indeed come into Pittsburgh from his parents nearby farm on weekends, but his main reason for making those visits to the city probably was not to simply spend time with young Lambdin. In response to Patterson's direct questioning about any relationship between Rigdon and Lambdin, she may have recalled a couple of summers, before 1817, when she saw the two together. When Craig conducted his interview with the elderly lady his questions may have led the discussion in some other direction, whereby Lambdin was not much spoken of.

The main point of this whole matter is one that neither Craig nor Patterson was ever able to confirm -- the fact that Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding did both call for their mail at the post office where Rebecca worked, in Pittsburgh and before Spalding's death in 1816 and Rigdon's temprary departure in 1817.

Potentially the most important information disclosed by Craig in his 1882 letter is what he says about Rigdon the tanner. This period in Sidney Rigdon's life came nearly a decade after he and Lambdin used to wander into the post office on Sundays, but it helps establish his probable "connection" with the Patterson Brothers and Silas Engles during the 1820s. As Craig says: "Rigdon had a small tannery on Penn street, near Hand, for the manufacture of book-binders sheep-skins, and supplying these to the office brought him in contact with Engles. This impression I obtained from John Sandersen, an old time butcher, who sold sheep pelts to Rigdon." This glimpse into an obscure period in Rigdon's life is well complemented by another Pittsburgh old-timer's 1879 recollectrion:

"So far back as 1822 the firm of Patterson & Lambdin... did business as Publishers, Bookbinders and Booksellers, at the southeast corner of the Diamond and Market street. At the same time Sidney Rigdon, tanner and currier, had his tan-yard and shop on Penn street, on the lot running from Penn Avenue to Allegheny above Ninth street... I think this firm went out of the publishing part of their business about that time. Putting these things together, it is likely that, in the business transactions between book-binder and tanner, Sidney Rigdon took the Spaulding manuscript to Ohio, and he became the real, whilst Joseph Smith was the ostensible originator of the Mormon fraud."

A "currier" of those days prepared leather for special use by treating the rawhide with certain chemicals, trimming it to a uniform thickness, and polishing its outer surface. One such special use would have been the manufacture of leather sheets for book-binding. An example of the early need for curriers in Pittsburgh may be seen in an advertisement in the Mercury for May 20, 1813, reading: "Wanted immediately -- A tanner and currier -- apply at the office of the Mercury." The same paper advertised for "journeyman book-binders" in its issue of Aug. 10, 1814, requesting respondents to apply to "R. and J. Patterson." Exactly when and where Sidney Rigdon received his initial training in the tanning business is unknown. If he worked off and on as a tanning shop apprentice in the years prior to 1817, that might help explain how he so easily became an experienced "journeyman tanner" in Pittsburgh during the mid 1820s. Rigdon's presumed "connection" with the Pattersons, Engles, and Lambdin may thus have been based upon nothing more formal than his occasional sales of book-bindings to that set of men, sales which may have begun in the years before 1817.

Craig expresses some skepticism about the Pattersons operating their business anywhere else in Pittsburgh than on 4th Street; however investigation of the news reports, notices, and advertisements between 1810 and 1839 in the Pittsburgh press shows that they were involved in several such business and at various locations in the city. Also, Lambdin and Engles both operated printing and publishing businesses independently of the Pattersons at various times in that place. Thus the total number of unique business addressees occupied by the Pattersons and their associates must have something like half a dozen.

Isaac Craig's letter is important for all the reasons mentioned above and for a few others as well, but perhaps its most significant use for the modern student of Mormon origins is that it indicates that Isaac Craig was a serious student of the Spalding authorship claims, contacting many people by correspondence, and that perhaps several items of that old correspondence still await discovery and analysis.

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last revised Aug. 14, 2006