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Rev. Samuel Williams (1802-1887)
Letter to James T. Cobb

(Holograph of December 14, 1878)

Typescript: page 1  page 2  page 3  page 4

Dec. 14, 1878 Samuel Williams Letter
Theodore Albert Schroeder Papers: Box 2, folder 1.
Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, Madison, WI
Partial Catalog: Theodore A. Schroeder Papers

Transcriber's Comments

see also Williams letters:  Nov. 12, 1878   Dec. 3, 1878   |   1842 Williams Pamphlet

[ 1 ]
  Castle Shannon Allegheny Co Pa Dec 14th -- 78 Dear Sir, I have just recd. yours of the 27th ult through Mr. Craig, and answer your questions as well as I can in detail. Mr. Patterson of the Presn Banner says Engles was his Father's cousin and was in his employ during the term of his partnership with Lambden, and was entrusted with the management of the printing office. I am not certain about Lambden being a Portrait painter. I distinctly recollect of a Mr. Lambden a Painter being in Pittsburgh when I came to the city in 1827 and somehow I received the impression that it was the same man. They may not have been the same. Mr. Craig has made a great mistake in regard to the death of Robert Patterson -- he gave you the date of the death of his Father the Rev. Joseph Patterson. Robt Patterson was the Pastor of the Highlands Chh twenty years and all that time was engaged in the Book business on a small scale up at least to 1840 when his son and a Mr. Ingram succeeded him and he moved about six or seven miles out on the Washington road south of the city where he lived until 51 or 2 or about that time. I have been in his store a hundred

[ 2 ]
  times, had books or pamphlets on sale in his store, and was standing near him when he wrote that certificate in 1842. Besides I often met him on the street and preached once or twice for him in his church at Hilands. The date of his death is now certified by his son as you will see the by the scrap of paper with the pamphlet. The small chh to which he preached gave him but a small support and he was obliged to do something else for a living, as many others of us have to do. I was led to think 1842 was a misprint by Mr. Craig and without much thought gave you that date, 1832, but 1842 and not 32 is the correct date. Because when I came to recollect distinctly, I got the certificate when I was opposing John E. Page and I know he flourished in Pittsburgh in 1841-2, and all the other dates in the Pamphlet are correct for they were taken from the minutes of the Redstone Association and the old Church Book of the 1st Bap Chh. Mr. Patterson stated to me that Mr. Spaulding brought the Manuscript to the Office and of course it came under the charge of Engles, and at or about that time Engles spoke to Mr. Patterson about it. That time must have been 1814 or 15. All of the old men of our Church knew about Rigdon hanging about that Printing Office, and whether he spent his time there in copying it or concocting his schemes while

[ 3 ]
  conversing with Engles and others, or at length procured the Manuscript by purchase or otherwise, makes not the smallest difference. If it is true that Mrs. Spaulding had the Manuscript returned to her, then unless Mr. Spaulding had duplicate copies leaving one in the office, Rigdon must have copied it. The identification of the Mormon Bible with the Novel of Mr Spaulding I consider complete and placed beyond cavil. Now I wish to write about J. Patterson. He was Mr. Joseph Patterson who I suppose was in with his brother Robert before Lambden came into the firm. He married a very wealthy lady, built a long block of buildings on one of the principal business streets 6th producing high rents, retired from active business, and finally moved to Philadelphia to enjoy his fortune. I knew him well. I have no doubt you are right in the matter of Mrs. Spaulding's statement concerning the interest Jos. P. had taken in the Manuscript. But Mr. Spaulding not being able to furnish the money for its publication -- there it remained. I have never supposed that Rigdon ever saw Mr. Spaulding for at that time he had not as yet come on the stage, but finding such a document there shown to him by Engles in 1822 or 3. But I do not think he ever wished Patterson

[ 4 ]
  to publish it, thinking he might turn it to account in making a fortune. And suppose the Novel was returned to Mrs. Spaulding -- it being a strange production, Engles might during his leisure hours have copied it with the intention of making something out of it and perhaps not being able to publish it, sold it to Rigdon. Any one of these Lambden, Engles, Joseph Patterson, or Rigdon might have taken a copy. I think Rigdon had his plan of a community formed, { indeed the old members told me that when in Pittsburgh he often broached the subject to them of a common-stock system as he then called it } before he met Joe Smith, and at first expected to use him as a tool to carry out his plans. So that it may be that Rigdon had a little community begun at Kirtland before he met Joe Smith. But I remember well the report that Parley Pratt the tin pedlar told Rigdon of Smith and was the means of bringing them together, and I suppose it was 1829 or '30. Another thing I learned that about the time they published the first edition of the Mormon Bible they established a Bank at Kirtland without a basis issued notes, and the Elders put them into circulation. I saw one of the notes. I hope you will persevere and collect all of the facts and publish an authentic history of that huge imposture. You will see by my pamphlet that you can get nowhere else the first facts in the history. I feel thankful that I can help a mite toward the object. I was sick for three or four weeks but have recovered. If I can aid you any further I shall be glad to do it. Judge Cobb. Very respectfully, S. Williams.


Transcriber's Comments:

(under construction)

The following text is taken from the Spalding Enigma and its contents will be paraphrased in the final revision of this section

This is a fascinating revelation indeed, for if Mrs. Spalding ever made a statement identifying Joseph Patterson as having been the Mr. Patterson with whom her husband had dealings, then that statement, unfortunately, no longer survives. Even so, this assertion by Rev. Williams provides a completely independent and critically important corroboration of Mrs. McKinstry's recollection, as related to Redick McKee on 31 October 1882 -- nearly four years after the date of this letter (see Chapt. V) -- of her mother's having said that there had been two Mr. Pattersons involved with her husband; and of the Rev. Robert Patterson, Jr.'s identification of the principal Mr. Patterson as having been his uncle Joseph rather than his father Robert based upon the physical descriptions of the two. Since, as far as can be ascertained, neither the Rev. Williams' letter (above) nor any of Mr. Cobb's research relating to it have ever been previously published, and since Rev. Robert Patterson, Jr. fails to reference it in his 1882 work "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?," and indeed appears to have been completly unaware of it until disabused by McKee's letter, there is no evidence to support any argument that either Mrs. McKinstry's 31st October, 1882, recollection to McKee, or McKee's early November account of it to Rev. Patterson, could have been unduly influenced or inspired by prior knowledge of this material. -NOTE: Very little is known about JAMES T. COBB (1834-c.1900), to whom the above three letters and a number of those which follow in this file were written. He was apparently born in Boston or possibly New York (the son of later Utah pioneer James Cobb?), was a graduate of both Dartmouth and Amhurst colleges, and in 1860 was a teacher (with Orson Pratt, Jr.) at the Union Academy in Salt Lake City. It is possible but by no means certain that he was a polyandrous husband of Mary van Cott (1844-1884; see obit. Deseret Evening News, 5 Jan. 1884, p.5) who became Brigham Young's fifty-first plural wife on 8 January 1865, and [to] whom she had one child. During the winter of 1865-66 he appears to have been in New York City on a mission (Letters of Brigham Young, 21 Fe. 1866), but was back in Salt Lake City by 30 Sep. 1866 (Wilfred Woodruff Journal VI, p. 299). From fragments of his correspondence (Theodore Schroeder Collection) it is known that he had at least one sister. It would appear that Cobb became disaffected with the LDS in the 1870s. In 1878, while working as a newsman for the non-Mormon Salt Lake City Tribune, he began an investigation into the Spalding Enigma apparently with the intention of publishing a book on the subject which for some reason he never completed. The 1890s found him once again in New York City where, like Arthur B. Deming, he seems to have become addicted to drugs (opium? morphine?) and where it appears that he died around the turn of the century. A letter from RLDS President Joseph Smith III to Robert Patterson, Jr. dated Lamoni, Iowa, 20 January 1883, however, provides a somewhat different version (see RLDS tract No. 36, "The Spalding Story Re-examined," 16 pp., n.d.). In this letter, Smith claims to have been informed that James T. Cobb was "the son of the woman known as Brigham Young's Boston wife... an intimate of Brigham's family... partaker of his bounty, and a member of the [Utah] church." Smith then goes on to say that Cobb's domestic life had been poisoned "by the defection of his own wife; and subsequently still, his daughter, Luella, [who] became the polygamous wife of John W. Young," and that "for these reasons he [was] an intense hater of Mormonism."

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