Early Mormonism Collection 2
Letter of 2 Jun 1879
John A. McKinstry to James T. Cobb
(Original in T. A. Schroeder Collection, U. of Wisconsin Library, Madison, WI)
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The jpeg image has been removed, pending updating of this file.
Longmeadow, June 2d/ 79
My Dear Sir,
I received yours in due season but delayed answering till I could hear from mother in answer to the questions you propounded. Enclosed you will find over her signature that answer -- although not as elaborate as I could have wished.
It seems that the "MS" was not delivered in person to Hurlbut, but that grandmother was visiting at mother's at the time, and had not her effects with her (she afterwards made her home at our house) but had left the M.S. in her trunk at one Mrs. Clark's (at Hartwick, N.Y.) She gave Hurlbut a letter to this Mrs. Clark requesting her to deliver the "MS" to him, the bearer.
Now, had the "MS" not been in said trunk, she, grandmother, never would have written that letter, for she was a woman above deceit or double dealing, and I know that she ever after believed that the M.S. was delivered to Hurlbut and I myself have frequently heard her lament that she ever allowed herself to be persuaded into permitting it to pass into his possession -- and I have heard mother say many a time that she said all she could at the time to dissuade grandmother from the act. As my brother (who was two years older than myself) and I grew older, and realized what had passed from the family, as we religiously believed into Hurlbut's hands, never to be seen again, we reproached grandmother for being so easily duped and depriving us of what might have been valuable. She always said that she had done what seemed for the best at that time -- that as the writings of her husband had been used as the foundation of Mormonism, she felt it her duty to do all in her power to bring that fact to light, and that with that feeling uppermost in her heart, she had let Hurlbut have the "MS" -- upon his solemn promise to return the same after it had been compared with the Book of Mormon. I have written of these little things not that they are of importance in themselves-- but to show that grandmother, mother, and all of us firmly believed that Hurlbut did have the "MS" in his possession.
To my mind there is one of two things certain. Either Mrs. Clark failed to comply with grandmother's request and disposed of the "MS" otherwise or Hurlbut received it and disposed of it to better advantage than to deliver it to Howe. One thing is certain -- grandmother never saw the "MS" again after her interview with Hurlbut at Monson. She left it in her trunk, she gave an order for it on the one in whose possession the trunk was, and it was taken from the trunk on that occasion. What would be the inference? It is altogether probable that the subject must have been referred to on grandmother's meeting Mrs. Clark again, and it is equally probable that she had no occasion to think that Mrs. Clark had failed to deliver the "MS" to Hurlbut.
To J.T. Cobb
Salt Lake City
Comments: John A. McKinstry was the son of Solomon Spalding's adopted daughter, Matilda (after 1828 Matilda McKinstry). His letter demonstrates that as early as 1879 Mr. McKinstry had a competent grasp of past events pertaining to his family's involvement in the Spalding claims for the origin of the Book of Mormon. An earlier (and greatly garbled) report on John's recollections of some of these same events may be found in an article printed in a late July 1877 issue of the Springfield Republican.
John mentions enclosing a signed statement made by his mother, Matilda McKinstry. This statement has become detached from the Sept. 2nd letter and it is not filed in the same folder in the Special Collections of the University of Wisconsin's Theodore A. Schroeder papers. The c. late Aug. 1877 Matilda McKinstry Statement was probably removed by Schroeder himself when he received possession of Cobb's papers after 1901.
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