New Light on Mormonism
1: Contents | 2. Chapters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 3. Chapters 8-12 | 4. Chapters 13-16
NEW LIGHT ON MORMONISM.
Sketch of the Life of Solomon Spaulding and his authorship of a romance
which he called "The Manuscript Found."
SOLOMON SPAULDING was born at Ashford, Conn., in 1761, of a highly respectable family of English extraction, some of whose members served as officers in the Revolutionary War.
He was educated at the Plainfield, Conn., Academy and at Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1785, subsequently studying theology, and preached for a few years in some obscure New England town, but retired from the ministry, it is said, in consequence of ill-health. Soon after leaving Dartmouth he married Miss Matilda Sabine, of Pomfret, Conn. Next we hear of Mr. Spaulding at Cherry Valley, N. Y., where he became principal of an academy, and remained until, through the persuasion of his brother, John Spaulding, he removed to a little town in Ohio... known as Conneaut, Ashtabula Co. Here the Spauldings, with Mr. Henry Lake, were owners of an iron foundry, and were engaged in successful business until the War of 1812, which ruined them financially.
Solomon Spaulding, being an invalid, remained much of the time in his own house, reading and writing. He was a peculiar man, of fine education, especially devoted to historical study, the writing of essays and romances, and given to talking to his neighbors of what he had read and written.
He was greatly superior to the people generally with whom he came in contact in that part of the country, both in mental capacity and education, possessed a commanding personal appearance -- being over six feet in height -- and had a pleasing, intelligent countenance. With all these advantages he was naturally looked upon as a man of consequence, and his opinions and conversation were listened to with earnest consideration by his acquaintances and neighbors.
He was in the habit of frequently reading to them something he had written for their amusement and benefit, and these unique entertainments made a vivid and lasting impression upon those who were fortunate as to attend them.
In close proximity to the Spaulding residence there were some earth-mounds; they greatly interested him, and in order to have one of them investigated he had a large and vigorous tree cut dorm, which, on examination, turned out to be one thousand years old. Buried within the mound were various evidences of a prehistoric race, relics of a civilized condition, mingled with human bones, which were portions of gigantic skeletons. This discovery very greatly excited him and fired his imagination. He had been the very first person, it is said, to speculate and write on the origin of the various earth-mounds in the Mississippi Valley and that region, and had long had a theory as to the peopling of this country by a race which had inhabited the whole Continent, possessing the
refinements of civilization, and which had, in some unaccountable manner perished. The relics secured by his workmen seemed to confirm this idea; here he found tangible proofs that his theories and conversations on the subject were not the mere vagaries of a distorted and fanciful imagination, and he immediately began to write a new romance.
The extreme antiquity of the relics belonging to the race whose history he professed to give led him to adopt the most antique style of composition, and so he imitated the Scriptures, as the most ancient book in the world; and his knowledge of the classics and histories of the olden times enabled him to introduce odd names which were noticed by his friends, and which were afterward easily distinguished by them. In common with all antiquarians, Mr. Spaulding was aware that the mound-builders are supposed to have been very religious, as well as superstitious; but as to the nature of their religion and superstitions it is impossible to determine aught, save their striking similarity to the religion of the modern Indians, and to that of the ancient Magi of Persia, before the days of Zoroaster.
Mr. Spaulding conceived the idea that among the prehistoric mementos discovered by his workmen some golden plates covered with hieroglyphical writing had been found, and that he merely translated the story of a people whose wanderings and sufferings had been thereon inscribed, and of which he had deciphered the interpretation. He altered the plot of his novel after writing a portion of it. The emigrant Jews, whose story he professed to narrate, were, in the first instance, fitted out at Rome for their travels; but after reflection he started them from Jerusalem with Levi and his four sons, under divine direction. Years after, when his manuscript romance
was eagerly sought for at Harlwich, [sic] N. Y., the rejected beginning of his story was found.
Mr. Spaulding was a rapid writer, and as he progressed with his romance from day to day, he read it to his wife and neighbors, all of whom were greatly impressed with its peculiarities. He called it "Manuscript Found" -- that is, a written history of a lost people, found in an earth-mound. It purported to be an account of the peopling of America by the lost tribes of Israel, the tribes and their leaders having very singular names; among them, Mormon, Moroni, Lamenite, and Nephi -- names found nowhere else in literature. So much interest was awakened by this romance, and it was such a distinction, at the time, to write a book, that he determined to publish it. (Mr. Spaulding laughingly remarked to Nathan Howard, a neighbor, that probably in a century from that time his account of the early inhabitants of America would be accepted as a veritable history.) For this purpose he removed to Pittsburg, where he had a friend named Patterson, a publisher, to whom he gave his manuscript for inspection, hoping he would print it, believing that its publication would not only establish him as a successful author, but give him, in addition, a comfortable competence. The war had blasted all his hopes of bettered fortune at Conneaut; but he now felt sanguine of success if his book could reach the public in proper form. A young printer named Sidney Rigdon, was in Mr. Patterson's printing house; he had been there but a short time, and, from many indisputable facts, it is believed he had followed Mr. Spaulding from Conneaut, or its immediate neighborhood, and having heard him read "The Manuscript Found," and announce his plans for its publication, devised a treachery toward both author and publisher, which
the world has reason to remember. This same Sidney Rigdon figured prominently twenty years later as a preacher among the Mormons. After weeks of delay, during which time Mr. Spaulding's manuscript was left carelessly lying about in the office of the printing house, Mr. Patterson decided not to publish it. He admitted its cleverness, and said to the author, "Polish it up, finish it, and you will make money out of it." It is probable that Mr. Spaulding did not attempt to find another publisher, as he was disheartened and impecunious. It was a very different matter to publish a book at that time from the present era of books and book-making. Within a few months he seems to have abandoned his attempt to have his romance printed, and took his family to Amity, Washington Co., Penn., where he at one time kept a store, and then a public-house, and again became the centre of an admiring circle of listeners to his talk and writings. The author has recently received a letter (see Appendix No. 2) from a very aged man, still living near Amity, who distinctly remembers Solomon Spaulding and his "Manuscript Found." This same Mr. Miller testifies that he often heard the romance read, remembers many particulars in it, citing a description in the story where, before a battle, one of the armies painted their faces with red paint to distinguish them from their enemies, and that he afterward read the same description in the same connection in the "Book of Mormon." Mr. Miller remembers distinctly, too, that Mr. Spaulding accused Rigdon of copying his manuscript while it was in Mr. Patterson's office, giving his reasons for such a belief. In 1816 Mr. Spaulding died of consumption at Amity, and was there buried in the village graveyard.
His friend Miller tells how he nursed him in his long
illness, made his coffin, helped to bury him, and settled up his slender estate. At this time "he stooped forward a little, had a sober visage, was reserved in conversation, and very candid apparently in his dealings," and "I think he was a very good man," adds the narrator of this unfortunate author's last experiences.
The humble head-stone which marks his grave has been almost entirely chipped away by relic hunters of our own and foreign lands; but there is a promise that the Historical Society of Washington Co., Penn., will replace it with a handsome and suitable monument at no distant day.
Following the fate of "The Manuscript Found" from the year 1816 to 1834.
IMMEDIATELY after Solomon Spaulding's death at Amity, Penn., in 1816, Mrs. Spaulding and her daughter removed to the residence of William Sabine at Onondaga Valley (called "Hollow" at the time), N. Y., taking with her all her personal effects. According to the remembrances of certain persons now living, Mrs. Spaulding was greatly esteemed by Squire Sabine, as he was familiarly known. She was his only sister, and a woman of intelligence, refinement, and many virtues, and he invited her to make a prolonged visit at his house in consequence of her impoverished condition
Mr. Sabine was a lawyer of distinction and wealth. a graduate of Brown University, and known throughout central New York for his legal abilities and probity of character. * He was the personal friend of Judge Conkling of Utica (father of Roscoe Conkling), of Judge Strong of Onondaga Co., and of Judge Miller of Cayuga Co. (the father-in-law of William H. Seward), and of all the leading men of that part of the State, one of the most prominent of whom was Judge Joshua Forman, his brother-in-law and partner, whose name will always be associated with the history of our country in
* It may also be stated that Mr. Sabine accepted a military commission, and was promoted to the rank of Captain, and in 1811 withdrew from the service. He was a strong Federalist, and was candidate for the Assembly in 1815, 1816, and 1817
connection with his instrumentality in the construction of the Erie Canal and originating the banking system called the "Safety Fund Act," during the administration of Martin Van Buren as Governor of the State of New York, which subsequently became a law in this State, and in 1860 was adopted by the general government, and is now in general use* (* See Magazine of American History, June, 1882.) Squire Sabine's house remains in perfect preservation, is still owned by the family; and Mrs. McKinstry, in talking of it two years since, described its rooms and surroundings as she saw them in 1816 and 1817, which correspond very closely to their present condition.
Among Mrs. Spaulding's belongings which she conveyed to the old homestead was a hair-covered trunk, of a kind much used in those days, filled with her deceased husband's writings, which she had preserved -- sermons, essays, novels, and a manuscript, which she and all the family were familiar with, under the title of "The Manuscript Found." Mrs. McKinstry, Mr. Spaulding's daughter, says that she perfectly remembers this trunk and its contents; that it was in the garret of the house; that she and her cousins (one of them the mother of the writer) had access to it and frequently looked it through. She remembers one set of papers or manuscripts an inch thick, closely written and tied up with some of the stories which she recognized as having been written by her father, and read to her by him at Conneaut. One of these stories was called "The Frogs of Wyndham," and she repeated it to the writer recently, giving an imitation of her father's comic recitation of it. One of the manuscripts she distinctly remembers to have seen had the title "The Manuscript Found."
As she was between eleven and twelve years of age at this time, and precocious, she well understood what she saw and read. The trunk containing the manuscript is understood to have been in Mr. Sabine's house nearly three years. While it was there Mrs. Anna T. Redfield, still living in Syracuse, N. Y,, eighty-three or four years of age, of sound mind and memory, and of high social position (see Appendix No. 3), was a resident in Mr. Sabine's family.
She also remembers hearing a great deal of a manuscript which Mrs. Spaulding said was written by her deceased husband, and the comments made upon it by Mr. Sabine and the neighbors, and their all agreeing that it was a wonderful story, both in style and substance. In after years, in seeing the "Book of Mormon," she found names and incidents in it which she heard in connection with the Spaulding manuscript at Onondaga Valley. the writer has often heard members of her family say that Joe Smith was at one time their servant or hired man. Probably it was while Mrs. Spaulding was at Onondaga Valley.
Smith was in Onondaga County about the same time mentioned, as his name (according to Gunnison) appears in the criminal records of 1817. He was about eighteen or nineteen years old, possibly twenty, when he was in the Onondaga County Jail for "vagrancy and debt," and this jail was then at Onondaga Hill, two miles from Mr. Sabine's house. An old man remembered that Smith was about this time employed to "locate" water with sticks of witch-hazel, the "divining-rods" in the vicinity of Syracuse and Onondaga Valley, and there is a local tradition that he was employed to look for gold in what is supposed to be an earth-mound, a conical-shaped hill, between Syracuse and Onondaga Valley, with his "seer-stone."
There is no reason to doubt that Joe Smith was once in the employ of Mr. Sabine as a teamster and a man for out-door work, taking his meals in the kitchen and hearing the talk of the house. Some authors on Mormonism have said Smith stole the Spaulding manuscript while at Mr. Sabine's; this statement is not correct. He heard of it, and from his knowledge of it was afterward prepared to use what he knew of the matter...
Joseph Sabine, Esq., of Syracuse, son of William H. Sabine, now deceased, twice wrote his recollections for New York newspapers of the family traditions in relation to Mr. Spaulding, his romance, its being in his father's house, and of Joe Smith's residence at Onondaga Valley.
In 1820 Mrs. Spaulding married Mr. Davison of Hartwick, near Cooperstown, N. Y. Mrs. McKinstry (her daughter) says she vividly remembers seeing the hair trunk and looking over its contents in a closet in Mr. Davison's house, at Cooperstown, where it had been removed, and noticing its important feature, "The Manuscript Found;" but the two ladies, mother and daughter, in their new relations and new home, did not give the same attention to Mr. Spaulding's literary legacy that they had while in Mr. Sabine's house.
In 1828 Matilda Spaulding married Dr. A. McKinstry, of Munson, Hampden Co., Mass., and her mother followed her a little while afterward to make a visit, which, for some family reasons (on the part of Mrs. Davison), eventuated in her remaining there permanently until her death. She placed her furniture, and with it the old Spaulding trunk of manuscripts, in the custody of a cousin at Hartwick, named Jerome Clark.
Here it must be remembered that the facilities for travel and transportation were then very different from the present expeditious methods by railway and express. Fifty years ago journeys were slowly and expensively accomplished; and in leaving her effects with a cousin she felt they were safe, and that she would return for them; and she had not the remotest suspicion of the use to be made of one of the manuscripts by fraudulent men almost immediately after her departure from Hartwick.
Soon after Mrs. Davison went to Munson the whole country was filled with an agitation in regard to a new religious faith called Mormonism; and the report that it was founded on Solomon Spaulding's romance, "Manuscript Found." quickly followed, to the immense surprise of Mrs. Davison, Mrs. McKinstry, and every one connected with the author of that remarkable and unfortunate novel. Then a report was directly carried to these ladies, that a great meeting of Mormons had been held at Conneaut, Ohio, and that on one occasion when the "Book of Mormon" was read before the assemblage, John Spaulding and Mr. Lake, the former partners of Solomon Spaulding, and many other persons who were present, recognized its similarity to the story called "The Manuscript Found," with which they had been so familiar years before (see statements 4th and 5th, Appendix) in that very locality.
She was not a little excited over what she heard of the Mormons, and Mrs. McKinstry says she remembers how her mother talked on the subject, expressing a firm conviction that Sidney Rigdon had copied the manuscript which had been in Mr. Patterson's office in Pittsburg. She also said at this time that Mr. Spaulding had assured her that he recovered his original manuscript when Mr.
Patterson refused to publish it; and she never wavered or doubted in this belief.
That the Mormons agreed with her in this conviction and felt their exposure and ruin were certain if the Spaulding manuscript remained in existence, is proved by the trick which they practised to get it into their possession. Previous to this time, when the Mormon fraud was inaugurated at Palmyra, the report of it naturally reached Hartwick; and some one who was acquainted with the fact that Spaulding's writings were in the hands of Jerome Clark applied to him requesting to see them, and he refused. He probably allowed persons interested, whom he could trust, to look over the contents of the old trunk. A son of this Mr. Clark, now residing in Sonoma, California (see Appendix No. 6), wrote to the author that when he sold his father's farm near Hartwick, in 1864, the old trunk known to the family as having belonged to the Spauldings was still in the garret. Mrs. George Clark also remembers "that Mrs. Davison once while visiting them gave her a manuscript to read written, as she said, by Mr. Spaulding, as a pastime to while away the days of sickness." From these letters of the Clarks it appears that Mrs. Davison spent some time with them at Hartwick "nearly fifty years ago, and went from there direct to Munson, Mass."
Later, she sent word to these relatives to sell the furniture which they had stored for her, but the trunk, remained. Mrs. McKinstry states that her mother fully intended to return to Hartwick. Certain events occurred to prevent it, which are not necessary to be related here.
It will be subsequently seen that "The Manuscript Found" was stolen from her.
Onondaga Valley, Hartwick, and Palmyra, being contiguous in central New York, the story of the Spaulding manuscript was familiar to many people, as well as to the residents of Conneaut, where the first great conference of the Mormons was held.
Of the professed converts to Mormonism, so long as it suited a scheme he had to make money out of it, was one Dr. D. P. Hurlburt, a man of good address and fine personal appearance. He was sent by a committee, as he at the time represented the matter, to visit Mrs. Davison at Munson, Mass., and ask permission to carry "The Manuscript Found," written by Solomon Spaulding, to Conneaut, in order to compare it with the "Book of Mormon."
Further on in these pages there is an account of an interview with this Dr. Hurlburt, who was still living at Gibsonburg, Ohio, in November, 1880.
The perfect familiarity of the Mormon leaders with the history of the Spaulding manuscript at the time is proved by Dr. Hurlburt's method to obtain it. His visit to William H. Sabine, at Ononodaga Valley, to procure a letter of introduction to Mrs. Davison, with a request from him to let Hurlburt have the manuscript, was a subtle and clever contrivance, undoubtedly suggested by Joseph Smith, who was acquainted with his former employer's peculiarities, his probity of character, and unquestionable willingness to assist in proving the "Book of Mormon" to be a plagiarism of Spaulding's romance.
In the year 1834 Dr. Hurlburt, after procuring a letter of introduction to Mrs. Davison from her brother, William H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, proceeded in his nefarious scheme for obtaining the original Spaulding "Manuscript Found." When he appeared at Munson, Mass., equipped with this letter and the request
it contained, that Mrs. Davison should write an order to Jerome Clark to give him the Manuscript, both Mrs. Davison and Mrs. McKinstry distrusted his motives at once.
With a woman's quick perception of character, they each had an intuition, from something in his personal appearance that he was deceptive and that he visited them for no good purpose. He told them that he had been a convert to Mormonism, but was now convinced of its fallacies and plagiarisms and had come to them to ask their assistance in exposing the shameful imposition to the world.
With all his honeyed words, Mrs. Davison disliked the man. She was careful to have her daughter with her during the interview, and so unwilling was she to yield to her brother's request to loan the manuscript, that she requested Dr. Hurlburt to stay over night that she might reflect thoroughly upon the matter; and it was only after Iris protracted waiting, and his repeated and apparently sincere assurances that he would in due season return the manuscript, that she at last gave him the order to Jerome Clark, at Hartwick, to deliver it into his temporary keeping.
This unfortunate surrender, Mrs. McKinstry says, her mother regretted to her dying day, since it was entirely against her better judgment, and that she only yielded in deference to her brother's demand, as she had great respect for his opinion.
Very soon after Hurlburt left Munson the ladies heard directly from Mr. Clark, that he had given him "The Manuscript Found," and that he "opened the old trunk for the purpose."
Lieutenant Gunnison, in his " History of Mormonism," says that Clark either by accident or design retained a
part of the manuscript, which accounts for the report that years after a quire of paper was found in the trunk with Spaulding's first attempt at the romance.
So far we have traced "The Manuscript Found" to the care of Hurlburt, who gave his most unqualified and sacred promise to return it to its proper owner; but from the time it was entrusted to his keeping, no member of Mrs. Davison's family has ever seen it.
A few weeks after Jerome Clark placed it in Hurlburt's hands, at Hartwick, Mrs. Davison and her daughter, as well as other members of the family, learned that a manuscript, said to be the one Hurlburt had received, was shown and read at Conneaut; but this report was never completely verified.
Mrs. Davison made repeated requests by letter to Hurlburt to return her property, but he never responded by message or letter to her demands, or noticed her appeals in any manner, and entirely ignored the matter.
Sketch of Joseph Smith's early life and the printing of the "Book of Mormon."
MORMONISM was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr., in the year 1830, at Palmyra, N. Y. He has been called "the American Mahomet," and he himself declared the "Book of Mormon" to be the Bible of the Western Continent, and the word Mormon to be derived from several languages, and to mean "more good." He was born at Sharon, Vt. The date of his birth is not accurately known, but is supposed to be about the year 1800, possibly a little earlier. His father's name was Joseph, and his mother's maiden name was Lucy Mack, and both were of Scotch descent. They had nine children -- Hyrum, Alvin, Joseph, Samuel, Harrison, William, Don Carlos, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy.
The family removed to Palmyra, central New York, while Joseph was still a lad of nine or ten years of age. Mrs. Smith was a woman who was full of odd conceits and superstitions, while possessing a great deal of natural talent, and she ruled her husband, who was a weak character.
Before the family left Vermont the parents had agreed that one of their several children was to be or would be a prophet; and as Joseph resembled his mother more than the others in a certain mental quickness and in his powers of dissimulation, they settled upon him as the "genius" of the household.
It is said that Joseph at an early age could read, but
not write; and when quite young committed these lines to memory from the story of Captain Kidd, the notorious pirate, which seemed to give him great pleasure:
As I sailed, as I sailed;
And most wickedly I did
As I sailed, as I sailed."
The Smiths lived two or three miles from tile town of Palmyra, then in Ontario County, now Wayne, and were the terror and torment of the neighborhood. They seemed to have no regular occupation, to have been "everything by turns, and nothing long." The father was a cooper by trade, and he dug wells and worked on the neighboring farms when he could; he also peddled beer and ginger bread, doing a thriving business on training days. The whole family made baskets and maple sugar, and raised and sold garden stuff, at odd times, and the mother washed by the day; but her employers were careful to have the clothes in before dark, as experience had taught them they would disappear if left on the lines over night. The youthful Joseph assisted generally, and was an adept in robbing hen-roosts and orchards; indeed, from all accounts, the Smiths were considered a thoroughly disreputable family.
A certain superstitious feeling concerning them also existed in the minds of their more ignorant neighbors on account of the reputation Mrs. Smith had for "telling fortunes" (see Appendix No. 9).
Mr. Seth W. Chapman at present owns the property that was then known as the Smith farm. What is now the dining-room of the dwelling was the living-room of the numerous Smiths, with two attic chambers above and a cellar underneath. Later a bedroom was added on the ground floor.
Very early Mrs. Smith instructed her son Joseph to set up a claim for miraculous powers, which he willingly adopted. While he was watching the digging of a well, or himself digging it, he found, or pretended to find, a peculiarly shaped stone that resembled a child's foot in its outlines. It has been said that this little stone, afterward known as the "peek stone" and the "Palmyra seer stone," had been in the possession of Mrs. Smith's family for generations, and that she merely presented it to Joseph when he was old enough to work miracles with it; and that he hid it in the earth to find it again when it was convenient. As has been written, this "seer stone" was "the acorn of the Mormon oak."
From that time on Joseph Smith fooled the credulous residents of the sparsely settled vicinity with the "peeker" in his white stove-pipe hat, which he held close to his face; he saw very remarkable sights -- buried treasures of gold and silver, etc.; he could trace stolen property, tell where herds of cattle had strayed, and where water was to be found. With the "peek stone" he carried a rod of witch-hazel, to assist in the discovery of water; and between the stone and the rod he eked out a precarious subsistence.
A personage of this peculiar type was sure to find followers; and "Joe Smith," as he was called, soon became the head of a band that slept during the day and wandered in the night-time to such places as they were directed to by their leader to dig for hidden treasures. Joe laid down certain laws to his "phalanx" in their operations; and if they disobeyed his rules, the charm of the proceeding was broken. So it frequently happened, when he assured his friends that they were close to the coveted prize, if the commanded silence, which may have lasted for hours, was broken by the slightest manifestation
of gratified pleasure, he declared the gold, or sliver, had been "spirited away," and he must again "follow the lead of the witch-hazel and 'peek stone' to see where it had 'located.'"
When Joe wanted fresh meat for his family, he gave out that it would be necessary to insure the success of the "diggers," as these worthies were called, by having a black sheep killed, as a sacrificial offering, before going to work.
This state of affairs continued for some time, and his reputation extended to the adjacent counties, which he often visited. He disappeared for four years, which are involved in mystery; but he is known to have been during that time in both Onondaga and Chenango counties, as his name appears in the criminal records of both as a vagabond.
It must have been during this absence from Ontario (now Wayne) County that he was employed by William H. Sabine, Esq., at Onondaga Valley, in 1819 or 1820. Smith, by his own statement, at one time worked for a man by the name of Stowell, near Hartwick, where the trunk containing Spaulding's manuscript and other writings was at the time deposited. He is also known to have been in Broome County, and at Harpersville, Penn., visiting some relatives of his mother's.
At that time there was a peddler named Parley P. Pratt, afterward distinguished for his connection with Mormonism, who was familiar with the affairs of the day, and knew everybody of the slightest note in western New York and northern Ohio. He frequently extended his trips into northern Pennsylvania. His family resided at Mentor, Ohio. Sidney Rigdon made mysterious journeys to Pennsylvania; but exactly when and where Smith, Rigdon, and Pratt met, it is now impossible to determine. There is conclusive evidence, however, that
they did meet, Pratt being, it is supposed, the medium of Rigdon's and Smith's knowledge of each other, the first having copied the Spaulding romance at Pittsburg, and soon after retiring from his trade "to study the Scriptures" as he said, and avowing his intention to become a preacher. His ostensible residence was also at Mentor, Ohio, and it is an established fact that he visited Pittsburg and the interior of Pennsylvania.
Smith is known to have had a copy of the Spaulding manuscript in his possession about the year 1820, or at the time these three worthies met, as it is certain that the scheme of the great Mormon fraud was determined about this period between Smith, and Rigdon, and arrangements made to develop it as quickly as circumstances would permit and money could be procured for the purpose.
Smith was wandering through the country during these years of mystery a portion of the time, and was occasionally seen at Palmyra. He heard the theories (as it was a common topic of conversation at the time) that were afloat to account for the peopling of America; the traditions collected from the Indians; the Hebrew traditions among them; the discovery of ruined cities and temples in Central America; the relics of pottery, bricks, and stumps of axe-cut trees, buried far beneath the surface of the Mississippi Valley. He had the wit to understand when Rigdon said a book elucidating such theories would pay, especially with the addition of the biblical language of the Spaulding manuscript and its quaint romance.
Either there, or elsewhere, he pretended to be interested in the great revivals that were common at the time in the churches of the different religious denominations. In 1821 there was a revival in the Methodist,
Baptist, and Presbyterian churches at Palmyra, and some of the Smith family declared they were "converted." The mother, three of the brothers, and a sister joined the Presbyterian communion. Joe asserted his partiality for the Methodists, but ultimately declared he could not decide which was right. He said that his mind was greatly exercised by what he heard first in one church and then in another, and that he gave himself up to prayer for days, "agonizing:" that the truth might be made known to him among all the conflicting opinions that he heard among these different sects; that suddenly his chamber became illuminated, an angel appeared and conversed with him, instructed him in the ways of righteousness, and informed him there was no true Church on earth.
He was further told that his prayers were heard, that he was "dearly beloved of the Lord, and should be commissioned a priest after the order of Melchisedec -- organising a church of faithful persons in that line to receive the Lord, in the Millennium."
In a second visit the angel informed him "that the truth should SPRING OUT OF THE EARTH ;" that he would be led to the Hill Cummorah, near Palmyra, and receive from out of the ground holy and prophetic records concerning a family of Jews that emigrated from Jerusalem in the time of Zedekiah, and were miraculously led across the Eastern Ocean.
Beyond question his mind was strangely exercised by the popular religious movement that swept through the country at the time, and his naturally imaginative and superstitious nature was briefly impressed by the eloquence of the revivalists. He became familiar with scriptural expression, and followed the inclination of those about him to listen to any new-fangled doctrine.
While at Harpersville, Penn., in 1826, he married Emma, the daughter of Isaac Hale, a well-to-do farmer of the vicinity, who was greatly opposed to the "peeker," as he called Joe Smith, who was making himself notorious by his strange talk on religious topics and his pretensions to be able to work miracles, as well as to locate gold and silver. Numerous tricks were played on Smith by the unbelieving, and his father-in-law threatened to shoot him if he returned to his house after clandestinely marrying his daughter.
The Smith family were still very poor and still given to disreputable methods for a living.
In 1826 Joe Smith returned to Palmyra, and began to act his role in bringing before the public, with very great caution, the well-contrived Mormon scheme to delude the ignorant and superstitious. At dinner-time one day, he told his family that in crossing through a grove he found a book in some white sand. They asked to see it, appearing to believe him; but he said that the angel who told him of its locality had forbidden him to show it without authority, and that any person thus looking on it would surely die.
Having a certain amount of magnetic influence, Smith gathered a few dissolute followers about him. He began to talk to them of some golden plates he had been directed in a vision to dig for in the vicinity, and went about with them to "locate" the treasure. He had a reputation among his admirers of also "casting out devils" and healing the sick.
Mrs. Smith, Joe's wife, owned a six-acre lot* near the hill that was soon to become famous, four miles from
* This was probably not Joseph's wife's house, but the home already described, now belonging to Mr. Seth Chapman.
Palmyra, on which there was a small log house, partly finished, having a stove-pipe running through the roof to answer for a chimney. This hill is at present known as "Gold Bible Hill." It is conical in shape, smooth and green to the very top, from which there is a picturesque view of hills and dales in all directions. From its peculiar form and isolation it is somewhat suggestive of an extinct volcano. It is owned by William T. Sampson, Commander in the United States Navy. In 1826 Joe and his wife were established in the primitive log house, which was visited by Sidney Rigdon, who spent three or four months there; and a number of other men came, and, after lingering a while, left with an air of mystery.
The neighbors became suspicious, and thought a band of counterfeiters were at work under Smith's direction; while he talked of wonders about to be performed "at the hill." There is a tradition that the boys of the vicinity believed a giant would come out of the hill and crush Palmyra and all those who ridiculed the talk of Joe Smith and his revelations. To his adherents Smith said he had been shown the box in which "the golden plates" were concealed, and had tried many times to open it, but was struck back by an invisible, blow coming from Satan, who had been at his elbow, and accused him of avarice and ambition, and that he was obliged to repent and humiliate himself for the great event. He said that angels visited him frequently, and while he boldly confessed himself a great sinner, and owned that he had led an unworthy life, "the Lord had chosen him and forgiven all his sins; and for his own inscrutable purpose made him, weak and erring as he might have been, the instrument of his glory."
His interviews with the angel "Maroni" were frequent. One of these interviews lasted all night, and at
daybreak, in going home, he was so exhausted that, in attempting to climb a fence he fell over it, and for a long time was unconscious. He beheld the angel standing over him when his senses returned, and he was directed to tell his father all that had been communicated, and his father said, "Follow the angel's directions, as he is a messenger from God."
Smith related that, after hearing a sermon from the text, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth unto all men and upbraideth none, and it shall be given him;" that he went into the woods, knelt down and began to pray. A thick darkness covered him, and he thought he was about to be destroyed; but suddenly a pillar of light arose just over his head, and he saw two personages bright and full of glory beyond description. One of them called him by name and, pointing to the other, said, "This is my beloved son."
His neighbors have testified that he made contradictory statements as to the locality where "the golden plates" were to be found; but at last, on the night of September 22, 1827, amid thunder and lightning and a grand display of celestial pyrotechnics, while Smith and the chosen were fervently praying, an angel came out of a chasm in Cummorah Hill, opened for this particular occasion, and delivered a box to Smith's care, who said he saw legions of devils struggling with the angel, to keep back the prize. The name of the angel who delivered the box was Moroni, and he informed Smith that the fate of the early inhabitants of America was written on golden tablets within the box, which could only be read by the aid of some wonderful stone spectacles called "Urim and Thummim," delivered with the plates.
Smith's story of his first view of the plates, several years previous, is that, following the direction of the
angel, he went to the Hill Cummorah and on the west side, near the top, he found a box, that was only partly concealed by loose bits of rock and earth. He removed the obstructions with a lever. The box was made of stones held together with cement. On partly opening it he saw the plates and the Urim and Thummim. *
He attempted to take them out, and was forbidden by the "Voice," and told that four years from that time was the period fixed to receive them; but he must visit the place each year, on the anniversary of that occasion. He followed this advice, and the angel met him, giving him instructions touching "the Lord's purpose in the last days, and what manner His kingdom was to be constituted."
This precious box was carried to Smith's cabin. He opened it in secret, but said it contained not only the six golden tablets, eighteen inches square, held together by rings at the back, and the stone spectacles, but the sword of Laban and a "breastplate," which had been brought from Jerusalem.
The tablets, he announced, were covered with hieroglyphics, which he alone had the power to read with the spectacles; and a little low chamber of his house was made a translating room, Smith standing in one corner behind a blanket which screened him from the curiosity of his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, who had been a school-master, and Reuben Hale, his brother-in-law, and admirer of the "Peeker," Smith said the inspections were in a new language, which he called "reformed Egyptian," While the translation was going on, he came to a part of the narrative that informed him that baptism by immersion
* Urim and Thummim mean "light" and "perfection" or the "shining and the perfect," according to an accepted Biblical lexograph.
for the remission of sins had been taught and commanded by the ancient inhabitants of America, and, anxious to learn his "privileges," the translator, with Cowdery, retired to the woods "to inquire further of the Lord."
While they were praying John the Baptist appeared in a cloud of light," and laying hands on them, ordained them. The neighbors heard Smith was writing a book which he called at the time "The Golden Bible," this idea being suggested by the report that a gold Bible had about this time been dug up somewhere in Canada.
As the work progressed the people sometimes called to see how it was getting along, and they were allowed to feel the manuscript as it reposed in a pillow-case, but no one was allowed to see it.
The translating process, it was reported was simple, as a copy of the hieroglyphics was taken down from the plates, and then Smith dictated to those who copied on paper.
So much was said at Palmyra of the golden plates, that certain persons contrived a plan to capture them, and a writ for debt was served on Smith as a pretence. To avoid this, he placed the plates, long before prepared by himself and Rigdon, when they met in Pennsylvania, in a bag of beans, and tried to escape, but was overtaken and searched by the sheriff, who was not bright enough to look in the bean bag. "If he had looked" (says the narrator of this incident), "he would doubtless have found not only the plates, but a copy of Spaulding's manuscript."
After this failure of Smith's enemies to capture the golden plates, he and Cowdery returned to their work, which was slowly accomplished. Meanwhile Smith added to his reputation by his first great miracle, performed on
one Newell Knight, who was besieged by devils, his limbs and visage being distorted by pain. Smith commanded the evil spirits to leave him in the name of Christ, and Knight said, "I see them going right through the roof."
This established the fact, in the minds of certain people, that Smith had indeed a divine mission to perform, and that he had, as he affirmed, visits from angels and communications with them. But he was very poor, and so was Rigdon, or the world would have been stirred with Mormonism sooner.
Martin Harris, a farmer of the vicinity, a man of some considerable means, became acquainted with Smith, and being told by him that the Lord commanded him to assist in bringing out the book, yielded, as he afterward acknowledged, in the hope of making money. He made trouble afterward by telling what he had heard of the Spaulding manuscript in connection with Mormonism, and, on that account, was denied certain honors which he coveted.
In 1828 (as Abigail Harris, the sister-in-law of Martin Harris, testified in 1833), while Martin and his wife Lucy were at her house on a visit, during a conversation about the new faith's being devised by Smith, Lucy said it was "all a delusion;" to which her husband answered, "What if it is all a lie? Let me alone, and I'll make some money out of it."
The translation was suspended ten months by the abstraction of several sheets by Mrs. Harris, who could not be induced, by threat or cajolement, to give them up. In this way one hundred and sixteen pages of Smith's and Rigdon's work were lost, and the problem was how to replace them. Smith said he was denied the gift of translation, and eighteen months' labor was thus lost. Joseph had a "revelation." He was told that Satan had
inspired Harris and his wife to get possession of the manuscript.
Mr. and Mrs. Harris separated, and divided their property, on her refusal to join the Mormons. She remained at Palmyra until her death; he followed Smith, and, after various misfortunes, died in want.
Professor Anthon, in a letter dated New York, February 17, 1834, relates that a paper presented to him as a transcript of the characters "on the golden plates" was in fact, a singular scroll, having crooked characters in columns, which had evidently been arranged by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets, Greek, Hebrew, and Roman letters being inverted or placed sideways and placed in perpendicular columns. The whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with strange marks copied "after the Mexican calendar given by Humboldt." During the period between September, 1829, and March of 1830, the "Book of Mormon" was published in the third story of a building in the main street of Palmyra, now known as Exchange Row,
Martin Harris contributed $3000 for this purpose. The foreman in the office at the time was Mr. Pomeroy Tucker, who has since written an interesting work on Mormonism. Major J. H. Gilbert (who is still living, and has contributed a valuable paper, No, 10, to be found in the Appendix) was a compositor in this office at the same time. This was at the printing establishment of E, B. Grandin, editor of the Wayne Sentinel.
Mr. Thurlow Weed, then editor of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer in Rochester had already refused to do Smith's printing in 1829. The "copy" was on ruled paper and in Cowdery's handwriting. Hyrum Smith brought it to
the printing-office, producing it from a tightly buttoned overcoat. One day's supply was given at a time.
One David Whitmer of Richmond, Mo., it is said, has this manuscript copy. He is the sole survivor of the original "three witnesses," as they were called, who testified to the genuineness of the "Book of Mormon," and he may, it is believed, awaken "the saints" some time by publishing a fac-simile edition of the original translation.
Major Gilbert, mentioned above (as will be seen in the Appendix, No. 9), has an unbound copy of the "Book of Mormon," which he kept, sheet by sheet, as it came from the press. The venerable owner and printer relates how the manuscript was brought to him little by little, badly spelled, grammatically imperfect, and without punctuation. He asked to be allowed to alter it. At first, he says, Smith was unwilling, but afterward permitted him to correct the proof, in the evening, as fast as it was printed, to facilitate its completion. In these corrections of proof Major Gilbert used some private marks, which he made with a blue pencil, which he says he could recognize at a glance.
The book was sold at first for $1.50 a copy, and soon the Smiths had money enough to buy a horse and other luxuries. Before Harris responded to Smith's proposal to raise funds to publish his "translation," two or three printing-houses in other towns had been visited for such purpose by Smith or his agents.
Mr. Thurlow Weed has testified to this circumstance, but said later that he was mistaken as to the year 1825; that it must have been two or three years later.
The publication of the book created an intense excitement in central and western New York. Certain questions of a religious nature were being agitated at the
time, and the public mind was prepared for a new religious sensation. Smith's father and three brothers were his first converts. The first edition of the "Book of Mormon" was of several hundred pages, with an appendix, in which there was a statement signed by "three witnesses" -- Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris -- who were at the time professed believers, and said, "We declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid down before our eyes, that we beheld and saw, the plates and the engravings thereon." Several years after these "three witnesses" quarrelled with Smith, renounced Mormonism, and avowed the falsity of the above statement.
Soon after the book appeared, the church was organized at the house of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, Seneca Co., N. Y., with six members -- Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith, and David Whitmer.
Immediately the Holy Ghost fell on Cowdery, and he "prophesied," and Smith "stood up and prophesied."
They had a happy time together, but, owing to the "unbelievers" about them, kept their baptism, ordination, and rejoicings a secret for a time.
These members were called "elders," Cowdery baptizing Joseph Smith, and Smith baptizing the rest. They said it was eighteen hundred years to the day since the resurrection of Christ. They professed to believe it was the "Church of Christ" once more restored to the earth, holding the keys of authority, and power to bind, and loose, and to seal, on earth and in heaven.
The following Sunday Cowdery preached his first sermon on this "dispensation," and "the principles of the gospel as revealed to Joseph." Mrs. Joe Smith was
baptized, and given the new name of "Electra Cyria," or "Daughter of God."
The following June (1830) the first Mormon conference was held at Fayette, and there were thirty professed Mormons present, showing that converts to the new faith were not rapidly made; but "the gifts" began to manifest themselves. Smith was heard to say about this time, that he had "got everything ready to fix the fools."
The religious teachings of the "Book of Mormon" show the influence of the doctrinal questions that were being agitated in central New York in 1830 -- Calvinism, Universalism, Methodism, Millerism, Romanism and other forms of belief. Smith and Rigdon were inclined to be Millerites. They had at first vague ideas of a church they were about to establish. Millerism was attracting great attention at the time, so they settled on that doctrine, and that the Millennium was close at hand; that the Indians were to be converted; and that America was to be the final gathering-place of the saints, who were to assemble at the New Jerusalem, somewhere in the interior of the Continent. With the "Book of Mormon" as their text, they began to exhort.
Sidney Rigdon preached the first Mormon sermon in what is at present the Hall of the Young Men's Christian Association, at Palmyra, taking a text from "the First Book of Nephi" -- part of the "Book of Mormon" -- "And the angel spake unto me, saying, These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles shall establish the truth of the first, which is of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb; and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them, and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and peoples that the Lamb of God is the eternal father and Saviour of the
world, and that all men must come to Him, or they cannot be saved." The preacher ventured to try establish the theory that the Bible and the "Book of Mormon" are one in importance and inspiration. He said that he was "God's Messenger," to proclaim this truth, etc.
This sermon made so much disturbance, that no "regular preaching" was afterward attempted by the Mormons in the immediate vicinity
In June (1831) two elders were sent West to preach and found churches, wherever people would listen to them. They made numerous converts. Rigdon was already preparing the way, to tell of the new revelation in the vicinity of Mentor, Ohio. Palmyra being contiguous to Hartwick and Onondaga Valley, where the Spaulding manuscript was familiar to many people, the similarity of the two was discussed. Smith had a "revelation" that Palmyra was not a place for the "Saints" to prosper in, or be recognized, and he talked vaguely of the New Jerusalem in the West, and announced that it was time for the faithful to remove with him to Kirtland, Ohio, that locality having been agreed upon between himself and Rigdon; and so the Mormons made "The First Hegira" in their tragical pilgrimage to the West -- a tedious journey in 1832 -- as they moved onward in wagons carrying their household goods with them. Smith was already called a "prophet." His family followed him.
On this journey to Ohio a sister of Joseph was delivered of a lifeless female child, which, before its birth, it had been foretold would astonish the Gentile world as a second advent of a "triune humanity," The mother was unmarried, and the birth of the babe was to be miraculous; but it became pretty well understood that Rigdon was its father.
In the year of the first Hegira, 1831, the "work" had extended over several of the States, and a large number of converts had been made by the captivating and fiery eloquence of Cowdery, Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and others; the more intelligent and the better educated in the cause had been sent out for that purpose.
These missionaries had no compensation, and this was one secret of their successful preachings. They braved every danger, "faced a frowning world," rejoiced in tribulation, blessed the saints, cursed their enemies, and sang and shouted Glory Hallelujah!
There had been as yet no whisper of polygamy. The Mormons were generally hated, but increased with astonishing rapidity after the year 1830.
They were a community which had all goods in common, and this fact threw a fascination over the new faith to thousands of uneducated and illiterate people. They heard scriptural expressions used by the leaders, and had but a vague idea of what it was they professed; there was a novelty about the movement that captivated them, and they were willing to be led on by insinuating men.
In the year 1832 Smith professed to have had seventy-five "visions" or "revelations." As the analysis of the "Book of Mormon" will show, it is merely a narrative of a people who in an early age inhabited America, its whole construction being Hebraic, and a servile copy of that of the Spaulding manuscript. There was no instruction in it for the conduct of the "Latter Day Saints." At first neither Smith nor Rigdon, nor their immediate followers, knew what spiritual commands they required. But as events developed their needs, the angel Moroni, the same who delivered the golden plates, appeared to Smith from time to time, until he was killed at Nauvoo in 1846 [sic.].
It is a remarkable coincidence that the "Book of Mormon"
was printed fourteen years after "The Manuscript Found" was written by Solomon Spaulding at Conneaut, and it was fourteen years from the time the Mormons left Palmyra for "Sheinar," as they called Kirtland, to the time of Smith's death.
Some of the people who remember Smith at Palmyra have described him as given to strong drink, and to have been "thoroughly disreputable." Mr. Thurlow Weed remembers his personal appearance in 1830, and says: "He was tall and awkward in his manner, showed his low origin, and was impudent and bold." At one time Smith affirmed that he was as good as "Jesus Christ," and he was given to showing his abundant self-esteem and egotism on all occasions.
Of the many reminiscences of the Mormons in Palmyra, is that of the trick that Stephen H. Harding, since Governor of Utah, when a mischievous lad, played on one Calvin Stoddard, who was a convert of Joseph's, and felt he "had a call" to preach the new faith. One dark, stormy night Harding rapped thrice on Stoddard's doorstep, and cried in a deep, sepulchral voice: "Calvin Stoddard, the angel of the Lord commands that before another going down of the sun thou shalt go forth among the people and preach the gospel of Nephi, or thy wife shalt be a widow and thy children orphans, and thy dust shalt be cast to the four winds of heaven."
Stoddard no longer hesitated as to his duty, but joined "the new faith," so ridiculed at the time, but which has since become such a mischievous power.
Sketch of Sidney Rigdon -- Interview with General and Mrs. Garfield at Mentor in 1880, concerning the Mormons.
SIDNEY RIGDON was born in Alleghany Co., Penn. He had a fair English education, as well as a knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. At an early age he was a printer by trade, and is known to have been in Conneaut, Ohio, at the time Spaulding read his "Manuscript Found" to his neighbors. Major Gilbert is of the opinion that Rigdon took notes on such occasions for after use.
Everybody who saw this intelligent, well-educated, and erratic young printer, then and later in life, was impressed with his unusual ability and capacity for trickery; and it is easy to believe the report that he followed or preceded Spaulding to Pittsburg, knowing his plans, in order to obtain his manuscript, or to copy it while it was in Patterson's printing-house -- an easy thing to do, as the fact of the manuscript being left carelessly in the office for months is not questioned.
Mr. Spaulding (as already stated) told his wife and intimates in the last years of his life that a young printer in Patterson's office, named Rigdon, had copied his manuscript while it was there; but he never said that he stole the original copy. Spaulding died in 1816. In 1817 or 1818 Rigdon, when about twenty-three or twenty-four
years of age became an orthodox preacher, but soon gave utterance to strange doctrines, which were recognized later as derived from Spaulding's manuscript. He wandered about through the interior and northern part of Pennsylvania, preaching here and there, as opportunity afforded, and then abandoned the practice, as he said "to study the Bible."
In this interval he met Joseph Smith, as it is believed, through the ubiquitous tin peddler, Parley P. Pratt. For two years he dogged the footsteps of Smith, was frequently in Palmyra and its vicinity, and was the master mind in the preparations for this "Peeker" and money-digger in the discovery of the golden plates in Cummorah Hill.
While these preparations were being slowly made, through lack of funds, Rigdon became a Campbellite preacher at Mentor Ohio.
Mr. F. Rudolph [sic - Zeb?], father of Mrs. Garfield (see Appendix No. 11), knew Sidney Rigdon very well, and from him the statement comes that "during the winter previous to the appearance of the 'Book of Mormon' Rigdon was in the habit of spending weeks away from his home, going no one knew where, and that he often appeared very preoccupied, and would indulge in dreamy, imaginative talk, which puzzled those who listened." When the "Book of Mormon" appeared, and Rigdon joined in the advocacy of the new religion, the suspicion was at once aroused that he was one of the framers of the new doctrines, and probably was not ignorant of the authorship of the "Book of Mormon."
Rigdon was versatile in his gifts, had a keen wit, was shrewd, given to discussion on theological and scientific topics and was considered wily and unprincipled.
The followers of this remarkable man were now being
prepared for some new ism, and his preaching was talked of far and near.
Of course the excitement concerning Joe Smith and his new Mormon doctrines at Palmyra, and through central and western New York, spread into northern Ohio; and when "The First Hegira" took place, in 1832, and the Mormons were at Conneaut, Rigdon was prepared to meet them and to affect to be converted to the new faith.
Near his residence in Kirtland there had been for some time previous a few families belonging to his congregation who had formed themselves into a community or common-stock society; they had become fanatical, and were daily looking for some wonderful event to take place in the world. They were prepared to embrace Mormonism, or any other ism. Seventeen of these people believed the whole story which was related to them of the finding of the plates, and were all baptized in one night.
At this time Rigdon said he had never been satisfied in his religious yearnings, and that at night he had often been unable to sleep, walking and praying for more light and comfort in his religion. But while in the midst of this agony he heard of the revelations to Joe Smith, and his soul suddenly found peace, as they filled all his aspirations. In 1831 the Mormons settled at Kirtland, Lake Co., three miles from Mentor, and here Rigdon joined them. He had no property to offer them, but from this time openly advocated their doctrines, preaching to crowds of people who gathered to hear his eloquent discourse, and over whom he seemed to have a wonderful power, and such influence that it is felt to the present day in that vicinity. A Presbyterian clergyman of Painesville, Ohio, informed the writer in November, 1880, that all the northern part of the State is permeated with the doctrines of the early Mormons. A graphic account
Rigdon's power as an advocate of his new faith has been made by Judge John Barr, of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio.
In 1830, while Rigdon and Cowdery were preparing the way for Mormonism, he was at Mayfield, not far from Kirtland, and one Sunday morning went to hear Rigdon and Cowdery on the revelations of Mormonism. The roads were crowded with people going in the same direction. The services were held in a church. Cowdery, a very eloquent man, opened with prayer, and gave an account of the finding of the golden plates of Nephi. Rigdon followed with an account of his own conversion. He was seemingly much affected; was listened to with rapt attention; and at the close of his harangue very earnestly inquired if any one desired to come forward to be baptized. Only one man, a disreputable old fellow named Cahoon, who had been some time a member of a Shaker community in the vicinity, and had lived on public charity in general, came forward for immersion.
This was afterward performed in a clear pool of the Chagrin River, near a bridge, at two o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, a great number of people gathering to witness the ceremony. Rigdon stood in the pool which was shallow, and after a suitable address and prayer Cahoon came forward and was duly immersed.
Rigdon then, while still standing in the water, made a wonderfully eloquent exhortation. The crowd became greatly affected, and he asked converts to come and be baptized in the new faith, thirty accepting the invitation, while the preacher continued his discourse. While this exciting scene was transpiring, Judge Barr says the faces of the crowd expressed the most intense emotion. Mr. Card, afterward prosecuting attorney of Cuyahoga County, was with him, and was so affected by Rigdon's talk that he begged his friend to lead him away. "He
was so pale," says Judge Barr, "I thought he would faint, although naturally a stoical man; and after we were a mile away on our return, during which time we had not exchanged a word, he said, 'If you had not been there, I should have gone into the water; the impulse was irresistible.'"
Rigdon often swooned, really or in affection, which added to the impression he made on an easily excited multitude. When the Mormons went to Kirtland Rigdon said it was "the border of the inheritance of the Saints, which extended to the Pacific."
One thousand Mormons, the converts of Rigdon and Pratt, greeted Smith on his arrival at Kirtland. People from every part of "the lake region" flocked there. "ecstatics," men and women, falling to the floor groaning, and weeping, and pointing toward the heavens, to the "cloud of witnesses" they saw, uttering strange words, sometimes rushing out of doors and running to the fields to mount stumps, whence they gesticulated wildly, or to pick up stones on which a message was written, which disappeared as soon as it was deciphered.
Some writer has said that "Rigdon's ardor at this time was equal to Smith's genius."
This "outpouring of the spirit" did not please the prophet, so he ordered moderation, and said these manifestations were not the work of the spirit, and cautioned the faithful to beware. In 1832 Brigham Young, a native of Vermont, joined the Mormons at Kirtland, and was ordained an elder.
At a conference of elders, on May 3, 1833, the name of "Mormons" was repudiated, and that of "Latter-Day Saints" was adopted. The first presidency consisted of Smith, Rigdon, and F. G. Williams.
In May, 1835, the first missionaries, from the "Twelve
Apostles," went forth to foreign lands to make proselytes, among whom being Orson Hyde, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball; Rigdon remained at Kirtland, and the same year issued a volume which he called "The Book of Doctrine and Covenants," and "Lectures on Faith," both of which were immediately adopted by the converts.
A professor of Hebrew having joined them, all the male adults studied that language industriously.
The Mormons remained at Kirtland seven years. Rigdon was considered the ablest man of the whole membership. At one time he said he was commanded by a vision to visit Queen Victoria, and to hurl her from her throne if she refused his gospel.
In 1837 he was president of a "wild-cat" bank at Kirtland, which he originated (Smith being cashier), and he manipulated a great many schemes to obtain money and goods both in Cleveland and in New York, the bubble bursting with loss and annoyance to many sufferers. Both Smith and Rigdon, after being tarred and feathered, fled to an advance settlement of Mormons, called "Far West," in Missouri.
In 1840 the Mormons moved to Nauvoo, Ill. In 1844, when Smith was killed, Rigdon was tricked out of his leadership by Brigham Young; and, refusing to recognize his authority, was excommunicated and delivered to the devil, "to be buffeted in the flesh for a thousand years." After his departure from Nauvoo the Danite band was ordered to "fan" him and others who left to keep their mouths closed; also to intimidate members of the community who were inclined to desert.
In three years after Rigdon had openly joined the Mormons at Kirtland, Mormon societies were established in Canada, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and in nearly
At one time during his residence at Kirtland, Alexander Campbell, his former associate and patron, challenged him to a public debate, in which he declared he would show the shameless pretension and manifest imposture of the Mormon scheme; but Rigdon prudently declined
Rigdon once said that Kirtland was to be the eastern border of the "promised land," and from thence it would extend to the Pacific Ocean.
On this land the New Jerusalem was to be built, the City of Refuge, where all true Mormons were to assemble, to escape the destruction of the world, which was shortly to take place.
After his expulsion from Nauvoo he returned to Pittsburg, led a life of utter obscurity and vagrancy, wandering at times through the scenes where he had formerly preached with so much power, and dying at Friendship, a village in Alleghany Co., N. Y., July 14, 1876. Even in his extreme old age he is described by several persons as being remarkable in his personal appearance, intelligence, and memory.
The statement that Rigdon with Smith's assistance prepared the plates to be used later at Cummorah Hill, while at Great Bend, Penn., is undoubtedly true. The absence of both individuals from their accustomed haunts was substantiated by several persons familiar with the matter at the time, and by the Rev. Peter Bridgeman, who died a few years since at Cortlandt, N. Y. Smith, too, at the time (1826) was heard to use the words "Mormon" and "Nephi" before he met Rigdon, proving his previous acquaintance with the Spaulding manuscript.
No one believes that Joe Smith was capable of formulating the "Book of Mormon" from "The Manuscript
Found." He was merely the tool of the very clever and unscrupulous Rigdon in this extraordinary and nefarious scheme.
During the visit to Ohio to collect material for this work, the author had an interesting interview with General and Mrs. Garfield at their home in Mentor. Dr. H. M. Field, of the New York Evangelist, had provided a letter of introduction. It was just after General Garfield's election to the Presidency, and happened to be his birthday. There was a family gathering, and at the mid-day dinner, and afterward in the drawing-room, of the general, his wife, his mother, and an elderly physician, long a resident of the neighborhood, and all being familiar with Rigdon, the Mormons, and Mormonism, the talk naturally ran in that direction.
The General was greatly impressed in the account of the visit to Gibsonburg; he said his farm had once been owned by a Mormon, that the Mormons gathered at the village of Mentor before going to Kirtland, three miles away, and that Rigdon lived long in the neighborhood.
Mrs. Garfield repeated some reminiscences of her father's (Mr. F. [sic.] Rudolph) in connection with Rigdon, and of his being a member of his church and studying Greek with him. General and Mrs. Garfield, as is well known, belonged to the Campbellite Church, in which Rigdon was in early life a minister.
The general related an anecdote of Joe Smith. He had been preaching at Kirtland some doctrine (a hint of polygamy) that was a surprise to the people of the neighborhood. The same night several men went to his home, dragged him out of bed, tarred and feathered him, and rode him on a rail; and according to a Mormon historian, "his spirit left his body, but afterward regained possession." A child who was in bed with
Smith was also dragged out, and the exposure caused its death.
This created a sympathy for the prophet for the time being. The Kirtland Temple, the general said, is owned at present by Joe Smith's son, a number of Mormons still residing near it, the "true Mormons," or Josephites, as they call themselves, who profess to abhor polygamy.
Both the general and Mrs. Garfield were sure that Rigdon returned to his professed belief in the Campbellite doctrines after he left the Mormons in Illinois, and that he preached again in that neighborhood.
When General Garfield was at Salt Lake City, on a return trip from California. he visited Brigham Young and asked how he happened to choose that place for settlement.
"Why," said Young, "we were traveling along, and I was lying in a wagon and all of a sudden I called out, 'Halt! the Lord says "stop here;"' and there on that hill" (pointing to one) "an angel of the Lord stood, and pointed down this valley, and said, 'Stay there.'"
"While we were talking" (continued the General) "the train I was coming away in commenced to move, and Young called to the engineer, stretching out his hand, 'Wait awhile for General Garfield,' and it did wait." Brigham Young he considered a man of immense will power and great intelligence/
General Garfield expressed his utter abhorrence of the Mormons and their doctrines, and hinted at his future course concerning them after his inauguration.
Kirtland is three miles from Mentor, on a branch of the Chagrin River, and twenty-two miles east from Cleveland, in a remarkably fine country.
The Mormons on their arrival purchased a square mile, which was laid out in half-acre lots; and in addition they
bought a number of farms, the "church farm" being described as half a mile down in an exquisitely beautiful valley.
They evidently expected to remain there, as they erected a number of substantial houses and their beautiful Temple, which Smith called "the School of the Prophets."
The advent of so many strangers in the midst of a quiet village was a matter of wonder to the hitherto peaceful residents, and they looked on in astonishment, as did all northern Ohio, when the Mormons built their church, which was commenced in 1832 and finished in 1836, the entire cost being about $40,000.
The site occupied measures eighty feet by sixty. On the eastern side is a square tower, one hundred and twenty-five feet in height, which is surmounted by a domed belfry. There are two lofty stories above a basement, and the shingled roof is relieved by a number of dormer windows.
The architectural proportions are good, and the building has but slight resemblance to the meeting-houses common to the rural portion of Ohio, the windows being Gothic, and filled with small panes of glass, thus affording a pleasing contrast to the solid walls of stone and stucco. There are thirty Gothic, three Venetian, three dormer, one circular, and two square windows. The dome of the steeple is one hundred and ten feet high, and the bell ninety feet from the ground.
Although the edifice is fifty years old, it is in good preservation, considering the neglect with which it has been treated, and it might be very easily restored to its former beauty. It is at present somewhat picturesque, with its walls streaked with iron rust, the moss-grown shingles, the eaves filled with wasp and bird nests, and the
chimneys betokening a mild decay. Many tourists visit the temple. The keys are kept by an old woman named Electry Stratton, whose father was a Mormon, and she charges a small fee for showing it to visitors.
Approaching the temple through the yard surrounding it, an inscription is seen high up on the front wall in golden letters upon a white tablet, which reads: "House of the Lord, built by the Church of Christ, 1834." The temple faces the east. The entire front of the first story of the building consists of solid green doors, which open into a vestibule that terminates on each side in a semi-circular stairway. A flood of light enters the vestibule through a great square window above it.
At the right, under the stairway, is the temple "Register Room," containing a record of visitors. On the left, under the stairs, is the library. The ladies' entrance is on the right, the gentlemen's on the left. Between these doors are the inscriptions" Laus Deo. Cruxmila anchora. Magno est Veritas et prevalebit.
The whole first story is occupied by the auditorium. The windows at each end are very beautiful, and a row of wooden pillars at the sides gives the effect of galleries on entering the room. The space between the rows is arched towards the centre of the ceiling. One of the pillars contains a windlass, which, in the occupancy of the place by the Mormons, controlled some canvas curtains from above -- a large curtain that fell in grooves between the high-backed pews, in such a manner as to separate the men from the women -- while the smaller curtain was a right angles with the other, and when desirable it could be lowered, so as to divide the men and women into separate class-rooms. Thus the auditorium could be quartered, or halved, and made either eastward or westward, by changing the movable benches from
one side of the pews to the other. The pulpits are in clusters of three, in three tiers, at either end of the room, and are very richly carved. The eastern cluster was devoted to the "Aronic Priesthood," including the "Levitical Priesthood," and used in the administration of the temporal affairs of the church. Each of the three pulpits in the upper tier has three letters on the front, "B. P. A.," meaning "Bishop Presiding over Aronic Priesthood." The middle tier has the letters "P. A. P.," "Presiding Aronic Priesthood." The lower tier has the letters "P. A. T.," "Presiding Aronic Teacher." The smaller pulpit below is labelled "P. A. D.," "Presiding Aronic Doorkeeper."
The pulpits at the west end are built up against an outer window, having red and white glass in the arched transom. These were used by the spiritual leaders, or the "Melchisedec Priesthood," Joe Smith's seat being in the highest tier. This tier of pulpits is marked "M. P. C.," "Melchisedec President of Councillors;" "M. P. H.," "Melchisedec Presiding High Priest." The lower tier is "M. H. P.," "Melchisedec High Priest."
Curtains were arranged so as to divide the priesthood, as well as the congregation, and they could at will shut themselves in for consultation, but could not hide themselves from their superiors in ecclesiastical rank.
Remnants of these movable curtains are still hanging. A small desk before and below the Melchisedec pulpit has three letters on it, "M. P. E.," "Melchisedec Presiding Elder."
The letters are made of red curtain calico, and the desk, as well as all the pulpits above, are now covered with calico; but in their days of splendor rich velvet draperies enhanced the beauty of the carved wood, and the lettering on the pulpits was in gold.
The gilt mouldings have all been carried off by relic-hunters, but there are still several mottoes on the walls which remain tact, such as "No cross, no crown." "The Lord reigneth, let the people rejoice," "Great is our Lord and of great power." "Holiness to the Lord" is written over the ten Melchisedec pulpits.
The auditorium will hold six hundred people. Under Rigdon's, Pratt's, and Cowdery's exhortations, as well as Smith's, relays of people occupied it in a single service. Smith was in the habit of saying from his high pulpit, "The truth is good enough without dressing it up; bur Brother Rigdon will now proceed to dress it up." The high pews in the corners were for "the best singers in Israel."
A story is told how a crazy woman would get into one of them and blow a horn when "the Saints displeased her. In the upper story is a second auditorium, very similar to the one described, only smaller and lower, which was used as a school for the prophets. Here Latin and Greek were taught under the tutorship of Rigdon and his assistant professor of languages. The desks are no longer there, but the places they occupied are shown by marks on the floor.
One of the pillars in this room bears a remarkable inscription to this effect, "The Salt Lake Mormons."
When Joseph Smith was killed on June 27, 1844, Brigham Young assumed the leadership of the church, telling the people, in the winter of 1846, that "all the God they wanted was him," and "all the Bible they wanted was his heart." He led or drove about two thousand people to Utah in 1847, starting for Upper California and landing at Salt Lake, where, in 1852, he presented polygamic revelation to the people. The true church remained disorganized until 1860, when
Joseph Smith took the leadership or presidency of the church at Amboy, Ill.
"We (thirty thousand) have no affiliation with the Mormons whatever. They are to us an obsolete people, working all manner of abomination before God and man. We are no part or parcel of them in any sense whatever. Let this be distinctly understood. We are not Mormons. Truth is truth wherever it is found."
In the vestibule of the temple there is a photograph of Joseph Smith, Jr., and over it is written, "Joseph Smith, Jr., M. P. C., President of the Reorganized Christ of J. C. and L. D. S." The garret of the temple was used formerly as a serious of school-rooms for the young Mormons. There are mysterious closets, or, as Mr. F. G. Mather (in Lippincott's Magazine for August, 1880) calls them, "cubby-holes," in several parts of the building. In one of them was kept the body of "Joseph the son of Jacob," a roll of papyrus in his hand announcing this fact to the Saints.
When the temple at Kirtland was dedicated there was a great assemblage there, the Mormons spending the day in fasting and prayer. The members of the priesthood washed their bodies with pure water, and perfumed themselves with eau-de-cologne. They also washed each other's feet, and anointed each other with the holy oil, pronouncing a benediction in the name of the Lord. In the evening they met to receive the long-expected endowment, when they first broke their fast by what they called "Lord's Supper," in which they ate a light wheaten bread, and freely partook of wine, the prophet telling them it would not hurt them. A spirit of prophecy ensued in which they blessed their friends and cursed their enemies. An eye-witness of this strange scene says of it: "If I should be so unfortunate as to go to the regions
of despair. I never expect to hear language more awful or more becoming the infernal pit."
In 1835 Smith issued a command at Kirtland, that his three or four hundred elders "should seek learning, study the best books, and get a knowledge of kingdoms, countries, and languages;" and a Jew by the name of Seixas was hired to teach languages.
The Temple has been used within a few years as an Odd Fellows' lodge. At the present time it is owned by Joseph Smith, Jr., and a Mr. Fortescue, who derived their title from a Mr. Huntley, a purchaser under a mortgage sale against the Prophet. This Joseph Smith, Jr., is a son of the Prophet; he was born at Kirtland in 1832, and was twelve years of age when his father was shot in Nauvoo. He has been a farmer, school-teacher, or director and justice of the peace. He has been the editor of The Latter Day Saints' Herald at Plano, Ill.
When Smith, the Prophet, and Rigdon fled in the night from Kirtland, the Mormons were divided into Rigdonites, Strangites, and various sects, and scattered to several localities; but a few families remained, of whom some aged members are still living who are full of reminiscences of their remarkable experiences in early life in connection with the beginning of Mormonism.
The Methodists at Kirtland now use what was the Theological Seminary of the Mormons for their church, and the residences of Rigdon and Smith are well preserved and are close to the quaint edifice described, for which the Prophet said he had a special revelation as to plan and architecture. *
* Several Mormons now resident in Utah who remember the dedication of the Temple at Kirtland, declare that angels were seen in the auditorium, and that a babe two months old cried out: "Glory Hallelujah!"
Interview with D. P. Hurlbut at Gibsonburg, Ohio, and with E. D. Howe, at Painesville,
Ohio, in 1880.
IN In the year 1878 Mrs. McKinstry gave a gentleman residing in Utah, who is gathering material for an elaborate history of Mormonism, permission to question Dr. Hurlbut concerning the Spaulding manuscript. He made no response, although there was abundant evidence that he received the request. It is also known that he received other requests of the same character, which he has never acknowledged.
In 1834 Mrs. Davison heard that Hurlburt sold the manuscript to the Mormons for a sum of money, which he used in purchasing the farm near Gibsonburg, Ohio (about twelve miles from Fremont), where he now resides, and that the Mormons burned the manuscript at Conneaut. A second report was to the effect that Hurlburt sold it with the sworn agreement that it should not be given to the world until after his death. There are circumstances which support both theories; but the author' s opinion, after a careful study of the matter, is, that Hurlburt made a copy of the original manuscript, which he sold to E. D. Howe, of Painesville, to use in writing the book "Mormonism Unvailed," and sold the original to the Mormons, who destroyed it. The life of Hurlburt since his return from his errand of duplicity to Munson shows conclusively that he wishes to hide himself from the world and that he is burdened with a secret which he does not intend shall come to light through any act or revelation of his own.
THE INTERVIEW WITH DR. HURLBURT.In August of 1880 the author had an article published in Scribner's Magazine on the "Book of Mormon." and in the November following visited Dr. Hurlburt at his home, near Gibsonburg, Ohio, in company with Oscar Kellogg, Esq., of Norwalk, a well-known lawyer of the vicinity. (Appendix, see Mr. Kellogg's letter, No. 7.) From notes written immediately after this visit, while staying in Mr. Kellogg's house, and while every detail and circumstance was fresh in the writer's mind, a description of the interview with Hurlburt will be here given.
In advance, it must be stated that Hurlburt had not the remotest anticipation of this visit, and that it was an entire surprise to him and his family. It was on November 13th, 1880, a cold, cheerless day, that Mr. Kellogg and myself made the journey from Fremont to Gibsonburg. A more forlorn country and worse roads it would be difficult to find in any portion of the United States; indeed, save for the telegraph wires and a line of railway that passes through Gibsonburg, one could imagine one's self at the antipodes, while traversing the melancholy twelve miles between Fremont and Dr. Hurlburt's house, which is a mile from the railway station at Gibsonburg.
Driving up to the front of a small white-painted cottage some distance from the road, we alighted without attracting attention. It was noon-time, and, stepping on the piazza, we head within the sounds that gave evidence of the midday meal and conversation. Rapping at the door, it was opened by an old woman, who had just risen from a table, where sat an old man, a young girl, and a young man, who were still engaged in eating. Advancing into the room, after excuses for so intruding,
I asked the old man, who, with the others, now rose from the table:
"Is this Dr. D. P. Hurlburt?"
"Yes," he replied.
I gave him a letter saying that it was from the Hon. John Rice, of Fremont; and as he seemed very much agitated, I inquired:
"Shall I read it to you?"
"Yes," he again replied.
The letter mentioned the writer as seeking information regarding Mormonism. In short, it was a letter of introducing Mr. Kellogg and myself, written by Dr. Hulburt's physician, Dr. Rice, who had said to me that Hurlburt was in a precarious condition of health, and whatever I had to ask of him had better not be delayed, and that I had better see him at once.
Dr. D. P. Hurlburt died in 1882, two years after the interview described
By the time I began the letter we were all seated, save Hurlburt, who remained standing; and when I had finished reading he was shaking violently., as with palsy, and very greatly agitated. I was struck with his appearance. He was still a very handsome old man, even in his shabby clothing and amid his plain and homely surroundings, having a fine, ruddy complexion, expressive eyes, long, abundant gray hair, and a figure of excellent proportions. He looked at us both curiously, then with difficulty burst out:
"I don't know what has made folks so curious about Mormonism lately. I think it is an article in a magazine published last summer. Why, I haven't heard anything about the Mormons in forty years till now; and there's a man named Craig, in Alleghany City, and one named Cobb, in Salt Lake City (above alluded to), and another...
named Patterson, in Pittsburg, all writing to me about a manuscript they say I got from Mrs. Davison, at Munson, Mass., in 1834; I have not answered one of these folks."
"Well, Mr. Hurlburt, did you get the manuscript from Mrs. Davison?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied, shaking still more violently -- "yes, I got one she gave me an order for."
"Mr. Hurlburt" (for I dropped the Dr.), I remarked, getting up, and looking him steadily in the eye, "I am the person who wrote the magazine article you have just mentioned, the great-niece of Solomon Spaulding and the granddaughter of William H. Sabine, who gave the order for 'The Manuscript Found,' which you presented to Mrs. Davison at Munson, Mass., in 1834."
"Is that so?"
Mrs. Hurlburt, a sweat-faced, sad-eyed old woman, who had admitted Mr. Kellogg and myself, came close to me, and, gently stretching out her hand toward me, said:
"Well, we will tell you what we know; we are willing to tell you."
"I hope you will," I replied, "as I have come from New York on purpose to see you on this subject, and if there is any one who ought to have the truth concerning 'The Manuscript Found,' it is our family."
Then I turned to Hurlburt, and asked:
"Are you the Hurlburt who visited Mrs. Davison, my great-aunt, in 1834?"
"Yes," he replied.
"Did you get 'The Manuscript Found' at her order in Hartwick, N. Y. from Jerome Clark?"
"Yes, I got what they said was Spaulding' s manuscript."
"For what purpose?"
"I was sent there by a man named E. D. Hove, of Painesville, Ohio. He wrote a book called 'Mormonism Unveiled,' and he wanted to compare the Spaulding manuscript with the 'Book of Mormon'"
"Did he think Mrs. Davison had the original manuscript?"
"Yes, he thought so."
"Did you give him the manuscript you got at Hartwick?"
"Yes, I did."
Here Mrs. Hurlburt, who listened intently to this talk, went to a bureau and found a letter, which she handed to me, Hurlburt helping her to do so. I closely watched and listened to see if there was anything said between them. Their heads and hands were in close proximity as they bent over the drawer; and although I could hear nothing distinctly, I believe and always shall believe that he conveyed instructions to his wife as to her further conduct in the matter.
The letter was from E. D. Howe, of Painesville, the aged author of the book "Mormonism Unvailed." Its purport was that he had seen the magazine article alluded to, and after a criticism on the statements made in it, he told Hurlburt that the manuscript which he (Hurlburt) had given to him, in 1834, was burned, with other of his papers, in his office, etc.
After reading it I again looked significantly at both Mr. and Mrs. Hurlburt, and asked:
"Do you believe the manuscript was burned?"
"Well, he says it was," Hurlburt replied, greatly disturbed.
"Was it Spaulding' s manuscript that was burned?"
Hurlburt waited a moment before answering, his wife looking at him with a pleading, sad expression of countenance.
"Mrs. Davison thought it was; but when I just peeped into it here and there and saw the names Mormon, Maroni, Lamanite, Nephi, I thought it was all nonsense; why, if it had been the real one I could have sold it for $3000; but I just gave it to Howe because it was of no account."
"Had you any right to do so? You borrowed it, solemnly promising to return it to Mrs. Davison?"
He grew still more disturbed, and replied:
"Well, I forgot most all about it."
"Did you intend to return it?" I asked very slowly. Instead of answering, he told his wife to bring him another letter from the bureau, a kind of statement which he had made to send to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburg, but would give to me. After reading it, I remarked:
"Then you know the history of the Spaulding Manuscript?"
"Oh, yes, all about it!"
"Were you a Mormon?"
"No," he quickly answered.
"Yes, you were," interposed his wife.
"Well, I suppose I was about a year," said Hurlburt, reluctantly.
"Were you at Conneaut in 1834, at the time the Mormons met there and had their meeting?"
"Why, certainly," he replied; "the Mormons sent me to get the manuscript from Mrs. Davison."
"I thought you said Howe sent you."
"Well, when I found the manuscript amounted to nothing, I gave it to
Mr. Kellogg, who had been observing everything in our conversation, but letting me (as we had agreed before entering the house) do the talking, here said:
"Mr. Hurlburt, this lady has come a great distance to see you, and you ought to tell her what she desires to learn."
"You're a lawyer, I guess," remarked the old man, eyeing Mr. Kellogg.
"Yes, from Norwalk; my name is Oscar Kellogg, and I think you were once on the jury in a case I tried."
"Well, I thought I had seen you when you came in; is this lady a relative of yours?"
"Yes, my wife's cousin; she is staying with us."
And you came over here from Norwalk with her to see me?"
"Yes, I came to help her, if she needs my assistance."
"Mr. Hurlburt," I resumed, "do you know where 'The Manuscript Found' is at the present time?"
The old lady went close to Hurlburt, touched his shaking arms, looked up in his face, and said:
"Tell her what you know."
His face became perfectly scarlet, and his trembling increased. He turned (for during this entire interview he stood up, a most pitiable object in his infirmity, as he became more and more agitated, in the evidently fierce conflict he was going through not to betray himself or to allow his wife to unburden her heart of her knowledge), and looked at both Mr. Kellogg and myself, and almost screamed
."Why you must be crazy to ask such a question. Did I not say I gave it to E. D. Howe, and he says in the letter you read from him it was burned up in his printing house. Why, lady, if I knew where it was, I would give $1000 and my farm besides for it."
"You know," I laughingly said, "the report is you were paid $300 by the Mormons for the manuscript, and with that money bought this farm."
He smiled for the first time, and replied:
"Why, the Mormons hated me; they threatened me. I had a fight with Joe Smith, and had to have him bound to keep the peace with me."
"Why did they hate You?"
"Well, it was something about that book, 'Mormonism Unveiled.'"
"Mr. Hurlburt, you retain your memory perfectly?"
"Yes, I'm right up here" (pointing to his head), "but this trembling goes to my heart. I shall go pretty soon."
He brought me a picture of himself, taken ten years ago.
"Please let me have it," I said, holding it in my hands, hoping to bring it away with me for further use.
"No; I'll have it copied for you," he answered, evidently diving my meaning.
"You know," I continued, "you are and will be remembered; your part in this Spaulding matter makes you known. You cannot help it, and the world may desire to see how you look."
He had grown calmer, but this speech of mine, by which, with a little flattery, I had hoped to gain my object, seemed to agitate him again greatly, and he said:
"No, I don;t care to be known at all; I will write to you, and help you get facts about Mormonism; but I don't want to be talked about."
Making one more effort to get at the truth, I said, very earnestly:
"Oh, Mr. Hurlburt, it all lies in a nutshell, and you
can crack it. Do you think Solomon Spaulding wrote the story from which the Mormons made their book?"
"Yes; no question about it."
"Well, then, where is the manuscript?"
"I think it was copied by Rigdon, and he kept the original, and Mrs. Davison had the copy."
"But Mrs. McKinstry has sworn that her mother had what her father knew to be the original; and if the exact copy, it would have answered Howe's purpose."
Hurlburt seemed nonplused; he remained quiet, as if entirely unable or unwilling to continue the argument, and his wife, who was constantly watching him, said, with a meaning look at him:
"Why, don't you see the one he got from Mrs. Davison wa'n't no good?"
"Why did he not return it, then?"
"Well, Howe said he would; but then it got burned up."
As a final experiment, I said:
"There is a man in Illinois who is said to have the original manuscript, and that you, Mr. Hurlburt, sold it to him with the promise he would not use it in your lifetime."
The old man again screamed:
"'Tain't so; it is not the original one."
Then, seeming to see that he had somewhat betrayed himself, he turned to Mr. Kellogg with:
"You said you know this lady."
"Yes," replied Mr. Kellogg, "she is just who she represents herself to be."
"Well," said Hurlburt, turning in a sort of a defiant way to me, "if I talk all day I can't tell you any more; but I'll write to you."
The interview was over evidently. Both Mr. and
Mrs. Hurlburt asked us to have dinner, and the old lady urged us again and again to stay over night. "to talk it over by and by." I have since deeply regretted that we did not do so, as it has occurred to me that she intended in some way to give me information, which she dared not give in the presence of her husband; but the old distrust of Hurlburt which Mrs. Davison had was so strong within me, that even with Mr. Kellogg's protection, and willingness to remain, I could not persuade myself to do so.
We two women stood a little apart, and she said:
"I'll write to you; give me your address; I'll tell you what I know."
After thanking her, I asked if she was Hurlburt's only wife when he was a Mormon. A little flash came into her pale cheeks, and she replied:
"Well, he wa'n't a Mormon long; and I was his first wife."
We had no further chance for private words; and, as Mr. Kellogg and I agreed after we left the house, Hurlburt assumed a triumphant expression as we bade them good-day. We further agreed in the impression that certainly they had well feigned a part they were so unexpectedly called upon to act; and that beyond a shadow of doubt Hurlburt, after getting the genuine Spaulding romance at Munson, destroyed it or saw it destroyed by the Mormons at Conneaut, in 1834, after his being paid for his share of this transaction.
I may add that it has been told me that the general impression at the time of this sale and afterward, which prevailed in the minds of those most familiar with the subject in Ohio, was that Hurlburt became a Mormon with the intention of making money, and that his mission to Munson was the culmination of his projects in
that direction. Hurlburt sent me the statement he promised (No. 8, in the Appendix.)
The reader will see it contradicts several of his verbal statements made in his own house, and it amounts, in fact, to nothing, being a studied and deliberate affair with which he hoped to satisfy me and other inquirers on the same subject.
INTERVIEW WITH E. D. HOWE.After visiting Hurlburt, the author saw E. D. Howe, at Painesville, Ohio. He admitted writing the letter shown by Hurlburt, and said that a manuscript was given to him by Hurlburt, in 1834, which "had no connection with Mormonism."
He agreed to give Hurlburt five hundred copies of his book ("Mormonism Unvailed"), which agreement he kept, and that was the last he ever saw of him.
The manuscript he received from Hurlburt he said was "lying around" his printing office for twenty years: he "considered it of no account, and did not know what became of it."
I asked if he did not agree to return it to Mrs. Davison, to which he replied:
"Perhaps I did; but it wasn't of no account, so I did not think of it."
"You used it in your 'Mormonism Unvailed'?"
"Well, yes; there it was of some use."
I then told him what Hurlburt had said of Howe's connection with the matter.
He grew very red in the face, and remarked:
"Well, Hurlburt is not to be relied on."
I asked if he would make a sworn statement that the words "Mormon, Maroni, Nephi, and Lamenite" were
not in the manuscript which Hurlburt gave him by agreement.
"No, I will not swear to it; but I'll answer questions, and my word is as good as Hurlburt's any day."
"You ought, for your own sake, to make a statement to answer him."
He made an odd reply: "Hurlburt was always an unreliable fellow; he went lecturing in this neighborhood."
"Mr. Howe, did you send Hurlburt to get 'The Manuscript Found'?"
"Yes, I did, and the idea was proposed to me by him."
Do you think the manuscript was burned in your office?"
"I don't know; it got lost," he replied.
"The whole matter, then is between you and Hurlburt. Is there a possibility that the original Spaulding manuscript will yet come to light?"
"No, I don't think so, he replied, earnestly; "the Mormons had too much at stake to let it exist."
"Then you think Hurlburt destroyed it?"
"I believe he had two !manuscripts -- the original one and another -- the one he gave me which had no resemblance to the 'Book of Mormon.'"
"Do you think Spaulding wrote a story from which Rigdon and Smith made the Book of Mormon?"
"Certainly I do," emphasizing the words.
He then told me a little of Rigdon's life, which I will hereafter use. Mr. Howe is very old -- nearly ninety -- but certainly of sound mind and memory; and although he was seemingly agitated during our conversation, he was not more so than such an unexpected visit would naturally occasion any one to be under the same circumstances;
and he carefully considered his answers before making them. An unmistakable expression of relief settled upon his countenance as the interview closed.
Upon making an inquiry in Painseville as to the character of the author of "Mormonism Unvailed," nothing of a very satisfactory nature was elicited from several highly respected citizens of the town. At best it was to the effect that Mr. Howe had always had the reputation of being a sharp-witted, shrewd man, and that his declining years had not robbed him of his predominating qualities.
A clergyman of Painesville, in speaking of the traces that Mormonism had left in that vicinity, remarked that "time alone would obliterate the demoralization that had followed in the wake of the Saints; that whole families were sceptics in religious faith who had been church members before their conversion to the doctrines advocated so eloquently by Sidney Rigdon and other Mormon preachers, and who had later apostatized.
A very remarkable circumstance occurred to the writer on the day following the interview with E. D. Howe, at his residence in Painesville. At midday, on reaching the railway station with the intention of proceeding to Conneaut, Ohio, that afternoon, I personally attended to checking the one large trunk I had with me at the time. It was an odd trunk as to its outward appearance, and had my initials distinctly printed on either end. As it was a way train, I settled myself as comfortably as possible by a window, and was reading until we reached the next station -- in fact, until the train was just moving on; then, by chance looking up, I was amazed to see my trunk being wheeled away on a truck across the platform. The conductor was standing at the door on the platform of the car. I
ran to him and shouted, "That is my trunk being taken away; do stop the train and get it again!"
"Your trunk!" he replied; "no, it cannot be. You ladies always fancy your luggage is lost, or carried away, or something."
"But don't you see it is not like other trunks, and my initials, E. E. D., are on it? I beg you at least to stop the train, and let me get off." I screamed at him, greatly excited at my helplessness and the situation.
But the train moved on, and the conductor, with a derisive smile, said" "Now to convince you of your mistake, let me take your check, and I'll soon return with the baggage-master to prove your trunk is still in his care."
I gave him the check, knowing how futile his errand was. After some twenty minutes or more, he came back with another man, whom he said was the baggage-master, and between them they admitted that my trunk had been taken from the train; there had been some unusual carelessness, but it would be all right; the conductor would send a telegram from the next station to have it sent on. Both men seemed annoyed and confused.
"When will my trunk reach me?" I asked.
"Well," said the conductor, "the truth is, I've got to first telegraph to Cleveland, to get the office of the company, and then an order will be sent along the line until it is found, and at best you cannot get it before ten o'clock to-night."
This was not very reassuring. At the second station beyond he came in, showing me a telegram from the station where the trunk was taken from the train. It read to the effect that such a trunk was there, and would be detained until the order arrived to forward it to Conneaut. Arriving at the residence of Mr. Henry Lake,
in Conneaut, and telling the family of the occurrence, they considered it very unusual -- in fact, had never heard of anything like it before. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lake went to the station with me at ten o'clock, and the trunk was taken from the train on its arrival at that hour. My friends insisted that both the station-master and the baggage-master of the train should be with me when opening the trunk, to see if its contents had been disturbed. The lock, a good sound one, I found had been forced open, the heavy straps alone holding it together. At a glance, on lifting the cover, it was evident that everything in the trunk had been turned over, just as though its contents had been pulled out and thrown in again by hasty and inexperienced hands. A later investigation the same night proved that not one single item had been stolen, although there were valuable articles of various descriptions in the trunk. My papers connected with the interview with Hurlburt, Howe, and General Garfield -- in fact, all the notes taken in this trip on the subject of Mormonism, were in my hand-satchel, and had been carefully guarded. On writing to an official connected with the Lake Shore Railroad, relating all the facts in the case, his reply was to the effect that so long as nothing had been stolen from the trunk, it was proof conclusive that the breakage of the lock and its detention at the way station were merely accidental. He regretted the circumstances, but was of the opinion that there was no legal redress for it.
Visit to Conneaut, Ohio, in 1880 -- Reminiscences of Rev. Spaulding and the First Mormon Conference, in 1834.
IN connection with the visit at Mentor and Painesville, after the interview with Hurlbut at Gibsonburg, the author stopped at Conneaut, Ashtabula Co., Ohio. where the Rev. S. Spaulding resided, in 1812, and wrote the story which was made the foundation of the Mormon fraud. Some description of the town as it looks today may be interesting to the reader.
Conneaut is also interesting in its connection with the first great conference of Mormons, in the year 1834, when Hurlbut was sent to procure "The Manuscript Found" from Mrs. Davison, at Munson, Mass., "to compare it with the 'Book of Mormon.'"
The village of Conneaut is a mile from the Conneaut Station, on the Lake Shore Railroad. It is the county-seat, and in its thrift and general appearance greatly resembles a New England town of the best type. At the eastern side of the village is the broad ravine through which the Conneaut River, or Creek, flows down to Lake Erie, which is picturesque and beautiful.
One of the most attractive dwellings in the place is that of Mr. Hiram Lake, son of Henry Lake, a partner of Solomon and John Spalding in 1812.
An evening at Mr. Lake's residence was spent in hearing his reminiscences of certain circumstances in connection with the Spauldings -- many facts which his father had related to him of the writings of Mr. Spaulding -- and
particularly how the neighbors gathered to hear him read the novel called "The Manuscript Found," and how the talk of the hour dwelt on the discoveries made by the workmen employed to open earth-mounds close to Mr. Spaulding's house. The very spot where this house once stood is pointed out -- a log cabin, containing some relics of New England comforts, and the best dwelling in the vicinity at the time.
Its owner, it is said, was the most noted and probably the best educated man in that part of the State. There is no trace of this primitive homestead now, or of the earth-mound close to it; but there are many people living in Conneaut who remember both.
Just below this locality, and close to the creek, was the foundry of the Spalding brothers and Mr. Henry Lake, which was so prosperous until the war of 1812 made its proprietors bankrupt.
There were formerly a number of earth-mounds in the vicinity of Conneaut, all of which have been leveled with the surrounding fields; but numerous evidences of their existence and locality are pointed out at the present time. A few months since some prehistoric relics were unearthed by a ploughman in a corn-field where it is known that an earth-mound had existed, and many persons in and near the village possess pottery, implements of iron, carved beads, or ornaments of personal adornment, that have been exhumed in turning up the soil for agricultural purposes.
Traditions and personal remembrances are numerous among the elder residents of Conneaut of the great Mormon Conference held in that place in 1834. Some traveller, it is said, in that year brought a copy of the "Book of Mormon" to Conneaut soon after it was published, but it does not seem to have created much gossip
among the townspeople, until a woman preacher, who had been recently converted to Mormonism, appointed a public meeting, and in her talk made copious extracts from it, which were immediately recognized by many persons present, particularly by John Spaulding (see Appendix, No. 13), who was "amazed and afflicted that his brother's writings should have been perverted for such a wicked purpose."
His grief found vent in a flood of tears, and he arose on the spot and expressed his regretful sentiments. Both Mr. Hiram Lake and Mr. Lorin Gould, whose statements (see Appendix, No. 14) will be found elsewhere, told the author they remembered this occasion and some incidents in connection with it.
They said that at the time of this Mormon meeting there was the wildest possible excitement all through that part of the State in regard to the "new faith," as it was called.
It was as a result of these meetings that D. P. Hurlburt, who had resided in or near Conneaut, and whose reputation was not the best for veracity or honesty, and who at the time had joined the Mormons with his wife (the sweet-faced woman the writer saw at Gibsonburg), offered or was selected to visit Mrs. Davison at Munson, Mass., and to request a loan of the Spaulding "Manuscript Found," as it was reported, to compare it with the "Book of Mormon."
It is remembered at Conneaut that he returned with a manuscript, or that was so reported. This is presumably the manuscript which E. D. Howe says was lying in his office at Painesville for years, and which the Mormons pretend was compared with "the Golden Bible of Joseph," at a public meeting the Mormons called for the
purpose, and found to be entirely wanting in the essentials claimed for it.
It was beyond question, from very strong circumstantial evidence, the manufactured manuscript prepared by Hurlburt or his confederates for the occasion. A daughter of Mr. John Spaulding, still living near Conneaut, in a letter to the writer (see Appendix, No. 15) of a recent date, substantiates all that Mr. Lake and Mr. Gould stated at the former gentleman's house.
Of the odd stories told at Conneaut, in 1834, in connection with Solomon Spaulding, was the one to the effect that he had told his neighbors at the time he entertained them with his romance, that his "Manuscript Found" was translation of the Book of Mormon, and he intended to publish a fictitious account of its having been discovered in a "cave in Ohio" as an advertisement, to advance its sale, when his book was printed.
The remarkable features of the Mormon meeting at Conneaut, in 1834, and the conflicts of opinion between the converts to the new doctrines there promulgated, and the affirmations of the old neighbors and relatives of Solomon Spaulding, led to the venture of E. D. Howe in writing the book called "Mormonism Unvailed."
There is a tradition that Mr. Howe was himself half a Mormon when he wrote this volume, and it is believed that his motive in writing it was not a desire to expose an imposture, but to make money.
Another outcome of this meeting at Conneaut, in 1834, was the wild enthusiasm of the people, who travelled from great distances to see the "new prophet," and from it "elders," or preachers, were sent out to those who could not attend.
Stories were circulated at the time that even in the then remote New England States and in the British
provinces families were placing their all in wagons -- the common method of travelling at that date -- and hastening to join the ranks of the "Saints."
How long the Mormons tarried at Conneaut it is now impossible to state. It must have been some weeks, however, as in the interval Hurlbut visited Munson. Mass., and other matters of importance in their history eventuated at this period of their career.
The Mormons in Missouri.
WHEN Joe Smith found that he could not be a prophet of repute in the State of New York, and after he and Sidney Rigdon had witnessed the favor with which their scheme was received in Ohio, they followed Oliver Cowdery, whom they had sent on in advance to the State of Missouri to look for a fitting locality for the New Jerusalem, and as they professed, to evangelize the Indians and Gentiles generally.
Cowdrey's report of Jackson Co., Mo., was so favorable that these two founders of "a religious empire" directed their steps thither, under the most discouraging difficulties of travel, making a portion of the distance of over three hundred miles on foot. On their arrival at Independence they were so enamored of the country that they at once selected it as the place for the New Zion and, to silence all cavil among his followers, Smith had a "revelation," in the form of a document, which is among the most extraordinary performances of this remarkable man, as this was early in the history of Mormonism, and long before persecutions and dangers had sharpened his faculties by a ripe experience. It commences: "Hearken, oh ye elders of my Church, saith the Lord, your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the Saints. Behold the place which is called Independence is the centre place,
and a spot for the Temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the Court House; wherefore, it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the Saints, and also every tract lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile."
All the ceremony it was possible to secure under the circumstances was given to the occasion. The particular spot chosen as a site for the Temple was named "Adam-mon-daimon" signifying the "patriarchal blessing."
Here Smith said the Latter-Day Saints would finally gather, Christ would appear in person, and the Mormons would reign a glorious and triumphant people for a thousand years. * With a business-like purpose worthy of the Prophet's most illustrious pupil, Brigham Young, Smith expressed his wishes, appointed a storekeeper and other factotums, including Oliver Cowdery as assistant editor of a newspaper which was established at Independence, called the Morning and Evening Star. Elder W. Phelps a man who wrote Smith's political papers and distorted several languages to make "more, good" out of the word "Mormon," was appointed editor-in-chief.
After the "consecration" and these business matters were arranged, the Prophet and Rigdon returned to Kirtland, in order, as they said, "to remain five years and make money."
Meanwhile during these five years the Mormons increased very rapidly in Missouri, settlements being made in Clay, Ray, Jackson and Caldwell counties; and with their habitual industry and thrift they made homes of comfort, and rapidly gained wealth.
The Kirtland troubles, long threatened, culminated in
* Venerable Mormons in Utah have recently been heard to give it as their opinion that they, with other Saints, would return to Zion, Independence, Mo., for the final glorification of the chosen ones.
1838, when Smith and Rigdon again made a journey to Missouri, pursued at first by creditors and afterward guided by a "revelation."
It was on this particular westward march that the Prophet first organized a military command and a bodyguard and began to assume the prerogatives of his high military, as well as spiritual, mission. He had two hundred disciplined men-at-arms after he reached the State line of Missouri secretly, his "guard," a fearful band which had been organized as "destroying angels," or "Danites," whose lawless conduct later on precipitated the tragic scenes that were followed by the expulsion of the Mormons from the State. These "Danites" were sworn "to put out of sight" all persons obnoxious to the "Saints;" and even before the Prophet arrived from Kirtland many peaceable residents mysteriously disappeared --"slipped their breath," to use a favorite expression of the band.
From the year 1833 the Mormons had been in trouble in Missouri. While their general cause had advanced, they were correspondingly hated by their neighbors. They were accused of every sort of evil and of secret crime, and yet were admitted to be industrious.
Such was the situation when the Prophet came to rule over his followers in new scenes and under new auspices. A letter was written a short time before his arrival by a man of great natural intelligence, Mr. Ezra Booth, early a local Methodist preacher in Ohio, who was a victim to the Mormon imposture in Missouri.
In a letter to the Rev. Ira Eddy, in which he gives an a account of the painful experiences which revealed its iniquities to him, he says: "When I embraced Mormonism I sincerely believed it to be of God. Like a ghost it haunted me day and night, until I was mysteriously
hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion. At times I mas much elated, but generally things in prospect were the greatest stimulus to action. On our arrival in Missouri we discovered that ` prophecy and vision had failed, or rather proved false. Mr. Rigdon himself said that 'Joseph's vision was a bad thing.' I do not regret that I made the journey, though I regret the cause of it. Since my return (to Kirtland) I have had several interviews with Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery, and the various shifts and turns to which they have resorted in order to obviate objections and difficulties proved to my mind additional evidence that Mormonism was nothing else than a deeply-laid plan of craft and deception."
Soon after the Prophet's arrival at independence (and he was known generally to have become wealthy, and a greater braggart than ever) dark clouds loomed over the horizon of the Mormons. The causes contributing to their expulsion from the State were numerous. The most terrible rumors were afloat respecting the secret deeds of the Danites, and they had acquired so much property that the Missiourians resolved that they should have what was termed "the rule of the counties," through their numbers and property.
The Mormons were wont to boast of their political ascendancy, and the dislike which was felt toward them from the first deepened into an intense hatred. Rigdon is said to have still further estranged the "Gentiles" from the Saints by his talk and overt acts at this time, and soon after his arrival charged both Cowdrey and David Whitmer with being connected with some traitors to Mormonism, in counterfeiting, horse-stealing, and villainies of the worst description; and concluded an editorial in the Morning and Evening Star against them with
this sentence: "Are they not murderers at heart to stir up the Missourians against us by their slanders?"
Smith's power after he was driven out of Ohio seemed for awhile to decline; but the new persecutions in the West came to his aid, and cemented the union of those who were still his friends. A large number had left the ranks, and were anathematized in forcible if not elegant language.
The Mormons began to boast of the "intentions" of their prophet. They called him "the commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel;" the State would soon be in their hands, and finally the whole country in their possession. The facts seemed to justify this braggadocio, as the whole of Jackson County was theirs, and converts were flocking to their ranks in great numbers. A public meeting was, however, convened at Independence by the alarmed and excited "Gentiles," which resulted in the Mormons being driven across the Missouri River, by an infuriated mob, into Clay and Cadwallader [sic] counties, where Smith and Rigdon joined them. With this dispersion the other Mormon settlements suddenly developed into places of importance, particularly a town called "Far West."
The Saints had received a lesson, but were not wise enough to heed it. Rigdon became very violent, and taught them, by voice and by pen, that they must expect to fight under persecution. In a Fourth of July oration he said: "We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever. The set of men who does it makes the attempt at the expense of their lives. It shall be a war of extermination between us, for we will follow them till the last drop of blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us. We will carry the
seat of war to their own houses and families, till one party or the other is utterly destroyed."
This speech, with various exaggerations, was reported and commented on in every part of the State, and eventuated in the most deadly animosity toward the vainglorious Mormons. While Rigdon thus stirred up the people by talking and writing, Smith was shaping and moulding the rudest materials into a great enthusiastic religious power. Mills, workshops, farms, and industries of many kinds sprang up in the wilderness around their temporary resting-places; and even with all the warnings given and vexations caused them by their enemies of a real or imaginary character, a new impetus was given to their confidence in the Mormon leaders, everything conspiring to make them twofold more the children of the "new faith."
With all these tragic circumstances, there grew into a terrible reality one of those wild and romantic histories which could only have taken shape on a Western frontier, and which was developed by these unusual incidents and by the vanity and egotistical spirit evinced by Mormonism.
To complicate affairs, two Mormons -- Thomas H. Hyde [sic] and Orson Pratt -- "apostles," as they were called, made an affidavit before a justice of the peace in Ray County, to the effect that "the Mormons have a company among them calling themselves 'Danites,' who have taken an oath to support the head of the church in all things, whether right or wrong; that the design of Smith is to take this State, and he professes to his people his intention of taking the United States, and ultimately the whole world; that this is the belief the Prophet inculcates, and every true Mormon believes Smith's prophecies superior to the law of the land,"
One of these men further said: "I heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies and walk over their dead bodies; that if he was let alone he would be a second Mahomet to this generation, and that he would make it one lake of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean."
Mutual acts of plunder and retaliation, between the Saints and Gentiles became frequent and terrible in their consequences, as they naturally would under such peculiar and threatening circumstances; and "trifles light as air" brought them into collision.
The Mormons drove their opponents in many instances from their immediate vicinity, burning their houses and confiscating their property; worse than all, some women and children were driven into the woods, and two children were born to homeless mothers. This was the crowning event that fired the Missourians into a war of extermination against the "interloping Mormons."
A company of militia was called together to keep the peace, who encamped on the borders of a small stream; and the Mormons, supposing it to be a mob ready to destroy their possessions, attacked them. killing and wounding many.
Complaints of the existing seditions were quickly carried to Governor Boggs, who immediately ordered out the State troops, "to enforce order upon all citizens, even if it was found necessary to exterminate the hateful and obnoxious Mormons," who were presumed to be in the wrong and the fomenters of all these unhappy circumstances and terrible discords.
A fearful drama followed under the leadership of "Major-General Clark," U. S. A., who is described as being as rude as the most uncivilized of Mormons, even making brutal addresses to his prisoners while they were
calling on the name of "the unknown God." He had "discretionary powers," however, and allowed the enemy to withdraw from the State, and could take their lands to pay the cost of the war. The Mormon property thus confiscated has been estimated to be worth nearly two millions of dollars.
Joseph and Hyram Smith, with Rigdon and other leaders, were arrested and placed in jail. There was a court-martial the same evening, and it was decided to have them shot the next morning; but in consequence of the protest of General Doniphan, who declared that such an act would be unlawful, the court rescinded its resolution.
Rigdon was discharged, but with their leaders in jail the Mormons submitted to the conditions made, and prepared to withdraw from the State into Illinois, where the Prophet and his fellow-captives joined them after breaking from prison during two days in which their guard was in a drunken slumber.
In an old book at the Astor Library there is a comical representation of the "commander of the armies of Israel" fleeing on horseback from the Missouri jail, with a companion on either side similarly mounted.
Twelve thousand Mormons arrived on the banks of the Mississippi River late in the autumn of 1838, in the most unhappy plight. Their houses had been burned, their fields laid waste, and they were nearly or quite destitute of every personal comfort. Every indignity and personal insult which had been offered to the Missourians by the Mormons was returned with interest, and so terrible were their sufferings, that the hearts of the Illinois citizens were so touched by their distress that they received with hospitality those who had travelled over the bleak prairies amid storms of wind and rain and snow.
The aged, the young, and the sick had been alike houseless and homeless in the most inclement season of the year. Many who had left homes of abundance died from exposure to the pitiless elements. These were the victims of the men who had led them into the snares of a false religion.
A Mormon historian of these "persecutions of the Saints" tells how twenty of them, sleeping in a log cabin by the wayside, in this flight to Illinois, were shot dead through the crevices, and after the massacre was over a boy who had been concealed was dragged out from his hiding-place under a forge and shot, while his murderers danced about him. This historian further writes (after relating a number of such instances of Gentile cruelty): "We may forgive; but to forget -- never!"
The Illinoisians who opened their doors to the invading Mormons excused their hospitality by saying that matters had been carried too far against them, whatever provocation they had given, and gave them shelter, food, and clothing. A Mormon poet wrote in connection with the times:
Under such trying and tragic events the faith of many of the Mormons succumbed. A most significant fact to a large number was that their Zion had not been built at Independence.
They had lost all their property, and even their health had deeply suffered, and were ready to abandon the faith and return forlornly to their former homes in the Eastern States. Some left temporarily, some altogether, and remained in Missouri, wrecked in religious belief and hope of any kind. A large number of these destitute Mormons
found their way to Quincy, Ill., where public meetings were held and measures adopted for their benefit; and of these some, on a return of prosperity, joined the Mormons at Nauvoo.
While the Saints were at Independence a "Book of Commandments," for the government of the Church of Christ, organized according to law, on the 6th of April, 1830, was partly written, but not published, as the following extract will show:
A "Book of Commandments," for the government of the Church of Christ, organized according to law, on the 6th of April, 1830, 32mo, pp. 160, boards, Zion, Published by W. W. Phelps & Co., 1833.
This book was never published, nor even completed. Only two copies are known, The sheets were destroyed by a Missouri mob. People who know just enough of Mormonism to call the "Book of Mormon" the "Mormon Bible" -- to think they know that it was written by Solomon Spaulding, and stolen from a Pittsburg printing-office by Sidney Rigdon, and handed over by him to Prophet Joe -- and who measured the evils of Mormonism only by the number of defections from their own particular sect -- and I have never conversed with an anti-Mormon, other than an apostate, whose knowledge or interest extended much further -- will read with distrust or indifference, if they read at all, the assertion which I unhesitatingly make, that this book, if valued by its importance, would bring a larger price than was ever paid for a single volume. People who think they know all about it, suppose the "Book of Mormon" to be to Mormonism what the Bible is to Christianity. Nothing could be farther from the fact. Mr. Stenhouse, who was for many years one of their leading men, and probably the most intelligent man that they ever had among them, once told me that he never read the "Book of Mormon" through in his life, and that he did not believe anybody else ever did.
In a roundabout manner, not a peculiarity of Mormons, but a characteristic of churchmen, the Mormons, in their articles of belief, say, and the elders never tire of repeating, that they believe in the Bible, the "Book of Mormon," and the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants." To know their crooked ways, which, I repeat, are not peculiar to themselves, is to know that they would place the book which they attach the least importance to in the front rank and that which
they regard as most important in the rear. This they would be certain to do, and this they have always done. As the "Book of Commandments" is really the first edition of the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," one must be made acquainted with the general character and standing of the book before he can understand the special importance attaching to this edition. In short -- for I do not propose to write a treatise upon Mormonism, lest from lack of literary ability I should make as miserable a failure as most writers have made from ignorance of the subject -- the book is composed of what purport to be "revelations" straight from God to Prophet Joe! Professor J. B. Turner, one of the best-informed of the anti-Mormon writers, says of the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" : "It has really exerted a thousand-fold more influence on the doctrines and destinies of the Mormon Church than all other books put together, still it is usually kept in the background, and the 'Book of Mormon' thrown forward as their main authority, next to the Bible." This is perhaps plain enough; but in view of the fact that among all classes of people less is known of Mormonism than of the sea-serpent, I will add, in my own plainer if not stronger words, that the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" is the whole of Mormonism. Counting deaths and defections, not less than half a million people (mostly fools, as Carlyle said of the population of the British Islands) have been bamboozled, first into a belief that God is the Author of the miserable trash, and, as necessary correlatives, that the Mormons are the Saints, and hell is the portion of all others. During forty-five of the years Mormonism, from the moment the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" was issued in 1835, there has existed in the "Book of Commandments" proof of the very kind which the circumstances seemed to demand -- i. e., proof, plain and convincing, to the meanest understanding, of the fraudulent character of both versions. The proposition could hardly obtain credence, even among the kind of timber from which Mormons are made, that an All-wise Being could, in one hundred and sixty pages, 32mo, make so many blunders as have been corrected -- if the alterations may be called corrections -- in the next following and first known edition of these precious "revelations."
"When Joe was getting up the 'Book of Mormon' he loaned a portion of the manuscript to Martin Harris, the man who was fool enough to pay for printing it. Mrs. Harris got hold of it and secretly burned it. Joe, who, being fearful that Mrs. Harris had not destroyed it, but still had it in her possession, dared not go through with the farce of pretending to re-translate it, lest Mrs. H. should
upset his pretensions by printing his first version, which he knew he could not make his second version conform to, left it out altogether, and commenced his book where the lost portion ended; and so much was forever lost to religion. On that occasion he made a mistake by over-caution. When, under somewhat similar circumstances, he was again called upon to act, he made a still worse mistake by taking the opposite course. One day, while this edition was being printed at what is now Independence, Mo., the anti-Mormon border ruffians pounced upon 'Zion,' as the Mormons called their settlement, and in next to no time their two-story brick printing-office, with all that it contained -- building, press, type, sheets, paper and all -- were converted into a mass of ruins, and the Saints were running away with nothing but their lives. There can be no doubt that Joe and his lieutenants felt confident that not a copy of the sheets had been preserved. When, in 1835, the book was first given to a wicked world, two years' experience had enabled Joe to make numerous amendments. In some cases he modified or curtailed his revelations; in some cases they are considerably amplified; but in all cases the actions are made to meet the requirements of 1835. That Joe was shameless, audacious, brazen-faced, and would not have risked these alienations had he not felt very certain that every printed copy of the original version had been destroyed, is proved to the satisfaction of people of ordinary intelligence by his conduct in relation to the lost translation of the manuscript of the 'Book of Mormon;' but what renders the conclusion absolutely inevitable is the fact that after the revelations were actually published beyond recall they were never again, even in the slightest degree, subjected to the Almighty revision."
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