Howard A. Davis, et al.
Who Really Wrote Book of Mormon
(Santa Ana, CA: Vision House, 1977)
Howard A. Davis, Donald R. Scales & Wayne L. Cowdrey
with Gretchen Passantino
VISION HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Santa Ana, California 92705
VISION HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Santa Ana, California 92705
[Written permission of copyright holder was secured for this web-publication
of e-text and graphics reproducing a limited portion of the book. No further
reproduction is allowed. Consult the copyright holder for further details.]
Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
Copyright © 1977 by Wayne L. Cowdery, Donald R, Scales
and Howard A. Davis
Santa Ana California 92705.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 77-85120
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced
in any form without the written permsssion of the Publishers,
except for brief excerpts in reviews.
Printed in the United States of America.
This book is dedicated to Walter Martin, author, comparative religion professor, and director of Christian Research Institute. He maintained for 25 years that Solomon Spalding was the true source of The Book of Mormon.
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We would like to thank all those whose help made our exhaustive research possible. Our deep appreciation is extended to Dr. Waiter Martin and his assistant, Mr. Jerry Bodine, for their continued assistance in the project.
The excellent legal work of attorneys Reinjohn, Marchetti, and their associates supported this work a great deal. We would like to thank document experts Henry Silver, Howard Doulder, and William Kaye for their professional services.
David Hagelberg and Arthur Vanick labored on some of the most tedious portions of the manuscript, for which we are grateful. Kurt VanGorden obtained many valuable records and affidavits for us. Countless librarians supplied us with photostatic copies and microfilm materials which greatly aided our research. Mrs. Farabe, an instructor in Amity, Pennsylvania, and the wife of the great-great grandson of Joseph Miller (a close friend of Spalding), sent us a great amount of information on the Spalding issue. Gary Lloyd's information was also invaluable. We are grateful for the assistance of Mrs. M. C. Cowles of Oberlin College and of Oberlin's photographer, Stillwell, for supplying photographs and a microfilm of the Spalding manuscript.
A special note of thanks is due Terrie Broadaway, who led us to our first document expert. We are very thankful to all of our typists who worked so hard in this manuscript.
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[ vii ]
I feel privileged to write the preface to a book whose impact will be, I am sure, almost incalculable. Since its beginning in 1820 (the year of its founder's first vision), the story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been riddled with controversy. Opinion concerning the church's source ranged from those who said it was God's restoration of His true church, through suspicion of some sort of fraud, all the way to fiery denunciation of the supposed demonic entrapment of this "organization of Satan."
After extensive research into the "foundation stones" of the Mormon Church 25 years ago, I was convinced that I knew the true source of The Book of Mormon, one of the Latter Day Saints' sacred books. Although some agreed with me, most thought that my assertion of Spalding's part in the mystery of Mormonism was the assertion of one naive of the facts. For 25 years I have known that the Spalding source could be proved if one only had the time and the dedication to ferret it out. Wayne Cowdrey, Don Scales, and Howard Davis have had that dedication, and this book is the result.
Walter Martin, Ph.D.
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In 1977 the Mormon Church (technically known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) claimed a worldwide membership of 3. 1 million. Millions of people are trusting this church for their eternal destiny. They have been convinced that it is the only way to follow God's will. Zealous Mormons have for almost 150 years declared the Mormon Church to be the one true restoration of the church on earth today.
But the world must ask, can Mormonism back up its claims? Is it really the only way? Are its assertions true? Are blacks forever cursed, as this church teaches? Did Jesus really have many wives? Was He actually the spirit- brother of Lucifer, the offspring of Adam-God and Mary? Did Jesus really come to the Americas after His resurrection and preach the gospel to descendants of Jews who supposedly had peopled these continents?
The sacred books of the Mormons assert these doctrines and many more. Not content with the Bible as the only guide for faith and truth, the Mormon founders added to it three other books that are held by the church to be on a level higher than that of the Bible (which the Mormon Church claims is God's Word "in so far as it is correctly translated"). The other three books, The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants, contain the basis for all the teachings of the LDS Church. Each is supposed to be an infallible record
2 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?of God's will for man, displayed in sacred history and utterances from on high both directly and through "prophets."
The Founder of Mormonism
The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed that in a grove near Palmyra, New York, in the spring of 1820, God the Father and God the Son appeared to him to answer his prayer about which religion was correct. The fifteen-year-old is said to have heard them tell him that
Smith said that he went to this hill each year, waiting for instructions from God, until September 22, 1827, when he was finally commanded to dig up the plates. He used a lever to move a flat stone, and there in a stone box, according to Joseph Smith, his eyes beheld for the first time the golden plates, with a "breastplate" and two stones "set in silver bows," called the "Urim and Thummim." It was with the Urim and Thummim -- and, according to Mormon sources, "the gift and power of God" --- that Smith laboriously and meticulously
Introduction / 3translated the mysterious symbols (he called them "reformed Egyptian") a on the golden plates. His translation was said to be dictated to his friend, Oliver Cowdery, b and other scribes between 1828 and 1829. This 275,000 word document is known today throughout the world as the first of the Mormon sacred books, The Book of Mormon. Each volume today is prefaced by the testimony of eight men who each claimed that they had seen Smith's golden plates. Three other signatures offer testimony that the men saw the plates and viewed and heard an angel of God assuring them of the truth of the book.
Serious scholars have long contested this story of the origin of The Book of Mormon. From the first public circulation of Smith's story, controversy has raged as to the true source of the stories of America's past. It is scarcely possible to find an informed non-Mormon who puts any credence in the "official" story, and yet these non-Mormon critics differ among themselves as to the true story.
Basically, two theses are the most widely held. The first school of thought believes that Joseph Smith, Jr., was the author of The Book of Mormon, and that the entire production was one of his own imagination. Various ideas have circulated as to whether he took any other people into his confidence and enlisted their aid. (Some say only Oliver Cowdery, others say one or more of the scribes besides Cowdery, and still others say it was someone not otherwise associated with Mormonism.)
a Such a type of Egyptian is nonexistent, according to Egyptologists.
b Oliver's last name was spelled Cowdery, while many of his descendants today spell their last name Cowdrey, as does one of the co-authors of this book.
4 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?The second major thesis teaches that Joseph Smith used a manuscript previously in existence. The assertion is that a retired Congregationalist minister, Solomon Spalding c (1761-1816), wrote a biblically styled novel called The Manuscript Found. A young man named Sidney Rigdon either took or copied this manuscript as it lay in a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rigdon and Cowdery (a cousin of Smith) remodeled the Spalding manuscript and presented it to the world not as a novel but as a divinely inspired record called The Book of Mormon.
If Joseph Smith actually used another man's novel and deceived millions of people into believing that God was speaking through this book, or if he deliberately invented a religion which is no religion at all, but instead a hoax of monstrous proportions, then millions of innocent people have been misled. Keep in mind that 10 percent of every obedient Mormon's income is given to his church unhesitatingly, because he is confident that he is giving to God.
The Book of Abraham
Careful scholarship has already proved that Joseph Smith was wrong about The Pearl of Great Price, the second of the Mormon sacred books. In 1967 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City gave a collection of papyrus manuscripts to the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City. These were identified by the Mormons as the long-lost Book of Abraham, part of The Pearl of Great Price. Confident of the vindication which Joseph Smith and Mormonism would receive from the
c Solomon and his immediate family spelled their name Spalding, while other relatives, acquaintances, and descendants spelled it Spaulding.
Introduction / 5translation of these pieces, the task of translation was promptly assigned to Dee Jay Nelson, a recognized Egyptologist and at the time, a Mormon.
Nelson found that the famous Book of Abraham was not a sacred history from God at all, but came from the Egyptian Book of Breathings, one of several religious prayers and writings traditionally placed in the tombs of the Egyptian dead centuries before Christ. Because of his discovery and the Mormon Church's refusal to acknowledge his facts; Nelson resigned from the Mormon Church with his wife and daughter and now publicly denounces Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham. (See Appendix 1 for Professor Nelson's verbatim statements of his findings.)
The other sacred Mormon book, Doctrine and Covenants, has also lost its claim to divine infallibility which it once held, Although calling it Scripture, the LDS Church has through the years yielded to other influences and changed its position on some of the teachings contained in this book. For example, although polygamy was purportedly revealed by God to Joseph as an "everlasting covenant" (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:1-4), Mormon president Wilford Woodruff was apparently convinced by the government to state in 1890, "We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice. . ." (Doctrine and Covenants, pp. 256-57). With the demise of the authority of the Bible (the continuing Mormon contention being that it is at least partly incorrectly translated) along with the diminishing authority of The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants, The Book of Mormon is thereby the only unassailed bulwark of LDS infallibility that remains. If the authority of The Book of Mormon is disproved, the last vestige of Mormon extrabiblical authority is nullified.
6 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?After hundreds of hours of painstaking research, we have come to a firm and studied conviction: The Book of Mormon is not a genuine revelation from God at all, but was derived from a novel written by Solomon Spalding. In this book we shall present the overwhelming evidences that convinced us that Solomon Spalding is actually the source of the composition now known as The Book of Mormon, originally a novel titled The Manuscript Found. We ask only that you read this book carefully and come to your own reasoned conclusion as to the true source of The Book of Mormon.
Wayne L. Cowdrey
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Mormonism today claims 3.1 million members and boasts that every day, somewhere in the world, a new chapel is being dedicated. Mormons have risen to powerful financial and political heights throughout most of America ...
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Sidney Rigdon was born in Library, Pennsylvania, on February 19, 1793. His education was nothing out of the ordinary, but early in life he showed a remarkable interest in history. When Rigdon was seventeen, his father died. Before his father's death, the young boy had fallen from a horse and seriously injured his head. Robert Patterson, in his Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon, [in] History of Washington County, Pennsylvania (p. 436), quotes from A. H. Dunlevy, who related in 1875 what he had heard of the consequences of the fall from Sidney's brother, Dr. L. Rigdon.
Sidney Rigdon, when quite a boy, living with his father some fifteen miles south of Pittsburgh on a farm, was thrown from his horse, his foot entangled in a stirrup and dragged some distance before relieved. In this accident he received such a contusion of the brain as ever after seriously to affect his character and
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in some respects his conduct. In fact, his brother always considered Sidney a little deranged in his mind by that accident. His mental powers did not seem to be impaired, but the equilibrium in his intellectual exertions seemed thereby to have been sadly affected. He still manifested great mental activity and power, but he was to an equal degree inclined to run into wild and visionary views on almost every question. Hence he was a fit subject for any new movement in the religious world.
As his father before him, Rigdon spent his early life on the farm and did some farming of his own. However, it was thought that he felt farming was somehow beneath his dignity (according to his neighbor, Isaac King) and he left the occupation quickly.
Drawn to city life, Rigdon, then nineteen, traveled to Pittsburgh and stayed there intermittently for the next four years (1812-16). He might have been suited for work in a leather tanner's shop -- at least the employment ads of the period show that tanners and tanner's apprentices were in high demand. During this period, he became close friends with J.H.
After Spalding moved to Amity, his manuscript disappeared from Patterson's Print Shop. Spalding told
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 93Dr. Dodd and Rev. Joseph Miller that he suspected Rigdon of the theft.
Spalding died in 1816, and the following year Rigdon was accepted into the membership of the First Baptist Church near his hometown of Library. According to Patterson, his conversion was contrived. 2 He was ordained during 1818 or 1819, and in 1820 he married Phoebe Brooks. Two years later, on January 28, 1822, Rigdon became the minister of the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, and it was during this time that he showed Spalding's manuscript to Dr. Winter.
Unfortunately, Rigdon's Baptist ministry was short-lived. He was excommunicated on October 11, 1823, for teaching irregular doctrine, and some have said he was very embittered by the action. Circumstantial evidence seems to point to the period immediately following this as the time Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith first met. 3
From the Baptists, Rigdon moved to the Disciples of Christ (Campbellites) and preached for them until shortly before he was "converted" to Mormonism in 1830. There is conclusive testimony showing that Rigdon possessed Spalding's manuscript until this period, that Rigdon knew Joseph Smith, and that through numerous visits to New York he gave the contents of the manuscript to Smith and his friends, who made some modifications to the text and subsequently published it as The Book of Mormon.
Perhaps Rigdon delivered the manuscript to Smith on September 22, 1827, and was the "angel" whom Smith later said gave him the plates! Oliver Cowdery baptized Rigdon into the Mormon Church on November 14, 1830, just seven months after the founding of the church, in Kirtland, Ohio. Rigdon traveled with Edward Partridge to Fayette, New York, where he quickly formed a deep friendship with Joseph Smith. In January, 1831, he and
94 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?Smith returned to Kirtland, and Rigdon was established as a leader in the church there.
As a member of the First Presidency of the Mormon Church, Rigdon worked for the Mormons in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Discouraged and disgruntled by strife with the church, Rigdon and his family left the Mormons and moved back to Pittsburgh, where the drama had first begun. On July 14, 1876, Rigdon died in Friendship, New York, having refused to speak concerning the Spalding issue, proclaiming that his "lips were forever sealed on that subject."
The Manuscript Connection
Josiah Spalding, Solomon Spalding's brother, stated, ". . . she (Solomon Spalding's widow) informed me that soon after they arrived at Pittsburgh a man followed them. I do not recollect his name but he was afterwards known to be a leading Mormon. He got into the employment of a printer a and he told the printer about my brother's composition." 4
Mrs. Spalding (Davison) herself stated:
Sidney Rigdon . . . was at that time (1812-14) connected with the printing office of Mr. Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated. Here he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Spalding's manuscript, and to copy it if he chose. It was a matter of notoriety and interest to all who were concerned with the printing establishment." 5
Solomon Spalding's daughter confirmed Josiah Spalding's testimony in corroborating her mother's convictions on the matter. She declared that her mother
a Rigdon was not employed at the printshop, but often was seen there with Lambdin.
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 95held a "firm conviction that Sidney Rigdon had copied the manuscript, which had been in Patterson's office in Pittsburgh." 6 We can see from this testimony that, at least to her family, Mrs. Davison maintained the same account concerning Rigdon that she had first proposed before 1820 -- or ten years before The Book of Mormon was published and Rigdon joined the new church.
Mrs. A. Treadwell Redfield remembered the early assertions of Spalding's widow and stated, "In the year 1818 I was principal of the Onondaga Valley Academy . . . Mrs. Spalding believed that Sidney Rigdon had copied the manuscript while it was in Patterson's printing office, in Pittsburgh. She spoke of it with regret. I never saw her after her marriage." 7 Mrs. Davison was married in 1820, and therefore Mrs. Redfield remembered her testimony from before that date and long before Rigdon became a Mormon.
So far we have examined the testimony of family members and acquaintances of Spalding concerning Rigdon's part in the affair. Mormons have raised the challenge that these witnesses might have been somewhat biased and that their testimony might not be as valid as that of a disinterested party. However, the following disinterested party substantiates the claims already set forth by the Spalding family. Mrs. William Eichbaum worked in the Pittsburgh post office during the time Rigdon and Spalding were there, and her testimony is invaluable in determining the true course of events:
My father, John Johnson, was postmaster at Pittsburg for about eighteen years, from 1804 to 1822. My husband, William Eichbaum, succeeded him, and was postmaster for about eleven years, from 1822 to 1833. I was born August 25, 1792, and when I became old enough, I assisted my father in attending to the post-office, and became familiar with his duties. From 1811 to 1816, I was the regular clerk in the office, assorting,
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making up, dispatching, opening and distributing the mails. Pittsburg was then a small town, and I was well acquainted with all the stated visitors at the office who called regularly for their mails. So meager at that time were the mails that I could generally tell without looking whether or not there was anything for such persons, though I would usually look in order to satisfy them. I was married in 1815, and the next year my connection with the office ceased, except during the absences of my husband. I knew and distinctly remember Robert and Joseph Patterson, J Harrison Lambdin, Silas Engles, and Sidney Rigdon, I remember Rev. Mr. Spaulding, but simply as one who occasionally called to inquire for letters. I remember there was an evident intimacy between Lambdin and Rigdon. They very often came to the office together. I particularly remember that they would thus come during the hour on Sabbath afternoon when the office was required to be open, and I remember feeling sure that Rev. Mr. Patterson knew nothing of this, or he would have put a stop to it. I do not know what position, if any, Rigdon filled in Pattersons's store or printing office, but am well assured he was frequently, if not constantly, there for a large part of the time when I was clerk in the post-office. I recall Mr. Engles saying that "Rigdon was always hanging around the printing office." He was connected with the tannery before he became a preacher, though he may have continued the business whilst preaching. 8
Lambdin was a printer in Patterson's shop and was several years younger than Rigdon. While it might be somewhat unusual for a strong friendship to be formed between two people of different ages, it was evidently the case here, and also later, when Rigdon and Smith (who was twelve years Rigdon's junior) became fast friends.
Could Mrs. Eichbaum have confused her statements and actually have been speaking of Rigdon's later stay in Pittsburgh (1822-23)? This is not likely, especially since
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 97she linked Spalding with the same period, and he left Pittsburgh in 1814 (and died in 1816). In addition, she dates the period to the time she was the clerk, which was between 1811 and 1816. This reputable eyewitness clearly places Rigdon in Pittsburgh, with Lambdin from Patterson's Print Shop, at the same time Spalding left his novel with the printer.
Attorney R. Patterson (son of R. Patterson, co-owner of the printshop) questioned Mrs. Eichbaum carefully concerning her testimony and concluded that she had ". . . a memory marvelously tenacious of even the minutest incidents . . . and that she had a . . . clear mind." He also wrote ". . . that one who could hear her relate the incidents of her youth, and specify her reasons for fixing names and dates with unusual distinctness, would find it difficult to resist a conviction of the accuracy of her memory." 9
From time to time others have tried to deny Rigdon's presence in Pittsburgh during the time Spalding lived there and the time his manuscript was in the printshop. There are three statements that at first glance seem to refute our theory that Rigdon was indeed in Pittsburgh before 1816.
The first statement was by Peter Boyer, Rigdon's brother-in-law. Only a synopsis of it is available today, taken from the History of Washington County, Pennsylvania, by R. Patterson. Patterson says:
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also in a personal interview with the present writer in 1879 positively affirmed that Rigdon had never lived in Pittsburgh previous to 1822, adding that "they were boys together and he ought to know." Mr. Boyer had for a short time embraced Mormonism but became convinced that it was a delusion and returned to his membership in the Baptist Church.
However, Boyer says that Rigdon never lived in Pittsburgh before 1822. What we are asserting is that Rigdon traveled periodically to Pittsburgh during the period that Spalding was living there. (Library was situated less than ten miles from Pittsburgh, and therefore travel between the two places was frequent and normal.)
A second testimony raised by Patterson (page 431) was by Samuel Cooper:
Samuel Cooper, of Saltsburgh, Pa., a veteran of three wars, in a letter to the present writer, dated June 14, 1879, stated as follows: "I was acquainted with Mr. Lambdin, was often in the printing-office; was acquainted with Silas Engles, the foreman of the printing-office; he never mentioned Sidney Rigdon's name to me, so I am satisfied he was never engaged there as a printer. I was introduced to Sidney Rigdon in 1843; he stated to me that he was a Mormon preacher or lecturer; I was acquainted with him during 1843-45; never knew him before, and never knew him as a printer; never saw him in the book-store or printing-office; your father's office was in the celebrated Molly Murphy's Row."
It is impossible to determine from this that Rigdon was not in Pittsburgh at the time Spalding was there, since Cooper neglected to state when he himself was in Pittsburgh. It could well have been after 1816 -- in other words, after Rigdon took Spalding's manuscript and left Pittsburgh for the first time. In this case neither Lambdin nor Engles would have had any reason to mention Rigdon's name to Cooper.
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 99Rev. Robert DuBois was employed by Patterson from 1818 to 1820:
Rev. Robert P. Du Bois, of New London, Pa., under date of Jan. 9, 1879, writes: "I entered the book-store of R. Patterson and Lambdin in March, 1818, when about twelve years old, and remained there until the summer of 1820. The firm had under its control the book-store on Fourth Street, a book bindery, a printing office (not newspaper, but job office, under the name of Butler and Lambdin), entrance on Diamond Alley, and a steam paper-mill on the Allegheny (under the name of R. and J. Patterson). I knew nothing of Spalding (then dead) or of his book, or of Sidney Rigdon."
As was the case with Cooper, we find that Du Bois' testimony, as printed by Patterson (pages 431-32), is useless. Du Bois came to Pittsburgh after Rigdon's first tenure, and he left again before Rigdon's residence in Pittsburgh beginning in 1822. It is hardly surprising, then, that Du Bois heard nothing of Rigdon or Spalding.
Finally, Patterson printed the statement of Lambdin's widow:
"I am sorry to say I shall not be able to give you any information relative to the persons you name. They certainly could not have been friends of Mr. Lambdin."
Lambdin's wife could have known who her husband's friends were, but she did not come to Pittsburgh until 1819, a full five years after Rigdon had left Pittsburgh. Therefore, Lambdin would have had no reason to mention Rigdon to his wife.
There is no credible objection to the evidence that Rigdon was in Pittsburgh during the period from 1813-14, when Spalding's manuscript was in the printshop, when Rigdon was seen by Spalding and suspected of taking
100 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?the manuscript, and when Mrs. Eichbaum saw Rigdon and Lambdin together.
Rev. Joseph Miller, who lived in Amity during Spalding's time there, and who tended him during his last illness and made his coffin (see Chapter 4, pages 66-74), stated:
My recollection is that Spalding left a transcript of the manuscript with Patterson for publication. The publication was delayed until Spaulding could write a preface. In the meantime the manuscript was spirited away, and could not be found. Spaulding told me that Sidney Rigdon had taken it, or was suspected of taking it. I recollect distinctly that Rigdon's name was mentioned in connection with it. 10
When Miller was carefully questioned he emphatically confirmed that it was Spalding himself who mentioned Rigdon as the culprit, and that he was in no way influenced in his testimony by subsequent events surrounding the rise of Mormonism and Rigdon's prominent position in it. 11
Miller repeated the essentials of his statement for the book New Light on Mormonism, in which he said, "Patterson said he, Patterson, would publish it, if he, Spalding, would write a title page. He told me he kept a little store in Pittsburgh. He then moved to Amity (1814) leaving a copy of the manuscript in Patterson's hands. After being at Amity some time, he went back to Pittsburg, took his title page; he called it the lost manuscript found. When he went to Pittsburg, the manuscript could not be found. He said there was, or had been, a man by the name of Sidney Rigdon had stole it." 12
Dr. Cephas Dodd was Spalding's physician in Amity (see Chapter 4, pages 74-75) and was by his side at his
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 101death in 1816. Dodd early declared his knowledge of the subject, and never once through the years wavered in this testimony concerning Rigdon and Spalding. On June 6, 1831, only a year after the founding of Mormonism, Dr. Dodd received a copy of The Book of Mormon and inscribed its flyleaf with the following terse indictment of Rigdon:
This work I am convinced by facts related to me by my deceased patient, Solomon Spaulding, has been made from writings of Spaulding, probably by Sidney Rigdon, who was suspicioned by Spaulding with purloining his manuscript from the publishing house to which he had taken it; and I am prepared to testify that Spaulding told me that his work was entitled, "The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon; or Unearthed Records of the Nephites." From his description of its contents, I fully believe that this Book of Mormon is mainly and wickedly copied from it. 13
At a ceremony in honor of Spalding in 1905, Dr. Dodd's son Elias (1823-1908) told the crowd present there essentially the same thing, remarking that his father had told him this is what had happened. 14
George French, whose wife was related to Rigdon, confirmed that in 1832 Dr. Dodd accompanied him to Spalding's grave in Amity and declared that Rigdon was the person who had taken the manuscript and converted it into The Book of Mormon.15
Rev. R. McKee, who had bearded with the Spaldings in Amity (see Chapter 4, pages 75-85) adds to our testimony, although his statement seems to reflect that he was not very knowledgeable about this specific event, even though he was well-versed on other areas of Spalding's life, as shown in his other testimony. He declared:
Mr. Spaulding told me that he had submitted the work to Mr. Patterson for publication, but for some reason it
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was not printed, and afterwards returned to him. I also understood he was then occasionally re-writing, correcting, and he thought improving some passages descriptive of his supposed battles. In this connection he spoke of the man Rigdon as an employee in the printing or book-binding establishment of Patterson and Lambdin, in Pittsburgh; but about him I made no special inquiries. 16
In an interview with A.B. Deming, in Washington, D.C., McKee reiterated his previous testimony, stating that
. . . he kept store in Amity, Pa., for a Pittsburgh firm, and that he bearded with Solomon Spaulding and heard him tell about his "Manuscript Found," and that he did not read a copy that was in the house because there was a corrected copy at Patterson's Printing Office in Pittsburgh, Pa., and he intended to purchase a copy when published. (Deming continues) . . . Rigdon obtained possession, I know not how, of the corrected copy Patterson had. It is not improbable that Spaulding rewrote the "Manuscript Found" several times; it was such an original and strange work. 17
Rigdon's acquaintances also testified about the Spalding/Rigdon episode. Consider the statement of Dr. J. C. Bennett, who was intimately acquainted with both Smith and Rigdon during the Mormon tenure in Nauvoo, Illinois. In 1842 he quarreled with Smith and quickly issued the following testimony:
I will remark here... that the Book of Mormon was originally written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, A.M., as a romance, and entitled the "Manuscript Found," and placed by him in the printing-office of Patterson and Lambdin, in the city of Pittsburgh, from whence it was taken by a conspicuous Mormon divine, and re-modeled, by adding the religious portion, placed by him in Smith's possession, and then published to the world as the testimony exemplifies. This I
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 103
have from the Confederation,b and of its perfect correctness there is not a shadow of a doubt. There never were any plates of the Book of Mormon, excepting what were seen by the spiritual, and not the natural, eyes of the witnesses. The story of the plates is all chimerical. 18Mormons have often attacked the testimony of John C. Bennett, since he left the Mormons after disagreeing with Joseph Smith. However, Parry Pratt, the wife of an early Mormon leader, testified to the veracity of Bennett's statements:
Salt Lake City
b The inner circle of Smith's friends.
104 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?As we previously stated, Rigdon left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1844. At that time he spoke to James Jeffries while both he and Jeffries were in St. Louis. Jeffries relates the incident:
Forty years ago I was in business in St. Louis. The Mormons then had their temple in Nauvoo. I had business transactions with them. I knew Sidney Rigdon. He told me several times that there was in the printing office with which he was connected, in Ohio, a manuscript of the Rev. Spaulding, tracing the origin of the Indians from the lost tribes of Israel. This M.S. was in the office several years. He was familiar with it. Spaulding wanted it published, but had not the means to pay for the printing. He (Rigdon) and Joe Smith used to look over the M.S. and read it on Sundays. Rigdon said Smith took the MS. and said, "I'll print it," and went off to Palmyra, New York. 19
Although Jeffries mislocated the printshop in Ohio (since both Rigdon and Spalding had each previously lived in Ohio), his testimony agrees in substance with the previous statements. At the time of this statement (1884) Jeffries was living in Maryland and dictated his words to Rev. Calvin D. Wilson in the presence of his wife and Dr. J.M. Finney.
A brief statement has come down through the years to us from Judge W. Lang, who was Oliver Cowdery's law partner in Tiffin, Ohio (Cowdery was one of the witnesses to The Book of Mormon and its chief scribe). Lang related that "Rigdon got the original (Ms. Found") at the job printing office in Pittsburg..."
Finally, another founding Mormon, Martin Harris, revealed the true source of The Book of Mormon to R. W. Alderman in 1852 (Harris was one of the three witnesses to The Book of Mormon but had by this time left the church). Harris and Alderman were snowbound in a hotel in Mentor, Ohio, and shared some conversation
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 105while waiting for the weather to clear. Alderman remembered, "Rigdon had stolen a manuscript from a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pa., which Spalding, who had written it in the early part of the century, had left to be printed, but the printer refused to print it, but Jo (Smith) and Rigdon did, as the Book of Mormon." 20
Rigdon was a Baptist minister for just over three years, until he was excommunicated in October, 1823. During the time he was a Baptist minister, there was some talk by him of Spalding's manuscript being in his possession. Our only witness of this time who has left us a record of Rigdon's assertions is Dr. J. Winter, who was an acquaintance of Rigdon's. History has left us one of Dr. Winter's own statements and two supporting statements concerning him, one by his stepson and one by his daughter. Dr. Winter declared:
A Presbyterian minister, Spalding, whose health had failed, brought this to the printers to see if it would pay to publish it. It is a romance of the Bible.
Rigdon reportedly said the above words to Winter while both men were looking at the manuscript in Rigdon's church office in Pittsburgh. Rev. A. G. Kirk stated that in 1870-71 Dr. Winter repeated the same statement to him in New Brighten, Pennsylvania. 19-b
Dr. Winter's stepson, Rev. Bonsall, remembered his father's comments about Rigdon and Mormonism, and that his father had seen the manuscript. He said, "Rigdon had shown him (Winter) the Spalding manuscript romance, purporting to be the history of the American Indians, which manuscript he (Rigdon) had received from the
Mrs. Mary W. Irvine, Winter's daughter, remembered just what her stepbrother had remembered
106 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?concerning the affair. She was adamant in her remembrance that her father had frequently repeated his sentiments.
I have frequently heard my father (Dr. Winter) speak of Rigdon having Spaulding's manuscript, and that he had gotten it from the printers to read it as a curiosity; as such he showed it to my father; and that at that time Rigdon had no intention of making the use of it that he afterwards did; for father always said Rigdon helped Smith in his scheme by revising and making the Mormon Bible out of Rev. Spaulding's manuscript. 22
A.B. Deming solicited her testimony for his book, Naked Truths about Mormonism, and Mrs. Irvine replied with the following letter:
Mr. A. B. Deming -- Sir: Your letter of November 1 received two days since. My father left no papers on the subject, but I distinctly recollect his saying that Sidney Rigdon showed him the Spaulding Manuscript as a literary curiosity left in the office to be published if it was thought it would pay. When father saw the "Book of Mormon" he said it was Rigdon's work, or he had a hand in it; I do not remember his words entirely, so many years have elapsed, but that was the import.Respectfully,
Planning a New Religion
From the specific testimony concerning Spalding's manuscript and Rigdon's possession of it, we move now to the activities of Sidney Rigdon during the time when we believe he became acquainted with Joseph Smith and the two formulated their new religion.
The testimony of his contemporaries leads us to believe that Rigdon not only desired a new religion that was more in line with his visionary ideas, but that the
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 107religion he was looking for was what came to be known as Mormonism. Contemporaries testify that he hinted at many of the Mormon doctrines as much as two years before he was "converted" to Mormonism; that he was frequently engrossed in a manuscript that had great future religious implications; and that Mormonism itself was well-known to him long before he officially joined the Mormon Church and before he was ever supposed to have heard of it.
In 1826-27 Rigdon was living in Bainbridge, Ohio. During this time he was seen reading a manuscript and engaged in writing and studying. We think he was preparing Spalding's novel for its debut as the Mormon Bible.
Mrs. Amos Dunlap was the niece of Rigdon's wife. She remembered the manuscript which her uncle possessed from when she was a small child:
When I was quite a child I visited Mr. Rigdon's family (1826-1827). He married my aunt. They at the time lived in Bainbridge, Ohio. During my visit Mr. Rigdon went to his bedroom and took from a trunk which he kept locked a certain manuscript. He came out into the other room and seated himself by the fireplace and commenced reading it. His wife at that moment came into the room and exclaimed, "What! you're studying that thing again?" Or something to that effect. She then added, "I mean to burn that paper." He said, "No, indeed, you will not. This will be a great thing some day." Whenever he was reading this he was so completely occupied that he seemed entirely unconscious of anything passing around him. 24
Rigdon had by this time left the Baptist Church and had become a preacher for the Disciples of Christ (Campbellites). He was always known to be a flowery speaker, and his sermons were often punctuated with emotional utterances concerning the coming great religious
108 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?truths. He did not confine himself to preaching in Disciple churches, but would espouse his views in almost any church or congregation that would have him. In the period of 1826-27, Rigdon was living in Bainbridge, Ohio, and in addition to the above testimony of his niece, there were other testimonies from that period from his acquaintances -- contemporaries that together build a framework around the picture of Rigdon as a manuscript purloiner. Harvey Baldwin, of Aurora (Portage County), Ohio, was the son of one of the members of a Baptist church in which Rigdon preached at that time. Baldwin declared that his father heard Rigdon preach in the church in Bainbridge and visited Rigdon's home several times. When he would arrive at the Rigdon home, he would often find Rigdon in a room by himself, and each time Rigdon would hurriedly put away books and papers he was examining, as if he did not wish them to be seen.
Deacon Clapp, of the same Baptist church in Bainbridge, said that he was eighteen when Rigdon came to Mentor, and that he often saw Rigdon's large chair where he spent much of his time writing. The chair had a leaf on one arm on which to write and a lockable drawer underneath. The chair was covered with ink spots, and Rigdon told Clapp that "he had much use for it." 25
The Book of Mormon has several striking teachings, among which is its clear teaching about holding possessions in common, a situation frequent among the characters of Spalding's epic. Stephen H. Hart stated:
I came to Mentor, O., in 1826 and have since resided here. I was well acquainted with Sydney Rigdon and other Mormon leaders.... I attended Rigdon's preaching
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 109
and heard him urge the church to put their property in the common fund and have all things common. I have heard Mrs. Mann and other members of Rigdon's church say that weeks before he joined the Mormons, he took the Bible and slapped it down on the desk and said that in a short time it would be of no more account than an old almanac; that there was to be a new Bible, a new Revelation, which would entirely do away with this. It caused the church to distrust him and but few followed him into Mormonism. 26
Rev. S.F. Whitney not only corroborated the testimony of Hart, but also expanded on it. He declared:
I was born in Fairfield, Herkimer County, N.Y., March 17, 1804. I saw the Battle of Platsburgh on Lake Champlain; it lasted two hours and forty minutes. I followed boating as hand and captain on the lakes and ocean. I was soundly converted at eighteen on Grand Island, and united with the Methodists. I came to Kirtland, O., in 1826, where my brother, N. K. Whitney kept store. I heard Sydney Rigdon preach in Squire Sawyers' orchard in 1827 or '28. He said how desirable it would be to know who built the forts and mounds about the country. Soon it would all be revealed. He undoubtedly referred to the "Book of Mormon" which was published in 1830. Revival meetings were held in Kirtland in 1827 or'28, by Rigdon, in which he preached orthodox Baptist doctrine on the work of the Holy Spirit. In Mentor he preached against it. 27
Rev. Darwin Atwater was a zealot for the gospel in his youth and was not afraid to take anyone, preacher or layman, to task if he thought someone was neglecting the fundamentals of the Bible. R. Patterson interviewed Atwater and declared him to be "... noted for his strict regard for truth and justice . . . "
Atwater declared that Rigdon hinted about a book to
110 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?be published that would answer all of the questions concerning the history of the inhabitants of the Americas -- precisely what The Book of Mormon "revealed" just months later. Atwater's statement gives us a great deal of information concerning this period.
As a Campbellite preacher, Rigdon associated with other such preachers during the period under consideration. One preacher he spoke with concerning the "plates" and their story was Rev. Adamson Bentley. One conversation between the two men took place in the presence of Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Churches of Christ (Campbellites). History has preserved for us, fortunately, both Rev. Bentley and Rev. Campbell's statements. Bentley said:
You request that I should give you all the information I am in possession of respecting Mormonism. I know that Sidney Rigdon told me there was a book coming out (the manuscript of which had been found
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 111
engraved on gold plates) as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance in this country or had been heard of by me. The same I communicated to brother A. Campbell. The Mormon book has nothing of baptism for the remission of sins in it; and of course at the time Rigdon got Solomon Spaulding's manuscript he did not understand the scriptures on that subject. I cannot say he learnt it from me, as he had been about a week with you in Nelson and Windham, before he came to my house. I, however, returned with him to Mentor. He stated to me that he did not feel himself capable of introducing the subject in Mentor, and would not return without me if he had to stay two weeks with us to induce me to go. This is about all I can say. I have no doubt but the account in Mormonism Unmasked (Unveiled) is about the truth. It was got up to deceive the people and obtain their property, and was a wicked contrivance with Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jr. May God have mercy on the wicked men, and may they repent of this their wickedness!
Campbell's statement agrees with Bentley's in every particular except that Campbell placed the conversation one year earlier than did Bentley (but still at least three or four years before Rigdon is supposed to have first heard about Mormonism). Here is Campbell's statement:
The conversation alluded to in Brother Bentley's letter of 1841, was in my presence as well as his, and my recollection of it led me, some two or three years ago, to interrogate Brother Bentley touching his recollection of it, which accorded with mine in every particular, except the year in which it occurred, he placing it in the summer of 1827, I in the summer of 1826,
112 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
Rigdon at the same time observing that in the plates dug up in New York, there was an account, not only of the aborigines of this country, but also it was stated that the Christian religion had been preached in this country during the first century, just as we were preaching it in the Western Reserve. 30
John Rudolph, along with his brother, heard Rigdon's sermons consistently for two years before Rigdon joined the Mormon Church. Rudolph remembered well Rigdon's allusions during that time to the coming great religion:
For two years before the Book of Mormon appeared Rigdon's sermons were full of declarations and prophecies that the age of miracles would be restored and more complete revelations, than those in the Bible would be given. When the Book of Mormon appeared all who heard him were satisfied that he referred to it. 31
In line with Hart's testimony (previously presented) concerning some of Rigdon's 'pre-Mormonism" teachings (which were remarkably consistent with the later teachings of The Book of Mormon) are the following three statements. It is quite evident from the mass of this testimony that Rigdon was, in a sense, preparing his listeners for the religion to come -- Mormonism. First, Dr. S. Rosa, a prominent physician in the state of Ohio, comments on Rigdon's repeated references to the coming new religion:
In the early part of the year 1830, when the Book of Mormon appeared, either in May or June, I was in company with Sidney Rigdon, and rode with him on horseback a few miles. Our conversation was principally upon the subject of religion, as he was at that time a very popular preacher of the denomination calling themselves "Disciples," or Campbellites. He remarked to me that it was time for a new religion to
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 113
spring up; that mankind were all rife and ready for it. I thought he alluded to the Campbellite doctrine. He said it would not be long before something would make its appearance; he also said that he thought of leaving Pennsylvania, and should be absent for some months. I asked him how long. He said it would depend upon circumstances. I began to think a little strange of his remarks, as he was a minister of the gospel. I left Ohio that fall and went to the state of New York to visit my friends who lived in Waterloo, not far from the mine of golden Bibles. In November I was informed that my old neighbor, E. Partridge, and the Rev. Sidney Rigdon were in Waterloo, and that they both had become the dupes of Joe Smith's necromancies. It then occurred to me that Rigdon's new religion had made its appearance, and when I became informed of the Spaulding manuscript, I was confirmed in the opinion that Rigdon was at least accessory, if not the principal, in getting up this farce. 32
Mrs. Eri M. Dille's memories of her father's description of Rigdon were committed to paper, and they present us with a picture of Rigdon, just before he joined Mormonism, as a person having visions and experiences almost of the caliber of those Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed to have.
In the autumn of 1830 Sidney Rigdon held a meeting in the Baptist meeting-house on Euclid Creek. I was sick and did not attend the meeting, but my father repeatedly remarked while it was in progress that he was afraid that Rigdon was about to leave the Disciples for he was continually telling of what marvelous things he had seen in the heavens and of wonderful things about to happen and his talks indicated that he would leave the Disciples. 33
Almon B. Green gave a more extensive testimony regarding Rigdon's activities and convictions immediately preceding his alliance with Smith. Mormonism's
114 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?most basic doctrine, that of the apostasy of the church and the need of restoration, was clearly preached by Rigdon the summer before he was supposed to have first encountered the "restored gospel." His sermon, recalled by Green, has marked similarities to Smith's first vision:
In the annual meeting of the Mahoning Association held in Austintown in August, 1830, about two months before Sidney Rigdon's professed conversion to Mormonism, Rigdon preached Saturday afternoon. He had much to say about a full and complete restoration of the ancient gospel. He spoke in his flowing style of what the Disciples had accomplished, but contended that we had not accomplished a complete restoration of the Apostolic Christianity. He contended such restoration must include community of goods -- holding all in common stock, and a restoration of the spiritual gifts of the apostolic age. He promised that although we had not come up to the apostolic plan in full yet as we were improving God would soon give us a new and fuller revelation of his will. After the Book of Mormon had been read by many who heard Rigdon on that occasion, they were perfectly satisfied that Rigdon knew all about that book when he preached that discourse. Rigdon's sermon was most thoroughly refuted by Bro. Cambell, which very much offended Rigdon. 34
Clearly, Rigdon knew more than he was telling, although his sermons and private conversations were telling enough! He knew more than a Campbellite unfamiliar with the Golden Bible should know, who claimed never to have heard of it until the end of 1830. Affidavits show Rigdon already teaching that a new religion was coming, including 1) a history of the people of America, 2) communal living, 3) apostasy and restoration of the gospel, and 4) more and complete revelations, including the return of miracles. This is precisely what The Book of
Spalding to Rigdon: The Manuscript Journey / 115Mormon contained, and precisely what was supposed to have been preached to him for the first time in October of 1830.
Even this moderate amount of information should be more than enough to clearly show Rigdon's connection in The Book of Mormon/Spalding saga before his official alliance with the Mormon Church in 1830. However, there is much more information, even more conclusive than that which we have already presented. In the next chapter we will examine the gaps in Rigdon's official itinerary, and we will see how those gaps correspond perfectly with Rigdon's visits to Smith, seen and sworn to by Smith's neighbors and acquaintances.
1. Howe, pp. 278-80.
2. Patterson, p. 436.
3. Smith's mother said that at about this time a man attempted a union of the different churches in the area. This could possibly have been Rigdon. See Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 90, and McFarland, Twentieth Century History of the City of Washington and Washington County (Book of Mormon), pp. 187-88.
4. Spalding, The Spalding Memorial, p. 238.
5. Shook, p. 81.
6. Dickinson, p. 23.
7. Ibid., pp. 241-42. She was mistaken in thinking Rigdon copied it -- he took the printer's copy. See Patterson, p. 433.
8. The Pittsburgh Mercury, May 20, 1813, states: "Wanted immediately -- A tanner and currier -- apply at the office of the Mercury." Rigdon may have answered this or a similar ad.
9. Ibid., p. 433.
10. Pittsburgh Telegraph, February 6, 1879, p. 1, "The Book of Mormon."
11. Patterson, p. 432.
12. Dickinson, pp. 240-41.
13 Shook, p. 120.
14. Patterson, pp. 432-33.
116 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?15. Ibid.
16. Ibid., p. 432.
17. Deming, p. 6.
18. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, p. 241.
20. Deming, p. 12.
21. Patterson, p. 434.
23. Deming, p. 29.
24. Patterson, p. 434.
25. Deming, p. 8.
26. Ibid., p. 50.
27. Ibid., p. 16.
28. Patterson, p. 435.
29. Shook, p. 121-22. Mr. Thomas Clapp, who was a deacon in the Baptist church in which Rigdon often preached, supports Bentley's statement with his own recollections:
Elder Adamson Bentley told me that as he was one day riding with Sidney Rigdon and conversing upon the Bible, Mr. Rigdon told him that another book of equal authority with the bible, as well authenticated and as ancient, which would give an account of the history of the Indian tribes on this continent, with many other things of great importance to the world, would soon be published. This was before Mormonism was ever heard of in Ohio, and when it appeared, the avidity with which Rigdon received it convinced him that if Rigdon was not the author of it he was at least acquainted with the whole matter some time before it was published to the world.
30. Ibid., p. 122.
31. Braden-Kelly debate, p. 45.
32. Ibid., pp. 123-24.
33. Ibid., p. 46.
34. Ibid., p. 46.
[ 117 ]
Our scenario has unfolded in the preceding pages to show us a picture of Spalding as a struggling, ill novelist who died with his dream of a published novel inscribing his name in history remaining as nothing more than that -- a dream. Rigdon has shown himself to be a young visionary -- perhaps so dedicated to his own dreams that he thought nothing of appropriating for himself Spalding's dream and modifying it from a novel to a new religion. Both Spalding and Rigdon have had their names inscribed in history. But we believe the evidence shows that while Spalding's name remains that of a would-be novelist, Rigdon's name may well go down as that of a book thief whose misguided actions built an empire on a cracked foundation.
Rigdon's act, supported as we believe by the facts,
118 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?was much more important than that of improperly obtaining another man's literary work. Rigdon took Spalding's novel and, history shows, transformed it and claimed more for it than any novel could hope to claim -- complete inspiration from God. Perhaps we may never know how much of the picture was planned and executed by Rigdon and how much by Smith or Cowdery or others. The evidence points, however, to Rigdon as the instigator and original "discoverer" of the Mormon Bible, Spalding's Manuscript Found.
In this chapter we will examine Rigdon's association with Joseph Smith. Did the two meet, as Mormon sources say, after Rigdon's "conversion" in 1830? Or were they intimate acquaintances long before that time? What evidence do we have for declaring that Rigdon took Spalding's manuscript to Smith and that their collaboration (with others) produced in 1830 The Book of Mormon as it was first published? The following chart outlines the events detailed in this chapter which link Sidney Rigdon with Joseph Smith.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 119
The Rigdon/Smith Connection
As is clear from the above chronology, Rigdon was away from his ministerial duties without explanation many times between the years of 1827 and 1830. As a matter of fact, his official itinerary (compiled mostly from Mormon sources), lists no fewer than fifteen gaps from 1827 until his conversion to Mormonism in October of 1830.
120 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?These absences were noticed by those he associated with as well as by us. Our research intensified when we discovered that these gaps sometimes paralleled events described in Doctrine and Covenants to which a confidant would probably be invited. Since his absences were noticed by us and by his contemporaries, why weren't they noticed and investigated by Rigdon's Mormon biographers? Or, if they were noticed and investigated, why weren't the results made public?
Z. Rudolph (whose brother's testimony is presented on page 112 of Chapter 5) had this to say about Rigdon's frequent absences during this period:
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 talks, 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. 1
Mrs. Sophia Munson also noticed Rigdon's absences. She was living directly across from the Rigdon family at the time in question and, although a young girl, knew Rigdon and his wife well and observed Rigdon's more eccentric practices. She was already living on Mentor Road before Rigdon moved there in 1827, when she was seventeen years old. Her statement concerning the years 1827-30, and in particular Rigdon's conversion to Mormonism, is enlightening:
My parents settled on Mentor Road, four miles west of Painesville, Ohio, in 1810, when I was six weeks old. I well remember when Elder Rigdon came and lived opposite
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 121
our house in 1827. He was very poor, and when he had much company would send his children to the neighbors to borrow knives, forks, dishes and also for provisions. Father kept his horse and cow gratis.
The true significance of the gaps in Rigdon's itinerary becomes evident only as we examine 1) their number, 2) their timing (in relation to Smith's activities especially), and 3) the testimonies establishing his early relationship with Smith.
Even to the casual observer, the number of Rigdon's absences from his pastorate is unusual. Added to this is the testimony of his acquaintances that these absences consistently were unexplained -- and, as our testimony will show, sometimes the brief explanations were contradictory.
Often an absence in Rigdon's schedule corresponds exactly to a particular event recorded by Smith concerning Mormonism or The Book of Mormon. For example, a
122 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?gap in June of 1828 corresponds exactly to Smith's recording that 116 pages of The Book of Mormon were lost at this time by Martin Harris. If Rigdon were in possession of Spalding's manuscript, wouldn't it be logical for him to travel quickly to Smith's residence in New York to either replace the missing pages or authorize some substitution?
Finally, we are faced with consistent testimony from Smith's neighbors and others placing Rigdon and Smith together frequently during the three years before the publication of The Book of Mormon. Each testimony corresponds to one of the gaps in Rigdon's itinerary.
ELDER RIGDON'S SCHEDULE
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 123
124 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?An examination of the preceding chart shows in detail the activities of Rigdon during this time. Remember, too, that where the record shows "Above marriage recorded," it is not implying that Rigdon was present at the recording. At that time, records were commonly kept by the church secretary, a deacon, or the preacher's wife. Any one of them could and did record the marriages the preacher performed.
The distance between Rigdon's home in Ohio and Joseph's in New York was about 250 miles and could be traveled by horseback in five or six days. A gap in Rigdon's itinerary of even one month would allow ample opportunity for him to have conferred with Smith.
An interesting conjecture concerning the coincidence of Rigdon's activities and Smith's "revelations" concerns the actual production of the manuscript. If Rigdon had actually taken Spalding's manuscript from Patterson's Print Shop in Pittsburgh, surely Silas Engles, foreman of the shop, would have known of Spalding's suspicions concerning Rigdon. Perhaps Engles even knew that Rigdon possessed the story. If Rigdon desired to publish Spalding's Manuscript Found as his own work (either as a romance or a revelation), he would certainly do all within his power to see that no one discovered the fraud. For example, he would be much more likely to publish the manuscript after Engles had died.
Is it mere coincidence that Engles died in July of 1827 and that Smith recorded a "revelation" in September of that year, declaring that it was now permissible to uncover, translate, and publish the golden plates? This possibility is also supported by the fact that Mrs. Munson remembered that Rigdon had traveled to Pittsburgh at different times -- perhaps during the gap in his itinerary the month after Engles' death. This possibility is also supported by the fact that Engles was
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 125the last person to link Rigdon conclusively with his close friend, Lambdin, who had died on August 1, 1825.
In 1825 Smith moved to Bainbridge, New York, and was convicted there for "glass-looking," or seeking buried treasure for a fee by means of mystical stones placed in his hat. 3 As previously noted, Bainbridge was only thirty miles from Hartwick, where at the time Spalding's own copy of the manuscript lay at the bottom of his trunk, last seen before Spalding's daughter's marriage in 1828.
All of these conjectures mean nothing, however, if there is no evidence to back them up. We need solid facts to show that Rigdon and Smith were acquainted long before either of them admitted this fact to the public. If Rigdon did make several trips to New York to visit Smith, to prepare him for the office of "prophet" and to give him the Spalding manuscript (including altered portions of it), then one would expect to find that Smith's neighbors knew of Rigdon's visits. We do have that evidence: there are testimonies of eyewitnesses who saw Rigdon and Smith together between 1827 and 1830, before The Book of Mormon was published.
The Testimony of Chase
Able D. Chase was a teenager at the time he first saw Rigdon and Smith together, in 1827. He testified:
126 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
been born Jan. 19, 1814, at Palmyra, N.Y. During some of my visits at the Smiths, I saw a stranger there who they said was Mr. Rigdon. He was at Smith's several times, and it was in the year of 1827 when I first saw him there, as near as I can recollect. Some time after that tales were circulated that young Joe had found or dug from the earth a BOOK OF PLATES which the Smiths called the GOLDEN BIBLE. I don't think Smith had any such plates. He was mysterious in his actions. The PEEPSTONE, in which he was accustomed to look, he got off my elder brother Willard while at work for us digging a well. It was a singular looking stone and young Joe pretended he could discover hidden things in it.
In corroboration of our thesis, previously expressed, Chase confirms that Rigdon not only met Smith before The Book of Mormon was published, but that he was at
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 127the Smith's "several times." Sexton, one of the witnesses to Chase's statement, was president of the city bank in Palmyra, and his own word was as trustworthy as that of Chase.
The Testimony of Gilbert and Saunders
Ironically, the second witness, Gilbert, was the proofreader of The Book of Mormon at the time of its first printing! However, Gilbert's interest in the Rigdon/Smith relationship was not confined to proofreading. We also have his statement about a conversation he had with Lorenzo Saunders, a resident of Palmyra, who in two separate statements gave us the most complete information on the matter. Gilbert's statement can act as a preface to Saunders' first statement.
Last evening I had about 15 minutes conversation with Mr. Lorenzo Saunders of Reading, Hillsdale Co., Mich. He had been gone about thirty years (from this area). He was born south of our village in 1811, and was a near neighbor of the Smith family -- knew them all well; was in the habit of visiting the Smith boys; says he knows that Rigdon was hanging around Smith's for eighteen months prior to the publishing of the Mormon Bible. 5
128 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
Smiths lived and the next summer he was missing and I didn't see him until fall and he came back and took our school in the district where we lived and taught about a week and went to the schoolboard and wanted the board to let him off and they did and he went to Smith and went to writing the Book of Mormon and wrote all winter. The Mormons say it wasn't wrote there but I say it was because I was there. I saw Sidney Rigdon in the Spring of 1827, about the middle of March. I went to Smiths to eat maple sugar, and I saw five or six men standing in a group and there was one among them better dressed than the rest and I asked Harrison Smith who he was and he said his name was Sidney Rigdon, a friend of Joseph's from Pennsylvania. I saw him in the Fall of 1827 on the road between where I lived and Palmyra, with Joseph. I was with a man by the name of Jugegsah, (sp. ?). They talked together and when he went on I asked Jugegsah (sp. ?) who he was and he said it was Rigdon. Then in the summer of 1828 I saw him at Samuel Lawrence's just before harvest. I was cutting corn for Lawrence and went to dinner and he took dinner with us and when dinner was over they went into another room and I didn't see him again till he came to Palmyra to preach. You want to know how Smith acted about it. The next morning after he claimed to have got plates he came to our house and said he had got the plates and what a struggle he had in getting home with them. Two men tackled him and he fought and knocked them both down and made his escape and secured the plates and had them safe and secure. He showed his thumb where he bruised it in fighting those men. After went from the house, my mother says "What a liar Joseph Smith is; he lies every word he says; I know he lies because he looks so guilty; he can't see out of his eyes; how dare tell such a lie as that." The time he claimed to have taken the plates from the hill was on the 22 day of September, in 1827, and I went on the next Sunday following with five or six other ones and we hunted the side hill by course and could not find no place where the ground had
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 129
been broke. There was a large hole where the money diggers had dug a year or two before, but no fresh dirt. There never was such a hole; there never was any plates taken out of that hill nor any other hill in that " country, was in Wayne county. It is all a lie. No, sir, I never saw the plates nor no one else. He had an old glass box with a tile in it, about 7x8 inches, and that ! was the gold plates and Martin Harris didn't know a gold plate from a brick at this time. Smith and Rigdon had an intimacy but it was very secret and still and there was a mediator between them and that was Cowdery. The Manuscript was stolen by Rigdon and modelled over by him and then handed over to Cowdery and he copied them and Smith sat behind the curtain and handed them out to Cowdery and as fast as Cowdery copied them, they was handed over to Martin Harris and he took them to Egbert Granden, the one who printed them, and Gilbert set the type. I never knew any of the twelve that claimed to have seen the plates except Martin Harris and the Smiths. I knew all the Smiths, they had not much learning, they was poor scholars. The older ones did adhere to Joseph Smith. He had a peep stone he pretended to see in. He could see all the hidden treasures in the ground and all the stolen property. But that was all a lie, he couldn't see nothing. He was an impostor. I now will close. I don't know as you can read this. If you can, please excuse my bad spelling and mistakes.Yours With Respect,
Saunders' first statement confirms several possibilities we raised earlier. First, he unequivocally places Rigdon with Smith as early as the spring of 1827. Second, his testimony has clarified Smith's neighbors' opinions of Joseph Smith's character. These opinions fall short of the opinions presented in most Mormon sources, which portray Smith as a veritable saint throughout all his life. Third, Saunders gave us some
130 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?tangible information concerning the finding of the "plates." He declared that, in the company of others, he tried to find the hole from which Smith supposedly removed the plates on the hill "Cumorah," but, as much as he searched, there was no hole, no stone, and no lever as Smith had described lust the week before.
Saunders' second testimony was given two years after the first and, although shorter, was concise and confirmed his previous testimony in all essentials.
Statement of Lorenzo Saunders.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 131
I afterwards became acquainted with and found to be Sidney Rigdon. This was in March, A.D. 1827, the second spring after the death of my father. I was frequently at the house of Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830. That I saw Oliver Cowdery writing, I suppose the "Book of Mormon" with books and manuscript laying on the table before him; that I went to school to said Oliver Cowdery and knew him well. That in the summer of 1830, I heard Sydney Rigdon preach a sermon on Mormonism. This was after the "Book of Mormon" had been published, which took about three years from the time that Joseph Smith claimed to have had his revelation.(Signed)Sworn and subscribed to before me this 21st day of July, A.D. 1887.
The most significant statements contained in the above affidavit are: l)that Lorenzo Saunders could find no evidence of the site where Smith claimed he had dug up the golden plates, even though Saunders searched the hill just the Sunday after Smith claimed his discovery; 2) that the first time Saunders saw Rigdon and Smith together was in March of 1827, almost
132 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?Of the "restored gospel;" and 6) that Saunders was qualified to make the above observations, because during the period of time from 1827 to 1830 he was "frequently at the house of Joseph Smith."
The Testimony of Anderick
Another neighbor of the Smiths was Mrs. S. F. Anderick. She was born in 1809, and was two years older than Lorenzo Saunders. She too observed some of the same things as did Saunders. Let her tell her own story.
I was born in New York State near the Massachusetts line, May 7, 1809. In 1812 my parents moved to a farm two miles from the village, and in the township of Palmyra, New York. In 1823 mother died, and I went to her sister's, Mrs. Earl Wilcox, where I lived much of the time until December, 1828, when I went to live with father who had again married and settled on a farm on the Holland Patent, twenty miles west of Rochester, New York. Uncle Earl's farm was four miles south of Palmyra village, and his house was nearly opposite old Jo Smith's, father of the Mormon prophet. Old Jo was dissipated. He and his son Hyrum worked some at coopering. Hyrum was the only son sufficiently educated to teach school. I attended when he taught in the log school house east of uncle's. He also taught in the Stafford District. He and Sophronia were the most respected of the family, who were not much thought of in the community. They cleared the timber from only a small part of their farm, and never paid for the land. They tried to live without work . . . I have often heard the neighbors say they did not know how the Smiths lived, they earned so little money. The farmers who lived near the Smiths had many sheep and much poultry stolen. They often sent officers to search the premises of the Smiths for stolen property, who usually found the house locked. It was said the creek near the house of the Smiths was lined with the
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 133feet and heads of sheep. Uncle's children were all sons, and they played with Smith's younger children, I associated much with Sophronia Smith, the oldest daughter, as she was the only girl near my age who lived in our vicinity. I often accompanied her, Hyrum, and young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, to apple parings and parties. Jo was pompous, pretentious, and active at parties. He claimed, when a young man, he could tell where lost or hidden things and treasures were buried or located with a forked witch hazel. He deceived many farmers, and induced them to dig nights for chests of gold, when the pick struck the chest, someone usually spoke, and Jo would say the enchantment was broken, and the chest would leave.
Willard Chase, a Methodist who lived about two miles from uncle's, while digging a well, found a gray smooth stone about the size and shape of an egg. Sallie, Willard's sister, also a Methodist, told me several times that young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, often came to inquire of her where to dig for treasures. She told me she would place the stone in a hat and hold it to her face, and claimed things would be brought to her view. Sallie let me have it several times. but I never could see anything in or through it. I heard that Jo obtained it and called it a peep-stone, which he used in the place of the witch hazel. Uncle refused to let Jo dig on his farm. I have seen many holes where he dug on other farms.
When Jo joined the Presbyterian Church, in Palmyra village, it caused much talk and surprise, as he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord. He also claimed he found some gold plates with characters on them, in a hill between uncle s and father's, which I often crossed. Several times I saw what he claimed were the plates, which were covered with a cloth. They appeared to be six or eight inches square. He frequently carried them with him. I heard they kept them under the brick hearth.
He was from home much summers. Sometimes he said he had been to Broome County, New York, and
134 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
Pennsylvania. Several times while I was visiting Sophronia Smith at old Jo's house, she told me that a stranger who I saw there several times in warm weather and several months apart, was Mr. Rigdon. At other times the Smith children told me that Mr. Rigdon was at their house when I did not see him. I did not read much in the "Book of Mormon" because I had no confidence in 10. Palmyra people claimed that Jo did not know enough to be the author of the "Book of Mormon", and believed that Rigdon was its author. I was acquainted with most of the people about us, and with Martin Harris.
With the introduction of Mrs. Anderick's testimony, more pieces are fitted into the puzzle of Rigdon's early involvement with Smith. Her testimony confirms our thesis that Joseph was a sort of fortune-teller (see Appendix 2), using first witch hazel (probably like a divining rod), and then a stone, which led to his appellation of "peep-stone gazer." Mrs. Anderick also saw what Smith said were the "golden plates" several times. However, as is true with all of the people who "witnessed" the plates, she never actually saw them, but only saw something covered with a cloth that Smith claimed were the plates!
Mrs. Anderick supplies one piece to our puzzle that none of the previous testimony contained. She declared
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 135that Smith was gone often in the summer and had even gone to Pennsylvania. Since Rigdon's travels often took him to Pennsylvania during this time, it is quite conceivable that the two men met several times in Pennsylvania (perhaps in Pittsburgh). Could they have met during the month following the death of Engles, in the summer of 1827?
Mrs. Anderick's testimony provides additional confirmation that Rigdon knew Smith long before 1830, and in fact frequented Smith's house. Mrs. Anderick said that she saw Rigdon "several times in warm weather"; this could hardly refer to Rigdon's public visit in December/January of 1831, because this was certainly not the season of warm weather, and this visit occurred two years after Mrs. Anderick moved to her father's new farm !
The Testimony of Hendrix
A quite detailed statement concerning the origin of The Book of Mormon and the relationship between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith was provided by Daniel Hendrix, who as a young man lived in Palmyra and was very well acquainted with Smith and later Rigdon. He said:
I was a young man in a store in Palmyra, N.Y. from 1822 until 1830 ... and among the daily visitors at the establishment was Joseph Smith, Jr. Every one knew him as Joe Smith. He had lived in Palmyra a few years previous to my going there from Rochester.
136 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
sticking through the holes in his old battered hat. In winter I used to pity him, for his shoes were so old and worn out that he must have suffered in the snow and slush; yet Joe had a jovial, easy, don't care way about him that made him a lot of warm friends. He was a good talker, and would have made a fine stump speaker if he had had the training. He was known among the young men I associated with as a romancer of the first water. I never knew so ignorant a man as Joe was to have such a fertile imagination. He never could tell a common occurrence in his daily life without embellishing the story with his imagination; yet I remember that he was grieved one day when old Parson Reed told Joe that he was going to hell for his lying habits.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 137
feel at once that Joe was a remarkable man after all.
138 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
golden plates began to be spread abroad. It was given out that the plates were a new revelation and were part of the original Bible, while Joe Smith was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish among men.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 139
as soon as that was done the work would be prospered wonderfully.... The printing office was an upper floor, near the store where I worked, and I was one of the few persons who was allowed about the office while the publishing was going on.
140 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?Hendrix's testimony was obtained from the Chicago Historical Society and further supports the thesis that Smith and Rigdon were close associates long before Mormonism first reached Kirtland. Hendrix was evidently very well acquainted with both Rigdon and Smith before 1831, since Hendrix said he left Palmyra after 1830.
Mormonism Before Mormonism
With the basic fact established that Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith were well-acquainted long before Rigdon's official introduction to Mormonism in 1830, we now need to establish the fact that Rigdon was not only in New York, near Smith, during this period, but also that he was preaching Mormonism before his "conversion."
K. A. E. Bell lived in Painesville, Ohio, and bearded with a man who was often visited by Rigdon during this period. Bell's testimony lends a great deal of credence to our thesis:
I was born in Harpersfield, Delaware County, New York, December 3, 1803, our family lived several years in Broome County, N.Y., four miles from Badgers Settlement, where we did our trading. I came to Painesville, Ohio, in 1825, and bearded with Carlos Granger. Whenever Sydney Rigdon, a Baptist minister who lived in Mentor, came to Painesville, he usually stopped with Granger. I have often heard him say at his meals, "How nice it would be to have all Christians live in a community separate from the world's people." After he became a Disciple, he frequently spoke in his sermons of a wondrous light which was soon to burst upon the world. I have heard others say Rigdon, after he became a Mormon, said that Mormonism was the marvelous light he had predicted. I attended the first Mormon meeting Pratt and Cowdery held in Painesville. My brother Milo,
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 141
from Broome County, N.Y., was present. They told about Prophet Jo Smith finding the gold plates, and said they saw them. My brother ridiculed them after the meeting. He told me he knew Jo Smith when he was digging near the Susquehanna River for Captain Kidd's money. To had a peep-stone through which he claimed to see hidden or buried treasures. Jo sold shares to all who would buy, and kept the money. He said they would make a circle, and Jo Smith claimed if they threw any dirt over the circle the money chest would leave. They never found any money. Jo Smith's brother Hyrum's wife was a cousin of Mrs. Bell. It was claimed she died during confinement because her husband refused her the services of a physician. Esek Rosa, an expert accountant and brother of Dr. Rosa, of Painesville, while in conversation with me about Rigdon and Mormonism, several times told me that Rigdon told the people in Mentor and Painesville that he was going to Pittsburgh, Pa., but he went to Rochester, N. Y., instead. Esek said he was visiting in Rochester, and while on the street he was invited to enter a building near by and hear a very smart man preach. Rosa replied, "I think I have heard that voice before." When he entered the room he found Elder Sydney Rigdon preaching Mormonism. This occurred several months before Mormonism was preached in Ohio.
There are four major points to Bell's testimony that have a direct bearing on our thesis. First, Bell confirmed that Rigdon, while he was a Campbellite preacher, taught of a coming "wondrous light" that would be the full restoration of the gospel. In addition, Bell mentioned secondhand information indicating that Rigdon himself
142 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?declared that Mormonism was the light he was foretelling. Second, the charge of "peep-stone gazer" is further supported by Bell's brother's testimony, reported here, that Smith engaged in that practice repeatedly (without positive results for the investors, but very profitable results for Smith) in Broome County, New York. The third item of interest in the above testimony is the statement, in agreement with our thesis, that Rigdon did not always go where he said he would, but, for example, after saying he was traveling to Pittsburgh he would instead go to Rochester -- only a relatively short ride from Palmyra. Finally, Bell's recitation of Rosa's testimony confirms Saunders' testimony that Rigdon was preaching on Mormonism before he claimed to have heard of it in Ohio in October/November 1830.
Isaac Butts had an interesting testimony to add to this. He was approximately the same age as Mrs. Anderick and Saunders and remembers the following:
I was born in Palmyra, N.Y., near where old Jo Smith settled, January 4, 1807. I attended school with Prophet Jo. His father taught me how to mow. I worked with old and young Jo at farming. I have frequently seen old Jo drunk. Young 10 had a forked witch hazel rod with which he claimed he could locate buried money or hidden things, Later he had a peep-stone which he put into his hat and looked into. I have seen both. Joshua Stafford, a good citizen, told me that young Jo Smith and himself dug for money in his orchard and elsewhere nights. All the money digging was done nights. I saw the holes in the orchard which were four or five feet square and three or four feet deep. Jo and others dug much about Palmyra and Manchester. I have seen many of the holes. The first thing he claimed to find was gold plates of the "Book of Mormon," which he kept in a pillowcase and would let people lift, but not see. I came to Ohio in 1818, and became acquainted with Sidney Rigdon in 1820. He
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 143
preached my brother's sermon in Auburn, O., in May 1822. I returned to Palmyra twice and resided there about two years each time. Many persons whom I knew in New York joined the Mormons and came to Kirtland. They told me they saw Sidney Rigdon much with Jo Smith before they became Mormons, but did not know who he was until they came to Kirtland.
Note especially that Butts not only says that Rigdon knew Smith before Mormonism arrived in Ohio, but Butts says that he received this information from people who had joined the Mormon Church, and therefore could hardly be called prejudiced against Joseph Smith. He also reiterates that no one was allowed to see the plates, but only to lift the package which Smith claimed was the plates.
The statements by W. A. Lillie and Pomeroy Tucker need net comment:
I was born in Trumbull Co., Ohio, in 1815. Our family moved to Chester, the town adjoining Kirtland on the south, in 1822. About 1834 Mr. Pearne, of Chester, told me he used to live in the neighborhood of the Mormon Smith family in Palmyra, N.Y., and was well acquainted with all of them. He said they were a low family and of no account in the community. He told me the summer before Jo Smith, the Mormon prophet, first came to Ohio, he often saw Jo Smith and Rigdon together. It was the first he knew of Rigdon, and it was before the "Book of Mormon" was published. He saw Smith and Rigdon start together in a buggy for Ohio. Mr. Pearne knew Rigdon well after coming to Ohio and said he believed he was at the bottom of Mormonism. My father borrowed the "Book of Mormon" and
144 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
when he had finished reading it laughed and remarked Rigdon had done pretty well.
Here is the statement by Pomeroy Tucker:
A mysterious stranger now appears at Smith's and holds intercourse with the famed money-digger. For a considerable time no intimation of the name or purpose of this stranger transpired to the public, not even to Smith's nearest neighbors. It was observed by some that his visits were frequently repeated. The sequel of the intimacies of this stranger and the money-digger will sufficiently appear hereafter. There was great consternation when the 118 pages of manuscript were stolen from Harris, for it seems to have been impossible, for some unaccountable reason, to retranslate the stolen portion. The reappearance of this mysterious stranger at Smith's at this juncture (1828) was again the subject of inquiry and conjecture by observers, from whom was withheld all explanations of his identity and purpose. When the Book of Mormon appeared, Rigdon was an early convert. Up to this time, he had played his part in the background and his occasional visits to Smith's had been observed by the inhabitants as those of the mysterious stranger. It had been his policy to remain in concealment until all things were in readiness for blowing the trumpet of the new gospel. He now came to the front as the first regular preacher in Palmyra. 12
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 145Mrs. Eaton, who had lived in Palmyra for 32 years and later interviewed Smith's neighbors concerning Rigdon's association with Smith before 1831, read her findings to the Union Home Missionary Meeting in Buffalo, New York, on May 27, 1881. In part, it said,
Early in the summer of 1827, a "mysterious stranger" seeks admittance to Joe Smith's cabin. The conferences of the two are most private. This person, whose coming immediately preceded a new departure in the faith, was Sidney Rigdon, a backsliding clergyman, at this time a Campbellite preacher in Mentor, Ohio. 13
Martin Harris, who financed the launching of the new religion of Mormonism, was not usually disposed to tell of the early beginnings of Mormonism. However, by 1852 he had left the Mormon Church and did discuss what he knew of the Rigdon/Smith affair with R. W. Alderman. Alderman reported the following:
In February, 1852, I was snowbound in a hotel in Mentor, Ohio, all day. Martin Harris was there, and in conversation told me he saw Jo Smith translate the "Book of Mormon," with his peep-stone in his hat. Oliver Cowdery, who had been a school-teacher, wrote it down. Sidney Rigdon, a renegade preacher, was let in during the translation Rigdon had stolen a manuscript from a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pa., which Spaulding, who had written it in the early part of the century, had left there to be printed, but the printers refused to publish it, but Jo and Rigdon did, as the "Book of Mormon." Martin said he furnished the means, and Jo promised him a place next to him in the church. When they had got all my property they set me out. He said Jo ought to have been killed before he was; that the Mormons committed all sorts of depredations in the towns about Kirtland. They called
146 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?
themselves Latter-Day Saints, but he called them Latter-Day Devils.
Since Harris (remembered by Alderman) witnessed Rigdon there before The Book of Mormon was printed, it must have been before 1830 -- before Rigdon welcomed the Mormon missionaries and became a Mormon in November of 1830!
Finally, the statement of Judge Lang, Oliver Cowdery's confidant and law partner, provides the final testimony to substantiate the scene we painted at the beginning of this chapter. Although he was loyal to his friend to the end, Lang did feel that he could say the following concerning what he knew from Cowdery:
a Rigdon did not work there, but was friends with Lambdin, who did.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 147
repetition of "And it came to pass" to Mr. Cowdery and said that a true scholar ought to have avoided that, which only provoked a gentle smile from C. Without going into detail or disclosing a confided word, I say to you that I do know, as well as can be known, that C. revised the "Manuscript" and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the "Book of Mormon." I have no knowledge of what became of the original. Never heard C. say as to that ... I could only answer your questions in the manner I did because some of them were not susceptible of a direct answer by me.
Our thesis, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, has traveled from hypothesis to substantiated history. The Book of Mormon was not translated from golden plates through miraculous power but was the revised edition of Solomon Spalding's second novel, Manuscript Found. We are convinced that, based on the evidence, Sidney Rigdon took the manuscript from Patterson's Print Shop, read and revised it for some years until he felt safe in using it, then met Smith and concocted with him the plan of revealing the manuscript as a communication from God. Then Rigdon supervised the work of preparing the manuscript for publication, always keeping closely associated with every move of the young Joseph Smith and his friends.
Much of this evidence has been available before, but to our knowledge it has never before been fully analyzed as integrated evidence which provides a clear look into the actual roots of Mormonism.
However, during the past three years we have uncovered still more evidence that confirms our thesis. We have actually found part of Spalding's novel, in his own
148 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?handwriting, paralleling The Book of Mormon word for word! In the next chapter we will detail this exciting discovery that provides additional proof that novelist Solomon Spalding is the true originator of The Book of Mormon.
1. Patterson, p. 434.
2. Derived from Shook, pp. 138-44.
3. See Appendix 2.
4. Wyl, p. 231.
5. Ibid., p. 231.
6. Shook, pp. 134-35. Saunders' affidavit ends:
Charles A. Shook, being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith that the foregoing letters of Thomas Gregg and i Lorenzo Saunders are verbatim copies (except spelling, punctuation and capitalization) of the originals now in the possession of the American Anti-Mormon Association.
Charles A. Shook
Subscribed to in my presence and sworn to before me, at Eddyville, Nebraska, this 13th day of February, 1913.
B. R. Hedglin, Notary Public.
7. Deming, p. 9.
8. Deming, pp. 9-11. Testimony to the character of Mrs. Anderick is as follows:
Dear Sir: Mrs. S1 F. Anderick, of whom you inquire, is a member of my church. She is a most estimable Christian i woman, and is possessed of more than average intellectual ability and culture. She is careful in speech and reliable in judgment; sound in mind and of unimpeachable veracity. Her testimony would be first-class in any court of justice upon any subject with which she might be conversant.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 149Dear Sir: I am personally acquainted with Mrs. S.F. Anderick, and have been for two years. She lives on this street, one block from my residence. I have often met her in church, in society, and in her home. I am certain that she is remarkably well preserved, and is sound in mind. She is a woman of intelligence, and of high moral and Christian character.
9. Ibid., p. 15.
10. Ibid., p. 11.
11. Ibid., p. 53.
12. Patterson, p. 435. Tucker's conclusions were reached after interviews with Smith's neighbors. Tucker was a proofreader for the original printing of The Book of Mormon.
13. Ibid., p. 435.
14. Deming, p. 14.
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1. Adair, James, The History of the American Indians...
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After hundreds of hours of painstaking research, we have come to a firm and studied conviction: The Book of Mormon is not a genuine revelation from God at all, but was derived from a novel written by Solomon Spalding... titled The Manuscript Found.
There is no credible objection to the evidence that Rigdon was in Pittsburgh during the period from 1813-14, when Spalding's manuscript was in the printshop, when Rigdon was seen by Spalding...
...we are faced with consistent testimony from Smith's neighbors and others placing Rigdon and Smith together frequently during the three years before the oublication of The Book of Mormon. Each testimony corresponds to one of the gaps in Rigdon's itinerary.
Our thesis ...The Book of Mormon was not translated from golden plates through miraculous power but was the revised edition of Solomon Spalding's second novel, Manuscript Found. We are convinced that, based on the evidence, Sidney Rigdon took the manuscript from Patterson's Print Shop, read and revised it for some years until he felt safe in using it, then met Smith and concocted with him the plan of revealing the manuscript as a communication from God. Then Rigdon supervised the work of preparing the manuscript for publication, always keeping closely associated with every move of the young Joseph Smith and his friends.
. . . another testimony given by Spalding's daughter... dated in November of 1886...
Mr. A. B. Deming,
I have read much of the Manuscript Story Conneaut Creek which you sent me. I know that it is not the Manuscript Found which contained the words "Nephi, Mormon, Maroni, and Lamanites." Do the Mormons expect to deceive the public by leaving off the title page -- Conneaut Creek and calling it Manuscript Found and Manuscript Story.
Mrs. M.S. McKinstry
...one of the grammer problems both in The Book of Mormon and Manuscript Story is that of running sentences together . . . Spalding wanted to lend as much credibility as possible to his historical novel. He apparently hoped to do this by allowing sentences to run together, thus appearing to be freshly translated without editor's punctuations.
Howard A. Davis
Who Really Wrote -- Book 2
(unpublished manuscript, 1978)
Page from the 1978 Davis MS.
"Who Really Wrote The Book of Mormon Book #2" by Howard A Davis
[Appendix p. 001]
Questions and Answers
Q.) Are the 20 pages comprising the "Kimball Collection" of the original Book of Mormon MS. all on the same kind of paper and written with the same ink? If they are, then how could the 12 pages, as Mr. Kaye says, be in Spalding's handwriting?
A.) The pages mentioned are "apparently" the same paper and ink according to Leonard J. Arrington. This means that it is only a supposition -- it cannot be stated with absolute finality. The pages of the MS. are laminated (a plastic-like substance used to preserve old documents) so how could one say it's the same paper and inl? There were no tests made on the paper and ink as to dating, chemical compositon, etc. before laminating by Barrows Restoration Shop of Richmond Virginia. (1) In order for Mr. Kaye's analysis to be correct, the ink cannot be the same as the pages before the 12 pages and after -- could not be the same --but the paper still could. As can be proven -- historically -- Smith and Cowdery at the time (1829) of "translating" were poverty stricken and did not have enough paper.
The theory would now have to be (if the paper is the same -- which cannot be proven) that Rigdon, having the Spalding papers (2) -- including some blank pages and some of them possibly with page headings (3) and siome partly written, gave the package to Cowdery -- as Cowdery told Judge Lang, his friend, in later years -- to be "worked over" or "revised." Cowdery being "editor" of the papers would rearrange and rewrite certain sections. To save paper, a major necessity for them at the time, blank paper would
[Appendix p. 057]
Q.) In John Spalding's statement on page 443 in Mrs. Brodie's book "No Man Knows My History" the year 1813 is in brackets. Doesn't this date show John Spalding was inaccurate and off on his dates -- at Solomon left Conneaut in 1812?
A.) On page 33 in our book: "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" we present an accurate reproduction of John's statement as it was given in Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled" of 1834. John Spalding says that his brother Solomon in 1809 "...removed to Conneaut, in Ohio. The year following (1810) John moved to Ohio and found him (Solomon) "... building a forge." Then he says: "I made him a visit in about three years after." (1) It will be noticed that John Spalding relates that it was about three years after he visited his brother. Mrs. Brodie deleted the word "about." So John was just estimating when the visit had transpired. The implication is that John says he visited his brother in 1812 -- a whole year after Solomon Splading had left! This would play down his credibility. But, once again, he did not say 1813! He said it was about three years later when the visit took place.
If John's move to Ohio was early in 1810, and then he moved to Crawford County, PA -- which he did -- only to return to maje a visit in 1812, this, then, could be computed as "about" three years or some time in 1812. John does not say it was a full three years -- the word "about" makes this very plain. Hence, the accuracy of his original statement remains intact.
[Appendix p. 058]
(1) John Spalding relates that he found his brother "... had failed, and was considerably in debt." According to all accounts it was the War of 1812 that caused his failure in business so this establishes the second visit of John as being in the year 1812.
[Appendix p. 103]
Q.) The late Mrs. Brodie questioned the James Jefferies statement as printed on page 104 of "Who Really Wrote...?" She says that Rigdon never lived in St. Louis and Joseph Smith never visited Ohio. Is this true?
A.) Mrs. Brodie questions Mr. Jefferies' remark saying that it was "40 years ago" that Rigdon told him about the Spalding MS., etc., and since his statement is dated January 20, 1884, this puts the conversation in 1844, the year of Smith's assassination."
It would hardly be likely that Rigdon would be living in St. Louis at the time she indicates, but Joseph Smith gave Rigdon "orders" to go to Pittsburgh and take charge of a church of which Brigham Young had said: "His (Rigdon) orders were to go to Pittsburgh and build up a kingdom..." (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, No. 18, p. 667). In the same publication and number, Elder John Taylor said, "Elder Rigdon was appointed by President Smith to go to Pittsburgh and build up a church" (p. 661). 1 Now, we go to Rigdon's son, John, who stated that: "In the spring of 1844, Joe S. [Smith], sent father to city of Pittsburgh, Pa. to take charge of a little Mormon church and in June 1844 he and his family started... we took steamboat as far as St. Louis. Joe Smith and all dignitaries came to boat to bid us goodbye..." (Early History of the Mormon Church -- typescript at B.Y.U. Provo, Utah, p. 25). First we can see that Rigdon did go to St. Louis by steamboat in 1844 -- the very year of the assassination.
[Appendix p. 104]
During this period (1844) he was disgruntled with the church or certain leaders in it. Rigdon was reported as saying he "was going to publish the History of all the secrets of this church." (Ibid., pg. 661). On page 650 it says that Rigdon "then threatened to turn traitor. His own language was "...I shall feel it my duty to publish all your secret meetings, and all the history of the secret works of this church, in the public journals." (Ibid., pg. 650). In another place in the "Times and Seasons" Brigham is saying "Brother Sidney says, 'If we go to opposing him he will tell all of our secrets!" But I would say, oh dont't Brother Sidney! Don't tell our secrets, oh don't! But if he tells our secrets, we will tell of his -- tit for tat."
This was the very time that Jefferies said Rigdon told him "several times" that he took the Spaulding MS. and that he and Joseph "looked it over" and "read" it and that eventually Joseph had it printed. His testimony fits the mood of the period perfectly! Reports from the "Times & Seasons" indicate that Rigdon was drinking during this time -- this may have caused some loose talk [on his part]. What Mrs. Brodie deletes in her quote of Jefferies' statement is the part that says "The Mormons then  had their Temple in Nauvoo. I had business transactions with them." 2 Then he says, "I knew Sidney Rigdon." It was through these connections that he knew Rigdon as he may have traveled to Nauvoo periodically, and, of course, Rigdon could have visited the City of St. Louis before 1844. We do know that Rigdon was in St. Louis in 1844. So Brodie's assertion that Rigdon never "lived" in St. Louis is misleading -- he did go to that city and -- once again -- possibly Jefferies went to Nauvoo, so both men could have known each other.
[Appendix p. 105]
Mrs. Brodie says that Joseph Smith never "visited Ohio" before 1831 -- so this she thinks discredits Jefferies' word -- but nowhere does Mr. Jefferies say Smith was in Ohio! Also, why couldn't Joseph have visited Ohio before 1831? As more evidence comes in, we are seeing that Joseph actually traveled quite extensively. Perhaps Jefferies refers to Joseph's stay in Pennsylvania in 1825 and 1826 which is admitted by Mormon histories. 3 This is where they could have "looked over" the MS. and "read" it. Jefferies mislocates the printshop (Patterson's) and the general locality by saying that it was in Ohio. But since Spalding wrote the MS. in Ohio and also, since Rigdon lived there, he may have made that understandable oversight. Possibly, his original statement could have indicated that Spalding had written the MS. in Ohio and left there for the printshop at Pittsburgh. Clark Braden, who read the statement publicly, could have missed that part as he did in other statements, but this is understandable, he being under pressure in a public debate at the time. We must also remark that a scribe took his words down and may have made the mistake. Either way, the main points of the statement (as are all the others) are accurate and Braden read it to the public assembly as Mr. Jefferies had made the statement in the same year as his debate (1884). Mr. Jefferies dictated the testimony in the presence of his wife and two prominent men -- Rev. Calvin D. Wilson and J. M. Finney, M. D. Mrs. Brodie's rebuttal just does not hold up -- but since 1884 James Jefferies' statement has!
[Appendix p. 106]
1 We think this was the plan of Smith to rid himself of Rigdon. Rigdon opposed polygamy at that time and afterward. Smith also felt that Rigdon wanted his position, which was a correct assessment.
2 The business directories of St. Louis of 1840-41; 45 show a "James Jeffrey, Merchant," 52 N. First; residence 46 S. Fifth, In 1845, "James Jeffrey, Merchant" is mentioned as living at 12 S, Sixth. This is, no doubt, the same James Jeffries (spelling in doubt) that as a "merchant" had "transactions" with the Mormons and possibly with Rigdon himself.
3 A Comprehensive History of the Church Vol. ___, Roberts, pgs. 81-82.
Additional notes by transcriber:
A. As early as 1842 Sidney Rigdon was putting out feelers on the idea of moving his family and some other Mormons back east. No doubt he and Smith were tempted to part ways about that time, but Rigdon remained in Nauvoo until the spring of 1844, when he was chosen by the Mormon leadership to be Joseph Smith's running mate in the U. S. Presidential election. In order to fulfill obligations associated with this decision, Rigdon had to document his citizenship in the State of Pennsylvania. It was ostensibly for this reason that he relocated to Pittsburgh that year.
B. For more on James Jeffery, see the news article published about him in the Feb. 13, 1884 issue of the Pittsburgh Presbyterian Banner.
C. For more on Rigdon's stop over at St. Louis, after his excommunication at Nauvoo, see Orson Hyde's letters of Sept. 12, Sept. 17, Sept. 19, and Oct. 21 1844.
[Appendix p. 124]
Q.) Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, had five brothers. Joseph Smith also had 5 brothers -- so could this indicate, as Mrs. Brodie hints, that Joseph was the author of the Book of Mormon and not Solomon Spalding?
A.) In the Spalding genealogy book 1 on page 143, Solomon Spalding's brothers and sisters are thusly enumerated: Priscilla; Reuben; Solomon; Elisha; Josiah; Cynthia; Ephraim; Silenda; John; and Abigail. It can be seen from this list that Solomon had five brothers also! Subconsciously, Solomon could have been depicting his family (five brothers) in the Book of Mormon account with Nephi -- the hero -- representing himself. It can be argued that Joseph had two older brothers: Alvin and Hyrum and three younger brothers: Williaml Samuel Harrison, and Don Carlos 2 corresponding to Nephi's two older brothers, Laman and Lemuel with the three younger ones [corresponding to] Sam, 3 Jacob and Joseph, therefore, he being the true author, pictured the exact number of his own brothers in the story. It must be kept in mind that Joseph, Sidney and Oliver all made changes in Spalding's novel and [that its characters'] exact ages and number status could have been changed to make a symbolic allusion to Joseph and his brothers. As an example of Joseph and Sidney's work in this particular (only here it is literal), we quote from Smith's "Inspired Version" of the Bible in which he and Rigdon had a part: "A seer shall the Lord my God raise up ... and his name shall be called Joseph..." (Gen. 50:26a; 33a). These verses are not in the English Bible (or in any Hebrew manuscript of the Scriptures). They were added.
[Appendix p. 125]
by Smith and Rigdon to enhance the young "Prophet's" stature.
During the supposed writing and/or formulation of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith, Alvin, Joseph's oldest brother, had already died November 19, 1823. Ephraim, (6 Mar. - 18 Mar., 1810) also passed away being a few days old. So technically, Joseph had 6 brothers, but Alvin and Ephraim had passed away by the time Joseph was supposed to be formulating the Book of Mormon. So he would have had an older brother, Hyrum, and 4 younger ones -- the same as Spalding! The important thing is that Solomon Spalding had five brothers, the same number of brothers as Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Which once again has not been brought out before by Smith authorship advocates.
1 Spalding, The Spalding Memorial: A Genealogical History of Edward Spalding and His descendants, Chicago: 1897.
2 Ephraim, who died in infancy is not mentioned by Mrs. Brodie. This would make 4 younger brothers, not 3.
3 "Sam" is a "Yankee" name, state non-Mormon scholars -- certainly not the name for a Jewish boy.
[Appendix p. 129]
Q.) Mrs. Fawn M. Brodie says that Solomon Spalding "occasionally" read extracts of his "Manuscript Found" to his friends and neighbors. Doesn't this indicate that Spalding didn't read his nobel very often and therefore the witnesses would not have been likely to recollect as much as they did about the mabuscript?
A.) The use of the word "occasionally" does not apply in this case. John N. Miller, who worked for Spalding, said in his statement that Spalding would read from his "Manuscript Found" "frequently." This included himself (Miller) and the "company" present. Miller's daughter said that her father "frequently" read them 9the manuscripts) himself. She stated that when Hurlbut was reading the "Book of Mormon" to her father (in 1833) her father "frequently" would have Hurlbut stop reading and would then "state what followed..." 1 She said that Hurlbut "expressed great surprise that father remembered so much of it (MS.)" From these expressions, we find that Spalding read his MS. so often that Mr. Miller and others still remembered many sections of it! Henry Lake, as co-partner of Spalding, said in his statement that Spalding "very frequently" read his Manuscript Found to him. He says that he "spent many hours in hearing him read said writings and became well acquainted with its contents."
The statement of the town Dictor, Nahum Howard, relates that Spalding "frequently" showed him his writings which he "read." Thus displaying the constant exposure the novel had
[Appendix p. 130]
from repeated reading. Another close friend of Solomon's was Rev. [sic] Joseph Miller. He says in his letter that he and others would assemble at Spalding's tavern and that Spalding would "frequently read from his manuscript" ("Ms. Found"). He says in another letter that he "often heard him (Spalding) read from what he called is MS." The aforementioned statements should adequately demonstrate the fact that Spalding did not just "Occasionaly" read extracts 2 from his writings to the people, as Mrs. Brodie says -- but in reality he read them "very frequently" and the people were "well acquainted" with the narratives and, hence, could identify it with the printed form -- "The Book of Mormon!" 3 See "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" for the complete testimonies that have been quoted in this answer.
1 Aaron Wright, another attendant of Spalding's writings did the same thing on accasion to show that he was well acquainted with the work, this according to Hurlbut's widow, whose signed statement is in the Chicago Hist. Soc. Archives.
2 Mrs. Davison (Spalding's widow) states that John Spalding, Solomon's brother "was perfectly familiar with this work (Manuscript Found) and repeatedly heard the whole of it read." These witnesses did not just hear "extracts" of the manuscript read but many of them read and heard the whole production.
[Appendix p. 131]
3 Rev. Abner Jackson spebt a night in hearing Spalding read his novel. He knew Aaron Wright for many years -- including other friends of Spalding. He says in his letter about Spalding that "Spalding frequently read his manuscript to the neighbors..."
[Appendix p. 134]
Q.) Did any other relatives of Spalding leave any important information behind?
A.) Yes, Josiah Spalding, the brother Solomon purchased property with while they were living in New York State. We will render the most important extracts of his remarks from 1855. Joseph Smith claims to have been guided to the Hill Cumorah by the Angel Moroni, but he "saw" the place where the plates were deposited by a vision. This part of his story could have been taken from Spalding's missing preface to his novel. The idea could have been taken as Josiah Spalding says, from a young man at Conneaut. Josiah says that "my brother (Solomon) told me that a young man told him that he had a wonderful dream. He dreamed that he, himself, (if I recollect right) opened a great mound where there were human bones.ĘThere he found a written history that would answer the inquiry respecting the civilized people that once inhabited that country until they were destroyed by the savages. This story suggested the idea of writing a novel merely for amusement." We believe that Spalding incorporated the "dream" account, etc., in the introduction of his second novel, Manuscript Found, and that S,ith used this concept in his history. 1 Also, the next important remark is that the young man told Spalding that in the written history the "savages" destroyed the "civilized" people. The Manuscript Story of Spalding's ends abruptly -- but we believe that his Manuscript Found, which became the Book of Mormon, brought the story of this "young man" into Spalding's novel, as this is how the Book of
[Appendix p. 135]
Mormon ends! Josiah relates that after Solomon's death in 1816, "His widow then returned to the state of New York (Onondaga Hollow), and lived there awhile and then came to Connecticut. She informed me, if I recollect right, that my brother continued his history of the civilized nation (Nephites?) and the progress of the war until the triumph of the savages (Lamanites?) to the destruction of the civilized (Nephites?) government. 2 This is an important remark as he says that Spalding's widow says her husband Solomon "continued his history... until the triumph of the savages" -- the precise climax of the Book of Mormon!
Spalding's daughter stated that her mother went to her father's home, Pomfret, Connecticut, this would be sometime during 1817-20. In later years she says her mother was with her "most of the time" until her death in 1844 [sic]. This "most of the time" allows for a visit with Josiah in Connecticut before 1844 [sic]. Josiah writes that: "Likewise she informed me that soon after they arrived at Pittsburgh (1812) a man followed them, I do not recollect his name, but he was afterwards known to be a leading Mormon. He got into the employment of a printer, abd he told the printer about my brother's composition." This "man" we believe is Sidney Rigdon, who later became a "leading Mormon." In the widow's statement of 1839. she names Sidney Rigdon as the man who probably "copied" (as she surmised) her husband's novel. She named Rigdon again as the culprit in the presence of Mrs. Treadwell, later a leading citizon of New York State. Spalding's daughter told Mrs. Dickinson that her mother maintained that Sidney Rigdon copied her husband's novel while it was at Patterson's print-shop. 3 All of this corroborates and validates the 1839 accusation of Mrs. Davison
[Appendix p. 136]
concerning Sidney Rigdon. Josiah concludes with saying that "I never saw the Mormon Bible but once, and then only for a minute, no time to examine it. I have but little knowledge of Mormonism; that his statements are even more valuable in corroborating Mrs. Davison's 1839 statements about the "Manuscript Found" and Sidney Rigdon which have been disputed by the Mormons -- as he was "out of the way" of the controversy and knew little of the Book of Mormon or Mormonism (see Charles W. Spalding, The Spalding Memorial, Chicago, 1897, pp. 237-239.)
1 Mrs. Dickinson, after interviewing Spalding's only daughter remarks: "He (Joseph Smith) followed the story (MS. Found) of Mr. Spalding with almost servile closeness. Mr. Spalding's book (M. F.) purported to be translation from some metal plates found in the earth-mound to which he had been guided by a vision" (Scribner's Monthly, Aug, 1880, N. Y., pg. 614). Spalding's daughter, no doubt, told Mrs. Dickinson that her father's MS. came from "metal plates" and that in the preface to his MS. he claims he was guided there by a "vision" or "dream" -- just as Josiah relates! "MS. Story" has Spalding wandering upon a deposit of "28 scrolls" which he professes to "translate." Apparently, in his second MS., he changed to "plates." It is interesting that Spalding has "28 scrolls" discovered and in the Book of Mormon, 24 plates are deposited. Both accounts speak of a "cavern" or cave. Mrs. Dickinson, with Spalding's daughter as
[Appendix p. 137]
her source of information, states that: "Mr. Spalding conceived the idea that among the prehistoric momentos discovered by his workmen some golden plates covered with hieroglyphical writing had been found, and that he merely translated the story" (New Light on Mormonism, pg. 15).
2 The brief summary Josiah gives in his letter is the basic outline of "MS. Story" (and of the Book of Mormon). He claims that he ledt Spalding and that later his wife said that Spalding "continued" his story. Josiah did not know that Solomon had written two novels and that it was the second composition the widow spoke of as "MS. Story" as an unfinished worj that ends abruptly because he had abandoned this first novel. It is remarkable that he could remember as much as he did being two days short of ninety years old but all of his historical data on Spalding, etc., are very accurate. He wrote in 1855, making it some 43 years since he last saw his brother and his writings -- and some 21 years, at least, since he spoke to the widow (since she told him about Hurlbut, etc.). Even if he had only seem "MS. Story." it shows that even someone 43 years removed from the event and almost 90 -- could still recall the basic outline! This gives weight to the Conneaut (and others) people's testimony as it had been some 22 years since they saw "MS. Found" and the "first start" of Spalding's novel which bore a "striking resemblance" to the Book of Mormon (or, as it's believed, the Manuscript Found). At any rate, the widow gave him the conclusion -- but this certainly speaks of "Manuscript Found," or the Book of Mormon, (cf. "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon," pp. 43-44; 62-64).
3 E. E. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, New York, 1885, p. 23.
[Appendix p. 138]
Q.) Mrs. Fawn M. Brodie casts serious doubt on Mrs. McKinstry as a witnessm claiming that she asserted her father knew Robert Patterson while at Pittsburgh (1812-14), yet Mrs. Brodie says that Patterson "denied knowing Spalding at all." Can this be reconciled?
A.) Mrs. McKinstry says these words under oath: "In that city (Pittsburgh) my father had an intimate friend named Patterson 1 and I frequently visited Mr. Patterson's library with him, and heard my father talk about nooks with him." Mrs. McKinstry clearly affirms her father knew a Mr. Patterson during their residence at Pittsburgh (1812-14). It will be noticed that she dies not give his first name. This is very important, as all accounts -- including newspapers -- report that Robert and Joseph Patterson owned the print shop that Spalding took his MS. to in 1812. In our book "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" we state on page 206: "although the only testimony we have from Patterson (Robert) does not indicate that he was 'a friend' of Spalding, we must remember that there were two Patterson brothers 2 in the publishing firm., and it certainly could have been the other Patterson brother with whom Spalding was more closely acquainted." We now have evidence that confirms that it was Joseph Patterson who Mrs. Davison and Mrs. McKinstry were speaking of and this is to be found in a newspaper (Washington Telegraph) article which is in the Washington-Jefferson College at Washington Pa. 3
[Appendix p. 139]
Mrs. McKinstry, in an interview with Rev, Redick McKee remembers"...to have heard her mother say that before they left Pittsburgh, she accompanied her husband to the store of Mr. Patterson and heard a conversation in relation to the publication of the 'Manuscript.'"
"There were two Mr. Pattersons present, one an elderly gentleman (Joseph was about 60), with a remarkably mild, pleasant countenance, and much more robust than the other. The more slender Mr. Patterson (Joseph?) told Mr. Spalding that he had read several chapters of the "Manuscript" and was struck favorably with its curious descriptions and its likeness to the ancient style of the Old Testament Scriptures. He thought, it would be well to publish it, as it would attract attention and meet with a ready sale." The writer concludes: "The description given above of the one who read several chapters and advised its publication shows that it was Joseph Patterson, Esq., who did this, and the seeming inconsistency in the statements of Mr. Spalding's widow and Mr. R. Patterson is accounted for." Robert Patterson, in his certificate stated he "...read only a few pages..." 4 Not "several chapters" as Joseph did. Mrs. McKinstry's recollection of her father's "intimate friend named Patterson" at Pittsburgh is clearly Joseph, not his [brother] Robert. 5
Mrs. Brodie's assertion that "one is led to doubt the reliability of this memory..." (Mrs. McKinstry's) is now proven to be groundless. She brings out that Patterson (Robert) ",,,denied knowing Spalding at all." And yet, Mrs. McKinstry has her father and supposedly Robert Patterson as "intimate friends." The Patterson "denial" is taken from a purported contact 6 with
[Appendix p. 140]
Robert Patterson in 1834. Editor E. D. Howe, in his book "Mormonism Unvailed" writes that Mr. R. Patterson of Pittsburgh has "...no recollection of any such manuscript being brought there (his printshop) for publication, neither would he have been likely to have seen it, as the business of printing was conducted wholly by Lambdin at that time. He says, however, that many MS. books and pamphlets were brought to the office about that time (1812-14?) which remained upon their shelves for years, without being printed or even examined." Robert Patterson's son, attorney [sic] R. Patterson Jr., interviewed E. D. Howe in 1879 and makes these comments on the above 1834 statement: "This statement seems irreconcilable with the testimony of the widow and daughter of Spalding, and also in conflict with the fact that the partnership of Mr. R. Patterson and Lambdin was not formed until January 1, 1818. In 1812, Lambdin was a lad of fourteen in the book store of Patterson and Hopkins, and afterwards was continued in the employ of R. &. J. Patterson. Mr. Howe on being applied to for his authority for the statement, answered, "I think Hurlbut was the person who talked with Patterson about the manuscript." But Hurlbut himself informed the present writer (Aug. 19, 1879) that he "had never seen or had any communication with him. There is therefore no known authority for the statement in Howe's book." We will relate the possible reasons for Robert Patterson's seeming ignorance concerning Spalding and his MS. It is to be kept in mind that when R. Patterson was approached about Spalding and the MS. in 1834, it had been some 22 years since he had read "a few pages" of Spalding's "MS. Found." Also, Mr. Patterson was an extremely busy man pastoring two churches; running a paper mill including
[Appendix p. 141]
publishing and book selling (this plus family obligations, etc.).
In retrospect, Spalding would be to Patterson just another "hopeful author" with a MS. that he wished published. Howe's statement says that many manuscripts and pamphlets were brought to Patterson's office during Spalding's residence in Pittsburgh. Six years after this brief encounter with an agent of Howe's, Mr. Patterson had retired to the countryside and now had ample opportunity (since he was freed of his many duties) to more carefully reflect upon his past associations, etc. This, of course, is a common ovvurence for a retired person. When he was interviewed 7 by Rev. Samuel Williams in 1842, Patterson remembered that Silas Engles had given him a manuscript of a "singular work written chiefly in the style of the English version of the Bible." He remembered Spalding only as a "gentleman from the East originally" (Spalding was born in Connecticut and had lived in New York State). Rev. Williams also says that "Mr. Patterson firmly believes, from what he had heard of the Mormon Bible that it is the same thing he examined at that time."
It is this signed statement that Mr. Brodie fails to give the reader. It does not matter even if Robert Patterson "denied knowing Spalding at all" as Mrs. Brodie says, however, he did remember that the manuscript was written in Biblical style, and correctly remembered Spalding was "from the East, originally," even though Spalding was a resident of Pittsburgh at the time. Mrs. McKinstry's remembrances remain correct -- she was there, only a modern historian could never claim this. It must be noted, in conclusion, Patterson was, according to all the histories, an honorable man and thoroughly respectable.
[Appendix p. 142]
1 Her mother, Mrs. Davison, in 1839, made this comment on the Patterson episode: "Here (in Pittsburgh) we found a friend in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper. He (Spalding) exhibited his manuscript to Mr. Patterson, who was very much pleased with it and borrowed it for perusal" ("Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" pp. 44-45).
2 This is a printing error. Robert was the son of Joseph Patterson [sic, Joseph Patterson, Sr.]
3 At our suggestion, Mr. Kurt Van Gorden (under the direction and assistance of Dr. Walter Martin) visited the Washington-Jefferson College archives and discovered this vitally important article.
4 Patterson does say that this manuscript was "...of a singular work, chiefly in the style of our English translation of the Bible..." -- that same style is found in the Book of Mormon.
5 On the Voting List for Jan. 4. 1825, are the following names: Sidney Rigdon, 38; Joseph Patterson, Rev., 288; Robert Paterson, 291; and Silas Engles, 347.
6 Whether by letter or by an agent is unknown for certain. Howe does say that Hurbut could have been "The person who talked with Patterson..." -- this indicates an agent, and apersonal interview that was later reported to Howe verbally or by a letter sent to Howe.
7 The result of this interview was a certificate "written and signed" by Robert Patterson himself. The information in Howe's book is unsigned, and was probably obtained from Patterson who was busy and had no time to recall such a brief event -- with
[Appendix p. 143]
time for reflection, he remembers the examination -- one of many -- of Spalding's MS. --- The MS. (novel) was written entirely in the style of the King James Version and Patterson -- being a theologian [sic] -- noticed this unique feature. Howe's agent probably just asked Patterson if he knew Spalding (by name) and his novel -- which of course [he did not] -- Patterson could only say that many manuscripts were brought to his office and that Mr. Engles was in charge, etc.
[Appendix p. 146]
Q.) The late historian [sic, biographer], Mrs. Fawn M. Brodie, says that the name Lemuel is in the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith Jr. had a neighbor named Lemuel Durfee. 1 Doesn't this lend credence (as she thinks) to the theory that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon?
A.) In the History of Ashtabula County (Wm. Bros., Phil. Pa." 1878. p. 161) a Mr. Lemuel Jones is listed as a town clerk, a lister and Justice of the Peace. Ashtabula and Geauga Co. tax records of 1811 show a Lemuel Clark who lived in Soloman Spalding's area at that period. Also, a Lemuel Fobes 2 is listed in the Geauga Co. records. A close friend of Spalding's was Aaron Wright. "Aaron" is found a number of times in the Book of Mormon. So it can be seen that Spalding could just as easily have employed the first names of these men in his MS. Found. The name Lemuel means "devoted yo God" in Hebrew. It is found in Proverbs 31:1, 4. In the Book of Mormon, the name is used 37 times in one form or another. Some scholars maintain that "King Lemuel" refers symbolically to King Solomon. We think that since Spalding was a well trained theologian (Joseph Smith was not), he utilized his knowledge of Biblical names and placed them in his MS. which later became the Book of Mormon. We believe he used these Bible names to lend "authenticity" to his MS. as he was attempting to style his novel after the Bible, as witnesses testify. As one examines Spalding's
1 Lemuel Durfee sold cider at his store. His store account book shows the Smiths buying this intoxicating drink by the barrel. This record book is in the Palmyra Public Library.
2 Spalding's sister, Priscilla, married a Lemuel Warren.
[Appendix p. 147]
"Manuscript Story," it can be readily seen that he had a habit of incorporating unusual names into his story, which, -- as we assert -- he did also in his second novel, "Manuscript Found," i. e., the Book of Mormon. One example of a Biblical name that Spalding made reference to in his Manuscript Story is the name Jersurun (see MS. Story, pg. 27; cf. Deut. 32:15). Therefore, this idea of a name lending credence to a choice of authors leads us back to Spalding.
[Appendix p. 153]
Q.) Didn't James H. Fairchild say that the MS. written by Spalding in Oberlin College is the only MS. penned by Solomon Spalding and that Spalding did not write the Book of Mormon?
A.) President Fairchild's part in the Spalding issue has been exaggerated by Mormons and some non-Mormon writers. 1 Mr. L. L. Rice found the Spalding MS. at his home in Hawaii in August of 1844 and then later placed it in the Oberlin College, Ohio, which Mr. Fairchild was President of. Fairchild never met Spalding and never heard or read Spalding's MS. Found at Conneaut, Pittsburgh or Amity! His opinions on the entire subject are very indefinite. In his speech of 1866 (Tract No. 77, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio -- Manuscript of Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon). This attitude can clearly be seen. For example, on page 187, he says "It is perhaps, impossible at this day to prove or disprove the Spalding theory." After indicating that the Conneaut witnesses could have been affected with "memory substitution," that is, they heard the Book of Mormon, read the names of "Lehi and Nephi" and the expression "and it came to pass," [and then these] were pushed into their remembrance of the MS. Story 2 which [came from] 1812. Mrs. Brodie makes much of this idea of Fairchild's, even the same wording, but at certain points she conveniently fails to relate Mr. Fairchild's closing remark in the paragraph: "This view (memory substitution) must, of course, be purely hypothetical and could have little force against the positive testimony" (!) (Ibid., pg. 198). Then he says that further testimony tracing the MS. to
[Appendix p. 154]
Patterson, then to Rigdon, has "little positive evidence" (!) On page 200, he says that it "...does not appear Smith and Rigdon had any acquaintance before their supposed first meeting December 1830 in New York." Then he concludes with "so far as I am aware" that there is no evidence to support the pre-1830 meeting of Smith and Rigdon. 3 Again, he states that he is not sure, that there is definite evidence that they did meet for the first time Dece,ber 1830. To counteract one indefinite theory with another indefinite theory as does Mrs. Brosie, is not acceptable. To answer the very basic question about Fairchild's statement, on the idea of the "MS. Story" actually being the "MS. Found" from which the Book of Mormon originated as is stated by several eye witnesses, we go to a later statement. We see that Rev. Nutting, a former student of President Fairchild's, told Mr. Fairchild that the Mornons were saying 4 that he stated that MS. Story was the only MS. Spalding wrote -- therefore, since it is not like the Book of Mormon, then the Spalding thesis would have to be abandoned. Here is President Fairchild's statement in regard to these false claims: "With regard to the Manuscript of Mr. Spaulding now in the library of Oberlin College, I have never stated 5 (and know of no one who can state) that is the only manuscript which Spaulding wrote, or that it is certainly the one which has been supposed to be the original of the Book of Mormon. The discovery of this MS. does not prove that there may not have been another, which became the basis of the Book of Mormon. The use which has been made of statements emanating from me as implying the contrary of the above is entirely unwarranted." (Signed) "James H. Fairchild." (American Hist. Magazine, Nov. 1906, pg. 395). He says in a letter dated October 17, 1895 to a
[Appendix p. 155]
Jr. Hindley Esq. that "This Manuscript (MS. Story) is not the original of the Book of Mormon." (Ibid., pg. 394).
1 He ignores the facts that "Ms. Story" was shown to the witnesses in 1834 before Howe's book "Mormonism Unvailed" was published, Nov. 28, 1834!
2 Just why is a mystery, as he makes such claims for he says Rigdon's "style" is different from that found in the Book of Mormon. This is not true. We have examined the writings of Rigdon and find many similarities between them and the Book of Mormon. He says Rigdon would not accept the servile task of rewriting the Spalding MS., which was foreign to Rigdon's personality! He says Rigdon had no "motive" to do such a thing which again displays his ignorance of Rigdon.
3 Fairchild, in a letter to A. B. Deming, dated Aug. 2, 1887, says: "If you can obtain evidence that Rigdon was at Smith's conversion to Mormonism (Oct. or Nov. 1830) ... you will prove that a distinct effort was made in those early days to cover up the previous acquaintance of Smith and Rigdon. You will prove that the conversion of Rigdon at Mentor was a device for deception, planned in advance." This certainly does not sound like a person who is so sure of his earlier remarks about Rigdon and Smith's meeting as printed in 1885!
[Appendix p. 156]
4 According to Nutting -- in another article introducing the Fairchild statement -- Mr. Fairchild was deeply distressed that certain Mormons were implying he believed that there was not another Spalding MS. from which the Book of Mormon could have been derived.
5 The New York Observer for February 5, 1885, said: "The theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding will probably have to be relinquished." He made this premature statement just after the discovery of the MS. Story -- but he does not state there is no possible way another MS. could not be in existence as he says the theory will "probably" have to be abandoned. He makes the mistake of assuming the Rice MS. of Spalding's was his only work -- which abundant testimony refutes. Rice, the discoverer of the MS., later stated Spalding could have written the book of Mormon.
[Appendix p. 161]
Q.) Did not Hurlbut do "a little jusicious prompting" with the eight Conneaut witnesses?
A.) After an intense scrutiny of the background concerning the collection of these testimonies, one could come to the opposite conclusion -- it was the witnesses that "prompted" Hurlbut!
Spalding's widow relates in 1839 that "A Mormon preacher appointed a meeting there (Conneaut), and in the meeting (in 1832) read and repeated copious extracts from the 'Book of Mormon.' The historical part was immediately recognized by the older inhabitants, Mr. John Spalding was present, who is an eminently pious man, and recognized perfectly the work of his brother. He was amazed and afflicted that it should have [been] perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent in a flood of tears, and he arose on the spot and expressed in the meeting his deep sorrow and regret that the writings of his sainted brother should be used for a purpose so vile and shocking. The excitement in New Salem (Conneaut) became so great that the inhabitants had a meeting and deputed Dr. Philaster [sic] Hurlbut, one of their number, to repair to this place [Monson, Mass.] and obtain from me [in 1833] the original manuscript of Mr. Spalding for the purpose of comparing it with the Mormon Bible to satisfy their own minds and to prevent their friends from embracing an error so delusive." ...Dr. Gurlbut brought with him an introduction and request for the manuscript, signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright and others, with all of whom I was
[Appendix p. 162]
acquainted, as they were my neighbors when I resided in New Salem." Rev. Abner Jackson knew Aaron Wright and other Conneaut Spalding witnesses. He states that when the Book of Mormon was being read publicly at Conneaut "Old Esq. Wright heard it and exclaimed, 'Old Come to Pass has come to life again.'" So it was the witnesses who were convinced that Spalding wrote the Book of Mormon and it was they who had freely testified to Hurlbut and signed their statements. They were the ones who "dispatched" him. Hirlbut, evidence shows, was not an instigator, but an investigator. Hurlbut would simply read from the Book of Mormon, and in John N. Miller's case, would "...request Hurlbut to stop reading and he [Miller] wou;d state what followed and Hurlbut would say that it was so in the 'Book of Mormon.' He (Hurlbut) expressed great surprise that father (Miller) remembered so much of it." This is according to one of the witnesses' daughter, Mrs. Rachael Derby, who was an eye witness to Hurlbut's form of interrogation. It was Hurlbut who was "surprised" that Miller had remembered so much of the Manuscript Found (Book of Mormon). If anyone was "prompted," it was D. P. Hurlbut! Hurlbut's wife said in later years that Esq. Wright would give descriptions of portions of Manuscript Found and they would coincide with the Book of Mormon. He would do this in the presence of several men. Hurlbut was convinced that they were right, so much so that he traveled all the way from Ohio to the remote town of Monson, Massachusetts, just to obtain the Spalding manuscript. If he "found" these people (whose honesty cannot be questioned in light of historical evidence) to make and sign "false" or "misleading" statements,
[Appendix p. 163]
why go clear to Monson? He believed what they told him and he went to obtain supporting evidence!
Also, as has been brought out in this book, the witnesses told their own children that they firmly believed Spalding was the author of the Book of Mormon. These statements were made before and after they signed their statements; so they certainly did not think they were "prompted" to sign a document which they did not approve of from their own personal knowledge.
Mrs. McKinstry, Spalding's daughter, rightly asserts there were "many evidences" that "Hurlburt and others at the time (1833)" thought the Manuscript Found was turned into the Book of Mormon.
After Hurlbut found the "Manuscript Story" at Hartwick, New York, he took it back to Conneaut to show the witnesses but they told him it was not the Manuscript Found which they had "frequently" read and/or heard read but that Spalding ":had altered his first plan of writing (MS. Story), by going farther back with dates and writing in the Old Scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient," 1 This statement appeared in Howe's "Mormonism Unvailed" of 1834, p. 288., which was read by the public and Howe had no fear of these people contradicting that statement -- and they didn't! That Hurlbut showed this Manuscript Story is to be found in the back of this MS. of Spaulding's: "The Writing's of Sollomon Spalding Proved by Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others. The testimonies of the above Gentlemen are now in my possession" signed "D. P. Hurlbut." If he had "prompted" the witnesses into making certain statements about Spalding's MS. and then later showed them "MS. Story" -- which
[Appendix p. 164]
was not MS. Found -- then this would certainly destroy his previous work of "prompting." Hirlbut knew that these affidavits were to be published, therefore they must be the accurate beliefs of the witnesses. The other statements that he collected about the Smith family, etc., have all proven to be reasonably accurate and we think the same is true for the Conneaut statements.
1 According to Mrs. Dickinson, who obtained her information from Spalding's daughter "A few weeks" after Hurlbut obtained "Manuscript Story" at Hartwick, New York, Mrs. Davison and her daughter, as well as other members of the family, learned that "a manuscript (MS. Story), said to be the one Hurlburts had [been] received, was shown and read at Conneaut; but this report was never completely verified" (Dickinson, "New Light on Mormonism," pg. 27 -- 1885). This tends to indicate that Hurlbut showed the MS. to the witnesses, and may have read it to them! E. D. Howe, who had stated he spoke to the witnesses at Conneaut after they made their statements (1833) said in his book "Mormonism Unvailed" of 1834, p. 288, that MS. Story was "shown to several of the foregoing witnesses who recognized it as Spalding's..." Howe also says that "they say it bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'"
[Appendix p. 172]
Q.) Some Mormon writers say that "one hand" wrote the Conneaut statements concerning Spalding's "Manuscript Found" and its identity with the "Book of Mormon" as some of the phrases, etc., are similar. Is this correct? Have any of the Conneaut or Book of Mormon witnesses been impeached?
A.) It is not known for certain if Hurlbut wrote each statement. The important issue is that the individuals agreed with each statement and then signed them with their own hand.
Spalding's brother, John, was a well educated man and a school teacher. He certainly did not need somebody to write a statement for him -- but even if Hurlbut did write the statements, John Spalding agreed with every detail as he signed it. John N. Miller's daughter, Rachael Derby, said in her statement that "I saw father sign a statement and give Hurlbut." He had statements from Henry Lake, Aaron Wright and Dr. Howard, of Conneaut. Henry Lake's son, Hiram said, "I believe my father, about this time (1833) made an affidavit to the same effect (that the Book of Mormon was of Spalding authorship) which was published. I have conversed with Aaron Wright, John N. Miller, and Nathan [sic] Howard, old residents here (Conneaut), now deceased, all of whom lived here in 1811 and 1812, and who had heard Spaulding's manuscript read, and they told me they believed the "Book of Mormon" was derived from Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." Some or all (all of them did) these persons made affidavits to this effect, which
[Appendix p. 173]
were published in a book called "Mormonism Unvailed" edited by E. D. Howe of Painesville, Ohio." 1
The late John A. Widtsoe, a Mormon apostle, said that all of the affidavits are "remarkably alike in composition" ("Joseph Smith -- Seeker After Truth," Salt Lake City: 1951, pg. 80). F. L. Stewart, another Mormon writer, claimed that "all" of these statements in Howe's book were "heavily edited by Hurlburt or dictated by him, as they bear a remarkable similarity in language and style" ("Exploding the Myth About Joseph, The Mormon Prophet," NYC: 1967, pg. 25). Another Mormon scholar has now discovered that the affidavits of Joseph Smith's in-laws and Pennsylvania acquaintances found in Howe's book were procured "Independent of Hurlburt" (Richard Lloyd Anderson, "The Reliability of the Early History of Lucy and Joseph Smith" in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, IV:2, Summer, 1969, pg. 25). These statements may have a certain "similarity" in "language and style," but Mr. Anderson shows that Hurlbut had nothing to do with the composition of a portion of the Howe affidavits. Now, therefore, we cannot place aby value upon Mormon charges that the Conneaut statements were "dictated" or "edited" by Hurlbut. Again, the men who signed them told their own children and their neighbors even years after Howe's book containing their statements had been published in 1834, that the Book of Mormon came from Solomon Spalding;s "Manuscript Found!" Now, let us examine two separate statements Mormons place explicit confidence in. They are the statements of the 11 witnesses to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
1. [One Point of Identity]
The Testimony of the Three Witnesses: "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that..."
[Appendix p. 174]
The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses:
"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that..."
2. [Three Points of Similarity]
A. The Testimony of the Three Witnesses
"of which hath been spoken"
The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses
"of which hath been spoken"
B. The Testimony of the Three Witnesses
"and we declare with words of soberness, that..."
The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses "and this we bear record with words of soberness, that..."
C. The Testimony of the Three Witnesses
"and we saw the engravings thereon"
The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses
"and we also saw the engravings thereon"
These comparisons are ample to display that the Mormon statements are similar in "composition" and "style" even to the Elizabethian English! We say "one hand" must have written them (probably Oliver Cowdery). Also it should be noted that of these 11 witnesses, 3 were members of Joseph Smith's family. Oliver Cowdery was a cousin of Joseph's and married a Whitmer. Five of the eleven witnesses were Whitmers and Hiram Page married a Whitmer!
Mrs. Brodie appropriately quotes Mark Twain's reaction to this "family affair" by saying: "I could not feel more satisfied at the rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified." It can also be pointed out that the three and eight witnesses all signed a joint statement -- not like the Conneaut witnesses who each signed a single respective document.
Going back to Smith's witnesses, we consider the financial gain expected from the sale of the Book of Mormon.It can be seen in a certificate from Manchester, N. Y., dated
[Appendix p. 175]
January 16, 1830, signed by Joseph Smith, Jr., saying "I hereby agree that Martin Harris (one of the three witnesses) shall have an equal priveledge with me and my friends (the eight witnesses?) of selling the Book of Mormon of the edition noq printing by Egbert B. Grandin until enough of them shall be sold to pay for the printing of the same..." 2
Martin Harris' wife stated in her affidavit of November 29, 1833 that Martin's "...whole object was to make money by it (The Book of Mormon). I will give one circumstance in proof of it. One day, while at Peter Harris' house, I told him he had better leave the Company of the Smiths, as their religion was false; to which he replied, if you would let me alone, I could make money by it. It is in vain for the Mormons to deny these facts; for they are well known to most of his former neighbors" (Howe, pg. 255-256). Abigail Harris testified in her statement of November 28, 1833, that "...Martin Harris and his wife were at my house. In conversation about Mormonites she observed that she wished her husband would quit them, as she believed it was all false and a delusion. To which I heard Mr. Harris reply: 'What if it is a lie" if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!' I was both an eye and ear witness of what has been stated above, which is now fresh in my memory and I give it to the world for the good of mankind. I speak the truth and lie not, God bearing me witness." David Whitmer, another of the three witnesses, said in his book "An Address to All Believers in Christ," pgs. 30-31, that "Brother Hyrum (one of the eight witnesses) was vexed with brother Martin (for not selling his property to pay the printer) and thought they should get the money by some means outside him and
[Appendix p. 176]
not let him have any to do with the profits thereof if any profits should accrue." Hyrum Smith said it had been suggested that the copyright to the Book of Mormon be obtained in Toronto, Canada and sell the copyright for "considerable money." Hyram Page (another of the eight witnesses) and Oliver Cowdery (one of the three) went to Canada to sell the copyright showing no doubt they all were going to benefit from their "testimony" in the Book of Mormon.
Joseph's Revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright "failed" according to David Whitmer. It is a point of interest to note that two of the eight witnesses, Jacob and John, were waiting when Oliver and Hiram returned empty-handed. Perhaps they hoped financial recompense would be theirs for participating as witnesses. 3 A Mr. Burnett, a former member of the Mormon Church, wrote on April 15, 1838 that when he "...came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver (Cowdery) nor David (Whitmer) [nor] also the eight witnesses ever saw them (the plates of the Book of Mormon) and hesitated to sign that instrument (the "witness" statement in the Book of Mormon) for that reason, but were persuaded to do it." 4 Perhaps the witnesses were "persuaded" to sign with promises of financial remuneration. 5 This seems to be the case from all that is known from historical records.
Also, these onscure men no doubt would feel proud to have their names on a book that would circulate around the world. Many of these men were also promised and later given prominent positions in the new church. In one of Smith's revelations as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 82, these words
[Appendix p. 177]
are recorded: "Thertefore, verily I say unto you, that it is expedient for my servants Alam and Ahashdah (Newel K. Whitney), Mahalakel and Pelagoram (Sidney Rigdon) and my servant Gazelam (Joseph Smith), and Horah and Olihah (Oliver Cowdery), and Shalemenasseh and Mahemson (Martin Harris)... to managee the affairs of the poor... and you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just..." It can be seen that two of the three witnesses were selected to share in money and goods. Of course, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon are included! Also, in Joseph Smith's "History of the Church" (pg. 236), we find that the following men were to receive a "recompense" for the sale of the Book of Commandments (bow Doctrine and Covenants): Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, and Sidney Rigdon! Also those to be "remembered to the Bishop in Zion as being worthy of inheritances" are as follows: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Hiram Page and David Whitmer; Samuel H. Smith, Peter Whitmer, William Smith and Don Carlos Smith. Most of the men that were to receive a recompense from the profits of the Book of Commandments were witnesses to the Book of Mormon except: Sidney Rigdon, Peter Whitmer, William Smith and Don Carlos Smith (both of whom were brothers of the Prophet). This kind of situation certainly does not detract from our speculation that there was a financial interest in the Book of Mormon, by the witnesses. This manifested as an agreement on the proceeds of the Book of Commandments. 6 In summation, there is
[Appendix p. 178]
ample reason to suspect the motives of the participating parties in the signing of the "two witnesses statements" vut no supportive evidence anywhere exists dosplaying the same conclusion regarding the signing of statements by the eight witnesses at Conneaut, Ohio (Spaldin witnesses). The charge of a "similarity" in phrases, etc., in their statements have been shown to be valueless in regard to their truthfulness and authenticity.
The Conneaut witnesses have never been impeached and have stood firm since their publication in 1834. As a matter of fact, [none of the] Spalding witnesses and their statements have ever been soundly impeached by Mormon or non-Mormon researchers. They are worthy of our utmost attention and belief.
1 The Mormons, of course, castigated E. D. Howe. Rigdon, who was supposed to be a Mormon minister, used extremely vile descriptions to portray Howe's character. A. B. Deming, who had seen and spoken with Howe and his family some 50 or 60 times (from 5 minutes to 6 hours each visit) and interviewed a great many people who either knew Howe or knew of gim, remarked that "Mr. Howe was a man of superior mind and intelligence and universally respected by those who knew him." Deming did surmise that Howe had sold the "MS. Found" to the Mormons and that he was very "guarded" in his speech when it came to the subject of Mormonism. Other subjects wouls be discussed with the "utmost freedom." The Mormons called Howe the "Mormon eater." In the obituary column of Howe's death of the Conneaut Gazette of 1886, it says that Howe "Has
[Appendix p. 179]
always been a good citizen and was highly respected and honored by a large circle of acquaintenances." From all of the research that we have done on Howe's background and reputation, we must conclude the article in the Gazzette is accurate,
2 A copy of this note is in the possession of Mr. James Wardle of Salt Lake City, Utah.
3 Joseph Smith's mother, Lucy, said in her book "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, (Liverpool: 1853, pg. 141) "In a few days the whole company (this includes the witnesses) from Waterloo went to Palmyra to make arrangements for getting the book (The Book of Mormon) printed and they succeeded in making a contract with one E. G. Grandin..." These witnesses seemed very interested in the printing contract which, of course, would contain the financial agreements, etc.
4 Joseph Smith papers, MSf312 Reel 2 Box 2 fd2, Letter Book April 20, 1837-Feb. 9, 1843 p. 64.
5 Joseph Capron, a neighbor of the Smith family in the 1820s, testified in Nov. 1833, that Joseph Smith, Sen., one of the eight witnesses, told him that when the Book [of Mormon] was published, they would be enabled, from the profits of the work, to carry into successful operation the money digging business. Joseph Smith, Sem. declared it to be a speculation and said "when it is completed my family will be placed on a level above the generality of mankind." Mr. Capron also states that Joseph Smith, Jr. "prestended" to find the Gold Plates. This scheme, he believed, would relieve the family from all pecuniary embarrassment" (Howe, pg. 260).
[Appendix p. 180]
6 In his book "An Address to All Believers in Christ," pg. 5-6, David Whitmer, one of the eight witnesses, stated that "some of the revelations as they are now in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to. Some of the changes being of the greatest inportance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters..." Comparing the earlier Book of Commandments with the present day Doctrine and Covenants shows this to be true -- there being hundreds of changes.