READINGS  IN  EARLY  MORMON  HISTORY
(Newspapers of California)


Misc. California Newspapers
1900-1979 Articles


Early View of the Mormon Settlement at San Bernardino


1845-1856   1857-1859   1860-1899   1900-1979




L. A. Times  April 10 1904
L. A. Express  Aug. 12 1905
L. A. Times  August 17 1924
Turlock Trib.  May 10 1940
Modesto Bee  May 10 1940
L. A. Times  June 25 1977



Articles Index   |   1888 Oakland Naked Truths

 


Vol. ?                                   Los Angeles,  Monday,  April 10, 1904                                     No. ?




MORMONISM'S  BIRTHPLACE.
_____

Joseph Smith's Early Efforts as a Prophet.
_____

Discovery of Golden Plates and Book of Mormon.
_____

Many Religions Born in Central New York.

_____

(SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE OF THE TIMES.)

PALMYRA (N. Y.) March 31, 1904. -- The testimony now being presented before the Senate Committee appointed to investigate the eligibility of Apostle Reed Smoot, proving the continued prevalence of the practice of polygamy among the Mormons of Utah, is bringing that sect into increased notoriety, and their picturesque history is being dug up by lovers of the mysterious and bizarre.

The scene of the birth and early days of this religion, and the Mecca of devout Mormons, is this village and township of Palmyra, in Western New York, for here it was that Joseph Smith, Jr., first prophet of the Latter Day Saints "lived and moved and had his being." Four miles south of the village, just over the county line, stands Mormon Hill or the "Hill Cumorah" of the Mormon Bible, on whose grassy slopes the prophet dug and found the golden plates engraved with characters which he read by Divine aid.

In Palmyra too the first version of the Bible was printed. The old Washington hand press, No. 63, built by Robert Hoe &: Co., is still on exhibition, the property of Fred W. Clemons, editor and proprietor of the Wayne Country Journal at Palmyra, N. Y., and is viewed with veneration by the faithful pilgrim, while the very man who set the type was living but a few years ago. "Major" Gilbert was a hale nonagenarian who celebrated each birthday by setting a stick of type to "keep his hand in," possibly with the hope of printing Bibles in the world to come. All honor to his memory.

That Joseph Smith has gone to a better land is not believed by those of the old inhabitants who knew him as a neighbor. They say he was idle and shiftless, a dreamer, a treasure seeker and addicted to chicken raising. The family came from Vermont in the early years of the last century and settled near Palmyra. They soon gained notoriety as diviners and fortune tellers. The mother is now conceded to have been the genius of the family. She had an acute mind but it was perverted by ignorance and superstition. She often gave out hints that one of her sons was to be a prophet.

The son Joseph began his prophetic career by finding an opaque stone shaped somewhat like a child's foot, which he hoarded, and in which he soon claimed to have found strange properties. He called it a "peek stone" and he declared that by putting it in his beaver hat and holding the latter close up to his face he could detect the whereabouts of underground springs, lost property and hidden treasure.

Smith in the early '20s paid several visits to settlements in the Alleghany mountains in Pennsylvania, where the settlers were more credulous than those in Palmyra. On a certain wilderness hill his peek stone discovered a ton of silver bars which had been buried by weary Spaniards as they trudged up the Susquehanna. As soon as Smith could collect enough followers the digging was begun and several excavations were made, one of which was fully thirty-five feet in diameter and as deep. The diggers had proceeded with great labor and were just ready to grasp the silver when Smith announced that it had suddenly moved three hundred feet to the northeast. Again the faithful set to work and again the silver flitted away. The third hole had been sunk about fifteen feet when the treasure slid over near the original hole. A black dog was then killed and its blood sprinkled on the ground, after which the treasure did not move far away, but frequent tunneling proved unavailing, and when Smith announced that one at their number would have to be sacrificed, the diggers at last rebelled and went on strike. This story has been verified by old residents of Susquehanna who were eye-witness.

Several years later when Smith had set up as a prophet he frequently visited that neighborhood. A number of witnesses in the vicinity of Nineveh remember that he set a day for that village to sink, but that he afterwards repented and withdrew his curse. He did, however, announce that on a certain evening he would walk on the water. The place of his selection was watched by boys until one of Smith's followers was seen to construct a bridge of planks just under the surface. Watching their opportunity, the boys removed some of the planks. Before Smith attempted to walk he exhorted his followers to have strong faith, and when the bridge suddenly gave way beneath him he paddled ashore and exclaimed, "Woe unto ye of little faith! Your faith would not hold me up!"

Coming back to the days of the treasure-seeking we find that from 1820 to 1827 Smith persevered in the practice, retaining his following with wonderful cunning, and gradually developing his pretensions, which culminated in the pretended discovery of the golden plates and the promulgation or the Book of Mormon.

Smith claimed that as early as 1823 the "Angel Moroni" had appeared to him and told him that he would find golden plates which he should be able to translate, but it was not until the night of September 22, 1826 [sic], that, according to the faithful, the golden plates were taken from the "Hill Cumorah." Smith, according to his own story, at once hid the plates in the woods, but was able to translate them at a distance by means of his "peek stone" and beaver hat. It is said that he dictated his translation to Oliver Cowdery, one of his three followers.

The funds for printing the book were provided by Martin Harris, a well-to-do farmer, who mortgaged his farm for $3000. The printing was done in the office of the Wayne Sentinel, E. B. Grandin proprietor, during the winter of 1829-30.

The "copy" was on ruled paper and the writing was so crowded together that the smallest monosyllables were often divided between two lines. The copy was in Cowdery's handwriting, and only enough for one day was brought in each morning by Hyrum Smith, the prophet's brother, who always called again at night to take it away. There were no marks of punctuation in the copy -- a sore trial to Pomeroy Tucker, the foreman and Gilbert in reading proof. At such times Cowdery had to be called in to assist, or the orthodox Bible was referred to for enlightenment on some foggy passage.

The completion of the work was celebrated by Martin Harris, who invited the printers to his house. He introduced them to his wife, who bowed coldly and took no pains to welcome them. At length Harris asked for the cider pitcher and went to the spot indicated by his wife. Returning with it to his wife he showed her a large hole in the bottom. "Well" said Mrs. Harris, "It has as much bottom as your old Bible has."

The narrative told in the Book at Mormon is as follows:

Some six hundred years prior to the advent of Christ a band of Israelites was inspired to seek the promised land, which proved to be Central America, where they greatly increased. A vicious and ambitious Jew named Laman was detected in a conspiracy, whereupon he and his adherents were driven forth and migrated northward. These were the progenitors of the American Indians. A portion of the tribe, however, became a "fair and delightsome" people, and withdrew from their savage fellows, who finally surrounded them at the scene of the discovery of the plates and slew them to the number of 200,000. Mormon and his son, Moroni alone escaping. This son, obeying his father's injunction, buried the tablets containing the sacred history of this wandering tribe. It being recorded that he who found them should become a prophet.

The accepted theory for the origin of this account is that it was written as a romance by one Solomon Spaulding, whose manuscript was rejected by a Pittsburgh publisher and fell into the hands of Sidney Rigdon who worked in the office at the time and later became acquainted with Smith, and after the alleged finding of the golden plates became a missionary in the promulgation of the faith. The doctrines enjoined in the faith were those which were being agitated in Western New York at the time. The doctrine of polygamy, however, was not incorporated in the faith until after Smith's death.

The physical appearance of Smith has been recorded. In height he was over six feet, of stout build but wiry; his hair and complexion were light; his eyes were blue and mild, and "he did not look as if he knew enough to fool people so," as one old lady expressed it. Another person who saw him in later years said: "General (?) Smith is in stature and proportion a very large man: and his figure would probably be called a fine one, although by no means distinguished for symmetry or grace. His arms and hands seemed never to have been developed by physical toil, and the latter are quite small for his proportions. It seems impossible to account for Smith's hold on his followers, ignorant and superstitious though they were, except by the theory that he possessed hypnotic power, which he doubtless inherited from his mother. His greatest triumph was embodied in the affidavit of the three witnesses, who testified as follows:

"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for His voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown to us by the power of God, and not of man: And we declare with words of soberness that an angel or God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen!
"OLIVER COWDERY.
"DAVID WHITMER,
"MARTIN HARRIS."

It has been claimed that these three witnesses sooner or later all left the faith, but it is only fair to say that this is not true. In 1887 David Whitmer, one of the witnesses, published a pamphlet in defense of Mormonism. He was then living in Richmond, Mo., with that branch of the Mormons who did not accept Brigham Young's revelation enjoining the practice of polygamy.

It is believed by many that these witnesses were sincere and that their vision was a demonstration of Smith's hypnotic power. The scene has been described by the Rev. M. T. Lamb, formerly a Christian missionary among the Mormons.

"The scene is laid in the woods whither Harris, Cowdery and Whitmer have resorted to be convinced by Joseph that his book is of God. The witnesses are seated upon a log when the prophet appears. He prays and labors with them, but the heavens give no sign. There is a disturbing force present, and the prophet locates it in Harris and asks him to withdraw. Then he kneels down by the other two, and at last the vision is vouchsafed. A shining form bearing the plates appears and the men fall prostrate. Harris is then recalled, and alone Smith wrestles with his stubborn will. At last to him also appears the angel, and the testimony of the church is complete! The prophet has played a great game and he has won. We may leave him to enjoy his victory as heartily as any juggler on the banks of the Euphrates."

Before tracing farther the adventures of Smith and his followers after the publication of the Book of Mormon, we will describe some picturesque features of their doings.

The place where this splendid fraud was planned was an artificial cave which the conspirators had dug in a sidehill to the south of the highway running from the old Palmyra plank road to the residence of Mark Jefferson. The entrance to this cave was guarded by an iron-plated door, and the cave itself was fully sixty feet in length and ten feet high. At the end was a broad chamber furnished with a rude table and stools. Here it was that the treasure-seekers were wont to meet and consult the "peek stone," and in the later days the first converts to the new faith made it their rendezvous before they began to hold public meetings for the purpose of making converts. It is stated that Darius Pierce, at the head of a party of neighbors surprised one of the nocturnal assemblies and that a lively time ensued.

Another meeting place was the log cabin in the woods where dwelt the Smith family. Sometimes these meetings were interrupted by thunderings overhead, as if the Lord were answering their prayers from heaven. In later years when the building was torn down several cannon balls were found concealed under a false roof over the rafters. They could be moved by a string so as to give forth rolling sound as of thunder. This is the method employed in modern theaters for the same purpose. As soon as the printing of the bible had been completed, Smith and his followers, Harris, Cowdery and Whitmer began to travel about the country seeking converts and selling copies of the book. The canny farmers of that region, however, were as a rule able to discern Smith's true character, and that prophet was without honor in his country. He often attempted to prove his semi-divine nature by various devices. He twice attempted to walk upon the water but in each case the planking gave way and he was ingloriously ducked.

The writer's grandfather, a Walworth farmer, was approached by Smith one day while he was at work beside the fire in a copper shop which he maintained on his farm. He became impatient of Smith's extravagant claims and at length offered to put Smith in the hot coals as a test; whereupon the prophet desisted and withdrew, never to return.

In the early days of the church "speaking with tongues" was much in vogue, and the tongues were alleged to be those of vanished Indian races. The mysterious gabble which was heard at the prayer meetings infected the imaginations of the small boys who heard it, and they would imitate fluently upon the streets. One of these boys, so it is related, was invited by Sidney Rigdon to speak at prayer meeting and the lad carried away by the excitement of the occasion, fairly outdid himself in vehement nonsense. Then Rigdon arose and gravely announced that a revelation from God had been transmitted through the boy. This he proceeded to translate amid great excitement. Finally he exclaimed "The boy has gone beyond me. I can't find words to express the wonder of it all." And thus he finished.

The first "Church of Christ of the Latter Day Saints" was organized in Fayette, Seneca County; on April 6, 1830, but converts were not as plenty as the ambitious leaders desired, so Smith soon had a "revelation" commanding them to go to Kirtland. O. This revelation was the first in a long series reaching to the present day. They are made generally by the leader or "prophet" as he is styled. These revelations are embodied in the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" which is the real Bible of the Mormons, containing as it does the doctrines which they profess.

At this time monogamy was as much a cardinal doctrine with the Mormons as in churches generally. The following was among the specific directions given to the church by revelation in 1831: "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

This was moral and unequivocal and creditable to Smith, and it was not until several years after his death that polygamy was adopted, at the suggestion of Brigham Young who slandered the dead by declaring that Smith had before his death received revelation countenancing polygamy.

The early part of the year 1831 found the Mormons settled in Kirtland, whither Rigdon had preceded them and where the clever swindle was resorted to of having him sensationally converted to the supposedly strange religion. Smith and Rigdon started a wildcat bank and to support their credit, they showed visitors several copper boilers, apparently full of gold coin, but after two years of prosperity they were compelled to flee from a sheriff's warrant. The rest of the band soon followed them to Independence, Miss. [sic], whence they were obliged to flee in 1840 to Illinois. There, on the banks of the Mississippi they founded the town Nauvoo, which grew to be a large city; and there on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot while attempting to escape from a mob.

A Frenchman who was studying English history was led to remark: The Anglo-Saxons have invented a hundred religions, but not one soup. If America is the home of religions then New York State is their birthplace, notably that part of the State west of the Oneida lake, The counties of Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga, Wayne and Monroe have been called the Land of Faiths. Spiritualism, Mormonism, a half dozen sects of Shakers, and the Cardiff Giant, the greatest frauds of the nineteenth century, were products of Western New York. The home of the Fox sisters, where spirit rappings were first heard, is but a few miles east of Palmyra.

To complete the fame of this image we must mention that it was the birthplace of the late Admiral William T. Sampson, and it is an interesting fact that at the time of his death he was the owner, and his brother the occupant of the famous "Mormon Farm." The hill is now the property of the Sampson estate.   W. C.


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


THE  LOS  ANGELES  EXPRESS.

Vol. ?                                        Tuesday, August 12, 1905                                         No. ?




SAYS  MORMON  BIBLE  IS  AN  ALLEGORY
__________

Major Jonas Olmstead, Who Knew Spalding, Its Author, and
Joseph Smith, the Prophet, Talks of Early Days
__________

"Joe Smith, the original founder of the 'Mormon church' and the so-called 'prophet,' said his 'bible,' the Book of Mormon, was a revelation from God. His statement was unqualifiedly false. I saw the Mormon 'bible' before Joe Smith did. I saw Charles [sic] Spalding writing it. I knew both Spalding and Smith, and am thoroughly familiar with the 'prophet's' pedigree."

This remarkable statement was made by Maj. Jonas Olmstead of 827 West Tenth street. Major Olmstead served with distinction during the civil war, and while employed in the government secret service, he was instrumental in destroying a powerful anti-bellum secret society which threatened to disrupt the union and accomplish wholesale treason.

Major Olmstead, when asked for particulars concerning the above-quoted statement, added.

"I repeat, Joe Smith was a fakir, pure and simple, and though ignorant he possessed qualities which enabled him to lead the guileless and superstitious, much like Dowie and others are leading weak-minded men and women today, and withal Smith was, despite his ignorance, as cunning a scoundrel as ever cut a throat.

"I was born at Bienheim, Schoharie county, New York, eighty-seven years ago. In 1819 my father and his large family and my eldest brother and his family moved to the adjoining county, Delaware, and settled at Meredith, about five miles from Joe Smith's house. My next eldest brother settled only two miles from Joe Smith, and his eldest son, Stephen M. Olmstead, was born there. This nephew came West in 1851, and now resides at Carpentaria, Cal. He also could give many interesting accounts of Joe Smith's infamous early life. Two years ago Stephen visited the old home and slept in the room in which he was born.

"As a boy I attended school in the Adney Lewis district, on the old Kaatskill turnpike. A mile stone stood near with the sign '88 miles to Kaatskill' chiseled on it. We had at this time a teacher named Charles Spalding, a large, fine-appearing man, always clad in a threadbare suit of broadcloth. At 4 o'clock Mr. Spalding would cover the burnt logs in the fireplace with ashes, pull the old table near to the fire and sit for hours with his back to the chimney and write. He boarded with my parents. At 8 o'clock in the evening Mr. Spalding would appear at our fireside -- one worthy the name, with a fireplace that would accommodate a huge back log seven feet long. Before bed-time my good mother would make the teacher hot mush or set before him bread and milk.

Real Author of Book

"Mr. Spalding was a man of superior education. He enlivened our dull evenings by reading delightful stories from French, Latin and other books. He was an author, and wrote incessantly. His efforts were applied to the writing of novels and stories. At the close of the winter term his table drawers were full of manuscripts.

"When Mr. Spalding left us he went to Joe Smith's house to board. Soon he was taken sick and died there. In his last hours he secured a promise from Joe Smith, in the presence of witnesses, to surrender all of his manuscripts to his (Mr. Spalding's) sister, and, if she did not come to burn them. He explained that for pastime he had written an allegory, but as the work was unfinished he did not want it to go to the public. Smith solemnly promised. Spalding's sister did not come, and Joe Smith turned traitor to the dead man and used the manuscript for his own purposes. That manuscript was the basis of Smith's 'Mormon Bible.'

"Joe Smith was denounced as an impostor and a bad man by our entire community. No one in our county followed him. While living at Meredith Smith duped many of his credulous neighbors into believing that there was gold in the hills near the town. He induced them to dig all night for many nights in succession. At dawn he would declare that some one had spoken, thereby breaking the spell, 'and on that account the gold disappeared.' Thus Smith skillfully utilized the credulity of men.

"Soon after Spalding's death Smith removed to Palmyra. There he embellished, amended and arranged his 'bible.' From that time until he was mobbed in Illinois many poor people were led astray. Many others, knowing Smith to be an impostor, followed him through the promise of material reward.

"Smith's 'bible' with which I am thoroughly familiar, did not originally advocate polygamy. Smith had only one wife, and she, of course, did not believe in polygamy. To this day the orthodox Mormons, Smith's real followers, do not believe in polygamy and hold aloof from the ruling Utah aggregation.

"When Joe Smith died, however, a far worse man succeeded him as leader -- the black-hearted assassin responsible for the massacre at Mountain Meadow near Salt Lake -- the real founder of Mormon polygamy and the cult of today that is making such progress in politics and finance -- Brigham Young. The present Mormon despotism in Utah was planned by him. Smoot and Smith and the others are merely carrying out Young's program. If not destroyed it is yet destined to become a mighty power.

"Like other anarchists, the Mormons claim that the God of heaven leads them and approves their treason.

"With this vile institution in our midst, growing rapidly in power and resources, securing devotees by the thousand among the superstitious peoples of the world, invading congress, dominating the politics and domestic affairs of Utah and constantly reaching out, ready at any time to slap Uncle Sam in the face with the doctrine of state's rights, I shudder to think what the result may be.

"If the real Americans, the Anglo-Saxons, are not becoming silly they will smash this accursed evil at once. Politics, so far, has prevented it."


Note 1: For more improbable stories for Book of Mormon origins, similar to the one told by Major Olmstead, see pp. 265-270 in Elder Rudolph Etzenhouser's 1894 book, From Palmyra... The editor of the Deseret News responded to Olmstead's 1905 claims in the Aug. 25, 1905 issue of that LDS newspaper.

Note 2: The only known person even closely matching the biodata of the 87 year old man who gave the Express article was Jonas Reed Olmsted, son of Harry and Hannah, who was apparently born in 1818. However, records show that this particular Jonas died in 1903, two years before the Express article was published.

Note 3: Meredith township is located just south of Oneonta and Otego townships of Otsego county, NY. Beginning with "Harvy Olmsted" in 1810 and "Darius Olmsted" in 1820, early 19th century Census reports show several different Olmstead heads of households living in the northwest corner of Delaware county, very near Chenango county's Bainbridge and Afton townships (where Joseph Smith, Jr. was known to have temporarily resided). F. G. Mather places Joseph Smith, Jr. briefly in the Sidney-Otego area (upriver from Afton and Bainbridge), during the mid-1820s: "Three miles above Nineveh lies Afton, just on the edge of Chenango county, and a short distance above are Sidney, in Delaware County, and Otego, in Otsego county. Smith and his followers operated with the peek-stone in this part of the valley, where he was a comparative stranger." If Joseph Smith, Jr. did operate his seer-stone business in the Sidney-Otego area, he may have interacted with some Olmsteads in that place. Neither Joseph Smith senior nor junior would have occupied a residence of his own there, however, and Charles Spalding would obviously not have boarded in such a non-existent Smith house.

Note 4: John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907) was the founder of the Pentecostal "healing center," -- Zion City, north of Chicago, Illinois. Major Olmstead evidently considered Dowie a religious anarchist.


 



Vol. ?                                   Los Angeles,  Sunday,  August 17, 1924                                     No. ?




An Almost Forgotten Chapter of Mormon History
_____

By Mary Mendenhall Perkins


How This Sect Gained Its Name From That of the Man Who Translated Records
Back in Ohio Nearly a Hundred Years Ago; Original Church Still Stands

Two things which have recently appeared in print have set a train of reminiscence running through my mind: one of these articles is a notice of the formal inauguration of the first Mormon Temple to take place, in Mesa, Ariz., in September. The other story is of a most interesting historical nature and deals with the fact that the California coast southward from Ventura, including Los Angeles, was once included within the Mormon state of Deseret.

This last statement appears almost incredible to us at today, but it seems it is a fact, and we have to admit that Brigham Young, head of the Mormon Church, was a "wise old dreamer of very practical dreams." His fondest dream was of a great inland empire wherein the rule at the church would be the rule of the land; where "giant mountain, ranges on the north, east and west would fence against Gentile intrusion and wherefrom, toward the southwest, would be access toward the Pacific."

That this dream failed of realization is something for which we need to give thanks today. It is from pondering on what might have been that my thoughts go out to a beautiful day in October, some years ago, when I made one of a jolly party out from Cleveland, visiting, for the first time the sleepy little village of Kirtland, in Lake county, Northern Ohio. It was in that town that Joseph Smith, the first profit of Mormonism, organized a society and erected a fine temple to his God.

To get a better understanding of just what this building stood for, let us go back a little to the day, September 22, 1827, when this same Joseph Smith, then a young man, living in Ontario county, New York, according to Mormon history, discovered some records containing an abridged account of an enlightened people who once inhabited North and South America, being colonists from the eastern continent, who had landed at different periods in this part of the world. These records were engraved upon plates of brass having the appearance of gold: the plates were about the thickness of common tin; a part of the records was sealed, but Joseph Smith was told by the heavenly messenger who delivered them to translate the unsealed part and have it printed in book form. This was done at Palmyra, N. Y., and the book put on sale early in the spring of 1830. The book was called after the name of the man who abridged the records, "Mormon."

I have here, quoted freely from a pamphlet published about the time of my visit to Kirtland, by the Herald Publishing House, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Lamoni, Decatur county, Iowa. From this pamphlet I learned further, that the "plates" were hid about 420 A. D. and that after Joseph Smith made the translation, the plates were returned to the one who delivered them to him.

Told to "Correct" Bible

Later in the summer, Joseph Smith was "instructed" to translate or rather "correct" the King James translation of the Bible, which he did by the "inspiration of God," from June, 1830; to July, 1833. During that time he changed his place of residence from Palmyra, N. Y., to Kirtland, O., on account of a man named Sidney Rigdon, a disciple master, living at Mentor, near by. Rigdon had heard the New Doctrine, as it was called, and at once began to preach it.

So it was that, when Joseph Smith arrived at Kirtland. he found a warm welcome awaiting him. Sidney Rigdon had already gathered together quite a congregation, of followers: had announced himself a convert to Mormonism, and his determination to preach it to the whole world. His flock willingly followed him, into the new fold, as he was a strong debater and had great magnetism, so that all opposition faded away before him, and the society soon numbered a thousand souls. Whole families came from the East by wagon, bringing with them their household goods, and settling in the village of Kirtland. New streets were laid out; lots sold rapidly and the new City of Zion, as it was called, became a veritable hive of industry.

Soon after Joseph Smith's arrival from Palmyra, N. Y., he was "instructed" by the Lord to build a house of worship and call it a temple. It is related by one of their historians that a pattern of the building, with all its dimensions, was shown to him in a vision and the corner-stone laid the following July, 1833. The building was dedicated less than three years later.

As we climbed the long hill, we were rewarded by the sight of the fine old temple, standing about 100 feet above the base of the beautiful table-land, on the south side of the merry little Chagrin River. It is only five miles to Little Mountain, the highest point in the State of Ohio, so a finer site for this Mormon temple could not have been chosen. There is something very attractive about the building and we were told that all through the summer months a constant stream of visitors, from far and near, climbs that, hill on which the temple stands, to listen to the glowing account which the custodian gives of its marvelous construction and history, and then ascends the stairs to the belfry, 110 feet above the ground, to get a view of the lovely country all about.

One writer tells us that the "Prophet" of Palmyra must have had the temple at Jerusalem in mind when he selected Kirtland Heights as the place whereon to build the temple shown him in the vision, for the view from there reveals a fruitful land, "flowing with milk and honey." On every side, in the harvest time, the ripening grain fields of the thrifty "New Connecticut" farmers give promise of overflowing granaries, while the gloriously colored maple groves which we saw on that October day were proof to the initiated that the "tree molasses" will not be wanting when the buckwheat cake season comes around.

River Healed Souls

At the foot of the beautiful plateau flowed the charming little Chagrin River, the waters of which, in days gone by, it is said, sealed many a soul to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his new religion. The temple, which is truly stately in appearance, is built of quarried sandstone plastered on the outside with a hard cement which contains pulverized glass and glistens like granite. It was intended to eclipse anything in the country at the early date and must have very nearly, if not quite, succeeded in doing so.

As we entered the auditorium on the ground floor, one of our party said: "Do look at the double-headed monster!" This exclamation had reference to the curious "twin pulpits," one at either end of the room with seats and desks to accommodate the twelve members of the priesthood. The two orders of the priesthood in the church are the Melchisidec and the Aaronic. I remarked the beauty of the pure Gothic windows on the sides, and the custodian drew my attention to the two fine colonial windows at the ends of the building, saying that "recently an architect from Washington, D. C., who had taken a contract for the erection of a government building there, asked permission to copy one of these windows, remarking that it was the finest of its kind that he had ever seen!"

The Greek scroll and the Egyptian lotus flower play a large part In the decorative scheme and the work is particularly fine about the vestibule adjoining the auditorium, with its winding stairways at either end, leading to the upper floors. By a curious and clever arrangement of curtains which drop from the ceiling, different sections of the auditorium can, in a moment, be separated from the rest of the church. The whole interior arrangement, especially that of the pulpits, is unique and interesting.

There are three floors in all; the second, above the auditorium, was plainly furnished, while the top floor, lighted by ten large dormer windows, was divided into five rooms for the school of the prophets, where the young priests and the believers were instructed in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. The building cost about $60,000, nearly 100 years ago, and no doubt would today cost several times as much. The date of its completion, in 1836, marks the high tide of Mormonism at Kirtland.

Religious excitement at that time was intense and weird tales were told and accepted as the truth; for instance, it was said that "many being blest with the gift of tongues, praised the Lord in strange languages; others saw visions, and strange lights were seen in the temple after the worshipers had gone to their homes."

This temple, where over a thousand people worshiped once and where, in its upper story was a full-fledged college for young priests, was later abandoned and neglected for nearly half a century. The Kirtland Mormons were not to enjoy their new temple for long. Envy, strife and jealousy soon began to work inside the fold, helping to overthrow the seat of the new religion. Joseph Smith, Rigdon and Brigham Young soon had to depart for a new haven In Missouri. The others followed their leaders in 1838.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the sect, whose house is still standing at the foot of the hill on which the temple was erected at Kirtland, was killed, with his brother Hiram, by an armed mob of 150 men, who broke into the Carthage Jail, Hancock county, Illinois, in 1844. The fine new temple was destroyed at the same time. Before his death Joseph Smith stated to a large congregation that "If Brigham Young ever gets the lead of the church, he will lead it to hell!"

To return once more to the temple at Kirtland: After the Mormons had departed from there for Missouri, in 1838, the beautiful temple was left In the hands of a community Which had no love for it; soon it descended to the common usage of a town hall, wherein strolling players, lectures on phrenology and a traveling photographer held forth. Some of the carvings were broken and carried away and the temple seemed on the straight road to ruin. However, in the year 1880, the courts decided that the Kirtland temple belonged to the Mormons, so it was taken possession of by the reorganized branch, and restored as nearly as possible to its former state; since which time the "saints" have been respected members of the community. Services are held in the temple regularly, or were at the time of my visit there.

Certain it is that a building such as the Kirtland temple, erected by the personal labor of the men who believed in the new-found doctrine and where at one time was one of Harvard's best professors teaching Greek to the young priests, in the college upstairs, is worthy of our most serious consideration.

It is gratifying to every lover of the historical to learn that the building has undergone repairs, which will be the means of its preservation for centuries to come, unless some modern Goth or Vandal should destroy it.


Notes: (forthcoming)


  


THE  TURLOCK  TRIBUNE.

Vol. ?                                     Turlock, Calif., May 10, 1940                                     No. ?



Colorful Pioneer Dies Here At 84
_______

The frontiers of America have disappeared, they say, and whether that is true or not, certain it is that the old frontiersmen of America are disappearing from the scenes of their adventures.

William Tillman Miller of Turlock was dead today, and with his death there passed one of the last of the old pioneers who blazed a trail westward across a continent, and the sole survivor, it is believed, of the historic Mountain Meadow Massacre in Utah in 1857.

Miller, a retired rancher, was 84. He died Friday at his home at 313 Boulevard Street here. He had lived in Turlock for the past nine years.

There is no record of Miller's place of birth. According to historical legend, however, he, as an infant child, was a member of the caravan of Arkansas travelers who trekked into Utah in 1857 only to meet death at the hands of the followers of Brigham Young.

Utah, at that time, was considered sacred soil by the Mormons -- the holy ground of the Territory of Deseret.

Miller (it was reported) was a member of a caravan of about 120 men, women, and children who traveled to Utah by covered wagon from Arkansas, on the way to California.

At Mountain Meadow, history records, they pitched their camp and were spied by Mormon agents.

According to legend, Young had sworn to punish with death all interlopers who set foot in Utah as a result of the slaying of the Mormon leader, Parley Parket Pratt, near Van Buren, Ark., on May 13, 1857.

Pratt had eloped with the wife of Hector H. McClain, it is recorded, and was slain by McClain.

According to one account of the battle, the Mormons used typical twentieth-century Trojan horse or fifth-column strategy in wiping out the encampment of Arkansas pioneers.

The group from Arkansas formed a semi-circle with their covered wagons and converted the assembly into a rude fort.

When the Mormons attacked, a volley of rifle fire drove them off.

Then, according to the account, agents of the Mormons came to the Arkansas camp bearing a white flag. They were admitted and told the beleaguered travelers that federal soldiers had come to their rescue.

The Arkansans, according to the account, believed them, laid aside their arms, and followed the Mormons out of their hastily erected fortress.

When the group reached a certain point, the Mormons opened fire. The camp then was stormed. According to one account of the massacre, only a few children, of whom Miller was one, were saved. These were adopted, placed in Mormon homes, from which they were taken when federal troops took the situation in hand after authorities had been informed of the battle.

Miller's parents, two aunts and an uncle were slain in the battle, according to reports.

From Utah Miller was taken to Kansas, later went back to Texas, in 1876 he and his wife came to California, established their residence at Colton and lived in Los Angeles and Southern California until moving to Oakland where he resided until coming to Turlock.

Miller's wife, Brancy Ann Miller, died in 1932. Survivors include four sons, Claude Elmer Miller of Turlock, Thomas T. Miller of Wasco, Calif., Joseph F. Miller and E. E. Miller, both of Los Angeles; two daughters, Mrs. Nellie Warrecher of Santa Ana, and Mrs. Mary Stohr of Compton; and a step-son, Frank Boyd of Fellows, Calif.


Note: See also the on-line series, "Children of the Massacre."


 


The  Modesto  Bee.

Vol. ?                                     Modesto, Calif., May 10, 1940                                     No. ?



LAST  SURVIVOR  OF  MASSACRE
IS  CALLED  BY  DEATH

_______

TURLOCK, May 10 -- William Tillman Miller, 84, believed to be the last survivor of the Mountain Meadows massacre which took place in Utah in 1857, died in the home of his son here this morning.

The massacre occurred when Miller was 6 months old. He and approximately twenty other small children were the only persons spared by a Mormon tribe which sought to avenge the killing of one of their number in Arkansas earlier the same year.

Miller was with his parents, who were traveling from Arkansas and had camped near Mountain Meadows, Washington County, Utah, on their way to California.

Miller came to California fifty two years ago, settling first in San Bernardino County, and had lived in Turlock for the past nine years.

He leaves four sons, Claude E. Miller of Turlock, Thomas Miller of Wasco, Joseph F. and E. E. Miller, both of Los Angeles; two daughters, Mrs. Mary Stohr of Compton and Mrs. Nettie Warrecker of Santa Ana, and one stepson, Frank Boyd of Fellows. His wife died in 1932.

Funeral services will be conducted in the J. W. Guy Funeral Chapel at 10:30 o'clock Monday morning with Rev. Laurence C. Sunkler, pastor of the First Christian Church, officiating. Interment will be in the Turlock Cemetery.


Note: See also the on-line series, "Children of the Massacre."


 



Vol. ?                                   Los Angeles,  Saturday,  June 25, 1977                                     No. ?



Trio Challenges Authenticity of Mormon Book

by Russell Chandler

LOS ANGELES - Three Southern Callfornia researchers say they have new evidence that challenges the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, one of the sacred writings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Based on the evidence of three handwriting experts, researchers have declared that portions of the Book of Mormon were written by a Congregationalist minister and novelist who died more than 10 years before Joseph Smith is said to have received the revelations from God through golden plates.

Though controversy about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon has swirled since its publication in 1830, the critics'case until now has rested on circumstantial evidence.

Critics had maintained that similarities of style, subject matter and testimonies of perhaps biased persons linked Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, with Solomon Spaulding, the minister-writer who died in 1816.

But this week the young researchers, none of whom is now a Mormon, revealed that they believe Spaulding wrote 12 pages of "First Nephi," part of the 522-page Book of Mormon.

Asked for comment, a press spokesman for the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City flatly denied that any of the pages of the Book of Mormon were written by Spaulding. The researcher?, Howard A Donald Scales, both of Torrance, Calif., and Wayne L. Condrey of Orange, Calif., say that two years ago they obtained enlarged photocopies of 12 original manuscript pages that are in the Latter-day

Saints archives in Salt Lake City. These reproductions were compared with specimens of handwriting in "Manuscript Story," a novel about the origin of American Indians generally acknowledged to have been writeen in longhand by Spaulding around 1812.

The handwriting analysts, all well known in their field, worked independently and did not know of the Book of Mormon connection, Condrey said in an interview. The first expert to be consulted was Henry Silver. He told The Los Angeles Times: "It is my definite opinion that all of the questioned handwriting... were written by the same writer known as Solomon Spaulding..."

Silver has analyzed thousands of cases, including the so-called Mormon will of Howard Hughes, which was found last year in the world headquarters of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City. Silver emphatically stated then as he still did this week that the writer of the will was none other than Hughes. Other experts have loudly denounced the will as a fake.

The other handwriting analysts who examined the Spaulding materials and the reproduced Mormon pages were Howard C. Doulder and William Kaye. Both live in the Los Angeles area and are frequently called to testify in court cases. Doulder told the Times, "This is one and the same writer," assuming that the photocopied material he was furnished is a true copy of the original documents in Salt Lake.


Note: The above text is taken from an abridged version of the Los Angeles Times new report, as reprinted in the Syracuse Post-Standard of June 25, 1977, under the title "Book of Mormon Newly Questioned."


 

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