(Newspapers of Michigan)

Misc. Michigan Newspapers
1850-1899 Articles

Strang's Voree Plates -- "Translated" at Great Beaver Island

1820-49   |   1850-99

DtAd Jun 12 '51  |  DtFP Dec 16 '55  |  MArg May 15 '57
GTH Mar 16 '71  |  DtTrb Feb 01 '72  |  DtPT Dec 03 '77
MCH Sep 16, '86  |  MCH Oct 21 '86  |  MWC Jul 21 '92

Old Newspaper Articles Index


Vol. ?                               Detroit, June 12, 1851.                               No. ?


Further Mormon Outrages at Beaver Island -- Brutal and Deliberate Murder by the followers of Strang.

The miscreants who have gathered themselves together upon Beaver Island, under the title of Mormons, are making rapid and sure progress in the degrees of crime which lead from adultery, theft, arson, robbery, to deliberate murder.

It will be recollected by our readers, that we published during the past winter, several communications from the Island, among which was one giving the particulars of the burning of the dwelling houses of two men by the name of Bennett. -- These Bennetts are not Mormons, nor have they ever been; they happened to be residents of the Island, and to be owners of property there, and were men of good character and deportment. Strang, who has been in Detroit jail, and is under various indictments, has long sought the ruin of these men, as well as that of other "Gentiles," as he styles them; and his threats "to drive the from the Island, dead or alive," have so often repeated as to excite no apprehension, until the burning of their houses during the past winter by him; since which event the inhabitants of the Island, not Mormons, have kept a close and constant watch upon their houses and property.

The conditions upon which Strang offered immunity to these persons, was, that they should become Mormons, and yield themselves up to be governed by Mormon laws. Not seeing fit to comply with this revolting alternative, these "Gentiles," have been constantly and particularly pursued in various ways; at times by mock litigation, and at other times by inroads upon their rights and property, without color of law, until last week, when they assembled together to the number of fifty or more, and proceeded to the dwelling house of Thomas Bennett, armed with rifles, pistols, knives, &c., and bearing, as they said, a Mormon precept, authorizing them to seize his person, and take his property. Upon their approach, Bennett closed his doors against them. telling them not to enter; upon which they fired some forty shots into the house, the effect of which was to drive T. Bennett forth to seek safety in flight; but when he had gained a few rods, he fell dead, pierced by rifle balls, and forty buck-shot.

They next pursued the other Bennett, who fled instinctively; but after going a few rods, remembered the condition of his poor wife, (who was alone in the house,) and returned to receive their shot just as he crossed the threshold. His hand was cut in two by the shot, and the wound may not be mortal. The fiends then took the dead body of Thomas Bennett, and dragging it by the hair of the head to the boat, threw it in, and compelled Samuel Bennett, the wounded man to follow and sit down by it; they then drove the distracted woman after them into the boat, and took them a distance of five miles to the Harbor, where they held a post mortem examination of the body of Thomas Bennett, with a jury composed of Mormons, with the exception of three persons, who were "Gentiles;" at which it was proposed by the Mormon jurors, to bring in a verdict that Bennett came to his death while resisting the law; while the persons who were not Mormons decided that Bennett was deliberately murdered.

A fearful excitement prevailed towards the miscreant Mormons among the Indians on the Island, who hate and fear them, as well as the white population who are not Mormons, and they were retrained from executing summary vengeance upon the murderers only through the urgent advice of Messrs. McKinley, Bowers, Moore and Dinsmore, who had persuaded them to await the execution of the laws of Michigan upon the wretches.

We hope to see efficient measures taken by the ministers of the laws of Michigan, to vindicate its authority, by the arrest of the actual murderers of Thomas Bennett, and by the indictment of the miscreant Strang as an accessory before the fact.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                               Detroit, December 16, 1855.                               No. ?


                                                    Saint James, Beaver Island, Dec. 12th, 1855.
To the Editor of the Free Press:

Mr. Geo. Brownson, who lives at the southwest extremity of this island, reports that last Wednesday there came ashore near his place numerous broken goods boxes and barrels, such as usually contain sugar, &c., addressed to some persons (names not remembered) in Chicago; several casks damaged powder, some fifty broken cheese boxes, and a few yet containing "Hamburg cheese;" also, the cabin (all above deck) of a small vessel, well made, and somewhat ornamented, matched, beaded and partially covered with oil-cloth, two windows, door with lock and white knobs. They must have belonged to a vessel lost at sea.

At the same place, two days later, some fifty pieces floor plank came on shore. It is supposed they were part of the deck-load of another vessel.

A considerable fleet (say twenty sail) passed here going up last Friday. The night following was a terrific south-east storm, with snow. It is not possible that they all weathered it, and the probability is that the loss of life and property is immense. Truly and sincerely,
                                        JAMES J. STRANG.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Weekly  Michigan  Argus.
Vol. XII.                               Ann Arbor, Thursday, May 15, 1857.                               No. 20.

                  From the Boston Post.

The  Mormons

Over eight hundred Mormons have just arrived in this part from England, and have proceeded on their way to Utah. The fact is a singular one. It shows who feeds this miserable population; that converts are from abroad. The Mormons have their "stakes" and missionaries all over Europe. Their plan, crowned with success, is to select natives of a country they wish to operate in, send them out among them, and feed them with their central church funds, until their proselytism is so successful as to allow a support from the "offerings" of the converts they make. For this end their tracts are widely circulated. A little while ago 25,000 copies of one of their weekly journals were distributed in London. The Book of Mormon is their great agent, and it has been translated into many of the modern languages, such as French, German, Italian, Danish, Polynesian, and the Welsh.

This machinery has recruited their numbers astonishingly. This community has now 100,000 fighting men, and 200,000 spies, and it is in league with Indian tribes less guilty, less barbarous, but as full of war. A large portion are foreigners. Of foreign countries, Denmark is conspicuous for its hospitality to Mormonism. In 1853 there were in this kingdom thousands of baptised saints, and hundreds had been sent to Utah. But Great Britain furnishes the largest number. A British periodical concedes as follows: -- "This fanatical superstition has made more dupes in England than all the world beside." -- In July 1853, the British saints had 222 "places of worship;" numbered 30.690, and if one tithe of the stuff in the Deseret News be true, about converts, the number has largely increased, notwithstanding the colonies shipped to Utah. Here is the great source of supply. Rarely do we hear of a convert in our State, and we believe there are no places of worship or preachers in these parts.

It will be the most difficult of duties for the general government to deal with this miserable community -- a burden on the land -- a disgrace to the nineteenth century -- a perfect modern Sodom. -- Every American, of any moral sense, must feel a degree of loathing that such a nest of licentiousness and infamy makes a part of this country. We do not wonder that the people of Illinois would not allow such a seething cesspool to stand among them; that they should have warned the pestilence from out their borders; and when the Mormons refused to go, that the indignant people pitched them out head and crop. It is worthy of remark and note that British Maw-worms, ever on the scent for make-weights against our country, made this [purification] work the ground of revilings against the American name and Democracy.

There are insurmountable obstacles against such a course on the part of the general government. But there are political relations between Utah and the United States that necessitate duties on the part of both. The Utah people petitioned for a territorial government; Congress created such a government and hence they are under our jurisdiction and laws. These laws must be executed in Utah, as well as in the other territories, and the people of this territory are as much bound to obey the laws and respect the constituted authorities as the people of any other territory.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XIII.                               Traverse City, Michigan, March 16, 1871.                               No. 12.

Census Statistics of the Traverse Region.

... The census of 1854 was taken when James J. Strang was prophet, priest and king of the Mormons of Beaver Island and the regions round about. OIf course the census returns were false, as was satisfactorily shown to the State authorities at Lansing soon after. The township of Penine, whose population is given at 2,020, was a part only of Beaver Island, and never contained anywhere near half the number of people returned by Strang. Probably the entire island never contained a resident population of over 500. But Strang could figure up larger populations and Democratic majorities from a small number of people than any other man in the State. He had a remarkable "gift" in that line...

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                               Detroit, Thursday, February 1, 1872.                               No. ?

The Mormon Church.

... [in a public discussion held in New York City, in 1836 or 1837] It was shown that Mr. Spaulding, from reading the discoveries made by Mr. Stephens and others in Central America, was led to select the subject of his novel...
                                                           J. F. D.

Note: The text for this article has not yet been located. The excerpt given above is taken from Elder Rudolph Etzenhouser's 1894 From Palmyra to Independence, pp. 269-270.


Detroit  Post & Tribune
Vol. ?                               Detroit, Monday, December 3, 1877.                               No. ?


Something About the Early Life of the Mormon Prophet.

Story of the Mormon Bible From the Man Who First Printed It.

The Men Who Figured in its Production and Publication

Maj. J. H. Gilbert, of Palmyra, N. Y., is in the city on a visit to his son, Charles T. Gilbert, of Nevin & Mills. He is a printer; was formerly proprietor of the Wayne (Palmyra) Sentinel, and is the man who set up the Mormon Bible from the original manuscript. It was the custom of the printers as the sheets were run through the press to take one of each form for preservation. Maj. Gilbert did this, and now has with him in this city the unbound sheets of the Mormon Bible as he then took them from the press. These he cheerfully exhibits to any person who has a curiosity to look at them. The book was a quarto of 580 pages. The contents were sub-divided into chapters broken into frequent paragraphs, but the verses were not numbered as they are in later editions. Upon the title page appears the name of Joseph Smith as "Author and Proprietor." In all subsequent editions he appears simply as "Translator." This change was rendered necessary to carry out the theory afterward adopted that Smith dug up these writings and translated them from "reformed Egyptian" by means of a pair of supernatural spectacles.

A reporter of THE POST AND TRIBUNE met Maj. Gilbert on Saturday, and had a very pleasant chat with him about the early days of Mormondom in Wayne county, N. Y., in which that modern religion started. He found the veteran printer, though now 75 years of age, remarkably well preserved, and hale and vigorous as a man of 50. It was more than half a century ago that he learned the printer's trade, of Chauncey Morse, now a resident of this city, and had just established himself in business at Palmyra, when, after a short newspaper experience, he sold out to E. P. Grandin, and continued in his employment as a journeyman printer.

One pleasant day in the summer of 1829, Hiram Smith, Joe's brother, came to the office to negotiate for the printing of a book. The arrangements were completed. Five thousand copies of the book were to be printed for $3,000. A well-to-do farmer named Martin Harris, living in the neighborhood, agreed to become security for the payment of the money, and the work was at once put in hand. Maj. Gilbert set up all the type of the book, except some 20 or 30 pages, and did nearly all the press work. It was all worked off on a hand press.

The copy was brought to the office by Hiram Smith. It was written on foolscap paper in a good, clear hand. The handwriting was Oliver Cowdery's. There was not a punctuation mark in the whole manuscript. The sentences were all run in without capitals, or other marks to designate where one left off and another began, and it was no easy task to straighten out the stuff. Maj. Gilbert, perceiving that large portions were stolen verbatim from the Bible, used to have a copy of that book on his case to aid him in deciphering the manuscript and putting in the proper punctuation marks.

At first Smith used to come to the office every morning with just enough manuscript to last through the day. But it was so much bother to put in the punctuation that Gilbert said: "Bring me around a quantity of copy at a time, and I can go through it and fix it up evenings, and so get along faster with it."

Smith replied: "This is pretty important business, young man, and I don't know as we can trust this manuscript in your possession."

Finally his scruples were overcome, and he consented to the arrangement. Then he would bring around a quire of paper, or 48 pages, at a time, and this would last several days. When the matter had been set all the copy was carefully taken away again by Smith. It took eight months to set up the book and run it through the press.

Maj. Gilbert was not much interested in the book, thought it rather dry and prosy, and to this day has never thought it worth his while to read it a second time.

Of course, nobody then dreamed that the "Book of Mormon" was destined to achieve the notoriety which it has gained, or that it was to cut such a figure in the history of this country. It did not find a very ready sale at the outset, and Harris, who had mortgaged his farm to pay the printer's bill, was cleaned out financially. He was an intimate friend of the Smiths, and afterwards became an adherent to the doctrines they taught. He did not follow them Westward, however, but remained near his own home, [sic] where he died two years ago.

With this book as the basis of his teaching, Joe Smith began to preach, and soon formed a congregation of followers in Palmyra and the neighboring village of Manchester, where the Smiths resided. A year later he, with thirty of his followers, removed to Kirtland, Ohio. His subsequent history is well known.

There were nine children in the Smith family. Joe was then about 23 years of age. He was a lazy, good-for-nothing lout, chiefly noted for his capacity to hang around a corner grocery and punish poor whisky. He had good physical strength, but he never put it to any use in the way of mowing grass or sawing wood. He could wrestle pretty well, but was not given to exerting his muscles in any practical way. He had evidently made up his mind that there was an easier way of getting a living than by honest industry.

He was the discoverer of a magic stone which he used to carry around in his hat. Holding it carefully laid in the bottom of his hat he would bring his eye to bear on it at an angle of about 45 degrees and forthwith discover the whereabouts of hidden treasures. He would draw a circle on the ground and say to the awe struck bystanders, "dig deep enough within this circle and you will find a pot of gold." But he never dug himself. He had a good share of the rising generation of Palmyra out digging in the suburbs, and to this day traces of the pits thus dug are pointed out to curious visitors.

As he claimed to be the author of the "Book of Mormon" his story was that by the aid of his wonderful stone he found gold plates on which were inscribed the writings in hieroglyphics. He translated them by means of a pair of magic spectacles which the Lord delivered to him at the same time that the golden tablets were turned up. But nobody but Joe himself ever saw the golden tablets or the far-seeing spectacles. He dictated the book, concealed behind a curtain, and it was written down by Cowdery. This course seemed to be rendered necessary by the fact that Joe did not know how to write. Otherwise the book might have gone to the printer in the handwriting of Old Mormon himself.

It is now pretty well established that the "Book of Mormon" was written in 1812 by the Rev. Solomon Spalding, of Ohio, as a popular romance. He could not find any one to print it. The manuscript was sent to Pittsburg, where it lay in a printing office several years. Spalding was never able to raise the money to secure the printing of the story, and after his death in 1824 [sic] it was returned to his wife. By some means, exactly how is not known, it fell into the hands of one Sidney Rigdon, who, with Joe Smith, concocted the scheme by which it was subsequently brought out as the work of Smith.

The dealings with the outside world in respect to it were manipulated by Hiram Smith, an elder brother of Joe.

Maj. Gilbert's recollection of all these persons and events is fresh and vivid, and he has a fund of anecdote and incident relating to them.

Note: This is thought to be printer John H. Gilbert's first published reference to the story of early Mormonism in Palmyra, since he supplied some information for Pomeroy Tucker's 1867 book. The Gilbert interview appeared in the press not long after the well publicized death of Brigham Young and naturally attracted the interest of the readers of that period. The article was reprinted in various newspapers and by the The American Bookseller of Dec. 15, 1877. See the weekly Deseret News of Jan. 16, 1878 for a censorious review of the Gilbert interview.


Michigan  Christian  Herald
Vol. ?                               Detroit, Thursday, September 16, 1886.                               No. ?

A  Question  of  Identity.

The most interesting literary controversy of the time, and the only one which has important practical bearing, is raging around the Book of Mormon, sometimes but incorrectly called the Mormon Bible. This is the foundation stone of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," held by the Mormons as superior in composition and authority to the Bible itself; and whatever affects its validity affects immediately the great superstition that bases upon it. The tradition held by the "Gentiles," or unbelievers, is that pretty nearly the whole thing, except the doctrinal or "religious" parts, is a flat plagiarism from the "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spaulding, a romance written seventy-five years ago by a broken down preacher at New Salem (now Conneaut), Ohio. The evidence for this has heretofore, to anti-Mormons, seemed to be conclusive. But about two years ago President Fairchild of Oberlin, visiting the Sandwich Islands, found in the possession of an old resident of Northeastern Ohio, who had removed to Honolulu, a written volume of Spaulding's, which he believes to be the original of "Manuscript Found;" and as it does not correspond to any large exten with the Book of Mormon, he proclaims the old-time Gentile theory to be incorrect. In various publications, from Bibliotheca Sacra down to The Magazine of Western History -- an absurd compend of extravagant biography (inserted for handsome consideration), hailing from Cleveland -- President Fairchild has striven to promulgate his views. Apparently he has not labored in vain; for, following others heretofore converted, Mr. George Rutledge Gibson, in the last issue of the New Princeton Review, affirms the Fairchild doctrine in his entertaining paper on "The Origin of a Great Delusion."

But the Oberlin advocates have not yet, as the lawyers say, "made their case." The older theory does not rest, as Mr. Gibson seems to think, upon dim recollections of what was "heard over twenty years before," nor upon "the shadowy resemblance of a few names and incidents common to both." It rests upon historical facts impossible to be gainsaid, impossible to reconcile with any other theory than that of absolute theft and fraud in the evolution of the Book of Mormon. When that shameless product of imposture appeared, in 1830, it was subjected to crucial tests, which are as conclusive to-day as they were half a century ago. Numbers of the relatives and old neighbors of Solomon Spaulding were still living when the Mormon emissaries appeared at Conneaut with the new revelation; and when extracts from it were read in their meetings, Mr. John Spaulding arose, and bursting into tears denounced indignantly the outrageous larceny that had been made of the well-remembered writings of his brother. Mr. Lake, a former partner of Spaulding's in business at Conneaut, and many others, clearly recognized passages read as identical with those they had often heard from the lips of their friend and neighbor, as he rehearsed the beloved pages of his "Manuscript Found."

The evidence is cumulative from this on, for many years. And now a surviving witness of those times has come to add testimony which ought to be final. Mr. James A. Briggs writes from Brooklyn to The Watchman of the 9th instant that in 1833-34 he was one of a self-appointed committee that met in Mentor, O., the former parish of the apostate Rigdon, and close to the "Zion" which the Saints had set up at Kirtland, to investigate the origin of the Book of Mormon. His article is long and interesting throughout; but the pith and point of it are in his first paragraph as follows: "We had the manuscripts of Rev. Solomon Spaulding before us [italics ours], that we compared with the Mormon Bible; and we had no doubt that from Spaulding's writings Rev. Sidney Rigdon got up the Mormon Bible." This conclusion he supports by a lengthy recital of facts and arguments that cannot be broken. He has a copy of the Honolulu find, as printed at Lamoni, and [avers] emphatically that "this is not a copy of the 'Manuscript Found, of Solomon Spaulding."

That work long since disappeared, pretty certainly through Mormon agency; but its contents are distinctly remembered by men yet living; and too many others have set their seal in writing to the general character of its contents, and their correspondence with the narrative portions of the Book of Mormon, to have their positive evidence destroyed by the accidental finding of another Spaulding manuscript in a far off isle of the ocean. That this is a genuine writing of Spaulding, nobody denies; but comparing information from all accessible sources, we can learn of but, one important point of similarity between it and the "Manuscript Found;" and that is the notion of an ancient emigration from the Old World to the New. The names in the one tale are widely different from anything in the Book of Mormon, or remembered to have been in the vanished Spaulding manuscript. The one may have been a preliminary "study" of the other, or another attempt at the same general theme; but, as it does not bear the name "Manuscript Found," neither does it bear the character, and are confident will not take the reputation or place of the latter in history of American literature, religion, or superstition, even if President Fairchild and his following should blindly adhere to their untenable theory.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Michigan  Christian  Herald
Vol. ?                               Detroit, Thursday, October 21?, 1886.                               No. ?

Who  Wrote  the  Book  of  Mormon?

There is but one question to settle as to the "Book of Mormon;" is it the work of men who were inspired, or is it the manufacture of Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith?

The fact that the historical portion of the "Book of Mormon" was taken from the work of Rev. Solomon Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" was clearly and undeniably established in my article published in "The Watchman," Boston, Sept. 9, 1886, by the testimony of some eight or more credible witnesses, whose testimony in the matter has never been impeached, or shaken. And if it be true now as in the olden time, "that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established," then we have the established and overpowering fact that the "Book of Mormon" in the historical part was taken from the "Manuscript Found," that was conceived in and born of the brain of Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

Have we any proof that the Rev. Solomon Spaulding ever wrote the "Manuscript Found?" Yes, the same evidence, that we have that the historical part of "Manuscript Found" is in the "Book of Mormon." If one is ignored the other must be. The "Manuscript Found" and the "book of Mormon" must stand or fall together. There is no separating them. They are indivisible.

What has become of the "Manuscript Found" that was written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding? The last person in whose possession it was, so far as we can trace it, is Dr. D.P. Hurlbut. In 1854 [sic] Mrs. Davison, the widow of Mr. Spalding, gave D.P. Hurbut an order for the delivery to him of her copy of her husband's "Manuscript Found." And she and her daughter were folly [sic] convinced that Hurlbut obtained the document and sold it to the Mormons. In confirmation of this we quote from a letter of Rev. Mr. Storrs of Holliston, Mass., of June 28, 1841, to Rev. John A. Clark, D. D., in which he says:

"Dr. Hurlbut took the manuscript. It is reported in Missouri that he sold it for $400, that the manuscript is not to be found."

Rev. D. B. Austin of Monson, Mass., says: "Dr. Hurlbut stated some time after he had received the Manuscript that he had $400 out of it."

The "Manuscript Found" is in the possession of Dr. D. P. Hurlbut. What did he do with it? Did he sell it to the Mormons? He denied it. He got the manuscript. His statements in regard to it were conflicting. He made no explanation. He kept silent. When I wrote to him a short time before his death, and said to him we were the only persons living who were at the Mentor, Ohio, meeting in 1834, and asked him to tell me what he did with the manuscript of Spaulding we had there, he made no reply. I have believed for fifty years that I have seen and held in my hands the "Manuscript Found" from which the "Book of Mormon" was gotten up by Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith.

This is the last trace we have of the "Manuscript Found."

The following extract of a letter to me, dated Little Mountain, Ohio, Sept. 23, '86, is from Mr. E. J. Ferris, Esq., a gentleman 85 years old, hale and hearty, who has lived in Lake Co., since 1823, and who heard Rigdon preach. He says:

"A few days since I received a newspaper containing an article on the origin of the Mormon Bible, that I read with much interest. I have no doubt that you are right in your opinion that Sidney Rigdon and Joe Smith were in complicity in manufacturing the Mormon Bible out of the Romance of Spaulding.

Sidney Rigdon was a sharp fellow, a smooth talker, cunning and wily, and he held such an influence over the Disciples in Mentor and Kirtland at the time the Book was brought here that he supposed he could carry with him the whole body of what was then called Campbellites. And he did carry away very many. The most of them in Lake County left him."

There is another link in the chain of evidence of a living and very intelligent witness as to his opinion of the origin of the Mormon Bible.

Now, Mr. Editor, does my long time and excellent friend, President Fairchild of Oberlin, ignore the testimony of many who say that the "Book of Mormon" was manufactured out of the "Manuscript Found" of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, because he doubts if we had the veritable manuscript of Spaulding at the meeting in Mentor, in 1854[sic]?

I would refer my enquirer desirous of learning the origin of the "Book of Mormon" to Mr. Robert Patterson, 198 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa.

A letter from my old friend, Mr. L.S. [sic] Rice, dated Honolulu, Feby. 21, 1886, says the words "Manuscript Found" do not occur on the wrapper or in the Manuscript at all. The wrapper was marked in pencil, "Manuscript Story, Conneaut Creek." Mr. Rice says "I should as soon think the Book of Revelation and Don Quixote were written by the same author as this story and the "Book of Mormon," My friend, Mr. Rice died at Honolulu, May 14, '86, aged 85.

I can but regret that the writer is the only one of the number who met in Mentor, at the now Garfield home, in 1854 [sic], to investigate Mormonism. All but myself have gone to that land where life is ever upward, onward in the light and glory and peace of the Everlasting Father. 177 Washington St., Brooklyn, New York, Oct. 14, 1886

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XXXIV.                             Muskegon, Mich., Thursday, July 21, 1892.                             No. 29.


Three Historic Tablets and What
They Look Like.

A Remarkable Find Upon the Prairies of
Illinois -- Quaint Lettering -- Indian
Relics and Mound Builders --
Early Western History.


(Special Letter)

A remarkable discovery was recently made in a virgin field a few miles from La Harpe, in the historic old county of Hancock, in Illinois, which from 1838-9 to 1848 was largely populated with the Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, the prophet. Wyman Huston and Daniel Lovitt were chasing a ground squirrel on the farm of Huston, when their dog trailed the squirrel to its hole under an old dead tree stump, which was easily pushed over by one of the men. In grubbing for the squirrel the old stump was taken out, and under its roots were found two sandstone tablets, about 10x11 inches, and from one-fourth to a half an inch in thickness. The tablets lay one upon the other, and the sides that faced contained strange inscriptions in Roman capital letters which bad been cut into the stone with some sharp instrument. The inscription upon one of these tablets is as follows:

Jun 11 1715.
The inscription upon the second tablet is:
A further search at the time failed to reveal another tending to throw light on the curious find, and the men brought the tablets to La Harpe where they were inspected by several enthusiastic antiquarians, but none of them could decipher the strange inscription. Without obtaining a photograph of the tablets, Mr. Huston allowed the stones to be forwarded to the Smithsonian institute at Washington, D.C., where they are being held for scientific investigation. The authorities of the institute state that the find is a remarkable one, and that they hope to throw some light upon the meaning of the lettering etched upon the tablets. So far, however, they have been unable to do so, or, at least, have not announced the result of any discoveries they may have made in the matter.

Impelled by a feeling that other tablets could be found at the locality, Hon. John H. Hungate, a bamker of La Harpe, made an investigation of the field, and, within a short distance from where the two foregoing tablets were found, discovered a third sandstone tablet, of which the following is taken from a photograph of the original:

                            [graphic - not copied]

This tablet was also forwarded to the Smithsonian Institute, and while the scientists and antiquarians there are puzzling their heads over it, Mr. Hungate advances the following theory in regard to the three tablets and the inscriptions on them:

La Salle and Tonti, the French explorers, established Fort Creve Coeur, where Peoria, Ill., now stands, on January 3, 1680. It was a military post. La Salle, while exploring the Mississippi river and probably the Illinois river, left the fort in command of Henry Tonti. In 1687 while Tonti and La Salle were both absent from the fort, most of the men, who were doubtless ignorant French Normans, revolted, destroyed the fort and fled with all the tools and provisions. They became virtually as outcasts, and drifting westward toward the Mississippi river were finally captured by a band of Indians in the vicinity of where La Harpe now stands. It is believed that the Indians did not massacre the Normans, or not at that time at least, for Mr. Hungate has translated from the third tablet what he believes to be a tolerably fair meaning of the inscription. It is:

"We are captured by the Indians and condemned to burn if we move or resist, or speak a word. A last farwell to earth. LECEL."

The inscriptions on the first two tablets cannot be deciphered, but it is evident that "TMTI" is meant for Tonti, as "Lecel" is also evidently meant for La Salle. It is not believed that either La Salle or Tonti were in company with these outcasts, who, twenty-eight years after the revolt, in which they had so cruelly abandoned their leaders without food, were captured by savages. The Indians doubtless, said to their captives: "You may live with us, and hunt and fish with us, but if you attempt to escape we will burn you at the stake.

These ignorant outcasts, while in point of fact captives, were allowed a certain freedom. They had looted the fort of all its arms, tools and provisions. For nearly thirty years they were as wanderers upon the face of the earth. When captured by the Indians, these men were, doubtless, little better than savages themselves. It is reasonable to supposition that they retained the tools in their possession as their guns may have become useless for lack of ammunition. Be that as it may, they evidently had not lost sight of the fact that they were outcasts -- traitors of the deepest dye to both La Salle and Tonti, whom they had robbed and deserted and left without food or arms in a trackless wilderness. They dared not return to their native country, as the fate of traitors would be their just portion. Haunted with remorse, virtually savage outcasts, they roamed over the prairies intervening the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. While within a short distance of the Father of Waters -- La Harpe is about thirty miles east of the Mississippi river -- they were captured by a band of Indians who lived near the banks of that mighty stream.

Their fate is uncertain. It is barely possible that the stake was indeed their portion, they having failed to comply with the requirements of their parole. If the lettering on the tablets can be correctly deciphered their fate may be ascertained, and yet this is not altogether probable. The figures 17 Ld on one of the tablets, and 16 E on the third stone, indicate, as believed, that the party was composed of sixteen or seventeen persons.

Thus, in the face of an uncertain fate, lamenting their treachery to kind and trusting commanders, these outcasts, believing that they would never more behold either La Slle or Tonti, etched upon stone tablets a brief story of the capture and a last farewell.

Mr. Hungate recently visited the locality on the Huston farm, but after a thorough investigation failed to find any more relics. He found several Indian trinkets, flints, arrow heads, and the like, buried near by the old tree stump, but nothing of importance was discovered.

The locality is one most favorable for camping purposes. A broad expanse of virgin soil is skirted by a stream of water and a stretch of timber. This soil has never been disturbed by the plow.

The entire country lying between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers between Galena and Cairo is honeycombed with Indian mounds that are believed to be the handiwork of a prehistoric race. Nansook county, especially in localities bordering the Mississippi river, is covered with evidences of Indian burials, and their mounds are very numerous. Some interesting discoveries have been made in these mounds. In one mound opened near Dalas City recently a beautiful silver double cross was found which had the letter "M" in script engraved upon it. This is believed to be a relic of Marquette.

Near Carthage, Ill., about one year ago, a mound was plowed up and the bones, principally skulls of human beings, were found in sufficient quantities to warrant the conclusion that hundreds of people had been buried there. From measurements taken of some of the skulls and principal bones it was decided that the persons buried were of a race of giants. Some of the femur bones measures 10.25 inches, and the measurements of the skulls and other bones indicated that these people must have attained an average of seven to eight feet in height. Whether the wholesale burial was occasioned by a general massacre, a war or pestilence is simply a matter of conjecture.

Antiquarians have made interesting discoveries in Hancock county of numerous shallow graves in the timbered country. A grave can be easily located by the slight swell of earth. Upon being opened it is found that they are very shallow, not to exceed a foot and a half. Generally the whitish dust of the body can be found and it crumbles instantly upon being exposed to the light and the atmosphere. Some of the skeletons are well preserved. The body is always found lying on its side with the knees drawn up to the chin. The face is turned towards the east in every instance. These graves are thought to be those of Indians, as the mound builders constructed larger tombs. At the foot and the head of the shallow graves above mentioned there may be found a smooth flat stone set in the ground edgewise.

A huge serpent mound was recently discovered near Quincy, Ill., in Adams county. This mound was built by a class of prehistoric people known as serpent worshipers. In the mound were found skeletons upon which the bones of a snake reposed. Dr. Stephen D. Peet, who made the discovery, did not, as stated, make as thorough an investigation of this mound as he desired, and it is believed that many more relics of interest could be exhumed.

Referring again to the strange tablets found near La Harpe, it is a fact that evidences if prehistoric races are numerous in this vicinity. However, there can be little doubt that if La Salle's followers buried there etched tablets, it was done while in captivity and under surveillance of hostile Indians. As stated, it may be possible that the Indians were simply parleying with their intended victims, and after a short season of delusive freedom, burned the wretched men amidst horrible orgies.

In case a comprehensive translation is obtained of these strange words, the result will very probably become public information. It will certainly be a valuable acquisition to the early history of Illinois and the middle west.

Note 1: The 1891 discovery near LaHarpe was publicized in the Rockford Register-Gazette of Nov. 5, 1891, as well as the Burlington Hawk-Eye and the Quincy Daily Whig of Nov. 6th. Isham Gaylord Davidson (1860-1956) probably contributed to the writing of all those reports. The story was picked up by the New York Times on March 11, 1892, in an article that also greatly resembles "Gay" Davidson's style of writing. The Weekly Chronicle version is the only article known to describe the third sandstone tablet, reportedly discovered by Mr. Hungate.

Note 2: Only a highly imaginative mind could develop a scene of "horrible orgies" and human immolation from three nondescript hunks of sandstone bearing unreadable markings. The "valuable" discoveries were soon forgotten and Mr. Davidson returned to his old hobby of Mormon historical reporting. For a selection of his news items from this period, see the comments attached to Mr. Davidson's Quincy Whig article of June 24, 1894.

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