(Newspapers of Missouri)

Misc. St. Louis Newspapers
1850-1899 Articles

Steamboat Dock, Saint Louis, Missouri, (late 1850s)

1831-1840   |   1841-1843   |   1844-1849   |   1850-1899

Union Feb 01 '51  |  Union Nov 06 '51  |  DInt Apr 27 '54  |  SLL Dec 30 '54
SLL Jan 27 '55  |  SLL May 05 '55  |  SLL Jun 02 '55  |  SLN Jun 25 '55
DDem Aug 14 '56  |  SLP Sep 13 '56  |  DDem May 13 '57  |  DDem Jun 12 '57
SLCA Sep 10 '57  |  SLCA Nov 05 '57  |  SLCA Nov 12 '57  |  SLCA Nov 19 '57
SLCA Nov 26 '57  |  SLCA Dec 17 '57  |  SLCA Dec 24 '57  |  SLSp Aug ? '84
SLGD Oct 06 '87  |  SLRep Sep 30 '88  |  SLGD Feb 21 '97

Articles Index   |   St. Louis Missouri Republican 1850s



Vol. ?                            St. Louis, February 1, 1851.                            No. ?

Interesting from the Great Salt Lake

For the following very interesting news, we are indebted to Mr. Monroe, of Great Salt Lake City: --

Mr. Monroe left the Salt Lake on the first December, with teo men. On the highest mountain, seventeen miles east of Salt Lake, he found ten feet of snow, and three feet in the valleys to Bear River. From thence to the South Pass, there was very little, and he found no difficulty in passing. On leaving there, however, a heavy snow was falling, and deepening very rapidly....

At the Salt Lake, everything was progressing most prosperously. The general health was very good, and the weather mild and pleasant. Gen. Rich and his company had returned there from the gold mines, bringing some gold dust, but not so much as was expected... Abundance of coal and iron has been discovered at Little Salt Lake, about 350 miles south of the city, and a large company has been sent out to form a settlement there. The scarcity of money is severely felt, in consequence of the merchants taking it away. Mr. Monro cites the instances of individual and general industry there as remarkable. Five or six saw mills, and as many grist mills, are already in active operation, and a wollen factory and a brewery are now in the course of erection...

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                            St. Louis, November 6, 1851.                            No. ?

From the Mormons
Later from Utah -- Indian Hostilities.

Among the passengers who arrived yesterday from the Missouri, in the Timour No. 2, were J. H. Kinkead, Esq., and Judge Reid, of the Supreme Court of the flourishing Territory of Utah. Mr. Kinkead and his party started for the States one day after the departure of the mail, which reached Independence several days ago. The news from the Territory is not of startling importance, yet we are glad to learn that its affairs were in the most prosperous condition. The crops had turned out admirably, and the agricultural class was, of course, in fine spirits. Trade of almost every description was remarkably brisk, and the regular merchants were exceedingly fortunate in being able to transact a large and remunerative business. In fact, there was no cry of hard times....

We may soon expect to see a lot of active propagandists from Salt Lake in our midst. A party was passed on the way in, and the members of it composed almost entirely of missionaries. Judge Reid, who had been recently appointed, was on his way to the new locality...

The St. Louis Republican says: "By the printed proceedings of the Mormon Conference, held at Salt Lake, in the Tabernacle, on the 28th of Aug. last, we learn that a large number of Elders were appointed to missions in various quarters of the globe. Faithful to their creed, and duty to the Church, all or nearly all of them, immediately departed in several stations. They went without "purse or scrip," and most, if not all of them, reached Kanesville. Those appointed at this recent conference go abroad, some for three and others for seven years, and the injunction they hear from the Church is, during that period they must forget their wives, children, friends, and all wordlly interests, and devote themselves, in thought and practice, to the propagation of their doctrine, and making of converts.

:Orson Pratt, a veteran in the cause, and a man of considerable ability, whom we have known for many years, goes to Washington City, and has a general supervision of the Saints throughout the United States. We are informed that the book publications of the church will be in Washington, and under his supervision and direction. These missionaries go out io make converts to their faith, and gather them into the Salt Lake Valley, prepatory to the day when they shall be commanded by God to return to the resting-place of the faithful and upright in Jackson County, in this State. This system of missionaries was commenced in 1832, under a revelation to Joe Smith, and from that day forward they had labored most faithfully. They now have missions and missionary establishments throughout Europe, in many parts of Asia, Africa, and the Islands of the Sea. They claim that the rapid and universal spread of their faith is one of the miracles of the day; and it is certainly most extraordinary. We believe that from nearly every missionary station, there are some of the converts assembled in Salt Lake Valley."

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                             St. Louis, Thurs., April 27, 1854.                             No. ?

Important  Arrest.

Day before yesterday, Mr. L. McCuen, Sheriff of Lee county, Illinois, arrived in this city in pursuit of a man by the name of William Smith, who was lately confined in Hancock county for highway robbery, but broke jail and fled to the county first mentioned. The rascal there became acquainted with a family in which were two girls, twin sisters, of comparatively tender age. There he committed the double crime of seducing one of the sisters, and perpetrating a rape upon the other, and fled to this city. The Sheriff, obtaining the assistance of officers Grant and Guyott, after a thorough search succeeded in arresting him about ten o'clock on Wednesday night, on Market street. The Sheriff left immediately to return to Illinois with his prisoner. -- The latter is forty-five years of age, and said to be a man of desperate character.

Note 1: A similar account of William Smith's ignominious arrest first appeared the St. Louis Missouri Republican of Apr. 26, 1854.

Note 2: The "man of desperate character" who had perpetrated "highway robbery" in the vicinity of Nauvoo, Illinois, was the younger brother of Joseph Smith, jr. and ex-Apostle of the Mormon Church, William Smith (or "William B. Smith" as he later called himself). William was born March 13, 1811, and thus did not begin his forty-fifth year until eleven months after his 1854 arrest at St. Louis. William's brief career as a fugitive from the law (an accused highwayman, child molester, and rapist) seems to have escaped the attention of the Reorganized LDS, when they later fellowshipped him as a member in good standing.

Note 3: In September, 1854 Apostle Erastus Snow arrived in St. Louis and soon afterward organized an LDS "Stake of Zion" in that place. He no doubt heard stories of William Smiths flight from justice and arrest in St. Louis only a few months previous. On Jan. 27, 1855 Apostle Snow wrote of William: "We can only think of him with feelings of pity and of shame... [and] wish that many incidents of his life were obliterated from our memory."

Note 4: The "twin sisters, of comparatively tender age" were evidently Rhoda and Rosanna (Rosa) Hook, the nieces or foster daughters of William Smith's Counselor in the First Presidency, Elder Aaron Hook, of Lee Co., Illinois. These young ladies were about fifteen years of age when William began his "spiritual wifery" dalliance with the two sisters. Frank E. Stevens, in his 1914 History of Lee County, Illinois says: "Aaron Hook who had gone to Nauvoo and who had been ordained an elder, returned [to Lee Co.]... William Smith... came over to Lee county from Nauvoo about this time [1847-48] and a very considerable Mormon following was obtained in Lee county... This William Smith... was arrested here for bigamy, released and then he left the county." Although Stevens does not specifically say that William's "bigamy" occurred with female members of the Hook family, according to Elder Isaac Sheen, William was known to make woman-swapping offers to his highest ranking adherents. Sheen says: "he [William] told me that he had a right to raise up posterity from other men's wives... and that they would thereby be exalted to a high degree of glory in eternity." Rosa Hook's 1853 testimony has a similar ring to it: "she had been induced to believe that it was necessary for her salvation that she should become his [William's] spiritual wife."


Vol. I.                               St. Louis, December 30, 1854.                                 No. 6.

Incidents in the History of Joseph Smith.

                                             G. S. L. City, Utah, Oct. 9, 1854.
Mr. Editor: -- In reading the history of Joseph Smith, as published in the News last winter, and especially that part of it which relates to his imprisonment in Liberty jail, Mo., I see there are many interesting facts which are omitted; and as I had the honor of being a fellow prisoner with him, I thought I would write some of those incidents for the satisfaction of any of your readers who may feel interested in them.

During our imprisonment we had many visitors, both friends and enemies. Among the latter, many were angry with brother Joseph, and accused him of killing a son, a brother, or some relative of theirs, at what was called the Crooked River battle. This looked rather strange to me, that so many should claim a son or a brother killed, when they reported only one man killed.

Among our friends who visited us, were President Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, of the first Presidency -- the latter several times -- George A. Smith, of the Quorum of Twelve; -- Don C. Smith, brother of Joseph, came several times, and brought some of our families to see us. Benjamin Covey, Bishop of the Twelfth Ward of this city, brought each of us a new pair of boots, and made us a present of them. James Sloan, his wife and daughter, came several times. Alanson Ripley also visited us, and many others, who to name, would be too tedious. O. P. Rockwell brought us refreshments many times; and Jane Blevin and her daughters brought cakes, pies, etc., and handed them in at the windows. These things helped us much, as our food was very coarse, and so filthy that we could not eat it until we were driven to it by hunger.

After we had been there some time, and had tried every means we could to obtain our liberty by the law, without effect, (except Sidney Rigdon, who was bailed out,) and also having heard from a reliable source that it had been stated in the public streets, by the most influential men in that part of the country, that "the Mormon prisoners would have to be condemned, or the character of the State would have to go down," we came to the conclusion that we would try other means to effect it.

Accordingly, on the 7th day of February, 1839, after counseling together on the subject, we concluded to try to go that evening when the jailer came with our supper; but brother Hyrum, before deciding fully, and to make it more sure, asked brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord as to the propriety of the move. He did so, and received answer to this effect, -- that if we were all agreed, we could go clear that evening; and if we would ask we should have a testimony for ourselves. I immediately asked, and had no more than asked until I received as clear a testimony as ever I did of anything in my life, that it was true. Brother Hyrum Smith and Caleb Baldwin bore testimony to the same, but Lyman Wight said we might go if we chose, but he would not. After talking with him for some time, he said, "if we would wait until the next day he would go with us." Without thinking we had no promise of success on any other day than the one above stated, we agreed to wait.

When the night came the jailer came alone with our supper, threw the door open, put our supper on the table, and went to the back part of the room, where a pile of books lay, and went to reading, leaving us between him and the door, thereby giving us every chance to go if we had been ready. As the next day was agreed upon, we made no attempt to go that evening.

When the next evening came the case was very different; the jailer brought a double guard with him, and with six of our brethren, to wit: -- Erastus Snow, William D, Huntington, Cyrus Daniels, David Holeman, Alanson Ripley and Watson Barlow. I was afterwards informed that they were sent by the church. The jailer seemed to be badly scared; he had the door behind locked, and everything made secure. It looked like a bad chance to get away but we were determined to try it; so when the jailer started out we started too. Brother Hyrum took hold of the door and the rest followed; but before we were able to render him the assistance he needed, the jailer and guard succeeded in closing the door, shutting the brethren with us, except Cyrus Daniels, who was on the outside.

As soon as the attempt was made inside, he took two of the guard, one under each arm, and ran down the stairs that led to the door, it being on the second story. When he reached the ground they got away from him; and seeing we had failed to get out, he started to run, but put his foot in a hole and fell. Just as he fell a bullet from one of the guard passed very close to his head, and he thinks the fall saved his life.

The scene that followed this defies description. I should judge from the number that all the town and many from the country gathered around the jail, and every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy, was proposed for us, such as blowing up the jail, taking us out and whipping us to death, shooting us, burning us to death, tearing us to pieces with horses, &c. But they were so divided among themselves that they could not carry out any of their plans, and we escaped unhurt.

During this time some of the brethren spoke of our being in great danger, and I confess I felt that we were. But brother Joseph told them "not to fear, that not a hair of their heads should be hurt, and that they should not lose any of their things, even to a bridle, saddle, or blanket; that everything should be restored to them; they had offered their lives for us and the gospel; that it was necessary the church should offer a sacrifice, and the Lord accepted the offering.

The brethren had next to undergo a trial, but the excitement was so great that they dare not take them out until it abated a little. While they were waiting for their trial some of the brethren employed lawyers to defend them. Brother Snow asked brother Joseph whether he had better employ a lawyer or not. Br. Joseph told him to plead his own case. But, said brother Snow, I do not understand the law. Brother Joseph asked him if he did not understand justice, he said he thought he did. Well, said brother Joseph, go and plead for justice as hard as you can, and quote Blackstone and other authors now and then, and they would take it all for law.

He did as he was told, and the result was as Joseph had said it would be; for when he got through the lawyers flocked around him and asked him where he had studied law, and said they had never heard a better plea. When the trial was over brother Snow was discharged, and all the rest held to bail, and allowed to bail each other, by brother Snow going bail with them; and they said they got everything that was taken from them, and nothing was lost, although no two articles were in one place. More anon.
          Yours respectfully,
                     ALEXANDER McRAE.

Note: Moral of the story: Do as the living prophet tells you, and do not try and join up with Lyman Wight in Texas. It is doubtful that Bro. McRae would have told the story in quite the same way, had Apostle Wight "followed counsel" and emigrated to Salt Lake City, rather than to Zodiac, Texas.


Vol. I.                               St. Louis, January 27, 1855.                                 No. 10.


We have received a pamphlet published by this individual, vindicating himself in a characteristic style from certain charges of licentiousness, for which he has been held to answer before the courts of Illinois. We also received not long since, an article intended for the Luminary, accompanied by a personal letter from him, professing much piety and zeal for the cause of God. Several correspondents have also made reference to and asked questions about him. It is with regret that we feel thus called upon to make any reference to him whatsoever. We can only think of him with feelings of pity and of shame for poor human nature, and we could wish that many incidents of his life were obliterated from our memory. It appears that he still has, or affects to have, a few followers in Lee county, Ill. The character of his followers or associates may be readily conjectured by those who are acquainted with him. For the information of such as are in the habit of confounding them with Latter-day Saints, and of such uninformed Saints as may be exposed to his deceptions, we would state that he was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the General Conference, held in the temple at Nauvoo, in the fall of 1845, and has had no fellowship or connection with said church since that time, and the conditions alone on which he ever could be restored to fellowship, are, to humble himself as a little child, and enter in at the door, bringing forth fruits mete for repentance. This he knows full well, and until he does so, all who believe the gospel and value their salvation, will stand far removed from him and all his hypocritical presentations and unhallowed administrations.

Note 1: It is unclear exactly which William Smith "pamphlet" Editor Erastus Snow is here commenting upon -- evidently it was an untitled production that Smith came out with before he left Lee Co., Illinois for good, about the middle of the following year. Perhaps William published a very limited edition of this self-serving tract, with a view of mailing it to various LDS leaders and soliciting their support for his return to the Brighamite fold. Smith wrote a solicitous letter to Brigham Young, on Aug. 8, 1854 from "Southampton," [prob. Binghampton, Lee Co.] Illinois, followed in July of 1856 by another, more caustic, communication from Turkey River, Clayton Co., Iowa. In between writing his friendly 1854 letters to Utah Mormon leaders and his bitter 1856 missive, William Smith was associating on seemingly friendly terms with Brighamites in Springfield, Illinois (in Oct., 1854), but in April, 1855 he addressed a communication to the Springfield Illinois Journal, blaming Brigham for introducing "loathsome and damnable doctrines" (like polygamy) into the LDS Church.

Note 2: Apostle Snow says of William Smith: "We can only think of him with feelings of pity and of shame for poor human nature, and we could wish that many incidents of his life were obliterated from our memory." Probably one of those shameful "incidents" Snow wished to forget was William's arrest, a few months earlier, in St. Louis, for flight from the law in the matter of his "perpetrating a rape" upon the person of Sister Rhoda Hook, one of William's young female followers in Illinois.

Note 3: One of the "few followers in Lee county, Ill." that William Smith was not able to retain within his flock for very long was Elder William W. Blair, later a Counselor in the RLDS First Presidency. In his 1908 book, Memoirs of President W. W. Blair, the good Elder reveals how he joined the Illinois Smithites during the fall of 1851 and remained a loyal member until about the summer of 1852. At that time he and other local followers of William Smith "quietly withdrew" from the Palestine Stake of Zion (centered near Binghampton, Lee Co., Illinois) but Blair evidently remained surrounded by Smithite neighbors for the next couple of years. At that time W. W. Blair united with some former Strangites to form the incipient Latter Day Saint "Reorganization." The picture presented by Elder Blair, is that support for William Smith, in Lee Co., Illinois, continued to diminish throughout the early 1850s, and well before the beginning of 1856 William's group had ceased to exist. All of this Illinois religious history supplies a context for William's friendly letters of inquiry to Utah Mormon leaders, beginning in the late summer of 1854 and continuing through the beginning of 1855. During that period he must have seen the last of his adherents fall away from what had once been a viable organization in Illinois and southern Wisconsin. With this church faded into nothingness, William attempted to cast his lot in with his polygamous Utah brethren, failed in the attempt, and finally (?) turned anti-polygamist himself.


Vol. I.                               St. Louis, May 5, 1855.                                 No. 24.


St. Louis, May 2, 1855.      
Elder Snow, Editor of the Luminary:

  Dear Brother -- At the conference held in St. Louis, in October, 1854, Brother W. W. Rust and myself received a mission to travel in the northern and eastern states, to hunt up the lost sheep and endeavor to gather them into the fold. Accordingly, we left St. Louis on or about the middle of the month on the Reindeer, stopped at Alton a few days, visiting the Saints, and then passed on to Springfield, Illinois, called on a Brother Palmer, when behold, William Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph, had taken up his abode here for the time being. He grasped me by the hand, said it did him good to take an old Mormon by the hand. I inquired of him (in Yankee style) what his business was in Springfield. He said he was preaching the first principles of the Gospel. I wished to know whether he preached the gathering and acknowledged the authorities of the Church as organized in Utah. His reply was rather evasive, said he and the authorities had had some misunderstanding, the same as Peter and Paul, that he had written to President Young saying he was willing to abide his decision. He wished me to give him the hand of fellowship. I told him under existing circumstances I could not, and advised him, if he was honest-hearted, as he appeared to be, he had better repair immediately to the valleys of the mountains and report himself and abide the decision of the First Presidency. He told me he had written and he wrote a letter to Brother Brigham before we left, whether he sent it or not I know not.

In answer to questions from a number in Springfield as to the authority of William Smith, I replied that it was with him as it would be with a branch severed from the vine, it would wither and die and would be ready to be burned, receiving no nourishment from the vine.

From Springfield we went to Chicago, there I found an uncle that I had not seen in thirty years. I stopped a few days with him and partook of his hospitality, and in return I gave him an offer of salvation on Gospel terms. He said he would consider on it and give me an answer on my return.

We emptied our purses at the depot, and wished the agent to pass us as far as he felt justified in doing, as we were heralds of salvation, alias, Mormon elders; he gave us tickets to Marshall, Michigan, deducting about half the regular fare. No accident occurred until our arrival at Marshall. We partook of the hospitality of the landlord, i.e. supper, lodging and breakfast free of cost.

In the morning we left Marshall on foot, the snow being about six inches deep and storming. It was hard traveling, but we reached Parma, about thirty miles, stayed with a relation over Sunday, gave our testimony and passed on. We traveled some two hundred miles through mud and mire, sometimes we could get shelter for the night, and occasionally a bowl of bread and milk.

We made it a rule to inquire for Saints and places to preach, but no sooner than we had informed them that we were ministers of the Gospel from Salt Lake, their doors were closed against us; we traveled hundreds of miles in Michigan, but obtained but one house to preach in. The fact is, Strang, the Beaver Island Mormon, as he styled himself, is sending his emissaries out to rob, steal, plunder, preaching another Gospel, but styling themselves Mormons; hence, the prejudice that exists in the minds of the people against the servants of God that are sent abroad by the authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We called at Kirtland, found a few that called themselves Saints, but very weak, many apostates who have mostly joined the rappers. We had a lengthy interview with Martin Harris. At first he was down on polygamy, but before we left he informed me that he never should say a word against it. He confessed that he had lost confidence in Joseph Smith; consequently, his mind became darkened, and he was left to himself; he tried the Shakers, but that would not do; then he tried Gladden Bishop, but no satisfaction; he had concluded he would wait until the Saints returned to Jackson County and then he would repair there. He gave us a history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and his going to New York and presenting the characters to Professor Anthon, etc. He concluded before we left that "Brigham was governor," and that the authorities were there, and that he should go there as soon as he could get away.

We traveled together until we arrived at New York City, preaching by the way wherever an opportunity offered. From thence, Brother Rust went to Boston, and I went to Tom's River, New Jersey, found the Saints enjoying much of the spirit of God. They number nearly one hundred, and are calculating to emigrate next season. My labor has been in New Jersey and New York, with what success time will determine. I feel clear, and have obtained permission to return home, which I shall with joy, and not with grief. May God bless and sustain you, is my prayer, Amen.
                               Yours as ever, Thomas Colburn.

Note 1: According to Elder Frank Esshom's Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, William Walker Rust (1807-1894) traveled as an LDS missionary in the "Eastern states" in 1854-55. His missionary companion for at least part of that time was evidently Thomas Colburn (1801-1897), the author of the above letter. It is reasonable to assume that Colburn and Rust labored to reclaim eastern "Old Saints" who were then abandoning failing Latter Day Saint leaders like James J. Strang and William Smith.

Note 2: It was probably by design that Elders Case, Colburn and Rust crossed paths with William Smith in Illinois -- see also Colburn's letter in the Luminary of June 2nd. It is possible that William Smith was temporarily sincere in his reported 1854-1856 considerations about joining the "Brighamites." See Calvin P. Rudd's 1973 "William Smith: Brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith," pages 150-152.


Vol. I.                                     St. Louis,  June 2, 1855.                                     No. 28.


St. Louis, May 31, 1855.      
To the Editor of the Luminary: Dear Brother: I write at the request of Bro. James Case, to inform you and those that feel interested in the rolling forth of the "little stone," that he left St. Louis immediately after the conference, wending his way up the great Father of Waters, until he arrived at Alton, where, being directed by the spirit of God, (as all saints should be, especially the Elders in these dark and benighted times,) he made a halt and labored there, and in the regions round about, until the last of April, where I found him Sunday 29th. He informed me that he felt that his mission was done there, having baptized and rebaptized about 20 adults. As I was bound for Jacksonville, via Springfield, Ill., he requested to tarry until Monday evening and he would accompany me as far as Springfield, as he had a work to do there, before he went farther north. We had a pleasant trip, stopped at the house of Nicholas Groesbeck. We received a hearty welcome, they are old Mormons, but had remained so long in the fog that obscures this once happy land, they had lost sight of the little stone that has been rolling for 25 years past, and will roll until it fills the whole earth.

In the morning we discovered that the brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith had been our fellow lodger, he was very much surprised and sorely displeased to see a brace of Salt Lake Mormons, [as] he was pleased to term us. He had been laboring with might and main to poison the minds of all, as far as his influence extends, against the authorities of the church of Christ in Utah, vilifying the characters of the Elders that are sent by said authorities. He had endeavored to give a public lecture against polygamy, at the hall in Springfield, but it was no go, it was like Old Darky reproving sin. I had a long talk with him concerning his position, he thinks he has been "shamefully treated, persecuted and abused," by said authorities through misrepresentation, and a lack of knowledge concerning him, etc. He said he was willing to submit his case to, and abide the decision of Pres. Brigham Young, provided he could retain his Apostleship, if so he was willing to be a Brighamite and be numbered as one of the Salt Lake Mormons.

I visited Jacksonville, found a number of old Mormons that were in about the same fix as the saints at Ephesus were -- they could not bear those which were evil -- they had tried him who said he was an Apostle, but found him a liar -- had borne and had patience, and had not fainted. Nevertheless, they had lost their first love, they were blind and could not see afar off. I exhorted them to do their first works, or their candlestick would be removed from its place, for it was of no manner of use, unless they kept a candle in it, trimmed and burning. Subsequently I paid them another visit, in company with Bro. Case, they heard of pur arrival, and assembled at the house of Sister Julia Hampton, relict of Bro. Jonathan Hampton, whose body lies sleepong under the silent clay in Nauvoo, awaiting the joyous glories of the resurrection day. We gave them some instructions suitable to the occasion, as we were led by the spirit, they received our testimony and counsel with gladness and manifested an anxious desire to renew their covenants by re-baptism, that they might be numbered with the saints. According to their desires, we repaired to the water the next day, (May 22) and re-baptized eight, and baptized one person for the remission of sins and confirmed them members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by the imposition of hands.

It was a glorious time, some had united with the Church soon after its organization and belonged to the Colesville branch. The names of those that renewed their covenants were as follows: William Stringham, and his wife Eliza; Phillip Stringham and his wife Mehetable; Julia Hampton and her sons, Brigham Y. and Eadly Foster Hampton; also Walter Stringham.

Having business in the east, I left on Thursday, the 24th inst. for Chicago, brother Case remaining at Jacksonville, where he had not been idle. He had organized a branch of 12 members, brake bread and administered the sacrament -- they had a glorious time. I visited them all and found them filled with the spirit. I felt almost willing to postpone going to the Valley this season, if it was according to counsel. I left Bro. Case in the Jacksonville as happy as a saint. There are many sheep in this part of Illinois, that are anxious to be gathered into the fold again. Wm. Smith's influence is on the wane in those regions. In Springfield, Bro. Case rebaptized six persons who had weighed William in the balance and found him wanting. The names are as follows: Jonathan Palmer and wife, Levi Golly, Elizabeth Groesbeck, Mary Snyder, and Sarah Yomans, all old Mormons. There are others in Springfield that are almost persuaded to renounce the world and take passage on board Zion's ship. With regard to my humble self, I feel well all the time. My course is onward, but I have gained but little as yet toward my mountain home.

If the Lird will, I shall visit Jacksonville before I go West. My health is and has been excellent with the exception of one day, since I have been in St. Louis, for which I feel grateful to my heavenly Father. That the choicest blessings of heaven may visit and abide with you and those connected with you, is the prayer of yours as ever,     Thomas Colburn.

Note 1: Ex-Apostle William Smith had previous announced his intention to lecture on Sunday, April 29th, "at Clinton Hall," in Springfield (see Apr. 27, 1855 issue of the Illinois Daily Journal.) Evidently William was traveling westward from, Springfield, having just finished his Sunday lecture engagements in that city.

Note 2: For subsequent mentions of William Smith in the popular press, consult the on-line index of news reports relating his activities.


Vol. I.                                  St. Louis, Missouri,  June 25, 1855.                                   No. 47?

A Mormon  Woman  in  Distress -- The  Working  of  Polygamy

There is a woman now in St. Louis who has been made a victim of Mormonism, to whom we desire to invite the attention, and in behalf of whom we wish to enlist the sympathy of the philanthropic. Her name is Mrs. Parsons. Ten years ago she was living happily with her husband, who was a clever shoemaker, in London, comfortable in circumstances, and blessed with domestic peace. About that time the husband became a convert to Mormonism, under the influence of the preaching of the proselites of the Church of Latter Day Saints, who were strolling over England and Wales. Of course, his wife received and embraced the faith, too -- the abominable doctrine of polygamy being sturdily denied by those who pretended to be the orthodox expounders of the creed. Her husband abandoned his trade and turned preacher, traveling over France and England to disseminate the Mormon doctrines. Of course the wife was left pretty much to shift for herself and her young children. Things went on till she came to America, about a year ago, on her way to Utah with a company of Mormon emigrants. Her husband remained in Europe to superintend the embarkation of other emigrants, and promised to meet her in St. Louis. When the poor woman arrived here, she found no provision made for her support, and no arrangements for her passage across the plains. She was therefore compelled to seek employment to earn a scanty support for herself and her starving children. By stitching shoes she managed to live through the winter, and in the spring her husband arrived, and proceeded forthwith up the Missouri tover to the Mormon encampment at Atchison, in Kansas Territory, commanding her to follow. Devoted in her attachment to her brute of a husband, and trusting sincerely in the Mormon faith as represented to her, she embarked on another boat, and reached Atchison, in quest of her husband. Then she found him living in a tent with two women, to whom he had been spiritually "sealed." Her feelings and condition may be better imagined than described. She was crushed and heartbroken. She tried to induce the brute to abandon his mistresses and protect her, but she was spurned by him, who intimated that she must shift for herself. She represented her case to the ecclesiastical chief, on the ground, and urged him to see her righted, but that precious disciple told her that she was a stiff-necked reprobate, stinking in the nostrils of every good Mormon. Heartbroken and despairing, she took her two children and made her way from the camp, five miles to Atchison, where she stated her case to a generous citizen. He promised to protect her with his life, and aided her in getting on board the F. X. Aubry, then on her way down the river. She had but three dollars, which she offered to the captain for her passage to St. Louis, but he, like a generous man that he is, brought her down for nothing.

Information of her situation reached the ears of two or three charitable ladies of the city, who secured a place for her in the Home of the Friendless, and provided a temporary retreat for her children. Her situation is a sad one, and she truly deserves the sympathy and assistance of her sex. We trust she may receive it. She may be seen at the Home of the Friendless, and we suggest that the benevolent call there and hear her touching tale of her griefs from her own lips.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                               St. Louis, August 14, 1856.                                No. ?


... TWO MUMMIES from the Catacombs of Egypt, which have been unrolled, presenting a full view of the RECORDS enclosed, and of the bodies which are in a remarkable state of preservation...

Note: The above excerpt is part three of a five part advertisement for admittance to a display, at Edward Wyman's St. Louis Museum, of two of the "Mormon mummies" lately brought over to Missouri from Illinois. These were the same mummies that had long been on display with the family of Joseph Smith, jr. in Nauvoo. At about the same time as mention of the mummies first appeared in Wyman's ads, the Daily Democrat observed, "...we observe a new attraction, consisting of a pair of MUMMIES from the catacombs of Egypt, which are a great novelty in these parts, and should be seen by all."


St. Louis Evening Pilot.
Vol. III.                               St. Louis, Mo.,  September 13, 1856.                                No. 34.

The St. Louis Museum.

This Museum for natural history, on Market street, opposite the Court House, Wymans Hall, is one of the most remarkable improvements of our city and country. Astonished as I was to meet with such a store of public instruction, far from the aged Europe and the elder East of America, I feel obliged to call attention to it; not for the purpose of enriching the present proprietor with a few twenty-five cent pieces, but because no sensible man will leave it [without]....(missing lines in clipping)

... namely, quadrupeds, birds, fishes, reptiles, amphibian, skeletons, shells, petrifactions, minerals, ethnographical objects, antiquities, Egyptian mummies, statuettes, papyrus scrolls, paintings, drawings, 200 daguerreo-types, executed by Vance, etc. The animals are exquisite, perfectly preserved, and masterly prepared specimens, showing their peculiar genus. In respect to the latter, no natural museum in the Old and New World is superior to ours. Those objects came from all parts of the globe; we meet with animals living in North America, or Mexico, Texas, California and other countries; in South America, as Brazil, Peru, Guiana, Guatemala, Cape Horn, etc.; in Europe, as Germany, France, England, Scotland, Norway, etc.; in Africa, as Egypt, Cape of Good Hope, etc.; In Asia, as China, Japan, East India, Malabar, Java, etc.; in Australia, as New Holland, the Pacific, etc.

The greatest curiosity in the Museum is, undoubtedly, the petrified skeleton of an alligatorian monster, 96 feet in length, dug up in Alabama by Dr. Koch, in 1848, the so-called Zeuglodon Macrospondylus, which, some years ago, caused astonishment everywhere in Europe. This skeleton is the greatest wonder of the world extant, having been preserved since the Deluge, and consequently now being 5303 years old. Its large head alone has nothing to compare with it in the present world.

The prepared beautiful quadrupeds, the magnificent birds, the sixty-four splendid humming birds, the exquisite fishes, reptiles, amphibia, shells, corals, minerals, etc., will delight the lover of nature who has not yet had an opportunity of seeing such an instructive collection. We found there specimens of the rarest and most costly fowls, i.e., the lyre tail, (price $300 in Germany,) the Argus pheasant, the birds of paradise, the albatros, the eagles.

The Egyptian antiquities, almost unknown in our country, show how this ancient people, among which Moses was educated, understood the art of embalming dead bodies, and of preserving them, by means of creosote, many thousand years, to this day; how they formed porcelain statuettes, with hieroglyphic inscriptions; how they drew and wrote. Visitors will find also some large fragments of Egyptian papyrus scrolls, with pieratic (priestly) inscriptions, and drawings representing the judgment of the dead, many Egyptian gods and sacred animals, with certain chapters from the old Egyptian sacred books. These books, of which the most complete copy, a papyrus of 60 feet in length, is found at Turin, in Italy, were, according to historical traditions, composed 666 years after the Flood, in the time of Peleg, when the first Babylonian colonies, with their first king, Menes, had settled in Egypt, 2781 before Christ.

By the 200 daguerreotypes, representing towns and places in California, Valparaiso, and others, we are enabled to form an idea of those remote countries, and to see how civilization progresses there every day.

In short, no sensible person will leave our Museum without profit; and its numerous wonders will call to the reflecting christian -- How great is He, who made all these things! -- How mighty must be the arm which was capa-ble of creating such wonders of the earth! -- Man, who art not able to make a single feather of a humming bird, much less a Zeuglodon, bow thy proud head before the majesty of the Lord! Nobody ever has seen the Creator of heaven and earth with his earthly eyes, but the works of His hands are the looking glass in which thou mayest perceive his omnipotence, his infinite wisdom and bounty.
Dr. G. S., Prof in Concordia Col.     

Note: According to Stanley B. Kimball, "[Professor] Seyffarth is quoted in the 1859 catalog of the Saint Louis Museum as saying that "the papyrus roll is not a record, but an invocation to the Deity Osiris... and a picture of the attendant spirits, introducing the dead to the Judge, Osiris."


Vol. ?                               St. Louis, May 13, 1857.                                No. ?


JO. SMITH'S MUMMIES. -- About a year since, Mr. Wyman of the museum, purchased two mummies, one of each sex, from a gentleman who had purchased them directly from the widow of Jo. Smith. They were part of the four which Smith pretended to have found with ancient manuscripts, edited by the old patriarchs. While the mother of Smith lived, these mummies, with the hyeroglyphics upon papyrus which accompanied them, could not be obtained, but not long after her death they were purchased, as stated, from the prophet's widow. Some of the brethren have had the hardness to deny that these were the patriarchal manuscripts and relics. But an unanswerable confirmation of the fact has lately occurred; certain plates issued by the elders as fac-similies of the original having fallen into Mr. Wyman's hands, which plates are fac-similies of the hyeroglyphics in the museum. Let, then, all of Mormon faith go to the museum, and contemplate the veritable handwriting of the patriarch Abraham. Who knows that the patriarch himself, "and Sarai his wife," are not in the museum?

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                               St. Louis, June 12, 1857.                                No. ?


THE MORMON PROPHET'S MUMMIES. -- Not long since, we stated that the mummies and accompanying Egyptian manuscripts at the museum were the identical mummies and manuscripts formerly found by Smith the mormon prophet. They were purchased by the proprietor of the museum from Mr. A. Combs, who bought them at Nauvoo city on the 26th of May, 1856. In a work published by "the saints" is a facsimile of the manuscripts with the information added that they were written by the great Jewish patriarch, Abraham himself. Doubt having still been expressed that they were the prophet's mummies, etc., we now append the certificate with which the sale of them to Mr. Combs was accompanied. Here it is:

                                                          NAUVOO CITY, May 26, 1856.
This to certify that we have sold to Mr. A. Combs four Egyptian Mumies with the records of them.

These mummies were obtained from the catacombs of Egypt, sixty feet below the surface of the earth, by the antiquarian society of Paris, and forwarded to New York, and purchased by the mormon prophet Joseph Smith, at the price of twenty-four hundred dollars in the year 1835. -- They were highly prized by Mr. Smith on account of the importance attached to the records, which were accidentally found enclosed in the breast of one of the mummies. From translations by Mr. Smith of the records, these mummies were found to be the family of Pharo, king of Egypt. They were kept exclusively by Mr. Smith until his death, and since by the mother of Mr. Smith -- notwithstanding we have had repeated offers to purchase, which have invariably been refused, until her death, which occurred on the 14th day of this month.

NAUVOO, HANCOCK CO., ILL. May 26th, 1856.
    (Signed)     L. C. BIDAMON.
                       EMMA BIDAMON,
                          former wife of Joseph Smith.
                       JOSEPH SMITH,
                          son of the mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

Note: For a discussion of how the Mormon mummies came to rest in the St. Louis Museum, see Walter H. Whipple's "The St. Louis Museum and the Two Egyptian Mummies and Papyri," in BYU Studies 10:1 (Autumn 1969), pp. 57-64, and Stanley B. Kimball's "New Light on Old Egyptiana: Mormon Mummies, 1848-71," in Dialogue 16:4 (Winter 1983), pp. 72-90.


Vol. VII. - No. 4.                          St. Louis, September 10, 1857.                          Whole 316.

(For the St. Louis Christian Advocate)
St. Louis Museum -- Zeulodon --
Egyptian Mummies.

Mr. Editor: Did you ever visit this rare collection of the curiosities of nature and art? ... the object most attractive to me was the Egyptian mummies. These unfolded a history deeply interesting to every lover of the curious and antiquated. It is said that these mummies were obtained in the catacombs of Egypt sixty feet below the surface of the earth, for the Antiquarian Society of Paris, and forwarded to New York, and there purchased by Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, in 1835; and that he used them in practicing his deceptions upon the people, pretending to translate the writings or hieroglyphics found in the chest of one of them, stating that they belonged to the family of Pharaoh. I suppose this great impostor, among other things equally glaring, confirmed his prophetic authority by alleging this papyrus roll to contain a commission to him from Pharaoh. By this, or some other mysterious power, he evidently holds in strange captivity many deluded people who groan to be delivered from bondage. Prof. Seyffarth says this writing contains an invocation to the Deity Osirus, in which occurs the name of the person, which is Horus. Long did I gaze upon these relics of departed greatness. Three thousand years have told upon the fortunes of the world since they mingled in the busy scenes of strife and acted their part upon the world's theatre. Could they but read the mighty change! "Great Pharaoh's sceptered pride" has departed. The refinements and luxuries of Egypt in the days of her glory have faded. Its wealth and power are gone. Where stood the mightiest empire on the earth, now stretches out drear and desolate plains, filled here and there with huge piles of mouldering ruins, monuments of departed greatness. Where palaces, and temples, and cities stood in the days of Pharaoh's glory and Egypt's power, now ruin sways its sceptre, and the curious tourist and scientific antiquarian study its hyeroglyphics, ramble amid its decaying arches, and pillars, and obelisks, gaze upon its pyramids and penetrate its catacombs and exhume its mummied Pharaohs, to tell the story of departed grandeur and glory, and point to the wisdom of Moses in choosing rather affliction with God's people and the imperishable glory of an everlasting reward.     W. M. L.
St. Louis, Sept. 4, 1857.

Note 1: Oddly enough the St. Louis newspapers seem to have recorded very little information touching upon the "Mormon mummies" on display in the local museum there for many years. Prior to their transfer to Missouri, when the curiosities were yet in Illinois, the St. Louis Reveille made a slight mention of them in 1845. Advertisements and two short articles on the subject appeared in the local Daily Democrat in 1856 and 1857 (see transcripts on this web-page), but not much else was said about the mummies in the St. Louis press.

Note 2: In late 1846 or not long thereafter, William Smith, last surviving brother of Joseph Smith, assumed control of the Mormon mummies. Evidently he pawned the Mormon mummies in 1854 to cover some expenses. (For more on William's troubles at the time, see the Apr. 26, 1854 issue of the Missouri Republican) William never redeemed the missing antiquities, but it appears that he and his sister-in-law (Emma Smith Bidamon) obtained more compensation for the mummies, before they formally ended up in the hands of a certain Abel Combs. This fellow placed two of the relics in Edward Wyman's St. Louis Museum during the late summer of 1856. They evidently remained in St. Louis until 1863, when the St. Louis Museum was moved to Chicago. For the recollections of William's nephew on this subject, see his Oct. 24, 1898 letter, as published in the Jan. 11, 1899 issue of the RLDS Saints' Herald.

Note 3: The Prof. Seyffarth mentioned in the above letter was Gustavus Seyffarth, a visiting instructor at St. Louis' Lutheran Concordia College. He recognized the texts accompanying the mummies for what they were -- funeral documents commonly buried with mummies in Egypt during ancient times. The correspondent who penned the above letter probably attended one of Professor Seyffarth's 1856 lectures, held in the St. Louis Mercantile Library, in which he offered a description of the museum's Egyptian mummies and their accompanying papyrus documents. See also a report of Seyffarth's conclusions in this regard, published in the Sept. 13, 1856 issue of the St. Louis Evening Pilot.


Vol. VII. - No. 12.                         St. Louis, November 5, 1857.                         Whole 323.


... The Mormons were to leave Carson Valley on the 25th of October. Brigham Young had ordered them to form a secret cavalry company, equipped with a year's provision and clothing....

The Nebraska correspondent of the Times writes, under date of October 22d, that news has just reached here from our frontier Mormon settlement on the north fork of the Platte river, near the mouth of the Beaver, that some seceders from the Mormon Church have arrived. bringing news that a large force of Mormon militia, under Brigham Young and J. [sic, H.] C. Kimball, were preparing to leave Salt Lake City, with provisions for a six weeks' campaign in the mountains, and stop, if possible, the passage of United States' troops. The positive destination of the Mormon force was secret, but it was generally supposed that at a pass in the mountains, near Bear river cut off, or at Steep Rocks, a stand would be made, with almost a certainty of cutting off the entire force sent amongst them.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. VII. - No. 13.                         St. Louis, November 12, 1857.                         Whole 324.


WASHINGTON. -- Brigham Young, in a communication to the Indian Bureau, says that if he is to have the direction of Indian affairs, and is expected to maintain friendly relations with the Indians, he would suggest that travelers should omit the infamous practice of shooting them when they happen to see them; hence it is natural that they wreak their vengeance in retaliation. The Government, he says, should make more liberal presents, for he has proven that it is far cheaper to feed and clothe the Indians than to fight them -- for when fighting is over it is always followed by expensive presentsm, which if properly distributed in the first place, might have averted the fight. The troops, he also says, must be kept away, for the more of these there are there we might expect to find the greater amount of hostile Indians, and the least security to persons and property.

If these items be complied with, he has no hesitation in saying, that so far as Utah is concerned, no Indians would molest the person or property of travelers. He says that the Department has often manifested its approval of his management of Indian Affairs, and never its disapproval, and why should he be subjected to such annoyances in regard to funds to pay expenses, and why reserve his salary? Why should the appropriation for the benefit of the Indians of Utah be retained in the Treasury, and individuals unpaid? These are questions, he says, I leave for you to answer at your liesure, and in the meantime submit to such a course in relation thereto as you shall see fit to direct.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. VII. - No. 14.                         St. Louis, November 19, 1857.                         Whole 325.


ATTACK ON THE GOVERNMENT TRAINS. -- The Lexington (MO.) Expositor has the following in reference to the destruction of the army supplies by the Mormons:

Intelligence has just been received at this place from which it appears that three of Waddell & Russell's trains, consisting of seventy-five wagons, and containing provisions for the use of the United States troops employed in the Utah expedition were attacked by the Mormons near Fort Bridger, and captured. It does not seem to have been the intention of the Mormons to injure the employees or cattle. They burned or appropriated the Government stores, but suffered the men to depart uninjured -- even supplying them with provisions sufficient to last them until they could reach Fort Laramie.

An arrival from the plains states that between the 10th and 12th of September, a train consisting of one hundred persons were all slain by the Indians, except a few children, which were sold to the Momrons. It was generally believed that the Mormons were at the bottom of the affair.

WASHINGTON. -- Secretary Cass to-day received a letter from Judge Eckle, the Chief Justice of Utah, on his way to the Territory, and beyond Fort Laramie, stating that the express had arrived bringing intelligence of an attack on the Quarter Master's train of the expedition, in which 75 army wagons and their contents had been destroyed.

The Government officers here do not fully credit the report.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. VII. - No. 15.                         St. Louis, November 26, 1857.                         Whole 326.


THE MORMON TROUBLES are increasing. It is now pretty generally believed, that the recent terrible massacre of over one hundred California emigrants was instigated by them. Should this be proven true, there is scarce any punishment they do not deserve. The recital of the depredations committed by the Indians at the instigation of the Mormons, if indeed it were not done by Mormons in the disguise of Indians, is horrible. There is much trouble ahead in reference to these infatuated and very bad people.

THE MASSACRE OF THE EMIGRANTS ON THE PLAINS -- THE MORMONS SUPPOSED TO BE AT THE BOTTOM OF IT. -- The Los Angeles Star gives the following additional details with reference to the horrible massacre of an emigrant train on the Plains by the Indians, of which we recently gave the substance:

"The scene of the massacre is differently designated, as the Santa Clara canyon, the Mountain Springs, and the Mountain Meadows. But all agree in locating it near the rim of the Great Basin, about fifty miles from Cedar City, the most southern of the Mormon settlements, and three hundred miles from Salt Lake City. Of a party of about 130 persons, only fifteen infant children were saved. The account was given by the Indians themselves to the Mormons at Cedar City, to which place they brought the children, who were purchased from them by the people of that city.

"Whether the cause assigned is sufficient to account for the result, or whether a different cause is at the bottom of the transaction, we will leave the reader to form his own conclusion. We can scarcely believe that a party traveling along a highway would act in the manner described, that is, to poison the carcass of an ox, and also the water, thus endangering the lives of those who were coming after them. Yet this is the story told by all who have spoken of the massacre. It is stated, the emigrants had an ox which died, and they placed poison in the body, and also poisoned the water standing in pools, for the purpose of killing the Indians; that several of the tribe had died from this cause, and that the whole force mustered and pursued the train, and, coming up with them at the above named place, which favored their purpose, attacked and murdered the whole party, except a few infant children.

"The Indians state that they made but one charge on the party, in which they cut off the greater portion of the men, and then guarded the outlets of the canyon, and shot the men and women down as they came out for water; that one man was making his escape with a few children, and they followed him, killed him, and took the children, fifteen in number, the eldest under five years of age."

The Star prefaces the letter of J. W. Christian, with the following remarks:

"The writer seems to indicate that the Mormons will be held responsible for the murder, and in this respect he is fully borne out by present implications, for a general belief pervades the public mind here that the Indians were instigated to this crime by the 'Destroying Angels' of the Church, and that the blow fell on these emigrants from Arkansas, in retribution of the death of Parley Pratt, which took place in that State. The truth of the matter will not be known until the Government makes an investigation of the affair. This should be done to place the blame in the right quarter, as well as to inflict chastisement on the immediate actors in the fearful tragedy, who are reported to be the Santa Clara tribe of Indians."

Telegraphic News of the Week.

... Nov. 19. -- New York. -- Col. Alexander's letter to Adjutant General Cooper says: "I cannot, for fear of being intercepted, tell you the strength of my command. It is strong enough to defend itself and its supplies, but whether it is able to assume and sustain an offensive position remains to be seen; but should the commands which I have heard are in the rear come up in time, I think we will have a sufficient force to carry out an active invasion. If we are obliged to winter in the mountains, you can perceive, by reference to Stansbury's maps, that we have an open road to Salt Lake City in the spring, which, I am told, is open early. By this an attack xan be made and attention called from the main road, that by Fort Bridger, which may be traversed by the troops. the Bear river route is, however, said to be in the best order in the valley. the other passes through canyons, which can be defended by a handful of men against thousands, and is moreover so easily obstructed that in a week it could be made utterly impassable.

"The want of cavalry is severely felt, and we are powerless on account of this deficiency, yo effect any chastisement of the marauding Indians, that are continually hovering around us."

The Herald says that Gen. Harney, with a large force, will be dispatched for Utah as soon as he can effect an entrance into the Territory.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. VII. - No. 18.                         St. Louis, December 17, 1857.                         Whole 329.


TUESDAY, 15. -- The news received by telegraph yesterday was of an interesting and important character.

There were arrivals at new York both from California and Liverpool, and the important items of news telegraphed here.

From the California news we learn that the Mormons are more bitter, bold and troublesome than usual -- so much so that it is exceedingly dangerous for any one to pass through or come near Utah.

The election in Oregon resulted in the adoption of the Constitution, the rejection of slavery, and the exclusion of free negroes...

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. VII. - No. 19.                         St. Louis, December 24, 1857.                         Whole 339.


The news from Utah, by the way of Washington city, is that the Mormons have expressed their determination to resist the advance of the United States troops, and that it was by Brigham Young's order that the Government trains were recently burnt.

The news from the Mormons is any thing else than favorable to peace. Their bitterness is represented as exceeding anything heard of in modern times, among people claiming to be civilized; and their atrocities are very great, whenever and wherever they have an opportunity of committing them.

The affair will not now likely stop short of their expulsion from the country, or utter extermination as a people. Reports say they are making arrangements to emigrate to British America, in case of being overcome in this country.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                           St. Louis, Missouri,  August ?, 1884.                           No. ?


A True History of Joe Smith's
Remarkable Piece of Jugglery.

How many people know anything about the origin of the Mormon religion, or rather, of the Book of Mormon, which is its authority? I knew precious little about it until this week, when I accidently fell in with Mr. Clark Braden, who has recently given the subject a most searching investigation. His story shows of what stuff a religion may be made. The Mormons number probably 800,000. They are divided into many sects, but the principal are the polygamous Brighamites in Utah and the non-polygamous Josephites scattered in various places. The story may be given in a few words. The Book of Mormon was written by an old broken down Presbyterian clergyman named Solomon Spaulding. Spaulding was born in Connecticut in 1761. He graduated at Dartmouth college, and settled as minister for a Congregational church. He made a sad failure at preaching, and went into business with his brother in New York state, did not succeed, and started up an iron foundry in a town in northern Ohio. He soon failed in that venture and became very much discouraged. His wife supported the family by taking boarders, and he spent his time writing, though what did not then appear. He afterwards rewrote the entire book, adding a third part. This is the origin of the manuscript.

Now, what became of it? Spaulding made arrangements to have it printed in Pittsburg. After a part of it had been set up, the whole manuscript was stolen by a tanner named Sidney Rigdon, who was in the habit of loafing around the printing office. Rigdon kept it concealed for some years, until he fell in with Joseph Smith, who evolved the plan of producing it. Smith belonged to a not over reputable family living near Palmyra, N. Y. They lived in a house and supported themselves by hunting and fishing and other means suspected to be more questionable. Joseph, one day, found a remarkably clear crystal, shaped much like a child's foot, and he declared it was a "peep-stone," in which he could read the future and discover stolen goods, strayed cattle, etc., and on several occasions was so successful in predicting the locality of goods and cattle that he soon came to have considerable reputation. He then extended his field of operations by divining where treasure was buried and under his directions a great many diggings were made, unsuccessfully however. These diggings extended over a large area, some fifty miles or more, around Palmyra, and some of them may be seen now. He fell in with Sidney Rigdon, who told him of the manuscript. Smith soon devised a scheme for producing it under proper surroundings. The alleged book of copper [sic] plates was found under divine guidance, on which characters of reformed Efyptian were graven. The book was accompanied by a pair of spectacles of wonderous power, which enabled Smith to translate the remarkable characters. This he did from behind a screen, while an amanuensis took down his words. The Book of Mormon was printed in 1830, at Palmyra, N. Y., a farmer, Martin Harris, putting up the cash to pay the printer. Thus Solomon Spaulding's manuscript found its way into print with such additions and alterations as Smith chose to make for his own benefit.

A book will soon be published by the Christian Publishing company giving all the investigations of Mr. Braden and the complete chain of evidence establishing the authenticity of his story. A manuscript of the Book of Mormon is still in existence in the possession of Mr. Whitmer, of Richmond, Mo., and the compositor who set up most of the book at Palmyra, fifty years ago, is still living, Mr. J. H. Gilbert. Mr. Braden is now trying to arrange that Mr. Gilbert shall see this manuscript to say whether it is the copy from which the book was originally set up.

Note: The exact date of this article remains undetermined. It probably appeared in the Spectator about the middle of August, 1884. The text is taken from a reprint found in the Illinois Quincy Daily Whig of
August 30th


St. Louis  Globe-Democrat.

Vol. ?                                St. Louis, Mo., October 6, 1887.                                No. ?



Special Correspondence of the Globe-Democrat.

Breckenridge, Missouri, September 27, 1887. -- In the afternoon of Tuesday, October 30, 1838, during the Mormon war in Missouri, there occurred in Caldwell County a dreadful incident, generally termed 'The Haun's Mill Massacre.' From official documents and other records, from affidavits of witnesses, and from statements made by actual participants, I have prepared the following account. If any newspaper publication of the affair has ever before been made, I am not aware of the fact.

The Mormons made their first settlement in Missouri, in Jackson County, in the year 1832, under the leadership of their 'prophet,' Joseph Smith. I have not the space here to describe their experiences in that county, their expulsion therefrom, their sojourn in Clay and Ray, the 'treaty' by which they were given Caldwell County as a sort of reservation, the founding of the city of Far West, nor can I narrate the circumstances leading to the Mormon war (so called), and finally the banishment of these unhappy people from the State. All these incidents may form the subject of a future paper. I may state, however, that the massacre was perpetrated on the very day that the militia, under Generals Lucas and Doniphan, arrived at Far West, with orders from Governor Boggs to 'expel the Mormons from the State or exterminate them.'

At Jacob Haun's mill, on Shoal Creek, in the eastern part of Caldwell County, about eight miles south of Breckenridge, there had collected about twenty Mormon families. Haun himself was a Mormon and had come to the site from Wisconsin a few years before. He had a very good mill, and clustered around it were a blacksmith shop and half a dozen small houses. The alarm that the troops were moving against them had driven nearly all the Mormon families in the county to Far West for safety. A dozen or more living in the vicinity repaired to Haun's mill, which was twenty miles to the eastward of Far West. As there were not enough houses to accommodate all of the fugitives, a number were living in tents and temporary shelters. A few families, perhaps four, had come in on the evening of the 29th, from Ohio, and were occupying their emigrant wagons. Not one member of the little community had ever been in arms against the 'Gentiles,' or taken any part whatever in the preceding disturbances.

Word that the militia of the State had been ordered to expel them from the country had reached the Mormons of the Haun's mill settlement, and following this intelligence came a report that a considerable number of men in Livingston County, together with some from Daviess, had organized in the forks of Grand River, near Spring Hill, in Livingston, and were preparing to attack them. Whereupon a company of about twenty-five men and boys, indifferently armed with shotguns and squirrel rifles, was organized at the mill, and David Evans was chosen captain. It was resolved to defend the place against the threatened assault. Some of the older men urged that no resistance should be made, but that all should retreat to Far West. The day after the skirmish on Crooked River (October 25), Haun himself went to Far West to take counsel of Joe Smith. 'Move here, by all means, if you wish to save your lives,' said the prophet. Haun replied that if the settlers should abandon their homes, the Gentiles would burn their houses and other buildings and destroy all of the property left behind. 'Better lose your property than your lives,' rejoined Smith. Haun represented that he and his neighbors were willing to defend themselves against what he called 'the mob,' and Smith finally gave them permission to remain. Others at the mill opposed a retreat, and when an old man named Myers reminded them how few they were, and how many the 'Gentiles' numbered, they declared that the Almighty would send his angels to their help when the day of battle should come. Some of the women, too, urged the men to stand firm, and offered to mold bullets and prepare patching for the rifles if necessary.

North of the mill was a body of timber half a mile in width, skirting Shoal Creek; beyond was a stretch of prairie. For a day or two Capt. Evans kept a picket post in the northern border of the timber, but on the 28th he entered into a sort of truce with Capt. Nehemiah Comstock, commanding a company of Livingston 'Gentiles' from the settlements near Mooresville and Utica, and the post was withdrawn. By the terms of this truce, which was effected by a messenger who rode between Evans and Comstock, the

Gentiles were to let the Mormons alone as long as the latter were peaceable, and vice versa. Each party, too, was to disband its military organization. But on the morning of the 29th the Mormons learned that a company of Livingston militia, a few miles to the eastward, were menacing them, and so they maintained their organization and that night set watches. The latter company was commanded by Captain William Mann, and for some days had been operating at and in the vicinity of Whitney's mill, on Lower Shoal Creek (where the village of Dawn now stands), stopping Mormon emigrants on their way from the East to Caldwell County, turning them back in some instances, taking their arms from them in others, etc.

On the 29th, at Woolsey's, northeast of Breckenridge, an agreement was reached by the Gentiles for an attack upon Haun's mill. There companies, numbering in the aggregate about two hundred men, were organized. They were commanded by Captains Nehemiah Comstock, William O. Jennings, and William Gee. The command of the battalion was given to Col. Thomas Jennings, an old militia officer, then living in the Forks. Nearly all of the men were citizens of Livingston County. Perhaps twenty were from Daviess, from whence they had been driven by the Mormons during the troubles in that county a few weeks previously. The Daviess County men were very bitter against the Mormons, and vowed the direst vengeance on the entire sect. It did not matter whether or not the Mormons at the mill had taken any part in the disturbances which had occurred; it was enough that they were Mormons. The Livingston men became thoroughly imbued with the same spirit, and all were eager for the raid. The Livingston men had no wrongs to complain of themselves, for the Mormons had never invaded their county, or injured them in any way; but they seemed to feel an extraordinary sympathy for the outrages suffered by their neighbors.

Setting out from Woolsey's after noon on the 30th, Col. Jennings marched swiftly out of the timber northwest of the present village of Mooresville, and out on the prairie stretching down southwards towards the doomed hamlet at Haun's

Mill. The word was passed along the column, 'Shoot at everything wearing breeches, and shoot to kill.'

All of the Gentiles were mounted, and they had with them a wagon and two Mormon prisoners. Within two miles of the mill the wagon and prisoners were left, in charge of a squad, and the remainder of the force pressed rapidly on. Entering the timber north of the mill, Colonel Jennings passed through it, unobserved, right up to the borders of the settlement, and speedily formed his line for the attack. Capt. W. O. Jennings' company had the center, Capt. Comstock's the left, and Capt. Gee's the right.

The Mormon leader had somehow become apprehensive of trouble. He communicated his fears to some of the men, and was about sending out scouts and pickets. It had been previously agreed that in case of attack the men should repair to the blacksmith shop and occupy it as a fort or blockhouse. This structure was built of logs, with wide cracks between them, was about eighteen feet square, and had a large wide door. The greater portion of the Mormons were, however, unsuspicious of any imminent peril. Children were playing on the banks of the creek, women were engaged in their ordinary domestic duties, the newly arrived immigrants were resting under the trees, which were clad in the scarlet, crimson, and golden leaves of autumn. The scene was peaceful and Acadian. It was now about four o'clock in the afternoon, and the sun hung low and red in a beautiful Indian summer sky.

Suddenly, from out of the timber north and west of the mill the Gentiles burst upon the hamlet. The air was filled with shouts and shots, and the fight was on. It cannot fairly be called a fight. Taken wholly by surprise, the Mormons were thrown into extreme confusion. The women and children cried and screamed in excitement and terror, and the greater number, directed by some of the men, ran across the milldam to the south bank of the creek and sought shelter in the woods. Perhaps twenty men, Captain Evans among them, ran with their guns to the blacksmith shop and began to return the fire. Some were shot down in their attempts to reach the shop.

The fire of the Mormons was wild and ineffective; that of the militia was accurate and deadly. The cracks between the logs of the shop were so large that it was easy to shoot through them, and so thickly were the Mormons huddled together on the inside that nearly every bullet which entered the shop killed or wounded a man. Firing was kept, up all the while on the fleeing fugitives, and many were shot down as they ran.

Realizing very soon that he was placed at a decided disadvantage, Captain Evans gave orders to retreat, directing every man to take care of himself. The door of the shop was thrown open, and all of the able-bodied survivors ran out, endeavoring to reach the woods. Some were shot before reaching shelter. Captain Evans was much excited, and ran all the way to Mud Creek, seven miles south, with his gun loaded, not having discharged it during the fight. The Gentiles advanced, and began to use their rough, homemade swords, or corn knives, with which some of them were armed. The fugitives were fired on until they were out of range, but not pursued, as the few who escaped scattered in almost every direction.

Coming upon the field after it had been abandoned, the Gentiles perpetrated some terrible deeds. At least three of the wounded were hacked to death with the 'corn knives' or finished with a rifle bullet. William Reynolds, a Livingston County man, entered the blacksmith shop and found a little boy, only ten years of age, named Sardius Smith, hiding under the bellows. Without even demanding his surrender, the cruel wretch drew up his rifle and shot the little fellow as he lay cowering and trembling. Reynolds afterward boasted of his exploit to persons yet living. He described with fiendish glee how the poor child 'kicked and squealed' in his dying agonies, and justified his inhuman act by the old Indian aphorism, 'Nits will make lice.' Charley Merrick, another little boy only nine years old, had hid under the bellows. He ran out, but did not get far until he received a load of buckshot and a rifle ball, in all three wounds. He did not die, however, for nearly five weeks. Esquire Thomas McBride was seventy-eight years of age, and had been a soldier under Gates and Washington in the Revolution. He had started for the blacksmith shop, but was shot down on the way, and lay wounded and helpless, but still alive. A Daviess County man named Rogers, who kept a ferry across Grand River, near Gallatin, came upon him and demanded his gun. 'Take it,' said McBride. Rogers picked up the weapon and finding that it was loaded deliberately discharged it into the old veteran's breast. He then cut and hacked the body with his 'corn knife' until it was frightfully gashed and mangled.

After the Mormons had all been either killed, wounded, or driven away, the Gentiles began to loot the place. Considerable property was taken, much of the spoil consisting of household articles and personal effects. At least three wagons and perhaps ten horses were taken. Two emigrant wagons were driven off with all their contents. The Mormons claim that there was a general pillage, and that even the bodies of the slain were robbed. The Gentiles deny this, and say that the wagons were needed to haul off their three wounded men, and the bedding was taken to make them comfortable, while the other articles taken did not amount to much. Two of the survivors have stated to me that the place was 'pretty well cleaned out.'

Colonel Jennings did not remain at the mill more than two hours. Twilight approaching, he set out on his return to his former encampment. He feared a rally and return of the Mormons with a large reinforcement, and doubtless he desired to reflect leisurely on his course of future operations. Reaching Woolsey's, he halted his battalion and prepared to pass the night. But a few hours later he imagined he heard cannon and a great tumult in the direction of Haun's Mill, betokening, as he thought, the advance of a large Mormon force upon him. Rousing his men from their sweet dreams of the victory, he broke camp, moved rapidly eastward, and never halted until he had put the West Fork of Grand River between him and his imaginary pursuers. He and his men had won glory enough for one day, anyhow! They had not lost a man killed and only three wounded. John Renfrow had his thumb shot off, Allen England was shot in the thigh, and -Hart in the arm.

The Mormon killed and mortally wounded numbered seventeen. Here are the names:--

Thomas McBride,
Augustine Harmer,
Levi N. Merrick,
Simon Cox,
Elias Benner,
Hiram Abbott,
Josiah Fuller,
John York,
Benjamin Lewis,
John Lee,
Alexander Campbell,
John Byers,
George S. Richards,
Warren Smith,
William Napier,
Charles Merrick, aged 9,
Sardius Smith, aged 10.

The severely wounded numbered eleven men, one boy (Alma Smith, aged 7), and one woman, a Miss Mary Stedwell. The latter was shot through the hand and arm as she was running to the woods.

Dies ir Bloody work and woeful. What a scene did Colonel Jennings and his men turn their backs upon as they rode away in the gloaming from the little valley once all green and peaceful! The wounded men had been given no attention, and the bodies of the slain had been left to fester and putrefy in the Indian summer temperature, warm and mellowing. A large red moon rose, and a fog came up from the stream and lay like a facecloth upon the pallid countenances of the dead. Timidly and warily came forth the widows and orphans from their hiding places, and as they recognized one a husband, one a father, another a son, and another a brother among the slain, the wailings of grief and terror were most pitiful. All that night were they alone with their dead and wounded. There were no physicians, but if there had been many of the wounded were past all surgery. Dreadful sights in the moonlight, and dreadful sounds on the night winds. In the hamlet the groans of the wounded, the moans and sobs of the grief-stricken, the bellowing of cattle, and the howling of dogs, and from the black woods the dismal hooting of owls.

By and by, when the wounded had been made as comfortable as possible, the few men who had returned gathered the women and children together, and all sought consolation in prayer. Then they sang from the Mormon hymn book a selection entitled 'Moroni's Lamentation,' a dirge-like composition, lacking in poesy and deficient in rhythm, but giving something of comfort, let us hope, to the choristers. And so in prayer and song and ministration the remainder of the night was passed.

The next morning the corpses had changed, and were changing fast. They must be buried. There were not enough men left to make coffins or even dig graves. It could not be determined when relief would come or when the Gentiles would return. There was a large unfinished well near the mill, which it was decided should be used as a common sepulcher. Four men, one of whom was Joseph W. Young, a brother of Brigham Young, gathered up the bodies, the women assisting, and bore them, one at a time, on a large plank to the well, and slid them in. Some hay was strewn upon the ghastly pile and then a thin layer of dirt thrown upon the hay.

The next day Captain Comstock's company returned to the mill, as they said, to bury the dead. Finding that duty had been attended to, they expressed considerable satisfaction at having been relieved of the job, and, after notifying the people that they must leave the State, or they would all be killed, they rode away. The pit was subsequently filled by Mr. C. R. Ross, now a resident of Black Oak, Caldwell County.

A day or two after the massacre, Colonel Jennings started with his battalion to join the State forces at Far West. He had not proceeded far when he met a messenger who informed him that the Mormons at Far West had surrendered, and gave him an order to move to Daviess County and join the forces under Gen. Robert Wilson, then operating against the Mormons at Adam-ondi-ahman. The battalion was present at the surrender at 'Diamon,' as it is generally called, and a day or two thereafter Captain Comstock's company was ordered to Haun's mill, where it remained in camp for some weeks. Herewith I give an extract from an affidavit made by Mrs. Amanda Smith, whose husband and little son were killed in the massacre, and who resided at the mill during the stay of Comstock's company:--

'...The next day the mob came back. They told us we must leave the State forthwith or be killed. It was bad weather, and they had taken our teams and clothes; our men were all dead or wounded. I told them they might kill me and my children, and welcome. They said to us, from time to time, if we did not leave the State they would come and kill us. We could not leave then. We had little prayer meetings; they said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman, and child. We had spelling schools for our little children; they pretended they were "Mormon meetings," and said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman, and child. . . . I started the 1st of February, very cold weather, for Illinois, with five small children and no money. It was mob all the way. I drove the team, and we slept out of doors. We suffered greatly from hunger, cold, and fatigue; and for what? For our religion. In this boasted land of liberty, "Deny your faith or die," was the cry.'

While in camp at the mill, according to the statements to me of two of its members, Comstock's company lived off the country, as did the State troops at Far West. The Mormon cattle and hogs had been turned into the fields and were fine and fat. The mill furnished flour and meal, and other articles of provision were to be had for the taking. The Mormon men were either prisoners or had been driven from the country. By the 1st of April following all had left the State. Many of them had been killed, their houses burned, their property taken, their fields laid waste, and the result was called peace.

Burr Joyce.

Note: The above text was taken from its reprint, published in the RLDS Saints' Herald for Oct. 22, 1887.



Vol. 71.                          St. Louis, Mo., Sunday, September 30, 1888.                          No. 21,295.


A Trio of Possibly the Oldest Provincial
Journalists in Illinois.

Special Correspondence of The Republic.

Carthage, Ill., Sept. 27 -- Probably no State in the Northwest can boast of as many pioneer country editors as does Illinois. There are many unknown to history, for the proverbial modesty of the profession has kept them in obscurity. Three of the oldest editors in this State are Thomas Gregg of Hamilton, Ill.; Judge Thomas Coke Sharp of the Carthage Gazette and J. M. Davidson of the Carthage Republican.

Thos. Gregg, now in his 80th year, established the Carthagenian, the first paper in Hancock County, in June, 1836. This was the only paper published in all the vast expanse of country north of Palmyra, Mo., and reaching to the Pacific Ocean, save a paper at Dubuque, Ia., and one just commenced at Burlington. At St. Louis, Chambers & Knapp published the Missouri Republican, with Nathaniel Paschal editor. There was also the St. Louis Argus, and Elijah P. Lovejoy started the Observer about that time. It was a religious and anti-slavery paper, and for the sentiments he advocated he was killed by a mob at Alton. The Carthagenian suspended in a short time and its editor, Thomas Gregg took the material to Fort Des Moines, Wisconsin Territory, now Montrose, Ia., and established the Western Adventuer. In 1843 Mr. Gregg issued the Warsaw _Message and subsequently revived the Warsaw Signal. In 1858 Mr. Gregg was connected with the publication of the Nauvoo Democratic Press, and in 1853-4 he published the Temperance Crusader. He subsequently published the Hamilton Crusader, the Dollar Monthly and the Rural Messenger. Mr. Gregg is the author of "Gregg's History of Hancock County." He lives quietly and happily with his aged wife in Hamilton, and his pen is not altogether idle.

Judge Thomas Coke Sharp, editor of the Carthage Gazette, is now in his 70th year. He purchased the Western World at Warsaw in 1840, and in 1841 changed the name to the Warsaw Signal. While editor of this paper Judge Sharp was unrelentless in his criticisms of the prophet, Joseph Smith, and the Mormons, because of their evident transgressions of civil laws. Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the Mormon prophets, were killed by a mob at the old Carthage jail, June 27, 1844. Judge Sharp was said to have been a member of the distinguished mob that marched from Warsaw and did the killing. He, with others, was indicted and tried by law for the offence, but a jury acquitted the defendants after a few minutes' deliberation. There is now no question that Judge Sharp was innocent of any participation in the outrage. He has continued in the editorial harness almost continuously since 1840.

James Monroe Davidson, editor of the Carthage Republican, has been continuously in the newspaper business in Illinois since early boyhood. He has fought the battles of Democracy for twenty-five long years as editor of the Republican in Carthage. In 1843-4, Mr. Davidson established the Fulton Gazette at Canton, Ill., now the Fulton Ledger. He founded the Fulton Democrat at Lewiston, Ill., in 1855, and after selling the same to his brother, W.T. Davidson, the present editor, he founded the Squatter Sovereign at Havana, Mason County, and conducted that paper several years. In [1863?] he purchased the Carthage Republican and has been its sole owner and editor since. Mr. Davidson was for a time the Springfield correspondent of the Missouri Republican and was also connected with the Chicago Times as night editor and traveling correspondent.

Among other pioneer editors of the State are J. B. Patterson of the Oquauka Spectator and Mr. Holt of the Kanakee Gazette.

Note 1: The above article was without a doubt written by Isham Gaylord Davidson (1860-1956), the local editor of the Carthage Republican at that time, under the supervision of his father, the Republican's managing editor. "Gay" Davidson, who had some experience as a practical printer and engraver, typically included small wood-block engravings along with his article submissions to western newspapers.

Note 2: Given some glaring errors and omissions in the article, it is obvious that the writer did not consult Gregg or Sharp (then his father's competitor in Hancock county) for details regarding their journalistic careers. Also, curiously missing from the list of pioneer Illinois papers are the Jacksonville Illinois Patriot and the Rock Spring Pioneer, of the early 1830s. Thomas Gregg himself neglected to mention these papers and their editors in his Nov. 16, 1891 letter to the Keokuk Gate City.

Note 3: The following time-line may help clear up confusion over the interaction of Gregg and Sharp, in relationship to the Warsaw Signal: May 13, 1840: D. N. White established his Western World at Warsaw --- May 12, 1841: T. C. Sharp and partner purchased the Western World and renamed it the Warsaw Signal --- Oct. 1, 1842: Sharp sold the Signal back to its original owner --- Jan. 7, 1843: Thomas Gregg's Western Message replaced the defunct Signal --- Feb. 14, 1844: Sharp regained ownership of the Message press and re-established the Warsaw Signal -- Dec. 1846: Sharp relinquished editorship of the Signal to Thomas Gregg --- Sharp stayed on as an associate editor and Gregg subsequently became the paper's publisher --- Oct 2, 1847: Gregg became sole editor --- 1853 (fall?): Gregg left the paper --- Mar. 1853: Sharp returned to publish it as the Warsaw Weekly Express --- early 1850s: James McKee established a rival paper called the Warsaw Commercial Journal --- April 20, 1855: McKee's paper re-named Journal of the People --- 1855: McKee merged his Journal with the Express to create the Warsaw Express and Journal --- 1855: paper's name was shortened to Warsaw Express --- last preserved issues: April 1856 (may have continued past that date) Thomas C. Sharp eventually returned to the Hancock County newspaper publishing business in 1869 with his purchase of the Carthage Gazette.


St. Louis  Globe-Democrat.

Vol. ?                                St. Louis, Mo., February 21, 1897.                                No. ?



Smith's Untidy Attire -- The Finding of the Golden Plates and
How the Inscriptions Were Translated -- Printing the Bible.

San Jacinto, Cal., Feb. 2. -- Daniel Hendrix, one of the two persons now living who were associated with the members of the earliest Mormon Church at Palmyra. N. Y., lives at the home of his son in this vicinity. He is 87 years of age, and retains his full mental faculties. Although a disbeliever in any part of the Mormon faith, he is often visited by descendants of Joseph Smith and of Sidney Rigdon, the founders of Mormonism, for reminiscences of the early days of the Latter Day Saints in Wayne County, N.Y. Edgar Smith, a grandson of Joseph Smith, told the writer less than a year ago that he found Daniel Hendrix, the last man living who had the closest personal acquaintance with his grand-parent at the time of the finding of the golden Bible.

Mr. Hendrix's mind is wonderfully retentive of events of sixty-five years ago. He has a few proof sheets ot the original Mormon Bible, printed by Major John Gilbert at Palmyra in 1831 [sic], and at one time had a copy of the first complete Bible. He sold it twenty years ago for $200 to a gentleman who acted as an agent for Lord Beaconsfleld. He has since learned that two Mormon Bibles of the first edition have been bought in Europe for about $700 each. The present Joseph Smith has tried hard to procure a copy of that edition for Mr. Gladstone, who sent word to San Francisco that he would be willing to pay a handsome price for the book.

"I was a very young man in a store In Palmyra, N. Y., from 1822 until 1830," said Mr. Hendrix to us recently in talking of his recollections of the origin ot Mormonism, "and among the daily visitors at the establishment was Joseph Smith, Jr. Everyone knew him as Joe Smith. He had lived in Palmyra a few years previous my going there from Rochester. Joe was the most ragged, lazy fellow in the place, and that is saying a good deal. He was about 25 years old. I can see him now in my mind's eye, with his torn and patched trousers held to his form by a pair of suspenders made out of sheeting, with his calico shirt as dirty and black as the earth, and his uncombed hair 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 warm friends. He was a good talker, and would have made a fine stump epeaker 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 dally 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.

"Mrs. Smith, Joe's mother, was a stanch Presbyterian, and was a great admirer of her son, despite Joe's shiftless and provoking ways. She always declared that he was born with a genius, and did not have to work. 'Never mind about my son Joseph,' said she one day, when my employer had rallied her upon her heir's useless ways, 'for the boy will be able some of these fine days to buy the whole of Palmyra and all the folks in it. You don't know what a brain my boy has under that old hat.'

"For over two years Joe Smith's chief occupation was digging for gold at night and sleeping in the daytime. He was closo-mouthed on the subject of his gold-seeking operations around on the farms of Wayne county, where not a speck of gold was ever mined, and when people joked him too severely concerning his progress in getting the precious metal, he would turn his back upon the jokers and bystanders and go home as fast as possible. With some of us young men, however, who were always serious with him and affected an interest in his work, he was more confidential

"Joe, in his excursion after gold, carried a divining rod to tell him where there was hidden treasure, and he left many holes In the ground about that region, which testified that he could work if the spirit moved. He had all the superstitions of the money diggers of the day, one of which was that the digging must be done at night, and not a word must be spoken, for at the first utterance the gold would fly away to some other locality; in fact, Joe claimed that he had more than once been on the point of reaching some great treasure when, in his eagerness, some unlucky exclamation would escape him, and, presto! the treasure would vanish from under his feet.

"Finally in the fall -- in September, I believe -- of 1823. Joe went about the village of Palmyra telling people of the great bonanza he had at last found. I remember distinctly his sitting on some boxes in the store and telling a knot of men, who did not believe a word they heard, all about his vision and his find. But Joe went into such minute and careful details about the size, weight, and beauty of the carvings on the golden tablets, the strange characters and the ancient adornments, that I confess he made some of the smartest man in Palmyra rub their eyes in wonder. The women were not so skeptical as the men, and several of the leading ones in the place began to feel at once that Joe was a remarkable man after all.

"Joe declared, with tears in his eyes and the most earnest expression you can imagine, that he had found the gold plates on a hill six miles south of Palmyra, on the main road between that place and Canandaigua. Joe had dug and dug there for gold for four years, and from that time the hill has been known as Gold Hill.

"For the first month or two at least Joe Smith did not say himself that the plates were any new revelation or that they had any religious significance, but simply said that he "had found valuable treasure in the shape of a record of some ancient people which had been inscribed on imperishable gold for preservation.

The pretended gold plates were never allowed to be seen, though I have heard Joe's mother say that she had lifted them when covered with cloth, and they were very heavy -- so heavy, in fact, that she could scarcely raise them, though she was a very robust woman. What Joe at that time expected to accomplish seems difficult to understand, but he soon began to exhibit what he claimed to be copies of the characters engraved, on the plates, though the irreverent were disposed to think that he was more indebted to the characters found on China tea chests and in histories of the Egyptians and Babylonians than to any plates he had dug up near Palmyra. Before long, however, a new party appeared on the scene in the person of one Sidney Rigdon, and thenceforward a new aspect was put upon the whole matter.

"I remember Rigdon as a man of about forty years, smooth, sleek, and with some means. He had a wonderful quantity of assurance, and in these days would be a good broker or speculator. He was a man of energy, of contrivance, and would make a good living anywhere and in any business. He was distrusted by a large part of the people in Palmyra and Canandaigua, but had some sincere friends. He and Joe Smith fell in with each other, and were cronies for several months. It was after Rigdon and Smith were so intimate that the divine part of the finding of the golden plates began to 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.

"Rigdon, who, from his first appearance, was regarded as the 'brains' of the movement, seemed satisfied to be the power behind the throne. Not only were pretended copies of the engraved plates exhibited, but whole chapters of what were called translations were shown: meetings were held at the Smith house, and in the barns on the adjoining farms, which were addressed by Smith and Rigdon, and an active canvass for converts was inaugurated. Strange as it may appear from the absurdity of the claims set forth and the well-known character of Joe Smith, these efforts were to quite a degree successful, particularly among the unsophisticated farmers of the vicinity, and a number of them, who were regarded as equal in intelligence to the average rural population, became enthusiastic proselytes of the new faith.

"One feature of the claim in relation to the translation from the plates was quite in character with the claims that have been from time to time set up by the Mormon Church down to the present day. Joe Smith was, of course, an illiterate man, and some way must be provided for the translation of his record. But Joe, or Rigdon, was equal to the emergency, for he claimed to have found with the 'Gold Bible,' as they always called it, a wonderful pair of spectacles, which he described as having very large round glasses, larger than a silver dollar, and he asserted that by placing the plates in the bottom of a hat or other deep receptacle, like a wooden grain measure, he could put on those spectacles, and looking down upon the plates, the engraved characters were all translated into good plain English, and he had only to read it off and have it recorded by a copyist.

"This claim with all its absurdity was not more absurd than one that was made to me personally by Martin Harris, who was one of the early and most faithful proselytes. Harris was a farmer of good property, residing about a mile from the village, with whom I was well acquainted, as a customer of a firm where I was employed. On one occasion I had been out on horseback on a collecting trip, and returning in the early evening, as I passed the house of Mr. Harris he came out, and joining me we rode together toward the village. It was a beautiful evening in October, and as we were on elevated ground sloping eastward toward the village in the same direction in which we were going, the full moon, which was just rising, made everything before us look most charming.

"As I made some remark on the beauty of the moon, he replied to the effect that if I could see it as he had done I might well call it beautiful. I was at once anxious to know what he meant, and plied him with questions; but beyond the assertion that he had actually visited the moon in his own person and seem its glories face to face, he was not disposed to be communicative, remarking that it was only the faithful that were permitted to visit the celestial regions, and with that he directed the conversation in less ethereal channels.

"For three or four years Smith, Rigdon, and Harris worked for converts to the new faith. They all became from constant practice and study good speakers, and Smith was at that time as diligent and earnest as he had previously been lazy and careless. The three men traveled all over New York State, particularly up and down the Erie Canal. They were rotten-egged in some places, hooted and howled into silence in others, and had some attention in a few communities. Their meetings were generally poorly attended, and people regarded the men as fools, whose cause would soon die out. I attended several of the meetings in Wayne and Ontario counties. Smith would always tell with some effect how the angel had appeared to him, how he felt an irresistible desire to dig where he did, and how he heard celestial music and the chanting of a heavenly host as he drew the golden plates from the earth and bore them to his home.

"He became so proficient in his description of the ecstatic joy in heaven when he found the plates, that I have known a large audience to hold its breath as the sentences rolled from Smith's mouth. I have seen farmers' wives powerless and almost unconscious in the spell of religious enthusiasm that Smith and Rigdon had created. The latter told in scores of meetings and to every one with whom he came in contact, how he was frequently transported to the celestial spheres at night, while his body lay on his bed at home; how he had listened to counsels from Moses and Elisha; how he actually walked in flowery beds and down golden streets on some far-off planet; and he would repeat instructions that he pretended he had from Bible characters in the other world.

"Of the printing of the 'Book of Mormon' I have a particularly keen recollection. Smith and Rigdon had hard work to get funds together for the new Bible. Smith told me himself that the world was so wicked and perverse that it was hard to win converts; that he had a vision to print the Bible, and that as soon as that was done the work would be prospered wonderfully. A new convert named Andrews, a plain old farmer in Auburn, N. Y., mortgaged his property for $3,000 to start the printing. The Wayne _Sentinel,_ published at Palmyra, did the work on a contract for 5,000 copies for $5,000. 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.

"I helped to read proof on many pages of the book, and at odd times set some type. The copy was about half ready for the printer when there came a halt in the proceedings, for Mrs. Harris, wife of Martin Harris, had become so disgusted with her husband's conversion to the new religion and his abandonment of his fine farm for preaching Mormonism that she one morning threw in the fire all the Bible manuscript that had been brought to him for a review by Smith. It was weeks before Joe Smith and Rigdon recovered from their dismay at this act. Harris went down into his pockets for $300 to repay the loss caused by his wife's destruction of the manuscript.

"The copy for the 'Book of Mormon' was prepared in a cave that Smith and others dug near the scene of the finding of the golden plates on Gold Hill. I went out there frequently for a Sunday walk during the process of the translation of the plates and the printing of the book. Some one of the converts was constantly about the entrance to the cave, and no one but Smith and Alvin [sic] Cowdry, a school teacher there, who had proselyted that season, was allowed to go through the door of the cave. Rigdon had some hopes of converting me, and I was permitted to go near the door, but not so much as to peep inside. Smith told me later that no one had ever seen the golden plates but himself, and that he wore the glasses found with the plates, and was thus able to translate the new message from heaven to the people. He read aloud, and Cowdry, who was seated on the other side of a screen or partition in the cave, wrote down the words as pronounced by Joe.

"The penmanship of the copy furnished was good, but the grammar, spelling and punctuation were done by John H. Gilbert who was chief compositor in the office. I have heard him swear many a time at the syntax and orthography of Cowdry, and declare that he would not set another line of type. The copy came in one [conglomerate] mass, and there were no paragraphs, no punctuation and no capitals. All that was done in the printing office, and what a time there used to be in straightening sentences out, too!

"During the work of printing the book I remember that Joe Smith kept in the background. He was wanted several times at the printing office to explain some obscure sentences and apparent blunders in composition, but he never came near the printers. He sent word by his brother, Hyrum, that the work of translating absorbed his mind and functions so that he could not attend to mundane business. Every morning Hyrum Smith appeared at the office with installments of copy of twenty-four pages buttoned up in his vest, and came regularly and punctually for them at night.

"The publication of the book of 538 [sic] pages was pushed with spirit, but until it was completed not a copy was allowed to leave the office. Every volume was packed in an upper room, and the pile they made struck me at the time, and has since been vividly in my mind, as comparing in size and shape with a cord of wood, and I called it a cord of Mormon Bibles. The work was finished in the spring of 1830. Not long after the publication was completed Smith and his followers began their preparations for a removal, and ere long the parties with their converts, packed up all their belongings and left for Kirtland, O.

"This removal was not 'on compulsion' from any complaints of their neighbors, like those they were subsequently compelled to make from Kirtland and Nauvoo, but all seemed to enter into it readily and with the utmost cheerfulness, though many abandoned homes of great comfort and comparative wealth. In the exodus there were farmers who sold their farms to the amount of $15,000, all of which was committed to the care and tender mercy of Joe Smith, and the votaries committed themselves to his care and guidance."

Note 1: The full and exact content of this Globe-Democrat article remains undetermined. The text provided above was taken from a reprint, published in the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle of Mar. 7, 1897. The content will be updated, once a verified text is located.

Note 2: The so-called recollections of "Daniel Hendrix" were an early 1890s forgery concocted by Henry G. Tinsley, then editor of the California Pomona Progress. The Hendrix statement should not be relied upon, in any of its various details, as providing an authentic account of events taking place in the Manchester-Palmyra area of the 1820s and 1830s. See notes attached to Joseph Franklin Peck's letter of Oct. 1887 for an explanation of Tinsley's fabrication.

Back to top of this page.

Newspaper Articles    |    Articles Index    |    History Vault
Oliver's Bookshelf    |    Spalding Library    |    Mormon Classics

last updated: Feb. 3, 2013