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Vol. ?                           Oneonta, N.Y., Thursday,  January 18, 1900.                           No. ?

The Early Days of Mormonism.

[by Harvey Baker].

About 1825 Joseph Hervy was in the vicinity of South Bainbridge (now Afton) and attended a meeting held by Joseph Smith, who afterwards became the noted Mormon leader and the originator of that now numerous sect.

I was then about seven years of age. Of the many things related, was that of his pretended casting a devil out of a man, which was said to pass out in the form of a black dog and disappear. Smith had already considerable notoriety as being able to find lost property by looking into a stone in his hat, the hat being in darkness. He had already made large excavations in that town in search of a reported chest of gold.

A year or so later Smith with his followers left for the west, passing through Coventry into the town of Lisle (now Triangle), thence up the south branch of Halfway brook, a stream that had its rise in the town of Smithville and a small village of that name.

The western or northern branch of Halfback brook passed up and had its rise just in the edge of Cortland county. Just north of this stream was the place of my birth. This stream was known as Ticknor brook, some three families of that name having farms upon it. The south branch was known as Taft Creek. It was headed from a pond near Smithville. My memory is that some twenty or thirty women, girls, men and boys, on foot and in two old-fashioned western emigrant wagons comprised the emigrating party. I well remember hearing it talked that women left their husbands and families to go with Smith, and the common expression was that it was the most scandalous party that ever left Chenango county.

In the summer of 1828 or 9 my father, mother and myself visited friends in South Bainbridge. They proved to be in the immediate vicinity of where Joe Smith was born [sic] and where he commenced his career. My mother had one sister and two brothers, who soon after the close of the Revolution settled in that town. Their homes were on the eastern side of the Susquehanna river about one mile south of the village of Afton and near the locality of the Indian village described by Lieutenant Erkuries Beatty as being called Conihunto and by some others it was spelled Gunna Hunter, a place where the river passes three islands.

My mother's uncles were named Thomas and Enos Cornwall. Each had farms on the east side of the river. The latter was unmarried, while Thomas was married and had sons and daughters. Thomas and Enos Cornwall were then old men, probably each over seventy years of age. Their sister, Eunice Cornwall, married Hezekieh Medbury of New Berlin. At this time they owned the farm next above that of Thomas Cornwall, and this farm was one where there had been digging of holes in the rocks by direction of Joe Smith in his fruitless hunt for hidden treasure. All these people were full of accounts of the doings of Smith and his followers, and it was adjoining one of the farms where the farce of walking on the water was enacted. It was in haying time and the Cornwalls were mowing near the river and they discovered tracks through the brush to its bank. The boys made an examination which developed a plank bridge just under the water which extended across a level branch of the river to its opposite side. The planks were supported by legs driven into the ground, upon which they were supported, and a tall straight tree was plainly visible in its line. The mowers procured a saw and weakened the third plank so that no one could step upon it without going into the river to its bottom. That night from a good vantage point the boys watched for its development. After dark on came Smith with a number of his proselytes to see walking on the water verified. Smith stepped forth with confidence and turned to address his hearers, telling them that this performance was wholly a matter of faith and that their faith for its success was as necessary as was his own, and continuing -- we will all thus continue our faith -- and walking onward until coming to the weakened legs, down went the prophet breast deep into the river. He clambered out of the water with the answer that their faith had weakened and that his alone was not sufficient to support him on the water. Here too was his favorite place for baptizing his converts. During the winter they had cut the ice ready for such an immersion. Some mischievous boys, knowing where there was a large, dead hog, drew it and carefully fastened it in the open baptismal font. So chagrined were the prophet and following candidates that they left in disgust. Such are some of the stories with which we were regaled, but nothing so real was left for my examination as was that of the hole in the rocks.

The next day two of my wife's cousins and myself started to examine Smith's hole in the rocks. A creek crossed the Cornwall farm which came from the range of hills east of the Susquehanna river and on the flat joined its waters with that stream. We followed up the creek deep into the gorge until we came to a huge pile of rocks which had but a few years before been tumbled down on the east side of the stream from a place high up the gorge -- probably fifty or more feet. We climbed up the broken pile to where these huge rocks had been sent down. There in the steep side hill from solid rocks had this hole been excavated. Far above huge logs held back other rocks and large amounts of dirt from falling into the excavation. I did not wonder that this hole in the rocks had cost Mr. Church that fine farm, but still I wondered that a story of gold in an iron chest could so have deluded any people. Gold in rocks was possible but gold in an iron box in those undisturbed rocks was impossible. So it proved to be. When nearing the prize all was to be silent. A single sound was to cause it to vanish. The story was that when the last rock was raised a laborer broke the silence with an exclamation of joy and all the hoped for wealth vanished amid, fire, smoke and smell of brimstone.

The fine farm of Hezekiah Medbury was the farm which was sacrificed to pay for Joseph Smith's mine-finding folly. A large hole, I was informed, even larger but less expensive was made by Smith west of the Susquehanna river with a like result. During all these years I had never been informed of the exact place ofJoseph Smith's birthplace, although I had often been told it was not far from Nineveh. In December 1867 I was engaged in finishing the railroad to Harpersville and was boarding at Scott's hotel in Nineveh. One evening Chief Engineer Wentz and others were there canvassing railroad matters and Mr. Wentz said, we want you also to make us a cheap building for an engine house, naming about the size he desired built. Riley Bush, a large land and property owner, was sitting near me. I turned to him and inquired, "Can you go to-morrow with your team and help me purchase the lumber for that engine house." Only a few minutes before the conversation had been about the Mormons and Mr. Bush's reply was "Yes, I will; and will carry you by the place where Joe Smith was born."

The next morning he took his team and drove down on the east side of the Susquehanna river. Near a four corners about half way to Ouaquaga he pointed out to me a pile of stone which he said was the ruins of the chimney of the very house in which Joe Smith, the Mormon leader, was born. I know this birthplace does not agree with the published accounts, but I am confident my informer was correct. Of course all I say and know personally of Joe Smith and of Mormonism has to come through tradition and of reading, but one undeniable fact still remains and that is of the hole in the rocks in Afton. I have myself seen and still have some samples of iron pyrites I brought home so long ago from that hole, and I have every reason to believe that all I have otherwise learned of the matter is found on facts.

I well remember when a boy that a man named Kimball lived and carried on sugar making about one-half mile from my home. I was often in his shop. People said that when Smith passed through the adjoining valley Kimball joined them. Years afterward I often heard one Marcus Page, who owned the log shop in which he worked, say Kimball was with the Mormons and still later that the noted Mormon leader was one of his sons, but I do not know the fact.
Oneonta, Jan. 8th, 1900.

Note: See also Harvey Baker's similar recollections, as published in the Otsego Farmer of Nov. 14, 1890.


Vol. XV.                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Thursday,  January 18, 1901.                         No. 6.


A number of Mormon elders are at work in the.towns of the Mohawk Valley, endeavoring to gain converts to that faith and induce women to go to Utah. Some of the disciples were in Troy last week and called on several members of the W. C. T. U. of that city with a hope of converting them to the Mormon religion. Their reception was decidedly warm, and the places where they attempted to win new members were made so hot for the followers of Brigham Young and'Joseph Smith that they fled in great haste.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. XVI.                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Thursday,  February 14, 1902.                         No. 9.


It is a well known fact that the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young's right bower, was born and brought up in the locality of Afton, where he was regarded as a shiftless character, and a good deal of a tramp.

In an old history of Chenango County, N. Y. there appears the following reference to one of the incidents in Smith's eventful career:

"To convince the unbelievers" that he did posses supernatural powers -- he (Prophet Joseph Smith) anmounced that he would walk upon the water. The performance was to take, place in the evening, and to the astonishment of unbelievers, he did walk, upon the Water where it was known to be several feet deep, only sinking a few inches below the surface.

This proving a success, a second trial was announced, which bid fair to be as successful as the first, but when he had proceeded some distance into the river he suddenly went down greatly to the disgust of himself and proselytes, but to the great amusement of unbelievers.

It appeared upon examination that planks were laid in the river a few inches below the surface, and some Wicked boys had removed a plank which caused the prophet to go down like any mortal."

Note: The above account was taken from the 1869 Gazetteer and Business Directory of Chenango County, which continues its story as follows: "After pretending to heal the sick, cast out devils, &c., he gained quite a number of followers, but at length came to grief by being prosecuted as an impostor. He was tried before Joseph P. Chamberlain, a Justice of the Peace. Two pettifoggers by the name of John S. Reed and James Davison volunteered to defend him. Three witnesses were examined on the occasion, all of whom testified that they had seen him cast out devils. They saw 'a devil as large as a woodchuck leave the man and run across the floor.' One of them saw a devil leave the man and 'run off like a yellow dog.' These witnesses were Mr. Knight and son, and Mr. Stowell, all of whom subsequently went west with Smith. Preston T. Wilkins, of Ashtabula County, Ohio, lived in Broome County, near the line of Afton, at the time of the Mormon excitement, and while on a visit to a Mormon family learned that there was a chest of Mormon Bibles in the barn, that it was guarded by an angel, and that it would be utterly impossible for any one to steal one of them. Mr. W. prepared a key that would unlock the chest, and taking one of their Bibles carried it home in the evening and placed it over the front door, so that it would fall into the house on opening the door. The result was what he anticipated and the Mormons declared that an angel had brought the book and of course Mr. W. and his wife would become converts at once. The Mormons had been laboring for some time to convert Mrs. W. and had caused her much anxiety and her husband considerable trouble, which he wished to end. They would never acknowledge that one of their books was missing. Some time afterwards Mr. W. explained the miracle of the Bible and informed the Mormons that they must keep away from his house as he would no longer listen to their impositions. About 1831 most of them went west where the saints had been commanded to assemble."


Vol. XV.                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday,  December 30, 1904.                         No. 6.


There is a report that the old McKune homestead at West Susquehanna, Pa., in which Joseph Smith, assisted by Harris Couderly, et al., "translated" the Book of Mormon or Mormon Bible, will be purchased by the Mormons of Salt Lake City, to be placed in their great museum. Delegations of Mormons have, from time to time, visited the old homestead, which is situated just west of the Erie Railroad station at Susquehanna, and which is in a fair state of preservation. In the little cemetery nearby rests the remains of Smith's first child. There can still be seen traces of excavations made by Smith and his dupes in their unsuccessful search for gold and precious minerals.

Notes: (forthcoming)


The  Otsego  Tidings.
Vol. XXVII.                         Milford, N.Y., Thursday,  August 14, 1916.                         No. 43.



Missourian Said to Possess Sacred Tablets
Unearthed by Joseph Smith.



Is Lineal Descendant of David Whitmer, Who Was the Last of the
Three Witnesses to Translation of Golden Plates.

Hutchinson, Kan. --A little man carrying the ordinary grips of the commercial traveler who registered at the Bisonte hotel as "G. W. Schweisch, Richmond, Mo.," didn't look like man carrying the weight of an enormous secret. But he is, for Mr. Schweisch, who is a steel fence-post salesman, is the man in whose possession are supposed to be the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, unearthed by Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, and whose whereabouts have long remained a mystery.

Mr. Schweisch won't give them up. There are those who claim it would be the greatest gold brick sale in the world if Schweisch should sell the tablets to the Utah church; but he would surrender his right hand first, for Schweisch believes those tablets are genuine, and that a solemn obligation requires him to keep them from the Utah church.

Mr. Schweisch is supposed to be the possessor of the golden record of the Nephites, as well as the copper plates of the Sanhedrin and other priceless Mormon relics. Consequently, he is one of the most-watched men in the country, and needs a barricade of his own steel fence-posts to keep the investigators, and even thieves, away, who seek to rob him of the valuable relics.

He talks freely enough about his grandfather, in whose home in New York state the plates of gold were translated by the founder of the Mormon church, and admits delivering the original copy of the Mormon Bible himself to Joseph Smith at Independence, Mo.

Mormons Want Plates.

Recently a statement was published that the plates of pure gold, which bear the original record of the Mormon church and which either would prove or disprove the claims of that church, are in the guardianship of Mr. Schweisch. But this he could not be prevailed on to discuss.

Some years ago the town of Richmond, where he lives, was blown away by a cyclone. The house of David Whitmer was wrecked with the exception of one room. This is said to have contained the sacred plates of gold and was saved by an act of God.

It is said that David Whitmer made provisions that the records should not fall into the hands of any save his own lineal descendants, and refused to turn them over to the church authorities at Salt Lake City after he had quarreled with Joseph Smith over the question of polygamy.

Whitmer scoffed at Smith receiving any revelation from God indorsing polygamy and broke away from the Salt Lake City church. He also disagreed with what is known,as the reorganized church, clinging to the branch of the church called the "Church of Christ." Mr. Schweisch and his daughter take the same view as David Whitmer, and they refuse to deliver over the sacred relics.

Mormon emissaries from the Utah church have made constant efforts to recover them, and this traveling post salesman declares his home at Richmond has been frequently searched.

"But they will never find them," he said. "They are in existence, but where I am not at liberty to say."

The whereabouts of the golden plates and the sealed book became one of the mysteries of the church. Some believe they were buried again at the hill of Cumorah. Others hold that they remained in the possession of David Whitmer and passed on down to his lineal descendants and are now in hiding in the home of Mr. Schweisch of Richmond, Mo., his grandson.

"I don't want to make any statement about it," insisted the fence-post salesman. "If I had the sealed book I would not dare admit it. It has caused me enough trouble already. I can say this, however, that those who have been searching for the golden plates will never find them. They might as well give up.

"I don't want to make any statement about that. But I know what they are. They consist of the golden plates, the copper plates which are the record of the Jewish Sanhedrin or Great Council, and the sword of Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob. Then there are some other minor articles. But I want to repeat that search for them will never find them, nor need anybody bother my daughter after I am dead, for they will never find them."

Record of Descendants.

There is special interest in the golden plates because of the prophecy of more revelations ti come from "The book that is sealed." The plates are of pure gold, eight inches long, four inches wide and four inches high, according to Mr. Schweisch.

This Missouri traveling salesman is the last lineal descendant of David Whitmer, who was the last of the three witnesses to the translation of the golden plates. The one thing that makes many believe these valuable church relics were passed down from Whitmer to his descendant, the fencepost salesman, is a quit claim deed on record in the courthouse at Richmond, Mo., which mentions "certain heirlooms," said to be the golden plates. A sister-in-law waived the right to the heirlooms which descended to the grandson, instead of to her, through her husband, the brother of David Whitmer.

Mr. Schweisch says that the work of translating was partly done In his grandfather's house.

"There is no doubt of the existence of the golden plates," said Mr. Schweisch. "They were found by Joseph Smith, founder of the church, who, following out the instructions of a divine vision, went to the hill of Cumorah, about twenty miles from Seneca Falls, N. Y., and found them in a box of stone.

"They were engraved with characters which no one could read and in fulfilment of the prophesy in the twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah. Joseph Smith, an unlearned boy, could read the records which no learned man could decipher. I have often heard my grandfather tell of the translation. Parts of the translation were made in my grandfather's house in New York.

"Joseph Smith would take the Seer stone that helped him translate the record and put it in his hat, holding it closely around his face to exclude the light, and the spiritual light would appear, and before his eyes would appear a sort of parchment on which would be the characters of the golden plate with the English translation under them. In this way the translation was made and verified, character by character."

Note: According to I. Woodbridge Riley (p. 219): George W. Schweich, Richmond, Missouri, wrote September 22d, 1899, "I have begged him [David Whitmer] to unfold the fraud in the case and he had all to gain and nothing to lose to but speak the word if he thought so -- but he has described the scene to me many times, of his vision about noon time in an open pasture -- there is only one explanation barring an actual miracle and that is this -- If that vision was not real it was HYPNOTISM, it was real to grandfather IN FACT."


and The Otsego Republican.

Vol. LXII.                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday,  February 10, 1928.                         No. 13.

Local  History  Questions
Asked  and  Answered

How was Mormonism once connected with the village of Hartwick?

Ans. In 1820 and for several years thereafter, first in the house of John Davidson and afterward in Jerome Clark's attic, lay an old trunk containing the closely written pages of a romance entitled, "The Manuscript Found" by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding. It was written in 1812 at Conneaut, Ohio, and had been read by the author to many of his friends. Those who were familiar with the story recognized it as the foundation of the "Book of Mormon." Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism closely followed Spaulding's story adding his peculiar tenets about marriage. The manuscript was loaned by Jerome Clark to a man named Hurlburt, who came to Hartwick declaring that he wished to borrow it in order "to uproot this Mormon fraud" and thereafter it entirely disappeared. It is supposed that Smith may have seen the MSS. when it was in the hands of a Philadelphia [sic - Pittsburgh?] printer.

Notes: (forthcoming)


and The Otsego Republican.

Vol. ?                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday,  September 18, 1931.                         No. ?



"And the Great Spirit pressed his hand upon the land and in his fingerprints ran the waters, the Finger Lakes of Central New York." Thus runs the legend of the Six Nations or Iroquois of New York in reference to their "garden of Eden." The fact that they bear biblical surnames as Jesse, Isaac, and Abraham has given credence to the idea that they are the Lost Tribes of Israel. This idea, says Erl Bates, advisor in Indian extension of the New York State College of Agriculture, was accepted by the Central New York prophet of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, who held his first conference at Fayette on the shores of Cayuga Lake. History infers that the Hebrew names still borne by the Iroquois came as a result of their christening by the Jesuits when they entered the "lands of the Iroquois about 1600. Dr. Bates is an authority on Indian history and culture and has spoken in Cooperstown.

Speaking from WEAI, the Cornell station, he explains that the Iroquois were doubtless preceded in this region by two other Indian groups. When the great ice sheet retreated northward, an Eskimo-like people dwelt here for their crude carvings are found on stone throughout the debris of the ice. These people have been christened Homo ameolithenis or the early dawn stonemen of America. They doubtless followed the retreating ice much as prehistoric man did in Continental Europe about 2800 B.C, Dr. Bates says. These Eskimo-like people were followed by Algonquin stock which retreated before the power of the Iroquois, and gave birth, in Massachusetts, to the Narragansetts, who greeted with friendliness the Pilgrims and the Pequots of Connecticut, who gave to the world King Phillip....

Notes: (forthcoming)


and The Otsego Republican.

Vol. LVI.                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday,  May 15, 1942.                         No. 29.

Education In Cherry Valley
Is Two Hundred Years Old


Pageant Depicts Most Thrilling Story of Past


The year 1942 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the educational system of Cherry Valley. For two hundred long, hard years the people of the valley have given of their best to make the community what it is today.

A pageant depicting the progress of the Cherry Valley educational system was held at the school on Thursday, May 14th. The program was written and directed by members of the faculty.

The Rev. Samuel Dunlop gave us our basis for learning when he founded a classical school. It is said that it was not infrequently that one saw Dunlop teaching his group of boys as he labored in the" fields. The benign and gracious man started the first English- speaking school west of the Hudson.

The Cherry Valley massacre in 1778 suspended all thoughts of learning, temporarily. However it was not long before the people of the village were again working toward those ends.

After the Revolution the Rev. Solomon Spaulding established the first Cherry Valley Academy. He was, however, blessed with a very vivid imagination and was ousted from his position for writing a "Biblical Romance." The book later fell into the possession of Joseph Smith and is supposed to have been the basis of the Mormon religion.

Eliphatt Nott became principal after the removal of Spaulding. Later Nott became president of Union College. District schools were provided for the children that could not afford the tuition fees of the Academy. The expense of this system was divided among the students. If a student were unable to pay his allotment, was added to that of the other pupils.

The Cherry Valley Female Academy was one of the most fashionable schools for girls in its time. Young ladies from the country over came to the Academy to be instructed. The Academy was supported by an endowment which was, after some years, dissipated....

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                              Oneonta, Otsego Co., N.Y., Aug. 28, 1951.                                No. ?

"The Gunny Sack"

by Gerald (Gunny) Gunthrup

It seems that the conductor of this column slipped up the other day in mentioning that the "thesis for the Mormon Bible is believed to have been written [at] Cherry Valley by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding.

In calling our attention to the error, Elders Neil H. Larsen and Max J. Narney of 16 Division Street, pen that

"We realize that it is often referred to as the Mormon Bible but the Bible that the Church accepts is the King James version of the Holy Bible."

"The main issue," according to the Elders, "is its connection with the manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding. For many years the story was circulated that Sidney Rigdon obtained the manuscript of a book written by one Rev. Spaulding, and that after this manuscript had been worked over somewhat, Sidney Rigdon placed it in the hands of Joseph Smith to publish as the Book of Mormon."

"Historical research has shown that Sidney Rigdon did not hear of Mormonism or the Book of Mormon until after the Book had been published. He accepted the Gospel and became a member of the Church on Nov. 14, 1830, eight months after the publication of the Book. Although he became separated from the Church in later life he always declared that he knew nothing of the Book of Mormon until it had been published."

"The actual discovery of the Spaulding manuscript was made in 1882 [sic] by President Fairchild of Oberlin College. This manuscript, a novel dealing with the early inhabitants of the American continent, is now in possession of Oberlin College, and has been printed and circulated widely. An examination of it will show that there is no similarity to the Book of Mormon."

Notes: (forthcoming)


and The Otsego Republican.

Vol. ?                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday,  August 15, 1952.                         No. ?


By Mary E. Cunningham


A week or so ago they found their way by the thousands to Cumorah at Palmyra, in York State, to view the mighty pageant elders of the Mormon Church put on each summer to portray the founding of their faith. Cumorah, of course, is the hill where the last desolate survivor of the Nephites, Moroni, son of Mormon, buried the golden. plates and the hill where Joseph Smith found them.

The Nephites had perished in warfare with the Lamanites in the fourth century A.D. The Lamanites, incidentally, "a dark and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations" are known to modern Gentiles as the Indians. It was fifteen hundred years later, 1827 to be exact, after the last Nephite and Lamanite had locked in mortal combat that the time was ripe for the discovery of the plates.

Joseph Smith translated the plates with the aid of the Urim and Thummim, a pair of crystal spectacles, silver-bowed, attached to a gold breastplate. According to the Testimony of the Witnesses, the orignal plates were seen by eleven persons and actually handled by eight before the Angel Moroni resumed possession. The translation, a generous sized book of some 588 pages, was published at Palmyra in 1830.

Now concerning the plajes and indeed concerning their finder, Joseph Smith, there are inevitably two schools of thought. To the Mormons the plates are gospel: Smith the Prophet. The Gentiles think of the latter with varying opinions.

In his own time his neighbors differed equally concerning Joseph Smith. Men went through the countryside securing affidavits from neighbors testifying that he was illiterate, drunken, shiftless, slothful, visionary, vicious, mendacious, hypocritical, cunning. He practiced country magic, doused for wells, sought for lost obejcts by staring at a peepstone in his hat. He dug for treasure left by the Spaniards or prehistoric Americans.

Whatever the opinion of one, or many, men, though, this much is on the record. Joseph Smith, whatever else he may have been, was a leader among men, a man of rare executive ability, constant industry. He ruled a host of faithful, commanded a trained army, built the largest city in Illinois, ran for president of the United States.

Little wonder, then, that in the early 1900's, when the church he founded, now come on flourishing days, thought about its origins, it sent a representative to buy and build a shrine in New York State's holy land. Their choice of such a representative was strikingly appropriate. He was Elder Willard Bean and he was a massive man, six foot three or four. He had a past, this Elder Bean. He had been a sparring partner of Jack Dempsey, was, said to, be a deputy marshal of Goldfields, Nevada, in the ornate days of Tex Rickard. He had seen the gutters of the West run with champagne and with blood.

In Palmyra, though, he used diplomacy rather than the brawn he could undoubtedly display. Palmyra children worshipped him, their parents boasted of him. This was the man who bought the Hill of Cumorah, the farm of Joseph Smith's father close by, the sacred grove where Moroni commonly spoke to the Prophet Joseph, and, in Fayette, twenty-five miles away, the Whitmer Farm where the Mormon Church was formally founded. The Hill was cleared and planted, a road was built to its top and a handsome stone building erected at its base. In 1935 a statue of the Angel Moroni was placed at the summit.

The little parlor where the Smith family sat is still to be seen by the thousands who yearly make the pilgrimage to Palmyra. In the center of the room stands a sturdy table made by Brigham Young, glazier and cabinet-maker of Mendon, fifteen miles away.

A quarter of a mile from the house is the sacred grove where the Prophet saw his first vision. There are many explanations of that vision. The medical men have one. the doubting Thomases, another. But the faithful have thus far survived all lesser explanations.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. 93.                         Richfield Springs, N.Y., Thursday,  February 20, 1958.                         No. 45.

Cherry Valley Academy was First
School West of Hudson

LaVere Winnie tells Rotary

The story of "School Days in the Old Days" was told at the Rotary luncheon last Thursday by Editor F. LeVero Winne of Cherry Valley. He described the first school built west of the Hudson, in 1795, and incidently in that area until the school was discontinued in 1875.

The Cherry Valley Massacre, he recalled, took place in 1778, but due to the presence of the Massachusetts Infantry, the town was saved until two years later when the Indians returned and all the houses were burned. It was only 15 years after that the Cherry Valley Academy was built in the village, which then numbered 3000 people. This was before the towns of Roseboom, Springfield and Worcester were separated from Cherry Valley and before Cherry Valley lost a large share of its population.

Cherry Valley at the time the Academy was built was the western terminal point for the large Indian trail which extended east-westward to Albany. It was not until the Turnpike was chartered in 1799 that the road was opened to the west, creating a need for hotels, blacksmith shops, and country stores. Even then it was a five day trip to Albany and a full day's trip from Cherry Valley to Cooperstown he said.

Money was scarce, as bartering was prevalent. Meals at the hotel were only six pence, and a year's rental for a good farm up to 200 acres ranged from $15 to $25.

He continued:

To finance the academy building, 200 shares were sold at $3 a share and later an additional 400 shares were offered for public subscription. The building, which was erected at a cost of $2500, had two chimneys, a hall, a stage and a gallery. There was also $325 worth of apparatus.

The first principal, the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, was hired in June and dismissed in October. The original manuscript of the Mormon Bible was later traced to this Rev. Solomon Spaulding. The second principal, Eliphalet Nott, also gained prominence as he later became president of Union College.

In 1806, the Academy successfully petitioned the regents for a grant of money, which Winne referred to as the beginning of "state aid." Not long after the grant, it was noted that the state showed evidence of further interest in the school, by issuing orders that the Academy install a rain gauge, thermometer and that a meteorlogical journal be kept.

By 1840 in it was recorded that corporal punishment could be inflicted. Along about this period, each student was obliged to give a speech each Wednesday.

The Academy was eventually endowed with $3000. After 1850 it became the Cherry Valley Female Academy, attracting 130 to 140 students, which records show came from as far as California, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Vermont. The first year the new Academy, a Mary Frances Hyde of Richfield Springs, was enrolled.

The speaker showed a print of the Academy with an addition and two wings.

An 1861 honor roll displayed by Mr. Winne showed markings ranging from S9 per cent on down to 30 per cent, with a black list for the names of those who had no ratings.

The school was discontinued in 1875 and due to the foreclosure of the mortgage five years later, was sold for conversion into the Grand Hotel. Business did not flourish at the hotel and in 1896 it was destroyed by fire. However, to meet the educational needs the Lancaster school was built in Cherry Valley in 1880.

Note: The above report does not explain why Solomon Spalding was "dismissed" from his position as Principal of the old Cherry Valley Academy. According to an article published in 1942, his daring to write a "romance" based on the Bible was the cause of his abrupt dismissal. Such an explanation is not improbable, but it seemingly conflicts with other early sources, which do not date his experiments at novel-writing to so early a period in Spalding's life.


and The Otsego Republican.

Vol. 73.                         Cooperstown, N.Y., Thursday,  September 17, 1959.                         No. 50.

In  Old  Otsego

Otsego County Historian


(Acknowledgment is gratefully made to Mr. John C. Pearson, of Cleveland, O., for assistance on this article.)

Success in the Revolution assured the new United States nation sovereignty over the Northwest Territory, an area ultimately carved into the states -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. A long story could be written about Otsegoans attracted to each one of these legions, possibly most about Michigan. An Otsego County and an Otsego Lake are at one location in Michigan and a village of Otsego at another...

A host of other persons from many Otsego towns who found various Ohio locations deserve mention, but space must be saved for a final intriguing item.

The Reverend Solomon Spaulding was preaching at Cherry Valley and teaching at the academy there in 1795. He reappeared at Conneaut, Ohio, in 1809. He was given to writing historical romances and occasionally read excerpts to his relatives and neighbors. When copies of the Book of Mormons [sic] first circulated in Ohio the clergyman's earlier listeners saw a connection between it and the Spaulding productions. The notion took root that Prophet Joseph Smith had secured a Spaulding manuscript and used it for his own purpose. This theory has been exploded by modern research, but it was long in contention by the Mormon Church and its opponents. Spaulding died at Pittsburgh [sic] in 1816. His widow returned to this county, bringing some of her late husband's effects. Hence the search for evidence was eager and thorough here. The whole story is best told in Fawn M. Brodie's life of Joseph Smith, "No Man Knows My History."

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. 94.                         Richfield Springs, N.Y., Thursday,  September 17, 1959.                         No. ?

Otsego in Ohio

Acknowledgement is gratefully made to John C. Pearson of Cleveland, Ohio, for assistance on this article.

Success in the Revolution assured the new United States nation sovereignty orer the Northwest, an area ultimately carved into five states: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. A long story could be written about Otsegoans attracted to each one of these regions, possibly most about Michigan. An Otsego County and Otsego Lake are at one location in Mlchigan and a village of Otsego at another. In 1860 more than 190,000 native New Yorkers were living in that state. However, Ohio is the nearest to us, and was the first to receive eastern settlers and Otsego influence there may be taken as typical of all the rest. Migration thither was quite continuous from before 1800. until the Civil War, and well distributed over the state.

Samuel Wilson was among the first to leave for Ohio, going to Worthington about 1798. A Massachusetts soldier of the Revolution with extensive service in this state, and a son-in-law of John Adams, Fly Creek pioneer, Wilson had previously helped keep the first store in the present town of Hartwick from, 1792 to 1797....

A host of other persons from many Otsego towns who found various Ohio locations deserve mention, but space must be saved for a final intriguing item.

The Reverend Solomon Spaulding was preaching at Cherry "Valley and teaching at the academy there in 1795. He reappeared at Conneaut, Ohio, in 1809. He was given to writing historical romances and occasionally read excerpts to his relatives and neighbors. When copies of the Book of Mormon was first circulated in Ohio, the clergyman's earlier listeners saw a connection between it and Spaulding's productions. The notion took root that Prophet Joseph Smith had secured a Spaulding manuscript and used it for his own purpose. This theory has been exploded by modern research, but it was long in contention by the Mormon Church and its opponents. Spaulding died at Pittsburgh [sic] in 1816. His widow returned to this county, bringing some of her late husband's effects. Hence the search for evidence was eager and thorough here. This whole story is best told in Fawn M. Brodie's life of Joseph Smith, "No Man Knows My History."

Notes: (forthcoming)

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