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The  Dallas  Morning  News.
Vol. ?                                 Dallas, Texas, Sunday, May 13, 1928.                                 No. ?



With Fearless Mormons in Early Texas
_________

A SAGA OF ZEAL,WRITTEN THROUGH COURAGE IN A CRUSADE THAT
LED WITH UNTOLD DANGERS OVER HALF THE STATE
_________


Unknown to Later Generations
These People Had a Real Part
In Opening the Rugged Frontier
_________

PUSHING FROM ONE WILD OUTPOST TO ANOTHER.
HARASSED BY MISFORTUNE AND INDIANS,
THEY BUILT THE FIRST POWER GRISTMILL
IN THE MOUNT BONNELL REGION AND
WERE FIRST TO SETTLE FIVE
OTHER NEW COUNTIES.
_________

BY TED THOMPSON.

Largely unknown to the people of Central and Western Texas today, the history of a group of Eastern Mormons who settled near Austin in 1846 reveals the story of a people with peculiar religious zeal, and a pioneer industriousness that became recognized as a leading factor in early Texas development.

Their story is a rugged romance, closely associated especially with the early history of Austin and Fredericksburg. Their story is recalled today only by a few acquainted with legends hovering around the suggestive ruins of their colony across from Mount Bonnell, four miles north of Austin, and the remains of their dwellings and mill sites near Fredericksburg and in Burnet County. In the Gillespie County settlement, four miles below Fredericksburg, and known to the Mormons as the City of Zodiac, is the old Mormon cemetery. There is to be found the last resting place of old Lyman Wight, veteran rebel against the leadership of Brigham. Young, a pioneer in the strict sense of the term, and leader of the Texas colony which came in time to bear his name.

The migration of the Lyman Wight colony into Texas, linked with the history of Mormon activity in the East. Founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, who saw the coming of his new religion in a "heavenly visitation" while attending a revival of Baptists and Methodists, the cult established headquarters first at Kirtland, Ohio, in the Western Reserve. Lyman Wight joined the church there, was made an elder, and was one of the principal church leaders when the saints moved their headquarters to Jackson County, Missouri. When the cult was expelled from this locality in 1833, Wight accompanied them to Clay County, Missouri, was given a commission as Colonel in the Missouri militia during the brief Mormon War, which resulted from strife between the Mormons and Gentiles, and left with his people when the Mormons were ordered from the State in 1838.

Retreated to Nauvoo.

Returning east, the Mormons settled at Commerce, Ill., which they rebuilt and named Nauvoo. In the construction of the Nauvoo Temple and other of the city's buildings the Texas colony found its real beginning, according to a brief history of the colony recently prepared by W. H. Smith, Iowa Mormon and great-grandson of Lyman Wight. Lyman Wight and Bishop George Miller, it is related, were put in charge of the Black River Lumber Company, located in the pineries of Wisconsin, from which lumber for the buildings was to be obtained.

Joseph Smith for President.

The company operated rather unsuccessfully until 1844, when the second factor involved in the Texas migration came with the plan to run Joseph Smith for the presidency the United States. Failure of the Mormons to get national interference during the Missouri persecutions was advanced as the motive for the race, and, according to Smith's account, "there is evidence that they really thought there was a chance for election."

Planned Texas Nation.

However, in case of defeat, another plan had been thought of. The Black River Lumber Company, it was provided, was to take possession of a new territory in Texas, which was to be the future home of the Mormons. A delegation was sent to present a treaty before the Texas Congress for purchase of the country "north of a west line from the falls of the Colorado River to the Nueces, thence down to the Gulf of Mexico and along same to the Rio Grande and up same to the United States territory." Here the Mormons expected to be recognized as a separate nation and to help Texas defend herself against Mexico. The proposition is said to have been favorably received by the Texas lawmakers.

The Upheaval.

The plan, however, was abruptly ended by the killing of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by a mob in Carthage, Ill., on June 27, 1844. Brigham Young soon after came to be recognized as the leader and was followed by all dignitaries of the church save Wight and two other leaders. Wight took charge of the Black River Lumber Company, leaving his associate, Miller, who for a time followed Young, and began his migration to Texas, according to the scheme previously conceived in the event of Smith's defeat as President.

Wight Led Them to Texas.

The Wisconsin mills were sold and Wight, with a company of about 150 men women and children started down the Mississippi in four homemade boats on March 28, 1845. They forded the Red River at Preston, Texas, early in November, passed Fort Wichita on Nov, 13 and on Nov. 19 moved to an evacuated fort at Georgetown, Grayson County, where they spent the winter. Breaking camp on April 24, 1846, the wanderers crossed the Trinity River three miles above Dallas, then a small village, on April 30, and crossed the Brazos May 14 near the site of Marlin Falls County, "swimming their teams and cattle and ferrying the wagons across by means of small canoes," according to a diary of the journey kept by Lyman Wight. The colony reached its location on the Colorado on June 6, the diary relates.

Built First Power Mill.

The Mormons gained almost immediate renown here when they built the first power driven grist and lumber mill ever seen in the country. The mill was built just at the foot of Mount Bonnell, and for years afterward the springs located there were known as the "Mormon Springs," "Up to that time," commented Noah Smithwick, pioneer Austinite in his book of recollections, ''we were under the necessity of grinding our corn on steel mills run by hand -- a tedious and wearying process -- so that in the building of the mill the Mormons became public benefactors, and it was a great catastrophe to the country when a rise in the river swept their mill away." The "Mormons also took the contract for the building of the first jail in Austin. Smithwick relates, and several houses were constructed for early Austin residents.

Built Highway Into the Hills.

Remaining at this site until March of the next year, the Mormons in that short period completed several homes on the west side of the river, and began construction of a road leading north to the Pedernales River. A wide, durable highway running about thirty-five miles up into the hilly region, it is still in existence, and known here as the Old Mormon Road.

Moved to "City of Zodiac."

Following the flood which destroyed their mill on the Colorado. an "exploring committee" reported location of a spot on the Pedernales "with plenty of good water and timber abounding with game and honey." The colony took up location here, four miles below Fredericksburg, in August. "Six weeks after selecting a mill site," Smith relates, "the colony had a grist mill in operation, houses were built, shops erected and crops were planted." When the town was completed it was named by Wight ''The City of Zodiac."

Were Welcome Settlers.

This settlement seems to have attained wide popularity among the German settlers of the new town of Fredericksburg. Many of the new arrivals, destitute and in a strange land, were taken in by the Mormons and given employment in their mills. Others obtained lumber from the mills for the erection of some of the most durable houses in Fredericksburg, some of which are still standing.

The Picture of Thrift.

The industrious inhabitants were also noted by subsequent historians of the era. Lee C. Harby, commenting in the November, 1888 issue of the Magazine of American History, notes that "when Fredericksburg was first settled there dwelt on the Perdenales River a colony of Mormons. Surrounded by Indians, they lived in peace with the several tribes. They had a strong stone fort, and their settlement presented a beautiful picture of thrift, neatness and fertility. Every section had a frontage on the river, and a fine broad road, well shaded, stretched along the river bank. The farms were irrigated and divided from one another by stone fences; so perfect were they with their neat stables, barns and dwellings, that they seemed like a piece of rural Europe dropped down into those wild surroundings."

Requested Return to Salt Lake City.

The influence of Lyman Wight's colony apparently became felt among the Eastern Mormons, who, several years previous, had followed Brigham Young to Salt Lake City, for in December, 1848, it is recorded that two of Young's disciples came to Texas, seeking to bring Wight and his followers back into the fold. They are said to have threatened Wight with disfellowship should he refuse. Wight is said to have replied that "nobody under the light of the sun except Joseph Smith or John Smith, could call him from Texas to go to Salt Lake City," and that "he had as much authority to call them from Utah as they had to call him from Texas."

A Second Flood and Loss.

The ideal conditions at Zodiac, however, were blasted by a second misfortune in July, 1850, when a rise in the Pedernales swept their mill away, left the burrs, or millstones, covered in sand and inundated their village. A peculiar incident that stirred the natives to wonder for several years is related by Smithwick, who tells of Wight's discovery of the lost millstones:

A Strange Occurrence.

"After wrestling alone with the spirits for some little time, he arose one morning with joy in his heart and, summoning his people, announced to them that he had had a revelation, and, bidding them take spades and crowbars and follow him, set out to locate the millstones. Straight ahead he bore, as one in a dream, his divining rod in his hand, his awestruck disciples following him silently. Pausing at last in the middle of the sand bar he stuck his rod down.

"'Dig right here,' he commanded. His followers, never doubting, set to work, and upon removing a few feet of sand, lo and behold, there was revealed the buried millstones. Wight said he saw them in a vision and his followers believed it."

Tortured by Indians.

If the Mormons enjoyed peace with the Indians at their Fredericksburg settlement, they found a decided change in conditions when they were forced by the second flood early in 1851 to their third location on Hamilton Creek, about fifty miles up the Pedernales, in Burnet County. Here they encountered open warfare of the "Indians of the Western Wilds of Texas," says Levi Lamoni Wight, one of Wight's sons, in his journal. "They finally took and retook our horses until we saw them no more," he continues. "Of our neighbors the men are often killed, and children carried off to suffer torture worse than death. I could recite many instances of horror about the bloody deeds of those savages." In opposing Indian attacks in this and in their future settlements the Mormons became known as fearless frontiersmen, and their value as a buffer colony protecting the older settlements, at the same time leading into unexplored fields, is said to have become recognized all over the State.

Women Made Willow Baskets.

Their new mills erected, industry began once more, and soon the surrounding country was being supplied with chairs, tables, bedsteads and other articles of furniture. The women, it is related. joined, in the work by making willow baskets for sale. Crops were planted and several farms were soon under cultivation.

Their Many Wanderings.

But the peculiar restlessness of the saints, driven onward by their desire to gain converts to their religion, ever building for others and neglecting their own domestic peace, finally overcame old Lyman Wight, and in 1853 the entire Mormon settlement was sold to Noah Smithwick. Here begins the gradual break-up of the colony, a few families remaining with Smithwick who sought to enlarge and improve the mills; Wight and his followers went to Llano County for a brief sojourn, leaving there in December for Honey Creek, Mason County. The wanderings of the ensuing months took them through Llano, Mason, Gillespie, Kerr and Bandera Counties to a point across from Bandera on the Medina River, where they spent the summer of 1854. That winter they went twelve miles down the river and founded a community which they named Mountain Valley, into the formation of which they spent their usual energies, making extensive improvements. Here they remained four years, until 1858. It was a lonely country, wild and rugged, coveted by Indians. It was a pioneer outpost of civilization, and the last established and held by the Texas, Mormons.

Indian hostility being almost unbearable, Lyman Wight in letters to Major Neighbors of the State militia and to the Governor of the State, protests early in 1855 that the State Government should assist the pioneers in their struggle to live. He apparently met with little success, Major Neighbors himself concurring in Wight's assertion that "troops are raised and sent 500 or 600 miles from where an Indian ever roamed and leave our frontiers without protection."

"While Congress is spending six or eight months to find out whether it is best to reinforce the army or not," old Lyman continues in his sincere, straightforward and ungrammatical letter, "the Indians are killing men, women and children and driving off large quantities of stock and nothing to hinder. We make this one more appeal to Government and if this fails we have but one alternative and that is to abandon the frontiers altogether."

A New Eden.

He said that if assistance was rushed, the pioneer people could make of "our young glad State a wealthy population not to be surpassed by the Garden of Eden or Adam, and all the vine dressers." But should they fail, old Lyman warned in poetical terms that "we will have to leave these beautiful vaIlles to grow up to weeds and briars and become a hideing place for the Indians of the western mountains, a place for the satir to dance and the owls to hoot."

"And as sufferers and sustainers of a great loss we shall ever pray," old Lyman left off, signing his message, "Lyman Wight and others."

Planned a Mexican Tour.

In a letter to his nephew in New York, dated April 3, 1856, Wight again reveals the determination in his heart that proved so magnetic to his followers. He was fighting to keep Texas from becoming "a place for the satir to dance," but, even in the last years of his life. the letter reveals, he planned an evangelistic campaign through Mexico and Central America.

"I think I never wrote to you the reason of our stoping here and not persuing our journey and performing our mission in Mexico," he writes. "At the time we started and got this far Mexico had struck for libberty and I have waited to see the result, which is glorious, they have established a pure Republic, and as the inhabitants are more than three-quarters Indian blood I shall seek the earliest oppertunity of laying the book of Mormon before them, which treats of many anticuities which they are perfectly acquainted. Sentral America has declared her indipendence, I think in the new Government I will get converts enough to make a Republic of Jackson County, Missouri, from which we were driven in 1833, in this event may see my native land once more."

Fighting for His Faith.

He describes their fruitful lands on the Medina River. "No doubt you will think we are well situated," he continues, "but want to see the Lamanites come to the knowledge of truth who have been in darkness for 1,400 years, and I see the millennium set in that will bring kindred spirits together again to reign with Christ on earth 1,000 years. This is what I have been striving for over twenty-five years and I am in nothing discouraged."

Then added old Lyman: "I calculate to continue till I lose the horse or win the saddle.

Died on Way Home.

But Lyman Wight was never to see "his native land once more." In 1858 claiming he had foreknowledge of war between the States, he set out with his followers, for the North. On the second day of the journey, at Dexter, about eight miles from San Antonio, he suddenly died, and his body was removed to the old city of Zodiac, which he had founded. He was buried in the small cemetery, his grave neatly surrounded by blocks of stone he had helped carry there and put in place.

Adventurous as they were, the remaining Mormons lost their steadfastness with the death of their leader. Some of them remained in Central Texas, where their descendants are said to be still living. A part of the colony pushed north to the Indian Territory, remained there two winters and finally located in Shelby County, Iowa, where they joined the Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints. Others went to California, and Utah, and some deserted the religion they had seen manifested in old Lyman Wight. Three Lyman Wight's sons, it is recorded, remained in Texas and later served in the Confederate Army.

Was Sincerely Mourned.

The death of Lyman Wight and the subsequent break-up of his colony was keenly felt by leaders all over the State. "As far as we have been able to learn," commented the Galveston News in lengthy notice of Wight's death, "these Mormons have proved themselves most excellent citizens of our State, and we are no doubt greatly indebted to the deceased leader for the orderly conduct, sobriety, industry and enterprise his colony. Mr. Wight first came to Texas in November, 1845, and has been with his colony on our extreme frontier ever since, moving still farther west as settlements formed around him, thus always being the pioneer of advancing civilization, affording protection against the Indians. He has been the first to settle five new counties and prepare the way for others. He has at different times built three extensive saw and grist mills."

An Unpublished Account.

Details of the life of the colony and the intimate affairs of their religion are not generally known, according to Dr. Charles W. Ramsdell of the history department of the University of Texas here, who recently through chance meeting with H. H. Smith obtained Smith's brief manuscript on the Texas Mormons. Valuable for its content of letters and journals kept by the early Mormons, some of which are quoted above, and as yet unpublished, it remains in the archives of the University of Texas library.

Were Not Polygamous.

However, according to Smith, it is apparent that polygamy was not generally practiced in the Lyman Wight colony, Wight himself being the only colonist to have more than one wife. Wight had two polygamous sons, says Smith, one having been born in Gillespie County and the other in Bandera County. "All the other men were young and loyal to their wives," Smith said.

Noah Smithwick denies that there was "anything objectionable in the Mormons as neighbors." "If there were any polygamous families," he said, "I did not know of them."

Alone and unassisted came the Mormons to the western wilds of Texas. Unaided, they fought the border Indians and established their communities in "these beautiful valleys." They were trying to keep them from becoming "a place for the satir to dance and the owls to hoot," said old honest Lyman.


Note: The above article was reprinted in the Frontier Times V:8, May, 1928.


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, June 27, 1930.                           No. 82.



The  Book  of  Mormon
_________

Editor Burlington Times:

Apropos of a lecture recently delivered in Burlington, it may be interesting to your readers to have somebody answer two questions: First, What ever became of the "Lost Tribes of Israel?" Second, What was the origin of the Book of Mormon?

As to the first question: It is now definitely known that the ten tribes of Israel were never "lost" in any proper sense. They remained in Babylon after the captivity, and thence migrated in the centuries following to various countries. No doubt many of their descendants were among that crowd which gathered at Pentecost after the death and ascension of our Lord -- "Parthians, and Medes and Elamites" etc. It is certain that many thousands of them were forced at the point of a sword to accept Mohammedanism. It is now admitted by most learned Jews as well as Gentiles, that the theory which is still advanced from time to time that the American Indians are the descendants of those tribes, is without foundation in fact. That theory at present is being kept alive by the Mormons in order to provide a plausible ground for [urging] the acceptance of the Book of Mormon as a revelation supplementary to that contained in the Bible.

What was the origin of the Book of Mormon?

About 1812 an invalid minister of the Congregational Church, Rev. Solomon Spaulding, was in business at Salem, now Conneaut, O. He occupied his leisure hours in composing a romance, written in Biblical phraseology, suggested by the discovery of Indian relics in a mound near his house. This work he entitled "The Lost Manuscript Found." It purported to be the record of the wonderings and afflictions of a portion of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who, it was claimed, came over to America about 600 B. C., and set up a kingdom. In the course of events a rebellion ensued, and from the rebellious and successful party it is claimed that the American Indians are descended. The book related that among the relics of that ancient Hebrew kingdom were found "some golden plates covered by heiroglyphical writing," of which the "Manuscript Found" was alleged to be a translation. Spaulding tried to induce a Mr. Patterson, a Pittsburgh printer, to publish his book, but unsuccessfully. During a period of some months, while the Mss. was in the office, Sidney Rigdon, who afterwards became prominent, first as a preacher in the Campbellite (or Disciples) church, and later joined Joseph Smith, Jr., in establishing Mormonism, was a printer in the office. It is believed by Spaulding's family, and by all others who know the facts, that Rigdon copied Spaulding's Mss. Before the Book of Mormon appeared, and before Joseph Smith announced himself a prophet of the Lord, Rigdon was known to be inpossession of a Mss., which he studied constantly, and was in the habit of declaring that the times were ripe for the appearance of a new religion. When the first Mormon elders appeared in Ohio, Rigdon was pastor of a Campbellite church at Kirtland. He first opposed the new doctrine, and engaged in a public debate with the Mormons. A few days later he announced his conversion to the [new] faith and his congregation followed him. Shortly afterward we find him actively engaged with Smith in establishing the new church. He was eventually expelled from the Mormon body -- it is believed because he knew too much about the origin of the Book of Mormon. When that book appeared many people were still living who had heard Spaulding read portions of his romance to his family and neighbors, and they were struck by the resemblance in sytle and contents between the Book of Mormon and the unpublished romance of their old friend. Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, a grand neice of Spaulding, published a book entitled "New Light on Mormonism," giving an account of her uncle's romance, and in connection therewith the statements of her aunt, Spaulding's widow; of her daughter, of his business partner; of his brother, John Spaulding; of Thurlow Weed, to whom Joseph Smith first applied to have his "Book of Mormon" printed; of the printer who set up the types and printed the first edition of the book; and of sundry others, all well adapted to render cautious people a little indisposed to surrender their church connections and join the church established by Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1830.

The statements of Spaulding's relatives and neighbors agree as to the resemblance in style and contents of the Book of Mormon to the unpublished work of the invalid minister. In addition there is evidence that one D. P. Hurlbut, then associated with the Mormons, who had even then adoped the name of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," obtained a Mss. from Spaulding's widow, professing a desire to compare it with the Book of Mormon, and promising to return it promptly. He never did; and for this fact we have his own admission that he did procure a Mss. from her, which he alleges was intrusted to one Howe, in whose office it was burned when the building burned. Shortly after securing possession of the Spaulding Mss. Hurlbut bought a good farm. Later he forsook Mormonism. If the belief of the Spauldings, that the Book of Mormon was either copied or plagiarized in substance from "The Lost Manuscript Found" is true, we can well see what a motive the Mormons would have to get possession of it and destroy it, and how willing the conspirators would be to pay anybody who could secure the original Spaulding Mss. It is believed that through Hurlbut they archieved their desire.

But for any intelligent person, no further evidence is needed to convince one that the Book of Mormon is not a divine revelation than the first edition of the book itself. It was published "for the author" by E. B. Grandin, of Palmyra, New York, in 1830. Joseph Smith's name appears in the title page (of which we have a facsimile in Kennedy's "Early Days of Mormonism") as "author and proprietor." It is noteworthy that there are no Mormons at Palmyra, where the Smiths were best known, and but one sermon was ever delivered there, which was the last. J. H. Gilbert, the printer, testified that the Mss. brought to them was so full of errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation that they were compelled against the protests at first of those who brought the copy, to make many corrections. This is to say the least, suspicious. Would the Lord inspire a prophet to mispell words, to butcher the King's English and to mispunctuate sentences? An error in grammar appears on the title page of that work, as follows: "I make a record of my proceedings in my days; yea, I make a record in the language in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians," and it is decidedly bad grammar to say, "I know that the record which I make to be true." Good grammar is not a characteristic of the published utterances of the Mormon prophet.

All the evidence available shows fraud, deceit, and unscrupulous imposition on the part of Joseph Smith, Jr., the false prophet, and his accomplices in the great fraud, and boundless credulity on the part of his thousands of dupes. Yet the Mormons now number in their several sects, Strangites, Josephites and Brighamites -- the latter being the largest of all -- more than half a million members. They are winning, even in Alamance county, more converts among the ignorant members of our churches than our churches are winning from the world of the ungodly. They have established congregations at Haw River and Burlington -- the latter holding its meetings in a home on Fisher street -- and would have by this time been building a church here but for the failure of the Alamance Real Estate company. Some years ago a elder and his wife were working at Lakeside Mill. That such a work should have gained large headway argues singular blindness and inertia on the part of some amongst us.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Note: The following excerpts were taken from a biographical sketch posted at www.lexisnexis.com: "William Parsons McCorkle (1855-1933), clergyman and religious writer, was born in Talladega, Alabama... a native of Rockbridge County, Virginia... A Presbyterian minister, he preached widely in Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama and helped to found a synodical college for women in Talladega (later the Presbyterian Collegiate Institute and Isabell College)... In 1876, he was licensed to preach by the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and five years later was ordained.... [in] North Carolina in 1888, he became a minister of the Presbyterian church and remained so until his death. After a brief pastorate in a rural church near Charlotte (1888-1889), McCorkle served churches in High Point, Jamestown, and Lexington (1889-1891), Shelby (1891-1896), Graham (1896-1901), Savannah, Georgia (1901-1907), Martinsville, Virginia (1908-1919), and Burlington, North Carolina (1920-1921). From 1921 until his death, he served several churches of the Orange Presbytery in the Burlington area... His interest in the relationship of Christianity to science and the modern world led him to publish one book, Christian Science; or, the False Christ of 1866, and a host of articles in church publications.... McCorkle wrote frequent articles expressing his views in newspapers in Charlotte, Greensboro, and other Piedmont cities... he also was active in mustering the support of Presbyterians for the Poole bill, introduced by Representative D. Scott Poole in 1926 to prohibit the teaching of evolution in the state's schools."


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, July 4, 1930.                           No. 88.



Open  Forum

MORE  ABOUT  THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON
_______

Editor Burlington Times:

When a Mormon elder, replying to my last article, said "it is not our purpose to entire a controversy over religion," etc., he was for all that, entering into controversy for a double purpose. The first was, to get his account of the Book of Mormon before the people of Burlington, and the second was to discourage the editor from publishing any more "attacks" on Mormonism. Permit me to add to my former statements --

1. That I have not said that the Book of Mormon was copied closely from the work of Spaulding. It may have been a shrewd imitation -- a translation, not from the "Reformed Egyptian," as claimed by Smith, but from the plain English of Spaulding into the awkward counterfeit scriptures of Joseph Smith, Jr. For such an imitation the literary gifts of Rigdon and the prolific imagination of Smith were, jointly and severally, quite sufficient. As to the writing referred to by President Fairchild as being in the Oberlin library in 1885, we have a statement made that same year by Rev. W. H. Rice, of Addison, N. Y., in regard to the same Ms., which was once owned by his father, long resident in Honolulu, to the effect that while "similar in style," it was not "identical" with the Book of Mormon in any part. Absolute identity between the Mormon classic and any writing of Spaulding has never been claimed. But there is ample evidence that Spaulding left several other Mss. besides the one referred to so triumphantly by Mr. Merrill. Nor was that Ms. the one which Hurlbut confessed he had obtained from Spaulding's widow, and did not return to her as he had promised. He is on record as confessing that he was at the time of his mission to Spaulding's widow, a Mormon; that he was sent by them to get the Ms. of "The Lost Manuscript Found, or the Lost Tribes;" and that he believed that Spaulding did write a story from which the Book of Mormon was composed. In addition to that of of sundry other witnesses, we have on record the testimony of John Spaulding, brother of Solomon, who was familiar with his brother's romance. He and a number of others, and among them Solomon's daughter, noticed especially the proper names, "Mormon, Moroni, Lamenite and Nephi," etc., which his brother had invented, and which reappeared in the Mormon "Golden Bible." He "burst into tears" when lamenting that his brother's historical romance had been made the basis of a religious imposture. Spaulding's grand-neice also relates that he uncle once "laughingly remarked to Nathan Howard, a neighbor, that probably a century from that time his account of the early inhabitants of America would be accepted as veritable history." It is mow -- by a deluded sect.

2. That Mr. Merrill's argument confirms my statement as to the fact that the Book of Mormon, like the "Lost Manuscript Found," undertakes to account for the origin of the American Indians. This is significant: the two books were at least in part somewhat on the same line. Again, the priority of the Spaulding work is admitted by everybody. These corroborate the contention of the Spaulding family and their neighbors of a century gone.

As to the extent of the alleged imitation, Mormon prophets have never been accused of lacking natural shrewdness. A sensible man, even if wicked, will not allow his plagiarism to be too patent. Such wisdom accords with that shown by Joseph Smith, Jr., and by his successor, Brigham Young, in the matter of performing miracles. They were commendably prudent. Smith wisely declined to raise John Morse, an old "Saint," from the dead. "I will let him rest," he said: "he is old, and if I raise him from the dead, he will soon die again." So also Brigham Young was shrewd when requested by a one-legged man to restore his lost leg. "I will," said Brigham in effect, "provided you are willing to take the consequences. If I give you a new leg, then at the resurrection, that, together with the one you lost, will be raised and be attached to your body, and so you will have three legs to all eternity." But, of course, the elders stoutly deny all these stories, as also everything that conflicts with the Mormon claim that they and they alone will possess the earth in the latter days.

3. Sidney Rigdon was not the author of the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith, Jr., with Sidney's approval being witness. Smith published himself as author in the first edition, to which I have referred. It is in evidence that Rigdon had an opportunity to copy Spaulding's work: that he did possess, long before the appearance of the Book of Mormon, a Ms., which he declared "would be a great thing some day;" that he is known to have prepared the way for Smith at Kirtland, by first weakly opposing the new gospel, and then suddenly accepting it and leading his whole flock into the Mormon fold. He was finally expelled from the Mormon church but he remembered the warning of Brigham Young, and took care not to betray their secrets. There were "Danites" even then, which may also account for the steadfastness of some witnesses. However, when Joseph Smith was murdered, he died heroically, but he did not rise from the dead. Jesus did, and "showed himself alive after his passion" to hundreds of witnesses. His gospel suffices us.

4. We are told that "from lack of information" Mr. McCorkle "ridicules the Book of Mormon because the name of Joseph Smith appears on the title page" of the first edition as "author and proprietor," and this, it is said, "was necessary because of the laws of New York required that the publisher's name should be given." Possibly, but no law of New York ever required a man to announce himself as the "author and proprietor" of a book when his claim was simply that he was the discoverer and translator, or even publisher of it. But in fact no publisher is named as such on that title page. At the bottom we read, "Palmyra: Printed for the author by E. B. Grandin, 1830." We may say that Smith published it, but many books are printed by publishers in the same way. The formula means simply that the publishers take no risk in the matter. It was a native [sic - naive?] confession of truth when Smith put his name as "author" on that title page, rather than as translator. It is also plain that the publication was a financial speculation on the part of Smith. Hence his pains to put his name on that page as "proprietor." It did, indeed mark a favorable turning-point in the fortunes of the Smiths, but it spelt disaster for Martin Harris, the ignorant dupe who mortgaged his farm and separated from his wife in order to furnish the funds for the printing bill. The loss of that farm to its owner, and his separation from his wife, were the first fruits of Mormonism.

Flattering appeal is made by my ctitic to the poverty and ignorance of our plain people, and a plea for silence on the part of evangelical Christians as to the false claims of Mormonism. What a compliment he, like Mother Eddy, pays to those who are so ready to accept a new gospel. He makes them specially good subjects to work on. Undoubtedly this is true. But while poverty does not make a man gullible, ignorance always does. If ignorance be a man's best preparation for accepting a new creed, the reason must lie in the inherant improbability of its claims or doctrines.... We do not believe that Mormons and they alone shall reign with Christ at last, and that all who refuse to obey their gospel shall be damned. In view of such pretensions we decline to be silent. This especially as Mormonism, though cruelly persecuted at first, has so amply revenged itself, and does not now come to use with clean hands.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Note: LDS Elder Merrill's first reply, as alluded to above by Rev McCortle, presumably appeared in the Daily Times of June 30, 1830. No copy of his letter has yet been located for transcription.


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, July 10, 1930.                           No. 93.



Open  Forum

THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON  AGAIN

To the Editor of The Daily Times:

Articles have appeared in the Times recently, written by a local minister, Rev. McCorkle, in which he attempts to explain the origin of the Book of Mormon, and in which he slanders the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Whenever intelligent people desire information concerning a subject they turn to a reliable source of information, and we hope we can give that information concerning the Book of Mormon....

As the scriptural part of the Book of Mormon is in exact harmony with the teachings of the Bible, so the historical accounts the book gives, are being vindicated by archaeological discoveries in Mexico and South America. Ruins of ancient cities and buildings have been discovered evidencing that their builders were far advanced in the arts of civilization, just as the Book of Mormon records.

The early Catholic missionaries who followed in the footsteps of Columbus and other explorers of the New World, found that the Indians had a knowledge of the Crucifixion of the Savior, of His Resurrection, of the doctrine of the Atonement, and other teachings of the Bible, and attempted to explain the mystery in the following ways. First that the Apostle Thomas visited the New World, and second, that the Devil has set up a counterfeit system of religion to deceive the people. Both of these theories are false, however, the true explanation being given in the Book of Mormon...

Still there are those who deny the power of God and try to overthrow His work, and advance theories in an effort to persuade men to ignore the Book of Mormon. In any large library are several books written by men who profess to be ministers of the Gospel in which the false statements and puerile conclusions are drawn concerning Mormonism, a type of which have appeared in The Times above the name of Mr. McCorkle...

It is not necessary to refute the charges Rev. McCorkle made against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; they refute themselves, but in passing we might state that the Spaulding manuscript theory concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon is no longer advanced against the book by those who understand the facts, for the following reasons:

First: The Spaulding manuscript has been recovered after a loss of about 70 years, and unbiased men find no resemblance between it and the Book of Mormon.

Second: Sidney Rigdon, who was supposed to be a co-plotter with Joseph Smith, gave his testimony on his death bed, at a time when a man fears God and not man, that he never knew anything concerning the Book of Mormon until it was handed to him, a number of months after it was first published. Sidney Rigdon was a member of the councils of the Church but later drifted away, and became antagonistic to it, yet he always bore an unswerving testimony of the Divine origin of the Book of Mormon...

The [LDS] church does not have a single salaried minister. "The Glory of God is intelligence" and "a man can be saved no faster than he gains knowledge" are Mormon maxims. Intelligence, purity, cleanliness and fear of God are not the fruits of fraud or deceit. We close with a proverb from the Book of Mormon: "Fools mock but they shall mourn."
Eugene H. Merrill,        
N. C. Dist. President.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, July 17, 1930.                           No. ?



Open  Forum

CONFLICTING  TESTIMONY

To the Editor of the Times.

The polite epithets applied, by Mr. Merrill to the evangelical ministries and churches are amusing. We are "puerile," not "enlightened," not "reliable," not even "intelligent," but are in fact guilty of "slanders," and are "fools" who "mock, but shall mourn." Doubtless his pious soul is weeping for us all in secret places. But his last quoted earning shows that the Mormon gospel comes to all non-Mormons with a stern command, "Believe this or be damned." It is the Mormon version of the old evangelism, with its refrain "Turn or burn." That, however, was taken altogether from the Word, and Mormonism teaches much that is additional to the "faith once for all delivered to the saints."

Mr. Merrill grows almost eloquent over the Book of Mormon, and his heat is equal to the July weather. But he does not deny his faith that the Mormon church shall eventually possess the earth and rull all mankind. Just now it rules Utah, and holds the balance of political power in several other states. The zeal and earnestness and self sacrifice of Mormon missionaries are not gainsaid. Their spirit is worthy of a better cause. Yet there is another side to the question. Paul on his missionary tours worked at a trade to eke out his living, and was in part sustained by his brethren left behind him. Mormon missionaries rely upon the hospitality of the people whom they would prejudice against their own churches. They who'd persuade all that unless they accept the new gospel, notwithstanding Paul's warning, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed," they will be damned without remedy....

Our Mormon apologist goes into the field of archaeology. But his facts do not prove the inspiration of the Book of Mormon. That Cortez and Pizarro found an old civilization of a high order in Mexico and South America some hundreds of years before the days of Spaulding and Joe Smith, is known to all well-informed people. No Mormon revelation was needed to assure them of that fact....

As to the Spaulding manuscript our apologist uses the old device of the lawyer who had a bad case. In the absence of evidence, he repeats his former assertions. No amount of evidence that a Spaulding manuscript is in existence, and is found not to be identical with the Book of Mormon in its contents can disprove the positive testimony of sundry witnesses who, having become familar with Spaulding's last work, "The Lost Manuscript Found, or the Lost Tribes of Israel," found that the Book of Mormon contained not only the same names invented by Spaulding, but much of the same historical matter. Absolute identity was never asserted by the Spaulding party, but resemblance in style, and substance strong enough to suggest imitation or plagiarism. Henry Lake, Spaulding's former partner, for instance, procured a copy of the Book of Mormon, and was astounded at the similarity between the book and the work of his old fiends. Nor can this fact be gainsaid that Mormons sent Hurlbut to procure the original "Lost Manuscript Found" from Spaulding's widow. For that wehave his own admission. Such facts are enough to give any man ground for caution in listening to the persuasive eloquence of Mormon proselyters.

As to Sidney Rigdon, well known to have been a visionary and an erratic genius unreliable in his statements, the evidence of his brother, Dr. L. Rigdon, of Hamilton, O. in a letter to the Baptist Witness of March 1, 1875, is sufficient to break the force of his testimony, living or dying. Referring to an accident which Sidney suffered, and which caused confusion of the brain, Dr. Rigdon says, that the injury to his brother's brain "ever afterwards seriously affected his character and in some respects his conduct." Of the wicked we are told, "there are no bands in their death," and that the ruling passion of fanatics and of insane people should be strong in death, is not to be wondered at.

The Mormon accounts of the fate of the alleged golden plates is illuminating and to any thoughtful soul, quite conclusive. The angel Moroni who has been in hiding ever since, took back the plates and hid them away until the time shall come when they are again to be resurrected. To be sure. He was a wise angel -- just such an one as Joe Smith could create in his own imagination. It was wise in Moroni to hide those plates, rather than allow them to be inspected by our great Egyptologists, who would be able to decipher any ancient writings. And as to the witnesses, men testify that they have merely "hefted" a bundle of plates and turned the leaves are not qualified to testify to their genuineness or to the meaning of the inscriptions thereon. I suspect that any audable voice which assured the other three of the correctness of the "Prophet's" translation was not a divine voice. As to one of those witnesses, we know that a voice -- that of Prof. Charles Anthon, of Columbia college -- told him the writing was a humbug and had not meaning at all.... That Harris was after all persuaded to trust Smith but shows the "deceivableness of unrighteousness." "Be no more children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, etc., Eph. 4:15.
Wm. P. M'Corkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, July 23, 1930.                           No. ?



Open  Forum

THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON
______

To the Editor of The Times:

The several articles recently appearing in the Open Forum have been of interest to me because of the question involved.

The origin of the Book of Mormon seems to be the bone of contention. Both writers doubtless are in earnest and wish to accomplish some good: both citing some affidavits supporting their claims, also quoting some Scripture for teh same purpose. But do these clarify the matter, do the readers KNOW any more after reading the articles than before? Is not the proof of the pudding in the eating? What difference to us whether Smith and Rigdon created it or whether Spaulding fathered it? Its teachings are the important factor, the fruit it bears is the weightier matter. Do we question the authorship of teh first five books of the Bible, did not Moses write them? Yea, verily, we think so without investigation, but consider the evidence: How could Moses give a account of his own death and burial? How could Joshua do the same thing? Are these men really the authors of the books ascribed to them? Who is the author of the Epistle to the Romans, to the Hebrews? Who knows these facts beyond doubt? but mattereth it who wrote them, are not their teachings the main point?

It is claimed that Joseph Smith was unlearned and that he was of low mentality and that Rigdon had suffered an injury which affected his brain, but as with the evidence, what has this to do with the Book of Mormon?...

The idea that Joseph Smith saw an Angel is hooted at and made light of because he took the "golden book" and Smith could not show the "plates" as proof of his claim... It is again argued that several grammatical errors appeared in the early editions of the Book of Mormon and that it should be rejected as being spurious because of these errors. The same rule should apply in all cases where the same purposed [sic] is involved; so applying the same rule of the Gospel of St. John what do we find? In chapter 1 verse 1 and chapter 1 verse 15, we find that the present and past tense are employed relating to the same incident. Is this good grammar? Did God call John to butcher the king's English?

Verily, the words of Jesus are true in all ages of the world for men "gag at a gnat and swallow a camel." Where are we and to where are we going? Who shall we follow as leaders, and why? If there is ANYTHING virtuous, lovely or of good report, think on these things.

Respectfully submitted by
A. READER.              


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, July 24, 1930.                           No. ?



Open  Forum

THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON
______

To the Editor of The Times:

... In the year 1829, John the Baptist came to this earth as a resurrected personage, and laid his hands upon the heads of men: Peter, James and John came as three glorious personages and restored to mortal man the keys of the apostleship, and the authority necessary to organize the Church of Christ on earth. Thus did the messenger predicted by Malachi fulfill his mission and the kingdom of God spoken of by Daniel was set up on earth. The Church of Christ is again on earth, having the same officers, laws and enjoying the same spiritual gifts as existed in the meridian of time....

Lord Kingsborough and other authorities on ancient American history speak of the fragments of Christian teachings in Indian religious ceremonies, yet some people say that because they haven't heard about it, it isn't so. The Book of Mormon, American volume of scripture, explains the origin of these mythologies. But says objector, there are those who found a resemblance between the Book of Mormon and a certain Spaulding manuscript. Those who gave their affidavits to that effect had heard Spaulding read some of his manuscript and then 20 years later read the Book of Mormon, and remember the two were the same. Quite a case of memory, as as much as most of them were people with untrained minds. One who said he remembered the resemblance between the two was asked later concerning it, and admitted that he could remember no resemblance, but said he would rather believe that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon than that he saw an angel. So much for the remarkable memories of the 19th century.

The tablet of stone on which the Law of Moses was engraved was kept in the ark in the "holy of holies" amd only the high priest had the privilege of going there, and then only once a year. When Christ arose from the dead He did not show Himself openly but appeared to chosen witnesses, and instructed them to bear testimony to all nations. There is not a living person who has seen one of the original manuscripts of the Apostles. As in former ages, so in this age, the things of God are sacred and only revealed to a chosen few and not to the whole world. Yet men reject the Book of Mormon because the plates from which it was translated are not in a museum. Twelve men whose testimonies cannot be overthrown, saw the Book of Mromon plates, thus we have more witnesses to this than we have for the Bible.

Martin Harris, while the Book of Mormon was being translated, had an interview with Prof. Charles Anthon, concerning some of the characters copied from the plates. After the interview, Mr. Harris made preparation to obtain money to have the book published. His interview with Anthon was most likely favorable or he would not of financed the publication of the book. Two letters were later written by Anthon, who tried to deny the interview but, the inconsistencies between the two indicate that Mr. Harris' story must be true.

"Of their kind, the pick and flower of England" was Charles Dickins' description of a group of Mormon cemverts bound for America, and the fruits of their labors in turning a desert into a garden, indicate that those who accept Mormonism are not so degraded as some would have us believe.... It is hard to believe that the articles that have appeared in the Times for the purpose of defaming the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are written by a representative of Protestantism but more liekly by one who fits Shakespeare's description of a character with "sans heraring -- sans evertything."
Eugene H. Merrill,        
N. C. Dist. President.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, August 9, 1930.                           No. ?



Open  Forum

"A READER"  REPLIES  TO
ARTICLE  ABOUT  HIM.

To the Editor of The Times:

The tendency of human kind to render excuse or offer alibis is not [-----] confined to any particular age or class, so Mr. McCortle is only following the beaten path when he finds a "pen name" an excuse for not commenting upon my previous article.

I stated very frankly in the first paragraph of that article why my interest in the discussion, so why try to show other motives?

It was not my intention to thrust myself into the controversy between the two gentlemen, but merely to express my views on the evidence employed and to try to show the value of such evidence by comparing it with similar evidence found in other accepted and highly prized literature which yteats of man's origin and destiny.

If the seeming "Pertinent points" in that article do not merit his comments without my signature, I am content to let the public draw its own inferences.

I have no desire whatever to enter into any argument or debate with anyone, but I do ask the privilege of expressing my views on any subject appearing in public periodicals and of using "pen name" if I deem it best to do so....

Again, I ask that if there is ANYTHING virtuous, lovely or praiseworthy to think on these things.
A. READER.        



MORMON   QUIBBLES   ANSWERED.

To the Editor of The Times:

Will you kindly permit me to say, in reply to certain allegations of our Mormon apologist --

1. Did a Harvard professor really endorse the "philosophy of Mormonism? Small wonder, that. Has there been, these 50 years past, any heresy, scientific, theological, philosophical, or any other, but was sponsored by some Harvard professor? We all remember that a few years ago a Harvard professor startled the scientific world by announcing his conviction that man evolved from the lizard.

2. The statements of "Lord Kingsborough" or of any number of transient visitors to America cannot cancel the united testimony of [scores] of Protestant missionaries of life-long service, who found no distinctively Christian traditions among the Indians.

3. As to political conditions in Utah, the state was admitted into the Union by a Republican administration, after due dickering with Republican and Democratic politicians by the church authorities, and has been quite consistently Republican ever since. With 70 percent of its population pledged to obey the priesthood, and inured to accepting advice from the head of their church on all questions, religious, moral or civic, as being the will of God. Utah may and sometimes does elect a non-Mormon (or "Jack Mormon") to high office. Said Bishop Van Dyke at an evening service during a certain campaign, "We want you to feel absolutely free in your voting, but the will of the Lord has come to his peophet that we shall vote the Republican ticket. Who is there here who will be found fighting against God? Now, don't any of you think that the church has any idea of influencing you politically; I am just merely stating God's will." "I only had to wait," says the narrator, "a little while until God's will was fulfilled Eleven western states went Republican." To be sure.

4. As to morals, Mormonism still teaches polygamy as a human right, and has never yet acknowledged the constitutionality of our government's anti-polygamy laws. Even President (and prophet) Snow chose to "take his chances with the law."

5. Does the Book of Mormon "entice to do good?" If it did altogether, nevertheless, its danger lies in the fact that, like Mrs. Eddy's masterpiece, it is sent forth as a revelation of equal authority with the Bible, as being "the gospel of this age," But careful scrutiny shows one that, though purporting to have been written about 400 A. D., the latter parts of the book were composed to support the pretensions of Joseph Smith and the new priesthood which he founded. Its writers betray, not prophetic prescience, using language which oftentimes they did not understand, as was the case with the prophets of the Old Testament, but entire contemporary consciousness of 19th century conditions, and affirm just what Smith declared before he announced the delivery of the plates to him by Moroni. Again, large portions from the Psalms and from the Jewish prophets are quoted in the Book of Mormon, in particular a very large part of Isaiah, together with extracts from the Sermon on the Mount and many other passages from the New Testament. Now the peculiarity of these alleged quotations of the Bible by prophets who never saw an English Bible is this: that though alleged to have been independent translations by the power of God from the "reformed Egyptian" language -- no such language being known to Egyptologists -- there is not only general agreement, save in certain phrases evidently altered by an ignorant reviser, with King James' version, but whole verses and sections are given in the very words of our English Bible. If it be a translation, as alleged, of the Scriptures quoted from independent sources, this is the only instance known among all the many translations done of the Bible, in which such remarkable identity of verbage was achieved by two different translators ages apart. The conclusion of a reasoning mind is, that the "prophet Joseph Smith" had a Bible before him when pretending to dictate those portions to Cowdery, and was not translating but reading. Indeed, the conclusion is irresistable that at such times the curtain between the "seer, revelator and translator" was dispensed with, and that Cowdery copied as Smith directed. If in reply it be said that Smith was inspired to adopt King James' version, then that would make that version inspired, which was never claimed by its makers. That again shows the inconsistency of Smith in undertaking a new translation of the Bible for the "Saints."

6. The efforts to impeach the testimony of Dr. Anthon as to the warning he gave Martin Harris is futile. Dr. Anthon's two letters about the matter are still extant, and though dated seven years apart are in complete agreement with each other as to the facts. It is significant that all these three witnesses, who knew more about the origin of the Book of Mormon than anybodyelse besides Smith and Rigdon, died without retracting their testimony, [but] does not prove their testimony competent or conclusive, or even relevant to the question at issue. Both Rigdon and Harris at one time threatened to expose certain secrets of Mormonism. Harris was long afterwards hunted up by an agent of Brigham Young and furnished with money and spent his old age, well cared for, in Utah. In those days, when other means failed to subdue a recalcitrant "Saint," there were "Danites" ready to perform the sacred rite of "blood atonement." That meant cutting his throat over the grave in which he was to be buried, that his blood might pour into his last bed.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, August 22, 1930.                           No. 120.



Open  Forum

THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.
________

To the Editor of The Times.

... Rev. McCorkle tells us that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the receptical for the Priesthood of God, is a political organization and that it controls the vote of eleven western states. Aside from Utah, there are not more than 50.000 Mormon voters in the other western states, and yet the handful of people whom Brother McCorkle tells us "are ignorant dupes" control the political destinies of ten states. An Angel of God showed the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated to three witnesses. Last week Brother McCorkle told us that the witnesses were well cared for by the church, in a financial way, while some time ago he said one was expelled because he knew too much about the origin of the Book of Mormon. Brother McCorkle quotes D. P. Hurlburt as an authority on the Book of Mormon. Hurlbut had been excommunicated many months before his famous visits to secure the Spaulding Manuscript. Anyone acquainted with the history of the religion knows that the assertions of an apostate are not reliable, whether he be a Catholic, Methodist or Mormon. Hurlbut obtained the manuscript of Spaulding and finding no resemblance between it and the Book of Mormon did not bring it to light. This manuscript, with Hurlburt's signature on it, and the signatures of three witnesses to the genuineness of it, is now in the Oberlin College library. Brother McCorkle claims that Spaulding wrote other manuscripts. There is no reasonable proof of this. Brother McCorkle has stated that the Book of Mormon attempts to account for the "Lost Ten Tribes." That is false. Bother McCorkle tells us that the Book of Mormon, when [given] in manuscript to the printer was so full of errors in spelling and grammar and punctuation that they were compelled to make many corrections. The manuscript is in the Historian's Office in Salt Lake City and an examination of it shows that Brother McCorkle is mistaken....

But concerning Mormonism, that remarkable, living virile religious organization, should we believe the Savior and His prophets who foretold of its coming forth, and were responsible for it coming into existence, of William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Rooseveldt, Thomas Marshall, and other leaders who defended its doctrines and declared to its complete and thorough organization; or should we believe priestly hirelings who have misrepresented and lied about it?
Eugene H. Merrill,        
924 South 4th St.        
Louisville, Ky.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, August 25, 1930.                           No. 120.



Open  Forum

SOME  PECULIAR  DOCTRINES  OF  MORMONISM.

Editor Burlington Times.

The Mormon system is a new religion. Said Brigham Young, "Had not Joseph Smith a right to promulgate a different, a new religion? Every one must admit that he had." Of course, under our civil law every man has such a right; but such language proves that Young knew and admitted frankly that Mormonism was a new religion, different from Christianity. Yet, for all that, he affirmed that "we may know by revelation that Joseph Smith was called of God to establish His kingdom on earth." (Journal of Discourses, 14:209). Thus the Mormon fanatic put the word of his prophet, if not his own visions and dreams, above the Scripture, which warns us plainly against new gospels and extra-scriptural "revelations."

The uninformed are led to believe that the gospel taught by the "Saints" is much like ours, only affording greater joy and certainly because of the revelations for this age "give," as claimed, through Smith. But their doctrines are different. I mention only a few.

1. As to God, Mormons do not believe with us that God subsists in "three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost * * * these three, one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory." Professing faith in a Triune God, they ridicule the doctrine, and teach that there are many gods. Rigid literalists, they humanize God, affirming that both the Father and the Son are finite material beings, "personages" with "bodies, parts and passions" like our own, "about the size of a man," occupying but a few cobic feet of space each, under necessity of going up and down, here and there -- the very doctrine that Elijah ridiculed on Carmel. Their gods are mere supermen, with the exception of the Holy Spirit, whom they represent as an infinite mass of intelligent matter, and not a person. Our Savior is, we believe, in His humanity, "at the right hand of God," yet also, as He promised to be with His people everywhere and "always, even unto the end of the world," by virtue of His deity. "God is a spirit," He said: and John tells us, "No man hath seen God..."   (remainder of article under construction)
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, August 30, 1930.                           No. 136.



Open  Forum

REVELATION  FROM  GOD

Editor Daily Times.

Why should the Lord reveal His will to man now as in former ages? Why should He not visit men upon the earth and talk with them as he did with Abraham, Moses and others? Why does He not call men directly by His voice as He did Moses, Samuel and Paul? Why should he not send angels to deliver heavenly mesages to men now as He did to Gideon, Zacharias and Cornelius? ... In every age when the gospel has been upon the earth and tehre have been disinely authorized ministers on earth the gift of revelation has been enjoyed.

What right have men to say that this is no longer necessary? When ever a law that has always been enjoyed is to be changed, it must be done by divine authority. We challenge Brother McCorkle to bring forth the repeal law. It is not in the Bible and the Reverend declares that no more revelations should be received than is contained in the Bible...

Does the Bible clearly teach whether the Sabbath would be on Saturday or Sunday, if so then why all the confusion about the day to worship on if the Bible does not settle this question it is not a sufficient guide. Does the Bible clearly define the duties of a priest, point out the responsibilities of an elder, or tell us how much a preacher should be paid, or if he should be paid for preaching?

Brother McCorkle says that spiritual gifts no longer follow true believers, that they have been done away with, thus he is making the Savior a falsifier...

Brother McCorkle was misinformed again when he wrote that Sidney Rigdon acted as John the Baptist and came to the prophet Jos. Smith in Kirtland, and that Jos. Smith later admitted the fraud. John the Baptist did come [---- ---- ---- --] many months before Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had ever seen each other and in the western part of New York state and not Kirtland, Ohio. John laid his hands upon the heads of Jos. Smith and his assistant Oliver Cowdry, and authorized them to baptize for the remission of sins, fulfilling the prediction of Malachi 3:1...

Brother McCorkle will no doubt continue his foolishness against Mormonism, as he seems to have lost the spirit of God, and Satan has invented other lies about this church, and is always glad to use agents to promulgate them.
Eugene H. Merrill,        
N. C. District President.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, September 4, 1930.                           No. 140.



Open  Forum

MORE  ABOUT  MORMON  FICTIONS.
______

To the Editor of The Times:

Refering to Mr. Merrill's last effusions, permit me to say --

1. That it is begging the question to reiterate the alleged history and revelations contained in the Book of Mormon, when the only question at issue is, Is the Book of Mormon genuine and true?

We are asked to believe that our Lord favored the aborigines of America above the inhabitants of England and Europe; that while our ancestors in England and on the continent were painted savages there was in America a Christian church, called Christian, and proclaiming quite a complete gospel and practicing baptism centuries before Christ: that when Christ arose from the dead He appeared in America and established His church with all apostolic rites, orders and rituals: that this church flourished more or less for four centuries, and then became extinct: and that of all this splendid Christian civilization which had its last [mad] struggle in New York, nothing remains -- no cities, churches, monuments or records -- save only the golden plates that were "hid up unto the Lord" at the "Hill Cumorah," near Palmyra, which were at last put into the hands of Joseph Smith to be translated, and when translated by him were taken back by Moroni and again hidden. Some stories are too thin: this one is too "thick." It is no more credible than the tale circulated in Missouri in the later 1830s when "Zion" was being built up at Independence -- that very soon the melting of the ice barriers at the North Pole would release the rest of the "Lost Tribes of Israel" who were still living there in isolation, as it had been revealed to "the prophet," and they would gather at Zion, bringing with them immense quantisies of gold and silver, etc. Ninety years ago there were plenty of people who were ready to believe such stuff. But long before Byrd flew over both poles any intelligent man would have said, if asked to credit such fictions, "Tell that to the Marines." During the swelling period of the Kirtland bubble "it was preached throughout western New York that the state would be sunk within two years and that only such places as were designated Stakes of Zion [would] escape." Martin Harris prophesied that "within four years from September, 1882, there will not be one wicked person left in the United States," and that "there will be no President over the United States after that time." Possibly there may still be some benighted persons living who can be influenced by such insane ravings. For such our Mormon friends are hunting.

2. Mr. Merrill makes another effort to discredit Dr. Anthon. He charges that Anthon admitted that he gave Harris a certificate and then denied it. This is a specious cavil. Two certificates are in question. Anthon gave Harris a certificate for the benefit of the "man behind the curtain" to let him know that his trick had been discovered. It set forth that the so-called "Egyptian characters" were meaningless and evidently invented for purposes of deception. This he never denied. He did deny the tale set afloat by Mormons that he had given Harris a certificate endorsing the "translation" of parts of those characters by Smith. Mr. Merrill's labors upon the point show that he perceives that the reliability of the Book of Mormon hinges upon the question, Did Dr. Anthon tell the truth, or those who spread the story that he endorsed their prophet? Harris was, as his prophecies above cited show, of doubtful sanity. The Mormon story is a myth upon its face. Smith, we are told, hid himself behind a curtain while translating the "golden plates." Why such concealment? The whole tale is fishy.

3. I have not said that all the "witnesses" were cared for. Harris was, in his old age. Whitmer was visited by Mormon brethren when on his death-bed. Both had been concerned in the printing of the Book of Mormon, and had made great sacrifices for the church. But I repeat: It is significant that all four of the men who knew more than anybody else except Smith about the production of the Book of Mormon were in the 15 years following expelled from the church and allowed to sink into obscurity. This fact is significant, whatever its explanation.

4. That William J. Bryan, Theodore Rooseveldt and Thomas Marshall "endorsed Mormon doctrines" is a falsehood made plain by its indefiniteness. We are not told what doctrines. They certainly did not endorse such doctrines as the pre-existence of the human spirit, the propriety of "plural marriage," Adam worship, polygamous gods, and baptism for the salvation of the dead. That they praised the Mormon organization is not incredible. The organization has no equal outside of Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy -- both dictatorships. The Mormon hierarchy controls its constituency better than Rome does.

5. Another quibble anent the Spaulding Manuscript shows sensitiveness in regard to the doubt thrown on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon by reason of the testimony as to the former composition. The priority of the Spaulding manuscript is admitted, and its resemblance to the Book of Mormon as to scriptural phraseology , names and certain features of its historical matter is well established. There is proof, too, all assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, that Spaulding did write other manuscripts besides the "Lost Manuscript Found" which an emissary procured from his widow and never returned. That a genuine Spaulding manuscript which is not "identical" with the Book of Mormon is or was at Oberlin, is no proof that another Spaulding manuscript, the existence and character of which was vouched for by severak witnesses, was not made the basis of the Mormon classic. Negatives cannot be absolutely proven.

6. It is interesting to know that the "original Ms." of the Book of Mormon is now in the Mormon archives. But if, at least in its first part, it is not full of errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, such a fact would give rise to the reasonable conclusion that it is a corrected draft of the original Ms. We have the evidence of the printers as to the bad grammar and spelling, and the total lack of punctuation in the Ms. from which the type was set, when the first edition was printed. Bad grammar shows on the first page of the first edition, a fac-similie of which is in my possession. But one thing is certain: that the first part of the Book of Mormon "as is," is not the same as the first part originally written. Mrs. Harris stole the first one hundred and sixteen pages of that Ms. before the translation was finished, and [either destroyed or effectually concealed them]. This disaster put a stop to the process of "translation" for near nine months. Smith's celestial (?) helper seemd puzzled for a time as to what should be done under the circumstances. AT last, in July, 1829, having had ample time for deliberation, he revealed to Joseph a plan by which he might excape further embarassament. The lost pages had been translated from the plates of Lehi; a new translation, this time from the plates of Nephi, until he came to the point in the history where the first translation was interrupted. His inspiration, it seems, was not like that given Jeremiah, sufficient to enable him to reproduce "all the former words." Provision must be made against charges as to discrepancies. Mrs. Harris might make trouble for the prophet, if he should make another translation of the pages she had seized, even though he still had the same "plates." Hence delay and puzzlement, both in heaven and on earth! But by switching the process of translation from Lehi's to Nephi's plates for the part of the translated record which had been lost, the devil was outwitted. How delightfully simple! This story, so sweet and so childlike, appears in the preface of the first edition of the Book of Mormon: "If I should bring forth the same words again, or in other words, if I should translate the same over again," explains the honest prophet, careful to correct himself so as to make it plain that he was "translating" and not composing, "they would publish what they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation that they might not receive this work, but behold, the Lord said unto me, * * * thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. * * * yea, I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil," etc. There it stands, in the old book still kept in the Astor library. For some mysterious reason this original and delightful preface does not appear in later editions of the book.

7. Passing by the fact that the words quoted by Mr. Merrill from John Wesley's 94th sermon are not in my copy, I note his outburst of temper in the course of an argument is an unconscious confession of defeat. But as to our salaries, while, like Paul, we have accepted "wages," none of us have felt constrained to compel the church to build him a house and pay him a salary, as Joseph Smith did in Kirtland.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, September 22, 1930.                           No. ?



Open  Forum

MORMON  FLINGS  AND  MORMON  LITERALISM.
______

To the Editor of The Times:

In his manifesto of August 25, Mr. Merrill, using the word "brother" in speaking of me, reveals his great love of a shrewd attempt to create suspicions as to my honesty. His indictment, which is another confession of his failure in argument, is false in every particular. My quotations can be relied on. They are quite "full" enough, are not misquotations, and in no case have I "destroyed" or even weakened the meaning of an author or speaker quoted by failure to quote in full.... I have made a careful study of Mormonism, and have gotten my information from the Book of Mormon, from "The Discourses of Brigham Young" published by the church in 1925...; from Cowley's "Talks on Doctrine"; from John D. Lee's autobiography, which the church vainly tried to suppress; from Dr. T. C. Johnson's volume on "Modern Isms," from the International Encylcopedia and the Encyclopedia Brittanica, and from several standard works on Mormonism. From Dr. Johnson I derived my quotations from Orson Pratt, which I find corroborated by the teachings of Cowley on the same points, and also one quotation of Young given by Mrs. Stenhouse, which I found corroborated by the official report of Young's sermons. I have been careful to do justice to all. I have stated Mormon doctrine fairly.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                           Burlington, North Carolina, October 8, 1930.                           No. ?



Open  Forum

A  WORD  IN  CONCLUSION.
______

Editor Burlington Times:

Will you kindly allow me to say a few things in concluding my discussion with Mr. Merrill. Unable to deny the correctness of my statement as to certain doctrines of his church which, in accordance with the directions of the "prophet Joseph Smith" (see Book of Doctrine and Covenants, Section 19, Paragraph 22,) he has been persistently holding back, he has cunningly sought to insinuate doubt as to my veracity and even as to my sanity. There is no need that I should defend myself on either score.... Nor have I quoted "many things that were not said." I have had good authority for every word...

AS to my quotation from the preface of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, as given by Kennedy, the following letter from the Librarian of Princeton Theological Seninary will speak for itself:

Rev. Wm. P. McCorkle,
Burlington, N. C.
Dear Sir:

In reply to yours of the 11th inst., I would say that we have the first edition of the Book of Mormon, Palmyra, 1830. In it on pages 3, 4 is the preface as Kennedy gives it on page 48 of his early days of Mormonism.
Sincerely yours,        
J. H. Dulles, Librarian.,        
As to Mormon doctrines, quotations from Mormon leaders, all but one were made from the official publications of the church....

As to my quotations from John D. Lee, Mr. Merrill seeks to break their force by intimating that the testimony of apostates is unreliable. His position, even if it were conceded that Lee was an apostate, is like that of a defendent's lawyer in a bootlegging or counterfeiting case, who seeks to impeach the testimony of a criminal who secures immunity by becoming a witness for the state. Under the law such testimony is admissable, if sufficiently corroborated. Lee's is corroborated by the church itself.

Lee was made a scape-goat for the church by Brigham Young and was executed by the government in 1877 for leading the force which perpetrated the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857.... The immediate provocation of this horrible massacre was the murder of Apostle Parley P. Pratt, who had lured Mrs. Hester McLean from her home and added her to his harem....

The [Lee book's] publisher's preface informs us that an effort was made to suppress the book, every available copy of the first edition being bought up, together with the stereotype plates. Fortunately two copies were saved, and a second edition was published by a patriotic society. Mormons, of course, pronounce the volume a forgery, or else deny its truthfulness on the ground that nothing said by an apostate is to be trusted. But some of my readers will see in his words, written the day before his death, a proof of his sincerity. "There is no hope," he wrote, "for the widow's son."

I may add Lee's testimony as to the time when polygamy was first practiced and taught in Nauvoo is corroborated by the date of the revelation as given in the official compilation...

In conclusion, I thank the Times for its generous allowance of space for this discussion.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                     Burlington, North Carolina, Saturday, October 18, 1930.                     No. ?



Open  Forum

WAS  JOSEPH  SMITH, JR.  A  PROPHET?
______

By Wm. P. McCorkle.

While I concede, that many Mormons are lovely people, I cannot accept their contention that Joceph Smith, Jr. was a prophet and that the Mormon scriptures are part of the Word of God. This is because:

1. While the prophet and his family were all living more than 70 of their former neighbors united in statements declaring them unworthy of confidence. They were pronounced ignorant, superstitious, shiftless and untruthful, their favorite occupation being the search for hidden treasures. Joseph was a "peek-stone" expert, professing to locate such treasures; and his denial of the fact is upset by the testimony of his own mother in her biography of her favorite son. In that work also may be seen the "caractors" which Joseph gave to Martin Harris to be exhibited to Professor Anthon, a mere glance at which will convince any open-minded man of the imposture that was being attempted. Further, both parents of the "prophet" are reliably quoted as intimating that the publication of the Book, of Mormon was speculation, and their son acknowledges that temptation.

2. Mormons have discredited the first "witnesses" to the reality of the golden plates which Smith claimed to have received from Moroni. These in turn discredited themselves and their prophet. Smith in a "revelation" reports the Almighty as pronouncing Harris "wicked." and later editorially declared him to be "beneath contempt." Harris swore in court that he had not seen the plates with his eyes, and that in fact that he saw them by faith, because he believed the word of Joseph Smith. Smith's' "revelations" printed in the "Book of Doctrines and Covenants," sections 5.11-17 and 6.18-24, as also section 17, prove that his witnesses were selected, coached, commanded, cajoled and threatened. They were told how they would see the plates, what to say in their testimony. They were to see them "even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old and these are the words which he shall say," was the message to Harris. The other two signed with him and their testimony on the main points is in the very words they were instructed to use. They were also promised a sight of "Urim and Thummim," (the miraculous spectacles" the breast-plate, the "directors" and the sword of Laban. But of these they say not a word. These articles disappeared quietly, and not even the angel Moroni is invoked to account for their disappearance. Last, but not least, Cowdery and Whitmer (Cowdery being one who had shared with Smith the glorious gift of revelation) were charged by 80 of their brethren with high crimes, including cheating and counterfeiting, and driven from a Mormon settlement.

3. The extravagant stories and minute prophecies in the Book of Mormon disclose a megalomaniac's effort to improve upon the miracles and prophecies of the Bible. Many absurd expressions indicate the author's ignorance of the English language, which is the first thing an English translator should know. Thus we read Ammon's testimony, "my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy." (Alma 26:11) and Abraham's professed purpose to "delineate the chronology."

4. Smith discredited all his own revelations and translations in what he says as God's mouthpiece to Oliver Cowdery, and, of course through him to all, concerning gifts of revelation and translating: "Study it out in your mind * * * ask me (the Lord) if it is right, and if it is right I will make your bosom to burn * * * therefore you shall feel that it is right." This, also David Whitmer's testimony on the same point, is suggestive, but the latter cannot be quoted here.

5. We find in the Book of Mormon the revival phrases, emotional experiences, exhortations, theological terms and arguments, (such as the argument on the necessity of the atonement) of the nineteenth century. Also a bit of Hosea Ballou's restorationism, which was later developed by Brigham Young. All these are read back into the records and prophecies of prophets who lived ages before America was discovered. Such anachronisms prove fraud.

6. Finally, Bishop Spalding of Utah (Prot. Episc.) published in 1912 a booklet on "Joseph Smith as a Translator." Joseph had tried translating once too often. When he presumed on everybody's ignorance of the meaning of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which had not then been translated he went too far. Egyptian, literature is now an open book to scholars. Spalding submitted the "Pearl of Great Price," containing the prophet's translation of the "Book of Abraham" from an Egyptian papyrus to eight of the most eminent Egyptologists in the world. They unanimously pronounced his translation a fraud. The papyrus -- fortunately for Mormonism -- perished in the Chicago fire, which is more historical than the appearance of the angel Moroni to Smith, but the pictures and hieroglyphics copied from it with Smith's explanation of them, gave him away. We quote but a few of the expressions of these great scholars: "amusing ignorance," "Absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization," -- "an impudent fraud."

"Falsue in uno, falsue in omnibus." And the hundredth part has not been told.
Wm. P. McCorkle        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                     Burlington, North Carolina, Monday, October 20, 1930.                     No. ?



OPEN  FORUM

"A READER" RETURNS TO THE DISCUSSION.
______

By Wm. P. McCorkle.

To the Editor of The Times:

A summary of evidence as employed by Mr. McCorkle in his onslaught againrl the Mormons:

I gathered the impression from one of Mr. McCorkle's articles, that he was leaving the battlefield, but "I see by the papers," as Phil Cook says, that he is not "running away," but will meet Mr. Dana soon.

Here's hoping we will have a sane, clean and unbiased discussion of wharever subject they may choose to debase.

Mr. McCorkle charged Mr. Merrill with leaving the subject and introducing other things foreign to the subject, which, charge is true in part at least, but did he stick to his "bsh"? let's see.

In what way was Bishop Cheshire's political prowess whereby "seven states went Republican" connected with the origin of the Book of Mormon any more than Bishop Cannon's political activities of 1928 when the solid South went Democratic?

The one is as pertinent as the other, but neither has any bearings on the subject.

In what way is the polygamous practices of Brigham Young connected with the temperature of more than the frigid zone is connected with the temperature of hades?

Was not the "mountain meadows" incident settled in the courts of justice and the guilty punished in accordance with the decrees of the same? Then why hurl such asperions in a friendly discussion? It is an evidence of malice and a desire [to] defame an innocent people?

"Are the Baptist people condemned because Carnes pilfered the mission funds of that organization or because of the Norris murder in Fort Worth, Tex.? or are the Methodists, because of Bishop Cannon's stock market episode?

Not by any fair minded people, neither are the Mormon people condemned or blamed with the "mountain meadows massacre" only by the misinformed and prejudiced.

Mr. McCorkle repeatedly referred to the Mormon people as "ignorant dupe?" but such charaterizations are not supported by facts.

They enjoy a fair and honorable share in the law-making departments of the national government, senator Reed Smoot is rated among the ablest in the senate.

The church organization does not smack of ignorance even a little bit, and its missionary system is not excelled by any. Mr. McCorkle testifying to that fact himself when he acknowledges that it is gaining more converts from the ignorant membership of the churches of Alamance county than they are from the world of the ungodly." Quite a compliment, eh, Mr. McCorkle, or would you term it a gibe at your own church system?

The affidavits employed in the controversy are worth just whatever value one wished to place upon them in his own mind, merely a matter of choice of one over the other.

The similarity of the names appearing in the Book of Mormon to those "remembered" for 16 years 'from an audible reading of the "Lost Mss Found" by Mr. Spaulding to his family and friends,' is not evidence of deception, or that the book was copied from the Mss. or "inspired" by it any more than the Biblical names appearing in it are evidence that it was inspired by the Bible or copied from it.

Grammatical errors are subject to and do appear in highly prized literature of most all ages of world and cannot be accepted as proof of deception.

Mr. McCorkle's statement that "no towns, churches, monuments or records" of a former civilization in America is in evidence, is contradicted by a news dispatch from Mexico City of September 4th last, which states that in the State of Guerreror the Boy Scouts have discovsred a new archaeolgical zone in which is a "large stone Sphinx bearing a marked resemblance to that of Egypt" also a "huge globular stone covered with a kind of heiroglyphics." See Daily Times September 4th issue, page 4, column 2.

Colonel Lindbergh and party about one year ago discovered an ancient American city while fiying to or from South America and many similar finds can be cited.

The definition of the word heiroglyphic is -- A figure symbolizing a word, idea, or sound, used as those used in the picture writing of the ancient Egyptians; a character hard to read." (See Winston's Encyclopedia.)

The huge "stone covered with nn kind of heiroglyphics" is both a monument and a record, but what its message is unknown, but it's a record nevertheless and the writing may be the "reformed Egyptian" mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
A READER.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


BURLINGTON  DAILY  TIMES.
Vol. X.                     Burlington, North Carolina, Saturday, December 27, 1930.                     No. ?



OPEN  FORUM

A FALSE PROPHET AND DOUBTFUL ANTIQUITIES.
______

Editor Burlington Times:

"A Reader" in his last eruption states the fact as to the delay in the Mormon building plan. just about as I had understood it from my informant. Is he hot because I published it? Hiding behind a pen-name, he seeks to impugn my courtesy and truthfulness. This reminds me that a Nephite judge was "stabbed by his brother by a "garb of secrecy." (Helaman 9:6) He admits Mormon proselyting so far as a minority of his members are concerned. If 28 out of 60 were former members of other churches, this indicates a respectable number won from "Babylon." How many of the rest, though not communicants, were from families affiliated with our churches? As to the Haw River congregation, I heard three years ago that there was a Mormon organization there. I am still unenlightened if I heard wrong.

Does he really think I have deliberately tried to deceive? How passing sweet is the charity of the Saints! Brigham Young, however, once boasted publicly that the Saints had elders who could "beat the world at any game," experts in competitive rascality, as it were -- "the greatest and smoothest liars in the world * * * men who live the light of the Lord." etc. (J. of D., vol. 77; Deseret News. VI. 291. Full quotation given if desired. Are Mormon elders now running true to form as then?

I note also how discretely intent "A Reader" is as to Bishop Spalding's exposure of Joseph Smith's humbuggery in presuming to translate by inspiration an ancient Egyptian papyrus. Also as to their doctrine of Adam-worship, baptism for the dead, and above all their doctrine of plural marriages, with as high and holy hope for all polygamous and prolific husbands as to eternal fecundity and kingship over their myriad progeny.

And then he flings a final bomb, which he is sure will blow me from the face of the earth. But it is a dud. Let us examine it.

1. In 1815 a mysterious packet with Hebrew texts from Deuteronomy and Exodus was found in Massachusetts. It appears to have been a Jewish phylactery, or prayer-band, such as was worn by the Jews, all except women, children and Karaites, in the time of Christ. They are said to be still worn by devout orthodox Jews and also put into the doorposts of their houses. But all this can prove, unless all possibilities to the contrary are excluded, is that some Jew about 1815 lost or threw away a phylactery. Such a packet of raw-hide and parchment would certainly have mouldered to dust in 1,400 years -- the time elapsed since the extinction of the Nephites. Only in the dry soil of Egypt have very ancient parchments been found still legible. But phylacteries were not in use before the Babylonian captivity, and wearing them seems to have been a practice initiated by the later rabbis. They are not mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and there is no indication that ancient Americans wore them. None were found at "Cumorah."

2. A slab of stone" and two "stone each containing the Ten Commandments in Hebrew" were found in Indian mounds in Ohio. But we are not told when, or by whom, or how deep, nor in what condition, nor with what other human "artifacts" they were associated. There is always the possibility of fraud. French scientists discovered some years ago that faked ancient pottery had been introduced into a cave where they would be discovered and thought to be ancient. The "Cardiff Giant" or "petrified man" fraud is well remembered. Further, if archaeology has proven anything about the ancient inhabitants of America, it is that they had not advanced as far as alphabetic writing They had a picture writing that bore no resemblance to any other in the world.

3. A church with 12 apostles, in Central America. Even if true this proves nothing as to the identity of the Aborigines of America with the Jews. England has "tithings" and aldermen or "elders-men" in every county and city: but the notion that the English are descended from the Jews has long been exploded.

4. As to hints of the Trinity, pictures of Crucifixion, etc. If the story of these discoveries be true, they do not prove the Mormon thesis. The religion of the Mexicans and other ancient Americans was nature-worship, with human sacrifices. Las Casas and other Spanish historians are now known to have been enthusiastic, superstitious and easily imposed on.

Later archaeologists find:

(1) That the American race is and has been one from the Glacial period to the present, and that Indians are not descended from the Jews.

(2) That ancient Americans had not attained the culture claimed for them in the Book of Mormon. They knew nothing of smelting and working iron, and had no cattle or sheep. Their knives were of obsidian, their axes and hoes of bronze.

(3) That the theory of extinct races as held by Mormons s a fallacy -- that Mound-Builders, Cliff Dwellers, Central Americans, Mexicans, and Peruvians were the ancestors, in blood and cuture of the races found here by the whites.

(4) That the ancient American civilizations were indigenous, and that the trend of migration was not from South to North, but from North to South.

Thus, says C. A. Shook, "written across the claim of the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon in letters so bold that every intelligent, honest eye may read them, is the word 'Tekel, thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.'"

Mormonism is based on archaeological notions prevalent a century ago, but long since abandoned by competent scientists.
Wm. P. McCorkle.        


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


San  Antonio  Express
Vol. 66.                                San Antonio, Texas, December 8, 1931.                                 No. 341.



Hill Country Owes Much
To Mormons

_____

Flour Mills, Furniture Factories, Lumber Mills and Even Cotton
Spinning Among Industries There Introduced in 2-Year Period.
_____

By NEVA COX

Mormonism, which originated in a Baptist and Methodist revival, actually existed in Southwest Texas near the vicinity of Austin and Fredericksburg, so Heman Hale Smith, historian of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, records. Remains of old grist mills that were built by these daring Texas pioneers may still be seen along the Colorado, Llano and Pedernales Rivers.

Lyman Wight led a colony of Mormons or Latter Day Saints into Texas in 1846, and was a factor in the pioneer life of Western Texas until his death in 1858. To understand the motive of this movement to Texas it is necessary to briefly review the previous history of the Latter Day Saints, Mr. Smith wrote.

This movement commonly known as Mormonism had its official beginning with the organization of six members into a church at Fayette, New York, April 6, 1830. The Latter Day Saints' movement, however, traces its real beginning from a vision which its founder, Joseph Smith, claimed to have seen on his 16th birthday in 1820. He was of New England ancestry, his family having migrated from Topsfield, Mass. to Vermont, where Joseph was born Dec. 23, 1805. From here the family moved to Palmyra in Wayne County in western New York on the Erie Canal that was then being dug. It was during a religious revival of Baptists and Methodists that the vision above mentioned was said to have been given.

Fought in War of 1812.

The first gathering place of the Latter Day Saints was at Kirtland, Ohio, in the Western Reserve. It was at this place that Lyman Wight comes into the Mormon story.

Lyman Wight was born May 9, 1796, in Fairfield. Conn. He was the son of Levi and Sarah Corbin. As a boy, he fought in the War of 1812, distinguishing himself in the battle of Sackett's Harbor. He married June 5, 1823, Harriett, the daughter of John Benton and Sarah Bradley. They settled in Centerville, New York, but moved to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, about 1826. While he was there, Wight became converted to the preaching of a man by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who was known as a Disciple and had been connected with Alexander Campbell. The converts of Rigdon formed a community of interest holding everything in common in the Western Reserve. There were at first 12 families in this organization and their interests included both farming and mechanics. During the next year they were all baptized into the Latter Day Saints' Church [as] Parley P. Pratt. Oliver Cowdery and others accepted the book of Mormon. Six days after his baptism Wight became an elder in the Latter Day Saints' Church and continued until his death.

The Latter Day Saints adopted a financial plan in Kirtland called the "stewardship plan," which is still adhered to by them in theory. This is the economic basis of the religion, and by its terms each man upon obeying the principles of consecrating his property to the church, should be given a stewardship over certain properties, usually the same which he has consecrated. Out of this he keeps sufficient only for his "just wants and needs," and turns the "surplus" into a general fund of the church, administered by its chief financial agent called the bishop.

Seeking a site for a colony, several messengers were sent westward in June, 1831. A revelation appeared appointing the land of Missouri as a place for the gathering of the Saints. In the first of these revelations Lyman Wight is especially mentioned as one of those to carry the gospel of the new dispensation to Missouri.

To Jackson County on the western frontier line of Missouri the people of the church immediately began to move and there the bishop of the church began to buy land. Jackson County was regarded and is still regarded as the final gathering place of the Saints, a permanent Zion to which the Lord should come in person in the second resurrection. Here a temple was to be erected on a chosen spot in accordance to a given pattern, and the land to pass into the hands of the church. This is spoken of as the literal redemption of Zion.

It was believed that this redemption should come, if necessary, by force, but previous to this general belief which began In 1833, peaceful colonization was preached. Latter Day Saints met with the disfavor of the Missourians, who were already there, for several reasons: First, the preaching of the doctrine of literal redemption of Zion herein mentioned; second, most of the Saints were anti-slavery men, while the Missourians were pro-slavery; third, general prejudice against new religions, especially those of far-reaching claims among the ignorant on the frontier; and fourth, some depredations on the part of individual Latter Day Saints. The result was the mobbing of the Saints, the destroying of their printing press in Independence, and their expulsion from the county in 1833.

They temporarily settled In Clay County, Missouri, but the Legislature eventually set off a new county to the north for colonization, namely. Caldwell. Another new county, Daviess, was intended for the use of the "Gentiles." The Saints, however, spread over into Daviess County and the Gentiles into Caldwell, and friction again occurred in 1837. The result was a small civil war, known as the Mormon war. In this war, Lyman Wight became the chief of the Mormons in military command, getting a commission of colonel in the Missouri militia for Caldwell County. This title of colonel he retained throughout his life. A new governor of Missouri, Lilbourn W. Boggs, took a decided stand against the Mormons, and issued an exterminating order so that in 1839 the Saints began an exodus into Illinois, leaving their property behind them. Some of the leaders, including Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight, were imprisoned and indicted, for murder and treason. After frequent changes of venue, they were allowed to escape without coming to trial and they made their way to Illinois.

Here in the fall of 1839 the Saints began a new gathering at a city which they built in the village of Commerce. They called it Nauvoo. During the preceding six years of Missouri persecution, some of them remained in Kirtland, Ohio, where a great deal of the official business of the church was transacted. From this time on they all gathered at Nauvoo, where for the next four years they enjoyed great prosperity. The State of Illinois granted to the city of Nauvoo a liberal charter and its own municipal court with liberal powers.

The Quorum of Twelve, which was the head of the missionary efforts of the church, prospered with great zeal, especially in England, and brought many converts to Nauvoo. In 1841 Lyman Wight became one of this Quorum of Twelve.

Turn to Southwest Texas.

Because of trouble in Illinois, the Mormons looked in various directions for the site of a new colony, and one of these directions was Texas. Lucien Woodworth was named minister to Texas to carry out the project of purchasing the country "north of a west line from the falls of the Colorado River to the Nueces, thence down the same to the Gulf of Mexico and along the same to the Rio Grande and up the same to the United States territory."

In 1844, after a visit to Texas, Woodworth reported that the proposal was considered favorably by the Texas cabinet. In June, 1844, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, leaders of the Mormons, were killed by a mob at Carthage, Ill. In the confusion which followed Lyman Wight refused to accept the leadership of Brigham Young, president of the Quorum of Twelve, and in the spring of 1845 in four homemade boats, Wight and a company of 150 men, women and children started down the Mississippi River. They followed the river to the mouth of Duck Creek, near Davenport, and then turned westward. Crossing Iowa, Kansas, Indian Territory and Northern Texas they finally came to the Colorado River June 6, 1846, and settled about four miles north of Austin.

On June 6 the colony reached its second location on the Colorado River about four miles north of Austin.

This place was called by Noah Smithwick, Webber's Prairie. He tells of the curious interest taken by the old settlers in the Mormon colony, but pays tribute to the Mormons as being benefactors because of the fact that up to that time corn had been ground on steel mills run by hand, while the Saints built the first grist mill of the community.

It is interesting to note that the colony settled here at the falls of the Colorado, the site of the present dam and the very corner of the territory they had expected in 1844 to inherit by the treaty with Texas.

Started Grinding Corn.

The colony started grinding corn on July 30, and they built several houses in Austin on contract, including the first jail built in that city. On Oct. 13, 1846, another exploring committee was sent out consisting of Spencer Smith, son-in-law of Wight, John Taylor, Meacham Curtis and William Curtis. They returned on Nov. 14, reporting a favorable location on the Pedernales River "with plenty of good water and timber and abounding with game and honey." An expedition was fitted out to make an exploration, business being continued at the Austin settlement at the same time. The project was temporarily stopped during the winter, but renewed again in March, 1847, and on May 1 the mill site was selected on the Pedernales River, four miles below Fredericksburg.

One reason for the settlement near Fredericksburg given by the son of Lyman Wight was that the German colony at Fredericksburg were Freesoilers. The Wight colony also were Freesoilers. They decided that their relations would be amicable. As a matter of fact, there were several accessions to the Wight colony from the Germans.

Town of Zodiac Built.

Six weeks after selecting the mill site the colony had a grist mill in operation, houses were built, shops erected, and crops planted. On Aug. 9 the mill on the Colorado was sold to a Mr. D. Thompson and the whole colony settled at the new site near Fredericksburg. The town there completed was called by Wight the city of Zodiac. Ruins of the place and the cemetery are still observable. It is intended by the descendants of the colony to erect a monument at this place.

During the next three or four years the Wight colony lived in comparative prosperity, although George Miller states that, although they seemed to be in a prosperous condition, they were in debt to the merchants of the city ot Austin some $2,000 which was all the time increasing.

In 1850 the Mormon mill on the Pedernales was washed out, so another mill was built on Hamilton's Creek, eight miles from Burnet. Without money to buy stones for a mill the Mormons went to a quarry and cut marble for grinding stones which they used until the old ones lost in the Pedernales flood were recovered. The narrative of Noah Smithwick says:

"Old Lyman Wight, the high priest, set about the task of recovering the lost stones. After wrestling alone with the spirits for some little time, he arose one morning with joy in his heart, and summoning his people, announced to them that he had had a revelation, and bidding them take spades and crowbars and follow him, set out to locate the millstones. Straight ahead he bore as one in a dream, his divining rod in his hand, his awe-struck disciples, following in silence. Pausing at last in the middle of the sand bar deposited by the flood he struck his rod down.

"'Dig right here,' he commanded. His followers, never doubting, set to work, and upon removing a few feet of sand, lo and behold, there were revealed the buried millstones. Wight said he saw them in a vision and his followers believed it."

From Lynmn Wight's journal it appears, however, that the colony was anticipating another movement, anyway. Referring to notes from this journal we find that on February 11, 1851, an exploring party consisting of Stephen Curtis, Meacham Curtis, Ezra Chitman, Joseph Goodale and Orange Wight went in search of a location on the Colorado River near Marble Falls. The colony settled, however, as Smithwick says, on Hamilton Creek about, eight miles below Burnet.

Manufactured Furniture.

The colony settled on Hamilton Creek sometime between February 20 and July 23, 1851. At this place they built dwelling houses, mills and shops. The principle mill was still standing in 1883. From their mills the colony manufactured chairs, tables and bedsteads, supplying the whole country around with furniture. The chairs and tables were made mostly of hackberry. A farm was also operated and the women made baskets for sale. Smithwick describes this location of the colony as follows:

"A mountain had been cleft from north to south to permit the stream to pass through, and then from east to west, the southern portion having been entirely removed, so that the almost perpendicular walls between which flowed the creek, turned away at right angles at the mouth of the gorge where the stream fell over a precipice 28 feet or more in height into a deep pool below; thence rippling away between green banks, shaded by the various [trees] indigenous to the country. Just at the foot of the falls on the east stood the mill, a three-story frame building, the second story being on a level with the bank, with which it was connected with a gangway. A patriarchal pecan tree lifted its stately head beside the building, carassing it with its slender branches. On the upper side connected with the falls, by a flume, rose the huge, overshot wheel, 26 feet In diameter, which furnished the power for the mill. The machinery was mostly of the rudest, clumsiest kind, manufactured by the Mormons of such material as was obtainable from natural sources. Great, clumsy rattling wooden cog-wheels and drum and fly-wheels filled up the lower stories, the upper one containing a small corn cracker mill and an old up-and-down sash saw, which, after all, had this advantage over the circular saw, that it could handle larger timber. This was clearly demonstrated when a little later Swisher and Collins put in a circular saw over on Cypress Creek, their saw being unable to cope with the largest and best timber, some of which was hauled to the Mormon mill, a distance of 15 miles."

Wight Moves Again.

This Noah Smithwick bought all of the colony's possessions on Hamilton Creek in 1853. A few Mormon families remained to work for him, but most of them with Lyman Wight were again on the search for new homes. The first stop hereafter was in Llano County, immediately to the westward. The exact time of this is not known, but they were again on the march in December of 1853.

A diary of the journey of the Mormons was kept during 1853 and 1854 by Spencer Smith, son-in-law of Lyman Wight, and from this record it appears that the group moved from Mason, Gillespie, Kerr and Bandera counties, finally settling across from the town of Bandera on the Medina River. At this point Mr. Hale, the historian, again takes up his story.

One summer at Bandera seemed sufficient for the winter of 1854 and 1855 finds them at a point on the Medina River 12 miles below the new town. Here they again made extensive improvements, calling their community Mountain Valley, and lived at this settlement from 1854 to 1855. The site of settlement was inundated when Medina Lake was built.

Lyman Wight's letters in this period again indicate trouble with the Indians from whom he sought the protection of the authorities at Austin.

In a letter by Lyman Wight, dated Mt. Valley, Jan. 12, 1856 to his nephew, Benjamin Wight, who was living in New York. Wight gives a description of Texas as he found it, also something of his ambitions for the future and of the industry of the colony:

"I will now give you a short description of our country. You say you live in the land of plenty. We live in a country peculiar for peace, prosperity and good health which I suppose would be hard for you to believe, and more so since Uncle Stephen has had such bad health. But let me tell you, my dear nephew, any part of the Northern States that is swampy is far more sickly than it is' here. Texas is divided into parts, say from the Gulf of Mexico 200 miles north the land is one vast body of rolling prairie intersperced with glades of timber, especially on the rivers which are quite numerous. Beginning at the eastern boundary the Sabine, a beautiful stream navigable for steamboats. Next comes the Trinity, so called from its three streams of equal size at its head, navigable 200 miles from its mouth, or to where the three streams come together. The next is the Brazos, navigable 100 miles from its mouth. The next is the Colorado, then the Guadoloope, then the San Antonio, then is the Medina, then the Nueces, then the Rio Grande or the great river. This is navigable 200 miles from its mouth. All those which I have not mentioned as navigable have had appropriations made by the present Legislature to make them so. Bordering on these streams is a vast world of fertile land with but very little of poor land. The staple productions of this vast body of land are shugar, cotton and corn although it produces good gardens vegetables, Peaches grow well, apples not as well, and all this vast country may be said to have as great a share of good health as the U. S. will average. After passing up these rivers 200 miles the mountains sit in and it is the most mountainous country I ever saw. The only chance to travel here is to follow the streams, which always have the best bottom land, and by following them out we always find good roads to go to market. In some of these vallies are large and extensive prairies. Others are small and very rich. In most of the vallies Northern vegetables grow well, as all of those streams which I have mentioned, receive their support from these mountains. I believe it to be as healthy if not more so than any other part of the world that I have ever seen and I have been in some 30 of our states and territories. I am shure that any person that has lived in the North country that their blood is so reduced will find this country and climate will restore them to perfect health or will do so in nine cases out of 10. I now lay this letter aside for a short space of time."

Continuing the letter April 3, 1856, Wight tells more of the industry and progressiveness of the Mormon colonists.

Had First Cotton Mills.

"We are placed in a valley between several lofty mountains on a beautiful prairie bottom, the Medina River a stream a trifle smaller than the Genesee River, runs within 30 steps of our doors, our houses are placed at a proper distance apart in two straight rows, our gardens lying between which makes it very pleasant; we have mechanics of almost all descriptions; we make bedsteads and chairs in large quantities and they sell as well as the finest quality of work, brought from the East. We sent off 130 chairs and eight or ten bedsteads yesterday and can send as many more in three weeks. We send them 16 miles and get $1 apiece for them by the thousand. We have a good horse mill to grind for ourselves and neighbors; we have a blacksmith, and whitesmith. We raise our own cotton and make our own mills to spin it on. and with all we have a share of farmers. We have not measured our corn field, but we had 10 hands covering with the plow from the 19th of March to the 27th. In consequence of the severe cold winter we are three weeks later than common, still our corn is mostly up and growing finely. We have lettuce and in a few days will have radishes. No doubt you will think we are well situated, and so we are temperally, but want to see the Lamanites come to the knowledge of the truth, who have been in darkness for 1,400 years and see the millennium set in, that will bring kindred spirits together again to reign with Christ on earth a thousand years. This is what I have been striving for 25 years and I am in nothing discouraged. I calculate to continue til I lose the horse or win the saddle, there is nothing I more desire than to meet all my friends and kindred spirits in that glorious morning when Christ our Saviour shall call all his saints home to live in peace on this earth one thousand years, when our gardens and pleasant walks will be much more pleasant than the pleasant now on earth and all that are prepared for it will live together as one common family all eniquity will be done away, for nothing of that nature will be there."

Died Near San Antonio.

In March, 1858, Lyman Wight, claiming a foresight of war between the North and the South started north. On the second day of the journey at Dexter, about eight miles from San Antonio, Lyman Wight suddenly died. His body was carried by his followers back to the old settlement of Zodiac near Fredericksburg and there left in the old burying ground. The Galveston News commented upon his death as follows:

"We believe we have omitted to notice the death of Mr. Lyman Wight, who for some 13 years past been the leader of a small and independent Mormon settlement in Texas. As far as we have been able to learn, these Mormons have proved themselves to be most excellent citizens of our State, and we are no doubt greatly indebted to the deceased leader for the orderly conduct, sobriety, industry and enterprise of his colony. Mr. Wight first came to Texas in November, 1845, and has been with his colony on our extreme frontier ever since, moving still farther west as settlements formed around him, thus always the pioneer of advancing civilization, affording protection against, the Indians. He has been the first to settle five new counties, and to prepare the way for others. He has at times built three extensive raw and grist mills, etc."

A part of the colony continued on to the Northern States wintering two years in Indian Territory and another year in Missouri, and finally settling in 1861 in the northwest corner of Shelby County, Iowa. This community they called Galland's Grove and as practically all of them joined the Reorganized Church, it became a landmark in church history. The remainder of the colony scattered into different parts of Western Texas. Three families followed Noah Smithwick to California, in 1861. Three of Lyman Wight's sons remained in Texas and became soldiers in the Confederate army. The account of Levi Wight with regard to the break-up is as follows:

"In the spring of 1858 my father planned another, move. Of course, we must all go. Here came quite a test of faith in the technicalities of his religion. I told my wife that I was not going to follow those wild moves any longer. We consulted about the matter for several days and came to the conclusion that we would rebel, and arranged to stay where we were and risk the consequences, and went to plowing. I thought over the matter seriously. My father and mother were getting old and feeble and we could not tell what might happen to them, and finally thought it our duty to follow them once more, so we arranged to go along. On the second day's journey on our start on the projected move my father suddenly died. The emigration moved on north as far as Bell County, 40 miles south of Waco. Myself and two brothers concluded to drop the project and remain in Texas. My mother, of course, dropped out with us, the emigration moved on, and we finally drifted back as far as Burnet County."

After the Civil War one of the old colony, Andrew Hufman, came north to find his old brethren and returning to Texas with Spencer Smith, Wight's son-in-law, as elder of the Reorganized Church, they baptized some of those remaining in Texas. Others went to Utah and some remained aloof from the Mormon connections.

The following is a list of the names of men of the Lyman Wight colony previous to 1852 as completely as it can be obtained from diaries and from baptisms for the dead records:

John Ballantyne, son of Thomas Ballantyne and Jeanette Inglis, married Jeanette Turnbull, daughter of Andrew Turnbull and Helen Douglas; Andrew and William Ballantyne, sons of John Ballantyne; George W. Bird, wife, Eliza Curtis; Charles Bird, brother of George, husband of Bernice Monroe, daughter of David Monroe; Truman Brace, son of Rial Brace and Deborah Lumis; Rodney Brace, brother of Truman.

Irwln Carter, son of Gideon Carter, husband of Mary Ann Lix; Gideon Carter, brother of Irwin; Ezra T. Chapman; Jeremiah Curtis, son of Moses Curtis and Mollie Meacham: Jeremieh Curlis Jr.; Stephen Curtis, son of Jacob Curtis and Sophronia Lee, husband of Mary Eldredge; Jacob Curtis; Meacham Curtis; William Curtis, husband of Mary Southerland, daughter of David Southerland.

Jopeph D. Goodale, son of Isaac and Allen Goodale, husband of Elvira Kay; Pierce Hawley; George Hawley; John Hawley; John Hinchson, Andrew Hufman, Cyrus Isham, Ralph Jenkins, Eber Johnson, J. Kilmer, William Leyland, John S. Miles, John F. Miles, A. Moncar, David Monroe, George Montague, Alexander St. Mary, Spencer Smith, David Southerland. John Taylor, Lyman Wight, Orange Wight, Lyman Lehi Wight, Levi L. Wight, Laomi L. Wight and John Young.

Note -- The foregoing record is condensed from a manuscript of Heman Hale Smith of Lamoni, and presented to the University of Texas in 1920. In visiting the sites of former Mormon settlements of Southwest Texas a representative of San Antonio Express found that they had been almost entirely forgotten except at Bandera, where some of the descendants of the original colony still live.


Note: See also the Dallas Morning News of May 13, 1928. Some of the source narrative in this article was published in J. Marvin Hunter's 1925 booklet The Lyman Wight Colony in Texas, Came to Bandera in 1854.


 


THE  VICTORIA  ADVOCATE
Vol. 111.                                Victoria, Texas, August 28, 1956.                                 No. 113.



"WHAT  IS  THE  TRUTH?"

JOHN T. PUCKETT

"Mormons, or Latter Day Saints" is the name of one of the books or pamphlets published under Roman Catholic auspices and written by the Rev. Dr. L. Rumble, M.C.S., and published by Radio Replies Press of St.Paul, Minn. It seems that there has been a flood of these pamphlets loosed in several sections of this country, from which they have been brought to the attention of various church officials.

One who is accustomed to reviewing anti-Mormon literature comes sooner or later to expect a certain laxness in dealing with historical fact. Many authors, blinded by prejudice and dogmatic bias, consult a few so-called "source-books" or "authorities," all of them written by enemies of "Mormonism," and then in all sincerity and good faith repeat as fact the errors perpetrated in these unreliable sources. But I have seldom or never seen a pamphlet or book equal to this one for inaccuracy in fact, quotation, and citation: for specious statements unsupported by one scintilla of evidence; for self-contradiction; for vagueness and total unreliability.

To examine, refute and record every false, inaccurate, careless, and erroneous statement in this pamphlet with complete logical argument and accurate citation to reliable sources and historical data would require a book approaching 500 pages. This is because Father Rumble is careless about practically everything that a good writer ought to be careful about. He is careless with names, dates, facts, quotations, citations, consistency, logic, and the truth.

Let us review this pamphlet of Father Rumble:

On page 13, the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith are correctly dated as of June 27, 1844, but located at Cairo jail.

The truth: This is a careless mistake, since it is historically certain that this tragic event took place in the jail at Carthage, Illinois.

On page 13, Father Rumble says that the Utah churCh collects four million dollars in tithing each year.

The truth: Father Rumble must have a speCial source of information for this figure, since the Utah church has never in all its history divulged the amount of its income. Wherever he got this figure of four million dollars he is either hopelesslY wrong or hopelessly out of date. Tne. Utah church does publish an annual statement of expenditures, which in 1954 amounted to well over fifty-seven million dollars. That is only 53 million dollars more than Father Rumble says they collected in tithing. Something must be wrong here, too!

On page 14, Father Rumble claims that the Reorganized Church "originated soon after the death of Joseph Smith * * * This minority, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, Jr., set up in 1853, as an independent church."

The truth: Father Rumble should have known that the Reorganized Church did not "originate" in 1853, but claimed to be the continuation and legal successor of the church organized in 1830. Judge L. S. Sherman, in the court of Lake County, Ohio, U.S.A., made the following statement in his findings on Feb. 23, 1880:

"That the church in Utah, known as Salt Lake Mormons, has materially and largely departed from the faith, doctrines, laws, ordinances, and usages of said original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and has incorporated into its system of faith the doctrines of celestial marriage and plurality of wives, and the doctrines of Adam-god Worship, contrary to the laws and constitution of said original church:

And the court do further find that the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, is the true and lawful continuation of, and successor to the said original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, organized in 1830, andis entitled in law to all its rights and property."

On page 24 appears the statement: "Joseph Smith claimed that the necessity of polygamy was first revealed to him in 1831. When his wife Emma objected to his bringing other woman home to share him with her. Joseph promptly had a revelation to calm her scruples. In 1843 Joseph Smith received a new revelation commanding plural marriages and acted on it by taking additional wives, disposing of the objections of his lawfyl wife Emma by bidding her submit to the Will of God."

The Truth: The testimony of Emma, the only wife of Joseph Smith, refutes this statement of Father Rumble. Asked following the death of her husband, if Joseph Smith ever taught the principles of polygamy, she replied, "It is false in all its parts without any foundations in truth." Emma Smith died with a testimony that her husband, Joseph, was a monogamist.

Revelations received through Joseph Smith and incorporated into the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ also refute the statements of Father Rumble. Some of these revelations being Sections 42, 49, 111 and others of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Joseph Smith rejected the theory that the Bible justified polygamy. He believed that marriage was ordained of God unto man" "wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be of one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of creation." Sec. 42, Doctrine and Covenants.

IN CONCLUSION:

On page 10 Father Rumble notes that the Nephites, arriving in America in 600 B.C., are reported to have found "the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse."

"It is certain," says Father Rumble, "that these animals are native to America, having been introduced to that country by Europeans only after its discovery by Columbus in the 15th century A.D." Apparently he was content to get his information from some early anti-Mormon book. As early as 1900, however, scientists were admitting that the horse is a native of America. On pages 15-16 of the book Prehistoric America by the Marquis de Nadaillac, translated by X. N. D'Anvers and published in 1901 by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London (Sixth Impression), I find this footnote, also translated from the French: "Amongst fossil species we must mention the Equidae, of which varieties occur from United States to the La Plata. Recently the bones of a horse have been found in Nebraska which differed little from our own Equus Caballus. Of these equine forms we may name the Hipparion, Anchitherium, Protohippus, Orohippus, etc., which appear to have been the ancestors of the modern horse. Gaudry, 'Les Amchainements du Monde Animal.' Ameghino in 'La Antiguedad del Hombre,' Vol. I, page 195, conc1udes from this consecutive series that the horse is of American origin." Most modern scientific works and encyclopedias have been admitting for fifty years that the horse is native to the Americas, but opponents of the Book of Mormon will not have it so.

Again on page 10 he makes the bold assertion that the Book of Mormon contains quotations "word for word" from the Westmimster Confession of Faith; that. it contains the peculiar tenets of an "obscure Presbyterian sect which flourished at Geneva, N.Y., in Joseph Smith's own day"; and that it contains imitations of passages from the Methodist Book Discipline. Not a single example or quotation of such plagiarism is given; we must take Rumble's word for it. On page 10 he also makes the statement. "The Book of Mormon contains hundreds of quotations from both the Old and New Testaments, exact verbal transcriptions oi the King James' Authorized Version. This is a common error of careless anti-Mormen writers. Some verses are identical with the King James Version. There are good explanations of this already in print. But the thing to observe here is that a large number of verses contain sometimes small, but often highly significant changes from the King James Version. If Joseph Smith was merely copying out of the King James Bible, all quotations would have been "exact verbal transcriptions." But they are not.

On page 11. Father Rumble says that in 1912, the Egyptian hieroglyphics from the "Book of Abraham" (which the Utah Church accepts as Scripture, but which the Reorganized Church never has) were submitted to "eight outtanding Egyptian scholars, who all declared the figures to represent ordinary Egyptian funeral rites and that they had nothing whatever do with Abraham." Again we ask, who were the "eight outanding Egyptian scholars?" Where may be read their report?

On page 17 Father Rumble says: "Again, all talk of an additional revelation and of a 'New Dispensation' is utterly opposed to the clear teaching of the New Testament. For there we are told that the fullness of revelation and the absolute final dispensation tor mankind were given in and through Christ himself.

"Thus we read that God, who spoke in times past by the prophets, 'last of all in these days hath spoken to us by His Son,' Heb. 1:1-2. 'Last of all' does not leave room for 'later on through Joseph Smith."

Of the several Bible translations available at the moment, the Douay or Catholic Translation is the only one which uses the phrase "last of all," upon which Father Rumble puts so much stress. The Authorized or King James Version, the Inspired Version and the Revised Standard read instead: In these last days." Goodspeed renders it "In these latter days;" Weymouth and the American Revised, "At the end of these days;" Moffat, "In the last of these days at the end;" the Emphatic Greek; Diglott, "In the last of these days." What the writer of [Hebrews] means us that all the Old Testament prophets have revealed God, foretold Christ,and promised the Messianic reign. The Son has now come, the old days are over, and the Messianic age coming in. To stretch this verse to mean that neither God nor Christ would ever give further revealment simply distorts the meaning out of all reason. It was Christ who spoke to the prophets of old. But during his incarnation and "full revealment," he himself said, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now." He had promised to be with his apostles and his church "to the end of the world." He had promised that his Spirit, the comforter, would guide them into all truth and and teach them all things. Does that mean that all revelation ended with Christ? No! It means that revelation may properly be eXpected to continue.

If we are going to follow Father Rumble's practice of accepting literally everything we read in the Bible, we might ask him to read the 9th and 10th chapters of Hebrews, noticing particUlarly these passages: "now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26), "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many (9.:28). "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanc1tified" (10:14). "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (10:18). Why then do Catholic priests everywhere in Christendom offer a daily sacrifice of Christ's body in the mass for remission of sins, when this sacrifice was made once, for all times, by Christ himself?

Because of his Catholic backgroUnd, Father Rumble may be excused, perhaps; for this statement (page 17):

We must pause here to notice the inconsistency of professing continued belief in the New Testament and then prOceeding to assert the failure of the church established by Christ... It is impossible that the Church established by Christ personally could have failed. For he said, 'I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall nOt prevail against it.' (Matt. XVI, 18). If We believe in Christ at all, we have to believe that no forces of evil have succeeded in prevailing against the Church He establlihed. But the gates of hell would have prevailed against it if the whole Church through all ages until the arrival of Joseph Smith had apostatized.

The fallacy here is the substitution of the term "the forces evil" for "the gates of hell." The same fallacy occurs on page 29. The Greek word here translated "hell" is "hades," the abode of the dead, the unseen world. Those who accept Christ through his church cannot be imprisoned ever in "hades" or the unseen world of death, because Jesus has entered that stronghold and come forth in the resurrection to break down its gates for every man who will believe on his name and obey his gospel. This verse is no guarantee of the church's perpetuity.

The promise. "Lo, I am with you, always," mentioned on page 17, and so often claimed by Catholics; is not absolute. It is conditioned upon "teaching them all things whatsoever I have commanded you." There are many indications in the New Testament that such pure teaching would not continue, and that the church would suffer defeat in consequence. I Timothy 4:1-4 foretells that some shall depart from the faith, and specifies how: "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats...." The Catholic Church iS the only major Christian denomination today which forbids large numbers of people to marry and commands weekly and seasonal fasts. II Thessalonians 2:3-8 is a specific prophecy of the rise of papal power, and a promise of its destruction. The twelfth chapter of Revelation describes the church of Christ which was driven into the wilderness of persecution, and the seventeenth chapter describes the usurper who took her place. It is not recommended reading for Catholics, and perhaps that is why Father Rumble shows no knowledge of it. We might also recommend that he read II Peter 2:1-3; Judges 4; II Timothy 3:1-7 and 13; II Timothy 4:1-4; and Acts 20:28-31 for other signs and prophecies that the Christian church was to go into apostasy. Father Rumble makes the statement on page 17, "Joseph Smith cannot be said to have rejected Catholicism for the simple reason that he knew nothing whatever about it." Perhaps he knew more than Father Rumble gives him credit for. There is an excellent description of the Catholic system of bondage in the Book of Mormon. We refer those interested to I Nephi 3:139-144, 167-180, 206-07, and 223-25, Authorized Edition, Herald Publishing House, Independence, Missouri.

On page 23 Father Rumble says: "From the Baptists they borrowed the doctrine that baptism must be by immersion (for which there is no warrant in Scripture) * * *" It might be pertinent at this point to refer Father Rumble to Romans 6:4, and ask how the sprinhling baptism he advocated can be distorted to mean "buried with him (Christ) by baptism." And then it might not be impertinent to ask where he finds scriptural justification for the Catholic practice of baptizing infants. As to whether or not Joseph Smith borrowed baptism by immersion from the Baptists, would it not be more accurate to say that they both "borrowed" it from the Bible? Similarly, Smith is said to have borrowed "the Second Coming of Christ" from the Millerites, but Miller did not begin to lecture until 1831, the year after Smith organized the church, and continued to be a Baptist in good standing until January, 1845, when Joseph Smith had been dead six months! Is it possible that Smith, Miller, and several other teachers of the Second Advent all got their information from the Bible?

On page 24 appears this ludicrous statement: "Adopting the Seventh Day Adventist condemnation of alcohol in all its forms, Mormons celebrate even the Lord's supper with water instead of wine, And besides the private use of alcohol, the use of tea, coffee and tobacco is also strongly opposed." Passing over the fact that the Reorganized Church use unfermented grape juice, not water, in its sacraments, we note that Joseph Smith gave the Word of Wisdom on February 27, 1833. The Adventists formulated theirs in 1863, according to this statement from a Catholic publication: "The Adventists, on the basis of an alleged revelation of God to E. G. White in the year 1863 are health reformers, refraining from the use of tea, coffee and tobacco, and sponsoring a vegetarian diet..." (Christian Denominations by Rev. Konrad Algermissen; Trans. Rev. Joseph W. Grundner, B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis, Mo., page 874). Who borrowed from whom?

Other stock statements and arguments of anti-Mormon writers abound in this pamphlet. Page 4 says "...there came to Manchester an ex-Baptist revivalist preacher named Sidney Rigdon... In Joseph Smith whom he met at this time, he found a willing cooperator." No date is given for this meeting -- no citation -- no historical proof. Page 11 says "...not Joseph Smith, but the ex-Baptist, ex-Campbellite revivalist preacher Sidney Rigdon, who did not lack the necessary knowledge of history, literature and Scripture, was the real author of this fraudulent book (the Book of Mormon) in which Campbellite doctrines and phraseology abound."

Many Campbellite ministers will no doubt be amazed to learn that the Book of Mormon contains their doctrines, since they have been denouncing it for many pages, to examine again this theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon, we simply repeat that Sidney did not know anything about the Book of Mormon until October, 1830. He joined the church November 14, 1830, when the book had already been in print more than seven months. He did not meet Joseph Smith until December 1830, and then not in Manchester, but in Fayette, New York. Historical records of his whereabouts from November 1, 1826, to January 1, 1831, are quoted at some length in the History of the Churchm Vol. 1, page 146-151.

Father Rumble then makes use of the old charge that Joseph Smith was an epileptic. "Nervous, he was gighly strung and subject to epileptic fits which he later called trances, and during which he claimed that heavenly visions came to him" (page 4). Nowhere in any of his straightforward accounts of his visions did Joseph Smith ever use the word "trance." Let those who say he did cite chapter and verse. But be that as it may, there is a more glaring inconsistency here. It is commonly believed that epilepsy is a form of insanity. Though the cause is still largely unknown, epilespy seems to be much more a physical disease than a mental disorder, although in many cases it may eventually lead to mental deterioration, loss of memory and mental vigor, and many forms of compulsive mania. Some very brillant, intelligent men have suffered from it -- men such as Julius Caesae, Napoleon, Petrarch, Mohammed and Peter the Great. The writings and accomplishments of Joseph Smith show a high degree of intelligence.

He commanded the respect, if not always the approval, of some of the great men of his day. He was not an epileptic. There is nothing but unreliable, malicious, hearsay evidence to indicate that he was. But even if he was, there is absolutely no record of mental deterioration. He was as physically and mentally capable on the day of his death as he had ever been.

Another obvious inconsistency, never considered by those who explain Joseph Smith's visions in terms of epilepsy, is that when the epileptic is in one of his severe seizures, he is totally unconsious; and that when he emerges, he has absolutely no recollection of what happened during the seizure. Even in a mild seizure, where consciousness is seemingly not lost, there is no memory afterwards of what occurred during the seizure. Then how could an epileptic write an account of what he had seen during his "trance?"

If it is necessary for one to be an epileptic before he can see a vision, how would Father Rumble account for the numerous reports of visions seen by saints, clergy, and lay members of his own church, including the pope's vision of Christ reported late in 1955? The sword cuts both ways!

Perhaps the greatest and most inexcusable blunder made by Father Rumble is that at no time does he make any concession to the fact that Joseph Smith may have been the victim of apostates who distorted and departed from his original teachings after he was dead and powerless to defend himself. He cites such things as the belief in prophetic infallibility, polygamy, changeable and progressive Deity, plurality of gods, Adam-god theory, proxy baptisms, etc., as being representative of all "Mormonism." He will not concede at any point that false teachings may have horribly distorted the faith once delivered to the Saints through Joseph Smith.

His ignoring of those who do not believe that Joseph Smith originated such doctrines is not accidental; it is deliberate. On page 15 he makes this startling statement: "Not one of those disputing sects has a better -- or a worse -- claim than any of the others to represent genuine Mormonism." Here is another two-edged sword. Let us apply that same philosophy to Catholicism, and how it works and how Father Rumble likes it. From Catholicism there have sprung hundreds of rival sects, of which the Roman Catholic Church itself remains the largest. If the principle he lays down here is universally true. "Not one disputuing sects has a better -- or worse -- claim than any of the others to represent Catholic doctrine." Is this good Catholic doctrine, Father Rumble? Or do you and your church teach that one is infallibly right, and all the others wrong?

If Father Rumble trally wants to write about the perils and evils of "Mormonism" as it is taught by those who have grossly departed from the original teachings of Joseph Smith, we have no objection. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been doing that since 1853. But we would suggest that Father Rumble take at least five years to study the historical facts, and also to study Joseph Smith's theology at its source -- in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and his writings in the periodicals edited by him and published during his lifetime. It is manifestly and grossly unfair to take all the information for a pamphlet such as this from second-hand and hearsay sources which are inimical and unfriendly to Joseph Smith and his work.

We suggest to Father Rumble's superiors that the least they could do would be to verify the factual statements of this pamphlet and bring it up to date. The profusion of obvious errors and egregious blunders in the present pamphlet makes the whole work suspect and unworthy of serious attention from any informed and honest person seeking the truth about Joseph Smith and his work.


Note 1: Elder John T. Puckett was a missionary Seventy for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. During the summer of 1954 he conducted evangelistic services in the VFW Hall in Victoria Texas, as well as giving radio addresses on the local station KVIC. His home base at that time was evidently Witchita.

Note 2: The following excerpt is taken from Father L. Rumble's 1950 "Latter Day Saints," as reprinted in Gary L. Ward's 1990 book, Evangelical Christian Anti-Mormonism in the Twentieth Century: "Joseph Smith, the son of a farmer, was born at Sharon, Vermont, U.S.A., on December 23rd, 1805. The family moved to Palmyra, N.Y., in 1815, and four years later to the little town of Manchester, Ontario County, NY All biographers agree that Joseph received little or no education in the scholastic sense of the word. Mormons themselves, as we shall see, are most insistent on this. --- Nervous, he was highly strung and subject to epileptic fits which he later called trances, and during which he claimed that heavenly visions came to him.... In this setting, there came to Manchester an ex-Baptist revivalist preacher named Sidney Rigdon, who had joined the Campbellites. Rigdon was a well-educated man, intelligent, and endowed with a great facility in quoting the Scriptures. But the thought came to him that, instead of preaching Alexander Campbell's doctrines he might just as well set up as a master in Israel and preach his own system. So he decided to give the world a totally new revelation. In Joseph Smith, whom he met at this time, he found a willing cooperator, though in the end it was he who was reduced to co-operation with Joseph Smith. For Joseph Smith had the necessary psychopathic qualities for a 'visionary' which Rigdon lacked.... No mention is made in any part in the work by Sidney Rigdon, the revivalist preacher who had such a facility in the quoting of Scripture. The completed work was published as the "Book of Mormon" in 1830. In it we are given the astonishing information, to be found in no other historical records, that the American Indians are really the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel; that Jesus Christ personally visited and preached His gospel in America; and that the Indians at one time had a full Christian civilization, but completely lost it!"


 


The  Weirton  Daily  Times.
Vol. 39.                           Weirton, West Virginia, August 8, 1966.                           No. 119.



Story of Mormons in
Amity, Pa. Told

Ever hear of a man named Solomon Spaulding? Or of a town called Amity, Pa.? Both have quite a story woven into them, and it is one that may be unknown to the younger generation of the Tri-States.

It all began back in the year 1816, when Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth College, settled in the rural village of Amity, Green [sic] County, Pa. He was somewhat of an antiquarian, and his forte was the investigation of Indian mounds. His belief was that the artifacts of ancient tribes might hold a key to one of the lost tribes of Israel.

During his investigations of the subject, he found time to write a romance, based upon fiction, which he called "The Manuscript Found." The title meaning that the so-called prodigal tribe had left it somewhere in the realm of Mr. Spaulding's travels.

He then entered a contract with a certain Mr. Patterson of Pittsburgh, to publish his brain-child of literature. But results were slow and the manuscript lay in the hands of Patterson for two or three years, at which period of time Spaulding called for it and took it back home to Amity.

Now as the story goes, during the interim, a journeyman printer named Sidney Rigdon copied the whole of the writings, and hearing of Joseph Smith's venture in what was then called necromancy, Rigdon supposedly teamed up with him and used the manusacript of Spaulding's as a basis for the early Mormon Bible.

Of course, the reader must understand that Mormonism suffered a great many discouragements during the days of which we speak -- in Washington and Greene counties, the movement was looked upon as having a rather diabolical nature. It is not surprising that a great many people believed the story. Years later it was proven that the "Manuscript" of Rev. Spaulding was not in any way connected with the Mormon Bible. But the air of mystery lingered on for many years. Testimonials were many in and about the Tri-State concerning the truth of Spaulding's alleged writing of the "Mormon Bible."

One of these testamonials given by a certain Joseph Miller, Sr., is rather interesting. Miller was an Elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and lived in Amwell Township. Written in the year 1869, the testimonial gives a good insight into the feelings of the people of the area concerning the Mormon movement:
"When Mr. Spaulding lived in Amity, Pa., I was well acquainted with him. I was frequently at his house. He kept what is called a tavern. (A minister in the tavern business in 1869?) It was understood that he had been a preacher; but his health failed him and he ceased to preach. I never knew him to preach after he came to Amity.

"He had in his possession some papers which he said he had written. He used to read select portions of these papers to amuse us of evenings.

"These papers were detached sheets of foolscap. He said he wrote the [paper or] papers as a novel. He called it the 'Manuscript Found,' or 'The Lost Manuscript Found.' He said he wrote it to pass away the time when he was unwell; and after it was written he thought he would publish it a novel, as a means to support his family.

"Some time since, a copy of the book of Mormon came into my hands. My son read it for me, as I have a nervous shaking of the head [sic - hands?] that prevents me from reading. I noticed several passages which I recollect having heard Mr. Spaulding read from his 'Manuscript.' One passage on the 148th page (the copy I have is published by J. O. Wright and Co., New York) I remember distinctly. He speaks of a battle, and says the Amalekites had marked themselves with red on the foreheads to distinguish them from the Nephites. The thought of being marked on the forehead with red was so strange, it fixed itself in my memory. This together with other passages I remember to have heard Mr. Spaulding read from his 'Manuscript.'

"Those who knew Mr. Spaulding will soon all be gone, and I among the rest. I write that what I know may become a matter of history; and that it may prevent people from being led into Mormonism, that most seductive delusion of the devil."
So Ends Joseph Miller's views on the origin of the Mormons' book. As we mentioned previously, feeling ran high in this area in denouncement of the Mormons, and not too long ago we had the pleasure of meeting two students of Brigham Young University, who were in the Washington locale to act as missionaries for a new church. They knew nothing of the story, nor of its being once circulated in the very county in which they were about to settle once more.

They were pleasantly surprised and showed no resentment at what was disclosed. It all happened so many years ago, and the accomplishments of the Mormon Church in its home state of Utah and other parts of the country have been of such scope, that it matters little at the moment.

Today there may still be some who believe that Rigdon did, indeed, copy Spaulding's writings -- but such is the distortions of prejudice. It may have been a close coincidence that Spaulding wrote a similar but NOT exact tale as that given in the Book of Mormon. Anyway, it's worth a stop in the village of Amity some nice Sunday, to view the fine tombstone that covers the resting place of SSolomon Spaulding in the tiny churchyard near the center of town.

And one thing is certain; you will see some beautiful scenery on the way out and back. The best in Western Pennsylvania.


Notes: (forthcoming)


 


THE  PONCA  CITY  NEWS.
Vol. ?                           Ponca City, Oklahoma, April 7, 2006.                           No. ?



Historical Study Presents
New Challenge to Mormons


By BRUCE H. SHAFFER
______

Exploring the historical origins of a major religion is always a tricky business. Take Mormonism for example. If you happen to be a Latter-day Saint, you no doubt accept The Book of Mormon as a divinely inspired text revealed to prophet Joseph Smith Jr. in 1827 by an angel named Moroni. On the other hand, those not of the Mormon persuasion generally know little or nothing about the religion itself or its sacred book, which Mormons believe enjoys equal footing with the Holy Bible. Every person of faith, however, ought to be righteously concerned when historians turn up facts about a religion which seem to contradict those that have previously passed for truth. In the words of John Dominic Crossan, "you can have history without faith, but you cannot have faith without history."

One should not therefore be too surprised to learn that some professing Mormons have recently been troubled by the appearance of a scholarly new study which painstakingly dissects the historical origins of their revered text, and dares to conclude that the real story of events leading up to the publication of The Book of Mormon in 1830 fails to support the claims made for it by its modern proponents. The work in question is "Who Really Wrote The Book of Mormon: The Spalding Enigma," by Wayne Cowdrey, Dr. Howard Davis and Arthur Vanick, recently published by Concordia, the highly respected publishing arm of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Lest anyone be misled, this is a scholarly undertaking, not a religious work. One finds little discussion here about Mormon theology, either pro or con. Rather, its scope has been strictly limited to an in-depth examination of the people and circumstances surrounding the forthcoming of The Book of Mormon itself. The result raises serious and very troubling questions about what currently passes for the official history of those who style themselves Latter-day Saints.

According to this study, The Book of Mormon is really a clever adaptation of an obscure, unpublished novel written during the War of 1812 by a down-and-out ex-preacher named Solomon Spalding, a Revolutionary War veteran and bankrupt land speculator who died at Amity, PA., in 1816 and lies buried in the churchyard there. Prior to his death, Spalding had complained to friends and relatives that a draft of his novel, "A Manuscript Found," had been stolen from the shelves of Pittsburgh, PA., publisher R. & J. Patterson, by one Sidney Rigdon. This same Rigdon later became one of the three principal founders of the Mormon religious movement, joining Joseph Smith, Jr., and Smith's cousin Oliver Cowdery, an itinerant book peddler and occasional printer of questionable background. Evidence indicates it all began as an elaborate get-rich-quick scheme which Smith himself referred to in 1829 as "the Gold-Bible business."

At the time of the alleged conspiracy, Smith and Cowdery lived in western New York. Rigdon resided in the Pittsburgh area until 1818, and then spent the next dozen years in various locations around western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. It was Cowdery who eventually brought Rigdon and Smith together, and then later served as Smith's personal scribe during the process of creating The Book of Mormon from Spalding's manuscript. Co-author Wayne L. Cowdrey, an ex-Mormon, is Oliver Cowdery's second cousin five generations removed, and has been privately accumulating research on his family's involvement in Mormonism for more than three decades.

Although questions concerning Solomon Spalding, Sidney Rigdon, and the origin of The Book of Mormon have persisted for many years, Mormon historians have always dismissed them by arguing that Spalding died in 1816 and that Rigdon therefore could not have known him since he did not arrive in Pittsburgh until 1822. However, as co-author Dr. Howard Davis points out, "Documentary evidence published for the first time in our study, clearly establishes that Rigdon was well-known in Pittsburgh as early as 1812 and that he and other members of his family regularly received mail at the local Post Office, as did Solomon Spalding."

According to "Who Really Wrote... ," Oliver Cowdery first introduced Sidney Rigdon to Joseph Smith in 1826. Over the next four years, these men secretly conspired to create The Book of Mormon which was finally published in 1830. Shortly afterwards, Smith and Cowdery founded the religious organization now known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was headed by Smith as "President, Prophet, Seer and Revelator" until his brutal assassination by an irate Illinois mob in 1844.

Upon reading this study, historian Dale R. Broadhurst, an ex-Mormon and a recognized authority on the origins of the Latter-day Saints, said that it "brings the historical study of Mormon origins to an entirely new level."

Was The Book of Mormon created from Solomon Spalding's work of fiction, or was it really given to Joseph Smith by an angel as alleged? Based upon evidence presented in this 560-page report, the former explanation now seems far more likely.


Note: Copyright 2006 The Ponca City News


 
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