READINGS IN EARLY MORMON HISTORY
(Newspapers of Virginia & West Virginia)
Buffaloe/Bethany, Brooke County
First "Campbellite" Church, at Brush Run, PA
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VOLUME III. -- NUMBER IV.
BETHANY, VA. APRIL, 1839.
LETTER TO MRS. PHEBE CLAPP.
WELLSBURG, March 11th, 1839.
My ever dear Mother --
By the return of my dear bother Thomas you have been informed of the sore chastisement with which I have been
visited. This visit, at such a time, seemed an unspeakable blessing. He seemed to us as an angel of mercy. Our
friends are doubly dear to us in times of our affliction. in this respect we were peculiarly blessed. We had the
society, more or less, of all our dear friends in this region during the last illness of my beloved Alicia.
Indeed every thing the society and assistance of beloved relatives could contribute to smooth the avenues of
life, she enjoyed...
When I think of the whole scene of my dear Alicia's last illness, I am compelled to exclaim with the Psalmist,
"I will sing of mercy and of judgement." The Lord dealt very mercifully with her. In the first place,
she esteemed it a great cause of thanksgivlng that she left the lake shore when she did, that she might have
her mortal remains deposited by the side of her own beloved mother. Mother Campbell in her day had expresstd
a deep sollcitude that all her children might be buried beside her. I know, my dear mother, that you regard
the event of her leaving the beautiful shores of lake Erie in a very different light...
Her beloved fathcr visited her oft for the last two months of her life;
and to you who know the almost exhaustless resources of his mind, his
sympathetic heart, and his heavenly devotion, I need not describe the
happiness we experienced in his visits. Her brother, too, on his long
and perilous tour, wrote her once and again from the land "where the
orange tree blows," letters full of consolation...
But she is gone -- and has left us to mourn and weep: yet we mourn not
for her but for ourselves: she has exchanged a cell of corruptible clay for
celestial mansions. But when we think only of ourselves -- when we look
around on the circle she has, left, we feel that a fearful breach has been
made by her death... May our Father in heaven bless you; and don't forget at
the mercy seat your affectionate and bereaved son,
M. S. CLAPP.
Note: Alica Campbell Clapp (1806-1839) was the youngest sister of the Rev. Alexander Campbell. She was married
to Matthew S. Clapp (1808-1872), the son of Judge Orris Clapp (1770-1847) and Phebe Blish Clapp (1750-c.1839).
Matthew was a parishoner of Sidney Rigdon's Reformed Baptist congregation in Mentor, Ohio until Rigdon joined
VOLUME III. -- NUMBER VI.
BETHANY, VA. JUNE, 1839.
THE MORMON BIBLE.
The Boston Recorder of last week
contains the following singular development of the origin and history
of the Mormon Bible. It accounts most satisfactorily for the existence of the book, a fact which heretofore
it has been difficult to explain. It was difficult to imagine, how a work containing so many indications
of being the production of a cultivated mind, should be connected with a knavery so impudent and a superstition
so gross as that which must have characterized the founders of this pretended religious sect. The present
narrative, which, independently of the attestations annexed, appears to be by no means improbable, was
procured from the writer by the Rev. Mr. Stow, of Holliston, who remarks that he has "had occasion to come
in contact with Mormonism in its grossest forms." It was communicated by him for publication in the Recorder.
Boston Daily Advertiser.
ORIGIN OF THE "BOOK OF MORMON,"
As this book has excited much attention, and has been put, by a certain new sect,
in the place of the sacred scriptures, I deem it a duty which I owe to the public
to state what I know touching its origin. That its claims to a divine origin are
wholly unfounded, needs no proof to a mind unperverted by the grossest delusions.
That any sane person should rank it higher than any other merely human composition,
is a matter of the greatest astonishment; yet it is received as divine by some who
dwell in enlightened New England, and even by those who have sustained the character
of devoted Christians. Learning recently that Mormonism had found its way into a church
in Massachusetts, and has impregnated some of its members with its gross delusions, so
that excommunication has become necessary, I am determined to delay no longer doing
what I can to strip the mask from this monster of sin, and to lay open this pit of
OR "GOLDEN BIBLE."
Rev. Solomon Spaulding, to whom I was united in marriage in early life, was
a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was distinguished for a lively
imagination and a great fondness for history. At the time of our marriage, he
resided in Cherry Valley, New York. From this place we removed to New Salem,
Ashtabula county, Ohio; sometimes called Conneaut, as it is situated upon
Conneaut creek. Shortly after our removal to this place, his health sunk, and
he was laid aside from active labors. In the town of New Salem there are
numerous mounds and forts, supposed by many to be the dilapidated
dwellings and fortifications of a race now extinct. These ancient relics
arrest the attention of the new settlers, and become objects of research for
the curious. Numerous implements were found and other articles evincing
great skill in the arts. Mr. Spaulding being an educated man, and passionately
fond of history, took a lively interest in these developments of antiquity; and
in order to beguile the hours of retirement, and furnish employment for his lively
imagination, he conceived the idea of giving a historical sketch of this long
lost race. Their extreme antiquity of course would lead him to write in
the most ancient style, and as the Old Testament is the most ancient book
in the world, he imitated its style as nearly as possible. His sole object in
writing this historical romance was to amuse himself and his neighbors.
This was about the year 1812. Hull's surrender at Detroit occurred near the same
time, and I recollect the date from that circumstance. As he progressed in his
narrative, the neighbors would come in from time to time to hear portions read,
and a great interest in the work was excited among them. It claimed to have been
written by one of the lost nation, and to have been recovered from the
earth, and, assumed the title of "Manuscript Found." The neighbors would often
inquire how Mr. S. progressed in deciphering "the manuscript," and when he had a
sufficient portion prepared he would inform them, and they would assemble to hear
it read. He was enabled, from his acquaintance with the classics and ancient history,
to introduce many singular names, which were particularly noticed by the people,
and could be easily recognized by them. Mr. Solomon Spaulding had a brother, Mr.
John Spaulding, residing in the place at the time, who was perfectly familiar with
this work, and repeatedly heard the whole of it read.
From New Salem, we removed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here Mr. S. found an
acquaintance and friend, in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper.
He exhibited his manuscript to Mr. P., who was very much pleased with it, and borrowed
it for perusal. He retained it a long time, and informed Mr. S. that if he would make
out a title-page and preface, he would publish it, and it might be a source of profit.
-- This Mr. S. refused to do, for reasons which I cannot now state. Sidney Rigdon,
(* one of the leaders and founders of the sect,) who has figured so largely in the
history of the Mormons, was at this time connected with the printing office of Mr.
Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated.
Here he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript,
and to copy it if he chose. It was a matter of notoriety and interest to all connected
with the printing establishment. At length the manuscript was returned to its author,
and soon after we removed to Amity, Washington county, Pa., where Mr. S. deceased in
1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was carefully preserved. It has
frequently been examined by my daughter, Mrs. M'Kenstry, of Monson, Massachusetts,
with whom I now reside, and by other friends. After the "Book of Mormon" came out, a
copy of it was taken to New Salem, the place of Mr. Spaulding's former residence, and
the very place where the "Manuscript Found" was written. A woman-preacher appointed a
meeting there, and in the meeting read and repeated copious extracts from the "Book of
Mormon." The historical part was immediately recognized by all the older inhabitants as
the identical work of Mr. Spaulding, in which they had been so deeply interested years
before. Mr. John Spaulding was present, who is an eminently pious man, and
recognized perfectly the work of his brother. He was amazed and afflicted
that it should have been perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent
in a flood of tears; and he arose on the spot, and expressed to the meeting his
deep sorrow and regret, that the writings of his sainted brother should be used for
a purpose so vile and shocking. The excitement in New Salem became so great, that
the inhabitants had a meeting, and deputed Dr. Philastus Hurlbut, one of their number,
to repair to this place and to obtain from me the original manuscript of Mr. Spaulding,
for the purpose of comparing it with the Mormon Bible, to satisfy their own minds
and to prevent their friends from embracing an error so delusive. This was in the
year 1834. Dr. Hurlbut brought with him an introduction and request for the manuscript,
signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and others, with all whom I was acquainted,
as they were my neighbors when I resided in New Salem.
I am sure that nothing could grieve my husband more, were he living, than
the use which have been made of his work. The air of antiquity which was
thrown about the composition doubtless suggested the idea of converting it
to the purposes of delusion. Thus an historical romance, with the addition of
a few pious expressions and extracts from the sacred scriptures, has been
construed into a new Bible, and palmed off upon a company of poor, deluded
fanatics, as divine. I have given the previous brief narration, that this work of
deep deception and wickedness may be searched to the foundation, and its
author exposed to the contempt and execration he so justly deserves.
Rev. Solomon Spaulding was the first husband of the narrator of the above
history. Since his decease she has been married to a second husband, by the
name of Davison. She is now residing in this place; is a woman of
irreproachable character, and an humble Christian, and her testimony is
worthy of implicit confidence.
A. ELY, D. D., Pastor Cong. Church, in Monson.
D. R. AUSTIN, Principal of Monson Academy.
Monson, (Mass.) April 1, 1839.
Since reading "Mormonism Unveiled"
we had but little doubt that Sidney Rigdon is the leading conjuror in this diabolical affair;
and that the widow of Solomon Spaulding, if found, could give some authentic and satisfactory information on the subject
of the Book of Mormon -- so far at least as the romance of Mr. Spaulding, the real basis of the fraud, was concerned.
It would seem that she has been found in the wife of a second husband, Mrs. Davison, and that the whole affair is now
at length fairly divulged. Much pains ought to be taken to send this document through the length and breadth of the
land -- as the emissaries of Smith, Rigdon, and Co., like the father of lies, are ever on the alert
to beguile unstable souls, and continually lying in wait to deceive. The gullability of the present generation has
not, in the memory of history, been often equaled -- never surpassed. A people ignorant of one Bible are
always an easy prey to the ministers of delusion and error.
Note 1: Alexander Campbell's short comments added following his reprint of the 1839 Matilda Spalding Davison
supplement and update his views
expressed at the end of 1834. At that time Campbell embraced the Spalding authorship claims published in E. D.
Howe's 1834 book, but without adding any of his likely thoughts centering on Sidney Rigdon. Five years later, in
his comments reproduced above, Campbell was ready to add: "Since reading "Mormonism Unveiled" we have had but little
doubt that Sidney Rigdon is the leading conjuror in this diabolical affair..."
Note 2: Alexander Campbell again supplemented updated and updated his views regarding Rigdon's alleged
involvement in the writing of the Book of Mormon in his
Jan. 1844 response to an article
regarding Rigdon which had appeared previously in Walter Scott's Evangelist.
VOLUME III. -- NUMBER IX.
BETHANY, VA. SEPTEMBER, 1839.
Exemplified by the National Aegis.
Soon after the Mormon Bible was published, a sect of fanatics from Ohio, called Campbellites,
passed through New York, and heard of the golden plates. They called upon Smith, and many of them werc converted
to his faith. With them was Sidney Bigelow [sic], who was a man of eloquence and great popularity among them.
The above scrap was cut from a paper published at Peoria, Ill., and credited as appears. It was preceded by
the story of finding the "plates" as related by Smith. I was much astonished at the ignorance of the article,
and the deliberate manner in which the editor of the "National Aegis" speaks to his own shame. In the first
place -- "a sect of fanatics from Ohio, called Campbellites" were converted to his faith. Now
the writer of this article is quite extensively acquainted in Ohio and New York, and also with a class of
people "called Campbellites;" and can certify, with truth, from actual observation, that, formany years,
there has been no other one cause which has operated so effectually to destroy fanaticism in Ohio and New York,
as the teaching and influence of the called Campbellites," But as proof that the Aegis knew much
less than it has said of the affair, we mention the name of Sidney Bigelow. No man wearing that name and
character has ever been among the Mormons or the other party alluded to. -- Sidney Rigdon was, no doubt, the name
intended; but the mistake in that name is proof positive that that paper is also ignorant of the Mormon history
-- as much so as to unite Cromwell and Cesar as twin-brothers, would be that the writer was ignorant of English
and Roman history.
If the editor had said that some fanatics from among the sect called Campbellites were converted to
Mormonism, he would have told the truth. But, to interpret the whole matter, it would appear to me thus: --
An attempt, through feigned ignorance, by a religious zealot, to associate you and those laboring with you,
(not for you,) for a restoration of the primitive order and discipline of the church ofŐ God, with the folly,
ignorance, and madness of Mormonism and latter-day-spirituality. If this be not the case, the Aegis, and those
papers which have copied the above article, will make the necessary retraction.
I am not at all disposed to advocate Mormonism, nor any other wild and mysterious fanaticism; but what do the
Mormons more than many of their wise neighbors? Nay, are they not much more consistent and reasonable? The
sectarian spirit of our day says that God send[s] numerous messengers throughout the world, but sends
no message! The Mormon says he sends messengers, and gives to each a message to be delivered. There
is no doubt in my mind but that they are all lying prophets, and prophesying falsely. But I have done.
A. P. J.
Buffalo, July 12, 1839.
Note: The entire National Aegis "Origin of Mormonism" article was reprinted in the Wayne Sentinel of
May 3, 1839.
VOLUME IV. -- NUMBER V.
BETHANY, VA. MAY, 1840.
News from the Churches.
Mentor, Ohio, March 18, 1840.
We have 'awaked the lyre of Israel' in Mentor. 'The spirit of the Lord has breathed upon the
valley of dry bones,' and they have stood up a living army. On the Friday the 14th ult.. we commenced a
protracted meeting in this place, father Bentley (my father in the gospel) being with us. We began the meeting
under the solemn conviction that nothing could be done acceptably to the Lord until the church was purified. We
thought 'the time had come when judgment should begin at the house of God.' We therefore addressed the disciples
exclusively on the first two days. We attended briefly, but powerfully, to the history of the church. You know
something of it, my dear brother, but you do not know all. You know how we were beset and despoiled
by that demon -- Mormonism. But worse, far worse than all that, since that time two of our most prominent
members had been excluded for gross immorality! Oh my dear brother, I have wept and prayed over the
condition of this church: Yes, when separated from them by distance, during the three years that I spent in your
part of the country Yes, my brother, it was among the last things for which your dear sister, my beloved
ALICIA, prayed that the church in Mentor might be restored to their lost enjoyments -- that they
might be brought back from the 'cold streams of Babylon where the harps had been hung upon the willows.' But
during all this defection there were a few praying souls in the church; and their preacher, our beloved brother
Williams, is a holy man. He has deeply mourned over the desolations of Zion. Well, by Saturday afternoon we had
brought the church to see and feel their condition. They began one by one to make confession of their sins --
their coldness, their stupidity, their selfishness, and love of the world. One of the brethren rose and read
that beautiful and impressive portion of the holy, scriptures -- the first part of the 35th chapter of Genesis,
'And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, and make an altar unto God that, appeared
to thee when thou fledest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that
were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your
garments,' &c. After the confessions and exhortations were finished we sung, 'Go on you pilgrims, while below,'
and I went round and shook hands with them all in true Kentucky style. The effect was electrical. Our northern
folks, you know, do not know any thing about such enthusiasm! Their hearts were melted into tenderness and love
-- love to God and one another.
Lord's day morning father Bentley spoke from the 90th Psalm, on sin and its effects, consequences, and cure.
It was a most happy effort. It was the eloquence of the heart!
...I cannot therefore think of leaving Mentor for a year to come. I feel that I can do more good here than any
M. S. CLAPP.
Cincinnati, Ohio, March 20, 1840.
Note: Rev. Matthew S. Clapp does not here reveal the names of the Mentor congregation Disciples who had been
"excluded for gross immorality," nor does he reply to Sidney Rigdon's recently published allegations regarding
the supposed immorality of his own father, Deacon Orris Clapp. Since Rigdon had the courage to defame Clapp's
honor, in the public press, it is possible that there was some kernal of truth in his
BETHANY, VA. SEPTEMBER, 1841.
THE BANNER & PIONEER" AND REFORMATION.
John L. Walker, of the Baptist Banner, a name of no sweet odor among the more intelligent and pious of the Baptist fraternity, has recently delivered himself of some two massive columns of abuse...
If they proclaim a universal silence on the subject of our errors, and notice us no more for seven years! from
the press, from the pulpit, or from house to house, we shall, I doubt not, be greatly blessed. They have, indeed,
offered us many indignities; they have misrepresented, defamed, maligned, and caricatured both us and our
sentiments. Even the "Cross and Journal," a paper of more respectable morally than most of the Western Journals,
has associated our name and profession with Joe Smith and the Mormons! and yet they cry out againstthe
Presbyterians because of their reminding them of the Anabaptists, the Munster fanaticism, and the fifth monarchy
insurrectionists. Well, we remember that some one once asked Paul, "Art thou not that Egyptian which before these
days madest an uproar and leadest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers!" And some one
once said to Paul's Master, -- "Thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon." Talk on, gentlemen! There is a day when
it will be known what our motives are, and what our principles and character; and it will not be in your power
to blind or prejudice the Judge of all!
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