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St. Joseph's Church at Richfield Springs, N.Y. (early photo)

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Richfield Springs  Mercury.
Vol. X.                     Richfield Springs, N.Y., Saturday,  November 6, 1875.                     No. 17.


==> The President has removed the Mormon postmaster at Ogden, Utah. The fact of his being a polygamist is taken as an indication that the President will remove all Mormons holding federal offices. This policy, together with numerous other [inferences -----] will ere long break up the Mormon hierarchy.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Richfield Springs  Mercury.
Vol. XXII.                     Richfield Springs, N.Y., Thursday,  February 16, 1888.                     No. 35.


Sydney Rigdon, son of that Sydney Rigdon who is accredited with the founding of Mormonism, is station agent at Carrollton, Cataraugus county, N.Y.

Note 1: The 1893 Historical Gazetteer... of Cattaraugus Co. provides this information on page 480: "Algernon Sidney Rigdon, son of Sidney, was born in Mentor, Ohio, July 4, 1828. The family emigrated with teams to Missouri when he was nine years of age. A year later they removed to Illinois, whence after six years' residence, they settled in Pittsburg, Pa. Algernon Sidney came to Friendship, Allegany county in 1847, and was employed on the Erie railroad from 1859 until 1874, whence he removed from Cuba to Carrolton village and has since been the efficient agent of that station. Mr. Rigdon is a staunch Democrat, prominent in his party, a competent and popular citizen, but has constantly refused to accept town office. October 19, 1854, he married Annis Bradley, of Cuba. They have two sons: Walter S., station agent at Dayton, and George R., manager for the Postal Telegraph Company at Scranton, Pa.

Note 2: Algernon Sidney's son, Walter Sidney, said in 1888: "father always maintained that grandfather helped get up the original Spaulding book. At any rate he got a copy very early and schemed on some way to make it useful. Although the family knew these facts, they refused to talk on the subject while grandfather lived.... His son Sidney, my father, was born at Mentor in 1827 and remembers the stirring times of Mormonism. He lives where I do."


Vol. XI.                     Cooperstown, N.Y., Saturday,  May 5, 1888.                     No. 18.

Value of Home Markets.

Written expressly for the OTSEGO FARMER.

The market for our products of all kinds we have for sale is a first necessity for success. That on the average we Americans have one of the best, if not the best, market in the world, is proven by the anxiety of all other nations to avail themselves of it....

Joseph Smith and his Mormon followers demonstrated this great principle to its perfection in his building up of Salt Lake City and its surroundings. Going there poor in everything but brains and muscle, the Mormons overcome every natural obstacle, and hewed out for themselves homes, prosperity and actual wealth, isolated as they were from all the rest of the world, and thus left for all future time the best possible living example of the benefits of self dependence and home industry, and of a home market for the products of their labor.

Note: See also Harvey Baker's personal memories regarding the early career of Joseph Smith, Jr., printed in the Farmer of Nov. 14, 1890.


Vol. XI.                     Cooperstown, N.Y., Saturday,  May 19, 1888.                     No. 20.


WESTVILLE, N. Y., May 8th, 1888.     
MR. EDITOR: In reading Harvey Baker's recent letter in the FARMER, we noticed, in the last paragraph the name of Joseph Smith. It was quite familiar. We used to know Joe Smith. Was well acquainted with him. He had his followers or Elders; as they were called, strolling from that isolated centre, Salt Lake, into every state in the Union, and every country on the globe, even to Milford Centre, teacning and preaching secretly Joe Smith's doctrines, from Joe Smith's bible, turning the head of first one member of the family and then another until the entire family were turned and then they all consenting, (like Moses Chitester, an honest, industrious and well to-do farmer of Milford Centre,) to sell all they had, including the fine farm now owned by Dudley Seeger, convert it into gold and follow on with his family, consisting of a wife (sincere but deluded) some grown up boys and an only, beautiful daughter, to that isolated spot, the Mormon headquarters, give them over to the supposed, immaculate Joe and lay all the money at the apostle Joe's'feet. No Annanias and Sophia business about that. Uncle Moses being a stone cutter by trade went into the quarry, others going into the shops and fertile plains, working more like exiles in Siberian mines than free men in America; thus overcoming obstacles in that garden of the world, hewing out homes and palaces and temples for Joe, his followers and his church; not for themselves; prosperity and wealth for Salt Lake City, not for themselves; leaving oh, such a living example Of fanaticism, hyprocrisy, treachery; and dishoncsty. As Salt Lake was not isolated from that quiet little hamlet, so this is not an isolated case. Money, the life blood of trade and commerce, flowed direct from Milford Centre, and many other sources. Labor, skilled and unskilled, cost nothing, but to those who cared for it. Joe's promise of a plurality of wives and to all who followed along in Joe's heaven. Thus wo find self-dependence, and home industry, and home market for the products of labor working together on the perpetual motion principle, with a man behind the curtain turning   A CRANK.

Note 1: The writer of the above letter appears to have fabricated much of his improbable story of "Joe Smith" in "Salt Lake City."

Note 2: Ezra Stevens, in his Early History of the Town of Milford, says: "Moses Chidester purchased the Baker farm & resided on the same until 1849; then sold it to William A. Bunn, migrated to Nauvoo, & remained with the Mormons until his death. His oldest son Dennis was a Mormon Priest and still remains with the Mormons." Moses (1785-1862) became a Strangite, as did his son, Edward Chidester, who was in Strang's Quorum of Twelve. Dennis Chidester (Moses' eldest son), ran for probate judge in the 1848 Mackinac Co., Michigan election, but lost.


Vol. ?                     Cooperstown, N.Y., Saturday,  Nov. 23, 1889.                     No. ?

The  Mormons.

Salt Lake City, Nov. 15. -- On February 10 next, there will be a municipal election here, which will be the first contest between Mormons and Gentiles for supremacy in this city. Both sides have made a thoro' canvass and ascertained that there are many non-naturalized men eligible to citizenship. It is alleged that the Mormons have brought in colonizers, and among these are many aliens. For several weeks past the'court has been daily employed making new citizens. Last Friday, a Mormon named John Moore made application for admission to citizenship. He swore that he was a Mormon, and had been thro' the endowment house. Objection was made to his admission on the ground that parties going through that bouse were compelled to take an oath which was incompatible with their becoming good law abiding citizens of the United States. After arguments, the court stated that it would grant a continuance till Noyember 14, to hear evidence on that point. Meanwhile other applicants for citizenship who were Mormons had their cases continued till this matter could be settled. The objectors claim that if they can prove that Mormonism is a treasonable organization; any man who belongs to and supports that organization, even tho' he never took an oath in the endowment house, is not a fit subject for citizenship. The position taken by the objectors created great excitement among all classes of people, and yesterday when John Moore's case came up the court was crowded. The witnesses were all gray-haired and could have no object in testifying to anything but the truth. John Bond told how he went thro' the endowment house in Jan., 1868, and took certain oaths. In room 5 he took an obligation to obey the priesthood in everything temporal, spiritual, political, social and financial. The penalty for violating the oaths or divulging them was death by cutting the throat from ear to ear, and cutting out the heart and tongue and disemboweling. In the endowment house he solemnly swore that he would avenge the blood of Joseph Smith, the first president and prophet of the Mormon church of the American nation, and that he would preach the same to his children and his children's children for ever, to begin and carry out hostilities against this nation, and keep the same a profound secret. He obligated himself to sustain the doctrine of polygamy, and all the women agreed that they would not oppose their husbands should they desire to take unto themselves more wives. Fifty men and women went through the marriage ceremony on the day Bond did, and Wilford Woodruff, present president of the Mormon church, officiated.

Martin D. Weddell testified that he joined the church at Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1847, and come to Utah in 1862. He swore that he saw a man named Green, who had apostacized, have his throat cut from ear to ear. He gave full details of the crime and the names of some of the men who participated in tbat murder, and who are still living. Green's property, consisting of $5,000 in cash and a wagon load of merchandise, was taken to the chief thithing yard in this city.

James McGuffy told of the Mountain Meadow massacre and connected it with the oaths taken in the endowment house. He took an oath in 1856 to uproot and destroy the American government. There were three organized bands of church murderers in those days called danites, blood atoners and avenging angels. They had the work apportioned to them by Brigham Young, who was considered God on earth.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. V.                     Cooperstown, N.Y., Friday,  November 14, 1890.                     No. 46.

Mormonism, Its Rise and Leaders.

Written expressly for the OTSEGO FARMER.

It is not generally known that Joseph Smith, the prophet and father of Mormonism, was a native of the Susquehanna valley in our own state, and an adjoining county. Such I believe to be the fact. In the latter part of the decade of 1866, while engaged in constructing the A. & S. railroad, and while riding with the late Riley Bush of Nineveh, between that place and Centerville, he pointed out to me a mound which he said was the foundation of the chimney of the house in which Joseph Smith, was born.

During the latter part of the decade of 1820, I well remember hearing of the acts and doings of Jo. Smith, as he was called in Bainbridge, (now Afton, Chenango county,) and also of my uncle, the late Joseph Hervey, of Potter county, Pa., who then resided in Broome county, hearing him preach, and of his telling of casting out a devil from one of his converts which he said left him and entered into, and ran off in a black dog.

Smith was said, among the old inhabitants of the valley, to have commenced his career by looking into a stone in his hat and thus discovering stolen and lost property, and that he was often successful in so doing. Whether he had confederates to steal and hide for him to find, they did not pretend to know.

From finding lost property he assumed to see hidden minerals and treasures. In 1831 or '32, I visited an uncle of my mother's, Enos Cornwell, who owned and resided on a farm about one mile below Afton on the south side of the Susquehanna river. A brook crossed the farm. In company with a cousin I followed up that brook to where Smith and his associates had made a huge excavation in the rocks in a gorge upon the easterly bank of the brook.

Its cost had used up the means of several citizens, and another uncle of my mother's had recently purchased and then lived with his family upon one of the farms which was sold and its proceeds expended in making the excavation before named. Other excavations were said to have been under his directions upon the opposite side of the river, but those I never saw myself.

Stories were then told of miracles he pretended to perform. Among them was the feat of walking on the water of the river. At the point selected below Afton a mile or more the water was still and the place one out of common observation. Some men haying near by discovered just under the surface of the water a line of plank benches leading straight towards an object upon the opposite side of the river which could be seen in the night time.

These naughty farmers at once concluded for what purpose these benches were laid, and obtained a saw, and some three rods from the shore sawed the legs of them so nearly off thai the slightest pressure would losen and disconnect them. At night they secreted themselves behind some bushes to note the result. The prophet and a number of his followers in the early evening came to the spot to make and witness the miracle. He started off with much boldness. After proceeding a few feet he stopped and gave his ideas of the power of faith and how he was able to proceed by it. Walking on fearlessly a few more steps he suddenly found himself precipitated nearly to his neck in the water. He coolly and deliberately waded to the shore and assured his disciples that his faith suddenly failed him, hence the disaster, and proceeded to give another lecture of the power and importance of unyielding, unwavering faith.

Smith used to baptise his converts by immersion. The following winter he was to baptise and for the purpose had a hole cut in the ice. Some big naughty boys got a large dead hog and securely fastened it in the opening so as to make it the nearby companion of the newly immersed converts.

Such were some of the stories related to us nearly Sixty years ago, as we now remember them. When Smith and his followers left for the west I well remember hearing the names of many who went with him. Among the number was an augurmaker and his family named Kimble, who resided about three-fourths of a mile from my home, and whose shop I often visited. This man had a wife and three or four children. Some families were separated, wives leaving husbands and husbands, wives and families. It was understood then that the golden plates containing the revelation were found in an excavation in Bainbridge, now Afton.

I am well aware that all I have written is not in accord with the published accounts of the rise of Mormonism; or of the early career of its founder, Joseph Smith. Still I think them correct and I am sure of my visit to the excavation in the rocks and the story told of it at the time. It was said that all engaged in the work, as they neared the supposed treasure, were to observe perfect silence, as a single syllable uttered would cause its loss. As they raised the last stone, and the box revealing the treasure was brought to view, one of the workmen was so excited as to forget himself and exclaimed "we have found it," and that the box and its treasure instantly vanished amid fire and smoke and was lost forever.

I selected from the rocks, at the bottom of the ravine, which had been excavated above and lay there in a large pile (the excavatlon was quito a distance up the bank from the brook), a number of pencil shaped pieces of iron pyrites, which I have preserved these many years as a memento of the rise of Mormonism. Smith commenced his preaching in 1830.

All these passing years as I have noted the progress of the "Latter-day Saints," I have vivldly remembered my ramble to the hole in the rocks and its looks as it then appeared, as well as the many stories heard of their chief apostle, and his early doings. It is another proof that no sect under the name of a religion and religious teacher, need dispair of followers or success, if he be daring and persevering.

But the great progress of Mormonism was made under the able leadership of Brigham Young, one of Smith's followers, who united with the Mormons in 1832.

Smith was killed at Nauvoo, in 1844, and Brigham Young, then being 43 years old, was chosen to fill his place. The year following the legislature of Illinois repealed the charter of Nauvoo, and the people, at the cannon's mouth, drove its inhabitants, the Mormons, from the state.

Now follows the most remarkable fact recorded in history. Young led that body of 16,000 souls across the almost trackless alkaline desert, a journey occupying two years' time, arriving at Salt Lake on July 24th, 1847. He here halted and laid the foundation of Salt Lake City. In 1850 President Filmore appointed Brigham Young as Governor of the territory for four years. In 1852, Young proclaimed the new revelation, polygamy as the "celestial law of marriage."

Strange as it may seem, while living counter to all rules of right, and the constitution and laws of our land, the like of their prosperity under his leadership is unparalleled in all history. A mass of humanity, thousands of miles trom all civilization, in a country where irrigation was indispensible for vegetable growth, and all the means for feeding and clothing this multitude, to be as it were created, their preservation from starvation and utter annihilation is the marvel of the age.

Still as marvelous was their unequalled prosperity and wealth, which had wholly to be created by their own labor, and that too from materials they could produce and procure in this their desert home. Here is a living, lasting demonstration of home industry and its ability and practicability for self support. Young was a man of wonderful talents, as is proved by every act of his life. He died in 1877, being then 76 years of age, and left surviving him 17 wives and 56 children. He left them a fortune of over $2,000,000. We notice that another "revelation" has been recently received to abandon polygamy as a part of the Mormon creed.

Note: See also Harvey Baker's similar recollections, as published in the Otsego Farmer of Jan. 18, 1900.

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