(Newspapers of Ohio)

Misc. Ohio Newspapers
1910-1999 Articles

Mormon Church President Heber J. Grant

1800-29  |  1829-31  |  1832-34  |  1835-39  |  1840-49
1850-59  |  1860-79  |  1880-99  |  1900-09  |  1910-99

CPD May 07 '10  |  MNews Jul 01 '11  |  MDis Dec 04 '14  |  CStd Mar 16 '15  |  CPD Apr 04 '15
CStd Jul 03 '15  |  CStd Sep 25 '15  |  CPD May 07 '22  |  JfGz May ?? '24  |  JfGz 1925?
CPD Mar 15 '27  |  JfGz ?? 1927  |  ZTR Jan 01 '30  |  ZTR Sep 21 '36
ASB Aug 18 '40  |  CPD Jun 12 '41  |  CPD Jun 17 '41  |  CPD Jun 18 '41  |  CPD Jun 20 '41
CPD Jun 23 '41  |  CPD Jun 18 '41  |  CPD Nov 09 '41  |  CPD Mar 05 '50  |  ECT Jul 12 '58
CPD Dec 27 '64  |  ZTR Jul 06 '69  |  EC Aug 10 '77  |  RC Dec 20 '86
RC Mar 25 '07  |  StarB Mar 13 '11

Articles Index   |   Painesville Tel.  |   Painesville Rep.  |   Gazette/Spec.


Vol. 69.                         Cleveland, Ohio, Saturday, May 7, 1910.                         No. 127.

                TERMED  DESERTER.


Old Church Records of Ohio Show
Second Elder Became Methodist
Protestant -- Religious Dispute
Rests on Data in Little Volume
Yellow With Age.

Tiffin, O., May 7. -- Charles J. Yingling, wealthy merchant of Tiffin, has in his possession a book upon which one of the religious disputes of the age rests. The little volume is an old minute book of the Methodist Protestant church. On it anti-Mormonists are basing claims that the Book of Mormon is a colossal fraud.

The "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," commonly known as the Mormon church, bases one of its chief claims of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon on the statements of two persons, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. When Joseph Smith, hailed as the prophet of the Mormon church, was having his so-called inspirations, these men were his first followers. The former assisted him in transcribing matter from the golden plates, which Smith said were divinely revealed to him.

The golden plates, according to the literature of the church, were found by Joseph Smith near the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, following a vision on the night of September 23, 1823. The plates contained inscriptions, according to Smith, in Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyrian and Arabic, which he asserted he was enabled to translate by means of two transparent stones called the "Urim and Thummim." Cowdery transcribed the Book of Mormon while Smith translated the inscriptions, the Mormon church insists.

The authenticity of the book is based largely upon Cowdery's statement and a statement by Harris. Cowdery's statement was looked upon as the most reliable and he is said to have acknowledged in a document, carefully preserved by the Mormon church, that he was with the Prophet Smith when an angel appeared to them, ordaining Smith first elder of the church and himself second elder.

In recent years it was charged Cowdery subsequently gave up Mormonism and affiliated with the Methodist Protestant church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints strenuously denied it. The denial led to a further investigation, and it was found that Cowdery joined the Methodist Protestant church in this city and remained for number of years a consistent member of that faith.

Thn attacks of the anti-Mormons led the followers of Joseph Smith to investigate and delegates have been here to examine the old minute books of the Methodist Protestant church. The proof contained in this little old pasteboard covered book, yellow with age, dealt the cause of Mormonism a blow which shook it to its very foundation.

The question which is to-day agitating the Mormon church is: "Was Oliver Cowdery later converted to Methodism?" The Mormons claim he was not; the Christians claim he was and cite the little minute book of the Methodist church of Tiffin to prove their statement.

Notwithstanding that Bishop E. L. Kelly of the Mormon church insists that Cowdery, who was an attorney, merely signed the book in his legal capacity, the book plainly indicates that Cowdery was not only a Methodist, but an officer of the church.

When the dispute first arose, a statement was secured from the late Mrs. William Lang, widow of Judge Lang, who studied law under Cowdery, authenticating the church record, for she herself was a consistent member of the church at the time.

Cowdery came to Tiffin about 1842, and in 1844 joined the Methodists. [The minute book is] held as priceless by the church, and according to Mr. Yingling, the church would not part with it for $10,000.

Note 1: The Plain Dealer for May 7, 1910 was published in two editions. The Oliver Cowdery article was only printed in the early edition of the paper. In its evening edition, news of the death of the King of England crowded out the local area items. The above text was taken from a version reprinted in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, of May 14,1910 and may differ slightly from the Plain Dealer original. The Salt Lake Tribune of May 17, 1910 published an article on Oliver Cowdery which cited the Plain Dealer piece. A very similar article appeared in the Plain Dealer of May 7, 1922.

Note 2: Reporting concerning Oliver Cowdery's presumed 1840s dealings with the Ohio Methodists dates back to Tiffin Mayor Gabriel J. Keen's 1885 affidavit. Keen testified, that in 1840 some leading members of the Tiffin Methodist Protestant congregation met with Oliver Cowdery "and he was unanimously admitted a member" without having to make "a public recantation" of his previous association with the Mormons. Nevertheless, "At that time he arose and addressed the audience present, admitted his error and implored forgiveness, and said he was sorry and ashamed of his connection with Mormonism." Since there is no record of Cowdery's being baptized a Methodist, it is possible that his relationship to the Tiffin congregation amounted to something less than full membership.

Note 3: Mr. Keen's 1885 affidavit was published in 1888, but it appears to have drawn very little public notice until 1905, when the Rev. R. B. Neal reprinted it in his paper, The Helper. Neal also reprinted the Keen affidavit a year later in his Anti-Mormon Tracts No. 9. In that same tract he featured a somewhat dubious letter written by Judge William Lang of Tiffin, who reportedly stated: "In the second year of his residence here, he [Cowdery] and his family attached themselves to the Methodist Protestant Church, where they held fellowship to the time they left for Elkhorn." No original of the Lang letter is known to exist, so its authenticity and internal integrity cannot be firmly established.

Note 4: Rev. Neal's publicizing of the Keen affidavit finally caught the attention of leaders in the Reorganizwed LDS Church, early in 1907, and they conducted an investigation of Cowdery's probable association with the Tiffin Methodists. Two elderly ladies who were lon-time members of the Tiffin congregation were certain that Cowdery and his wife never became members -- see the Saints' Herald of Mar. 20, 1907. The Herald's reporting did not suit Rev. Neal and his associates, as can be seen in the Cincinnati Christian Standard of July 27, 1907. Neal brought up the topic once again in a five-part series in his Sword of Laban, for Oct., 1909 - Mar. 1910, but it was evidently the Standard's 1907 reporting which gave the "was Cowdery a Methodist?" issue a nationwide circulation.

Note 5: Word of Oliver's association with the Tiffin Methodists finally reached Utah and resulted in a low-key response in the Deseret Evening News of Feb. 21, 1910, when it was reported that "Elder C. M. Nielsen delivered an unusually interesting address at the Twenty-fourth ward meetinghouse..." Among other things, Judge Charles M. Nielsen said: "It has been circulated among our enemies that Oliver Cowdery had denied his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. Affidavits have been made and published in eastern states that Oliver Cowdery asked to be recieved into some church as a member; that before that church would receive him he was required to make confession of his connection with that terrible religion called 'Mormonism,' and his own testimony regarding the Book of Mormon and his having said he saw an angel from heaven... for argument's sake, say Oliver Cowdery did recant his testimony, which I do not admit -- what then? Is he greater than John the Baptist, who doubted Jesus when trials and troubles came upon him and he was in danger of having his head cut off to satisfy a woman? Is Oliver Cowdery greater than Peter, who in the hour of his trials denied Christ...?"

Note 6: Charles M. Nielsen's published "testimony" was largely drawn from an affidavit he made in Salt Lake City, on Dec. 3, 1909. Although that statement says nothing about Oliver Cowdery having any relations with Ohio Methodists, it is reasonable to suspect that his purpose in commiting his memories to writing at that time was to combat the "was Cowdery a Methodist?" "affidavits" that had "been made and published in eastern states." In 1898 and 1899 Nielsen had written letters to Heber J. Grant, summarizing some of the recollections he later spelled out in greater detail in his 1909 affidavit and his 1910 newspaper article, but some of those details were in conflict, one with another (and with his own Dec. 12, 1883 missionary journal entry). At this late date it is perhaps impossible to determine whether or not Nielsen altered and embellished a real 1883 experience, in order to supply saintly ammunition useful in shooting down non-Mormon attacks upon Oliver Cowdery's reputation. However, all of that remains a possibility and should not be overlooked in studying these obscure matters.



Vol. 27.                           Mansfield, Ohio,  Saturday, July 1, 1911.                           No. 100.



Johnny Appleseed is well remembered by many of our people of today. he often stopped at the cabin of Robert Cairns, the father of the late Robert Cairns. Johnny was a welcome guest at Wiler's also and the late Mrs. J. H. Cook frequently talked with him when she was a girl.Johnny was present upon one occasion when an itinerant preacher was holding forth to an audience at the public square in Mansfield. Johnny was lying upon some boards near the outskirts of the crowd when the preacher, who was speaking against the sin of fashion exclaimed, "Where is the barefooted Christian traveling to heaven?" Taking the question in a literal sense Johnny responded, "Here he is" and raised his bare feet in the air.

Johnny Appleseed's death was in harmony with his unostentatious and blameless life. It is often remarked how beautiful is the Christian's life; yea, but far more beautiful is the Christian's death. Those who were with Johnny at his last moments stated that as the end drew near "the fashion of his countenance was altered;" that a smile wreathed his thin lips as they moved in prayer, and that a halo seemed to crown him with the glory of a saint as he passed "from death unto life," from the life here to the life there....


The school houses were in keeping with the cabins and times... Religious services were frequently held at the homes of the settlers even after houses of public worship had been erected... The Christians, or Disciples, also help camp meetings, one of the first and largest of which was at the big spring, near the old site of the Barley mill on the road leading from Mansfield to Washington village, one of the fruits of which is the Cesarea congregation. Elder McVay was the principal preacher at that convocation.

Early in the '30s the Rigdons did missionary work in the southern part of the county, preaching the doctrine which was then being promulgated by Alexander Campbell. Sidney Rigdon later became prominently identified with the Mormons, a faction of which was called Rigdonites. The Rigdons were fluent speakers and could attract audiences with their magnetism and swayed them with their eloquence. The Rigdons made their headquarters at Newville when on their preaching tours in that section.

The late George F. Carpenter, attorney and banker, whose boyhood days were passed at Newville, remembered the Rigdons, as does his brother, William B. Carpenter....

Note 1: Sidney Rigdon, during his Campbellite days, evidently preached in Richland County, where Mansfield is located. There are some indications that, in the late 1820s, he helped establish the Disciple church at Newville (although its congregation was not formally organized until 1835). Elders Charles and Thomas Rigdon (Sidney's cousins) lived some distance away, in Stark County, but were members of the Mohican Baptist Association, which extended as far west as Richland. Sidney was chosen as the Redstone Association's "mesenger" to the Mohican Baptists in 1822, and evidently traveled from his home in Pennsylvania to visit the Canton, Ohio region in company with Thomas Rigdon that year.

Note 2: One interesting report from this area mentions that Sidney Rigdon initially "favored Newville as the site" of the "headquarters for the new [Mormon] church," but that he "at last" concurred in choosing Kirtland for that purpose (see "Mormons in Richland County" in Abraham J. Baughman's 1908 History of Richland County, pp. 195-97).



Vol. ?                           Canfield, Ohio,  Friday, December 4, 1914.                           No. ?


The serious illness of Joseph Smith, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints one of two branches of the Mormon church in America, recalls that Monmonism as a religious faith had its inception in the East. The father of Joseph Smith and of the same name, was the founder of Mormonism. He was known as Joseph Smith tho prophet

The Book of Mormon, or the bible of the Mormons, is an alleged translation printed by the elder Joseph Smith of a volume asserted to have been found buried in a stone box on Cumorah, a hill near Manchester, N.Y. Composed of gold plates eight by six inches, fastened by three golden rings, written in "reformed Egyptian," interpreted by the aid of two crystals (Urim and Thummim) set like spectacles in a silver bow, it summarized history from the time of the Tower of Babel to 420 A. D. Its compilers were said to be the prophet Mormon and his son Moroni.

Aside from the theory of divine revelation, there are two attempts to account for the Book of Mormon. It is claimed, first, that internal evidence shows it to have been written by Smith himself; second, that it is identical with "The Manuscript Found," a romance by Solomon Spalding, one of the earlier Congregational ministers, and said to have been copied and communicated to Smith by Sidney Rigdon a printer. The second theory has been called untenable because "The Manuscript Found," treasured in the archives of Oberlin college, bears small resemblance to the Book of Mormon. However its adherents maintain that the theory rests on a different Spalding manuscript as yet undiscovered.

The elder Joseph Smith, acting upon an alleged revelation, proceeded to Kirtland, O., where in the 30's a massive temple, still standing and regarded as the shrine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, was erected. Followers of the faith, including Rigdon, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt and others who subsequently became noted, joined him. Kirtland soon was a thriving village of more than 5,000 inhabitants. A bank, of which Rigdon was president, was established but this, in the days when "wild cat" money was prevalent, engendered antagonisms and the Mormons finally pulled up stakes and moved to Nauvoo, Ill., where Smith lost his life at the hands of a mob. Brigham Young married his first wife in Ohio. She was Mary Ann Angel. The application for a marriage license is on file in the archives of Geauga county at Chardon. The Mormon split occurred in 1860. The church of the Latter Day Saints is distinctively different from the Mormon church which has its headquarters in Utah, inasmuch as it is opposed to polygamy. Kirtland is now a sleepy hamlet of fewer than 200 inhabitants. -- Post.

Note ...



Vol. 50.                           Cincinnati,  March 16, 1915.                           No. 23.



Author of "Cumorah Revisited," "The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy,"
"The True Origin of the Book of Mormon," etc., etc.
Published by The Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, O.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so called, was founded by Joseph Smith, the Mormon "prophet," at Fayette, Seneca Co., N. Y., Apr. 6, 1830, with six members. From this small beginning it continued to grow until, at the time of its prophet's death in 1844, there were twenty thousand Mormons in Nauvoo, Ill., and vicinity, who are declared to have been the "great bulk of the Saints" in the United States, and 7,797 in the British Isles. According to the statistics compiled by Dr. Carroll in 1913, there were 356,000 Latter-day Saints in this country, with 3,560 ministers and 2,520 churches, a gain for the year of 3,500 communicants, 200 ministers and 100 churches.

Within the ten years following the assassination of the prophet, Mormonism found some troubled seas, and dissensions and revolts split the body into no fewer than fourteen factions. Most of these, however, were small and soon went to pieces, the main body, nearly twenty thousand strong, adhering to Brigham Young and his polygamous coadjutors. Most of the members of those factions that became defunct rallied under the banner of the "new organization," which was founded in 1852, and which has latterly been known as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," the inveterate foe of the pretentious and polygamous practices of the Mormon Church of Utah.

After seventy years of contention and dissension, the number of Mormon sects has been reduced to three: those who acknowledge Brigham Young as having been a lawful prophet and leader, and who are known as the "Brighamites," or the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," those who acknowledge Joseph Smith the Third, the son of the original prophet, as the lawful head, and who are known as "Josephites," or the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," and those who have followed Granville Hedrick, and who are called the "Hedrickites," or the "Church of Christ." Among these three bodies there is a constant and incessant warfare, one charging the other with having departed in faith and practice from the original ideal.

The main differences between the Brighamites and Josephite branches are five in number. (1) The Josephites maintain that the head of the church must be of the lineage of Joseph Smith, while the Brighamites hold that any individual, called of the Lord, may so act; (2) the Brighamites teach that polygamy is a true and righteous principle, and that it originated in a revelation which came through Joseph Smith, all of which is strongly denied by the Reorganizers; (3) the Brighamites have been accused of teaching that the shedding of an apostate's blood is an atonement for the sin of apostasy, which the Josephites also condemn; (4) the doctrine of Adam-god-ism, according to which Adam was God, is affirmed by the first and denied by the second; and (5) the two bodies disagree on the gathering-place of the Saints, the Brighamites maintaining that it is in Utah, the Josephites denying it. There are also certain other points of difference, but these are the most important. The Hedrickites, the third faction, reject all of Smith's revelations received after February, 1834, claiming that in that year he became a fallen prophet.

Several influences have contributed to the growth and spread of Mormonism. Among these may be mentioned the ignorance of the people in respect to the character of the new faith, the perfect organization of its missionary propaganda, the intense zeal of its missionaries, the startling and specific interpretations which it gives to the Scriptures, and the element of credulity which seems to be ever present in most of us, and which has been taken into good account by the propagators of the Mormon faith. These are a few of the causes which have contributed to the growth and spread of that ecclesiastical system which had its inception in the minds and lives of the "Prophet of Palmyra" and his coadjutors.

It is the purpose of this paper to call the attention of the reader to some of the methods and tactics employed by the Mormon Church and its missionaries to spread the tenets of their peculiar faith among the nations of the earth. The understanding of these methods and tactics will better equip the opponents of this delusion to counteract its influence.

1. Mormonism tells only a part of the truth in regard to its own history; the remainder, as far as possible, is carefully concealed from the eyes and ears of the general public. With streaming eyes, it recounts its sacrifices and privations; with manifested pride it points to its rapid growth and great advancements, and with sanctimonious fervor it declares the holiness of its doctrines and practices. But it is as silent as the tomb upon the questionable character of its originators, the Kirtland Bank swindle, the licentiousness of Joseph Smith and the Mountain Meadows massacre. And, if these facts are referred to, it either assumes an air of injured innocence or indignantly shouts "Falsehood." Yet the charges that its originators were men of poor reputation, that the Kirtland "Safety" Bank was a swindle pure and simple, that Joseph Smith was a man of poor moral character, and that the Mormons were the instigators of the massacre of over one hundred Gentiles at Mountain Meadows in 1857, are susceptible of the clearest proof.

2. Mormonism tries to draw heavily upon the sympathies of the public. The peripatetic elder, as he "hoofs" it over the country, pours his tale of woe into every willing ear. He has left home without purse or scrip, he has been maligned, his church has been lied about, his ministry have been tarred and feathered and shot, and his prophet has been assassinated. This is the same old song that all the elders sing and it does not always fall unpleasantly upon non-Mormon ears. But is this appeal for sympathy well founded? I have gone over Mormon history carefully; I have read it in their own books and papers and in the works put out by their opponents, and I have not been able to find a single instance in which their persecutions were not brought on by their own bigotry, greed and licentiousness. Take, as an example, their treatment at the hands of the people of Illinois. When, in 1839, half-starved and half-naked, they fled from the vengeance of Missouri, they were welcomed, fed and clothed by the citizens of Quincy. And, when they settled in Nauvoo, it was with the best wishes of their Gentile neighbors. But what did they do? They betrayed every confidence that had been imposed [on] them; they played fast and loose in the game of politics; they sheltered criminals fleeing from justice, and in one instance the municipal court discharged a man under indictment for high treason against the United States and assessed the costs against the Government; they railroaded a charter through the State Legislature which granted them the right to make any ordinance that they saw fit, provided it did not conflict with the Constitution of the State and nation, although it might render null and void every statute that had ever been enacted in that State; they sent out Danites to rob and plunder those who had befriended them; they practiced the grossest immorality, and they maintained a standing army of over two thousand men, armed to the teeth, to fulfill the mandates of their prophet. When these things are known, the public should stop contributing funds, in the shape of meals and lodging, to the hierarchy of Utah. If the Mormon Church sees fit to send its missionaries into the field, which it has a perfect right to do, let it support them like other religious bodies support their missionaries, or else let it keep them at home.

3. Mormonism resorts to deception and misrepresentation in order to win its way into the good graces of the public. Whoever heard of a Mormon elder, going into a new community, and beginning his work by preaching upon the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon? These principles of his faith are reserved to the last. He begins with those things upon which all Christians agree, and introduces his "strong meat" only when he thinks his congregation can stand it. If he goes into an Adventist community, he will seek to disarm suspicion by telling Adventists that William Miller obtained his doctrines from the Mormon apostle -- Jared Carter -- who is said to have preached in Miller's neighborhood in 1832; or, if he is preaching in a "Disciple" community, he will tell them that Alexander Campbell was right as far as he went, but that he did not go far enough, and then will proceed to argue baptism for the remission of sins, and, by misapplying passages from our historical works, will prove that we believe that Campbell was a prophet, that he taught an universal apostasy, and that he claimed to refound the church or kingdom in the last days. The facts are that Miller held every view from which the Mormons claimed he obtained from Carter, in 1818, and, as for Campbell, nothing could be further from our thoughts than to claim that he was a prophet, in the inspirational sense, or that he refounded the church, or that he taught an universal apostasy.

4. Mormonism quotes a plenty of Scriptures to sustain its positions. If you admit its applications, the entire Mormon system is elaborated in the Bible to a nicety. This continent is described; the tribes who were to inhabit it are mentioned; the coming out of the Book of Mormon is foretold, and some contend that even Smith is mentioned by name in Isa. 54:16. But, under careful examination, these applications negate themselves to that class to which belongs the theory that Nahum's chariots are the railroad trains, and are found to be evidences of great ingenuity, but not of sound reasoning. In presenting their Scriptural evidences, Mormon preachers and writers ignore every legitimate rule of Biblical exegesis. Often the context would give a different meaning to that which they attach to their quotations, but what do they care for the context just so long as the jingle of the passage harmonizes with the Mormon story. I say fearlessly that every passage of Scripture which they bring forward to prove their peculiar beliefs, is misapprehended and misapplied, and, when rightly understood, bears to the reader an entirely different message than that derived from it by Mormonism.

5. Scientific facts are misrepresented by the Mormons in order to establish their claim of the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon. Mormon preachers and writers tell us with great emphasis that American archaeology and ethnology are certainly and surely proving their claims. And yet not a single authority on these sciences to-day holds to the theory that the American Indians are of Jewish descent, advocates that the Christian religion was preached upon this continent in pre-Columbian times, or places the ancient Americans in the iron age, while the large majority now deny the exotic origin of American culture, the racial distinction between ancient and modern inhabitants and scores of other positions taken in the Book of Mormon. The book is built upon theories in vogue in 1830, most of which have passed away before the light of modern research as the mists dissipate before the rising sun. The old temples, palaces, mounds and fortifications of this continent tell to the practiced eye an entirely different story to that written on the pages of the record of Nephi.

6. Mormonism is ever on the lookout for sensational archaeology "finds," and presses them into its service to bolster up its false theory of the historical credibility of its sacred book.

In April, 1843, six copper plates were found in a mound at Kinderhook, Ill. These plates were bell-shaped and had engravings on them. Within a few weeks after their discovery, the Times and Seasons, with a translation of them, according to which the individual buried with them was a son of Ham, who had received his kingdom from the Lord of heaven and earth. It was afterwards ascertained that these plates had been made by the village blacksmith, and that the characters on them were Chinese, copied from the lid of a Chinese tea-chest! In 1850 a number of tablets were found in the mounds near Newark, O., with Hebrew writing upon them. Joseph Smith was dead, but his followers took hold of these things with zeal, and have repeatedly introduced them to prove that the ancient Americans were Israelites. It is not saying much in their favor when it is remarked that these tablets were made and buried in the mounds by "Dave" Wyrick, the county surveyor, who had gone crazy over the belief that the American Indians are of Jewish origin, and after repeated attacks of rheumatism! In 1890 two pieces of copper musical instruments were found in a mound at Mendon, Ill. There had been pounded out flat, and on one of them were engraved in a number of characters like those said to have been inscribed on the Palmyra plates of Joseph Smith. The Mormons immediately got busy, and this find was heralded through their books and papers as a confirmation of the Book of Mormon. Rev. S. D. Peet, the noted archaeologist, who examined them, wrote me that the plates were parts of a fiddle that some one had tried to make out of sheet copper, and that the farm on which the mound stands was formerly owned by a Mormon! Today a certain class are exercising themselves over certain reported "finds" in Michigan, consisting of clay caskets with sphinxes on them, slate tablets and copper plates -- all containing designs and hieroglyphics. Of course the Mormons are in the field, and the two leading Josephite papers carried an advertisement of these wares for nearly two years, while one of their leading men, with the full knowledge of the church, is going over the country selling a book describing them for $1 per copy, "or more." I have written archaeologist after archaeologist and have failed to find one who has any faith in these things. The lid on one of the caskets was found to have been dried on a machine-sawed board, while others were so soft that they readily disintegrated in water, which shows that they could not have withstood the test of the elements for centuries. A stone with curious marks upon it will throw some Mormons nearly into a spasm, when it may be nothing but a fake or a natural production.

7. Mormonism resorts to the slander and abuse of every man who dares to give up the faith and expose its secret workings. It assumes that "pure, honest, virtuous men do not apostatize and turn against the principles of the gospel;" therefore it brands all apostates as impure, dishonest and unvirtuous. Smith would come out one day with a revelation commending certain of his followers, and the next publish them through his papers as liars, knaves and rascals. No man stood higher with the Mormons at Nauvoo in 1840-41 than Dr. John C. Bennett. They showered their favors upon him. He lived in the prophet's family. And to him was largely due, as the Mormons themselves admitted, the advancement and progress of their city. But when he and Smith fell out, he was published to the world as all that was vile and dishonest. Such men as Williams, Cowdery, Harris and Whitmer, the Laws, Fosters and Higbees, Cowles and Johnsons were high members of the Mormon Church, and were the recipients of Smith's favors until they apostatized and told what they knew about the prophets, when Smith turned upon them and denounced them in unmeasured terms. The fact is that most of these men were decent, and when they discovered his sins they opposed them and were cut off. Today Mormonism hates no man with a more bitter hatred than it does Frank J. Cannon -- he has given away its secrets.

Thus, wherever you may turn, Mormonism will present to you the evidences of its own falsity.

  Eddyville, Neb.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                       Cleveland, Ohio, April 4, 1915.                       No. ?


At Least That is the Belief of Old Residents of Lake County.
They Witnessed the Operations of Joseph Smith and His Followers
Who Found the Plates From Which Their Present Bible Was Written.


Over in Lake county, down in the valley, there is a clump of houses and a few stores. This is called Kirtland. Right in the midst of Kirtland stands a temple of Mormonism, the first Mormon temple ever established. And scattered through Lake and Ashtabula counties there are Mormons by the hundreds who still meet in this temple.

And present day Mormonism, although altered in many instances, is the handiwork of a tired brain that nearing the end of its usefulness rambled and thought of supernatiral things and beings. The rules of the Mormon faith, written in a little hut near Conneaut, in Ashtabula county, were the ramblings of that brain, belonging to a man who, striken with "lingering consumption," kept a pad and pencil at his bedside and in delirious moments during the beginning of his end he would write from his feverish brain scriptural passages.

These, he told his faithful wife, who sat day and night nursing him, were messages from God, and that God was commanding him to write these, and that she after he had gone was to publish them.

This man died soon after completing his writings which he left with his wife to be guarded with her life. And this manuscript, residents of Conneaut say, was the making of the first Mormon bible ever printed. The manuscript was later secured from this woman by a man supposed to have been Joseph Smith, who old residents say must have had them inscribed on copper plates and buried, where years later they were dub up by him., he claiming that God had pointed out the place where he would find them.

Solomon Spaulding Came to Conneaut Back in 1810.

It was in 1810 that Solomon Spaulding come to Conneaut, which was then called Salem.Old residents say that he was a minister of the old Reformed faith whose ill health forced him to stop work of any kind. And it was during his last few months of illness that he jotted his calls from heaven down, which he called "Manuscript Fiund." It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of Jews, or the lost tribes. In it were embodied many strange scriptural passages, which later identified the readings on the copper plates dug up by Joseph Smith as the same passages this sick man used to read to his wife and friends who crowded his cabin during his last days.

Ohio historians differ in many instances with the oldest residents of Conneaut and other sections in Lake and Ashtabula counties, but these Ohioans give hitherto unpublished statements regarding the beginning og Mormonism, and it is from the actual cradle of this religion that these facts come.

Spaulding left Conneaut in 1813, going to Pennsylvania, where he died soon after. His wife, remaining in Conneaut [sic], found it hard to eke out an existence. She had told many of the old residents of the manuscript of her husband which she had, and she had been advised to have it published, but she did not have the money to do so.

The exact dates are not known, but several years after Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, two book agents [sic], chanced through Conneaut and, hearing the manuscript spoken of, went to the home of the widow and prevailed on her to part with it. She refused; they visited her again and again and finally with the tempting offer of $400 Smith and his accomplice obtained these writings.

Old residents in this neighborhood had heard old Spaulding read passages from them many times and had become familiar with some of the paragraphs.

It is the supposition in this neighborhood that Smith realized that he could change himself into a prophet and carry on this work in this sparsely settled section of Ohio then, and it is also thought that he had these writings engraved on copper plates, which he buried secretly in the hills around Conneaut.

He remained in Conneaut only a short time after getting the writings from Mrs. Spaulding, but several years later reappeared, calling himself the Great Prophet, claiming y=that he was sent by God to this section and instructed by Him to dig in these hills, where he would find something that would later govern him and his followers.

He and Rigdon impressed the settlers greatly. Smith carried with him a divining rod which he claimed would tell him where to bore for water, and invariably water would be found. He also carried with him a peculiar shaped stone, which he claimed God threw down to him, with the message that whenever placed in his hat, he could locate spots in the earth where gold and other valuable minerals would be found.

He gained followers around Ashtabula and Lake counties by the hundreds and meetings were held daily. He announced that he had received a message from God to dig, and with his followers gathered about him commenced to dig on the hills of Conneaut creek, immediately outside of the village. His first attempt availed him nothing, and he looked up into the heavens and bade his followers come after him. They then went up on the top of Fort Hill, an old Indian fortress, and dug again. Within a few minutes his pick struck something solid; he removed a great iron box from which he withdrew several books, the pages consisting of copper plates.

Historians say these plates were found in Palmyra, N.Y., by Smith, but old residents of Conneaut have marked off the exact spot of the find, and these hills rock with the early history of Mormonism.

These plates were Covered with many Strange Inscriptions

which none of Smith's followers could transcribe. Calling on God, Smith slowly began to decipher them while his followers knelt around him. As he read many of the settlers started to murmur among themselves; they recognized passages which they had heard years ago in the cabin of Spaulding when this man was on his death bed, bade them carry out these rules [sic].

Their faith was shaken, and they charged Smith, whom they had been calling the Great Prophet, with being an imposter, and threatened to deal with him and Rigdon. [illegible paragraphs follow] ...Smith and Rigdon fled to their cabin, where they were later in the evening dragged out by an angry mob, given a coat of tar and feathers and ridden on rails out of the village.

...The Mormons in Ohio are now divided into three factions, the Rigdonites, the Twelveites and the Strangites. The Rigdonites are the followers of Rigdon, who, it seems, deserted Smith after their coat of tar and feathers and came back with copies of the new bible and converted hundreds in Ashtabula and Lake counties, and held their faith. The Twelvites, named after their twelve apostles, are very fanatical and live in the hills around Conneaut creek and hold to the spiritual wife system and the plurality of Gods. The Strangites maintain the original doctrines of Mormonism.

Howe's historical collections of Ohio, regarding the early days of Mormonism substantially backs up the fact that the present Mormon bible was founded on the writings of Solomon Spaulding in many instances, one of them being a statement from Henry Lake, whose memory is now cherished throughout Ashtabula and Lake counties.... The testimony of six other witnesses is produced in the work of Mr. Howe, all confirming the above facts. Mr. Howe's and other histories lose track of the manuscript after Spaulding died, and state that the plates were dug up in New York, while Ashtabula and Lake counties' oldest citizens and many of the younger generation declare the above to be true facts.

Up on top of Fort hill, looking down on Conneaut Creek, about two miles from the city, the remaining Mormons of this locality have erected a simple stone slab without inscription which, as a marker, tells where the plates were found....

Note: The above collection of nonsense can only be read as fiction. It contains nothing of historical use.



Vol. 50.                           Cincinnati,  July 3, 1915.                           No. 40.



When was "Mormonism" planted on earth?

Answer -- May 15, 1829.

Proof -- Section 13 "Book of Doctrine and Covenants."

"Words of the angel (John the Baptist) spoken to Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery, as he (the angel) laid his hands upon their heads and ordained them to the Aaronic priesthood, in Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pa., May 15, 1829."

"Upon you, my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." Joseph Smith baptized Oliver Cowdery. Oliver was the first person to enter the Latter-day Saints' kingdom or church. He then baptized Joseph, and he was the second Latter-day Saint. They then "ordained" each other, no doubt at the same time, by "the laying on of hands," each on the head of the other. Then and there was "Latter-day Saintism" planted. Sidney Rigdon's name is not mentioned in this -- the "infancy" or birth of the church. Was he there? He must have been, for he said, on Apr. 6, 1844, at Nauvoo, Ills., before the largest assembly the Mormons ever had; "I have known the history of this church from its infancy." Was he there? I have before me a copy of that rare and most valuable book, by E. D. Howe, "History of Mormonism," the very first book published exposing the Mormon fraud. It ought to be republished. It would be profitable to the publisher and most helpful to the cause of truth. He gathered facts, known facts, in the early days of this "Latter-day" conspiracy. Here's the concluding sentence of this wonderful work: "We, therefore, must hold out Sidney Rigdon to the world as being the original 'author and proprietor' of the whole Mormon conspiracy, until further light is elicited upon the lost writings of Solomon Spalding." Significant that the first men who seriously and industriously gathered facts while they were fresh. would reach such a conclusion. The "further light" has come to hand, and confirms and clinches the conclusion that Sidney Rigdon was the original "author and proprietor" of the whole base fraud. He soon lost the "proprietorship," but neither men, devils nor angels can cheat him out of the "authorship."
  Grayson, Ky.

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. 50.                           Cincinnati,  Sept. 25, 1915.                           No. 52.

Neals'  Notes.

I would gently remind a number of the members of the Gospel Dollar League that their dues are long past due, and the money is badly needed...

W. A. Jackson, Como, Tex., is soon to hold a debate with a "Josephite" Mormon. He is loading up carefully for the "scrap." The "Brghamites" are "skerry" about meeting a "Josephite," and a "Josephite" dreads most meeting a "Hedrickite" like Satan dreads Holy Water. It is hard for "Mormons," in fact, impossinle, to decide what original Mormonism was.
    Grayson, Ky.
    Sept. 13, 1915.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                             Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday, May 7, 1922.                             No. ?


Theologians Search Records for Answer
to Oliver Cowdery Question.
(Plain Dealer Special)

TIFFIN, O., May 6. -- Did Oliver Cowdery, second elder of the Church of Jesus ChrIst of Latter Day Saints and coworker of Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of that church, renounce Mormonism?

Records of the Methodist Protestant church here are being scrutinized by theologians in an effort to throw light on that question.

Cowdery was a lawyer here. He practiced law in Seneca county fifteen years after helping Smith, the seer of Mormonism, transcribe the Book of Mormon.

Records of the first meeting of the Methodist Protestant church indicate Cowdery was a member and one of the founders of that organization. The church was incorporated in 1836. The organization followed in 1844.

The first minute book of the church has this entry under date of Jan. 18, 1844:

"The meeting came to order by appointing Rev. Thomas B. Cushman president and Oliver Cowdery secretary."

There is an entry showing Cowdery's office as the next meeting place. The signature "Oliver Cowdery, Secretary" appears at the end of that day's minutes.

Within brackets following the minutes are notations showing the statutes in which the act of incorporation of the church society may be found. These are followed by the signature, "O. Cowdery," in a handwriting vastly different from the easy, flowing style of the Cowdery signature as secretary,

Which is Cowdery's signature? If it is the simple "O. Cowdery" attached to the legal notations, does not the record bear out the contention of Mormons; that Cowdery, if he had any connectlon with the church here at all, merely acted as a lawyer? These questions are being asked.

Residents Interviewed.

Then delvers into the records ask the question:

Would Cowdery have been eligible to be secretary of a meeting of the "male members of the Methodist Protestant church society, an incorporation" had be not been a member?

Old residents are being interviewed in efforts to settle the question.

Cowdery is an important figure in the organization of the Mormon church. He not only helped Smith transcribe the Book of Mormon, but according to Mormon teachings, was with Smith when a messenger descended from heaven and ordained them to the Aaronlc priesthood and was baptized Smith. Cowdery then baptized the prophet, according to the seer's own history.

"On the 5th day of Aprll, 1829, Oliver Cowder came to my house, until which time I had never seen him." Smith wrote. Smith then lived in Susquehanna county, Pennlsylvania.

"Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery (being the 7th of April) I commenced to translate the Book of Mormon and he began to write for me."

The Mormon prophet tells how an angelic messenger came to them as they were praying in the woods, telling them to baptize each other.

"Accordingly we went and were baptized," writes Smith. "I baptized him first and afterwards he baptized me -- after which I laid my hands on his head and ordained him to the Aaronic priesthood and afterward he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same priesthood -- for so we were commanded."

The heavenly messenger was described as John the Baptist by Smith, who also relates that it was then announced that in due time the priesthood of Melchisedek would be conferred upon them and that he would be called the first elder of the church.

Were this all true, would Cowdery have wandered away from the Mormons and become a member of another church? The searches under way are designed to answer this question.

Note: See also R. B. Neal's 1900 report on this topic



Vol. ?                           Jefferson, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, May ?, 1924                           No. ?



(read full text in off-site article)

... In the early days settlers in Conneaut found a number of mounds. On the west side along the creek there was a great burial ground. It is said there were about 3000 graves there, laid out in some design and like the cemetery at Ashtabula the bones of the adults were exceptionally large.

In the valley of the creek near the old bridge is a hill, partly the result of water wearing away and partly man's work. I have seen the hill from a distance and noted its natural adaptation to defense. It was called Fort Hill in 1812 by the settlers and when the British fleet appeared off Conneaut and fired a few rounds at the Fort on the bank of the lake the inhabitants of Conneaut retired to this old Fort Hill expecting to be massacred by the Indians who were supposed to be on the British fleet. A few years ago canon ball were found on the site of the old fort. Those few shots were the only shots ever fired upon Ashtabula county soil with hostile intent. A mound was known fifty years ago on the east side in Conneaut.

One of the most interesting stories arising from the old burial plot at Conneaut was the probable origin of the Book of Mormon.

A pioneer minister, Rev. Spaulding, in about 1812 wrote a manuscript [dealing] with the Lost Tribes of Israel. [He] told that he found the manuscript in one of the old graves at Conneaut. Later he travelled through the wilderness to Pittsburg and found a printer and tried to get his manuscript published. The printer did not enthuse and put the old tale away in a desk. A few years later it was uncovered by Sidney Rigdon, a preacher from Kirtland, Ohio, who had been prophesying that a great revelation was about to be made the chosen people at Kirtland. Rigdon conspired with Smith, father of Mormonism, to find the manuscript, which Smith did, and reported the find to have been in the form of copper plates. Rigdon went back to Kirtland with the fulfillment of the prophesy and from this scheme and the old Spaulding fraud may have come, and probably did come, the formation of the present great Mormon church of Utah....

Notes: (forthcoming)



Vol. ?                           Jefferson, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, 1925?                           No. ?





When the first settlers came to Conneaut, then called Salem or New Salem, they found many evidences of a large population that once inhabited that section. There were mounds or fortifications made by a race long before extinct. There was a grave yard in which were over 3000 graves.

A minister, Rev. Solomon Spaulding wrote a story about the mounds and ascribed them as having been made by the Lost Tribes of Israel. He pretended to find a manuscript in one of the graves telling about the people. He translated the find and from time to time read his alleged translation to friends.

A few days ago the Gazette editor secured a copy of "History of the Mormons" published in 1853 and in it was the following complete story of the Spaulding manuscript and a letter from the old Conneaut minister's wife, which we herewith publish.

It is stated by them that, in the year 1809, a man of the name of Solomon Spaulding, who had formerly been a clergyman, failed in business at a place called Cherry Valley, in the State of New York. Being a person of literary tastes, and his attention having been directed to the notion which at thaf time excited some interest and discussion, namely, that the North American Indians were the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, it struck him that the idea afforded a good groundwork for a religious tale, history, or novel. For three years he labored upon this work, which he entitled The Manuscript Found."Mormon" and his son "Moroni," who act so large a part in Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon,were two of the principal characters in it. In 1812 the MS. was presented to a printer or bookseller, named Patterson, reiding at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a view to its publication. Before any satisfactory arrangement could be made, the author died, and the manuscript remained in the possession of Mr. Patterson, apparently unnoticed and uncared for. The printer also died in 1856, having previously lent the manuscnpt to one Sidney Rigdon, a compositor in his employ, who was at the time a preacher in connection with some Christian sect, which the proper designation is not very clearly stated. This Rigdon afterwards became, next to Joseph Smith him-self, the principal leader of the Mormons. How Joseph Smith and this person became connected is not known, and which of the two originated the idea of making a new Bible of Solomon Spaulding's novel is equally uncertaini The wife, the partner, several friends, and the brother of Solomon Spaulding, affirmed, however, the identity of the principal portions of the Book of Mormon with the novel of The Manuscript Found, which the author had from time to time, and in seperate portions, read over to them. John Spaulding, brother to Solomon, declared upon oath that his brother's book was an historical romance of the first settlers in America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of Jews, or the lost ten tribes. He stated that it gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem by land and by sea, till they arrived in America under the command of Nephi and Lehi; and that it also mentioned the Lamanites. He added that 'he had recently read the Book of Mormon, and, to his great surprlse, he found nearly the same historical matter and names as in his brother's writings. To the best of his recollection and belief, it was the same that his brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter.'

The widow of Solomon Spaulding afterwards married a Mr. Davison; and a statement, purporting to have been made by her in the following words, was published in a Boston newspaper in May, 1839: --

"As the Book of Mormon, or Golden Bible (as it was origlnally called) has excited much attention, and is deemed by a certain new sect of equal authority the Sacred Scriptures, I think 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 with its gross delusions, so that excommunication has been 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 abominations.

"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 on 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 were 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 an historical sketch of this long lost race. Their extreme antiquity led 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 neighbors. This was about the year 1812. Hull's surrender at Detroit occurred near the same time, and I recollect the date well 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. Spaulding progressed in deciphering the manuscript; and when he had 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 the work, and repeatedly heard the whole of it read. From New Salem we removed to Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania. Here Mr. Spaulding found a friend and acquaintance, in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper. He exhibited his manuscript to Mr. Patterson, who was very much pleased with it, and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it for a long time, and informed Mr. Spaulding 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. Spaulding refused to do. Sidney Rigdon, who has figured so largely in the history of the Mormons, was at that time connected with the printing-office of Mr. Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated, became acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, and copied it. 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, &c., where Mr. Spaulding 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 all been so deeply interested years before. Mr. John Spaulding was present 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 arose on the spot, and expressed in the meeting his sorrow and regret that the writings of his deceased 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, which was signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and others, with all of whom I was acquainted, as they were my neighbors when I resided at New Salem. I am sure that nothing would grieve my husband more, were he living, than the use which has 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 the authors exposed to the contempt and execration they so justly deserve.


Note: The date of the above article is uncertain. It evidently appeared on the front page of a mid-1920s issue of the Jefferson Gazette.


Vol. ?                             Cleveland, Ohio, Tuesday, March 15, 1927.                             No. ?


Jefferson Editor Makes His "Sanctum" Mecca for Americana.


[Edward C.] Lampson attended Western Reserve university for a time, but quit to edit the Gazette when his father, who owned the paper, was appointed reading clerk in the House of Representatives at Washington.

His newspaper instinct led him to inquire into the John Brown tradition...

Traces Mormons.

Lampson's researches also have convinced him that Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, stole his "Book of the Mormons" from Rev. Samuel [sic] Spaulding of Conneaut, O.

In 1812 Spaulding wrote a book called "The Manuscript Found," purporting to be a translation of a newly discovered Hebrew document. The book was published by one Patterson, of Pittsburgh, who had in his employ a printer named Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon became a preacher and went to Kirtland, where he "prophesied." Returning to Pittsburgh he met Joseph Smith and a little later Smith also went to Kirtland and founded his sect.

A woman missionary sent by Smith to Conneaut was openly accused of preaching Solomon Spaulding's fanciful doctrine....

A Queer Legacy

"I am packing a trunk for my great-great-grandson, as yet unborn. Into that I put autographs, books and documents and postage stamps I have a hunch will be valuable some day. If my hunch is good, the boy will be independently rich. If I had gone into the postage stamp game early enough I believe I could have made a million."

Lampson's most prized books include:

"Life and Travels of John Udell." Udell was a '49er who crossed the continent three times.

"Memoirs of Rev. Joseph Badger," 1801. Badger was the first clergyman in the Western Reserve, founding a church at Austinburg.

Note: See also Edward C. Lampson's c. 1925 article, "Mormon Bible Originated in Conneaut," as well as his related report, "The Indians and Mound Builders of Ashtabula Co."



Vol. ?                           Jefferson, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, ??, 1927                           No. ?


by John Kelley .


It was the Rev. Mr. Badger, a native of Connecticut, who on October 24, 1801, organized a Congregational church at Austinburg (Ashtabula Co.) which was the first religious society on the Western Reserve....

The Rev. Mr. Spaulding is credited with having written the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith appropriated to himself and told the world he translated the work from golden plates he found buried on a hillside in New York state...

Solomon Spalding... soon after his arrival at Conneaut... began the erection of a forge, or small foundry. There is a mound at Conneaut, which was the burial place of Indians who lived there long before Spaulding's arrival. Curiosity impelled Spalding to make an excavation in the mound and he found skeletons, pottery, metals, etc. It was the discovery of these relics, it is believed, that led him to write what he called the "Manuscript Found"...

... Solomon Spalding, who died as poor as a church mouse... wrote the Book of Mormon. Sidney Rigdon revised it and Joe Smith translated it... Smith... made several converts in Erie County (Pa.) and Ashtabula County while Kirtland was the headquarters of the Mormon church. There is a stream in the western part of Erie county that to this day is called Mormon Run, in which converts were immersed on joining the Latter Day Saints. Benjamin Soule... and his wife were the first converts in Erie....

The widow of a man named Rudd who settled in Springfield township at an early day joined Smith's colony in Kirtland...

Note 1: The exact date of this article is unknown. The text is taken from an undated clipping in the Conneaut Public Library.

Note 2: The "widow" mentioned in the text was Chloe Hills Rudd (1759-1836), the widow of John Rudd, Sr. She and two of her sons (John, Jr. and Erastus) joined the Mormons in 1832. In 1833 an LDS branch was formed in Springfield township, Erie. Co., Pennsylvania and the old Rudd homestead, a few miles east of Conneaut, Ohio, became the temporary headquarters of that congregation. The Rudd family members were all well acquainted with Solomon Spalding, having obtained the land for their farm from him before moving from Otsego Co., N. Y. to Erie Co., Pennsylvania. Spalding frequently visited with the Rudds, and with their neighbor immediately to the east, Mr. Oliver Smith. In 1833 Oliver Smith provided a statement of his reminiscences of Spalding to investigator D. P. Hurlbut. Members of the Mormon Rudd family apparently were not interested in providing Hurlbut with their own statements on this subject.

Note 3: Benjamin Soule and his wife may have been the "first converts" to the LDS Church "in Erie," but the place spoken of here is Erie borough, and not Erie County generally. Mr. Soule stayed in Pennsylvania when the Mormons moved to Missouri and Illinois. In later years he joined the RLDS Church. The 1840 U. S. Census shows him in Erie borough. He died at the age of 72, in January of 1865, in the town of Erie. See the Saints' Herald of June 1, 1865, page 175.


Vol. XLVI.                       Zanesville, Ohio, Wednesday, January 1, 1930.                       No. 1.

High Spots  in  Ohio  History
From Galbraith Collection


A rather imposing monument in the cemetery at Circleville marks the grave of a man who though notable enough in his day, needs an introduction to the present generation -- John Cradlebaugh. He was a native of that city, born in 1819; became a lawyer,and in 1852-53 represented that senatorial district in the legislature. In 1858 he took an active part in the campaign for James Buchanan and was rewarded by Buchanan by appointment as U. S. judge for the territory of Utah. In that capacity he greatly interested himself in trying to bring the persons guilty of the Mountain Meadow massacre to justice, but he did not have such support as he might expect from the president, and his efforts failed. There was a break between him and the president and the Civil war coming on. Cradlebaugh returned to Ohio and organizing the 114th Ohio Volunteers Infantry, commanded it. Receiving a bad wound in the mouth, his retirement was forced and he went west again, this time locating in Nevada, and was sent by that territory as its delegate to congress. He had hoped to be one of the new state's senators, but wealthy men from California put him out of the running. He died in Nevada in 1872, a poor man, his wound interfering with his speech so that he could never speak plainly again, and could not practice law.

His one term in the state senate was the only civil public service he ever rendered in this state. That legislature was the first to meet after the new state constitution went into effect and much of its work consisted in legislation to make the law fit the new fundamental law. It is interesting to note that a colleague in that legislature was Columbus' pioneer, Lot L. Smith, whom many stilll iving will remember for his rugged honesty and his long service as a justice of the peace.

It is interesting to note also by the record of the work of that legislature that as late as 1852 wolves were plentiful enough and destructive enough to warrant the enactment of a law placing a bounty of $4.25 on their scalps.

Note: See the Nevada State Journal of Feb. 24, 1872 for notice of Cradlebaugh's death in Nevada.


The  Times  Recorder
Vol. ?                       Zanesville, Ohio, Monday, September 21, 1936.                       No. 226.

From Galbraith Collection


Quick suspicion on the part of people living in Portage county in the early thirties led to the establishment of the first organization of the Mormon church in this state in Lake county (Kirtland) instead of at Hiram, in Portage county. In the winter of 1831, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon came from near Palmyra, N.Y., where they had been pushing their new religion in the face of some persistent opposition. They did have some success in getting converts to their religion at Hiram but presently it was rumored the the projectors of Mormonism were arranging it so that the property of their converts would pass into the hands of their new church.

Portage people were very sensitive about their property rights and this rumor started trouble for Smith and Rigdon. Incensed converts and outsiders went together to the house in which Smith and Rigdon were domiciled, seized them, stripped them and after administering a coat of tar and feathers, rode them on rails out of the county.

Note: This item was also published in the Sandusky Register of Sept. 22, 1936. Unfortunatly the late report adds no useful information to Mormon history -- other than the plausible assertion that "Portage people were very sensitive about their property rights," and thus were less supportive of the Mormon practice of total consecration, than perhaps some other early converts may have been.



Vol. ?                           Ashtabula Ohio, Aug. 18, 1940                           No. ?


Many believe, and historical evidence supports a claim that the original Mormon Bible was written by a Conneaut forge owner, Solomon Spaulding. Such origin, however, is disclaimed by adherents of the Mormon faith.

Solomon Spaulding, a regularly ordained minister, came to Conneaut from the east in 1809 and built a home and forge in the creek valley, where he lived for many years. He neglected his business to write a book and the family was reduced to dire want. Col Robert Harper was a friend of Mr. Spaulding and, in a communication to the Ashtabula Telegraph, printed in the issue of February 22, 1873, he stated that when he was a young man he spent much time in Conneaut and knew the Spauldings well.

He wrote:

"They lived in a long, low, shanty-like building of boards. In one end was his forge, and in the other he lived with his wife, and kept a kind of grocery store. I often spent evenings playing cards with the Spauldings, and once, when I asked for paper to wrap up the cards, Mrs. Spaulding gave me a leaf of manuscript, which she said was a piece of the doctor's novel about early races of residents in this vicinity."

A brother, John Spaulding, wrote that he had read the Book of Mormon, and that it was almost identical with the historical data in the work which Mrs. Spaulding referred to as the doctor's novel.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Thursday, June 12, 1941.                       No. ?

Kirtland's Mormon Temple and its Builders


50 Years Ago

Familiar with the region about the Mormon Temple at Kirtland, nearly 50 years ago I stood in the main auditorium on the ground floor. It was Sunday afternoon.Light from its windows illuminated the pillared hall. I believe I can describe that interior from memory and give my impressions of that first visit with the aid of a few facts since gathered.

I looked at the tiers of pulpits for their Melchisedec High priests at its western end. Mounting curved, white with heavy moulding, mystic gilt letters stood out from each panel. Behind me rose the pulpits of the lesser Aaronic priesthood.Once each could be surrounded with curtains and each difnitary was provided with two counselors during services,

I glanced at the eight columns along pews grooved by the horse plane of Brigham Young. Looking up, I saw crude roolers that once let down curtains dividing the congregation. The afternoon light gave the auditorium an ancient air, carrying back to the hour when the Mormons, populating the hills and valley of Kirtland, bowed in the worship of a religion given them by the angel, Moroni.


Above was a second auditorium with similar tiers of pulpits, pews, columns and curtains. This arrangement of a church adds a touch of mystery to the building. On the third floor, under the slanting roof with its dormer windows, were class rooms once used by a local high school. Huge timbers of the framing could be seen and standing alone in the partitioned garret you were conscious of a creepy sensation.

Ascending the tower to the balcony, nearly 100 feet above the ground, I beheld a scene almost pastoral. To the south stretched a ribbon of road to Chesterland and Aurora. At the left was the valley with its east branch of the Chagrin. Thought went back to the time when "thousands of Mormons" populated Kirtland.I could picture the village: the printing office, the Mormon store with many kinds of merchandise, the bank and the streets with rows of houses on the highland.

What was daily life in the town in those teeming years?Prophet Joseph Smith was treasurer of the Anti-Banking Co. Sidney Rigdon was secretary. The prophet was proprietor of the store and, in the words of Brigham Young, dealt out "frocks, boots and shawls to brothers and sisters of the church." Smith had made a trip to New York and stocked the store with $20,000 of goods. He trusted Mormons in sums ranging from $20 to $25 and up. In this way Young later said, it was "easy for us to trade away a first-rate stock of goods and be in debt for them."

Smith appeared in all gathering places. Fond of publicity, he talked readily of his prophecies and revelations Brigham Young, who built and decorated many of the houses, moved about the streets. The opposite of Smith and gifted with a sense of humor, he delighted in answering hard questions regarding the faith. Smith established a school at Kirtland to study Hebrew the he and his elders might read the Bible untranslated. It was in an 11-by-14 court room over his kitchen and Mr. Seixas from the seminary at Hudson was the teacher. Brethren came from hundreds of miles to attend. Often the place was filled with clouds of tobacco smoke. It was the prophet's revelation room and there he received a divine communication called "Words of Wisdom," advising against strong drink, tobacco, tea or coffee but allowing the use of "pure wine, of the grape of the vine, of your own make."

On Feb. 14, 1835, Brigham Young was ordained third of the Twelve Apostles at Kirtland. These were newly organized by Prophet Smith. Townspeople began to realize the advantages of prophecy and rival prophets sprang up. A 16-year-old boy, James Collins Brewster, wrote "The Book of Esdras," and almost founded a new cult by converting his family and neighbors.

Elder Sydney Roberts [sic], Martin Harris and First Counselor Sidney Rigdon claimed revelations. The first two were expelled for a while and the last, "delivered over to the buffetings of Satan."

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Tuesday, June 17, 1941.                       No. 168.

Early Days of the Mormons in Kirtland


Old Kirtland

At Kirtland, 20 miles from the Public Square as the crow flies, was established the first permanent settlement of the Mormons. In its valley and on its hills more than a century ago, was made the first strong stand of a new religion.

It was in the town of Kirtland, which modern roads have made almost a suburb of Cleveland, that the Prophet Joseph Smith of the Mormon Church, received many of his divine revelations. Here in an almost pioneer settlement of the Western Reserve, he saw God. This vision -- on Geb. 16, 1832, according to the prophet -- including Christ "sitting on the right hand," and an outline of three orders of eternal bliss. Accompanying revelations described celestial provisions for those that accepted the Mormon faith even after death, and admitted the Jews to salvation at a last resurrection.

First Arrivals

The first arrival of Mormons in this region has never been fully described. In October, 1830, four elders of the church -- Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, jr., appeared in Mentor. The last two were present six months before Joseph Smith organized his first congregation at Fayette, N. Y. At first designated by the prophet as "My Church." then called the Church of Christ," it encountered onstacles. Public prejudice and opposition led Smith and his followers to seek a permanent location in the west. "The Book of Mormon" had been published and through it ran an account of the Lamanites from whom the Indians west of the Mississippi could claim descent. Smith received a revelation to send elders to these tribes, to preach to them and found a church and city on "the borders by the Lamanites."

When the elders arrived in Mentor, the first house at which they called was that of Rev. Sidney Rigdon, a preacher who had located there about four years before. Their visit of several days, two as guests of Rigdon, his quick conversion to the Mormon faith, and his assistance in securing converts from a common-stock society at Kirtland was long the cause of controversy.

It seems that Parley Pratt, who had been a tin peddler and preacher of the same denomination as Rigdon, some time before resided at Amherst, O., and the two were acquainted before this Mentor meeting. As the Mormon religion grew and thousands joined the church, ministers and believers in orthodox creeds attacked the Mormon Bible, Enemies of the sect sprang up on every hand.

Pamphlets and books were written about "The Book of Mormon" claiming it was a complete fraud. Its strange origin -- its passages engraved on gold plates said to have been buried on Cumorah Hill (Mormon Hill), near Manchester, Ontario County, New York -- was examined into. The early life of Joseph Smith, Jr., discoverer of the plates was gone over. Denouncers of the Mormon Bible declared it the production of a shrewd scheme, covering several years, participated in by several, with Smith as leader. Claims were made that converts, some of whom became leaders in the Mormon church, had made the acquaintance of Smith while the book was in preparation and before any announcements of the new scriptures; that they were prepared to embrace the faith in a seeming voluntary way and influence others to join the belief.

One of the charges made by detractors of the Mormons is that Rev. Sidney Rigdon became their adherent while still preaching to Disciple congregations, and that he had made secret visits to Joseph Smith. They allege that the offhand stopping of the elders at Mentor was preconcerted, to start a Mormon colony at Kirtland, and establish the religion on the Western Reserve.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, June 18, 1941.                       No. 169.

How Sidney Rigdon Was Converted
to Mormonism



Sidney Rigdon suddenly converted to the Mormon faith at Mentor in 1830 by visiting e1ders, played a long and dramatic part in the fortunes of the sect that elevated him to a position almost equal to that of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. For nearly fifteen years he figured in its waves of prosperity and tragic occurrences. Twice sentenced to be shot by troops in religious clashes, he rose high in church councils. It is said that he prayed and wept at night on the walls of the Kirtland Temple that it might be completed. Ten years later, expelled from communion by the Mormons, he formed an organization of his own, published a paper attacking polygamy and lived until the mid '70s.

Thirty-seven years old when converted to the faith of Joseph Smith, his career had been varied. A Regular Baptist at 25, he became a preacher in Trumbull County and continued until called to the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh in 1821.

About two years later he disavowed its doctrmes, became a journeyman tanner and assisted in forming a sect known as "Campbellites" or Disciples. Later he resumed preaching at Bainbridge, Geauga County, 30 miles from Mentor.


Distinguished as a public speaker, he confined himself to no creed, but preached repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. Many attended his meetings. He was instrumental in building a thriving congregation at Mantua, Portage County. His doctrines were new and created excitement throughout the whole section.

It was a day of revivalists. Rigdon was an exhorter and the sober-minded began to ridicule his religious oratory. Receiving a call from a limited Baptist congregation at Mentor, he accepted. His sermons were non-sectarian and invitations to preach came from many directions. Churches were too small for his audiences and meetings were held in groves and woods where he addressed thousands amid scenes resembling great camp meetings. His preaching was unorthodox. He sought to throw new light on scriptural prophecies, the final gathering of Isael and the coming of the millenmum. Such was the position of Rigdon when, living with his wife, Phebe Brook[s] Rigdon, and six children in Mentor in the fall of 1830, he was called upon by Mormon elders.


Elder Parley Pratt says in one of his publications:

"We called on Elder S. Rigdon, and then, for the first time, his eyes beheld the 'Book of Mormon.' I myself had the happiness to present it to him in person. He was surprised and it was with much persuasion and argument that he was prevailed upon to read it."

Elders Cowdery and Pratt remained at Rigdon's house several days. They were granted permissian to address a Mentor congregation; a Mormon society was formed and 17 converts baptized. Rigdon in public debates and arguments at home resisted claims of the new faith. At length he went into seclusion for two days. When he emerged he declared he had received a revelation from heaven that Mormonism was true, and the next Sabbath, Rigdon and his wife were baptized by Cowdery. Thus strength was given this unexpected establishment of the Mormon Church in the region, and Within a short period 100 converts were made.

It was a day when many believed the millennium was at hand and in 1830 countless were convinced that it had dawned. A large part of the population of the Reserve were fired with the spirit of revivalism and Mormonism found a welcome.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Friday, June 20, 1941.                       No. 171.

First Mormon Converts


Early Days

Sidney Rigdon was baptized a Mormon on Nov. 14 [sic - 8th?], 1830, according to Mrs. Lyman Wight, whose husband was a member of a "common stock society," formed in Kirtland before the elders came to Mentor. She says that he was baptized in the "Shageen (Chagrin) River, at Kirtland."

John Barr, early historian and first judge of Cleveland's police court, witnessed a Mormon baptism.

In 1830, Barr, a deputy sheriff in Willoughby on business, went to Mayfield seven miles up the west branch of the Chagrin, to hear Cowdery and Rigdon preach on Mormonism. With Attorney Varnem J. Card, he started early Sunday morning on horseback along roads crowded with people. Services in the church were opened by Cowdery, who described the finding of the golden plates of Nephi -- the Mormon bible. He was followed by Rigdon, who delivered a long address.

His listeners were much affected and he inquired if any sought baptism. One arose, an aged man named Cahoon, who sometimes lived with the Shakers.

The place selected was a clear pool above the bridge with a rise of ground for the audience. Barr and Card stationed themselves on the east bank. The hour was fixed at 2 and long before the spot was surrounded by many people.

Rigdon entered the pool to the depth of about four feet, delivered an address and prayed, and Cahoon was immersed. Standing in the water, Rigdon started a powerful exhortation. The assembly was greatly affected and he called for converts. They came through the crowd in rapid succclISion and 30 were immersed with no interruption of Rigdon's oratory, As Barr and Card mounted their horses, the latter was pale and trembling. After riding a mile toward Willoughby, he confessed he had an irresistible impulse to be baptized.

During the elders' stay in the Mentor region, interest and excitement became general. Elder Pratt described this:

"People thronged us night and day, in so much that we had no time for rest or retirement. Meetings were convened in different neighborhoods and multitudes came together soliciting our attendance; while thousands flocked about us daily; some to be taught, some from curiosity, some to obey the gospel, and some to dispute or resist it."

But it was at Kirtland that interest and enthusiasm in the new faith concentrated. Lyman Wight, elder, missionary, high priest and member of the high council proved an important figure in the founding of the church.

Living in Warrensville, he came to Kirtland early in 1830 and with Isaac Morley started a "common-stock family." All things were held in common and all farming was by united labor. Wight moved into Morley's house and eight other families soon joined the society. Work progressed and all began to feel the millennium was close at hand. Five families in Mayfield decided to join. As the group owned a good farm and mills, it was decided to establish a branch there and Wight was given charge. He was nearly ready to start -- in fact had half his goods on a wagon when Elders Pratt, Cowdery. Whitmer and Peterson appeared. Dignified and good natured, they sought to interest him in the Mormon bible. The meeting proved so absorbing the that it was sundown before Wight got away and night before he arrived at his new home. He thought the Mormons would soon depart westward, but in the seven weeks they remained Wight says they baptized the whole common stock family.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, June 23, 1941.                       No. ?

Sidney Rigdon and the Early Mormon Church


In 1830

In the two months that the Mormon elders -- Pratt, Peterson, Cowdery and Whitmer -- remained around Mentor, they visited Sidney Rigdon and ordained him an elder. During the autumn weeks the missionaries were there, they went from house to house exhibiting their Bible and making converts throughout the fall of 1830 -- even into the winter -- crowds visited Kirtland where the religious excitement centered Baptismal rites were celebrated and a Mormon congregation formed. On Sundays, roads were thronged with people in vehicles, on horseback, out on foot, pressing forward to learn particulars of the new faith.

The country round was still a pioneer region and many, living practically in the woods, were susceptibl to new religions. Baptists and Disciples, Shakers and Universalists, started religious waves with their doctrines. Even the thoughtful became confused and thousands sought relief in revival encampments where hundreds moved to and fro, preaching, praying for mercy and praising God. It did not require great belief for them to accept a new creed and new Bible.

Sidney Rigdon's conversion to the Mormon faith gave the church powerful support and is said to have converted a large part of his Mentor congregation. Rev. Ezra Booth, a leading Methodist divine of Mantua, Rev. Symonds Ryder, a Disciple minister of note; Dr. Frederick G. Williams of Mentor Township, and Newel K. Whitney, a well known merchant of Kirtland, joined the Mormons and the movement gained force.

In Mentor

Where did Elder Rigdon reside in Mentor 110 years ago? The only record of his home, written 75 years later, says that he lived in a small unfinished frame house scarcely capable of making his family comfortable. Famous far and wide as an orator and student of the Scriptures. His humble dwelling was pointed out as showing that his mind was not set upon things of a worldly nature. First an ordained Baptist minister, he became an eloquent Disciples preacher, a doctrine promoted by himself and Alexander Campbell. When he came to Mentor, he converted a small congregation to this faith and built a church. Campbell called him "the great orator of the Mahoning Association."

In 1829, Rigdon made a determined effort to graft a "common stock of goods" and a "community of interests" upon the Disciples. Failing through the efforts of Campbell -- the two debated the subject at Austintown in 1830 -- he gradually withdrew from the Disciples. He had for some time been preaching an undefined doctrine, causing his followers to be called Rigdonites. At the height of his sway in the Mentor region, his congregation decided to provide him with a suitable residence. A farm was bought "in a beautiful situation" in the township and a house was started. Whether it was completed or not, is uncertain as the account says, "that he was soon to see the prospect blasted and himself and family reduced to a more humble situation than before."

The Elders Arrive

Mormon elders arrived at Mentor in the fall of 1830. Quoting from their church history, it says that Kirtland was "about two miles from Elder Rigdon's home. As the village is four miles in a straight line southwesterly from Mentor, this makes Rigdon's home, at that time, about two miles from the latter place. At Kirtland, he had already established a small church, its members having adopted his communistic way of living.

Orator of no uncommon abilities, Rigdon was of medium height. weighing 212 pounds. Round of face, cleanly shaven, his action and gestures were graceful. Exerting great influence over an audience with clear and musical speech, he possessed an imagination wild to extravagance. Counted a mighty man in Israel, of ungoverned ambition, no divine in the west was considered more learned in history. After his conversion, early in December Rigdon made a formal visit to Joseph Smith, jr., in New York State. In two monthes he returned with the [prophet].

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Saturday, June 28, 1941.                       No. ?

When the Mormons Came to Kirtland


In 1831

In late January, 1831, Prophet Joseph Smith, jr., with his wife, Emma Hale Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge set out from Fayette, N. Y., for Kirtland, arriving about Feb. 1. This was in obedience to a revelation received by Smith a month before. They stopped at the frame combination home, store and postoffice of Newel K. Whitney in Kirtland Village. There were several churches, a brick hotel, the near-by common-stock family of nearly 100, and a scattered town. In the words of the prophet, the party "were kindly received and welcomed into the house of Brother Whitney. I and my wife lived in the family of Whitney several weeks."

In three days a revelation to Smith called the Mormons to assemble in prayer -- law was to be given governing the church spiritually and financially and Edward Partridge was appointed its first bishop as "Bishop of Zion." His residence was to be in a city called Zion -- a sort of New Jerusalem -- which the Mormons intended to found in the west. Ten months later, Newel Whitney was made Bishop of Kirtland and instructed to report to Bishop Partridge.

The common-stock family, now called a branch of the church in the Lord's vineyard, began to increase rapidly. Prophet Smith has recorded how he found them striving to do God's Will, though he says some strange notions and false spirits had crept in. He adds that with a little caution and wisdom, he assisted them to abanndon the plan of of "common-stock," and aided by revelations, to discern the spiritual hobgoblins and drive them out. Hardly a week after his arrival on Feb. 9, 1831, a revelation governing the church was given in the presence of 12 elders. Its many commandments are in print today. Some are similar to some of the Ten Commandments. Polygamy and all manner of wickedness are forbidden. Its sections should be read to understand the governing creed of the entire church for the next 15 years or more. It might be said that this was the first announcement of the doctrines of the Mormons and that the real spiritual founding of the church was at Kirtland.

The second passage directed that the elders, except Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, should go forth preaching the Mormon gospel, two by two, lifting up their voices, baptizing and saying: "Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." As this meant starting on foot without money, literally working their way, it seemed an arduous task. But missionaries went east, west, north and south, making converts, baptizing and organizing churches. The spring of 1831 saw Kirtland populated by a thousand newcomers of the faith. On March 6, a revelation commanded all elders and members to leave the east. Not long after they began to arrive in Kirtland in companies, families and individuals, creating an unsettled condition. Some were people of wealth and every building, house and barn was used to shelter them.

On June 6, 1831. the first general conference was convened at Kirtland, consisting of all the elders who could be gathered from various parts of the country. Smith addressed them with a powerful speech and there were strange manifestations of false spirits which were immediately rebuked.

Followed a long series of incidents and happenings, in the up-building and development of the town while it was the Mormons'. seat of church government. Within three years, missionaries established congregations in nearly all the northern and middle states, and some in the southern, with baptisms from 30 to 130 in each place.

Kirtland was known as a "stake of Zion," as each settlement was called during the Mormon struggles to establish a central city in Missouri.

The early names of the church were changing, and at a council on May 4, 1834, the religion was given the official title of "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

A large part of the sect refused to follow Brigham Young west of the Mississippi in 1846, and these formed the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. 100.                       Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday, November 9, 1941.                       No. ?

Ohio Songs and Citizens
Rambles in the Buckeye State's Mormonland

By Grace Goulder

September has its ripened fruit
October's leaves are gay;
November is an empty month
And an its days are gray.
  -- From November, a child's poem, by Louisa J. Brooker.
He was leaning over a box of type in his tiny print shop that sets back from the road in the meadows beside the imposing old Mormon Temple at Kirtland, O. The shop is on the site of the historic Lane-Shine Printing House that was opened in 1833, the year the basement of the temple was dug. Today's printer there is Ernest Webb, born in England. where his grandparents heard "the word of the prophet" carried on the lips of missionaries coming from this very spot and bringing doctrinal literature printed in the old shop.

Mr. Webb stopped his work and we visited a bit, standing in the doorway. It was a gray November day, a touch of summer lingering in the air, the tiny settlement very quiet, with nothing about it to recall the dissensions that once seethed here and followed the faithful as they went west from this Ohio town that was their New Jerusalem, an earthly paradise.

Oliver Cowdery, a blacksmith who turned printer following his conversion, with one Phelps, were the proprietors of the old shop. They printed the second edition of "The Book of Mormon" and got out a newspaper twice a day [sic] called the "Morning and Evening Star." Mr. Webb is one of the Latter Day Saints, a term used more often than Mormon by the church members, the word "saint" denoting no sanctification. He prints church literature. but is a commercial artisan, too. He is much interested in the past of the place, and early printing, being by inheritance a printer. In his fine collection of old engravings and wood blocks is a cut of his father showing him at work as a young man in a London print shop.

Printer Webb hopes to install an old hand press and fix up a corner of his work room to reproduce the old shop as it was in the days when Sidney Rigdon, intimate of Joseph Smith, lived across the road in the quaint white house with its two-story veranda, now a community center called in his honor, Rigdon House.

It is easy to picture Rigdon, slight of stature, intellectual in appearance, whose early career, by the way, started in a printing house, hurrying across the road, then Chillicothe Road, now, Route 306, a sheaf of papers in his thin fingers, ready for the printer. Rigdon, scholar and orator as he undoubtedly was, had a tempestuous time of it after joining the Mormons, accused variously by his and the sect's enemies as being the real author of "The Book of Mormon; of overt ambition for leadership and personal gain, and finally of being largely responsible for the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, the repercussions which forced him, together with Joseph Smith, to flee to Missouri in 1838.

I have been told more than once, and always supposed it to be true, that the bank had been diagonally opposite the old store, where a brick house now stands, on the crossroads down in Kirtland flats. This is a little north of the temple. The east branch of the Chagrin River cuts in here to make fine sites for the several busy mills that the Mormons onerated. Mr. Webb, however, thinks the bank was in one part of the store. This old landmark still stands, its square pilasters and many-paned windows proclaiming its age. It is a restaurant now and it shuuld be preserved and plaqued for posterity.

Joseph Smith himself and his clever wife Emma, who served so often as his amanuensis, made their home here at one time, and here their son Joseph was born. The storekeeper in the old days was Newell K. Whitney, the only one of a large family to be converted to the new faith, a step strenuously opposed by his Methodist preacher father, Rev. Samuel Franklin Whitney, who was a circuit rider known in the 1820s from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River. His saddle bags are in the President Garfield Museum in Mentor, and his granddaughter, Mrs. W. E. Eddy, lives not far away on Route 20. Rev. Mr. Whitney built the first Methodist church in North Mentor, on what is now Black Brook Road, supplying not only his own labor in the undertaking but stone from a quarry on his land, and lumber from his woods. The present church is believed to have been rebuilt from the original.

Newell Whitney apparently inherited his father's ability, for he rose to be a bishop, and to him reports were sent back by the Mormons as they moved westward on their missionary journeys. I saw one of these letters, written in November, 1838. from Jacksonville, Ill., during the peak of Mormon trouble. The signature, a little difficult to decipher, looks like "John Garrett."

"In the everlasting covenant," he writes of the attack by Missouri mobs; of seeing "Brother Patten," presumably Capt. (Fear Not) David Patten, killed; of the Missouri governor sending "troops on horseback to disperse" the Mormons; of others "hiding in a blacksmith shop and firing out of the cracks in the wail"; of "Brother Young probably Brigham. "carrying out a flag of truce and surrendering."

It is a fact that just a month before the letter was written and Mormons were quelled by militia. Smith and Rigdon were arrested and charged with treason, their followers, 15,000 strong, forced to flee to Illinois, the writer among them evidently. "They tell me," the firm old script in its yellow but still clear ink, continues. "the mobs won't let a team go west of the Mississippi for fear it be Mormon," and they search all "waggons and take their guns." But this has not discouraged the Honest in Heart, and they are "planning to go on."

Religion, romance, and adventure... all linked with a little settlement at an Ohio crossroads.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                       Cleveland, Ohio, March 5, 1950.                       No. ?

Ohio Scenes and Citizens.

Old Manuscript by Conneaut Pastor, Which Mormons Resented.
Now Rests Behind Locked Doors in Oberlin College Library.

By Grace Goulder.

OLIVER COWDERY, (left), who prepared all the Book of Mormon for the printer and swore that he saw the golden plates from which it was said to have been translated, thus denying the allegation that Rev. Spaulding could have inspired the Mormon "Bible." Prof. Kirke K. Cowdery (right), who taught French at Oberlin until his death a few years ago, was a non-Mormon great nephew of Oliver Cowdery.

In the dignified and inviting library of Oberlin College, Oberlin, O., the most famous volume is a battered manuscript that has been the cause of bitter controversy for more than a century. Kept securely behind locked doors, is a novel written about 1810 by Rev. Solomon Spaulding, Conneaut, O. For years it has been tagged by non-Mormons as the basis of the Book of Mormon, a claim violently denied by all followers of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

It is an innocent-appearing document, without a title, the difficult script faded almost to illegibility. The Oberlin Library has had it bound carefully in fine leather, and prefers that the many persons who come to study it use the photostatic copy. Looking at it, one is amazed that it could have stirred such heated invectives and such ardent advocates. Sermons, books, quantities of paper and ink, as well as hours of earnest scholarly research have been expended on it alike by the Latter Day Saints themselves and by "Gentiles" -- the Mormon name for all outside their sect.

For all this probing search-light, mystery still clings alluringly to the old pages, and people like myself always are turning up asking to see it -- while I was handling it, a long distance telephone call came to Librarian Julian S. Fowler, its custodian, from a man in Philadelphia, who was planning a special trip to Oberlin. to study it. Mr. Fowler, like most of :those who have gone into the story in late years, believes with the Mormons, that it could not have been the inspiration for their Book of Mormon, their "bible" that Joseph Smith insisted had come to him on golden tablets he found buried in the 1820s in Palmyra, N. Y.

Such sober disclaimers cannot rob the book of its fascinating history, its long connection with the Mormons and the points of resemblance between it and the Mormon work. Though originating along Conneaut Creek, which Author Spaulding. spells "Coneaught," Oberlin College obtained the manuscript 75 years later in Honolulu. The college's president, James H. Fairchild, was visiting L. L. Rice, a former Painesville and Oberlin resident. They were sorting. out Rice's papers, searching for anti-slavery material when they came upon a package containing about 175 loose pages, labeled "Writings of Solomon Spaulding." Rice had not realized he had the work. Spaulding's name was famous, made so by a Painesville newspaper man, E. D. Howe, whose plant, it happened, Rice had bought. In 1835 [sic] Howe wrote an anti-Mormon book, its main argument being that the. foundation for the Book of Mormon was not the golden plates as Joseph Smith claimed, but an unpublished novel by Spaulding. Howe based his statements on testimony of neighbors who swore that Spaulding had read many passages of his book to them, which were similar to; the Book of Mormon which came out later.

Spaulding had died in 1816 and Howe made contact with Spaulding's widow, hoping to locate that manuscript. She did send him one of her husband's manuscripts, which Howe, when he examined it, realized did not resemble the Book of the Mormon closely enough to be the work he sought. That one, he concluded was lost, and he went ahead and put: out his book anyway. It received wide attention since it bolstered the strong trends of Mormon persecution developing in Ohio at that time. Fairchild and Rice knew all this, and concluded they had come upon the missing Spaulding writing that Howe had looked for. News dispatches gave the story wide circulation, calling the old novel the "Manuscript Found." Closer scrutiny of the quarto convinced President Fairchild that it differed too radically in style and subject matter to have been the basis for the Mormon work. But no matter. The name, Manuscript Found, persisted, probably because actually there are some startling points of resemblance. Spaulding, much interested in Indian and Mound Builder lore, confides to the reader that he "discovered" the original text in a golden [sic] box hidden deep in a tunnel which he stumbled upon when excavating a mound near his Conneaut home. (Joseph Smith had found his plates buried too.) The writing was in Latin -- Smith's tablets were in what he termed "reformed" Egyptian hieroglyphics. The tale is about a Roman, Fabius, living in the time of the Emperor Constantine. Fabius, Spaulding imparts, hid the chronicle that recounts the Roman's experiences with the Indians after he and his companions landed here in, a storm -- their destination had been Great Britain. The Book of-the Mormon is about Christ's coming, after His resurrection, to bring the gospel to the American Indians, the record of those events preserved for 400 years in golden plates that a descendant of those aborigines, one Mormon, handed down to his son, the angel Moroni. It was Moroni who hid the plates near Joseph Smith's home in New York State, and led him t o them in a vision. Beyond these points the similarity ends. The so-called Manuscript Found is not written in the biblical language of the Book of Mormon and has none of the characters that appear in it.

Particularly interested and well informed about the Spaulding manuscript is one Oberlin resident, Mrs. Kirke L. Cowdrey, 184 Woodland Avenue. Her husband, until his death a few years ago, was a long-time French professor at the college. He was a grandnephew of Oliver Cowdrey, by whose hand nearly all of the printer's copy of the Book of Mormon was written. Prof. Cowdrey, from a line that never espoused Mormonism, spent much time in Mormon research, following the footsteps of the Cowdreys and the Smiths from their birth places, both in Vermont, on through New York, Ohio, the Middle West, Utah and the Southwest into every spot in this country where Mormonism flourished. Mrs. Cowdrey accompanied him on these journeyings, which became a kind of hobby for them both. I found her in the sunny bay window of her living room, surrounded by luxuriously blooming African violets and blue-flowered morning glory vines climbing up the curtains. She showed me her husband's collection of Mormon papers, among these a deed from a local farmer, bearing Oliver Cowdrey's signature, for land given Joseph Smith where the Kirtland Temple. now stands. Oliver, about Joseph's age, came under the "prophet's" spell when he went to teach school near Palmyra, and the two baptised. each other, Oliver becoming the second convert. Oliver, along with Smith; was the only one permitted to see God in person in blinding spectacle during temple dedication rituals -- this according to Smith's journal. Oliver broke with the prophet . following the failure of the Mormon bank at Kirtland, but later he rejoined the. sect. His greatest fame rests on the fact that he is one of the Three Witnesses whose testimony that they saw the sacred tablets, is carried in the front of every Book of Mormon -- a refutation of any claims for Spaulding. How annoyed Oliver would be to know that: the queer old Spaulding document is getting all this care and attention in Oberlin's Library!

Note 1: The above article was published on two pages in the Plain Dealer's "Periodical Magazine," and distributed with the paper for March 5, 1950. The article, as published, also features photos of Mrs. Kirke Cowdery and Oberlin Librarian Julian S. Fowler, as well as one of the Spalding manuscript.

Note 2: Goulder's article contains a numer of small errors. The most noteworth of them is that she thought many people believed that the Oberlin Spalding manuscript served as the basis for the Book of Mormon. Very few published writers have ever advocated such a nation, though the LDS and RLDS apologists very often tried to make it appear as though anti-Mormons were advocating this idea. In fact, from 1834 forward, the great majority of non-Mormons who have written upon the subject have advanced the claim that Solomon Spalding wrote another, entirely different, fiction story which served as the core text for the first book of Mormon scripture. Goulder also errs in providing only a couple of thematic resemblances betwen the Book of Mormon story and the Oberlin story. There are numerous other textual similarities between the two works, and on this basis alone several researchers have concluded that Spalding wrote parts of the Mormon volume.

Note 3: Oliver Cowdery's LDS biographer, Stanley R. Gunn, met and interviewed Professor Kirke L. Cowdery, prior to the Professor's death. See Gunn's 1962 book, Oliver Cowdery, Second Elder and Scribe, for more on Kirke L. Cowdery.

Note 4: For an account of how the Oberlin manuscript was preserved at the College, five decades previous to Goulder's visit, see "Solomon Spaulding Manuscript," in the May 26, 1900 issue of the Salt Lake City Deseret News.

Note 5: Professor Kirke L. Cowdery probably did not find employment at Oberlin College totally by accident. A senior professor at the college, (and for many years its president) was the Rev. Dr. James H. Fairchild. Fairchild had family ties to Benjamin Franklin Cowdery, a cousin of Oliver Cowdery and a cousin to Kirke's grandfather, Lyman (who was Oliver Cowdry's brother). Thus it was that Kirke Cowdery was a not too distant relative of James H. Fairchild. For more information on ties between the Fairchilds of Oberlin and the Cowdery family, see the notes attached to the online text of William B. Fairchild's 1845 article, "Mormonism and the Mormons."


Vol. ?                           Elyria, Ohio, July 12, 1958.                           No. ?

3 Elyria Churches Pioneer in Religious
Life of Village

By Grace H. Tulk

What kind of a place was Elyria where religion was concerned at the time of its incorporation in 1833?

Here was a frontier area, a community of some 700 persons in the part of Connecticut Western Reserve which was still unbroken forest when Ohio came into the Union in 1803....

In general the people here were not much different from those in the east where religion was concerned. There were, of course, some who held fast to the stern principles of their New England Pilgrim forefathers but, for the most part, a "take it or leave it" attitude had developed among the many.

New York Revivals

West from Vermont and along the Mohawk in New York State where the influx of New England settlers had preceded that in the Western Reserve, such indifference led to a great religious revival in the early 1830's. Spear-heading the movement was Charles Vrandison Finney, lawyer turned preacher, who later became a president of Oberlin College.

Hypnotic, dynamic, arresting, Finney with the persistence of an Old Testament prophet took his "new measures" revivals into the various areas. Hostile audiences he met first with denouncement, then with pleading and everywhere he achieved phenomenal success.

From New York State the dispersive spirit of revival spread back into New England and even into the growing metropolis, New York City, called by a well known preacher of the day the "head-quarters of Satan." More important to the history of Elyria, however, was the fact that many Finney followers felt the call to the religion-poor frontier area to the west....

One notable frontier orator in those days of "skepticism and bigotry" was Alexander Campbell. Alarmed over the increasing development of sects due to doctrinal differences, Campbell implored his listeners to return to the ways of the very early followers of Jesus, suggesting they take the name of "Christian" as the followers of Christ were first called at Antioch. This effort at unity led to the development of the church body known in various areas as the Disciples of Christ, the Church of Christ, or the Christian Church. His followers, too, found their way into the Elyria area.

From New York State in this period the Mormons came west to the Kirtland area. They spread their teachings into surrounding areas and there is evidence that some of it reached Lorain County.

"Elyria Disciples"

For facts about the third church group in those days, the best source is the first chapter of a history of the Washington Avenue Church of Christ, "Elyria Disciples," written in 1956 by Dr. Henry K. Shaw, then minister of the church.

Calling the chapter "Forgotten Pioneers of a Forgotten Church," Dr. Shaw wrote:

"In 1829, twelve years after the first settlers came to Elyria, two youthful Baptist preachers who had been influenced by the religious views of Alexander Campbell, were preaching in this small community. This was one year prior to the formal separation of Baptists and Dsciples. These freelance preachers were Matthew Clapp and Sidney Rigdon. Clapp was a brother-in-law of Alexander Campbell. Rigdon, who didn't stay with the Disciples for long, is better known for his connection with the Mormon movement.

"At this time Clapp was challenged to a public debate in defense of the faith. His challenger was Joel Tiffany who is described as a shrewed, accomplished, and eloquent attorney.... Following the debate which was probably the first of its kind in the community, Tiffany is reported to have said, 'That is the last time I will ever stand in opposition to the Christian religion.'

40-Member Group

"Three years later, in 1832, other ministers of the Disciples made their appearance in Elyria. They were A. B. Green, William Moody. William Hayden, and R. Jones. A congregation was formed with 40 members among whom were Herrick Parker, H. Reddington, Ashael Parmley, and Dr. Butler. Judson D. Benedict, Lorain County prosecutor, became one of the early converts..."

Note 1: Matthew S. Clapp was one of the first Campbellites to write anything substantial regarding the Mormons in Ohio. See his letter to editor Eber D. Howe, in the Feb. 15, 1831 issue of the Painesville Telescope.

Note 2: Early Mormon activities in and around Elyria were not well documented. One local newspaper, the Lorain Gazette, published a small piece in its issue for May 21, 1830, and a news report concerning Parley P. Pratt appeared in a Dec. 1830 issue of the Milan Free Press, but the other area newspaper, The Huron Reflector, is not known to have published any local news about the Mormons in Ohio.

Note 3: Dr. William H. Whitsitt, who researched the life of Sidney Rigdon, had a special interest in the early Mormons of Lorain and Huron counties -- see his mention of this in his Feb. 16, 1886 letter to Oberlin College President James H. Fairchild.


Vol. ?                       Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday, December 27, 1964.                       No. ?

tar, feathers and revelation


It is a startling chapter in Ohio annals, the violent happenings in the shiny white house that so tranquilly faces Pioneer Trail on the edge of Hiram. Though face-lifting camouflages its age, the house is full of years. Events that make it world famous took place in it in 1831, when the young Joseph Smith was launching his new religion, Mormonism. Old, too, is the road in front that wanders leisurely west to Aurora along a scenic ridge, a route followed by frontiersmen and before them by Indians and buffalo.

The front door was opened at our knock by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Quinney, who greeted us cordially in the unmistakable accent of Yorkshire. Their home, however, was no longer England but Bountiful, Utah, they told us. They were missionaries, they explained, Latter Day Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ, better known as Mormons. They had come from Salt Lake City headquarters, at their own expense, to take charge of the old house now owned by the western church.

The Quinneys referred to it as Revelation House, the name on the dooryard sign. It is so called because here during the winter and spring of 1831-32 Founder and Prophet Smith compiled important revelations and gospel revisions, thereby coming near to martyrdom at the hands of a midnight mob. Consequently, this out-of-the-way spot has become a mecca for the devout who are welcomed every day, for the house is open throughout the year. In the past few months alone, 1,000 pilgrims from 40 states and from across the sea have found their way to this shrine.

The Quinneys launched at once into the house's history. Its story is new to them, but up and down Pioneer Trail it has been told and retold with variations and interpolations ever since fanatics besieged the house in the first of the many acts of persecution the Mormons were to suffer.

"If these walls could speak, what stories they could tell!" Mrs. Quinney began reverently ns she piloted us about. Before the cavernous fireplace in the center room the Prophet doubtless warmed himself many a time during that exceptionally cold winter when wind rattled shutters and sealed thresholds with snow. He drank from the well in the kitchen lean-to. It is now glass-enclosed and still the water supply, though equipped with an electric pump in place of the ancient bucket that hangs above it.

Otherwise the spotless interior, like the outside, is so restored as to belie its early Ohio origin. Carpets and furnishings in pristine modem design from Utah church workrooms suggest nothing of Ohio pioneer life or of objects familiar to Joseph Smith.

An exception, the Quinneys would have us believe, is the bedroom at the top of steep stairs where Smith did most of his work. With pride they pointed to the bed, the marble-topped table and dresser they said, confidently, were the very ones he had used. However, these pieces of elaborately carved walnut "are of a definitely Victorian vintage. Obviously of a later era than Smith's. The inaccuracy is less important than the fact, so significant to his followers, that this is the room where he received his messages "direct from our Father in Heaven," as the Quinneys put it.

These revelations, 15 in all, are spread on the walls of a downstairs room, probably once the parlor. Above the simple, classic mantel are blown-up likenesses of Smith and his close associates, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams. The latter printed the revelations in his shop at Kirtland. later becoming president of the Mormon bank there in a futile effort to avert its failure.

Sometime before Smith's fruitful, though turbulent stay here Fanner John Johnson had built the house and moved his family from the log cabin across the road where he had homesteaded. A frame house was a symbol of success and prosperity. But all was not well with Johnson. His wife. Mary, was impeded by a paralyzed arm that she was unable to move, a serious liability in a farm family wife.

Word was seeping into this part of Portage County of strange new religion, Mormonism, taking root in Kirtland. 30 miles or so away. Its prophet, Smith, some claimed. had power to heal the sick. Johnson. a good Methodist, first scoffed but finally took Mary, and with Ezra Booth, a respected Methodist minister of nearby Mantua, and Mrs. Booth, called on Prophet Smith in Kirtland.

Like all who came in contact with Joseph Smith, they were struck by the charm and magnetism of this handsome giant. Following conversation about Bible miracles and Mrs. Johnson's afliction, Smith touched her withered arm and intoned solemnly something to the effect: ''In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to be whole." Mary Johnson, to everyone's amazement, immediately lifted her arm. On return home the next day she was seen hanging out a full line of wash, accomplishing it without difficulty.

The Booths and Johnsons joined the new sect. Johnson, thankful for his wife's renewed usefulness, offered Smith the hospitality of his home. Smith, needing a quiet retreat for study, accepted gratefully. Kirtland was seething with activity; converts were coming on foot and horseback whole families arriving in covered wagons; land was changing hands. Establishing a new religion, Smith was discovering, presented distracting problems. Hiram offered a welcome respite.

Smith brought his wife, Emma, and their adopted babies, the Murdock twins, boy and girl. Assisting Smith in his compilations was the scholarly Rigdon, who was assigned the vacant cabin.

Through the long winter they worked diligently. Two days be for e Christmas (1831) occurred Smith's 26th birthday anniversary although his poise and dignity gave him an older air. As months dragged on there were murmurings from the Johnson sons who were to leave the Mormon fold. Perhaps four extra persons in a household were becoming a burden, especially when complicated by the twins developing measles.

Furthermore, antipathy to the new doctrine was growing among orthodox churchmen of the community, including Booth, who had apostasized. One bitter night in March a handful of townspeople broke into the Johnson home. Smith, who had fallen asleep in weary vigil over one of the twins, was dragged through the entrance door, now always pointed out to visitors. Rigdon was pulled from his cabin. Both men were stripped covered with warm tar and rolled in feathers ripped from their bolsters.

Rigdon, delicate and defenseless, was hauled face down and senseless over the frozen ground and left beside Smith in a field bordering on Pioneer Trail this little area, recently purchased by the Utah church is now a memorial plot ringed with evergreens.

Rigdon was weeks recovering. One of the twins wandering outside during the fracas developed a dim and shortly died. The robust Smith was able to stagger back to the house, where Emma worked until dawn picking the tar off his body. Next day, Sunday, the Prophet, immaculately groomed and serene, astonished his tormentors by conducting his usual service -- with not a mention of the previous night's affair.

However, he and his companions left Hiram forever. The Johnsons the following spring (1833) moved to the fledgling Mormon colony in Missouri, selling their farm to a family by the name of Stevens.

One of this clan, Mrs. Bernie Monroe, who had inherited the property, was living here on my first visit to the house some years ago, before its acquisition by the Mormons. I arrived at her doorstep a chilly day in spring. Mrs. Monroe, who was lifting newly baked bread from her oven, assured me it was indeed, as I thought, the house that had harbored Joseph Smith. She invited me in, cut a piece of the warm bread for me and spread it liberally with soft butter. Afterward she took me upstairs to see the bedroom. It had the same furniture that is in it today.

Mrs. Monroe, who sold the house and its extensive farm to the Utah church, now lives in a new house across the road. I stopped by to see her on this trip and found her, not making bread, but making applesauce and canning peaches. She confirmed my suspicions of the bedroom furniture. It had been a wedding gift, she said, to Mr. and Mrs. James Stevens, cousins of her mother and occupants of the house years after Smith's day.

But no matter about the bed, the dresser and the table, she insisted. She had met a great many Saints coming to pay their respect to the house while she lived in it.

"Some come to see me now," she added. "While I'm not one of them I never knew a finer lot of people."

And Mormons reciprocate. They presented her with a framed illuminated testimonial, acknowledging her gracious hospitality while she was mistress of the historic Revelation House.

Note: See also on-line feature: "Elder Sidney Rigdon's 'Hiram Period.'"


The  Sunday  Times  Recorder
Vol. ?                                 Zanesville, Ohio,  Sunday,  July 6, 1969.                                No. ?

Conducted Meetings in Front of Courthouse

Bearded  Prophet  Visited
Zanesville  in  1817


A prophet with a long beard and flowing robe pounded his shepherd's staff on the ground with every step as he walked down Zanesville's Main street in 1817. Like all his followers in wagons and on foot he wore a bearskin girdle as a symbol of his sect.

The members of this fanatical band cited scripture to prove that they would never die, and they claimed divine authority to practice free love.

Turning south on Fifth street from Main, the followers of this self-styled "second Moses" and "high priest" pitched their tents at the southwest corner of Locust alley and Fifth street. The Zanesville Federal Savings & Loan Building is located there today.

AFTER PITCHING camp they held a meeting in front of the old Courthouse. The men spoke in "unknown tongues" and the women worshipped by lying face downward on the ground and threshing their arms.

These religious fanatics called themselves Vermont Pilgrims. Their leaders heard the voice of God in lower Canada in the summer of 1817. There they administered "by command of the Lord" a decoction of poisonous bark to an infant. The child died and they were placed on trial for murder. They quickly departed from Canada. Coming south to Woodstock, Vermont, they held meetings and added several proselytes to their number. All new members "assumed the girdle of bearskin" while the Prophet mumbled in a "foreign tongue."

FROM VERMONT the Pilgrims traveled south through New Jersey, [West] Virginia and Eastern Ohio to Zanesville. Under the direction of "the spirit of God" they were headed for the town of Pike on Derby Creek. But they remained in Zanesville about two weeks in November, 1817. That was long enough for them to make a strong impression on the community and to leave a fantastic page of local folklore. Boys and men gathered around the south Fifth street camp. They were fascinated with the power of the Prophet named Ballard [sic - Bullard?] over his converts.

ONE ACCOUNT said of the Prophet,
"He rejects surnames, and abolished marriage, and always has his followers cohabit promiscuously. The men eat their food in an erect posture, and the women, when they pray, prostrate themselves on the ground with their faces downwards."

"They frequently did penance for sins, and seem to make uncleanliness a virtue. They allege that their Prophet has not changed his clothes for seven years."

Zanesville boys listened to the "hof Latin" of these fanatics and watched their queer actions. Then they taunted them by singing this doggerel:
"Hark, hark, the dogs do bark,
  The Pilgrims have come to town,
Some in rags and some in tags,
  And some in durty gowns."

ADULTS WERE SHOCKED by the teachings of the Pilgrims. When the band of 30 or 40 fanatics arrived here, the Zanesville "Express" said: "Their object, they say, is the good of mankind. Their Prophet announces that he has the power of casting out devils and that he intends shortly to commence business." The editor concluded that if the Prophet possessed the power he claimed, "he would have found sufficient employment at home."

If Zanesville boys were amused and their parents shocked by the Pilgrims, we can be sure that the clergy were horrified. It must have been a minister who wrote the following letter to the Zanesville "Express" on Nov. 20, 1817, and signed it "A Reader."
"On their first arriving in town, a meeting was notified at the Courthouse, in this place, where an exhortation was given by one of their party, Mr. Holmes, the only man of any considerable talents among them, who has been a Methodist preacher about 12 years in Vermont.

"Although Mr. Holmes preached (as he called it) without a text, and wandered without system, upon various subjects, yet he made use of many pithy, commonplace expressions, which would have been well received by the community at large, had they not visited the Prophet and his group at home. There, it is presumed, no person possessing a mediocrity of talent, could remain five menutes in suspense relative to the sincerity of Ballard, the 'Prophet,' who wears every feature and gesture of a consummate scroundrel.

"He has frequent paroxysms, in which he utters the unmeaning gibberish, which he calls 'an unknown tongue,' in which he pretends to convers with the Deity, which is composed at most of not more than four sounds, which he will successively repeat from two to five minutes, which length of time he has been more than once known to occupy in the reiteration of 'Bab-Yab' alone.

"The discerning mind may easily behold in this pretended Prophet the sum of his wishes, to destroy all civil establishments, disannual marriage under the spurious pretence that Jesus Christ is the bridegroom, and all his followers are the bride, and consequently need no civil restrictions to govern their passions.

"But that those passions within them, and their gratifications, are without sin, all being conducted with an eye 'single to the glory of God' -- that they cannot sin as long as they are followers of the Prophet. * *

"From all we can gather from this slothful, dirty group, we are disposed to say that they practise indiscriminate cohabitation, openly profess the power and gift of Prophecy, pretend to heal the sick by various incantations, and that they are fast progressing to such perfectability, through the instumentality of fasting and prayer, as to be soon able to raise the dead, who (to use their own expressions) die in the Lord. * *

"The writer of this has spent much time with them (foolishly) to satisfy his mind relative to their doctrine, their motives, etc. He has found them generally aloof to conversation; and if at any time they attempted to answer his inquiries, it has been in an evasive way, introducing a different subject, even with the answer.

"Never did a young pedagogue command more obsequiousness from his pupils in a country school, than does this Prophet from his followers; they groan when he groans, shout when he shouts, and ape him in his every monkey trick; flying at his command with such servile agility that a bystander might well conclude that they verily believed that the keys of heaven and hell were suspended upon his bearskin girdle.

"In this sect we see a striking proof of the awful strides which mankind have made in every age who have left the Church of Christ and its canons, handed down by the Apostles and their immediate successors, and taught for 'doctrines, the commandments of men.'"

THE PILGRIMS made one convert in Zanesville. He "took the bearskin girdle" as a passport to the promised land. His two brothers-in-law followed the band and persuaded their realtive to return.

E. H. Church wrote an account of the Vermont Pilgrims for the [Zanesville] Courier in 1880. Capt. John Dulty, then living in Zanesville, told Church that, as he was crossing the mountains in 1818, he overtook a woman carrying a bundle. Dulty thought he had seen her in Zanesville with the Pilgrims. She admitted that she had been a follower of the Prophet.

Ballard's band followed him until they were warned away from the Darby Plains in Ohio. When the Prophet suddenly changed the location of the Promised Land to the Arkansas canebrakes, some of his followers decided they did not want to go there after all. The former Pilgrim told Dulty that she was going back home to Vermont.

The inhabitants of the little town of Zanesville in 1817 did not witness the raising of the dead but they did see a preview of the unkempt hippie appearance and an attempt to destroy all civil establishments, that have [re]appeared in 1969.

Note: For more on the "Prophet" Isaac Bullard and his time spent in Zanesville, see the Zanesville Daily Courier of Feb. 7, 1880.


Vol. ?                                 Elyria, Ohio,  Wednesday,  August 8, 1977.                                No. ?

Book of Mormon faces a tough new challenge

A rhetorical flurry has arisen over this month's announcement in the prestigious religious publication Christianity Today, that three young southern California researchers have uncovered evidence challenging the validity of the Book of Mormon, long called the "keystone" of faith by leaders of the 3.8-million-member Mormon Church.

Much is at stake, for the Book of Mormon is one of the most sacred writings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe it to be a divinely inspired and correctly translated work of God.

The manuscript section questioned by the three researchers -- Wayne L. Cowdrey, Donald R. Scales and Howard A. Davis -- is part of the so-called Kimball collection of 22 pages of First Nephi, reputedly dictated by Joseph Smith, founder of [the] Mormon Church.

Smith said the book was a miraculous translation of "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics" written on golden plates be dug out of a hillside in 1827 near Palmyra, N. Y.

THE RESEARCHERS claim they have evidence from three handwriting analysts thatsupports the long-held thesis that the book is at least partly the pirated work of a retired Congregationalist minister and novelist named Solomon Spaulding who died in 1816.

The issue could be a critical one, should the book or any part of it ever be proved to be something other than what Joseph Smith claimed.

More than a week before the Christianity Today article appeared, the press office for the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, sent a rebuttal to religion editors across the country.

"All of the original draft of the Book of Mormon was taken down from the lips of Joseph Smith by a series of scribes, and there is absolutely nothing to the idea that Solomon Spaulding wrote any part of the manuscript," a church spokesman declared."

"The 'Spaulding' theory is preposterous and cannot be possible because of the manner in which the material was taken down," said Dr. Leonard J. Arrington, historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We have compared this writing in the Book of Mormon manuscript with the handwriting of Spaulding, which was made more than 20 years earlier, and there is absolutely no resemblance," he continued in the church-originated press release.

In a book to be published by Vision House, the three researchers elaborate on their story, attempting to document the links between Spaulding's work and that of Smith years later.

All three of the handwriting experts they called upon, using known specimens of Spaulding's handwriting, working independently, and, unaware of the Book of Mormon connection, concluded that Spaulding had written the challenged portions purported to have been dictated "from the lips of Smith."

The researchers say that two years ago, with church permission, they obtained enlarged photocopies of 12 original manuscript pages that are in the church's Salt Lake City archives.

THE BOOK OF MORMON is the story of two migrations of people from the Middle East to the Americas. the first about 2250 B.C., the second about 600 B.C. Fourteen hundred years later, the golden plates telling of the migrations were delivered to Smith. according to Mormon teaching.

The announcement that someone had uncovered "new proof" linking the Book of Mormon to the earlier writings of Solomon Spaulding has also evoked comment from the church's severest critics, among thera professor Walter R. Martin. author and teacher of comparative religions.

Martin, who admits to having spent the last 25 years in a campaign "to expose the truth" about the Mormon Church. said, he had been convinced all along that "Spaulding had actually written the Book of Mormon."

Martin, who is affiliated with the Christian Research Institute and teaches at Melodyland School of Religion in Anaheim, Calif., claims "the Book of Mormon has been altered more than 3.000 times since its initial publication.

"God must have changed his mind an awful lot of times during that period," he added. "And it wasn't just punctuation and sentence revision... it was changing factual data that was inside."

Dr. Arrington maintains the argument put forth by the three researchers "is completely untenable."

"It would require us to believe that Spaulding had written 12 pages in his copybook, that those 12 pages somehow drifted 14 years later into the hands of an unrelated young farm hand a long distance away... This is only another in a long series of attempts to involve Solomon Spaulding and others in the writing of the Book of Mormon," he said.

Notes: (forthcoming)


Vol. ?                         Kent & Ravenna, Ohio,  Saturday,  Dec. 20, 1986.                         No. ?

PORTAGE  PATHWAYS:                       
Riddle's  Novel  Resembles  His
Mantua  Frontier  Life

The Portrait, an 1874 novel, was written by Albert Gallatin Riddle. Was it really an almost tearful, moving recollection of his own early life as a bright and sometimes misunderstood and tormented youth on the Mantua frontier? The slices of life as lived by the book's hero, Fred Warden, who grew into manhood as a brilliant lawyer and political orator, closely parallel Riddle's own career.

A. G . Riddle is no stranger to Portage County historians. Born in Monson, Massachusetts, in 1816, he came to the Western Reserve with his family when only a year old. Biographers say the family settled in Geauga County, yet it is known that Riddle spent time in Mantua, and it is that communiry which serves as the setting for The Portrait.

Names and places in the novel are those we know today -- the Cuyahoga River, Mantua Center, Mantua Comers, and many families whose names are familiar to area residents, including Skinner, Atwater, Chapman, Snow, Johnson, Carmen, as well as the story of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon and the Mormons and the old tavern on the "state road."

Although I had known of Riddle as a man of letters and Mantua's claim upon him, only in recent days did I read The Portrait, one of at least 15 novels Riddle wrote after tiring of his law practice and his service as an Ohio representative and as a U.S. congressman. The book was reprinted by the Mantua Historical Society ten years ago as a tribute to the Bicentennial celebration.

Now, baek to Fred Warden. Fred was bound out to a farmer as a young boy, following the death of the woman he believed to be his mother. But on her deathbed, she told him otherwise, a revelation that was to confound him until he was 29 years old, when he learned the real truth. The farmer to whom Warden was bound was William Skinner, a prominent farmer who in the early 1800s lived just east of S.R. 44.

There were parallels hetween Warden and author Riddle. Early on, Fred showed signs unlike those of his youthful colleagues. He was thoughtful, intelligent, hard working, and he displayed deeper and more profound motivations than most of his peers. As he grew older, he showed exceptional talents as a public speaker. Riddle was an accomplished orator who loaned his talents to the William Henry Harrison presidential campaignof 1840. The book's hero, Warden, studied under a lawyer in Massillon; Riddle read law under Seabury Ford in Geauga County. That Seabury Ford, last Whig governor of Ohio, was the great-grandfather of Portage County's present Seabury Ford, Aurora and Ravenna attorney.

The second time young Fred Warden was "bound out," it was to the owner of the tavern, where he worked around the barroom, cut wood, and did other chores contrived by his not-too-upstanding master. Riddle, after serving his time on the Mantua farm, joined his two older brothers in doing carpentry work. Money left over from sustaining himself went for the purchase of books. In 1835 he went to Western Reserve College in Hudson and then to a Painesville academy, all the while dreaming of the day when he could use his speaking talent to further his career,

He was admitted to the bar in 1840, and three weeks thereafter was nominated for prosecuting attorney in Geauga County. He called the meeting in Chardon that resulted in the foundation of the Free Soil party in Ohio, and he ultimately became one of the organizers of the emergent Republican party. Following six years as prosecutor, he was elected to the Ohio House and immediately became one of its recognized leaders. A Whig and bitterly opposed to slavery, he served in Congress from 1861 to 1863. The most famous law case in which he was involved was as a government prosecutor in the trial of John Surrat for the murder of Abraham Lincoln.

His public service was not at an end following his years in Congress. He settled into a law practice in Washington, D.C., became law officer for the District of Columbia, headed the law department at Howard University, and served as a consul in Cuba. During the Civil War years he claimed women had the right to vote on the basis of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

But writing was his first love and he shed his government career and his law practice to devote all of his time to its pursuit. Bart Ridgeley: A Story of Northern Ohio his first book, published in 1873. His prolific pen turned out book after book, stories for periodicals and newspapers, and legal treatises. Included in his writings was a book on another Portage Countian, James A. Garfield.

In 1845, Fred, the hero of The Portrait, married the beautiful Belle. That's the same year Riddle married Caroline Avery, the daughter of a Geauga judge. Ultimately the central figure in Riddle's book learned his true heritage and he met his real mother, a South Carolinian. There the parallels between Fred and Riddle separated; Riddle knew his heritage. His grandfather had come from Ireland and his parents from Massachusetts.

A. G. Riddle died in 1901 and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His books are his legacy.

Note: Copyright © 1986 Record-Courier -- all rights reserved.


Vol. ?                         Kent & Ravenna, Ohio,  Sunday,  March 25, 2007.                         No. ?

PORTAGE  PATHWAYS:                       
Dark chapter in Portage history:
Mormon leaders targets of vicious attack in Hiram 175 years ago

By Roger J. Di Paolo
Record-Courier Editor

One of the most shameful episodes in Portage County's history occurred 175 years ago today on a farm in Hiram Township, where a dispute fueled by religious differences escalated into a near-lynching.

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had been living in the Hiram area since the fall of 1831 at the invitation of John and Elsa Johnson, who lived on a farm on Pioneer Trail near S.R. 700, south of Hiram Center.

Smith was the first prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had organized a year earlier in the state of New York, and Rigdon was one of his closest followers in what was commonly referred to as Mormonism.

The Johnsons had become Mormons and had opened their home to Smith, his wife, Emma, and their children after the Latter-day Saints had moved to Ohio and established headquarters in the Kirtland area. Rigdon and his wife, Phebe, lived in a log cabin near the Johnson farm.

The Mormon leaders' stay in Portage County had not been without controversy. A number of Mormon converts had left the church and aired their theological differences in a series of broadsides published in the Ohio Star, the Ravenna weekly newspaper (and the journalistic "parent" of the Record-Courier). Smith and Rigdon attempted to refute their critics during a series of appearances in Ravenna, Shalersville and elsewhere in January 1832, but ill feelings persisted.

The dispute took a violent turn on the evening of Saturday, March 24, 1832, when a mob of men from Hiram, Garrettsville and Shalersville appeared at the Johnson home and dragged the 26-year-old Smith from his bed.
"The mob burst open the door and surrounded the bed in an instant," Smith wrote. "I found myself going out of the door, in the hands of about a dozen men, some of whose hands were in my hair, and some had hold of my shirt, drawers and limbs.

"I made a desperate struggle, as I was forced out, to extricate myself... They swore they would kill me if I did not be still, which quieted me," he recalled.

Smith was taken to a frozen field, about 150 yards from his home. There he saw Rigdon, who had been dragged by his heels and set upon by some of the attackers. Smith thought his companion was dead.

The mob stripped Smith of all of his clothing except for his shirt collar, scratched and tore at his body and stretched him out on a plank. According to one account, a doctor was summoned to castrate him, but refused to do so. Someone fetched a pot of tar, and a coating of tar and feathers was applied. Smith also said that a vial of nitric acid was forced into his mouth in an apparent attempt to poison him.

Rigdon also was tarred and feathered in addition to being beaten severely.

Following the attack, Smith made his way to the Johnson residence.
"When I came to the door, I was naked, and the tar made me look as though I had been covered with blood," he wrote. Emma Smith fainted at the sight of her husband.

"My friends spent the night in scraping and removing the tar, and washing and cleansing my body," he wrote.

The following morning was a Sunday, and a group of Mormons assembled for a scheduled worship service. Despite his ordeal, Smith led the service.
"With my flesh all scarified and defaced, I preached to the congregation as usual, and on the afternoon of the same day I baptized three individuals."

Among those in the crowd, Smith claimed, were several men who had attacked him and Rigdon just a few hours earlier.

Smith and Rigdon left Hiram about a week later, following continued harassment of the Johnson family by members of the mob. The Mormons continued what would prove to be a long journey westward, moving first to Missouri, then to Illinois, where they faced continued persecution.

A dozen years after being attacked in Portage County, Joseph Smith was set upon by a lynch mob that forced its way into a jail in Carthage, Ill., where he and his brother, Hyrum, were being held. Both men were murdered.

The Johnson Home, located at 6203 Pioneer Trail, is considered a Mormon shrine, not only because of Smith's brush with martyrdom but because he received 16 revelations there while it was the temporary headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormons purchased the site in 1956 and it has been restored as it might have looked when Joseph and Emma Smith lived there 175 years ago.

In 1984, the Mormons re-established a branch in Hiram, more than 150 years after being driven from the area. A worship facility constructed on the grounds of the Johnson Home was dedicated in 1987. The shrine itself, which is open to the public, was rededicated in 2001.

Note: Copyright © 2007 Record-Courier -- all rights reserved -- copied with permission, from newspaper's original web-posting.


Vol. ?                         Conneaut, Ohio,  Sunday,  March 13, 2011.                         No. ?

Conneaut Artifacts Inspired
Controversial Novel

Was Solomon Spaulding's 'Manuscript Found'
the basis for Mormonism?


Two centuries of civilization have destroyed the mysterious mounds and graveyards that settlers to Conneaut found near Conneaut Creek. Solomon Spaulding, while walking this area in 1809, claimed in his book 'Manuscript Found' to have discovered the entrance to a cave containing scrolls, one of which told the story of the ancient civilization, a lost tribe of Israel. Conneaut residents, who heard Spaulding spin his tales as he wrote a book called 'Manuscript Found,' would later testify that the Book of Mormon story and language paralleled the one Spaulding read to them. What became of the manuscript that Spaulding read from is a mystery; some say it fell into the hands of Sidney Rigdon.

The earthen mounds, ancient fortifications and graves containing thousands of human bones -- some of the skulls so large they could fit over the pioneers’ heads -- perplexed the settlers who arrived in New Salem, the community that would become Conneaut.

The evidence of a former civilization presented nothing but questions; even the resident Native Americans and other tribes who returned to this region every fall to hunt, fish and trap, could not shed light upon the enigma. Meanwhile, the settlers, obsessed with the task of harnessing the land, plowed through whatever artifacts that stood in their paths, tossing the curiosities aside and leaving future generations with tantillizing descriptions but no evidence.

It was an environment fertile with creative opportunity, a mystery of biblical proportions with no restrictions on literary license, for no one was alive who could refute or confirm the veracity of whatever tales a creative scribe could re-construct from this evidence.

That person, Solomon Spaulding, arrived in New Salem in 1809. Henry Howe, who gathered material for his “History of Ohio” by traveling through the state on horseback in the 1840s, devoted more than eight pages of his book to a discussion of Spaulding; the book he wrote, “Manuscript Found”; and its supposed impact on American religious history.

This otherwise obscure book, hardly a masterpiece of literature, would have been forgotten had it not been for its uncanny resemblance to another book that came along in the late 1820s, The Book of Mormon, which the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints, consider to be “another testament of Jesus Christ.”

The Mormon book claims to be a record of peoples in ancient America. Moroni, the last of the Nephite prophets, visited Joseph Smith in 1823 and subsequently allowed Smith to access the buried plates and translate its “reformed Egyptian” characters using a special stone, also provided by Moroni.

Most modern scholarship has dismissed the Spaulding/Joseph Smith theory, but it has not been laid to rest. There are numerous websites dedicated to the controversy and the man who caused it all.

The Mormon Church, which was the first to publish the Spaulding manuscript, flatly rejects any similarity between the two documents.

“...Mr. Spaulding’s Manuscript Story no more resembles the Book of Mormon than ‘Gullivers Travels’ is like the gospel of St. Mark,” concluded The Deseret News, which published a Spaulding manuscript in 1886.

Manuscript Found

The Spaulding story persists because it is a fascinating one, thanks to the underlying enigma of the mounds, the quirky nature of the characters involved, the mysterious disappearance of Spaulding’s original manuscript and Spaulding’s numerous contemporaries who bore witness to the plagiarism. The purpose in acknowledging the story here is not to discredit a belief system, but to acknowledge the county’s role, albeit it suspect, in the formation and spread of what has become a powerful religious force in the world.

Solomon Spaulding (1761-1816) was a Dartmouth graduate, Revolutionary War soldier, teacher, Congregational preacher, businessman and husband with a literary bent. As a preacher and businessman, Spaulding was unsuccessful.

Spaulding arrived in Conneaut in 1809, having come from Cherry Valley, N.Y., where he had a store with his brother, Josiah. The store failed, and he and his wife Matilda relocated to the Western Reserve.

Henry Lake, also of New York, was Spaulding’s business partner in the forge, which also went kaput.

Spaulding might have succeeded at his venture had he spent more time on it rather than roaming about the mysterious mounds and graveyards of Conneaut, crafting his speculations into a manuscript and sharing it with neighbors and family as he translated each new adventure.

Lake, Spaulding’s business partner, would testify that Spaulding “very frequently read to me from a manuscript which he was writing, which he entitled ‘The Manuscript Found’ and which he represented as being found in this town. I spent many hours in hearing him read said writings, and became well acquainted with their contents.”

The novel thus spun by Spaulding built upon what was a flawed but culturally popular “urban myth” of the time -- the American Indians were descendants of the Jews, of the “lost tribe of Israel.” Spaulding’s manuscript told of their journey to America and the civil war that resulted in thousands of dead, who were buried in the mysterious mounds and graveyards of Conneaut. The book attributed the antiquities throughout North and South American to these people.

The opening paragraphs of a Spaulding manuscript, which makes for torturous reading, tells of the author’s explorations and the discovery that set the stage for his revelations:
“Near the west bank of the Coneaught River there are the remains of an ancient fort. As I was walking and forming various conjectures respecting the character, situation & numbers of those people who far exceeded the present Indians in work of art and ingeunity, I hapned to tread on a flat stone. This was at a small distance from the fort & it lay on the top of a small mound of Earth exactly horizontal. The face of it had a singular appearance. I discovered a number of characters which appeared to me to be letters, but so much effaced by the ravages of time, that I could not read the inscription.”
Spalding proceeds to describe how the stone concealed the opening to a cave, in which he discovered an “earthen Box with a cover which shut it perfectly tite.” Inside were 28 rolls of manuscripts on parchment, written using Roman letters and the Latin language.

While the rolls were written on a variety of subjects, the one Spalding singled out for his discourse was “a history of the author’s life & that part of America which extends along the great Lakes & the waters of the Mississippy” (one has to wonder if Mr. Spaulding skipped the spelling classes at Dartmouth).

Spaulding’s time in Conneaut was short. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1812, and from there, Amity, Pa., where he died, his manuscript unpublished.

And that would have been the end of the story, were it not for Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde, Latter Day Saint missionaries who visited Conneaut in 1832 and started sharing from Joseph Smith’s new revelation, The Book of Mormon.

Manuscript lost

To the Conneaut residents who had listened to Solomon Spaulding’s readings from “Manuscript Found,” Joseph Smith’s revelations seemed like old news.

The former business partner testified that he was “astonished to find the same passages in it that Spaulding had read to me more than twenty years before from his ‘Manuscript Found.’”

A former employee, John Miller; and several former neighbors, Aaron Wright, O. Smith, Nahum Howard and Artemus Cunningham, made statements affirming the parallels between the Mormon book and Spaulding’s original manuscript. John Spaulding, the brother of Solomon, provided similar testimony.

Matilda Spaulding, who married a Mr. Davidson after her husband’s death, and Martha Spaulding, John’s wife, also testified.

“I have read the ‘Book of Mormon,’ which has brought fresh to my recollection the writing of Solomon Spaulding; and I have no manner of doubt that the historical part of it is the same that I read and heard read more than twenty years ago,” testified Martha Spaulding.

Matilda Spaulding was determined to set the record straight. In a published statement, she called the Book of Mormon’s claims to divine origin “wholly unfounded,” based upon the parallels to her husband’s work.

Matilda Spaulding, in a statement published in Boston in 1839, wrote, “The excitement in New Salem became so great that the inhabitants had a meeting and deputed Dr. Philastus Hurlburt, 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.”

The whereabouts of Spaulding’s original manuscript was as much a mystery as the mounds that inspired it, however. Spaulding had gone to Pittsburgh with the hope of finding a publisher. To Matilda Davidson’s recollections, her late husband deposited it with the publishing house of Patterson and Lambdin in Pittsburgh.

Lambdin died, the establishment disbursed and, when tracked down, Patterson had no recollection of the document.

He did recall, however, that in 1823, a “wandering preacher” by the name of Sidney Rigdon arrived in Pittsburgh and became friends with Lambdin.

Henry Howe’s book states that Rigdon came upon the Spaulding manuscript and read and re-read it, and eventually copied it.

Rigdon later met up with Joseph Smith, and, as the theory goes, the two of them developed the Mormon faith using Spaulding’s plagiarized document as a basis.

Wrong manuscript

The manuscript that Matilda Spaulding provided to Hurlburt (some sources “Hulbert”), publisher of the Painesville Telegraph, bore no resemblance to the one that the neighbors and family had remembered. The only explanation was that there was a second manuscript, one that languished on the shelves of the Pittsburgh publisher until plagiarized by Rigdon.

Nevertheless, E.D. Howe, a newspaperman, moved forward with publication of “Mormonism Unvailed” in 1834, based upon the testimonies of the Conneaut residents and Spaulding family members. The book helped fuel the persecution of Latter Day Saints in the decades that followed.

The manuscript that Spaulding’s wife provided became part of the files of the newspaper, which passed to a Mr. Rice, who published anti-slavery newspapers. He eventually moved to Honolulu to live with his daughter, a graduate of Oberlin College. President Fairchild of the college visited the alumnus in 1885 and asked for a donation of anti-slavery material for the college library. Spaulding’s manuscript was discovered among the papers and donated to Oberlin, where it remains to this day.

“It seems pretty clearly not to have been the manuscript from which the Book of Mormon was written, as it deals with scenes taking place in America among Indians, possibly of the Mound Builders period,” concluded A.S. Root, a college professor, in 1927.

As for the Pittsburgh manuscript, it is, like the gold plates that Joseph Smith said he surrendered to Moroni after translating for the Book of Mormon, currently unavailable for viewing.

For those so inclined, the website, presents the entire text of “Manuscript Found” as published by the [R]LDS in 1886.

Note: Copyright © 2011 Star Beacon -- all rights reserved -- copied from web-posting.

Back to top of this page.

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

last updated: Sept. 15, 2013