Part 1 (Early Clues)   |   Part 2 (Gold Bible Story)   |   Part 3 (Campbellites)   |   Part 4 (RLDS views)

First Meet  J

Part 3: Reports from the Baptists and Campbellites
C O N T E N T S:

O. Hyde   |   E. R. Snow   |   E. A. Whitney   |   L. Greatrake   |   S. Williams
I. Butts   |   R. P. Harmon   |   H. Baldwin   |   A. B. Green   |   E. M. Dille
J. J. Moss   |   D. Atwater   |   J. &. Z. Rudolph   |   A. Bentley   |   W. Scott
M., J. & H. Clapp   |   J. A. Garfield   |   Transcriber's Comments


First Meet  J

Reminiscences of
Orson Hyde

1858 Orson Hyde Autobiography (excerpts)
The Deseret News VIII:9-10 (May 5 & 12 1858)
LDS Millennial Star Vol. XXVI. (Nov.-Dec., 1864)

1841 Orson Hyde Letter
The Spaulding Story (June 7, 1841)
view the transcriber's notes on this subject


No. 9.                         Fillmore City, Wed., May 5, 1858.                        Vol. VIII.


... in 1827... there was a Methodist camp meeting about six miles distant from Kirtland, which I attended, and became a convert to that faith... The revival that began at that camp meeting spread much in Kirtland. A class was formed there, and I was appointed class-leader.

About this time some vague reports came in the newspapers that a "golden bible" had been dug out of a rock in the state of New York. It was treated, however, as a hoax. But on reading the report, I remarked as follows -- "Who knows but that this 'golden bible' may break up all our religion, and change its whole features and bearing?" Nothing more was heard of it for a long time in that section.

Not long after this, the Campbellite doctrine began to be preached in Mentor and in Kirtland. Elder S. Rigdon was its chief advocate there. Being forcibly struck with the doctrine of immersion or baptism for the remission of sins, and many other important items of doctrine which were advocated by this new sect, and which were passed over by the Methodists as not essential, I left the Methodists and became a convert to this new faith. [spring/summer, 1828]

Feeling that one day I might be called to advocate it, and feeling my great deficiency in learning, I resolved to go to school. Accordingly, I took up my abode in Mentor, in the house of Elder Sidney Rigdon, and began the study of English grammar under his tuition. Elder Rigdon took unwearied pains and care to instruct me in this elementary science.

After spending several months [summer/fall, 1828] in this way, studying day and night, I went two quarters to the Burton Academy [winter/spring, 1828-29]... then returned to Mentor and spent one season [summer, 1829] with a young man by the name of Matthew J. Clapp, at his father's house, where the public library was kept. Here I read history and various other works, scientific and literary; and in the fall of the year was ordained an elder in this new church, and went on a mission with Elder Rigdon to Elyria, Loraine County, and also to Florence in Huron County. There we baptized a great number of people into the new faith, organized several branches of the Church, and returned again to Mentor. This I think was in the fall of 1829.

Early in the spring of 1830, I returned to Elyria and Florence, and became the pastor of the churches raised up the fall previous. During the fall and winter of 1830, I also taught school in Florence. During this fall, Samuel H. Smith, Ziba Peterson, F. G. Williams and Peter Whitmer came along through that section, preaching the 'golden bible' or 'Mormonism,' I encountered them; but perceiving that they were mostly illiterate men, and at the same time observing some examples of superior wisdom and truth in their teaching, I resolved to read the famed "golden bible," as it was called....

The entire contents of this book copyright © 1977 by Horizon Publishers. Only limited, "fair use" excerpts are reproduced here.


Missionary - Apostle - Colonizer

Howard H. Barron

Horizon  Publishers


All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or any
parts thereof in any form or by any media without
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                        THE EARLY YEARS                         19

Newel K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio. Orson was employed
here as a clerk.     (Courtesy of LaMar C. Barrett)

In the winter if 1826 and the spring of 1827, after working at four different jobs, Orson returned to the Gilbert and Whitney store in Kirtland for "moderate wages."15 When business declined in the spring, he stopped clerking and began "making pot and pearl ashes" for Gilbert and Whitney. Kirtland at this time, set in the heart of the great Western Reserve, was thriving and profiting from an influx of job seekers and land speculators hoping to improve financial conditions in consequence of the soon-to-be-built Erie Canal.

The Spirit of Religious Revivalism Swept Over the Kirtland Area

Kirtland and vicinity were also filled with the spirit of religious revivalism. In 1827, at age 22, Orson attended a Methodist camp meeting about six miles from Kirtland and was converted; he was later appointed a Methodist class leader. During his period of activity in the Methodist faith, Orson became aware of newspaper reports "that a 'Golden Bible' had been dug out of a rock in the State of New York."17 These reports, treating the subject lightly, concerned Orson little; he reffered to the whole account as aŹ"hoax," but later wrote that one of his passing reactions was, "Who knows but that this 'Golden Bible' may break up all our religion, and change its its whole features and bearing?"18

Orson Hyde   c. 1839 -- copyright © 1977 Howard H. Barron

The entire contents of this book copyright © 2000 by Myrtle Stevens Hyde. Only limited, "fair use" excerpts are reproduced here.


The Olive Branch

Myrtle Stevens Hyde

Agreka Books

Salt Lake City

Copyright © 2000 by Myrtle Stevens Hyde

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher, Agreka Books, 800-360-5284...

LCCN: 99-067645
ISBN: 1888106719...

Manufactured in the United States of America

        ... a marvellous work and a wonder.... (1805-1831)     19

... A turning point came in 1827, the day that Orson dressed in his good clothes and attended a Methodist camp meeting. The exuberance of the speeches electrified him, and he joined the Methodists. He wanted religion in his life. His excitement grew as he studied the scriptures. At the formation of a [Methodist] group in Kirtland, he was sppointed class leader.

Several months later he heard sermons by Campbellite preachers. "Being forcibly struck with the doctrine of immersion or baptism for the remission of sins," he recounts, "and many other important items of doctrine which were advocated by this new sect, and which were passed over by the Methodists as non-essential, I left the Methodists and became a convert to this new faith."

As he listened to Campbellite preachers explain doctrine he gained a desire to do the same, but he felt a "great deficiency in learning." The time had come to use the money he had saved for education. The most dynamic Campbellite preacher in the area was Elder Sidney Rigdon. Sidney was taller than Orson by a couple of inches, and older by twelve years. His high forehead, bushy hair, and pronounced cheek bones gave emphasis to his piercing blue eyes. Orson admired Sidney's eloquent command of words and asked to be his student. Sidney consented, and Orson moved from Kirtland to the Rigdon home in neighboring Mentor. Under Sidney's direction Orson studied grammar "day and night," for months. Also, he became well acquainted with Pastor Rigdon's enthusiasm, his sometimes over-exuberance, and the occasional "wildness of his extravagant nature." Orson overlooked these quirks, realizing that everyone has quirks. Orson ever after felt deep gratitude for the "unwearied pains and care" of Sidney's tutoring. 14

Next Orson moved to Burton, Ohio, twenty-two miles southeast of Kirtland, and paid for six months at Burton Academy (forerunner of Western Reserve University). Here he polished his oratorical skills and reviewed geography, arithmetic, and grammar. 15

To broaden his reading he returned to Mentor and boarded for a season with Judge Orris Clapp, whose home contained the public library. Utilizing the banquet of books, Orson ansorbed facts and feelings, historical and scientific and literary. Contentment in the Clapp home strengthened Orson's yearnings for a home of his own.

Judge Clapp and his son Matthew (about Orson's age) were avid Disciples, or Campbellites, and Orson delighted in hearty religious discussions with them. Orson's conviction grew that he wanted to use his education to effectively explain God's relationship with man. This in mind, he devoted consistent reading and pondering time to the Bible. The Campbellites encouraged

20     Orson Hyde The Olive Branch of Israel

scripture memorization, and Orson's extraordinary memory enabled him to recall and recite passages with ease. 16

At last, after Orson had spent more than a year studying doctrine, leaders of The Disciples considered him ready to preach. In the early autumn 1829 they ordained him an elder in their church. Fired by missionary enthusiasm, he traveled with Sidney Rigdon west from Kirtland to Elyria and Florence. Preaching during the fall season, they converted and baptized many people and organized several branches of the Campbellite Church before returning home to Mentor.

Eagerly, the following spring, 1830, Orson traveled west again to Elyria and Florence, and became the pastor of the branches that he and Sidney had organized. Sharing laughter, sorrows, fun, and meals with the families of his congregations made them seem his own. Gratitude filled his soul that he had saved his money for education. A long road had brought him from an uneducated orphan to Methodist class leader, then to Campbellite pastor. Now, this busy spring of 1831, he had gained the reputation of a master at delivering speeches against a strange new book.

During the reflective night after his successful address in Ridgeville, pondering that his efforts might be against the plans of God, Orson's anguish increased. What did that "golden Bible" contain? Had the Spirit quided his perplexing thoughts this sleepless night?

In the early morning light, objects in the room became clearly visible, and Orson reached a decision. "I, for the first time," he recounts, "thought that the Mormon Bible might be the truth of heaven; and I fully resolved before leaving the house, that I would never preach against it any more until I knew more about it, being pretty strongly convicted in my own mind that I had been doing wrong." He remembered his own remark the previous year, when he first read vague reports about the book: "Who knows but that this 'golden Bible' may break up all our religion, and change its whole features and bearing?"...

Note 1:  The series of historical articles comprising the "History of Brigham Young" was presented in the Salt Lake City Deseret News during the first half of 1858. The series was subsequently reprinted in the pages of the Liverpool based Millennial Star during 1864-1865. Supplementing the biography of LDS President Young were numerous biographical sketches of other top leaders in the Utah Church. The "History of Orson Hyde" was an autobiographical account evidently composed by Hyde himself. What source materials (such as his own journal entries, copies of correspondence, etc.) Hyde may have consulted in preparing this article remains unknown; however, his retelling of events previously recorded in his 1832 mission journal makes that document one probable source.

Note 2:  The detailed information presented in Hyde's autobiographical sketch is taken primarily from the years prior to his converting to the Latter Day Saints and from the early missions he engaged in on behalf of their church. However, Hyde's report of his activities among the "Reformed Baptists" or Campbellites is not very informative. Although he does not reveal precisely when or where he was converted and baptized into that group, it is logical to assume that these events occured in or near Mentor, Ohio during the first half of 1828 and that the officiating minister was the Rev. Sidney Rigdon, then pastor of the Mentor congregation. On October 30, 1831, when Orson Hyde was baptized into the Mormon Church, Rigdon performed that ordinance. Hyde's seeming reluctance, in 1858, to make much mention of his early connections with Rigdon was understandable in light of Hyde's 1838 apostasy and Rigdon's 1844 excommunication. Prior to Rigdon's ouster, Hyde wrote more freely in 1841:

At the time our enemies say that Mr. Rigdon was engaged in fabricating the Book of Mormon [1818-29?], I was a student under him. He was then a minister in the Christian Baptist Church in America, and I was calculating to engage in the same calling, being a member of the same church. I was intimately acquainted with him, and with his family, for a number of years; and a good part of that time I was a boarder in his family, particularly in 1829.

If Mr. Rigdon had been engaged in a work of that kind, I am certain that he would have, either directly or indirectly, given me a hint of it. But such an intimation he never gave me in any shape or manner.

I am confident that Mr. Rigdon never had access to the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding; but even allowing that he might (which my own thoughts will not allow for a moment) have seen the manuscript, he lacked the disposition to make the use of it which his enemies accuse him of; for all people know, who know any thing about Mr. Rigdon, and are willing to confess the truth, that he would conscientiously stand as far from such a base forgery "as Lot stood from Sodom in its evil day." Mr. Rigdon never writes a romance upon any subject; but if he had been in possession of the same conscience-seared, heaven-daring hardihood that the very pious Mr. Spaulding was, he might possibly have reduced sacred and eternal things to a romance to get gain, as Mr. Spaulding did, his own friends being witnesses.

Forgery, deception, and romance formed no part of the principles which Mr. Rigdon taught me during the time that I was under his tuition; and I must say, that I should not have been more surprised if they accused the Lord Bishop of London of the same things which they charge against Mr. Rigdon...

Following Sidney Rigdon's temporary fall from grace within Mormonism, during the summer of 1832, Orson Hyde appears to have transferred much his loyalty from Rigdon to Hyrum Smith. Hyrum would ever after be Orson's benefactor, a role which he played as early as June 1833 when Hyde was elevated to the position of personal clerk to Joseph Smith, Jr. and the other members of the Mormon First Presidency. Hyde's presumed shift in personal allegiance at that point in his life may help explain why he was so candid in admitting that he'd heard of Joseph Smith's "golden bible" having been "dug out of a rock in the state of New York." According to Hyde's own words, he "not long after" this "became a convert to this new faith" of the Campbellites, of which "Elder S. Rigdon was its chief advocate." While Orson Hyde may have felt secure in stating this remarkable admission in 1858, it is unthinkable that he would have admitted a possible close connection between the story of Smith's "golden bible" and Rigdon's divergent form of Campbellism as early as 1828, had Hyde remained under Sidney Rigdon's inhibiting influence.

Note 3:  It is unlikely that Orson Hyde was being perfectly candid when he admitted hearing "some vague reports" of the "golden bible," as early as 1827. Nor is there any evidence to support his implication, that he first became aware of these "vague reports" from his reading "the newspapers" of that early period. Richard S. Van Wagoner claims, in his Sidney Rigdon, page 55: "Publication of the "Golden Bible," as people were calling it, had been recounted in several Western Reserve and New York newspapers as early as 1827, when Joseph Smith began working on the book. There can be little doubt that Rigdon, an enthusiastic reader of newspapers, was aware of the book before it was placed in his hands." No such early newspaper accounts have ever been quoted, cited, paraphrased, or alluded to in any pre-1829 publication, nor by any reputable witness who could state when and where any such reports were ever promulgated. Writing in 1842, Jonathan A. Hadley rightfully stated: "in... 1829, at which time I was carrying on the printing business at Palmyra... I wrote and published an article... the first ever published about the Mormons."

Having made an unsupportable claim for Golden Bible stories in "newspapers as early as 1827," Mr. Van Waggoner recounts Orson Hyde's remembrance that "a 'golden bible' had been dug out of a rock in the State of New York.'" Hyde's admission is an important one, but its source cannot be very well be attributed to "newspapers as early as 1827," nor even as early as 1828. A different source for Orson Hyde's information must be sought, and probably Hyde betrays that mysterious source in the very next paragraph of his 1858 autobiography. There he first mentions his encountering "vague reports" and then he subsequently admits to "reading the report." This sentence provides what must have been the correct sequence of events (his learning by some method other than reading, followed later by his actually reading "the report" in the local newspaper in 1829). In the very next paragraph, Orson Hyde tells of a new "Campbellite doctrine" being "preached in Mentor and in Kirtland." This truly historical innovation (as Hyde correctly states) was "the doctrine of immersion... for the remission of sins," which "Elder S. Rigdon" began to preach there (as "its chief advocate") in the early spring of 1828. The likely sequence of events, then, is as follows. Around the beginning of 1828, while living at Kirtland, Orson Hyde heard some "vague reports" about the recent discovery of a Gold Bible in New York. At about this same time, Sidney Rigdon began to preach the Campbellite innovation of immediate conversion and baptism for the remission of sins. Hyde was baptized a Campbellite at Kirtland under the supervision of Sidney Rigdon. At a later date, after having spent "a good part of" his the intervening period as "a boarder" with Rigdon's family at Mentor, Hyde finally read the Sept. 22, 1829 Painesville Telegraph reprint of Jonathan A. Hadley's "first ever published" article on the Gold Bible.

In making this confession, in 1858, Hyde was careful not to mention exact dates, places and persons. Even so, its is but a logical conclusion to believe that Orson Hyde first heard the "vague reports" from Sidney Rigdon himself. Possibly Rigdon did credit the rumors to certain newspaper reports. However, the first actual such report known to have been published within the borders of Ohio was in Hyde's and Rigdon's own back yard, on Sept. 22, 1829. In his Rigdon biography Mr. Van Wagoner (like Orson Hyde before him) avoids mentioning this important new item, which editor Eber D. Howe headed, "Golden Bible." In one respect, however, Van Wagoner is no doubt correct: "There can be little doubt that Rigdon, an enthusiastic reader of newspapers, was aware of the [Gold Bible] book before it was placed in his hands."

Note 4:   It might prove very enlightening, if this revealing recollection by LDS Apostle Orson Hyde could be compared to the statements of other early Mormons who also kept company with Rev. Sidney Rigdon at Mentor in 1828-29. For example, Darwin Atwater and Zeb Rudolph probably boarded with Sidney Rigdon (probably in the Orris Clapp home) when they went there in December of 1827 to study the Bible with Rigdon. These two students, however, left Rigdon's tutelage about the time that Orris Clapp's son Matthew was converted to Campbellism, in March of 1828 (with Orson HYde following the same conversion path not long after). Unlike Orson Hyde, these two scholars, along with Matthew S. Clapp, and many other Rigdon-influenced "Campbellites" never became Mormons. The only known complementary recollections of Rigdon, etc., from a Campbellite-turned-Mormon, are those of Eliza R. Snow (which follow, below).


First Meet  J

Reminiscences of
Eliza R. Snow
Eliza R. Snow's "Sketch of My Life" (excerpts)
from: An Immortal: Selected Writing of Eliza R. Snow, UT, 1957.

1829 Eliza R. Snow poem (excerpt)
from: Maureen U. Beecher's "The Eliza Enigma" Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, XI:1 (Spring 1978); reprinted in Vicky Burgess-Olsen's Sister Saints, UT, 1978.   (full text of poem)

view the transcriber's notes on this subject


An  Immortal

Selected Writings of Eliza R. Snow

Publishd by

Salt Lake City, Utah

Sun Lithographing Company
Salt Lake City, Utah

[ 5 ]

Although my parents adhered to the Baptist creed, they extended to their children the right, and afforded us every opportunity we desired, to examine all creeds -- to hear and judge -- to "prove all things." Through being conversant with priests and people of different sects, I found them widely differing from each other; and all, more widely differing from that "form of doctrine," and practice described in the New Testament, with the writings in which, I grew more and more familiar year by year.

Feeling that religion was necessary, I sought for it; but, when I asked, like one of old, "What shall I do to be saved?" and was told that I must have a change of heart, and to obtain it, I must feel myself to be the worst of sinners, and acknowledge the justice of God in consigning me to everlasting torment, the common sense with which God had endowed me, revolted, for I knew I had lived a virtuous and conscientious life, and no consideration could extort from me a confession so absurd. Some told me one thing and some another; but there was no Peter, "endowed from on high."

I heard Alexander Campbell advocate the literal meaning of the Scriptures -- listened to him with deep interest -- hoped his new life led to a fulness -- was baptized, and soon learned that, as well they might, he and his followers disclaimed all authority, and my baptism was of no consequence. During my brief attachment to that church I was deeply interested in the study of the ancient Prophets, in which I was assisted by the erudite A. Campbell, Walter Scott whose acquaintance I made, but more particularly (by) Sidney Rigdon who was a frequent visitor at my father's house.

In the autumn of 1829 I heard of Joseph Smith as a Prophet to whom the Lord was speaking from the heavens; and that a Sacred Record containing a history of the origin of the aborigines of America, was unearthed. A Prophet of

[ 6 ]

God -- the voice of God revealing to man as in former dispensations, was what my soul had hungered for, but could it possibly be true -- I considered it a hoax -- too good to be true.

In the winter of 1830 and 1831, Joseph Smith called at my father's and as he sat warming himself, I scrutinized his face as closely as I could without attracting his attention, and decided that his was an honest face. My adopted motto, "prove all things and hold fast that which is good," prompted me to investigate, as incredulous as I was; and the most impressive testimonies I have ever heard were given by two of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, at the first meeting of the believers in Joseph Smith's mission, which I attended.

On the 5th of April, 1835, I was baptized by a "Mormon" Elder, and in the evening of that day, I realized the baptism of the Spirit as sensibly as I did that of the water in the stream. I had retired to bed, and I was reflecting on the wonderful events transpiring around me, I felt an indescribable, tangible sensation, if I may so call it, commencing at my head and enveloping my person and passing off at my feet, producing inexpressible happiness. Immediately following, I saw a beautiful candle with an unusual long, bright blaze directly over my feet. I sought to know the interpretation, and received the following, "The lamp of intelligence shall be lighted over your path," I was satisfied.

In December I went to Kirtland -- was happy in an association with the Saints, fully appreciating their enlarged views and rich intelligence from the fountain of Eternal Truth, through the inspiration of the Most High; and was present on the ever memorable occasion of the Dedication of the Kirtland Temple (the building of which was commenced in June 1833, and completed in 1836), the first superstructure erected by command of God, and under His immediate direction, for many centuries. In that Temple, after its dedication, I witnessed

  The Eliza Enigma / 35

Let us backtrack to the first few years of Eliza's poetry publishing in search for her prophetic beginnings. In the February 14, 1829, issue of the Ravenna, Ohio, Western Courier, Eliza published a poem which in retrospect is a little disconcerting. It contains what could almost automatically be interpreted as a prophecy of the Mormon restoration of the Christian gospel. The poem, dealing with the universal question of the transcience of life, contains these hope-infusing stanzas:
. . . But lo!, a shining Seraph comes!
    Hark! 'tis the voice of sacred Truth;
He smiles, and on his visage blooms,
    Eternal youth.

He speaks of things before untold,
    Reveals what man nor angels knew,
The secret pages now unfold
    To human view.
So she wrote in Ohio in early 1829. Years after her acceptance of the Mormon gospel, Eliza altered the phrase "secret pages" to read "long seal'd pages," to make more explicit the reference to the coming of the "Seraph," the angel Moroni, with the partially sealed plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. With or without Eliza's later tamperings, we are left with the quandary: could she have heard, fully a year before its publication, of the book and its translator? Was she toying with a local rumor, carried, perhaps, by an itinerant preacher? Had she adopted the Campbellite [sic - Rigdonite?] hope of an angel coming to restore the true gospel? Or was there in her poetic imagination a kernel of true prophecy which prompted such a confident expression?

From the winter afternoon, sometime in late 1830 or early 1831 when Joseph Smith warmed himself in her father's friendly living room, until her baptism into the new faith nearly five years later Eliza struggled for direction. Her hesitation seems to have stemmed from a lack of spiritual confirmation. She yearned after the gifts of the spirit of which the New Testament spoke, and saw about her in the religions of the times, perhaps even somewhat in the new Mormon practices, either barren intellectualizing or, worse, sham perversions of the spiritual outpourings. Whatever led her to finally present herself for baptism at the hands of the Mormons, it was not the fiery pentacostal assurance she wanted. But that night, the night following her immersion into the waters of the new faith, began her new visionary life: she received witness which she read as ultimate and divine confirmation.

I had retired to bed, and as I was reflecting on the wonderful events transpiring around me, I felt an indescribable, tangible sensation ... commencing at my head and enveloping my person and passing off at my feet, producing inexpressible happiness. Immediately following, I saw a beautiful candle with an unusual long, bright blaze directly over my feet. I sought to know the interpretation, and received the following, "The lamp of intelligence shall be lighted over your path." I was satisfied.

The new faith led Eliza to Kirtland, where, despite the fact that she soon owned a house, she continued to live as governess in the home of the prophet Joseph Smith. Her descriptions of the pentacostal manifestations accompanying the dedication of the temple there suggest a growing appetite for such outpourings as the speaking in tongues which became a regular part of temple worship -- so much a part, in fact, that they had to be restricted to

(under construction)

Note 1:  Eliza R. Snow's 1885 holograph "Sketch of My Life," is preserved in the Bancroft Library at Berkeley. This sketch was partly published in An Immortal. This late autobiography does not give many details of the Snow family's interaction with their Campbellite pastor of the late 1820s, the Rev. Sidney Rigdon. Like Orson Hyde, another disciple of Rigdon's, Eliza waited a considerable time after the appearance of the Book of Mormon in Ohio, before she joined her former pastor and became a member of the Mormon church. Yet, both Eliza and Orson seem to have possesed a certain respect or admiration for Joseph Smith and his followers in Kirtland, well before their Mormon baptisms. It is possible that both Eliza R. Snow and Orson Hyde were secretly Rigdon supporters long before their Mormonite baptisms, and that they remained on reletively good terms with Rigdon while themselves lingering within the Campbellite movement. A similar historical phenomenon may later be observed at Nauvoo, in the lingering unbaptized status of pro-Mormon officials, such as Daniel H. Wells and J. B. Backenstos.

Note 2:  Snow and Hyde were not the only early Ohio associates of Sidney Rigdon (Campbellite or otherwise) who heard something of the "GOld Bible" before it was published. Early witnesses who say that Rigdon himself predicted (or anticipated) the coming forth of the Book of Mormon include: Rev. Adamson Bentley, 1841, Dr. Storm Rosa, 1841, Alexander Campbell, 1844, Darwin Atwater, 1873, Thomas J. Clapp, 1879, Amarilla Brooks Dunlap, 1879, and Zebulon Rudolph, 1880, 1881-84, & 1885.

Note 3:  Eliza's mysterious poem first appeared in the Ravenna Ohio Western Courier for Feb. 14, 1829. Her original term "secret pages" was later changed by the poetess to "long seal'd pages," (see Eliza R. Snow's 1885 "Sketch of My Life," holograph in the Bancroft Library, (partly published in An Immortal. Snow's unusual poetic term "shining seraph" reappeared six years later in Joseph Smith's prayer for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple on March 27, 1836: "...help us by the power of thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne, with acclamations of praise..." (LDS Doctrine & Covenants 109:79). This portion of Smith's prayer perhaps owes its unique composition to the hand of his close personal religious associate of that period, the Rev. Mr. Sidney Rigdon, (or perhaps to that of Rigdon's poetic disciple, Miss Snow.

Note 4:  In later years Eliza R. Snow recalled that "In the autumn of 1829" she had "heard of Joseph Smith as a Prophet to whom the Lord was speaking from the heavens; and that a Sacred Record containing a history of the origin of the aborigines of America, was unearthed..." Immediately before this, Snow stated, "I was deeply interested in the study of the ancient Prophets, in which I was assisted by the erudite A. Campbell, Walter Scott whose acquaintance I made, but more particularly by Sidney Rigdon who was a frequent visitor at my father's house." According to Richard S. Van Wagoner (Sidney Rigdon, p. 55), "One early account, no doubt referred to by Hyde and Snow, appeared in the nearby Painesville Telegraph." Despite Van Wagoner's unsubstantiated reliance upon Eber D. Howe's vague recollections of "an account" that he thought had been "given in the papers" of the Gold Bible, "some two or three years" prior to the end of 1830, the earliest account of the "Golden Bible" appearing in HOwe's own newspaper was printed on Sept. 22, 1829. A near exhaustive search of late 1820s American newspaper files has failed to turn up any such "Gold Bible" published before Aug. 11, 1829 (which was the initial report that Howe reprinted in shortened form). Eliza R. Snow's mention of the "autumn of 1829" account, may indeed refer to Howe's newspaper article, but her "shining seraph" poem was published 7 months prior to the appearance of the Painesville Telegraph's report. Miss Snow's fellow Ohio Campbellite Orson Hyde left his readers with the impression that he had heard of the "Golden Bible" as early as 1827. Both Snow and Hyde were variously under the tutorial influence of Campbellite preacher Rigdon by the late 1820s and it appears likely that the three coreligionists shared this "Golden Bible" news among themselves and their close associates well before the autumn of 1829.

Note 5:  While Beecher's question of how Snow could have heard "fully a year before its publication, of the book and its translator," may be be answered by an appeal to Snow's reading of the newspapers after 1827, this Dialogue article writer's second suggestion ("had she adopted the Campbellite hope of an angel coming to restore the true gospel?") is a different matter. Other than Sidney Rigdon and his immediate following in northern Ohio, few "Cambellites" would have been looking for angelic visitations and the latter day unfolding of "secret pages" of lost scriptures. Such millennial hopes (c. 1828-30) might better be termed "Rigdonite" than "Campbellite." Snow's source for the ideas expressed in the 1829 poem may well have been her religious mentor of that era, the Rev. Sidney Rigdon himself.

First Meet  J

Reminiscences of
Elizabeth Ann Whitney

Mrs. Whitney's accounts (1877 & 1878)

(under construction)


First Meet  J

Reminiscences of
Darwin Atwater
1873 Darwin Atwater statement
Amos S. Hayden's Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875, pg. 239)

view the transcriber's notes on this subject

MANTUA STATION, April 26, 1873.     
The infant church at Mantua was left small and inexperienced. I was the only one who had been accustomed to take an active public part. There were Bro. Seth Sanford, and Bro. Seth Harmon, both very young in the Christian profession, with a number of excellent sisters. In our weak state, in the midst of so much opposition, we were poorly prepared to take care of the church. March 21, 1830, I was ordained elder, (in my youth), and Bro. Seth Harmon was ordained deacon -- Adamson Bentley officiating.

At this time, Oliver Snow, an old member of the Baptist church, united with us. His talents, age and experience, ought to have been very useful to us, but they were more frequently exercised in finding fault with what we attempted to do, than in assisting us. This only increased our embarrassment. Soon after this, the great Mormon defection came on us. Sidney Rigdon preached for us, and notwithstanding his extravagantly wild freaks, he was held in high repute by many. For a few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism, it was noticed that his wild, extravagant propensities had been more marked. That he knew before of the coming of the book of Mormon is to me certain, from what he said the first of his visits at my father's, some years before. He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and said that they must have been made by the Aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm on such a subject, instead of things of the gospel. In all my intercourse with him afterward he never spoke of antiquities, or of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the book of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was not the man to reveal that to.

In the admiration of Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Snow and his family shared very largely; so, when he came with his pretended humility, to lay all at the feet of Mormonism, it caused a great shock to the little church at Mantua. The force of this shock was like an earthquake, when Symonds Ryder, Ezra Booth and many others, submitted to the "New Dispensation."

Eliza Snow, afterward so noted as the "Poetess" among the Mormons, led the way. Her parents and sister, and three or four other members of the church, were finally carried away. Two of these were afterward restored.

From this shock the church slowly recovered. Bro. Ryder returned and exposed Mormonism in its true light. The Mormon character soon exposed itself.

Marcus Bosworth continued to preach for us. Symonds Ryder soon resumed his public labors with us, and regained the confidence of the community.

In the year 1834, there were several additions to the church. Its growth has never been rapid. We never had very large accessions, or very low depressions.

In 1839, we built a meeting-house at the center of Mantua, and commenced to occupy it late in the Fall. It was soon after this that you labored for us. About this time, (January 19, 1840), John Allerton and wife, from the church at Euclid, and Selah Shirtliff and wife united, from the church in Shalersville -- all the same day. Of the events during your labors for the church at Mantua, in 1840 and 1841, I need not write.

After much prayerful consideration, the church ordained Selah Shirtliff and John Allerton as elders, and Seth Sanford, deacon. This was done August 21, 1841. In the above, I should have mentioned that Walter Scott preached for us several times. Father Thomas Campbell a number of times. Alexander Campbell once, and Bro. Alton once. Jacob Osborne several times before our organization, and once afterward. Adamson Bentley once or more. John Henry one meeting of days. William Hayden many times.       D. ATWATER.

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Edwin, b. June 13, 1817; m. Harriet Wilmot; she d. in 1877; (2) 1881,
        Betsey Pierce. He d. Nov. 22, 1899.
Diantha, b. June 18, 1819; d. in April, 1820.

The ancestral home of the Sanfords was at Milford. Conn., on the Sound, and there Captain Samuel Sanford seems to have resided part of the time after his honorable service in the Revolutionary War. But before the war he had lived some years at Harwinton. about forty miles to the north, and there * young Samuel, his oldest son, was born in 1766. As a boy he had served as his father's attendant in the army. Both Enos Atwater and the elder Sanford were in the Boston camps in the campaign of 1775, and the latter as lieutenant was in the battle of White Plains, New York, which proved fatal to Jotham Atwater. The acquaintance between the families may thus have begun in the hardships of the War for Independence.

Samuel and Rhoda Sanford moved over and settled on a farm in Harwinton, Conn., perhaps twenty miles to the north of her old home. Rhoda was the more pleased to go there from the fact that her Aunt Mabel Bassett and husband, Levi, had just gone to live in Harwinton. where they had bought a large farm near the Plymouth line. These families resided thus as neighbors only a short distance apart for twenty years and more, and Rhoda, we presume, had her Aunt Mabel to consult with till the Sanfords pulled up stakes, and, at the invitation of Rhoda's brother, Amzi Atwater, migrated to Ohio. They had nine children at the time, and seven of them were in the company that made the hard and toilsome trip to the new country in March, 1817. The two older sons did not accompany the family west. Raymond, at the age of 21, had found satisfactory employment with a business firm. He traveled south and became a successful Southern planter in Lumpkin County. Georgia, and has left a worthy and numerous posterity. Gerry remained with his father's brother in Vermont, and three years later started to go to the family in Ohio, but never arrived, and is believed to have been drowned by falling from a vessel on the lake. The Sanfords paid a man one hundred dollars to take them in two wagons to Ohio. Judge Atwater, who had lately (1816) built a new house and moved out of the log structure where he and his bride, Huldah Sheldon, had gone to housekeeping in November, 1801, kindly received them to the old home till they couid get a start. He had bought, some time before, a hundred acres of land about two miles to the northeast of his home. Of this tract he sold to his brother-in-law thirty-three acres, including the site of "Mud Mill" (erected afterward) and the fine high ground where they built on the spot where the "Dustin House" now stands. Though land was increasing in value, the Judge probably charged him only what he paid. But Joe Skinner's distillery made the location bad for a residence. Later on, when the boys were grown up, Seth bought out his father and the family, in March, 1832, moved oyer to the fifty-acre place, where they made their permanent home. Jason at the same time (1831) buying the hundred acres to the east, Aunt Miriam Pond, or son Everett, taking some sixty-six acres, and the Wilmots about eighty-three acres of the Granger tract, of lot 40, of 420 acres, sold by Judge Atwater for Mindwell P. Granger at $3 per acre.

Edwin Sanford, in his old age, related to the writer two interesting incidents occurring about the last of their stay at the "Mud Mill" home. The first was connected with the coming of the Mormons early in the year 1831. He remembered their bringing their converts to the river near the bridge for baptism, which Edwin, as a boy of fourteen, witnessed. Previous baptism in an orthodox church did not count with Joe Smith and Sidney Rigdon. (See "The Portrait," pages 64 to 69.)

A little later, -- the fall of 1831, -- Edwin's father had the misfortune to fall, while walking with a crowbar in hand, across the mill-dam. and break his leg. Edwin ran for Dr. Earle, who, with his family, had just returned from Paxton, Mass., and had moved into the" brick tavern" home with "Aunt Laura." It proved a slow case of healing; the father was now sixty-five years of age and was never very active afterwards

* But Edwin Sanford said his father was born at Milford.

                         ATWATER  HISTORY.                          239

(1900) stands as a dwelling-house, but the initials of its builder, "J. A.," in large letters on its front, as well as the date, "1825." close under the cornice, have long since disappeared. It was a big job, probably the most expensive house in the township at the time, and taxed the owner's resources to the utmost. Before it was really done and furnished daughter Silvia and Dr. Earle were married in it (October 5, 1826) and he went to practice medicine at Paxton, Mass., near Worcester, where they spent five years. Matilda and Minerva Twaddle, two bright young ladies, were often in Jotham's family at this time and joined him in letter-writing to the Earles. The former of these ladies married Albert Pond; the latter, excelling as a teacher and talker, married John Coburn and moved to DeKalb County, Ind. * While Uncle Jotham was struggling to get the big house paid for he was taken dangerously sick with internal inflammation. His brother, Amzi, came to watch with him the last night of his life, Nov. 4, 1828. It was nearly midnight when Amzi gave Jotham "some medicine, which he took as usual," then he turned round to "set the dishes in their place," and, perceiving him in distress, supported him as well as he could," and "in less than half a minute he was entirely dead."

The surviving brother wrote Elias Bassett:
"This sudden and unexpected death has left his family in a disagreeable position, and probably will require some new exertions of mine to settle his embarrassed estate. He, although possessed of a valuable property, was considerably in debt." Darwin Atwater was appointed administrator. It was found there was a note of Jotham's to his mother, Lois, for $100, and a bank debt of nearly $200, and due bills to the amount of nearly $300. If Uncle Jotham could have had life and health, he would have had his affairs in good shape in a few years. His widow, Aunt Laura, was industrious and economical. She had the nephews, Edwin Sanford and Everett Pond, work the farm, so they kept along. The Earles returned with their little son. (?) George, in the fall of 1831, and all lived together for a time, and the doctor gained a practice in Mantua. Two years later Julia made her unfortunate (?) marriage with the stage contractor, Simon Stough, and her mother died the next

* Minerva Twaddle wrote to Silvia Earle (April, 1827): "Mr. Rigdon preaches here every fourth Sabbath. Eliza and Amanda Snow and Parthena Sanford have been baptized, and it is expected that several others will be at the next meeting." This Eliza Snow was the talented daughter of Oliver Snow, a leading citizen, who lived on his farm at the Corners, a mile west of Jotham Atwater's brick tavern. She had a brother, Lorenzo. They were, doubtless, great partisans of the Baptist preacher, Sidney Rigdon, and three years later followed him into Mormonism. Mr. Snow was baptized by the Mormons in the little stream near home, Eliza leading, and later becoming an additional wife of Joe Smith, and still later noted as the Mormon poetess, though her father, Oliver, when he came to know Smith and had lost property by him, pronounced him a fraud and refused to go further. Eliza described in verse the killing of her "husband," (?) and she and Lorenzo followed the new leader, Brigham Young, to Salt Lake City. Eliza was her brother's biographer. Lorenzo became a noted Mormon missionary, traveling over much of Europe as well as his own country; was long one of the "Apostles," and at last, in 1898, at the age of 84, he has been elected President of the Mormon Church.

240                          ATWATER  HISTORY.                         

year. August 30, 1834, at the age of 47 years. So the united family life came to an end, and Jotham's nephew, Jason Sanford, then the most active, most energetic and capable young business man for miles around, bought the real estate, and conducted the hotel until his premature death in 1848. Dr. Earle and family settled in Newton Falls, Ohio, where he practiced medicine for years.

993. Lois 6 (Enos5, Jacob4, Jonathan3, Jonathan2, David1), b. June 23, 1784; m. Jan. 24, 1805. Samuel Judson, at Mantua, Ohio. She d. March, 1813. * They lived near the" Mud Mill," perhaps at first west and then east of the mill. In May, 1812, on the formation of the Congregational Church in Mantua, Lois became a charter member. There appears to have been fourteen persons who united to make the beginning, according to the history of Portage County. Alma, b. 1807; m. Enos Ford; lived in Braceville, Ohio. Had three children; d. in 1896. She had small comfort in old age.

Alvin, m. and lived in Braceville; was present with his Uncle Amzi and Cousin Darwin at the funeral of his cousin, Sophia Pond Rich, Aug. 15, 1844.

Ella (a son). m. and lived in Indiana.

Elijah, m. and had four children.

Cyrus, "went west."
994. Miriam 6 (Enos5, Jacob4, Jonathan3, Jonathan2, David1), b. Jan. 7, 1788; m. at Mantua, Ohio, Jan. 24. 1805, David Pond. He d. May 31, 1827. Miriam d. Nov. 14. 1870, at Maynard, Iowa. They lived and he died in Mantua, Ohio. Mira, b. Nov., 1805; d. in 1828.

Albert, lived at Concord, DeKalb County, Ind. Had one child.

Everett, d. at Lima, Ill., about 1846-7.

Sophia, m. George Rich (a preacher); d. in Auburn after the birth of daughter Mary, Aug. 15, 1844.

        Mary M. b. July 22, 1844; m. James Conrad, Oct. 1868. They have one son. now Dr. A. E. Conrad, Maynard, Iowa.

Allen, d. in Mantua. Ohio, Nov. 30, 1828.

Lois, d. in Illinois or Missouri, June 1, 1839 (or 1840).

Oscar, d. Oct. 16, 1844, of quick consumption, at Lima, Ill.

Linus, b. ___ ; d. Dec. 26, 184, at Lima, Ill.

Newton, returned with his mother from Illinois and Missouri in 1849; went south to New Orleans about 1850. Never returned.

* Mrs. Sallie Judson Vaughn (Mrs. Truman V.), dau. of Samuel Judson by his second wife, in interview with the writer, Dec., 1898, mentioned that John Rudolph and Darwin Atwater came over to their home to nurse and watch with her father in his last sickness, about the year 1827. She also said she remembered the time (as they then lived at the foot of the Stevens Hill in Hiram) when Joe Smith was mobbed and tarred and feathered at the top of the hill, March [1832]

                         ATWATER  HISTORY.                          241

No doubt wonder has been expressed many times in the family connection that Aunt Miriam Pond [1788-1870] should have "gone with the Mormons," especially since Judge [Amzi] Atwater, her older brother and natural advisor (he was the acknowledged counsellor of his sisters and, indeed of all the Ohio kindred) urged to the contrary, and her nephew, Darwin Atwater, elder of the newly-formed Disciple Church, of which she was a member since Sept. 16, 1827, steadfastly exhorted the members to stand firm against the Mormon delusion. It must be remembered that several men of good standing and great influence gave in their adhesion to the new faith. First of all was the preacher, Sidney Rigdon (who undoubtedly was a fellow-conspirator with Joe Smith, and perhaps the real originator of the fraud), then there was Oliver Snow, a Baptist since 1809, later in the Disciple Church, a farmer of property and intelligence; and Rev. Ezra Booth of the Methodist Church, a bright and well-informed man, whose daughter, Almeda, a score of years later, became a prominent teacher at Hiram and an associate of President Garfield in that noted school; and last, but not least, Symonds Rider, of Hiram, the young preacher who had come out to profess his faith when Elder Thomas Campbell (father of Alexander) preached May 25, 1828, in Jotham Atwater's barn. All these had great weight. Then we must bear in mind that the astonishing account of the finding by Smith, under the direction of an angel of God, of the box buried in a hill at Manchester, New York, containing the golden plates of this new dispensation seemed to have strong testimony, since Cowdry, Whitmer, Harris and others testified that they had seen the plates; that the leaders appeared to speak in other tongues, especially the Indian dialects, and positively claimed the power to work miracles, and appeared to prove it by Mrs. Johnson, of Hiram, who showed her arm which had been withered and useless, but at the command of the prophet had been restored "whole as the other."

"The Portrait," 4 page 64, has this helpful passage:
"It is difficult to comprehend the intense excitement and commotion produced by the tales of these marvels. Especially were the New Disciple churches shaken by the course of Rigdon; and all the more so, when it was known that he in no way changed or varied from his old faith and preaching, and that the new revelation was but a supplement of the old, -- a realization of the pouring out of the spirit in these last days. [It was also said that the text of the new and marvellous book explicitly sustained the special views and dogmas of their churches.] Those outside of all church organizations, as well as the members of established sects, were under a degree of excitement which cannot be appreciated at this remote time."
The people who were being duped could not look behind the scenes, as "The Portrait" enables us to do, and behold the mask of piety thrown off and rightly see the bare-faced imposition which was being practiced upon the incredulity by a vulgar deceiver.

"The Portrait," page 78, after exhibiting Smith as acting before his followers the role of the prophet with some dignity, presents him behind the scenes:

4 "The Portrait, A Romance of the Cuyahoga Valley," by A. G. Riddle, ex-congressman.

242                          ATWATER  HISTORY.                         

"Ha, Sid, old fellow," slapping the still astonished Rigdon on the shoulder, "what so you say to that -- rather goodish, eh?" "It will do, I think," replied the latter laughing faintly. "But I tell you what," gravely, "that light on the other side of the creek was rather shallow and won't bear repeating." "Oh, well, it won't be necessary to claim anything for that if there is anything said about it. Cotton-wicking and turpentine don't cost much. But I was devilish afraid that Olny would give tongue with his unknown jargon -- 'Shalang, shala, shale, shalo.' God, I'd give something for an interpreter of that." "Let's have none of that here," said Rigdon decidedly. "Nor will it do to attempt such another performance in this neighborhood. There are cool, shrewd heads all about us here."

"What's the prospect with the Atwaters and the Snows and Deacon Carman (Harmon)," asked Smith. "I've some hopes of the Snows; Uncle Oliver is long-headed, but then he is wrong-headed, and we'll catch him in that. If we do, the family will follow. As for young Atwater, he and the younger Campbell married sisters, you know." "I'd like to try Alexander himself," said Joe, a little assertively. "You'd wither under his glance like a plucked pumpkin blossom in August," said Rigdon contemptuously. "His eye is like an eagle's, and he is as form and clear as rock crystal."
So Aunt Pond and five of the children, Everett, Oscar, Linus and Newton, and daughter Lois, followed the "Prophet." The story of their hardships, partly told by the letter (now in possession of A. Atwater, Bloomington, Ind.) of Oliver Snow, from Far West, Mo., Jan., 1839, to his friend Judge Atwater, and partly by the letters of the Pond brothers, is a sad one... Oscar lived to write of the mob that killed Joe Smith, June, 1844, and Everet lived to know of the election of the strong and vigorous leader, Brigham Young, and the excommunication of the contumacious Rigdon, and perhaps of the departure of the Mormon vanguard for Salt Lake in 1847. Being left penniless and destitute, Aunt Pond was gald to accept the aid ($50?) of her brother to get back to her Ohio kindred. "Why, Miriam, have you come?" was his expression on meeting her. Newton, the remaining son, came with his mother, worked about for a short time, went South, and was never heard of more. Judge Atwater left to Aunt Pond in

* Now in possession of A. Atwater, Bloomington, Ind.

                         ATWATER  HISTORY.                          243

his will the provision of an annuity. Her nephew, Darwin Atwater, built a room for her as an addition to his house, and when she wished to live alone he and her other nephews, Edwin and Seth Sanford, built her a little cottage on what is now Prospect street, Mantua Station, Ohio. She died at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Mary Rich Conrad of Maynard, Iowa....

246                          ATWATER  HISTORY.                         

... One inquiry of Jason [Atwater] (letter to Amzi, 1832) has a strange sound in this remote age. After inquiring about the Mormons, he wrote,
"I should like to know the truth on this point and also whether the sect called Campbellites or Rigdonites is increasing."
The strangeness now appears from the fact that Rigdon (who had been a Baptist preacher and had imbibed some of the views of Alexander Campbell) turned out to be be the real originator of Mormonism, while no theologian exposed that fraud more strongly than did Mr. Campbell, no body of people more vigorously resisted the spread of the delusion than his associates.

298                          ATWATER  HISTORY.                         

school taught in Mantua (perhaps the first in all that region) for it was held in her father's own log dwelling house. John Harmon. her mother's young cousin (afterward prominent in the county, then but 17) was her teacher. When the same young man, two years later, taught in her home, Cleona at six was better able to improve the opportunity. (See Portage Co. Hist. p. 485.)


Cleona was in her fifteenth year (March 28, 1817) when her Aunt Rhoda Sanford, husband and seven children arrived from Connecticut. Edwin was not born till the following June. They had been on the road four weeks and coming in covered wagons through March storms and cold and mud. they were about worn out. It was a wonder that they all lived it through. Cleona was delighted to meet her interesting cousin, Julia Sanford (afterward Mrs. John Haven), only a few weeks younger than herself, and to have her for a companion, while they lived in the settler's first cabin near by. As her father and mother practically adopted little Parthena Sanford, then a child of seven years, she had her help in taking care of baby Matilda and later baby Lucy, while Julia's younger sister, Emeline, went to live with her Aunt Mary Hine.


Mrs. Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, widow of the President, in a letter to the author of these notes, date of Dec. 28, 1900, gives this account of her people:
"The Rudolph family was either Prussian or Austrian (the records are not very definite), but a Colonel ____ Rudolph come to America about the beginning of the eighteenth... century. He settled in Maryland... He had two sons, Tobias as Jacob. The latter had several sons, one of whom was my grandfather, John Rudolph. He (John) left Maryland... and came to Garrettsvile [Ohio] about 1805 or 06... I cannot give the dates of births and marriages except of my father [Zeb Rudolph]. He was born Feb. 23, 1803, and was married Oct. 7, 1830."
From this statement it appears that John (Junior) was the oldest of the children. He was born in the Shenandoah Valley probably in 1799 or 1800, as he was six years old when they came to Ohio. The Garretsville above mentioned was a new settlement in Ohio about 36 miles southeast of Cleveland... This place was six or seven miles east of Amzi Atwater's farm.

The Rudolph family were members of the Baptist church and helped to organize a church of that faith in the village in 1808. When the Reformation preached by Alexander Campbell spread through northern Ohio

                         ATWATER  HISTORY.                          299

twenty years later, nearly or quite all of the Rudolphs and Atwaters and the Baptist churches in the country regions generally accepted the doctrine.

As the Rudolph and Atwater families attended church together, probably first at Garretsville, certainly later at Mantua, the young folks became acquainted... they were all members of the Baptist church at Garrettsville up to this time. In Hayden's "History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve," page 237, occurs this passage: "That portion of the members who maintained the sufficiency of the revealed will of God for all purposes of "faith and practice, formed a church in Mantua, January 27, 1827, on the principle of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and obedience to him as taught in His Word." There were nine members at the beginning and eighteen were added the first year. Of this little church, Zeb Rudolph and Darwin Atwater were chosen teachers May 24, 1828, and John Rudolph one of the deacons. These selections were made under the advice of "Father" Thomas Campbell

The John Rudolph home as a place to visit, abounding in bright, active and affectionate young cousins, filled a great place (as also did the Haven home) in the thought and life of the writer of these notes and of his brothers and sister.

An epidemic of scarlet fever was the terrible cause of death of three of the older girls, Huldah, Eliza and Susan. When Aunt Cleona died in the midst of her little children, her youngest sister Lucy came from her father's home in Mantua and took care of them. Perhaps she was too delicate for so great care and labor.

The second wife brought with her two or three children, Cordelia, (Merinda ?) and Katie Starks. The latter was a favorite in the family connection and was generally counted among the cousins. She married Rev. Alanson Wilcox, a successful and valued minister, and long connected with Hiram College. Mrs. Wilcox has fine taste and skill as an artist.

2882. Darwin7 (Amzi6, Enos5, Jacob4, Jonathan3, Jonathan2, David1), b. Sept. 11, 1805; m. Harriet Clapp, Sept. 14, 1829. She d. Jan.


From the book "The Clapp Family in America," page 13, we glean the following: "The family of Clapp, originally Clapa, claims Danish extraction, and was long settled

300                          ATWATER  HISTORY.                         

28. 1854; (2) Mrs. Betsey W. Treudley, Feb. 7, 1855. He was born and lived at Mantua (later Mantua Station), Ohio, and d. May 28, 1873.

in Devonshire (England), in which county it possessed the estate of Salcome." (Note -- "Osgod Clapa was a Danish noble at the court of King Canute, who was King of England, 1017-1036. From him it is supposed that Clapham County, Surrey, where he had a country house, derived its name.") --- Roger Clapp, born in Salcome Regis, England, April 6, 1609, son of ____ Clapp (brother of Robert), was the first in the line in America. Rev. Thomas Clapp, President of Yale College, 1740-1765, was descended from Robert Clapp. Roger came with his favorite non-Conformist minister, Rev. John Warham, in the ship "Mary and John," one of the sixteen vessels of the Massachusetts Bay Company holding a patent from King James the First and also from Charles the First. "Captain Roger Clapp, in his Memoirs, speaks thus of this patent: "Was it not a wondrous good Hand of God to incline the heart of our King so freely to grant it, with all the Privileges which the Patent expresseth?'" As they sailed from Plymouth, England, March 20, 1630, and arrived at Nantasket, Mass.,May 30, they were nearly three months at sea. Roger Clapp settled at Dorchester in June, 1630, and married Johannah, daughter of Thomas Ford, who came in the same ship.... with him. At Dorchester he was Captain, Selectman, Deputy to the General Court and "Captain of the Castle" in 1665. His son, Preserved, at about the age of twenty (? 1663) moved to Northampton, in Central Western Massachusetts, then the borders of civilzation. Here he became "one of the leading men. He was Captain of the town and Representative in the General Court and ruling elder in the church." He married Sarah, daughter of Benjamin Newberry, of Windsor. They had eight children. His son, Roger (1634-1762), married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Bartlett. He was also Captain and Representative to the General Court at Northampton. His son, Roger (1708-1773), moved to Southampton and was in the army (1748-1749). His son, Abner (wife Mercy), moved to Middlefield, Mass., a few miles to the west, probably soon after the Revolutionary War.   His son, Orris Clapp (1770-1847) and Phebe Blish were married Dec. 25, 1791. They had thirteen children, the sixth of whom was Harriet, born June 23, 1799. After the death of her grandfather, Abner, in December, 1800, in Middlefield, her father and mother and six children (three died in Middlefield), following the Blishes, the wife's people, removed in 1806 to Mentor, Ohio, and settled on a farm in the beautiful region of the lake shore. There Orris Clapp was judge of the court. He was a leader in the church, which was Baptist till the organization of the Disciple Church, which absorbed the Baptist membership. Harriet's older brother, Orris, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died at home of disease contracted in the service near Sandusky. Her younger brother, Matthew Clapp, married Alicia Campbell, youngest sister of Alexander Campbell, and became a minister in the Disciple Church. He preached at Danbury, Conn . and at Pompey, N.Y.; also in New York City and much in Ohio. He was a strong anti-slavery advocate, and was a Representative in the Ohio Legislature one term. Harriet's younger brother, John Milton Clapp, graduated at Yale in 1831, and afterward became "principal teacher" in Beaufort College, South Carolina. Later (1836) he resigned, and after a trip North to visit his relatives, with whom he was widely at variance on the slavery question, he returned South and became one of the editors of the "Charleston Mercury." He also at one time edited the "Southern Quarterly." Harriet's younger sister, Phebe, married Dr. Archibald W. Campbell, brother of Alexander C., and resided at Bethany, Va., the seat of Bethany College. Her son, Archibald Campbell, was the well-known editor of the "Wheeling Intelligencer," and prominent in Republican politics in West Virginia. Harriet's brothers, Thomas and Henry Clapp, were for many years elders of the church in Mentor, and were always deeply interested in religion, education and the anti-slavery cause. Thomas Clapp, while having some peculiarities, was a man very pure-minded and conscientious, and of remarkable piety and Christian zeal. Few men have ever been able to quote the scriptures so fully and accurately; few ever devoted so much thought to duty and righteousness.

                         ATWATER  HISTORY.                          301

5240. Orris Clapp, b. Sept. 6, 1833.

5241. Mary, b. Oct. 15, IS35; m. Jan. 22, 1870, George W. Neely. d. Sept. 20, 1899. She d. April 12, 1900.

5242. John Milton, b. June 3, 1837; d. Jan. 17,1900.

5243. Amzi, b. Nov. 9, 1839.
(The second wife at her marriage brought with her the three children by her first husband, Howard {about 12 years of age}, John {about 9} and Frederick {nearly 3}. Howard {now, in 1900} is special agent of the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern Railroad at Cincinnati, Ohio; John is a grocery-man at Youngstown, Ohio, and Frederick is the Superintendent of Schools of Youngstown, an Elder in the church and a Trustee of Hiram College.)

Darwin Atwater was an unusally grave and concientious young man. This characteristic became more marked as he early turned his mind to religious meditation and doctrine. He was baptized, probably at Garrettsville, by Elder Thomas Miller, a zealous Baptist minister, in February, 1822. For a time he kept a book in which he noted down his reflections on Christian duty. Later he recorded, in topical form, quotations from scriptures and from ministers whom he heard from time to time -- Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, Adamson Bently, Matthew Clapp, Marcus Bosworth and others. These were often his guests, at first at his father's, and later at his own home. At the age of sixteen he taught a small school near his uncle Jotham's. At seventeen (1822-3) he attended an academy at Warren. Here he heard the strong and vigorous Adamson Bently preaching in a Baptist church such views as Alexander Campbell advocated: The New Testament scriptures, not the ancient law of Moses, as a guide; Christ, the Son of God (not a creed), the Confession of Faith; immediate obedience to His commands, not a waiting by the penitent one for miraculous proof of pardon; "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins," as the true exhortation to the sinner. This wide variation from the common Baptist teaching favorably impressed him. Later (probably the summer of 1823) he attended the "school of the preachers" at Chardon, where he heard Alexander Campbell for the first time. "His superiority to the unlearned Baptist preachers" was quite manifest. In January, 1827, he took part in organizing in Mantua a church (as stated under "The Rudolph Family,") in accordance with these views.(This church now, after about three-quarters of a century, is one of the strongest country churches in that region.)

The following May he and Zeb Rudolph, under the advice of Elder Thomas Campbell, were chosen "teachers" of the congregation. It was in December of this year [1827] that these two young church leaders went out to Mentor, Ohio (thirty miles away on the Lake Erie shore), to study the Bible with Sidney Rigdon, who temporarily had his home there, while he visited several churches. This man was a talented and forcible Baptist preacher, who for some months had been taking up and preaching the views of Campbell. The young men knew him to be able and clear in

302                          ATWATER  HISTORY.                         

argument and versed in the Bible. We may well imagine they had some misgivings, however, as to his genuine piety and sincerity. But they felt the necessity of diligent study and preparation for the duties to which, in their youth, they had been chosen. These earnest students were probably much disappointed as to aid from their teacher. Rigdon had for years been in possession of the noted Spaulding manuscript, setting forth the romance which told of the derivation of the American Indians from memebers of the "Lost Tribes" of Israel. Some time before this he had probably decided to bring it out in some fraudulent way. Years afterward Darwin Atwater wrote thus: "That he knew before of the coming of the book of Mormon, is to me certain from what he said the first of his visits at my father's, some years before. He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and said that they must have been made by the Aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm on such a subject." (Hayden's History of the Disciples, p. 239.) By January, 1828 [sic - 1827?], Rigdon was probably figuring with Joe Smith to have the golden plates found in the hill at Manchester, N. Y., and to translate them by the aid of the "Urim and Thummim" spectacles, or it may be he left that part of the deception wholly to Smith's invention. (see Introduction to Book of Mormon; also pages 241 and 242 of this book.)

In Mrs. Garfield's letter (previously quoted in these notes) she says: "I often heard my father speak of the winter [1827-28] your father and he spent in Mentor studying the Bible with Sidney Rigdon. I have heard him say that they were a good deal puzzled with Mr. Rigdon's absences from home, of which he never gave any adequate reason, and of his preocuppied manner. His course later explained it to their satisfaction...." It was while he was at Mentor, that winter, that Darwin Atwater met Harriet Clapp, and he was probably present at the evening meeting held by Adamson Bently in February [sic - March?] of that year [1828], when Harriet and her younger brother Matthew made profession of faith, their sister Phebe and brother Milton being at the time at Burton Academy, the latter preparing to enter Yale in the fall. Zeb Rudolph may have returned home from Mentor before that. He was one of the best of men, and Darwin Atwater found in him a most worthy associate and fellow-worker in the church and a friend for life. His talented and cultured daughter, Lucretia Rudolph, by her marriage with James A. Garfield came to the most honorable position in the nation, which she filled with the highest grace and dignity. Her father spent his old age with her and died October, 1897, at the age of 94 years.

Harriet Clapp Atwater was a woman of noble and rather classic face; quiet, yet affectionate disposition; fond of her family and friends, but not inclined to leave home for much visiting, except at the old Mentor home and among loved ones that once gathered there....


First Meet  J

Statements of
The Clapp Bros. of Mentor

Matthew's 1831 letter  |  Henry H.'s 1879 letter
Thomas' 1879 statement  |  Thomas' 1884 recollection

(under construction)

Notes:  (forthcoming)

First Meet  J

Statements of
Zebulon Rudolph

Zeb and John Rudolph (1884)  |  Zeb Rudolph (1885)

(under construction)

Notes:  (forthcoming)

First Meet  J

Statements of
James A. Garfield

James Garfield (1880)  |  James Garfield (1880)  |  James Garfield (1880)

(under construction)

Notes:  (forthcoming)


First Meet  J

Reminiscences of
Adamson Bentley
Adamson Bentley's 1841 letter
from: The Evangelist OH, Sept.? 1843.
reprinted: Millennial Harbinger VA, Jan. 1844.

1891 William H. Whitsitt comments (excerpt)
from: "Sidney Rigdon, the Real Founder of Mormonism" (LoC 1891) pp. 244-48

view the transcriber's notes on this subject


Vol. ?.                                       Carthage, Ohio, September 1843?                                     No. ?.

MORMONISM -- The Means by which it stole the True Gospel.

It is well known that the Mormons preach the true gospel and plead for immediate obedience to it on the part of the hearers, as the advocates of original Christianity do. This was not on original measure of Mormonism; for, indeed, baptism for the remission of sins is a phrase not found in their book. A few of their leaders took it from Rigdon, at Euclid, on the Western Reserve, as may be learned from brother Jones' account of their first visit to Kirtland, published in a preceding volume of the Evangelist. Rigdon, we were perfectly aware, had possessed himself of our analysis of the gospel and the plea for obedience raised thereupon; but not, choosing to rely on my own recollection of the means by, and the times at, which they were imparted to him, we wrote to Mr. Bentley, who is his brother-in-law, for the necessary information. Mr. Bentley's letter shows not only whence he received his knowledge of the true gospel; but also that, coward that he was, he had not the independence necessary to preach it in his own vicinity after he had received it. Thus the knowledge of ordering and pleading the elements of the true gospel by that people, is seen to arise near the same time and from the same source as that of our own reformation. Mr. Bentley's letter is as follows: --

Solon, [Ohio] January 22, 1841.           
"Dear Brother Scott -- Your favor of the 7th December is received. I returned from Philadelphia, Pa., on the 10th, and the answer to your acceptable letter has been deferred. I was much gratified to hear from you and family, but would be much more so to see you once more in the flesh, and talk over our toils and anxieties in the cause of our blest Redeemer.

Your request that I should give you all the information I am in possession of respecting Mormonism. I know that Sydney Rigdon told me there was a book coming out (the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates) as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance in this country or had been heard of by me. The same I communicated to brother A Campbell. The Mormon book has nothing of baptism for the remission of sins in it; and of course at the time Rigdon got Solomon Spaulding's manuscript he did not understand the scriptures on that subject. I cannot say he learnt it from me, as he had been about a week with you in Nelson and Windham, before he came to my house. I, however, returned with him to Mentor. He stated to me that he did not feel himself capable of introducing the subject in Mentor, and would not return without me if he had to stay two weeks with us to induce me to go. This is about all I can say. I have no doubt but the account given in Mormonism Unmasked, [sic] is about the truth. It was got up to deceive the people and obtain their property, and was a wicked contrivance with Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jr. May God have mercy on the wicked men, and may they repent of this their wickedness!

May the Lord bless you, brother Scott, and family! Mrs. Bentley is much out of health, and I fear will never be better.
Yours most affectionately,

S I D N E Y    R I G D O N,



William Heth Whitsitt, D.D., LL.D.,

Professor in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
at Louisville, Kentucky

[ 244 ]

[It was not until 1830 that Rigdon lost confidence in influencing Alexander Campbell and the Disciples, to embrace the special views which had been so carefully elaborated in the redaction of] the Book of Mormon to which he had given three or more years of earnest study and labor. Prior to this possibly much deplored breach [with Campbell] he had omitted no kind of exertion to prepare the minds of his brethren for the advent of that work. Besides the fact which Mr. Howe relates that he was industriously "preaching some new points of doctrine which were afterwards found to be inculcated in the Mormon Bible" (Howe, p.289). Rigdon took occasion, perhaps with frequency, to refer to that work itself in his private interviews with the more hopeful or the more prominent ministers of his party. One of these was Darwin Atwater, later a patriarch of the Disciples church at Mantua. Rigdon approached Atwater upon this business already before he had entrusted his performance to the keeping and exertions of Joseph Smith. The arrangement by which the eloquent orator of the Disciples became the stated preacher of the congregation at Hiram -- Mantua -- Nelson, bears the date of January 27, 1827 (Hayden, pp.237-8). While the angel did not present the work to Smith until the 22nd of the following September, Mr. Atwater testifies:

"That he knew before of the coming of the Book of Mormon is to me certain, from what he said the first of his visits to my father's some years before" (About the close of January 1827) "He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and said they must have been made by the aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things.

[ 245 ]

He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm on such a subject, instead of things of the gospel. In all my intercourse with him afterward, he never spoke of antiquities, or of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the Book of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was not the man to reveal that to" (Hayden, pp. 239-240).

It is possible there were a number of persons on the Western Reserve whom Rigdon approached in this same way, only the records of the transaction have not been so distinctly transmitted. There is another instance, however, which occurred a few months later after the Book of Mormon was actually in the hands of Mr. Smith. This time he sought to tempt and gain over two no less distinguished personages than Adamson Bentley and Alexander Campbell. The narrative of that interview may be read in the Millennial Harbinger for 1844, p.39. At that place, in the course of a letter addressed to Elder Walter Scott, who had been Mr. Rigdon's fellow-elder in the care of the Sandemanian church in Pittsburgh, Mr. Bentley says:

"I know that Sidney Rigdon told me that there was a book coming out, the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates, as much as two years before the Mormon Book made its appearance, or had been heard of by me."

Referring to the above Mr. Campbell adds:

[ 246 ]

"The conversation alluded to in Brother Bentley's letter of 1841 was in my presence as well as his, and my recollection of it led me, some two or three years ago, to interrogate Brother Bentley touching his recollections of it, which accorded with mine in every particular, except the year in which it occurred, he placing it in the summer of the year 1827, and I in the summer of 1826; Rigdon at the same time observing that in the plates dug up in New York there was an account not only of the aborigines of this country, but also stated that the Christian religion had been preached in this country during the first country, just as we were preaching it on the Western Reserve."

Here indeed was the highest game it was possible that he should spread his nets for. It must be allowed also that Sidney managed the affair exceedingly well. Not only did he excite the minds of these fair leaders in his sect by the story of a wonderful discovery, but he sought to conciliate their favorable regard by the very true statement that the Book of Mormon contained the substance of what the Disciples were at the moment holding forth as the word of life. It was a prominent feature in Mr. Rigdon's plan and exertion, as will be shown in its place further on, to inculcate in his Book of Mormon precisely the same tenets as those of Alexander Campbell, with the exception of the application of the literalizing principle of Campbell to a few matters which the latter had neglected.

[ 247 ]

Respecting the question of date as mooted in the above extract it is likely that both Mr. Campbell and Mr. Bentley were at fault. The conversation could not have been held with Rigdon in the year 1826, for the reason that the plates to which reference was made had not been "dug up" as early as 1826; this occurrence did not befall until the 22nd of September 1827. Furthermore the only time when Mr. Campbell and Mr. Bentley could have been both of them in the company of Rigdon during the year 1827, was perhaps at the session of the Mahoning Association, which was convened at New Lisbon, Columbiana county on the 23rd of August (Hayden, p.55). There is no account of the presence of Mr. Campbell on the Western Reserve after the adjournment of that organization during the remainder of the year 1827. His wife was at the moment declining with consumption; her death took place on the 22nd of October 1827. It is probable, therefore that he went immediately from the Association to watch at her bedside.

But the plates were not "dug up" until nearly a full month had elapsed after the close of the session of the Mahoning; unless he had been speaking proleptically it would have been impossible for Mr. Rigdon to have referred to that event as having already transpired in August 1827. It is therefore almost certain that the conversation

[ 248 ]

was held at the convocation of the Association at Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, in August 1828. Then the plates had been duly recovered, and it would be entirely natural for Mr. Rigdon to mention them in his communings with his friends.

With this conclusion agrees the original statement by Mr. Bentley, in which he speaks of Rigdon as communicating the information about the forthcoming Book of Mormon as much as two years before it made its appearance or had been heard of by him.

Note 1:  (forthcoming)


Some Analysis and Comments on this Topic

From Dale R. Broadhurst

Sidney Rigdon/Joseph Smith image copyright © 2007 Intellectual Properties

Under construction