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The old Warren Corning House in Mentor, Ohio

Court Documents, Letters and Articles
Relating to D. P. Hurlbut: 1834-1886

Hurlbut in Sandusky Co., OH  |  Crisis at Kirtland (Preface)   |   Sources   |   Home   |   Comments
1800-34 Letters   |   1834-1a   |   1834-1b   |   1834-2   |   1834-3   |   1834-4   |   G. Brass Case

Document 1a:
1834 Ohio Courts' Transcripts
April 9, 1834.

Source: Typescript of "Ohio v. Dr. P. Hurlbut," 9 April 1834, Geauga County Court House, Chardon, Ohio; as recorded in "Geauga County, Court of Common Pleas Records," Book P, p. 191.   view page 191 source document

Note 1: Some past writers have assumed that the Hurlbut trial was held on the first day of the new court term (March 31, 1834). According to an entry in Joseph Smith's diary, dated April 1, 1834, "The court has not brought forward Hurlbut's trial yet, and we were engaged in issuing subpĪnas for witnesses." A subsequent Smith entry reads: "Wednesday the 2d and Thursday the 3d, attended the court. Hurlbut was on trial for threatening my life. Friday morning I returned home." All of this seems to indicate a carrying out of the pre-trial process, prior to the actual commencement of Hurlbut's trial. According to a report in the April 12, 1834 issue of the Chardon Spectator, Hurlbut's trial finally commenced on "Tuesday last." Presumably this means Tuesday, April 8, 1834 and not Tuesday, April 1st (when the pre-trial process was just getting under way). The trial was held in the old court-house at Chardon and was of short duration. -- Although the heading across the top of the transcript on page 191 of the record book reads "April 9, 1834," the record itself evidently contains information derived from events of April 8-10 (if the actual trial commenced on the 8th, ended on the 9th, and Hurlbut's bond was paid on the 10th). -- The text recorded here was re-transcribed as a part of the larger entry written on pages 431-432 in this same record book.

Note 2: The Smith vs. Hurlbut pre-trial hearing was held on Jan. 13-15, 1834 at Painesville, before the Hon. William Holbrook and a fellow Justice of the Peace. The transcript of the decision in that case was appended to the transcript for the decision in State of Ohio vs. Hurlbut trial, held at Chardon, in the court term beginning on March 31, 1834. The combined original transcripts were copied into one of the record books for the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas some time prior July of 1896.

Note 3: The combined transcript mentioned above was printed in Vol. I, pp. 444-446 of The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (1st ed 1896). The original pre-trial testimony was apparently discarded soon after the hearing at Painesville, but the hearing is summarized in the record of the subsequent April, 1834 trial held at Chardon. In neither case do the actual words of witness testimony survive: they are not to be found in the Chardon Court House, nor anywhere else. A few recollections of that trial were preserved by an article in the Chardon Spectator along with some reminiscences of trial lawyer James A. Briggs and Mormon Bishop Whitney's brother Samuel F. Whitney, who testified there as a witness in Hurlbut's behalf.


Wednesday April 9th, 1834

Ford two third parts of said land and to the said Amy Ford [a] third part thereof; and it is further ordered that this petition be [ --- tioned] until the next term of said court.

The State of Ohio, on com-
plaint of Joseph Smith Jr.       | Recognizance to keep the Peace
[ ------ ]     v[s]
Doctor P. Hurlbut.

      This day comes the Prosecuting Attorney for the County [an]d also the said defendant, and the Court having heard the [sai]d complaint, and all the testimony add[--]ed by the said [com]plaintant, and also by the said defendant, and having duly [con]sidered the same, are of opinion that the said complaintant [h]ad ground to fear that the said Doctor P. Hu[r]lbut would would [be]at or kill him or destroy his property, as set forth in said [co]mplaint.  Wherefore it is ordered and adjudged by the Court that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut enter into a new [r]ecognizance, with good and sufficient security in the sum of [tw]o hundred dollars, hereafter to keep the peace and be of good [be]havior to the citizens of the State of Ohio generally, and to the said Joseph Smith Junior in particular, for the period of six months; and if is further ordered that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut pay the costs of this prosecution taxed
      And thereupon came the said Doctor P. Hurlbut, and Charles A. Holmes and Elijah Smith as his sureties, in open Court, entered into a Recognizance in the penal sum of two hundred dollars each, conditioned that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut shall, for the period of six months from and after this day keep the peace and be of good behavior to all the citizens of the State of Ohio, generally, and to the said Joseph Smith Junr. in particular. --

Document 1b:
1834 Ohio Courts' Transcripts
March 31, 1834.

Source: Typescript of "Ohio v. Dr. P. Hurlbut," 31 March 1834, Geauga County Courthouse, Chardon, Ohio; as recorded in "Geauga County, Court of Common Pleas Records," Book P, pp. 431-432.   view page 431 source document

Note 1: Although recorded after the April 9th transcript, the following document is dated "31 March 1834" because its introductory paragraph contains that same date. This was actually the date that Court of Common Pleas at Chardon began its spring term, not the date of the conclusion of Hurlbut's case -- (perhaps originally scheduled for Mon., March 31st) began with some pre-trial on Tues. or Wed., which continued through Thur., April 3rd. The actual trial commenced a week later. This was on the "Tuesday last" spoken of in the Chardon Spectator's "Mormon Trial" article of Apr. 12, 1834.

Note 2: Hurlbut's attorney for both his Painesville and Chardon trials was James A. Briggs. In 1875 Briggs claims were that "Joseph Smith was prosecuted by a man by the name of Hurlbut, I think, for assault and battery." If it was Hurlbut who first brought legal action against Joseph Smith, Jr., his complaint was either not noticed by the local Justice of the Peace or was superseded/incorporated in the hearing stage with another legal review, initiated when Joseph Smith filed a seemingly more serious complaint against Hurlbut, on or about Dec. 27, 1833. The J. P. for Kirtland township, John C. Dowen, admitted that he frequently did not "notice" complaints filed with him against the Kirtland Mormons and "refused" many demands for warrants. This habit of his was substantiated by local resident Charles Grover. In 1885 Dowen recalled that "Hurlbut said he would "kill" Jo Smith. He meant he would kill Mormonism. The Mormons urged me to issue a writ against him. I did, as recorded in my Docket, Dec. 27, 1833, on complaint of Joseph Smith." (The actual date of Smith's complaint is undetermined -- the court record reads "21st of Dec.," but that may be a later mistranscription of "27th of Dec." from the missing, original 1833 document -- see David W. Grua's discussion of this dating irregularity in his 2005 paper, "Joseph Smith and the 1834 D. P. Hurlbut Case," BYU Studies 44:1). Dowen also said that "Hurlbut staid at my house every three or four days for as many months." Some of Hurlbut's lodging at the Dowen residence may have been due to his having been taken into custody by a local constable. Also, as Dowen testified in Hurlbut's behalf at his Chardon trial, the two men may have become close acquaintances during the winter of 1833-34.

Note 3: D. P. Hurlbut's attorney says that his client "prosecuted" the Mormon leader; however that prosecution apparently never reached the court trial stage. Hurlbut reportedly tried to bring a suit against Joseph Smith, Jr. (and/or Hyrum Smith) during the winter of 1833-34. At least, a note written by Joseph during that time period states that Hurlbut was "commenceing an unjust suit against Brother Hyram..." One possible reconstruction of late December 1833 events would have D. P. Hurlbut making a complaint against Joseph Smith, Jr. with a non-Kirtland, Geauga County Justice of the Peace (perhaps in Painesville, at a safe distance from the Mormon center of power). Such a complaint might have arisen out of a reported confrontation between D. P. Hurlbut and Joseph Smith, Jr. following a Mormon religious service conducted at the school-house on Kirtland Flats, on or about Sunday, Dec. 22, 1833. See Mr. Thomas' account of the aftermath of such a Mormon meeting, where "Joe Smith called on God to curse" Hurlbut. Smith later recorded a curse of this nature in his personal journal, under the date of Apr. 1, 1834. See Dale W Adams' 2000 paper, "Doctor Philastus Hurlbut..." in JWHS Journal 20, wherein the writer says: "Hurlbut returned to Kirtland about the middle of December and began attacking Joseph Smith. Understandably, Smith and his supporters lashed back..." Hurlbut's lawyer, James A. Briggs, recalled: "In 1833 Joseph Smith was prosecuted by a man by the name of Hurlbut, I think, for assault and battery." While there is no record on file of any complaint of D. P. Hurlbut's ever reaching the stage of "prosecution," Briggs adds the peculiar detail, that at his Jan. 1833 pre-trial hearing in Painesville, "another Justice of the Peace" sat in on the hearing. This may have been a judge with whom Hurlbut had previously filed a complaint against Smith, for "assault and battery." If there was a scuffle between the two men at the postulated Dec. 22nd Mormon meeting (or even if Smith had some of his assistants eject Hurlbut from that meeting), such an event might well have formed the basis for a complaint by Hurlbut. The Justice of the Peace who may have received Hurlbut's complaint, hearing of a second, subsequent complaint made by Smith at Kirtland, might have delayed "noticing" Hurlbut's relatively minor charge, until the hearing for Smith's "attempted murder" charges against Hurlbut could be examined. If something of this sort happened, it would explain the "extra" judge sitting in on Hurlbut's Jan. 1833 hearing at Painesville, as well as the fact that Hurlbut never was able to follow through with his own plans for prosecuting Joseph or Hyrum Smith in the Geauga Co. court system.


(prior non-relevant text on page 431 not transcribed)

Pleas before the Court of Common Pleas within and for the Count of Geauga in the State of Ohio at a term of said Court begun and held at Chardon in said County on the thirty-first day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four.

Be it remembered that now at this term of the Court came Reuben Hitchcock Esquire on behalf of the State of Ohio and placed on file a transcript from the docket of William Holbrook Esquire, in the words and figures following, that is to say:  The State of Ohio Geauga County ss. The State of Ohio vs. Doctor P. Hurlbut.   Complaint to compel the defendant to give Bond[s] to keep the Peace.   On complaint of Joseph Smith Junr. against the defendant against J. C. Dowen a Justice of the Peace for Kirtland Township in said County made on the 21st day of Dec. 1833 a warrant was issued by said J. C. Dowen, Justice aforesaid which was returned before me William Holbrook a Justice of the Peace for Painesville township in the County aforesaid on the [4]th day of January A D 1834 by Stephen Sherman a Constable of Painesville Kirtland township with defendant in Court, and not being ready for the examination said Constable is directed to keep the defendant in custody and return him again before the Court on the 6th day of January A. D. 1834 at 9 o'clock A. M. at his office in Painesville, at which time th[is] defendant again appeared, and not being yet ready for the examination on the part of the State this cause is again postponed to the 13th of January 1834 at 9 o'clock A. M. and the defendant required to be kept in custody by A Ritch Const. of Painesville township, at which time the defendant was again brought before the Court by A Ritch Constable.   And all parties being ready for trial, the Court commenced the examination, and the following witnesses were examined on the part of the State, Amos Hodges  C. Hodges,  Sarah Wait,  Burr [R]iggs Mary Copley  Joseph Al[i]en  M. Hodges  D. Elliot  J. Smith Jr.  [D]. Copley  C. Holmes  S. F. Whitney  S. Slayton  Mr. Wakefield,  [I]. Wait &  E. Goodman and the same were examined by the defendant. The examination


commenced Monday the 13th January 1834 and ended January 13, 1834. After hearing the testimony it is the opinion of the Court that the complainant had reason to fear that Doctor P. Hurlbut would beat wound or kill him or injure his property as set forth in his complaint, and it is the consideration of the Court that the defendant enter into a recognizance to keep the peace generally and especially towards the complainant and also to appear before the Court of Common Pleas on the first day of the term thereof next to be holden in and for said County and not depart without leave, or stand committed till the Judgment of the Court be complied with.

The defendant forthwith complied with the judgment of the Court & entered into a recognizance as provided by the Statute.

The State of Ohio |   I certify the foregoing to be substantially a true
Geauga County ss }   copy of my docket entry in the above entitled examination.

William Holbrook Justice of the Peace.    

And thereupon came the Prosecuting Attorney for the County and also the said defendant, and the Court having heard the said complaint and also all the testimony adduced by the said complainant, and also by the said defendant and having duly considered the same are of opinion that the said complainant had ground to fear that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut would wound, beat or kill him or destroy his property as set forth in said complaint. Wherefore it is ordered and adjudged by the Court that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut enter into a new recognizance with good and sufficient security in the sum of two hundred dollars hereafter to keep the peace and be of good behavior to the citizens of the State of Ohio generally and to the said Joseph Smith Junior in particular for the period of six months, and if is further ordered that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut pay the costs of this prosecution taxed at the sum of one hundred and twelve dollars and fifty-nine cents.

And thereupon came the said Doctor P. Hurlbut with Charles A. Holmes and Elijah Smith as his sureties in open Court, entered into a recognizance in the penal sum of two hundred dollars each, conditioned that the said Doctor P. Hurlbut shall for the period of six months from and after this day keep the peace and be of good behavior to all the citizens of the State of Ohio generally and to the said Joseph Smith Jun. in particular.

M. Birchard P. J.    

(subsequent non-relevant text on page 432 not transcribed)

Document 2:
1834 Ohio Courts' Certificate of
Common Pleas Record Transcript

Transcribed in 1896

Source: The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. I, (1st. ed. 1896) p. 446

Note: This certificate verifies the transcript of the 1834 Hurlbut trials as printed in 1896 by the RLDS Church. Aside from a few minor typographical errors, the content of the published 1896 typescript matches that of the original Court records.

Certificate to Common Pleas Record.
The State of Ohio, |
Geauga County, ss. }

I,  B. D. Ames Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County.

And in whose custody the Files, Pleadings, Journals, Records, Execution Dockets, and Seal of said Court, are required by the Laws of the State of Ohio to be kept, hereby certify that the foregoing copy of Record is taken and copied from the Records of the proceedings of the Court of Common Pleas within and for said Geauga County, and that said foregoing copy has been compared by me with the original Record and that the same is a correct transcript therefrom.

In Testimony Whereof, I do hereunto subscribe my name officially, and affix the Seal of said Court, at the Court House in Chardon in said County, this 16th day of July, A. D. 1896.
       (Seal)                                         B. D. AMES  Clerk

I,  B. D. Ames Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County.

Document 3:
Bill for D.P. Hurlbut's 1834 trial costs

Source: Untitled "Record" Book, p. 82, at Geauga Co. Court House, Chardon, Ohio.

Note: The "judgment against defendant" is dated March 31, 1834. The costs of the trial (billed to Hurlbut) were $112.59. This notation in the "Record" Book is followed by comments dated April 16, 1834 saying "defendant not found," etc. These lines apparently relate to a sheriff's search made to find "the defendant." It is not specifically stated that this defendant was D. P. Hurlbut.

view source document

Document 4:
Witness List for D. P. Hurlbut's 1834 trial

Source: "1831-35 Court of Common Pleas Execution Docket" Book at Geauga Co. Courthouse, Chardon, OH. (Photographed as Item #1 of LDS Family History Library microfilm #1,289,257)

Note 1: At the bottom of the page, written in a careless hand, is a reference to "Page 431."

Note 2: Below is a tabulation of witnesses who appeared at D. P. Hurlbut's Painesville and Chardon trials. The record for his Jan. 13-15 Painesville hearing provides the first column of witnesses "on the part of the State." The second column is a list of witnesses who appeared at Hurlbut's Chardon trial. The third column is taken from the Apr. 9, 1834 witness payment list in the 1831-34 Geauga Co. Treasurer's "Order Book." Names printed in red in the tabulation were witnesses who aparently testifyied in behalf of Hurlbut at Painesville and/or Chardon. Noticeably absent from the second list is "Mr. Wakefield," who was very likely the "Jos[eph] H. Wakefield," whose name appears in the Jan. 31, 1834 notice, "To the Public" in the Painesville Telegraph. Wakefield was a former Mormon whom George A. Smith (Joseph Smith's cousin) later recalled to have been at least marginally associated with D. P. Hurlbut. Wakefield was reportedly murdered near Willoughby, Ohio in 1834. Whether the "Copley" who testified at Painesville was Daniel Copley (Hurlbut's LDS missionary partner in 1833) or "L." Copley is uncertain. The RLDS History, vol. 1, p. 445 reads "L." Copley. This would have most probably been "Lemon" Copley, an ex-Shaker from Thompson, Ohio who joined the Mormons. On the original transcript the initial appears to read "L" -- but it might also be a "D." Daniel Copley was Lemon Copley's younger second cousin. Both men are mentioned in early minutes of the Thompson township officers, on file at the Western Reserve Historical Society Library in Cleveland, Ohio. One argument in favor of the "L" reading is that Lemon Copley reportedly later asked forgiveness from the LDS leadership, for having testified against Joseph Smith, Jr. in a court trial. He was reinstated to membership among the Latter Day Saints in Missouri.

Note 3: One of the female witnesses at Hurlbut's Chardon trial (and apparently also at his Painesville hearing) later joined the RLDS Church. According to Presiding Bishop Edmund L. Kelley, she provided him some limited information on Hurlbut. See the editorial remarks in the Oct. 4, 1890 issue of the Saints' Herald. She was almost certainly Sarah Hodges Waite Luckey (1809-1895), who is listed in the April 8-9 list as "Mrs. -- Waite," the wife of Elder Truman Wait(e). Sarah was a daughter of Curtis Hodges and a sister of Irvin (Ervin) Hodges -- she evidently first met D. P. Hurlbut in Thompson township, Ohio, in 1833.

Jan. 13, 1834 Apr. 8-9, 1834 Apr. 9, 1834
Amos Hodges
C.[urtis?] Hodges
Sarah Wait
Burr Riggs
Mary Copley
Joseph Allen
M. [Mr.?] Hodges
D.[avid] Elliot
J.[oseph] Smith Jr.
[T]. Wait
[L?]. Copley
C.[harles] Holmes
S.[amuel] F. Whitney
Mr. Wakefield
S. Slayton
E. Goodman
Curtis Hodges
Mrs. [Sarah?] Waite
Burr Riggs
Mary Copley
Joseph Allen
Irvin Hodges
David Elliot
Joseph Smith Jun.
[Truman] Waite
Daniel Copley
Charles Holmes
S.[amuel] F. Whitney

Peter French
John P. Markill
Jotham Maynard
Ed[ward] Gillett
Simeon Wright
James Boyden
Solomon Webster
Arial Hanson
Harvey Smith
Samuel Wheeler
[Nathan] Allen
John C. Dowen
C.[urtis?] Hodges
S.[arah] Wait
Burr Riggs
M.[ary] Copley
Joseph Allen
E[rvin?] Hodges
D.[avid] Elliot
Joseph Smith Jr.
T.[ruman] Wait
Daniel Copley
Charles Holmes

Peter French
J.[ohn] P. Markell
Jotham Maynard
Edward Gillet
Simeon Wright
James Boyden
Solomon Webster
Arial Hanson
Harvey Smith
Samuel Wheeler
[Nathan] [Allen]

view source document

document codes: s = sworn, c1 = called, c2 = called & cross-examined

D. P. Hurlbut and the 1837 Death of
Garrit Brass in Mentor, Ohio

Garrit Brass was a resident of Mentor, Ohio who died in a cabin fire early on Nov. 25, 1837. According to his daughter Esther and her brother, "it was generally believed" that the elderly Mr. Brass "was robbed and the fire set to hide the crime." Esther's brother "... thought that a man living in Mentor was the guilty person, by the name of Hulburt [D. Philastus Hurlbut], whom it was learned on the night of the murder moved away, going west."

Other historical evidence corroborates the allegation that D. P. Hurlbut moved away from his residence (at the Henry Murson house) in Mentor at about the time Mr. Brass died in the fire. It appears that Hurlbut was pursued in his departure from Mentor and that some stolen goods (perhaps the property of Garrit Brass) were found to be in his possession at that time. No contemporary records have yet been discovered to confirm any illegal activities on Hurlbut's part, however.

    Documents Featured in this Section::

Document 1: 1837 Article on the Death of Garrit Brass

Source: Painesville Republican Nov. 30, 1837

Notes: see source article


Vol. 2 No. 3.                   Thursday, November 30, 1837.                   Whole No. 55.

SHOCKING CALAMITY. -- A log cabin was burnt in Mentor, on Saturday last, and a Mr. Brass, a revolutionary pensioner, perished in the flames. He was the only occupant of the cabin, which was nearly reduced to ashes when the fire was discovered, at about 4 o'clock in the morning. It is not known how the fire took, nor have we been informed whether the situation in which the remains of the sufferer were found, furnished any means of knowing whether he had left his bed, or made any attempt to escape. We are told that he has a son living a few miles distant -- who had in vain urged the old gentleman to reside with him.


Document 2: 1885 Esther Brass Scott Statement to Arthur B. Deming

Source: Arthur B. Deming file, Mormon Collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Note 1: Esther Brass Scott (1808-c.1888) believed that a certain "Hurlbut" was guilty of the "murder" of her father, Garrit Brass (1766-1837). Although she does not provide the first name of that individual, her friends in Mentor supply details that show she was speaking of D.P. Hurlbut (see documents 2-4 below). Hurlbut may indeed have left Mentor for the west on eve of the same day that Brass was found dead and burned in his cabin: Nov. 25, 1837. The "sister" that Esther speaks of was Lucy Brass Bronson (1795-1847) who was living in Brownstone, Wayne Co., MI as late as Dec. 26, 1836. Wayne is the home county of Detroit; it is not far from the Ohio border and would have offered a large enough population to obscure the whereabouts of fugitives from the east.

Note 2: Maria Hurlbut in 1885 said that she and her husband "moved to Mentor, O. and left there in the fall and moved to "Bedford, St. Laurence Co., Mich." Mr. H. became a United Brethren minister and lived in various places in northern Ohio for twelve years and finally settled in Gibsonburg in 1852..." She does not state the year of their move to Michigan or how long it took them to reach that destination. The couple's oldest child, was born Jan 29, 1836, Sandusky, Erie, Ohio, but they may have retained their official residence in Mentor until late in 1836 or 1837; the latter removal date, if it is the correct one, might have even coincided the Nov. 1837 death of Garrit Brass. There was no "Bedford, St. Laurence Co." in Michigan. It is possible that Maria may have been speaking of the family having moved to Bedford, Calhoun Co., a northern suburb of Battle Creek. Joseph Smith III in 1883 recalled Hurlbut as having lived in Sturgis, St. Joseph, MI (40 miles south of Battle Creek). However, it is more probable that the location in Maria's printed statement should have read "Pt. Lawrence, Bedford Twp., Monroe Co., Michigan" Point Lawrence (more properly, Port Lawrence) was orginally adjacent to Bedford, Michigan. It is now an urban river pennisula in northeast Toledo, Lucas Co., Ohio. This location is near both Gibsonburg, Sandusky Co., Ohio (where the Hurlbut family eventually settled) and Sandusky, Erie Co., Ohio (where their first child was probably born).

[Mentor, Lake, OH?]
May. 1885

I was born in Chester, Mass., Aug. 11th, 1808. I came to Mentor, Lake Co., Ohio, with my parents, they starting on the day war was declared in 1812. My father, Garrit Bras, about 1830 or 32, separated from my mother, and lived by himself alone on the farm, divided by him between his sons, they looking after his wants, as he preferred to live in a house by himself, one was erected for him within a few rods of the one occupied by my brother and his family.

In the late fall or early winter of 1837 his house was found on fire, in which was found his remains partly consumed. No trace of feathers from his bedding being found, and no money of which he was known to have several hundred dollars in gold and silver, part of which was paid to him a few days before by a neighbor, and his pension money received the day before.

The facts becoming generally known, it was generally believed that he was robbed and the fire set to hide the crime. My brother always believed it and thought that a man living in Mentor was the guilty person, by the name of Hulburt, whom it was learned on the night of the murder moved away, going west.

I had a sister at that time living in Michigan, Mrs. Bronson, who said that a man stopped at her house for a meal and during the conversation with him she learned he was from Geauga Co., Ohio, and asked him if he was acquainted in Mentor, and if he knew a Mr. Bras there that was murdered, and that it was near her father, after which he seemed uneasy, acted strangely and soon left. It so impressed her that he knew something about it, she wrote back with a description of him which satisfied my brother that it was the same Hurlbut that left Mentor, and it helped to strengthen and confirm them in their previous suspicions. I think that a warrant was issued, but in those early times the roads were bad, settlements sparse, and so much uncertainty and expense attending the pursuit of criminals, they were unable to make the arrest, and pursue it as it could be done now should anything occur.

My father's age at the time of his death was 73 years, he was very infirm, not being able to do any kind of labor. I am the last one living of hfs 9 children, 5 sons and 4 daughters.


Document 3: c. 1885 Calvin Ingersoll statement

Source: Arthur B. Deming file, Mormon Collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Notes: While Ingersoll does not name Judge & Deacon Orris Clapp, Sr. (1770-1847) as the victim of Hurlbut's alleged enticement with his "wife" (Maria Woodbury Hurlbut?), Sidney Rigdon in 1839 voiced a stronger accusation against Hurlbut: "while Hulbert was busily employed... old deacon Clapp was employed in taking care of his wife... Hulbert being out till a late hour in the night, returned to his house, and... there was the pious old deacon, either in the bed with his wife, or at the side of it..."

Essentially the same story regarding Clapp and Hurlbut's wife was retold by Joseph Smith in 1838: "While Hurlburt was held in bounds... Old deacon Clapp of Mentor ran and took him and his family into the house with himself and... went to bed to his wife..." A similar story was told by LDS Elder Benjamin F. Johnson in his My Life's Review, about Hurlbut, his wife, and "an aged man named Randall." The events of Johnson's account might possibly fit into a 1837 time-frame; but the Ingersoll, Rigdon, and Smith accounts do not seem to square with Hurlbut not marrying in 1834 until apparently after his anti-Mormon activites had ended.

Calvin Ingersoll's Statement

I was born in Lee, Mass., Feb. 5th 1812, and was brought by my parents to Mentor in 1816, where I have ever since resided. Doctor P. Hurlbut sometimes worked for me cutting.and splitting rails during the year [1836 ?]. He took dinner at my house and I became quite wall acquainted with him.

He lived at the time in Judge Clapp's house. Hurlbut's wife enticed a wealthy citizen to go to bed with her. When this party was in the act of getting into bed, Hurlbut, who was secreted under the bed, caught him by the legs. Hurlbut began a lawsuit for damages, which was settled by the defendant without trial.

I was well acquainted with Garrit Bras and his family. I attended the same school with some of his children, [and ---- to] one of his sons. I was at the ruins of his cabin the morning after it was burned. Hurlbut, who lived in Henry Murson's house, moved west the night Mr. Bras was burned with his cabin. He was pursued by citizens of Mentor who recovered from him various articles which he had stolen.

I have heard the statements of Mrs. J.D. Barber, and Mrs. Esther Bras about Mr. Bras and D.P. Hurlbut, read; I distinctly recollect such were the facts and opinion of the Mentor people at the time.

Document 4: c. 1885 Mrs. J.D. Barber statement

Source: Arthur B. Deming file, Mormon Collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Notes: Mrs. Barber's claim that Hurlbut had stolen "chains" from his former neighbors in Mentor is supported by a similar charge made by Benjamin Winchester in 1840: "Mr. Hurlbut... took to stealing for a livelihood, was detected in stealing a log chain, [and] fled the country to escape justice..." (page 11).


Mrs. J. D. Barber's Statement

Mr. Bras was ugly and quarrelled with his wife. They separated and he lived in a small log house on the road to Kirtland but near the main raad. One night his habitation was discovered to be on fire, and he was found on the floor with his throat cut it is claimed. He had received his pension a few days before. D.P. Hurlbut, who lived in my cousin's, Harry [Henry?] Munson's house, in Mentor, moved west the night of the fire. He was pursued and overtaken by citizens who recovered from him carpets, chains, farming tools, and other things which he had stolen from them.

Mr. Bras's Feather bed was supposed to have been stolen as no evidence of burnt feathers was found. My cousin missed two pillows after Hurlbut moved.

Hurlbut ordered a meal out west where he called, a woman inquired where he was from. He replied Geauga Co., Ohio; the lady asked him if he was acquainted in Mentor and if he knew of Mr. Bras being burned in his house. Hurlbut inquired if she was acquainted there, [s]he repllied "Mr. Bras was my father." Hurlbut became very uneasy and left before he finished his meal, which caused her to think something was wrong about him, and she wrote to her friends in Mentor of the occurrance. There was much comment among the people of Mentor about Hurlbut's thefts, and the facts of his leaving in the night when Mr. Bras was murdered, robbed and burned.


Document 5: c. 1885 Mrs. Alvors' statement

Source: Arthur B. Deming file, Mormon Collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Notes: Mrs. Alvors's statement clarifies the less distinct claims made in the other statments Deming collected linking D.P. Hurlbut to Garrit Brass (1766-1837). It appears likely that Hurlbut did indeed know the old man and may have even been a visitor to his residence -- an oddity, in that Brass did not seem to be the sort of person Hurlbut might have most readily picked out for engaging in polite friendship,


Mrs. Alvors's Statement

I was born Oct. 12th, 1820 in Genesco, Livingston Co., N,Y, and removed with my parents to Mentor, Ohio, about 1828.

Gen. Bras lived in a small log house on the Kirland road, and his cabin was close to the south line of Gen. Garfield's farm. Our farm joins Garfield's on the west. Bras was ugly and quarrelled with his wife when intoxicated, so they separated and he lived alone.

He was intemperate and always kept a barrel of cider in his house when any was obtainable. His children carried him his food several times a week.

The school house was near by, and I, with other children, was at his house every few days. Sometimes he was pleasant and at other times he was cross and waold swear at us.

I have many times seen D.P. Hurlbut at Bras's house. Geo. M, Dickey, who bought John Bras's farm on which Gen. L. Bras's cabin stood, and Samuel Hodges our neighbor(s); in conversation with father, I have several times heard discuss[ed] the probable reason why Hurlbut spent so much time at Gen, Bras's. They advanced various reasons, and said he might be trying to make a Morman of him. Mr. Bras was known to have money, and he received his pension a few days before his cabin was burned. I have heard Mrs. J.D. Barber's statement read and believe it is true, as did our neighbors at the time.

I went to school to Mrs. Esther Scott, his daughter.

Document 6: 1947 Dale Morgan letter to Fawn Mackay Brodie (excerpts)

Source: Walker, John Phillip (ed.) Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism . . . UT, 1986.

Notes: Morgan's speculation concerning Hurlbut's supposedly being " illiterate," do not agree well with the numerous instances where Hurlbut was reported to have read written and printed words, or to have written letters, etc., himself. Perhaps Howe's meaning in using this term was to try and say that Hurlbut was not widely read or very capable in his writing skills.

Morgan said that he located "half a dozen statements bearing on Hurlbut in 1836-37," in the Deming file among the contents of Mormon Collection at the Chicago Historical Society. Only four of these appear to be extant today (documents 1-4 above). In his saying that these letters contained "accusations of theft made against Hurlbut," Morgan was softening their commonly voiced suspicion that D.P. Hurlbut was in some way involved with the death and apparent murder of Garrit Brass (1766-1837) who was found dead and burned on 25 Nov 1837, in Mentor, Lake, OH. As to their accusation that D.P. Hurlbut left Mentor for the west that same night, that is certainly possible; Hurlbut had been residing in the area and left at about the same time, probably for Michigan.

Two of those Deming statements allege that Hurlbut soon after encountered Brass' daughter, Lucy Brass Bronson (1795-1847) in Michigan. This is also possible, since Hurlbut reportedly moved to Michigan at about this same time and Lucy and her family were living in Brownstone, Wayne, MI as late as Dec. 26, 1836 (and probably for the next few years as well). Both became Mormons some time before 1847 and Hurlbut may have encountered Lucy while visiting with persons he had previously met or heard about while living in Mentor -- such settlers in Michigan could easily have included Mormons and their relatives.



Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
24 December 1947

Dear Fawn,

It was gratifying indeed to have your letter awaiting me when I reached here Monday night. I like to think that there is indeed a "hole in the ground" out at Bethany now. Of course it would be an overstatement to say that I am as anxious as you to see your house go up, for how could anyone else possibly feel as strongly about it as you? But I take a very special interest in your home-building, and will be delighted indeed with real progress reports . . .

[p. 142]
The Chicago Historical Society was very interesting also. You will recall that fellow, A. B. Deming, who got out a couple of issues of a paper called "Naked Truths about Mormonism." The Chicago Historical Society has some further affidavits collected by Deming which he didn't publish in the first two issues of his paper and which thus remained unpublished. In 1897 Deming sold them to a Chicago collector named Gunther, whose collections ultimately went to the Society. Among these was a statement by E. D. Howe, signed April 8, 1885, which is much more informative about his book and [Philastus] Hurlbut than his autobiography of 1878 was. He says that Grandison Newel, Orrin [sic] Clapp, Nathan Corning and others of Kirtland, Mentor, and Geauga County paid Hurlbut's expenses on that trip of investigation [into Joseph Smith's New York reputation] in 1833-34. After he came back, Hurlbut lectured about the countyside, and Howe heard him lecture in Painesville.
He finally came to me to have the evidence he had obtained published, I bargained to pay him in books which I sent to him at Conneaut, O[hio]. Before publishing my Book I went to Conneaut and saw most of the witnesses who had seen Spauldings Manuscript Found and had testified to its identity with the Book of Mormon as published in my book and was satisfied they were men of intelligence and respectability and were not mistaken in their statements. I published only a small part of the statements Hurlbut let me have." He says he was not acquainted with Hurlbut until H. came to him to have his evidence published, and adds that he "was good sized fine looking full of gab but illiterate and had lectured on many subjects."

If he was indeed illiterate, this would seem to suggest that Howe must have put the affidavits into proper English unless, as has been doubted, the interviewed people wrote them. In a statement crossed out, Howe said he thought everybody would buy his book at one dollar a copy. The statement is in Deming's handwriting (and spelling), signed by Howe and witnessed by Deming, and one F. W. Regen, a grandson of Howe.

Deming also had half a dozen statements bearing on Hurlbut in 1836-37, which he may have kept unpublished because they weren't especially helpful to his anti-Mormon crusade -- they had to do with
accusations of theft made against Hurlbut at that time,
and a case where Hurlbut brought a civil suit against a wealthy man whom he found in bed with his wife (the language is ambiguous as to whether this was not a put-up job between the Hurlbuts, a variant of the old badger game). Also Deming had a long interview with J. C. Dowen, who was the J[ustice of the]. P[eace]. in Kirtland during the Mormon years...

Let's have a long letter about everything. Tell Dick I am glad to have a picture of him in color, especially with his happy smile, and I will see him and Bruce again some day -- maybe next summer.

A happy holiday season to you all,


Transcriber's Comments

Early History
Located in the extreme south eastern corner of Michigan, the County and town of Monroe lie down river from Detroit, being centered on the confluence of the River Raisin and the Detroit River near the western shore of Lake Erie. Monroe County was created out of Wayne County, Michigan Territory in 1817. The village of Monroe was originally known as Frenchtown but was renamed Monroe in 1817 in honor of President James Monroe. This was the second town settled in Michigan Territory. Monroe was first organized as a village in 1827 and became the city of Monroe on March 22, 1837. 

Disputes between Michigan and Ohio over Monroe County's southern border (the Toledo Strip) led to the bloodless Michigan-Ohio War in 1835-1836. In 1836 the U. S. Congress declared Michigan to be a state and eventually brokered a deal in which Michigan ceded its claim to Toledo to Ohio in return for receiving Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Part of the land ceded to Ohio included the old "Port Lawrence" Township of Monroe County. This ephemeral township was organized in April of 1827 and was merged into Lucas County, Ohio by the end of 1836. The area just north of what had been "Port Lawrence" Township was organized as Bedford Township in March of 1836. 

The Coming of the Mormons
The LDS presence in southeastern Michigan began in 1831, when Mormons Lucy Mack Smith and her niece Almira visited family in Detroit. There Temperance Mack (Lucy's sister-in-law and Almira's mother) joined the Church that same year. Soon there were more LDS converts in the region. One of these was the future Mormon Apostle David W. Patten. He settled in Monroe County, Michigan in the 1820s and was apparently there converted to Mormonism, shortly before he left that state in 1832. Patton's early connections in Monroe may have played some part in the Mormons taking interest in that place a few years later. 

In May of 1834 Hyrum Smith headed a division of Zion's Camp that passed through Michigan recruiting additional members. The Mormon presence was growing in the territory and by that time there were likely Mormon congregations both in Detroit and in Monroe.

In August of 1835 Joseph Smith, Jr. and his councilor F. G. Williams traveled to Michigan Territory and were absent from Kirtland when a General Council of the Church met there in mid-August. Smith and Williams were probably visiting Detroit and Monroe. Brigham Young later said that "a plot was laid to waylay Joseph for the purpose of taking his life, on his return from Monroe, Michigan, to Kirtland." Young also said that he personally foiled that attempt.  

A Mormon Bank in Monroe
In November of 1836 Oliver Cowdery left Kirtland and traveled to Philadelphia to get printing plates for the new Mormon bank planned for Kirtland. Not long after his return with the new bank-note plates, Oliver surrendered his editorship of the Messenger & Advocate and began looking for new employment. In February of 1837 Oliver dissolved the Kirtland Firm of Oliver Cowdery & Co. and journeyed to Monroe, Michigan to supervise the merger of the Mormons' bank in Kirtland with the practically defunct Bank of Monroe. Cowdery was already in Monroe in Feb. 1837 when he wrote his "Valedictory" address to the readers of Kirtland's Messenger & Advocate (published in that paper's Aug. 1837 issue). Apparently Oliver's new business venture in Monroe was called either Cahoon, Carter and Co. or Cowdery and Wilson. The firm's bank in Monroe went out of business the following month, after Cowdery had secured $22,000 in Bank of Monroe bank-notes. These he counter-signed in his new capacity of Vice President of that failing institution. 

By early 1837 Monroe had become a city but had lost both its valuable Port Lawrence docks and its local bank. Still, it remained the second largest population center after Detroit and settlers continued to build up the city and the surrounding county. Many of these settlers came from lakeshore Ohio and it is not surprising that some of them in 1837 were former residents of the Kirtland region. During the uncertain months of 1838 and 1839 the Mormons in that area apparently stayed put, waiting to see where the new Latter Day Saint gathering place would be established. With the building up of Nauvoo, Illinois in 1839-40 many moved south, depleting Monroe's Mormon population and defusing any Mormon/anti-Mormon tensions which may have been smoldering there. 

Arrival of D. P. Hurlbut in 1837
Monroe's local newspapers, the Michigan Sentinel and the Monroe Times printed several articles on the Latter Day Saints during the 1830s. The Sentinel reprinted eastern articles telling of D. P. Hurlbut's exposing "the mysteries of Mormonism" (Jan. 25, 1834); of Sidney Rigdon "suspected of being [the Book of Mormon's] author" (Mar. 15); of Solomon Spalding 's "work of fiction" forming the basis for that book (May 3); and of D. P. Hurlbut's trial in Chardon, Ohio (May 24). When Hurlbut arrived in the Monroe area (apparently at Port Lawrence or Bedford) in Nov.-Dec. 1837, he was no doubt already known by reputation, if not in person.

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