Eva Lovina Pancoast
"Mormons at Kirtland"
(Cleveland: C.W.R.U., 1929)
MORMONS AT KIRTLAND
Eva L. Pancoast
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for a degree of Master of Arts
in Western Reserve University
May 1, 1929
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It was a community of farms, with few inhabitants, if one may draw conclusions from the returns of the gubernatorial election in 1830 when the total vote cast by the entire township was fifty-three. Land could be purchased at two dollars per acre and there were six hundred and eight acres on the delinquest tax list. The only manufacturing concerns were a saw mill which had been started in 1819 by the owners, Messers. Holmes and Card, a grist mill on the Chagrin River towards Willoughby, owned by the same persons, and a carding shop owned by Lee and Godell. 2
1 a. Painesville Telegraph, January 31, 1834 -- adv. of new lines of opposition stages. b. Williams Bros: History of Ashtabula County, p. 28. c. Painesville Telegraph and Geauga Free Press, March 30, 1830 and June 1, 1830.
2 a. Painesville Telegraph, October 19, 1830; October 26, 1830. b. Williams Bros: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, p. 247. c. Painesville Telegraph, September 31, 1830.
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Like every community on the Western Reserve the inhabitants had a good common school for the children and this was attended by the older pupils in winter. The Kirtland school boasted of a frame building instead of the usual one of logs. There were also Miss Punderson's Select School for Young Ladies and Mr. Day's Select English School at Painesville, and an academy at Burton's with a female department to which the more well-to-do farmers frequently sent their children for a term or two. 3 The farmers made week-end trips to Painesville for supplies not obtainable at the local store, for the mail, and for the weekly paper. They attended church in the school house whenever Mr. Rigdon, pastor of the Disciple Church at Mentor, or some minister from Painesville or from a distant city preached at "candle light." An occasional trip back east for a visit furnished a topic of conversation for weeks. 4
3 a. Report of Examiners of Common Schools in Painesville Telegraph and Geauga Free Press, May 4, 1830. b. Painesville Telegraph, Vol. 1, No. 1, Second Series, June 1, 1829. c. Williams Bros: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, p. 246. d. Painesville Telegraph and Geauga Free Press, September 21, 1830; June 1, 1830.
4 a. Painesville Telegraph, November 2, 1830. b. Gidson, J. and G. S., Table of Post Offices in U. S. -- Washington, D. C., 1842. c. Williams Bros: History of Geauga and Lake County, p. 247. d. Painesville Telegraph Geauga Free Press, April 27, 1830. e. Williams Bros: History of Geauga and Lake County, p. 27. f. Painesville Telegraph, December 14, 1830.
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Much has been written concerning the Golden Bible and its author, Joseph Smith, in the hundred years since that editorial appeared, and the "thousand tales in circulation" have increased many fold. The story as here given, has been checked by the material available to the general public in Cleveland in January, 1929. 6
5 Painesville Telegraph, November 16 and 30, 1830.
6 a. Bennet, John: History of the Saints - Leland and Whiting, Boston, 1842. b. Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, preface. c. Chardon, Painesville, Cleveland, Kirtland newspapers - 1830-1838. d. Ferris, B. G., Utah and the Mormons, 1856. e. Historical Record, Volume 5-8, Andrew Jenson, Editor
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Joseph Smith, a native of Vermont, but living at the time in New York State, was an unlearned son of shiftless, neurotic parents. A slightly brighter picture of his immediate ancestors is given in a study of his life printed in Littell's Living Age. 7 After a series of visions in which two angels appear and converse with him, a being "surrounded with a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness" materialized. Smith was directed by this apparition whom he afterwards says is Mormon [sic], to a stone box of "golden plates" and to the "urim" and "thummim," two transparent crystals set in the rims of a bow. Orson Pratt, one of the leaders of the new sect, later describes these golden plates as seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. The volume was about six inches in thickness and part of it was sealed. The characters upon the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The
Salt Lake City, Utah, 1886. Volume 7, pp. 3530576. f. Millennial Star, Volume 14, Supplement, pp. 1-88, bound after p. 112 in Volume 14, gives Smith's own account, though this was published in 1852 and was intended for English readers. g. Pratt, Orson, Remarkable Visions, No. 6. Series of Pamphlets. h. Pratt, P. P., Voice of Warning, pp. 87-117. i. Smith, Joseph, A Brief History of Joseph Smith by Himself - Deseret Sunday School Union, 1910. j. Smith, Joseph, Pearl of Great Price, pp. 56-73 - Smith gives an account of the early days of the church. k. Smith, Joseph, Private Journal in Times and Seasons, Volume I, 1839, pp. 2-9. l. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle H. C., History of the Church. m. Smith, Lucy, Biographical Sketches, Reorganized Church, 1912. n. Whitmer, John, Journal of History, January, April, July, 1908.
7 a. Riley, I. W., The Founder of Mormonism, pp. 103-104, gives a fair copy of the preface to the first edition, showing mistakes in spelling, grammar, spacing, etc. b. Pratt, Orson, Remarkable Visions, No. 6. Series of Pamphlets. c. Painesville Telegraph, December 14, 1830. d. Tucker, Pomeroy, Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, p. 16 e. Riley, I. W., The Founder of Mormonism, Appendix 2. f. Littell's Living Age, Volume 30, pp. 429-31.
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the entire sacred canon contained in this volume. He lived at a very eventful period, when almost all his people had fallen into a fearful apostasy and he loved to see them all destroyed, except twenty-four persons. Himself and these sole survivors of his race were afterward cut off, with the exception of his son. This son, Moroni, lived to tell the mournful tale and deposit the plates under the hill where Joseph found them." 27
The Book of Mormon does not declare a gospel in opposition to that of the Christian; it rather supplements it. It is a later revelation of the same grand truth. Perhaps this partly accounts for its spread. Kennedy says, "One need not repudiate David and John in order to accept Nephi and his brethren. To the other side of human weakness thru which he (Smith) sought to (people's) hearts and purses, he added also that of novelty and the natural desire of man to go out after strange gods." Some of these "other sides of human weaknesses" are well described by Mr. Turner in his chapter on the history of imaginations and morbid emotions." 28
In the ninety-nine years that have elapsed since the publication of this Golden Bible, literally hundreds of articles and books have been written purporting to prove the fraudulent character of the book, or to confound those who sought to disprove its divine origin. The first book to question its authenticity was one written by Philastus Hurlbut and published in 1834 by E. D. Howe, the editor of the Painesville Telegraph.
This book, Mormonism Unvailed, is an attempt to prove that the
27 a. Clark, Rev. John A., Gleanings by the Way, pp. 285-303. b. Pratt, Orson, Remarkable Visions, pp. 6-10, No. 6 of Series of Pamphlets. e. Book of Mormon 1837 Edition, pp. 161-163; 547-568. d. Book of Mormon - in Book of Mormon, 1830, Chapter III.
28 Kennedy, J. H., Early Days of Mormonism, pp. 51-52. b. Turner, J. B., Mormonism in All the Ages, Chapter VIII.
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Golden Bible was based upon a story written by Mr. Spaulding of Conneaut, concerning the origin of the Indians. The manuscript of Mr. Spaulding's story was offered to Mr. Patterson, a printer in Pittsburg, but after being kept in his office for some time, was finally rejected. What became of this manuscript is unknown. As late as 1825 Mrs. Spaulding had a copy of it. This copy was later put into an old trunk and stored away in a farm-house in New York, where Smith is said to have found it. A Mr. Rigdon of Mentor, who afterward became associated with the Mormons as one of their leaders, worked for a time as a printer in Mr. Patterson's office. According to Hurlbut's book, Smith read the copy in the trunk, Rigdon obtained the one in the Pittsburg printing office, and together they perpetrated the fraud of the Book of Mormon. 29
Queerly enough, this book of Mr. Hurlbut, which is the best non-Mormon source of the early days of Mormonism, is now accredited on the Library of Congress cards as the work of Mr. Howe, its printer. Nevertheless both Mormon and Gentile sources of the time state that Hurlbut is its author. It is doubtless impossible at this late date to give him credit that should be his, but it is not too late to present some evidence on the matter. -- See Appendix.
Another of the early books published in this one hundred year controversy which deserves special attention, is that of J. B. Turner, printed in both England and the United States in 1842. A quick reading of it leaves one with a deep admiration for an author of that time, writing on [a]
29 a. Beadle, J. H., Life in Utah, p. 31. b. Bancroft, H. H., History of Utah, p. 95, gives summary of Howe's book. c. Howe, E. D., Mormonism Unvailed, p. 288.
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subject of so much controversy and of so much interest to the people of his own state, who could chide either side when he thought the occassion required, who could display so much of what today is called historical-mindedness. 30
This book is also interesting to the ordinary student for its comparison of Mormonism with "similar fanaticisms," beginning with Gaziba of the second century and extending up to the very time of Smith's revelations, with accounts of Davidson of Vermont and the Dilkes assemblage in Philadelphia in 1829, and of the Connecticut fanatic, 1833, who, pretending he was Jesus Christ and showing the prints of the nails of his crucifixion, was given some "needful and obvious marks upon his back" by the town authorities. 31
One paragraph in Mr. Turner's book evidently was the inspiration for some early historical research work. He says, "It might not be amiss also for Mr. Rigdon, who is thought by many to be the author of the Golden Bible rather than Joseph Smith, to give a more accurate account of his whereabouts from 1823 to 1830, that the public might the better understand the philosophy of the new Disciple theology he was preaching in Ohio, while Smith was receiving revelations in New York." 32 Elder E. L. Kelley, a resident of Kirtland met the challenge and after due search was made of records in the Chardon Court House and the Mentor Disciple Church, came back with a long list of the dates and engagements of Mr. Rigdon during the years in question. 33
For a time this was held to prove the impossibility of his being the "mysterious
30 a. Ford, Thomas, History of Illinois, Chapter X. b. Turner, J. B., Mormonism in All Ages, pp. 51-59; 98-104; 219-220.
31 Turner, J. B., Mormonism in All Ages, pp. 75-98; also Chaps. III; VIII.
32 Turner, J. B., Mormonism in All Ages, pp. 219-220.
33 Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle Heman C, History of the Church, pp. 143-152.
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stranger" who had visited Smith in New York State at various times. Years after this, in 1912, Mr. Charles A. Shook carefully tabulated this "water-tight" proof of Rigdon's presence in Mentor and its vicinity at the time of the reputed New York visits. This tabulation from the Mormons' own alibi shows that Rigdon's whereabouts was uncertain on the very dates he was said to have visited Smith. Mr. Shook gives additional testimony showing that Rigdon knew that such a book as the Golden Bible was to appear. 34
The persistent manner in which the Mormons seize and elaborate and advertise every book which at all tends to connect Rigdon with the authorship of the book of Mormon is highly suspicious, to say the least. They always have arguments to prove to the satisfaction of their own people that he and their Prophet Joseph Smith are not guilty of fraud. Rigdon at the least, left their church and denounced them and all their works. 35 It is just possible that he has been the red herring drawn across the trail of Oliver Cowdery all these years. The manuscript in Cowdery's handwriting which Smith placed in the corner-stone of the temple [sic] at Norwood [sic, Nauvoo?], October 2, 1840, with the words, "I have had trouble enough with this thing," might have aided in the solution of this question, but it is now ruined. 38 One should remember here that D. Whitmer testified in 1878 that he had the original manuscript in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting of the Book of Mormon. 37
34 Shook, Chas. A., The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, pp. 129-151; quoted by Snowden, J. H., The Truth About Mormonism, p. 90.
35 Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle Heman C, History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 639-641.
36 Robinson, E., The Return, Volume II, p. 314, quoted by Linn, W. A., Story of the Mormons, p. 44.
37 Historical Record, Volume VI, No. 3-5, p. 209; Letter 3, bound in back of Volume 5-8, p. 11; Letter 12, p. 38.
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Later, Oliver Cowdery, in a letter to W. W. Phelps when a history of Smith and the church was being written, declared that Christ spoke to them and conferred priesthood and authority upon them, and therefore they and theirs alone have authority to administer in the name of Christ since all other sects deny revelations. The Painesville paper said they so boasted much earlier than this. 45
43 Doctrine and Covenants, 1844, Sec. II, p. 91; Sec. XLIII, pp. 256-260; Sec. VIII, pp. 146-150; Sec. XLVI, pp. 265-266.
44 a. Historical Record, Vol. VII, p. 367. b. Doctrine and Covenants, 1844, Sec. 5, Verse 3. e. Messenger and Advocate, October 1834, pp. 13-16. Letter from Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps.
45 a. Messenger and Advocate, October 1834, p. 15. b. Painesville Telegraph, December 7, 1830. Article signed Lover of Truth, June 21, 1831, Editorial.
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gifts in the church. To these people the missionaries repaired and preached with some success. 56
Parley P. Pratt's acquaintance with residents in the vicinity of Mentor gave him an opportunity to bring the Mormon Bible to the attention of many people. Cowdery rebaptized seventeen of Rigdon's Disciples into the new church though Rigdon denied their right to do this. 57 In a debate at his home he quoted Scripture to prove that even if they had seen an angel as they declared, it might have been Satan transformed. Cowdery asked if he thought that in response to a prayer to God to show him an angel, the Heavenly Father would suffer Satan to deceive him. Rigdon replied that if Cowdery "made such a request of God when he had never promised you such a thing, if the devil never had an opportunity of deceiving you before, you give him one now." 58
Mr. Kennedy, who is among those who are firmly convinced that Rigdon was implicated in the production of the Golden Bible says, "it seemed to be part of Rigdon's plan to make such a show of resistence that, when he did surender, the triumph of the cause that had defeated him would be all the more complete." 59 When the excitement had reached a fever heat, Rigdon reappeared from seclusion, where he had been praying for a sign, announced that God had shown him in a vision the corruptness of all other religions and the purity of this one. He and his wife were publicly baptized
56 a. Gunnison, J. W., Mormons, p. 101. b. Turner, J. B., Mormonism in All the Ages, pp. 24-27. c. Howe, E. D., Mormonism Unvailed, p. 103.
57 Kidder. D. P., Mormonism, pp. 65-66.
58 Howe, E. D., Mormonism Unvailed, p. 103=104.
59 Kennedy, J. H., Early Days of Mormonism, pp. 79-81.
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Oliver Cowdery, one of the first missionaries sent out by the Church, while passing through Ashtabula County in 1830 on his way west, handed John Corrill a copy of the Golden Bible. A brief reading convinced him that it was a mere money-making scheme. When he learned that the missionaries had stopped at Kirtland and that Rigdon and the majority of his society had accepted the new faith, Mr. Corrill started for Kirtland with the idea of saving Mr. Rigdon from the influence of these impostors. He found Kirtland in a state of great religious excitement, but soon convinced himself that the laying on of hands and speaking with tonhues were inspired by some supernatural agency. He re-read the Book of Mormon, re-examined the scriptures carefully and was convinced that the latter were at least incomplete. Not fully satisfied, he finally decided to join the new church, with a mental reservation that he would leave it if he found it to be a deception. Explaining his reasons for leaving it later, he says, "I can see nothing that convinces me that
100 a. Turner, J. B.: Mormonism in All Ages, pp. 23-25, b. Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, pp. 215-216.
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God has been our leader."101 Another early convert, Mr. J. D. Lee, a highly educated Catholic, was convinced by an elder that the end of the world was near. He sold his property for what it would bring and later moved to Far West, in order to be in the right place when the last day dawned. 102
At least two other notable persons on the Western Reserve were converted to a belief in the new doctrine, Symonds Ryder and Ezra Booth. "The announcement of Rigdon's conversion gave Mormonism an advertisement and a support that had a wide effect," and it alarmed the orthodox of the country as they had never been alarmed before. Referring to it, Mr. D. Atwater, in a letter to Mr. Hayden, says, "The force of this shock was like an earthquake when Symonds Ryder, Ezra Booth and many others submitted to the new dispensation. 103
Mr. Ryder, a native of Vermont was the Disciple minister at Hiram. He had been converted to the Campbell belief in 1828 and says that he had always found one thing lacking in its theology. He looked for some actual gift of the Holy Spirit in the way of signs that were to come to those that believed. He went to Kirtland to investigate the Mormons' claims, but upon his return seemed to have rejected them. He was converted a short time later, however, when he read in a newspaper an account of the destruction of Pekin in China and remembered that six weeks before, a young Mormon girl had predicted the destruction of that
101 Lynn, W. A.: Story of the Mormons, pp. 124-126.
102 Lee, John D.: Mormonism Unveiled, pp. 36-45.
103 a. Painesville Telegraph, February 1, 1831. b. Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, pp. 220; 239-241.
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B. A. Hinsdale, in the sermon preached at the funeral of Mr. Ryder, says that Ezra Booth of Mantua was a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture and "of strong natural abilities." In company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of Hiram, Mr. Booth visited Joseph Smith at his home in Kirtland in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Kirtland partly out of curiosity and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Someone said, "Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on the earth to cure her?" A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith arose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand. said in the most solemn and impressive voice, "Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole," and immediately left the room. The company were amazed at hise presumption and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock seemed to electrify the rheumatic arm and Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease and on her return home the next day, she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain." 105 Thus Ezra Booth became a convert. He was made an elder in May, 1831, and preached the sermon at Hiram which
104 Hinsdale, B. A.: Funeral Sermon at the Burial of Mr. Ryder. Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, pp. 249-251.
105 Hinsdale, B. A.: Funeral Sermon at the Burial of Mr. Ryder. Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, pp. 251-252.
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impressed Ryder. Soon after this sermon Ryder made the trip to Kirtland to see for himself.
Though the conversion of such leaders in their communities as Corrill, Ryder, Booth and Lee may have added prestige to the Mormon Church at the time, they all hurt rather than helped it in the end. Messrs. Lee and Corrill each wrote and published a book exposing the Mormon beliefs. The story of the writing of Mr. Lee's book is quite interesting. John Lee had been a great friend of Brigham Young, though often a competitor with him for the same wife. He was cut off from the church with no explanation some seventeen years after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which had occurred January 6, 1858 [sic]. This massacre of former enemies of the Mormons, emigrating to the west from Illinois and Iowa, had been charged to the Indians...
(page under construction)
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(page under construction)
... Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder, who were rather intimate friends, had promised each other in joining the Mormons that they would faithfully aid each other in discerning the truth or the falsity of the new doctrine. Ezra Booth was soon commissioned to go to Missouri to explore the new land of promise and lay the foundation of the new Zion. Symonds Ryder was informed that by a special revelation he had been appointed and commissioned an elder of the Mormon church. When Mr. Ryder's comission as an elder came he found his name misspelled. "He wondered at a Holy Spirit so fallible as to fail in orthography." Beginning with this challenge, Hayden says, "Ryder's strong incisive mind and honest heart
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were brought to the task of re-examining the ground on which he stood." Booth seems to have grown doubtful also, for when the two friends first met upon his return from Missouri in September 1831, "the question which sprang from the lips of each was -- 'How is your faith?' and their faces told each other that the spell was broken. 109
Mr. Ryder's own story of the conversation and apostasy of himself and Booth, in a letter written in February, 1868, 110 is interesting for the light it throws on what passed as liberalism in those days. It is valuable also in its reference to papers that were either destroyed or so rewritten that they are useless as a study of the Mormon Communistic ideas. 111 One wonders as one reads this letter how such a man could have harbored the queer streak of superstition which is cited as his reason for conversion. It is dated Hiram, February 1, 1868, and is addressed to Mr. Hayden. It states that during the years 1815 to 1835 all sorts of doctrines had been pleaded by all sorts of preachers on the Western Reserve. The people of Hiram had been disposed to turn out to hear all, and this action went by the "specious name of liberal." Joseph Smith and other elders from Kirtland preached in the school jouse at Hiram and such was the "apparent piety, sincerity, and humility of the speakers that many of the hearers were greatly affected and thought it impossible that such preachers should lie in wait to deceive." Many converts were made that first year, but when they went to Missouri to lay the foundation
109 Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, p. 252.
110 Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, p. 220-221.
111 Doctrine and Covenants, 1844, Sec. 76, pp. 312-314, might be the paper referred to, or, Morning and Evening Star, Feb. 1833, pp. 140-141, Revelation dated August 1831 might be it.
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of the splendid city of Zion, they left their papers behind. "Thus their new converts had an opportunity to become acquainted with the internal arrangement of their church, which revealed to them the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under control of Joseph Smith, the prophet." This appeared to have been too much for the Hiram people and they "all left the Mormons." Mr. Ryder writes further "Some who had been the dupes of this deception determined not to let it pass with impunity -- accordingly, a company was formed -- in March, 1832, who proceeded to the Johnsons' homewhere Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were staying," to work on their new translation of the Scriptures, presumably far from the maddening crowd at Kirtland. They "took Smith and Rigdon from their beds and tarred and feathered them both and let them go. -- All who continued with the Mormons and had any property lost all of it." 112
All Mormon accounts of this tarring and feathering, as well as of later persecutions, attempt to make the ground of the attack hostility to the Mormons' religious beliefs, presenting them entirely in the light of outrages on liberty of opinions. Mr. R. F. Burton, writing in 1862, says the reason they were thus treated was that they were attempting to establish Communism. 113
Sidney Rigdon claimed to have been delirious as a result of the treatment they received. But, though he also had been handled roughly, Smith preached and baptized as usual the next day. Joseph Smith stated
112 Ryder, Symonds: Letter. Hayden, A. S.: Early History of the Disciples, p. 220-221.
113 a. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle, H. E.: History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 105-106; 236; 241. b. Burton, R. F.: City of Saints, p. 672 [sic - 550].
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that Sidney Rigdon counterfeited this madness in order to mislead the saints to build him a new house, and that the devil punished him until he repented. 114 The Prophet himself was frequently spoken of at this time as either a rogue or a madman, and sometimes as both. 115
An article in the Geauga Gazette gives what was probably the real motive for the attack. It says, "Several verbal statements agree in establishing the following facts: On Saturday night, March 24, a number of persons disguised with colored faces entered the rooms in Hiram where the two Mormonite leaders, Smith and Rigdon were sleeping, and took them, together with the pillows on which they slept, carried them a short distance and, after besmearing their bodies with tar, applied the contents of the pillows to the same." "Bad as this act is, it proves one important truth which every wise man knew before, that is, that Satan hath more power than the pretended prophets of Mormon. It is said that they (Smith and Rigdon) had declared, in anticipation of such an event, that it could not be done -- would be miraculously smitten on the spot and many such like things, which the event proves to be false. 116
Immedaitely upon leaving the church, Mr. Booth challenged Mr. Rigdon to a debate. Mr. Rigdon threw the letter into the fire but Mr. Booth, who seemed to worry more about what he had done to influence others to join the Mormons than he did about the report that hed had been temporarily
114 a. Kennedy, J. H.: Early Days of Mormonism, p. 63 [sic - p. 108. ]
115 a. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle, H. E.: History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 4-5; b. Mackay, Charles: Mormonism, p. 159. c. Tucker, Pomeroy: Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, p. 159. d. Schmucker, Samuel M.: History of Mormons, p. 83.
116 Geauga Gazette, New Series, Volume 1, No. 23, April 17, 1832.
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deranged, managed to have a long series of letters from himself to a Rev. Ira Eddy printed in the Ohio Star and reprinted in the Painesville Telegraph. These letters show clearly that the communistic doctrine held by the church was the reason for Booth's apostasy.117 One of them shows that as a prophet Booth ranked rather high himself. In inveighing against the Saints' methods he made a statement about the future wealth of their church which must have seemed preposterous even to Joe Smith 118 at the time, but which is abundantly fulfilled today in the church at Salt Lake City.
Considering the amount of information brought to the people by Messrs. Booth and Ryder in their efforts of offset the effect of their examples upon others, one rather questions such statements as those made by J. B. Turner that the Mormon teachings in the early days made more indidels than Mormon converts. He declared that persons who attempted to follow the Mormon argument by studying the Scriptures found their previous interpretation of parts of the Holy Bible overturned and the whole book placed under a cloud. 119 Yet a certain doctor in Chester, Pa. acknowledged in a public meeting that he had read the Bible more within three days than he had in fifteen years before. 120
The Campbells, both father and son, did "yeoman work" against the Mormon missionaries. On February 15, 1831, through the pages of the
117 Painesville Telegraph, October 25, 1831.
118 Painesville Telegraph, November 8, 1831.
119 Turner, J. B.: Mormonism in All Ages, pp. 67; 257-258.
120 Times and Seasons, December 1839, p. 27.
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(pages 48-82 under construction)
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Reverend John A. Clark declares that they claimed that miracles and revelation were as necessary and as important to the salvation of their generation as they were in any former time, and that they alone possess this immediate and constant intercourse with heaven, and their Doctrine and Covenants of today uphold his statement. 220 They interpreted the Bible literally in all things. A feast held at Bishop N. K. Whitney's, January 7, 1836, was described as being "after the order of the Son of God" -- the lame, the halt and blind were invited and a bountiful refreshment was furnished. 221
219 a. Evening and Morning Star, June 1832, pp. 2-4. b. Messenger and Advocate, May-June, 1836, pp. 114; 134. c. Painesville Telegraph, Dec. 7, 1830.
220 a. Clark, Rev. John A.: Gleanings by the Way, p. 220. b. Articles of Faith, No. 7. Pratt, P. P.: Voice of Warning, p. 220. c. Doctrine and Covenants, 1886, Sec. 43, Verses 2-5, p. 178.
221 Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle H. C.: History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 5.
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359 Channing, Edward, A History of the United States, Vol. V, pp. 427-432.
360 Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1, pp. 71, 128.
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On June 30, 1837, another letter from Mr. Newell appeared protesting the acquittal of Smith. The judge discharged Davis, Denton and Smith, and dismissed the case "because Newell hates the Mormons." Denton's
514 Painesville Telegraph, May 16, 1837; May 26, 1837..
515 Painesville Telegraph, June 9, 1837.
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Four years after Howe published Mormonism Unvailed, P. P. Pratt put out a pamphlet from New York which says that "Hurlbut got up the book" and that Howe's wife and sister were Mormons. 529 Elder George Reynolds, in his Mysth of the Manuscript Found, names Hurlbut as the author. The Messenger and Advocate again and again states that this is a fact. 530
The Times and Seasons says, "Hurlbut is one of the most notorious rascals in the western country. He was first cut off from our society for an attempt at seduction and crime, and secondly, he was laid under bonds in Geauga county, Ohio, for threatening to murder Joseph Smith, Jun., after which he laid the deep design of the Spaulding romance imposition, in which he has been backed by eviland designing men in different parts of the country, and some who do not wish to do wrong, but who are ignorant on the subject." 531
In a letter which Sidney Rigdon was supposed to have written, dated Commerce, May 27, 1839, he says that Hurlbut was the author of the book
529 Pratt, P. P., Mormonism Unveiled, pp. 39-40.
530 Reynolds, Elder George, Myth of the Manuscript Found, pub. Salt Lake City, 1883, quoted by Bancroft, H. H., History of Utah, p. 62.
531 Times and Seasons, Vol. 1, No. 3, January 1840, pp. 45-46.
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now known as Howe's; that he wrote it to avenge himself on the Mormons for expelling him; that he attempted to get Onis [sic] Clapp and Sons to publish it and failed; and that the name E. D. Howe was substituted. 532 This letter has some inaccuracies in it however, and should be compared with the articles in the Messenger and Advocate, known to have been written by Smith. Such a comparison easily convinces one that Smith wrote both. Furthermore, since the Mormons' own records state that Joseph Smith moved with his family May 10, from Quincy to Commerce, and that Sidney Rigdon left Commerce on a mission to the President of the United States bearing a letter of introduction, dated May 10, 1839, 533 one is certain that Sidney Rigdon did not journey to Washington to perform his errend, and return to Commerce by May 27 in time to write the letter.
It has been charged in this paper that the Mormons altered reports and records whenever they decided it wiser to do so. They acknowledge in their own books that this is true. 534 The fact that other accounts of their life might be in existence, proving their altered records incorrect, apparently never occurred to them. The Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette of January 18, 1833, [sic, 1834?] has this article copied from the Wayne Sentinel: "Doctor Hurlbut of Kirtland, Ohio, who has been engaged for some time in different parts of this state but chiefly in this
532 Mackay, Charles, [Memories] of the Life and Death of Joseph Smith, 1851 ed., pp. 35-36.
533 a. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle H. C., History of the Church, Vol 2, p. 365. b. Messenger and Advocate, December 1835, p. 227.
534 a. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle H. C., History of the Church, Vol 4, p. 97. b. Booth, Ezra, Letter I, reprinted in Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, pp. 175-179. c. Covenants and Commandments, 1844, Sec. 18, Verses 11, 14, pp. 198-199, and Sec. 20, Verse 14, p. 208.
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neighborhood, on behalf of his fellow townsmen, in the pursuit of facts and information concerning the origin and design of the Book of Mormon, which to the surprise of all in this region who know the character of the leaders in the bungling imposition, seems already to have gained multitudes of believers in various parts of the country, requests us to say, that he has succeeded in accomplishing the object of his mission, and that an authentic history of the whole affair will shortly be given to the public. The original manuscript of the Book was written some thirty years since, by a respectable clergyman, now deceased, whose name we are not permitted to give. It was designed to be published as a romance, but the author died soon after it was written; and hence the plan failed. The pretended religious character of the work has been superadded by some more modern hand -- believed to be the notorious Rigdon. These particulars have been derived by Doctor T. Hurlburt from the widow of the author of the original manuscript. 535
Dr. Hurlbut had heard the stories, current even then, of the Mormons' reputed irregularities in marital relations and determined to investigate them further. 536 He went to Kirtland, joined the Mormons, and was ordained an elder according to the Mormons' own account on March 18, 1833. 537 One should note that this is two months after the republication of his speech from the Wayne Gazette. Thus he had a book exposing Mormonism nearly ready for the printer at the time he joined their church. One should also note in the letter already quoted as being written by Mr.
535 Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, Jan. 18, 1833, New Series Vol. III, No. 26, Whole No. 373, p. 2.
536 Hearsay in Family, but facts in this paper support it.
537 Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle H. C., History of the Church, Vol 1, p. 283.
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Rigdon the statement that Hurlbut wrote his book in revenge for his expulsion from the Mormon Church. This is just another one of their inaccuracies.
On June 5, 1833, according to the Church History of the Saints, at a "Kirtland conference, the first case that was presented was that of Dr. Hurlbut, who was accused of unchristian conduct with the woman while on a mission to the east." The Millennial Star, published in England, gives the real cause of Hurlbut's being cut off from the church. It states that charges had been preferred by Harriet Howe and others "that Hurlbut had denied the faith, spoken reproachfully of the church, did not believe Joseph was a true Prophet, etc. Hurlbut was in the place but did not appear before the court, consequently was cut off." 538 The Church History states that on investigation it was decided that his commission be taken from him and that he be no longer a member of the Church of Christ. On June 21, 1833, he appealed the case because he was absent before. He was granted a rehearing and his membership was restored. Two days later his case was again considered. "Brother Gee of Thompson testified that Brother Hurlbut said that he had deceived Joe Smith's God. There was also corroborating testimony brought against him and the council again cut him off." Thompson is located very near Chardon and these later witnesses' "corroborating testimony" doubtless came from the account previously quoted from the Chardon paper. 539
Smith was furious when he returned, and in retaliation accused Hurlbut af adultery and circulated scurrulious stories concerning him. 540 Hurlbut
538 Millennial Star, Dec. 18, 1852, Vol. 14, p. 684.
539 a. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Apostle H. C., History of the Church, Vol 1, pp. 294-296. b. Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, Jan. 18, 1833, New Series Vol. III, No. 26, Whole No. 373, p. 2.
540 Messenger and Advocate, April 1835, pp. 116, 228 [??]. b. Evans, J. H., One Hundred Years of Mormonism, p. 54.
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was not married at the time and one is puzzled to understand just what adultery meant to the Mormons. Hurlbut finally threatened Smith; and the Prophet had him arrested and put under bond. The following account of this trial is taken from the Chardon Spectator and Gazette. The author of the paper at the time was Alfred Phelps, a distant cousin of W. W. Phelps, one of the Mormon leaders. His account runs:
"Great interest was excited in the public mind, in this country, in relation to the complaint of Joseph Smith, Jun., the great prophet, and originator of Mormonism, against Dr. P. Hurlbut, the exposer of the Mormon mystery. The complaint was made, before a justice of the peace, to bind Hurlburt to enter into bonds keep the peace and to appear before the Court of Common Pleas. On Thursday last, the case was heard before the court. The Court House was filled almost to suffocation, with an eager and curious crowd of spectators, to hear the Mormon trial, as it was called. A great number of witnesses attended, and were examined, chiefly members of the Mormon society, among whom was the renowned Prophet himself. It appeared that Hurlbut had been a disciple of Mormonism, and was ordained an elder by Joe himself, but for misconduct, as the Mormon witnesses alleged, was excommunicated. After this, he discovered that Joe was a false prophet, and the Book of Mormon a cheat, began lecturing against it, and examining and collecting proof that the story of the Book of Mormon was taken from a manuscript romance, written by one Spaulding, who formerly lived at Conneaut and who died before its publication. One witness, who testified to the threats of Hurlbut, on cross-examination being asked the reason why she had not communicated these threats to Smith, answered that she did not believe Hurlbut, or any other human being, had the power to hurt the Prophet, but
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Joe himself appears to have placed little reliance upon his divine invulnerability, for he testified that he became afraid of bodily injury from the defendant. The Court finally ordered Hurlbut to find security in the sum of $200 to keep the peace for a period of six months." <541Another instance of the manner in which the Mormons attempt to sever discrepancies between records as written and records as changed one should read the Saints' account of this Hurlbut trial given in the reprinted Morning and Evening Star. 542 Unmindful of the fact that the newspapers of the time give the correct details they speak of the great array of witnesses as though they had been summoned in defense of Hurlbut, and accuse him of "changing the titles of his discoveries," etc.
Shortly after this trial Mr. Hurlbut married Maria Woodbury of Jefferson, 543 and the Mormons began a new series of persecutions. Smith even announced, in June of that year, that the "Destroyer, I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my Saints." 544 The young bride was actually afraid to be left alone in the house when her husband was necessarily absent. Knowing his high temper, she feared that he would kill Smith as he threatened if he met him. 545 She prevailed
541 Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, April 12, 1834, New Series Vol. 3, No. 38, Whole No. 385, p. 3.
542 Evening and Morning Star, April 1834, pp. 298-299, reprinted Sept. 1836.
543 a. Western Reserve Historical Society, File marked Marriages, Ohio, Ashtabula County. b. Ashtabula Sentinel, May 3, 1834.
544 Covenants and Commandments, 1844, Sec. 102, Verse 4, p. 391.
545 Historical Record, Vol. 7, p. 414.
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upon Mr. Hurlbut to move to the western part of the state and thus they passed out of the story.
Smith, relieved from his fear of persobal violence, now dared even to print articles such as the following: "We might farther say that, we could introduce him to the Mormonism Unveiled, also to the right honorable Doctor P. Hurlbut, who is the legitimate author of the same, who is not so much a doctor of physic as of falsehood, or by name. We could also give him an introduction to the Reverend Mr. Howe, the illegitimate author of Mormonism Unveiled, in order to give currency to the publication, as Mr. Hurlbut, about this time, was bound over to court, for threatening life. He is also an associate of the celebrated Mr. Clapp who has of late immortalized his name by swearing that he would not believe a Mormon under oath, and by his polite introduction to said Hurlbut's wife, which cost him (as we have been informed) a round sum. "546
From a Mormon viewpoint it is too bad that the editor of the Millennial Star could not have had this paper to use as a source for his articles instead of the ones he did have, which show so plainly Howe's connection with the Mormons through the women of his family. 547 Hurlbut always claimed that Howe himself and not Howe's wife betrayed him to the church, and that Howe did this that he might have all the pecuniary benefit arising from the sale of his book.
Mrs. Ellen Dickinson, in 1883, before she wtote her book "New Light on Mormonism," made a trip to Gibsonburg to see Mr. Hurlbut where he was still living on his farm, purchased in the spring of 1835. She took with her a young lawyer from a neighboring town. She obtained little information
546 Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, p. 227.
547 Millennial Star, Dec. 18, Vol. 14, p. 684.
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at the time; but in her book seems inclined to think that Hurlbut was guilty of the charge of selling the real manuscript to the Mormons. She made much of his excitement as he talker to her. Remembering his irascible temper, his age, that he received neither money nor credit for his book, that his wife had been grossly insulted by Mormon tales, one wonders that he was able to restrain himself from attacking the young lawyer. Mrs. Dickinson says the farmer's sweet-faced little old wife urged him to tell her (Mrs. Dickinson) what he knew, but he refused. Hurlbut's wife, who was a daughter, sister, and aunt of judges prominent in north-eastern Ohio, understanding the purpose for which Mrs. Dickinson wanted the material, later induced her husband to write a statement which she sent to her. This statement she was at liberty to use, and did use in her book. 548
When Mrs. Spaulding-Davidson's letter arrived from Massachusetts in 1834, granting Hurlbut permission to examine the manuscript, he was busy with his Chardon trial and entrusted his task to an agent. Whether it really was in the trunk probably will never be known. The manuscript, which, it was claimed, was the only one found, turned up in Hawaii, after the Mormons had established a mission in the islands. 549 Hurlbut says in his sworn statement sent to Mrs. Dickinson when he was a very old man, that he let Howe keep the manuscript, since it was not the one he was after, and Howe later told him it had been destroyed. Howe reaffirms this in a letter written in 1881 to Elder T. W. Smith, and in an earlier letter to Mr. Hurlbut himself. One should note the discrepancy in the contents of this letter and the information given by Howe to Mrs. Davidson in her
548 Dickinson, Mrs. Ellen, E., New Light on Mormonism, p, 245.
549 a. Smith, Pres. Joseph and Elder H. C., History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 364-365. b. Dickinson, Mrs. Ellen E., New Light on Mormonism, p. 259.
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interview with him. 550 Mr. Rice, who followed Howe as editor of the Painesville paper says he discovered the "Manuscript Found" in a trunk of old papers which he had taken to Hawaii." Later he sold it to Oberlin College and it is now in their library. 551 This Mr. Rice is the same editor who in charge of a Cleveland paper so valiently upheld the Mormon cause in the bank trouble.
There is some evidence that should be included here that might some day be connected up with the Hurlbut-Howe Manuscript story but there is no material in Cleveland which will serve. Smith in his autobiography has the following queer entries which one wishes that I. W. Riley might have discovered: "Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1835, I started to ride to Painesville with my family and scribe. Passing through Mentor street, we overtook a team with two men on the sleigh. I politely asked them to let me pass. They granted my request, and we passed them, they bawled out, 'Do you get any revelations lately?' When we arrived at Painesville we called at Sister Harriet Howe's (wife [sic] of E. D. Howe) and left my wife and family to visit her while we rode into town to do some business. Dined with Sister Howe and returned home." "Friday 4, in company with Vinson Knight, drew three hundred and fifty dollars out of the Painesville bank. I feel heartily thankful to my heavenly Father and ask him in the name of Jesus Christ, to enable us to extricate ourselves from all embarrassments whatever, that we may not be brought into disrepute in any respect, that our enemies may not have any power over us." 551
550 Dickinson, Mrs. Ellen, New Light on Mormonism, p. 72.
551 Dickinson, Mrs. Ellen, New Light on Mormonism, p. 259.
552 Smith, Pres. Joseph and Elder H. C., History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 609-610.
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Why was this trip made to Painesville? Why did he mention stopping at Sister Howe's home? For what was the money used which he drew from the bank? Would Riley or some other psychologist have interpreted the act of making these entries the result of a supposed desire to shout from the house-tops that he was safe in his imposture? Howe who must have had the Mormonism Unvailed book partly ready for publication when Hurlbut was arrested, since it bears the date of 1834, had as good an opportunity for selling the Spaulding manuscript if it proved valuable as did Hurlbut. Howe was financially able to give up active work as editor of the Painesville paper Jan. 1, 1835, 553 and retire for some time from business, at a date shortly after that upon which Hurlbut and his young wife left the Reserve. Mormonism Unvailed after p. 138, shows some queer changes in its method of handling the subject. From page 138 to 176 it unquestionably is Howe's work, a jumble of articles previously published in his Painesville newspaper.
Mr. Hurlbut, then, joined the Mormons for the purpose of obtaining authentic information as to their marriage beliefs for use in his new book. His purpose was discovered partly by the publication in a Chardon paper of a speech of his in New York state and partly by information furnished by Mrs. Howe who had obtained it thru her husband who was to print Hurlbut's book. He was expelled from the Church for his "unchristian" remarks to Mrs. Howe concerning the matter. Mr. Hurlbut suffered much thru the slanders circulated about him by the Mormons. He never had the real manuscript of Spaulding's romance, though his agent may have received it. Mr. Hurlbut received neither honor nor pay for his work in connection with the publication of this book, Mormonism Unvailed.
553 Williams Bros., History of Geauga and Lake Counties, p. 29
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(remainder of text under construction)
Eva L. Pancoast's 1929 Thesis
Eva Lovina McManus: daughter of Thomas & Julia McManus
b. c. 1879; Euclid, Cuyahoga, OH
1897: graduated from Painesville High School
m. c. 1902; Guy N. Pancoast of Painesville, OH
1920 Census Residence: Cleveland Ward 5, Cuyahoga, OH
1929: teacher at Lincoln High School, Cuyahoga Co., OH
For further information see:
R. Y. McCray (editor)
Representative Clevelanders, (Cleveland Topics Co.: 1927)