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1966 Max H. Parkin thesis
Conflict at Kirtland, 1832-34 (excerpts)

Document: 1966 Max H. Parkin thesis (excerpts)

Source: Parkin, Max H., "The Nature and Cause of Internal and External Conflict of the Mormons . . . ," unpublished Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1966.

Notes: Parkin appears to be one of the first Mormon historians to make any use of Hurlbut's alleged March 13, 1833 threat to be the potential cause Joseph Smith's "destruction," as recorded in Smith's Journal. Although Parkin follows this allegation with a reference to Hurlbut's 1834 "extravagance of threatening the life of the Mormon Prophet, he does not present much additional documentation of the possible serious of this alleged second threat." B. F. Norris wrote on 6 Jan. 6, 1834 that "Smith has four or five armed men to gard him every night;" and the local Justice of the Peace, John C. Dowen in 1885, recalled "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." Additional material which might possibly be cited in support of Hurlbut's potential to engage in bringing about Smith's "destruction" may be found in the statements Arthur B. Deming solicited from old Mentor residents (who recalled allegations of Hurlbut's having been involved in the 1837 murder of Garrit Brass).

Although the original of this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in consideration of possible copyright infringement upon later editions (published by the LDS Department of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, etc.).


A Thesis

Submitted to

The Department of Graduate Studies in

The College of Religious Instruction

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah
In Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirements for the Degree

Masters of Arts



Max H. Parkin

May, 1966

Although this work is not copyrighted, only limited excerpts are presented here, in
consideration of the possibility of copyrighted subsequent editions.
BYU on-line copy of entire text, here




The Apostasy of Ezra Booth

This discordant teasing by the apostates was to receive considerable

impetus by the defection of Ezra Booth, a Methodist Minister of

Mantua, Geauga County, who was converted to the Church in May 1831. The

means by which he was drawn to Mormonism is one of the most celebrated acts

of healing performed by the Mormon Prophet. The story was preserved by

B. A. Hindsdale [sic - Hinsdale], the president of Hiram College, as he retold

it at the funeral service of Simonds Ryder in 1870. 39

After his conversion Booth went to Hiram, Portage County, on a

short missionary tour. While there he heard Simonds Ryder, a Campbellite

39 President Hindsdale's account of the healing is as follows: "Ezra Booth of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and some other citizens of this place [Hiram], visited 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 Smith partly out of curiosity and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrines. During the interview, the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one 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



minister preaching a sermon. Booth requested the opportunity to speak

afterward which Ryder granted. Booth's sermon so impressed Ryder that he

also was determined to visit the saints in Kirtland. While Ryder was in

Kirtland, he heard a young Mormon girl allegedly predict the destruction

of Pekin, China. He was not greatly impressed by his visit to Kirtland,

but the following month he read a newspaper article reporting the

destruction of Pekin. He was so deeply moved by that event that he

joined the Mormon Church. Accordingly he was ordained an elder at the

June, 1831 conference. 40 At that conference Ezra Booth was commissioned

by the Prophet Joseph to participate in the first missionary tour to

Missouri. Simonds Ryder's commission to preach, however, was not included

among the twenty-eight missionaries to go to Missouri, but it did

come later with an unfortunate misspelling of his name. 41 This misspelling

later when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: 'Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Crist, I command thee to be whole,' and immediately left the room.

The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock -- I know not how better to explain the well attested fact -- electrified the rheumatic arm -- 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." Cited in A. S. Hayden, "Life and Character of Symonds Ryder [sic]," Early History of the Disciples (Cincinnati: Chase and Hall Publishers, 1876, p. 250.

40 "Far West Record." p. 5.

41 B. H. Roberts, a Church historian, wrote concerning Ryder's faulty spelling, "Both in the letter he received and in the official commission to preach, however his name was spelled R-i-d-e-r instead of R-y-d-e-r." History of the Church, I, p. 261. In Hindsdale's account he only mentions the commission, but not the letter. Said he,"His commission came, and he found his name misspelled." Hayden, op. cit., 252.



perplexed Ryder, and caused him to question the source of such a commission.

While meditating over this problem during the summer, he was

ready to withdraw from the Church upon the return of Ezra Booth from

Missouri in September. When the two men met in late summer, they

found their enchantment for Mormonism was gone, and they were both

ready to speak against the Church....

(remainder of pages 103-116 - not transcribed)




it was expected that Booth's letters would have a ruinous

effect upon the Church. Later in November, 1831, the Ohio Star observed

that the letters were "exerting an important influence in opening the

eyes of many of the really deluded subjects of Mormonism." 83 Ambrose

Palmer, one who was converted to the Church by the preaching of Booth

earlier in the year, noticed that the letters gave Mormonism "such a

coloring or appearance of falsehood, that the public feeling was, that

'Mormonism' was overthrown." 84 The Church sent out a number of the

elders -- including Reynolds Cahoon, David Whitmer, Thomas B. Marsh, and

others -- to visit the branches and thereby lessen the consequence of the

letters upon the Saints. This proved to have an ameliorating effect

upon the Church members and much of the harm that could have resulted was

nullified. The prophet also participated in the campaign against the

letters, for he wrote,

83 Ohio Star, II, No. 42 (October 20, 1831), n. p.

84 "Journal History," December 31, 1831.



From this time [early in December, 1831], until the 8th of 10th of January, 1832, myself and Elder Rigdon continued to preach in Shalersville, Ravenna, and other places, setting forth the truth, vindicating the cause of our Redeemer; showing that the day of vengeance was coming upon this generation like a thief in the night; that prejudice, blindness and darkness filled the minds of many, and caused them to persecute the true Church, and reject the true light; by which means we did much towards allaying the excited feelings which were growing out of the scandalous letters then being published in the Ohio Star, at Ravenna, by the before-mentioned apostate Ezra, Booth. 85

Sidney Rigdon planned a visit to the town of Ravenna on Sunday,

Christmas Day, 1831, to review the letters in a public debate with Booth,

himself, whom Rigdon requested attend the meeting. In Sidney's

announcement of the debate he said the letters "are unfair and false

representation of the subject on which they treat." 86 In the same

public announcement, Rigdon also invited Simonds Ryder, who resided in

Hiram to debate the Book of Mormon with him. Ryder responded to the

invitation with a lengthy letter to the editor of the Star. He refused to

meet Sidney in public on the grounds that they both lived in Hiram, and a

private meeting would avoid them embarrassment if a problem arose. Ryder

expressed the fear that Rigdon's
Irascible temper, loquacious extravagance, impaired state of mind, and want of due respect to his superiors... would render him in such a place, unmanageable... therefore fail of accomplishing the desired object. 87

Ryder informed Sidney that since the return of the elders from

Missouri the people had generally left the Mormon meetings in Hiram and

85 History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 241.
cf Times and Seasons, V:13 (July, 15, 1844)

86 Ohio Star, II, No. 50 (December 15, 1831), n.p.

87 Ohio Star, II, No. 52 (December 29, 1831), n.p.



the debate would only serve "to save, if possible, a sinking cause." 88

He further objected to debate on the subject of the Book of Mormon because

he felt that one who accepted the book was under the necessity of

accepting all of Smith's commandments, which he was unwilling to do.

Although the Rigdon-Ryder debate never saw fruition in person, the men

continued haggling through the medium of the Star. In another issue of

that newspaper Sidney said of Ryder:
He presented himself before the public as an accusor; he has been called upon before the same public, to support his accusations; and does he come forward and do it? nay, but seeks to hide himself behind a battery of reproach, and abuse, and low insinuation[s]. 89

Accordingly, the two men never met in a public debate, and the matter between

them was dropped.

As he had previously announced, Sidney Rigdon made his trip to

Ravenna to debate with Ezra Booth; Booth failed to show up, and Sidney

proceeded to assail his character. Rigdon always maintained that Booth's

letters contained a "bundle of falsehoods" and asserted that Booth "dare

not appear in their defense because he knew his letters were false, and

would not bear the test of investigation." 90 Booth, however, did not

feel that Rigdon's accusations could be tolerared without some defense,

which he attempted through the medium of the Star. The editor, Lewis L.

Rice, upon receipt of Booth's letter, however, announced his intention of

discontinuing the controversy. He declared that out of fairness to

88 Idem.

89 Ohio Star, III, No. 2 (January 12, 1832), n.p.

90 Messenger and Advocate, II, No. 4 (January, 1836), p. 242.



Sidney Rigdon's right for a reply, he chose not to print Booth's letter 

and this matter was also dropped. 91  This ended the argument between the
Mormon spokesman and Ezra Booth just two weeks after the Rigdon-Ryder

controversy had ended. However the full consequence of the apostasy of
Ezra Booth and Simmons Ryder was yet to be felt. 

The Apostasy of Doctor Philastus Hurlburt
  On March 13, 1833, Doctor Philastus Hurlburt, an ambitious and ostentatious person, came to the house of the Mormon Prophet in Kirtland and visited him at length about the Book of Mormon. This visit was to have long-range implications. According to the Prophet, Hurlburt told him that if he ever "became convinced that the Book of Mormon was false, he would be the cause of my destruction." 92 This, however. did not excite sufficient alarm to prevent Hurlburt from being ordained an elder by Sidney Rigdon on the 18th of March. 93 Shortly afterwards, Hurlburt was sent on a mission to Pennsylvania, but was soon recalled for immorality, and accordingly was excommunicated June 3, 1833, by a bishop's court in Kirtland for his "unChristian conduct with women." 94 He appealed for a rehearing on the grounds that he was absent during the trial. His   ____________________ 91 Ohio Star, III, No. 2 (January 26, 1832), n. p. 92 Joseph Smith, "Joseph Smith Journal," pp. 48-49. This private journal was kept by Joseph Smith between 1832-1834, the microfilm of which is located in the Church Historian's Office. Much of this journal was reproduced in the History of the Church, but this visit of Hurlburt's was not reproduced there. 93 Idem. 94 History of the Church, I, p. 352.


appeal was granted. A high council court was held and it concurred with the decision of guilt offered by the bishop's court, but Hurlburt was forgiven because of his begging and tearful entreaty. 95 Two days later, June 23rd, evidence was presented to the council to show that he was insincere in his repentance; accordingly, he was extended a final excom- munication on that date. After his excommunication, he began lecturing against the Church throughout the area and indulged in the extravagance of threatening the life of the Mormon Prophet. 96 Hurlburt's threat greatly alarmed the Mormon leader, for he not only petitioned the "thrown of Grace" for protection from Hurlburt, 97 but also had Hurlburt indicted for his malicious threats. There was a preliminary hearing in Painesville in January, 1834, then Hurlburt was turned over to the county court for trial. 98 Joseph attended court in Chardon on April 2nd and 3rd where testimony was heard in the case. The Chardon Spectator stated that the court was filled, "almost to suffocation, with an eager and curious crowd of spectators, to hear the Mormon trial." 99 One female   ____________________ 95 Of this trial George A. Smith who was present stated, "He pro- mised before God, angels, and men that he would from that time forth live his religion and preserve his integrity, if they would only forgive him. He wept like a child, and preyed and begged to be forgiven. The Council forgave him; but Joseph told him. 'You are not honest in this confession.'" Journal of Discourses, Vol. VII, p. 113. 96 Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, III. No. 38 (April 12, 1834), n. p. 97 "Joseph Smith Journal," op. cit.., p. 49. 98 Messenger and Advocate, II, No. 19 (April, 1834), p. 150. 99 Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, III, No. 38 (April 12, 1834), n. p.


witness, who testified to the threats of Hurlburt, when being cross- examined was asked the reason she had not informed Smith of the threats, answered that "she did not believe Hurlburt, or any other human being, had the power to hurt the prophet." 100 The court eventually found Hurlburt guilty and fined him two hundred dollars, and ordered him to keep the peace for six months.   From the time he was excommunicated, June, 1833, until the trial in Chardon, April, 1834, Hurlburt was occupied with a plan to im- pede the growth and well being of the Church. For some undisclosed reason, perhaps because of his eldership in the Church or simply because of the prestige that might be gained by his Christian given name -- "Doctor" -- Hurlburt was selected by a committee of community leaders in Kirtland to gather material and publish a book hostile to the Mormon cause. 101 That a committee sponsored Hurlburt in this endeavor, there can be little doubt. The editor of the Messenger and Advocate wrote of the "celebrated committee, residing in our country . . . who have employed this Hurlbut (sic) to expose, the 'origin of the book of mormon.'" 102 This com- mittee advertised its intention as early as January, 1834, to find some way to "avert the evils (of Mormonism) which threaten the Public." It further declared that the "impoverished population" in Kirtland was threatening them "with an unsupportable weight of pauperism." 103 Apparently the   ____________________ 100 Idem. 101 At least one of the committee members who signed the state- ment, Josiah Jones, Geauga County Assessor, was prominent in political affairs, Painesville Telegraph, V, No. 7 (February 14, 1834), n. p. 102 Messenger and Advocate, II, No. 19 (April, 1834), p. 150. 103 Painesville Telegraph, V, No. 33 (January 31. 1814), n. p.


fear that the Mormons would become public charges was a factor in moti- vating the committee to this action. The fact that a committee of Kirtland citizens employed Hurlburt to write an anti-Mormon book reveals the anti- pathy towards Mormonism entertained by others besides disgruntled apos- tates.       The entire article advertising the committee's intention of publishing a book to expose Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon while employing D.P. Hurlburt to do the task reads as follows:
To the Public
The undersigned Committee appointed by a public meeting held in Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, for the purposes of ascertaining the origin of the Book of MORMON, would say to the Public, that when met as directed by said meeting, it became a subject of deliberation whether the committee without violating the spirit of that instrument which de- clares that "no human authority can in any case what[so]ever control or interfer with the rights of conscience" could take measures to avert the evils which threaten the Public by the location in this vicinity, of Joseph Smith Jun. other- wise known as the Mormon Prophet -- and who is now, under pretence of Divine Authority, collecting about him an im- poverished population, alienated in feeling from other portions of the community, thereby threatening us with an insupportable weight of pauperism. The committee were of opinion that the force of truth ought without delay to be applied to the Book of Mormon, and the character of Joseph Smith, Jun. With this object in view, the Committee employed D.P. Hurlbut (sic) to ascertain the real origin of the Book of Mormon, and to examine the validity of Joseph Smith's claims to the character of a Prophet. The result of this [i]nquiry so far as it has proceeded has been partially laid before the public in this vicinity by Mr. Hurlbut (sic) -- and the Committee are now making arrangements for the Publi- cation and extensive circulation of a work which will prove the 'Book of Mormon' to be a work of fiction and imagination, and written more than twenty years ago, in Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio, by Solomon Spalding, Esq. (sic) and completely divest Joseph Smith of all claims to the character of an honest man, and place him at an immeasurable distance from the high station which he pretends to occupy. O.A. CRARY, JOSIAH JONES, AMOS DANIELS, WARREN CORNING, Jr.



From a legal notice in the February 14th issue of the Telegraph, it appears that Josiah Jones was Geauga County assessor.   During the winter and spring of 1834, Hurlburt spent his time and effort in securing information to fill the anticipated book, but in consequence of the unfavorable publicity he received from the trial in Chardon in April his name was dropped and that of Eber D. Howe, the editor of the Painesville Telegraph, replaced it. Hurlburt was given the promise of four hundred copies of the volume when it was published in exchange for his research efforts. E. D. Howe published the book con- taining Hurlburt's work during the latter part of 1834. The book was called Mormonism Unvailed, and Howe took credit as the author throughout his life. Writing his memoirs in 1878, Howe said that he "wrote and compiled" the book Mormonism Unvailed. 105 However, if he wrote anything   ____________________ 104 Painesville Telegraph, V. No. 13 (January 31, 1834), n. p. 105 Eber D. Howe, Autobiography and Recollections of a Pioneer Printer (Painesville: Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1878), p. 45. Although Howe made this claim and is generally recognized as the author of Mormonism Unvailed it should be remembered that Hurlburt ac- quired the information for the forthcoming book by visiting Joseph Smith's old neighborhood in New York and soliciting affidavits from the Prophet's previous neighbors. The nature of these affidavits were derogatory to Smith's character. Hurlburt also went to Monson, Massa- chusetts, and received permission from the ex-Mrs. Solomon Spaulding -- Mrs. Davison -- to acquire her ex-husband's romantic fantasy, "Manuscript Found." She gave Hurlburt a note to go to Hartwicks, New York, where the manuscript was stored in a family trunk to procure it. This Hurlburt did and returned to Ohio with the manuscript. The manuscript had been written by Solomon Spaulding prior to 1816 in Conneaut, Ohio, and became the basis of Hurlburt's claim that Joseph Smith did not receive the Book of Mormon


in it, it was a matter of collecting his earlier Telegraph articles about the Mormons and rewriting them for the book, but as for the extended work of Hurlburt which was used in the book, Howe does not deserve credit. There was no question in the mind of the Prophet and other Mormon leaders that Hurlburt was the true author of the book. The Mormon Prophet in a letter to John Whitmer stated the following concerning the true author- ship of the book Mormonism Unvailed:
. . . Doct. P. Hurlburt, who is the legitimate author of the same (Mormonism Unvailed), 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
____________________ by revelation, but reproduced it from Spaulding's manuscript. Solomon Spaulding, a graduate of Dartmouth College where he studied theology, engaged in preaching, merchandising, and manufacturing in successive turns. It appears that his great interest was history, however, which led him while living in New Salem or Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, to become intrigued with the Indian mounds in the vicinity. Consequently he wrote a fantasy about the early history of those Indians which he named "Manuscript Found." He died in Amity, Pennsylvania, in 1816, after previously moving to Pittsburgh. He was offered by Mr. Patterson, an editor in Pittsburgh, the chance to publish the romance which he was unwilling to do. After Spaulding's death, the widow and her daughter, Matilda, moved to New York where Mrs. Spaulding married a Mr. Davison of Hartwicks. Following Davison's death she moved to Massachusetts where she lived with her daughter at the time of Hurlburt's visit. The "Manuscript Found" was alleged to be the source from which Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. Although Hurlburt did not print the manuscript itself, this claim became the popular theory of the Book of Mormon's origin as introduced in Mormonism Unvailed. It was not until 1884 that the "Manuscript Found" was located and identified, that the theory was seriously questioned by anti-Mormon writers. At that time, James H. Fairchild, the President of Oberlin College, visited Lewis L. Rice, former editor of the Ohio Star and the Painesville Telegraph residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, who located the "Manuscript Found" among some old anti-slavery papers. Apparently Hurlburt left the old manuscript which he never returned to Mrs. Davison with E. D. Howe at the Telegraph office. Years later when L.L. Rice took possession of the Telegraph he also acquired the manuscript which he removed to Hawaii with other papers. Hurlburt had endorsed the "Manuscript Found" which identified it as being the writings he had acquired from Spaulding's widow in 1834. Extensive consideration of the Spaulding theory has been given in anti-Mormon litera- ture as well as in Mormon apologetical works, and this study will not con- sider the matter at any further length.


author of Mormonism Unveiled. (sic) in order to give currency to the publication as Mr. Hurlburt about this time, was bound over to court, for threatening life. 106
While Hurlbut was in the process of gathering his material for the book, the Chardon Spectator gave him the following notice:
Doctor Hurlbut (sic) of Kirtland, Ohio, who has been en- gaged for some time in different parts of this state, but chiefly in this neighborhood on behalf of his fellow towns- men, in the pursuit of facts and information concerning the origin and design of the Book of Mormon, which to the surpri[z]e 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, re- quests us to say, that he has suceeded in accomplishing the object of his mission[s] 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 Dr. P. Hurlbut (sic) from the widow of the author of the original manu- script. 107
In the November 28, 1834 and December 5, 1834 issues of the Telegraph advertisements appeared announcing the availability of the book Mormonism Unvailed. The book contained a lengthy review of the Book of   ____________________ 106 Messenger and Advocate II, No. 8 (December 1835), p. 228. 107 Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, III No. 26 (January 18, 1834), n. p. Eva Pancoast, using the above article from the Spectator maintained in her thesis that D. P. Hurlburt joined the Mormons expressly to expose them and therefore, she said that he had gathered much of the materials for his book before he joined the Mormon Church. On this point Miss Pancoast said, "Thus he had a book exposing Mormonism nearly ready for the printer at the time he joined their Church." Eva L. Pancoast, "Mormons at Kirtland" (unpublished master's thesis, Western Reserve University, Ohio) May 1, 1929, p. 3 in Appendix 1. It appears that Miss Pancoast erred in her view by ascribing the erroneous date January 18, 1833, to the article, which was two months before Hurlburt joined the Mormon Church. However, the Spectator article accurately bears the date January 18, 1834.


Mormon, a recital of the supernatural abnormalities of the winter of 1830 and 1831, a reprinting of Booth's nine letters, an introduction of the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon, and affidavits taken from Joseph Smith's old New York neighbors, uncomplimentary to the character of the Prophet.   Hurlburt received the four hundred copies of the first edition promised him in exchange for turning the manuscript of the book over to E. D. Howe. He then proceeded to acquire subscription commitments for these copies at the price of one dollar each. Through some method of duplicity, Howe was able to craftily get Hurlburt's list of subscribers and fill it himself. When Hurlburt made his deliveries he was naturally chagrined upon learning that his patrons had previously been served by Howe. 108 After this trickery, Hurlburt had great difficulty selling his books for over ten or twenty cents each, and a number of them were never sold. 109 In Westfield it was reported that the boot was selling there for eighteen and three-quarter cents. 110   It is difficult to assess correctly the influence that the Hurlburt-Howe book had in exciting anti-Mormon resentment. Certainly it did not help alleviate the naggingly unpopular Mormon image, but its greatest damage was not immediate. 111 Alexander Campbell stated that   ____________________ 108 Journal of Discourses, Vol. XI, p. 8. 109 Journal of Discourses, Vol. VII, p. 113. 110 Messenger and Advocate, I, no. 8 (May, 1835), p. 116. 111 In his Recollections, E. D. Howe stated, "I have reason to be- lieve (Mormonism Unvailed) has been the basis of all the histories which have appeared from time to time since that period touching that people (the Mormons)." Eber D. Howe, Recollections of a Pioneer Printer, p. 45.


any reader with "the half of five grains" of common sense who would read the new book would find that the Mormons were "unprincipled deceivers" and a "set of superlative fanatics." 112 The Mormons replied by saying that Mr. Campbell has begun to "howl prodigiously, calling upon the people in great agony to read Mr. Howe's book, as a sure antidote against de- lusion," 113 That the book some deteriorating effect upon certain members of the Church there can be no doubt, but the efforts of the missionaries and the visiting elders to the branches had a nullifying influence in many cases. The elders In Westfield in 1835, were bold enough to report to the editor of the Messenger and Advocate, "Tell everybody to buy and read 'Mormonism Unveiled' if they wish . . . , " for they were confident that it would not hurt the Church. 114 And by 1836, in Portage County, Orson Hyde reported that it was not even "quoted by opposers, and I believe," said he, "for no other reason than they are ashamed of (it)." 115  
Other Internal Problems
The plan of the Church to build Zion in Missouri was received with enthusiasm by many. From time to time families or groups of families left Ohio and moved to Missouri which caught public attention. The local   ____________________ 112 Alexander Campbell, Millennial Harbinger (Bethany, Virginia), VI, No. 1 (January, 1835), p. 44. 113 Messenger and Advocate, I, No. 76 (February, 1835), p. 76. 114 Messenger and Advocate, I, No. 8 (May. 1835), p. 116. 115 Messenger and Advocate, II, No. 7 (April, 1836), p. 296. This statement by Orson Hyde referred also to the nine letters of Ezra Booth and a pamphlet written by Alexander Campbell.





Anti-Mormon Resistance by Mob Violence

Shortly following Joseph Smith's return from his first journey

to "Zion" with the elders in the summer of 1831, he made preparations to

move his family to Hiram, Portage County, Ohio, thirty miles southeast

from Kirtland where he planned to revise the King James version of the

Bible. He made the move on the 12th of September and several days

later Sidney Rigdon, his scribe, joined him the Mormon Prophet, his

wife, and adopted twin son and daughter, moved into the home of John Johnson

and his family, while Rigdon occupied a log house across the street. Hiram

had been a successful field of labor for the Mormons and according to one

historian, A. S. Hayden, "Perhaps in no other place, except Kirtland, did

the 'Latter-day Saints' gain a more permanent footing than in Hiram." 1

On the night of March 24-25, 1832, one of the most painful events

in the young Prophet's life occurred. A mob, numbering about twenty-five

or thirty, disguised with colored faces, and stimulated by whiskey,

attacked Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in their homes. 2 Afterwards

1 Hayden, op. cit., p. 220.

2 Geauga Gazette, I, No. 23 (April 17, 1832), n. p.



the mob beat, abused, tarred and feathered the two men. The Prophet

Joseph Smith recorded the event as follows:

On the 24th of March, the twins before mentioned, which had been sick of the measles for some time, caused us to be broken of our rest in taking care of them, especially my wife. In the evening I told her she had better retire to rest with one of the children, and I would watch with the sicker child. In the night she told me I had better lie down on the trundle bed, and I did so, and was soon after awakened by her screaming murder, when I found myself going out of the door, in the hands of about a dozen men; some of whose hands were in my hair, and some had hold of my shirt, drawers and limbs. The foot of the trundle bed was towards the door, leaving only room enough for the door to swing open. My wife heard a gentle tapping on the windows which she then took no particular notice of (but which was unquestionably designed for ascertaining whether or not we were all asleep) , and soon after the mob burst open the door and surrounded the bed in an instant, and, as I said, the first I knew I was going out of the door in the hands of an infuriated mob. I made a desperate struggle, as I was forced out, to extricate myself, but only cleared one leg, with which I made a pass at one man, and he fell on the door steps. I was immediately overpowered again; and they swore by G-- --, they would kill me if I did not be still, which quieted me. As they passed around the house with me, the fellow that I kicked came to me and thrust his hand, all covered with blood, into my face and with an exulting hoarse laugh, muttered 'Gee, gee, G-- d-- ye, I'll fix ye.'

They then seized me by the throat and held on till I lost my breath. After I came to, as they passed along with me, about thirty rods from the house I saw Elder Rigdon stretched out on the ground, whither they had dragged him by his heels. I supposed he was dead. I began to plead with them, saying, "You will have mercy and spare my life, I hope." To which they replied, "G--d--ye, call on yer God for help, we'll show ye no mercy;" and the people began to show themselves in every direction; one coming from the orchard had a plank; and I expected they would kill me, and carry me off on the plank. They then turned to the right, and went on about thirty rods further; about sixty rods from the house, and thirty from where I saw Elder Rigdon, into the meadow, where they stopped, and one said, "Simonds, Simonds," (meaning, I supposed, Simonds Ryder,) "pull up his drawers, pull up his drawers, he will take cold." Another replied: Ain't ye going to kill 'im? ain't ye going to kill 'im? when a group of mobbers collected a little way off, and said: "Simonds, Simonds, come here;" and "Simonds" charged those who had hold of me to



keep me from touching the ground (as they had done all the time), lest I should get a spring upon them. They held a council, and as I could occasionally overhear a word, I supposed it was to know whether or not it was best to kill me. They returned after a while, when I learned that they had concluded not to kill me, but to beat and scratch me well, tear off my shirt and drawers, and leave me naked. One cried, 'Simonds, Simonds, where's the tar bucket?' "I don't know," answered one, 'where 'tis, Eli's left it.' They ran back and fetched the bucket of tar, when one exclaimed, with an oath, 'Let us tar up his mouth;' and they tried to force the tar-paddle into my mouth; I twisted my head around, so that they could not; and they cried out, 'G--d--ye, hold up yer head and let us give ye some tar.' They then tried to force a vial into my mouth, and broke it in my teeth. All my clothes were torn off me except my shirt collar; and one man fell on me and scratched my body with his nails like a mad cat, and then muttered out: 'G-- d---ye, that's the way the Holy Ghost falls on folks!'

They then left me, and I attempted to rise, but fell again; I pulled the tar away from my lips, so that I could breathe more freely, and after a while I began to recovery and raised myself up, whereupon I saw two lights. I made my way towards one of them, and found it was Father Johnson's. When I came to the door I was naked, and the tar made me look as if I were covered with blood, and when my wife saw me she thought I was all crushed to pieces, and fainted. During the affray abroad, the sisters of the neighborhood had collected at my room. I called for a blanket, they threw me one and shut the door; I wrapped it around me and went in. 3

When the mob removed Joseph from the house, Carnot Mason assisted

others in dragging him out of bed "by the hair of his head." 4

Later, Joseph showed Levi Hancock a patch of his hair that had been

pulled out by the roots leaving the scalp bare. 5 Furthermore, the vial

3 History of the Church, I, pp. 261-263.

4 Luke Johnson, "History of Luke Johnson," Millennial Star, XXVI
said, "Carnot was the person who dragged Joseph out of the house by his
hair. Dr. Denison prepared the vial for Joseph, supposed to contain
Aqua Fortis (nitric acid)." "Journal History," December 13, 1846, p. 2.:
"Bro. Luke [S.] Johnson stated that all but one who were engaged in mobbing, tarring and Feathering Joseph and Sidney in the town of Hiram, Portage county, [Ohio], had come to some untimely end, and the survivor, Carnot Mason, had been severely afflicted, Carnot was the person who dragged Joseph out of the house by his hair. Dr. Denison prepared the vial for Joseph, supposed to be Aqua Fortis."

5 Levi Hancock, op. cit., p. 73.



that was thrust into his mouth containing nitric acid resulted in the

breakage of one of his teeth. This subsequently caused a whistling sound

when he spoke. 6 A doctor named Dennison, a member of the mob, had been

appointed to emasculate the Prophet, but upon seeing Smith's naked body

stretched on the plank, weakened in his resolve and refused to operate. 7

Rigdon who was also removed from his bed was dragged by his heels; and

while his head passed over the frozen ground, he received excessive

lacerations which left him delirious for days. One of the infants who

was being raised by the Prophet and his wife at the request if John

Murdock developed a severe cold from the night's exposure and died March

29, 1832. This child was regarded by Church historian George A. Smith

as the first martyr of the Mormon faith. 8

6 Benjamin F. Johnson, "Letter to George F. Gibbs," p. 16. Johnson said that at the August, 1844, conference in Nauvoo, Illinois, when Brigham Young began to speak to direct the affairs of the Church after the death of Joseph Smith the previous June, that Brigham Young sounded like Smith himself. Johnson said, "...as he [President Sidney Rigdon] closed his address and sat down, my back was partly turned to the seat occupied by Apostle Brigham Young and other Apostles, when suddenly, and as from Heaven, I heard the voice of the Prophet Joseph, that thrilled my whole being, and quickly turning around I saw in the transfiguration of Brigham Young, the tall, straight and portly form of the Prophet Joseph Smith, clothed in a sheen of light, covering him to his feet; and I heard the real and perfect voice of the Prophet, even to the whistle, as in years past caused by the loss of a tooth said to have been broken out by the mob at Hyrum." Italics added.

7 Luke Johnson, op. cit., p. 834.

8 Journal of Discourses, Vol. XIII, p. 106. B. H. Roberts, however, credits Andrew Barber as being the "first direct martyr" of the Church. History of the Church, I, p. 431. Young Andrew Barber, the son of Oral and Andrew Barber Sr., a resident of the Prairie branch of the Church located approximately twelve miles west of Independence, Missouri, was shot during the Battle of the Big Blue in Jackson County, August 4, 1833, during the Mormon difficulties there and died the next day. Philo Dibble, a participant in the battle described the events,



The public press sympathetically gave notice to the event as "a

base transaction, an unlawful act, a work of darkness, a diabolical

trick." "But as it is," reported the Warren News Letter, "It proves

soon after I returned [from a visit to clay county to buy gun powder] a mob of about one hundred and fifty came upon us in the dead hours of night tore down a number of our houses and whipped and abused several of our brethren. I was aroused from my sleep by the noise caused by the falling houses, and had barely time to escape to the woods with my wife and two children when they reached my house and proceeded to break in the door and tear the roof off. I was some distance away from where the whipping occurred but I heard the blows of heavy ox goads upon the backs of my brethren distinctly. The mob also swore they would tear down our grist mill, which was situated at the Colesville branch, about three miles from the settlement, and lest they should really do so, and as it was the only means we had of getting our grain ground, we were counseled to gather there and defend it. The next day we heard firing down in the Whitmer settlement, and seventeen of our brethren volunteered to go down and see what it meant. Brother George Beebe was one of those volunteers and also one of the men who was whipped the night previous. [When George Beebe's remains were laid out in December, 1881 in Provo, Utah, it was testified that he carried the marks of the whipping to his grave.] When the seventeen men arrived at the Whitmer settlement, the mob came against them and took some prisoners. Brother David Whitmer brought us the news of this and said: 'Every man go and every man take a man! We all responded and met the mob in battle, in which I was wounded with an ounce ball and two buck shot, all entering my body just at the right side of my naval. The mob were finally routed, and the brethren chased them a mile away. Several others of the brethren were also shot, and one named Barber was mortally wounded. After the battle was over, some of the brethren went to administer to him, but he objected to their praying that he might live, and asked them if they could not see the angels present. He said the room was full of them, and his greatest anxiety was for his friends to see what he saw, until he breathed his last, which occurred at three o'clock in the morning." Philo Dibble, Early Scenes in Church History, Eighth Book of the Faith-Promoting Series (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor, 1882), pp. 82, 83.

In 1878 Ellis Eames wrote the following to the editor of the Deseret News from Provo, Utah: "The First Martyr, Provo City, August 9, Mr. Editor:

Sir, -- I find it due to the memory of departed friends, to place their name and character in its proper light before the public. I shall refer to the first human sacrifice, the first martyr, that fell a victim to the vengeance of an infuriate set of demons, with no other object in view, but the destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This one instance I shall record, viz: the death of Andrew Barber, cut down in the morning of his days; scarcely had eighteen summers smiled



one important truth which a very wise man knew before, that is, that

Satan hath more power than the pretended prophets of Mormonism." 9

It may be difficult to place responsibility for conceiving the plot, but

Laura L. Kimball, a resident of Hiram at the time of the event stated,

"Persecution against the Saints was very strong, and a mob led by some

tarred and feathered brother Joseph and Sidney, and left brother

Joseph, as they supposed, dead upon the ground." 10 Simonds Ryder, a

participant in the mobbing who was said to be one that "did not drift on

the current," but rather one who "sets currents in motion," 11 lends some

knowledge as to the purpose and persons involved in the Hiram affair.

In a letter Ryder, a Mormon apostate, a Campbellite minister, and a

resident of Hiram, made the following observation:
In the winter of 1831 Joseph Smith, with others, had
an appointment in the south school-house, in Hiram. Such
upon his existence, ere we behold him on his bloody couch his weeping parents and numerous friends taking a last lingering look, at the noble and bloody sacrifice, that dared to follow where any dared to lead, placed in his rude coffin, to be consigned to its last resting place, there to remain until the trump of God shall call him forth to receive a Martyr's Crown. Peace to his ashes, long may he live in the hearts of the Saints, for there his name deserves a place. The name of Barber is yet dear to the old Jackson County veterans. I look around in vain for my old associates. Time has told a fearful tale; few are left that saw those days of trouble, when hell with all his blackest sins put on seemed intent at one fell swoop to rid the world of the name of Latter Day Saints...
                  Respectfully, Ellis Eames."
Letter on file in the Office of the Church Historian.

9 Warren News Letter and Trumbull County Republican (Warren), IV, No. 8 (April 10, 1832). n. p.

10 Laura L. Kimball, "Autobiography of Sister Laura L. Kimball," Deseret News Weekly, XV, No. 52 (November 28, 1866), p. 413. Italics added. [dau. of Paul Pitkin of Hiram - arrived 1819 - In the summer of '31, br. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon removed their families from Kirtland to Hiram, Portage county, where [I] was then living. Persecution against the Saints was very strong and a mob led by some apostates tarred and feathered br. Joseph and Sidney, and left br. Joseph, as they supposed, dead upon the ground. They had flattered themselves that by that act they should destroy the faith of the church; but an acquaintance ofmine told me she was disappointed, that it had increased the faith and union of that people. -- On the last day of April, 1832, I left my home in Portage county, Ohio, my brother George, his wife and my sister Abigail, together with a large company of Saints, and journeyed to Missouri... H.C.Kimball wife -- George transported Smith to Warren after the incident]

11 B. A. Hindsdale, "Life and Character of Symonds Ryder," cited in Hayden, op. cit., p. 257.



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.

During the next spring and summer several converts were made, and their success seemed to indicate an immediate triumph in Hiram. But when they went to Missouri to lay the foundation of the splendid city of Zion, and also of the temple, they left their papers behind. This gave their new converts 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 (under the Law of Consecration) and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the prophet. This was too much for the Hiramites, and they left the Mormonites faster than they had ever joined them, and by fall the Mormon church in Hiram was a very lean concern.

But some who had been the dupes of this deception, determined not to let it pass with impunity; and, accordingly, a company was formed of citizens from Shalersville, Garrettsville, and Hiram, in March, 1832, and proceeded to headquarters in the darkness of night, and took Smith and Rigdon from their beds, and tarred and feathered them both, and let them go. This had the desired effect, which was to get rid of them. They soon left for Kirtland. 12

Hartwell Ryder, Simond's son, later corroborated this as the

purpose of the mobbing, for "the people did not want Hiram to be a Mormon

center," 13

Another factor contributing to the participation of some in the

12 Symonds Ryder, "Letter to A. S. Hayden," February 1, 1868, cited in Hayden, op. cit., pp. 220, 221. Besides Rider's reference to the economics of the Hiram Saints as a reason for the attack, Henry Howe made the following comment: "in the winter of 1831 Joseph Smith and Sidney came to Hiram, held meetings and made many converts to the then new faith of the Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons. But after a while it was rumored that they designed eventually to get possession of all the property of their converts. The people became alarmed; among them were some of their dupes, who went to the house of Smith and Rigdon, stripped them, gave them a coat of tar and feathers, and rode them on a rail -- whereupon they left the place." Henry Howe, op. cit., Vol. III, p. 111.: [Howe: HIRAM occupies the highest elevation on the Reserve, being 1,300 feet above sea-level, which gives it great salubrity and healthfulness. This is a fine fruit and dairy region. It is twelve miles northeast of Ravenna, two miles from the N., Y., P. & O. Railroad. It has one newspaper (Bugle Echo), D. H. BEAMAN, editor, and about 500 inhabitants. It is especially noted as the seat of Hiram College, the institution where James A. Garfield was educated. Its president is George H. McLAUGHLIN. It was opened in 1851 as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, received its charter in 1867, and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1886. -- Jo. Smith -- The Morman Prophet. In the winter of 1831 JOSEPH SMITH and SIDNEY came to Hiram, held meetings and made many converts to the then new faith of the Latter-Day Saints, or Mormonism. But after a while it was rumored that they designed eventually to get possession of all the property of their converts. The people became alarmed; among them were some of their dupes, who went to the house of Smith and Rigdon, stripped them, gave them a coat of tar and feathers, and rode them on a rail -- whereupon they left the place. -- Jo. Smith in his personal appearance was well adapted to impose upon the weak and credulous. His complexion was of corpselike paleness and waxy, his expression grave and peculiarly sanctimonious, his words few and in sepulchral tones. At Nauvoo he claimed a revelation from Heaven to take spiritual wives and established polygamy.]

13 Deseret Semi-Weekly News [sic - D.E.N. 1902], cited in N. B. Lundwall (comp.), The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952), p. 75. B. H. Roberts visited Hiram, Ohio, during the latter part of the century and interviewed Hartwell Ryder concerning the mobbing.



mob was to release their resentment against Smith for influences that

interferred with their domestic harmony. "There was a man down at

Shallersville," said Hartwell Ryder, "whose wife had joined the Mormon

Church and was agoing [sic] with the Mormons to Missouri." 14 This he

resented. Inasmuch as particupants from Shallersville served in the mob,

it is plausible that they were motivated by such personal reasons.

Upon considering the general resentment and fear that was being

engendered by the stories that circulated about Smith and his people, it

was not difficult to excite those with personal grievances to participate

in the mobbing. Ostensibly, then, there were at least three factors

that prompted the vindictiveness released in the early hours of

March 25, 1832, in Hiram, Ohio, against the two chief Mormon leaders:

(1) objections to the economic order of the Church, the Law of Consecration

and Stewardship, which some thought would interfere with the private

ownership of property of the new converts in Hiram; (2) some desired to

prevent Hiram from becoming a major Mormon center; and (3) there was a

resentment for breaking up family solidarity.

The following Wednesday, March 28th, Rigdon moved his family to

Kirtland, but learning that a mob was there, he moved to Chardon the

following Saturday. Preparations were made for a second trip to Missouri,

and the Mormon President accompanied by Newel K. Whitney, Peter Whitmer,

and Jesse Gause left Hiram on April 1st. They chose not to go to Kirtland

at that time because of the threatening mob forces there. "And indeed,"

14 Idem.



said the Prophet, "the spirit of mobocracy was very prevalent through

that whole region of country at the time." 15 Smith had his family

move back to Kirtland, and he and his party started their journey by

going to Wheeling, Virginia. Some of the members of the mob followed

them as far west as Cincinnati. 16


15 History of the Church, I, p. 265.

16 Ibid., p. 266.


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