MORMON STUDIES PRESENTS:
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Our scenario has unfolded in the preceding pages to show us a picture of Spalding as a struggling, ill novelist who died with his dream of a published novel inscribing his name in history remaining as nothing more than that -- a dream. Rigdon has shown himself to be a young visionary -- perhaps so dedicated to his own dreams that he thought nothing of appropriating for himself Spalding's dream and modifying it from a novel to a new religion. Both Spalding and Rigdon have had their names inscribed in history. But we believe the evidence shows that while Spalding's name remains that of a would-be novelist, Rigdon's name may well go down as that of a book thief whose misguided actions built an empire on a cracked foundation.
Rigdon's act, supported as we believe by the facts,
118 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?was much more important than that of improperly obtaining another man's literary work. Rigdon took Spalding's novel and, history shows, transformed it and claimed more for it than any novel could hope to claim -- complete inspiration from God. Perhaps we may never know how much of the picture was planned and executed by Rigdon and how much by Smith or Cowdery or others. The evidence points, however, to Rigdon as the instigator and original "discoverer" of the Mormon Bible, Spalding's Manuscript Found.
In this chapter we will examine Rigdon's association with Joseph Smith. Did the two meet, as Mormon sources say, after Rigdon's "conversion" in 1830? Or were they intimate acquaintances long before that time? What evidence do we have for declaring that Rigdon took Spalding's manuscript to Smith and that their collaboration (with others) produced in 1830 The Book of Mormon as it was first published? The following chart outlines the events detailed in this chapter which link Sidney Rigdon with Joseph Smith.
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The Rigdon/Smith Connection
As is clear from the above chronology, Rigdon was away from his ministerial duties without explanation many times between the years of 1827 and 1830. As a matter of fact, his official itinerary (compiled mostly from Mormon sources), lists no fewer than fifteen gaps from 1827 until his conversion to Mormonism in October of 1830.
120 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?These absences were noticed by those he associated with as well as by us. Our research intensified when we discovered that these gaps sometimes paralleled events described in Doctrine and Covenants to which a confidant would probably be invited. Since his absences were noticed by us and by his contemporaries, why weren't they noticed and investigated by Rigdon's Mormon biographers? Or, if they were noticed and investigated, why weren't the results made public?
Z. Rudolph (whose brother's testimony is presented on page 112 of Chapter 5) had this to say about Rigdon's frequent absences during this period:
During the winter previous to the appearance of the Book of Mormon, Rigdon was in the habit of spending weeks away from his home, going no one knew where: and that he often appeared very preoccupied, and would indulge in dreamy, imaginative talks, which puzzled those who listened. When the Book of Mormon appeared and Rigdon joined in the advocacy of the new religion, the suspicion was at once aroused that he was one of the framers of the new doctrines, and probably was not ignorant of the authorship of the Book of Mormon. 1
Mrs. Sophia Munson also noticed Rigdon's absences. She was living directly across from the Rigdon family at the time in question and, although a young girl, knew Rigdon and his wife well and observed Rigdon's more eccentric practices. She was already living on Mentor Road before Rigdon moved there in 1827, when she was seventeen years old. Her statement concerning the years 1827-30, and in particular Rigdon's conversion to Mormonism, is enlightening:
My parents settled on Mentor Road, four miles west of Painesville, Ohio, in 1810, when I was six weeks old. I well remember when Elder Rigdon came and lived opposite
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our house in 1827. He was very poor, and when he had much company would send his children to the neighbors to borrow knives, forks, dishes and also for provisions. Father kept his horse and cow gratis.
The true significance of the gaps in Rigdon's itinerary becomes evident only as we examine 1) their number, 2) their timing (in relation to Smith's activities especially), and 3) the testimonies establishing his early relationship with Smith.
Even to the casual observer, the number of Rigdon's absences from his pastorate is unusual. Added to this is the testimony of his acquaintances that these absences consistently were unexplained -- and, as our testimony will show, sometimes the brief explanations were contradictory.
Often an absence in Rigdon's schedule corresponds exactly to a particular event recorded by Smith concerning Mormonism or The Book of Mormon. For example, a
122 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?gap in June of 1828 corresponds exactly to Smith's recording that 116 pages of The Book of Mormon were lost at this time by Martin Harris. If Rigdon were in possession of Spalding's manuscript, wouldn't it be logical for him to travel quickly to Smith's residence in New York to either replace the missing pages or authorize some substitution?
Finally, we are faced with consistent testimony from Smith's neighbors and others placing Rigdon and Smith together frequently during the three years before the publication of The Book of Mormon. Each testimony corresponds to one of the gaps in Rigdon's itinerary.
ELDER RIGDON'S SCHEDULE
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124 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?An examination of the preceding chart shows in detail the activities of Rigdon during this time. Remember, too, that where the record shows "Above marriage recorded," it is not implying that Rigdon was present at the recording. At that time, records were commonly kept by the church secretary, a deacon, or the preacher's wife. Any one of them could and did record the marriages the preacher performed.
The distance between Rigdon's home in Ohio and Joseph's in New York was about 250 miles and could be traveled by horseback in five or six days. A gap in Rigdon's itinerary of even one month would allow ample opportunity for him to have conferred with Smith.
An interesting conjecture concerning the coincidence of Rigdon's activities and Smith's "revelations" concerns the actual production of the manuscript. If Rigdon had actually taken Spalding's manuscript from Patterson's Print Shop in Pittsburgh, surely Silas Engles, foreman of the shop, would have known of Spalding's suspicions concerning Rigdon. Perhaps Engles even knew that Rigdon possessed the story. If Rigdon desired to publish Spalding's Manuscript Found as his own work (either as a romance or a revelation), he would certainly do all within his power to see that no one discovered the fraud. For example, he would be much more likely to publish the manuscript after Engles had died.
Is it mere coincidence that Engles died in July of 1827 and that Smith recorded a "revelation" in September of that year, declaring that it was now permissible to uncover, translate, and publish the golden plates? This possibility is also supported by the fact that Mrs. Munson remembered that Rigdon had traveled to Pittsburgh at different times -- perhaps during the gap in his itinerary the month after Engles' death. This possibility is also supported by the fact that Engles was
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 125the last person to link Rigdon conclusively with his close friend, Lambdin, who had died on August 1, 1825.
In 1825 Smith moved to Bainbridge, New York, and was convicted there for "glass-looking," or seeking buried treasure for a fee by means of mystical stones placed in his hat. 3 As previously noted, Bainbridge was only thirty miles from Hartwick, where at the time Spalding's own copy of the manuscript lay at the bottom of his trunk, last seen before Spalding's daughter's marriage in 1828.
All of these conjectures mean nothing, however, if there is no evidence to back them up. We need solid facts to show that Rigdon and Smith were acquainted long before either of them admitted this fact to the public. If Rigdon did make several trips to New York to visit Smith, to prepare him for the office of "prophet" and to give him the Spalding manuscript (including altered portions of it), then one would expect to find that Smith's neighbors knew of Rigdon's visits. We do have that evidence: there are testimonies of eyewitnesses who saw Rigdon and Smith together between 1827 and 1830, before The Book of Mormon was published.
The Testimony of Chase
Able D. Chase was a teenager at the time he first saw Rigdon and Smith together, in 1827. He testified:
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been born Jan. 19, 1814, at Palmyra, N.Y. During some of my visits at the Smiths, I saw a stranger there who they said was Mr. Rigdon. He was at Smith's several times, and it was in the year of 1827 when I first saw him there, as near as I can recollect. Some time after that tales were circulated that young Joe had found or dug from the earth a BOOK OF PLATES which the Smiths called the GOLDEN BIBLE. I don't think Smith had any such plates. He was mysterious in his actions. The PEEPSTONE, in which he was accustomed to look, he got off my elder brother Willard while at work for us digging a well. It was a singular looking stone and young Joe pretended he could discover hidden things in it.
In corroboration of our thesis, previously expressed, Chase confirms that Rigdon not only met Smith before The Book of Mormon was published, but that he was at
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 127the Smith's "several times." Sexton, one of the witnesses to Chase's statement, was president of the city bank in Palmyra, and his own word was as trustworthy as that of Chase.
The Testimony of Gilbert and Saunders
Ironically, the second witness, Gilbert, was the proofreader of The Book of Mormon at the time of its first printing! However, Gilbert's interest in the Rigdon/Smith relationship was not confined to proofreading. We also have his statement about a conversation he had with Lorenzo Saunders, a resident of Palmyra, who in two separate statements gave us the most complete information on the matter. Gilbert's statement can act as a preface to Saunders' first statement.
Last evening I had about 15 minutes conversation with Mr. Lorenzo Saunders of Reading, Hillsdale Co., Mich. He had been gone about thirty years (from this area). He was born south of our village in 1811, and was a near neighbor of the Smith family -- knew them all well; was in the habit of visiting the Smith boys; says he knows that Rigdon was hanging around Smith's for eighteen months prior to the publishing of the Mormon Bible. 5
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Smiths lived and the next summer he was missing and I didn't see him until fall and he came back and took our school in the district where we lived and taught about a week and went to the schoolboard and wanted the board to let him off and they did and he went to Smith and went to writing the Book of Mormon and wrote all winter. The Mormons say it wasn't wrote there but I say it was because I was there. I saw Sidney Rigdon in the Spring of 1827, about the middle of March. I went to Smiths to eat maple sugar, and I saw five or six men standing in a group and there was one among them better dressed than the rest and I asked Harrison Smith who he was and he said his name was Sidney Rigdon, a friend of Joseph's from Pennsylvania. I saw him in the Fall of 1827 on the road between where I lived and Palmyra, with Joseph. I was with a man by the name of Jugegsah, (sp. ?). They talked together and when he went on I asked Jugegsah (sp. ?) who he was and he said it was Rigdon. Then in the summer of 1828 I saw him at Samuel Lawrence's just before harvest. I was cutting corn for Lawrence and went to dinner and he took dinner with us and when dinner was over they went into another room and I didn't see him again till he came to Palmyra to preach. You want to know how Smith acted about it. The next morning after he claimed to have got plates he came to our house and said he had got the plates and what a struggle he had in getting home with them. Two men tackled him and he fought and knocked them both down and made his escape and secured the plates and had them safe and secure. He showed his thumb where he bruised it in fighting those men. After went from the house, my mother says "What a liar Joseph Smith is; he lies every word he says; I know he lies because he looks so guilty; he can't see out of his eyes; how dare tell such a lie as that." The time he claimed to have taken the plates from the hill was on the 22 day of September, in 1827, and I went on the next Sunday following with five or six other ones and we hunted the side hill by course and could not find no place where the ground had
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been broke. There was a large hole where the money diggers had dug a year or two before, but no fresh dirt. There never was such a hole; there never was any plates taken out of that hill nor any other hill in that " country, was in Wayne county. It is all a lie. No, sir, I never saw the plates nor no one else. He had an old glass box with a tile in it, about 7x8 inches, and that ! was the gold plates and Martin Harris didn't know a gold plate from a brick at this time. Smith and Rigdon had an intimacy but it was very secret and still and there was a mediator between them and that was Cowdery. The Manuscript was stolen by Rigdon and modelled over by him and then handed over to Cowdery and he copied them and Smith sat behind the curtain and handed them out to Cowdery and as fast as Cowdery copied them, they was handed over to Martin Harris and he took them to Egbert Granden, the one who printed them, and Gilbert set the type. I never knew any of the twelve that claimed to have seen the plates except Martin Harris and the Smiths. I knew all the Smiths, they had not much learning, they was poor scholars. The older ones did adhere to Joseph Smith. He had a peep stone he pretended to see in. He could see all the hidden treasures in the ground and all the stolen property. But that was all a lie, he couldn't see nothing. He was an impostor. I now will close. I don't know as you can read this. If you can, please excuse my bad spelling and mistakes.Yours With Respect,
Saunders' first statement confirms several possibilities we raised earlier. First, he unequivocally places Rigdon with Smith as early as the spring of 1827. Second, his testimony has clarified Smith's neighbors' opinions of Joseph Smith's character. These opinions fall short of the opinions presented in most Mormon sources, which portray Smith as a veritable saint throughout all his life. Third, Saunders gave us some
130 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?tangible information concerning the finding of the "plates." He declared that, in the company of others, he tried to find the hole from which Smith supposedly removed the plates on the hill "Cumorah," but, as much as he searched, there was no hole, no stone, and no lever as Smith had described lust the week before.
Saunders' second testimony was given two years after the first and, although shorter, was concise and confirmed his previous testimony in all essentials.
Statement of Lorenzo Saunders.
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I afterwards became acquainted with and found to be Sidney Rigdon. This was in March, A.D. 1827, the second spring after the death of my father. I was frequently at the house of Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830. That I saw Oliver Cowdery writing, I suppose the "Book of Mormon" with books and manuscript laying on the table before him; that I went to school to said Oliver Cowdery and knew him well. That in the summer of 1830, I heard Sydney Rigdon preach a sermon on Mormonism. This was after the "Book of Mormon" had been published, which took about three years from the time that Joseph Smith claimed to have had his revelation.(Signed)Sworn and subscribed to before me this 21st day of July, A.D. 1887.
The most significant statements contained in the above affidavit are: l)that Lorenzo Saunders could find no evidence of the site where Smith claimed he had dug up the golden plates, even though Saunders searched the hill just the Sunday after Smith claimed his discovery; 2) that the first time Saunders saw Rigdon and Smith together was in March of 1827, almost
132 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?Of the "restored gospel;" and 6) that Saunders was qualified to make the above observations, because during the period of time from 1827 to 1830 he was "frequently at the house of Joseph Smith."
The Testimony of Anderick
Another neighbor of the Smiths was Mrs. S. F. Anderick. She was born in 1809, and was two years older than Lorenzo Saunders. She too observed some of the same things as did Saunders. Let her tell her own story.
I was born in New York State near the Massachusetts line, May 7, 1809. In 1812 my parents moved to a farm two miles from the village, and in the township of Palmyra, New York. In 1823 mother died, and I went to her sister's, Mrs. Earl Wilcox, where I lived much of the time until December, 1828, when I went to live with father who had again married and settled on a farm on the Holland Patent, twenty miles west of Rochester, New York. Uncle Earl's farm was four miles south of Palmyra village, and his house was nearly opposite old Jo Smith's, father of the Mormon prophet. Old Jo was dissipated. He and his son Hyrum worked some at coopering. Hyrum was the only son sufficiently educated to teach school. I attended when he taught in the log school house east of uncle's. He also taught in the Stafford District. He and Sophronia were the most respected of the family, who were not much thought of in the community. They cleared the timber from only a small part of their farm, and never paid for the land. They tried to live without work . . . I have often heard the neighbors say they did not know how the Smiths lived, they earned so little money. The farmers who lived near the Smiths had many sheep and much poultry stolen. They often sent officers to search the premises of the Smiths for stolen property, who usually found the house locked. It was said the creek near the house of the Smiths was lined with the
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 133feet and heads of sheep. Uncle's children were all sons, and they played with Smith's younger children, I associated much with Sophronia Smith, the oldest daughter, as she was the only girl near my age who lived in our vicinity. I often accompanied her, Hyrum, and young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, to apple parings and parties. Jo was pompous, pretentious, and active at parties. He claimed, when a young man, he could tell where lost or hidden things and treasures were buried or located with a forked witch hazel. He deceived many farmers, and induced them to dig nights for chests of gold, when the pick struck the chest, someone usually spoke, and Jo would say the enchantment was broken, and the chest would leave.
Willard Chase, a Methodist who lived about two miles from uncle's, while digging a well, found a gray smooth stone about the size and shape of an egg. Sallie, Willard's sister, also a Methodist, told me several times that young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, often came to inquire of her where to dig for treasures. She told me she would place the stone in a hat and hold it to her face, and claimed things would be brought to her view. Sallie let me have it several times. but I never could see anything in or through it. I heard that Jo obtained it and called it a peep-stone, which he used in the place of the witch hazel. Uncle refused to let Jo dig on his farm. I have seen many holes where he dug on other farms.
When Jo joined the Presbyterian Church, in Palmyra village, it caused much talk and surprise, as he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord. He also claimed he found some gold plates with characters on them, in a hill between uncle s and father's, which I often crossed. Several times I saw what he claimed were the plates, which were covered with a cloth. They appeared to be six or eight inches square. He frequently carried them with him. I heard they kept them under the brick hearth.
He was from home much summers. Sometimes he said he had been to Broome County, New York, and
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Pennsylvania. Several times while I was visiting Sophronia Smith at old Jo's house, she told me that a stranger who I saw there several times in warm weather and several months apart, was Mr. Rigdon. At other times the Smith children told me that Mr. Rigdon was at their house when I did not see him. I did not read much in the "Book of Mormon" because I had no confidence in 10. Palmyra people claimed that Jo did not know enough to be the author of the "Book of Mormon", and believed that Rigdon was its author. I was acquainted with most of the people about us, and with Martin Harris.
With the introduction of Mrs. Anderick's testimony, more pieces are fitted into the puzzle of Rigdon's early involvement with Smith. Her testimony confirms our thesis that Joseph was a sort of fortune-teller (see Appendix 2), using first witch hazel (probably like a divining rod), and then a stone, which led to his appellation of "peep-stone gazer." Mrs. Anderick also saw what Smith said were the "golden plates" several times. However, as is true with all of the people who "witnessed" the plates, she never actually saw them, but only saw something covered with a cloth that Smith claimed were the plates!
Mrs. Anderick supplies one piece to our puzzle that none of the previous testimony contained. She declared
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 135that Smith was gone often in the summer and had even gone to Pennsylvania. Since Rigdon's travels often took him to Pennsylvania during this time, it is quite conceivable that the two men met several times in Pennsylvania (perhaps in Pittsburgh). Could they have met during the month following the death of Engles, in the summer of 1827?
Mrs. Anderick's testimony provides additional confirmation that Rigdon knew Smith long before 1830, and in fact frequented Smith's house. Mrs. Anderick said that she saw Rigdon "several times in warm weather"; this could hardly refer to Rigdon's public visit in December/January of 1831, because this was certainly not the season of warm weather, and this visit occurred two years after Mrs. Anderick moved to her father's new farm !
The Testimony of Hendrix
A quite detailed statement concerning the origin of The Book of Mormon and the relationship between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith was provided by Daniel Hendrix, who as a young man lived in Palmyra and was very well acquainted with Smith and later Rigdon. He said:
I was a young man in a store in Palmyra, N.Y. from 1822 until 1830 ... and among the daily visitors at the establishment was Joseph Smith, Jr. Every one knew him as Joe Smith. He had lived in Palmyra a few years previous to my going there from Rochester.
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sticking through the holes in his old battered hat. In winter I used to pity him, for his shoes were so old and worn out that he must have suffered in the snow and slush; yet Joe had a jovial, easy, don't care way about him that made him a lot of warm friends. He was a good talker, and would have made a fine stump speaker if he had had the training. He was known among the young men I associated with as a romancer of the first water. I never knew so ignorant a man as Joe was to have such a fertile imagination. He never could tell a common occurrence in his daily life without embellishing the story with his imagination; yet I remember that he was grieved one day when old Parson Reed told Joe that he was going to hell for his lying habits.
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feel at once that Joe was a remarkable man after all.
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golden plates began to be spread abroad. It was given out that the plates were a new revelation and were part of the original Bible, while Joe Smith was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish among men.
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as soon as that was done the work would be prospered wonderfully.... The printing office was an upper floor, near the store where I worked, and I was one of the few persons who was allowed about the office while the publishing was going on.
140 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?Hendrix's testimony was obtained from the Chicago Historical Society and further supports the thesis that Smith and Rigdon were close associates long before Mormonism first reached Kirtland. Hendrix was evidently very well acquainted with both Rigdon and Smith before 1831, since Hendrix said he left Palmyra after 1830.
Mormonism Before Mormonism
With the basic fact established that Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith were well-acquainted long before Rigdon's official introduction to Mormonism in 1830, we now need to establish the fact that Rigdon was not only in New York, near Smith, during this period, but also that he was preaching Mormonism before his "conversion."
K. A. E. Bell lived in Painesville, Ohio, and bearded with a man who was often visited by Rigdon during this period. Bell's testimony lends a great deal of credence to our thesis:
I was born in Harpersfield, Delaware County, New York, December 3, 1803, our family lived several years in Broome County, N.Y., four miles from Badgers Settlement, where we did our trading. I came to Painesville, Ohio, in 1825, and bearded with Carlos Granger. Whenever Sydney Rigdon, a Baptist minister who lived in Mentor, came to Painesville, he usually stopped with Granger. I have often heard him say at his meals, "How nice it would be to have all Christians live in a community separate from the world's people." After he became a Disciple, he frequently spoke in his sermons of a wondrous light which was soon to burst upon the world. I have heard others say Rigdon, after he became a Mormon, said that Mormonism was the marvelous light he had predicted. I attended the first Mormon meeting Pratt and Cowdery held in Painesville. My brother Milo,
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from Broome County, N.Y., was present. They told about Prophet Jo Smith finding the gold plates, and said they saw them. My brother ridiculed them after the meeting. He told me he knew Jo Smith when he was digging near the Susquehanna River for Captain Kidd's money. To had a peep-stone through which he claimed to see hidden or buried treasures. Jo sold shares to all who would buy, and kept the money. He said they would make a circle, and Jo Smith claimed if they threw any dirt over the circle the money chest would leave. They never found any money. Jo Smith's brother Hyrum's wife was a cousin of Mrs. Bell. It was claimed she died during confinement because her husband refused her the services of a physician. Esek Rosa, an expert accountant and brother of Dr. Rosa, of Painesville, while in conversation with me about Rigdon and Mormonism, several times told me that Rigdon told the people in Mentor and Painesville that he was going to Pittsburgh, Pa., but he went to Rochester, N. Y., instead. Esek said he was visiting in Rochester, and while on the street he was invited to enter a building near by and hear a very smart man preach. Rosa replied, "I think I have heard that voice before." When he entered the room he found Elder Sydney Rigdon preaching Mormonism. This occurred several months before Mormonism was preached in Ohio.
There are four major points to Bell's testimony that have a direct bearing on our thesis. First, Bell confirmed that Rigdon, while he was a Campbellite preacher, taught of a coming "wondrous light" that would be the full restoration of the gospel. In addition, Bell mentioned secondhand information indicating that Rigdon himself
142 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?declared that Mormonism was the light he was foretelling. Second, the charge of "peep-stone gazer" is further supported by Bell's brother's testimony, reported here, that Smith engaged in that practice repeatedly (without positive results for the investors, but very profitable results for Smith) in Broome County, New York. The third item of interest in the above testimony is the statement, in agreement with our thesis, that Rigdon did not always go where he said he would, but, for example, after saying he was traveling to Pittsburgh he would instead go to Rochester -- only a relatively short ride from Palmyra. Finally, Bell's recitation of Rosa's testimony confirms Saunders' testimony that Rigdon was preaching on Mormonism before he claimed to have heard of it in Ohio in October/November 1830.
Isaac Butts had an interesting testimony to add to this. He was approximately the same age as Mrs. Anderick and Saunders and remembers the following:
I was born in Palmyra, N.Y., near where old Jo Smith settled, January 4, 1807. I attended school with Prophet Jo. His father taught me how to mow. I worked with old and young Jo at farming. I have frequently seen old Jo drunk. Young 10 had a forked witch hazel rod with which he claimed he could locate buried money or hidden things, Later he had a peep-stone which he put into his hat and looked into. I have seen both. Joshua Stafford, a good citizen, told me that young Jo Smith and himself dug for money in his orchard and elsewhere nights. All the money digging was done nights. I saw the holes in the orchard which were four or five feet square and three or four feet deep. Jo and others dug much about Palmyra and Manchester. I have seen many of the holes. The first thing he claimed to find was gold plates of the "Book of Mormon," which he kept in a pillowcase and would let people lift, but not see. I came to Ohio in 1818, and became acquainted with Sidney Rigdon in 1820. He
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preached my brother's sermon in Auburn, O., in May 1822. I returned to Palmyra twice and resided there about two years each time. Many persons whom I knew in New York joined the Mormons and came to Kirtland. They told me they saw Sidney Rigdon much with Jo Smith before they became Mormons, but did not know who he was until they came to Kirtland.
Note especially that Butts not only says that Rigdon knew Smith before Mormonism arrived in Ohio, but Butts says that he received this information from people who had joined the Mormon Church, and therefore could hardly be called prejudiced against Joseph Smith. He also reiterates that no one was allowed to see the plates, but only to lift the package which Smith claimed was the plates.
The statements by W. A. Lillie and Pomeroy Tucker need net comment:
I was born in Trumbull Co., Ohio, in 1815. Our family moved to Chester, the town adjoining Kirtland on the south, in 1822. About 1834 Mr. Pearne, of Chester, told me he used to live in the neighborhood of the Mormon Smith family in Palmyra, N.Y., and was well acquainted with all of them. He said they were a low family and of no account in the community. He told me the summer before Jo Smith, the Mormon prophet, first came to Ohio, he often saw Jo Smith and Rigdon together. It was the first he knew of Rigdon, and it was before the "Book of Mormon" was published. He saw Smith and Rigdon start together in a buggy for Ohio. Mr. Pearne knew Rigdon well after coming to Ohio and said he believed he was at the bottom of Mormonism. My father borrowed the "Book of Mormon" and
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when he had finished reading it laughed and remarked Rigdon had done pretty well.
Here is the statement by Pomeroy Tucker:
A mysterious stranger now appears at Smith's and holds intercourse with the famed money-digger. For a considerable time no intimation of the name or purpose of this stranger transpired to the public, not even to Smith's nearest neighbors. It was observed by some that his visits were frequently repeated. The sequel of the intimacies of this stranger and the money-digger will sufficiently appear hereafter. There was great consternation when the 118 pages of manuscript were stolen from Harris, for it seems to have been impossible, for some unaccountable reason, to retranslate the stolen portion. The reappearance of this mysterious stranger at Smith's at this juncture (1828) was again the subject of inquiry and conjecture by observers, from whom was withheld all explanations of his identity and purpose. When the Book of Mormon appeared, Rigdon was an early convert. Up to this time, he had played his part in the background and his occasional visits to Smith's had been observed by the inhabitants as those of the mysterious stranger. It had been his policy to remain in concealment until all things were in readiness for blowing the trumpet of the new gospel. He now came to the front as the first regular preacher in Palmyra. 12
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 145Mrs. Eaton, who had lived in Palmyra for 32 years and later interviewed Smith's neighbors concerning Rigdon's association with Smith before 1831, read her findings to the Union Home Missionary Meeting in Buffalo, New York, on May 27, 1881. In part, it said,
Early in the summer of 1827, a "mysterious stranger" seeks admittance to Joe Smith's cabin. The conferences of the two are most private. This person, whose coming immediately preceded a new departure in the faith, was Sidney Rigdon, a backsliding clergyman, at this time a Campbellite preacher in Mentor, Ohio. 13
Martin Harris, who financed the launching of the new religion of Mormonism, was not usually disposed to tell of the early beginnings of Mormonism. However, by 1852 he had left the Mormon Church and did discuss what he knew of the Rigdon/Smith affair with R. W. Alderman. Alderman reported the following:
In February, 1852, I was snowbound in a hotel in Mentor, Ohio, all day. Martin Harris was there, and in conversation told me he saw Jo Smith translate the "Book of Mormon," with his peep-stone in his hat. Oliver Cowdery, who had been a school-teacher, wrote it down. Sidney Rigdon, a renegade preacher, was let in during the translation Rigdon had stolen a manuscript from a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pa., which Spaulding, who had written it in the early part of the century, had left there to be printed, but the printers refused to publish it, but Jo and Rigdon did, as the "Book of Mormon." Martin said he furnished the means, and Jo promised him a place next to him in the church. When they had got all my property they set me out. He said Jo ought to have been killed before he was; that the Mormons committed all sorts of depredations in the towns about Kirtland. They called
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themselves Latter-Day Saints, but he called them Latter-Day Devils.
Since Harris (remembered by Alderman) witnessed Rigdon there before The Book of Mormon was printed, it must have been before 1830 -- before Rigdon welcomed the Mormon missionaries and became a Mormon in November of 1830!
Finally, the statement of Judge Lang, Oliver Cowdery's confidant and law partner, provides the final testimony to substantiate the scene we painted at the beginning of this chapter. Although he was loyal to his friend to the end, Lang did feel that he could say the following concerning what he knew from Cowdery:
a Rigdon did not work there, but was friends with Lambdin, who did.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 147
repetition of "And it came to pass" to Mr. Cowdery and said that a true scholar ought to have avoided that, which only provoked a gentle smile from C. Without going into detail or disclosing a confided word, I say to you that I do know, as well as can be known, that C. revised the "Manuscript" and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the "Book of Mormon." I have no knowledge of what became of the original. Never heard C. say as to that ... I could only answer your questions in the manner I did because some of them were not susceptible of a direct answer by me.
Our thesis, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, has traveled from hypothesis to substantiated history. The Book of Mormon was not translated from golden plates through miraculous power but was the revised edition of Solomon Spalding's second novel, Manuscript Found. We are convinced that, based on the evidence, Sidney Rigdon took the manuscript from Patterson's Print Shop, read and revised it for some years until he felt safe in using it, then met Smith and concocted with him the plan of revealing the manuscript as a communication from God. Then Rigdon supervised the work of preparing the manuscript for publication, always keeping closely associated with every move of the young Joseph Smith and his friends.
Much of this evidence has been available before, but to our knowledge it has never before been fully analyzed as integrated evidence which provides a clear look into the actual roots of Mormonism.
However, during the past three years we have uncovered still more evidence that confirms our thesis. We have actually found part of Spalding's novel, in his own
148 / Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?handwriting, paralleling The Book of Mormon word for word! In the next chapter we will detail this exciting discovery that provides additional proof that novelist Solomon Spalding is the true originator of The Book of Mormon.
1. Patterson, p. 434.
2. Derived from Shook, pp. 138-44.
3. See Appendix 2.
4. Wyl, p. 231.
5. Ibid., p. 231.
6. Shook, pp. 134-35. Saunders' affidavit ends:
Charles A. Shook, being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith that the foregoing letters of Thomas Gregg and i Lorenzo Saunders are verbatim copies (except spelling, punctuation and capitalization) of the originals now in the possession of the American Anti-Mormon Association.
Charles A. Shook
Subscribed to in my presence and sworn to before me, at Eddyville, Nebraska, this 13th day of February, 1913.
B. R. Hedglin, Notary Public.
7. Deming, p. 9.
8. Deming, pp. 9-11. Testimony to the character of Mrs. Anderick is as follows:
Dear Sir: Mrs. S1 F. Anderick, of whom you inquire, is a member of my church. She is a most estimable Christian i woman, and is possessed of more than average intellectual ability and culture. She is careful in speech and reliable in judgment; sound in mind and of unimpeachable veracity. Her testimony would be first-class in any court of justice upon any subject with which she might be conversant.
A Rigdon-Smith Conspiracy / 149Dear Sir: I am personally acquainted with Mrs. S.F. Anderick, and have been for two years. She lives on this street, one block from my residence. I have often met her in church, in society, and in her home. I am certain that she is remarkably well preserved, and is sound in mind. She is a woman of intelligence, and of high moral and Christian character.
9. Ibid., p. 15.
10. Ibid., p. 11.
11. Ibid., p. 53.
12. Patterson, p. 435. Tucker's conclusions were reached after interviews with Smith's neighbors. Tucker was a proofreader for the original printing of The Book of Mormon.
13. Ibid., p. 435.
14. Deming, p. 14.
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