Robert L. Brown & Rosemary Browns' report
They Lie in Wait to Deceive II (1984, 92)
Title-page (1992 ed.)
Chapter 1 (excerpt)
Chapter 2 (excerpt)
Chapter 6 (excerpt)
Comments: 1 2 3 4 5 6
THEY LIE IN WAIT
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There are those who make it their profession to attack the religious beliefs of others... Such is the case with the subjects of this book -- Walter Martin, Wayne Cowdery, Howard Davis, Donald Scales and Dee Jay Nelson...
Because of the success of the LDS Church, many alarmed ministers... apparently feel that ignorance is the best defense against Mormonism. Wayne Cowdery, Howard Davis, and Donald Scales go even further in their book, WHO REALLY WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON? They added biased and false information designed to spread fear and prejudice among their listeners at the expense of the LDS Church...
Note: Because the text from which the above extract was taken is under copyright protection, only a very limited portion is presented here. A free, on-line version of this part of the text may be downloaded at:
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That the Spaulding theory has not found its final resting place became clear when the Los Angeles Times on June 25, 1977, announced that three California researchers, Wayne Cowdery, Howard Davis, and Donald Scales, had found evidence that Solomon Spaulding had written a portion of the original Book of Mormon manuscript and that handwriting experts had substantiated their conclusion....
The three researchers have written a book based on this speculated Spaulding/Book of Mormon connection... On the top of the front cover of their book, WHO REALLY WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON?, you read the words -- "A Startling New Discovery." ...
Note: Because the text from which the above extract was taken is under copyright protection, only a very limited portion is presented here. A free, on-line version of this part of the text may be downloaded at:
view transcriber's comments
Henry Silver was hired first to see what his reaction would be toward identifying the handwriting ...
Note: Because the text from which the above extract was taken is under copyright protection, only a very limited portion is presented here. A free, on-line version of this part of the text may be downloaded at:
CONVERSATION BETWEEN HENRY SILVER AND ROBERT L. BROWN
18 Sept. 1981
Silver: One of the three investigators (Cowdrey) wanted to know if I would be available to go to Utah to look at some questioned documents...
... Later that evening this fellow (Cowdrey) called me and said he was taking me the next day to Salt Lake City... So we flew to Salt Lake City
One of the Mormons asked Cowdrey where he got a copy of the original handwriting that was in the Church vaults. Cowdrey admitted that he used to belong to the Mormon Church and that he knew a fellow who had access...
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... Coming back [from Salt Lake City] in the plane Cowdrey told me that he was a former member of the Mormon Church, and that he was a descendant of Oliver Cowdery, one of Smith's scribes... then he asked me if I would go to Ohio to Oberlin College because they had the original of Spaldings manuscript...
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... I, Henry Silver, certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of a conversation between Robert L. Brown and myself on the 18th of September 1981... Signed [Mr. Silver's signature]
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... Cowdrey doesn't miss a trick either. He is quick to impress people about his famous genealogy. He told Silver that he was a "descendant of Oliver Cowdery, one of the scribes of the Book of Mormon." ... Wayne Cowdrey is NOT a descendant of Oliver Cowdery! ...
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On page three of the book WRWTBOM... Footnote "b," shown below, is included in their book to reassure the readers that. although the names are spelled differently, Wayne Cowdrey is still a descendant of Oliver Cowdery:
b "Oliver's last name was spelled Cowdery, while many of his
view transcriber's comments
descendants today spell their last name Cowdrey, as does one of the co-authors of this book."On the back cover of their book (see p. 68), about the middle of the last paragraph, it refers to Wayne Cowdrey as a descendant of Oliver Cowdery:
"In early 1975, Wayne Cowdrey, a descendant of one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, contacted Davis with information he had begun to compile."On p. 166 of WRWTBOM (see p. 65), Wayne Cowdrey's relationship to Oliver Cowdery is mentioned again:
"One of us, Wayne Cowdrey, is a former Mormon descended from Smith's scribe, Oliver Cowdery."It is very important to Wayne Cowdrey to be a descendant of Oliver Cowdery... Perhaps he feels that it gives him more credibility...
Here is what Edward Plowman had to say in the magazine Christianity Today, July 8, 1977...
"One of the three California researchers, Wayne Cowdrey, is a direct descendant of Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith's trusted aide. He left the church as a result of his researches into the origins of the Book of Mormon."From the Los Angeles Times, Metro Section, Thursday, June 30, 1977, by Russell Chandler (see p. 67), you read:
"The three young researchers are Baptists, Cowdrey, a descendant of the Oliver Cowdery said to have been a scribe of Joseph Smith, was a Mormon for a short time, he said..."
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THE CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE NEWSLETTER, directed by Walter Ralston Martin, states:
"... Wayne, Cowdrey, Orange, Calif., who studied social science in college and is a descendant of Oliver Cowdery,... Cowdrey, who was a Mormon, was searching for information on the founding of the Mormon Church to strengthen the bases for his belief when he began to discover inconsistencies and became concerned about the truth..."
OLIVER COWDREY HAD NO POSTERITY!!!
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In Dav,Cow,Sca's book, WRWTBM the Spaulding theory was resurrected again. They expended quite a bit of energy in attempting to prove that Sidney Rigdon stole a "second" manuscript from a printshop... they have no case at all in claiming that there was a second manuscript.
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WHERE WERE THE EIGHT WITNESSES WHEN
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This author checked the United States census records for Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, from 1810 to 1860, and 1880, in an effort to verify the existence of the eight witnesses in Conneaut. The U.S. census is taken every 10 years and is not considered to be 100% accurate because people can change residences between the census years, and it is possible to miss someone. However, census records for the most part have been quite accurate. This author finds it significant that only two of the eight witnesses can be found in Ashtabula County when they were supposed to be (see p, 225). Next, consider "one of the most important" testimonies by Henry Lake:
... I left the State of New York, late in the year 1810, and arrived at this place [Conneaut], about the first of January following...
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Hiram Lake, Henry Lake's son, provides his testimony to the truthfulness of what his father wrote. Among other things, Hiram Lake says, "I am sixty-nine years of age, and have lived all my life in Conneaut, Ashtabula Co., Ohio. My father, Henry Lake, was partner with Solomon Spalding, in 1811 and 1812, in a forge in Conneaut (then Salem)." This author found that neither Henry Lake nor any of his family is in the census for Ashtabula County for 1810 or 1820. He can be traced elsewhere in Ohio from 1830 on. Therefore, the testimonies of Henry Lake and his son, Hiram Lake, are suspect....
view transcriber's comments
... Several testimonies gathered by Hurlburt verify the previous testimonies of other people. (This is why some anti-Mormons of today suspect Hurlburt of writing the testimonies.) Lorin Gould verifies what Hiram Lake said. Lorin Gould isn't in the census for Ashtabula County until 1840: then he is listed on every census thereafter until 1880. Missing out on three census records is stretching things too far -- this author doesn't believe he lived in Conneaut when he said he did. This testimony is certainly suspect!...
A table showing the census records of the "eight witnesses at Conneaut," follows. Spaulding wrote his novel about 1809 - 1812. The Spaldings moved to Pittsburgh about 1812, so the witnesses at Conneaut would need to appear on the 1810 or 1820 census. The "eight Conneaut witnesses" are supposed to be very familiar with Spaulding's manuscript. Notice how few of them live anywhere near Spaulding. Do you suppose that Hurlburt made up most of them?
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transcriber's comments for this page
This is the Austin-Davison letter... composed by Austin, it can be used to show that at this time [late 1830s] the current feeling was that there was only one Spaulding manuscript....
The first time this Davison letter was published, the name D. R. Austin was not mentioned:
If you accept the previous undated, typed letter with the typed signature then you should give at least as much credibility to the following undated, unsigned conversation of Mrs. Spaulding Davison and her daughter Mrs. McKinstry. This article appeared in the QUINCY ILL. WHIG, shortly after the Davison article came out. This article exposes the Davison letter as a fabrication of D. Austin, of Monson, Mass.
In 1840 a booklet was written by B. Winchester, entitled THE ORIGIN OF THE SPAULDING STORY, CONCERNING THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND, published in Philadelphia. On pages 16-17, we find the WHIG letter in which Mrs. Davison explains how D. Austin took down some notes from her, and proceeded to devise a letter purportedly to be from her. She says she didn't ever see the letter until after it was published in The Boston Recorder, and that it was never brought to her to sign. Regardless, if it was written by Austin, it was his thoughts and ideas and read the way he wanted it to! The WHIG letter is typeset below so you can read it better; however, the original copy is in Winchester's booklet in the Appendix on p. 429.
transcriber's comments for this page
This man was greatly annoyed at the loss of some of the best members of his congregation through the preaching of the everlasting gospel, and in his anger, published to the world what he asserted was the affidavit of the widow of Solomon Spaulding, but which she afterwards repudiated, as shown from the following article published in the Quincy (Illinois) Whig shortly after the appearance of the bogus affidavit:
A CUNNING DEVICE DETECTEDIt will be recollected that a few months since an article appeared in several of the papers, purporting to give an account of the origin of the Book of Mormon. How far the writer of the piece has effected his purposes, or what his purposes were in pursuing the course he has, I shall not attempt to say at this time, but shall call upon every candid man to judge in this matter for himself, and shall content myself by presenting before the public the other side of the question in the form of a letter, as follows:
"Copy of a letter written by Mr. John Haven, of Holliston, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, to his daughter, Elizabeth Haven, of Quincy, Adams Co., Illinois.
"Your brother Jesse passed through Monson, where he saw Mrs. Davison and her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, and also Dr. Ely, and spent several hours with them, during which time he asked them the following questions, viz.:
Question. -- 'Did you, Mrs. Davison, write a letter to John Storrs, giving an account of the, origin of, the Book of Mormon?'
Answer. -- 'I did not.'
Q. -- 'Did you sign your name to it?'
A. -- 'I did not, neither did I ever see the letter until I saw it in the Boston Recorder, the letter was never brought to me to sign.'
Q. -- What agency had you in 'having this letter sent to Mr. Storrs?'
A. -- 'D. R. Austin came to my house and asked me some questions, took some minutes on paper, and from these minutes wrote that letter.'
Q. -- 'Have you read the Book of Mormon?'
A. -- 'I have read some in it.'
Q. -- 'Does Mr. Spaulding's manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree?'
A. -- 'I think some few of the names are alike.'
Q. -- 'Does the manuscript, describe an idolatrous or a religious people?'
A. -- 'An idolatrous people.'
Q. -- 'Where is the manuscript?'
A. -- 'D. P. Hurlburt came here and took it, said he would get it printed and let me have one half of the profits.'
Q. -- 'Has D. P. Hurlburt got the manuscript printed?'
A. -- 'I received a letter stating that it did not read as he expected, and he should not print it.'
Q. -- 'How large is Mr. Spaulding's manuscript?'
A. -- 'About one-third as large as the Book of Mormon.'
Q. -- To Mrs. McKinstry: 'How old were you when your father wrote the manuscript?'
A. -- 'About five years of age.'
Q. -- 'Did you ever read the manuscript?'
A. -- 'When I was about twelve years old I used to read it for diversion.'
Q. -- 'Did the manuscript describe an idolatrous or a religious people?'
A. -- 'An idolatrous people.'
Q. -- 'Does the manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree?'
A. -- 'I think some of the names agree.'
Q. -- 'Are you certain that some of the names agree?'
A.-- 'I am not.'
Q. -- 'Have you read any in the Book of Mormon?'
A. -- 'I have not.'
Q. -- 'Was your name attached to that letter, which was sent to Mr. John Storrs, by your order?'
A. -- 'No, I never meant that my name should be there.'
'You see by the above questions and answers, that Mr. Austin, in his great zeal to destroy the Latter-day Saints, has asked Mrs. Davison a few questions, then wrote a letter to Mr. Storrs in his own language. I do not say that the above questions and answers were given in the form that I have written them, but these questions were asked, and these answers given. Mrs. Davison is about seventy years of age, and somewhat broke.'
"This may certify that I am personally acquainted with Mr. Haven, his son and daughter, and am satisfied they are persons of truth. I have also read Mr. Haven's letter to his daughter which has induced me to copy it for publication, and I further say, the above is a correct copy of Mr. Haven's letter.
A. Badlam."Notwithstanding the above refutation and expose the opponents of "Mormonism" have continually from the time of its publication, copied, re-published and harped upon this forged affidavit of Mrs. Davison. Their ears have been ever deaf and their eyes blind when the refutation of the slander has been presented to them. They did not then, and do not now want it; they prefer the lie which one of their number has concocted and spread broadcast through the world.
The important details to emerge from the WHIG article are the following:
Concerning the story in the Boston Recorder, Mrs. Spaulding Davison says "I did not (sign it), neither did I ever see the letter until I saw it in the Boston Recorder, the letter was never brought to me to sign."
Austin interviewed her, took notes, and then he wrote the letter.
She had read some of the Book of Mormon and "I think some few of the names are alike."
The manuscript found was about an idolatrous people. (However the Book of Mormon is about a religious people.)...
The Manuscript Found was about one-third the size of the Book of Mormon. This is the size of Spaulding's manuscript resting in Oberlin Ohio, today....
The above statements from Mrs. Spaulding Davison and Mrs. McKinstry have some support in an affidavit from Hurlburt that he did in fact receive the manuscript. In Scribner's Monthly, Vol. XXXII, May 1881 to Oct. 1881, New
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York, The Century Company, 1881, Hurlbut testified that he obtained the Manuscript Found from Mrs. Spaulding Davison. He gave it to E. D. Howe to return...
Solomon Spaulding's granddaughter, Mrs. Sonie E. Brittain, joined the LDS Church. Read her moving testimony on p. 455 in the Appendix.
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R. & R. Brown's They Lie in Wait to Deceive II
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
The "Transcriber" (1999)
A Personal Word from Dale R. Broadhurst
In 1984, when I was in the Kingdom of Nepal, just beginning my decade and a half overseas mission, a correspondent informed me of Robert L. and Rosemary Brown's then newly published They Lie in Wait to Deceive II. The late Vernal Holley, a former Mormon living in Roy, Utah, suggested that I might wish to obtain a copy of this volume and read it at my leisure. Many years later, while on a stop-over in Salt Lake City, I had a few free moments to look up the Browns' book while visiting the LDS Historian's Library at Temple Square. The staff there were kind enough to make photocopies of what I felt might be interesting parts of the text and those pages were mailed to me a few weeks later. So it was that I had my first opportunity to read through lengthy sections this interesting publication, in San Vicente, Isle of Saipan, during the mid-1990s.
In perusing this volume 2 in the Browns' series of They Lie in Wait to Deceive books, I was struck by the unshakable impression that the writers had gone to great lengths to discredit the reputations of several outspoken non-Mormons, but that they not researched the basic claims of what is commonly refered to as the "Spalding theory" for Book of Mormon authorship. It appears to me that this LDS couple from Mesa Arizona have expended far more effort on telling their "amazing story" of how "professional anti-Mormons work to obstruct and distort the truth" than they have in delving into the long-standing controversy over the Solomon Spalding authorship claims. Pardon me for saying so, but I cannot see how the Browns can possibly present a substantial book of purported facts regarding anti-Mormon "deceivers," when they themselves have little idea what it is that the "deceivers" are talking about. It is one thing for them to say that certain anti-Mormons have acted deceptively in presenting evidence for the Spalding authorship claims and certain related matters; it is quite another thing to regard some or all of those authorship claims as being fraudulent because of the actions and statements of modern "deceivers."
Shooting the Messenger
There are times when it is prudent to listen to a messenger, even if we do not like that message or the one who bears it. I once heard a story told of a British general in the Crimean War who refused to listen to critical military intelligence, because it was brought to him by what he called a "dishonorable" Russian officer, a man who had switched sides during the conflict. Needless to say, the British forces were soon after dealt a fatal (but likely avoidable) blow by their enemies in the field. You know folks, if even my own worst enemy, a known deceiver, happened to inform me that my dinner had been poisoned, I'd probably do better by taking his message seriously than by ignoring what he told me.
So here I wonder aloud whether the two LDS authors of They Lie in Wait to Deceive II have not shot down several persons whom they see as being unsavory messengers, but while performing their marksmanship, have avoided taking the substance of the message seriously? Had Mr. and Mrs. Brown reversed their mode of operations, and put their rebuttal of the basic tenets of the Spalding authorship claims ahead of their reports regarding the arguably inequitable activities of certain people advocating those sorts of claims, I might have read their work as an effort "to expose many... untruths and deliberate misrepresentations" and as their sincere attempt to "answer charges" against the traditional, LDS-supported accounts regarding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the origin of Mormonism. As it is, however, I read their book to be exactly what they say it is in the opening paragraph of their Preface: an exploration into the shadow world of "cunning craftiness" -- a craftiness, I might add, that is not necessarily limited to the ranks of those seeking to expose, overthrow, and destroy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Only a few days prior to my writing this, I saw the contents of the 1993 edition of the Browns' volume 2, offered as a no-charge, downloadable electronic text at the FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) website: http://www.fair-lds.org/Pubs/liw/liwv2.html and, for the first time, had the "leisure" to read through the entire book. Through the miracle of modern over-night express mail delivery, I have just received (on Dec. 20, 2001) a hard-copy of the same book and have it on my desk as I compose the first draft of this on-line exposition. In reading and re-reading They Lie in Wait to Deceive II, I find my original suspicions (regarding the purpose and value of the Browns' questionable scholarship) largely confirmed and feel obliged to pull together here several bits and pieces regarding the authors' work -- notes, comments, questions, and facts which I have previously posted piecemeal on several of my web-pages.
The Matter of Copyright Protection
My first concern, in compiling this on-line regurgitation of my previously posted notes, comments, etc., is that by drawing together onto a single web-page so much reference to (and electronic reproduction of) material from the Browns' book, that I might be infringing upon their copyright. While I have assiduously tried my best to limit my on-line extracts from their work to what I suppose is "fair use" reference under U. S. and international copyright law, I am aware that I may be charged with an "intellectual rights" violation in placing this piece on the web. Should the Browns, or their authorized representative, wish to challenge my use of their material, I am willing to pare down the quantity of quoted and reproduced copyrighted material to, say, about the same proportion the Browns themselves have taken and published therein (without the authors' permission) from the copyrighted 1977 book, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon.
A Clarification of My Intentions
In posting to the web my sundry and occasionally critical comments regarding Mormon history and regarding the content of texts pertaining to Mormon history, I very rarely personalize those comments by writing in the first person or by expressing a preponderance of my own, purely subjective views. In the case of this on-line exposition I will make an exception to that general, self-imposed restraint, and will herein speak my own mind concerning several questionable things the Browns have placed before their readership. The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research is now making those same questionable things available to all interested parties at no cost, thus potentially expanding the Browns' readership several fold. It seems that now is the proper time to place on the web a reasoned response to some things the Browns have said and that is what I now intend to do.
Those who know of my prior research and reporting will, I hope, vouchsafe the fact that I have no "bone to pick" with the organization or members commonly styled "Mormon" (i. e. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Individual members, officials, and scholars in this faith community have (almost without exception) been very helpful, respectful, and sometimes even supportive of my historical research. I owe several of them (beginning with Dr. Leonard Arrington, many years ago) a debt of gratitude that I will probably never be able to repay. I have no intention of offending sincere people simply on the basis of their personal religious beliefs and practices. If my brand of "wry humor" appears to rival even the rancorous rhetoric found in the Browns' books, I apologize and here promise to heed any suggestions sent my way on how to restate my views more effectively. At the very least, I also promise not to associate others (Saint or Gentile) with "the tactics used by the Adversary," as some apologists are wont to do.
I'll also say, for the record, that I have interviewed, corresponded with, and exchanged "Mormon" historical information with a number of non-LDS and non-RLDS -- with all sorts of people, including some whose public avowals and reputations may well fall under the attributive cloud of "secularism" or even "anti-Mormonism." I have no bone to pick with these people and their organizations, either -- so long as the important "facts" which they purport to provide are not demonstrable fallacies.
The Organization of this Web Document
In the 1992 edition of TLIWTD-2 which I now have before me, the Browns have offered up nearly 500 pages of documentation, analysis, and opinion. It is currently not feasible for me to quote from, nor comment upon more than a very small portion of what I find in those pages. Nor am I inclined now to present an in-depth review of their entire book. Where I have presently chosen not to offer commentary, I either agree with what the Browns have said or am currently unprepared to offer any useful response. I am limiting my initial exposition to simply reviewing and discussing a few things they have said in parts of three chapters and on two appendix pages in TLIWTD-2. If the situation warrants, I will eventually post to this web-site a longer companion exposition, devoted to an in-depth exploration of the Brown's awkward attempt to refite the Solomon Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon.
I've structured my response to the Browns as an exposition divided into seven sections: this introduction and six different examinations of various sets of excerpts taken from that book. As I said above, I am not presenting my response to these few (and relatively short) selections from their book as totally typifying the Browns' overall reporting or as being especially representative of all the important items they have brought to the attention of the public. I am here merely responding to a few things which have caught my eye and things which I feel should be opened up for critical examination. As my time and energy permit, I'll add to this page several more links and various supplementary notes. I welcome readers' corrections, suggestions, and contributions for future updates of this webpage.
Dale R. Broadhurst,
Hilo, Hawaii, 12-20-01
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
From the FAIR website: http://www.fair-lds.org/Pubs/liw/liwv2.html
Words from the Past
There's really no way to candy coat the fact that I do not like Robert L. and Rosemary Brown's They Lie in Wait to Deceive II. This is something I've been clear about for several years now. In my 1998 on-line paper, "Sciota Revisited," I had this to say:
While this well-distributed 480 page book is generally attractive and contains some hilarious Solomon Spalding cartoons, it is, at the same time, one of the most error-ridden and least useful publications I have ever encountered in the realm of Spalding studies. The Browns manage to present a convincing but tediously "holier-than-thou" refutation of the Howard Davis "Spalding fiasco." They also should be credited with reprinting some rare old documents to which the Spalding researcher might not otherwise have easy access. Beyond these low-level contributions, the book has nothing to offer the serious student of the subject. The Browns' comments regarding any possible thematic parallels are unvarnished regurgitations from past negative reporting and provide absolutely no useful material whatever.
Well, now, that seems clear enough. But are not my own words just another example of vacuous, holier-than-thou" refutation? Have I chosen not to like the book simply because the authors' conclusions, in regard to important events in Mormon history, etc., differ from my own -- or, is there some substantial reason why their book should be held up for critical scrutiny and possible censure? I'll try to get around to answering this rhetorical question as I lay out the first part of my exposition.
I'll begin here in part one of my exposition by pointing out a few piddling inaccuracies I've discovered in their text and then, in parts four and five, I'll work my way through a consideration of some of the more problematical things I've found in TLIWTD-2.
The Browns' "Introduction"
The Browns (on page v of their Preface) begin by saying: "In the early days of the LDS Church, Solomon Spaulding (sometimes spelled Spalding), a congregational minister of the time of Joseph Smith who wrote a romance about the early Indians, had been suggested by the enemies of the LDS Church as the real author of the Book of Mormon." I'm reminded here of one of those cartoons frequently published on the "children's page" of the newspaper, in which the observer is invited to point out "what's wrong with this picture?" In looking at this opening salvo from the two authors it becomes immediately apparent to even the most casual of readers that they are not aiming their report at an informed audience -- at least not at an audience well informed about early Church History and non-LDS claims regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon. There is, of course, nothing wrong with their addressing such a audience -- after all, the Browns are better informed as to the readership of their books than most of the rest of us are, no doubt. But, in "dumbing-down" their reporting to the level of an uninformed reader, we can almost expect that fundamental errors will creep into their message from the start. And, sadly enough, this appears to be exactly what has happened.
By speaking only of "enemies of the LDS Church," in reference to the Spalding authorship claims, the Browns make it appear that perhaps none but "enemies" ever put forth any of these claims -- that none but "enemies" ever supported the claims. This conveys the message that its was "the enemies of the LDS Church" who first initiated the allegations saying that the Book of Mormon was a human production of the nineteenth century. Is that really the case? Or, by simply disagreeing with the veracity of the traditional LDS assertions in such a matter, does the critic automatically become an "enemy?" I'll show elsewhere that there were numerous people involved in initiating, expounding, or promulgating the Spalding authorship claims who had little to say against the first principles of the LDS faith, or even against many of its peculiar practices. In short, the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship are not a product of anti-Mormonism; they are a ready-made tool many non-Mormons have chosen to pick up and apply to understanding and explaining the origin of Latter Day Saintism itself. Among those critics there have been anti-Mormons, for sure -- even some rabid, unscrupulous anti-Mormons, I would suggest -- but any serious and really useful consideration of Solomon Spalding and his writings will best be carried out well apart from the "them and us" dichotomy of enemy vs. defender.
Who was Solomon Spalding?
Does anybody care to know that the "Solomon Spaulding" the Browns speak in their book, actually consistently spelled his last name: "Spalding" and not "Spaulding?" While this is a rather minor point, the Browns' adoption of the spelling the writer used in his own holographs (and which his relatives used in the title of their family's published genealogy) would serve as a point in favor of the Browns demonstrating some credible scholarship. Again, while Spalding was indeed licensed as a Congregational Evangelist after his graduation from college, he is only known to have occasionally served as a preacher -- in a pinch -- for the doctrinally akin Presbyterians. By the time most investigators picture him as writing his stories about the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, Solomon Spalding was no longer thought of by his friends and neighbors as a "minister." I wonder if the Browns have attached this hazy identification to him so as to lump the fellow in with the "alarmed ministers" they speak of in the second paragraph of their Preface. Today the black-coated minion of Satan, wearing the clerical collar, in the LDS temple endowment ceremony has disappeared, along with the old-time Mormon denunciations of "hireling priests" and "priestcrafters" from the "great and abominable church." Today well-known "men of the cloth" fly from Yale Divinity School to deliver lectures at BYU podiums and LDS scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls rub shoulders with renowned clerical scholars. I cannot help but guess that the Browns' verbal digs at "alarmed ministers" betray a throw-back mentality more at home in the days of Jeddediah M. Grant and Orson Hyde than in the contemporary "latter day work."
The Browns speak of the Rev. Spalding (since they term him a "minister," I'll extend him the same courtesy) having written "a romance about the early Indians." I cannot help but be puzzled as to where they have read this Spalding story? Certainly it cannot be the manuscript cataloged under his name in the Library of Congress. I do not recall the earliest promulgators of the authorship claims speaking of his having written such a tale, unless, perhaps, the Browns have fixed upon some half-baked recollection expressed by Eber D. Howe. So far as I can tell, the earliest testimony (from his friends, neighbors, and family) speaks of his writing a story about the Lost Tribes of Israel. But, on second thought, I presume the Browns are here speaking of the "Deliwan" Indians mentioned in the Spalding manuscript at Oberlin College. Had they taken the time to read that production very closely, they might have noticed the story is also about migrants from the classical Old World, an extinct olive-skinned people well differentiated from the American Indians, and about a light-skinned religious leader from some distant land. Less than ten percent of the Oberlin story is about "the early Indians." By speaking in such terms the Browns no doubt hope to separate the story elements of Spalding's Oberlin holograph from those many of us have learned from childhood out of the Book of Mormon. The net effect of their choice of words here is the obscurement of Spalding's writings, not their elucidation.
The Severe Set Back of 1834
Going on to the second sentence of the "Introduction" the Browns say there that the "argument" for Spalding having been the real author of some portion of the Book of Mormon text "suffered a severe setback when in 1834 the original Spaulding manuscript was found in an old trunk." I am again left in the dark as to where the Browns are getting their information at this point. If they are speaking of D. P. Hurlbut's collecting some of Spalding's writings from Mr. Jerome Clark of Hartwick, Otsego county, New York, that occurred in 1833, not in 1834. In fact, Mr. Hurlbut was thoughtful enough to subsequently document the find in a newspaper notice published in Joseph Smith, Jr.'s old stomping grounds of Palmyra: "Doct. P. Hurlbert... who has been engaged... in the pursuit of facts and information concerning the origin and design of the Book of Mormon... 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." If this marks the "severe setback" spoken of by Mr. and Mrs. Brown, they read their history far differently than I do. My reading of the sources and testimony on this point tells me that D. P. Hurlbut recovered some of Spalding's writings on about Nov. 25 1833, announced his success "in accomplishing the object of his mission," wrote the same back to Spalding's widow in Massachusetts, and then returned to Kirtland before the end of December, where he repeatedly held lectures in which he exhibited writings he attributed to Solomon Spalding -- writings, the content of which, well matched parts of the Book of Mormon. I know by now not to trust the statements of D. P, Hurlbut at face value, but I cannot, for the life of me, see how there is anything in all of this resembling "a severe setback" for anybody other than Joseph Smith, Jr. at Kirtland.
But, I must admit that the tale is not yet told and that there was indeed a "severe setback" for D. P. Hurlbut in 1834. Even after repeatedly exhibiting the writings he claimed were Spalding's, the ex-Mormon investigator failed to turn over any such documents to his financial backers in the Kirtland area. Hurlbut lost out in both a pre-trail hearing and in the county court in a civil case brought against him by Joseph Smith, Jr. and subsequently pretty much disappeared from the pages of history.
Next the Browns say: "... it was then suggested that since Spaulding's Manuscript Found was obviously not like the Book of Mormon in any way, perhaps there was another manuscript -- a second manuscript -- somewhere that is the real basis of the Book of Mormon. It was pure speculation again." The authors again managed to lose me in the tangle of their hazy reporting and hopeless chronology. Who was it who made such suggestions? When were the suggestions made? I presume that the Browns are here speaking of the testimony of the Hon. Aaron Wright of Conneaut, Ohio, taken down on the last day of 1833. In this document Solomon Spalding's old friend says: "Hurlbut is now at my store [in Conneaut] I have examined the writings which he has obtained from said [Solomon] Spaldings widowe I recognise them to be the handwriting of said Spalding but not the manuscript I had refferance to in my statement before alluded to as he informed me he wrote in the first place for his own amusement and then altered his plan and commenced writing a history of the first settlement of America..."
What are we to make of all of this? What kind of a "severe setback" are we talking about here and who was "set back?" I have already cautioned against accepting anything in which Mr. D. P, Hurlbut was involved at its face value. There may still be much here to unravel from the web of history, but it appears to me that the "setback" came when D. P. Hurlbut was unable or unwilling to offer up for publication the "object of his mission" he had gloated over in the Palmyra newspaper and in his meetings and lectures in Kirtland at the end of 1833. About a year later Eber D. Howe finally got around to publishing the first book ever offered on the history of Mormonism, and in that book he reported much the same thing that Aaron Wright had said at the end of 1833: "The trunk referred to by the widow, was subsequently examined, and found to contain only a single M. S. book, in Spalding's hand-writing... This old M. S. has been shown to several of the foregoing [Conneaut] witnesses, who recognise it as Spalding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the "Manuscript Found."
Now, I do not expect Mr. and Mrs. Brown to accept, at first glance, any of the testimony stating that Solomon Spalding wrote two manuscripts, and that only one of them ended up in Mr. Howe's hands at the end of the Hurlbut investigations. That is a point for possible discussion, disagreement, and even dispute -- but it does offer a second possible perspective on what actually happened back in 1833 and 1834, and I sincerely suggest that they not treat the evidence too lightly. There is more. Much more. But we have plenty of time in the future to get into that, if people like the Browns care to take a look at the other side of the historical coin.
Death of the Spalding Claims?
Continuing on with our convinced writers, we hear them saying this: "When a second manuscript failed to appear, real attempts to make a connection between Spaulding and the Book of Mormon died from lack of interest." What in tarnation is any reader supposed to make of this nebulous notification? If anything, the pile of news articles, pamphlets, books, long forgotten sermons and lost lecture notes on the topic, as compiled and put before the inquiring public between 1834 and 1884, would probably reach from floor to ceiling. And no small part of that pile would be artifacts of countless hours spent by Mormon apologists, historians, and even a few top leaders, in attempting to quench the raging fire of claims against the alleged Nephite authorship of the Book of Mormon. But perhaps the key word in the Brownian sentence given above is "real." I suspect that in the authors' eyes nothing in that possible pile I have referred to would be seen as evidence of "real attempts to make a connection between Spalding and the Book of Mormon."
Moving on to the Browns' second paragraph, we learn there that "the Spaulding theory has not found its final resting place" and that this startling fact "became clear when the Los Angeles Times on June 25, 1977, announced that three California researchers, Wayne Cowdery, Howard Davis, and Donald Scales, had found evidence that Solomon Spaulding had written a portion of the original Book of Mormon manuscript and that handwriting experts had substantiated their conclusion." Well, indeed, this would have been interesting news in 1977 or even as late as 1978, but the story had gone stale long before the Browns saw their book published in 1984. Perhaps it took them that long to track down and compile all the bits and pieces of evidence so as to convince their readers that Walter Martin and Dee Jay Nelson were indeed despicable characters. I do not pretend to be any authority on these persons and I have yet to discover anything the Browns say about them that I care to spend my time in refuting.
The case that the writers of They Lie in Wait to Deceive II have prepared against Messrs. Cowdery, Davis, and Scales does intrigue me, however. There are things presented here which I'd like to get to the bottom of. I remain skeptical, however, that the Browns have proven their charges against these three men, and against Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey in particular. I have no disagreement with the Browns over the clear probability that not even one word from Solomon Spalding's own hand appears in the extant Book of Mormon manuscript pages. If this were all the two writers had to say about the "three researchers," I could end this section of my exposition here and now. What I find strange is that Robert and Rosemary Brown seem to have made the assumption that the "three researchers" knowingly set out to publicize a lie, hoping that the lie would discourage people from joining the LDS Church. Perhaps I am blind to what they see, but the "three researchers" do not come across to me as deceivers, so much as they do as being deceived themselves.
It must be a heady feeling to believe that you have made a major historical discovery -- one that might shake up the world somewhat. I imagine that the first persons who felt they had firm evidence that the ancient "Donation of Constantine" was a forgery were both elated and fearful over their discovery. Perhaps they even imagined that exposure of the fraud would bring the Roman Catholic Church crumbling down into dust at their feet. When people operate under the notion that they possess uniquely important and thoroughly damning evidence of duplicity in high places they may tend to act a bit crazily. This, at least, is my "take" upon Cowdrey and Davis. Mr. Scales I do not know and can say nothing substantial about, but the other two men I've met, spoken with at length and come to know over the years. Unless my memory is playing tricks upon me nowadays, I believe I was in correspondence with Mr. Howard Davis well before the 1977 book came out. At any rate, from my own experience with these people, I have a difficult time in picturing them as dedicated falsifiers, bent upon "lying (or lieing) in wait to deceive."
The Browns continue their "Introduction" by saying: "The three researchers have written a book based on this speculated Spaulding/Book of Mormon connection... On the top of the front cover of their book, WHO REALLY WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON?, you read the words -- 'A Startling New Discovery....'" As I've already said, I can see no "startling new discovery" in any of this, and the story was dead by the time the Browns' book came out. All I can guess is that the two writers have taken the time to revive the thing in order to protect the Latter Day Saints from any new literary permutations from the authors of Who Really Wrote...? In doing this Mr. and Mrs. Brown have indeed demonstrated some prescience. I have upon my desk in Hawaii the unpublished 1978 manuscript of Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? Part II and have been wondering whether or not anybody would be interested in seeing its contents posted to the web. This was the "forthcoming book" promised on page 254 of the "three researchers'" 1977 literary venture. But apologists like the Browns may wish to take notice of something other than this old and yellowing textual relic in my possession. In the last days of 1999 Howard Davis, Wayne Cowdrey and two of their associates came out with a massive book entitled, The Spalding Enigma. So far, after the passage of a year's time, only the initial press run of 300 review copies has been completed. These were offered primarily on CD-ROM disks -- only a handful of bound hard copy prints were ever distributed. I would suppose, however, that the period for "review" is drawing to a close and that the LDS apologists will soon have a larger and more complex rendition of the Spalding claims rearing up its challenging head at them. Because of all of this it may be a good thing that FAIR has decided to make the Browns' book available to all, free of charge. At least the Mormon faithful will have one resource at hand when faced with a whole new set of "Spalding theory challenges" in the not too distant future.
The question remains, however, just how useful is the Browns' book in refuting the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship? To my way of thinking, darn little. The new The Spalding Enigma text stands the Spalding explanation upon its own two historical feet, without depending upon the wobbly crutch of handwriting accusations or resorting to attacks upon the Book of Abraham. About the only LDS researcher I know of who seems to have read one of the review copies is Wade Englund of Seattle. His on-line articles feature the sort of commendable investigation and commentary I have searched for in vain among the Browns' many pages devoted to the "three researchers," etc.
There is also another factor that the Browns and their crowd will wish to take into consideration in dealing with The Spalding Enigma and that is the appearance of two new faces on the old "Who Really Wrote?" authorship team. There may indeed be many readers of the Browns' book who feel that the characters of Davis and Cowdrey have been so thoroughly shot to pieces that there is no reason to ever listen to that pair "cry wolf" again. If that is a common perception among the past and future readers of They Lie in Wait to Deceive II, I have no qualms about passing along the opinion that it will be a weak mental shield against The Spalding Enigma. Character assassination of the messenger(s), whether justifiable or not under certain circumstances, will not hold back the message in this instance, believe me.
Dale R. Broadhurst,
Hilo, Hawaii (12-20-01)
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
To Be or Not to Be -- Isn't That the Question?
(See the end of this section for important update)
Part Two of my exposition deals with family ties, if we might call them that. Unfortunately such ties may turn to knots when things are not kept "straight." I might take my own ancestry as an example. I am proud of my Mormon forebearers, in all but a few instances -- this is not the place to talk about the Danites, I suppose. In citing the adventures of those hardy souls I sometimes speak of my "great-grandfather" so-and-so, when I should really say my "great-great-grandfather." I'd guess that such slips of the tongue are forgivable, as are my occasional lapses in recalling how many generations I must count back from Lucy Mack Smith to find our common ancestor. Was that three or four? Dangnab it! I've forgotten again, and just when people are watching and taking notes, too!
One of the things I appreciated when I first read The Spalding Enigma is that the authors went to some pains in setting out the genealogy of one branch of the Cowdery family -- one to which that Mormon notable Oliver Cowdery was related more in shirt-tail fashion than as a main-liner. Since I web-host a domain called OliverCowdery.com, I should probably take note of such things and sooner or later tuck the information into my neglected Cowdery Genealogy section.
We cannot read past the front cover of They Lie in Wait to Deceive II without seeing the name "Cowdrey" in close juxtaposition with "obstruct and distort the truth." These are not the excommunication charges leveled against "Second Elder" Oliver H. P. Cowdery at Far West in 1838, however -- these are the sorts of words Mr. and Mrs. Brown are pleased to used in connection with Wayne L. Cowdrey (note the difference in spelling) of Who Really Wrote...? repute. I've wondered for some time what it is that the Browns have against the guy, so I went back and re-read a few of their statements from Chapters One and Two of the book. No -- let me back up on that -- after being directed there by the FAIR Webmaster, Allen Wyatt, I went back to take another look today. Here's what I found.
On page ten of They Lie in Wait to Deceive II the authors reproduce one of the pages in a statement taken from handwriting expert Henry Silver in 1981. After detailing his experiences in Salt Lake City, looking at old Mormon documents, Robert L. Brown has Mr. Silver say: "Coming back [from Salt Lake City] in the plane [Wayne L.] Cowdrey told me that he was a former member of the Mormon Church, and that he was a descendant of Oliver Cowdery, one of Smith's scribes..." Well then, the Browns tell us, that shows Wayne is a liar, because Oliver Cowdery had no grandchildren, and thus no descendants beyond his own children. Do we really know that to be the case? What came of that "transgression" Oliver got into near Cleveland during his 1830 mission? And what about those stories saying that he made some dishonorable attempts to jump into polygamy back in the Kirtland days? Doesn't the published record of the old "Temple Lot Case" connect more than one bastard child to the Second Elder of the Church?
A Friendly Talk with Wayne L. Cowdrey
These were the sorts of questions I had in my mind when I went to visit Wayne L. Cowdrey in the greater Los Angeles area during October 2001. My questions were sparked not from any recent encounter with the Browns' book, or even with the 1977 production that bears Wayne's name, among its three authors. In fact, my curiosity had been tweaked by reading all that Cowdery stuff in The Spalding Enigma and I wanted to hear his story. I'd met the fellow in the past, so we were not strangers. His talking about his ancestral family came interwoven amongst a long series of anecdotes, jokes, and flights of fancy, more than one of which, I must admit, were rendered at the Saints' expense. "Did you hear about the Irishman who joined the Mormons..." Best save that for another essay, I suppose. At any rate I twice or thrice asked the pointed question of Wayne about his blood relation to Oliver Cowdery. He admitted an ancestral relationship, back at the time of his own great-great-grandfather Cowdery (or so I recorded the number of "greats") but he also said something surprising. Wayne told me that he was not a direct descendant of the notable Oliver and that he had never claimed in public or in private that he was. There was also some talk, on his part, that years back he had not been certain of the exact relationship and had speculated on just what it may have been -- there being a family remembrance of some sort of a blood tie with the nineteenth century Mormon.
Later that same day, after Wayne had gone elsewhere, I had an opportunity of talking with his genealogist and took some notes on Cowdery/Cowdrey family history, part of which never made it back to Hawaii with me. When I say "genealogist," I mean that as an avocation not a vocation -- they guy was a writer by trade, but one who dabbled in family tree-making.
Being thus assured (at least to my own satisfaction) that Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey was not pulling the wool over my eyes, I asked him about the blurb on the back cover of the 1977 book, the one mentioned by the Browns on page 52 of their book, by the way. I will not attempt to reproduce every word of his answer, because a third person in the room interjected a few sentences and part of Wayne's reply was head-nodding at this supplementary information. The gist of what he told me, I recently relayed to FAIR Webmaster, Allen Wyatt, thusly:
The basis for the allegation that Mr. Cowdrey claimed descent from Oliver is apparently a notice placed on the back cover of his 1977 book, at the last moment before printing and without his permission. By the time Mr. Cowdrey became aware of this false attribution, made by the art design people who produced the cover for the publisher, the press run was completed. When the 1978 second printing was made by the publisher (mainly to restore to their stock a large number of the books which were lost in the theft of a truck carrying newly printed books) the error was retained on the back cover, despite what were by then the public denials of Wayne Cowdrey of that particular sentence on the back cover.Well and good, so far -- but, as the Browns also point out on pp. 51-52, the "three researchers" had placed a strangely worded "b" footnote on page 3 of their 1977 book:
b "Oliver's last name was spelled Cowdery, while many of his descendants today spell their last name Cowdrey, as does one of the co-authors of this book."What, exactly, did the authors mean by the term "descendants" here -- were they speaking of the lineage of the bastard children credited to Oliver during the delivery of testimony in the Temple Lot Case, or of something else? Certainly here was a handy escape door for Wayne and his amateur genealogist. All they had to say was that Wayne once thought he was a descendant of just such a "Cowdery" male, he would be home free -- out of reach of the Browns. The genealogist didn't take my bait, however. Yes, he was aware of the Temple Lot Case testimony, but, no, Wayne had never claimed descent through that dubious and ephemeral lineage. Whether or not these were the source of "many of his descendants today," however, nobody available for consultation could recall. I came away from that inquiry satisfied that the two authors from Who Really Wrote...? who stayed on with the "Enigma" team honestly did not recall how that footnote crept into the text.
So far, so good. I was aware of the statement the Browns' had solicited from Mr. Silver in 1981, but with Silver passed on to his eternal reward, that bit of Brownian evidence did not look very convincing. I supposed that my quest had ended and that I could open-heartedly (if not open-mindedly) challenge the words I'd recently found on-line at the FAIR website -- (revised URL):
The Spaulding theory is completely discredited and the deceit of its advocates is exposed, namely... Wayne Cowdrey [and others] ... Wayne Cowdrey falsely claimed to be a descendant of Oliver Cowdery. False credentials such as being a descendant of an early leader in the Church... are often used by professional anti-Mormons to lend authority to false claims... documentation is included for the mostdiscerning [sic] reader.OK -- I certainly thought of myself as being a "mostdiscerning reader," if nothing less -- so I was ready to ask the FAIR folk to tone down the rhetoric. Perhaps, I thought, they might at least insert a "the Browns allege" or two, somewhere into all that True Blue LDS verve. And so I said, more or less, in an e-mail message to them. The answer came back (from Bro. Wyatt, no less) saying that I'd missed a couple more points the Browns had pounded home. On pp. 52-53 of the book they also report: "Edward Plowman had to say...'One of the three California researchers, Wayne Cowdrey, is a direct descendant of Oliver Cowdery... [from] Russell Chandler... you read: "The three young researchers are Baptists, Cowdrey, a descendant of the Oliver Cowdery... was a Mormon for a short time, he said..." [the newsletter of] Walter Ralston Martin, states: "... Wayne, Cowdrey, Orange, Calif., who studied social science in college and is a descendant of Oliver Cowdery..."
I must say that I was about as underwhelmed with all of this second-hand reporting as I was with what Mr. Silver had to say to the Browns. I'd been told by more than one reliable source that Walter Martin had initiated and carried forth a media blitz for the "three young researchers" with all the finesse of a steamroller operator. Wasn't it likely that he was the source of the published assertions of lineal descent? Could the rap be pinned on the late Dr(?). Martin?
Bit of a Sticky Wicket, I'm Afraid
(See the end of this section for important update)
I was feeling pretty good about my string of rationalizations (always a pitfall for us Saints) when I saw one thing Allen Wyatt had written back that just didn't fit in with all the rest:
> were the extent of their foundation, it would be
> shaky, indeed. However, the Browns cite...
> Mr. Cowdrey claimed within his book -- in the text, not
> just on the back cover -- that he is descended from Oliver
> Cowdery himself (see page 52).
Oh oh --
Consulting my battered old copy of Who Really Wrote...? I see that this was among the very points I'd checked with a faint mark, way back in 1978, but had neglected to highlight with my yellow pen when sorting out what I saw as problems in the researchers' book. This wasn't something I could automatically blame on puzzling wordage or Walter Martin -- though perhaps Martin's secretary had something to do with it (see below). When all is said and done, however, if the first man listed among the three authors on that 1977 book's front cover allowed this bogus genealogical assertion to be made -- no matter how it got into the book in the first place -- something was obviously askew in Denmark (or at least in Orange county).
So it is that I am left with far more questions than answers. If Wayne intended to "lie in wait to deceive," why hadn't the two man remnant of the 1977 bunch seized the bait, said they honestly thought Wayne was descended through Oliver's bastard, Joseph Smith Cowdery, and thus elegantly left the Browns in the lurch? Or, if he had truly once believed Oliver was below Wayne in growth of his family tree, why hadn't Wayne taken that excusable route to defending his reputation? Had I misheard things during my interview? Had the passing of 24 years clouded the memories of all? Could've the Browns (gasp!) actually gotten this one nailed down right? I've asked for clarification from Wayne. When I get it, I promise to post the answer here.
Wayne L. Cowdrey Statement of 12-26-2001
(this section added between Dec. 27-31, 2001)
I have received an answer to my recent solicitation for a current statement from Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey of Orange Co., California. I insert his statement, along with my own remarks, in red highlight; the remainder of the text in this section remains as it was.
> Greetings Dale,
> Let me make this short letter clear to everyone who reads it!
> After Dr. Martin's secretary Gretchen Passantino typed up
> the final draft of "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon,"
> I did NOT see that claim on page 166 until AFTER the book was printed.
> It may also interesting to note that the Church Archivist Donald Schmidt
> asked me that question when I made the 1977 trip to Salt Lake City, Utah.
> To his question: "was I a direct descendant of Oliver Cowdery?" I answered
> "NO I'M NOT, that was misquote." I do hope this clears this "nuisance
> mystery" up.
> I'm not the liar, Sidney Rigdon is!
> Wayne L. Cowdrey
Assuming that folks accept Wayne at his word on this matter, I believe I can say at this point that I was correct (see below) in tracing the "direct descendant" claims to Walter Martin and his staff, and to their having misapplied Wayne's ambiguous assertion (about Oliver being "among my ancestors") when finalizing, packaging and promoting the 1977 book. Wayne may still be open to hostile criticism for not having nipped this problem in the bud, back in 1977, but I believe him when he says he is not fibbing here. It would be well for Robert L. and Rosemary Brown to take notice -- along with their FAIR web-publishers.
For those of you who are interested, the genealogy of Wayne's grandfather, Clyde Edgar Cowdrey (1884-1943) is on-line. Clyde traced his descent from a John Cowdrey, born near the beginning of the 19th century in Ohio. Presumably this was John Cowdrey, Jr. (1814-1895) the son of John Cowdrey (1799-1866). See Wiliam L. Moore's recent article, "The Curious Ancestry of Wayne L. Cowdrey," for more details.
When is an Ancestral Relative Not an Ancestor?
While waiting for a clarification from Wayne L. Cowdrey on why the book he co-authored wrongly calls him a descendant of Oliver Cowdery, I must add here one other thought that comes to my mind. In my first conversation with Mr. Cowdrey, held in Los Angeles during the fall of 2000, he several times referred to Oliver as "one of my ancestors," or, as "an ancestor in my family." We had other things to talk about then, so I did not press the matter. But I recall thinking at the time that Mr. Cowdrey was obviously using that term, "ancestor," rather loosely.
If we look up in the dictionary the strict meaning of "ancestor," we find that the term is almost always used to designate a "progenitor," that is, a person from whom one is descended. But, looking in a thesaurus, among the words approximating the meaning of "ancestor," we find most of those general terms grouped together under two different primary headings: (1) Paternity; (2) Continuity. The second group of meanings includes words like "pedigree, genealogy, lineage, race; ancestry, descent, family, house; line, strain," etc. From my fall 2000 conversation with Mr. Cowdrey, I know he was then using the word "ancestor" more in the sense of meaning "family" or "house," than in the sense of meaning "progenitor" or "forefather."
When I was last in England, I visited West Sussex and there spent some time photographing Broadhurst Manor, a Tudor era "ancestral home," as they call them in that neck of the woods. I fully well know that I am not descended directly from the people of built and lived in Broadhurst Manor. It appears, however, that my progenitors were at a very early date closely associated with the owners of that beautiful old house. Can I claim it as my family's "ancestral home," knowing that only distant relatives of my Broadhurst forefathers actually owned the joint? I'm not sure. But I do know that I can speak of my "ancestors, the Broadhursts" and not have to limit that bunch to only the men and women who were my direct progenitors. This is exactly the way I several times heard Wayne L. Cowdrey speak of "the Cowderies" when I met with him in 2000.
In the Nov.-Dec., 1977 issue of Sunstone Review, David Merrill has this to say:
Howard Davis... met Scales and Cowdrey in 1974... According to Gretchen Passantino, spokesman for the group... Cowdrey "decided he ought to have some kind of religion, and he went back to investigate his ancestor's religion first." (Cowdrey is descended from Oliver Cowdrey, the Book of Mormon witness.) Cowdrey was baptized in December 1975, but Scales and some other evangelical Christians began arguing with him... began studying together, and Cowdrey soon asked to be excommunicated.
Notice that David Merrill's source for the words "his ancestor's religion" was Gretchen Passantino, a lady whom Merrill himself reveals was "also senior research consultant for [Walter Martin's] Christian Research Institute and personal secretary to Martin." That is the second -- or perhaps the third or fourth -- allegation of Wayne L. Cowdrey's descent which I have come across, incorrectly given out by the late Walter Martin and his organization, the same people who packaged the "three researchers'" 1977 book for publication and distribution.
When Wayne L. Cowdrey spoke to me in 2000, he used terms describing his relationship with Mormon Cowderies in ways consistent with the meaning "my ancestors' religion," but not with the meaning "my ancestor's religion." While it may appear that I am here splitting hairs a bit too finely, I just wish to say that Wayne's speaking of his "ancestors' religion" did not automatically imply that he was a descendant of Oliver Cowdrey. Had he used a term like "my ancestor's religion," and spoken of Oliver Cowdery in the same breath, that would have been more problematic.
It is not my task to second guess the meanings and intentions of people three decades in the past. All I know personally is what I heard from Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey during my visits with him in 2000 and 2001. He said that Oliver was one of "his ancestors" -- but he also denied ever having said that he was Oliver's direct descendant.
Could it be that Walter Martin, hearing Wayne repeatedly speak of Oliver Cowdrey as "an ancestor," conveniently chose to understand the meaning of the word in the most narrow sense, and subsequently began to publicize Wayne as Oliver's "descendant?" Did Martin's secretary, while working in the position of spokesperson for the "three researchers," fail to grasp the subtle difference between "ancestors'" being a generalized plural possessive and "ancestor's" being a claim to direct descent through the bloodline of Oliver Cowdery? I do not know. But that explanation jibes well with what Wayne has thus far told me, with what Walter Martin was saying back in 1977, and with the fact that his private secretary, Gretchen Passantino, helped edit and type up the final draft of the 1977 book. None of this excuses Wayne L. Cowdrey from having allowed the 1977 book to be published with false allegations made in its pages, of course.
Since I did not set out to villainize or extol anybody in particular or in general, I do not feel I've either lost or gained ground on this point. However, since Wayne has denied his direct descent from Oliver Cowdery, perhaps it would not be asking too much of the folks at FAIR to make a note of that somewhere within their multitudinous set of webpages.
All's FAIR in Religion and Politics
(Updated Jan. 2, 2002)
Well, well, well! -- perhaps I spoke too soon about nothing changing at the FAIR web-site. Since my initial posting of this on-line exposition (just before Christmas) I now see that the content of their advertisement (revised URL) for the Browns' TLIWTD-2 has been surreptitiously effaced. Below I provide an excerpt from the late December boilerplate -- followed by its January "second edition." Words changed by the FAIRites in producing their "second edition" are underlined in the respective excerpts:
FAIR On-line Advertisement Content on December 25, 2001:
Also included to prove their case were scare stories about threats supposedly made by the LDS Church to the handwriting experts-- threats which were denied by the handwriting experts, claims of false genealogies in which Walter Martin falsely claimed to be a descendant of Brigham young and Wayne Cowdrey falsely claimed to be a descendant of Oliver Cowdery. The genealogies of Walter Martin and Brigham Young were presented to show Martin that he was not a descendant of Brigham Young, and the genealogy of Oliver Cowdery was presented to show that Cowdery had only one daughter that lived to maturity and she died childless...
Also included to prove their case were scare stories about threats supposedly made by the LDS Church to the handwriting experts -- threats which were denied by the handwriting experts. Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon also presents false claims that Wayne Cowdrey is a descendant of Oliver Cowdery -- claims that are effectively addressed and countered in this volume. In addition, the volume addresses false claims by Walter Martin that he is a descendant of Brigham Young....
So, as the sun sinks slowly into the west, we bid "aloha and FAIR-well" to this enchanted island of ethical and ethereal effacement. The natives are closing up their souvenir shops as the last vacillating visitor finally lumbers back onto the tour bus. Ya'all come back now, hear?
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
Now, The Important Part
If a someone is mistaken, muddled, or just plain wrong in one part of their argument, the listener has reason to suspect that they may be wrong in something else. That's just an exercise of common sense. It takes no genius to postulate that the Browns may be wrong at some point in their thick book, They Lie in Wait to Deceive II, but where, why, and to what effect? The place I look to find a budget of errors is in the Browns' Chapter Six. President Sidney Rigdon might have said a "budget of lies, but I'll give Mr. and Mrs. Brown the benefit of the doubt until this examination has proceeded a bit farther. I have been called a "Spalding Theory Advocate," but more accurately, I think, I advocate chopping out the deadwood and get to the truth, let the chips fall where they may. So then, where to begin?
On page 217 of their Chapter Six, Robert and Rosemary Brown say: "Solomon Spaulding wrote a romance between 1809-1812 about the Indians of Kentucky and Ohio. He died in 1816. His widow and daughter picked up all their belongings and went to visit Mrs. Spaulding's relatives. Spaulding's manuscript never was on display to the public after he died until it reached its final resting place at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio." How accurate is this summary they provide their readers? I've already pointed out that the Spalding story first published by the RLDS Church in 1885 (and reproduced on pages 293-428 of the Brown's book) is largely unconcerned with Indians -- it tells mostly about "those people who far exceeded the present Indians in works of art and ingenuity... great and powerful nations, considerably civilized..." These are not the Aztecs, but a people whose "complexion it was bordering on an olive tho' of a lighter shade." Stand them alongside a few Nephites, and who could tell the difference. But this is a minor matter.
The Browns are correct in saying that Solomon Spalding died in 1816. They are probably more or less correct in saying that his widow "picked up all their belongings and went to visit" her "relatives" not long after his death -- though the purpose of that "visit" to her brother, William Harvey Sabine of Onondaga Hollow, New York, was more to keep body and soul together than renew old family affections. But why are the Browns so careful to say that Mrs. Spalding and her youngster (an adopted girl or foster child, not her own daughter, by the bye) "picked up all their belongings?" Well, as we shall see, the Browns are not very comfortable with the thought of there having been any stray Solomon Spalding writings left lying forgotten on some shelf in the area of Pittsburgh as early as 1817. According to the early Mormon, Elder William Small, a former publisher in Pittsburgh, the Rev. Robert Patterson, Sr., told him: "the Solomon Spaulding manuscript was brought to him [Patterson] by the widow of Solomon Spaulding to be published, and that she offered to give him half the profits for his pay, if he would publish it; but after it had laid there for some time, and after he had due time to consider it, he determined not to publish it. She then came and received the manuscript from his hands, and took it away." If that is what really happened, then we can know that at least one item from "all their belongings" left Pittsburgh with the Widow Spalding; what rubbish she may left behind, intentionally or otherwise, is left unaccounted for, of course.
Manuscript? What Manuscript?
For the life of me, I cannot understand what the Browns mean to say in their next, emboldened statement, to wit: "Spaulding's manuscript never was on display to the public after he died until it reached its final resting place at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio." There is much fat to be chewed upon here, but far too little lean. To begin with, what manuscript are they speaking of? Is this the manuscript to one of the children's stories Matilda Spalding McKinstry says that the old man used to write for her reading pleasure? But no, this is not "The Frogs of Wyndham," for the Browns tell me to look for its final repose in Oberlin, Ohio and I find no such childrens stories there. Perhaps I might look for this previously never-displayed piece of Spaldingania amongst the "leaves of his sermons" also once in the possession of Matilda Spalding McKinstry and reported to Elder Edmund L. Kelley. But no again, for the Browns tell me they are talking about "a romance" written "between 1809-1812." No matter how much my Latter Day Saint wit may be tempted to call the antique productions of Protestant ministers nothing but "romance," I cannot reasonably credit the ex-clergyman with writing sermons as late as 1809.
If I am to look for a Solomon Spalding "romance," then, what might that be? Could I consider the lengthy and imaginative manuscript tale cataloged under his name in the Library of Congress -- the strange but highly religious "Romance of Celes?" No, I think not, for it is not in his handwriting and, to my knowledge, was never in Oberlin, Ohio, beyond just a single page now resting in the James H. Fairchild papers there. I must continue my searching. What about the "Lost Tribes" Solomon Spalding manuscript reported by the son of Minor Deming, that valiant Hancock county Sheriff so trusted by the Nauvoo Mormons back in 1845 or so? Sheriff Deming's son passes on an account of this manuscript having been written by Spalding "probably while he preached in Middletown, Vermont." But again, no -- for this lost tribes tale was reportedly available for viewing in the home of Middletown's "Town Clerk" as late as 1871; and besides that, I cannot find it in the Oberlin College Library.
Mormon writer Elias L. T. Harrison once spilled a considerable quantity of printer's ink in telling us how the "ten lost tribes" story attributed to Spalding pen by so many testifiers could not possibly have been the basis for the Book of Mormon -- which speaks so little of those same tribes. Elder Harrison makes a good point, but I cannot locate the Rev. Spaldings's "lost tribes" story, search as I may. I think that the grandson of the Rev. Ethan Smith was trying to provide a clue to the unraveling of this mystery when he said "Rev. Dr. Smith wrote a work... Taking as its foundation the migration of the lost tribes of Israel to the western continent... Solomon Spaulding... became interested in his theories regarding the settlement of America, and in return Dr. Smith... granted him a perusal of his unpublished book. Spaulding was deeply impressed... Taking the latter's views as expressed in his book Spaulding some years later wrote his famous 'Manuscript Found'..." So, perhaps I should look to see whether Solomon Spalding's purported "lost tribes" story was sent off to Ethan Smith and secreted by him among his belongings when he resided in Middletown (oops, I mean Poultney, a couple of miles to the west) Vermont.
Having exhausted my search for all of these other reported Spalding manuscripts, I am compelled to narrow down my search to whatever it is at Oberlin College the Browns are talking about. But is the document on file there the "Manuscript Found" which Elder Harrison mentally compared to the Book of Mormon and found wanting? I'll digress for a moment back into the realm of the ten lost tribes and see what a fellow by the name of James A. Briggs has to say: "Joseph Smith of Lamoni, Ia., has sent me a copy of the "manuscript" found by Mr. L. L. Rice of Honolulu... This is not a copy of the "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spaulding... At the meeting at Mr. J. Corning's in Mentor, in 1834, I have no doubt we had this very identical "manuscript" now published, among the papers submitted by Dr. Hurlburt. We also had a copy of the "Manuscript Found," that was compared with the Mormon Bible and satisfied the committee that it was the basis of the Mormon Bible. I have said and believed since 1834 that I had seen and examined the original "Manuscript Found" of Solomon Spaulding, out of which Sidney Rigdon got up the Mormon Bible."
But enough of all this searching. The Browns tell me to look only at the Spalding manuscript now at Oberlin, and they tell me it "never was on display to the public after he died until it reached its final resting place" in that College's Library. No matter that the Rev. Clark Braden wrote to the son of one of Brigham Young's wives: "I have six affidavits of persons who were present at lectures of Hurlbut after his return from [his] visit to Mrs. Davidson. They say he held up a MS -- said it was Spaulding's M. S. Found that he obtained from Mrs. Davidson -- that he read from the Book of Mormon showing identity..." No matter that Braden's research assistant subsequently published several of those statements. No matter that the LDS-sanctioned Sheriff of Kirtland testified to the same thing. And no matter that the prestigious International Review once ran an article in which a correspondent reported: "In the winter of 1833-34, a self-constituted committee... met a number of times at... Mentor... At one of the meetings we had before us the original manuscript of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding... It was obtained from... a publisher of Pittsburg... From this work of the Rev. Mr. Spaulding the Mormon Bible was constructed. I do not think there can be any doubt of this. It was the opinion of the committee after comparing the Mormon Bible with the manuscript. The style of composition, the names, etc., were the same." No matter any of the above, for the Browns tell me only to look for a Spalding manuscript never exhibited to the public, after his death, until it came to rest at Oberlin, Ohio. I confess that I cannot find such a manuscript. For even the Spalding holograph on file at Oberlin was available for inspection by many persons (including President Joseph F. Smith of the Mormon Church and his missionary friends, incidentally) months before it was ever shipped off to Oberlin from its discovery place in Hawaii.
Sidney Rigdon? What Sidney Rigdon?
I'd best move on now. I've spent half an hour writing the last few paragraphs and have barely gotten beyond looking at the first three sentences the Browns have to offer their readers in Chapter Six. The next thing they say is: "In 1830, when the Book of Mormon appeared, stories were circulated all around that area that it was similar to the "Manuscript Found" written by Spaulding some 14 years previously." Counting back "14 years" from 1830 leaves me with the year 1816. Are the Browns trying to say here that Solomon Spalding continued working on his stories of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas right up to the time of his death? Several early witnesses say the same, but just a few lines above, the Browns tell me that the particular story they are interested in was composed "between "1809 -1812." Which then is it, 1812 or 1816?
I am very interested in sitting down with the Browns one day and having them relate in detail all the "stories" that were "circulated" in 1830, saying that the Book of Mormon was " similar to the 'Manuscript Found' written by Spaulding..." Now, it may well be true that people like Spalding's widow and her brother William sat down and compared some of her late husband's writings with the Book of Mormon even before D. P. Hurlbut uninvitedly rang the doorbell at the widow's residence in Monson in November 1834, but I can't imagine that it was the Widow Spalding who set such rumors a-flying. What are the Browns talking about here? I think they are relaying their foggy memory, from reading in the old LDS literature, that Sidney Rigdon was accused of writing the Book of Mormon, even as early as 1830. Parley P. Pratt tells us: "Early in 1831, Mr. Rigdon... visited elder J. Smith, Jr., in the state of New-York... and from that time forth, rumor began to circulate, that he (Rigdon) was the author of the Book of Mormon. The Spaulding story never was dreamed of until several years afterward..." Actually, Elder Pratt is just a smidgen late with his date here, the "rumor began to circulate" as early as November 1830, when the first copies of the Book of Mormon became available among Rigdon's associates in Ohio. In an article published Nov. 18, 1830, Warren Isham speaks of Rigdon as "the famous Campbellite leader" just then baptized a Mormon. Isham also speaks of "The Golden Bible" being "Campbellism Improved," implying that Rigdon had a hand in its production. But the first clearly stated charge against Rigdon in this regard was published a few miles away from Kirtland, on Feb. 15, 1831, in which the writer stated: "Rigdon was formerly a disciple of Campbell's and who it is said was sent out to make proselytes, but is probable he thought he should find it more advantageous to operate on his own capital, and therefore wrote, as it is believed, the Book of Mormon..." Benjamin Shattuck (who was an ex-Mormon living near Rigdon) in April 1831, spoke of "Elder Rigdon, who is believed by many to be the author of Mormonism..."
Still, all of these early "rumors" come from Rigdon's home area of Ohio. Elder Pratt seems to imply that the "rumors" began to circulate in the Palmyra area or the Fayette region shortly after Rigdon's first documented visit with the Mormon Smiths. Is there anything available to back up what Pratt says? Probably so, for in 1831 a New York City journalist took a tour of the western part of the state and reported back that:
A few years ago... Old Smith [senior] had... picked up many stories of men getting rich... by digging... and stumbling upon chests of money. The fellow excited the imagination of his few auditors... As yet no fanatical or religious character had been assumed by the Smith's. They exhibited the simple and ordinary desire of getting rich... commenced digging, in the numerous hills... in the town of Manchester.... some person who joined them spoke of a person in Ohio near Painesville, who had... much experience in money digging... After the lapse of some weeks... the famous Ohio man made his appearance... a preacher of almost every religion... His name I believe is Henry Rangdon or Ringdon, or some such word... It was [then] ... the money diggers of Ontario county, by the suggestions of the Ex-Preacher from Ohio, thought of turning their digging concern into a religious plot... It was given out that visions had appeared to Joe Smith -- that a set of golden plates on which was engraved the "Book of Mormon," ... was deposited somewhere in the hill... People laughed... but the Smiths and Rangdon persisted in its truth.... There is no doubt but the ex-parson from Ohio is the author of the book which was recently printed and published in Palmyra and passes for the new Bible.
It appears that Parley was telling us the truth; "from that time forth, rumor began to circulate, that he (Rigdon) was the author of the Book of Mormon." But, as Apostle Pratt goes on to say: "The Spaulding story never was dreamed of until several years afterward..." The Browns have not done their homework and they have given a D-minus book report before the class, I'm afraid.
Still reading from the first page of their Chapter Six, the writers tell us that those objectionable three Gentiles, back in 1977, "expended quite a bit of energy in attempting to prove that Sidney Rigdon stole a 'second' manuscript from a printshop... they have no case at all in claiming that there was a second manuscript. That's good to know; I can now rest easy at night, knowing that there is "no case at all" for President Rigdon ever having stolen such a manuscript. But wait a minute, the Browns do not say that Rigdon was not operating in close proximity to any Spalding manuscripts left lying about in the Pittsburgh area, nor do they say anything about Elder Rigdon having possibly obtained the text from such a manuscript quite honestly and legally -- from his associate, Jonathan Harrison Lambdin, a Pittsburgh printer whom Rigdon pointedly refused to deny knowing and chumming about the town with, perhaps even as early as 1812. On second thought, maybe I cannot yet rest so easily in my Hawaiian bed and in my Latter Day Saint faith as the Browns would have me think.
Finally -- Some Real "Meat"
On page 220 the redoubtable writers (or perhaps just one of them) asks: "This author wonders why the original letters [of E. D. Howe's "eight Conneaut witnesses"] aren't ever shown so we could compare the signatures. Perhaps there aren't any originals." An excellent point, I must say. Three cheers for Elder Brown, for he has finally struck paydirt -- that is, the dirt that pays in sales at Deseret Books. But, I must curb my tongue and get down to brass plates -- err... brass tacks here. Way back in 1878 Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt finally summoned up the courage and the cash to go and visit Elder David Whitmer in Richmond, Missouri, and ask to see his original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. The old apostate (or is that "apostle"?) showed them the sacred pages, penned by none other than Oliver Cowdery himself. Then the visitors from Utah asked an embarrassing question -- why weren't the signatures of the witnesses to the divine origin of the "Nephite Record" not in their own handwriting. Honest old David assured his company that he and the others, back in 1829, had indeed affixed their own john-henries to the respective affidavits, but that all he could find with his carefully-guarded original manuscript was Cowdrey's copy of the same. Well, Oliver had at least re-written his own signature on the paper, and one out of eleven may not be bad when it comes to documenting testimony in early Mormon history. But the Utahans had a point to make -- they realized that the pages in David's possession were only Oliver's "printer's copy" of the original "dictated manuscript." David did not realize that there was a second manuscript. He may have even forgotten that there was once a manuscript made for even a different story, at least as different as the lost "Book of Lehi" may have been from the preserved "small plates" of Nephi. Although David didn't know it, there may have then been as many as three separate Book of Mormon manuscripts on earth, one of which told a rather different story from the other two.
The Browns ask -- where are the signed statements of the eight "Conneaut Witnesses?" And I, along with Elders Pratt and Smith, ask -- where are the signed statements of the Book of Mormon witnesses? I might also add, that since even David Whitmer did not know that there were several "Nephite Record" translations to be had, the Browns demonstrate remarkable discernment in knowing of an assurity that there was only one manuscript ever penned by Solomon Spalding. And, as a matter of fact, one of the reasons that I enjoy living in Hawaii these days is that it affords me an opportunity to consult the textual flotsam and jetsam which has washed up here over the course of two centuries. The Oberlin Spalding manuscript was discovered not many miles from where I now sit writing this exposition, back in 1884, as I recall. And with it was found a letter of Solomon's, a legal agreement he drafted, and a statement from the pen of arch-apostate D. P. Hurlbut himself. It may just be worth my time to search through the various archival troves here in the islands and see what became of the papers of Mr. Lewis L. Rice (among which the Oberlin Spalding documents were found). If I can fulfill the Browns' desire to see the original eight statements they speak of, will they then grant me a footnote in the next printing of their book? I think not -- the image of Mark Hofmann still hovers over any new and remarkable document discoveries among us Saints.
Conneaut Witnesses? What Conneaut Witnesses?
Continuing to read along with the Browns on their page 220, they tell us: "D. P. Hurlburt provided eight witnesses to verify that they were familiar with Spaulding's manuscript... You would assume, wouldn't you, that these witnesses were not just casual visitors to Spaulding's house... Surely it would be somebody that lived as a neighbor or at least within a reasonable vicinity of Solomon Spaulding's residence in Conneaut, Ashtabula County..." That's an interesting notion, I think, that in order to function as a reliable witness a person would have to be more than just an occasional visitor to Spalding's "residence in Conneaut." Actually, Solomon Spaulding lived in Conneaut township, not in Conneaut village. In fact, there was no such Conneaut village when he lived in the area in 1809-12. He lived in what was called "Salem" or "New Salem." Years after his residence there a post office was set up for the township and it was called "Conneaut Post Office." Gradually the old name faded away, and in 1834 the village was incorporated as "Conneaut." When we speak of the "Conneaut witnesses" we are speaking of those persons who once resided on or near the banks of Conneaut Creek, a watercourse which meanders through both Erie County Pennsylvania and the adjacent county of Ashtabula, across the Ohio border to the west. Indeed, the Conneaut region might well be extended all the way down to Conneaut Lake, in the county immediately south of Erie. Solomon Spalding's brother John lived down there for about three decades, by the way.
If we set the requirement that any reliable witness to the content of Spalding's writings must have been his near neighbor, there in that Conneaut region, what are we to make of the testimony of his brother, Josiah Spalding? Josiah provides us with a remarkably exact description of the Oberlin manuscript story, told many years after his having read it only once or twice, going far beyond anything else entered into the contemporary literary record, in terms of accuracy and detail, all the way down to the recovery of that document here in Hawaii in 1884. Josiah tells us:
I... give you a sketch of my brother Solomon's life.... In 1795 he married. I went to Cherry Valley and commenced merchandising... He followed... We soon after went into a large speculation in new land in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and after a few years he moved out there with his wife; she never had any children... The war [of 1812]... broke out with England... I went to see my brother and staid with him some time... He began to compose his novel... The author of it he [Solomon] brings from the Old World... I think not a Jew... He was a man of superior learning suited to that day. He went to sea, lost his point of compass, and finally landed on the American shore; I think near the mouth of the Mississippi River. There he reflects most feelingly on what he suffered, his present condition and future prospects; he likewise makes some lengthy remarks on astronomy and philosophy, which I should think would agree in sentiment and style with very ancient writings. He then started and traveled a great distance through a wilderness country inhabited by savages, until he came to a country where the inhabitants were civilized, cultivated their land, and had a regular form of government, which was at war with the savages...
Except for Josiah's mistaking his brother's Delaware River setting for "the mouth of the Mississippi," he gives an excellent summary of the first half of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript. Josiah even thinks that this story was called the "Manuscript Found," or some such name. His account seems to provide perfect fodder for a Mormon "faith-promoting" volume. Why then do the Browns pass over an opportunity to tell us what Josiah remembered after all those years? I can only guess that to do so would put the Browns in the awkward situation of having to admit that even a person who was not a near neighbor (albeit one who visited for many days at a stretch) might be able to recall rather well the contents of Spalding stories he had not seen in forty years. That admission might not be especially helpful to the mission of these Mesa Mormons.
Because the Browns have decided that only Spalding's near neighbors qualify as reliable witnesses, they next set out to convince [I could abbreviate that word as "con." but I won't] us into believing that most of the eight Conneaut witnesses seemingly lived nowhere near old Solomon, back around 1810. On pages 220-21 "this author" (Brother Brown?) tells us, first of all: "This author checked the United States census records for Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, from 1810 to 1860, and 1880, in an effort to verify the existence of the eight witnesses in Conneaut... This author finds it significant that only two of the eight witnesses can be found in Ashtabula County when they were supposed to be..."
At this point it is useful to take a quick glance at the table the Browns so graciously provide us on page 225 of their book. Notice the entries in the column for 1810, alongside the names of seven of the eight witnesses (Artemus Cunningham they are pleased not to list here; heaven alone knows why not). Even the most ignorant of readers can quickly see that NO CONNEAUT WITNESSES were living anywhere near Solomon Spalding in 1810. The official U. S. Census report for the Sate of Ohio for 1810 clearly shows that fact! Why, good golly, Miss Molly! The jig's up; we Marmons have been bamboozled by them thar deceivin' Gentiles agin! Get me down my shootin' iron! Where in thunderation is that thar lyin' Eber D. Howe anyways!!
But, as Charlie Chan might say, "Not so fast, Number One Son; something is amiss here." Were I to consult my handy dandy official U. S. Census report for the State of Ohio for 1810, I would not find Solomon Spalding's name listed there either -- I would not find anybody from what is now Ashtabula County listed. And why not? Because there never was such a Census report. No, Virginia, there isn't a Santa Claus -- not even a Mormon Kris Kringle down in Mesa. The United States Government did not carry out a census in sparsely populated frontier "New Connecticut" in 1810, as every "Temple Mormon" who has done much genealogical sifting and sorting in the Census records well knows. So, scratch column one, from the table, Bob and Rosie -- and shame on you, and in a volume sold at Deseret Books, too!
Lying in Wait to Deceive?
No, despite the sub-title, I'm not accusing Brother and Sister Brown of telling fibs here. I simply wish to point out that any of us can construct a tabulation and say that it proves something, the "three researchers" of 1977 and myself not excluded. Before we jump to hasty conclusions about who was living near Solomon Spalding back in 1810, let's stop and get our knickers on straight. If there was no census report for that year, is there anything down at the Family History Library that might help us sort things out at this point? How about an index to land sales? How about voters' lists? Or maybe, an index to tax-payers? In fact, there is an index to Ohio tax-payers for 1810 and its is the sort of "census surrogate record" that the "Temple Mormons" consult regularly in their quest for new names to add to their proxy baptism lists. Bob and Rosie, bless their hearts, know all about that sort of thing; they were just a-funnin' us here, right?
Before we go digging through the old tax duplicate microfilms over on the ward microfilm reader (isn't that inter-library loan service from Salt Lake City a wonderful thing!), I might add that I do find a "John N. Miller" on the 1810 Census report for Erie county -- "just across the river" in Pennsylvania, the Browns kindly inform us. But they still place a "NO" in the 1810 box beside his name. If the Browns are unable to read through the Census indices and microfilms at the local Family History Center or the Mesa Temple Library, they may find a picture of the entry on-line at ancestry.com (1810 PA Census, Erie co., roll M252_48, page 126, image 133). Should the Browns wish to reevaluate their decision in placing a "NO" next to the name of John Spalding, for the year 1820, they may wish to take a look at the Cussewago township enumeration in the 1820 Census report for Crawford co., PA -- handily on-line at http://www.alltel.net/~yoset/CCo/census/1820/63A.html. But, oh no!, you say? There's no John Spalding there -- just a "John Spaldin," and that couldn't possibly be the same "John Spalding" living a few miles to the south, in the Sadsbury township enumeration in the 1830 Census report (the one that the Browns did fess up to seeing there): http://www.toolcity.net/~cvahs/1830/cccen3.html
But what shall we do with the names we find in the old records that are just slightly different from the ones we are looking for? If I go searching for "Dale R. Broadhurst," and can only find a "Dale Broadhurst" or a "D. R. Brodhurst" in the 1965 Idaho Falls High School graduation list, do I say "nah, can't be him; must be some other guy!" -- or, should I dig a little more deeply? Why do they Browns neglect to tell us they could only find "John Spaldin" (early Mormon and my ancestral relative, Daniel Tyler, calls the family by that name as well, and he lived right there) in the 1820 Crawford co. list? Well, maybe for the same reason that Apostle John Taylor went on record in 1850, saying that there was no polygamy among the Mormons -- nope, none at all! And, under his breath, he says, "Heh, heh! fooled them Gentile hireling priests, 'cuz we call it the 'patriarchal order of marriage,' not 'polygamy.'" But, maybe I should cut the Browns some slack here; after all, in Henry Hollingworth's 1964 Early Census Records of Crawford County, he writes the "d" in Spaldin as an "a" -- even I had to go look at the microfilm to figure out his mistake there. Quick! How long does it take a Mormon missionary to walk from Solomon Spalding's old property at the north end of Erie county down to Conneaut Lake in the middle of Crawford county: two hours; four hours; all day long? Go ask Elder D. P. Hurlbut; because that's exactly where he served his LDS mission in the spring of 1833 and that's almost certainly where he first met John and Martha Spalding, while on that mission.
Let's Go Lake Fishing
I'm back -- after making a quick trip over to the library to look through Esther W. Powell's 1971 Early Ohio Tax Records. Hmmmm, I wonder if they had that one in the Mesa Temple Genealogical Library back in 1984? Anyway, on page 18 of that volume I find that "Solomon Spaulding" paid his Ohio land taxes in 1811. So far, so good. Somebody named "Aaron Wright" did the same, as did a "Nan. Howard" in Ashtabula (then part of Geauga county). Remember what I said previously about slightly different names? In my searching through the records in Ohio I find that Nahum Howard got written down as "Nathan Howard" on a few occasions. So let's just pencil in Nahum's moniker on our early inhabitants list for the time being. I find no Oliver Smith, John N. Miller, John Spalding, or Henry Lake in the 1811 Ohio tax list, however. Why might that be? Perhaps because Oliver Smith and John L. Miller were then living in adjacent Erie county, and John Spalding was not yet a land-owning taxpayer, in either Ohio or Pennsylvania. Moving on to the page for Geauga co., OH taxpayers in 1814, I find the name of another Conneaut witness: "Artemus Cunningham" of Ashtabula paid his taxes that year. But the Browns, reading that nasty 1977 anti-Mormon book with a bit too much Mormon myopia, substitute the name of Lorin Gould where Cunningham ought to go in their tabulation. I won't even attempt to find Lorin in the records before 1840 (where the Browns finally located him). He was just a kid back then and the Census reports up through 1840 only list the names of the heads of households. Oops! I'm sorry, Bob and Rosie, we didn't want to tell the readers of They Lie in Wait to Deceive that little fact, now did we? Telling that might result in too many embarrassing questions being asked by the readers. I'll keep it under my hat.
So now, who all is missing on the Ohio side of the border back in those years right around 1812? We've yet to find Henry Lake, right? Could it be that the Browns are correct in their suspicions, and that Henry was telling lies about having known Solomon Spalding? I think not. .For one thing, Solomon Spalding's widow testifies to knowing Mr. Lake and another of the Conneaut witnesses personally; she says that on his visit to her residence in Monson, just before the beginning of 1834, "Dr. Hurlburt brought with him an introduction and request for the manuscript, which was signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and others, with all of whom I was acquainted..." Spalding's widow hadn't lived in the Conneaut region since 1812, so it is reasonable to assume that she became "acquainted" with Henry Lake and Aaron Wright way back then, correct? But could this statement be a false memory, or, worse yet, words placed in the widow's mouth by unscrupulous anti-Mormons (as the Browns insinuate on page 226 of their book)?
A quick look through the Solomon Spalding Miscellaneous Papers on file in the New York City Public Library brings to light a business agreement Henry and Solomon wrote up on March 8, 1811. Maybe Henry just plain didn't get to Solomon's neck of the woods until around that time -- on page 221 of the Browns' book they reproduce his own words: "I left the State of New York, late in the year 1810, and arrived at the place (Conneaut), about the first of January following." However, somebody might say in objection, none of this proves Mr. Lake was really there; this could be just more lies set out to deceive us!
OK, OK -- I promised you voter lists and you'll get voter lists. At least the anti-Mormons cannot be accused of forging those venerable documents. It's a long journey from my home in Hilo, Hawaii to the Western Reserve Historical Society Library in Cleveland, Ohio, but the nice librarians there have saved me the trip, by mailing me copies of a few items from their files. The 1811 "List of... Male Inhabitants above twenty one years of Age in the township of [New] Salem..." seems like a good place to start my search. It was accepted and signed by Timothy B. Hawley, the "Clerk of Ashtabula County. Ohio, on May 28, 1811, after being written up by Nehemiah King (the man who originated the Spalding claims -- but that's a story for another day). "Lister" King tells us that "Henry Lake" was eligible voter #66 on his roster. Gee, I wonder if that's the same Henry Lake that the Browns call a "missing witness" on page 225 of their book? "John Spaldin" is even there, living with his brother Solomon for a few months before homesteading across the state line. I also see "Nahum Howard" (#64) and "Aaron Wright" (#39) and a bunch of other folks whose names appear in all those old Ashtabula county history books. You did look through the Ohio history shelves in the Mesa Temple Genealogical Library, didn't you, Bob and Rosie?
But we need not go even so far as the Mesa Library to see the 1811 New Salem list -- the LDS Church has microfilmed the document and it has been transcribed and placed on line at: http://www.rootsweb.com/~ohashtab/1811SalemCen.htm Where you see an asterisk beside a name in that web-document, the transcriber says the same name appears on an 1815 list (an old document I have not seen).
The 1819 enumeration of eligible voters (also on file in thay same library in Cleveland) lists "Henry Lake" (#110), Aaron Wright (#161), and "Nahum Howard" (#77). The same document for 1823 names "Henry Lake" (#11), "Aaron Wright" (#81), and "Nahum Howard" (#23) -- but it also lists a "Nathaniel Howard" (#101), so let's erase that earlier penciled-in entry for "Nan. Howard" from the 1811 tax lists. Skipping ahead a number of years, I see that the Ashtabula county voter list for 1835 shows a "Loring Gould," so maybe the Browns can squeeze in a supplemental column for that year into their handy dandy tabulation on page 225, and let the readers of their next edition know that the missing Lorin Gould has been found and was at least 21 years old in 1835.
What was it again now, that the Browns told their readers on page 222 with a such a straight face?
Hiram Lake, Henry Lake's son, provides his testimony to the truthfulness of what his father wrote. Among other things, Hiram Lake says, "I am sixty-nine years of age, and have lived all my life in Conneaut, Ashtabula Co., Ohio. My father, Henry Lake, was partner with Solomon Spalding, in 1811 and 1812, in a forge in Conneaut (then Salem)." This author found that neither Henry Lake nor any of his family is in the census for Ashtabula County for 1810 or 1820. He can be traced elsewhere in Ohio from 1830 on. Therefore, the testimonies of Henry Lake and his son, Hiram Lake, are suspect....
I'll admit it, Henry just plain isn't there in that famous 1810 Ohio Census report, just like Brother Brown keeps telling us. I don't see him in the 1820 index either (at least there really was a Census report for Ohio that year). Could it be that he was out of town the day the census-taker dropped by? Or, maybe that year he was living with his wife's father's family and was not the head of a household. I'll let the Browns chase that one down. As for me, I'll put my bet on Henry Lake having been a real person, who actually lived in New Salem and whose son Zaphna was the anti-Mormon Sheriff of Ashtabula county in 1832-33 -- a fellow who made sure that those transient Mormon missionaries (like elders Orson Hyde, Samuel H. Smith, and D. P. Hurlbut) were kept moving right on through his domain until they crossed the state line into Pennsylvania's Erie county.
Speaking of Orson Hyde (the first man to preach Mormonism at New Salem, I believe) I've suddenly realized that the Browns could have spared me all the agony of writing the last 100 lines of this exposition, had they merely revealed in their book that Apostle Orson Hyde checked things out in New Salem and couldn't find anything worthwhile to say about Spalding's old friends and neighbors. We can be quite sure that if Elder Hyde had been able to dig up any dirt on those eight Conneaut witnesses, he would have made sure it was printed on the front page of the Kirtland newspaper in 1835: "So-Called Conneaut Witnesses Checked Out and Found to be Lying Deceivers! -- Most Never Even Lived There!!" But that isn't what the good elder reported at all. Hyde kept the sober news of his Conneaut investigations in his back pocket for several years, before finally saying just a little about them in an obscure British pamphlet: "In the spring of 1832 I preached in New Salem, Ohio; the place where Rev. Mr. Spaulding resided at the time he wrote his romance... I raised up a branch of the church at that place, and baptized many of Mr. Spaulding's old neighbours... I then [in late 1834 or early 1835] went to these neighbours of Mr. Spaulding, and enquired of them if they knew any thing about his writing a romance... They said that Mr. Spaulding wrote a book, and that they frequently heard him read the manuscript..."
The Missed Mormon Opportunity of 1835
Oh, my stars and garters! Orson Hyde conducted interviews with Spalding's "old neighbors" back when the authorship claims were just beginning to spread! Why, Orson could have returned to Ohio, published his findings, and blown the Solomon Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon clean out of the water! But he didn't. That task got handed on down as far as the time of Robert L. Brown, and still we do not know what Orson Hyde heard personally from Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller, Nahum Howard, and Henry Lake (that would be the same Henry Lake who was just then shaking up the testimonies of local Mormons like my ancestral relative Andrews Tyler, the first Mormon to leave the Church over the Spalding claims, by the way). Orson didn't publish his findings because he had nothing worth publishing, pure and simple. Oh, and don't forget to scratch out Apostle Hyde's seeming claim of having established an LDS branch at New Salem after preaching Mormonism there at the beginning of 1832. The two LDS congregations which were built up in the greater Conneaut region both were located safely across the border in Pennsylvania, out of the reach of hostile officers of the law, related to witness Henry Lake or Judge Aaron Wright. And, besides that, the branches were ephemeral; the LDS historian who chronicled their stories admits that the 1833 anti-Mormon preaching of D. P. Hurlbut in Erie county sealed their doom -- both were defunct by 1836 or so, Orson Hyde's boastful efforts to the contrary and notwithstanding.
Anything to Get Them into the Church!
I've been told a story (I hope it's just a story) about how some of the first Reorganized LDS missionaries used to operate here in Hawaii. Two elders would go to the center of a town, one dressed in a suit, the other in local clothes. The elder in the suit would stand on the street corner and begin preaching in a loud voice, then the disguised elder would come up to him and begin to argue about "Mormonism" in an equally loud voice. Generally a crowd of curious onlookers would soon gather about. Once the crowd was listening well to all that was being preached by the elder in the suit, the disguised elder would begin to agree, saying, "I guess you're right after all -- that Book of Mormon sounds like a very book, etc., etc." At the end of the preaching the disguised elder would loudly demand that he be baptized immediately, and the elder in the suit would lead the whole crowd down to the beach, where they'd all witness the phony baptism. Sometimes one or two folks in the crowd would end up getting baptized also.
When I first heard that rumor from an old Hawaiian here, I was shocked. I demanded, "Is that any way to run a mission?" The fellow gave me a wink of the eye and said, "Well, anything to get 'em into the Church!"
In sincerely hope that the Utah Mormons have never used such tactics in their missionizing. But the point I really wish to make is that certain Latter Day Saints appear to turn a blind eye when confronted with historical and doctrinal misrepresentations made by their own coreligionists. Why is it that the people at the FAIR website have put the Browns' They Lie in Wait to Deceive II on-line with no accompanying "addendum" or "erratum" to let us all know that the Browns' chart on page 225 is a bogus document? They cannot plead total ignorance, for the Berean Christian Ministries website has for over two years publicized this very point -- in their page on Dick Winwood's book. According to Berean Christian Ministries: "... there was no 1810 census in Ohio. The U.S. government did not take a census in Ohio in 1810 according to the two following books: "Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy," by Val D. Greenwood, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., page 193. According to this book the first census in Ohio was in 1820. A second book says the same thing, "Federal Population Censuses 1790-1890," National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, Washington, 1971, page 3. There is no Ohio census listed for 1810."
Not only that, but the operators of the Berean website have been vocal in numerous public encounters with the LDS (at temple dedications, firesides with GAs, etc.) and have frequently initiated discussions over the errors and misrepresentations they claim to find in the Browns' four book series. Has not one word of this ever reached Mr. and Mrs. Brown, their advocates, their book sales people, or their publisher?
I used to have some links among my own webpages over to Richard I. Winwood's on-line text to Take Heed That Ye Be Not Deceived, (Salt Lake City: Richard I. Winwood, 1995). There I documented how Dick was selectively quoting the Browns in his own book (on page 88, and in his section on "The Great Deceivers -- Howe, Hurlbut, etc.") to assert that the Conneaut witnesses never even existed -- therefore the entire basis for the "Spaulding theory" was a fraud, devised by those who lie in wait to deceive. And, for the life of me, I was never able to figure out whether Bro. Winwood was deceived (by the Browns, in this instance) or was a deceiver himself. However, the offending e-text mysteriously disappeared from the web recently and I'm too lazy to track down a digital copy by logging onto archive.org.
If the phony 1810 column on the Browns' page 225 chart were the only error or misrepresentation in their book(s), I would not be overly concerned -- the effects it might have upon the over-active imagination of Dick Winwood and his ilk notwithstanding. But that single, easily understood and grasped misrepresentation on the part of the Browns is merely the tip of a much larger iceberg. In part 4 of this exposition I'll demonstrate that fact. Just because I'm a Latter Day Saint, should I turn a blind eye to this sort of thing and join the "anything to get 'em into the Church" crowd? In this case, I think that would really be the "anything to keep 'em in the Church" crowd, since the Browns' appear to enjoy practically all their book sales among those already in the LDS Church. I'll wait and see what the response is at the FAIR website, as those new publishers for the Browns may not yet fully comprehend the snow job that the Mesa Mormons are attempting to pull off. Perhaps the FAIR people will one day add that little note, saying that volume 2 in the series has a few teensy problems in its text.
The End of the Beginning
I'll finish off this section of my exposition with a few brief notes regarding the persons listed in the Browns' table on page 225 of They Lie in Wait to Deceive II:
1. General Notes:
The presence of the "Conneaut witnesses" in the lands along the OH/PA border south of Lake Erie is well attested. While all their names may not appear in every Census record issued between 1810 and 1840, that fact is understandable, given the circumstances under which census data was then gathered. Many persons were missed altogether in the 1820 Ohio census, because it was a frontier region, sparse settled, and with few roads. Persons living in the area during the 1820, 1830, and 1840 census-taking were only listed by name if they were the head of a household -- thus resident workers, servants, renters, grandparents, and other resident relatives were typically missed in the recording of names. Names were frequently misspelled in the Census reports and first names were often rendered only as initials. It is not unusual in those records to see a surname reversed with a given name. All of these various errors are to be expected, on practically every page of every record preserved -- and not all records have been preserved.
Rather than relying solely upon census data to provide lists of residents in a given area, the serious historical or genealogical researcher must make use of land documents, tax lists, and various vital records typically available in county courthouses and other local repositories. Persons and events in the area around New Salem (Conneaut) Ohio were well recorded in several local histories. According to E. D. Howe (in whose 1834 book the witnesses' statements first appeared), he made a special effort to locate the "Conneaut witnesses" in order to confirm the statements collected from them by D. P. Hurlbut, and at the very end of 1833, Hurlbut himself made out an informal affidavit attached to the "Oberlin Spalding MS" again naming "Aron Wright, Oliver Smith, John N. Miller and others" as having identified that particular work as being the creation of Solomon Spalding.
E. D. Howe's book containing the eight statements of the "Conneaut witnesses" was printed in November of 1834, little more than a year after D.P. Hurlbut gathered their statements. Several hundred copies of the book were circulated and it is unlikely that the Kirtland Mormons would have allowed bogus statements signed by non-existent or non-resident witness to have gone unchallenged.
2. Lorin Gould:
If Lorin Gould was born c. 1814 (66 years old in 1880) he would have been a child during the years 1820 and 1830 and his name would not have shown up in those early census records (which named the male head of the household). In his 1880 Statement Gould did not claim to have known Solomon Spalding, only some of the "Conneaut Witnesses. David Gould (Lorin's uncle?) settled in New Salem (Conneaut) c. 1800-1810.
3. John Spalding: (1774-1857)
John Spalding was Solomon Spalding's brother, born January 10, 1774, in Ashford, Windham, CT; he moved from Richfield, NY to Erie Co. PA in 1810. The title to his land in Erie was not clear and he moved across the state line to New Salem, OH. There his name appears as #48 (just below Solomon's) on the 1811 New Salem voter's list. In late 1811 or early 1812 John and his wife moved to Conneaut township, Crawford Co., PA -- a few hours' walk from New Salem. His wife Martha's name (not being the head of the household) does not show up in the earlier census records. According to the entry for him in the Spalding Memorial, in about 1842 John Spalding and his family left the Conneaut area and moved to Illinois; he died Mar. 22, 1857, in Lisle, DuPage co,, IL. See also his 1851 statement.
4. Oliver Smith: (c. 1780-?)
Oliver Smith was an early settler of the Conneaut region. However, as "Smith" is a common surname, Oliver may have been a member of any one of the Smith families settled along the OH/PA border south of Lake Erie. He is known to have owned a farm bordering on the southern shore of the lake, not far east of the state line in Springfield county. His next door neighbors in 1833-34 were Mormon Elders, John Rudd, Jr. and Erastus Rudd. In the 1810 Census report Oliver is shown living in Erie county, presumably in Springfield township. In the 1820 Census report Oliver is listed as head of a household in Erie county's Northeast township, but in the 1830 report his is shown back in Springfield county again.
5. Henry Lake (1772-1850):
Henry Lake was born in VT (probably in Windham co.) on June 4, 1772; he later lived in East Bloomfield, Ontario co., NY and Batavia, Genesee co., NY. Henry married Abigail Spring (1773-1839) on Feb. 18, 1793. He is very likely the same Henry Lake shown in the 1810 Census report as living in Chenango co., NY. Several histories of Ashtabula co. mention Henry Lake. He came to New Salem (Conneaut) at the beginning of 1811, via Buffalo, Niagara co., NY. In 1811 he signed a partnership agreement with Solomon Spalding to operate an iron forge on Conneaut Creek. Henry Lake was the first landlord of the old "Mansion House" Inn at New Salem. It is unknown whether the "Henry Lake" shown living in Erie town, Erie county, PA in the 1840 Census is the same as the Ohio Henry Lake. In about 1845 Henry Lake moved to Kane co., IL (his wife Abigail having already died at Conneaut on Jan 27, 1839). Henry died in Aurora, Kane co., IL on June 3, 1850. Mr. J. H. Britton gave a sworn statement testifying to Lake's "good reputation for truth and veracity," a man in "every way well esteemed and respected in the [New Salem] community."
6. Aaron Wright: (1775-1855)
All the early histories of Ashtabula co., OH mention Aaron Wright. Wright was born on March, 19, 1775, presumably in New England. According to his obituary in Nov. 17, 1855 Conneaut Reporter, Aaron came to the banks of Conneaut Creek from Harpersfield, Delaware co., NY in 1798; the following year built a house in what was to become New Salem. The first religious services in Ashtabula county were held in his cabin. Wright operated the first grist mill in the area, served in the local government (including being a Justice of the Peace in 1813-1815), and beginning in 1833 he operated a retail store in the town. Wright married Anna Montgomery (1784-1857) on March 12, 1800 (in one of the very first marriages celebrated in the Ohio Western Reserve). Judge Wright died on Nov. 10, 1855 and was buried in the Conneaut Cemetery.
7. John N. Miller: (c. 1780-?)
John N. Miller came as a settler in Springfield township, Erie, co. in 1800. For a short time the pastor of his church in West Springfield was the Presbyterian minister, Rev. Robert Patterson, Sr., later a publisher and bookstore operator in Pittsburgh, PA. The 1810 Census report shows a "John N. Miller" living in West Springfield in Erie co. Miller's September, 1833 statement for D. P. Hurlbut specifically states that it was written down in "Springfield, Pa." (in Erie co.) where Miller then lived. See also the report given by Miller's daughter Rachael, saying that they knew the Spaldings, etc.
8. Nahum M. Howard, Sr.: (c. 1780-1841)
Dr. Nahum Howard reportedly originally came from near Sidney, Kennebec co., Maine. One report has him marrying Beriah Plimpton in Medway, Norfolk co., MA on Nov. 15, 1798, but Dr. Howard's wife of record was Elizabeth Sawtelle, whom he married in about 1800, probably in Sidney, Kennebec, ME. They had at least ten children, most of whom were born in Ashtabula co., OH. Nahum was in New Salem by May of 1811, for his name appears on the New Salem voters' list for that year. The 1820 Census report shows him living in Salem township, Ashtabula co., OH, as do also the 1830 and 1840 reports. Dr. Howard died on June 17, 1841 and was buried in the Conneaut Cemetery.
9. Artemas Cunningham: (c. 1790-1839)
Little is known of Artemus Cunningham. He possibly the same Artemas (or Artemus) Cunningham who was born in Solomon Spalding's own home town of Ashford, Windham, CT. in 1790, though more likely the one born in Spencer, , MA in 1782. According to his statement in E. D. Howe's 1834 book, Artemus went from Madison township. just west of Geneva, to New Salem to collect a debt from Solomon Spalding. He was in Ohio by May 20, 1813, when he married Martha "Patty" Hanks, who was originally from Hartford, CT. The couple got hitched by the Rev. Jonathan Leslie in Madison, Geauga, OH. They had at least three children, all born in Madison between 1814 and 1822. Artemas paid taxes in Geauga co., in 1814. He is listed in the 1820 Census report as living in Madison. By 1833-34, when he provided the statement published in Howe's book, Artemas was apparently residing in Perry township (just west of Madison), Geauga co., OH. This may be the same Artemas Cunningham who is on record as having married Sarah Hanks in Ohio in 1830. On Aug. 21, 1837, Artemas filed for a deed to 81.6 acres of land in Ohio. Artemas' will went through probate in Ohio in 1839; after that date his name disappears from the public records.
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
Never Wrote it, Signed it, or Even Saw it!
On page 226 of their They Lie in Wait to Deceive II, the Browns have something to say about a certain "D. R. Austin" who they say "composed the letter purported to have been written by Mrs. Spaulding Davison." Now, before we get too excited over cunning Gentile connivance, let's all slow down, take a deep breath, count to ten, and then begin to ponder the essence of this Brownian blunder.
The Browns are here passing along one of those old canards that have circulated among the Saints since the Nauvoo era. The notion they are trying to sell their readers goes something like this: In April of 1839 a disgruntled enemy of the Mormons had his friend interview Solomon Spalding's widow. The friend obtained a smattering of information and then the two culprits cooked up a slanderous statement and signed that "letter" with the widow' name -- a "letter" that barely contained a single word of truth -- a "letter," the content of which, the Widow Spalding herself emphatically denied.
If that is what really happened, we can all ignore whatever was said by these vicious anti-Mormons in the widow's name and drop our consideration of the malicious matter right here and now.
The only problem is, what got passed along in the widow's name pretty much dovetails with other testimony given by friends, neighbors, and associates regarding her eccentric husband and his wishful writings. For the most part, the lady's own family members subsequently supported what she had to say in 1839. Indeed, Mormon apologists have for 160 years selectively mined the widow's 1839 statement (they call it a "letter") for information useful in support of their negative position on the Spalding authorship claims. So let's not kid ourselves by thinking that throwing this hunk of history out the window is going to solve things for either the Saints or their critics. This are several things here worthy of our careful examination. With that thought in mind, let's see what it was that so bothered the Mormon leadership back in 1839.
But, I Read It in the Daily News!
On Nov. 27, 1839, Parley P. Pratt, then laboring for the Church in New York City, had this to say: "... if the public will be patient, they will doubtless find that the piece signed "Matilda Davidson" (Spaulding's widow) is a base fabrication by Priest Storrs of Holliston, Mass., in order to save his craft, after losing the deacon of his church, and several of its most pious and intelligent members, who left his society to embrace what they considered to be truth."
OK, so Pratt was all worked up over a "piece" he'd seen in the eastern newspapers that he says purported to have been signed by "Spaulding's widow." But Pratt is blaming a fabricated "piece" on a Protestant minister named "Storrs" and the Browns are talking about "a long letter" written by a Mr. "Austin;" where's the connection here? Below I have placed a graphic, a link to an enlargement, and a link to a typescript, wherein the curious reader can peruse the "piece" Pratt was in such a dither about. And, even though Spalding's widow may have been an intelligent, articulate person in her own right, after reading the "piece," I'd suppose that most of us will readily concede that not every word printed there rings out like the vocabulary of a lady in "private life," as they used to say.
Apr. 19, 1839 Davison article (enlargement)
View transcript of the 1839 Davison article
A Leisurely Walk from Holliston to Hopkinton
I hope everybody has read the article from the Apr. 19, 1839 issue of the Boston Recorder at this point -- so I will not need to quote extensively from the thing just to make myself understood here. As all can see, the article really does begin with a "letter" -- a letter written to a Boston newspaper by fellow from Holliston, Massachusetts; that's a village about half of the way from Boston westward to Monson, in Hampden county (where the Widow Spalding was then living). Another town from the map, worth remembering at this point is Hopkinton, a little place just a few miles northwest of Holliston. How these points of geography relate to the 1839 letter written in Holliston, I'll explain shortly. But first of all, we need to link that Mormon-eater in Holliston to his co-conspirator in Monson (if, indeed, that is what they were).
According to Apostle Orson Hyde, in the early 1830's, he became well acquainted with a bunch of Solomon Spalding's old neighbors in the Conneaut Creek region, on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border up by Lake Erie. Hyde tells us: "...but they never intimated to me that there was any similarity between the Book of Mormon and Mr. Spaulding's romance; neither did I hear such an intimation from any quarter, until the immoral Hulbert, a long time after, in connection with some very pious ministers, such, perhaps, as Mr. Storrs and Mr. Austin, brought forth the idea... " Even as late as June 7, 1841, and way over in London, Hyde was still getting his hackles raised, just thinking about that Spalding-Davison-Austin-Storrs affair back in Massachusetts, right? And the way I've strung those four names together, more or less represents what happened, in the passing along of some mostly unpleasant information regarding Solomon Spalding. The chain of transmission goes like this: The past activities of Spalding and his wife, were recalled by his widow (Matilda Spalding Davison) -- who, in turn, recited her account to the schoolmaster (David R. Austin) -- who put the widow's information into a written narrative and sent it to his friend (the Rev. John Storrs) at the Congregational Church in nearby Holliston -- who wrote up a preface letter, attached it to the narrative, and sent the whole shebang off to the editor of the Congregationalists' newspaper in Boston.
Here's how LDS Elder B. H. Roberts reconstructs this chain of events:
Briefly stated... Mormon missionaries make their appearance in Holliston, Massachusetts, and are successful in making some converts [among churchgoers at] ... that place. Whereupon the Reverend John Storrs, the pastor of this church, becoming concerned for his flock, and having learned of the Spaulding theory, he writes to his friend, the Reverend D. R. Austin, residing near Monson, where Mrs. (Spaulding) Davidson was making her home with her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, and urges him to secure a statement from her as to the connection between the writings of her late husband and the Book of Mormon. Mr. Austin made some inquiries of the old lady, wrote down notes as to her answers, then through the Reverend Dr. Storrs publishes this product as a signed statement of Mrs. Davidson! The facts came out respecting this document in a letter of Mr. John Haven, of Holliston, Middlesex Co., Mass., to his daughter, Elizabeth Haven, of Quincy, Adams, Co., (Illinois) which was published in the Quincy Whig.
Notice that Elder Roberts, at this point, does not take the trouble tell us just who "Mr. John Haven, of Holliston" was, how Mr. John Haven obtained the "facts respecting this document," or why it was that he sent a letter containing those "facts" to "his daughter, Elizabeth Haven," way out west in Mormon country. Next let's take a look at how a fellow from a nice RLDS family, Charles A. Shook, relates the same events:
In 1838-39, the missionaries of the Mormon Church opened operations in the town of Holliston, Massachusetts. In that town there existed a Congregational church of which the Rev. John Storrs was the pastor. Some of the members of Dr. Storrs' church became proselytes to the Mormon faith... through Prof. D. R. Austin, principal of the Monson (Massachusetts) Academy, he obtained a statement from Mrs. Davison which he published in... the Boston Recorder... First, if the purported letter of Mrs. Davison, as published in the Boston Recorder, is not genuine, but is the production of Principal D. R. Austin, this may account for the errors which it contains, and which have been circulated as truths by the Mormons themselves. By this letter, the Mormons have zealously sought to establish the identity of the "Manuscript Found" with the "single manuscript"... which afterwards fell into the hands of Hurlburt. Secondly, the charge is made that the "Cunning Device Detected" [the follow-up Haven letter]... has been maliciously garbled... why have the Mormons left this important admission out of their later publications of the Haven letter? Thirdly, [John Haven, in his letter] does just what Austin is accused of having done. He declares that Mrs. Davison told his son, Jesse, that... Professor Austin came to her home, asked some questions, took down some minutes and wrote the letter. And then Haven, himself, admits that the questions and answers in the "Cunning Device Detected" are not given in their original form. So, if there are just grounds for questioning the Boston Recorder letter, there are equally as just grounds for questioning the Quincy Whig reply. If Mrs. Davison did not write and sign the former, she certainly did not write and sign the latter, and, by his own admission, Haven took as much liberty with what Mrs. Davison told his son, Jesse, as Austin took with what Mrs. Davison told him. And... we have the admission published in the Mormon paper, the Times and Seasons, that it [Austin's compilation] was "in the main true."
I apologize for letting Mr. Shook run ahead of my discussion somewhat; we'll get to "the Haven letter" he refers to in due course. Actually, Mr. Shook has abridged the story too much for my purposes. Allow me to add back in something important that he left out.
There once were three sisters named Howe, who lived in Hopkinton (remember that place? it's just over the hill from Holliston): Rhoda (1762-1838), Abigail (1765-1815), and Betsey (1774-1821). Rhoda married the father of future LDS Apostle Willard Richards; Abigail married the father of future LDS President Brigham Young; and Betsey married John Haven of Holliston (1774-1853) -- the guy who wrote the 1839 "Haven letter" Bro. Shook was just telling us about. In other words, the Spalding-Davison-Austin-Storrs affair of 1839 so exasperated the top Mormon leaders, that LDS Apostle Parley P. Pratt (then in New York City) worked with the LDS Church leader in Hollistion (whose daughter Pratt had recently baptized), Elder John Haven (Brigham Young's uncle, as shown above) to solicit and secure, by way of that leader's son (young LDS missionary Jesse Haven, who was Brigham Young's first cousin), a record of a timely interview with Spalding's widow. Once the interview record was in the hands of Church leader Haven in Hollistion, he was to forward it to Mormon officials, for editing and publication in Illinois. But why in Illinois? Why not in Boston where the widow's offending testimony had first appeared in the newspaper? Or, if not in Boston, why not in Parley's diggings in The Big Apple? That is a question well worth asking, and thereupon hangs a most interesting tale.
The Original "Three Researchers"
(Messrs. Storrs, Austin, and Ely)
Before I get around to talking about Elder John Haven sending to Illinois his son's 1839 interview with the widow, I want to back up and talk about Storrs, Austin, and Ely. The last-named of the three was the pastor of the Congregational Church of Monson, Hampden co., Massachusetts. That's the church Matilda Spalding Davison attended after she moved to Massachusetts in about 1829 -- the same year that her adopted child, Matilda Spalding McKinstry, joined the congregation there. See Manual of the Congregational Church of Monson, 1875 (Springfield, Clark W. Bryan & Co., 1875) for a full list of the members and pastors of the congregation, from 1762 to 1875. While we're thumbing through the old Massachusetts history books, here's another one I should cite: Sketches of the Churches and Pastors in Hampden County, Mass. (Westfield: S. W. Edson Co., 1851); on page 94:
REV. ALFRED ELY, D. D., is a native of West Springfield, graduated at New Jersey College in 1804, and studied theology at Princeton... He was licensed at Monson... February, 1806, and ordained December 17, 1806. Dr. Ely still remains the senior pastor at Monson, having officiated as sole pastor more than 36 years...
So then, in April 1839, when he called on Matilda Spalding Davison, in company with D. R. Austin, this venerable gentleman was the long-standing pastor of the church the widow had by then been attending for ten years in the village of Monson. He knew her well and she knew him well -- just the kind of guy to drop by her residence along with the local schoolmaster one fine morning and engage with Mrs. Davison in a friendly little chat. Oh, by the way, that schoolmaster was Rev. Ely's son-in-law and he was also a member of the church the widow attended. The same book, on page 92, says:
REV. DAVID R. AUSTIN, of Norwich, Ct.,... was ordained, May 1, 1835. He was dismissed in July, 1837, and was then preceptor of Monson Academy about two years. He was installed pastor of the Church in Sturbridge, May 12, 1839, and dismissed in consequence of ill-health in 1851. He has recently been settled in Norwalk, Ct. He married a daughter of Dr. Ely of Monson.
According to A. M. Copeland's 1902 A History of Hampden County, David R. Austin served as licensed associate pastor in the Congregational Church at Ludlow (just north of Monson) prior to his ordination; so it appears that remained in Ludlow until his ordination and then moved to Monson in 1835. Austin says this himself in his Apr. 4, 1879 letter to James T. Cobb, the son of Brigham Young's plural wife Augusta: "I went to Monson in 1835 & left in 1839, & was then installed pastor of the Cong. Ch. in Sturbridge." The Copeland book also says that "the Rev. Alfred Ely is closely identified with school work... a charity fund, to aid candidates for the ministry, was established [for Monson Academy] in 1825, chiefly through the exertions of Dr. Alfred Ely, pastor of the Congregational church in Monson... The institution has had a long line of able teachers... [including] Richard S. Storrs, Jr. [a cousin of Rev. John Storrs of Holliston]..." It looks to me like Storrs, Austin and Ely were all ordained Congregational ministers and all were reputable, respectable members of their communities. Are these the sorts of persons who would publish lying allegations in the local newspaper and then attach their names to those same lies? And what exactly is the big lie Robert and Rosemary Brown accuse the Rev. David R. Austin of telling?
According to Bob and Rosie (I'm still reading their page 226 and it is taking forever to fill in all that they left out), "a long letter purported to have been written by... Spaulding's widow... is a letter written by a man named Austin, and was not signed by Mrs. Davison..." Golly Gee, friends, search as I may, I cannot find such a "letter" in the Boston Recorder of Apr. 19, 1839.
In looking at that "piece" (as Pratt calls the composite article) I see the three paragraph preface letter from Rev. John Storrs, which I've already mentioned; then a four paragraph statement with the name "Matilda Davison" at the bottom; and finally a short certificate with the names of Messrs. Ely and Austin. There is nothing here purporting to be a "letter" from Matilda Spalding Davison to anybody. Rev. Storrs clearly says in his preface that he solicited a "certified account" relating the details of a book once written by Mrs. Davison's "husband" -- that would be her first husband, Solomon Spalding. Robert and Rosemary's objections, obloquy, and obfuscation, carefully noted, nonetheless, there is no "letter" from the widow here, purported or otherwise.
Again, reading from Storrs, he says: "I requested in a note, Rev. D. R. Austin, Principal of Monson Academy, to obtain of her [the widow], for my benefit, and to be used as I should think proper, a certified account of its [the manuscript book's] origin with her husband; for the character of which lady I wished the venerable Dr. Ely and himself to avouch." Where's the problem here? I see none.
Storrs & Austin Drop the Ball
Well, on second thought, let me take those last words back -- Storrs requested a "certified account" and what he actually received from Monson was an account with a certificate attached. Unfortunately that certificate was not signed and registered before a Justice of the Peace and that certificate only certifies that the lady interviewed "... is a woman of irreproachable character and an humble Christian, and her testimony is worthy of implicit confidence." If the Browns wish to say that this is a urine-impoverished excuse for a signed affidavit, I'll be the first to agree with them. The certificate does not actually certify the words of the statement -- only the "irreproachable character" of the purported testifier. If anti-Mormons hope to use the Austin-Ely certificate to destroy the LDS Church, they must be plain stupid. Also, there's not all that much useful to anti-Mormons in Rev. Storrs' preface. Only the statement sandwiched in between these two slices of ministerial material has any meat in it.
I suppose that at this point, the question must be asked as to why the widow's name is found at the end of the four paragraph published statement? Did she write the statement hereself? Did she sign her own name at the bottom of such a statement? Luckily, Rev. Austin himself supplies the answer in a letter he wrote to an Episcopalian newspaper editor in 1841:
"The circumstances which called forth the letter published in the Boston Recorder in April 1839, were stated by Mr. Storrs in the introduction to that article. At his request I obtained from Mrs. Davison a statement of the facts contained in that letter, and wrote them out precisely as she related them to me. She then signed the paper with her own hand which I have now in my possession. Every fact as stated in that letter was related to me by her in the order they are set down. (There is one word misprinted in the published letter, instead of "woman preacher," on the second column, it should be Mormon preacher.)
All right, I'll admit it -- I cheated in quoting the above excerpt. There is no bold type in the 1842 original printing. Bad Dale! But the rest of the Rev. Austin's words I give you just as he gave them to the world. What more can we Latter Day Saints ask of the gentleman? We could have marched into his chapel in Sturbridge back in 1842 and demanded to see the signed paper full of notes, and then published the fabrication in the Times and Seasons: "HIRELING PRIEST IN STURBRIDGE EXHIBITS FAKE SIGNATURE OF SPALDING'S WIDOW! -- ELDERS JOHN HAVEN, WILLARD RICHARDS, AND A. P. ROCKWOOD CALL IN BOSTON RECORDER REPORTERS TO VERIFY THIS DEVILISH FRAUD!!"
The Mormon leaders elected not to do that, right? They seemingly did not even have the courage to get anything published in the eastern papers to confirm their charges against Storrs, Austin and Ely. Apostle Parley P. Pratt says that the 1839 statement from Spalding's widow was "a base fabrication by Priest Storrs of Holliston." But after that, his vituperative voice in the Mormon press releases falls silent. Nobody takes Austin up on his challenge to come and see for themselves the widow's signature -- and remember, she lived another four years after Austin got this announcement published. It was left to a non-member to solicit fresh testimony from the widow in 1842. Rev. James E. Gaston of the Warren, Ohio Disciples of Christ (Sidney Rigdon's old church when he was a Reformed Baptist) reportedly was told: "Mrs. Davidson says that shortly after Hurlbut left Monson with the order from her to get the manuscript of the 'Manuscript Found' from the trunk at Mr. Clark's at Hartwicke, N. Y., she received a letter from Hurlbut, in which he told her that he had obtained from the trunk what he had come for, the manuscript of 'Manuscript Found,' and that when he had taken it to the parties that sent him, and it had been used for the purpose for which they wanted it, that is published to expose the plagiarism of the Book of Mormon from it, he would return it to her."
Is Rev. Gaston telling us the truth? I do not have his original statement and I cannot tell for certain, but he seems to have been the only person interested enough in this matter to go and ask more questions of the widow. When did the Saints ask any questions themselves? Only once, before Austin clarified matters -- I'll get to that by and by. But first, did I mention that the Rev. John Storrs also made a statement of clarification in 1841? Here's part of what he had to say:
The results of my inquiries from Dr. Ely and from Mr. Austin confirm me in the opinion the Spaulding manuscript was the foundation of the foolish affair called the Mormon Bible... And this testimony is not at all invalidated by the letter written from this town by Mr. John Haven, and published in the pamphlet you sent me, entitled "The Origin of the Spaulding Story...." ... The quibbling here is palpable. It is very true Mrs. Davidson did not write a letter to me, and what is more, of course she did not sign it. But this she did do, and just what I wrote to you in my former letter I supposed she did: she did sign her name to the original copy as prepared from her statement by Mr. Austin. This he told me last week...
Had Rev. Storrs demanded a proper affidavit from Rev. Austin, in Monson, most of this mix-up would have never occurred. Had reporters followed up on the widow's published statement and made it clear to the public exactly what it was she was saying. I would not have to write this section of my exposition today. As it stands today, it is a crying shame that somebody in Massachussetts did not set things straight back when this problematic interview and published report were still fresh news items. Was the widow so old and senile that she let two local clergymen bamboozle her into giving totally false tetimony? No, I don't think that's what happened. Was the widow so cowed by these interviewers that she simply remained silent and allowed them to publish false testimony over her own signature? No, I don't think that happened either.
What did happen is that the widow's testimony was re-written and submitted for publication without the writer (Rev. Austin) making sure that she saw the final product and signed her name to that document before a Justice of the Peace. That lapse of intelligence on the part of Rev. Austin is inexcusable. We can never know for certain just which words in that four paragraph statement are his and which belong to the widow. On the other hand, to pretend that all, or even most, of those four paragraphs are lies -- lies which the widow herself repudiated as such -- is utter nonsense and a Saintly swindle. On being asked by the Mormons, the widow affirmed that the Boston Recorder article was essentially correct in its content. Her saying that, of course, does not automatically render the article fully truthful. Her saying that removes the asinine assertion that she never claimed that she thought her husband's book was used as a base text for the writing of the Book of Mormon. It may definitely and correctly be stated that she believed that allegation, whether the allegation itself can ever be demonstrated as factual or not.
Ranger Roberts to the Rescue
Do Robert L. and Rosemary Brown honestly (?) expect us to believe that a century and a half of Latter Day Saintism passed blithely by, without any Mormon apologist ever taking note of the 1841 published explanations offered by Storrs and Austin? Is that why they neglect to provide even a single word in reference to them in their supposedly trustworthy reporting? I wonder. But, of course, we Saints are not all that stupid. Long ago several of our number pondered over what Storrs and Austin had to say -- and eventually we came up with a response. That response was perhaps best articulated by Elder B. H. Roberts in 1908:
The Rev. John A. Clark, D. D.... wrote to the Reverend John Storrs who was responsible for the publication of the Davison statement. In the course of his reply to Mr. Clark's inquiries, Mr. Storrs said:
It is very true Mrs. Davison did not write a letter to me, and what is more, of course, she did not sign it. But this she did do, and just what I wrote you in my former letter I supposed she did: she did sign her name to the original copy as prepared from her statement by Mr. Austin. This original copy is now in the hands of Mr. Austin. This he told me last week.The last sentence gives the exact value of this testimony, Mr. Austin told Mr. Storrs that Mrs. Davison had signed the statement. Mr. Storrs himself knew nothing about it beyond what Mr. Austin told him... But the Reverend Clark wrote Reverend Austin also, and Reverend Austin replied, in which the following occurs:
The circumstances which called forth the letter published in the Boston Recorder in April, 1839, were stated by Mr. Storrs in the introduction to that article. At his request I obtained from Mrs. Davison a statement of the facts contained in that letter, and wrote them out precisely as she related them to me. She then signed the paper with her own hand, which I have now in my possession. Every fact as stated in that letter was related to me by her in the order they are set down.The statement of the Reverend Mr. Austin of course flatly contradicts that of Mrs. Davison; and when the contradiction is between a reverend gentleman on the one hand, and a venerable lady, the wife of a former but retired minister, (Reverend Mr. Spaulding) on the other, one may be justified in declining the delicate task of determining on whose side the truth lies; unless it may be found, as I think it may, otherwise than by directly passing judgment upon the veracity of either of these worthy parties.
Did you catch the good Elder's drift there? If not, let me run it by you one more time. Roberts implicitly accepts the possibility that Rev. David R. Austin may have indeed had something signed by the widow. But Roberts says that Rev. John Storrs had not looked at that signed document. Therefore Storrs did not know whether Austin was lying or not. Fair enough, if these Protestant clergymen are such great liars as Sidney Rigdon and other great leaders of the past have told us, perhaps we should at least say that Storrs acted imprudently in not obtaining better documentation of what Austin said he had down in writing and signed by the widow. None of that, however, destroys the statement printed in the Boston Recorder back in 1839.
The LDS Church will not go down in flames as a result of our accepting the fact that there is undoubtedly a considerable amount of information in the Boston Recorder "piece" which can be traced directly back to the widow herself. They may not have taken the time to consult Elder Roberts very carefully on this point, but Bob and Rosie implicitly understand this basic point. As Charles A. Shook explicitly and correctly stated several paragraphs above, the Mormon apologists themselves selectively quote from the 1839 "piece" when it suits their purposes. Bob and Rosie do just that at the end of their page 226, and they continue to do the same throughout their next three pages, while reproducing text from that nasty 1977 anti-Mormon volume.
Enough said about all of this. I declare the 1839 "piece" acceptable and available for critical consultation, standing or falling on its own merits; its truth at least partly discernible by placing its allegations within the context of what we think we know from other contemporary and near-contemporary historical sources. Just one word of caution -- read the "piece" as a whole; do not try to red-line out what your prejudice will not accept and then offer what is left as "fact." At least, that is how I myself hope to make future use of this fascinating historical document.
Oh Yes -- One Last Thing
Before I close out this section of my exposition, I'd like everybody to take another look at the top of the Browns' page 231. In fact, allow me to reproduce from there the graphic the Mesa Mormons so proudly insert into their massy tome:
Look very carefully at the sentence the Browns are pleased to give us respecting this unattributed picture: "The first time this Davison letter was published, the name D. R. Austin was not mentioned:
Oh my gosh! All I've written is worthless -- for the Browns have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that "the first time" the 1839 "piece" was published, it was finished off with a fake certificate so hastily scribbled that those Protestant priestcrafters had to go back in subsequent reprints and re-touch the stereo-type to hide their dastardly deed. Right?
Brethren and Cistern, I'm afraid that our erstwhile exposers of "the three researchers" will have to cut their fireside short at this point. For they themselves seemingly have been found "lying and lieing, in wait to deceive." Their graphic is a phony one, I'm sorry to say.
It took me awhile to catch the misrepresentation here, but eventually I figured it out. Recalling that the Browns tell me, on their page 226, that I should look in an 1839 issue of the Boston Recorder for "the first time" this thing was published, I found their graphic (as they might use the word) "suspect;" for I'd seen enough early nineteenth century newspapers to know that those papers' columns were generally too narrow to admit the wide lines of type shown in the Brownian blunder. I was able to get a copy of the 1839 Boston Recorder issues on microfilm from UMI (the nearby University of Michigan Library has most of their pricey microfilms, if you want cheaper copies), and below I reproduce the end of the Apr. 19, 1839 article (as printed out from the film reel) we have been hitherto discussing:
I was not, however, satisfied with just obtaining a microfilm print; so, after consulting the Library of Congress, the Boston Public Library, and the American Antiquarian Society Library, I was able to satisfy myself that the original hard-copy matched the microfilm print. Still not yet ready to call the Browns a couple of liars, I consulted all the 1839 reprints of the Storrs-Davison article I could lay my hands on -- publications like The Corsair, and the Family Magazine, and half a dozen other newspapers, including the offending Quincy Whig reprint which so upset President Sidney Rigdon back in May of 1839. The results? all early reprints matched the text of the print I have provided above. I cannot find a single reprint from the 1839-1842 era in which the text, as put forth by the Browns, is supported. The only reasonable conclusion I can reach -- unless somebody can show me wrong -- is that the Browns have either doctored up an old print they came across or have reproduced a print doctored by somebody else whose material they feel comfortable in reproducing.
Bad show, Bob and Rosie! First that bogus 1810 column in your page 225 tabluation and those bogus "NO" indicators in in the same listing, and now, just a couple of pages deeper into your own reporting and I'm finding this bogus piece of work on your page 231. That's two strikes against your team and we are nearing the bottom of the ninth. I'm afraid to the turn to your next page, for fear I'll find even more bogus reporting -- lying in wait to deceive me.
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
As I was Going to St. Ives...
Turning now to page 232 on Robert L. and Rosemary Brown's They Lie in Wait to Deceive II, I am faced with perhaps the most insidious misrepresentation in their whole book -- at least as far I have read it with my Holmesian magnifying glass in hand. Here the Browns reproduce their alleged typescript of Elder Jesse Haven's 1839 interview with Matilda Spalding Davison. This is a doctored version of the article; significantly and substantially different from what it said when it first appeared in the Quincy Whig of Nov. 16, 1839. For those of you who might not trust my transcript of the Whig print; for those who might mistrust my transcript of its 1840 reprint by Elder Benjamin Winchester; and for those of you who might mistrust my transcript of its 1841 reprint by Elder Charles B. Thompson, the best I can do is to direct you to yet another RLDS person's transcript of the January 1840 Nauvoo Times and Seasons.
I trust that by now, most readers have at least some hazy idea what the 1839 Haven article is. For those of you who have jumped to this section without reading what I've said above, a glance at my previous words, as found under the heading "A Leisurely Walk from Holliston to Hoptinkon," will be useful. Are we all together on this now? To summarize quickly, in the fall of 1839 Apostle Parley P. Pratt was in New York City and Brigham Young's youthful cousin, LDS missionary Jesse Haven, was passing through that city on his way to catch a ship to Liverpool. Either directly or indirectly, orders from the higher apostolic levels of the Mormon chain of command, sent Elder Haven backtracking through Massachusetts, probably through his home town of Holliston, all the way to Monson, the home of Solomon Spalding's widow.
So far I have uncovered no concrete proof that it was Brigham Young who personally sent his first cousin, the young missionary Jesse Haven, off to do proselytizing in Scotland (and later, along his way to the east, onto the strange side-stop in Monson, Massachusetts) sometime not long after Brigham himself laid hands upon Jesse and ordained him an elder, in Caldwell co., Missouri, on Jan. 10, 1839. It appears that Jesse left Missouri for his mission in the middle of February, at about the same time as his cousin Brigham quit that place for Quincy, Illinois. I suppose that Jesse traveled east to Illinois a few weeks after his sister Elizabeth arrived in Quincy, at the end of 1839, and that she was present to meet him upon his arrival there
Recall that Jesse's cousin was then President of the Quorum of Twelve of the LDS Church and was thus the head of the chain of command in both the domestic and the foreign mission fields. In March of 1839, having left his sister Elizabeth behind in Quincy, Illinois, missionary Jesse headed out from nearby Springfield with Elder Alexander Wright and other ordained companions who had been called to serve the LDS missionary program in places like Scotland. From that point onward Brigham Young was Jesse's "boss," in theory if not in practice. Exactly where Jesse was between March and September remains unknown. Presumably he, like many other LDS missionaries of that time, was wending his way to an eastern ports in preparation for the mass departure of those missionaries (including most of the Twelve) for England at years' end. Jesse may have been with Brigham Young during that late summer of 1839, but, more likely, he was on the road ahead of his apostolic master. The eastward traveling missionaries communicated with one another by letters and go-betweens. If missionary Jesse went to see Spalding's widow at Monson on his own initiative, without apostolic authorization, he would have almost certainly been breaking the rules associated with his calling -- almost as much so as if a young LDS missionary, out traveling to the mission field today, stopped along the way to catch his flight overseas and spent several hours in friendly chats with Ed Decker and Sandra Tanner.
Elder Jesse Haven's "Secret Mission" of 1839
In their telling of the story Robert L. and Rosemary Brown have allowed Jesse Haven's close family relationship to Brigham Young to remain unstated. Likewise, they seem to have suppressed the fact that Haven was on his way to serve an overseas mission for the LDS Church, when he unexplainedly stopped in to have a nice little chat with Solomon Spalding's widow, her foster child (Mrs. Matilda McKinstry), and her minster (Rev. Alfred Ely). Why is this so?
We might well guess that the Browns have no intention of informing their readers that Elder Jesse Haven, when he went to interview Spalding's widow at Monson in the early fall of 1839, was then on a secret assignment for the top leaders of the LDS Church. OK, of course -- I really should slow down here and explain myself. Why is it that I say "secret," instead of "open and above-board?" Well, for one thing, look at the rendering of the purported reprint on pages 232-33 of the Browns' TLIWTD-2 -- also glance again at my transcripts of articles in the Quincy Whig of Nov. 16, 1839 and in other issues from that period. Do we find in any of this even one word divulged as to Haven's religious affiliation and missionary status? or the affiliation and church office of his father, John? or that of his sister, Elizabeth? No doubt about it, many people in Quincy, Illinois back in those days would have understood that the submitter of the article, Alexander Badlam, was a high-ranking Mormon Elder (a Danite at Far West and later a member of the elite and secret Council of Fifty), but few non-Mormons would have automatically associated the Haven siblings (both recently arrived from Missouri) with the LDS Church. The editors and correspondents of the Whig apparently did not know this. The editors and correspondents of other publications reporting the interview, like the Cincinnati Monthly Record, apparently did not know this either. Also, I have found no reports of this interview in the press east of Cincinnati, save for a single excerpt in one Pittsburgh paper, nearly three years after the interview with Mrs. Davison and her guests was conducted by Elder Haven. The secret mission was carried out in the populous east, but its outcome was reported only in the western hinterland. How strange.
Consider also where the Mormon leadership chose to have Elder Haven's interview report first appear -- in a Gentile paper, the Quincy Whig. This was a newspaper that one knowledgeable old high official among Latter Day Saints, in speaking about this same Haven article, calls "a bitter anti-mormon journal." To tell the truth, up until about 1842, the Whigs in Illinois could be downright friendly to the Nauvoo Mormons. Their paper in Quincy was not too bitterly anti-Mormon in the fall of 1839 -- but just offensive enough that the LDS leadership could point to a favorable article in its columns and say, "See! Even the Whig says such-and-such! And they're not Mormons at all!" As RLDS Apostle Zenos H. Gurley, Jr. once said: "This evidence, coming from a purely outside source, and published in a 'Gentile' paper, unsolicited by 'Mormons,' should, we think, give it caste and credibility among the 'Gentile' world."
Well, maybe the Quincy Whig was not 100% "Gentile" and its staff was just a "little bit Mormon," if the truth be told; Elder Ebenezer Robinson was then a journalist at that paper, up until about the time that the Whig printed the Haven's interview. I suspect Robinson finagled getting Elder Alexander Badlam's missive into the paper's columns, well-knowing that he himself could later quote from this non-Mormon source, once he and the Mormon prophet's brother, Don Carlos Smith, finally got the Nauvoo Times and Seasons publishing on a regular basis. And, come to think of it, that's just what they did in the Jan. 1840 number. Read through the nineteenth century Mormon literature on this Haven article and notice how the LDS writers always take the trouble to credit its initial appeareance in the Quincy Whig, even when those same writers knew that a Times and Seasons citation would generally stand more trustworthy in the minds of the Saints.
That Troublesome Spalding Family Again!
I have another reason for calling Elder Haven's interview a "secret mission," however -- for that is more or less the way that the Rev. Alfred Ely described it in an article published in a mid-nineteenth century western Massachusetts newspaper. The only problem is, I currently have only a couple of short paraphrases and citations of Ely's piece, not an actual copy in my files. Therefore, I'll give you the next best thing: a reference to Rev. Ely's writings on the subject. John A. McKinstry, the son of the Widow Spalding's adopted child, this to say:
Mr. J. A. McKinstry of Longmeadow, a son of the late Dr. McKinstry of Monson, and grandson of Rev. Mr. Spaulding ... [and] Rev. Mr. Spaulding's widow, who afterward became Mrs. Davison... She died some twenty-five years ago, but before her death a plausible young man from Boston came to Monson to see and get the Spaulding writing. It was a time of considerable excitement concerning the Mormons, and he claimed to represent some Christian people who wanted to expose Mormonism... It is to be regretted that her family have not better preserved Mrs. Davison's recollections of her husband's writing, now forever lost to the world. Enough has been handed down, however, to establish beyond doubt the truth of the claim that here was a source of Joe Smith's "inspiration." Mrs. Davison's story has long been familiar to leading men of Monson, and so impressed was the late Rev. Dr. Ely with it that he prepared a considerable account of it years ago.
The above article was likely supplied for publication in the Spalding Memorial by one of the children of Matilda S. McKinstry, the girl raised ny Mr. amd Mrs. Solomon Spalding. Dr. John A. McKinstry was her son and his recollections, as partly quoted above, first appeared in a late August 1877 issue of the Springfield Republican. I've been too lazy to order a print of the original from the microfilm, but I have reprints in the Connecticut Palladium of Sept. 3, 1877 and the Syracuse Journal of the same date. The McKinstry article appeared just when Brigham Young was on his death-bed, so two or three eastern papers actually ended up running the story of Brigham's decline and death side-by-side with John's account. I presume that it was its appearance in this eye-catching context which spurred a few interested writers to re-examine and then re-activate investigations into the Spalding claims during the next few years: the last great spurt of Spalding claims publication ran from about 1879 to about 1888.
Attentive readers of the John A. McKinstry text I supply via my link, will notice that John has obviously conflated elements from both the 1833 visit of D. P. Hurlbut and the 1839 visit of Elder Jesse Haven into a single account. Although John speaks as if Elder Haven solicited and obtained samples of Solomon Spaldings extant writings in Monson in 1839, Haven is not known to have obtained any Spalding writings to carry back to Boston -- if indeed that is where he was when he began his jaunt to Monson. When D. P. Hurlbut had shown up at the same doorstep six years earlier, everyone knew he had arrived there from Ohio; he even brought along letters of recommendation from people in the west to give to the widow.
The Unexplained "Contradiction"
Remember what Elder B. H. Roberts said in the 1908 quote I provided above? Let's look at it again: "The statement of the Reverend Mr. Austin of course flatly contradicts that of Mrs. Davison; and when the contradiction is between a reverend gentleman on the one hand, and a venerable lady... on the other, one may be justified in declining the delicate task of determining on whose side the truth lies..." Or, in other words, Elder Roberts really saw no need no muddy his feet by wading into what he saw as a quagmire of "he says" vs "she says."
On the other hand, just where does Roberts see "the contradiction" he declines to investigate? Why, from his reading of the Quincy Whig Jesse Haven article, of course! But how can that interview possibly be shown to be any more reliable than the 1839 Austin interview? Did missionary Jesse even go to the trouble Rev. Austin had, to get the widow's signature? No, he did not -- I find nothing even hinting that he might have. Did missionary Jesse attach a certificate to his interview record like Rev. Austin had done? No, he did not. Did missionary Jesse get his interview record published in the regional papers, like Rev. Austin did back in Massachusetts? No, he did not. Did missionary Jesse ever supply a published clarification, like Rev. Austin supplied in 1841? No, he did not. Did missionary Jesse publicly announce that the notes he had taken during his interview were available for inspection, like Rev. Austin had published? No, he did not.
By what means can we Latter Day Saints hold up missionary Jesse's interview record as being any more reliable than the account published by Rev. Austin? Perhaps we could say, that since LDS missionaries do not tell lies, that the Mormon record must be more reliable than the non-Mormon one. Or, perhaps we could say that since top LDS officials never edit missionaries' reports for their own purposes, that Jesse's account remains unaltered from the time he first set it down on paper; but Rev. Austin's notes received all sorts of alterations when he wrote them up as a continious narrative. The only problem with our saying such a thing, is that one of the Havens (I rather think it was Jesse's father, John) says in the Quincy Whig that the answers missionary Jesse received from the Widow Spalding were not necessarily "given in the form I have written them." Putting a finer edge on the point, he thus admits doing just what Rev. Austin did. The only difference is that Rev. Austin no doubt inflated his interview with a dozen pulpit phrases, while Elder Haven's "several hours" in the McKinstry parlor with the widow produced no more dialog than might have been spoken there in five minutes.
Stop and think about it folks! If missionary Jesse had dug up any good dirt during his 1839 interview, wouldn't he have panned out all the gold and offered it for the Saints' consumption on the front page of the Nauvoo Times and Seasons? WIDOW SPALDING GRANTS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! -- POINTS OUT MIS-QUOTES IN DETAIL! -- NEVER SAID HER HUSBAND WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON!! -- Obviously the Haven interview produced little "gold" for Mormon consumption and the record of that event was consequently very much shortened -- but who "abridged the sanctioned record" here, Jesse? his father John? Apostle Pratt? Elder Badlam? or perhaps a top leader at Nauvoo?
The Browns' Own Bogus Affidavit
None of what I've said so far in this section of my exposition is all that startling, I suppose. Maybe the 1839 Haven interview report contains some facts and maybe it doesn't -- odds are that it does. After all, even a pro-Mormon article in an anti-Mormon newspaper out on the Illinois frontier might end up in the reading-rooms of Massachusetts one day -- best keep the text factual, even if severely truncated. Besides that, if Elder Ebenezer Robinson had his fingers in the Quincy Whig compositional pie at this juncture, I'd reckon the elder washed his saintly hands first: Robinson was a tolerably honest guy. I think we can say that the Haven article contains the truth, even though it might not be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
What gets my dander up is the fact the Browns have edited out the most momentous question and answer in the entire Haven report. In all other copies of the report (as printed in honest publications, at any rate) Elder Haven asks the widow if the content of her statement, as published in the April 19, 1839 Boston Recorder, was really what she had told Dr. Austin -- really what she had read, approved, and signed her name to when Austin finished his note-taking -- during his April interview. "Is what is written in the letter true?" Haven asks the widow. She reportedly answers "In the main it is."
What does that mean? What is "the letter" here in question -- is it Storrs' preface? or, is it the four paragraph account attributed to the widow herself? The former is indeed a letter, the latter is only a narrative. But, either way, an admission by Mrs. Davison of the validity of the Boston Recorder "piece" presents a problem for the Latter Day Saints.
"In the main" it is, hunh? I might ask an auto mechanic if a car is safe to take out on the road and drive. And he might answer: "In the main it is, but if I were you, I'd get that cracked rear-view mirror fixed." Or, I might ask my neighbor if her uncle's obituary, as published in last week's paper, is a truthful account. And she might answer: "Well, in the main it is, but they misspell his daughter's name and have him graduating from college a year late -- all the rest of the four paragraphs are correct."
Back when I enlisted in the Navy, not yet out of my teens, I bought a cheap life insurance policy from a traveling salesman. The front page was easily understandable; the last three pages were printed in type too small for me to read. I just assumed that they said more of the same stuff as was printed on page one and that the insurance company was saving money on paper by fitting all the rest of their agreement into the three back pages. I later lost the equity I'd built up in that policy over the course of five years, because I was 90 days late in paying one of the installments -- that stipulation was stated right there in the fine print on page three, but of course I had not bothered to read it.
We've already seen that the Browns either had no April 19, 1839 Boston Recorder on their desk when they wrote up their book -- or, if they did, they've been fibbing mightily to us. So, I guess the next question is, did they have a Nov. 16, 1839 Quincy Whig in their laps when they composed the bogus transcript, as published by them on pages 232-33? I have no idea what the answer to my rhetorical question is -- but I do know that they had a reasonably correct copy available when they typed of their transcript. In fact, they print the the same source copy on page 434 of their book.
Take a look at the wording on page 17 of the 1840 Winchester pamphlet reproduced by the Browns. That is, you can check it out if you have an electron microscope beside your easy chair. In a pinch, a pair of binoculars held small lenses to the page in the Browns' Appendix might work. At any rate, I suppose very few people have ever bothered to compare that minuscule reprint against the Browns' more readable version of the same, back on their page 232. To repeat: Haven asks if the April 19, 1839 Boston Recorder is telling the truth and the widow says something like, Yeah, pretty much so!
No wonder Bob and Rosie edited out the offending lines!
Shame on you two! -- And with the whole world watching, too!
Shame and double shame! -- What a bogus transcript!
"But, Mr. Broadhurst!" I hear a voice call out from the balcony, "didn't your own RLDS Apostle Gurley do just the same as the Browns have done? Check out that link you gave us to your July 15, 1875 Saints' Herald article!"
Yes, I admit it, Elder Gurley was just as embarrassed by Haven's allowing that little admission of the widow's to remain in his notes as Bob and Rose were when they typed up their book. But Gurley merely cuts off the whole top of the interview and begins his quotation after the offending lines; that's marginally more honest than what Robert and Rosemary have done. It puzzles me how the two Mesa Mormons could have summoned up the fortitude to pull this hunk of wool over the Saints' eyes. And yet, I must admit that they are not the first Mormon apologists who have tried to get away with this particular stunt.
Yes, fans, we are in the bottom of the ninth. And yes, the third strike against the visiting team is imminent. But, let me tell you what I'm gonna do. Since bases aren't loaded and since Dr. Hugh Nibley isn't standing on third; I'll walk the Browns over to first base on this particular "error." What is it that the ghetto kid says in West Side Story? "I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived?" Before we are too hard on Brother and Sister Brown, let's all admit that they've had some terrible role models to follow, and on this very same issue -- "mutilating" the Haven statement, as A. Theodore Schroeder once called it. And, if I recall correctly, Brigham H. Roberts had to do some very fancy tap-dancing to get around Mr. Schroeder's objections back in 1908.
The Browns' Bad Role Models
Everybody got your seatbelts fastened? Good; set the Way-back Machine to the year 1850, Sherman, and we're off to France! See that man in the suit and tie up there at the podium? That's Apostle John Taylor from America. He's in a debate with some Protestant clergymen and he's just been asked about John C. Bennett's old remarks: Is there any polygamy among the Mormons? --- "We are accused here of polygamy!!" Why, no! Certainly not! I'm shocked, yes shocked, that you should ever ask such a question -- why, it says right here in our own "Doctrine and Covenants" that a man in this church can only have one wife!
After practicing polygamist John Taylor blasted his opponents with that Saintly ballyhoo, he obviously had no qualms about doctoring up the Jesse Haven interview, "just a touch":
Question. -- Is what that letter contains true?
Answer: There are some things that I told him.
Question. -- Have you read the Book of Mormon?
Answer: I have read a little of it.
"Question. -- Is there any similarity between Mr. Spaulding's manuscript and the Book of Mormon? Answer: NOT ANY...
"Question. -- Put to Mrs. McKinestry [sic]...
Do you think that there is any similarity between the manuscript and the Book of Mormon?
Answer: NO; NOT A WORD!
Ah! But that was long ago and far away. Dale R. Broadhurst has edited out all the parts which might possibly provide a fig-leaf for the future President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to hide his shame behind. And, besides that, maybe Taylor was translating into and out of the French -- or maybe his words got misprinted when the Church paid to have that pamphlet published. Yeah -- and maybe it'll be snowing in the Saraha this summer also.
Ready again? -- Mr. Peabody will now take us in the Way-back Machine to the year 1879. We're going to the Deseret News editorial office in Salt Lake City, boys and girls. See that copy-writer over there wearing the green eye-shade? He has to be very careful when he writes his articles and gets them set up for the editorial page, because that's where the Prophet and the Brethren address the Saints in Zion. Let's go look over his shoulder for a minute.
... an interview was held with Mrs. Davieson, and her daughter, Mrs. McKinstry, a report of which was published in the Quincy, (Ills.) Whig, from which we extract the following:
Q. -- Have you read the Book of Mormon?
A. -- I have read a little of it.
Q. -- Is there any similarity between Mr. Spaulding's manuscript and the Book of Mormon?
A. -- Not any...
Mrs. McKinstry corroborated Mrs. Davieson in every particular.
Sigh! Just like that RLDS apostle, four years before, the LDS journalist pulls the same trick -- he cuts off that very bothersome admission by Spalding's widow -- the one in which Mrs. Davison announces that when she told Dr. Austin that her husband once wrote a book much like the Book of Mormon, she was subsequently "in the main" quoted correctly in the newspaper. But the Utah Mormon newspaperman outdoes his Reorganite cousin when he screws up his courage to the point of actually tampering with what little of the 1839 text still remains upon his cutting board.
I'll chalk up the Browns' forgery of bogus transcripts to ignorance, bad role modeling, and a latter day power of discernment that probably fell off the wagon somewhere between Winter Quarters and Fort Bridger. Oliver Cowdery was drummed out of the Church in 1838 for "counterfeiting," among other things. And Apostle Hyde said that the bogus money making ended in Nauvoo when Sidney Rigdon and his followers left town in 1844. This kind of thing has been going on since 1829, when Book of Mormon witness Hiram page was issuing fake revelations to the fearful faithful from a phony peepstone.
Robert L. and Rosemary Brown are just doing what they and others before them have been knowingly allowed to get away with ever since the fall of 1838 at Far West, when 'THE EDITOR' of the Church's Elders' Journal prevaricated in his column that Warren Parrish had stolen all the cash out of the Kirtland bank, and then, in essence, went on to brand Martin Harris a white nigger. Hey, we all make mistakes, even unsaintly racist ones, right? No doubt the Browns simply took hold of a literary rod of iron forged by somebody like Elder George Reynolds way back in, say, 1883, and thus they have ended up in their miserable predicament today. But, as we used to say, "anything to keep 'em in the Church!"
Intro. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
The Sister Brittain Affair
We're near the end now, friends -- just one more river to cross. So gird up your loins and fresh courage take, and we'll soon have this puppy licked. The last item I'd like to direct your attention to is a lot like the second one. You remember: some obscure person joining the Church and claims being circulated about that person being a direct descendant from some famous person from the past. And then our finding out that the claimed descendant's bloodline didn't seem to match up with that well-known figure from the history books. And what did the questionable latter day relative do after that? Oh yes -- left the Church only a few months after being baptized. Yeah -- that's the story. Now, let's tell it all again. But this time maybe just a smidgen of egg will end up on the faces of the Browns.
On pages 248, 455 & 456 of their book full of non-Mormon caricatures and anti-anti-Mormon cartoons, our favorite apologists from Arizona tell us that (gasp!) Solomon Spalding had a "granddaughter, Mrs. Sonie E. Brittain" who found the faith, repented, was baptized for the remission of her sins, and "joined the LDS Church." That sounds impressive. Kind of like Joseph Stalin's daughter moving to America or kind of like Joseph Smith's son renouncing polygamy. It must have been a great human interest story in Zion back in October of 1908, hunh?
However, as we've seen them do before, the dexterous right hand of the Browns giveth while the sinister left hand taketh away. Our Arizona apologists here give us the faith-promoting Liahona article of Oct. 17, 1908, while never telling us about the related articles of June 6 and June 13, 1908. Had they done so, the Browns would have been forced to spell Mrs. Brittain's first name as the editor of that publication did many times over (as "Louie E. Brittain" or "Mrs. Louie E. Brittain"). And, having the lady's correct name in hand we might pull enough tricks out of the genealogist's hat to track her down in the public records and figure out who she really was.
Here are a few questions for the Browns. When you went to the fifth floor of the Joseph Smith building adjacent to Temple Square, and pulled out the family group sheets and the multi-generation book of remembrance for "Sonie" and her family, what did you find? How about her temple work? Solomon Spalding has undergone proxy baptism, marriage, and endowment -- what of "Sonie?" Or, failing that, when you checked out her records at the LDS Family Search website, who did you find listed as her brothers and sisters? as her husband and children? as her mother and father? Just how long was she on the Boston branch records? What callings did she hold? Where did her sons go on their missions? I wonder.
And why is it, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, that having given us, your readers, that first part of the Oct. 17, 1908 article, you neglect to give us the remainder? Is it perhaps because "Sonie" there admits that she is "the great-grand-daughter of Solomon Spaulding" only "by adoption and marriage." I thought you told me that she was his "granddaughter?" Well then, which is it? Grand-daughter or great-grand-daughter? Yes, yes, I know that she herself mixes up her words in that regard -- but, at the very least, you might have had the courtesy to tell us that, right?
But, he had NO Posterity!
I am disappointed in you, Bob and Rosie. In all your seeming self-righteous, raucous rhetoric aimed in the direction of Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey, you are indignant that he proved no blood-line back to Oliver. On page 53 of TLIWTD-2 you tell us in words so blaring that we cannot miss your message, that "OLIVER COWDREY HAD NO POSTERITY!!! -- Did Solomon Spalding?
Oliver and his wife at least had real children, one of whom lived to marry and have a life of her own. Did Solomon Spalding and his wife have real children of their own? No. What about Oliver's alleged bastard children? According to Linda Cowdery Sandahl's "The Mystery of the Cowderys," Oliver Cowdery may have had three children not listed among his immediate descendants in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine of July, 1935 (p. 106). Mrs. Sandahl says: "According to the Reorganized Church, Oliver had children but by another wife. Was there really a seven-year old 'John Cowdery,' a three-year-old 'Jane Cowdery' and a 'Joseph Smith Cowdery,' who would have been one at that time [in 1839]?" (People Finders, April 1986, p. 30, available at: LDS Family History Library, US/CAN 0173.D25pf). You may also wish to download Linda's gedcom file for parts of the Cowdery family tree, as posted on-line at Ancestry.com.
You two Arizona family history antiquarians disregard the old claims placed on the table in 1893 as legal evidence for Oliver's alleged bastard Cowdery children, correct? (see Charles Millard Turner's "Joseph Smith III and the Mormons of Utah," chap. 7, esp. note 190; as well as the testimony presented in the Temple Lot Case (Lamoni, IA: Herald Press, 1893). So, I suppose that if someone tried to tie Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey to his ancestral relative Oliver by that sort of questionable lineage connection, you two would loudly object, right Bob and Rosie?
Or, going down a parallel pathway, if somebody actually tried to tie Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey back to Oliver H. P. Cowdery through Oliver's adopted (or foster) daughter, Adeline M. Fuller "Cowdery" (who, on Apr. 10, 1845, married Mr. John Bernard of Tiffin, Senaca co., Ohio), would you not also object to that, Mr. and Mrs. Brown? I mean, if that particular Adeline -- Oliver's adopted or foster child -- had offspring before she married Mr. Bernard, and had given those children the Cowdery name -- and Mr. Wayne L. Cowdrey now tried to claim descent through that assumed lineage -- you would still fault him as not being actually descended through Oliver's true bloodline and genuine posterity, correct?
Following Suit or Trump
(Paternity Suit, That Is)
So, what are we to do with the problem of Matilda Spalding McKinstry (b. Jan 17, 1805 [Otsego Co.?] NY; d. Sept. 17 1891, Longmeadow, Hampden co., MA)? Although she is generally referred to in the history books as their "adopted daughter," I can find no documentation of her having been legally adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Spalding. I assume she was either an informally adopted child or a foster child. What was it that one of Solomon's friends once said? "A child of fair complexion and about fourteen years of age, lived with them here, [in Amity, PA up until 1817 when the widow left] think she was their daughter as she bore the Spaulding name." Again, Charles Warren Spalding, in his 1897 The Spalding Memorial, says Solomon Spalding married "Matilda Sabin, of Pomfret, Conn. They had no children, but adopted one" (page 260). Arthur B. Deming, who personally interviewed Matilda Spalding McKinstry, called her the Spaldings' "adopted daughter, who is still living." I have in my possession several more prmary references of the same kind in both published and unpublished soures, if anyone cares to see them.
As I already pointed out, Louie (aka "Sonie") admits she is not a blood descendant of Solomon Spalding. The Browns hide this admission from their readers, so that those readers will not do exactly what I am here doing -- that is, pointing out both the Mesa Mormons shoddy scholarship and the fact that each thing we find that those two have suppressed or falsified always seems to serve their cause -- just so long as it remains safely hidden or unsuspectingly altered.
As we leave this so-called Mormon "grand-daughter" of Solomon Spalding (a girl who is actually the adopted or foster child of Spalding's grand-son through adoption, John A. McKinstry, Sr. of Hampden co., MA) we find her, in the pages of the Liahona, agonizing aloud over her plight -- of having to choose between staying in the Church or staying with her husband, Mr. Brittain. Unless the Browns care to show that their "Sonie" did remain a Mormon, I can only conclude that the disappearance of her name from LDS publications after 1908 betokens her resignation, permanent inactivity, or excommunication. In any case, I do not see her remaining an active LDS for any longer than Wayne L. Cowdery was a Mormon in good standing. How is it that the Browns are able to get away with casting their vexatious verbal brickbats at Mr. Cowdrey, while they themselves are all the while living with "Sonie" in the proverbial house of glass? I wonder?
"Sonie" -- the adopted grandchild of yet another adopted child -- her true story and true family history safely hidden away by the Mesa Mormons. I do not question her sincerity or piety -- but, Bob and Rosie, how warped a web you two have woven! For shame!
Suppressed Rigdonian Dirt
As I was reading and re-reading those interesting articles in the 1908 Liahona, I kept having the feeling I was missing something else there, something important that Robert L. and Rosemary Brown did not want me to see. Were they actually such sloppy researchers as to have passed over two and a half parts out of this tightly clustered set of three interrelated articles, or had they looked them over and consciously decided not to tell their readers what they discovered there? Finally I saw what else it was that the Browns must have found so troublesome during their own reading in the Liahona.
Do you remember how, back on their page 226, Bob and Rosie told us about a "letter in reply to Mrs. Davison's letter" that President Rigdon "fired off" to somebody or another? They neglect to tell us exactly at whom Sidney Rigdon did his firing. Isn't that a bit odd, in a book wherein we are told, on page after page, exactly where to find hundreds of sources proving the anti-Mormons are a pack of deceivers?
On pages 246-248 of TLIWTD-2 the Browns reproduce that same Sidney Rigdon letter, this time giving us a clue as to its original publication -- at least we are informed that it "was written on May 27, 1839." I tracked down the original publication of the thing, in the Quincy Whig of June 8, 1839, and placed a transcript of the same on-line. The Browns' verrsion of the text is tolerably accurate -- that is, if you do not mind the fact that they have left out big chunks of Rigdon's text. For your reading pleasure, I'll insert here the missing pious counsel from this latter day prophet, seer, and revelator. Right after President Rigdon gives his word of wisdom concerning the proper action of a "man of character," he goes on to tell us a little bed-time story:
A would never have put his name to a work which Hulburt was concerned in. But while Hulburt was busily employed in the service of the company, old deacon Clapp was employed in taking care of his wife. How many others of the company aided in this business must be left to futurity to disclose. At a certain time, Hulburt being out till a late hour in the night, returned to his house, and in going to his bed room where his wife was. Behold and Lo! there was the pious old deacon, either in the bed with his wife, or at the side of it. He had a five dollar bank note in his hand, and his dress was rather light, to suit the Doctor's taste; for he was not quite as well off as was Aaron, when he offered sacrifice; not even having on a pair of "linen breeches." Hulburt laid hold of him and called for help, which soon came to his assistance. The pious old deacon was arraigned before a justice of the peace, and was on the eve of being bound over for his appearance to the county court, when to put an end to the evils which might result from his pious care of Mrs. Hulburt, he kindly offered a yoke of oxen and a hundred dollars; this was accepted. Hulburt took his wife and left the country forthwith, and the pious old deacon and his sons and the good Mr. Bentley, are left to wear out the shame of their great effort to destroy the character of innocent men, whom they never dare meet in argument.
OK, I think I understand the Browns' concerns here. I've been in LDS homes where the book of J. Golden Kimball stories is placed on the top shelf, out of reach of the youngsters' curious eyes. When the First Counselor in the Church's First Presidency tells bedtime tales like Uncle Sidney tells, I suppose they should be edited out of books meant for a family audience. I do not fault the Browns for leaving out the normally expected ellipses, showing where they deleted this hunk of pornography from President Rigdon's fiery missive. They provided the little dots in the first paragraph -- that is enough to convey to me the fact that somebody has edited the letter. Besides which, it appears that our redoubtable researchers have here presented a previously published print -- one in which a saintly predecessor performed the necessary textual tamperings.
What does bother me, however, is that the Browns sanitize that First Counselor Sidney Rigdon's remarks, just where we might otherwise distressingly discover that the LDS leader is telling lies in public. The hunk of text that the Browns (or their source) carefully deleted in their reproduction of Rigdon's opening paragraph reads thusly:
In your paper of the 18th inst. I see a letter signed my somebody, calling herself Matilda Davidson, pretending to give the origin of Mormonism, as she is pleased to call it, by relating a moonshine story about a certain Solomon Spalding, a creature with the knowledge of whose earthly existence, I am entirely indebted to this production; for surely, until Doctor Philastus Hurlburt informed me that such a being lived, at some former period, I had not the most distant knowledge of his existence; and all I now know about his character is, the opinion I form from what is attributed to his wife, in obtruding my name upon the public in the manner in which she is said to have done it, by trying to make the public believe, that I had knowledge of the ignorant, and according to her own testimony, the lying scribblings of her deceased husband; for if her testimony is to be credited, her pious husband, in his life time, wrote a bundle of lies, for the righteous purpose of getting money. How many lies he had told for the same purpose while he was preaching, she has not so kindly informed us; but we are at liberty to draw our own conclusions; for he that would write lies to get money, would also preach lies for the same object. This being the only information which I have, or ever had, of this said Rev. Solomon Spalding, I, of necessity have but a very light opinion of him as a gentleman, a scholar, or a man of piety; for had he been either, he certainly would have taught his pious wife not to lie, nor unite herself with adulterers, liars, and the basest of mankind.
Contradictions and Lies
Do you see the contradiction and the lie here? Recall that in her 1839 Boston Recorder statement, Spalding's widow says that her late husband's "sole object in writing this historical romance was to amuse himself and his neighbors." She does not say that he wrote his stories in order to sell them and make money. In fact, the widow would have been embarrassed at the suggestion that her husband would do such a thing as to write anything vaguely resembling the Book of Mormon and then expect to make money from its sales. Possibly the widow is covering something over here -- for an early Latter Day Saint who spoke to the Rev. Robert Patterson of Pittsburgh informs us that the widow herself attempted to sell some of her husband's writings, for publication, after his death. Be that as it may, the point I am here trying to make is that the widow says nothing like this, in anything attributed to her -- ever. Except, as President Rigdon attributes something to her: "Matilda Davison... if her testimony is to be credited, her pious husband in his life time, wrote a bundle of lies for the righteous purpose of getting money."
I see now why our Mormon friends edited out Sidney Rigdon's malicious lie. I'd be tempted to edit it out of my own family-oriented, faith-promoting books as well. However, when I began this final sub-section of my exposition, I spoke of the Browns suppressing some very informative material from the old Liahona. Allow me now to explain what I was talking about.
In the Liahona of June 6, 1908 the LDS editor or staff writer has this to say about Solomon Spalding:
There is no reason for supposing that Rev. Solomon Spaulding was other than a worthy and conscientious Christian. He was the author of a story which was harmless in itself, and was in his grave years before harm was made out of it by alleging that it was the material out of which the Book of Mormon was constructed... In the controversial literature that has grown up around this book the name of Solomon Spaulding is used so frequently and prominently, though with no discredit to him...
Again, a week later, the Mormon magazine writer makes the same point:
For about half a century opponents of the Book of Mormon persisted in asserting that it, or the manuscript which formed of it, was originally written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a native of Ashford, Conn., said to have graduated from Dartmouth college, New Hampshire, who followed different vocations at different times and was for some years a minister. He resided in various places in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, always bore a good reputation so far as appears, and died in the latter state in 1816.
So, what does an official magazine of the missionary wing of the LDS Church tell us about Solomon Spalding? Among other things, we are informed that Spalding was:
2. a conscientious Christian
3. an author of harmless stories
4. a person not to be discredited
5. a graduate from a prestigious college
6. a man was able to work at several vocations
7. a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ
8. a man who always bore a good reputation
But what does President Rigdon have to say about the same Solomon?
02. he wrote lying scribblings
03. he wrote lies to make money
04. nobody knows how many lies he preached
05. he would preach lies to make money
06. The First Presidency had a very light opinion of him
07. he was not much of a gentleman
08. he was not much of a scholar
09. he was not a man of piety
10. he neglected to teach his wife God's laws
11. as a result this neglect she united with adulterers
12. both he and his wife were liars
13. he dressed up his lies with a great deal of piety
14. he is a deceased priest [meaning, priestcrafter]
15. he deceived people with false glossings of Rev'd sanctions
President Sidney Rigdon was much more than the equivalent of a modern top General Authority in the LDS Church. For many years he was Joseph Smith Jr.'s number one "right hand man." God spoke to him directly in D&C sections professed by millions to be scripture down to this very day. He partook of heavenly ecstasies in company with the President of the High Priesthood -- including a face-to-face meeting with Jesus Christ in "open vision." President Rigdon many times served at the acting President of the Church in Smith's absence. For example, for several weeks while Joseph Smith was still confined in Liberty Jail, during 1838-39, President Rigdon was out of prison, free, conducting the business of the Church in Illinois and supervising people like Bishop Whitney, Bishop Partridge and Brigham Young. In fact, his May 25, 1839 letter to the Quincy Whig was written not many days after Rigdon handed the management of the Church back over to the direct control of the recently-escaped jailbird, President Joseph Smith, jr.
President Rigdon's 1839 discernment of the true character of Solomon Spalding must probably be taken by the LDS with far greater weight attached to it than might be the opinions of a lowly service missionary and magazine staff writer working for the Church in 1908.
Again, thanks for editing out all these offensive, contradictory, and bewildering sentences from Rigdon's 1839 letter and from the Liahona's 1908 articles, back when you typed up your book, Bob and Rosie. It appears that out of all your readers only one of them has seen the problems evident here. You were kind enough to spare the rest of the flock the displeasure of having to work these things out in their own minds, I suppose.
My Parting Thoughts
I really did not set out to compile a laundry list of things I didn't like about the Browns' book. If it appears that I have done such a thing, please forgive my zeal in attempting to show some problems in their work and to right what I believe to be some serious, long-standing wrongs. At the end of the day, I suppose it really does not matter whether Solomon Spalding ever wrote a word of the Book of Mormon. The LDS Church and various aspects of Latter Day Saintism will continue onward into the future, growing and evolving, no matter how much the movement may appear to be helped or hurt, along the way, by people like Mr. and Mrs. Brown (or even by Dale R. Broadhurst, for that matter). I do not talk about the Browns in order to discourage people from becoming Mormons; I talk about such things to help keep those who are already Mormons from becoming even greater fools than some of us already are.
An old Latin saying, translated into English, reads: "Truth is mighty and shall prevail." The Nauvoo Times and Seasons paraphrased that maxim at the top of the front page of each issue. Its sister publication, the Nauvoo Wasp, carried an even more poignant version of the same thought: "Truth, crushed to the Earth, will rise again!" Let us hope that, sooner or later, that indeed will be the case when it comes to our telling the Latter Day story -- so that we may carry out this important trust with honorable intentions and a clean conscience.
Will the people at FAIR read this exposition past the Introduction? I doubt it. Will they take the trouble to make any adjustments to the Browns' on-line texts? I wonder about that also. But then again, it was neither my hope nor my intention to get the Browns to change a word of their text. I have every reason to believe that things will remain exactly as they are, and that the errors and misrepresentations will remain, lying in wait to deceive for many years to come. And the rest -- is Silence.