- Dale R. Broadhurst's SPALDING RESEARCH PROJECT -
The Dale R. Broadhurst Spalding Papers
Paper #13: The Lost Works of Solomon Spalding.
Introduction: Additional Spalding Manuscripts | Part I: Did Spalding Write a Lost Tribes Story?
The Lost Works of Solomon Spalding
Was a Spalding Lost Tribes Story Recovered in 1833?
Evidence for the Recovery of a Spalding "Ten Lost Tribes" Manuscript
Under Construction: Some links may not yet be functional.
Take for example, the several early reports that say Spalding wrote a lost tribes book containing the name "Nephi." Is such testimony simply the result of over-active imaginations, prompting from D. P. Hurlbut, and a desire to attack Mormonism; or could it have some basis in fact? When Spalding was examining mound-builder remains and artifacts in the Conneaut area he and others were struck by the fact that some of the bones of those long-forgotten people were very large. This appears to indicate that at least some of those people were tall, robust specimens of humanity who might almost be called giants. If Spalding turned to his biblical commentary or scriptural dictionary to find some term to describe such people, he would have naturally run across the word Nephilim, a Hebrew designation for certain terrible men of imposing stature. How natural it would have been for Spalding to have incorporated such a word into a tale of the lost tribes of Israel coming to live along the shore of Lake Erie and burying their dead giants in mounds along the banks of Conneaut Creek. And how natural it would have been for a vindictive D. P. Hurlbut to have directed the eyes of his lecture attendees to terms like this in a Spalding work and then to their lexicographic counterparts in the "Mormon Bible."
The explanation I'm advocating here would also account for the fact that Hurlbut must have disposed of any such biblical-style manuscript after having fired up some initial interest. He couldn't have kept on displaying it forever, unless it matched up in great detail with the Book of Mormon, In my theory, once he got some initial interest aroused among the local Anti-Mormons, he got rid of the biblical-style work and relied on other methods to attack the Mormons. This theory would also account for the rumors that he had recovered the original text for the Book of Mormon and then sold it to the Mormons. A brief review of the activities and document sales of the modern criminal, Mark Hofmann, are enough to arouse the suspicion that certain Kirtland Mormons would have been just as eager in 1834 to purchase possibly harmful documents as they are nowadays. I can well imagine an ignorant but well intentioned Mormon like Martin Harris paying a nice sum of cash for such a piece of work and then committing it to the flames after having read only a page or two and seeing a "Nephilim" here, a "Labanco" there, and a "and it came to pass" decorating more than one sentence in the manuscript.
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last updated: Oct. 24, 2000
Adapted from footnote #5, from my unpublished paper:
"The Secular and the Sacred . . ." May 1982
Exactly what Spalding material was recovered by Hurlbut and exhibited in his 1833-34 lectures remains debatable. It is certain that he recovered the *untitled Spalding Ms now in the Oberlin College Archives, and that along with the Ms he brought back what appears to be an undated and unfinished or draft copy of a letter written in Spalding's handwriting and containing a *statement of his views on religion. The summary on *page 299 of the Howe book matches the essentials, if not all the pariculars, of the Oberlin Ms. This is clearly the same work read by Spalding's brother Josiah in 1812 and described by him in his *letter to George Chapman, dated Jan. 6, 1855, cit. Samuel J. Spalding, The Spalding Memorial (Boston: Alfred Budge & Son, 1872) pp. 160-162. The story remembered and summarized by Josiah after more than forty years differs considerably from one recalled by Solomon's friends and relatives as little as twenty years after [their] encountering it. Others who read Spalding's story, whether in Ohio, or later in Pennsylvania, recalled a tale of Israelite colonization of America which read very much like parts of the Book of Mormon and which contained similar or identical character names.
A Kirtland Justice of the Peace, John C. Dowen, claimed that Hurlbut recovered this Israelite story and exhibited the Ms during his first lectures in Kirtland following his return from the east. This appears to have been at the Kirtland Methodist Church in late December, 1833. Dowen further claimed to have personally compared this Ms to the Book of Mormon and found their historical narratives to have been the same. * Statement of J. C. Dowen, Jan. 20, 1885, Willoughby, Ohio. Original in Deming Chicago file.
Another Ohio resident, James A. Briggs, confirmed Dowen's testimony in a *March, 1875 letter to writer John Codman. Briggs claimed to have seen Hurlbut exhibit a Spalding Ms with names and features identical with those in the Book of Mormon, cit. John Godman's "Mormonism," The International Review XI (Sept., 1881) pp. 222-223. Briggs expanded this odd testimony in his *January 29, 1886 letter to the New York Tribune and in a *March 22, 1886 letter to Joseph Smith III, adding that Hurlbut initially exhibited both the Ms cited by Howe and a second Ms greatly resembling the Book of Mormon, at the home of Warren Corning, jr. in Mentor, following his return from the east, cit. Naked Truths About Mormonism 1, Jan. 1888. Briggs reaffirmed this testimony in a *letter to the N.Y. Watchman, cit. Chicago Daily Tribune Oct. 2, 1886. As late as 1888 Briggs was promoting the idea that there had been at least two Spalding works and that the one given to Howe was not the same as the one greatly resembling the Book of Mormon, New York Times Feb. 27, 1888.
A third Ohio resident, Charles Grover, heard Hurlbut lecture in the Willoughby town hall in late 1833 or early 1834 and was invited to examine a Ms exhibited by Hurlbut that contained historical narrative the reader thought to be identical to the Book of Mormon. Soon afterward he attended a Hurlbut lecture in Painesville where the Ms was again shown to the public. *Charles Grover's Statement, Willoughby, Ohio, Mar. 5, 1885, cit. Naked Truths 2. Apr. 1888.
Finally, a fourth witness, Jacob Sherman, remembered attending a Hurlbut lecture at the local Presbyterian church in Kirtland at which Hurlbut publicly compared the Book of Mormon to a Spalding Ms containing what he affirmed to the same historical narrative, *Jacob Sherman's Statement, Willoughby, Ohio, Feb. 24, 1885, cit. Naked Truths 2. Regarding the veracity of the statements collected or cited by Arthur B. Deming in his Naked Truths About Mormonism newspaper see: Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reappraised," BYU Studies X:3 (Spring 1970) pp. 283-314 and Rodger I. Anderson, "Joseph Smith's Early Reputation Revisited," Journal of Pastoral Practice IV:3 (Fall 1980) pp. 71-108 and IV:4 (Winter 1980) pp. 72-105.
Statement of J. C. Dowen
Jan. 20, 1885, ((Under construction))
James A. Briggs,
71 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn N.Y.
(Letter to the Editor
dated March, 1875)
My Dear Sir, --
I regret that I have not been successful in obtaining a copy of "Mormonism Unvailed," -- a book written and published by Mr. Howe, of Painesville, Ohio, some forty years ago, and written when the headquarters of Mormonism were at Kirtland, Ohio. In the winter of 1833-34, a self-constituted committee of citizens of Willoughby, Mentor, and Painesville met a number of times at the house of the late Mr. Warren Corning, of Mentor, to investigate the Mormon humbug. At one of the meetings we had before us the original manuscript of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who came to Ashtabula County, Ohio, from Monson, Mass. It was entitled, "The [Lost Tribes]: or, The Manuscript Found." It was obtained from Mr. Patterson, or Peterson, a publisher of Pittsburfg, Pa., with whom negotiations had once been made towards its publication. 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.
In 1833 Joseph Smith was prosecuted by a man by the name of Hurlbut, I think, for assault and battery. I was a law student at the time in Willoughby, and was for the prosecution. The case was before a Justice of the Peace in Painesville, Ohio. The matter attracted a great deal of curiousity. The court was held in the old Methodist Church in Painesville, and the Justice who issued the warrant against the Mormon Prophet invited another Justice of the Peace to sit with him. Judge Bissell was the attorney for the Prophet. The trial lasted three days, and the church was filled to overflowing. During the examination of Smith, he gave the history of the finding of the golden plates of the Mormon Bible, how he was kicked by the Devil when he uncovered the plates and stooped down to get them. It was an interesting story; and, although it had nothing to do with the case under investigation, the Court, his own attorney, and the people all desired to hear the narration, and it came out under oath. Smith, Hyde, Pratt, and all the leaders of the faithful were there, except the ablest and most eloquent man among them all, -- the Rev. Sidney Rigdon. He had been a Baptist minister, and was a man of great natural eloquence. He is yet living, and, I think, could tell something about how the Mormon Bible was manufactured, if he would.
I guess, in my speech to the Court in the case, I must have been rather hard on the Prophet and his testimony and Mormonism, as I was told that one of his brethren said, "If it was not for his religion, he would whip that young Briggs." I was not whipped. Smith was bound over; and Mormonism, persecuted, mobbed, turned out, has flourished.
James A. Briggs
Comments on Briggs' 1875 Letter:
Briggs marrs his testimony with two (and perhaps more) errors when he says that Spalding came to Ohio from Monson, Massachusetts and when he gives the name of the Pittsburgh printer as possibly being "Petersen." Such mistakes in his relation of what he believes to be the facts throws the reliability of his entire statement into question. But, granting that Briggs may have heard of Spalding's daughter having taken up residence in Monson, and not having the Howe book before him to confirm the surname of Patterson, he probably made an honest effort to present his story to the best of his recollection. The matter related here of the most interest to the reader must be, "Did someone from among the group meeting at the Corning house (or one of their associates) obtain anything from any of the Patterson family of Pittsburgh, and, if so, what was obtained and how was it conveyed to Ohio?"
If D. P. Hurlbut visited Pittsburgh during his 1833 evidence gathering journey to Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts, there is no record of his activities there in Howe or any other known source on Mormon history. Howe, on page 289 of his book, does admit to somehow gaining a small amount of information on this subject by someone "applying to Patterson & Lambdin, in Pittsburgh," but does not say whether this was done directly by their making a personal appearance in Pittsburgh, or indirectly through use of the post or some other means. Howe goes on to say that the printing and book sales establishment of Patterson & Lambdin "was dissolved and broken up many years since, and Lambdin died about eight years ago." Howe concludes his report on this "application" to Pittsburgh by saying, "Mr. Patterson says he has no recollection of any such manuscript being brought there for publication." Regretably he does not say which Mr. Patterson conveyed that information to the Anti-Mormons of northern Ohio, but presumably it must have been either Robert, sr. or his brother, Joseph. If Robert Patterson, sr. was the one who supposedly sent a Spalding manuscript from his shop to Ohio, there is no record of that transaction anywhere but in Briggs' relation of . And it seems most improbable that Robert Patterson, sr. would have sone such a thing and not spoken of it in his statement regarding events forty years in the past.
New York Tribune
January 31, 1886
James A. Briggs, Brooklyn
Letter to the Editor
dated Jan. 29, 1886
HOW IT CAME INTO THE POSSESSION OF L. L. RICE
NOW OF HONOLULU
To the Editor of the Tribune:
SIR: A special dispatch in your paper from Chicago says that the manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding, who was born in Ashford, Conn., in 1761, graduated at Dartmouth in 1785, and who in 1809 moved to Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, had been found by L. L. Rice, of Honolulu, Sandwitch Islands, formerly of Ohio.
In 1840 Mr. Rice was the Editor of The Painesville Telegraph. a Whig paper, formerly owned by E. E. Howe, the author of the book "Mormonism Unvailed, printed in 1835 by him. In a letter to me dated Honolulu, Dec. 4, 1885, Mr. Rice says: "After the death of my wife in 1877, at Oberlin, I came out here to be with my daughter Mary (Mrs. Dr. Whitney). I have a pleasant home here-- am in good health for a man now eighty-five." This is the Mr. Rice from whom the news comes to you of the manuscript of Spaulding.
In the winter of 1833-34, a self-constituted committee, consisting of Judge Allen, Dr. Card, Samuel Wilson, Judge Latham, W. Corning and myself, met at Mr. Corning's house, in Mentor, now known as Garfield Farm, to investigate Mormonism and the origin of the Mormon Bible. Dr. D. P. Hurlbut. whose name is mentioned in the article in your paper this morning, was employed to look up testimony. He was present with the committee and had Spaulding's original manuscript with him. We compared it, chapter by chapter with the Mormon Bible. It was written in the same style; many of the names were the same, and we came to the conclusion, from all the testimony before us, that the Rev. Sidney Rigdon, the eloquent Mormon preacher, made the Mormon Bible from this manuscript.
About this time Dr. Hurlbut had some trouble with the Mormons at Kirtland, where they had built a temple and he had the prophet, Joseph Smith, arrested on a warrant of a justice of the peace for assault and battery. He had an examination before two justices in the Old Methodist Church in Painesville. It lasted three days. Judge Benjamin Bissell was the attorney for Smith and I was the attorney for Dr. Hurlbut. The examination produced much interest. Cowdery, Hyde and Pratt, Mormon leaders, were there with "Joe" Smith. I said to Mr. Bissell, "let us get from 'The Prophet' his history of the finding of the 'golden plates.'"
Mr. B. consented and for two days we had The Prophet, "Joe" Smith, on the witness stand. He swore, that is, under oath, that he found the golden plates buried in the earth in a field in Palmyra, N. Y., and when he found them he was kicked by an unseen foot out of the hole in which they were placed. All present knew that it was a Mormon lie.
Rigdon was a natural orator, and had much native genius. He got the manuscript in Pittsburg at the printing office of Mr. Robert Patterson, who has published an interesting history of Mormonism, showing without a doubt that the Rev. Sidney Rigdon was the compiler of the Book of Mormon.
In 1879, Dr. Hurlbut was living at Gibbsonburgh, Ohio. In a letter to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburg, he says: "I gave the manuscript with all my other documents connected with Mormonism to Mr. Howe." Mr. Rice was the successor of Mr. Howe in The Telegraph, and this accounts for his possession of the "manuscript found" at this late day in an island in the Pacific Ocean.
L. L. Rice was well known on the Western Reserve, Ohio, as one of the earliest and ablest of the anti-slavery Whigs. He has lived to see the "incurable injustice," slavery, abolished in the land of his birth, and to bring at this late date to light the Spaulding manuscript.
Yours truly, James A. Briggs
(to Arthur B. Deming) (as an answer to comments by Joseph Smith III)
No, 177 Washington St. Brooklyn, N.Y.
March 22, 1886
The manuscript of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, Conneaut, Ohio, found by Mr. L. L. Rice, of Honolulu, Sandwitch Islands, and now in the archives in the Library of Oberlin, Ohio, and published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Lamoni, Iowa, throws no more light upon the authorship or origin of the "Mormon Bible" rgan it does upon the real authorship of the Letters of Junius.
The manuscript in the possession of Mr. Rice legitimately being among the effects of the Painsville Telegraph, bought by him of its former owner, Mr. E.D. Howe, who published, in 1834, a book "Mormonism Unveiled." Now, Mr. Joseph Smith of Lamoni, Iowa, you assume altogether too much when you say the newly found missing link completes the chain of evidence which proves that the "Manuscript Found" never was, and never could be made the occasion, cause or germ of the "Book of Mormon." I have just read the Manuscript Story you sent me a few days ago, by request of my old and much valued friend, Mr. L.L. Rice, of Honolulu, and in my opinion it settles nothing, save that the author of the story was a very weak brother, and if written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding, he was a man of indigent talents, and the money paid for his college expenses was wasted. Allow me to doubt if he wrote it. You must get some better and more positive link in the chain of evidence than this story, recently printed, to convince the world that the original "Manuscript Found," written by Solomon Spaulding, was not the basis for the historical portion of your Mormon Bible.
Let me state some stubborn facts, not only from my own memory, but substantiated by witnesses; from Oct., 1832, until the first of April, 1834, I lived in the village of Willoughby, some two and one-half miles from the village of Kirtland, where your first Mormon temple was built, and yet stands. I heard much of Mormonism, heard its most eloquent champion, Rev. Sidney Rigdon, preach.
In the winter of 1833-34, or in the early spring of 1834, a number of gentlemen in Willoughby who felt an interest in the Mormon question appointed themselves a committee to look into the matter. They were Judge Nehemiah Allen, who had been an associate Judge of the county of Cuyahoga, a representative in the Legislature; Dr. George W. Card, an intelligent physician, Samuel Wilson, an active and energetic business man; Jonathan Lapham, a lawyer of many years at the bar, and myself, a very young lawyer. We met at the house of Mr. W. Corning, in Mentor, now the Garfield place, a well-to-do and independent farmer. Dr. P. Hurlbut also met with us. He lived in Kirtland and during the winter and spring had given much time in looking up evidence and documents to prove that Mormonism was a delusion. He had much of the evidence that he had collected with him.
Now I am very sure he had the identical story that you have printed with him. I remember about the ancient fort at Conneaut Creek, the mound, and the statement of finding the manuscript about the Indians. I have no doubt that Hurlbut, as he says, gave the story to Mr. E.D. Howe. But I believe he had also with him, and we had before us in that investigation, the original "Manuscript Found" written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding. I have said and believed for more than fifty years that I have seen and had in my hands the original "Manuscript Found" from which the Mormon Bible was made.
I have no doubt we had the "Manuscript Found" before us, that we compared it with the Mormon Bible, that the style in which the "Manuscript Found" was written was the same as that of the Mormon Bible. The names -- peculiar -- were the same, not to be forgotten. The names Lehi, Nephi, Maroni, etc., and the expression "and it came to pass" often repeated. This manuscript did not go to Mr. Howe. What did Hurlbut do with it?
Some few years ago I wrote to him and asked him who had it -- what he did with it. He did not answer my letter. He received it, as [it was] not returned to me. Dr. Hurlbut died in Ohio two years ago last June. He is silent now, the grave closed over him . . .
In 1834, early in the spring, Dr. P. Hurlbut had Jo Smith, of Kirtland, the Mormon prophet, arrested on a warrant of a justice of the peace in Painesville, Ohio, for assault and battery. The examination was in the old Methodist Church on the southeast corner of the public square. The matter excited great interest. The late Judge Benjamin Bissel was the attorney for Smith; I was the attorney for Hurlbut. The examination lasted three days. During the examination I said to Bissel, "Let us get a statement from Smith of how he found the golden plates of the Mormon Bible." Bissel at first objected to my question, but then withdrew the objection, and then Prophet Smith told us the whole story of digging for and the finding of the plates in Palmyra, N.Y. Smith testified that in digging he touched the plates. He was kicked by an unseen power out of the hole in the earth. From these plates the Mormon Bible was translated. He did not tell where the plates were. It was a great legal farce. Pratt, Hyde and other leading Mormons were there.
Now what is the result of this whole matter? First, the manuscript found by Mr. Rice, and now in the possession of the Oberlin Library, is not the "Manuscript Found" written by Solomon Spaulding. Second, that Spaulding wrote more than one story, as we have positive knowledge of two. Third, that Hurlbut obtained possession of the original "Manuscript Found," that we had [it] to compare with the Mormon Bible before the committee at Mentor. Fourth, that Hurlbut stated that he had made four hundred dollars by selling it, and I believe he did or he would have answered my letter. Fifth, that the testimony of numerous reliable witnesses states that when they heard read and read it themselves, the Mormon Bible, they at once recognized the peculiar phraseology and the names as those in the "Manuscript Found," Sixth, that Rigdon, by his own statements, is proved as having read Spaulding's "Manuscript Found." Seventh, that he visited Jo Smith at Palmyra, as well as the first preacher of Mormonism.
I have ever believed since the meeting at Mr. Corning's, at Mentor, that Rigdon was the compiler of the Mormon Bible. He had the brains of the concern. Smith had not the capacity, natural or acquired, to do it. He was cunning but not intellectual.
James A, Briggs
last updated: Oct. 24, 2000
Last updated: Oct. 24, 2000
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Additional Spalding Manuscripts
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