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Generation 1:

Matilda S. Spalding

Wife of Solomon Spalding
1767 (CT) -1846 (MA)

Generation 2:

Matilda S. McKinstry

Adopted by the Spaldings
1805 (NY) -1891 (MA)

Generation 3:

John A. McKinstry

Son of Matilda S. McKinstry
1831 (MA) -1900 (MA)

Generation 4: John A. McKinstry, Jr.   Louie E. Brittain

The McKinstries of Monson

Episode Four in the Spalding Saga

THIS episode of the "Spalding Saga" begins with the story of Dr. Oliver W. McKinstry (1791-1852) of Monson, Massachusetts. He was the man who, in 1828, married Miss Matilda "Spalding" and united his family with hers, far from the lonely grave of her foster father, the Rev. Solomon Spalding of Amity, Pennsylvania. Solomon died in 1816 and his widow soon afterward went to live with her relatives in New York state. When she moved from Amity, the Widow Matilda Spalding took with her the girl she and her husband had adopted in Otsego county, New York a decade earlier. Although the young lady (also named "Matilda") may not have known it, she was then returning to the state of her birth. No word has survived as to how the girl raised by Solomon and Matilda Spalding first met Dr. Oliver W. McKinstry; but when the couple became engaged to be married, the unfortunate circumstances of Solomon's widow finally took a turn for the better. Within a few months Matilda Spalding Davison left her unhappy second marriage (to John Davison of Cooperstown, in Otsego county) and was safely lodged in Monson, Hampden county, Massachusetts, within the comfortable home of her adopted daughter's new husband. To understand who Oliver was and who the McKinstries of Monson were, it is necessary that the reader briefly examine his genealogy.

Dr. Oliver W. McKinstry of Monson, Massachusetts

The line of Scots-Irish McKinstries from which Oliver came may be traced back to Rev. John McKinstry, who was born in Brode, Antrim parish, Northern Ireland in 1677. In 1712 John graduated from the University of Edinburg and, six years later, emigrated first to Sutton Massachusetts and then to Ellington, Connecticut. He married Elizabeth Fairfield and they had seven children. Their third child was Alexander, who was born May 16, 1728 in Ellington, and who, in about 1750, married Sarah Lee of Litchfield. Only one of their three children survived to adulthood: Ezekiel, who was born Aug. 17, 1753 in Ellington, and who, on June 26, 1776, married Rosina Chapman. Ezekiel and Rosina's seventh child was Oliver W. McKinstry. He was born July 14, 1791 in Connecticut. As a young man Oliver studied medicine and practiced that profession in Connecticut for several years before he moved to Monson (a few miles east of Springfield), in Hampden county, Massachusetts. There he became a locally notable physician.

It is possible that Oliver W. McKinstry first became acquainted with Matilda, the adopted daughter of Matilda Sabin Spalding Davison, due to the fact that the older Matilda (his girlfriend's foster mother) had relatives in Monson. The Sabins came to Monson from Pomfret, Windham county, Connecticut, in the person of the Rev. Abishi Sabin (or Sabine), who served as the pastor of the Monson Congregational church in the 1760s. Even though the minister eventually went back to Pomfret, other members of the Sabin family remained in Hampden county and it is likely that Matilda Sabin (1767-1846) visited Monson well before her 1795 marriage to Solomon Spalding (1761-1816). At the time of her death, in 1846, Matilda Sabin Spalding Davison was staying a few miles north of Monson, in Belchertown (the home of the family of the Rev. Ethan Smith). Matilda Sabin was no doubt acquained with several of her relatives who lived between Monson and Belchertown, and it was, perhaps, through one of them she and her daughter made the acquaintance of Oliver W. McKinstry. It is also possible that Oliver met the Widow and her girl while on a trip to upstate New York. The two Matildas first lived in Onondaga county, then, after Mrs. Matilda Spalding married John Davison (in 1819), they lived not far away in Otsego county. Oliver had relatives among the McKinstries and Clarks of Onondaga and Matilda Sabin Spalding Davison had a niece who married into the Clark family at Hartwick, in Otsego county.

The younger Matilda is rather economical with words in describing her marriage. All she says in her 1880 statement is that, "In 1828, I was married to Dr. A. McKinstry of Hampden County, Massachusetts, and went there, to reside. Very soon after my mother joined me there..." Matilda here gives the impression that she was married to Oliver before going to Massachusetts "to reside." The initial "A" given in Matilda McKinstry's 1880 statement is likely a typesetter's error.

The family of Oliver and Matilda McKinstry

No known history exists for Oliver's family in Hampden county, Massachusetts. He is mentioned, in passing, in local accounts as a reputable physician and it is supposed that he made a good living for his wife and children. Matilda joined the Monson Congregational Church in December 1829, by "profession." indicating that she had been baptized a Congregationalist or Presbyterian earlier in her life. Oliver's initials appear in teh church records but it is unclear whether he was a member. The couple's first child was a boy, probably born in Monson in 1829 or early 1830. His name has not surivived in any known account, but he may have been named Ezekiel, after his grandfather. The McKinstry couple's next child was John Alexander, born in 1831 and destined to be a doctor like his father. Oliver and Matilda's first daughter seems to have been Elizabeth Ann, who must have been born in Monson in about 1833. She would later marry the inventor of the U. S. Census Office's first functional tabulating machine, the precursor of Herman Hollerith's famous mechanical computer. Two other daughters were born to the couple: Mary M., in about 1834 and Frances W. a couple of years later.

It was apparently not long after the birth of Elizabeth Ann that the McKinstries were paid a visit by a traveler from Ohio, a certain D. P. Hurlbut who was on a mission to locate the old fictional scribblings of Mrs. Davison's first husband, the Rev. Solomon Spalding. The public fallout from Hurlbut's visit would eventually bring some unwanted notoriety upon the McKinstry family: rumors began to circulate that the late Rev. Spalding had occupied his last years in writing fiction for an intended profit. Not only was this slightly unseemly story bandied about in the public press, but the account soon gathered more embarrassing accretions -- allegations saying that the Widow's husband had also authored the highly offensive "Mormon Bible."

Dr. Oliver W. McKinstry is not known to have played any part in the investigation and publicizing of these annoying literary claims. It was his mother-in-law and her late husband who seemed to be causing all the bother. Oliver no doubt remained aloof from the Mormon controversy. He may have even felt a measure of relief when the Widow finally passed away in 1846, releasing his family from the obligation of caring for the old lady and explaining her marital history to the curious. Then, less than six years later, on March 25, 1852, Oliver also died. His sudden passing left Matilda a young widow with a house full of children to raise.

Dr. Oliver McKinstry's House, Monson, MA

John Alexander McKinstry (1831-1900)

The fate of the McKinstries' eldest son remains a mystery, but he too may have departed this life before his younger brother, John, graduated from Albany Medical College in 1853. With Oliver deceased and John away from home practicing medicine in New York, Wisconsin, and Connecticut, Matilda McKinstry focused her attention on preparing her three daughters for marriage and lives of their own. Her name appears in the 1860 Census lists for Monson, as the head of her household. Elizabeth Ann was the first to leave the nest. In 1858 she married Charles Williams Seaton, a teacher at the local high school. Charles graduated from Middlebury College in 1857 and then accepted a position at Monson Academy. His employment there did not last long. After his marrying Elizabeth Ann in Monson, the newlyweds moved to Keeseville, New York. Their life together proved to be a short one. Elizabeth Ann died early in 1861 and the bereaved Charles flung himself into the duties of a Union officer during the civil war that was then just beginning.

The grim year 1861 also took the life of Monson's principal physician. Dr. John Alexander McKinstry returned home to comfort his grieving mother and care for the afflicted of his home town. With him he brought Elizabeth Douglas, whom hed had married in 1855. John practiced in Monson all through the war and for a couple of years thereafter. During this time the family was paid a visit by Charles Williams Seaton, who had been wounded in the war and subsequently resigned his commission. Charles found comfort in the affection of his late wife's younger sister and he was married to Frances W. McKinstry in 1864. From that point onward the lives of the McKinstries and the Seatons began to intertwine rather closely. Charles and Frances moved to Washington, D. C., where he eventually became the chief clerk in the U. S. Pension Bureau. It is supposed that Mary M. McKinstry joined her sister and brother-in-law and lived as a spinster in the Washington area.

The Family of John and Elizabeth in Massachusetts

Dr. John McKinstry moved south from Massachusetts during the late 1860s. For a couple of years he and his wife lived in Maryland, near his sister Francis and her husband. John and Elizabeth next spent three years in Springfield, Massachusetts, before again returning to the Washington, D. C. area in about 1873. In that city his brother-in-law helped John obtain a position in the Pension Bureau. John spent most of the remainder of the decade in that work. The only child of John and Elizabeth died young and the couple were childless. It is supposed that a relative in the area had a daughter whom they adopted during the mid-1870s. The girl bore the odd name of Louie -- perhaps short for Louise. The young lady eventually married a Mr. Brittain and was briefly a Latter Day Saint, giving her the extraordinary distinction of being called Solomon Spalding's Mormon granddaughter. Whatever the girl's prior history may have been, Louie Elizabeth McKinstry thenceforth lived with John and Elizabeth and went with them to Massachusetts when John moved back there, during the first half of 1877. It may have been at about this same time that John's mother decided to abandon her home in Monson, move to Washington, D. C. and reside there with Frances and Charles Seaton. At any rate, John did not return to his parents' old home in Monson; instead, he moved his family into the Springfield suburb of Longmeadow.

When a reporter for the Springfield Republican went to interview the new doctor in town, John McKinstry ventured into discussing a subject which had lain dormant in his family for more than three decades -- the old claims that his grandfather Spalding had written the Book of Mormon. Brigham Young's critical illness (and subsequent death) was just then receiving national press attention and the reporter was so intrigued by John's strange "Mormon" story that he barely wrote at all about the Doctor's new medical practice in Longmeadow. John's interview was printed in the Springfield paper and soon after found its way into other newspapers published near the end of September 1877. The Doctor's published remarks about Solomon Spalding and mysterious happenings among his family were to have widespread repercussions.


Generation 4:

John A. McKinstry, Jr.

1896 (MA) -1981 (MA)

(this section is under construction)

In mid-1880 Ellen E. Dickinson submitted her article to Scribners' Monthly, saying in the introductory paragraphs: "Recently, [late March to early April, 1880] while in Washington, D. C., I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time Mrs. M. S. McKinstry..." Matilda McKinstry was still living in Washington on April 4th, 1882, when a Latter Day Saint elder interviewed her there.

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Read about the 1833 discovery of the Spalding Manuscript in New York.
Typecripts of McKinstry Documents

(this section is under construction)

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No. 1. John A. McKinstry to
J. T. Cobb: June 2, 1879

No. 2. Robert Patterson to
J. T. Cobb: Sep. 6, 1879

No. 3. Matilda S. McKinstry to
E. E. Dickinson: c. Jan. 2, 1880

No. 4. Matilda S. McKinstry to
J. T. Cobb: Aug. 31, 1880


(this section is under construction)


1879: June 2 John Alexander McKinstry To James Cobb: Longmeadow June 2d /79 My Dear Sir: I received yours in due season, but delayed ans- wering till I could hear from mother in answer to the ques- tions you propounded. En- closed you will find over her signature that answer -- al- though not as elaborate as I could have wished It seems that the "M. S." was not delivered in person to Hurlbut, but that Grand- mother was visiting at Mothers at the time, and had not her effects with her (she afterwards made her home at our house,) but had left the M. S. in her trunk at [p. 2] one Mrs. Clarks (at Hartwick, N. Y.) She gave Hurlbut a letter to this Mrs. Clark requesting her to deliver the "M. S." to him, the bearer Now, had the "M. S." not been in said trunk, she, Grand- mother never would have written that letter, for she was a woman above deceit or double dealing, and I know that she ever after believed that the M. S. was delivered to Hurlbut and I myself have frequently heard her lament that that she ever allowed herself to be persuaded into permitting it to pass into his possession -- and I have heard mother say many a time that she said all she could at the time to dissuade [o. 3] Grandmother from the act. As my brother (who was two years older than myself) and I grew older, and realized what had passed from the family, as we religiously believed in to Hurlbut's hands, never to be seen again we reproached Grandmother for being so easily duped and depriving us of what might have been valu- able -- she always said that she had done what seemed for the best at that time -- that as the writings of her husband had been used as the foundation of Mormonism, she felt it her duty to do all in her power to bring that fact to light, and that with that feeling uppermost in her heart, she had let Hurlbut have the M. S. -- upon [p. 4] his solemn promise to return the same after it had been compared with the book of Mor- mon. I have written of these little things, not that they are of importance in them[-] selves -- but to show that Grand- mother, Mother, and all of us firmly believed that Hurlbut did have the "M. S." in his possession -- To my mind there is one of two things certain. Either Mrs Clark failed to comply with Grandmothers request and dis- posed of the "M. S." otherwise or Hurlbut received it and disposed of it to better advantage than to deliver it to Howe. One thing is certain Grandmother never saw the M. S. again after her inter[-] view with Hurlbut at Monson She left it in her trunk, she gave an order for it on the one in whose possession the trunk was, and it was taken from the trunk on that occasion what would be the inference? It is altogether probable that the subject must have been referred to on Grandmothers meeting Mrs Clark again, and it is equally probable that she had no occasion to think that Mrs Clark failed to deliver the M. S. to Hurlbut yrs truly J. A. McKinstry Longmeadow Mass To J T Cobb Salt Lake City ----------- notes ------------- 1. Ref: Wisconsin Schroeder Collection, Box 2, folder 1. 2. This letter sounds like the first reply of Mr. McKinstry to an initial solicitation of information by James T. Cobb. Presumably, Mr. Cobb first wrote to Mr. McKinstry during the spring of 1879. 3. John's older brother is nowhere else documented. Perhaps he died early. John was born in Monson in 1831, so his older brother was probably born in Monson in about 1829. 4. Unfortunately the signed statement by Mrs. McKinstry as referred to herein is no longer attached to this letter and is presumed to have been lost. Given its date of c.2 June 1879, this would appear to represent Mrs. McKinstry's earliest written statement on the subject of the Spalding Enigma. Given the fact that Mrs. McKinstry's mid-1879 statement has disappeared, her c. January, 1880 letter to Ellen E. Dickinson may serve in a limited way as a surrogate for Mrs. McKinstry's verbalized thoughts on the matter prior to the publication of her 1880 statement in Scribners' Monthly. See also McKinstry's own 1880 letter to James T. Cobb (below). http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/l790602a.htm 5. John A. McKinstry was the son of Solomon Spalding's adopted daughter, Matilda (after 1828 Matilda McKinstry). His letter demonstrates that as early as 1879 Mr. McKinstry had a competent grasp of past events pertaining to his family's involvement in the Spalding claims for the origin of the Book of Mormon. An earlier (and greatly garbled) report on John's recollections of some of these same events may be found in an article printed in a late July 1877 issue of the Springfield Republican.

John mentions enclosing a signed statement made by his mother, Matilda McKinstry. This statement has become detached from the Sept. 2nd letter and it is not filed in the same folder in the Special Collections of the University of Wisconsin's Theodore A. Schroeder papers. The c. late Aug. 1877 Matilda McKinstry Statement was probably removed by Schroeder himself when he received possession of Cobb's papers after 1901.

(this section is under construction)

1879: September 1 REV. ROBERT PATTERSON, JR., TO JAMES COBB: 6 SEPTEMBER 1879 Pittsburgh, Sept. 6th, 1879. James T. Cobb, Esq. Dear Sir, ... Dr. McKinstry writes me from Longmeadow under date Sept. 1st, taking about the same view as yourself of Hurlbut's statement. He says: "Hurlbut's statement does not alter my belief that he did have "Manuscript Found" in his possession and disposed of it to his own advantage. x x x x His statement that he did not know the contents of the paper he passed over to Mr. Howe seems to me perfectly ridiculous. I can hardly realize that a man interested in the publication of a work, and having in his possession what he must have supposed under the circumstances was of the greatest importance to the value of that work, could have manifested so little interest-- or at least curiosity-- as not to have given it at least a passing notice. Neither can I believe that any man who has the least claim to common sense would accept blindly, without even looking at its contents, a worthless package in place of a valuable MS. x x x x "Did Hurlbut have the means to buy a farm at that time? Did the money paid for his interest in the Howe book amount to sufficient? If not, where did it come from? The fact of his being at sword's point with Joe Smith would not prevent his negotiating with other parties, if he had anything valuable to sell. The fact of his withdrawing from the enterprise and severing his business connection with Mr. Howe immediately after his journey to procure the MS, and when we have reason to suppose he did procure it, is, to say the least, very suspicious. x x x What could be easier? The Mormons wanted the MS; he wanted money. I know this is but supposition, but all the facts point that way. "To sum all up in a few words: grandmother left the MS with a friend; she gave Hurlbut an order on that friend for it; she never saw it afterwards.' Dr. McKinstry then accounts for Mr. Austin's impression that Mrs. Davison told him she had given the MS to Hurlbut at Monson, on the supposition that she spoke of it as then and there given, just as when a man gives a check or order for money, he often says "I gave A. B. the money." He closes by saying: "I hardly know what further can be done to unravel the mystery. If Hurlbut disposed of the MS, he of course did not do it openly; and although, like the present race of policemen, we may have a "theory," we can do nothing without a clue."

(this section is under construction)

[1880]: January 2d Mrs. Matilda Spalding McKinstry to [Ellen E. Dickinson]: Dear Madam yours of the 6th inst received, and in reply I will say, 1st that the article in the paper to which you refer is correct, and it is true that my mother and myself did carfully compare the so called, "Book of Mo Mormon," with the romance written by yu my father entitled "The Manuscript found," and were con- vinced that the "Book of Mormon was a copy of my father's work more or less disfigured from beginning to end by the founders of Mormonism, the better to adapt it to their purposes that of a pretended revelation. An incontestible proof of the origin of the, "Book of Normon, is manifest in the fact that the, "Manuscript Found was completed about 1813. the names [p. 2] persons tribes &c were peculiar to the author, author, being his invention in fact. [In} it names of Mormon and his son Moroni figures conspicuously. About 1830 the Book of Mormon appeared and contained the identical names as fictitious history of "The Manuscript Found which could have been pro- cured from no other source. Soon after this (1830) meeting[s] were held by the Mormons at New Salem. Many attended out of curiosity among others my father's brother, who at once recognized the "Book of Mormon" as the writing of his brother 2nd I most emphatically deny that the Mormons have any statement from my mother or myself as they claim. If any pur- posing to bee such exists it is a forgery. [p. 3] 3rd While my father resided at Pittsburg the "Manuscript was borrowed by one "Patterson" who owned a large book establishment and printing office. "Sidney Rigdon" was at that time employed at this office and we have always believed that he copied it then and there. Personally I know nothing of the character of the founders of Mormonism, neither can I give you the address of any one from whome you could obtain the desired infor- mation. Respectfully yours M. S. McKinstry Monson, Mass. ------------ notes -------------- 1. Ref: RLDS Archives (P-13, f2286 2. This document is almost certainly a holograph letter written by Matilda Spalding McKinstry, the adopted daughter of Solomon Spalding and Matilda Sabin Spalding. The provenance of the letter is Monson, Hampden county, MA, c. January 1880. Mrs. McKinstry moved to Washington, D. C. during the first part of 1880, so this letter was likely written just before her change of residence. 3. Although the circumstantial evidence is not conclusive, Mrs. McKinstry very likely wrote this letter to her Mother's brother's daughter, Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson of Boston. When Mrs. Dickinson wrote her 1880 and 1881 articles for Scrobner's Monthly, she paraphrased much of what Mrs. McKinstry says in this letter. Also, Dickinson's 1885 book, New Light on Mormonism, contains some of the same problematical assertions regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon as does Mrs. McKinstry's letter. 4. The McKinstry letter was quite possiblt forwarded to Joseph Smith III as an attachment in some lost correspondence between Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson and the RLDS President, c. 1882-85. It is also possible that the McKinstry letter was sent to the RLDS leadership as an attachment in the correspondence of some one like Robert Patterson, Jr. of Pittsburgh, but such an explanation would not account for how the correspondent obtained the letter. 5. Mrs. McKinstry does not provide details on how she and her motehr came to have a copy of the Book of Mormon, or under what circumstances they were able to compare that book with Rev. Spalding's "Manuscript Found" prior to its being delivered to D. P. Hurlbut in December 1834. Presumably the mother and daughter made the comparison at the home of Jerome Clark. 6. Mrs. McKinstry apparently forgets that she and her mother gave statements in the late summer of 1839, edited paraphrases of which were subsequently printed in numerous Mormon publications. Perhaps she never saw what was represented as being the LDS-published words of her mother and herself.

(this section is under construction)

1880: April MATILDA SPALDING McKINSTRY TO ELLEN E. DICKINSON: 3 APRIL 1880 (SWORN)* "Washington, D.C., April 3rd, 1880 "So much has been published that is erroneous concerning the `Manuscript Found,' written by my father, the Rev. Solomon Spalding, and its supposed connection with the book, called the Mormon Bible, I have willingly consented to make the following statement regarding it, repeating all that I remember personally of this manuscript, and all that is of importance which my mother related to me in connection with it, at the same time affirming that I am in tolerable health and vigor, and that my memory, in common with elderly people, is clearer in regard to the events of my earlier years, rather than those of my maturer life. "During the year of 1812, I was residing with my parents in a little town in Ohio called Conneaut. I was then in my sixth year. My father was in business there, and I remember his iron foundry and the men he had at work, but that he remained at home most of the time and was reading and writing a great deal. He frequently wrote little stories, which he read to me. There were some round mounds of earth near our house which greatly interested him, and he said a tree on top of one of them was a thousand years old. He set some of his men to work digging into one of these mounds, and I vividly remember how excited he became when he heard that they had exhumed some human bones, portions of giant skeletons, and various relics. He talked with my mother of these discoveries in the mound, and was writing every day as the work progressed. Afterward he read the manuscript which I had seen him writing, to the neighbors and to a clergyman, a friend of his, who came to see him.(**) Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me to-day as though I heard them yesterday. They were Mormon, Moroni, Lamenite, Nephi. We removed from Conneaut to Pittsburgh while I was still very young, but every circumstance of this removal is distinct in my memory. In that city my father had an intimate friend named Patterson and I frequently visited Mr. Patterson's library with him and heard my father talk about books with him. In 1816 my father died at Amity, Pennsylvania, and directly after his death my mother and myself went to visit at the residence of my mother's brother William H. Sabine, at Onondaga Valley, Onondaga County, New York. Mr. Sabine was a lawyer of distinction and wealth, and greatly respected. We carried all our personal effects with us, and one of these was an old trunk, in which my mother had placed all mt father's writings which had been preserved. I perfectly remember the appearance of this trunk, and of looking at its contents. There were sermons and other papers, and I saw a manuscript about an inch thick, closely written, tied with some of the other stories my father had written for me, one of which he called, `The Frogs of Wyndham.' On the outside of the manuscript were written the words, `Manuscript Found.' I did not read it, but looked through it and had it in my hands many times, and saw the names I had heard at Conneaut, when my father read it to his friends. I was about eleven years of age at this time. "After we had been at my uncle's house for some time, my mother left me there and went to her father's house at Pomfret, Connecticut, but did not take her furniture nor the old trunk of manuscripts with her. In 1820 [it was actually on 22 November 1819, ed.] she married Mr. [John] Davison, of Hartwicks, a village near Cooperstown, New York, and sent for the things she had left at Onondaga Valley, and I remember that the old trunk, with its contents, reached her in safety. In 1828, I was married to Dr. A. McKinstry of Hampden County, Massachusetts, and went there, to reside. Very soon after [in 1831, ed.] my mother joined me there, and was with me most of the time until her death in 1844. We heard, not long after she came to live with me-- I do not remember just how long-- something of Mormonism, and the report that it had been taken from my father's `Manuscript Found;' and then came to us direct an account of the Mormon meeting at Conneaut, Ohio, and that, [on] one occasion, when the Mormon Bible was read there in public, my father's brother, John Spalding, Mr. Lake, and many other persons who were present, at once recognized its similarity to the `Manuscript Found,' which they had heard read years before by my father in the same town. There was a great deal of talk and a great deal published at this time about Mormonism all over the country. I believe it was in 1834 [it was actually November of 1833, ed.] that a man named Hurlburt [sic] came to my house at Monson to see my mother, who told us that he had been sent by a committee to procure the `Manuscript Found' written by the Rev. Solomon Spalding so as to compare it with the Mormon Bible. He presented a letter to my mother from my uncle, Wm. H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, in which he requested her to loan this manuscript to Hurlburt, as he (my uncle) was desirous `to uproot (as he expressed it) this Mormon fraud.' Hurlburt represented that he had been a convert to Mor-monism, but had given it up, and through the `Manuscript Found,' wished to expose its wickedness. My mother was careful to have me with her in all the conversations she had with Hurlburt, who spent a day at my house. She did not like his appearance and mis-trusted his motives, but having great respect for her brother's wishes and opinions, she reluctantly consented to his request. The old trunk containing the desired `Manuscript Found,' she had placed in the care of Mr. Jerome Clark of Hartwicks, when she came to Monson, intending to send for it. On the repeated promise of Hurlburt to return the manuscript to us, she gave him a letter to Mr. Clark to open the trunk and deliver it to him. We afterwards heard that he had received it from Mr. Clark at Hartwicks, but from that time we have never had it in our possession, and I have no present knowledge of its existence, Hurlburt never returning it or answering letters requesting him to do so. Two years ago, I heard he was still living in Ohio, and with my consent he was asked for the `Manuscript Found.' He made no response although we have evidence that he received the letter containing the request. So far I have stated facts within my own knowledge. My mother mentioned many other circumstances to me in connection with this subject which are interesting, of my father's literary tastes, his fine education and peculiar temperament. She stated to me that she had heard the manuscript alluded to read by my father, was familiar with its contents, and she deeply regretted that her husband, as she believed, had innocently been the means of furnishing matter for a religious delusion. She said that my father loaned this `Manuscript Found' to Mr. Patterson, of Pittsburgh, and that when he returned it to my father, he said: `Polish it up, finish it, and you will make money out of it.' My mother confirmed my rememberances of my father's fondness for history, and told me of his frequent conversations regarding a theory which he had of a prehistoric race which had inhabited this continent, etc., all showing that his mind dwelt on this subject. The `Manuscript Found,' she said, was a romance written in Biblical style, and that while she heard it read, she had no special admiration for it more than other romances he wrote and read to her. We never, either of us, ever saw, or in any way communicated with the Mormons, save Hurlburt as above described; and while we have no personal knowledge that the Mormon Bible was taken from the `Manuscript Found,' there were many evidences to us that it was and that Hurlburt and the others at the time thought so. A convincing proof to us of this belief was that my uncle, William H. Sabine, had undoubtedly read the manuscript while it was in his house, and his faith that its production would show to the world that the Mormon Bible had been taken from it, or was the same with slight alterations. I have frequently answered questions which have been asked by different persons regarding the `Manuscript Found,' but until now have never made a statement at length for publication. M.S. McKinstry. "Sworn and subscribed before me this 3rd day of April, A.D. 1880, at the city of Washington D.C. Charles Walter, Notary Public. (*) Ref: Dickinson,Ellen E., "The Book of Mormon," Scribner's Monthly magazine, August, 1880, pp.616ff. (**) The clergyman referred to here was almost certainly the Rev. Joseph Badger (1757-1846), soldier of the Revolution and graduate of Yale (1785), whose pioneering activities as a Congregationalist (and later Presbyterian) minister on the Western Reserve beginning in 1802 are legendary. See A Memoir of Rev. Joseph Badger, (Hudson, Ohio: Sawyer, Ingersoll & Co., 1851); Weimer, Gary W., "Pilgrim in New Connecticut," (m/s: Cambridge, MA, 1967, copy in Ohio Historical Society collection); Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol.III, 473-479; History of Ashtabula County, Ohio, pp.86-89; and Eaton, S.J.M, History of the Presbytery of Erie, (NY: Hurd & Houghton, 1868), pp.227ff. According to various sources, Badger preached the first sermon in Conneaut c.1802, in the cabin of Mr. & Mrs. Aron Wright, and paid frequent visits to the community in the years to follow. It is also recorded in his Memoirs that he visited Cherry Valley, New York, circa mid-December 1801, during the time that Solomon Spalding lived there, although no specific mention of Spalding occurs. Unfortunately, due to the death of his daughter in April of 1809, the subsequent loss of almost all of his personal possessions when his home in Austinburg, Ohio, burned to the ground in November of the same year, and an extended bout with "the ague," Rev. Badger seems to have gone through an extended period of mental depression and physical exhaustion between 1809 and 1812 which resulted in a dearth of written records concerning his life and activities during that period. About all that is known for certain is that he devoted most of his time to preaching in the various settlements around Ashtabula and making furniture and other useful items, until the War of 1812 came along, when, in the fall of that year at about the same time Spalding would have been preparing for his move to Pittsburgh, Badger volunteered his services as chaplin to the army. Considering the circumstances, it is difficult to imagine that he left no written comments con-cerning what he may have known of Spalding and "Manuscript Found," yet to date, in spite of a diligent search, nothing has been found. It is possible to speculate, however, that such material may have been among the extensive collection of records and memorabilia accumulated by the Ashtabula County Historical Society which were lost in the tragic fire of 1850.

NOTE: The above statement was written for Mrs. McKinstry by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson who commented upon it in her article as follows:

"I wrote this statement as Mrs. McKinstry's dictation, and was obliged to change it and copy it four times before she was satisfied, so anxious was she that no word or expression should occur in it to which she could not solemnly make oath" [p.616]. Mrs. Dickinson described Mrs. McKinstry as "a remarkably intelligent and conscientious woman..." [p.613].

(this section is under construction)

In his letter of June 2, 1879, Dr. John A. McKinstry tells James T. Cobb that he is enclosing "over her signature" the "answer" to some of Cobb's questions to the elderly lady. The original of that 1879 statement by Solomon Spalding's adopted daughter has disappeared, but Cobb's Salt Lake Tribune article of Sept. 7, 1779provides the jist of her short statement -- what John spoke of as being "not as elaborate as I could have wished." Mrs. McKinstry's letter of Aug. 21, 1880, addressed to Cobb ( when her statement for the Aug. 1880 Scribners' Monthly had already gone to press), probably reproduces essentially the content of the earlier, lost letter and agrees with what is quoted by the Tribune: "that... which Mrs. M. S. McKinstry, now of Longmeadow, Mass., the daughter of Solomon Spaulding, has sent over her own signature to the writer of these lines, to wit: that she distinctly recollects seeing used in her father's manuscript, the names Mormon, Moroni, Nephites and Laminites (spelling the last word thus)..."

(this section is under construction)

1880: August 31 Mrs. Matilda Spalding McKinstry To James Cobb: Shelter Island Aug 31 /80. Mr. Cobb. Sir. I never before heard or understood that my father assumed to have found metal plate[s] from which he translated "Manuscript Found" or that he was guided by a vision. I have no recollection of ever seeing "Smith," or that he ever worked for my "Uncle Sabine," and if he had, he would have had no access to any portion of Mr. Sabine's house, as his kind [of] help occupied a special dwelling. I distinctly recollect visiting a library with my father which my mother told me was `Mr Patterson's;" the building was a large one, and over the door was a bust of what seemed to me at that time, as a beautiful lady, & impressed my childish fancy. I distinctly remember seeing in a chair in the center of the room, a large, heavy built man of florid complexion There was an other person in the room, and my father had a long conversation with him. Hurlbut may have received in addition to "Manuscript Found" some fragment. tied up with the bundle, which fragment he passed over to Mr. Howe, re- [p. 2] taining the one of real importance for personal use. Mr. Patterson, if you remem- ber visited Mr Hurlbut armed with written authority from myself and children for the delivery of the document in question, and I feel that any communication from my self to "Mr H" -- would be of no avail. If he stole the papers, he would not criminate him- self by owning it. In conclusion, I would say, that all I know, or can recollect, in regard to the whole matter, is comprised in my sworn statement in the "Scribner Article," and that nothing further was authorized [p. 3] or suggested by me. Respectfully Yours, M. S. McKinstry ----------- notes ------------- 1. Ref: Wisconsin Schroeder Collection, Box 2, folder 1. 2. Mrs. McKinstry here reveals that Robert Patterson, Jr. contacted her and her "children" prior to his 1879 visit to D. P. Hurlbut in Ohio. 3. Mrs. McKinstry is responding here to speculation that the missing copy of "Manuscript Found" may have been stolen from her mother's trunk by Joseph Smith himself, and that he may have somehow gotten into her uncle's employ in order to gain access to his home. (Another version paints Smith as a common vagabond seen loitering around the Davison home at Hartwick.) Although a few writers (J. B. Turner and Mrs. Eaton among them) have raised this possibility over the years, no evidence has ever surfaced in support of it.

This web page and the episode links (below) are still under construction

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