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James T. Cobb of Salt Lake City
Episode Ten in the Spalding Saga

THIS episode of the "Spalding Saga" brings to light the obscure life of James T. Cobb of Salt Lake City Utah. His mother was a polygamous wife of Brigham Young and he was a disaffected Mormon of the Godbeite movement, a Shakespearean scholar, instructor of the first classes that were to grow into the University of Utah, and a tireless promoter of the Solomon Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon.

His Mother: Augusta Adams Cobb Young (1802-1886)

In his 2000 book, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Richard Price has this to say about the mother of James Cobb:

Between 1834 and 1844, Brigham Young made a number of journeys into the Boston area... During this thime he met Augusta Adams Cobb... [who] was baptized on June 29, 1832... Augusta was an educated woman from a well-known Boston Boston family, married and living in luxury with her husband of twenty-one years -- Henry Cobb... Augusta and Henry were the parents of seven children... In the fall of 1843 Augusta deserted her husband and all of her children but the two younger ones -- Charlotte, six, and Brigham, only a few months -- and went with Brigham Young to Nauvoo to become his plural wife... the Nauvoo Neighbor of November 8, 1843, announced the death of Brigham Cobb, age five months and twenty days. By this time Brigham and Augusta were secretly married.

In his 1969 biography, The Lion of the Lord, Stanley P. Hirshon says that Augusta Cobb and Brigham Young were married in Nauvoo on Nov. 2, 1843 "without divorcing her first husband married Young. A few months later she briefly returned to Boston, where she saw her other children and told Henry she was leaving him forever... Augusta returned to Nauvoo and on February 2, 1846, was sealed to Young for eternity." Faced with this scandalous desertion, Henry Cobb sued Augusta in the Boston courts for a divorce and was granted custody of five of their children, including young James Thornton Cobb, then about fourteen years of age. Henry's legal action against his wife and Brigham Young helped to further expose the Mormons' secret practice of polygamy; his case was publicized nationwide in the papers of that day (for example, see the news article reprinted in the Quincy Whig of Dec. 22, 1847). For more on Young's seduction of Augusta Cobb in 1846, see Dean C. Jessee's "Brigham Young's Family: the Wilderness Years," BYU Studies 19:4 (Summer 1979) pp. 485-86.

The names of all seven of Henry and Augusta's children remain in doubt. One of their children may have been named Ellen of "Nell." Those whose births are firmly documented are:

1. Albert Adams Cobb
b. 12 Apr. 1830; Boston, Suffolk, MA
m. 1851, Mary Russell Candler
d. aft. 1863

2. Lucy Almira Cobb
b. c. 1832
m. 1851, John Wilson Candler
d. aft. 1851

3. James Thornton Cobb
b. 15 Dec 1833, Beverly, Essex, MA
d. 1 Feb 1910, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT

4. Charlotte Ives Cobb
b. 3 Aug 1836; Boston or Lynn, MA
m. 1869, William Samuel Godbe (1833-1902)
d. 24 Jan 1908; Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT

5. Brigham Cobb
b. 19 May, 1843, Beverly, Essex, MA
d. 7 Nov., 1843, Nauvoo, Hancock, IL

James T. Cobb: Teacher and Missionary

According to the 1921 Amherst College Biographical Record, James Thornton Cobb finished high school in Beverely MA before attending Amherst between 1851 and 1853. He transfered to Dartmouth College and became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Upsilon fraternities. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1855 James worked as a broker in what was perhaps the family business in Boston, then relocated to Prescott, WI, where he taught school from1856 to 1858. James helped found the Union Academy in Salt Lake City in 1860. After working briefly as a journalist with the Salt Lake Tribune, James assisted John and Edward Tullidge with their Tullidge's Quarterly and Western Galaxy magazines, in the 1880s.

History has not recorded what brought James T. Cobb to Utah Territory in 1858, after his scholar's years at Amherst and his subsequent graduation from Dartmouth College. Certainly he must have wished to see his mother and sister who were then living in Salt Lake City. Augusta Cobb Young was emotionally (if not mentally) somewhat unstable and it appears that in 1858 she was living through a period of estrangement from her husband, Brigham Young. In 1848, two years after being sealed to Young "for eternity," Augusta had managed to get that attachment broken and to have herself sealed to the late Joseph Smith, Jr. forever. She apparently also began to ask Brigham for a temporal divorce in 1858. It is possible that James originally went to "the Valley" with the intention of helping his mother and sister move back to the east, but ended up staying in Salt Lake City and marrying his first wife there that same year (see below for James' marital history).

Whatever his reason for moving to Utah, James was soon taken into the household of his step-father, in matters of social position and protection at least. In an address made in the Salt Lake Tabernacle during the spring 1860 LDS General Conference, Brigham announced his intention to "devote the large building on the east side of Union Square to school purposes." President Young wasted no time in getting his new "Union Academy" up and running, it was to open the following day (Apr. 9, 1860) with Orson Pratt and his son Orson, Jr. in charge of the instruction of "boys and young men." To these two Mormon intellectuals Young added a third brainy educator, his step-son James T. Cobb. (The Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, pp. 39-44).

It seems that young James was still on his step-father's good side at the end of the year, for he was chosen to be one of the regents in the academy's successor institution, the Deseret University. The following is taken from "The University of Utah" in Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and Their Mothers:

In 1860 the University, known then as Union Academy, was opened in the building that had been intended for a hotel, and built by Mr. David Wilcken in 1858... It took the name of Union Academy from Union Square, which was opposite, and in time became the site of the University of Deseret The principal of the school at this time was Orson Pratt, and he, with Orson Pratt, Jr., and James Cobb, were the teachers. In the autumn of 1867, David O. Calder became principal, and in 1868 Dr. John R. Park was elected president by the board of regents. From 1881 to 1901 the University was in the buildings now occupied by the Salt Lake High School. In 1901 it was moved to its present home on the hill immediately east of the city...

James labored as an instructor under LDS Apostle Orson Pratt for four years. During that period he converted to Mormonism. Or, more likely, he re-converted, following a lapse in membership missing from the religious records. He was baptized (or, perhaps, re-baptized) on Oct. 24, 1863 by Elder Karl G. Maeser. In fact, James may have been converted to the affections of Dr. Maeser's young ward, Miss Camilla Clara Mieth, more than he was to Mormonism. In what was perhaps a move to postpone James' marital intentions and strengthen his religious commitment, his step-father saw that he was ordained and called away to a mission to the east. On Apr. 24, 1864, Elder James Thornton Cobb was blessed by Apostle George A Smith in the Church Historians's Office and thus set apart for his proselytizing work. No word has survived as to exactly when James left Utah or who his missionary companions were, but a letter written to him by President Young on Feb. 21, 1866 counsels the 33 year old elder to "preach the gospel without purse and scrip, travel from place to place."

By the end of September, 1866 James had finished his church work in the east and had returned to Salt Lake City, where spoke at a sabbath meeting in the Bowery, expressing "his feelings and his undoubting confidence in the work of God, a testimony of the truth of which he had received since he left some two and a half years since to go East." According to Wilford Woodruff's Journal, James testified thusly for only five minutes, while other Saints spoke for up to three quarters of an hour. Although James "expressed his desire to cling to the truth," he was already wavering in his devotion to Mormonism.

James had taken a vacation from his missionary duties long enough to marry a second wife in Salt Lake City on Nov. 14, 1864. When he spoke in the Bowery two years later, his second wife was no doubt looking on -- and looking forward to seeing her husband settle down and take up a position in the community befitting a son of the President of the Church. If so, her hopes were soon dashed upon the rocks of James' apostasy from the LDS faith.

The First Family of James T. Cobb

James Thornton Cobb's first marriage -- to Mary Van Cott -- is not well documented. Salt Lake "Endowment House" Records, say he married her there on April 18, 1856. Susan Easton Black's "Pioneers of 1847" gives the date for this union as April 8, 1865. Sketchy accounts relate that the couple had one child, Luella Van Cott Cobb, who was born in Salt Lake City on Oct. 21, 1860. James T. Cobb's obituaries indicate that he was not in Utah until 1858, and a marriage to Mary Van Cott during that year would perhaps be more consistent with the fact that Luella was born in 1860.

James' marriage to Mary did not last long. The couple divorced in 1867 (see Elias Smith's Journal, extracts of which were published in the Utah Historical Quarterly XXI:3, July, 1953, p. 248, where Smith says in his entry for May 16, 1867, "I spent part of the forenoon in settlung a divorce case between Mary Cobb & her husband James T. Cobb"). Remarkably, on Jan. 8, 1868, Brigham Young attached her to his own harem (see Mary's obituary in the Deseret Evening News, Jan. 5, 1884, p. 5). She was married to Brigham while her mother, Augusta, was still technically his wife as well -- making James T. Cobb simultaneously both the son and ex-husband of the two "Mrs. Young." Brigham and Mary had one child, Fannie Van Cott Young, born Jan. 15, 1870 in Salt Lake City.

Mary Van Cott was born Feb. 2, 1844 in Canaan, Columbia co., NY. She moved to Utah with her father's family, arriving in "the Valley" on Sept, 25, 1847. Mary Van Cott Cobb Young died in that same place on Jan. 5, 1884. In the Feb. 21, 1866 letter to James (then in New York City on his mission) Brigham Young says: "Your Mother and wife and Charlotte and all the folks are well," indicating that James had only one faithful wife (Camilla) by that date. The historian can only guess what complications arose in James' one attempt at practicing plural marriage and whether President Young was the 1867 seducer or the 1868 protector of Mary Van Cott Cobb. At any rate, James' failure to produce a successful polygamous family did not bode well for an adopted son of the Mormon President.

The incestuous cross-pollination between the Young and Cobb families did not end with Mary's espousal to Brigham Young, however. In Feb. 1876 James' fifteen-year-old daughter, Luella Van Cott Cobb, chose to become the fifth plural wife of middle-aged John Willard Young, a son of Brigham Young by his first wife. It is not known whether John and Luella had any children. John died in 1924, but long before his demise, in May of 1890, he and Luella were divorced (see Abraham H. Cannon's Diary entry for Apr. 9, 1890). On June 18, 1894, Luella married Nathaniel "Nat" Maynard Brigham. He also was a relative of Brigham Young. Nat and Luella died some time after 1910.

The Polygamous Family of James T. Cobb

James Thornton Cobb's second marriage -- to Camilla Clara Mieth -- is more clearly clearly recorded. They were married in Salt Lake City, on Nov. 14, 1864 by James' step-father, Brigham Young. She was born: May 24, 1843; in Dresden, Saxony (now Germany); arrived in Utah with her foster father, Dr. Karl G. Maeser, in 1860; and died in Salt Lake City on Oct. 16 1933. The Cobb couple had seven children, the first of whom was conceived while James was still married to Mary Van Cott.

1. Ives Emanuel
b. 1867; Salt Lake City
m. 1892; Mary Swanell
d. bef. 1910

2. Lucy Augusta
b. 12 May 1869; Salt Lake City
m. 1890; Edward Gordon Ivins
d. 21 May 1891

3. Karl Albert
b. 27 Jul 1874; Flatbush, Long Island, NY
d. 1 Nov 1875

4. Henry Ives
b. 11 May 1877; Salt Lake City
m. 1902, Elsie Bowman
d. 25 Mar 1919

5. Rufus Kellogg
b. 1 Sep 1878; Salt Lake City
m. 1903, Jane Beatie
d. 9 Feb 1945

6. James Kent
b. 7 Aug 1884; Salt Lake City
m. 1922, Rachel Haycock
d. 14 Sep 1962; Los Angeles, CA

7. Grace Camilla
b. 9 May 1888; Salt Lake City
d. 21 May, 1891

The Apostasy of James T. Cobb

James' younger sister, Charlotte Ives Cobb was born Aug. 3, 1836 in Massachusetts. She was not yet ten years old when her mother took her first to Nauvoo and then on to Utah, to live in the home of Brigham Young. On Feb. 21, 1866 Brigham had written James saying that Charlotte was "well" in the Mormon kingdom, but, on Apr. 7, 1869, she chose to marry a leading Utah liberal and rebel, William Samuel Godbe (1833-1902). Six months later her husband was brought before the Salt Lake Stake High Council to be tried for his membership in the LDS Church. William S. Godbe's attempts at "respectful dissent" came to a bitter end when the High Council moved to excommunicate him. A vote was called for among the attending Mormon priesthood and all present, except five members, voted to sustain their leaders in cutting off the troublesome Godbe. Among those five objector was James Thornton Cobb. Cobb's public action on that day effectively ended his career as a member of Brigham Young's extended family, as well as his active participation in Mormonism. Henceforth James would be marked as a liberal and an apostate.

Godbe had already founded Utah Magazine, the 1868-69 forerunner of the Salt Lake Tribune. It appears that James T. Cobb picked up some journalistic odd jobs on the staffs of both of Godbe's publications, as well as on the "Godbeite" Tullidge brothers' magazines, a decade later. Whether or not he and Camilla followed several other of the Godbeites into their experiment with spiritualism remains unknown. The City Directory of 1867 lists him as a "school teacher" residing in downtown Salt Lake City. Probably the 1870 and 1880 Federal Census reports list him as a journalist rather than an educator.

Who Wrote the Shakespeare Plays? (and other questions)

Since James Thornton Cobb was one of the leading intellectuals and literary connoisseurs of the nineteenth century American West, it does not come as a total surprise that James immersed himself in the scholarly controversy over who wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare. As the "Oxfordian" explanation to that mystery had not yet become a popular one, Cobb opted for the "Baconian" thesis and carried on an avid study and correspondence concerning this inexplicable literary and historical enigma. While devoting his attention to investigating the Bacon-Shakespeare disputation during the late 1870s and early 1880s, Cobb was well prepared to silmultaneously delve into the question of Book of Mormon authorship. Little survives in the way of a record of Cobb's scholarship in the matter of the Bard's plays; much can be said, however, about his views concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon.

(this section is under construction)

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James T. Cobb Obituaries

Salt Lake Tribune
LXXX:110 (Tues., Feb. 1, 1910)


In the death of Mr. James T. Cobb in this city yesterday, the old-timers will feel a throb of awakening interest, and will experience a stir of memory. Mr. Cobb many years ago was a prominent figure in this city, personally and intellectually. He had the repute of being one of the finest Shakespearean scholars in the western country. His personality was attractive; he was a fine talker; and a good many people swore by him and his opinions. For a score of years past, however, he has been obscured. seeming to age more in character and disposition than in years. His final end was peaceful, and though he was a man well calculated to take a high position in the community he had stepped down from that position, and was practically unremembered by the mass of the people here. To his friends he was very dear, and with those friends and his near of kin the public of Salt Lake will extend the most heartfelt sympathy.



Man of Splendid Literary Attainment Succumbs After Severe Suffering.
Many Deeds of Kindness Toward Afflicted Humanity Are Recorded of Him

James Thornton Cobb died at the family residence, 87 Canyon Road, in this city, early Monday morning, of kidney trouble, from which he had suffered severely for six weeks prior to his demise.

Mr. Cobb was born at Beverly, Mass., December 15, 1833, making him a little more than 70 years old at the time his death. He came to Utah in the year 1858, and was associated with his contemporary pioneers in many works of good for the whole community. He was a graduate of Dartmouth college, and in addition he had received a valuable technical education and training along varied lines. His literary taste was of a high order, and this inclination had led him to close association with Oliver Wendall Holmes, Phillips Brooks and others of the old literary school of New England. Shakespeare was one of his favorite authors and he was well versed in the writings of the Bard of Avon. Among his local efforts in his literary pursuits were contributions written for the Tribune, and indeed he was for a time engaged on this paper's staff.

Included in his activities, too, were many efforts in company with other kindly disposed persons in lines of charity and the general uplift, his gentleness and considerate disposition enabling him to take broad views of humanity's frailties.


Deseret Evening News
(Mon., Jan. 31, 1910)

Well Known Resident Died Here Early This Morning.

James Thronton [sic] Cobb, died of kidney trouble at 4 o'clock Monday morning at his home, 250 Canyon road. The funeral announcement will be made later, owing to the absence of members of the family. The burial will be in the city cemetary.

The deceased was born at Beverly, Mass., December 15, 1833. He was educated at Dartmouth college. He was a profound student, taking a deep interest in the celebrated Bacon-Shakespeare contest that so much disturbed the literary world some years ago. Oliver Wendell Hilmes was a personal friend of Mr. Cobb'sm and the family has a letter from the great poet in which he writes to Mr. Cobb:

"Your mind has gone to depths and reached heights which no human mind since the days of Shakespeare has, and you have almost converted me."

In his earlier days Mr. Cobb was engaged in newspaper work. He came to Utah in 1858, following his mother here, she having joined the Mormon Church, and has been a resident here ever since. He had a genial disposition. Even up to within an hour of his death his mind was bright and his heart light, and the family surrounding the deathbed could hardly believe that his last hour was at hand.

He is survived by Mrs Camilla C. Cobb, and the following children. Ives E. Cobb, Mrs. Nat M. Brigham, Henry Ives Cobb, Rufus K. Cobb, James Kent Cobb. There are many relatives living in Boston and other cities of the United States.


Salt Lake Herald Republican
(Tues., Feb. 1, 1910)


The death of James Thornton Cobb, who died at the family residence, 250 Canyon road, early yesterday morning, removed from Utah one of its leading pioneer citizens. His death is generally regretted throughout the literary circles of Utah. Death was due to kidney trouble.

Mr. Cobb was born in Beverley, Mass., December 15, 1833. He graduated from Dartmouth college with high honors, and in 1858 came west, where he engaged in newspaper work. His literary work won for him the acquaintance and intimacy of such men as Phillips Brooks and Oliver Wendell Holmes. In one of his letters the poet said,

"Your mind has gone to depths and reached heights which no human mind since the days of Shakespeare has, and you have almost converted me."

The funeral arrangements have not been made, owing to the absence of several members of the family. The interment will be in the City cemetary.

The deceased is survived by his wife, Mrs. Camilla C. Cobb, and the following children: Mrs. Nat M. Brigham, Ives E., Henry Ives, Rufus K. and James Kent Cobb.


Read about the 1879 revival of the Spalding Authorship Claims.

James T. Cobb Documents

(this section is under construction)

Click on document numbers for transcripts.


No. 1. James T. Cobb to
Joseph Smith III fall 1878

No. 2. James T. Cobb to
H. H. Bancroft: 9-1-84

No. 3. James T. Cobb to
H. H. Bancroft: 9-2-84

No. 4. James T. Cobb to
H. H. Bancroft: 9-7-84

No. 5. Ellen Cobb to James T. Cobb


James T. Cobb Transcripts

"The Mormon Problem"
Salt Lake City, 1884

Original letters addressed to H. H. Bancroft
in the Bancroft Library, Berkeley, CA

(J. S. III Letterbook #2: item #?)

(under construction)

(HHB: P-F 19: Letter #1)

Salt Lake, U. T., 1 Sept., 1884
H. H. Bancroft, Esq.

Dear Sir,

I regret that I was not at home on Saturday when you [had] Mr. [Richards] , [--- --- the hour to call]. I [also regretted] my inability to meet you at Mrs. Cooke's last week. My wife has lately been confined, & has been, at times, in quite a critical condition, as Mrs. Cooke, with whom I chatted in the street, a few days since, (she is a very old and estemed friend) may have told you. Ever since your arrival at Salt Lake I have felt a strong desire to meet you, having known of you and your great work for years, following your career with very deep interest.


Ideally and theoretically (and so at last, practically & really,) I have solved the problem -- Mormonism. And in this [one]; like yourself, origins are with me 99/100. Could I "solve" Christianity (and resolve that) as well, to my own [mind's] satisfaction, as I have solved [&] resolved Mormonism, there would then be the bigest obstacle out of my path. But I have not been able to do that, and still rate myself a Christian believer; by no means a real Christian.

What a [sep-----] [ ---- ------], what an [altitude]! What opportunities and faculties you have [enjoined]! It may be that you, Sir, look down upon what I look up to -- Christianity. My main problem is, the rationale of inspiration. "There is reason in all things" -- even in concluding that some things [possibly ---- -- --- all -- --- essential] are beyond reason. But for my own [poor] part I must keep my feet on the terra firma of facts, and will, just as long as ever I can. I own but one secular lord in literature, or in life -- that's Bacon.


The [fons or principism] of Mormonism is to be found in the strange brain of Sidney Rigdon. He "made over" the Book of Mormon from the 'Manuscript Found' of Solomon Spaulding. He [gave] all, or nearly all, the Mormon revelations as we have them in the cannonical books of Mormon faith -- not excepting the so-called revelation on celestial and plural marriage. I need to have only the [----s] of reason & common sense to assure me of this. The Mormon problem presents to my [comprehension] no [---- ] 'I nodus dignus Deo' It is quite explicable on the basis of human ingenuity and [---s] [c----]. Do the Mormons (people, leaders and all) believe [this]? I am quite certain they do not believe it. [For] me, I do not separate the Mormon leaders and the Mormon people. Rascals and knaves there are, and always have been, among leaders and followers in the Mormon [craze]' but in the main and in the [-----], I [------] [both leaders and -------] as [honest-minded]. In


[asking] of "leaders," of Mormon leaders, [I] must not, however, [------] to the person of Brigham Young, center & supremacy.

I do not [--------fy] the Biblical Religion. [--] [still ---- --- the ----- ----- -- -----] of Protestantism with Christianity proper.

But more perhaps [upon] these [-----s] [should I] have [the high] gratification [of] personally meeting and conversing with you.

(May I say en passant that one of the most able and incisive articles I have ever seen on Mormonism, [-----ing] some few [----s] and flaws, appeared in Yesterday's Tribune, over the signature, "[---------]."

I just named Bacon. Having solved to my own entire satisfaction the problem of Mormonism, I have, of late years been all [inf----ed] over the Bacon hakespeare proposition. [That] also I have [-----ed] [----] [again]. I try to [pay some] [satisfaction]. That Bacon wrote Shakespeare's [Plays]. [---- -------] as I am that Rigdon originated Mormonism; and feel myself armed and equipped to establish both (rather convoluting) propositions to the [full] satisfaction of every [honest] & [reasonable mind]


I care not of what [ca--- ---] of what recognized status, [--ch] mind [may ----]

In some [-----] I [---- ----] in [compassion] [----] by Nathaniel [Nelson] [---- ------] of Camridge, Mass, the [----] of the [com-------] subject of the Bacon authorship of Shakespeare's [---- ----- ---- ------ ----- ----- ---- ---] and many [---- -----] in matters [----- ----- ----- ] [----- ----- ---- ---] his authorship of [-------] I have [----- ---- ----] many others [-----ing] upon this [-----] from [our] [beloved] [-----] Doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes, and to him have [sent matter] [-----ing --- ---- --- ] a [big] [-----] to H. [W.] Beacher, [George William -----] [Alfred Morgan], and a dozen more --- [---- ----- ----- -----] to all of [those] I have [written to voluminously]. Dr. Holmes sent me, besides his own [likeness] and his [own ----]. [---- ------- ----] distinguished consideration among [them] a copy of Mrs. Henry Potts' Promus issued last year [---- ----]. [--------- ------- ------- ------ ----------- ------- -------]


[etc.] Judge Holmes [---], -- [---- ---] Morgan's, is inconsequent & inconclusive. I spoke of your "altitude," [---- ----]; from mine, I [am --------] all such attempts to establish the real authorship of Shakespeare. They don't know Bacon, the [------] of humankind [he was]. If [ever] human [being] was reasonable, [Francis] Bacon was. [If ever] human creature [was inspired], [---- ---- --- now to --- ] that the [----] are one, "hic labor hoc opus est!" It has been my particular [opus to labor for] some years, to make the leaders in modern thought, some few among them, -- and I design to [c-------] myself [----] more, on the [-----] of the Atlantic see this and, if [h------] and [-----], confess it. I see by the way, the [gentleman's] note in "[The Critic]', New York City, 23d [Aug., 1884].

"Mrs. Henry Pott, with messrs. Appleton [----], R. M. [-----] (a [d------ --] the Shakespearean Editor) and [-----s], has [-----ly ----- ----] London, to [organize] "The Bacon-Shakespearean Society, to be composed of [members] [-----ing in ---- ----] the Shakespearean authorship of [the] plays [major ------]


About one hundred persons were present at the [-----ary] meeting of the Society, which [p------] whole [reg-----] [-------] and present the papers [---] before it/"

I [----] and verily in my [-----] [protest].

[-----] Shakespearean [------- -------]

There cannot be too many Bacon-Shakespearean Societies, nor too few Bacon-Shakespearean Societies.

What's in a name? Much [---- ---- ---], dear Sir, names are or should be things.

Still, the organization of such a society I hail as one of the [signs] of the [--------]. Morgan has been [----ing] me to publish, specially my matter on the Shakespeare [---- ----], and Doctor O. W. Holmes writes, -- "I wish some one who had the leisure and the capacity would review the whole matter in the light[s] of your [alle----]. They contain the results of [so many] thoughts and labor to be lightly dealt with. I may wish I could see them [----] [compressed] for [there some reflections] and some [---- -----] which [m---] bear primary and [-----ted in] the critical [--- ---] Independently of the main question, an [authorative] comparison of all the writings of Bacon with [those of W.] Shakespeare [m---- ---]


most [materials]. Most scholars among [us hear] the [Drama as] much better than the [k------] (if you will permit me for a moment to [----ate B-----]) and it [----] to them, [----], and to have a special notice for a [profound] and [---- ------] of Bacon.

More [lacking] expression of personal [-----tion] I might add here several of the autocrats' letters, but at these rejoice. 'Tis but a question of time, of a [short] time nowm and [----- ---- p-----ing], when this great question will assuredly -- sure as you and I are today alive --as Holmes writes, it [-------] "receive its [questions."] The question can only be [qu------sed] [---- ----] when the [------ -----] of [theinkers] & scholars [shall] know, as I know, that Bacon and Shakespeare are one.

Tomorrow about 11 a, m. I will give myself the great pleasure to call upon you at the Continental, unless [-----] a -----] from you.

With profound respect,
Jas. T. Cobb,

My p. o, box is


(HHB: P-F 19: Letter #2)

Salt Lake, 2d Sept., 1884
H. H. Bancroft, [Esq.]

Dear Sir,

It is possible that you may not even have heard of the Braden and Lelley debate on Mormonism. It was held in Kirtland, Ohio, Beginning February 12th and closing March 8th, 1884, between E. L. Kelley, of the Reorganized Cgurch of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints (Losephite Mormons) and Clark Braden, of the Church of Christ (Campbellites)

The debate has just been issued in a volume of over 400 pages, double columns, a great deal of matter; and in my judgement, the most important matter [yet] upon Mormonism. Braden himself is [its] publisher - 913 [Line street], St. Louis, [Mo.]

I have been in correspondence with Braden.


during the past half year. He is a very clever man -- rough and Bob Ingersollish, but goes until he [---------]. to the pith and marrow of his subject -- now and again while (like Ingersoll) apt to fly off, for new effect, to [----] essentials, and sometimes (as [------ly] impractical folk are [seen] to be) unfair; merely [of-----s] and [--- -------].

And what writer or speaker is not [---- -----] in heading Christianity? for as [-----] as [critical] Dialectics? [--- -----] Christianity a life, rather than a mere intellectual belief? I know so little and I am so small, that I feel almost ashamed to say anything. This is my [real] [-------] as it is no fortuitous [----] [-----], believe me. We are dabblers all, mere [boys] & beginners in the domain of metaphysics. But, if honest, we must respect the patent palpable facts every time -- not only admit but [inspect] -- But for "Campbellism." so called, there would, there could have been no Mormonism. They have one common origin in Scripture[s] powerful, in a [----] literal and hence mere superficial [------] of the Scriptures.


Here, as everywhere,

"Fools rush in where angels dare not tread." But the originators of what is [------ly] called (cleped) "Campbellism" -- now a very numerous body of respectable religionists -- were at least honest, frank, open-minded and [-------------] as well as quite cultured Christian[s] [------] men; most [------- ---- ---- ---- ---] of [all] [---- --- ---- ] Out of the [---- ----- ----- -----] ever commanded with, in speech or by pen, was [----] [Amos] Hayden, the Historian of the "Campbellites," [now gone to] rest. From him I learned much, [on] the [-----] of [-----] [---- ----] from his pen are among my [------- -----------]. Mr. Braden is a man of [------] and [the] "stripe," or [stamp].

But it is -- I [am] [as sure] as could [-----] (Mormonism seems, as [it] is, a bastard [off------] of "Campbellism," and '[a] Campbellite reformation,") that "Mormonism [-------] [------] its coup de grace [from] "Campbellism." (Mr. Hayden with his [brother] by the way, founded Hiram College in Ohio [---- president --- Ohio -----] resigned for the [-----]) [----] [this] debate is the beginning of the end of Mormonism
N. B. [Braden] [et al.] to the [contrary] and notwithstanding, to me the [most important part] of the Braden Kelley debate is [Mr. B's] showing "the hand that [--------] [is our] Rigdon [& etc.]"


Rigdon, the real though secret organizer of Mormonism, was for some years in intimate relations [with] the Campbellites, father & son, Thomas & Alexander, and with Walter Scott, the three leading spirits in [sh----] was [------] [----] the first [--- ---] [-----] of [------- ----] as the Campbellite Reformation. I call Rigdon the rich [-------] of "Campbellism" and the black [----] of Mormonism. And this is, substantially the fact. Do Mormons recognize it? Can they be brought to see it? If the truth, they will yet be compelled to see and admit it. And in this [line], Mr. Bancroft, is the peaceful and equitable "solution" of the Mormon problem. What says Emerson? "Justice satisfies everybody," and nothing but justice can satisfy everybody.

Though no Shylock,
I stand for justice.

Note. I called to see you at the Continental an hour ago, about eleven, as I supposed. I missed you! [It] was close upon 11:30 when I called. It may be you really do not mind seeing or conversing with one from [-----] I can honestly assure you that I [-----] [-----] can [---- ----- -----]


There is a little too much 'ego' in this and in my other [com.], you will think, and [justly so.] T be attributed in my case, perhaps, (if one may be charitable) to a morbid [exclusiveness ---- ----- of being [----] [--] [somewhat ------h] and [-----] I [-----] no [---- -----]. Shall I call upon you, for [mother] [---] and [for] myself again, say at half past [7] this evening? I will do so.

Sunday, 7 September.

I could not make up my mind to call on the evening of Sept. 2d, although much of a recluse I am not an affected one. It may be well enough to send these pages for you to read, with the lines I have just added. I was very sorry to miss a second call from one whom I should be [---- ----- ---] [proud] an happy to meet in person. Some time during the present week I mean to see you; but I give you fair warning that "mighty little" of [-------] or of [--------] is to be looked for from one whose many later years have been in shy [reclusion].

I am not an [----usive] person -- far from it. With my Frances Bacon I hold "[half] a converse, here in my"shy parlor," W. 11/ Main street, Salt Lake City; with 'Observer ' of Sunday's Tribune (Col. O. J. H-------- *) and with a few who would fain see this [----- --------[ peacefully, & rightfully adjusted. [I sol----] so, upon [--------] exceedingly [------ ------- ------- ------- ------- ----- -----] and [------] controversy [-----] [------- ------] [--------] upon [-------] I [------] [----] [-----] !

The highest truth seems [c----------se]. Bacon well understood this. He [announced] and [ --------med]; and, [--- ----- ---- ] could take [----able] exception, he was [----- ----- ---] to have any position he took overturned and [---- ----] upon. So it must be with the [-----] [pr------] [-----] [seek--] after the [el------ ----- ----] -- the genuine -- [----- -------- on -------- --------].

A clear achronistic statement is the main thing [we seek]. Hence, among all Americans [------------ -----------] is my American as Frances Bacon is my [------] model and nonpareil -- [-----ly] and [-----] as I follow, or can ever hope [to follow], either. The spirit of controversy was in neither, and is in [----- ----] and [lo-------]. Very Respectfully, Jas. T. Cobb.

* H. has written more purposefully & more [-----] respectfully upon [----- ----- ----- ---- -----]


(HHB: P-F 19: Letter #3)

Salt Lake, 7th Sept., 1884
Mr. Bancroft,

I take the liberty to present to you two of the most important publications (in my jusgement) which have yet appeared upon the Mormon subject; also a letter I have lately received from Joseph Smith, the present head of the so-called "Josephite" Mormons, whose headquarters are at Lamoni, Iowa. With Mr. Patterson (son of the Patterson to whom Spaulding's "Manuscript Found" was submitted for publication, cicra 1814) with Joseph Smith, of Iowa, and with Clark Braden. I have had extended correspondence with the first two a correspondence of some years -- Joseph Smith is quite a shrewd and intelligent man. I find it taxes my cedulity and my compassion, to the utmost, to conceive how any "shrewd and intelligent" person can "swallow" the Book of Mormon. But I [must] ever [bear] in


mind the Scriptural injunction, "Judge not." I "swallow," possibly, as great absurdities; though I thibk I do think, Mr. Bancroft that glaring absurdities are apt to rtick in my throat like Macbeth's 'amen.' And if this Book of Mormon be not a patent and glaring absurdity, certainly I am unable to conceive what under Heaven could be so called. One need not "judge," exactly but can't one laugh, even in a congregation of [solemnized] Saints -- laugh, I mean, in one's sleeve: Does the Bible forbid that!

I oppose Mormonism, I do not antagonize Mormons. Indeed I quite like Mormons themselves. Love me, love my [foxy], I never could for the [soul] of me see the force of.

But the bother is one can not berate the [foxy] styled Mormonism without the Mormons feeling personally aggrieved and abused. Like Catholicism, this Mormon Joseph's armory seems a very [------ -------].

Very Respectfully, Jas. T. Cobb


Letters to James T. Cobb

Original letters addressed to James T. Cobb
from various collections

(RLDS: J. S. III Letterbook #2: item #?)

Feb 14th, [187]9
Jas. T. Cobb:

"Time flies," it is true. Eternity is waiting for it.

Yours of the 9th inst. is at hand opportunely. Thank you for the reading of A. S. Hayden's letter. I reenclose it to you. The co-plotters in a bold work of deception -- bothers him and you. The world will be thankful to you if you find it; and so will I. Why be so distressed, and why spend so much time and effort, over so transparent a fraud, so stupendous a folly, as you seem Mormonism to be? Why not leave it to the tender mercies of time that by patient waiting wears out folly, either stamps out or reclaims viciousness, and vindicate truth?

"What have you learned?" That which displaces the corner stone upon which the fabric you are trying to build, rests. Mrs. Emma Bidamon, formerly Emma Smith nee Hale, from visiting whom at her residence at Nauvoo. I have just returned (the 13th inst.), informs me that she was married to Joseph Smith, my father, in South Bainbridge, by a Justice of the Peace, whose name she beleives was Tarbiell or Tarbell; that she was married at the house, or office of the Squire by him, and not by Sidney Rigdon, nor a Presbyterian clergyman. That she never saw, or knew any Sidney Rigdon until long after the Book of Mormon was translated, and she thinks, published. She wrote for Joseph Smith during the work of translation, as did also Reuben Hale, her brother, and O. Cowdery; that the larger part of this labor was done in her presence, and where she could see and know what was being done; that during no part of it was did Joseph Smith have any Mss. or Book of any kind from which to read, or dictate, except the metalic plates, which she knew he had.

Every argument advanced by you in support of the theory, that Sidney Rigdon was the responsible "Black Pope" behind the throne moving upon the pliant mind of Joseph Smith, it seems to me, is defeated by this plain statement. I need spend no time, rapidly [as it] flies, to refute any based upon that proposition.

My mother further states that she knew the Pratts before she knew Rigdon, and it is quite positive that Joseph Smith became acquainted with him through the Pratts, one or both. The precise date when she became acquainted with the Messrs P. P. & O[rson]. Pratt, she does not state, but is certain of the fact, that acquaintance with them preceeded acquaintance one with S. Rigdon.

S. Rigdon may have been at Bainbridge in '26; so may have Napoleon 3rd, but that by no means proves more than an opportunity for an acquaintance between Joseph Smith and him, if it be shown that Joseph Smith was there at the time. My mother states she went to Bainbridge to visit a family named Stowell, that my father found her there; that her folks being opposed to her union with my father, the latter taking advantage of opportunity plead for an immediate marriage, Stowell seconded his persuasions and without any previous purpose, "thinking she would a little rather marry him than any other man she knew" she yielded, and proceeding to the Squire's they were married.

Some other [things] learned by me during my visit, confirm me in the faith that there was no collusion between Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in palming off a fraud upon the people, and also that Joseph had no Spaulding Mss from which the B. of M. was plagiarized. [several lines not transcribed] ...

Well, I am glad to hear from you. I am "coming to see," but not as you continue. I have a terribly perverse mind; and am not afraid of the construction others may put upon what I earnestly write as my belief. No man can be compromised in the final count by human inferences.

J. Smith [Joseph Smith III]

(SHSW-MSs 78: box 2, f. 1)

The Argyle, June 1st 1889
My beloved Brother James,

Oh if you only could have [sent] last evening the [word] I have just [recd] this morning, what a night you would have spar'd your sister Nell! I have worried my very heart out at your mysterious disappearance. -- And never dreamed that you could think of doing such a thing as to go away to visit just as you were, without so much as a clean collar or a brush of any kind.


Oh Jamie people of our class in this civilized land, do not do such things. And altho' all are too polite to let you see it, you do mortify them, my brother. I say it only in the deepest sisterly tenderness, and to rouse you to being one of us once more, as well as with us. In speaking of you, one of our H. relatives said, God "affected["] them very strangely -- Just as if you had been living entirely out of the pale of civilization for years -- & had not seen a human face -- living the life of


a hermit! It was only a more delicate way of saying that in your appearance you so utterly disregarded the commonest usages of society as to toilet &c -- that you seemed to have [collapsed] into barbarism.

It was this that made me cry out at night in an anguished way which I bitterly repented of afterward. "Oh the selfishness of the life you must have been leading all these years! I feared that I had hurt you, my own dear brother -- For you are exceedingly dear to me. -- But how can I be [reconciled]


to seeing the collapse (so to speak) of one of the sweetest & most loveable of nature's as well as the brightest of intellects? To see you in such terrible bondage to your self -- to see you unable apparently, (at least unwilling) to shake off the dreadful habits & desires which must have been yielded to through long years to have acquired such a fearful hold and mastery, --- is to make all who sincerely love you, most miserable.

Not to take daily care of one's person and to regard 'cleanliness as next to Godliness is to [relapse] into barbarism -- And all who see you untidy, unkempt, unshaven, feel it a direct disrespect to themselves. Yet you realize it so little, my brother, that you seem to have a perfect antipathy to water and to pout & act like a naughty little boy -- at 55 years of age! When entreated to use it! Try, dear James, to look on our side and do this, if, for instance, I were to visit you, and appeared with unwashed face -- unbrushed hair -- soiled collars & laces, bonnet put on the back of my head &c, you [must]


feel it just as keenly as I do vice-versa -- But you do not seem to look at it from my side at all. --

But my dearest brother, let me say no more at this time -- Only that I am truly grieved that you should have gone away in such guise, & with no preparation for Sunday at all.

I miss you very very much & feel lonesome without you. Harry [Henry Ives Cobb (1877-1919)?] came he'd passed most of yesterday with me. -- Hoped you would come in every minute. -- --- Two letters from my Mabel


Since her return to Ketling, Throat improving all the time but Fannie didn't dare to take the children down for Sunday lest they might catch the malady & she fee; so much responsibility with their mother across the water.

My love to Cousin Isaac & all our relatives in Providence. Come back soon, dear -- & believe

One ever lovingly your
Sister Nell.


(SHSW-MSs 78: box 2, f. 1)

Edward A. Strong
134 Summer Street,
May 28th, 1897
My dear Jim,

I do not suppose I should have ever written you again, but for your letter of the 16th, received awhile ago. And, not al all, that I had forgotten the days of our youth nor our old time friendship, which seemed more continuous fabric than many such, surviving boyhood and the many vicissitudes of our separated lives. But I never could understand your failure to respond, at least by a few words. My last letter to you of many years ago, which, if it was not a [octum] in kind, to yours in being in any sense a literary effort, was, if I remember rightly, something of


an appeal for sympathy in mental or spiritual perplexities of my own. My next word from you was this telegram of Oct. 29, 1894. "Case most urgent nature: demand payment $150, Nov. 1, Money expected delayed, please help if possible, home jeopardized - wire - have written." James T. Cobb.

Though never endowed with great shrewdness, so much so that no one who ever knew me could ever call me "smart," I had still sense enough never to send money on a telegram, especially when a letter was on the way.

For did not the despatch say "have written"? I waited for that letter. It never came, and do I force conclusions, when I believe it was never written, nor ever would have been unless I had "wired" that money was sent.


That telegram, Jim, was [---ther] a blow. [But] while I could not respond with money nor a letter, I rather condoned [it] for I felt you must have been hard up, indeed, to try it on an old friend, in that fashion. I feared you were in sad straits & grasped at anything, as drowning men do at a straw.

But I forgave it, gladly & have only thought of you in these years [with] kindness & sympathy, believing you still on the planet for I thought I should have known somehow had you gone. I have hoped as your children grew older they had become helps & would make life easier for you, towards the end. If you are ill & poor & desperate, I grieve. "We about to dir," will salute each other. I must use English. You


seem to be up in Latin. I am not. I am glad to exchange the salutations, iven if it be for once more only. We are growing old. I judge our ages not very different, a few months different perhaps. I was 62 Dec. 10, 1896. I am compassed about with many infirmities, but the deserve no mention neside the multiplicity of my mercies.

I am not poor, though I have a strong [persuasion] that if I live long enough, I may die poor, (is that [------]?) for I find it [mostly] harder to keep money than to make it.

My own immediate family circle is unbroken. I have five grandchildren.

I cannot send you a hundred dollars, but I can try to offer a little help, by a smaller sum of $75 + hoping you will receive it, as a [brother's offering] for your comfort,


in any way except giving it to your sons to put into a mine. That I object to & yet cannot feeling it is what you wanted the $100 for, I may be wrong, of course.

If you answer this, dear Jim, spare me Bacon. I care not a rap for him, though I love Shakespeare still, but seldom read him. Tell me about yourself your family & circumstances & your occupations. I care for little else now, [as] between us. The time is short. Hard as it is to comprehend, I believe with you in the Divinity that shapes our ends.

And He is our God & Father if we will but believe it & He is Love itself. Ever yours faithfully,
Edwd. A. Strong

M. Drft $75
enclosed --)


Pittsburgh, Sept. 6th, 1879.
James T. Cobb, Esq.
Dear Sir,

Since my last to you, your favors of Aug. 26th and 28th have come to hand. I had written on Saturday evening (one week since) to Mr. Howe, but on Monday (Sept. 1st) I recd. yours of the 26th ult. & concluded to wait a day or two before mailing; and on the 3rd inst. yours of the 28th arrived, and at my first leisure I will rewrite my letter to him, aided by all that you have told me. In going from Gibsonburg to Painesville, I passed through Cleveland, and by stopping over for another train might possibly have found Thomas J. Clapp.

Would it be worthwhile to try to induce Mr. Howe to meet me in Cleveland (30 miles by rail from Painesville) that we might together call on T.J. Clapp? Or had I better see him alone? In either case, as you are more familiar with all the points to which his attention should be directed, it might be well for you to arrange them fully, clearly, and seriatim, omitting nothing that he might possibly be able to inform us about. (You see I am profiting by Dr. McKinstry's example.)

I scarcely see what more Mr. Howe can say to me than he has already written to you; but I am curious to know what he will think of Hurlbut's remarkable change of base.

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. * * * * 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. * * * *

"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."

Also, I cannot find your case on the Rigdons in the Com. Gaz. of Aug. 18. Possibly it was in some other Pittsburgh paper?

I return herewith the papers you request, with my thanks for them.

The McKinstry replies are very explicit, but do not help us much, except in illustrating Mormon antipathy to truth.

I scarcely know how to set about investigating the Otsego County part of the Spaulding Manuscript's history. Possibly a line to the Postmaster might elicit some information as to the Clark family. I think I will try it.

I attended the Amity church Centennial Celebration on Thursday, Aug. 28th. It was held three miles from the village, and I was not able to pay a visit to the grave of Spalding, or to see old Mr. Miller. I saw Redick McKee who, after the celebration, visit-ed his venerable companion of former days. He promised to call on me and tell me about the interview, but I have not seen him since. Four sons of Mr. Miller were at the celebration; also Dr. W.W. Sharp. A movement was inaugurated towards creating a monument over Mr. Spaulding's remains.

I am not aware of any `judicial investigation' into the origin of the Mormon Bible, and do not see how there well could be one. I cannot imagine what were Joseph Cook's grounds for such a statement.

Dr. Geo. P. Hays, President of W. & J. College, was present at the celebration. He feels an interest in the investigation, but is taking no part in it that I am aware of.

Am sorry to send you so unsatisfactory a letter.

Yours truly,
R. Patterson.
See P.S. on other side.

P.S. What could Rigdon have meant, in his abusive reply to Mrs. Davison's letter in 1839, by speaking of Dr. Rosa as "alias Hurlbut?" I called, when in Painesville, on the widow of Dr. Rosa, a very lady-like woman, quite venerable in appearance. She could give me no information.

"Wm. M. Darlington, Esq., a lawyer of this city, in a letter dated Aug. 23rd, 1879, (in reply to some inquiries of mine) says:

In the Allegheny Democrat for October 25th, 1825, there is an advertisement of the Dissolution of Partnership of Brooks & Rigdon. Payment by those indebted to be made to Sidney Rigdon at the old stand. I can find no notice in any of the newspapers I have of 1812-13-14 of the "Book of Mormon.

In a late conversation with Rev. S. Williams (who is always desirous to learn what progress you are making), I read to him that portion of your letter of June 11th relating to the testimonial in Page's pamphlet signed by `David Phillips, Dean of the old regular Baptist Church,' and 4 others, 2 of them named Phillips, and asked him to account for the seeming inconsistency of such a certificate, for such a purpose, with what he had published in regard to `Elder David Phillips' in 1842. He replied that the two names belonged to different men in the same church, one the Elder and the other a Deacon. I do not remember certainly, but I think he added that they were relations.

Mr. Redick McKee states that the pages of Spaulding's manuscript were of foolscap size, and had evidently been torn from the blank part of some old account book, as they were ruled for a/cs [i.e. accounts].

I read Rev. Mr. McNiece's communications as published in the Christian Statesman of Phila., a few months since -- at least the historical part of them; but he takes the evidence just as commonly published.

What is the date of Mrs. McKinstry's birth? Her son says she is between 70 and 80: the Mormon interview makes her about five years old when her father wrote the story and twelve when she used tor read it; and she states that she never saw the MS after they left Amity, which was probably in the Fall of 1816 or in the Spring of 1817.


P.S. On my way to the Post-office, I have just called on Robert Ellis (born 1824); his wife is Nancy Rigdon (born here in 1823): they were married in 1848. Geo. W. Robinson died some years ago; his widow (Athalia Rigdon) is still living. Mrs. Rigdon lives with her daughter Phoebe (now Mrs. Spear) at Friendship, Allegany Co., N.Y. Mr. Spear is in business in N.Y. City and is absent from home a good deal, of course.

Mrs. Ellis is much annoyed at the imputations cast upon her father. She has unbounded confidence in his innocence of the charge against him in the Spaulding matter. In this Mr. Ellis agrees with her; and says that both before and after his marriage, Mr. Rigdon personally and solemnly pledged his word and honor that he had nothing to do with making up the Mormon Bible, & had never heard of the Spaulding MS until after he became a Mormon himself.

We must try to learn more of Dr. Winter's testimony on this score.

In haste


Pittsburgh, Sept. 12, 1879.

Jas. T. Cobb. Esq.
D[ea]r Sir,

I mail herewith a letter (rather too long to be sent to so old a man) to Mr. E.D. Howe, with stamped & addressed envelope for reply, so as to give to him as little trouble as possible. I send you (enclosed) a verbatim copy of the epistle. I have put more questions to him than were necessary, after the information you have given me; but I thought I had better not enlighten him as to that, and get him to go over the whole ground of our special research. If he answers, I will let you know at once.

Redick McKee, Esq., called one day this week, but I was out, on the hunt for another Mormon witness I had been told of. The man's knowledge (a nephew of Mrs. Rigdon's) amounted to nothing. Mr. McKee promised to call again. I am anxious to know whether his interview with old Mr. Miller amounted to anything.

I have just recd. Prof. Turner's reply to your letter. It is unsatisfactory on the point you inquired about. I will try to have it copied tonight & mailed to you tomorrow, & will also acknowledge receipt of his letter in a brief line to him.

The mists do not clear away rapidly.

Yours truly,
R. Patterson

(on verso) "P.S. enclosed you will find a slip from a late no. of the N.Y. Eve. Post which may suggest that Mr. Spaulding's attention may have turned to Indian antiquities whilst he was a resident of Cherry Valley, and the conception of his romance may have antedated his sojourn at Conneaut.

R. P.


Pittsburgh, Feb. 28th 1881

James T. Cobb, Esq.
Dear Sir,

I mail herewith Pittsburgh "Dispatch" of this date with your reply to Mr, T. W. Smith. I thought it would receive a wider local circulation in that paper than in ours, would reach the same readers who had perused Smith's article, and also more old persons of all denominations in this vicinity who might possibly know something of Ridon's history. If it elicits any reply, will send it to you.

The Washington County (Pa) Historical Society have fixed upon Sept. 9th, 1881, as the time for the dedication of a monument they propose to erect over the grave of Spaulding at Amity, in attestation of their conviction that the Book of Mormon was derived from his "Manuscript Found." They have asked me to prepare a concise statement of the evidence tending to sustain this opinion, and any circumstantial evidence showing how the Spaulding MS. may have been this perverted. The opportunity seems an unusually favorable one for arresting public attention and confirming this belief; and I will be glad to have your assistance in making out the strongest possible case. Please give me any suggestions that occur to you.

You will notice the usual crop of typographical errors in the Dispatch. The headlines and subheads are the Editor's -- a stranger to me.

Yours, truly,
R. Patterson.


Pittsburgh, Pa.,
March 29th 1881

Jas. T. Cobb, Esq.
Dear Sir,

Your last (23d inst.) was recd. last night and I hasten to reply. Your previous letter of the 7th inst. came to hand on the 14th, and I made a transcript of the prominent points in `Bro. J.E. Johnson's' reminiscences and the editorial comments, intending to return it at once. But my time is very much occupied, and it is only by snatches that I can carry on my "Mormon" investigations. Discouraging as the results have hitherto been, I have during the last three or four weeks renewed my `walks and talks' among our old residents, to see if happily I may come across someone who can corroborate Mrs. Eichbaum's testimony. Repeatedly I have been assured that such a one is the very person I want, and I follow the new ignis fatuus with the same result as so often before. I have still on my list nearly a dozen names of persons scattered over a tolerably large area, whom I am trying to find time to interview. Thus far I have ascertained nothing new.

I am glad that you are determined to persevere. Will the Spaulding Manuscript mystery ever be unraveled? The theory you advanced in one of your letters, that there must have been, or at least that there were probably two copies, one of which was left in the printing office or was purloined from it, and the other retained by Mr. Spaulding, -- seems the best to harmonize many of the difficulties involved.

I have not yet found time or resolution to write again to Hurlbut -- it seems so hopeless a task; yet no doubt one more effort should be made to induce him either to confess his guilt as char-ged, or to induce him to make a defense against the accusation.

March 30th. -- Have not yet read Mr. Goodwin's (?) article in the A.A. Rev., but will look it up soon.

One thing that is inexplicable in this whole history is Mr. E.D. Howe's seeming indifference in so important a part of his case as the absolute proof of the plagarism. Why should he have rested satisfied with Hurlbut's statement, without any attempt by correspondence with Mrs. Davison or Mr. Clarke to discover where the real "Manuscript Found" could be? At that early day its fate could have been traced with comparative ease. If any of the Clarke family had given the veritable MS. to Hurlbut this important fact could have been indisputably established in a few days' time, whilst the first sheets of Howe's book were passing through the slow hand-press of those early days. If the bona-fide article was really never given to Hurlbut, no time should have been lost in tracing it up, and the probability is that it could have then been recovered. Some curious reader may have carried it off for perusal and then thrown it aside, ignorant of its value, and without any intention of purloining it. A little inquiry by the Clarke family might have recovered it. As this plagarism was the pivotal point on which Howe's demonstration of fraud, even to the Mormons themselves, turned-- why was he at the time so indifferent to it? And why has he ever since appeared so careless in re-gard to it-- even on his own theory that Hurlbut told the truth? To me it is an insoluble conundrum.

I will keep you posted if I hear anything that will be of service.
Yours, truly,
R. Patterson.

The asterisks below refer back to their counterparts in the previous article reprint. They are comments added by James T. Cobb to a copy of that article transcribed and sent to him by Rev. Patterson in 1881. 

* This accords with my conjecture, that Sid & Joe first met in the winter of 1825-6, someplace.
* Rigdon's main reliance.
* These things accord with the Christ-like character claimed for Rigdon in the "Appeal," and show to me that he had really a half-dazed confidence in himself and his heaven-imposed mission. He is a profoundly interesting psychological study. What do you think of Rigdon now? 

The original to the above may be seen in the Mormon Mansucripts Collection at the Chicago Historical Society. An accompanying document is an 1881 letter written by Presbyterian Banner editor, Rev. Robert Patterson, Jr., to James T. Cobb, former copy-writer for the Salt Lake Tribune.
        Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 26th, 1881.
    JAMES T. COBB, Esq.

"Old Citizen" was Mr. John Murdock, of this city. I have not seen him, but his son, whom I know, has brought me two copies of the Pittsburgh Telegraph, dated respectively Aug 24, 1876, and Feb. 7, 1881, in each of which is an article written by his father. I send you herewith transcripts of them. The date here given for Rigdon's Meadville speech is 1836. The date, as you quote it from the more recent article (1830), must be an error.

I write in a hurry, as other engagements are pressing me just now; but I know you have been anxious to have this man's testimony sifted.     Yours truly,

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