Spalding Studies: Ohio Sources

Part Three
Aaron Wright and Henry Lake Documents

1: Misc. Accounts  |  2: Misc. Lists  |  4: Spalding Docs

Docket  |  Docket scans  |  Wright BoM  |  Wright letter  |  Lake Bible  |  1811 Forge  |  1914 News


December 2, 1816 entries from the New Salem J. P.'s Docket
(See below for a typescript of these two pages).

Conneaut Witnesses   |   1847 Ohio History   |   1878 Ashtabula History



Vol. II  Issue 3                                                                 Summer 1975

[ 91 ]


[Insertions and notes added by Dale R. Broadhurst, 2002]

The following list is abstracted from a handwritten journal by the above name. It is held by the Carnegie Public Library, Conneaut. The docket is extremely hard to read since often it is faded, there is a good deal of poor hand, and it was evidently done in quill pen. We will begin with a smaller loose leaf booklet [1813-14 Docket of the Hon. Zadock Thompson] that rests in the larger log [1814-16 Docket of the Hon. Aaron Wright]. The docket is of court cases. We will abstract the names involved in the case, when & if possible.

Abbreviations used: vs=versus; State=State of Ohiol (?)=means not sure of the name preceeding mark; ill.=illegible; text=body of the case; onm=other names mentioned.

Trespass on the case.  Sept. 10, 1813;  
Summons issued for the defendant directed to Diocletian WRIGHT, Const.  Returnable on the 16th Instant at 1 o'clock P. M. -- Subpoenas issued for Asa BROWN, Lewis PITNEY, and James MARKS, returnable with the Summons. ---

Sept. 16 -- the parties met at the house John DUNN and proceded to trial, when, after hearing their several allegations and [claims?] judgment was rendered in favor of the Plaintiff, in the sum of fourteen Dollars and seventy-three cents and cost of suit [[list of costs follows]]


Joshua Z. COZENS:
Trespass on the case.  Oct 15th, 1813;
Whereas in the [said] suit, the Plaintiff is not a resident in this Township [ ------ ---- --] do acknowledge myself bail for said Pitney, in [------ ] the [amount] of the costs which shall accrue on [fair --- -----ed] on my goods and Chattles in case judgment should [ --- ----] redress against said Pitney, for the cost [----- ----]

Oct. 21st -- Summons issued for the Defendant, returnable on the 28th Inst. at [10] O'clock A. M. -- Oct. 22nd, Subpoenas issued on the part of the Deft. for Walter BRIGHAM, Directed to A. WRIGHT, Const., returnable with the summons. -- Oct. 28th -- At the request of the Deft., the above suits stands adjourned till the 11th day of Nov. next at 11 o'clock A. M. at the house of Henry LAKE in Salem [[list of costs -- "judgment rendered in favor of the plantiff" -- and illegible lines follow]]

onm in text: John MARKS

Joshua Z. & Jacob COZENS:
Trespass on the case.  Oct 21, 1813
Summons issued for the Deft. and Subpoenas for Nehemiah KING, Nathaniel HOWARD, Nahum HOWARD, Jewet PITNEY, Asa BROWN, and Christopher FORD -- Returnable on the 28th Inst. at [six] o'clock P. M. -- Oct. 28th the parties met at the time appointed, when at the request of the plaintiff the suit was adjourned till the 11th Day of the next at 1 o'clock P. M. at the house of Henry Lake in Salem. -- Nov. 11th the parties met persuant to adjournment and [refered] the trial by mutual consent to Christopher FORD, Daniel BALDWIN and Henry LAKE [[list of costs -- "three arbitrators" -- and illegible lines follow]]

Henry LAKE:
Trespass on the case.  Nov. 3rd 1813
Summons issued for the Deft. and Subpoenas on the part of the Pltf. for Nathaniel KING, Nehemiah KING, Samuel BALDWIN, and Jonathan SPALDING, directed to A. WRIGHT, Const., returnable on the 11th Inst. at 2 o'clock P. M. at the House of Henry Lake in Salem -- Nov. 11th the parties [[several illegible lines follow]]

Nov. 22nd Subpoenas issued for the above Kings, Baldwin and Spalding, directed to A. Wright, returnable [----- ---] at my house. Subpoenas [issued -- --- --] -- Subpoena issued for J. B. M. Brown [----- ---]

Dec. 1st parties met persuant to adjournment when the defendant confessed judgment in the sum of four dollars and cost of suit -- to which the plaintiff agrees. -- Dec. 1st, paid on the above judgment four dollars.   John MARKS [[his signature for receipt of payment]]

onm in text: Zadock(?) THOMPSON

Joshua Z. & Jacob COZENS:
Trespass on the case.  Oct 21 1813
Summons issued for the Defts. and subpoenas for Nehemiah KING, Nathaniel HOWARD, Nahum HOWARD, Jewet PITNEY, Asa BROWN, and Christopher FORD, returnable on the 28th Inst. at 1 o'clock P.M. -- Oct, 28th the parties met, when at the request of the Plaintiff the trial was adjourned to the 11th day of Nov. next at 1 o'clock P. M. at the house of Henry Lake in Salem [[list of costs follows]]

Nov 11th the parties met persuant to adjournment. The Plaintiff declares on a debt for rent and sundry other articles, to which the Deft. pleads the general issue; the trial was then referred by mutual consent of both parties to the arbitration of three men, viz. Daniel Baldwin, Christopher FORD, and Henry LAKE [[costs list follows -- Nahum Howard called "Dr. Howard" -- illegible lines follow]]
onm in text: A. BROWN, A. WRIGHT.
[ -------- ] returnable on the 11th Inst. at 1 o'clock P. M. at the house of Henry Lake in Salem [[costs list follows -- illegible lines]] -- Dec 1st In the suit of Lewis PITNEY against Joshua Z. & Jacob COZENS, I John Marks do acknowledge myself bail for Joshua Z. & Jacob COZENS in the sum of twenty-five dollars to be levied on my goods and on the lands and tenements [ ---- ------- ] said Joshua Z. or Jacob COZENS fail to make payment for the sum for which judgment is entered against them in said suit -- John MARKS [[his signature]]

David NILES:
Trespass on the case.  Nov 30 1813
Nov. 30th defendant appeared and confessed judgment in favor of the plainteiff in the sum of sixty-seven dollars and eighty two cents -- [In] the suit of Seth [HERRINGTON?] against David Niles, we Leonard NILES and Sinclear FOX do acknowledge ourselves bail for David Niles in the sum of One hundred and thirty dollars to be levied on our goods and chattles, lands and tenements, in the case this said David Niles fails to make payment for the sum for which judgment is entered in said suit. Leonard NILES and Sinclear FOX -- [[signatures and costs list follow]]

Trespass on the case.  Dec 22nd 1813
Warrent issued for the deft. and subpeonas on behalf of the State for Josiah BROWN Esq., David NILES, and Oliver WILDER [ --- ]

Dec. 23d subpeonas on the part of the Deft. for Samuel BEMUS, Sarah BEMUS, John M. BEMUS, Miron BEMUS, Nathan KING, Josiah BROWN, Jr., Peter KING, Jr., and Nehemiah KING -- the court was then called at the house of John B. M. BROWN and adjourned to the School-house   pursuant to adjournment. -- The defendant is charged with a Breach of the Peace, (viz.) with threatening the person and property of John B. M. BROWN, to which he pleads not guilty. -- when after hearing the several witnesses in behalf of the State and prisoner, ordered that the prisoner be discharged. --

onm in text: Const. [Jess A. ?] SAWTELL

John B. M. BROWN
Trespass on the case.  Dec 22nd 1813
Warrent issued for the deft. and Subpeonas for Josiah BROWN, Esq., Charles BROWN, Benjamin BROWN, returnable at the house of the Pltf.

Dec. 23 Parties met at the house of John B. M. BROWN -- Plaintiff declares on a debt of fifty dollars to which the defendant pleads the general issue [and] also declares on a debt of Seventy dollars. --

Ashtabula County, Salem Township, [ -----] Whereas James CRAWFORD hath been arrested and is in custody [on] the suit of John B. M. BROWN, debt and damages in the sum of fifty dollars, -- [Now] therefore you Peter KING, Jr. do acknowledge yourself special bail in said action in the sum of one hundred dollars to be levied on your goods and chattles lands and tenements and for want thereof, upon your body, if default be made in the condition of your [recognizance], which condition is that the said James CRAWFORD shall [be] and appear Zadock THOMPSON at the house of John B. M. BROWN on Saturday the 25th Instant and if judgment be rendered against him that he shall pay the cost and [ -------- ------- -------] his body in consideration [ -------- --- ----- ---- -------] Zadock THOMPSON.
The court the adjourned to the 25th Instant at [4?] o'clock [P. M.?] at the house of J[ohn] B. M. BROWN -- witnesses present J. BROWN, [[illegible lines]]

Dec. 23, supeonas issued on the behalf of the plaintiff for Josiah BROWN, Esq., Charles BROWN, Benjamin BROWN, and for Peter KING, Jr., and Ansel HULBERT, on behalf of the Deft., returnable on the 25th Inst. at 4 o'clock P. M. at the house of J[ohn] B. M. BROWN.

Dec. 23, supeonas issued for Samuel BEMUS, [James?] LEAVITT and Daniel SAWTELL, returnable as above. Dec. 25th the parties met persuant to adjournment, [when?] after hearing their several proofs and allegations the court adjourned till the 27th Instant to prepare judgment. -- Dec. 27th Judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff in the sum of twenty dollars and cost of suit. [[list of costs and illegible lines follow]]

onm in text: S. BEMUS, J. LEAVITT, D. WILDER.

Charles De MIRANVILLE, Jr.
Sinclear FOX, Jr.:
Trespass on the case.  Dec. 27, 1813;  
Summons issued for the deft. returnable on the 6th day of Jan. next at 5 o'clock P. M. at my house -- Jan 6th the parties met persuant to adjournment when the Deft. confessed judgment in favor of the Pltf. in the sum of twenty-[five] dollars and eighty seven and a half cents and cost of suit.

In the suit of Charles De MIRANVILLE, Jr. against Sinclair FOX, Jr., I, Sinclair FOX, Senior, [ --- ---- ] [acknowledge?] myself bail for Sinclair FOX, Jr. in the sum of fifty dollars to be levied against my goods and chattles lands and tenements in case that said Sinclair FOX, Jr. fails to make payment for the sum for which judgment is confessed in said suit. Sinclair FOX [[signature and costs list follow]]

On back cover: E. Colonel Zadock THOMPSON; Daniel SAWTELL

-- End of small loose-leaf booklet. Now to large Journal and loose papers in ir. --

Thomas MILES vs Isaac SAKE (?):
5 Jan, [1814?]
text and other names ill.

[[Court case entries for Jan. - Oct. 1814 appear to be missing]]

Walter BRIGHAM vs John D. PITNEY:
17 Oct. [1814?]

also: Walter BRIGHAM vs Ezekiel OLDS

William HILL (?) vs William BALDWIN:
17 Oct. 18[14?]

Lewis PITNEY vs John MARKER (?) & Samuel BEMUS:
Oct. [1814?];
onm: Jacob COZENS, John D. PITNEY, --?-- BROWN, Ezekiel OLDS, Johnah SILVERTHORN.

(loose paper; mostly ill.;) William (?) DUNN;
Oct. 1817

Christopher FORD
Trespass on the case. 20 Oct. 1814
onm: Jacob COZENS.

Thomas FORD
Trespass on the case. 20 Oct 1814?
onm: Jacob COZENS

Trespass on the case. Nov. [1814]

Treasurer of Geauga Co.
Peter KING, Sr.:
Trespass on the case. Nov, 14, 1814;
onm: Justice KING, Lewis PITNEY.

David NILES:
Trespass on the case. 28 Nov. 1814

[Jabez] STRONG
Edmund G. BLOOD:
Trespass on the case. Nov. 18, 1814

Peter KING, Sr.
Trespass on the case. 14 Dec. 1814

Sinclear FOX:
Trespass on the case. Dec. 29, [1813?]
[[out of chronological order? same as Dec. 27th entry?]]

Edmund G. BLOOD:
Trespass on the case. Nov. 8, 1815

David NILES:
Trespass on the case. Nov. 30, 1813;
onm: Zadock THOMPSON [[out of chronological order?]]

[Zephaniel] THAYER:
Trespass on the case. Feb. 3, 1815]

[Zephaniel] THAYER:
Trespass on the case. Feb. 2, 1815;
onm: Thomas HAMILTON (?)

Christopher FORD
[Zephaniel] THAYER:
Trespass on the case. [[Feb. 2, 1815]]
[------y] came the defendant and confesed judgment in favor of the plaintif in a debt of thirty-four Dollars and thirty-one sents.

Salem -- Feb. 2, 1815   entering judgment 12 1/2
Salem -- 11 March, 1815  Execution issued for the defendant Directed to N. Howard returnable as the law directs. -- returned nothing [ --- the -----] on the 12th day of May and returned on the 12th day and five dollars and seventy-five sents paid

returned October 14 and returned satisified all [[illegible words and costs follow]]


Nathaniel SPENCER
Neh[emiah] KING:
Trespass on the case. 1813, July 3d
This day came the defendant and confessed judgment in favor of the plaintiff on a note executed by said defendant & Joel HARVEY to said plaintiff in the sum of fifty five Dollars and eight cents -- -- -- [[costs list follows]]

In the above suit of Nathaniel SPENCER against Neh. KING, I, Peter KING, Jun. Do acknowledge myself bail for the said Neh. KING, in the sum of one hundred ten dollars & sixteen cents -- to be levied of my goods and chattels, lands and tenements, in case the said Neh. KING fails to make payment for the sum for which judgment is entered in the above suit.
  Kingsville, July 3d 18[13]   Peter KING, Jun. (ss)

The above is a true copy or transcript from the docket of Walter FOBES, Esq. -- Amanda FOBES.

Nathaniel SPENCER
Neh[emiah] KING:
17 Feb. 1815
This day came the defendant and confesed judgment in the favor of the plaintiff on the above transcript from the Docket of Walter Fobes, Esq., deceased, for the sum of Sixty Dollars and forty-five cents together with the costs stated in said transcript and the costs of entering this judgment [[costs list follows]]

Y. (?) [I.] A. ROBERTSON
William BALDWIN:
Feb. 18, 1815 [[note: Israel A. Robinson was frequently called "Robertson" in various early Ohio records; perhaps he used both names interchangeably]]

Nicholas WHITINGE[R?]
John HEWETT   for Jacob WALKER:
12 Mar. 1815

J. HAR[PER] (?) & L. (?) FORTIEN (?)
Mar. 27, 1815;
onm: Nathaniel HOWARD, Christopher FORD (1817).

(loose paper)
[entry] of [-----y ------] taken up by Capt James HARPER taken up on the 20 of April 1816 and [expired?] by Elias Keyes and Henry Lake at 65 dollars on the tenth of May 1816 [[note: Elias Keyes arrived in New Salem at the beginning of 1816 -- he took over the defunct iron forge business of Solomon Spalding and Henry Lake and put it back into operation]]

Polly SATTLE (?)
Mar 30, 1815

Natt. (?) SMITH
Jacob PADEN:
Apr. 3, 1815
onm: John --?--, Jacob --?--

(loose paper)
Jonathan WRIGHT
Salem, 1816;
onm: John HOWARD, State. (Reverse:) Aaron WRIGHT, David GITCHELS, Jnos (?) SWAN

J. (?) [I.] A. ROBERTSON :
Apr. 22, 1815,
mostly illegible

Christopher FOARD  [FORD]:
Calvin COAL (COAT?):
? ? 1815;
onm: John RUDD, N. HOWARD; rest illegible

[Aaron] LYON
Josiah ATKINS:
Trespass on the case by confession: Salem, May 8, 1815;
judgment entered against the Defendant in note of hand executed by him to the plaintiff in a debt [[costs list follows]]

Returned by Josiah ATKINS the full amount of the above judgment   Aaron WRIGHT [[signature]] -- Salem 20 Nov. 1815   and paid it to Smith Webster in [-----ck] by order of plaintiff

Editor's note: (these) seem to be all for debts. Very hard to read... Will be on microfilm at Henderson eventually. You can decipher further. Costs given. To be continued next issue.

Although no microfilm of the docket book has ever been deposited for public consultation at the Conneaut Public Library, a DVD containing scans of that document's pages has been made available. See the links appendix at the end of this Ancestor Hunt article for web access.



Vol. II  Issue 4                                                                 Fall 1975

[ 117 ]


[Notes and insertions added by Dale R. Broadhurst, 2002]

The following, continued from last issue, is from handwritten journal, court cases. Original docket held by Carnegie Public Library, Conneaut. Will be on mircofilm at Henderson Library, Jefferson, eventually. See last issue for more information and abbreviations used by editor.

Fredrick VIOTAR (?):
26 May 1815;
onm: Samuel BEMUS, Nahum (?) HOWARD, Henry LAKE, --?-- MCNEAR & possibly one other. mostly illegible

Christopher FOARD  [FORD]
Nathan KING:
May 28, 1815
onm: J. (?) D. JOEKION (?)

Christopher FOARD  [FORD]
22 May [1815]
onm: MCNEAR; mostly illegible

Christopher FOARD [FORD]
William BALDWIN:
22 May [1815]
mostly illegible

Christopher FOARD  [FORD]
Nathaniel LAUGHLIN:
22 May [1815]
mostly illegible

John [RUDD]:
May 22, 1815;
mostly illegible

James M (?) BOMHAM (?) [BENHAM]:
May 22, 1815;
mostly illegible

Daniel COFFUM (?) [COFFIN]
Elijah [LEWIS]:
June 10, 1815;
onm: George --?--, James (?) [SWET or LEUET], Joseph BENET; mostly ill.

Aron (?) ENSIGN (?)
20 [June?] 1815;

Christopher FOARD [FORD]
David (?) COFFIN:
10 June 1815;
somewhat illegible

Leonard (?) M. NILE (?)
Jacob WALKER & Hugh MARRIETT (?):
13 June 1815;
partially illegible

14 June 1815;
mostly illegible

John DUNN (?) and William DUNN (?):
27 July 1815;
mostly illegible

July 28, 1815;
mostly illegible

July 1815;
mostly illegible

July 7, 1815;
onm: I A. ROBINSON, John RUDD; mostly illegible

Partrick MC BRIDE
Nemiah KING:
Aug 19, 1815
mostly illegible

Gracia (?) TUBBE (?) [TUBBS]:
12 Aug 1815;
mostly illegible

(Loose paper with various names, same handwriting as above).
James MARKER (?), J. B. M. BROWN, Daniel SAWTELL, Thomas --?--, etc.

(several more pages in sequence -- nearly impossible to read due to bad handwriting.) Mostly cases of J.B.M. BROWN vs various people: JILLET (?), SHAW (?), SMITH.

[[note: A few extracts from these "pages in sequence --nearly impossible to read" follow below]]
Trespass on the case: Salem, 22 Aug. 1815
the parties met amicable and agreed to [s----e] this [------] to [----- of ------] and the [men?] [sch-----] by the [parties?] is Nahum HOWARD, James MARKS, Aaron WRIGHT [[mostly illegible]]

Trespass on the case: Salem, 31 Aug. 1815
[presently?] appeared the defendant and confessed judgment in favor of the plaintiff in a debt on book account [four dollars] twenty-five sents and also nine dollars and twenty-three cents cost which we made in [arbitration?] between the parties [[illegible lines and costs list follow; ends: "and returned satisfied"]]

Peter KING Jr.
J. B. M. BROWN :
Sept 6 (?) 1815;
onm: Edward FIFIELD, Thomas MCNEAR, Joseph WERTGAH (?), I. Z. COZENS.

William GOULD
Nehemiah KING:
amicable suit: 1815, Sept. 14th;
This day came the defendant and confessed judgment on a note in favor of the plaintiff to the amount of fifty-five dollars and sixty-four and a half cents [[costs list follows]]

In the suit of William GOULD against Nehemiah KING, I Nathaniel Howard do acknowledge myself bail in the sum of one hundred and ten dollars, to be levied on my goods and chattels, lands and tenements in case the said defendant fails to pay the debt & costs for which judgment is entered in said suit -- Salem Sept. 15th, 1815  Nathaniel HOWARD [[his signature]]


Nathaniel HOWARD
John RUDD:
trespass on the case, Salem: 22 Sept. 1815
the parties [amicable---] and [joi----- ---] and plaintiff [desireable?] of the defendant [on a note of hand] the defendant [----- ----- ----] of notice to the amount of the [notice] and this [sute?] is continued til the 12th of October [--- ----- ----- -----] judgment [de-------ed] against the defendant on a note of hand at twenty one dollars debt [[costs list follows]] received June 5, 1816 the [full] amount of the above judgment by plaintiff

(Several more pages of very bad handwriting): WALKER, MANESFIELD, CACLIN (?), VIETEN (?), OVITT, etc.

[[note: A few extracts from these "pages of very bad handwriting" follow below]]
Zephaniel THAYER:
trespass on the case: Salem, Oct. 10th 1815
[presently] came the defendant and confessed judgment in favor of the plaintiff [in a debt -----] [[costs list follows]] -- Salem 9 January 1816 [-----] recd for the above judgment

Thomas McNEAR
Oliver SMITH
trespass on the case: [1816, Jan. 29]
Warrant issued for the defendant on the 29 returnable fourth, with returned by [David NILES] the body -- presently comes the defendant and confesses judgment in favor of the plaintiff in [sum] of twenty dollars and cost of sute. [[costs list follows]]

Salem 29 January 1816 -- John RUDD court fees [amount? -----] in the sute of Thomas McNEAR and Oliver SMITH -- I John RUDD acknowledge myself bail in the sum of forty dollars and twenty-five sents to be levied on my goods and chattles, lands and tenements in case the said [-------] fails to pay the above judgments -- John RUDD [Jr.?] [[his signature -- illegible lines follow]]

[[note: The bail-bondsman was probably John RUDD, Jr., as he was a resident of Salem township in 1816. Oliver SMITH lived adjacent to John RUDD, Sr., across the State line in nearby Springfield township, Erie Co., Pennsylvania]]

Christopher [FORD]
Salem -- May 20, 1816
presently came the defendant and confessed judgment in favor of the plaintiff on a note of hand [enacted] by defendant and [[name illegible]] [in a debt] [[costs list follows]]

received on the above judgment ten dollars, Salem, 26 October 1816 and paid [over] to Christopher FORD and took his [------ ------- ----- --- -----]

Salem 16 of January 1817 -- received of Nahum HOWARD the [full] amount of the above judgment Christopher FORD [[his signature]]

tresspass on the case: [June 22, 1816]
Warrant issued on the 22nd day of June 1816. Returned the same day by delivering the body and continued until the 24th [at?] William FOSTER's -- Subpeonas issued for David GITCHELL, Henry LAKE, John BARKER, George WRIGHT, & J. Z. COZENS.

24th June 1816 -- Parties in court agreed to refer the suit to a court of reference and chose William FOSTER and [Harry} KEYES, and [Oren] ENSIGN Referees to decide on sd. suit -- Award of the Referees $8.00 in favor of the plaintiff and costs of suit [[costs list and illegible lines follow -- "John RUDD, Constable"]]

Henry LAKE
trespass on the case: 1816 Salem October 12
parties appeared and joined [------] Plaintiff pleaded for six hundred weight of hay on [t----- about? h---] and by Defendant Christopher FORD in the Spring of 1815 [said] by defendant in [------ ------ ------ -----] and for which he brings his action and pleads the [----] for the [promised?] of [g------] and will give [special matter in evidence]   the defendant pleads the [----- -----] Plaintiff subpeonas J. Z. COZENS as witness and after hearing the witness & the allegations of the [-----s] that the defendant [pay] the Plaintiff the sum and cost [[costs list follows]]

Nehemiah KING
Christopher FORD
Salem 1816, October 19th
Summons issued on the [[crossed out]] day of October returnable on the nineteenth of October 2 o'clock in the afternoon [for entry?] served and returned by [------ ----- ------- -------] Subpoena issued and [returned] [------ ------- ------ Nahum HOWARD ------ ------] plaintiff demands of the defendant twenty-three dollars forty cents for which [he received] counterfeit bill in 1814 [---- ---] of twenty dollars and other [-------] of two dollars thirty-seven and a half cents the [-------- ------]

Defendant [---- in -----] note of twenty dollars executed by plaintiff and James Harper to defendant with [------ ------ ------] this [case] is continued til Tuesday the 22 of October 2 in the afternoon at this place -- Suppeona issued for Oliver [WILDER] Nahum HOWARD on the part of the plaintiff -- Subpoena issued for Oliver SMITH &mnsp;Nichlaus [SYBANGAN?] &mnsp;John DUNN &mnsp;Luis PITNEY &mnsp;J. B. M. BROWN on the part of the defendant   parties in court with [their] witnesses and after hearing the testimony [and other allegations?] decided that the plaintiff [receive] of the defendant the sum of five dollars seventy-seven cents debt and [[remainder illegible]]

[[note: Apparently an original Oct. 18th summons in this case was suppressed and kept in Aaron Wright's docket; see original, below]]

State of Ohio  Ashtabula County  SS
To Nahum HOWARD & Oliver WILDER  you are required to appear before me on Tuesday the 22 inst at 2 o'clock PM to testify and the truth to say in a case now depending between Nehemiah KING   plaintiff and Christopher FORD  Defendant   Given under my hand and seal this 18th day of Oct. 1816   Aron WRIGHT, J. P.
[[note: The Hon. Aaron Wright generally signed his first name with a single A]]


1816 court summons with names of N. King, N. Howard and A. Wright


Onan [Oren?] ENSIGN
Salem 1816 October 19
Summons issued on the 12 day of October at 2 o'clock in the afternoon -- presently served and returned by Israel A. ROBERTSON, Const. -- Plaintiff in court judgment rendered against the defendant [--- --- ----] for a debt of nine dollars twenty-eight cents and costs [[list of costs follows]]

State of Ohio
Nathan KING

State action -- November 23d
Warrant issued on the complaint of Christopher FORD on behalf of the State for assault and battery against the Defendants by Amos KELLOGG, Esq. and returned to me by David Niles, Jr. one of the constables of Salem, with the said Defendants -- Whereupon Defendants in court and postponed the [----] matter til Monday the second day of Decem. at one o'clock in the afternoon
onm: David [WILDER?]

State of Ohio
Ashtabula county -- Decem 2, 1816
On the complaint of Christopher FORD for [assault and] battery warrant issued by Amos Kellogg, Justice of the Peace for the county [of] Ashtabula, on the 23d day of [November] 1816, returned to any Const. of Salem, returned to Aron Wright Justice [of Peace] by David Niles, Jr. Constable of sd. township on the 2d day of December AD. 1816, the defendant being [put] to plea pled not guilty and the proof and allegations being heard as well on the part of the State as on of the Defendant it is the opinion of the said Aron Wright that Elias Keyes be discharged.[[list of costs follows]]

State of Ohio
Ashtabula county -- Decem 2, 1816
On the complaint of Christopher FORD for warrant issued by Amos Kellogg, Justice of the Peace for county of Ashtabula, on 23 of November 1816, returned to any Const. of Salem, returned to Aron Wright Justice [of Peace] by David Niles, Jr. Constable of sd. township on the 2d day of December AD. 1816, the defendant being put to plea pled not guilty and the proof and allegations being heard as well on the part on the complaintant, as of the defendant, it is the opinion of the said Aaron Wright that Nahum HOWARD be discharged.[[list of costs follows]]

State of Ohio
Nehemiah KING
Ashtabula County -- Dec. 2, 1816
On the complaint of Christopher FORD vs Nehemiah KING for assault and battery -- Warrant issued by Amos KELLOGG, Esq., a Justice of the Peace for the County of Ashtabula on the 23rd day of November, 1816, to any Constable of Salem township -- Returned to Aron WRIGHT, Justice of Peace by David NILES, Jr., Constable of Salem township -- on the 2 day of December A.D. 1816. The Deft. being called upon and being put to plead, pleaded not guilty. And the proofs and allegations being heard on the complaintant, as well as on the part of the defendant, it is the opinion of the said Aron WRIGHT that Nehemiah KING be discharged [[costs list follows]]  view graphic of this and following page
onm in text: Zachariah OLMSTEAD, Sarah WALKER, Robert MORREL, Nathaniel HOWARD, Caleb CROSS, Earl PIERCE, Bess BROWN, Jacob WALKER

State of Ohio -
Nathan KING
Ashtabula County -- Dec. 2, 1816
On the complaint of Christopher FORD warrant was issued for assault and battery -- Nathan KING by Amos KELLOGG, Esq., a Justice of the Peace for the County of Ashtabula on the 23rd of November, A.D. 1816, directed to any Constable of Salem township -- Returned to Aron WRIGHT, Just. Peace for sd. County by David NILES, Jr., Constable of sd. township -- on the 2nd day of Dec. A.D. 1816. The Deft. being called upon appeared being put to plead, pled not guilty and the proofs and allegations being heard on part of the plaintiff, as well as on the part of the defendant, it is the opinion of the said Aron WRIGHT that Nehemiah KING be discharged [[costs list follows]]

Christopher FORD
Nehemiah KING
amicable: 1817, January 4th
Parties in court plaintiff declares against the Defendant on a judgment of between seven and eight dollars which the plaintiff recovered against John Dunn before the said Defendant then acting as a Justice of the Peace on the 18th December 1813 together with the interest on said judgment and the penalty agreeable to the Statute in the first case made and provided -- To which the Defendant pleads and says that said judgment as set up in the plaintiff's declaration was recovered in manner and form as therein stated & that he, said Defendant did receive the amount of said judgment from John Dunn and did pay the whole amount over to the plaintiff or to his order -- and further the Defendant sets up against the plaintiff one certain receipt executed by the plaintiff to the said Defendant, for the sum of thirty dollars or under, for which he prays judgment. --
  Whereupon the parties mutually agree to submit the mattewr in [fine?] to arbitration & elect Martin KELLOGG, Esq., Joel WOOD and Josiah BROWN, jun. arbitrators. -- Parties mutually agree to continue -- ordered continued until Saturday the 11th Instant at one o'clock in the afternoon -- same time [----] notice to the arbitrators & subpeonas for witnsesses --

1817 January 11th The parties arbitrators and witnesses in [continuance] and the said arbitrators after hearing the proofs and allegations of the said parties did return to me their award under their hand in which they ordered and awarded that the [[two lines illegible -- list of costs follows -- list of 3 arbitrators and six witnesses "paid by Neh. KING" follows -- names: Martin KELLOGG, Esq., Joel WOOD and Josiah BROWN, jr. -- Nahum HOWARD, Edward FIFIELD, William FOSTER, Josiah BROWN, Jr., John B. M. BROWN, and Jacob WALKER]]
  Received of Christopher FORD the full amount of the above judgment by me Aron WRIGHT, Salem, Sept. 15, 1817, five dollars and eighty cents [to ----ought] of money in my hands of Christopher FORD -- By David NILES, Const.

John RUDD, Jr.
action on the case -- [1817, Jan. 10]
On the application of the Pltf. summons on the 10th day of Jan. [------d] to David NILES, Jr. Constable, returnable on the 18th Inst. at 2 o'clock P. M. Returned executed by Constable.

On application of the Pltf. Subpeonas issued for Alvin ALLEN, Hugh MORRELL, Isaac FISHER, Jacob WALKER, John CULVER, James H. CLARK, Lewis PITNEY, and Harry KEYES. Returned executed except on Alvin ALLEN, Hugh MORRELL, by Constable NILES and the parties came accordingly.
  Plaintiff declartes a book account for balance due $68.40 -- Defendant plead the general issue and at the same time gives notice that he had sundry notes & accounts which he sets up against plaintiff as an assett.
  1817 January [18] this case is continued till the last Saturday in April at 2 PM in this place [[April records missing from docket]]

(loose paper: promissary note dated 1812, Dec. 24)
On Demand I promise to pay to Anan HARMON or bearer thirteen bushels of good merchantable wheat -- For value received -- Witness my hand
  At Salem December 24th 1812   Neh, KING
The wheat to be delivered at aron Wright's Mill in Salem.   Neh, KING

(loose paper: dated Dec. 9, 1813)
Rec'd of Anan HARMON fifty [hundreds?] of flour As delivered to Elish NORTON whose [----] for as witness my hand -- Salem 9 of December 1813.
  The above f;iur is to be delivered at the mouth of the Coneought in Salem

(loose paper: dated Oct. 17, 1814)
This may certify that I Aaron WRIGHT one of the Justices of the Peace for Ashtabula County solemnized the marriage covenant between Silas HERRIN and [Livey?] LEWIS on the [thirteenth?] day of Inst. Oct. -- Oct. 17th, 1814 -- Aron WRIGHT J. P.

(loose paper: dated Oct. 21?, 1814)
J. R. HAWLEY, Esq. -- Clerk of the court of common pleas for Ashtabula County.
  Sir -- this may certify that on the eighteenth day of Inst October I solemnized the marriage contract between Smith WEBSTER of Kingsville and Rosamand FOBES of the same place -- Aron WRIGHT J. P.

(loose paper: dated Jan. 11, 1817)
State of Ohio
Ashtabula County SS.
To Nehemiah KING, James BROOKS, Nathan PRESCOT, Nathaniel HOWARD, Itham JOINER, and Israel A. ROBINSON, you and each of you are here by commanded to be and appear before me at my dwelling house in Salem on Saturday the 18th day of January, 1817 one o'clock P.M. to give evidence and the truth to say in a suit then and there to be tried between John MARKS Plaintiff and Lewis PITNEY defendant -- you will here of in no wise fail under the Penalty of one Hundred dollars.   Given under my hand as seal this 11th say of Jan 1817 -- Aaron WRIGHT JP

(loose paper: dated May ?, 1817)
State of Ohio Ashtabula County SS.
To Constable of Salem Township   Greeting   Whereas Jane SILVERTHORNE obtained judgment against Joshua Z. & J. COZENS before me a justice of the peace of Salem Township for a debt of 50 Dollars and thirty-fice cents, and [3 posts?] on the fifth day of December 1815, last, you are therefore commanded to levy the said debt and costs and costs that may accrue of the goods and chattles of the said J. and J. Z. COZENS by distress and sale thereof returning the overplus, if any, to the said J. and J. Z. COZENS and of this writ make legal service and due return of this writ to me
Given under my hand and seal this [11?] day of May 1817   Aron Wright, J. P.

Christopher FORD:
onm in text: Cyrus EARLL, Hael (?) A. ROBINFASS (?)

At this point I have spent about 5 hours trying to decipher then type... from this docke. Rather than continue as above, I will merely type a list of surnames... new ones, not repeating those already seen frequently. I am only half way (or less) through...


(An interesting note: In a loose paper, at the bottom: "Neh. KING, late Justice Peace for Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Date May 22, 1816." In effect: a death notice. Aaron Wright's name appears on most pages. He was a JP also. End of book & article.

Note 1: The author of the two-part article in Ancestor Hunt ends the piece by guessing that the Hon. Nehemiah King died on May 22, 1816. In fact, Nehemiah King survived many years past this date, passing away in late 1832 or early 1833. The word "late" in this instance means "former." According to the 1878 History of Ashtabula County, Nehemiah King was elected a Justice of the Peace in New Salem village in 1811 and 1814 (page 161). Docket entries show that he also cated in that office during the latter part of 1813. It appears from the record that the Hon. Walter Fobes served as a JP between King's terms, but this may have been in neighboring Kingsville and not in New Salem. The same 1878 history shows Zadock Thompson elected to the office of JP in 1813. This is confirmed by Thompson being occasionally mentioned in the 1813 docket entries in a manner consistent with his being the judge in the 1813 cases recorded therein.

Note 2: The same 1878 history shows Aaron Wright elected to this office in 1814, Amos Kellogg in 1816, and John Beall in 1817. However, the writer of the 1878 History confesses that his record of early JPs is incomplete (and perhaps unreliable). Nothing is said as to whether or not two JPs ever served concurrently -- but a docket entry for Dec. 2, 1816 appears to show Kellogg and Wright both serving in office near the end of that year, with Kellogg apparently having a jurisdiction throughout Ashtabula Co. A close inspection of the 1813-17 Conneaut Docket indicates that Aaron Wright was a Justice of the Peace in Salem Township from Oct. 1814 to at least May 1817. His entry into the docket on Sept. 15, 1817 may indicate that Wright's his term of office continued through that year, even while the Hon. Amos Kellogg was also a JP in Ashtabula Co.



view enlargement of front cover

    Part One: Bound Pages and Inserts


Part Two: Additional Loose Items




On February 12th, 1832 Elders Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde approached the outskirts of what Hyde, in his missionary journal, calls "Salem Village." Although Mormon missionaries had no doubt passed through this part of northern Ashtabula Co. prior to Smith and Hyde's visit, they were the first Mormons who are known to have lingered in the area long enough to preach and search out potential converts. According to Elder Hyde's journal, the two missionaries "Tarried all night with a Mr. Sawtril" and at his house were "kindly entertained." Quite likely this was the home of Mr. Daniel Sawtelle, an old Ashtabula pioneer who had lived in New Salem back in the days when Solomon Spalding was a resident there.

On the next day Smith and Hyde "Visited two or three families in the vicinity of Salem" preaching Mormonism and attempting to locate possible candidates for baptism. They generated enough interest in the village that they were able to hold a meeting that evening and announce the Mormon gospel to "a large and attentive congregation." Hyde also stayed that the preaching elders "sold two Books of Mormon" that day. Then they "Tarried all night with Col. Fifield," probably Edward Fifield -- another old pioneer from Spalding's time.

Samuel H. Smith also kept a missionary journal and his account says that the two elders "went into the village again," where they "held a meeting in the school house." This latter "meeting" appears to have been conducted in the evening on February 14th. The only "village" of any size in the immediate vicinity was Salem itself. Here is where Aaron Wright said (in 1833) that Orson Hyde "preached" in "the school house" and was heard by Nehemiah King, another local resident who had known Solomon Spalding. Orson Hyde said himself (in 1841): "In the spring of 1832 I preached in New Salem, Ohio the place where Rev. Mr. Spaulding resided at the time he wrote his romance."

If it was on the 14th that Nehemiah King attended the missionaries' preaching service -- and was there reminded of Solomon Spalding's tales, when he heard the Book of Mormon read -- then Orson Hyde's sales of the book on the previous day were probably made to genuinely interested persons and not to residents merely curious to see if the Book of Mormon read like Spalding's old fiction. Henry Lake (yet another of Spalding's old friends in the village) did not have a copy of the book and was forced to borrow one in order to peruse its contents. He said (in 1833): "Some months ago I borrowed the Golden Bible... About a week after, my wife... commenced reading it aloud... I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spalding had read to me more, than twenty years before, from his 'Manuscript Found.' Since that, I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible." Probably Mr. Lake "borrowed" one of the two copies of the book Orson Hyde sold in the village on Feb. 13, 1832. A question that might be asked here, is why did Lake obtain the Book of Mormon and from whom did he get the copy he read "some months" before the summer of 1833? Although it is by no means provable at this late date, it is possible that Henry Lake was loaned that particular book by the Hon. Aaron Wright. At the very least, it can be said that Aaron Wright owned an 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and that he may have purchased it from Orson Hyde (or from Hyde's original buyer) early in 1832.

Aaron Wright's copy of the 1830 Book of Mormon has seemingly survived and has long been available for study at the Darlington Memorial Library on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Although the book in the Darlington Library is not certified as having belonged to the Conneaut witness, Aaron Wright, the crabbed handwriting on the back page closely resembles his penmanship and there seems no reason to doubt that Wright once owned the book. The graphic presented above has been "over-sharpened" to enhance its detail, and in that process the "r" in the name Wright has been somewhat diminished. Still, the signature appears to be his. The authors of the 2000 CD-ROM book, The Spalding Enigma have written at some length on this relic. An excerpt from pp. 77-80 of their volume is given below.

As for Aron Wright... the exact date and place of his birth is unclear, Aron Wright was probably born in New York state about the year 1776. According to his own account, he first visited the area around the mouth of Conneaut Creek with one Thomas Montgomery in 1798 and returned there to settle in the spring of 1799... he built the second house in the settlement on what is now Liberty Street, and in March of 1800, married Hannah (or Anna) Montgomery in the settlement's first recorded wedding. Later that same year, along with Nathan King (Nehemiah's brother), and Seth Harrington, he opened a road westward ... which, for the century and a half prior to the opening of Interstate 90, was the leading east-west road of travel through northern Ohio.... Four years later, in 1806, he began the two-year project of constructing the area's first grist mill.

... In addition to all of this, he was the first constable circa 1808, was elected trustee of Conneaut Township in 1824, was one of the incorporators of Conneaut Academy in 1835, and, in 1826, donated an acre of ground to begin what is now Conneaut City Cemetery...

... there is still one more piece of evidence to be introduced... a handwritten inscription (actually two inscriptions) discovered early in 1979 by researcher Kurt van Gorden in the back of what appears to have been Aron Wright's personal copy of an original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, now part of the historical collection of the Darlington Memorial Library of the University of Pittsburgh.

An integral part of every Book of Mormon ever published has always been a page, or sometimes two pages depending upon the edition, dedicated to "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" and "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses." In the 1830 (first) edition, this material takes up two pages and appears at the end of the volume; in other editions, it is generally found near the front.

What makes the Darlington Book of Mormon especially interesting are two signed pen and ink inscriptions written immediately beneath the witnesses' statements on each of the final two pages of the book. Beneath "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" appear the words: "And I, A. Wright do hereby certify I believe it not" and on the following (last) page, beneath "And Also the Testimony of Eight Witnesses" is written, in the same faded pen, "And I, A. Wright Does here by certify that he believes it not." ... slightly above and to the left of it appears a badly faded... penciled signature which might be "R. Wright." If so, it may well be that of Aron's son Ralph (1810-1870)... As to how this particular volume came into the possession of the Darlington family and thus ultimately into the Darlington Collection... it seems impossible to say. All that can be learned is that it was part of an historical accumulation donated by the family to the University in two bequests made between 1918 and 1925.

The two notations in the Darlington's Book of Mormon echo the known sentiments of the Hon. Aaron Wright quite succinctly. Although he was never interested enough in the Mormon phenomenon to oppose it very actively, Wright twice went on the record as denouncing Joseph Smith's "latter day scripture" as a sham and an instrument of Mormon fraud. He was exactly the type of person who might have placed such notations in his personal copy of the book and the short insertions are reminiscent of Wright's sometimes curt and clipped phraseology, as evidenced in his Dec. 1833 letter and in his 1813-17 docket book entries.


(Original in the New York Public Library)

Go directly to the typescript of this letter

In 1914 Mrs. Hiram Lake of Conneaut, Ashtabula Co., Ohio donated some old family papers to the New York Public Library. Since two of these handwritten documents mention Solomon Spalding, the Library's Manuscript Division catalogued that portion of the donation with its "Solomon Spalding Miscellaneous Papers." The two documentions from the Lake family are the original of an 1811 business agreement signed by Solomon Spalding and Henry Lake (father-in-law of Mrs. Hiram Lake) and an unsigned 1833 draft letter dictated by the Hon. Aaron Wright (1775-1855). Aaron Wright's daughter married the brother-in-law of Mrs. Hiram Lake and it is supposed that the latter document came into the possession of the Lake family following Mr. Wright's death.

The Aaron Wright draft letter is a most interesting document. It is dated Conneaut, Ohio, Dec. 31, 1833 and it appears to have been addressed to a prominent member of the "Anti-Mormon Committee" then active in Geauga County, where the Mormon headquarters of Kirtland was located. The unidentified "Sir" was possibly Josiah Jones, Grandison Newell or Warren Corning, all of whom were apparently major sponsors of D. P. Hurlbut in his 1833 anti-Mormon investigations. Aaron Wright made out a statement for D. P. Hurlbut in August of 1833 which generally resembles the content of the Dec. 31, 1833 document -- in fact, the latter paper makes specific mention of the August 1833 statement.

Computer enhanced copy of NYPL's A. Wright letter
View the NYPL's 1999 certification of this document
New Broadhurst typescript of this document

The Problem of the Handwriting

Significant internal and external evidence identifies the author of this letter as the Hon. Aaron Wright of New Salem. The handwriting on the letter, however, does not match up with known samples of Wright's penmanship. Indeed, it bears a very strong resemblance to writing presumed to have come from D. P. Hurlbut. When the letter's and words of the 1833 draft letter are compared to those in the informal 1833 certificate Hurlbut penned into the back pages of Solomon Spalding's "Oberlin" manuscript, the match is nearly a perfect one.

The document itself more or less explains how an Aaron Wright letter came to be written down in D. P. Hurlbut's handwriting, since it mentions that Hurlbut is there (in New Salem) where the letter is being composed. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the document is a draft for an Aaron Wright letter, which he dictated to the anti-Mormon investigator while the latter man was visiting Wright in New Salem, on or about Dec. 31, 1833. At that time Mr. Wright was a partner with Zaphna Lake (1799-1858) -- the son of Henry Lake -- in managing a retail store in the village of New Salem and Hurlbut's unannounced visit may have caught him late on the last evening of the year, while he was closing out his year's accounts and taking inventory. Presumably the busy Mr. Wright consented to provide D. P. Hurlbut with a letter certifying the handwriting of a manuscript Hurlbut had recently obtained as being that of his old associate Solomon Spalding -- however, Hurlbut had to act as scribe for one reason or another. Probably once Hurlbut had written down the draft letter, Wright looked it over, made the few corrections visible in the draft, and then signed his name to Hurlbut's second production of the communication, once a clean copy had been written out.

Being a "rough draft," even with its corrections, the contents may not be a totally accurate representation of what Wright intended to convey to the unnamed addressee. What additional corrections Wright may have made in the final draft will never be known. It is a minor miracle that the rought draft ever survived to convey to the modern reader as much information as it does. The paper includes in its margin the later addition of Wright's copy of a cash receipt for what was then a large amount of money. This receipt was written on the reverse side of the letter, upside down from the body of the letter, as though Mr. Wright hurriedly provided the receipt writer with first scrap of paper he could lay his hands upon -- the recently discarded sheet for his draft letter. The short note is presumably Aaron Wright's copy of a receipt given to him by Roger Miller on Dec. 31, 1833, shortly after D. P. Hurlbut solicited the letter of certification from Mr. Wright. The paper with its receipt (at the bottom of discarded draft letter) was then almost certainly preserved among the records of Messrs. Lake & Wright's retail store. After Oct. 1, 1834 the paper was worthless. It should have been returned to Mr. Miller when he fulfilled his part of the agreement, but it may have been lost track of until it came into the possession of either Aaron's daughter, Harriet Wright Lake (1805-1877) or her husband Zaphna.

How the Document got to New York City

Harriet Wright married the Henry Lake's son Zaphna on Aug. 22, 1824. Zaphna was Hiram Lake's brother and it is likely that Harriet and Zaphna eventually passed the 1833 document on to Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Lake. At the time the receipt and draft letter were written, Zaphna Lake was just entering upon his duties as the Sheriff of Ashtabula Co., where New Salem (now Conneaut) is located. Zaphna's wife apparently worked in the retail store and Zaphna himself no doubt frequented the business occasionally, even while serving his term as Sheriff. At some subsequent date, Zaphna or his wife must have noticed the old document in the company files, removed the out-dated paper, and eventually turned over to brother Hiram, a fellow known for his interest in the Solomon Spalding authorship claims (see the report of his 1880 meeting with Ellen E. Dickinson). The paper remained within the Lake family papers until 1914 when Mrs. Hiram Lake donated it to the New York Public Library.

Information from the Spalding Enigma

On page 71 of their 2000 CD-ROM book, the Spalding Enigma have to say:

...in the 1980s, New York researcher Phyllis Farkas made an astounding discovery which we publish here for the first time. In a 1914 bulletin from the New York Public Library under a section entitled "News of the Month: Gifts" the following notice appeared:

"Of the gifts received by the library during the month of May, the two following are especially worthy of mention: From Mrs. Hiram Lake of Conneaut, Ohio came two manuscripts of interest in connection with the history of Mormonism, an agreement between Solomon Spalding and Henry Lake dated: Conneaut, Ohio, 8 March 1811, and an unsigned letter dated: Conneaut, 31 December 1833, relating to the recognition by the writer of the identity between entries of the Book of Mormon and the Solomon Spalding manuscript."

Upon obtaining this material, it was at first believed that the so-called unsigned letter had probably been written by Henry Lake, Mrs. Hiram Lake's father-in-law; but careful and extensive examination leads to the logical and virtually inescapable conclusion that it is actually a draft or working copy of a statement personally dictated by Aron Wright to Hurlbut."

Although these authors may be correct in their calling the 1833 Aaron Wright an "astounding discovery," they error in saying that the document was practically unknown prior to the limited publication of their CD-book. In fact an 1981 transcript of the document has been on-line at the Spalding Studies web-site since 1998, at the following URL: http://home1.gte.net/dbroadhu/RESTOR/Lib/HoweHL2.htm. As stated on that web-page, the on-line document was "copied from a photostat found in a file in the Conneaut Public Library in 1980." The current writer's copy of that photostat (along with the 1981 transcript he prepared from it) was donated the University of Utah Marriott Library in 1984 and has been available there for study for nearly two decades, located in the Manuscripts Section of Special Collections in Accession 913, boxes 9 and 10. Mr. Howard David (one of the four "Enigma" authors") subsequently communicated to this writer that he had gone through the Accession 913 papers (the Dale R. Broadhurst Papers), reading every page in the collection. The "Enigma" authors laconically admit their knowledge of the 1981 transcript at the end of note 18, page 91, in their 2000 CD-book. With the 2002 posting of this "Ohio Sources: Part Three" web-page, a new typescript of the 1833 Aaron Wright draft letter is being made available -- an updated text that incorporates 2 or 3 minor corrections discernable from the "Enigma" authors' own transcription efforts.

The same Spalding Studies web-page mentioned above has also long featured a reproduction of the May 1914 "New of the Month" notice from the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Vol. 18, p. 538). As the "Enigma" researchers say, this notice was first brought to the attention of a few researchers of the "Spalding theory" in about 1982-83 by Phyllis Farkas. She provided a photostat to Mr. Howard Davis of California and a copy of his photostat was obtained by this writer and placed in Accession 913 at the Marriott Library not long afterwards. So, despite the inaccuracy of the "Enigma" researchers' statements on the matter, a copy of the 1833 letter, its typescript, and associated documentation have long been available for consultation by serious students of Mormon history.

The authors of the Spalding Enigma go on to say:

it is actually a draft or working copy of a statement personally dictated by Aron Wright to Hurlbut and written down by Hurlbut for Wright's approval prior to its being recopied for Wright's signature... Having recopied the document and Wright having signed it, Hurlbut left the unsigned draft copy with Wright, who then appears to have stuck it in the pages of his account book... the blank portion of it was quickly recycled for an entirely different purpose which, quite inadvertently, led to its coming into either Henry or Hiram Lake's hands and subsequently to its preservation among other of that family's miscellaneous business papers. One may presume that it was ultimately discovered, along with the above-mentioned 8 March 1811 Henry Lake-Solomon Spalding partnership agreement, amidst Hiram Lake's papers following his death in 1885 and carefully preserved by his widow until her donation of it to the library in 1914. (pp. 71-72)

This appears to be a correct statement of the facts -- so far as they can be determined nowadays. The 1833 document is not a pre-1914 forgery nor a hoax concocted by D. P. Hurlbut and never shown to Aaron Wright. It is an authentic relic of the times and may be relied upon as presenting a message Mr. Wright intended to convey to an associate of D. P. Hurlbut just before Hurlbut was arrested and tried in a Painesville justice court at the beginning of 1834. The authors of the Spalding Enigma go on to say. "This letter is an extremely important discovery in that it clears up a number of points which have been hotly disputed by the Mormons... it proves beyond reasonable doubt that Hurlbut did in fact return to Conneaut with 'Manuscript Story' in hand in order to obtain the witnesses' assessment of it, just as Howe says he did.

Again, the authors are probably correct here, generally speaking. The 1833 draft letter, along with the certificate D. P. Hurlbut added to the "Oberlin Spalding manuscript," shows that he did bring this particular manuscript to New Salem in order to have its handwriting authenticated by persons who had known Solomon Spalding -- persons who very likely still retained old documents of their own containing samples of Spalding's handwriting. It is less certain that the Spalding holograph Hurlbut carried with him to New Salem was ever entitled "Manuscript Story." The fictional story now on file in the Oberlin College Archives does not bear that title and its wrapper (which did) has long since been discarded. It is entirely possible that the words "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek" were penciled upon the paper jacket of the old Spalding manuscript by Mr. Hurlbut himself. No matter what the story was called, it seems indisputable that D. P. Hurlbut brought this particular unfinished work of fiction to New Salem at the end of 1833 and not the more important "Manuscript Found," a longer, probably finished Spalding work, reportedly written in the style of the King James Bible. The "Enigma" authors are therefore correct in stating that the 1833 draft letter "confirms" the "long-standing claims of pro-Spalding researchers" who have firmly maintained "That 'Manuscript Story' and 'Manuscript Found' were not one and the same... [and] That 'the particulars' of this... [were] provided to Hurlbut by Wright in his first statement dated August, 1833."

The Contributions of Nehemiah King (1772-1832)

The "Enigma" authors next add this important observation to their 2000 reporting:

In addition, the letter provides us with a heretofore unknown but very important detail -- that it was Aron Wright's close friend and associate the Hon. Nehemiah King, Esq., who first recognized that Solomon Spalding's writings had somehow been transformed into the Book of Mormon... thus beginning the word-of-mouth process by which the story seems to have spread around the Conneaut area until, over the space of the next year or so, it found its way to Solomon Spalding's brother John and finally to Hurlbut himself. Unfortunately, by the time the story reached Hurlbut and he began to seek out and interview witnesses, the star witness, Nehemiah King, had already passed away. If he left any papers or memoirs behind, a diligent and painstaking search has thus far failed to uncover them. (p. 74)

The various histories of Ashtabula County, Ohio establish the fact that Nehemiah King was an early pioneer and important man in New Salem, even before Solomon Spalding took up residence there in 1809. He was the son of Peter King, Sr, and brother of Nathan and Peter, Jr., two names which may be found repeatedly in the early documents and histories of Ashtabula County. According to Williams' 1878 History of Ashtabula, Peter King, Sr. and his family arrived in Ohio in about 1800 (probably the fall of 1799), where they settled on the banks of Conneaut Creek at south end of New Salem village. Williams credits "Dr. Nehemiah King" as having been "the first physician who settled in Conneaut," arriving there shortly before Dr. Nahum Howard (pp. 156-157).

The authors of the Spalding Enigma provide on page 51 of their book the following list of Dr. King's activities in old Ohio: J. P. in Salem Twp. (1806), Salem Twp. Clerk (1808-10), Postmaster of Conneaut P. O. (1808-?), Judge in Geauga Co. (1809-10), J. P. in Salem Twp. (1811), Clerk of Ashtabula Board of Commissioners (1812), Trustee of Salem Twp., again J. P. in Salem Twp. (1814), Ashtabula Associate Justice (1817-24), Elected Ashtabula Rep. to State Legislature (1823).

A close inspection of early Ashtabula records indicates that Aaron Wright and Nehemiah King were well acquainted and probably close friends. Both men served as Justices of the Peace in a time of many petty lawsuits for debts, etc., but members of their respective two families never took one another to court. Both men certainly knew Solomon Spalding from firsthand experience and from daily personal interaction with the would-be writer. The "Enigma" researchers report "proof that Nehemiah King knew Spalding" in that "King's name appears, as Spalding's surveyor, in an Article of Agreement for the transfer of 3/4 acre of land to one John Dunn dated Salem 25 January 1811, witnessed by Linus Scovil and William Harper" (p. 89).

Pheobe T. Randall, in 1884, described D. P. Hurlbut's first interviews with Spalding's old neighbors thusly:

One of the Smiths [Samuel H. Smith] preached [in Feb. 1832] in our neighborhood and quoted from B[ook of M[ormon] Father, having heard Spaulding's MSS. read, quoted passages from it which the neighbors recognized as the quotations made by the Mormon preacher. When he was told what they had heard, he said it was old Spaulding's MSS come to light again... Then they got a copy of the Book of Mormon and... and saw how they agreed... I well remember Hulburt coming to our house. He was investigating origin of B. of M. Father took him to see Aaron Wright, from whom he obtained a statement; also from Henry Lake, Oliver Smith and others, which he delivered to Howe, of Painesville, O., who published them with other statements.

It is indeed unfortunate that Mr. King died about a year before Aaron Wright dictated his letter to D. P. Hurlbut. Had King survived even a few more months it could have been he who escorted Hurlbut to meet "Aaron Wright, Henry Lake, Oliver Smith and others." If King had been able to meet with Hurlbut he no doubt would have submitted an informative statement for inclusion among the others Hurlbut collected during 1833 and saw published in 1834. Such a published statement from Mr. King might have shed much light upon the origin of the Spalding claims in New Salem and might have helped clarify D. P. Hurlbut's role in soliciting and selecting the old residents' memories for publication as statements of fact.

According to the "Enigma" researchers, "the exact date of Nehemiah King's death is unknown" (p. 88). Presumably the obituary of this former state legislator was published in the regional newspapers, bit no copy of it has yet been located. Dr. King's name is among the land tax payers listed for Salem Township in the spring of 1832 but is missing from the 1833 tabulation -- "his land" having by then "already been distributed to his heirs."

More Information from Enigma

The authors of the 2000 CD-book take some pains to show "how it can be reliably determined that the testimony given... is unquestionably that of Judge Aron Wright." They offer the following "key points" for their readers' consideration:

(a) Aron Wright's testimony as printed in Howe's book is dated August, 1833, the same date as is mentioned in the unsigned letter...

(b) The statement "For years before he left this place I was quite intimate with... Spalding" squares perfectly with Wright, who says in his printed testimony that he "first became acquainted with Solomon Spalding in 1808 or 9."...

(c) The phrase "Hurlbut is now at my store" can be easily applied to Wright who operated a grist mill and feed store, but does not fit Lake who seems to have been innkeeper of the Conneaut Mansion House at the time.

(d) Hurlbut's handwritten notation on the back of "Manuscript Story" specifically mentions Aron Wright as one of three named "gentlemen" whose "testimonies" on the subject had been obtained. Since the other two were Oliver Smith and John N. Miller...

(e) The use of "legal speak," i.e. such terms as "Sd (meaning 'said') Hurlbut," "whereas," "the Hon. Nehemiah King," and the wording change of "writings" to "handwriting," are all strongly suggestive of one familiar with legal protocols. Of all the Conneaut witnesses, this could only be Justice Aron Wright.

Thus, even though the letter was in the Lake family for many years, the details provided by the text of the letter itself speak strongly against its representing the testimony of Henry Lake while at the same time arguing strongly for Aron Wright as having been its originator.

The "Enigma" authors make substantial "points" supporting their case for an Aaron Wright origin for the 1833 letter. They make a minor mistake, however, in their disassociating Henry Lake from retail business in New Salem. Beginning on Jan. 14, 1833, the Conneaut Gazette, continuously ran an advertisement announcing that "Zaphna Lake and Aaron Wright, Have formed a co-partnership in the mercantile business, at the Old Store formerly kept by Z. Lake. They intend to keep on hand a general assortment of Dry-Goods... Lake & Wright, Conneaut..." Zaphna Lake (1799-1858), the son of Henry Lake, was elected County Sheriff in the October 1833 Ashtabula Co. election and probably left his co-management of this particular retail business to his relatives in the Lake family and to Aaron Wright at end of 1833 -- exactly when the draft letter was written. Thus, while Henry Lake was indeed "innkeeper of the Conneaut Mansion House at the time," he may have occasionally helped out in the business he son Zaphna ran in partnership with Mr. Wright.

On pages 75 and 76 of the Spalding Enigma the authors present the following useful comparison of Aaron Wright's two statements:

      Unsigned Letter

"I also contemplated reading his
history but never saw it in
print until I saw the Book of

" The Book of Mormon does not con-
tain all the writings of S. Spal-
ding.  I expect to see them if
Smith is permitted to go on and
as he says get his other plates."

"In conclusion, I will observe
that the names and most of the
historical part of the Book of
Mormon is as familiar to me as
most modern history  if it is
not Spalding's writings copied,
it is the same as he wrote and
if Smith was inspired, I think
it was by the same spirit that
Spalding possessed which he
confessed to be the love of
      Printed Statement

"I once anticipated reading his
writings in print, but little
expected to see them in a new

"Spalding had many other manu-
scripts which I expect to see
when Smith translates his
other plate[s]." 

"In conclusion, I will observe
that the names and most of the
historical part of the Book of
Mormon, were as familiar to me
before I read it, as most mod-
ern history. If it is not Spal-
ding's writings it is the same
as he wrote: and if Smith was
inspired, I think it was by
the same spirit that Spalding
was, which confessed to be the
love of money." 
It is these graphic parallels which lead to the inescapable conclusion that the person who provided the testimony found in this so-called unsigned letter could not possibly have been any of the other seven Conneaut witnesses, and thus had to have been none other than Aron Wright, Solomon Spalding's erstwhile neighbor and friend. It also provides strong evidence that Doctor Philastus Hurlbut was neither drafting testimony nor judiciously prompting his witnesses as is often alleged by Mormon apologists, but instead was only reliably reporting precisely what the witnesses had told him...

Few students of early Mormon history will agree with the "Enigma" authors in their assertion saying that Mr. Hurlbut "was only reliably reporting" when he collected his many statements during the second half of 1833. While most of those statements and affidavits undeniably contain much factual information, Hurlbut conducted a kind of biased reporting that was carefully divorced from any objective communication of knowlege and opinion that might have exhonerated the Mormon Smith family and the early top LDS leadership in certain, limited ways -- that is, exhonerated them from the denunciation and exposure D. P. Hurlbut and his backers were then attempting to put before the public.

On the other hand, the contents of the 1833 letter help establish the chronology of events in D. P. Hurlbut's popularization of the Spalding authorship claims. It is certain that he took statements in the Conneaut area in August and September of 1833, then went on to the Palmyra area to collect more anti-Mormon "evidence." After a brief excursion to the east, to obtain Spalding's writings, Hurlbut was again in the Palmyra for a short time, returning from there to Kirtland in mid December 1833. It was only after his return to Kirtland that Hurlbut back-tracked to New Salem and obtained the needed certification of Spalding's handwriting. The fact that Hurlbut made his visit to New Salem at the end of the year, out of the expected sequence (he presumably could have stopped there before returning to Kirtland) of his chronology perhaps indicates some previously unreported difficulty or contingency impacting the man's activities just prior to his arrest in Painesville at the beginning of 1834.

Placing the information obtainable from the 1833 letter within the context of what can be known and/or asserted from other early sources, it appears most unikely that D. P. Hurlbut "invented" the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship and then went about inveigling phoney eye-witnesses to manufacture false testimony about Spalding, his writings, and their purported knowledge of those writings. Rather, Hurlbut appears to have collected information in a systematic sort of way and to have then planned his further investigations based upon what he had already learned from firsthand witnesses. All of this confirms the reports that D. P. Hurlbut first learned of the Spalding authorship claims, then researched them, and finally began to report in public upon his findings. The primary mystery here is exactly why he went to New Salem at the end of 1833 and what he accomplished by going there and meeting with some of the "Conneaut witnesses."

Contrary to the conclusions reached by the authors of the Spalding Enigma, D. P, Hurlbut may have returned to Ohio from his 1833 research trip to the east with much more than the "Manuscript Story" (as they call the Oberlin Spalding manuscript). It is quite possible that Hurlbut's trip back to new Salem at the end of the year arose from his sudden decision to suppress certain Spalding documents he the had in his possession, and that as a result of this cover-up he decided to re-visit the Conneaut witnesses to obtain their certification of the unfinished Spalding story -- a Spalding holograph that was so useless to anti-Mormon purposes that it presumably did not even require such a personalized certification. It is difficult to account for D. P. Hurlbut backtracking through the heavy snows of that December to obtain this kind of handwriting certification, unless he meant to palm off the "Oberlin manuscript" onto the unsuspecting E. D. Howe as a valuable, verified document highly useful to antu-Mormon purposes. And, in fact, that is exactly what Hurlbut appears to have done durig the first days of February, 1834. The question naturally arises, why would Hurlbut expend so much time and energy verifying a Spalding original that people like Mr. Howe were certain to indignantly throw aside, after reading only a few pages?

Dale R. Broadhurst's Corrected Typescript (2001)

of the Dec. 31, 1833 Aaron Wright Draft Letter


Graphic 1: Obverse of 1833 Aaron Wright letter
Graphic 2: Reverse of the Aaron Wright letter

[typescript of obverse]

Dear Sir

     Whereas I have been informed
that you have been appointed with others
to investigate the subject of mormonism and a
resolution has been past to ascertain the real
orrigin of the sd Book   this is therefore to
inform you that I have made a statement
to D P Hurlbut relative to writings of S Spalding
Esq   sd Hurlbut is now at my store  I have
examined the writings which he has obtained
from sd Spaldings widowe  I recognise them to
be the writings hand writing of sd Spalding but not
the manuscript I had refferance to in my statement
before alluded to  as he informed me he wrote in the
first place he wrote for his own amusement and
then altered his plan and commenced writing a
history of the first Settlement of America  the
particulars you will find in my testimony Dated
Sept 1833  August 1833 --   for years before he
left this place I was quite intimate with sd S
Spalding   we had many private interviews   the history
he was writing was the topic of his conversation relating
his progress and Contemplating the avails of the same
  I also contemplated reading his history but never saw
it in print untill I saw the Book of Mormon
where I find much of the history and the names
verbatim   the Book of mormon does not contain all
the writings  sd Spladings   I expect to see them if

[reverse of same page]

Smith is permitted to go on and as he says  get
his other plates   the first time that Mr Hyde
a mormon Preacher from Kirtland preached in
the centre School house in this place the Hon
Nehmiah King attended   as soon as Hyde had
got through King left the house and said that
Hide had preached from the writings of S Spalding

  In conclusion I will observe that the names and
most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon
is as familiar to me as Most modern history  
if  if is not Spaldings writings copied it is the same
as he wrote and if Smith was inspired I think
it was by the same Spirit that Spalding possessed
which he confessed to be the love of money __

[the following five lines are written upside down at bottom of this page]

Coneaut   Dec 31 1833 Ashtabula Co NY

Due the bearer on demand  one hundred
and fifty dollars in good merchantable
[lotte?] [upon?] the first day of Oct next
[witness?]     Ro[gar] Mill[ar]

Note 1: The addressee of this communication is left unspecified. Perhaps this was done intentionally, so that D. P. Hurlbut could present Wright's letter to any one of the leading men in the "anti-Mormon Committee" then operating in neighboring Geauga Co. A likely candidate for receipt of this letter would have been Josiah Jones of Kirtland. Jones monitored Hurlbut's progress on his trip eastward and knew when and how to reach him at Palmyra. See Jones' Nov. 1833 letter to Hurlbut, as published in the Dec. 6, 1833 issue of the Wayne Sentinel.

Note 2: The "store" Aaron Wright mentions was the retail hardware and grocery shop he managed in New Salem in partnership with Zaphna Lake. Lake had previously operated the store as a sole proprietorship. He apparently took in Wright as a partner at the beginning of 1833. In the October Ashtabula County elections Zaphna was elected Sheriff. It is possible that he either sold out his share of the business to Wright or temporarily suspended his active work in the business, thus allowing Wright to refer to it as "my store."

Note 3: Wright says: "I have examined the writings which he [Hurlbut] has obtained from said Spalding's widow." It appears that D. P. Hurlbut, during this year end visit to New Salem, showed Wright and some of the other "Conneaut witnesses" only the unfinished manuscript now at Oberlin College. He obtained this document from Mr. Jerome Clark of Hartwick, New York in late November. According to James A. Briggs (his lawyer) Hurlbut exhibited this and another Spalding manuscript in the Kirtland area after his return from the east -- during the last two weeks of December, 1833 -- before he revisited Aaron Wright at new Salem.

Note 4: Wright also says: "I recognize them to be the hand writing of said Spalding but not the manuscript I had reference to in my statement." This shows that D. P. Hurlbut's ostensible reason for visiting Wright and certain other "Conneaut witnesses" at the end of 1833 was to obtain their certification of the handwriting in the "Oberlin manuscript" as being that of Solomon Spalding. Why D. P. Hurlbut would take the trouble to have this particular Spalding document so certified remains unclear.

Note 5: The "centre" school house spoken of by Mr. Wright was apparently the one in the middle of Conneaut township -- about three miles southeast of New Salem. Actually, both Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith preached in the "school house." Smith, however, was not a good public speaker and he no doubt allowed Elder Hyde to do most of their preaching before large audiences. The Conneaut region then abounded with the artifacts and earthworks of the ancient "mound-builders." If Orson Hyde indeed read copious extracts from the Book of Mormon in order to explain the origin of these local antiquities (as being "Nephite" or "Lamanite") he would have immediately gained the close attention of the local residents -- just as Solomon Spaldig had done two decades before, when he promised to give his own explanations fro the mysterious ruins.

Note 6: Although there were people named Miller who then lived in Ashtabula County, the name "Roger Miller" does not occur in any known records from there during the 1830s. The writer of the promissary note on the reverse of the 1833 letter makes the error of writing "Ashtabula Co, NY," as though he were used to making out papers in New York but not in Ohio. It is possible that Roger Miller was a wholesale vendor of sales goods who was then traveling through New Salem and who took an order from Mr. Wright for fifty dollars worth of "good merchantable" sales goods, to be delivered the following October. The word "lotte," in that case, might just be a quaint spelling for "lot," or, in other words, a "fifty dollar wholesale lot of goods." Or, the indecipherable word may pertain to some kind of harvested crop -- compare this with the "thirteen bushels of good merchantable wheat" that Nehemiah King pledged to deliver at "Aron Wright's Mill in Salem" in his own promissary note of Dec. 23, 1812

Note 7: The content of the 1833 Aaron Wright draft letter, while generally supportive of Wright's own previous statement regarding the Spalding authorship claims, is in no way a "smoking gun" providing damning evidence against Joseph Smith, jr. and his assertion for a Nephite origin for the Book of Mormon. See, for example, LDS apologist Wade Englund's on-line critique of certain elements of the Wright letter. In one instance, England asks: "Why is there no affidavit collected by Hurlburt from 'the Hon Nehmiah King,' who allegedly attended the meeting in Kirtland where 'Mr. Hyde' preached for [sic, from] the Book of Mormon and was claimed by Aron Wright that he (King) 'said that Hyde had preached from the writings of S Spalding?' And, not surprisingly, Wright's claim is contradicted by Hyde, himself." Certainly it could be argued that the contents of Wright's letter are unverified, possibly ambiguous, and perhaps even contradictory, when compared with more generally accepted evidence.



Vol. IX  Issue 1                                                                 Winter 1982

[ 23 ]


Submitted by Florence M. Perry... Erie, PA

[Notes added by Dale R. Broadhurst, 2002]

Zaphna Lake was born the 22nd day of May, A. D. 1799

Harriet Wright, wife of Zaphna Lake was born the 28th day af July, A.D. 1805.

Harriet Eliza Lake was born on Sunday the 22nd day of Jany. A.D. 1826.

Zaphna Henry Lake was born on Tuesday, the 5th day of June, A.D. 1827

Edwin Aaron Lake was born on Sunday the 5th day of Oct. A.D. 1828

Marcus Lake was born on Thursday the 9th day of Sept. A.D. 1830

Orrin Commet Lake was born on Friday the 22nd day of June A.D. 1832. (The name Commett was added to the name in consequence of the many prophesys that on that day a commet was come in contact with this earth.)

Eugene Lake was born the 28th day of March, A.D. 1835.

Willie Lake was born the 20th day of August, A.D. 1844.

    Emma Harriet Lake
    Willie Lake
    Eugene Fredie Lake
    Fannie [Adelaide] Lake
    These are the children of Marcus and Julia Lake

Harriet Lake died Sept. 30th 1878 ae. 73 years at Winona, Minn.

Fredie Eugene Lake died the first day of May, 1870

Eugene Lake died at St. Louis, Mo. 15th day of August, 1866. Ae. 31.4.17

Harriet Eliza Lake died the 8th day of Oct, A.D. 1829 age 3 years 8 mo. 4 days,

Orrin Commet Lake died on the 17th day of Oct. A.D. 1834 age 2 years 4 mo.

Aaron Wright died the 28th December 1855 aged 73

Mrs. Anna Wright, wife of Aaron Wright died Tuesday Jan. 25, 1857 aged 72 years.
[note: Aaron Wright and Anna "Hannah" Montgomery Wright were the parents of Harriet Wright, who married Zaphna Lake on 22 Aug. 1824 -- see below for additional entries for Aaron and Anna]

Electa Wood was born March 22, 1781
Electa Wood died Sept. 22nd 1870

Harry Lake was married to Electa Williams Jan. 15, 1828
[this is Henry "Harry" Lake, son of Henry & Abigail]

Lawrence Frederick Hatch was married to Frances Lake Dec. 30, 1854 dau of Harry
Almond Perry was married to Jennette Lake July: 26th 1860 dau of Harry
Dec. 5th 1867 by Rev, R. M. Keyes, Chas. J. Hale to Sarah E. Lake dau of Harry
In Flint, Mich. Sept. 1st 1872 by Rev. S.W. Titus, Mr. Charles H. Lake to Kittie Bunton of Dundas, Ont. son of Harry
A. M. White married to Mary E. Lake by R. M. Keyes, Feb, 23rd 1875 dau of Harry
Harrison Ray was married to Ellen L. Lake by R. M. Keyes Oct. 5, 1881 dau of Harry?

Harry Lake was born Feb. 2, 1806 and died November 8, on Tuesday, 1887.
[this is Henry "Harry" Lake, son of Henry & Abigail]
Electa Lake was born Feb. 13. 1811 and died April 17th Monday l871
[this is the wife of Henry "Harry" Lake, son of Henry]

Harriet Lake was born Monday the 6th of October, 1828, and died the 11th day of July on Sunday 1847.dau of Harry born in NY?
Eliza Lake was born on Saturday 18th day of December, 1830, and died July 19, on Tuesday, 1831 dau of Harry born in NY

Hiram Lake was born on Monday 7th of May, 1832
and died May 19, on Tuesday, 1835. son of Harry
Mary Eliza Lake was born May 17, 1834 and died January 22 (Friday) 1915 dau of Harry
Frances Lake was born Wednesday 27th of July, 1836 dau of Harry, born in MI
Jennette Lake was born an Sunday, 25th of June, 1839, and died on Wednesday, at 7:45 P.M., December 21, 1904 dau of Harry
Sarah E. Lake was born on Thursday 19th August, 1841, and died on Monday at 2 A.M. Feb. 15, 1904 dau of Harry
Caroline Lake was born Sunday 9th of June, 1844 dau of Harry
William Henry Lake was born on Sunday, 19th of January, 1847, and died 27th of Nov. 1849. son of Harry
Charles Henry Lake was born on Monday 30th of April 1849 son of Harry
Ellen Lydia Lake was born 10th of April 1853 dau of Harry?
Willie Lake died the 2nd day of November A.D. 1845, A.E. one year and two months. son of Harry?

Zaphna Lake died the 9th day of March, A.D. 1858 ageed 58 years and 9 months at Aurora Rancho, Ills. at his sister's.

Zaphna H. Lake died on the 27th day of May, A.D. 1877, A.E. 49 years & 11 months at Winona, Minn. son of Zaphna

Died at Conneaut, Ohio, Sept. the 22, 1870 Electa Wood in the 91st year of her age.
Died at Conneaut, Ohio, April 17th, 1871 Electa Lake aged 60 years two months and 6 days.

Died at Conneaut, Ohio, November the 8 1887, Harry Lake aged 82 years.

Henry Lake, father to Z. Lake was born June 4, 1772
and Abigail mother to said Zaphna was born Sept. 2, 1773.

Zaphna Lake was married to Harriet Wright the 22nd day of Aug. 1824.

Abigail, mother to said Zaphna, died Jany. 27, 1839, in the 66th year of her age.

Aaron Wright, father to Harriet, wife of Z. Lake was born the 19th of March, A.D. 1775

Henry Lake was married to Abigail Spring the 18th day of Feb. 1793 and they were the parents of Zaphna Lake

Aaron Wright was married to Anna Montgomery the 12th day of March A.D. 1800 and they were the parents of Harriet Wright

Marcus was married to Julia Helmer in Chicago April 1857.

Zaphna H. Lake was married to Fannie E. Ehle the 29th day of October 1862, by Rev. D. Brit

Note 1: The Bible from which this imformation appears to be lost. The above extracts were made or copied by Florence M. Perry c. 1982. The Zaphna Lake Bible appears to have been handed down to to the family of Zaphna's brother, Henry "Harry" Lake, who remained in Ohio when most of the family (Zaphna, Theodore Father Henry, etc.) moved to Kane Co., Illinois. Zaphna returned from Illinois in about 1840 and went into a business partnership with Benjamin Carpenter. They operated a store in Conneaut (previously called New Salem) and supplied nautical equipment to Lake Erie sailors. The two men built and operated several large boats on Lake Erie during the 1840s. In the 1850s Zaphna returned to Illinois and died there at Aurora, in 1858. His father died in the same place in 1850. John Spalding, the brother of Solomon Spalding, died nearby in Lisle in 1857 -- John's daughter Martha also died in Aurora.

Note 2: These extracts do NOT cover all the children of Henry Lake (1772-1850) and his wife Abigail Spring (1773-1839). Henry Lake was born in VT on June 4, 1772 and later (c. 1800-1804) lived in East Bloomfield, Ontario Co., NY and Batavia, Genesee Co., NY. He was in Niagara twp. (Buffalo), Genesee Co., NY when the census was taken in 1810. He and his family arrived in New Salem, Ashtabula Co., OH "about the 1st of Jan.," 1811, according to his 1833 statement. Lake's March 8, 1811 business agreement with Solomon Spalding lists him as being lately arrived from "of Buffalo in the county of Niagara." In about 1845 Henry Lake moved to Kane Co., IL (his wife having already died at Conneaut on Jan 27, 1839). As previously mentioned, Henry died in Kane Co. in June of 1850. The couple's recorded children were: (1) Delia "Lydia?" (1794-1872), (2) Dilla "Delia?" (1797-1872), (3) Zaphna (1799-1858), (4) Theodore (1801-1876), (5) Maritta (1802-?), (6) Betsey (1804-aft. 1823), (7) Henry "Harry" (1806-1887), (8) Louisa (1808-?), (9) Sylvia (c. 1810-?). One other child (perhaps born on their way from Buffalo to New Salem) was Hiram Lake (1811-aft. 1881). This is the same Hiram Lake who hosted Ellen E. Dickinson in Conneaut in 1880 and who prepared a statement for her 1881 article in Scribner's Monthly. He is not the same person as Hiram (b. 1832) the infant son of Harry. Hiram Lake's first wife was Lois Gifford Lake; she died a few years after their 1833 marriage. His second wife (Fanny Jones Lake - 1820-1916) was the lady who donated the 1833 Aaron Wright Draft Letter to the NYPL. See her 1914 letter below.

Note 3: The Lake Bible extracts provide some minimal information on Aaron Wright (1775-1855). Wright was born on March, 19, 1775, presumably in New England. He came to the banks of Conneaut Cr. from Harpersfield, Delaware Co., NY in 1798 and the following year built a house on what later became the George W. Cumming's property on Liberty Street. During the course of his life in the Conneaut area Wright operated a grist mill, served in the local government (including being a Justice of the Peace in 1813-1815), and operated a retail store. Aaron Wright married Anna Montgomery (1784-1857) on March 12, 1800 (in one of the very first marriages celebrated in the Ohio Western Reserve). They had at least three children, including Harriet, who was born July, 28, 1805 in New Salem, OH; she married Zaphna Lake on Aug. 22, 1824 in Ashtabula Co., OH., and died Sept. 30, 1878 at the home of her son Zaphna H. Lake in Winona, MN. Aaron Wright himself died on Dec. 28, 1855 in Conneaut.


(Original in the New York Public Library)

Go directly to the typescript of this letter

Computer enhanced copy of NYPL's Lake-Spalding Paper
View the NYPL's 1999 certification of this document
New Broadhurst typescript of this document

History of this Document

This 1811 agreement between Solomon Spalding and Henry Lake of New Salem, Ohio, was Mr. Lake's personal document, kept among his family's possessions until his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Hiram Lake, donated it to the New York Public Library in 1914, along with the 1833 Aaron Wright draft letter. See the explanation accompanying the on-line text of the latter document for more information on how Mrs. Hiram Lake came to have these papers prior to 1914.

The Iron Forge at New Salem

From all evidence available, it seems that Solomon Spalding built the first iron forge in what is now Ashtabula County, Ohio. Some accounts say that he built a "foundry" at New Salem prior to 1812, but his operation was simply a furnace in which he refined local "bog iron ore" into crude hunks of metal, coupled with a water-wheel driven trip hammer with which he formed the hot metal into bars, rods, and plates. These products he then disposed of to professional or amateur blacksmiths, who produced nails, horse shoes, ax blades, iron cookery ware, and other useful items for the Ohio frontiersmen. Iron working was a specialized business and it is likely that Spalding learned quite a bit about the trade prior to his moving to Ohio in 1809.

A passage in Spalding's unfinished, fictional "Oberlin manuscript" may be somewhat autobiographical. The published version reads:

He still continued to associate among the people, & was indefatigable in his labours to dispel their ignorance, correct their superstition & vices & to diffuse a more accurate knowledge of the mechanical arts. The manufacture of Iron in particular was not known. This he taught a number by showing them how to build a small furnace, & to cast iron ware & then how to build a small forge & there refine pigs, & convert them into Iron.

The hero, in that passage of Spalding's story, was less interested in personally performing the arduous tasks of metal refining and casting than he was in simply instructing the local people in "a more accurate knowledge of the mechanical arts." Contrast these intellectual "labours" with the more hands-on approach of Nephi in the Book of Mormon:

I said, Lord, whither shall I go, that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools... And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts... I did make tools of the ore which I did molten out of the rock. And when my brethren saw... they began to murmur against me... And as they came forth to lay their hands upon me, I spake unto them, saying... I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God... I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren, and... the Lord did shake them (1 Nephi 5:71-164, RLDS ed.)

Nephi's Forge by LDS artist Arnold Friburg

Wilber Stout furnishes the following description of the iron business:

In principle the forge was just a large pattern of the tools of the blacksmith. Most of the Ohio forges worked on pig metal and not from iron smelted in the process from prepared ores. Pig iron from the charcoal furnaces was heated in charcoal on a large stone or fire-brick hearth with an air blast from a bellows operated by water power. In this way the metal was heated slowly to a soft malleable condition and was then placed under the hammer and pounded into the desired shape of bars, rods or sheets. The process also removed impurities and changed and cemented the grains into a stronger more tenacious mass.

The tilt-hammer, the common form of hammer in use with the pioneers, consisted of a horizontal shaft or hammer stock, pivoted as a lever of the first order with a hammer head on one end and the power attachment on the other. The hammer, often weighing nearly a ton, was raised vertically through a small arc, for one or two feet, by a rotary cam-shaft and then allowed to drop on the piece of hot iron on the anvil. As hammered the iron was turned by the workmen and thus gradually shaped into bars... With the early forges the operating force was water power ("Early Forges in Ohio." Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly Vol 46: No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 1937, pp. 25-41).

According to Stout the first Ohio forges were built in 1809. He mistakenly dates Spalding's operation at New Salem to 1832, however. If Spalding began work on his iron plant when he arrived in Ohio in 1809, it may have been one of the first three such operations in the state. Stout says that the " Conneaut furnace and forge were built at Conneaut, in Ashtabula County, in 1832, on the flats of Conneaut Creek, a short distance above the site of the old paper mill. Through the forge a part of the pig iron produced by the Conneaut furnace was turned into wrought iron for bars, straps and rods. Henry Lake, Solomon Spaulding and Elias Keyes were at different times either proprietors or in some way interested in the works."

The question naturally arises, "When did Spalding begin work on his iron forge?" His neighbor, John N. Miller, said in 1833: "In the year 1811, I was in the employ of Henry Lake and Solomon Spalding, at Conneaut, engaged in rebuilding a forge. While there, I boarded and lodged in the family of said Spalding, for several months." Exactly what Mr. Miller meant by the word "rebuilding," he does not say. But the Mar. 8, 1811 Spalding-Lake Agreement provides a clue. In that paper (drafted by Solomon Spalding) the writer mentions an existing " frame for the Forge as now fixed" as well as a "floom (flume) & the Running geers, & the hammer & anvil & plates & all the Irons that are now fixed for a forge." This indicates that the main parts for operating an iron forge had already been set up on the pond where the local miller, Aaron Wright, had previously erected his grist mill. It is likely that it was Spalding himself who had hauled in all the equipment -- and he may have brought it with him when he came to the banks of Conneaut Creek in 1809.

The authors of the 2000 CD-ROM book, the Spalding Enigma, offer the following reconstruction of events:

In the autumn of 1809... [Solomon Spalding] moved with his family to Conneaut... There, following a six-month residence at the home of the Oliver Smith family (apparently no relation to Joseph), he undertook to reconstruct the small iron forge he had begun perhaps as much as six years earlier on a site just east of the village across Conneaut Creek, which he and another partner, Henry Lake, began to operate in March of 1811. This was described as "a long, low, shanty-like building of boards. In one end was his forge, and in the other he lived with his wife and kept a kind of grocery store." (p. 12).

Partnership agreement document dated 8 March, 1811... The forge utilized a trip-hammer and produced wrought iron. By all appearances Spalding had begun planning this project as early as 1803, and although details are sketchy it is clear from the partnership agreement that the heavy equipment was already at the site when the "reconstruction" effort began in 1811. There was also a large mill pond connected with the operation. (p. 43, n. 15)

Early forge operation scene by artist Joseph Wright

Solomon Spalding may have indeed been "planning this project as early as 1803." Iron implements were a scarce and valuable commodity on the western frontier and Spalding may have been made aware of the local sources of bog ore near New Salem when he first visited that place. Bog ore is a ferric material that forms in glaciated spots where iron contaminated water collects in bogs. There resident acids and certain bacteria work together to create small lumps of ore. In the New Salem area these ferric nodules could be dug out of the local creek sediments, roasted over an open fire, crushed, and smelted to produce iron "bloom." Spalding would have been aware of the process from his youthful days in Windham Co. Connecticut (home of some early American forges).

It is doubtful, however, that Mr. Spalding (who left to grocery store business in New York in 1809) moved to Ohio and almost immediately "undertook to reconstruct the small iron forge he had begun perhaps as much as six years earlier..." Although he had made one or two brief visits to eastern Ohio previously, Solomon Spalding did not move his family there until 1809 and, according to John N. Miller, the actual "rebuilding" of the forge at New Salem did not commence until 1811, after Henry Lake had moved to New Salem from Buffalo. Miller's daughter, Rachael, confirmed this in 1884, saying: "My father, John N. Miller... [said] in 1811 he and Andrew Cochran helped build a forge or furnace for General Keyes at Conneaut, Ohio, and that they boarded with Solomon Spaulding." Captain, Andrew Cochran, was a millwright who arrived in Erie Co., Pennsylvania in 1803 and who lived near John N. Miller, just across the Ohio state line from New Salem: Cochran is mentioned in Samuel P. Bates' 1884 book, History of Erie County. Besides all this, Spalding's neighbor at New Salem, the Hon. Aaron Wright, in 1833, fixed the date of the first forge building in that place to the period after Spalding had moved there: "I first became acquainted with Solomon Spalding in 1808 or 9, when he commenced building a forge on Conneaut creek." In fact, Aaron Wright may have been personally involved in the later stages of the Spalding-Lake iron business at New Salem. In 1901 Mrs. Diadama Chittenden, a former resident of Ashtabula Co., Ohio, gave a somewhat garbled recollection of what she had heard during her early years -- that a certain gentleman named "Spafford" was once "a sort of overseer or superintendent for Squire Wright of Salem." A close examination of Mrs. Chittenden's reminiscences shows that this particular "Spafford" was actually her misspelling of "Spalding" and that Solomon Spalding may have had some business dealings with "Squire" Aaron Wright. It is not inconceivable that the ever penniless and needy Solomon Spalding sold out his share in the iron works to the Hon. Aaron Wright in mid 1812 and thereafter simply acted as Wright's agent in the business until he finally left Ohio.

As noted previously in quotes from the Spalding Enigma, Solomon Spalding's water-wheel was appatently located on the same mill pond where Aaron Wright had previously located his grist mill -- "on the flats of Conneaut Creek, a short distance above the... papermills" later built at Conneaut. In a c. 1811 draft of a an agreement between Solomon Spalding, Itham Joiner, and W[alter] Brigham ("to erect mill" and for "the privilge of water"), Spalding specifies that "Wright has preference." Joiner's and Brigham's names both appear on the 1816 Ashtabula land tax record, and Joiner's on the 1815 and 1819 lists of eligible voters of New Salem.

Between 1809 and 1811 Spalding had already constructed for himself a home on the banks of Conneaut Creek, large enough to host two working-men boarders. With the influx of Henry Lake's $480 in the spring of 1811, Spalding could afford to employ workmen to construct (or re-construct) the forge shop adjacent to his cabin on the east bank of the creek. Ownership of the defunct iron works business did not pass from Henry Lake to "General" Elias Keyes until some time after the latter gentleman's initial arrival in new Salem in 1815; however, all indication is that the Spalding-Lake-Keyes iron forge was commenced by Solomon Spalding c. 1809-10 and then refurbished and put into full operation by Lake and Spalding a few months after they signed their agreement to that effect on Mar. 8, 1811.

Solomon Spalding's Debility

Solomon Spalding wrote an odd provision into his 1811 agreement with Mr. Lake. It reads: "if Either party shall omit to work his turn, or the fine he shall take that the other shall have the priviledge to take his chance until he is ready to work again." This sounds as if, even before he and Lake got the iron works operating, Solomon Spalding had already foreseen the possibility that he might "omit to work." And, in fact, this is exactly what happened soon thereafter. Matilda Spalding McKinstry, his adopted daughter, said in 1880: "During the war 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."

Mr. McKinstry does not tell why Solomon Spalding remained at home, away from the iron works so much. Since his absence from the adjacent working place cost him financially, Spalding's reason for remaining at home must have had some genuine justification. One amateur historian (Dale W. Adams, in his 2000 article, "Dr. Philastus Hurlbut...") has speculated that Spalding was then "too crippled" by physical infirmities to summon up enough "energy" to attempt completing even minor tasks. Indeed, the man's old friends provide some verbal evidence for such a "crippling" debility. Joseph Miller said in 1879: "I was well acquainted with Mr. Spaulding while he lived in Amity, Pa. I would say he was 55 to 60 years of age; in person, tall and spare, and considerably stooped, caused in part, I think, from a severe rupture." Solomon Spalding, who had suffered from a delicate constitution since his youth, was perhaps physically unprepared to commence the heavy labor of ore refining and metal working he wished to carry out with his New Salem forge. It is quite possible that his hernia came as a result of heavy lifting in building or operating his iron works, even before he took on Mr. Lake as a partner in that business, and that the increasingly deleterious effects of his injury explains Mr. Spalding's taking on a business partner and his reason for writing the exceptional provision in their 1811 contract.

The severity of the Ohio iron entrepreneur's "rupture" was attested by his friend, Redick McKee, in 1869 ("He was afflicted with a rupture, which made locomotion painful, and confined him much to his house"), and again in 1887: "I was a boarder in the family of Mr. Spaulding, and became quite intimate with him. He was afflicted with a serious rupture which prevented him from taking much exercise in the open air." McKee also said: "he [Spalding] told me of his removal from Western New York to Conneaut... expecting to engage in some active business... in connection with Mr. Henry Lake he built a furnace for the manufacture of iron or iron wares. This proved unprofitable and resulted in a failure, which left him liable for debts to a large amount."

Did Spalding Die of Tuberculosis?

The RLDS Writer, Elder Evan A. Fry, wrote in 1944 that Solomon Spalding "moved to New Salem, now called Conneaut, Ohio, where with Henry Lake he established an iron foundry. That venture also failed, and in 1812, his health gone, he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A year or two later he moved to Amity, Pennsylvania, where he died of consumption in 1816." Unfortunately Elder Fry's 1944 article provides no citation for the latter allegation. Since no death certificate has survived to document the cause of Spalding's death, the notion that he developed (or worsened a pre-existing affliction) of tuberculosis while recovering bog iron nodules from the swamps of Ohio remains an enticing supposition.

Matilda Spalding Davison said in 1839: "Rev. Solomon Spaulding... resided in Cherry Valley, N.Y. From this place we removed to New Salem... upon Conneaut Creek. Shortly after our removal to this place, his health sunk, and he was laid aside from active labors." This statement gives the reader the impression that Solomon Spalding's reported chronic ill health came upon him only "after" his 1809 "removal" to Ohio -- that he was too ill to engage in "active labors" thereafter. This is probably an inaccurate over-generalization of his case, however. Oddly enough, none of the so-called eight "Conneaut witnesses" whose statements were published by E. D. Howe in 1834 mention that the man suffered from a chronic illness.

In his 1785 letter to Elijah Parish, Solomon Spalding himself says: "For my part, I am so unfortunate as not to be engaged in any lucrative employment. I have but just recovered my health, so as to be able to seek out for business." This he wrote no long after graduating from Dartmouth College, giving the impression that he suffered ill health during his last months of study there. Although he does not identify his illness in this letter, it was apparently one, the effects of which periodically increased or diminished.

After temporarily recovering his health and finding employment as an Evangelist among the Congregationalists, Spalding reportedly again suffered a prolonged case of sickness. His brother Josiah said in 1855: "When he [Solomon] left college he was out of health, and was so for years. He was approbated to preach as a Congregationalist, and followed that calling a number of years, but never settled, on account of his health, though often urged." The discriminating investigator might be forgiven for wondering whether of not Solomon Spalding was so very ill while living at New Salem as some later accounts suggest. Certainly he had the strength and ability to travel to Ohio before relocating there in 1809. He also had sufficient vigor and stamina to begin constructing a water-wheel driven, charcoal powered iron works once he arrived in Ohio. While the accident of an untreated hernia may have slowed him down to some extent, that apparently did not prevent his moving his family to Pittsburgh late in 1812 and temporarily operating a retail store once he arrived in that city. Could it be that Solomon Spalding was a malingering hypochondriac who played upon the sympathies of his associates, pretending to be an invalid in order to avoid preaching Christianity, doing honest work and paying off his considerable number of financial debts?

If Solomon Spalding was not seriously ill during the last months he spent in Ohio, he at least managed to impress a few people there that he was not a well man. Daniel Denison Spalding, the son of Solomon Spalding's younger brother John Spalding, stated in 1888 that his Uncle Solomon was "a very sickly man" and that the last time he saw his uncle "was at Conneaut Creek, just before he went to Pittsburg, where he died shortly afterwards."

The probable partial source for Elder Evan A. Fry's 1944 assertion that Spalding "died of consumption in 1816" was the in 1885 statement of William H. Leffingwell, who was a resident of New Salem when Spalding was still living there in 1812. Leffingwell's recollections were republished in the RLDS Saints' Herald, where Fry might have easily found them. Leffingwell stated that "Mr. Spalding was... about [35] years of age when I first fell in with him, was very poor, and sick with consumption, and towards the last nearly lost his voice..."

Although Solomon Spalding was recalled by several eye witnesses as reading his stories aloud to appreciative audiences, he might have done that in small groups, even with the diminished voice of a "consumptive." His diminished physical stature may have also been an indication of the effects of his long term struggle with tuberculosis. Joseph Miller described the man's tall body as being a "spare" one, and Redick McKee recalled in 1886 that, while at Amity (1814-16), Solomon Spalding "was about six feet in height, with a large frame though much reduced in flesh, and weighing only about 150 pounds." Confirmation of the tuberculosis diagnosis comes from William R. Hine's 1885 statement: "I heard Hurlbut lecture... He said Spaulding was consumptive and could not work, and wrote stories to procure a living... Spaulding tried to obtain money to pay for printing it [one of his stories]. While traveling he slept in the woods nights, took cold and finally died."

It was highly inadvisable for a man weakened by tuberculosis and crippled by an untreated hernia to go about "sleeping rough" in the woods during 1816 -- the year "without a summer" in which nighttime temperatures dropped below freezing for several months in a row. The effects of this reported misjudgment on Spalding's part were predictable. According to Joseph Miller's 1879 statement, "He died of dysentery in 1816, (in the fall, I think), after an illness of six or eight weeks." It appears unlikely that Mr. Spalding died of tuberculosis, directly. But the disease may have so weakened his bodily defenses that he was unable to fight off the dysentery which attacked him at Amity. It also appears unlikely that writer Dale W. Adams is correct in his recent assessment of Spalding's paltry physical condition during his last years in Ohio and Pennsylvania -- that he "died from tuberculosis" in 1816 and that during the four years prior to that misfortune, he had insufficient "energy to attempt [writing] a second manuscript as long and complex as the Book of Mormon."

1812 Failure of the Lake-Spalding Forge

It will be recalled that Mrs. McKinstry spoke of her father's Ohio business as being an "iron foundry." This description brings to mind a large-scale manufacturing enterprise and commercial venture employing the labors of many people. Abner Jackson, a friend of the Spalding family, corrected Mrs. McKinstry's recollection at this point, by saying in 1880: "Mrs. McKinstry says that her father's iron works was a foundry. This was the little girl's view of it. It was a forge of the older type. Iron was made from ore under a trip hammer, as there were no rollers in this country at that time." This same Mr. Jackson had further personal knowledge of Mr. Spalding's business activities in Ohio:

Spaulding contracted for large tracts of land along the shore of Lake Erie... My father exchanged with him the farm on which he lived... [and moved there in 1805]. Spaulding sold his store in Richfield, and moved to Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, and built a forge on Conneaut Creek, two miles from Conneaut Harbor and two miles from the State line. In building this he failed, sold out, and about the beginning of the year 1812, commenced to write his famous romance called by him "The Manuscript Found."

There is an apparent conflict in the recollections of McKee and Jackson, as to just when Spalding's iron works venture began to fail. The former account has Spalding and Lake engaging in a business that soon "proved unprofitable and resulted in a failure;" the latter account has Spalding failing in his venture during the initial building stage of the forge and then selling out to another operator (presumably to Henry Lake in 1811). What actually appears to have occurred is that Spalding first "failed" in the initial construction of his forge in 1809-10 -- perhaps partly because of bodily infirmity -- and then both he and Henry Lake "failed" to make the business profitable in its operations during 1811-12. Spalding left New Salem before the end of 1812 and Lake disposed of the defunct iron works by turning the business over to Elias Keyes in 1815 or 1816.

Henry Lake himself said in 1833:

I left the state of New York, late in the year 1810, and arrived at this place [New Salem], about the 1st of Jan. following. Soon after my arrival, I formed a co-partnership with Solomon Spalding, for the purpose of re-building a forge which he had commenced a year or two before... [then,] the [rebuilt] forge not meeting our anticipations, we failed in business.

Solomon Spalding's brother John added this information, also in 1833:

Solomon Spalding... removed to Cherry Valley, N. Y, and commenced the mercantile business in company with his brother Josiah. -- In a few years he failed in business, and in the year 1809 removed to Conneaut, in Ohio. The year following, I removed to Ohio, and found him engaged in building a forge. I made him a visit in about three years after; and found that he had failed, and considerably involved in debt.

In fact, John Spalding lived near his brother Solomon throughout 1810 and 1811. John's name appears on the 1811 list of eligible voters in New Salem. However, John did not enlist with his Ashtabula County neighbors in Capt. Jesse D. Jackson's platoon for service against the British during the War of 1812. The Ashtabula volunteer unit was mustered on Aug. 23, 1812 and included several New Salem residents. The 1812 list includes: Lieut. John Rudd, Jr., Sergt. Erastus Rudd, Pvt. Peter King, Jr., Pvt. Linus Scovill, Pvt. Joel Wooden (the latter two signed the 1811 Lake-Spalding agreement as witnesses), etc. The authors of the Spalding Enigma find it notable that Erastus Rudd was a resident of New Salem and that he is listed on the above mentioned 1811 list. On page 90 of their book they call him "the only person known to have been living in the Conneaut community during the time of Spalding's residence there, who later became a Mormon," and point out that Erastus died on Joseph Smith's 1834 "Zion's Camp" military expedition to Missouri. Whether he had by then been promoted from the rank of sergeant, time does not recall (LDS History of the Church, Vol.II, pg. 115). Actually Erastus; brother, Lieut. John Rudd, Jr., apparently also became a Mormon, along with another brother, Cyprian. History loses track the two latter Rudds after Oliver Cowdery visited Cyprian near Columbus, Ohio in 1836 ("Oliver Cowdery's Sketch Book" entry for Jan. 9, 1836). For more on Erastus Rudd and Solomon Spalding see Elder Daniel Tyler's article in the Jan. 16, 1878 issue of the Deseret Evening News.

No doubt John Spalding had obtained farm land in adjacent Pennsylvania by the beginning of 1812 and it was in the latter year that he made the reported "visit" of "about three years after." At some point in time, probably in the fall of 1812, Solomon Spalding packed up his meager belongings and relocated his family to Pittsburgh. It is possible that he was assisted in this move by his brother John and that the relocating family stopped over for a few days or weeks at John's farm (on the road between New Salem and Pittsburgh) before reaching the "big city" of 5000 inhabitants near the end of the year.

On Nov. 4, 1812, the Ashtabula Court of Common Pleas heard the case of William F. Miller against Solomon Spalding, therein laying claim upon the remaining assets of Spalding located in the county. Miller's claim was for an unpaid debt of $3,046.11 and was filed with the court based upon "a mortgage deed executed by said Solomon Spalding, to said William Miller, bearing date of 3 day of March, 1803." The Court issued its judgment in favor of William F. Miller on Jan. 8, 1813. There is nothing in the record to indicate that Spalding bothered to attend or to send a lawyer to look after his interests. There is every reason to believe that by Nov. 1812 he had left Ohio and was living in eastern Pennsylvania.

According to the remarks attached to a deed dated Mar. 24, 1813, Ashtabula Sheriff Quintus F. Atkins had "several times" offered for auction "to highest bidder" the few lots of land still listed under Spalding's name on the property records. The highest bidder (and seemingly the only bidder) was William F. Miller; he recorded his new deed at the courthouse in Jefferson on April 20, 1813. The lot of land where the Lake-Spalding irons works stood was apparently not among the lots recovered by Mr. Miller. It is though that Henry Lake disposed of the land and improvements to Elias Keyes in about 1816.


Dale R. Broadhurst's Typescript (2001)

of the Mar. 8, 1811 Henry Lake Contract


Graphic: Obverse of 1811 Henry Lake Contract

[typescript of obverse]

Articles of agreement entered into between
Solomon Spalding of Salem in the county of
Ashtabula & state of Ohio  of the first part
& Henry Lake of Buffalo in the county of
Niagara -- & state of New York  of the second
part   Witnesseth that for the consideration
of Four hundred & Eighty Dollars that the
said Spalding hath sold unto the said Lake
the one half of a certain tract of Land adjoin-
ing his Forge Dam, together with the one
half of sd. Dam & the Pond & the priviledge
of joining him in equal partnership to
erect a forge & other water works thereon
for their mutual benefit & the benefit of
their heirs & assig[n]s, & also doth by these
presents bargain and sell to him an equal &
undevided right to the frame for the
Forge as now fixed  which may be used for
another & the whole floom & the Running
geers, & the hammer & anvil & plates &
all the Irons that are now fixed for a
forge -- & the parties do mutually agree
with each other for themselves, their heirs & assigns
that they will immediately engage & under-
take to erect a Forge near where sd. Forge
dam now is & will be at equal expence
in building & finishing sd. Forge & in
procuring all the Implements necessary
to carry it on  & that they  their heirs &
assigns, shall after it is fixed for Business
have an equal chance & priviledge to

[typescript of reverse]

work & manage sd. Forge for their
own benefit. -- & that after four months
shall expire from the time it shall
start & do business, if Either party shall
omit to work his turn, or the fine  he
shall take that the other shall have the
priviledge to take his chance until
he is ready to work again.  & as to
the priviledge of procuring Oar each party
shall have an equal chance of obtaining
any oar that is or may be found, so
that neither party shall make a bargain
which shall exclude the other from the
same priviledge that he has himself
as it respects said Oar. -- In witness
whereof we hereunto set our hands
and seals this 8th day of March 1811

In presence of

Linus Scovil      
Joel Woodin     
Solomon Spalding  (SL)   

Henry Lake  (SL)   

Notes: (forthcoming)


Bulletin of the New York Public Library
Vol. 18, 1914 (May section), p. 538

News of the Month


Of the gifts received by the Library during the month of May the two following are especially worthy of mention:

From Mrs. Hiram Lake of Conneaut, Ohio, came two manuscripts of interest in connection with the history of Mormonism -- an agreement between Solomon Spalding and Henry Lake, dated Conneaut, Ohio, 8 March 1811, and an unsigned letter dated Conneaut, 31 December 1833, relating to the recognition by the writer of the identity between entries of the Book of Mormon and the Solomon Spalding manuscript.

From Mrs. Benjamin S. Church of New York came 15 volumes and 35 pamphlets, among which were the following: Minutes of the Aqueduct Commissioners, vols. 1-5 (1883-1889), N. Y. 1889-90; Report to the Aqueduct Commissioners by the President, James C. Spencer, containing reports of the Secretary, John C. Sheehan, and of the Chief Engineer, Benjamin S. Church; "Reports on researches concerning the design and construction of high masonry dams, in view of the proposed building of Quaker Bridge Dam." by B. S. Church, Chief Engineer, 1889; and other reports on the construction of Quaker Bridge Dam, the Washington Bridge over the Harlem River, Boston Water Works, etc.

Among the interesting miscellaneous gifts were the following: From the Bahai Assembly of New York City. 8 volumes and 44 pamphlets relating to the Bahai Movement; from the Metropolitan Opera Company, the opera programmes for the season 1913/1914: from Mr. Louis Marshall of New York the "Proceedings of the Court for the trial of Impeachments -- The people of the State of New York by the Assembly thereof against William Sulzer as Governor, held at the Capitol in the City of Albany, New York, Sept. 18, 1913 to October 17, 1913" (Volumes 1 and 2); from Mr. Joseph H. Fussell of Point Loma four pamphlets on theosophical subjects; from the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., New York, 172 volumes and 86 pamphlets (43 sets) of the "Brief of Arguments against public ownership," vol. 1-3; and Supplements No. 6, 8, 9 for "Brief of Arguments against public ownership."

Additions to the Library's collection of genealogical works were received from the following: Mr. William N. Barrows of New York, Mr. J. W. Hull of New York, Mr. John N. McCue of Crystal City, Mo., Mr. William Nelson of Patterson, N. J., Mrs. Caroline Gaylord Newton of New Haven, Conn., Mr. W. B. O'Connor of Brooklyn, N. Y., Mrs. Henry C. Swords and Miss Grace C. Clarkson of New York, and Miss Florence Whittlesey Thompson of Portland, Maine.

The following authors presented the Library with copies of their works: Mr. John Rutledge Abney of New York, Mr. William Edward Barry of Kennebunk, Maine, Baron de Borchgrave of Brussels, Sr. Coll y Toste of Santurce, Puerto Rico, Mr. Frederick L. Hoffman of Newark, N. J., Mr. Robert C. James of Albany.

Note 1: The NYPL Manuscript Acquisition Number and Card Catalog Citation for this donation and the documents it comprises have yet to be communicated for posting here. The 2000 CD-ROM book, The Spalding Enigma, reproduces (on pp. 88-89) the 1914 donation cover letter as follows:
To Mr. Frank M. Merrill
New York City

Mrs. Hiram Lake of 337 Main Street -- Conneaut, Ohio, having in her possession, his valuable articles pertaining to the Mormon question (preserved by her husband Mr. Hiram Lake,) learning that Mr. Frank M. Merrill, a nephew of her husband, and grandson of Henry Lake, with whom Solomon Spalding was connected in the 'Article of Agreement '-- was interested in said 'Mormon Question' presents Mr. Frank M. Merrill with the papers, that by him they may be given to the 'New York Library' to be preserved.

Witnessed by --
Daphne L. Smith /s/
Elisabeth C. Day /s/

Signed by --
Mrs. Hiram Lake /s/
aged Ninety-three
May 1st, 1914.
Note 2: Since 1914, when Mrs. Hiram Lake (Fanny Jones Lake - 1820-1916) donated it to the New York Public Library, these two old documements have been on file in the Library's Manuscript Division, in the "Solomon Spalding Miscellaneous Papers." See
1999 certification of copies ordered from the Library by Dale R. Broadhurst.

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