The Spalding Enigma: The Fallacy of Repetition Continued?
Fatal Error #1:
The Conneaut and Other Related Statements: Selective,
Tampered, Confabulated, Conflicting, Contrary, and Absurd Evidence!
- Continued from Article 1-
Critique of Chapter 1, "The Genesis"
Index of Issue:
Article 1: | #1 Not "Same" | #2 No "Smoking Gun"
| #3 Selective | #4 Tampering/Leading
| #5 Prompted | #6 More Tampering |
| #7 Conflicts/Irregularities
| #8 Unlike BoM | #9 Absurdities | #10 Extrapolations
| #11 Vague | Summary |
Issue #7: The statements conflict with each other in
parts, and other irregularities
Because the inconsistencies, contradictions, and other irregularities found
among the pro-theory statements are so numerous, I will simply confine myself to
listing them below with little commentary, and absent specific citations--though the
given statements can be accessed here for
trusting that the reader will easily be able to draw the obvious conclusion
regarding their accuracy and reliability.
- Between the two statements attributed to John Spalding (1833 and
pre-1851), he was unable to make up his mind whether his brother's story had
the Indians descending from the Jews, or the lost tribes, or the tribe of
Joseph. His wife, along with Aron Wright, Henry Lake, and Abner Jackson
said they descended from the lost tribes, whereas Matilda Davison and John
McKinstry said they were from the "long lost race" or the
"forgotten race". Joseph Miller wasn't sure if it was the
"lost race" or the "lost tribes".
- Is it a coincidence that John Spalding's pre-1851 mention of the tribe of Joseph
(which was his first mention of this) follows on the heals of corrections by LDS about
the Book of Mormon not being about the lost ten tribes?
- He originally spoke of Lehi and Nephi leading a group of people that were
divided into Nephites and Lamenites, but later had the descendants of Lehi
"styled" as Jaredites.
- He originally spoke of Lehi and Nephi coming to America together from
Jerusalem, but later had Lehi coming from Chaldea, and Nephi from Palestine
(apparently many years apart).
While other affidavits have the journey leaving from
Jerusalem (Martha Spalding, Oliver Smith, Aron Wright, and John Miller),
Redick McKee locates them in Canaan, whereas Abner Jackson says they departed
from Palestine or Judea.
- John's memory apparently got better with age because in his later statement
he provided more specific details (i.e the exact years between which the
Spalding story was written, Lehi's father's name, the exact location where
Lehi's ship landed--"isthmus of Darien", travels northward, the
exact year of the great battle--"A.D. 420", and the name of Moroni
- Is it coincidental that it is in his latter statement that John Spalding first mentioned
"isthmus of Darien", travels northward, and "Moroni and
Mormon", following John Miller's mention (seven or so years earlier) of
the "Straits of Darien", travels northward, and "Moroni"?
Could this statement published in 1851 be a conflation of John Spalding and
- In their 1833 statements John and Martha Spalding said of the group that
had migrated to America that they "separated into two distinct nations
denominated Nephites, and the other Lamanites." However, in 1880, Abner
Jackson indicated that there were "two parties that controlled the
balance. One of them was called the Righteous.... The others were
- In neither of John Spalding's statements do we find mention of his having attended a
meeting where "copious extracts" of the "Mormon Bible"
were read, in which he and others "recognized its similarity to the
'Manuscript Found,'" which allegedly caused him to be "amazed and
perplexed", and moved by grief to "vent in a flood of tears"
and arise on the spot and express his indignation, as purported by his
sister-in-law, Matilda Davison in 1839, and his niece, Matilda McKinstry in
1880. In fact, he indicates his "surprise" in finding it
"nearly the same [as the manuscript]" after his having "recently read the Book of
- In 1833 John indicates that his brother read "many passages" to
him, whereas Matilda Davison (Solomon Spalding's wife) claimed in 1839 that John had
"repeatedly heard the whole of it read."
- In his 1851 statement, John tells us that Spalding wrote the manuscript
"between 1809 and 1812"--which is interesting given that in his
first statement he mentions nothing of the manuscript during his
visit to his brother in 1810, but later learns about it when he next visited
him towards the later part of 1812. However, in 1881 Abner Jackson stated
that Spalding commenced writing the manuscript "about the beginning of
the year 1812." (statements from other pro-theory witnesses, and also
Solomon's brother Josiah, suggest
this as well).
John Spalding and Aron Wright asserted that Joseph Smith allegedly
plagiarized Solomon's manuscript, whereas Redick M'Kee and James Briggs
figured it was Sidney Rigdon. John McKinstry (Solomon's grandson) implied that
both Smith and Rigdon were privy to the manuscript, but that it was Smith
who allegedly copied it. William Lang, in a letter to Thomas Gregg in 1881,
claimed it was Oliver Cowdery who "worked over" or "revised" the Manuscript
Found, "and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the 'Book of
Mormon.'" However, Josiah Spalding said that there was nothing
in the manuscript "of Mormonism or that favored error in any way."
- Is it coincidental that Aron Wright makes no mention in his first
statement to Hurlbut of Spalding having altered his plans about the
story-line of the manuscript, though he does so in his second statement to
Hurlbut, and this after Hurlbut had obtained the manuscript from Spalding's
wife and shown it to Wright, and both had learned that the manuscript was
nothing like what had been described earlier about it?
- In neither of his statements does Aron Wright mention his having learned
of the supposed sameness of the manuscript and the historical part of the
Book of Mormon at a public meeting mentioned by Matilda McKinstry in 1880.
Nor did he mention having "exclaimed 'Old come to pass has come to life
again'" at the same meeting as mentioned by Abner Jackson in 1880.
- Henry Lake makes no mention in his affidavit about Spalding's manuscript
being called the "Lost Tribes" as claimed by his son Hiram and neighbor
Lorin Gould more than five decades later.
- John Miller makes no mention in his statement about Spalding reading to
him while lying on a bed during meal times, or Hurlbut reading parts of the
Book of Mormon to him and he finishing the parts, nor mention of other
manuscripts, all attributed to him by his daughter five decades later.
- Is it coincidental that the first mention of the record having been
"found in the earth, or in a cave" was by Artemas Cunningham, who
was deposed by Howe following Howe having obtained the extant Spalding
manuscript (which speaks of the record being found in one of the mounds near
- According to Howe and Hurlbut in 1834, Matilda Davison had "no
distinct knowledge" of the Manuscript Found, yet in 1839 we find her
allegedly laying out some rather distinct "recollections" thereof.
- In the 1839 statement alleged to have been made by Matilda Davison, she
starts out referring to her husband in such formal terms as "Rev.
Solomon Spaulding" and "Mr. Solomon Spaulding" and "Mr.
Spalding," and only in the last paragraph do we find her using the more
expected informal reference "my husband".
- In the same statement Mrs. Davison claims that her daughter (Matilda
McKinstry) "frequently examined" the manuscript. Here daughter,
who was questioned at the same time whether she had read the manuscript,
said: "When I was about twelve years old, I used to read it for
diversion." However, in
1880 Matilda McKinstry said that she "did not read it, but looked through it and had it in my
hands many times. I was eleven years old at the time."
- This statement from Davison claims that Hurlbut brought introductions from Henry Lake,
Aaron Wright, and others making requests for the manuscript, whereas her daughter
claimed in 1880 that Hurlbut "presented a letter to my mother from my
uncle, William H. Sabine...in which he requested her to loan this manuscript
- In this same statement Matilda speaks unequivicably about the manuscript being
taken to Mr. Patterson and "at length returned to the author." However,
Hurlbut and Howe indicated six years earlier that, according to Matilda,
"whether it [the manuscript] was ever brought back to the house again, she
[Matilda Davison] is quite uncertain." According to what Josiah Spalding
said about what Matilda had informed him shortly after Solomon's death, Solomon had
let the printer take the manuscript,and he (the printer) "kept it some time, and then urged
him, my brother, to let him print it. He, my brother, would not consent, but
took it back, and she [Matilda] said that she brought it to New York and
put it into a chest where she lived."
- In contravention to Mrs. Davison's 1839 claims (as also embellished years
latter by others) there are the more credible
statement from Sidney Rigdon, Robert Patterson, and others, as well as
various historical documents, which indicate that Patterson was not an editor
of a newspaper. From 1812 to 1816 (the period in question) he was part owner in a book and stationary
store, not a print shop. The print shop during that time was owned by Butler
and Lambdin, and Silas Engles was the foreman. The Spalding manuscript was given
to Engles and not Patterson, though it was shown to Patterson--who "read only a
few pages", and "finding nothing apparently exceptionable" he was in no way
"very much pleased with it," or "struck favorably with its curious
description." And, instead of just suggesting a title page
and preface (or "polishing it up, and finishing it," and "write a brief preface
and perhaps a chapter or two in concluding the romance...giving a more elaborate
descriptions of the Indian mounds in Ohio," as Matilda McKinstry had remarked)
and the manuscript would then make money, Patterson told Mr. Engles that he
would publish the manuscript if the author would "furnish the funds for
good security." Since Spalding did not comply with this requirement, the
manuscript was returned "after some weeks" (likely some time between 1813 and
1814, prior to the Spaldings moving from Pittsburg). During this same period Sidney
Rigdon lived twelve miles south of Pittsburg in Library, PA; he was not
"connected" with Patterson's
non-existent printing establishment--let alone "as was well known in the
region", and certainly not "as Rigdon himself has frequently stated," nor would
he have been the "leading Mormon" who allegedly followed the Spaldings to
Pittsburg and "told the printer about [Spalding's] composition." It was
only latter that Rigdon became "lightly acquainted" with Patterson, and he
did not know of Solomon Spalding or his manuscript until informed of
their existence by Hurlbut in 1834 (18 years after Solomon's death)--his
supposed "ample opportunity...to copy it [the manuscript]", and his allegedly
having gotten "the original at the job printing office in Pittsburgh" (see
William Langs letter to Thomas Gregg in 1881) notwithstanding.
- In 1878, Rev. Samuel Williams claimed that "Rigdon was in Pittsburg in 1824...
Rigdon was intimate with Engles and all of the old residenters [sic] knew
of the printing office in which he [Engles] was forman [sic]. And Mr.
Patterson wished to be understood that Engles had the care of various manuscripts that
came to the office, not that Engles handed to Rigdon other manuscripts....The aged members of my church
all knew of the fact of the firm of Patterson and Lambdin up to as late as 1825 and the
probability is that as the firm was about to dissolve and the printing to cease[,] and as Mr.
Spalding was now dead[,] he [Rigdon] easily persuaded Engles to give or sell to him the
historic novel." (Letter from Samuel Williams to James
T. Cobb, Nov. 12, 1887) This is interesting given that, according to Patterson, the manuscript was
returned to Spalding after "some weeks" (circa 1814), and the manuscript was in the possession of
Mrs. Spalding following her husbands death, and until it was retrieved by Hurlbut in 1833. Also,
Patterson didn't form his partnership with Lambdin until 1818, two years after Spalding's death. Perhaps
realizing his errors, and wishing to cover them, Rev. Williams latter revised his conclusions and dates
by saying, "Mr. Patterson stated to me that Mr. Spaulding brought the Manuscript to the office and
of course it came under the charge of Engles and at or about that time Engles spoke to Mr. Patterson
about it. That time must have been 1814 or '15. All of the old men of our church knew about Rigdon hanging about
that Printing Office. and whether he spent his time there in copying it or con-cocting his schemes
while conversing with Engles and others, or at length procured the Manuscript by purchase or
otherwise, makes not the smallest difference. If it is true that Mrs. Spaulding had the Manuscript
returned to her, then unless Mr. Spaulding had duplicate copies leaving one in the office, Rigdon
must have copied it ....I have never supposed that Rigdon ever saw Mr. Spaulding for at that time he
had not as yet come on the stage, but finding such a doc-ument there shown to him by Engles in 1822
or 3. But I do not think he ever wished Patterson to publish it, thinking he might turn it to account in
making a fortune. And suppose the Novel was returned to Mrs. Spaulding-- it being a strange
production, Engles might during his leisure hours have copied it with the intention of making something
out of it and perhaps not being able to publish it, sold it to Rigdon. Any one of these, Lambden,
Engles, Joseph Patterson, or Rigdon might have taken a copy." (letter to Cobb written on Dec. 14th, 1878)
How convenient, though certainly equivical. But, unfortunately for the Rev. Williams there is not a shred of evidence to support
his wild conjectures, and much historical datum that suggests otherwise.
- Since, as indicated above, Rigdon was not "connected" with Patterson's
non-existent printing shop, nor did he live in Pittsburg until years after
Solomon's death, and he first learned of Spalding and his manuscript in 1834,
there is no way that Spalding could have told Joseph Miller "that Sidney had taken
it [the manuscript], or had suspicions for it," and Miller's supposed
distinct recollections "that Rigdon's name was used in that connection," was
apparently a brazen confabulation. And, if as Miller states, Spalding had
left a "copy" of the manuscript (this is the first intimation of a copy being
made by Spalding) with Patterson before he moved to Amity,
then why did Spalding not then use the original for publication? What difference
did it make whether Rigdon (or anyone else) allegedly "stole" or "copied" it?
Miller's false memory may have also
contributed to the false memory of Redick M'Kee (via Deming) who had previously read
Miller's statement, and who claimed that "Spaulding told me that while at
Pittsburg he frequently met a young man named Sidney Rigdon at Mr. Patterson's
bookstore and printing office." M'kee also spoke of a "copy" being left at
Patterson's, and that Spalding had requested that it be returned "in order that
he might amend it by the addition of a chapter on the discovery of valuable relics in a mound recently
opened near Conneaut" (which seems odd given that Matilda Mckinstry, who M'Kee was supposedly
quoting, had earlier claimed that Spalding had commissioned that the mounds be dug up while he
resided in Conneaut, not to mention his supposed wish to amend the "copy" rather than the
original), but goes on to contradict Miller by stating that while Patterson was
initially unable to find the requested manuscript, that in "a week or two
it was found in the place where it had originally been deposited, and sent out to him [Spalding]"--
which supposedly leaves two copies of the manuscript in Spalding's possession, and the question
open as to how Rigdon supposedly obtained a copy. M'Kee anticipates this, and goes on to
conjecture: "Mr. S's suspicions that Rigdon had taken the manuscript and made a copy of it with a
view to ultimately publishing the story as the product of his own brain"--thus making a total of
three copies allegedly floating about Pennsylvania, none of which have yet to be found. Again, there
is no evidence to support this conjecture, and much historical datum that conflicts with it.
- The 1839 statement from Davison claims that "his [Solomon Spalding's] sole object in writing this historical
romance was to amuse himself and his neighbors." Redick Mckee's
statement agrees with this almost verbatim (as does also Josiah Spalding's), whereas others have claimed that
Spalding wrote the story to pay off his debts (see John Spalding, Oliver
Smith, Henry Lake, John Miller, and Artemus Cunningham). Joseph Miller said
it was "to employ an invalid's lonely imagination. . . .Its publication seemed to be an afterthought, most likely suggested by pecuniary embarrassment"
and to "take care of his family."
- This statement from Davison speaks of neighbors reading or hearing read the manuscript,
but no mention is made of Mrs. Davison having read or heard read the
manuscript. In fact, the descriptions of the manuscript are not in the first
person, and it is difficult to tell which portions of the statement were
hearsay and which were supposed direct experience. However, Davison's
daughter claimed forty years later that "She [her mother, Matilda
Davison] stated to me that she had heard the manuscript alluded to read by
my father, was familiar with its contents."
- This 1839 statement from Davison mentions a "women preacher", when such did not
exist in the LDS Church at the time in question--though the Spaldingists
have argued that the word "women" was a misprint, and should have read "Mormon."
- In this statement Davison claims that the manuscript was "construed
into a new Bible", though in her 1843 statement she said that she only
read some of the Book of Mormon (which raises the question of how she could
know if it was "construed" or not), and she only thought that some of the names
were alike. However, her grandson, John McKinstry, claimed that she
"compared the Smith Bible with the parson's romance, and they were
essentially the same."
- It appears that the memory of Mrs. Davison's daughter, Matilda McKinstry's,
improved considerably over time. In 1843, when asked if the manuscript and
the Book of Mormon agreed, Matilda said, "I think some of the names
agree." And in answer to the follow-up question whether she was certain
that some of the names agreed, she answered, "I am not." However,
nearly four decades later, in 1880, and at the age of 74, she said:
"Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I
have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me to-day as though I heard them
yesterday. They were 'Mormon,' 'Maroni,' 'Lamenite,' 'Nephi.'" She
was six years old in 1812 when the manuscript was read "to these
people." She would have been eleven years old when, as she records in
1880, she supposedly saw again the names she had heard while looking
through, though not reading, the manuscript. In 1887, her memory must have
slipped a bit, because she claimed the manuscript contained the names "Lehi,
Lamoni, Nephi" (compare these names with the one's listed above).
- In her 1880 statement, Mrs. McKinstry indicated that her mother placed
into a trunk "all of my fathers writings which had been
preserved," including "a manuscript, about an inch thick....On the
outside of the manuscript were written the words, 'Manuscript Found.'"
While she does mention the trunk containing "sermons and other
papers" and stories written by her father, the "Manuscript
Found" was the only manuscript mentioned. She tells of having heard
that Hurlbut had gotten the manuscript from the trunk (which was at the
Clark's in Hartwick from about 1828). In 1887, after the manuscript had been
recovered, she said: "I have carefully read the Rice-Spaulding
manuscript you gave me. It is not the 'Manuscript Found.' which I have often
seen. It...was a much larger work." However, Joseph F. Smith, who also
examined the "Rice-Spaulding manuscript" described it as about an
inch thick, the same size that Mrs. McKinstry said of the "Manuscript
Found" in 1880.
- John Mckinstry, the son of Matilda McKinstry, in a statement recorded in
1877, "remembers as a child to have seen" the manuscript--which is
interesting, given that during the course of his childhood, and until
Hurlbut had obtained it, the manuscript was in the trunk at the Clark's several
hundred miles away in another state. And, according to his mother, once
Hurlbut obtained the manuscript it was never again in their possession. So,
when it is that young John may have seen the manuscript is quite a mystery.
- And, John was the only one of those deposed to include Joseph
Smith and Sidney Rigdon among the "attentive listeners" while
Spalding relayed his story to his neighbors. Since Spalding died in 1816, and Joseph Smith
was born in December of 1805, Smith could not have been more than ten years
old at the time (and given that most the witnesses place the timing of Spalding's
story telling towards the end of 1812, Joseph would have been only six or seven
years old), and since the Smith's resided in Palmyra, New York during
that period, it would have been quite a feat for Joseph at such a tender
age to commute the several hundred miles alone (because, as John indicates,
Joseph's family was "unable to attend"), or with a man (Sidney Rigdon) he didn't meet for another
fifteen years or more (see Error #2), to the
residence of Spalding in Conneaut, Pittsburgh, or Amity, Pennsylvania.
- To embellish the absurdity further, John claims that his grandmother,
Matilda Davison, "frequently testified before her death, he [Joseph
Smith] borrowed it [the manuscript] for a week or so." Strange that we
can find no mention of this in either of Davison's statements, or even in
the several statements by John's mother.
- Of the 1879 statement by John McKinstry, Dale Broadhurst has this to say:
"This article is based upon an interview conducted with the son of
Spalding's adopted daughter, Matilda. It was published while Matilda
McKinstry was still alive and when John was about 50 years old. The article
writer gives the impression that some Spalding writings were taken from
Spalding's widow in Massachusetts sometime not long before her death in
1844, possibly by a Mormon 'agent' visiting her from Boston and
acting for President of the Twelve Apostles, Brigham Young. The
'plausible young man from Boston' who 'claimed to represent
some Christian people' was quite likely exactly the Mormon
'agent' that the widow later suspected him to be. But it is
doubtful that this 'bland young gentleman' left the McKinstry home
with any substantial amount of Spalding's old writings. The reported story
is obviously a confused conflation of memories concerning the 1833 visit of
ex-Mormon Elder D.P. Hurlbut and the late 1839 visit of Mormon missionary Jesse
Haven." (see: Dale's
- Contrary to what John and others have claimed, Sidney Rigdon was not a founder of Mormonism, and the
angel appeared to Joseph a number of years after the time John suggested.
- John said that the reason his grandmother let Hurlbut have the manuscript
was to counter the supposed evil that had been foisted on the world. But, according
to John's mother, that motive was actually Hurlbut's and her Uncle's, and her
mother was suspicious of Hurlbut's motives. She "loaned" Hurlbut the manuscript on the condition that he publish it
and give her half the proceeds.
- In the four statements made by Joseph Miller he couldn't make up his mind
whether the manuscript was titled "Manuscript Found' or "Lost Manuscript' or
the "Lost Manuscript Found". After reading Joseph Miller's
statement, Redick McKee also had trouble remembering the name of the
manuscript. In his first statement he said, "He called it Lost History Found, -- Lost Manuscript, or some such name."
He also referred to it as "The Lost Book, or the Lost History
Found". In his second statement he didn't even bother to mention the
title. James Briggs didn't fare much better. In his first statement he said
"It was entitled, The [Lost Tribes?]: or, The Manuscript Found,"
in his second and fourth statements he said it was titled "Manuscript
Found", and in his third statement he referred to it as "Manuscript Story" and
"Manuscript Found." Josiah Spalding thought the title was "Historical Novel" or
"Manuscript Found." According to William Leffingwell, Spalding's drama
was called "The Book of Mormon."
- In only one of the statements did Joseph Miller mention the mounds (4th), lost race
(2nd), quaint style (1st), Lamenites (3rd), Joseph's "accomplices"
(2nd) ; and in only two of the statements did he mention the battles and
Amalekites (1st & 2nd) and the words "it came to pass" (2nd & 3rd).
- Contrary to what Redick M'Kee asserted in his 1869 statement, Joseph Smith did
not live in Northern Ohio in 1816 (the time of Spalding's death), nor did he
publish the Book of Mormon there. Perhaps M'Kee was mislead by John McKinstry's
earlier claim that Spalding's foundry was "near [by Palmyra]", where in fact it
was several hundred miles away in Conneaut. Nor did Rigdon even come close
to purchasing Patterson's failed business.
- In his 1879 statement, McKee said, "In this connection he [Spalding] spoke of a man
named Rigdon as an employee in the printing or book-binding establishment of Patterson and
Lambdin, in Pittsburgh; but about him I made no special inquiries...." This is interesting given what
M'Kee said above about Spaulding "frequently" meeting Sidney Rigdon at Mr. Patterson's
bookstore and printing office, as well as the fact that the firm of Patterson and
Lambdin was not formed until 1818, which was two years after Spalding had died, and Rigdon was
only casually acquainted with Patterson when he lived in Pittsburg after 1822, but certainly not an
- Is it coincidental that James Briggs first mentions the other alleged
manuscript in his third statement, and after he had been informed that the
Spalding's manuscript had been found and it was nothing like what Briggs had
described in his first and second statements?
- In only one of his statements does Briggs mention the Indians (3rd), and in
the same statement he makes his only mention of the mounds and forts in the
area, though in reference to the Oberline manuscript and not the Manuscript
Found--which is interesting given that John and Martha Splading, Nahum
Howard, Matilda Davison, and Abner Jackson all attributed the mounds to what prompted Solomon
to write the Manuscript Found.
- While Briggs claimed in his first three statements that the Book of Mormon
was "constructed" from the Spalding manuscript, it was only in his
forth statement that he narrows it down to the "historical portions."
- Briggs' memory seems to have miraculously improved with age because it
wasn't until his third statement that we not only find him recollecting a
second manuscript, but him also setting forth such specific details as
"Lehi, Nephi, Moroni," and "it came to pass"--though,
not surprisingly, these are details previously mentioned by "other
witnesses" he alludes to in the same statement.
- Briggs states that a "self-constituted committee", of which he
claimed to be a member (though other sources are conspicuously silent about
his participation) in conjunction with Hurlbut, supposedly compared the
Manuscript Found "chapter-by-chapter" in 1834. Doesn't it seem
more than a little odd that at the same time that Hurlbut was collecting the
late and vague "recollections" (twenty or more years after the fact)
from relatives and neighbors of Spalding, he had within his alleged grasp
current eye-witnesses to the exact content of the manuscript, and yet we
find no affidavits from this group reported by Hurlbut. Instead, the first
mention of the matter that we find coming from the group is five decades
later? Were Briggs' scenario true, one would think that such affidavits
would have been vastly more valuable to Hurlbut and Howe than the Conneaut
statements, and they would have certainly bolstered the case which they were
attempting to make in the book 'Mormonism Unveiled.' But there is nothing
about it. In fact, the Painesville Telegraph, of which Howe was editor,
which paper was not shy about reporting matters unfavorable to the restored gospel
of Christ, mentioned only the meetings (of which Briggs was not listed as
attending) and the groups general intent (see article), though nothing about the manuscript(s).
- Even more odd is Briggs' claim that the committee had the manuscript in
their possession (the "smoking gun"), and yet it disappears
without a trace and without so much as a public mention by any of the
interested parties until five decades later. Briggs did attempt to explain
away this obvious gaff by making the absurd conjecture that Hurlbut sold the
manuscript to the Mormons for $400.00 (see the third and fourth statements).
So, here Briggs has a man twice excommunicated from the Church, whose bitter
and public accusations against the faith first prompted the organization of
the mentioned committee, and under their employment spends over a half a year
vigorously collecting affidavits bent on destroying the church and the
character of the Smith family, and who had to
be brought to court for his threats against the life of Joseph Smith, and
suddenly we find him turning over the one alleged piece of direct
incriminating evidence to his most avoid enemy? Does this make sense to
anyone but Briggs? Does it matter that every correspondence from Hurlbut,
Howe, and Hurlbut's family resoundingly reject such a notion (including the
one Briggs mentions in his 2nd statement)? Not surprisingly, Redick M'Kee
had jumped to the same conclusions several months earlier in a statement to
Deming (the same person who took several of Briggs' statements). It is reasonable
to assume that Brigg's and M'Kee's assumptions (and also later by John Dowin)
were based on John McKinstry's
assertion in 1877 regarding the "bland young gentelman" who he mistakenly believed "was an agent of
Brigham Young," as well as subsequent intimations to that effect by Matilda
Mckinstry (John's mother) and Abner Jackson. It is also likely that his assertion
about Hurlbut being paid $400 or $500 dollars by the Mormons is a conflation of the fact
that Hurlbut was paid under contract by Howe with 400 (some accounts say 500)
copies of Howe's book Mormonism Unveiled, with the anticipation of
selling the books for a dollar each.
- Briggs also asserts that the Manuscript Found was obtained by Hurlbut from Patterson
in Pennsylvania (see his first statement). However, he contradicts himself
by echoing what Charles Grover had claimed previously, that Rigdon had stolen
the manuscript from Patterson's printing office
(which, as indicated above, Patterson did not own during the period in question)
and used it to compile the Book of Mormon (see his second statement). How it
is that Hurlbut could have gotten the manuscript from Patterson if Rigdon
had already allegedly taken it a number of years before, is
anyone's guess (Grover says that Hurlbut had obtained another copy, though
he was silent as to how and where). Besides, why do we not find any mention of this from Hurlbut,
Howe, or Patterson. And what need would Hurlbut and Howe have had for the
manuscript in Davison's trunk if they already had the Manuscript Found in
- It appears that Briggs discovered his mistake regarding Patterson's
printing press, and in his last statement correctly referred to it as
Lambdin's, though he mistakenly asserts that other witnesses had
"testified of the intimate acquaintance of Rigdon with Lambdin of Pittsburg,"
which they had not.
- Why do you suppose that Abner Jackson's 1880 "recollections" of
the manuscript are so different from those of his father's taken in 1840?
Could it be, in part, that, as Abner admits, the story was read to his
father, and not him--though he claimed to have heard "the conversation
that passed between them", or perhaps because his father's statement was over forty years closer to the time of the events in question than Abners?
- Does it strike you, the reader, as peculiar that Abner, both at the beginning and end
of his statement, took great pains to inform us that he had read Matilda
McKinstry's 1880 statement after he had written his? Could it be that
even he could clearly see the implications of the conspicuous resemblance between what he said and
what she said--particularly the list of names: Maroni, Mormon, Nephites, Moroni, Lama[n], Neph[i], and
others? , and he wished to preempt justifiable suspicion by protesting too much?
- Abner's assertion notwithstanding, it was not a "fact well established
that the book called Book of Mormon, had its origan from a romance that was
written by Solomon Spaulding."
- Since John Dowen, Jacob Sherman, William Hine, and Charles Grover all
claim to have heard Hurlbut lecture at either a Methodist or Presbyterian
Church around 1834 in which he presented the affidavits he had collected
and he or Squire Holbrook had read from the "Manuscript Found," then
why did these men not make statements to Hurlbut at that time rather than
waiting for five decades? In fact, what need was there for Hurlbut to read
the affidavits and obtain even more if he had the "Manuscript
Found" and it read as suggested?
- 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 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.
- Rachael Derby claimed that Matilda Spalding (Solomon's wife) was
"high-strung, a frolicker," though others like Rev. Storrs vouched for
her credibility and deemed her to be a worthy witness. Rachael also claimed
that Matilda was the reason that Solomon left the ministry, whereas Abner
Jackson said he left because of failing health (members of Spalding's family,
including his brother Josiah, corroborated Abner's perception). William Leffingwell said
that Spalding "had never been a reverend," but was a lawyer.
- While many of the pro-theory witnesses inferred that Spalding's manuscript
had no religious matter, William Leffingwell claimed that it was "full of
Bible expressions." He also claimed that, as the alleged editor of the
manuscript, his "notes and pencil marks may be found on every page"--
though nothing of the sort can be found with the extant manuscript.
Issue #8: Aspects of the statements are inconsistent with
the Book of Mormon, though some are consistent with Solomon's Roman Story
Contrary to what has been suggested in the various pro-theory statements:
- The Book of Mormon is not a "romance" (historical or otherwise), though the Roman Story is.
- The Book of Mormon is not about the "first settlers" in America (it does, however,
speak of several migrations and settlements in the Americas), though the Roman Story is.
- The Book of Mormon does not "endeavor to show that the American Indians
are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes", nor does it speak
about the migration of "a large portion of the ten tribes," but it is a record
of "a remnant of the house of Isreal."
- The Book of Mormon makes little mention of the war dead being buried in
heaps, and no mention that they formed the "mounds so common to the country", though the Roman Story does.
- The Book of Mormon, absent the religious matter that was allegedly added
(according to many of the pro-theory witnesses), would not make sense even from a
historical perspective. The reason behind the various exoduses, the record
being kept and preserved, the wars, the governmental and societal structures,
and virtually every major component to the story was religious-based.
- Lehi is not "the son of Japeth", nor was he a "Jaredite", and he and Nephi sailed together,
not centuries apart. These two men were not the "principle heroes", or the "leading characters", though they
were two of the many prominent people that figured in the ancient record.
- The Book of Mormon peoples did not "sail from Chaldea", and the record speaks of
their landing in the "land of promise," and makes no mention of "the
Straits of Darien" or "the mouth of the Mississippi."
- The Book of Mormon contains accounts of other peoples besides just the
Nephites and Lamanites.
- The Book of Mormon is unclear where the several "final battle[s]" (as
opposed to the single "final battle") were fought, but modern scholarship
suggest that it was not New York but Mesoamerica. And, Moroni was not the "one man only
[who] was left" (though he was the only faithful Nephite that remainded as
contrasted with the many Lamenites who lived on). Coriantumr was the sole
survivor of the Jaredite nation.
- Moroni was not told "where, when, and how to conceal" the record. And,
he buried his record in a hill, not a "mound" or "a cave", and it was in Palmyra,
New York and not "Conneaut, Ohio." The 'Roman Story', on the other hand,
does represent the manuscripts being buried and later found in a cave near Conneaut.
- The Book of Mormon does not "represent" some of the people "as being
- The Book of Mormon does not give "an account of their arts, sciences,
[and] civilizations," or "their manners, customs, [and] laws," or "lengthy
remarks on astronomy and philosophy," though the Roman Story does.
- The Book of Mormon contains no passages that could reasonably be
considered as "humorous."
- The Book of Mormon speaks of Zarahemla, but it makes no mention of
- The Book of Mormon is not about an "idolotrous" people.
- The Book of Mormon is not about the Jews being "brought for Palestine
via Italy during the reign of Constantine," nor does it "set forth that at
Rome they engaged shipping to convey them to some place in Great Britain,
but encountered stormy weather and were finally wrecked somewhere on the
coast of New England." But, this is remarkedly similar to whatg may be found in the Roman Story.
And, the Book of Mormon makes no mention of the people residing in "China"
or "crossing the ocean by Behrings Straits in North America," nor does it
begin "their depature from Palestine or Judea, then up through Asia....passing
over the [Berhing] Straits."
- While certain of the Book of Mormon peoples were righteous, they were
not referred to by the name of "Righteous." Similarly, certain of the people
were idolotrous, but they were not given the name "Idolaters".
- The Book of Mormon does not claim to be "a new Bible!"
- The Book of Mormon was translated from Reformed Egyptian, not Latin,
plates and not parchment, though the Roman Story claimed to translated from a
Issue #9: The witnesses made demonstrably absurd and
dishonest claims which seriously undermined the credibility of the evidence
Since the manuscript witnesses are the sole evidence proffered by the
Spalding theorists to support the assertion in question, and since the
statements rely solely on distant, though presumably comprehensive memories of
complex things (each of the witnesses--at least those supportive of the Spalding
theory, with unequivocal certainty, declared the Spalding manuscript to be the "same
as" the historical parts of the Book of Mormon--see
here, thus implying that they had complete recall
of the names, dates, places, stories, phraseology, etc. needed to make such a
claim), it is reasonable to question the feasibility of such distant, though
To do this, it may help to know how old each of the witnesses were at the
time of the events in question, their ages at the time they made their
respective statements, and the time-laps between the events in question and the
taking of their statements. (Please see the table: ages
It may also help to briefly understand the nature of memory storage and
Robert Todd Carroll has remarked, "Memories might better be
thought of as a collage or a jigsaw puzzle than as 'tape recordings,' 'pictures'
or 'video clips' stored as wholes. On this model, perceptual or conscious
experience does not record all sense data experienced. Most sense data is not
stored at all. What is stored are rather bits and fragments of experience which
are encoded in engrams. Exactly how they are encoded is not completely
So, of the innumerable sensory, emotional, and cognitive impulses that are
feed to the brain, much of it is filtered out and molded into perceptions, which
perception are then, in turn, filtered and molded into conceptions prior to
their being registered in cognition and stored into memory.
Then, of the relatively few conceptions which are stored in memory, much of
them begin to quickly fad or get pushed into the dark recesses of the mind in
order to make room for new memories.
Common sense and experience would suggest that memory retention is a
function of several things: a) repetition (the more frequently something is
repeated over a long period of time, the greater the chance that it will be
retained); b) significance (the more significant the thing is to the person, the
greater chance it will be retained); c) simplicity (the simpler the conception,
the greater the chance that it will be retained); d) time lapse (the more recent
the memory, the greater the chance that it is still retained); and e) which of
the six senses were involved (for whatever reason smells are retained better
than other sensory impulses, and multiple sense impulses are retained better
than individual sense impulses).
According to the
Evidence Specialists, after only three to four days, "memory of the
average person retains 65% of the information that they see and hear"
(emphasis mine). Retention rates drop to 10% if they only hear, and 20% if they
only see or read. (ibid.)
Given that the Conneaut and other witnesses only either
read or heard read the Spalding manuscript, it is likely that they only
retained 20%, at best, after three or four days. It is reasonable to assume that
they retained a minute fraction of that after twenty-two to seventy or more
years (which is the time laps between the event in question and the first and
last statements recorded).
Psychologists and memory experts, Drs. Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine
Ketcham, have stated: "Even if we are careful observers and take in a
reasonably accurate picture of some object or experience, it does not stay
intact in memory. Other forces begin to corrode the original memory. With the
passage of time, with proper motivation, or with the introduction of interfering
or contradictory facts, the memory traces change or become transformed, often
without our conscious awareness. . . .human memory is far from perfect or
permanent, and forgetfulness is a fact of life. . . .Take a U.S. penny, for
example. Most people would insist that they know what a penny looks like and
would have no trouble recognizing one when they saw it. But in a study conducted
in 1979, fewer than half of the subjects were able to pick the exact copy of a
real penny from fifteen possible designs." (Magic
of the Mind)
If half the people were unable to pick out the exact copy of a simple penny
after seeing it over long periods of time and relatively recently, then what are
the chances that people will be able to accurately recall, in minute detail,
after a separation of twenty-two to seventy years or more, and having only read,
or had read to them, portions of a very complex history, such that they could
make a comprehensive comparison with the historical parts of the Book of Mormon?
To me, the odds are so small as to defy possibility.
Were it feasible, there are several hypothetical tests that could be
conducted to confirm this truth (see here). However, even
without conducting these hypothetical studies, I am sure the reader can make a
reasonable guess at to the results, and that your guess would not be at all
favorable to the credibility of the pro-theory statements.
In a non-hypothetical experiment, British psychologist Frederick Bartlett
"had college students read a North American Indian folk tale, 'The War
of the Ghosts,' and then tested their recall of it on several occasions.
Individuals mangled the story more with each succeeding attempt to remember it,
notably by changing elements of the legend to match their own expectations,
altering the form of the story to that of an English fairy tale, and sometimes
even adding a moral to it." (Bruce
Bower, "Remembrances of Things False") Again, one can only imagine
the convolution of "recollection" by the pro-theory witnesses after twenty to seventy years.
Is it any wonder then, that according to Rachel Derby (the daughter of John
Miller, one of the pro-Spalding witnesses), Philatus Hurlbut had "expressed
great surprise that father remembered so much of it [the manuscript]?"
Derby) Given what has been indicated above about witness tampering,
leading the witness, confabulations, and forgery, is there any questions as to
how Miller and others were able to supposedly remember so much of the alleged
However, at the very least, one would expect that the legalistic statements
made by the witnesses would have contained some qualifiers acknowledging the
significant limitations of complex memories over time. As it is, we have only
these two brief admissions from among the thirty or so statements favorable to
the Spalding theory: "The lapse of time which has intervened, prevents
my recollecting but a few of the leading incidents of his writing" (Martha
Spalding); and, "although the general features of the story have
passed from my memory through the lapse of twenty-two years..." (Artimus
Yet, this did not prevent these two people, or the other witnesses favorable
to the Spalding theory, from making their unequivocal and comprehensive "same
as" the historical parts of the Book of Mormon claims. In fact, in seeming
blatant defiance of all that is rational, we find Joseph Miller, more than sixty
years following his association with Spalding, and at the age of eighty-eight,
declaring: "The longer I live the more firmly I am convinced"
as well as Matilda Spalding McKinstry (Solomon Spalding's daughter), more than
sixty years after the events in question, and at the age of seventy-four, who
stated: "my memory, in common with elderly people, is clearer in regard
to the events of my earlier years, rather than those of my maturer [sic] life"
This was even more than what Theodore Schroeder, himself a
Splading theorist, could swallow, and he impeached Matilda Spalding McKinstry's
statement (thus inadvertently impeaching, to one degree or another, all the
pro-theory manuscript witnesses) by declaring: "That this woman, at
seventy-four, should remember strange names, casually repeated in her presence,
before her sixth year, and those names wholly unrelated to anything of direct
consequence to her child life, is a feat of memory too extraordinary to give her
uncorroborated statement any weight, as against valid contradictory conclusions
drawn from established facts." (Schroeder, as quoted by B. H. Roberts,
Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.2, p.27)
In contrast, of the five statements unfavorable to the Spalding theory:
1) Josiah Spalding makes a number of qualified
qualifiers); 2) As
mentioned earlier, Matilda Spalding Davison indicated to Hurlbut and Howe that "but
of its ["Manuscript Found"] contents she ha[d] no distinct knowledge"
(p.287), and later to Jesse Haven (a contra-Spaldingist) she intimated that the
most she could say with any degree of certainty was that "some of the
names [were] alike" (see citation); and
3) In the same interview with Haven, Matilda Spalding McKinstry agreed with her
mother that "some of the names agree," but when asked if she
was certain, she admitted, "I am not" (see
(It should be noted that both Matilda's were reported to have made
statements which conflict with the statements just cited from them above, and
which suggest a much greater familiarity and recollection of the Spalding
manuscript than what we find here. But, given the reasoning of this section, and
the many other questions raised about the pro-theory statements in the
sections above and below, there should be little doubt as to which of the
conflicting statements are most credible.)
So, while it is certainly probable for people to accurately recall bits and
pieces of their distant past, it defies reason to suggest that people can remember
accurately every name, place, event, and thing which they may have read one time
through of a complex history more than twenty-two years ago. As such, the
bold and comprehensive claims made by the
Conneaut witnesses must be considered as absurd, thus undermining their
credibility as witnesses, calling their integrity into serious question, and
effectively eliminating the sole "evidence" in support of the
assertion in question. (At best, all that the Spalding theorists can reasonably
argue is that several names and certain aspects of the storyline may be the
same--which, to me, is rather meaningless in terms of determining the origins of
the Book of Mormon as will be demonstrated in article
5. Wouldn't you agree?)
Other resources on the unreliability of memory:
How Reliable is
Issue #10: The pro-theory statements extrapolate the
whole from a minor part
Issue #11: the pro-theory statements lack sufficient
details to make a "same as" comparison
(in progress) "Richard Lloyd Anderson, BYU Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3,
p.290 Yet the historian must study the content of all documents, and the one
striking characteristic of Hurlbut is reliance on vague generalities....The
rules of evidence in the United States insist that a witness tell specific
experiences, and leave to the court or jury the function of forming opinions
(They only read a portion of Spalding--point out evidence and reasoning that
the manuscript was not complete when Spalding left for Pittsburgh. It appears
that they may only have read a small portion of the Book of Mormon, at best
through 2 Nephi, Chapter 4 (Jacob takes over from there, the Isaiah quotes),
which represents only 20% of the BoM, 26 pages out of 531 in today's
BoM--provide evidence and reasoning. In fact, compare statements to the BoM
Summary of the issues
(in progress)--after demonstrating that the pro-theory statements are
confabulations, provide explanation for how the theory got started then, and how
presumably honest and forthright people may have been mislead.
a) It would be interesting to locate several people
who, over the course of a year or so, had read the Book of Mormon, or had the
Book of Mormon read to them, but who hadn't read or heard anything about the
Book of Mormon for more than twenty years, and then have them now recall,
unassisted, as much as they could of the book. What do you suppose the chances
would be that they would recall all of the names, places, events, dates, things,
etc., and even the phraseology, so as to make a "same as" comparison
with the Book of Mormon?
b) A similar study could be personally conducted with those who had read,
for the first and only time, twenty or more years ago, a complex historical
novel, or even the Bible for that matter. I know that while I had very much
enjoyed reading War and Peace in the late 70's, I am hard pressed to now recall
any more than two names, and I can barely sketch but a fraction of the
storyline, let alone recall, in minute detail, all the names, places, events,
and things such that I could determine whether it is "the same as"
some other complex historical novel. But, that could just be me.
c) It would also be interesting to do a similar study on people who had read
the extant Spalding manuscript more than twenty years ago, and not since then,
and compare their recollections to their recent first-time reading of the Book
Last updated 9/22/01