EXHIBIT A: STATEMENTS & TESTIMONY OF LORENZO SAUNDERS
(with follow-up investigative
questions from Wade Englund)
Statement #1: Quoted from J. H. Gilbert (citation #26)
"...Last evening I had about fifteen minutes' conversa-tion with
Mr. Lorenzo Saunders of Reading, Hillsdale County, Michigan. He has been gone
about thirty years [from the Palmyra area]. He was born south of our village in
1811, and was a near neighbor of the Smith family-- knew them all well; was in
the habit of visit-ing the Smith boys; says he knows that Rigdon was hanging
around Smith's for eighteen months prior to the publishing of the Mormon
Statement #2: Quote from Wm. Kelley
interview with Saunders (citation #28)
interview was had with Lorenzo Saunders by Wm. H. Kelley [an RLDS bishop] at
Mr. L. Saunders' house September 17, 1884 at the above named place; which was
read to and signed by Mr. Saunders as being correct.
"Q. How old are
you Mr. Saunders?
"A. I was born in Palmyra, Wayne Co. N. York June
1811. . . .
"Q. Did you ever see Sidney Rigdon in the neighborhood
where you lived previous to 1830?
"A. Yes. In March 1827. I went over
to Joe Smith's to eat supper, and as I went over I saw, about twenty rods from
the house, five or six men standing and talking. [O]ne was well dressed.
Did you know their names?
"A. Yes. It was Peter Ingersol, Samuel
Lawrence, George Proper, the old man Rockwell, Father of Porter Rockwell, and
the well dressed man. They stood ten rods from the road. When I got to the house
Harrison [Smith] told me that it was Sidney Rigdon. i.e. the well dressed man.
Did you see him after that previous to 1830?
"A. Yes. I saw him in the
fall just before Joseph went to Pennsylvania [Dec. 1827]. Peter Ingersol and I
met him [Rigdon] in the Road between Palmyra and Inger-sols. I never saw him
any more until he came to Palmy-ra to preach to Mormon Bible.
you acquainted with Maj. Gilbert of Palmyra?
"A. Yes. Four years ago I
went to Palmyra to see my Brothers, and I met Gilbert. He wanted to know if I
remembered seeing Sidney Rigdon in that neighborhood previous to 1830 when he
come preaching the Mormon Bible. He said Abel Chase testified that he thought
he saw Rigdon before that time, but was not certain. Says I to Gilbert[,]
Sidney Rigdon was about Smiths before 1830 in my opinion. Gilbert asked if I
would make affidavit that I saw Rigdon at Smiths before that time? I told him
that I would think the matter over. After a while I think I told him I would.
After I got home a while I received a letter from Cobb of Salt Lake. Gilbert
wrote to Cobb and give him my address. I wrote to Cobb the next Spring. Gilbert
wrote to me I think in Nov. after I returned home, asking why I did not answer
Cobb's letter. While I was writing an answer to Cobbs first letter my house
caught fire and burnt. Burnt up every thing I had and there was no insurance.
Lost a thousand dollars. I was some time thinking the matter over before
writing to Cobb and during that time my house burnt. It had been a long time
since those transactions and it was difficult to fix dates. But I have it now
so I can tell it right off. I have read the statements of Peter Ingersol and
Samuel Lawrence. (signed) Lorenzo Saunders"
#3: Quote from a statement made to G. Gregg (citation #30)
"Dear Sir. I received your note ready at hand and will try [to]
answer the best I can and give all the infor-mation I can as respecting
Mormonism and the first origin. . . . I saw Sidney Rigdon in the spring of
1827, about the middle of March. I went to Smiths to eat maple sugar, and I saw
five or six men standing in a group and there was one among them better dressed
than the rest and I asked Harrison Smith who he was and he said his name was
Sidney Rigdon, a friend of Joseph's from Pennsylvania. I saw him in the Fall of
1827 on the road between where I lived and Palmyra, with Joseph. I was with a
man by the name of Inger-soll.(29) They talked together and when he went on I
asked Ingersoll who he was and he said it was Rigdon. Then in the summer of
1828 I saw him at Samuel Law-rence's just before harvest. I was cutting corn
for Lawrence and went to dinner and he took dinner with us and when dinner was
over they went into another room and I didn't see him again till he came to
Palmyra to preach. . . .Yours with respect, From Lorenzo Saunders"
#4: made by Saunders to the Justice of the Peace (citation #31)
"Statement of Lorenzo Saunders. SS: "Hillsdale County, State
"Lorenzo Saunders being duly sworn deposes and says: "That
I reside in Reading, Hillsdale County, State of Michigan; that I was born in
the town of Palmyra, Wayne County, State of New York, on June 7, A.D. 1811, and
am now seventy-six years of age. That I lived in said town of Palmyra until I
was forty-three of age. That I lived within one mile of Joseph Smith at the
time said Joseph Smith claimed that he found the 'tablets' on which the 'Book
of Mormon' was revealed. . . . That in March of 1827, on or about the 15th of
said month I went to the home of Joseph Smith for the purpose of getting some
maple sugar to eat, that when I arrived at the house of said Joseph Smith, I
was met at the door by Harrison Smith, Jo's brother. That at a distance of ten
or twelve rods from the house there were five men that were engaged in talking,
four of whom I knew, the fifth one was better dressed than the rest of those
whom I was acquainted with. I inquired of Harrison Smith who the stranger was?
He informed me his name was Sidney Rigdon with whom I afterwards became
acquainted with and found to be Sidney Rigdon. This was in March, A.D. 1827, the
second spring after the death of my father. I was frequently at the house of
Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830. . . . That in the summer of 1830, I heard Sidney
Rigdon preach a sermon on Mormonism. This was after the 'Book of Mormon' had
been published, which took about three years from the time Joseph Smith claimed
to have had his revelation. Lorenzo Saunders, "Subscribed and sworn to
before me this 21st day of July, A.D. 1887. Linus S. Parmelee. Justice of the
Peace of Reading, Michigan"
(fatal questions are marked with an asterisk *)
- *Contrary to what is claimed in the Enigma, at least three of the
alleged sightings of Rigdon by Saunders occurred on dates where, according to
the Rigdon and Smith chronologies, these men were either noted to have been
elsewhere, or, given their known location close to the dates in question, they
could not both have physically been where Saunders claimed them to be--i.e.
allegedly at Palmyra on March 15th of 1827 (see Rigdon/Smith
time-line), the fall of the same year (just before Joseph Smith went to
Pennsylvania in December--see ibid.
time-line), as well as the 18 months Rigdon was supposedly at the Smith's prior
to the Book of Mormon being published (from the fall of 1828 to the Spring of
1830--see ibid. time-line)? And, there is some
question whether the alleged sighting in summer of
1828 fits a gap in the Rigdon/Smith timelines (corn is typically cut towards
the end of August and first of September). Yet, the Enigma authors went on to
knowingly and falsely claim that "for in every instance without
exception, where a witness or witnesses have claimed that Rigdon and Smith
were together, a gap in Rigdon's chronology occurs which allows sufficient time
for him to have visited New York. " As they have said, "every liar
slips up somewhere (see Enigma p. 490), and it appears that both Saunders and
the Enigma authors slipped up here.
- *Several of Saunders' statements directly contradict each other. For
example, in his second statement, following his comments about the alleged
encounter in the fall of 1827, he states, "I never saw him (Rigdon) any
more until he came to Palmyra to preach the Mormon Bible" (Which would
have been about December of 1830). However, he must have forgotten what he had
claimed 4 years earlier, "Rigdon was hanging around Smith's for
eighteen months prior to the publishing of the Mormon Bible" (making it
the fall of 1828 to the spring of 1830). And, he must have forgotten 5 months
later, when he gave his third statement: "in the summer of 1828 I saw
him at Samuel Lawrence's"--though he did mention again that "he
didn't see him (Rigdon) until he came to Palmyra to preach" (December
of 1830). This, then, was contradicted by his forth statement, made about a year
and a half later: "That in the summer of 1830, I heard Sidney Rigdon
preach a sermon on Mormonism."
- *Beyond coincidence, the statement Saunders made that was immediately
recorded by Gilbert, and then sent in a letter to Cobb, and which preceded
Saunders' reading of the Ingersol and Lawrence's statements, makes no mention of
the circumstance in which either Ingersol and Lawrence were allegedly involved
(contained in latter statements), but only mentions Rigdon "hanging around
Smith's for eighteen months prior to the publishing of the Mormon Bible"--i.e.
from the fall of 1828 to Spring of 1830, an event that was not even mentioned,
but contradicted (see below). Clearly, Saunders' got some of his "memory"
of the events for his second through forth statements from either Ingersol and
- Saunder's statement was made after 52 years of silence on the matter (the
alleged events took place in 1827, and the first of four recorded statements
from Saunders was made in 1879), and at a time when Gilbert, a purported friend
of Saunders, and Cobb, a reporter from SLC, were attempting to make the pre-1830
Rigdon/Smith connection so as to under-gird a major weakness in the Spalding
- How is it that, according to Saunders' second statement, he allegedly
inquired after the "strangers" name in March of 1827, and then he
needed to inquire after the same "strangers" name in the fall of the
same year? If Saunders allegedly forget the name of the "stranger"
after just six or so months, how is it that he is able to then remember the name
after 52 years?
- How is it that on certain details, Saunders' memory appears to have
increased in clarity and specificity over time and with each telling? (In his
second statement Saunders noted the date of his first encounter with Rigdon as "in
March". In his third statement, he said "about the middle of March,"
and in his fourth statement, he said, "In March, on or about the 15th."
In his second and third statements, Saunders said he saw "five or six"
men standing or talking outside of the Smith's home in March of 1827, where as
in his forth statement he only mentioned "five".)
- Could it have anything to do with what Saunders' said in his signed
statement to Kelley in 1884 (the second of his statements): "I was some
time thinking the matter over before writing to Cobb. . .It had been a long time
since those transactions and it was difficult to fix dates. But I have it now
so I can tell it right off. I have read the statements of Peter Ingersol and
Samuel Lawrence"? Isn't it probable that Saunders' got his memory of
the events from Ingersol and/or Lawrence? (Even more interesting still, upon
further investigation, it was found that the only extant record of relevant
statements made by Peter Ingersol, do not mention the alleged visits by
Rigdon--see: ingersol.htm --forthcoming)
- Saunders was at first apparently reluctant and unsure in the matter, but
after persistent nudging, finally relented in giving his affidavit some 8 years
after it was first requested. According to Saunders' second statement regarding
his first, instead of coming forward under his own volition, Gilbert approached
him with the question about Rigdon and Smith, and even appeared to have prodded
him on by explaining that, "Abel Chase testified that he thought he saw
Rigdon before that time (1830), but was not certain." After eliciting a
cursory, though favorable, response, Gilbert appeared to press Saunders to make
an affidavit, which Saunders said he would think about, and later believes he
agreed to do. Gilbert then had Cobb write to Saunders on the matter, and then
after several months had passed, he wrote to Saunders, himself, to ask why he
had not responded to Cobb. Saunders explained about wanting to think on the
matter, as well as the problem he had with his house burning down. The
affidavit, as it turns out, was finally taken in 1887, 8 years after Gilbert
first made the request.
- Is the reliability of the Rigdon portion of these statements deminished by
the fact that for 27 years following the alleged events (until 1854), Saunders
continued to live but a mile from the Smith residence, in the vicinity of
Palmyra, N.Y., during which time Hurlburt, Howe, and other Spalding theorists
had canvassed the area (particularly the neighbors of the Smiths) for
information regarding the Spalding manuscript and the pre-1830 Smith/Rigdon
connection, and yet we find no mention from any of these sources of Saunder's
alleged Rigdon sightings? (It should be noted that Gilbert, who recorded the
first of Saunders' statements, also lived in the Palmyra area during that time,
and was a friend of Saunders. Why did Gilbert wait until 1879 to approach
Saunders on the subject? Or, why is it that 52 years later, after moving away
from Palmyra, that Saunders decides to disclose this information?)
- What are the odds that you or I, at the age of 68, would suddenly recall a
chance sighting, at the age of 16, of someone we didn't know, who happened to be
at our friend's house--let alone remember the name of that person, and the date
that it occurred on? Even at the much younger age of 48, I couldn't for the life
of me tell you what happened on March 15th of my 16th year, or what "strangers"
I may have met during that year.
- Or, as Dale Broadhurst asks, "Is there any chance at all that Lorenzo
may have conflated pre-1830 and post-1830 memories here?
- Are there extant copies of Peter Ingersol and Samuel Lawrence's statements
so as to allow for a comparison between what they say, and what Saunders says?
As pointed out earlier, upon further investigation, the statement from Ingersol
quoted in Howe's book makes no mention of Rigdon. The question is then begged as
to why not?
- In this same statement (the second), Saunders mentions that "George
Proper and the old man Rockwell, Father of Porter Rockwell" were also
alleged to have been in the company of Ingersol and Lawrence and Rigdon outside
the Smith home in March 1827. Are there extant statements from these two men as
well? If not, why not?
- Where can I read the full statement from Gilbert to Cobb (Saunder's 1st
statement)? Is it in Wymetal, pg 231, and Shook, Flake #7697? Will the authors
of the Enigma make the full statement available?
Dale Broadhurst is currently compiling a historical reconstruction of the
Saunders claims using the Cadillac, Michigan "News", some letters of
Wm. H. Kelley, and some of Lorenzo's dad's papers from the Ontario County Clerks
office. When he has completed this effort, and has made his findings available,
there may yet be other questions to ask or revisions to make with the current
According to the Mormon Studies web site (at
http://www.mormonstudies.com/history1.htm ), "In a letter to Thomas Gregg
in June 1881, Gilbert wrote: "The long paragraph in relation to Mr. Cobb
and Lorenzo Saunders is a mixed mess of truth and falsehood. When I asked Mr. S.
if he knew whether Rigdon was hanging around Smith previous to the publication
of the M. B. [Mormon Bible], he said, 'Yes, at least eighteen months before.'
There was no hesitancy about it; and this is what I told Kelly. You can see how
he reported the matter."
Last updated 1/28/01