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THIS mission to the West was one of the most important events in the early history of the church. It resulted in the establishment of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, where some of the most thrilling events of the age transpired, and where yet the Temple stands as a monument to their faithfulness and patient endurance. Here the leading quorums of the church were organized; and here were found some of the men who were destined to become prominent in the church and her councils. Here in Northern Ohio were found, among others who were afterwards identified with the history of the church, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Orson Hyde, Lyman Wight, Luke S. and Lyman E. Johnson, Edward Partridge, and Newel E. Whitney.
The missionaries also proceeded west as far as Independence, Missouri, and into the Territory of Kansas, preaching by the way to many, including some tribes of Indians.
Of this mission Joseph Smith writes:-
"Immediately on receiving this revelation, preparations were made for the journey of the brethren therein designated, to the borders of the Lamanites, and a copy of the revelation was given them. Having got ready for their journey, they bade adieu to their brethren and friends, and commenced their journey, preaching by the
way, and leaving a sealing testimony behind them, lifting up their voice like a trump in the different villages through which they passed. They continued their journey until they came to Kirtland, Ohio, where they tarried some time, there being quite a number in that place who believed their testimony and came forward and obeyed the gospel. Among the number was Elder Sidney Rigdon, and a large portion of the church over which he presided.
"As there has been a great rumor, and many false statements have been given to the world respecting Elder Rigdon's connection with the Church of Jesus Christ, it is necessary that a correct account of the same be given, so that the public mind may be disabused on the subject. I shall therefore proceed to give a brief history of his life down, from authentic sources, as also an account of his connection with the church of Christ.
"Sidney Rigdon was born in Saint Clair Township, Allegheny County, State of Pennsylvania, on the l9th of February, A. D. 1793, and was the youngest son of William and Nancy Rigdon. William Rigdon, his father, was a native of Hartford County, State of Maryland; was born A. D. 1743, and died May 26, A. D. 1810, in the sixty-second [seventh] year of his age. William Rigdon was the son of Thomas Baker and Ann Lucy Rigdon. Thomas Baker Rigdon was a native of the State of Maryland, and was the son of Thomas Baker Rigdon, who came from Great Britain.
"Ann Lucy Rigdon, grandmother of Sidney Rigdon, was a native of Ireland, and emigrated to the city of Boston, Massachusetts, and was there married to Thomas Baker Rigdon. Nancy Rigdon's mother was a native of Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey; was born March 16, 1759, and died October 3, 1839, and was the eldest daughter of Bryant Gallaher, who was a native of Ireland. Elizabeth Gallaher, mother to the said Nancy Rigdon, was the second wife of the said Bryant Gallaher, and whose maiden name was Reed, and who was a native of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Their parents were natives of Scotland.
"His father, William Rigdon, was a farmer, and he removed from the State of Maryland some time prior to his marriage; to the State of Pennsylvania; and his mother had removed some time prior to that, from the State of New Jersey to the same State; where they were married, and continued to follow agricultural pursuits. They had four children; viz., three sons, and one daughter. The eldest, sons, were called Carvil, Loami, and Sidney, the subject of this brief history. The fourth, a daughter, named Lucy.
"Nothing very remarkable took place in the youthful days of Elder Rigdon; suffice it to say that he continued at home with his parents, following the occupation of a farmer until he was seventeen years of age, when his father died; after which event he continued on the same farm with his mother, until he was twenty-six years of age. In his twenty-fifth year he connected himself with a society which in that country was called Regular Baptists. The church he united with was at that time under the charge of the Rev. David Phillips, a clergyman from Wales. The year following he left the farm and went to reside with the Rev. Andrew Clark, a minister of the same order. During his continuance with him he received a license to preach in that society, and commenced from that time to preach, and returned to farming occupations no more. This was in March, 1819.
"In the month of May, of the same year, he left the State of Pennsylvania and went to Trumbull County, State of Ohio, and took up his residence at the house of Adamson Bentley, a preacher of the same faith. This was in July of same year. While there he became acquainted with Phebe Brook, to whom he was married on the 12th of June, A. D. 1820. She was a native of the State of New Jersey, Bridgetown, Cumberland County, and had previously removed to Trumbull County, Ohio. After his marriage he continued to preach in that district of country until November, 1821, when he was requested by the First Baptist church of the city of Pittsburg [Pittsburgh] to take the pastoral charge of said church, which invitation he accepted, and in February, A. D. 1822, he left Warren, Trumbull County, and removed to that city and entered immediately upon his pastoral duties, and continued
to preach to that church with considerable success. At the time he commenced his labors in that church, and for some time before, the church was in a very low state and much confusion existed in consequence of the conduct of their former pastor. However, soon after Elder Rigdon commenced his labors there was a pleasing change effected, for by his incessant labors and his peculiar style of preaching the church was crowded with anxious listeners. The number of members rapidly increased, and it soon became one of the most respectable churches in that city. He was now a popular minister, and was much respected in that city, and all classes and persuasions sought his society. After he had been in that place some time, his mind was troubled and much perplexed with the idea that the doctrines maintained by that society were not altogether in accordance with the Scriptures. This thing continued to agitate his mind, more and more, and his reflections on these occasions were peculiarly trying; for according to his views of the word of God no other church that he was acquainted with was right, or with whom he could associate; consequently, if he was to disavow the doctrine of the church with whom he was then associated, he knew of no other way of obtaining a livelihood except by mental [manual?] labor, and at that time had a wife and three children to support.
"On the one hand was wealth, popularity, and honor; on the other appeared nothing but poverty and hard labor. But notwithstanding his great ministerial success and the prospect of ease and affluence, (which frequently swerve the mind, and have an undue influence on too many who wear the sacred garb of religion, who for the sake of popularity and of wealth can calm and lull to rest their conscientious scruples, and succumb to the popular church,) yet his mind rose superior to all these considerations. Truth was his pursuit, and for truth he was prepared to make every sacrifice in his power. After mature deliberation, deep reflection, and solemn prayer to his heavenly Father, the resolve was made and the important step was taken; and in the month of August, A. D. 1824, after laboring among that people two years and six months. he made known his determination,
to withdraw from the church, as he could no longer uphold the doctrines taught and maintained by it. This announcement was like a clap of thunder. Amazement seized the congregation, which was then collected, which at last gave way in a flood of tears. It would be in vain to attempt to describe the feelings of the church on that occasion, who were zealously attached to their beloved pastor, or the feelings of their minister. On his part it was indeed a struggle of principle over affection and kindness.
"There was at the time of his separation from that church a gentleman of the name of Alexander Campbell, who was formerly from Ireland, and who has since obtained considerable notoriety in the religious world, who was then a member of the same association, and who afterwards separated from it. There was also another gentleman, by the name of Walter Scott, a Scotchman by birth, who was a member of the Scandinavian Church, in that city, and who separated from the same about that time.
"Prior to these separations, Mr. Campbell resided in Bethany, Brook County, Virginia, where he published a monthly periodical, called the 'Christian Baptist.' After they had separated from the different churches these gentlemen were on terms of the greatest friendship, and frequently met together to discuss the subject of religion, being yet undetermined respecting the principles of the doctrine of Christ, or what course to pursue. However, from this connection sprung up a new church in the world, known by the name of 'Campbellites;' they call themselves 'Disciples.' The reason why they were called Campbellites was in consequence of Mr. Campbell's publishing the periodical above mentioned, and it being the means through which they communicated their sentiments to the world. Other than this, Mr. Campbell was no more the originator of that sect than Elder Rigdon.
"Having now retired from the ministry, and having no way by which to sustain his family besides his own industry, he was necessitated to find other employment in order to provide for his maintenance, and for this purpose he engaged in the humble capacity of a journeyman tanner, in
that city, and followed his new employment, without murmuring, for two years, during which time he both saw and experienced that by resigning his pastoral vocations in that city and engaging in the humble occupation of a tanner he had lost many who once professed the greatest friendship, and who manifested the greatest love for his society; that when he was seen by them in the garb suited to the employment of a tanner, there was no longer that freedom, courtesy, and friendship manifested; that many of his former friends became estranged and looked upon him with coolness and indifference too obvious to admit of deception. To a well-regulated and enlightened mind-to one who soars above the arbitrary and vain lines of distinction which pride or envy may draw, such conduct appears ridiculous, while at the same time it cannot but cause feelings of a peculiar nature in those who for their honesty and integrity of heart have brought themselves into situations to be made the subjects of it.
"These things, however, did not affect his mind so as to change his purpose. He had counted the cost before his separation, and had made his mind known to his wife, who cheerfully shared his sorrow and humiliation, believing that all things would work together for their good, being conscious that what they had done was for conscience' sake and in the fear of the Lord.
"After laboring for two years as a tanner, he removed to Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio, where it was known that he had been a preacher, and had gained considerable distinction as a public speaker, and the people soliciting him to preach, he complied with their request. From this time forward, he devoted himself to the work of the ministry, confining himself to no creed, but held up the Bible as the rule of faith, and advocating those doctrines which had been the subject of his, and Mr. Campbell's investigations; viz.: Repentance and baptism, for the remission of sins.
"He continued to labor in that vicinity one year, and during that time, his former success attended his labors. Large numbers invariably attended his meetings. While he labored in that neighborhood, he was instrumental in building up a
large and respectable church, in the town of Mantua, Portage County, Ohio. The doctrines which he advanced being new, public attention was awakened, and great excitement pervaded throughout that whole section of country, and frequently the congregations which he addressed, were so large that it was impossible to make himself audible to all. The subjects he proposed were presented in such an impressive manner to the congregations, that those who were unbiased by bigotry and prejudice, had to exclaim, 'we never heard it in this manner before.' There were some, however, that opposed the doctrines which he advanced, but not with that opposition which ever ought to characterize the noble and ingenious. Those by whom he was opposed, well knew that an honorable and public investigation, would inevitably discover the weakness and fatality of their doctrines; consequently they shunned it, and endeavored, by ridiculing the doctrines which he promulgated, to suppress them.
"This, however, did not turn him from the path which he felt to be his duty; for he continued to set forth the doctrines of repentance, and baptism for remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, according to the teachings of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, exhorting his hearers in the meantime, to throw away their creeds of faith-to take the Bible as their standard, and search its sacred pages-to learn to live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of the Lord, and to rise above every sectarian sentiment, and the traditions of the age, and explore the wide and glorious fields of truth which the scriptures holds out to them.
"After laboring in that neighborhood one year, he received a very pressing invitation to remove to the town of Mentor, in the same county, about thirty miles from Bainbridge, and within a few miles from Lake Erie, which he some time afterwards complied with. The persons by whom he was more particularly requested to move to that place were the remnants of a Baptist church, which was nearly broken up, the members of which had become attached to the doctrines promulgated by Elder Rigdon.
"The town of Mentor was settled by wealthy and enterprising individuals, who had by their industry and good
management made that township one of the most delightful in that country, or probably in the Western Reserve. Its advantages for agricultural purposes could hardly be surpassed, while the splendid farms, fertile fields, and stately mansions made it particularly attractive to the eye of the traveler, and gives evidence of enterprise and wealth. In that beautiful location he took up his residence, and immediately commenced his labors, with that zeal and assiduity which had formerly characterized him.
"But being a stranger, and many reports being put in circulation of a character calculated to lessen him in the estimation of the people, and consequently destroy his influence, some persons were even wicked enough to retail those slanderous reports which were promulgated, and endeavored to stir up persecution against him; consequently many of the citizens were jealous, and did not extend to him that confidence which he might otherwise have expected.
"His path was not strewed with flowers, but the thorns of persecution beset him, and he had to contend against much prejudice and opposition, whose swollen waves might have sunk one less courageous, resolute, and determined; yet not-withstanding these unfavorable circumstances, he continued to meet the storm, to stem the torrent, and bear up under the reproach for some time.
"At length the storm subsided, for after laboring in that neighborhood about eight months, he so wrought upon the feelings of the people by his consistent walk and conversation-his sociability, combined with his overwhelming eloquence, that a perfect calm succeeded; their evil apprehensions and surmisings were allayed, their prejudices gave way, and the man whom they had looked upon with jealousy was now their theme of praise, and their welcome guest. Those who had been most hostile now became his warmest admirers and most constant friends.
"The churches in which he preached, which had heretofore been filled with anxious hearers, were now filled to overflowing; the poor flocked to the services, and the rich thronged the assemblies.
"The doctrines he advanced were new, but at the same
time were elucidated with such clearness and enforced with an eloquence altogether superior to what they had listened to before that those whose sectarian prejudices were not too deeply rooted, who listened to the deep and searching discourses which he delivered from time to time, could not fail of being greatly affected and convinced that the principles he advanced were true and in accordance with the Scriptures. Nor were his labors and success confined to that township alone, but calls were made in every direction for him to preach, which he complied with as much as he possibly could, until his labors became very extensive, and spread over a vast extent of country.
"Wherever he went the same success attended his ministry, and he was everywhere received with kindness and welcomed by persons of all classes. Prejudice after prejudice gave way on every hand; opposition after opposition was broken down, and bigotry was rooted from its strongholds. The truths he advanced were received with gladness, and the doctrines he taught had a glorious ascendency [ascendancy] wherever he had the opportunity of promulgating them.
"His fame as an orator and deep reasoner in the Scriptures continued to spread far and wide, and he soon gained a popularity and an elevation which has fallen to the lot of but few, consequently thousands flocked to hear his eloquent discourses.
"When it was known where he was going to preach there might be seen long before the appointed time, persons of all classes, sects, and denominations, flocking like doves to their windows, from a considerable distance. The humble pedestrian, and the rich in their splendid equipages might be seen crowding the roads.
"The churches in the different places where he preached were now no longer large enough to contain the vast assemblies which congregated from time to time, so that he had to repair to the widespread canopy of heaven, and in the woods and in the groves he addressed the multitudes which flocked to hear him. Nor was his preaching in vain. It was not empty sound that so closely engaged the attention of his audiences and with which they were so deeply interested
but it was the truths which were imparted, the intelligence which was conveyed, and the duties which were enforced.
"Not only did the writings of the New Testament occupy his attention, but occasionally those of the ancient prophets, particularly those prophecies which had reference to the present and to the future, were brought up to review and treated in a manner entirely new and deeply interesting. No longer did he follow the old beaten track, which had been traveled for ages by the religious world, but he dared to enter upon new grounds; called in question the opinions of uninspired men; showed the foolish ideas of many commentators on the sacred Scriptures-exposed their ignorance and contradictions-threw new light on the sacred volume, particularly those prophecies which so deeply interest this generation, and which had been entirely overlooked, or mystified by the religious world-cleared up scriptures which had heretofore appeared inexplicable, and delighted his astonished audience with things 'new and old'-proved to a demonstration the literal fulfillment of prophecy, the gathering of Israel in the last days, to their ancient inheritances, with their ultimate splendor and glory; the situation of the world at the coming of the Son of Man-the judgments which Almighty God would pour out upon the ungodly prior to that event, and the reign of Christ with his saints on the earth, in the millennium.
"These important subjects could not fail to have their weight on the minds of his hearers, who clearly discerned the situation in which they were placed, by the sound and logical arguments which he adduced; and soon numbers felt the importance of obeying that form of doctrine which had been delivered them; so that they might be accounted worthy to escape those things which were coming on the earth, and many came forward desiring to be baptized for the remission of sins. He accordingly commenced to baptize, and like John of old, there flocked to him people from all the region round about-persons of all ranks and standings in society-the rich, the poor, the noble and the brave, flocked to be baptized of him. Nor was this desire confined
to individuals, or families, but whole societies threw away their creeds and articles of faith and became obedient to the faith he promulgated, and he soon had large and flourishing societies throughout that whole region of country.
"He now was a welcome visitor wherever he traveled-his society was courted by the learned, and intelligent, and the highest encomiums were bestowed upon him for his biblical lore and his eloquence.
"The work of the ministry engaged all his time and attention; he felt deeply for the salvation of his fellow man, and for the attainment of which he labored with unceasing diligence.
"During this state of unexampled success, the prospect of wealth and affluence was fairly open before him; but he looked upon it with indifference, and made everything subservient to the promotion of correct principles; and having food and raiment, he learned therewith to be content. As a proof of this his family were in no better circumstances, and made no greater appearance in the world, than when he labored at the occupation of tanning. His family consisted of his wife and six children, and lived in a very small, unfinished frame house, hardly capable of making a family comfortable; which affords a clear proof that his affections were not set upon things of a worldly nature, or secular aggrandizement.
"After he had labored in that vicinity some time, and having received but little pecuniary aid, the members of the church which he had built up, held a meeting to take his circumstances into consideration, and provide for his wants, and place him in a situation suitable to the high and important office which he sustained in the church. They resolved upon erecting him a suitable residence, where he could make his family comfortable, and accommodate his numerous friends, who visited him. A committee was appointed to make a purchase of land, and to erect such buildings as were necessary. The committee soon made a purchase of a farm in a beautiful situation in that township, made contracts for erecting a suitable dwelling house, stable, barn, etc., and soon made a commencement on the house, and had a quantity
of the building materials on the spot. He being held in the highest respect by that people, they entered the work with pleasure, and seemed to vie with each other in their labors of love, believing it a duty to make their beloved pastor and his family comfortable. His prospects, with regard to temporal things, were now brighter than they ever had been; and he felt happy in the midst of a people who had every disposition to promote his welfare.
"Under these pleasing circumstances, and enjoying this full tide of prosperity, he hardly thought that, for his attachment to truth, he would soon see the prospect blasted, and himself and family reduced to a more humble situation than before.
"At this time, it being in the fall of A. D. 1830, Elders Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Oliver Cowdery, and Peter Whitmer, called at that town on their way to the western boundary of the State of Missouri, testifying to the truth of the 'Book of Mormon,' and that the Lord had raised up a prophet, and restored the priesthood. Previous to this, Elder Parley Pratt had been a preacher in the same church with Elder Rigdon, and resided in the town of Amherst, Lorain County, in that State, and had been sent into the State of New York, on a mission, where he became acquainted with the circumstances of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and was introduced to Joseph Smith, Jr., and others of the Church of Latter Day Saints. After listening to the testimony of the 'witnesses,' and reading the 'Book,' he became convinced that it was of God, and that the principles which they taught, were the principles of truth. He was then baptized, and shortly after was ordained an elder, and began to preach, and from that time became a strenuous advocate of the truth.
"Believing there were many in the church with whom he had formerly been united, who were honest seekers after truth, induced him, while on his journey to the West, to call upon his friends, and make known the great things which the Lord had brought to pass. The first house at which they called was Elder Rigdon's; and after the usual salutations, presented him with the Book of Mormon-stating that
it was a revelation from God. This being the first time he had ever heard of or seen the Book of Mormon, he felt very much prejudiced at the assertion; and replied that, 'he had one Bible which he believed was a revelation from God, and with which he pretended to have some acquaintance; but with respect to the book they had presented him he must say that he had considerable doubt.' Upon which they expressed a desire to investigate the subject, and argue the matter; but he replied, 'No, young gentlemen, you must not argue with me on the subject; but I will read your book, and see what claim it has upon my faith, and will endeavor to ascertain whether it be a revelation from God or not.' After some further conversation on the subject, they expressed a desire to lay the subject before the people, and requested the privilege of preaching in Elder Rigdon's church, to which he readily consented. The appointment was accordingly published, and a large and respectable congregation assembled. Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt severally addressed the meeting. At the conclusion, Elder Rigdon arose and stated to the congregation that the information they had that evening received was of an extra-ordinary character, and certainly demanded their most serious consideration: and as the apostle advised his brethren 'to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good,' so he would exhort his brethren to do likewise, and give the matter a careful investigation; and not turn against it, without being fully convinced of its being an imposition, lest they should, possibly, resist the truth.
"This was, indeed, generous on the part of Elder Rigdon, and gave evidence of his entire freedom from any sectarian bias; but allowing his mind full scope to range, untrammeled, through the scriptures, embracing every principle of truth, and rejecting error, under whatever guise it should appear. He was perfectly willing to allow his members the same privilege. Having received great light on the Scriptures, he felt desirous to receive more, from whatever quarter it should come. This was his prevailing characteristic; and if any sentiment was advanced by anyone, that was new, or tended to throw light on the Scriptures, or the dealings of
God with the children of men, it was always gladly received, and treasured up in his mind. After the meeting broke up, the brethren returned home with Elder Rigdon, and conversed upon the important things which they had proclaimed. He informed them that he should read the Book of Mormon, give it a full investigation, and then would frankly tell them his mind and feelings on the subject-told them they were welcome to abide at his house until he had opportunity of reading it.
"About two miles from Elder Rigdon's, at the town of Kirtland, were a number of the members of his church, who lived together, and had all things common-from which circumstance has arisen the idea that this was the case with the Church of Jesus Christ-to which place they immediately repaired, and proclaimed the gospel to them, with some considerable success; for their testimony was received by many of the people, and seventeen came forward in obedience to the gospel.
"While thus engaged, they visited Elder Rigdon occasionally, and found him very earnestly engaged in reading the 'Book of Mormon,'-praying to the Lord for direction, and meditating on the things he heard and read; and after a fortnight from the time the book was put in his hands, he was fully convinced of the truth of the work, by a revelation from Jesus Christ, which was made known to him in a remarkable manner, so that he could exclaim 'flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto me, but my Father which is in heaven.'
"Being now fully satisfied in his own mind of the truth of the work, and the necessity of obedience thereto, he informed his wife of the same, and was happy to find that she was not only diligently investigating the subject, but was believing with all her heart, and was desirous of obeying the truth, which, undoubtedly, was a great satisfaction to his mind.
"The consequence of obeying the truth, and embracing a system of religion so unpopular as that of the Church of Jesus Christ, presented itself in the strongest possible light.
"At present, the honors and applause of the world were
showered down upon him, his wants were abundantly supplied, and were anticipated. He was respected by the entire community, and his name was a tower of strength. His counsel was sought for, respected and esteemed. But if he should unite with the Church of Christ, his prospects of wealth and affluence would vanish; his family dependent upon him for support must necessarily share his humiliation and poverty. He was aware that his character and his reputation must suffer in the estimation of the community.
"Aware of all these things, there must have been feelings of no ordinary kind, agitate his bosom at that particular crisis; but yet they did not deter him from the path of duty. He had formerly made a sacrifice for truth and conscience' sake, and had been sustained; consequently, he felt great confidence in the Lord, believing that if he pursued the path of duty, no good thing would be withheld from him.
"Although he felt great confidence in the Lord, yet he felt it a trial of some magnitude, when he avowed his determination to his beloved companion, who had before shared in his poverty, and who had cheerfully struggled through it without murmuring or repining. He informed her what the consequences would undoubtedly be respecting their worldly circumstances if they obeyed the gospel; and then said: 'my dear, you have once followed me into poverty, are you again willing to do the same?' She then said: 'I have weighed the matter, I have contemplated on the circumstances in which we may be placed; I have counted the cost, and I am perfectly satisfied to follow you; it is my desire to do the will of God, come life or come death.' Accordingly, they were both baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ; and, together with those who had been previously admitted to baptism, made a little branch in this section of Ohio, of about twenty members, whom the brethren, bound for the borders of the Lamanites, after adding to their number one of their converts, Dr. Frederick G. Williams, bade an affectionate farewell, and went on their way rejoicing."-Times and Seasons, vol. 4, pp. 172, 177, 178, 193, 194, 209, 210, 289, 290, 305.
The above extract gives quite a full account of the former life of Sidney Rigdon and his connection with the Latter
Day Saints. We reproduce it here, believing it will be found to be correct. But an effort has been made to show that he had acquaintance with Joseph Smith before the publication of the Book of Mormon, and that he in fact furnished the basis of it by supplying him with a copy of the "Spalding Story" or "Manuscript Found," written at New Salem, Ohio, by one Solomon Spalding, who was, it is claimed, a graduate of Dartmouth College. This was written about the year 1812, and was read to many of his neighbors. After its completion Mr. Spalding removed to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where he exhibited it to a Mr. Patterson, who borrowed it for perusal, "retained it for a long time," then made a proposition to Mr. Spalding to publish it on certain conditions. These conditions were not accepted. The manuscript was returned to the author, who removed to Amity, Washington County, Pennsylvania, and died there in 1816. On this latter point the widow of Mr. Spalding states:-
"At length the manuscript was returned to its author, and soon after we removed to Amity, Washington County, etc., where Mr. Spalding deceased in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was carefully preserved."
It is further claimed that the manuscript was in the possession of Mrs. Spalding until after the Book of Mormon was published, and that it was delivered into the hands of Dr. P. Hurlbut in 1834. If Rigdon had access to this manuscript it was before 1816.
Coming more particularly to dates, on page 282 of E. D. Howe's "History of Mormonism," published at Painesville, Ohio, in 1840, we find a statement by Henry Lake in which he states:-
"Spalding left here [Conneaut, Ohio] in 1812, and I furnished him the means to carry him to Pittsburg, where he said he would get the book printed, and pay me."
On page 287 of the same book we find this:-
"A messenger was dispatched to look up the widow of Spalding, who was found residing in Massachusetts. From her we learned that Spalding resided in Pittsburg, about two years," etc.
Then he left Pittsburg in 1814, and, as we have seen, took the manuscript with him. So if Rigdon had access to it, it was before 1814.
But it is claimed that he copied it while at the publishing house of Patterson, in Pittsburg. We think this theory untenable for several reasons:-
First. Sidney Rigdon being born in 1793 was only twenty or twenty one years of age at the time. It is not likely that a boy of that age would conceive of such a scheme; besides, the testimony shows that during this period and for years after he was at home on his father's farm.
Second. It has not been shown that he resided in Pittsburg until 1822, eight years after the manuscript had left there.
Third. It has never been shown that he was associated with Joseph Smith in any way until December, 1830, and the Book of Mormon was delivered to the printer in August, 1829, and the printing all done by March, 1830.
Fourth. This theory assumes without proof that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, P. P. Pratt, and others were all guilty of lying, perjury, and deceit; which is not only contemptibly unfair, but has no warrant in law, nor in practice among men of honor, hence should receive no countenance by the historian.
Joseph Smith's version of the matter has already been given.
Sidney Rigdon stated, in a communication to the Boston Journal, from Commerce, Illinois, May 27, 1839:-
"In your paper of the 18th instant, I see a letter signed by somebody calling herself Maltilda Davison, pretending to give the origin of Mormonism, as she is pleased to call it, by relating a moonshine story about a certain Solomon Spalding, a creature with the knowledge of whose earthly existence I am entirely indebted to this production; for surely, until Dr. Philastus Hurlbut informed me that such a being lived, at some former period, I had not the most distant knowledge of his existence. . . It is only necessary to say, in relation to the whole story about Spalding's
writings being in the hands of Mr. Patterson, who was in Pittsburg, and who is said to have kept a printing office, and my saying that I was concerned in the said office, etc., etc., is the most base of lies, without even the shadow of truth."
This is rather harsh and forcible language to be sure, but we do not expect humanity to be always calm when accused of stealing, lying, and fraud.
Oliver Cowdery, as we have seen, stated in 1848:-
"I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages), as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God. . . . I beheld it, my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was translated.... That book is true. Sidney Rigdon did not write it. Mr. Spalding did not write it. I wrote it myself as it fell from the lips of the Prophet."
P. P. Pratt Writes to the New Era, from New York, November 27, 1839, as follows:-
"Mr. Rigdon embraced the doctrine through my instrumentality. I first presented the Book of Mormon to him. I stood upon the bank of the stream while he was baptized, and assisted to officiate in his ordination, and I myself was unacquainted with the system until some months after its organization, which was on the 6th of April, 1830."
The life of Sidney Rigdon was that of an active minister, and his whereabouts can be determined by public records so frequently as to make it impossible that he could have made the long and tedious journeys to New York (which this story makes necessary) for the purpose of conspiring with Joseph Smith in those days of slow transportation.
The following is a list of events and dates collected, verified, and arranged by Elder E. L. Kelley, while a resident of Kirtland, Ohio:-
Times and places definitely settled by positive and undisputed evidence as to the whereabouts, occupation, and business
of Elder Sidney Rigdon from November 1, 1826, to January 1, 1831, inclusive.
FIRST, BY COURT RECORDS.
STATE OF OHIO}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between John G Smith and Julia Giles, on the second of November, 1826, agreeable to license obtained from court of said county.
Recorded the 13th Dec., 1826 EDWARD PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
Geauga, County. }
This is to certify that on the fifth of June, 1827, in the village of Painesville, I solemnized the marriage contract between Theron Freeman and Elizabeth Waterman, agreeable to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded June 7th, 1827. ED PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO.}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between James Gray and Mary Kerr, in township of Mentor, on the 3d of July, 1827.
Recorded July 12, 1827. EDWARD PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO}
This is to certify that on the l9th of July, 1827, I solemnized the marriage contract in the township of Kirtland, between Alden Snow and Ruth Parker, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of the said county.
Recorded August 10th, 1827. ED. PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract, on the 9th of October, 1827, in the township of
of Mentor, between Stephen Sherman and Wealthy Mathews, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of the said county.
Recorded October 27, 1827. ED PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Alvin Wait and Sophia. Gunn, on the 6th of Dec., 1827, in the township of Kirtland, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded December 12th, 1827.EDWARD PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com.. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Roswell D. Cottrell and Matilda Olds, in the township of Concord, on the 13th day of December, 1827, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded January 8th, 1828 EDWARD PAINE, JUN., Clerk Com Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Otis Herrington and Lyma Corning, in the township of Mentor, on the 14th of February, 1828, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded March 31st, 1828. EDWARD PAINE, JUN.., Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Luther Dille and Clarissa Kent, in the township of Mentor, on the 7th day of September, 1828, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded October 13 1828. D. D. AIKEN, Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Nachor Corning and Phebe E. Willson, in the township of Mentor, on the 18th day of September, 1828, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded Oct. 13, 1828. D. D. AIKEN, Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Erastus Root and Rebecca Tuttle, on the 1st day of Feb., 1829, in the township of Mentor, agreeably to a license obtained from clerk of court of said county.
Recorded February 12th, 1829. D. D. AIKEN, Clerk, Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Albert Churchill and Anna Fosdick on the lst of Jan., 1829, in the township of Concord, agreeably to license obtained from clerk of court of said county.
Recorded February 12, 1829 .D. D. AIKEN, Clerk. Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO, }
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between John Strong and Ann Eliza More, on the 13th of Aug., 1829, in the township of Kirtland, agreeably to license obtained from clerk of the court of said county.
Recorded September 14, 1829 D. D.. AIKEN, Clerk Com.. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Darwin Atwater and Harriett Clapp,
on the 14th day of September, 1829, in the township of Mentor, agreeably to license obtained from clerk of said county.
Recorded October 7, 1829. D. D. AIKEN, Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This is to certify that I solemnized the marriage contract between Joel Roberts and Relief Bates, on the 1st of Oct., 1829, in the Township of Perry, agreeably to license obtained from clerk of court of said county.
Recorded October 7,1829 .D. D. AIKEN, Clerk, Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}
This certifies that I married Lewis B. Wood to Laura Cleaveland in Kirtland Township, on the 4th of November, 1830.
Recorded November 11,1830. D. D. AIKEN, Clerk Com. Pleas.
STATE OF OHIO,}SS.-PROBATE COURT;
I, H. K. Smith, Judge of the Probate Court in and for said County, hereby certify that the above and foregoing certificates numbering from one to sixteen were truly taken and copied from the record of marriages in this county preserved in this office where the same by law are required to be kept. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said Court at Chardon, this 27th day of April, A. D., 1891.
H. K. SMITH,
[Seal] Probate Judge.
STATE OF OHIO,} David Chandler and Polly Johnson.
This certifies that I solemnized the marriage contract between David Chandler and Polly Johnson in the township of Chagrin on the 31st day of December, one thousand eight hundred and twenty nine, agreeably to license obtained from the clerk of the court of said County.
CHURCH in MENTOR,
Filed and Recorded January 12, 1830. Geauga Co., Ohio
STATE OF OHIO,}ss.-In the Probate Court.
I, Henry C. White, Judge of said Court, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct transcript taken from the Marriage Records in this office, where the same is by law required to be kept.
HENRY C. WHITE, Probate Judge.
[Seal] BY H. A. SCHWAB, Dep. Clerk.
SECOND, BY HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL TESTIMONY.
18. January, l827. Elder Rigdon held public meetings in Mantua, Ohio. (Hayden's Hist. of the Disciples of the Western Reserve, page 237.)
19. February, 1827. Preached funeral discourse of Hannah Tanner, Chester, Ohio. (Authenticated by Henry Tanner.)
20. March and April, 1827. Held protracted meetings at Mentor, Ohio; baptizing Nancy M. Sanford, William Dunson and wife, and others. (Evidence by Nancy M. Sanford, Mantua, Ohio.)
21. June 15, 1827. Baptized Thomas Clapp, and others, Mentor, Ohio. (Personal testimony of Henry E. Clapp, Mentor, Ohio.)
22. August 23,1827. Elder Rigdon met with the Ministerial Association of the Western Reserve at New Lisbon, Ohio. (Hist. Dis. W. Res., (pages 55-57.)
23. October 20, 1827. A member of the Ministerial Council at Warren, Ohio. (Hist. Dis., page 137.)
24. November, 1827. Held series of meetings at New Lisbon, Ohio. (Hist. Dis., pages 72-75.)
25. March, 1828. Instructor of a class in theology at Mentor, Ohio; and also held series of meetings at Mentor and Warren, Ohio. Zebulon Rudolph, afterwards an Elder in the Disciple Church, was a member of this class in theology, with others. He became a man of note in the Western Reserve. (Hist. Dis., page 198.)
26. April, 1828. Elder Rigdon conducted a great religious revival at Kirtland, Ohio. (Hist. Dis., page 194.)
27. May, 1828. He meets with Alexander Campbell at Shalersville, Ohio, and held a protracted meeting at that place (Hist. Dis., page 155.)
28. June, 1828. Elder Rigdon baptized Henry H. Clapp at Mentor, Ohio. (Testimony by Mr. Clapp, himself.)
29. August, 1828. Attended great yearly Association at Warren, Ohio. (See Hayden's Hist., page 163.)
30. March, 1829. Protracted meeting, Mentor, Ohio. (Authenticated by Rev. Zebulon Rudolph.)
31. April 12, 1829. Protracted meeting at Kirtland, Ohio.
32. July 1, 1829. Organized church at Perry, Ohio. (Hist. Dis., page 346.)
33. September, 1829. Series of meetings at Mentor, Ohio; baptizing J. J. Moss, who was afterwards Disciple minister of some note. (Evidence Rev. J. J. Moss; "Braden and Kelley Debate, page 387.)
34. October, 1829. At Perry, Ohio. (Hist. Dis., pages 207 and 409.)
35. November, 1829. Held meeting at Wait Hill, Ohio; baptizing Alvin Wait. (Hist. Dis., pages 204-207.)
36. March, 1830. At Mentor, Ohio. (Evidence Henry Clapp.)
37. June 1 to 30. At Mentor, Ohio. (Millennial Harbinger, page 389.)
38. July, 1830. Protracted meeting at Pleasant Valley, Ohio; baptized 45. (Evidence Reuben P. Harmon, Kirtland, Ohio.)
39. August, 1830. With Alexander Campbell at Austintown, Ohio. (Hist. Dis., page 209.)
40. December, 1830. Attended meetings held by P. P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery and others at Mentor and also Kirtland, Ohio: and united with the Church of Jesus Christ, afterwards also known as Latter Day Saints. (Testimony, Reuben P. Harmon, '"Braden and Kelley Debate," page 392.)
In addition to these items we find the following matters of record:-
Lyman Wight in his private journal, the manuscript of which is now before us, writes:-
"I resided in this place [Warrensville, Ohio] till 1829, about the month of May when I heard Sidney Rigdon preach what was then called the Rigdonite doctrine. After
hearing him go through the principle of baptism for the remission of sins I went forward and was baptized by his hands."
Again he writes.-
"August [same year] my wife was baptized together with John Murdock and many others by S. Rigdon."
The above dates and events are so thoroughly in accord with the statements of Joseph Smith above quoted that we feel safe in presenting the sketch of Rigdon's life by Joseph as historically correct.
The reputation of Sidney Rigdon will hardly justify one in believing him guilty of such deceit as his enemies accuse him of during his successful career as a minister in Northern Ohio. A. S. Hayden, one of his fellow ministers in the Christian or Disciple Church during those times, who subsequently bitterly opposed the faith which he (Rigdon) afterwards espoused, said of Rigdon:-
"Whatever may be justly said of him after he had surrendered himself a victim and a leader of the Mormon delusion, it would scarcely be just to deny sincerity and candor to him, previous to the time when his bright star became permanently eclipsed under that dark cloud."-"History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve," p. 192.
The following extract from the journal of Lyman Wight, who was at the time identified with the new movement under Sidney Rigdon, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott, confirms the account of Joseph Smith in two important particulars; viz.: as to who was responsible for the teaching and practice of the principle of "all things common" at Kirtland, Ohio, and in regard to the date of the arrival at Mentor and Kirtland of the missionaries. He writes:-
"I now began to look at the doctrine of the apostles pretty closely, and especially that part contained in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where they had all things common. In consideration of this doctrine I went to Kirtland, about twenty miles, to see Bro. I. Morley and-Billings, after some conversation on the subject we entered
into a covenant to make our interests one as anciently. In conformity to this covenant I moved the next February  to Kirtland, into the house with Bro. Morley. We commenced our labors together with great peace and union. We were soon joined by eight other families. Our labors were united both in farming and mechanism, all of which was prosecuted with great vigor. We truly began to feel as if the millennium was close at hand.
"Everything moved smoothly on till about the first of November. About this time five families concluded to join us in the town of Mayfield, about seven miles up the river. They owning each a good farm and mills, it was concluded best to establish a branch there; accordingly I was appointed to go and take the charge of the same.
"When I had my goods about half loaded, there came along four men; namely, P. Pratt, O. Cowdery, P. Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson, and brought with them the Book of Mormon, which they wished to introduce to us. I desired they would hold on till I got away, as my business was of vital importance, and I did not wish to be troubled with romances nor idle speculators. But nothing daunted they were not to be put off, but were as good-natured as you please. Curiosity got uppermost, and I concluded to stop for a short time. We called meeting and one testified that he had seen angels, and another that he had seen the plates, and that the gifts were back in the church again, etc. The meeting became so interesting withal that I did not get away till the sun was about an hour high at night, and it was dark before I arrived at my new home. But I amused myself by thinking that the trouble was over, and that I should not see them again for a long time, supposing they would start the next morning for the western boundary of the State of Missouri; but in this I was very much disappointed. But to describe the scenes of the next seven weeks, [in] which one scene would be as interesting as another, would fill quite a large volume. I shall therefore content myself by saying, that they brought the Book of Mormon to bear upon us, and the whole of the common stock family was baptized. And during the seven weeks they tarried they succeeded in building
up a church of one hundred and thirty members. Myself and family were baptized by P. Pratt on the 14th of November, 1830, in Shageen [Chagrin] River, at Kirtland, Ohio. I was confirmed on the 18th by O. Cowdery, and on the 20th ordained an elder by the same."
The widow of Lyman Wight states that she remembers distinctly that Rigdon was baptized the same day they were, so this fixes the date of Rigdon's baptism to be November 14, 1830.
These testimonies are also corroborated by Parley P. Pratt in his autobiography:-
"It was now October, 1830. A revelation had been given through the mouth of this Prophet, Seer, and Translator, in which Elders Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Ziba Peterson, and myself were appointed to go into the wilderness, through the Western States, and to the Indian Territory. Making arrangements for my wife in the family of the Whitmers, we took leave of our friends and the church late in October, and started on foot.
"After traveling for some days we called on an Indian nation at or near Buffalo; and spent part of a day with them, instructing them in the knowledge of the record of their forefathers. We were kindly received, and much interest was manifested by them on hearing this news. We made a present of two copies of the Book of Mormon to certain of them who could read, and repaired to Buffalo. Thence we continued our journey, for about two hundred miles, and at length called on Mr. Rigdon, my former friend and instructor, in the Reformed Baptist Society. He received us cordially and entertained us with hospitality.
"We soon presented him with a Book of Mormon, and related to him the history of the same. He was much interested, and promised a thorough perusal of the book.
"We tarried in this region for some time, and devoted our time to the ministry, and visiting from house to house.
"At length Mr. Rigdon and many others became convinced that they had no authority to minister in the ordinances of God; and that they had not been legally baptized and ordained. They therefore, came forward and were baptized
by us, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.
"The news of our coming was soon noised abroad, and the news of the discovery of the Book of Mormon and the marvelous events connected with it. The interest and excitement now became general in Kirtland, and in all the region round about. The people thronged us night and day, insomuch that we had no time for rest or retirement. Meetings were convened in different neighborhoods, and multitudes came together soliciting our attendance; while thousands flocked about us daily; some to be taught, some for curiosity, some to obey the gospel, and some to dispute or resist it.
"In two or three weeks from our arrival in the neighborhood with the news, we had baptized one hundred and twenty seven souls, and this number soon increased to one thousand. The disciples were filled with joy and gladness, while rage and lying was abundantly manifested by gainsayers; faith was strong, joy was great, and persecution heavy.
"We proceeded to ordain Sidney Rigdon, Isaac Morley, John Murdock, Lyman Wight, Edward Partridge, and many others to the ministry; and, leaving them to take care of the churches and to minister the gospel, we took leave of the saints and continued our journey."- Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 49, 50.
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