excerpt – Mormonism Unvailed: Eber D. Howe, with critical comments by Dan Vogel.


Mormonism UnvailedDescribed by Mormon leader Brigham H. Roberts as the “first Anti-Mormon book of any pretensions,” E. D. Howe’s 1834 Mormonism Unvailed1 has become, in Roberts’s words, the “chief source of ‘information’ for all Anti-Mormon publications which have followed it.”2 Its importance was largely achieved through the inclusion of fifteen affidavits that were gathered from Palmyra and Manchester, New York, dealing with the Smith family’s reputation and seven others from Harmony, Pennsylvania, concerning Joseph Smith’s activities in that area. Eight additional affidavits having to do with the so-called Spalding (or Spaulding) theory of Book of Mormon origins contributed to the notoriety surrounding Howe’s book. My discussion will be limited to these affidavits and information the author and his research assistant reported, but not with the Spalding theory generally.

Eber D. Howe (1798–1884) was born at Clifton Park, New York, near Albany and Schenectady. He apprenticed with a series of small-town newspapers, including the Buffalo Gazette, at an early age. When he was twenty, he helped found the Cleveland Herald, then moved about thirty-five miles west to establish his own newspaper, the weekly Painesville Telegraph, distributing the first issue on July 16, 1822. The paper would later be described as “the oldest continuously published newspaper in the entire Western Reserve.”3 It covered local news and gave vent to Howe’s opinion on subjects of national concern. His leanings were anti-Mason, anti-Jackson, and anti-­slavery. He was also anti-Mormon. Prior to the release of Mormonism Unvailed, he published at least fifty articles and pamphlets on the new religion.

His interest began in September 1829 when the Telegraph reprinted an article, “Golden Bible,” from the Palmyra Freeman.4 He may have looked at this report with mild curiosity at first, but the topic gained more immediate importance in late October 1830 when missionaries arrived in Kirtland and converted a minister, Sidney Rigdon, and most of his congregation. With the arrival of Joseph Smith four months later, Kirtland and the surrounding communities, including Painesville ten miles from Kirtland, became the center of Mormon activity. Howe was undoubtedly displeased by the newcomers’ support of Andrew Jackson, but he was even more alarmed when his wife, Sophia Hull Howe, and her sister, Harriet, converted sometime before 1834.5

At first Howe did not know what to make of the new sect, incorrectly associating it with the Masons. He seems to have feared that people in the anti-Masonic counties would welcome the Mormons as political allies. The converts included “zealous masons,” he pointed out, as well as “republican jacks.” In fact, the “Mormon bible itself was printed and sent forth to the world from a masonic printing office.”6 As Howe became more familiar with the content of the Book of Mormon, he reversed himself, observing that “the Nephites are represented as being Anti-masons and Christians, which carries with it some evidence that the writer foresaw the politics of New York in 1828–29” (pp. 125–26 herein).

Meanwhile, Howe investigated the origins of the church in New York by corresponding with Abner Cole, editor of the Palmyra Reflector, and with William W. Phelps, editor of the anti-Masonic Ontario Phoenix in Canandaigua. Obtaining in­formation from Mormons, however, proved difficult. The ad­vertisement prefacing Howe’s book noted the “difficulty of procuring, or arriving at the whole truth, in relation to a religious imposition, which has been from its birth so studiously vailed in secrecy, and generally under a belief that the judgments of God would follow any disclosures of what its votaries had seen or heard …” (iii). Indeed, Mormons were suspicious enough of their enemies that they barred outsiders from their meetings. Sidney Rigdon admitted in 1844 that the church had kept its early meetings “secret.” At a church conference, he said

we knew the whole world would laugh at us, so we concealed ourselves; and there was much excitement about our secret meetings, charging us with designs against the government, and with laying plans to get money, &c. which never existed in the heads of any one else, and if we had talked in public, we should have been ridiculed more than we were. … So we were obliged to retire to our secret chambers, and commune ourselves with God. … If we had told the people what our eyes behold this day, we should not be believed; but the rascals would have shed our blood, if we had only told them what we believed. … There we sat in secret and beheld the glorious visions, and powers of the kingdom of heaven, pass and repass. … The church never would have been here, if we had not done as we did in secret. … There was no evil concocted when we first held secret meetings, and it is the same now.7
Jasper J. Moss, a Campbellite who taught school in Kirtland, described the Mormon practice of closed communion by saying “they partook of the Lords supper at night with darkened windows & excluded from the room all but their own till they got through & then they opened the doors & called [in] the outsiders.”8 Such practices undoubtedly aroused non-Mormon suspicion and frustrated Howe. Little wonder he initially associated Mormons with Masons.

Howe was stonewalled at every turn when he tried to investigate specifics of the new religion’s claim to supernatural events. The three witnesses to the gold tablets were specifically told to say nothing beyond their published testimonies. A March 1829 revelation to Martin Harris told him to “say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God” (D&C 5:26). This may explain the absence of detailed statements until years after Joseph Smith’s death. The New York spiritualist Joel Tiffany was similarly frustrated when he interviewed Martin Harris in 1859. Harris declined to answer specific questions about his vision of the gold plates, stating that he was “forbidden to say anything how the Lord showed them to me, except that by the power of God I have seen them.”9

During the early years, Joseph Smith was equally resistant to inquiry even when there were questions from family members. He responded before a conference of elders in October 1831, after his brother Hyrum had asked for more details about the discovery of the gold plates, that “it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the book of Mormon, & also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things &c.”10 His evasiveness fueled curiosity and created more demand for further investigation, something Howe was happy to pursue.

This reluctance was overcome by apostates like Ezra Booth, who had been a Methodist minister before converting to Mormonism and became the first to write an exposé. He did so in a series of nine letters that were published in the Ohio Star in late 1831. He not only supplied firsthand accounts of some major events, including the introduction of the high priesthood in June 1831 and the first church conference in Missouri, but he also provided the texts of some of Smith’s unpublished revelations.

Joseph Smith’s evasiveness was augmented by a hostile tone from Sidney Rigdon in 1831 when he “defied the world to refute the divine pretensions of the Book of Mormon” (Painesville Telegraph, Feb. 15). Thomas Campbell, the father of the man who founded the Disciples of Christ, said he was only too happy to accept the challenge, upon which Rigdon quickly withdrew his challenge, aware of his opponent’s ability to debate. That did not mean that Rigdon tempered his bluster, however. He called Booth’s letters “an unfair and false representation of the subjects on which they treat” and challenged its author to a debate.11

This tense atmosphere, combined with a lack of solid information, created a market for books on Mormonism. Into the vacuum came Doctor Philastus Hurlbut (1809–83), a convert in late 1832 who had been a Methodist class leader, exhorter, and lay minster in Jamestown, New York.12 “Doctor” was his given name, not a title. Hurlbut traveled to Kirtland so he could see the prophet up close. Smith wrote that in March 1833 he “conversed with [Hurlbut] considerably about the book of Mormon. … According to my best recollection, I heard him say, in the course of conversing with him, that if he ever became convinced that the book of Mormon was false, he would be the cause of my destruction.”13 If Hurlbut had reservations, he was sufficiently reassured by Smith to allow himself to be ordained an elder by Sidney Rigdon five days later. He also accepted a mission call to Pennsylvania.14

However, while Hurlbut was passing through Albion in the western part of the state, he came into contact with Lyman Jackson, a staunch Methodist and former acquaintance of the late Solomon Spalding (1761–1816). Jackson said the Book of Mormon may have been copied from an Indian romance his friend had written two decades earlier.15 Diverted from his mission, Hurlbut decided to travel twenty-five miles south to Conneaut, where Solomon Spalding’s younger brother, John, and wife Martha were still living. Interviewing them about the manuscript Solomon had read to them about 1811 (see pp. 391–92), and now faced with the possibility that the Book of Mormon was derivative, Hurlbut chose to abandon his mission and return to Ohio.

In Kirtland he learned that while he was interviewing the Spaldings, he had been excommunicated in absentia on June 3 by a bishop’s court on the charge of “unchristian conduct with the female sex while on a mission to the east.”16 The suggestive wording was later clarified by Sidney Rigdon, who had officiated at the trial, when he wrote to the Boston Journal in 1839 that Hurlbut was cut off for “using obscene language to a young lady, a member of the said Church, who resented his insult with indignation.”17

Hurlbut appealed to the Council of High Priests that “justice was not done me.” On June 21 the council rescinded its decision “because of the liberal confession which [Hurlbut] made.”18 He later claimed he only pretended to seek reinstatement so he could gather more information about the church.19

Two days later a general council heard testimony from Solomon Gee and others that they had heard Hurlbut brag about having “deceived Joseph Smith’s God, or the Spirit by which he is actuated.”20 In response, he was excommunicated once more, again in his absence. He responded by delivering an anti-Mormon lecture in Kirtland and then collecting donations from Orrin Clapp, Nathan Corning, Grandison Newel, and “many other leading citizens of Kirtland and Geauga Co[unty]” for a trip to New York to “obtain affidavits showing the bad character of the Mormon Smith family,” as Howe later described it.21

He began by collecting written statements in support of the Spalding theory in Conneaut, Ohio. Three of the statements were written down in August and two in September. It was probably October by the time he visited Spalding’s widow, Matilda Spalding Davidson, in Massachusetts,22 only to learn that she had “no distinct knowledge” of the manuscript’s contents.23 She told him her husband’s papers were stored at a cousin’s house in Otsego County, New York, so Hurlbut tracked it down, only to find a negligible similarity to the Book of Mormon. He nevertheless took the manuscript with him to give it a closer inspection.24

Mormons speculated that Hurlbut suppressed the manuscript so it wouldn’t be found to be irrelevant. For instance, Mormon writer George Reynolds suggested it was probably “burned so that it might never be brought up to confront those who claim that in it is to be found the origin of the Book of Mormon.”25 In fact, Hurlbut showed it to the residents of Conneaut and then left it with Howe for safe keeping. Howe finally discarded it as immaterial to the question of the Book of Mormon’s origin.26 Yet, Hurlbut held to what two witnesses said about Spalding having written several novels; the one Hurlbut found was not the one they had heard Spalding read to them, they said.27 In this context, after the 1884 discovery of the lost manuscript in Honolulu among the papers of Lewis L. Rice, the announcement that the manuscript was not the source of the Book of Mormon only repeated a judgment Hurlbut had made a half century earlier in Pennsylvania.28

He next traveled to Palmyra and stayed over a month lecturing and collecting statements from the Smiths’ onetime neighbors.29 On December 6 the Wayne Sentinel took notice that “Doct. P. Hurlbert” was in town “in behalf of the people of Kirtland for the purpose of investigating the origin of the Mormon sect.” Cornelius R. Stafford remembered that Hurlbut arrived at “our school house and took statements about the bad character of the Mormon Smith family, and saw them swear to them.”30 Through December 11, Hurlbut collected fourteen statements: twelve from individuals, one from eleven residents of Manchester combined, and one from fifty-one residents of Palmyra. Of the twelve individual affidavits, three of them pertained to Martin Harris and the remainder had to do with the Smith family.

That Hurlbut had a specific kind of testimony in mind is attested to by Benjamin Saunders, who said Hurlbut “came to me but he could not get out of me what he wanted; so [he] went to others.”31 Undoubtedly there were other people like Saunders who had good things to say about the Smiths, but perhaps nothing of relevance; on the other hand, Hurlbut had no trouble finding hostile witnesses.32 A Mormon missionary, Elder John S. Carter, visited the Palmyra-Manchester area shortly before Hurlbut’s visit and wrote in his diary that “the people [were] greatly opposed to the work of God. Talked with many of them, & found them unable to make out anything against Joseph Smith, altho they talked hard against him.”33 Likewise, following his own investigations in Palmyra, Henry Pratt informed his son Addison in May 1838 about how “they informed me at Palmyra that the character & conduct of Jo Smith & Martin Harris, did not correspond at all with the character & conduct of christians.”34 Unlike Hurlbut, neither Carter nor Pratt recorded the names of the individuals they spoke with.

If Hurlbut was guilty of choosing biased witnesses and ignoring favorable ones, Richard L. Anderson went too far to dismiss Hurlbut for having put words in the mouths of his witnesses.35 Similarities in terminology can no doubt be credited to how Hurlbut phrased his questions. In any case, the affidavits were signed and many were notarized. Moreover, none of the witnesses ever recanted or corrected their statements. Another researcher, Rodger I. Anderson (no relation), concluded for these reasons and others that the affidavits have to be considered, on balance, credible.36

Another fallacy, in my view, is the assumption that if Hurlbut was wrong about Spalding, he must have been wrong about everything. Citing Fawn Brodie’s remark that Hurlbut probably did “a little judicious prompting,” Richard Anderson concluded that the statements should be viewed as skeptically as the Spalding theory.37 The reason this is ill-advised is because (1) the Spalding theory did not come from Hurlbut and (2) he went to such lengths to track down the manuscript, he clearly did not think he had extracted misleading testimony from his witnesses. To the contrary, the affidavits recorded firsthand observations about things that had occurred in the recent past, which distinguishes them from literary comparisons others made, based on fading memories of what Spalding had read to them twenty years earlier. Even Howe cautioned readers that the Spalding affidavits had their limitations.38 My own view is that the individuals who heard Spalding read from his manuscript were probably sincere, just that they were wrong about its similarity to the Book of Mormon.

The neighbors had other things in mind in charging the Smith family with intemperance and money digging, as well as related criticisms about how much time they devoted to such ventures while neglecting their farm. The focus and tone of the neighbors’ testimonies are unbalanced, but this does not mean their observations were untrue. Under other circumstances, a confederate might testify to the same facts and put a positive spin on it; in fact, we find corroborating evidence in statements from friendly sources as well.39

Once he was back in Ohio, Hurlbut resumed his attack on Joseph Smith in public meetings, now armed with the affidavits which he read from. Howe mentioned that “Hurlbut returned to Ohio and lectured on the Origin of Mormonism and the Book of Mormon. I heard him Lecture in Painesville.”40 The presentations created a stir. In January 1834 Orson Hyde wrote that Hurlbut had “fired the minds of the people with much indignation against Joseph and the Church.”41

The bitterness of Hurlbut’s criticisms resulted in Joseph Smith complaining about them to the local justice of the peace, John C. Dowen, on December 21, 1833. Dowen recalled that “the Mormons urged me to issue a writ against [Hurlbut]. I did, as recorded in my docket, Dec. 27, 1833 on complaint of Joseph Smith, warrant returnable to [justice] William Holbrook, Esq., at Painesville, Ohio.”42 On January 4, 1834, Hurlbut appeared before Holbrook and requested a continuance, which was granted.

Meanwhile, under the date January 11, 1834, a scribe recorded that the prophet and other leaders prayed “the Lord would grant that our brother Joseph might prevail over his enemy, even Doctor P. Hurlbut, who has threatened his life, whom brother Joseph has <caused to be> taken with a precept; that the Lord would fill the heart of the Court with a spirit to do justice, and cause that the law of the land may be magnified in bringing him to justice.”43

The preliminary hearing was held over the space of three days, January 13–15. Dowen remembered “over 50 witnesses [who] were called” and that “Hurlbut said he would kill Jo Smith[,]” which Down thought “meant he would kill Mormonism.”44 Regardless, Hurlbut was bound over to appear at the next session of court in the town of Chardon, about twelve miles south of Painesville.

Smith and his associates arrived there the last day of March and spent the next day issuing subpoenas. “[M]y soul delighteth in the Law of the Lord,” Smith recorded in his journal, “for he forgiveth my sins and <will> confound mine Enimies[.] the Lord shall destroy him who has lifted his heel against me even that wicked man Docter P. H[u]rlbut[.] he <will> deliver him to the fowls of heaven and his bones shall be cast to the blast of the wind <for> he lifted his <arm> against the Almity therefore the Lord shall destroy him.”45

Smith’s case was heard April 2–3, after which he returned home to await the court’s decision. In a meeting on April 7, he prayed that “I may prevail against that wicked Hurlbut and that he be put to shame.”46 Two days later the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas found that “the said complainant had ground to fear that the said Doctor Ph[ilastus] Hurlbut would wound, beat or kill him, or destroy his property” and therefore set bail at $200 and charged Hurlbut to keep the peace.47

The legal entanglement must have dissuaded Hurlbut from publishing the affidavits on his own. Howe recalled that he “came to me to have the evidence he had published. I bargained to pay him in books.”48 The agreement was reached shortly after the pre-trial hearing in Painesville,49 and for the next ten months Howe worked on preparing what would be the first book-length treatise on Mormonism. On February 4 he wrote to Joseph Smith’s father-in-law, Isaac Hale, requesting a notarized statement confirming what Hale had written to Hurlbut.50 According to W. R. Hine, when Hurlbut read Hale’s initial letter at a public meeting, he was immediately challenged by Martin Harris. “Hale was old and blind and not capable of writing it,” Harris insisted. Hine told the audience that, to the contrary, “Hale was called the greatest hunter on the Susquehanna, and two years before had killed a black deer and a white bear, which many hunters had tried to kill, also that he was intelligent and knew the Scriptures.”51 In the wake of this challenge, Howe must have thought it prudent to verify Hale’s statement and thereby head off lingering doubts about the letter’s authenticity.

On February 9, Howe penned a letter to Professor Charles Anthon, who had seen an alleged specimen of writing from the golden plates. Martin Harris, who had visited with Anthon, said the professor had pronounced the transcript a genuine sample of “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics.” In Anthon’s response of February 17, he repudiated the claim and insisted that the facsimile shown to him “contained any thing else but ‘Egyptian Hieroglyphics.’” Despite this denial, Joseph Smith repeated that the famed linguist had pronounced the sample of script to be “true characters” and the translation more correct “than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.”52

Howe’s book was released in November 1834 under the title Mormonism Unvailed: or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time.53 It bore the marks of a hasty creation, although contrary to what many people assume, unvailed was the preferred spelling at the time. Otherwise, the book was mostly a collection of previously published material. The opening chapter introduces the Smith family by summarizing information from the affidavits, concluding with an introduction to the three Book of Mormon witnesses, portions of which came from the Painesville Telegraph and Palmyra Reflector (15–27). The account in chapter two of how the Book of Mormon came to be (35–44) draws heavily on the affidavits and ends with an expansion of Alexander Campbell’s analysis of the Book of Mormon (47–148).54 The description of church activities in Ohio and Missouri came largely from the Telegraph (149–253).55

The remaining chapters were more or less appendixes: the 1831 Ezra Booth letters, borrowed from the Ohio Star (255–312), two of Joseph Smith’s revelations (LDS D&C 58, 89; pp. 313–23 herein), the affidavits from the Palmyra-­Manchester area (326–68), and statements from the Hale family in Harmony (368–78). Howe also included letters from Charles Anthon (379–83), William W. Phelps prior to his conversion to Mormonism (384–85), an excerpt from Lemon Copley’s 1834 court statement against Joseph Smith (387–90), and claims by acquaintances of Solomon Spalding (391–412).

Smith loyalists denounced Howe’s book as satanically inspired.56 Word spread quickly of the behind-the-scenes involvement of Hurlbut, whom Smith called the book’s “legitimate author,” implying a ghost-written work.57 This was repeated so often that it was assumed to be true.58 In fact, Hurlbut was only a researcher, not a writer, and of 290 pages, his research occupied only 40 pages. Oliver Cowdery concluded that the book required a comprehensive response, so he countered with an eight-part history of Joseph Smith and the church’s founding, with input from Smith himself, for the Messenger and Advocate. They wanted “to convince the public of the incorrectness of those scurrilous reports which have inundated our land.”<59

Responding specifically to “accusers,” Smith confessed that in his youth he “fell into many vices and follies,” due to “a light and too often vain mind.” He said he engaged in “foolish and trifling conversation,” although not any “gross and outrageous violations of the peace and good order of the community.”60 Richard Anderson rightly interpreted this disclaimer as an allusion to treasure seeking even though the narrative avoided explicit details about treasure quests.61 In October 1835 the serialized account elaborated on Smith’s first attempt to take the gold plates from the hill and explained that he received a “shock … by an invisible power, which deprived him, in a measure of his natural strength,”62 which was nearly the same as what his neighbor, Willard Chase, had said about Smith being knocked down three times by a spirit guardian. Chase went on to say that, according to what he had been told, a toad-like creature at the location transformed itself into something that had the appearance of a man.63 Continuing, Cowdery wrote that Joseph had “heard of the power of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth, and [Smith] supposed that physical exertion and personal strength was only necessary to enable him to yet obtain the object of his wish.”64 In a subtle way, then, Smith gave his admission to having found the golden plates while hunting for hidden treasure, confirming what the neighbors had said.

In May 1838 Smith gave another response in the Elders’ Journal to “a few questions which are daily and hourly asked by all classes of people whilst we are traveling,”65 two of which must have arisen from Howe’s book. To the question, “Was not Jo Smith a money digger[?]” he responded dismissively: “Yes, but it was never a very profitable job to him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.”66

In response to a second question, “Did not Jo Smith steal his wife[?]” evidently in answer to his father-in-law’s discomfort that he “followed a business that I could not approve,” Joseph again relied on levity: “Ask her; she was of age; she can answer for herself.”67 In his 1838 history, Smith again minimized his money-digging activity by portraying himself as one of many hired hands who spent a month looking for a lost silver mine. “Finally,” he reported, he had “prevailed with the old gentleman [Josiah Stowell] to cease digging after it.” From that “arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.”68

The account left unanswered how he came to be employed by Stowell, a well-to-do farmer, and why he was the one who would persuade his employer to discontinue the search. Joseph’s mother recalled that the man had come to their home “on account of having heard that [Joseph] possessed certain keys, by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.”69 Stowell was allegedly amazed by the young man’s ability to see distant places through his stone and hired him on the spot. They had a shared interest in the supernatural. That is why the young man had the influence over his benefactor that is hinted at in the 1838 history. Smith’s statement to Justice Albert Neely in March 1826 was more forthcoming. According to the court record, Smith confessed that

he [Smith] had a certain stone, which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures … were … and had looked for Mr. Stowell several times[,] … that at Palmyra … he had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was … that he has occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years.70

Perhaps the demands of leadership and pressure of potential converts prevented Smith from speaking more honestly and clearly about his past. However, in a roundabout way, his discomfort increased public curiosity and added to the value historians place on the interviews with Smith’s neighbors. Within the affidavits are answers to questions that arise from passing references to various obscure topics. Only now, after the passage of time, are we able to weigh the testimonies in a reasonable way and ask which of them provide helpful information about otherwise unanswered historical questions and which of them are exaggerated or tainted by jealousy and self-justification on the neighbors’ part. To help readers in their search for answers, I have included explanations, historical context, and references to other sources, followed by the first-ever index to Howe’s book, all of which I hope will assist readers in at least getting a sense of the time and the issues surrounding these events.

—Dan Vogel,
Westerville, Ohio
December 4, 2014

1. Howe reprinted his book in 1840 under the title History of Mormonism … (Painesville, Ohio: E. D. Howe).

2. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3:360. For more on the influence of Mormonism Unvailed and other literature critical of the Mormons in the decades to follow, see Fluhman, Peculiar People.

3. Lake County Historical Society Quarterly 14 (Aug. 1972): 2.

4. “Golden Bible,” Palmyra Freeman, ca. Aug. 1829. The original article has not been located, but it was also picked up by the Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph, Aug. 31, 1829.

5. Jessee et al., Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 1:415.

6. Painesville Telegraph, Mar. 22, 1831. The term “jacks” is an abbreviation for jackasses, applied to non-Masons who defended Masonry or supported Masonic candidates for office.

7. “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, May 1, 1844, 522–24; rpt. in The Prophet, June 8, 1844.

8. J. J. Moss to J. T. Cobb, Dec. 17, 1878, in the A. T. Schroeder Collection, Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison, Wisc.

9. Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859, 166.

10. Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 23.

11. Ohio Star, Dec. 15, 1831.

12. Winchester, Origin of the Spaulding Story, 6; Reynolds, Myth of the Manuscript Found, 14.

13. Jessee et al., Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 1:27.

14. History of the Church, 1:334; Kirtland Council Minute Book, 14.

15. Winchester, Origin of the Spaulding Story, 6; Abner Jackson statement, in Gregg, Prophet of Palmyra, 444–50.

16. Kirtland Council Minute Book, 12; History of the Church, 1:352.

17. Rpt. in Mayhew, History of the Mormons, 33–36; cf. History of the Church, 1:355n.

18. Kirtland Council Minute Book, 21; cf. History of the Church, 1:354.

19. Chardon Spectator, Jan. 18, 1834.

20. Kirtland Council Minute Book, 22; cf. History of the Church, 1:355.

21. E. D. Howe affidavit, Apr. 8, 1885, Deming Collection.

22. Hurlbut and Matilda Spalding both said they met in early 1834, but an article in the Wayne Sentinel already on Dec. 20, 1833, stated that “the original manuscript of the Book was written some thirty years since, by a respectable clergyman [Spalding], now deceased, whose name we are not permitted to give. … These particulars have been derived by Dr. Hurlbert from the widow of the author of the original manuscript.”

23. See p. 403 herein.

24. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 22.

25. Reynolds, Myth of the Manuscript Found, 18.

26. See p. 404 herein.

27. See pp. 403, 404 herein.

28. Spalding’s manuscript was first published in 1885 by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Lamoni, Iowa, then in Utah in 1886 (see Flake, Mormon Bibliography, 8309, 8310).

29. Hurlbut was perhaps inspired by the affidavit from ten Palmyra residents in the Painesville Telegraph, Mar. 12, 1831, regarding Smith’s treasure-­seeking activities.

30. Naked Truths about Mormonism, Apr. 1888, 3.

31. Saunders interview with Kelley, ca. Sept. 1884, 29.

32. Within a year following publication of the affidavits, Jonathan H. Hale visited Palmyra and recorded in his journal: “We went about in the Neighbourhood from house to house to inquire the Character of Joseph Smith jr previous to his receiving the Book of Mormon[.] The amount [conclusion] was that his Character was as good as young men in General” (cited in Bitton, Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies, 134).

33. Ibid., 62.

34. Henry Pratt to Addison Pratt, May 20, 1838, photocopy in LDS Church History Library.

35. Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised,” 286–90.

36. Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, 114.

37. Richard Lord Anderson, review of Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, 3:59–62.

38. See p. 391 herein.

39. Each of these charges is treated in my notes on pp. 16–20, 346–48.

40. Howe affidavit, Apr. 8, 1885.

41. History of the Church, 1:475.

42. J. C. Dowen affidavit, Jan. 2, 1885, Deming Collection. For an overview of the case and legal issues between Joseph Smith and Doctor Philastus Hurlbut, see David W. Grua, “Joseph Smith and the 1834 D. P. Hurlbut Case,” BYU Studies 41, no. 1 (2005): 33–54; Grua, “Winning against Hurlbut’s Assault in 1834,” in Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters,  eds.  Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch (Provo: BYU Studies, 2014), 141–54.

43. Jessee et al., Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 1:25–26.

44. Dowen affidavit, Jan. 2, 1885.

45. Jessee et al., Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, 1:37.

46. Ibid, 38.

47. “Ohio v. Dr. P. Hurlbut,” Apr. 9, 1834, Book M, 193, Geauga County Courthouse, Chardon, OH. See also Chardon Spectator and Gazette, Apr. 12, 1834, 3.

48. Howe affidavit, Apr. 8, 1885.

49. This is determined by the date of Howe’s letter to Isaac Hale, Feb. 4, 1834, wherein Howe stated that he had “taken all the letters and documents from Mr. Hurlbut, with a view to their publication” (Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834).

50. Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834.

51. Naked Truths about Mormonism, Jan. 1888, 2.

52. History of the Church, 1:20.

53. The Painesville Telegraph announced that the book was available for sale in its Nov. 28, 1834, edition.

54. Campbell published “The Mormonites” in the Millennial Harbinger, Feb. 1831, 86–97, and apparently later as a pamphlet (see Painesville Telegraph, Mar. 1, 1831). It was reprinted by Joshua V. Himes as Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon, with an Examination of Its Internal and External Evidences, and a Refutation of Its Pretence to Divine Authority (Boston: Benjamin H. Greene, 1832) and again in the Telegraph in two installments, Mar. 8, 15, 1831.

55. Due to an error in printing, there are two consecutive sets of pages numbered 175 and 176.

56. Oliver Cowdery said the book originated, more fundamentally, with “the father of lies.” Messenger and Advocate, May 1836, 314.

57. Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, 228; History of the Church, 2:269–70. Smith repeated this in the Elders’ Journal, Aug. 1838, 59–60.

58. Orson Hyde claimed the book was “written by Mr. E. D. Howe, alias. Doct. P. Hurlbut” (Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1836, 296). W. Kirkham said it was “written mainly by Philastus Hurlbut” (New Witness for Christ in America, 1:18; 2:147). More recently James B. Allen and Leonard J. Arrington wrote that “although Howe took credit for the book, Hurlbut seems to have been the principal compiler” (“Mormon Origins in New York,” 245–46).

59. Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, 42.

60. Ibid., 40.

61. Anderson, “Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Searching,” 495.

62. Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 197.

63. See 340 herein.

64. Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 198.

65. Elders’ Journal, Nov. 1837, 28.

66. Joseph Smith, “Answers to Questions,” ibid., July 1838, 43; cf. Vogel, Documents, 1:53.

67. See pp. 369–70 herein.

68. History of the Church, 1:17.

69. Smith, Biographical Sketches, 91–92.

70. The original court record has evidently not survived, but it was excerpted in Charles Marshall, “The Original Prophet, by a Visitor to Salt Lake City,” Fraser’s Magazine, Feb. 1873, 225–35 (rpt. in Eclectic Magazine, Apr. 1873, 479–88); Daniel S. Tuttle, “Mormons,” A Religious Encyclopaedia, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1883), 2:1576; “A Document Discovered,” Utah Christian Advocate, Jan. 1886.