Betrayal of Joseph Smith by George Hinkle - 1838
George M. Hinkle: Mormons' Benedict Arnold
By Michael De Groote
Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010
George M. Hinkle was the LDS
Church's own Benedict Arnold.
As the colonel of the Mormon-controlled Caldwell County militia in 1838, Hinkle made a secret deal to hand over his own leaders, including the prophet Joseph Smith, to their sworn enemies.
In recent years some historians have tried to rehabilitate Hinkle's reputation -- arguing that his motives were to prevent bloodshed between the Mormons and non-Mormons in Missouri.
But 19th-century legal
documents purchased at a public auction last month tell a story that confirms
Hinkle's darker motives.
Jeffrey N. Walker spoke about the legal cases of Joseph Smith, on Friday at the University of Utah LDS institute during the J. Reuben Clark Law Society's annual conference.
Walker, assistant managing editor for the Joseph Smith Papers project, said he was present at the auction at Spink Shreves Galleries in New York City on Jan. 28 when the 24 documents of Smith vs. Hinkle were purchased for the LDS Church.
His discussion of the lawsuit at the conference was the first public announcement of the contents of this previously unknown legal case.
The lawsuit's roots began when Hinkle sold his Far West, Mo., home to LDS Presiding Bishop Edward Partridge and moved to De Witt, Mo. Partridge later sold it to Joseph Smith. Joseph and his family were living in Hinkle's old home when the Missouri militia arrested Joseph.
After Hinkle delivered Joseph Smith to the state militia, Joseph was almost executed -- but Gen. Alexander W. Doniphan refused to carry out the orders.
Hinkle betrayed Joseph on Nov. 1, 1838. The documents testify that on that same winter day, Hinkle came back to his old home and kicked Joseph's wife and children out of the house.
He took the household belongings, furniture, books and clothing. Hinkle also took Joseph's horse, saddle and bridle.
Emma came in tears with her
children to the home of Lucinda Harris. Harris testified that Hinkle came by and
threatened Emma again and told her to "leave the country."
Hinkle sold Joseph's horse, saddle and bridle to Samuel Bogart, the head of the non-Mormon Ray County Missouri State Militia.
A month later the prisoners were being transferred to Liberty Jail. Joseph saw Bogart riding on a horse with Joseph's saddle.
Bogart told him he had sold the horse to someone named Wilson, but that he would be willing to buy it back for Joseph for $200.
Bogart wouldn't give up the saddle, however. He wanted to keep it as a souvenir.
Hinkle was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Quincy, Ill., in March 1839. He later moved to Iowa Territory -- across the river from Nauvoo, Ill., and started his own church, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride, the Lamb's Wife.
The lawsuit against Hinkle came later, in August 1841, more than two years after Joseph had escaped his captors in Missouri. Joseph sued Hinkle to recover the cost of the stolen items.
Several people testified that Joseph's captors told Hinkle they were going to kill Joseph. Hinkle believed he would be "safe" in taking the property.
Walker said this response changes the perspective on Hinkle's motivation. He knew he was likely delivering Joseph Smith to his death and profited from the event.
Joseph won the case, but was awarded only $200 -- the value of the horse, saddle and bridle. The record did not have testimony of third parties about the other things that were stolen, according to Walker.
The purchased documents are
one of the most complete sets of documents from any of the more than 200 legal
cases Joseph Smith was involved in over his lifetime, Walker said. "These
documents are a fascinating addition to understanding Joseph's legal
entanglements and show him as a plaintiff not just a defendant," Walker said.
"Most of Joseph's cases have him as the defendant."
According to Walker, the purchased documents were being picked up from the Dallas office of Spink Shreves Galleries at about the time he was speaking at the conference Friday morning.
He said the case documents will be included as part of the legal series in the Joseph Smith Papers.
The church is also making plans to make these and other auction documents available soon. "The church acquiring them allows them to be in the public," Walker said. "There is nothing secret in them."
Webmaster note: Mormons refused to investigate the complete “cause and effect” of George Hinkle’s apostasy from Mormonism. In all cults, leaders will financially exploit the followers for their own personal gain. If the truth be told, LDS Presiding Bishop Edward Partridge ordered the sale of George Hinkle’s house with furnishings to himself at a cut-rate price. In turn, Edward Partridge sold the house with furnishings to the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith at a reduced price. Thus when George Hinkle saw a chance to regain his lost property and leave a bogus church, he did so. Since George Hinkle saw that it was financially lucrative to be head of a church, he formed his own in Iowa.
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