Mormon History

Peaceful Ohio After Mormonism - 1887

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune

April 17, 1887


A Utah Meteor Strikes the Dead Calm of the East.



Unsavory Character of the Memories Left Behind by the Original "Saints"
-- Great Interest in the Utah Situation
-- The Original Zion and its Work --
Ugly Reminiscences.

Editor Tribune: -- From the Great Salt Lake Basin to the Buckeye State, from the scene of the fierce and irrepressible conflict to a region where men dwell together in relations peaceful and fraternal, how sudden and complete the transition! And yet, four days and three nights sufficed to make the change... I took up immediately a two-months' campaign to talk upon Mormon matters. The programme embraces the entire northern portion of Ohio. Arrangements are made by others, and notices are given in every prominent city and village for one, two or three addresses each day. The evident interest is cheering and inspiring to notice. The public


Concerning the situation seems to grow with what it feeds on. After listening for an hour and a half the call is for more. And, what is even better, a fair understanding of the situation seems at length to have been attained by the average citizen.

As was eminently fitting, the first fortnight was devoted to a section lying within thirty miles of Kirtland, the first spot defiled by those matchless Harpies, the early apostles of Mormon imposture and knavery. In a sense, though, speech in those parts concerning Joe Smith's, his humbug and fraud is carrying coals to Newcastle, for fifty years after the last Saint left the neighborhood, wending his way westward in search for "fresh woods and pastures new," his name and the character of his work are a synonym for all that is shameless and loathsome, and the blight of his perfidious presence is still felt far and wide in loose morals and crazy speculations. What he said of polygamy is equally true of his entire scheme of doctrine and practice, "it will damn two times as many as it will save"! It is also interesting to notice as showing the earthly origin and animus of the whole pestiferous concern, that the tales told by such as knew the brethren in 1831-8 tally exactly with what the readers of The Tribune find everywhere, present in the lives of the priesthood today. So corrupt was the source that how could the stream be otehr than yet even full of filth and sending forth moral malaria to scatter disease and death on every hand.


Indeed I have had a rare opportunity to trace the precious Latter-day work far back towards its conception in folly and sin. To begin with I passed a day in Conneaut on Lake Erie near the Pennsylvania line, and where early in the century dwelt Rev. Solomon Spaulding, possessed of more imagination than ducates, that most hapless of all good men, the patriarch Job not excepted, for it was his woeful lot, that with no worse intent than with romancing pen to pay his honest debt, to put on paper the famous "Manuscript Found" which, (all recent discoveries and stout allegations to the contrary notwithstanding) formed the basis and substance of "the more history part" of the Golden Bible, alias Book of Mormon. Verily this modern Solomon, erudite theologian though he doubtless was, then and there took his pen in hand only to grievously put his foot in it. In other words, he made an exceedingly bad break, or builded infinitely more unwisely than he knew. It would have bene vastly better if the lovers of truth and righteousness had put their hands in their pockets and pais the Reverend's liabilities, or even if his creditors had lost every cent. The spot is still pointed out to pilgrims by the creek side, and I have looked upon it, whence erstwhile stood the log cabin in which the above named impecunious and seedy divine spun out the dreary story of Jaredand his wonderful barges whose "length was as the length of a tree" and whose "bottom was tight like a dish, the blood-curdling.


And the never-to-be-forgotten valorous deeds of Shiz, Coroantumr and Sam! Having piously cursed the spot and shaken the dust from my feet as a testimony against the Mormon monstrosity, I turned away.

Then later it was my lot to make a pilgrimage to the renowned former center stake of Zion, videlicet Kirtland, once all glorious with the presence of prophets, apostles, angels and such, including "the Lord's" bank and gifts innumerable and unspeakable of the spirit (of the demijohn), etc., whose streets were thronged with inspired elders, newfledged but big with expectation of riches and honor at hand, but, alas! like so many other sacred places, long since profaned by alien and hostile feet, and left to utter desolation. As for the streets thereof, they are numerous and goodly, straight as an arrow, and cut each other at right angles. There are thirty in all and each one bears the name of some saint of renown. Thus there are Joseph, and Hyrum, and Sisney streets, and Smith street and Rigdon street, while others are graced by the truly saintly cognomens of M. Harris, O. Cowdery, the three Whitneys, et al., too many of whom have since gone ecclesiastically to the dogs, though then numbered among the "chiefs" and the "elite." Yes, and even more, my unworthy eyes have beheld the plat of


Done by actual survey and put on record in Geauga county, early in 1837, A. D. It lies four square each side, having a liberal length of two miles, and is composed of not less than 225 blocks or squares, each 40 x 40 rods, and in all containing some 1350 lots, which sold at the low average of $100 each, would bring to Joseph and his partners the snug sum of $135,000. Truly a nice sugar plum for a prophet. And I cheerfully bear my testimony that seldom, if ever, have I seen, or heard, of a city finer, more regularly laid out, and generally more complete (on paper) than this very one. That is, save it be those others erected in teh same easy, inexpensive and expeditious manner in Jackson county, at Far-West and Adam-Ondi-Ahman, MO., and one or two besides in Utopia.

Not though, that the actual city was ever was compararble to the ideal. Such things are never so, as it were. In this particular case the prophecy was all right, and it was only the fulfillment that was at fault. That is, the Prince of Evil


Jut then. Or, the "Safety Society Bank" failed in an evil hour, and in consequence the revelator President and Cashier, finding the mid-winter climate all too torrid for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fled between two days never to return, and so the city failed to materialize into brick and stone and wood. But, as for the site and ruins thereof, they lie some sine miles southwest of Painesville, and a short three miles south of Mentor or Willoughby on the Lake Shore railroad. The exact town is on the bottom and adjacent cliffs, or clay banks, of the east branch of the Chagrin river and is a seedy and unsightly settlement of some fifty houses. The revealed plan was to fulfill prophecy by humbling these hills and exalting these valleys with pick and shovel, but the grand and final skedaddle too soon ensuing, the prediction remains unfulfilled to this day. Though by the hundred the cheap mushroom growths of 1830-7 have disappeared, several of the old-time dwellings still survive. Notably the ancient brick tavern where the Saints of both low and high degree were wont to solace themselves with generous [quantities] of inebriating [fluids].

All accounts derived from the lips of such of their neighbors as still survive agree that the early elders in every point relating to morality (that is, immorality,) fully equaled, if they did not even surpass, their extant peers and successors. Smoke houses and hen roosts could never be left unlocked with impunity. Their penchant for


Was immense, but for making payment they had no gift. With faith and zeal enough easily to cast out devils and raise the dead, not Wilkins Micawber's purse was in such a state of perpetual collapse. Do what they would, they could not milk the Gentiles fast enough. Columns could easily be filled with well authenticated accounts of the large liberties they took with the Ten Commandments one and all. In fact, the moral law appears to have been as good as null and void on those four square miles lying adjacent to the Temple, and the Saints would seem to have lived under a "higher law" as they do today; that is, each one was a law unto himself.

But the Temple dedicated in 1836 still stands, and is the chief reminder of Kirtland's halcyon days. After a long period of eclipse, during which it was desecrated and despoiled with a high hand, the elements stained and scarred its walls, and within it sheep and cattle sought refuge from frost and storm. It seems likely now to again rise and shone. I learned that


Named brick as the material chosen of heaven for the walls of the sanctuary, but that when several abortive attempts had been made to manufacture a fit article, a supplementary communication allowed stone to be substituted. Upon this an uncircumcised Gentile inquired if "the Lord" didn't know before hand that Kirtland clay was no good, and the prophet with a sly wink and a hearty laugh declared that the revelation was good enough at any rate, since the building was done and dedicated! Here the Pentecost of 1836 was poured out as the buckets of wine went round among the elders day and night. Here were shed forth the great and glorious endowments, while white robed angels flapped their wings and gave snatches of celestial melody (so they say), and while up in the attic the brethren were wont of winters to wrestle with the four R's against great odds, and delve deep in the mysteries of Hebrew grammar.

But when in 1838, chasing that ignus fatuous, "the Kingdom," such as did not leave the church disgusted, took their journey to Missouri, to Illinois and finally to Utah. The temple erected at such ruinous cost was left deserted, and for forty years tehre was none to shield it from vandal hands. But four years ago the hearts of the Josephite remnant returned to it once more; the work of repair was undertaken within and without, and to-day not a little of the former comliness is again to be seen. There is some talk of making Kirtland once more the center stake; of opening a school in the upper chambers as of old, and which shall in due time blossom into a university! It seems it was prophesied that the waste places should be restored, and so the Reorganized are quietly buying up lots and a regathering to the


Of the Chagrin may at any time be looked for. On the 6th instant a few scores of delegates from widely separated places met in the temple to hold conference, to praise and pray and preach and prophesy, to tell of visions and healings, to give their testimony to the truth of this work, and with great joy and enthusiasm meditate on glories past and other greater glories to come to all who accept the mission of Joseph Smith, Jr., and walk in his footsteps, polygamy only excepted. It was evidently a gathering of well meaning and honest-hearted, if not wise-headed, people, and against whom the charge of bad citizenship would not be likely to hold.

One point further and I am done for this time. So much has been said against the life and character of the late lamented Brigham Young, and, I fear, too often with too much of truth, that a dark cloud rests upon his reputation. Especially did his marital relations seem to be badly mixed and left in a muddle. So much so, indeed, that no man knoweth just how many partners his patriarchal bosom possessed, and hence I fear that he is suspected and charged with more than the measure of his guilt. Therefore, as a lover of even weak and wicked humanity, I take pleasure in stating that I am able to prove that he had at least one legal wife. Here is the documentary evidfence which none can gainsay, and which I am sure you will be glad to put into print:

Records of the Probate Court of Geauga County, Ohio. License issued to Brigham Young and Mary Ann Angel to marry Feb. 10, 1834, by the clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Geauga County, Ohio.

Said parties were married March 31, 1834, by Sidney Rigdon at Kirtland, Ohio.     LEO.

Note: Compare the Tribune correspondent's 1887 visit to Conneaut with that of Ellen E. Dickenson, seven years earlier. She says: "The very spot where this [Solomon Spalding's] house once stood is pointed out -- a log cabin, containing some relics of New England comforts, and the best dwelling in the vicinity at the time.... There is no trace of this primitive homestead now, or of the earth-mound close to it; but there are many people living in Conneaut who remember both. Just below this locality, and close to the creek, was the foundry of the Spalding brothers and Mr. Henry Lake, which was so prosperous until the war of 1812 made its proprietors bankrupt."