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Full text of "History of the pioneer settlement of Phelps and Gorham's purchase, and Morris' reserve; embracing the counties of Monroe, Ontario, Livingston, Yates, Steuben, most of Wayne and Allegany, and parts of Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming. To which is added, a supplement, or extension of the pioneer history of Monroe County .."

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P~rro!<- ' 


In 1805, I was erecting my frame house, and wanted <rla*s and nails 
I w.-nt with ox.-ii and >K-d to Utica, carrying 50 busli,-]s,,f wlu-at. [sold it for 
$1,68 per bushel, to Watte Shennan, a merchant of Utica, and paid isdper 
pound for wrought nails ; $7 50 for two bo\,-s of n-lass.* 

It was pivtty easy for young men to smnv farms, i 

^ttlement. I knew many who revived a dollar a day for their labor, and 
bought lands for twenty live cents per acre. 

A Baptist Church was organized in Manchester in 1804; the 
first Trustees were : Ebenezer Pratt, Joseph Wells and Jeremiah 
Dewey. This was the first legal organization, a society had been 
formed previous to 1800. Judge Phelps gave the society a site for 
a meeting house, and in 1806 Deacon John McLouth erected a log 
building. In 1812 or 13, the stone meeting house was erected 
Rev. Anson Shay organized the church, and remained its pastor 
for 25 years ; he emigrated to Michigan, where he died in 1845. 
The Methodists had a society organization as early as 1800. hold- 
ing their primitive meetings in school and private houses. 

" St. John's Church, Farmington," (Episcopal, at Sulphur Springs,) 
was organized by the Rev. Devenport Phelps, in 1807. The offi- 
cers were: -John Shekels, Samuel Shekels, wardens; Darius 
Seager, William Warner, George Wilson, Archibald A. Beal, Davis 
Williams, Thomas Edmonston, Alexander Howard, William Pow- 


it in itecareer, ai .i 

Kauvoo, I' 
I'll : 
M "" '' II. He iiist s-t!k-d in or near Palmyra village, hut a 

* "Mr. RrdfirM h 
r>. Gil s 'M. tin- well known 

-tore Mil. It is Tiijulo out and signed I'.v Honry 
'.kcr. who M';:S thu bonk krrix.T in S!M.T- 

tne early Hotel keeper ;u iM-m-va. Tlic t\vo brothers had cri-cu-d a 
public house at the Springs, and William was tliu landlord. 


early as 1819 was the occupant of NUMC new land <.n Stailord >tre.-t M in the 
town of Manchester, near the line of Palmyra.* "Mormon Hill " U n.-ar the 
plank road about halt' way between the villages of Palmyra and M.meh.-ter. 
The el<ler Smith had been a Universalist, and subsequently a Mcth.-di.-' 
ft good deal of ik amatterer in Scriptural knowledge: but the seed of iwela- 
tion \\.-is sown on weak ground; he was a great habbW, credulous 
daily industrious, a money digger, prone to the marvellous; and withal, a lit- 
tle gneii to difficulties with neighbors and petty law-suits. Not a u-ry pro- 
pitious account of the father of a Prophet, the founder of a >tate; but' there 

wa> a " woman in the case." However present, ill matt. MX , ,t' ,_- [ , ,,. ,, v il ! 

In the garden of Eden, in the siege of Troy, on the field of Orleans! in the 
dav. Ming "f the Reformation, in the Palace of St. Pet. -rsburirh. and Kremlin 
of Moscow, in England's history, and Spain's proudest era; and here upon 
this continent, in the persons of Ann Lee, Jemima. Wilkinson, and as we are 
about to add, Mrs. Joseph Smith! A mother's inilueures; in the world's 
lii>tory, in the history of men, how distinct is the impress! In heroes, in 
statesmen, in poets, in all of good or bad aspirations, or distinctions tiiat 
single men out from the mass, and give them notoriety; how often, almost in- 
variably, -are we led back to the intiueuces of a mother, to find the germ that 
has sprouted in the offspring. 

^ The reader will excuse this interruption of narrative, and be fold that Mrs. 
Smith was a woman of strong uncultivated intellect; artful and cunning; im- 
bued with an illy ivvulated religious enthusiasm. The incipient hints, the 
first givings out that a Prophet was to spring from her humble household, 
came trom her; and when matters were maturing for denouement, she gave 
out that such and such ones always fixing upon those who had both money 
and credulity were to be instruments in some great work of new revelation. 
The old man was rather her faithful co-worker, or executive- ox p. neiit. Their 
son, Alvah, was originally intended, or designated, by fiiv>ide consultations, 
and s. >lemn and mysterious out door hints, as the forth coming Prophet. Tho 
mother and the father said he was the chosen one; but Alvah, however spir- 
itual lie may have been, had a carnal appetite; eat too many irr.-eii turnips, 
sickened and died. Thus the world lost a Prophet, and Mormonism a leader; 
the designs impiously and wickedly attributed to Providence, defeated; and 
all in co-Nismonce of a surfeit of raw turnips. Who will talk of the cackling 
t Rome, or any other small and innocent causes of miirhtv events af- 
er this? The mantle of the Prophet which Mis and Mr. Joseph Smith and 
one Oliver Cowdery, had wove of themselves every thread of it fell upon 
their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr. 

^ And a most unpromising m-ipient of such a trust, was this same Joseph 
Smith, Jr., afterwards, "Jo. Smith." He was loun^in^, idle; (not ; 
vicious) and possessed of less than ordinary intellect. Tin- author's own re- 
collections of him are distinct ones. He ii>ed to come into the \ ilia- 
Palmyra witli little jags of wood, from his backwoods home; sometimes pat- 
ronizing a village grocery too freely; sometimes find an odd job to do about 

* H.TO the author romi-mln-is to have first swn the the \viuter of '19, '20, 
in a rude log house, with but a small spot underbrushed around it. 


the store of Seymour Scr-vell ; and onco a week lie would stroll into the oflice 
of the old Palmyra K.-gist.-r, tor his father's paper. How impious in i: 
"dare DevW * to once an.l a while blacken the face of the then meddling 
p inquisitive lounger but afterwards IVphet, with the old fashion. -d halls 
when he Used to pur himself in the way of the workiiv of the ,,1-1 fashion.-,! 

Rainage p! The editor of the Cultivator, at Albany- 

may justly consider himself, for hi- subsequent enterprise ami usefulness, may 
think of it^with eontritio U an.l repentance; tliat he once he]p,,l, thus to di>- 
figure the far.- of a lYoph-t, an.l remotely, the founder of a State. 

But Joseph had a HtUe ambition; an-! laudable aspirations; the 

mother's intellect .occasionally shone out in him feebly, -pceially uhm he 
lised to help us solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, 
^in our juv.-nil.- .l.-l.atin.of club, which we moved down to the old red 
hous- on Durtee street, to u V t rid of the annoyance of critics that u*-d to drop 
in ui)on us in the village; an<l subsequently, after catrhinira s]>ark of M,-tho- 
dism in the camp meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he 
was a very portable exhoiter in vt'iiinLr iiuvr 

Legends of hidden treasure, had long d-ign:;t..-d Mormon Hill a.s the de- 
po>itory. Old Joseph had dug there, and young Joseph had not oniv . 
his father and mother relate the marvelous tales of buried weal h. buti 
companied his father in the midnight delvings, and incantations of the spirite 
tliat guarded it. 

If a buried revelation was to be exhumed, how natural was it that the Smith 
family, with their credulity, and their assumed presriitiment that a Prophet 
was to come from their household, should be ronin < ted with it; and that 
Mormon Hill was the place where it would be found. 

It is believed by those who were best acquainted with the Smith family, 
ami most conversant with all the (void Bible movements, that there is no 
foundation for the statement that their original manuscript was written by a 
Mr. Spaulding, of Ohio. A supplemen !l Bible, '-'IV Book 'of 

Commandments" in all probability, was written by Kigdon, and h< may have, 
aided by Spanlding's manuscripts; but the book itself is without doubt, 
a production of the Smith family, aided by Oliver Cowdery, y.ho M ;; < a school 
teacher on Stafford street, an intimate of the Smith family, and ideniiiied 
with the whole matter. The production as all will com-hide, vJio have read 
it, or ev, n given it a cursory iv\ ie\v, is not that of an educated man or wo- 
man. The bungling attempt to counterfeit the style of the Scriptures; the 
intermixture of modern phraseology ; tln-igii- r.'.i.vof ehronol-.^v and-. 
phy; its utter crudeness and baldix^s .:- a \ p its character, and 

clearly exhibits its vulgar origin. It is a strange medley of scriptures n ; < 
and bad composition. 

The primitive designs o f Mrs. Smith, her hu>ban !, Jo and Oowdn-y, was 
money-making; bl.-mled with which perhaps wa- a desire for . tobe 

obtained by a cheat and a fraud. The idea of being the founders of a net 
W8 an after thought, in which they were aided bv others 

* To soften the use of such an expression, tlio reader should lie reminded tliat np- 
prcntices in printing officei have since the days of Faust and C.otU'iiberg, been thus 
called, and sometimes it was not inappropriate, 


The projectors of the humbug, b.-ini;- d- ( ituto of moans for carrying out 
their plans, a victim \\as selected to obviate that difficulty. Martin Hani*, 
was a farmer of Palmyra, the own. I larm, and an lionet worthy 

citi/en; b:it especially given to religions enthusiasm, n-w nv.-d N ih mo;-- 
extravagant tin- belt-r; a monomaniac, in ta-i. ,los"ph Smith upon whom 
the mantle of prophecy had fallen after the sad fate of Alva, heg.-m to make 
demonstrations He informed Harris of ill.' great diseovery, and tint it had 
' aen reveal"! to him, that he (Harris,) was a chosen instrument to aid in the 

eat work of surprising the world with a new revelation. They had hit up- 

tho right man. lie mortgaged his tine farm to ]>ay for printing lh- 
ssumcd a irrave, mysterious, and unearthly d"portment, and made h : iv and 
' ere among his acquaintances solemn annunciations of the j^r-at event that 
was transpiring. His version of th> discovery, as communicated t-> li- 
the Prophet Joseph himself, is well remembered by several respertab 
/ens of Palmyra, to whom he made early disclosures. It was in sub-.; 

The Prophet Joseph, was directed by an anp,-el where to find, by excava- 
tion, at the place afterwards called Mormon Hill, the gold plates: ;md was 
compelled by the anuyl, much against his will, to be the interpr- I 

record they contained, an(J publish it to the world. That the plates 
eontained a record of the ancient inhabitants of this country. -d by 

Mormon, the son of NVphi." That on the top of the box containing the plaKs, 
i pair of large spot-rides were found, the ^ouos or glass set in which were 
. a'jue to all but the Prophet," that lt these belonged toMovm-n, the engra- 
ver of the plates, and without them, the plates could not bo read." 1 1. 
siimed, that himself and Cowdor were the chosen amanuenses, and that th 

. ..>ph"t .b>, curtained from the world and them, with his 
from the gold plates what they committed to paper. Harris exhibited to an 
iformant of the author, the manuscript title page. On it W&e drav.n. rudely 
d bunglmirly, concentric circles b.-tween above and below which were char- 
era; with Tittle resemblance to letters; apparently a miserable imitation of 
hieroglyphics, the writer may have somewhere seen. To guard against pro 

ne curiosity, the Prophet had given out that no one but him<e't; n- 
lis chosen co-operators, must be permitted to see them, -n pain of in-tant 
death. Harris had never seen the plates, but the glowing account <>f their 
i\o richness excited other than spiritual hopes, and he up--n one OCtasion, 
got a village silver-smith to help him estimate their value; taking as aj-ask 
the Prophet's account of their dimensions. It was a blending of the spiritual 
and utilitarian, that threw a shadow of doubt upon Martin's sin-eiity.^ This 
and some anticipations he indulged in, as to the profits that would arise from 
the sale of the Gold Bible, made it then, as it is now, a mooted (mention. 
whether he was altogether a dupe. 

The wife of Harris was a rank infidel and heretic, touching the whole thing, 
and decidedly opposed to her husband's participation in it. V.'ith saeriligicu- 
hands she sJi/ed over an liundr.-d of the manuscript pages of the new reve- 
lation, and biinv-d or secreted them. It- was agreed by the Smith family, 
Cpwdery and Harris, not to transeribo these again,, but to let so much of the 
;v\dati.m drop out, as the "evil spirit would g"t up a story that, the 
second translation did iv>t agree with the first.' 1 A very ingenious i; 
Mirely, of aiarding against the possibility that Mrs. Harri< had preserved the 


itation of their own ini--i 

p l'li.- Proph.-t did not -N't his h on w<-il upon the start, or the h uphold ,.f 
impostors wciv in the fault. After he had toM his M..ry, in \i\< abs-nc", the, 
rc.-t ot'th*' family made a i.. v. rersion of it to ,.ik' >f their neighbors. : 

1 him such a | may any -lay !>. picked up on tin- -dioiv of 

- : -tlio common horn blend carefully wrapped in cotton. and 
;epi in a imsierious box. Thvy said it was by looking at this stone, in a 
. *i. K ..!. 0!a .| u ,i,.d, that Joseph discovered tlu- j-latcs. This it \vill be ol>- 
uiut-is materially from .los.-j.h's story of th<- anu\-l. It was tlu- same 
stoin.' the Smiths' ha<l used in money diir 
c-ri.-s of -t"U-ii jirojiorty. 

Longln-fore the Gold ]>il-le demonstration, the Smith family had with some 
sini^tAr nl.i.'ct in view, whispered another fraud in the cars jf the credulous. 

.KI..-.I that in di^iiur for money, at Mormon Hill, tlu-y .-aj: 
, tl by two feet in si/e, covered with a dark colored stone. In the 
,,,>- of the stone was a white spot about the size of a sixpence. Knlaru:- 
iir, the spot increase* I to the size of a twenty four pound shot and then explo- 
ded with a terril.le noise. The chest vanished and all was utter darki. 

It may be satVly pr.-snmed that in no other instance have Prophets and tlu* 
cho-cn und d'-sin'iiak-d "f an^-'K b.-t-n imite as calculating and worldly as were 
- tlford street, Mormon Hill, and Palmyra. The only business con- 
tract veritable instrument in writinu', that w as ever executed by spiritual 
vnts, lias been pivs-r\ed, and should be amon^ the archives of the new 
' Ttah. It is signed by the Prophet Joseph himself, and witr. 

xlery, and secures to Martin Harris, one half of the proceeds <>f 
the sale of the Gold Bible until he was fully reimbursed in the sum of 82,500, 


The after thought that lias been alluded to ; the enlarging of original in- 
i at the suggestion of Sidney Rigdon, of Ohio, wdio ma<! 

. blendeirhimself with the poorly d.-\.ised scheme of impos- 
: time the book was issued from the press. lie unworthily bore 
ipti>t eldc-r, but had by some previous freak, if the author is 
formed, forfeited his standing with that respectable religious den>m- 
)esiirnincr ambitious and di.-honest. under the semblance of sanc- 
nel spirituality, he was just the man for the uses of the Smith 
hold and their half dupe and half designing abettors; and the } 

istruments he desired. He became at once tlio Hamlet, or more 
"priately perhaps, the Mav.worm of the play. Like the veiled Prophet 
I may be supposed thus to have soliloquised : 

"Ye too, "believers of incredible creeds, 
"NVh<.v f:;iili enshrines thu nmnstors which it breeds; 
V. '.r, event! 

Bv : - ' .!])t'd (' 

Your martvrs ready to shed out their blood 


For truths too li.ivenlv to l>c 

They sliai! 

Fur K -ivo hy 

i loti' 

"Will Ii si) 4'Ie vt>; 
While oral. u-r < 

the au-j'i-- - ' -n. a ii" 

prophecies loll thick and fast ftomthe lips .-f .1. -'ph : old M;s. S; 

i all the airs of i r < 

Smiths \\eiv -iiu'led <-u: and beca 
saki-s. The b;;l i. rlum-y 
nomaniae or a knavr. in and ar un 1 it- prim:"' h--l; it upon its 

; an I a n, likt; anot! (tliat a lit; 

uitv and plausibility in it.) it had its IK-^iia. u KirJan d; t: 

Nauvi ; tinn t> a > 4- plaeo ii ri and th.-n vi\ bv 

. cr tiie - 

. and tin::!:. . h:no ari.- Converts have; 

multiplied t> tens of thousand.-, fa several of the count tli.-re 

are preachers and organi/.--. Mormons ; bv.-lii.-\-:-s in tli-.-d-i^n mission 

of Joseph Sjiiith k Co. 

And here the subject mi : 'y 

with a M';Miiiii levity it is'b'eaii*e it will a hnit of n> 
There is n > dignity about the whol< thinir ; I ; t to mill 

iso.nt. It d :. ne f the charity 

. for knavery and fraud has been with i, i 
ivolv. It h:\sn t -\vn tliep-.tiii-niv-rit >f : 
the a^-j. Fa'iatl. :>:>_! promoted it at '' 
then the designs of <L-nvi'_;<>L!;u''s who \\i- 

itsfol; Mil finally an Am/riean t'--i. . ;.n 1 

iinpc-sUi i: by \[< acts, ai to ha\<- a Biate .[' ' -n 

in this boast*' 1 era !' light and kn .. r\ name f v.hi-.-h wiil 

emotion and dignify the fraud and fal-eliood (f M.-nnon Hill, the ^old j 
and the spurious revelation. This much, at least, might have been omitted 
out of decent respect to the moral and religious sense of thej>eople of tin 
old states. 


Township No. 11, R. 3, (now Farming on,) was the first sale of 
Phelps and Gorham. The purchasers were : Nathan Comstock, 
Benjamin Russell, Abraham Lapham, Edmund Jenks, Jeremiah 
Brown, Ephraim Fish, Nathan Ilcrendeen, Nathan Ahlrich, Ste- 
phen Smith, Benjamin Ilickenson, Williain Baker and Dr. Daniel 
Brown. The deed was given to Nathan Comstock, and Benjah, ^