Walter H. McIntosh
History of Wayne Co., N. Y.
(Philadelphis: Everts & Ensign, 1877)
[ 148 ]
"PALMYRA. * a post-township of Ontario county, fifteen miles north of Canandaigua and two hundred and twenty-three from Albany; bounded north by Ontario and Williamson, east by Lyons, south by Farmington, and west by Boyle. It comprises two townships of Phelps and Gorham's purchase, being No. 12 in the second and third ranges. The town has Mud creek running eastward through its whole length. a little south of the centre. This creek affords fine advantages for mills, and is of some little use for navigation. The soil is of a superior quality, and the settlements of a date to give much of farming ease and independence to the inhabitants. There is a large meeting of Quakers, and there is one Episcopal church, with a competent number of common-school-houses and schools. A road from Canandaigua to Sodus bay leads across the east part, and there are many other roads in various directions. The village of Palmyra has a handsome collection of houses, and is a place of considerable business. In 1810 the population amounted to two thousand one hundred and eighty-seven, with two hundred and ninety senatorial electors; and the household manufactures produced thirty-three thousand seven hundred and nineteen yards of cloth. The number of families, three hundred and fifty-five." Such is the record given by Spafford of a town old in settlement, important in its history, and celebrated as the birthplace of what is known as Mormonism.
PlONEER EVENTS.In 1750 parties from Connecticut visited the valley of Wyoming, a beautiful spot, located along the Susquehanna, in northeast Pennsylvania. It lies between two mountains, and has an extent of twenty-five miles by a width of three. A survey was made of this spot, and a map of it drawn by John Jenkins. The valley was purchased of the Six Nations in 1754, and a deed obtained by the Connecticut colony. In 1762 a body of two hundred settlers located in the valley, and these were increased at intervals by others, until in 1774 the population numbered nearly two thousand. Conflicting claims between the settlers from Connecticut and Pennsylvanians led to disputes known in history as the Pennamite war. Many of the colonists, desiring undoubted title to their lands, determined once more to emigrate and seek new homes. To them Palmyra owes her first settlement. A name deservedly prominent in this connection is that of John Swift, whose dust lies in the old grave-yard of the village of Palmyra. He was a native of Kent, Connecticut, enlisted when fifteen, and served several years. When difficulties in Pennsylvania had been settled, a company was formed, and John Swift and John Jenkins were constituted agents to make choice and purchase of land for their occupation. Jenkins, as surveyor for Phelps and Gorham, had become familiar with the country, and with Swift proceeded to Canandaigua, and contracted for township No. 12, range 2, and at once began the survey of farm lots along Mud creek. Jenkins built a cabin under the brow of the hill, on the bank of the creek, about two miles below Palmyra village. His party consisted of four men, Alpheus Harris, Solomon Earle, one Barker, and Daniel Ransom. Near the cabin was the hunting camp of a party of Tuscarora Indians, to whom provisions had on several occasions been given.
Very early one morning, while the surveyors lay asleep in their bunks and their fire smoldered low, the Indians crept up to the cabin, put their guns through between the unchincked logs, chose their marks, and fired. Barker was shot dead, Earle was wounded, and the others were unharmed. Jenkins, with a stick, and Ransom, armed with an axe, encountered their assailants so vigorously as to put them to flight. Two rifles and a hatchet were left behind. At daylight Barker was buried; and, taking Earle to Geneva, the alarm was given, and the Indians being pursued, two of them were overtaken on the Chemung.
In that rude time, the nearest jail was at Johnstown, and to attempt to take the captives thither was to incur the risk of rescue. It was determined to try them by "committee law." A court was held at Newtown, and their execution decreed. The helpless assassins were taken blindfold into the woods, and, at a signal, each was struck with a hatchet. One Indian fell dead under the blow, the other parried the stroke, and took to flight. He was overtaken, and beaten to death with stones and sticks. Such was the first trial and execution in the Genesee country, -- savage abhorrent, and yet justified by existing circumstances. Another of the Indians, who bore the name of "Turkey," was marked by a blow from Jenkins' staff: he contracted the smallpox during the war of 1812, and died in a hut near Moscow. The Indians, fearing the malady, took him to the woods and left him to die alone. Earle, recovering from his wound, became the pioneer ferryman at the Seneca outlet. The news of this attack resulted in an abandonment of the Susquehanna movement, and Swift proceeded to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, where he labored to induce emigration.
In September, 1790, John Swift moved, as the first pioneer of Palmyra, into the unbroken wilderness, and established his family in a house built of logs, covered with bark, and located at "Swift's landing," just north of the lower end of Main street in Palmyra. His wife was well calculated for frontier life, and endowed with both vigor and courage, as a single instance will show. She was engaged in preparing a meal of hasty-pudding one evening when three Indians entered, and, without ceremony, took seats around the fire, and gravely watched her proceedings. Finally, their conduct gave umbrage to Dame Swift, who caught the poker, and assailed them so lustily that they were glad to make a hasty retreat. Her act is notable, from the fact that to later arrivals, from a sense of dread of offending, she gave of food needed for the family to satisfy their importunate demands.
Initial events cluster about the name of John Swift; from 1790 to 1812 it is associated with every enterprise, monetary, political, and religious. He built the first grist-mill, in l810, opposite George Harrison's present mill. At the first town meeting he was moderator, and was chosen supervisor and pound-tender. At his log cabin he, as captain, held the first training, and, save those of Bloomfield and Canandaigua, the church formed at his house was the first west of Oneida lake. Asa Swift, his son, was the first male child born in the town. He donated lots for the first grave-yard, school-house, and church in the village of Palmyra. In the war of 1812 he was made brevet-general, and in 1814, while at Queenstown Heights, led a party to Fort George, where he captured a picket-post and some sixty men. An oversight permitted the prisoners to retain their arms, and when one of them asked, "Who is General Swift?" he answered, "1 am General Swift!" and in a moment a fatal shot was fired. Swift was taken to the nearest house, and there dying, was buried July 12, 1814. When the war ended the citizens of Palmyra exhumed his remains, and buried them in the old cemetery. As an acknowledgment of services rendered, the State legislature presented a sword to his oldest son, and ordered a full-length portrait of General Swift to be placed in the city hall, New York.
The second settler in Palmyra was Webb Harwood, from Adams, Berkshire county, Massachusetts. He moved in with his wife about the close of 1789, and, building, occupied a cabin on the rising ground near the first lock on the Erie canal west of Palmyra. With him came three single men, -- Noah Porter, Jonathan Warner, and Bennet Bates. In a census taken during the summer of 1790, the name of Webb Harwood occurs with that of David White as the only families enumerated. This fact favors the ascription of pioneer settlement to the farmer. Harwood died in 1824. A son, William, became a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and daughters married Mr. Coe and Isaac Mace. David White came in with his family in 1790. His death and funeral was first in Palmyra. Among some of those who followed Swift from Wyoming were William Jackway, John Hurlburt, Jonathan Millett, Nathan Parshall, Barney Horton, James Galloway, and Mrs. Tiffany. Lemuel Spear is given as the third settler. He was from Massachusetts, and had served as a soldier during the Revolution. Mr. Spear had purchased land of Isaac Hathaway, paying for the same twenty cents an acre, and to this tract, situated a mile above Palmyra village, he moved his family during the month of February, 1790. He came on with two yoke of oxen, some cows, and a number of sheep. He found his way by blazed trees from Vienna to his purchase, and his sled ran roughly upon little else than a track. The weather was mild and the stock fared well upon the growth of the flats, a portion of which had known Indian tillage. The family, eleven in number, passed several months
* For much of the material of the history of this town we are indebted to reminiscences from the pen of James Reeves, who, in 1870-71, published aeries of historical sketches in the Palmyra papers, based upon records in his possession.
HISTORY OF WAYNE COUNTY, NEW YORK. 149
1822. The enumeration gives the names of one hundred and fifty-five persons. Of all these only one -- William F. Jarvis -- is a member of the church to-day. The rest are dead or have removed to other localities. In the old chapel, as it was usually called, the Genesee conference held its seventeenth session during June, 1826. Bishop McKendree presiding. A camp-meeting was held at the same time in a fine grove near by. On Sabbath morning the bishop preached in this glove to a congregation of thousands. It is said that not less than ten thousand persons were on the ground during the day.
In 1847, during the pastorate of Rev. B. McLouth, the church edifice was moved to Cuyler street, enlarged and remodeled at considerable expense, and there it still stands, directly south of the Jarvis block. Here, in 1856, the East Genesee Conference held its ninth session, under the presidency of Bishop Ames. During the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Tousey, which began in the fall of 1863 and continued three years, a new church edifice was projected. Through the persistent effort of the pastor subscriptions to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars were procured, and on the 23d of July, 1866, the ground was broken for the new temple on the former site of a hotel, on the corner of Main and Church streets. On August 21 following the corner-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies, and on the 31st of October, 1867, during the pastorate of Rev. C. S. Fox, the completed edifice was dedicated to the service of Almighty God; six thousand dollars being raised on that day to remove all indebtedness. The church is of brick, with trimmings of cut stone. It consists of a main edifice, eighty-five feet by fifty-two, with a wing sixty-nine feet by thirty-four. The principal spire has an altitude of one hundred and fifty feet. The auditorium has sittings for more than six hundred persons. The wing contains a lecture-room, two, class-rooms, and a kitchen. The roof and spire are slated. The auditorium and other rooms are frescoed. The entire cost, including the site, was thirty thousand dollars. In October, 1872, the Central New York Conference held its fifth session in the new church, under the presidency of Bishop Peck. The church is now within the bounds of the Genesee Conference and the Geneva district. The present membership is three hundred. There is a Sunday-school connected with the church, which consists of twenty-four officers and teachers and one hundred and seventy-five scholars. The superintendent is George R. Farnham. The pastors who have officiated in the new church are named as follows: C. S. Fox, Robert Hogoboom, I. H. Kellogg, John Alabaster, J. P. Farmer, B. H. Brown, and the present pastor, C. W. Winchester. The church is in a harmonious and flourishing condition, free from debt, -- a potent agency for human welfare.
ST. ANN'S CONGREGATION (CATHOLIC)was organized about 1849 by Rev. Edmund O'Connor, pastor of St. Mary's, Canandaigua. He paid occasional visits and said mass in Williamson's Hall. The Catholics were few in number, and were emigrants from Ireland. Gradually numbers increased, and the congregation is now about nine hundred and twenty in all. Of children attending Sunday-school there are about seventy.
In 1848 or 1849, Rev. E. O'Connor purchased from William Aldrich the old brick academy, situated on Church street, and converted it into a Catholic church. It was in use as such till 1860, when the present brick church, sixty by forty feet, was erected upon the adjacent lot, and the old structure taken down. In July, 1850, Rev. John Twohay was appointed resident pastor by Right Rev. John Timon, bishop of Buffalo. The appointment extended to Lyons, New York, Fairport, Newark, and the country surrounding. He was succeeded by Rev. Michael Gilbride, who was pastor from November, 1852, till January 30, 1854. Next came Father James Donelly, and remained till July 20 of the same year. Rev. Thomas Walsh succeeded, and served till July 22, 1855.
The present incumbent, Rev. William Casey, was appointed pastor on August 1, 1855, and has therefore been pastor over twenty years. To his promptitude and energy is owing the rapid and durable progress of his church; he is an assiduous and faithful pastor. He commenced the frame church in Victor, purchased the lot in Ontario, on which the new church has been built, and during his pastorate built the churches at Fairport and Macedon, and at the last-named occasionally gives his services.
The corner-stone of the new St. Ann's was laid on the 26th of July (St. Ann's day), 1864. It was consecrated and laid by very Rev. Michael O'Brian, vicar-general of the diocese of Buffalo, and then pastor of St. Patrick's, Rochester. He was assisted by the pastor and several neighboring priests.
The Rev. Edward Quigley preached on that occasion. In February, 1861, the house was blessed by Bishop Timon, and although not finished, began to be used for divine service. Completed in 1870, a new altar was erected, new pews built, and the church frescoed. On October 23, 1870, the house was dedicated by Right Rev. Barnard J. M. McQuaid.
In September, 1856, Father Casey purchased from George G. Jessup, Esq., for [two] thousand dollars, the two lots, with house and barn, south of the old church. The house has twice been remodeled. It was built as at present in 1873, at a cost of three thousand dollars, by George Williams, builder. In 1868 the pastor purchased from Carlton H. Rogers, Esq., three and a quarter acres of land southeast of village cemetery. He had it laid out and consecrated for a Catholic cemetery. The church property is worth about fifteen thousand dollars, free from incumbrance. It is anticipated at no distant day to enlarge and beautify the church.
"OLD GIBBS," THE SEXTON.The character which is frequently more interesting or instructive dies with the man. To rescue one of these from forgetfulness we allude to Old Gibbs, who was for many years sexton and grave-digger to the Presbyterian church. Having never been naturalized, he took the law in the natural way, and what he conceived to be right was law for him The pastor's daughters, thinking to escape the eye of their father, took seats in the gallery of the old meeting-house on the hill, where they indulged freely in their pranks. Gibbs bore it patiently for some time. One day it became unbearable: he walked quietly behind one of the young ladies, placed his hands under her arms, and brought her over the bench in a twinkling, so swiftly the preacher did not observe it, and the culprit dared not complain. A young lady was in the habit of going to meeting in the evening, to have some fun; she sat on the back seat, in the long room, under the church. Gibbs had his eye on her. He had this advantage: when you thought he was looking at you, he was looking the other way; and when he looked the other way he was sure to be looking at you. Gibbs took her by the arm to lead her out; she resisted; a scuffle ensued, but Gibbs conquered. The minister thought some one had fainted, and the meeting went on. Not so young America; they called a meeting after service, and voted to lynch the old man the first time he ventured out of all evening. Gibbs took the alarm, and was sure to be at home before sundown, for some time. A very good man died whose praise was in all the churches. It was proposed to erect a stone to his memory, by subscription. Gibbs was to circulate the paper. He offered it to a wealthy man and recent convert, who declined, saying, " We all had a stone in our hearts to that good man." "Yes," said Gibbs, "and you have had it there .so long that your heart has become stone too, and for this reason I want to transplant it to its proper place." He was constant in his attendance at meeting, but seldom spoke. On one occasion he rose and said, ''Brethren, I don't want to take much time, but my pork-barrel is very low," and sat down. He was fond of drawing illustrations from his occupation. In summer he was the gardener of Palmyra village. At a meeting one June evening he rose and said, "This church reminds me of cowcumbers at a season of revival; like the plant, in June you grow and flourish, but when the wind gets into the north you are all dead." About this time he was seen ringing the bell at the Episcopal church. "How is this?" said one. "Oh," said he, "like the ministers, I have had a louder call over the way." He often enumerated the numbers he had buried, and the whole families he had laid side by side in his vocation. His serio-ludicro face, on these occasions, none but a Scott or a Dickens could delineate. The last time I saw him he was leaning on his spade in the grave-yard, with one eye upon earth and the other upon heaven, discoursing the ingratitude of corporations. "I have asked," said he, "for a little spot that I could prepare and beautify with my own hands for this poor body, with some humble stone and unique inscription, to tell the stranger that in twenty-five years these hands have gathered in nearly three hundred bodies, and it was not granted." Soon after he made his way to Buffalo. In his destitution he called on a humane lady who had known him in Palmyra, rehearsed the story of his labors, his poverty, and his grief. She give him money to take him to a neighboring county In a few months all that remained of Old Gibbs was deposited in the potter's field, unwept and unhonored. We shall never see his like again.
MORMONISM AND ITS FOUNDERMormonism had its origin with the family of Joseph Smith, Sr., who came in the summer of 1816, from Royalton, Vermont, and settled in the village of Palmyra. The family consisted of nine children, viz.: Alvin, Hiram, Sophronia, Joseph, Samuel H., William, Catharine, Carlos, and Lucy. Arrived at Palmyra the elder Smith opened a "cake and beer shop," as his sign indicated, and the profits of the shop, combined with occasional earnings by himself and eldest sons at harvesting, well-digging, and other common employments, enabled him to provide an honest living for the family. The shop, with its confectionery, gingerbread, root-beer, and such articles, was well patronized by the village and country youth, and on public occasions did a lively business. A hand-cart, fashioned by Joseph Smith, Sr., was employed to peddle his wares through the streets. For two and a half years the family resided in the village, and in 1818 settled upon a wild tract of land located about two miles south of Palmyra. Anticipating a removal hither, a small log house had been built, and in this they made their home for a dozen years. The cabin contained two rooms on the ground floor, and
150 HISTORY OF WAYNE COUNTY, NEW YORK. 149a garret had two divisions. Some time after occupation a wing was built of slabs for a sleeping-apartment.
The land thus settled was owned by non-resident minor heirs, who had no local agent to look after it; hence the squatters were not disturbed. Mr. Smith finally contracted for the land, made a small payment, and occupied the tract till 1829, when the new religion was ushered into existence. The family were an exception to Vermonters, and did little to improve their state or clear the land. A short time before leaving the farm they erected the frame of a small house and partially inclosed it, and here they lived in the unfinished building till they took their departure. The old cabin was put to use as a barn. The Smiths left in 1831, and that once wild tract, the abode of the squatter family, is now a well-organized farm located on Stafford street, running south of the village. The Smiths obtained a livelihood from this lot by the sale of cordwood, baskets, birch-brooms, maple sugar, and syrup, and on public days resumed the cake and beer business in Palmyra. Much the larger portion of the time of the Smiths was employed in hunting, trapping muskrats, fishing, and lounging at the village. Joseph Jr., was active in catching woodchucks, but practically ignored work.
Nocturnal depredations occurred among neighbors, and suspicion rested upon the family, but no proof of their being implicated has been adduced. "A shiftless set" was an appropriate designation to the Smiths, and Joseph, Jr., was the worst of the lot. During his minority he is recalled as indolent and mendacious. In appearance dull-eyed, tow-haired, and of shiftless manner. Taciturn unless addressed, he was not believed when he did speak. He was given to mischief and mysterious pretense, was good-natured, and was never known to laugh. Having learned to read, the lives of criminals engrossed his attention, till from study of the Bible he became familiar with portions of the Scripture, and especially found interest in revelation and prophecy. Revivals occurred, and Smith joined a class of probationers in the Methodist church of Palmyra, but soon withdrew.
In September, 1819, the elder Smith and his sons Alvin and Hiram, in digging a well near Palmyra, threw up a stone of vitreous though opaque appearance, and in form like an infant's foot. This stone was secured by Joseph, and turned to account as a revelator of present and future. In the role of fortune-teller, small amounts were received from the credulous, and the impostor was encouraged to enlarge his field by asserting a vision of gold and silver buried in iron chests in the vicinity. The stone was finally placed in his hat to shade its marvelous brightness when its services were required. Persisting in his assertions, there were those who in the spring of 1820 contributed to defray the expenses of digging for the buried treasure. At midnight, dupes, laborers, and himself, with lanterns, repaired to the hill-side near the house of Smith, where, following mystic ceremony, digging began by signal in enjoined silence. Two hours elapsed, when, just as the money-box was about to be unearthed, some one spoke and the treasure vanished. This was the explanation of the failure, and it was sufficient for the party. The deception was repeated from time to time in the interval between 1820 and 1827, and, despite the illusory searches for money, he obtained contributions which went towards the maintenance of the family.
A single instance illustrated the mode of procedure at a search for money. Assuming to see where treasure lay entombed, Smith asserted that a "black sheep" was necessary, as an offering upon the ground, before the work of digging could begin. William Stafford, a farmer, had a fat black wether, and agreed to furnish the sacrifice in consideration of an equitable division of the results of the venture. The party repaired with lanterns at the appointed hour of the night to the chosen spot; Smith traced a circle, within which the wether was placed and his throat cut; the blood saturated the ground, and silently and solemnly, but with vigor, excavation began. Three hours of futile labor ensued, when it was discovered that the elder Smith, assisted by a son, had taken away the sheep and laid in a stock of mutton for family use. Such were the foolish and worse than puerile acts which served as a prelude to the crowning act in the life of Joseph Smith, -- the inauguration of Mormonism.
In the summer of 1827 a stranger appeared, and made frequent visits at the Smith cabin. Smith announced a vision wherein an angel had appeared and promised the revelation of a true and full gospel, which should supersede all others. Again the angel appeared to Smith, and revealed "That the American Indians were a remnant of the Israelites, who, after coming to this country, had their prophets and inspired writings; that such of their writings as had not been destroyed were safely deposited in a certain place made known to him, and to him only; that they contained revelations in regard to the last days; and that, if he remained faithful, he would be the chosen prophet to translate them to the world."
Fall came, and Smith assumed the role of a prophet. He told his family, friends, and believers, that upon a fixed day he was to proceed alone to a spot designated by an angel, and there withdraw from the earth a metallic book of great antiquity, -- in short, a hieroglyphic record of the lost tribes and original inhabitants of America. This mystic volume Smith alone could translate, and power was given him as the Divine agent. The expectant revelation was duly advertised, when the prophet, with spade and napkin, repaired to the forest, and at the end of some three hours returned with some object encased in the napkin. The first depository of the sacred plates was under the heavy hearthstone of the Smith cabin. Willard Chase, a carpenter and joiner, was solicited to make a strong chest wherein to keep the golden book in security, but no payment being anticipated, the interview was fruitless. Later a chest was procured, and kept in the garret. Here Smith consulted the volume upon which no other could look and live. William T. Hussy and Ashley Vanduzer, intimates of Smith, resolved to see the book, and were permitted to observe its shape and size under a piece of canvas. Smith refused to uncover it, and Hussey, seizing it, stripped off the cover, and found -- a tile-brick. Smith claimed to have sold his visitors by a trick, and treating them to liquor, the matter ended amicably. A huge pair of spectacles were asserted to have been found with the book, and these were the agency by which translation was to be effected. A revelation of a Golden Bible, or Book of Mormon, was announced, and the locality whence the book was claimed to have been taken has since been known, as "Mormon Hill," and is located in the town of Manchester. Smith described the book "as consisting of metallic leaves or plates resembling gold, bound together in a volume by three rings running through one edge of them, the leaves opening like an ordinary paper book." Translation began, and the result was shown to ministers and men of education. The "Nephites" and "Lamanites" were outlined as the progenitors of the American aborigines. The Bible was evidently the basis of the work, and portions of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Matthew were almost bodily employed. Smith, being unable to write, sat behind a blanket and evidently read to his scribe, whose name was Oliver Cowdery, who had been a schoolmaster, and wrote at dictation. It was desirable to get this manuscript into print. George Crane, of Macedon, a Quaker, and a man of intelligence, was shown several quires of the "translations." His opinion was asked and his aid solicited. Mr. Crane advised Smith to give up his scheme, or ruin would result to him, and as is well known, the Friend spoke prophetically.
Followers may be obtained for any creed. He formed an organization denominated "Latter-Day Saints." They are enumerated as Oliver Cowdery, Samuel Lawrence, Martin Harris, Preserved Harris, Peter Ingersoll, Charles Ford, George and Dolly Proper, of Palmyra, Ziba Peterson, Calvin Stoddard and wife Sophronia, of Macedon, Ezra Thayer, of Brighton, Leeman Walters, of Pultneyville, Hiram Page of Fayette, David Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, as well as Christian, John, and Peter, Jr., of Phelps, Simeon Nichols, of Farmington, William, Joshua, and Gad Stafford, David and Abram Fish, Robert Orr, K. H. Quance, John Morgan, Orrin and Caroline Rockwell, Mrs. S. Risley, and the Smith family. A man named Parley P. Pratt, from Ohio, stepped off a canal-boat at Palmyra, and joined the organization. Martin Harris desired the new book printed, and avowed to his wife his intention of incurring the expense. She knew that the result would be a loss of the farm, and while her husband slept secured and burnt the manuscript. The burning she kept secret, and Smith and Harris, fearing that they might be produced, dared not rewrite the manuscript. Again translation was effected, this time within a cave dug in the east side of the forest hill, and guarded by one or more disciples. In June, 1829, Smith, accompanied by his brother Hiram, Cowdery, and Harris, called on Egbert B. Grandin, publisher of the Wayne Sentinel, at Palmyra, and inquired the cost of an edition of three thousand copies. An estimate was furnished, but publication refused. An application to Thurlow Weed, of the Anti-Masonic Inquirer, at Rochester, met a like rebuff, and Harris was advised "not to beggar his family." Elihu F. Marshall, a book publisher of Rochester, gave terms. Mr. Grandin was again visited, and a contract was made whereby for three thousand dollars five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon were printed, bound, and delivered in the summer of 1830. Harris gave bond and mortgage in security for payment. John H. Gilbert did the type-setting and press-work, and retained a copy of the book in the original sheets. Harris and his wife separated. She received eighty acres of land, and occupied her property in comfort till her death. The mortgaged farm was sold in 1831. It is land located a mile and a half north of Palmyra. Anticipating profits from the sale of the work, Smith obtained cloth for a suit of clothing from the store of David S. Aldrich, of Palmyra, and in November, 1829, went to northern Pennsylvania, where he was married by Sidney Rigdon, after the Mormon ritual, to a daughter of Isaac Hale.
In June, 1830 the organization took place. Smith read and expounded some passages of the new bible, and then installed his father as "Patriarch and President of the Church of Latter-Day Saints," while Harris and Cowdery were invested with limited authority. Baptism was administered by Smith to Cowdery, and Harris' and other baptisms were conducted by Cowdery. The pool where the rite was celebrated was formed by obstructing a brook near the place of assembly. Smith was not baptized, he averring that brother Rigdon had performed the ceremony in Pennsylvania.
HISTORY OF WAYNE COUNTY, NEW YORK. 151
A few days elapsed, and a party of about a dozen went to Fayette, and similar observances, in the presence of a congregation of about thirty persons, followed. Sidney Rigdon, a renegade Baptist clergyman, resident in Ohio, had so far kept in the background. He now came to Palmyra as the first regular Mormon preacher. All the churches were closed to him, but the hall of the Palmyra Young Men's Association was opened, and a small audience assembled to hear the first discourse. The attempt was never repeated by Rigdon or any other of his creed in Palmyra. In the summer of 1830, the Mormon founders removed to Kirtland, Ohio, and from Rigdon's former congregation increased their number, till over one hundred persons had embraced Mormonism. The imposture was now under headway, and the "prophet" and his followers had departed from western New York, and with them we have done. It remains to account for the production of the book of Mormon, which, however heterogeneous, has nevertheless evidence of scholastic ability in the design. Its authorship is attributed to Rev. Solomon Spaulding, who in 1809, having graduated from college, settled in Cherry valley, and thence removed to Ohio. The region in which he settled abounded in ancient mounds, of whose builders no knowledge is existing. Mr. Spaulding beguiled his hours in a fanciful sketch of their origin, and the race which then existed. The work was entitled, "The Manuscript Found," and was completed in 1812. The manuscript was sent to a Mr. Patterson, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the idea of joint publication. It was not printed, and in 1816 was reclaimed by the author, who died in 1827, at Amity, New York. The manuscript was "missed or stolen" from the widow, and the "Book of Mormon" came into notice. It is believed that Sidney Rigdon, a printer at work for Patterson, had copied the manuscript and brought it into Smith's possession.
From the plot of shrewd, unprincipled men a creed has gone out whose disciples grew strong by persecution, crossed the great plains to Salt Lake, and then founded a community which enrolled its thousands of followers, and set at defiance moral law and national authority. Foreign converts, halting from the train at Palmyra, gaze upon Mormon Hill with open-mouthed awe, and wonder as the pilgrims at an eastern shrine, and the pioneers, who knew the Smiths and their deception, look on in pity and contempt. They depart and join the "saints," -- now in their evil days -- the period of their dissolution.