Mormonism: The Big Con? The Series (So Far)

pt 1: Joe & the Magic Hat Stone

Before I get into Mormons, or as it informally calls itself, the LDS Church, I better restate my “I used to be one of them critters” disclaimer.

Yes folks, I was a “saint”! A latter day saint, to be specific. That’s what the LDS stands for. The church’s full name is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

However, I grew up and now I’m an ex-Saint. A practicing Mormon might call me a “Jack Mormon”, but I prefer to think of myself as a “fallen angel”.

The following is a history of the early Mormon Church (complete with snarks). Believe it or not, almost all my source material comes from them. However, this is not the stuff they taught me back in my 4 years in seminary. Some of this is stuff they didn’t want to talk about at all!

But to be fair (for a change) the rise of Mormonism needs to be placed in context. I highly recommend you read “The Religious Wrong (pt 3: The Great(?) Awakening)” first. Better yet, since the context needs context, start with pt 1 and work your way back here. They’re fun reads, unless of course, you’re a “fundy” or a “bagger”. Then…..not so much.

Also, this post is not a slam on some of my good Mormon brethren & sisteren. (Is that a word?) As with all “religions” there are members who earnestly try to make this a better world. Unfortunately, as with all “religions” this one has its share of bigots and assholes as well. Although, lately they’ve lightened up a bit on blacks and transferred their hate to the LGBT community. (However, they do LOVE American Indians!)

Any excuse for a little “Satchmo”!

Mormon Chronology

Joseph Smith  (1805-1844)

Joseph Smith (1805-1844)


(12/23/1805) Joseph Smith Jr. is born in Sharon Vermont.

The Smith family is rather itinerant, due to various failed business and farming ventures. In the warm weather, Joe Sr. and the older brothers (Hyrum & Alvin) like to go treasure hunting. (Which just might be part of the reason for those failures.)

Unfortunately, they don’t have any maps with “X” marking the spot. However, they do have divination tools. Among those tools are seer stones. Now, in order to get that “special sight” the stones are supposed convey, they have to be viewed in the bottom of a hat. (I shit you not!)

After three crop failures in a row, the Smith family moves to Palmyra, New York. (1816) Palmyra is right in the middle of the “Burned-Over District“, a hotbed of evangelical fervor. (Or fever, if you prefer.)

The 1st Vision

1st Vision Joe Jr. supposedly is confused with all the different religions with their conflicting “truths”, so he decides to take a walk in the woods to sort it out. Smith tells several different versions about when it happens. In one, he claims he was 14. (1819) Another time he was 16. (1821) Another time he split the difference. (1820)

According to the stories, he witnesses a pillar of light (a sunbeam?) descending from the sky and out pops Big Daddy and J.C.. (Hmmm, I wonder what kind of mushrooms were in season?)

They proceed to inform him that all the religions have drifted from “THE TRUTH”, and are essentially various piles of crap and stay away from them. Later, when he tells a local minister what Big Daddy said, for some reason the minister takes umbrage. (I can’t imagine why.)

(Fair warning: I may be an atheist, but I LOVE good gospel music.)

Now, here’s the part that floors me. To explain, I’ll resort to one of my infamous “Grouchy Scenarios”:

For this one, you’re Joe Jr.. You’ve just had a close encounter of the third kind with God and Jesus. Not only that, but they went out of their way to come down and talk to you personally. Do you: 1) drop everything and devote your life and all your energies to these guys; or 2) go on pretty much as if nothing had happened?

Jr. chooses door #2!

He tells his family, the minister and a few others (who basically laugh at him). Other than that, every thing goes on as normal. He continues farming with the family and going treasure hunting with daddy’s stones. In fact, he doesn’t come up with a detailed description of the event until 1838. (Kinda makes you wonder…..)

But, here’s the kicker: Not only did several family members subsequently join the Presbyterian Church, Joe Jr. applied with the Methodists in 1828.

(9/21/1823) Joe Jr. gets a night-time visit from an “angel” named Moroni. Btw, Mormon angels don’t have wings. I guess they teleport or something. (Maybe they borrow floo powder or a portkey from Harry.) Little Golden BookMoroni tells him that there’s a book written on “Golden Plates” that are buried on Cumorah Hill, conveniently located just a short hike south.

The next day, Jr. digs up the plates. but Moroni tells him he can’t have them for four years. Not only that, but he has to show up every year on this date for further instructions.

A couple of years later (1825) Jr. & Sr. Smith go treasure hunting in Harmony PA. They never find any treasure, but Jr. finds Emma Hale.

(3/1826) The local fuzz bust Jr. for fraudulent use of seer stones.He’s arrested, jailed, and examined in court in Bainbridge, New York on the charge of being “a disorderly person and an impostor” (Can you say “scam artist”?) in connection with his use of a seer stone to search for buried treasure. The evidence indicates he’s found guilty but he’s apparently released on the condition that he leave the area. Quinn, pp. 44ff.; and H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record (Salt Lake City: Smith Research Associates, 1994), pp. 70ff.

This event goes on right in the middle of the time Jr. is receiving “heavenly instructions” on how to con, excuse me, “save” the world.

The church used to deny this ever happened. Even going so far as to say: “if this court record is authentic, it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.” Hugh W. Nibley, The Myth Makers (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1961), p. 142.

In 1971, the original court records were found. And, they were authentic!

(1/18/1827) Two years after they meet, Jr. & Emma elope to get married. (Emma’s daddy doesn’t much care for Jr. and Big Daddy must be a mite pissed at Jr. as well, their first three children die on the day they are born.) Emma is to play a major role in the early church, and another role after her husband dies. More on those down the timeline.

(10/22/1827) Joe finally gets his hands on the “golden plates”, (Now that he’s married, I’ll drop the Jr. but I think I know him well enough to call him Joe.) but is told he can’t show them to anyone. (Always a convenient excuse.) He does show his mother a pair of specs with gemstones for lenses. The stones are to be used to translate the plates, since the plates are written in “Reformed Egyptian”. Unfortunately, no other examples of this language have ever been found (or even heard of).

The gemstones, believe it or not, (and, I don’t) are the Urim & Thummim of Old Testament fame. They pop up several times: Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65 & Deuteronomy 33:8 with Urim doing a solo in Numbers 27:21 & 1 Samuel 28:6. They were usually associated with the High Priest’s breastplate. Priestly Garments

(12/1827) Rumors of a Golden Bible started getting around the neighborhood and Joe & Emma decide to split before someone comes looking for it. A neighbor (Martin Harris) gives them some money and they hightail it back to Harmony with the plates, as the story goes, hidden in a barrel of beans. (I’ll refrain from any “spill the beans” jokes, although it’s extremely tempting.)

The Magic Translation

Safely ensconced in a small house on Emma’s daddy’s property, the work commences. Joe “translates” the plates, with Emma writing down his translation.

And, this is where it gets a smidgin confusing to yours truly. Allow me to elucidate:

Joe has the plates and the U&T specs. Logically, one would assume that Joe would put on the specs, look through the U&T lenses at the plates and commence to translate.


Remember back early in this saga, when I mentioned the use of a hat to get that “special sight”? Well, that’s the way he translates the plates. Instead of looking at them, he translates them by looking into his hat.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s how Emma describes the scene to one of her sons (Joe III): In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.” History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1951. Last Testimony of Sister Emma, 3:356Working the Stones(In other words, he pulls “The Book of Mormon” out of his hat!)

Also, in a bit of foreshadowing, you might notice something interesting about that reference source. R you up to figuring it out? If not, we’ll get reorganized in a few episodes.

As for the plates themselves, they weren’t even in the room. According to Emma’s daddy, “The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with a stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods.”. Affidavit of Isaac Hale dated March 20, 1834, cited in Rodger I. Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), pp. 126-128.

You’ll notice in both accounts, there’s no mention of the “gemstone specs”. They both refer to a singular stone in the bottom of his hat. I wonder if this the same stone, or its brother, that got him busted back in ’26?

The Lost “Book of Lehi”

Martin Harris (1783-1875)

Martin Harris (1783-1875)

(4/1828) Martin Harris travels to Harmony and takes over writing Joe’s translation dictation. Marty is ……….oh …… what’s the polite word?……oh yeah. “Interesting”. An impolite description would sound something like “A bit of a loon.” (Multiple examples forthcoming.)

Marty sort of cleans up the single stone/U&T specs confusion by saying that the stone isn’t the Urim or the Thummin, It’s just Joe’s old “seer stone”.

Over the next couple of months they write “The Book of Lehi”, 116 pages in total. This is to be the first book in the BoM. At this point, Marty takes the 116 pages back to Palmyra to show his wife what he’s up to.

And…..he….”LOSES” THEM!

Two month’s translation effort of holy(?) words, and they’re not important enough to keep track of? Or even to make a back-up copy????

After a couple of months, Joe wonders what the hell happened to Marty. He heads back to Palmyra to find out.

He finds out!

He also finds out Big Daddy ain’t too tickled with the situation. BD teleports one of his angels to take back the plates. (Not to worry, fairy tale fans, it’s only temporary.)

(10/22/1828) Joe gets the plates back.

So at this point it should be a simple matter just to retranslate the missing pages and press on with the rest of the translation.


Evidently not! There are a couple of problems here: One’s real and one’s not-so-real. And, of course, the not-so-real problem is the one the church hides behind.

Before I tackle those, let me step out of the narrative for a moment.

This situation exposes one aspect of a much larger question: Where did the BoM really come from? In researching these posts, I’ve run across some solid arguments, with some rather persuasive evidence, that it has a less than holy origin.

My problem as a blogger, is that I am a blogger, and not a book writer. And, to really explore this particular question in-depth is going to take something more book length than blog length. Characters like Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery (whom you’re about to meet) figure into it along with some published and non-published books that were written prior to 1828. And then there’s related issues like “The Book of Abraham”. “The Kinderhook Plates” and the “Greek Psalter Incident”.

So, instead of exploring all of these in depth as I’d like to, I’m going to provide links to my information sources as I go along, and you can investigate at your pleasure.

Ok, back to the narrative!

First, let’s tackle the “not-so-real” problem that the church likes so much:

According to the church, this episode is Satan’s plan to trap Joe and destroy the church before it even gets started. They know this, because that’s what Big Daddy told Joe. (Or, at least that’s what Joe says BD told him.)

BD said that wicked men had altered the manuscript . So, if Joe retranslates the lost pages, they will claim he’s a phony because he can’t duplicate the original.

There’s one HUGE problem with this cop-out: Martin Harris wrote down the translation in ink on foolscap. Any changes would be immediately noticeable, and if they rewrote the 116 pages, it would be pretty easy to spot as a forgery since it wouldn’t have been in Marty’s handwriting.

Now, the real problem:

Lucy Harris (1792-1836)

Lucy Harris (1792-1836)

Marty probably didn’t really lose the 116 pages. The evidence seems to suggest that his wife Lucy purloined them. (For you baggers reading this, purloined means stole.) Most researchers agree that she probably promptly burns them.

But Joe just can’t take the chance of them being gone forever. In Joe’s mind, the “wicked men” are Lucy. Lucy can’t stand her husband’s “Mormonite” friends, as she calls them. She thinks they’re frauds and phonies. And, it’s Lucy that’s setting a trap.

However, keep in mind that it’s only a trap if the whole thing is a scam, since any alteration or rewriting of the original would be immediately noticed.

Fortunately, BD knew thousands of years ago that this was going to happen. He had one of his profits prophets write a whole second book that covered the same things the “Book of Lehi” covered, only in different words and not quite the detail.

Viola! Problem solved. No way to compare texts. No way to prove Joe lied through his hat.

Oliver Cowdery (1806-1850)

Oliver Cowdery (1806-1850)

(4/5/1829) Oliver Cowdery comes to Harmony and takes up Harris’ old job as secretary. Ollie tells Joe that he’s already seen the plates in a “vision” aka “state of altered consciousness”. (Carlos Castaneda would be so proud.) And, it turns out that Ollie, like his cousin Joe, is a treasure hunter. Ollie even has his own divining rod.

Ollie’s description of the translation process doesn’t mention the hat, but the U&T is back and being used. (Probably just needed a little “spiritual refurbishment”.)

To further confuse the confusion, after 1833 the gemstones (the U&T) are somehow integrated into the hat stone, so that now, there’s just the one stone. Which, the church says, is safely tucked away. In other words, if they really, really wanted to prove the authenticity of the magic stone’s translation ability, they could do it? (Hmmmm.)

The Return of the Holy Ghosts

(5/15/1829) Joe & Ollie head out to the woods to pray and John the Baptist shows up. (Must be mushroom season again.) Big John confers the Aaronic priesthood on them. He tells them that the Melchizedek priesthood will also be making a comeback, but not quite yet.

In fact, no one knows when the Melchizedek priesthood comes back. Joe never tells anyone how or when it happens.

LDS theologians think it happened sometime before the church was established a few months later, since part of the initial church organization included “Elders”, and Elder is the lowest rank of the Melchizedek. Other than that tidbit, they don’t have a clue.

The Melchizedek is considered the senior priesthood, with the Aaronic being the junior. Nowadays, the Aaronic is primarily for male teenagers. (Went up through the ranks myself.) Back when I was a Mormon, it was for WHITE male teenagers. At 19, you graduate to Elder.

Big John also tells them that Joe will be the 1st Elder of the Church and Ollie the 2nd. Joe & Ollie then proceed to baptize each other in the Susquehanna. (I’m not quite sure why Big John doesn’t do the honors. After all, he’s the pro.)

A bit later, Joe & Ollie are praying in the woods, and who drops by to chat? Peter, Paul & Mary! (Oops, sorry ’bout that!) I mean Peter, James & John. Still, all-in-all, some pretty heavy hitters. (Damn! I have got to find out what type of mushrooms are native to the area.)

(6/1829) The translation’s finished, and Joe gets a copyright for The Book of Mormon.

Next episode, things start rolling. There’s some “witnessing”. We meet most of the early players. The book is printed. The church is organized. The fun begins.

Until then, take care.


p.s. There are 14 varieties of “magic mushrooms” that grow in New York state.

p.p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did. It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).

pt 2: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Church We Go

Mormon ChronologyCONTINUED

When last we left Joe, Ollie, Marty and the various “Holy Ghosts”, Joe had just finished “translating” the Book of Mormon and had gotten it copyrighted. (I guess they didn’t check for plagiarism.)

However, when it comes to having the BoM printed, there’s a slight problem. Printing books costs money and Joe’s previous scams haven’t been too financially successful, so he doesn’t have the loot to do it.

Fortunately. “God” comes to the rescue. Seems Big Daddy has a talk with Joe and tells him that Marty will suffer “GOD’S PUNISHMENT” if he doesn’t pony up the Benjamins to print the book. Doctrine & Covenants Section 1986fad446-c7a9-442e-9347-0c2d06f8060c_oA few quick thoughts on the matter:

  1. Why is Big Daddy always broke? Hell, he can create gold by farting a certain way. Why does he always want ours? He can’t spend it. Maybe he eats it. Who knows?
  2. Isn’t it handy to be the only one B.D. chats up? I mean, who’s to say what you say isn’t what he said? A touch more on that later.
  3. I always thought extortion fell under the “sin” category. However, as we shall learn over the remaining posts, a sin isn’t a sin if Big D or his “prophet” commit it. And, laws aren’t laws unless Big Daddy and Joe approve of them.

(8/1829) Marty gives Joe $3,000 (A little shy of $64,000 in todays moolah.) to cover publishing costs of the BoM. To raise the money, Marty has to mortgage part of his farm, which is repossessed when he can’t pay it off. (So, Marty does what Big D demands, and Big D rewards him by having him lose part of his farm. What an asshole! This isn’t the last time B.D. screws someone for doing what he commands. We’ll run across multiple examples over the ensuing years.)

Before we get to more of the “latter-day” fun stuff, lets take a quick gander at the BoM.

It’s reputed to be the saga of various bands of Israelis that sailed boats (In one case, a submarine) from the Middle East, all the way to South America. It then traces the history of their descendants (aka “First Nations”, “Native Americans” or “Indians”).

Unfortunately, there are more than a few glaring errors in the narrative:

  1. First of all, it is not backed up by DNA evidence which clearly shows a direct descent from Eastern Asians, not Semitic Asians. FAIL!
  2. The BoM says that the descendents had chariots. FAIL! The wheel was unknown in the Western Hemisphere.
  3. The BoM’s 2nd Book of Nephi, which was supposedly written around 590 BCE, uses the word “Bible“. FAIL! There was no “Bible” in 590 BCE. The Pentateuch had barely been written around 621 BCE, but the Bible was still just a gleam in Big Daddy’s eyes.
  4. Ether 9:31-33 tells the tale of cattle-herding snakes. FAIL!
  5. The BoM claims horses were used as “beasts of burden”. FAIL! There were no horses in Pre-Columbian America, and hadn’t been since the Pleistocene Era.



  6. Speaking of non-existent animals, Ether 9:19 says elephants were also used. FAIL! There never were elephants in America. There had been mammoths and mastodons, but they’d been extinct for about 6,000 years.
  7. The BoM also mentions domestic cattle. FAIL! Not in the new world. (This is getting monotonous.)
  8. The BoM details fighting with steel swords. FAIL! There were no metal weapons of any kind used in the
  9. The BoM says dark skin is a “loathsome” curse, because either you or one of your ancestors screwed up. However, righteous living will cause your skin to become white and “delightsome.” FAIL! FAIL! (and one more for good measure) FAIL!
  10. There are a lot more problems, inaccuracies, inconsistencies and downright lies, but I think you’ve got a handle on the situation.

There has been speculation that Joe “translated” the BoM for other than altruistic reasons. One reason for the speculation might be because he tried to sell the rights to the book, right after it was published. (However, nobody was buying his story.)

Can I get a witness?

(6/28/1829) Joe, Ollie, Marty and David Whitmer retire to the woods. (Them mushrooms ain’t gonna harvest themselves.) While there, they’re visited by another angel and he has the plates with him. I guess Joe had already given them back.

Afterwards, they all sign a statement titled “Testimony of Three Witnesses” which is conveniently located at the beginning of every BoM.

(7/2/1829) Eight more people: Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joe Sr., Hyrum Smith, & Samuel Smith “witness” the plates. All eight are members of the Smith or Whitmer families. Page is a Whitmer Bro-in-law.

Mary Whitmer claims Moroni shows her the plates as well, but she’s just a woman, so I guess she doesn’t count. Mrs Joe claims she felt the plates through a cloth, although she never exactly saw them. (Seems she didn’t peek in the bean barrel. No Pandora, she.)

Unfortunately, a few problems with all this “witnessing” keep popping up.

For starters, if you’ve read the “Tot3W”, you’ll notice that it seems to insinuate that the plates were seen, but it really doesn’t say how they were seen. (Don’t laugh, this becomes important.) There are an incredible number of “weasel words” in there that allow you to draw whatever conclusion is convenient for your point of view.

And then, there’s the “I can’t seem to keep the story straight” problem.

Let’s start with Marty. You might remember that last post I compared Marty to my favorite bird. (If you’ve ever camped out by a northern alpine lake and listened to the haunting serenade of the loons, you’ll know why I love ’em.)LoonsBut, actually, I was referring to the other usage of the word. You know, “crazy as a ……”

His belief in earthly visitations of angels and ghosts gives him the reputation of being a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. Here’s what some of the people who know him have to say about Marty: “a great man for seeing spooks” (Lorenzo Saunders); “a visionary fanatic” (Jesse Townsend); “overbalanced by marvellousness”(Pomeroy Tucker). Pomeroy Tucker reminiscence, 1858, in Vogel 1996-2003, 3: 71

For instance, during a break in translation transcribing, Marty takes a 2 or 3 mile “walk & talk” with J.C.. Of course, J.C. is in the form of a deer, but talking with him as familiarly as one man talks with another”. John A. Clark letter, August 31, 1840

Another time Marty has also seen the Devil, whom he describes as “a very sleek haired fellow with four feet, and a head like that of a Jack-ass.” Vogel,EMD 2: 271, note 32.

And, he always seems to know whenever YHWH (Big Daddy) or J.C. stops by to take in a Sunday sermon, even if nobody else can see them.

Then there’s the time when Marty encounters J.C. poised up on a roof beam. Ronald W. Walker, “Martin Harris: Mormonism’s Early Convert,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 (Winter 1986): 34-35. I have absolutely no clue as to what J.C.’s doing on the roof . Maybe he heard the drinks were on the house? (Ooooh sorry. That was a bad one, even for me.)

Ok, I think you probably get the picture. Marty may not be the best choice for a credible witness. But, I guess you go with what you’ve got.

At one point, as the BoM is readied for printing, the typesetter (John Gilbert) asks him “Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?” Marty replies “No, I saw them with a spiritual eye!John H. Gilbert, “Memorandum,” 8 September 1892, in EMD, 2: 54(I’m not into “magic mushrooms”, so I usually see “with a spiritual eye” after 5 or 6 heavy hits on the bong.)

Later, in 1838 he testifies in court that neither he, nor any of the other “witnesses” ever physically saw the plates. Stephen Burnett to Luke S. Johnson, 15 April 1838, in Joseph Smith’s Letterbook, Early Mormon Documents 2: 290-92 Three of the 12 Mormon Apostles promptly leave the church. (Lotsa juicy detail coming up down the timeline.)

By 1853, he crosses back over to “Saw’em-Touched’em” Land. He tells David Dille that he held the 40-60 lb plates on his knee for “an hour-and-a-half” and handled them “plate after plate” Martin Harris interview with David B. Dille, 15 September 1853

Other than being a few frogs shy of a flap jack, what possible motivation could he have had for this charade?

In the winter of 1828, Marty and his wife visit his sister-in-law, Abigail. This is how Abigail describes one conversation: “… Martin Harris and Lucy Harris, his wife, were at my house. In conversation with the Mormonites, she observed that she wished her husband would quit them, as she believed it all false and a delusion. To which I heard Mr. Harris reply: ‘What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!’ I was both an eye and ear witness of what has been above stated, which is now fresh in my memory, and I speak the truth and lie not, God being my witness.” Lucy is on record as confirming the conversation.

Now, if you think I’m picking on Marty, I’m just using him as an example. There are problems and conflicts with all the testimonies.

David Whitmer said he saw the plates “by the eye of faith” (aka Psilocybe liniformans?) Psilocybeliniformans2Later, David said he found them lying in a field and even later said that they were laying on a table with other gold & brass plates, the Sword of Laban and our old friends, Urim & Thumim. Millennial Star, vol. XL, pp. 771-772

Joe publicly charged Ollie with lying, perjury and counterfeiting, among other crimes. Senate Document 189, Feb. 15, 1841, pp. 6-9 (And, of course, lots more on this coming up down the line.) However, everyone is supposed to believe him when he agrees with Joe?

Let me finish up on the “witnesses” with this little factoid: By 1847, all 11 “witnesses” leave the church. Not 1, not 3, but every last mother-humpin’ one of them. (Kinda tells you something right there!) Some come back later to enjoy their celebrity status or for some other non-altruistic reason, and some don’t.

Hi ho, hi ho, It’s off to church we go!

(3/26/1830) Joe publishes “The Book of Mormon.”

Eleven days later, starting with 30 suckers, I mean saints, Joe incorporates the “Church of Christ” in Fayette NY, or was it Manchester, NY? (Inquiring minds want to know.) (4/6/1830)

Nit picking time (Hey, they’re the church’s nits, not mine!) Part of the incorporation location confusion comes from the church claims prior to 1834 that it is in the Smith home in Manchester, (actually, the house is just north of the Palmyra town border) and then, after ’34, the official church version changes to the Peter Whitmer house in Fayette. Complicating it even more is the fact that no legal records of church incorporation exist in the Palmyra/Manchester area, the Fayette area, or anywhere else in the state. It seems this may not be a legal organization.

Wherever it is, it seems everyone has a great time, speaking in tongues, having visions, prophesying and fainting. Joseph Smith History, 1839 draft Also, Joe and Ollie are both ordained “as an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church”. This later gets modified so that Joe becomes “1st Elder” and Ollie becomes “2nd Elder”. (And, the power struggle begins.)

2nd nit: According to the church (ala Nephi 27:3-8) Christ’s true church is required to have his name on it. That raises a bit of a “sticky wicket”. (Always wanted to use that phrase, and btw a sticky wicket is a damp, soft pitch in cricket. So, who says my posts aren’t educational?) By that reckoning, it seems that between May 3, 1834 and April 1838, J.C. didn’t have a true church. During that time period, the name was changed to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”. (No Christ, nowhere, nohow)

(6/9/1830). Holy exorcism, Batman! Joe performs his 1st miracle! Yup, our boy Joe casts a devil “of uncommon size from a miserable man in the neighborhood of the ‘great bend’ of the Susquehannah.”. (At least that’s what he claims.) Unfortunately this gets Joe hauled into court again. He’s charged with performing an exorcism, but he’s acquitted. Would love to be a fly on the wall during the trial. If Joe admits to the charge, that means he’s guilty. If he denies the charge, that means he’s either lying under oath or he lied about the exorcism. Since he’s acquitted, I think I know what his testimony is.

About the same time, Marty gives himself a promotion to Prophet. He claims in two years non-Mormonites will be stricken off the earth and Palmyra will become the New Jerusalem complete with streets of gold. Gilbert, John H. (September 8, 1892), Recollections of John H. Gilbert, Palmyra, New York Obviously this does not go down well with Joe. (The “Prophet” part at least.) In September, Joe claims that B.D. tells him he’s the only Prophet and Marty is something else. While he’s at it, B.D. gives him the authority to issue commandments on any subject. (Wouldn’t that make him at least a demigod? Talk about inflated ego!)

Meet Sid

Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876)

Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876)

One of the early converts, Parley P. Pratt is sent to preach to the Lamanites (aka Indians). On his way, he stops by to visit his old Campbellite preacher, Sidney Rigdon. Sid reads the BoM and decides to convert.

(We’ll catch up with P.P.P. a bit later. Or rather, the husband of his 9th wife will. It doesn’t end well.)

After being baptized, Sid proceeds to convert hundreds of his old flock.

(12/1830) Shortly after, he pays a visit to Joe. As a preacher, Sid is a fiery orator and Joe needs one of those. He is immediately made the church’s flack hack. (spin doctor)

About this time, Big Daddy decides it’s time to relocate to greener pastures (and money). Since Sid already has hundreds of Mormonites in Ohio, that seems to be a good spot. B.D. tells Joe that a little farming village called Kirtland will be their new home. So, over the next year (1831) Joe & the gang set up shop in Kirtland.

Despite Marty’s earlier claims, B.D. tells Joe that Zion (New Jerusalem) is located in Independence, MO.

(6/7/1831) Joe takes a small group to check it out. (I’ve been to Independence, and other than being my idol “Give ’em Hell” Harry’s home town, it’s a long way from any fantasy of Zion, I ever had.) While there, they lay a cornerstone for a proposed temple. Within a year about 800 saints settle there.

If you’ve read “The Religious Wrong (pt 3: The Great(?) Awakening)“, you’ll recall that in this period, a lot of religious/cult groups’ idea of Utopia included “small c” communism, (with a healthy dose of sex on the side). Kirkland fit the pattern.

(2/9/1831) Joe has a “revelation” detailing the “Law of Consecration” or what he calls “The United Order of Enoch” Doctrine & Covenants 42:30-39 In short, “saints were to “consecrate” (deed) their belongings to the church, and the church would give them what they need, keeping the extra for “good works”. Sounds like “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” to me. (Mr Marx would be pleased. And, I ain’t talkin’ Groucho!)

(7/17/1831) As for the sex on the side? Joe has a revelation from Big Daddy recommending that he practice polygamy. (Or does he?) Joe neglects to tell anyone about it other than one brand new member (Willie Wine Phelps) who neglects to tell anyone else about it for 30 years. The rest of the Mormonites, don’t learn of B.D.’s current views on polygamy/polyandry until 1843. By that time, Joe is already screwing over a couple dozen “wives”.

What makes this even more interesting, is that Joe’s own “translation” of the BoM comes out strongly against the practice: But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.Jacob 2:23-24

The appearance of Sid starts Ollie’s slide into insignificance. Sid takes over as scribe helping Joe re-translate the bible. However, Joe never quite finishes his translation, and strangely enough, none of the “Prophet, Seer & Revelators” that follow, pick up the ball.

Sid is named one of Joe’s two counselors and becomes a close partner in the operation. He’s even a guest of honor along with Joe at an informal “tar & feathers party”.

You get the tar, and I’ll get the feathers. Let’s get together and have a great time!

T&F PartyListen, my children, and you shall hear the legend of the infamous “Tar & Feather Incident”. (3/24/1832) (This one’s kinda like the Boston Tea Party in that there are a lot of facts known, but as for the truth???)

Let’s start with the facts: A group of men drag Joe & Sid out of their respective houses. (Joe & Emma are lodging with the Johnsons and Sid’s bunked in with another family.) The mob beats them and strips them naked. They try to force some tar and acid down Joe’s throat, but the bottle evidently breaks. They slather hot tar on their bodies and dump feathers all over the sticky mess.There’s also a doctor in the group that has been brought along to castrate Joe. (But not Sid.) Fortunately(?) for a lot of Joe’s future bed buddies, the doctor gets cold feet.

According to the church, this is a drunken mob stirred up by some apostate Mormonites. The church’s spin is that these were petty and vindictive men who have left the church over minor issues. There are obviously some “apostates” in the mob. There are also some current members and the previously mentioned doctor.

As to another possible reason for the anger of both members and ex, remember back seven paragraphs, where I mentioned “The Law of Consecration”? Well, a lot of these folks have decided that they don’t want to give everything to Joe and let him decide what they get back. Seems to them Joe is fleecing the flock. Seems to me, that’s not a minor issue. As a side note (aka foreshadowing) later events prove they have a point.

And, then there’s the situation with the doctor. Now, dumping tar and acid down Joe’s throat, I can understand. It keeps him from preaching. However, cutting off Joe’s balls doesn’t stop him from preaching, it just means he’ll do it in a higher register. Soooo, why is he here? Also, why was Joe the only castration candidate?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to 16-year-old Marinda Johnson. I mentioned current members being involved a couple of paragraphs back. Two of those members were Marinda’s brothers and Joe’s host’s sons. It seems Joe was either “getting frisky” with the girl, or was trying to. Considering castration is a rather extreme punishment, my money’s on the former.Frisky Joe While you and I might consider this sort of a “rockstar-groupie” thing, I don’t think Marinda’s brothers saw it quite that way.

I’ve heard the church claim that this is not adultery, because Joe has already been given the go ahead by B.D.. Since nobody knows about that except for Willie Wine (And, I ain’t so sure about him.) that’s a piss poor excuse. Also, Joe’s track record (as we shall see) paints him as a bit of a sexual predator.

Btw, this is not the last we’ll see of darling Marinda. But that’s a story for later down the timeline.

Joe & Sid survive the experience obviously, and go on to greater low jinks. But, I have already exceeded (once again) my self-imposed word limit.

Next episode, we’ll continue the life and times of Mormonite Kirtland, including Joe’s next sexual conquest, “The Word of Wisdom”, the power struggles and (hopefully) the real reason Joe and the gang had to skip town.

In the meantime, if the Mormon missionaries knock on your door (and, they will, sooner or later), tell them you belong to the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or if in Oregon, the Church of Elvis. (Hey, those religions are just as valid as Mormonism.)


ps Here’s one for the road:

p.p..s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did.It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 3: Marching to Zion & Fancying Fanny’s Fanny

If you’ve been reading this series, you’ve probably noticed that I’m writing it around a sequential timeline. This post is going to be just a touch modified. There are so many mostly non-related events happening, that to keep it from being too confusing, I will do a little time bouncing here and there and clump the stories a bit.

Mormon ChronologyCONTINUED

Elijah Abel

Elijah Abel (1808-1884)

In 1832, an African-American (Elijah Abel) is ordained into the Mormon priesthood. In fact, African-Americans hold the priesthood and church offices until Brigham (The Bigot) Young takes over and states “The Lord had cursed Cain’s seed with blackness and prohibited them the Priesthood.” In the meantime, Mormonites welcome blacks into the congregation. (Hmmm….so B.D. & Joe have no problem with race, but B.D. & Brigham do? What’s up with that? And all “black” people are being punished for some mythological murder about 300 generations ago and Big D just forgot about that little detail for 20 years? And how come it’s turned around again in 1978? Seems to me, there’s a hot steaming load of bovine bowel movement somewhere in the vicinity!)

One major problem: Zion is in a “slave state” thanks to the Missouri Compromise. The church’s position doesn’t set too well with a lot of “nigger hatin'” Missouri red necks around Independence. There are several raids throughout 1833. The church’s press is destroyed as are a number of homes. Finally, Zion has to be abandoned.

(11/7/1833) The saints “cross over Jordan” (Known locally as the Missouri River.) from Jackson Co. to Clay Co.

(5/6/1833) While the above was going on, Joe reports that B.D.’s been by to chat and has given him some building instructions: “And let the first lot on the south be consecrated unto me for the building of a house for the presidency, for the work of the presidency, in obtaining revelations; and for the work of the ministry of the presidency, in all things pertaining to the church and kingdom.” Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 94:3 Kirtland TempleThus is born the Kirtland Temple. Construction takes about three years.


The Word of Wisdom

In The Religious Wrong (pt 3: The Great(?) Awakening), I explained that the 19th century religious revival was a major impetus behind the Temperance/Prohibition Movement. Here’s the Mormonite version:

As the story goes, Mrs Joe #1(*) gets tired of cleaning up the tobacco spit on the floor after Joe has the guys over for a confab, so she bitches (Now, there’s a sexist term.) about it to Joe. (*) I gave Emma a number, because by this time, according to several sources, there is a #2. Either that, or there’s some out-of-wedlock “ride the pony” goin’ on! I’ll save the juicy details till the end of the episode. It’s kind of complicated, (sexual sagas usually are) and we’ve got a lot goin’ on this post.

(2/27/1833) The next time Big D drops by, Joe asks him about tobacco. B.D. tells Joe he doesn’t like people using his tobacco, and while he’s thinking about it, quit turning plants into booze, lay off the coffee beans and tea leaves and cut out meat-eating unless it’s cold or you’re starving. At least that’s Joe’s interpretation of what he said.

That kind of blows away Genesis 1:29-30:

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so.

(12/1833) Joe gets around to publishing what he calls the “Word of Wisdom” as a broadside 10 months later and in 1835 makes it an official section of the Doctrine & Covenants (D&C 89)

A loophole

A loophole

On the surface it seems like a healthier lifestyle. All-in-all, I don’t have a problem with it. What I do have a problem with is hypocrisy.

For instance, it’s used as an excuse to excommunicate David Whitmer. (More on that when we get to 1838.) However, it seems Joe is exempt from its observance. (Prophets usually are.)

On one occasion, Joe finishes preaching a sermon on the WoW and then rides through town smoking a cigar. Gary Dean Guthrie, Joseph Smith As An Administrator p.161 Joe drinks beer Millennial Star, vol. 23, no. 45 p. 720 and wine History of the Church (January 1836), vol. 2, 369 In fact, Joe is reprimanded in 1838 for owning a saloon in Far West, MO Donald Q. Cannon, Lyndon W. Cook. Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844, p. 191

In fairness to Joe, he’s not the only high authority that doesn’t think the rules apply to him. There’s way too many to list here, but suffice it to say that the “exemption” seems to continue for quite a spell. George Albert Smith, the “Prophet, Seer & Revelator” from May 1945 until April 1951, is known to imbibe brandy. (For medicinal purposes, don’t you know? cough, cough)


We’re Marching to Zion

Meanwhile, back in MO, things aren’t going so well. Not satisfied with kicking the Mormonites out of “Zion”, the red necks want the “nigger lovers” out of the state.

(4/1834) B.D. tells Joe to “pull a Moses” and organize Zion’s Campand redeem Zion “by power, and with a stretched-out arm.” D&C 103:15-18 (He’s a bit embarrassed about being kicked out of Zion, I guess.)

Joe puts together 200 men, women and children (Children? Why are children going into battle?)and leads them on a 1000 mile trek to re-capture Zion.

Zions Camp March

As they get closer to their destination, word of their approach reaches Missouri. Upon hearing Joe and the ZC boys are coming, the red necks form their own militia. (And, their sword is bigger than Joe’s.) Fortunately, just in the nick of time(*) Big Daddy shows up to tell Joe that he’s decided that the church is unworthy to redeem Zion because of its lack of commitment to the United Order (Law of Consecration). (I guess small “c” was big “BS” to more than a few LDS.) However, this “revelation” has the desired effect of saving Joe’s Bacon. (*)A nick was a mark on a stick which was used to measure time back before Big D invented the Rolex. {Another public service announcement brought to you by the fine folks at Idioms-R-Us.}

But, why does B.D. tell them to go in the first place, and then wait until they’ve traveled 1000 miles to change his mind? And then, just when they are exhausted from the trek, he sends them a cholera epidemic to thank them for their efforts. (So, in the end, B.D. kills more saints (14) then the red neck militia.)

Caldwell County Missouri

Caldwell County Missouri

Despite the setback, Mormonites continue to flock to Missouri, mostly in Clay County.

(12/29/1836) To try to calm things down, the state splits Clay County into several smaller counties and creates Caldwell County for Mormonite settlement.

Giving them their own county, gives them a safe haven. On the state’s side of the bargain, it keeps Mormonites and their nigger loving attitudes confined while also keeping them out of the financial and political affairs of the rest of the state. However, as with “prophets”, “true believers” tend to think that rules and compromises don’t have anything to do with them. (Seems to be a common thread running through evangelicals and baggers as well.) This will come back to do some ass biting in a couple of years. (FORESHADOW #179463, or something like that.)

In the power play activity during the year:

(7/7/1834) Joe appoints David Whitmer (Dave) “Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator” and says that Dave should succeed him if he does “not live to see God himself.” (I think that means if Joe kicks the proverbial bucket, since he claims he’s already seen Big D. Or, maybe it’s a Freudian slip.)

(12/5/1834) Joe makes Ollie an Assistant President, and tells the Church that when he’s gone, Ollie’s in charge.

(5/3/1834) One last 1834 item: In all that Zion excitement, I forgot to mention that the name of the church was changed from “The Church of Jesus Christ” to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”. (Sayyy, maybe Big D’s pissed because they kicked J.C. out of the church. See last post.)

An Elvis interlude.

The Book of Abraham (Not really)

1835 gets rolling at a special conference (2/14/1835) in which Ollie, Marty & Dave appoint the 12 Apostles. (Hey, J.C. had’em, why can’t J.S.?)

Of the 12, one (Brother Brigham) eventually becomes church President and 8 are excommunicated. (Power play casualties.) Of course, Ollie and Davy are excommunicated as well and Marty splits to support another faction for a while. (The usual “details coming up” disclaimer.)

Later in the year (8/17/1835) they hold another conference and canonize a bunch of Joe’s lectures (Doctrine) and his “chats” with Big Daddy (Covenants) into holy (Or should that be holey?) scripture. Now the Mormonites have three (count’em: 3) holy texts, the Bible, the BoM, & the D&C, with another on the horizon.

Which brings us to “The Saga of the Book of Abraham”. (Go grab some popcorn, this one’s fun to watch.) First a bit of a back-story to bring you up to speed:

The ability to read and understand Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics had been lost for centuries. Then in 1799, the Rosetta Stone is discovered. On the stone there’s a message written in three languages: Egyptian hieroglyphics, Demotic and Ancient Greek. 23 years later Francois Champollion cracks the hieroglyphics using the other two languages that are decipherable. However, it isn’t until the 1850’s that the ability to read Egyptian is very wide-spread among Egyptologists.

About the same time as Champollion is cracking the language, 11 mummies along with papyrus rolls and fragments are discovered. By 1835 they’ve made their way to the U.S. and Joe and a couple of buds buy four of the mummies, some scrolls and some fragments for $2,400. (Over $51,000 in 2013’s inflated funds.)

Joe, aided by Ollie and Willy Wine Phelps, “translates” the hieroglyphics off and on until November. He touches them up a bit in ’42, but by-and-large, it’s all wrapped up. The scribes will spend the next couple of years trying to figure out the Egyptian alphabet. They FAIL! (But the magic “hat stone” was still around. Why didn’t Joe use that?)

Abraham_Facsimile_1 copy

1st facsimile

Joe claims that the scrolls were written by Abraham when he was down Egypt way. Not only that, but the hieroglyphics are in Abe’s own hand. The book purports to be the story of Abe’s road trip to Canaan and Egypt along with a “vision” (hashpipe dream?) of the creation of the world. But, best of all, it tells us where B.D. resides. (Pssst, it’s the planet Kolob.) There are three facsimiles included in the scrolls and Joe “translates” them as well.

Are there problems with this? Oh, Lawdy, let me count the ways:

  1. It’s not the Saga of Abe’s trek or his pipe dream. It’s an Egyptian funerary text! It contains parts of “The Book of the Dead” and “The Book of Breathings“. FAIL!
  2. It’s not written by Abraham (hand or otherwise). For instance the 2nd facsimile is a hypocephalus from the 22nd Dynasty (943-716 BCE). Abe was supposed to be born around 2001 BCE! FAIL!
    2nd facsimile

    2nd facsimile

    420px-Abraham_Facsimile_2 copy

    2nd facsimile as filled in by Joe

    (Btw, see that figure in the center (#1)? Joe says that represents Kolob. However, Egyptologists who can actually understand this, say it represents the spirit of the four elements.)

  3. Joe’s “translation” shows a distinct lack of knowledge of Egyptian culture, language or religion. (And, this is supposed to be on-the-spot reporting.)FAIL!
  4. According to the BoA, Egyptus, daughter of Ham, son of Noah, discovers Egypt while “it was still underwater” BoA 1:23. (It’s a hot day, she’s bored on the ark and decides to go diving, I guess.) Since she finds it, they name it after her. Egyptus places her eldest son, Pharaoh, son of Egyptus, daughter of Ham, son of Noah, on the throne as Pharaoh, the first king of Egypt in BoA 1:25. There are so many things wrong with this, I almost don’t know where to begin. “The Flood”, according to Jewish scholars, happened around 2150 BCE. Some Christians set it in 2294 BCE. (Since there is absolutely no proof of a worldwide flood, they can say it happened last Tuesday, for all I care.) However, there have been settlers in Egypt since at least 6000 BCE. The first pyramid is built around 2700 BCE, long before either of those dates. Oh, and one last thing: Egypt is not named after Noah’s granddaughter. In Abe’s day, Egyptians call their country “Kemet” or “Kmt”. (They weren’t big on vowels.) The Greeks name the country Egypt long after Abe (and Egyptus) are dust. In fact, Homer’s “Odyssey” (circa 9th century BCE) seems to be the 1st reference by that name. FAIL!
3rd facsimile

3rd facsimile

Times & SeasonsFor several years, Joe displays the mummies. (For a fee of course. He’s charging the equivalent of $5.00 today.)

In 1842, he serializes the BoA in the Times and Seasons newspaper he owns. (Great little circulation builder.)

Then in 1880, the church canonizes it as a part of the “Pearl of Great Price“.

Supposedly, one of the scrolls contains “The Record of Joseph” (The biblical one, not our Joe.) However, our Joe never gets around to “translating” that, so it’s largely ignored.


(With thanks to Bart Pascal) Click to enlarge.

(With thanks to Bart Pascal) Click to enlarge.

(Thx to Bart Pascal

That’s the short of it. For the medium of it, including the real translation of the facsimiles, check out this Wikipedia post. Or, for a longer winded (but very complete) version of the whole situation, check out this vid:

Fancying Fanny’s Fanny

If you’ve slogged through to this point, you deserve a reward. So, I’ll finish off this episode with “The Fanny Alger Affair“.

To quickly review, in 1835, polygamy is still officially frowned upon: “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.Jacob 2:24

In 1861, Brother Brigham claims that Willie Wine Phelps told him that Joe told him that Big Daddy told him that it was cool back in ’31. However, that was the year Joe wrote that Big D said “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” D&C 42:22 (2/9/1831)

Also, Joe neglected to tell another soul about it. (If he even told Willie Wine.) So I’d look around for a large lump of sodium cloride before swallowing that. The “Official Polygamy Revelation” doesn’t happen until July, 1843. (It’s a bit more complicated than that, but I’ll try to feel my way through the bushes when we get to ’43.)

In the last episode, I introduced you to 16-year-old Marinda Johnson. This episode’s youthful flavor is Fanny Alger. Fanny, “a very nice and comely young woman”, comes to live with Joe & Emma as a housemaid in 1833 at the age of 16. It isn’t too long before she claims Joe is making “improper proposals” to her. Evidently, they work as Joe & Fanny are caught “in flagrante delicto”. (For you non-Latin lovers, they were doing “the nasty”.) There are a number of Mormon apologists that claim this was all perfectly ok because Fanny is “married” to Joe as his 1st “plural wife”. (I guess Marinda was just a practice run.) Others (including Mrs. Joe #1) have a more “earthy” view of the matter.Vh-booty+call.+saw+this+on+facebook+its+funny+cuz+it+s_a0866c_3857435Matters evidently come to a head one day when Mrs. Joe (#1) goes looking for Joe. When she looks in the barn, she finds Joe and Fanny rolling in the hay. J. H. Beadle, “Jackson County”, Salt Lake Tribune, vol. IX, no. 147 (October 6, 1875), page 4 Seriously! They are up in the hay loft, rolling around playing “hide the pickle”. (Probably a gherkin.)

I guess Joe forgot to tell Mrs Joe about the whole plural marriage thingy because by all accounts, she goes off the deep end. Joe has to call in Sid & Ollie to try to minister to her and “cast the devil out of sister Emma.” However, it appears that Ollie takes Emma’s side. (I guess he didn’t know about the “plural marriage thingy” either.)

According to a letter Ollie writes to his brother, he speaks to Joe about the “dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s…in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself.” Oliver Cowdery to Warren A. Cowdery, January 21, 1838

Btw, one of the “reasons” given at Ollie’s upcoming excommunication proceedings is that he accused Joe of adultery. (Once again, the usual “more later”.)

So, is Joe committing adultery or is he enjoying his marital prerogative? This gets a bit confusing to say the least (Or actually, it doesn’t!)

To confuse matters, there are several schools of thought as to when the “marriage” occurred:

  • There is speculation that they are “married” in 1833 based on a conversation that Joe has with Fanny’s uncle, Levi Hancock: “Brother Levi I want to make a bargain with you—If you will get Fanny Alger for me for a wife you may have Clarissa Reed.” Mosiah Hancock, “Autobiography of Levi Ward Hancock (with additions by his son Mosiah Hancock),” CHL, Ms 570, microfilm, 62-63.Levi and Clarissa were married that year.
  • Fanny’s mother claims Fanny is “sealed” to Joe in 1835, or is that 1836?
  • According to William McLellin, one of the original 12 Apostles, Joe is simply “sealing” the marriage when Emma catches them humpin’ in the hay. J. H. Beadle, “Jackson County”, Salt Lake Tribune, vol. IX, no. 147 (October 6, 1875), page 4 (By the time I was Mormon, “sealing” had a different meaning. At least that’s what the church told me.)

As to the (“Or actually, it doesn’t!”) comment I made: There is no legal record anywhere of Joe ever marrying Fanny!

Even if they are, it isn’t a legal marriage, it’s bigamy and the U.S. considers bigamy a crime. Plus, if Joe and Fanny are married and it’s all ok with the Big Guy, why does Emma throw Fanny out of the house? And if they aren’t married, than Joe’s committing adultery.

There are allegations that Fanny is pregnant. Todd Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” p. 35, Signature Books, (1997) If this is true than Fanny either miscarriages or the baby is raised with a different family. There are no legal records of her giving birth until later in her life. Plus, we are still about four years away from the time Joe is supposed to have his own personal abortionist (Dr. John C. Bennett).

In any case, Emma kicks Fanny’s fanny out of the house. Fanny moves in with the Webb family for a while and then leaves Kirtland with her parents. (Which begs a question: Why doesn’t Fanny just move back in with her parents in the first place? What’s going on?)

They stop for a while in Dublin, Indiana where Fanny meets and marries non-Mormonite Solomon Custer after a six-week relationship. It’s evidently a successful marriage, she has 9 children. Fanny splits from the church and never comes back. She joins the Universalist church in 1874 and passes away in 1889.

When asked about the episode, Fanny replies “That is a matter of my own, and I have nothing to communicate.”

And, I’m out of things to communicate this episode. Next time around, I hope to finish up on the Kirtland years, including the REAL reason Joe & the gang had to split. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if we run across at least one of Joe’s sexual escapades. (I swear that man has his brains in his balls.)

Goodnight Mrs Calabash, wherever (and whoever) you are.


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did.It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 4: Money, Money, Money

Hi, and welcome back. In this episode, we take a look at a situation where Joe’s greed exceeds his grasp, resulting in an oncoming internal firestorm among the leadership and the membership. So, grab your weenie and grab your stick and let’s get the fire started. Speaking of grabbing your weenie, there’s so much financial fuckery going on that Joe doesn’t get around to the other kind until Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris, next episode. Sorry ’bout that!


A little money melody to get you in the mood:


And now, our semi-regularly scheduled episode:

Mormon Chronology


As phony as a…..KSS 3 Buck Bill


By the end of 1836, Kirtland has grown into a community of over 3000. The surrounding area is filling up as well, as Mormonites continue to migrate to Ohio. Land prices have risen from $7 an acre in 1832 to $44 an acre in ’37. Due to land speculation, the land within a half mile of the Kirtland temple is going for $2-4,000 for a quarter acre. (Somebody’s been soaking the suckers, I wonder who?) The church itself owns quite a bit of land, but has a bit of a liquidity problem.

Who has money? Well, banks do and before the “War of Northern Aggression” (that the South starts) banks can print their own money.

Joe claims that he and Big Daddy have a chat on the matter and Big D is all for starting a bank. In the words of Joe’s scribe, Warren Parrish: “I have listened to [Joseph Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the audible voice of God, instructed him to establish a banking-anti banking institution, who like Aaron’s rod shall swallow up all other banks (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish, and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” Plainsville Republican, February 22, 1838

Talk about a solid investment! Guaranteed by GOD HIMSELF to not only succeed but to dominate the entire world’s banking system. (Forget the fact that nobody has any banking experience in the first place. Minor matter!)

Orson Hyde (1805-1878)

Orson Hyde (1805-1878)

In late 1836, Joe sends Orson Hyde (One of Joe’s on-again-off-again 12 Apostles.) to Columbus to get a bank charter from the legislature.

(1/1/1837) Orson arrives back in Kirtland and the news isn’t good. He can’t find even one legislator to sponsor a bill to give them a charter. Joe insists it’s because of anti-Mormonite bigotry, stirred up by a man named Grandison Newell. I’m sure there’s a bit of that, but mostly it’s because the legislature is dominated by hard money Jacksonian Democrats. They only grant one bank charter in two years.

Well, since Joe can’t have a bank, he’ll have an “anti-bank” Thus is born the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company (KSSABC). (1/1/1837) (Yah…. I don’t know what an “anti-bank” is either. I looked it up, but the only information I could find referred to KSSABC. It seems that this is the only “anti-bank” that ever existed. So, hang on, maybe by the time this episode is over we’ll both know what this goober is.)

(1/2/1837) The very next day KSSABC opens for business. Sid is made chairman and president. Warren Parrish (He of the last quote.) is bank secretary and teller. And Joe? Well, he’s just a lowly cashier. (Riiiiiiight!) Of course, Joe’s signature is on the money.Joe's Autograph

The anti-bank is capitalized at $4,000,000. There’s just one problem with that: The backers don’t have near that amount of money or securities. In fact, the total capitalization of all the banks in Ohio is only $9,300,000.

So, if you can’t make it, fake it. For those questioning the capitalization, “Lining the shelves of the [Kirtland Safety Society] bank vault… were many boxes, each marked $1,000. Actually these boxes were filled with ‘sand, lead, old iron, stone, and combustibles’ but each had a top layer of bright fifty cent silver coins.” C.G. Webb W. Wyl: Mormon Portraits p 36 (1886)

This essentially makes the anti-bank, a wildcat bank. Wildcat banks distribute nearly worthless currency backed by questionable securities. This practice is stopped after the passage of the National Bank Act of 1863. However, this is much too late for the suckers who invest in this boondoggle.

One interesting aspect of the anti-bank. It doesn’t keep records of what Joe and the church leadership borrow from the bank. (That’s very convenient.) To be fair, they don’t keep accounts of what the church members deposit either, but they do keep track of their non-Mormonite accounts.

(1/1837) Grandison Newell buys up a lot of KSSABC notes and demands they be redeemed. This probably wipes out almost all the gold and silver the bank has in those boxes.

(1/23/1837) Before the month is over, the “anti-bank” announces it can’t redeem its notes in gold, only in land. (Ooooops!) There’s a minor bank run but the bank survives……for a while.

(2/1/1837) A few days later, KSSABC notes are circulating at 12.5 cents on the dollar.

(2/7/1837) Joe rounds up some non-Mormonites and they apply for a charter again. This time it makes it on to a bill, but the bill is rejected.

(2/10/1837) Joe, Sid, Ollie and Joe’s bro, Hyrum buy the Bank of Monroe (Michigan). (I mean, KSSABC is working out sooo well.)BoM 1 Buck BillThey pay the owners $3,000 in Bank of Cleveland notes (Not KSSABC notes? Hmmm.) and $95 in coin. In return they get $20,026 in Bank of Monroe notes. Joe takes out a loan, (Can you say “personal piggy bank?) and they head back to Kirtland. When they get there, Sid buys 1000 shares of KSSABC with $200 in Monroe notes.

Later in the month, Samuel Rounds files charges against Joe & Sid for illegal banking and issuing unauthorized bank paper. Seems Michigan has a law that says only corporations can own banks and issue money. (You’d think Big Daddy would have clued them in.)

(3/13/1837) The Bank of Monroe shuts down. (A month from buy-out to bank-be-gone? Another shrewd move by the financial geniuses. Of course, Joe has already gotten at least one “off-the-books” loan and probably several others have as well. Btw, I thought Big Daddy said they were going to dominate financial circles. Well, that’s what Joe said he said, and Joe wouldn’t lie now, would he?)

(3/1837) Rounds’ lawsuit against Joe & Sid gets delayed until the fall at which time they are found guilty and fined $1000 each.

In April, Joe takes off to parts unknown just ahead of a constable’s posse. (In fact, he “gets outta Dodge” so fast, he doesn’t even stop to tell Emma.) This keeps happening with increasing frequency over the next few months as visits from creditors, irate depositors and the sheriff keep happening with increasing frequency over the next few months.

By May, the natives are getting restless in Mormonite Land. There’s mutterings of mutiny over Joe’s stewardship (especially his anti-bank stewardship.)

(5/28/1837) It takes both Joe and Sid to calm the cacophony at a Sunday service.

A few paragraphs ago, I made a crack about Joe’s “on-again-off-again” apostles. I’ve also been foreshadowing “inner circle” power plays and purges. This is where they start picking up speed.

(5/29/1837) The Kirtland high council puts the following on trial:

  1. David Whitmer Dave was one of the “3 Witnesses“. He’s currently the president of the church in Zion (Although, at this point, the church has been kicked out of Zion.) and Joe’s rightful successor. He’s also the president of the High Council.
  2. Frederick Williams Fred’s the 2nd Counselor in the 1st Presidency. (Sorta, technically, he’s #3 in line, but it really depends on the power structure at the time.)
  3. Lyman Johnson Lyman’s one of Joe’s 12 apostles.
  4. Parley P. Pratt We met P.P.P. briefly in episode 2. By this time, he’s one of the apostles. (The husband of his 9th wife hasn’t caught up with him yet.)
  5. Warren Parrish Warren, of course, is Joe’s current scribe and secretary as well as bank teller.

Officially, the charge was “Conduct unworthy of their high calling”. Unofficially, it was more akin to “Not supporting the official spin”.

If you read the minutes of the trial, it appears this is primarily Sid’s undertaking. The charges, several members of the court, and the very court itself are challenged. (From the notes of the trial, it has the potential for being a bad sit-com episode.) At the end of the day, all charges are withdrawn.

(6/8/1837) Joe resigns from the anti-bank. Warren Parrish and Fred Williams take over management. I guess they’re back in Joe & Sid’s good graces. (Or are they???)

Later in the month Joe tries to get a warrant accusing Parrish of embezzling $25,000 from KSSABC. The warrant is denied! Probably because Joe can’t even prove the bank has $25,000 left to embezzle. (Which might have something to do with those “off-the book” loans to church leadership.)

Jumping ship doesn’t help Joe much. Over the next two years he has 17 lawsuits brought against him, totaling $60,000. (Over $1,260,000 in 2013 greenbacks)

joseph_jailHe’s also busted seven times within a four-month period. It cost the suckers, er…saints (Nah, I was right the first time.) $38,420 for bail money. ($806,820) Fawn Brodie: No Man Knows My History pp. 199-202; Vintage Books (1973)

(6/9/1837) Speaking of being busted, the next day Joe’s on trial in Painsville for “conspiracy to commit murder“. While evidence is given about a plot to kill Grandison Newell and at least two attempts at carrying it out, there is no direct evidence that links Joe to the crime. As close as it gets is Orson Hyde’s testimony that he “seemed much excited and declared that Newell should be put out-of-the-way, or where the crows could not find him; he said destroying Newell would be justifiable in the sight of God, that it was the will of God, &c.”Henry II said something similar about Thomas à Becket back in the 12th century, and we all (should) know how that turned out.

(6/20/1837) Joe dumps 20,000 shares of KSSABC. I guess Joe finally figures out that Big D was pulling his leg (or some other extremity) when he said the anti-bank would dominate the financial world. (Plus, the shares are almost completely worthless at this point.)

(7/2/1837) Final entry in the KSSABC ledger is recorded. The bank doesn’t close on that date, they just quit writing anything down.

(7/28/1837) Joe, Sid and Tom Marsh split for Canada “on church business”. They get back a month later but don’t provide information about what the “business” was.

Meanwhile, back in the power struggle

While Joe’s gone off to Canada, David Whitmer renounces him as a fallen prophet, and along with Ollie & Marty, puts his faith in an ecstatic dancing, seer stone using, prophetess. Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 211 (1853) But when Joe gets back, they go back.

(8/1837) Joe denounces the anti-bank leadership that he installed: “I am disposed to say a word relative to the bills of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. I hereby warn them to beware of speculators, renegades and gamblers, who are duping the unsuspecting and the unwary, by palming upon them, those bills, which are of no worth, here. I discountenance and disapprove of any and all such practices. I know them to be detrimental to the best interests of society, as well as to the principles of religion.” Messenger and Advocate, August 1837 (That fragrance you’re smelling is called “Essence of Scapegoat”. If Warren and Fred are doing this, and they probably are, they’re just following in the footsteps of the master.)

(9/3/1837) Apostles Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, and John Boynton are kicked out of the church.

(9/4/1837) Joe says he has a “revelation” from Big D that W.W. (Willie Wine) Phelps and John Whitmer have done bad things. Joe doesn’t elaborate.

What he’s probably talking about is the fact that Willie Wine & John have laid out the Far West town site and the temple lot without talking to him first. (Naughty, naughty!)

(9/10/1837) Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, and John Boynton are brought back into the church and reinstated as apostles. (Wow! Banished for one week! I think I’ve previously mentioned “off-again-on-again” apostles. Many more to come.) Joe & Sid deny they had anything to do with the previous week’s excommunications. (Yah, right!)

(9/27/1837) Joe & Sid leave Kirtland again. This time, they go to Far West, Missouri. (“Willie Wine & John “got some ‘splainin’ to do”.) They arrive in late October.MO Mormons(11/11/1837) I guess they ‘splain’ pretty well, because Willie Wine & John get to keep their positions in the church. However, Fred Williams is dumped as councilor in favor of Joe’s bro, Hyrum.

Btw, If you look at the above map, you’ll see a spot marked Adam-ondi-Ahman. MAJOR spot in Mormonite mythology. I’ll explain when I get to the “Mormon War” episode. I’ll also explain why Independence is Zion, and what it was originally. It may come as a bit of a surprise, to say the least!

Along those same lines, (sort of) I’ve got to find an appropriate place to discuss Joe’s thoughts on 1000 year old humans living on the moon. He says they all dress in the “Quaker” style. OoooKaay!

Meanwhile, back in Kirtland, people are getting more and more pissed off about this whole banking bullshit. With no records, they can’t prove it in court, but they’ve lost a lot of money. In a lot of cases, all their money. “It was natural that blame for the entire situation should be charged against the Prophet. They had gathered to Kirtland at his command; the idea of purchasing housing lots in the great subdivision scheme had his full support; he had inferred that the bank would not only succeed, but would one day be the most powerful institution of its kind” The Growth of the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio,” typed copy, p. 233 as it appears in Mormonism – Shadow or Reality? p. 533)

As apostle Heber Kimball put it: “There were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God” Fawn Brodie: No Man Knows My History p. 203; Vintage Books (1973)

A number of church leaders decide it’s time to dump Joe. Apostles Luke Johnson and John Boynton (I think they were still pissed off about being excommunicated for a week.); Joe Coe, a high council member; and our boy Warren Parrish are the coup leaders. To add pressure, Warren begins to bad-mouth Joe about how he ran the bank.

(10/18/1837) The Kirtland high council promises “reform”.They agree to meet in a week to“commence pruning the vine of God in Kirtland. and thus continue the work evening after evening. until it shall be wisdom to stay the hands.” In other words, their “reform” is to kick out the loudest complainers. (aka “Dissenters”)

(11/1837) KSSABC collapses.

It’s been dead for a long spell. They’re just getting around to burying it.

Nobody really knows how much this “anti-bank” costs its Mormonite depositors since there aren’t any itemized accounts of their claims. Non-Mormonites are a totally different kettle of fish. Years later there are still outstanding debts to non-members and organizations totaling over $150,000 ($3,150,000)

The Panic of 1837 has been brought up as a cause of the failure. And, while it really doesn’t help the situation, the “Panic” doesn’t really hit Ohio for two more years. ’37 & ’38 are actually good years in Ohio with bumper crops and good farm prices.

So is KSSABC a screw up or a screw you? Or, is it some of both?

  1. Let’s start with Big D’s “prophecy”. I quoted Warren earlier, but his statement was backed up at the time by several church leaders. Either B.D. or Joe is a liar. Your choice. (SU: 0; SY: 1)
  2. Had plates printed before getting bank certification. (SU: 1; SY: 1)
  3. Couldn’t get certification passed in legislature. (SU: 2; SY: 1)
  4. Created world’s only “anti-bank”, which was really just a “wildcat bank”. (SU: 2; SY: 2)
  5. Lied about the capitalization. (SU.: 2; SY: 3)
  6. Lied about securities ($1,000 boxes) on premises. (SU: 2; SY: 4)
  7. Church leader loans “off the book” (SU: 2; SY: 5)
  8. Mormonite deposits “off the book” (SU: 2; SY.: 6)
  9. Illegally bought a bank in Michigan. (SU: 3; SY: 6)
  10. Joe immediately took an “off the book” loan from Bank of Monroe. (SU: 3; SY: 7)
  11. Bank of Monroe closes after just a month. (SU.: 4; SY: 7)

con-man4While there are some definite “screw ups”, mostly it looks like a “screw you” operation. This fiasco is creating major schisms within the ruling body of the church.

(12/10/1837) Joe and Sid get back to Kirtland

(12/1837) The Kirtland council starts pruning the complainers. Cyrus Smalling, a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (To Mormonites, the level right below apostle.); Joe Coe, a member of the high council (Joe had put up 1/3 of the mummy money back in ’35.); Marty Harris (Don’t worry. Marvelous Marty will be back in ’40 for a little while.); Luke Johnson (again); John Boynton (again); and Warren Parrish (surprise, surprise) all get excommunicated. This is just the start. The fecal matter finds the air flow generator big time in ’38. (Stay tuned!)

Next time, Joe and the gang split town permanently, the pruning continues in earnest and we’ll meet Joe’s next sexual conquest…er, wife? (She’s already married, but little details like that don’t mean a lot to “god’s anointed prophet”.)

In the meantime or in between time, if someone offers you some KSSABC bank notes, grab ’em. They’re worth a lot of money as collector’s items. A $20 note goes for $2,750.

Non illigitamus carborundum! (Don’t let the bastards get you down!)


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did.It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 5: Uncivil War

Welcome back. Or, if you’re new, howdy!

As I said in an earlier episode, this series is built around a timeline. (Well, DAH!) However, for the second time in the series, I’m going to juggle it a bit. In 1838, there is sooo much going on with Joe and the Mormonites. (Doesn’t that sound like the name of a bad garage band?) There are excommunications right and left on both sides of the power struggle. The “Daughter’s of Zion” (Talk about a misleading name.) are organized. The “Mormon War” commences. Joe gets laid by a woman not named Emma, and the church gets its first case of polyandry.

Instead of writing a 6000 word post, covering it all, I’m going to break it up a bit. I’m going to split off the “Mormon War”, including some of the precursor events, and put it in the next episode. There are so many issues and actions, that it’ll take an entire episode to do it even a bit of justice.

So, this episode, you get some intrigue and sex. Next time around, some gratuitous violence.

Mormon ChronologyCONTINUED

Uncivil War

Former apostle Luke Johnson, who had resigned from the church on the last day of 1837, finds out Joe is about to be arrested on last year’s Michigan bank judgment. To make sure Joe doesn’t do his usual “urgent business elsewhere” routine, Luke arrests and holds him. (1/12/1838) Joe pays the judgement and splits for the last time with Sid. (Notice how it’s always Joe & Sid? Is this “two cons of a feather” or a true “bromance”?)

The church printing office is sold to help pay a debt to Grandison Newell, Joe’s least favorite nemesis. (1/15/1838) Strangest thing, but the very next day, the printing office burns down.

Thomas Marsh (1799 - 1866)

Thomas Marsh (1799 – 1866)

Two of the apostles (Tom Marsh & Dave Patten) don’t like what’s going on with the Missouri leadership or its proposed city plot. (I guess they didn’t get their piece of the action.) They lead a committee to snoop into things. (1/20/1838)

Ollie (Oliver Cowdry for you new readers.) writes his brother about “A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deviated from the truth.” (1/21/1838)(Old news to episode 3 readers.)

A special council is held in Far West, Apostle Tom presiding. (2/5/1838) David & John Whitmer and Willie Wine Phelps are kicked out to the Missouri presidency. Apostle Tom takes over the office of president.

On the same day, Warren Parrish says that Marty Harris never saw the “golden plates” in person, just as a “vision”. (Aka “shroom dream”?) Once again, readers of episode 2 already know that. Warren is backed up by Sylvester Smith and Leonard Rich, members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy along with former apostles Luke Johnson and John Boynton. Warren also charges Joe with extreme nepotism. (By Joe’s demise, Joe’s dad is Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency; bro Hyrum is Assistant President of the Church; bro William is an apostle; uncle John is Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency; cousin George is an apostle.)

Warren writes a letter to the editor of the Painesville Republican: “I have listened to him [i.e. Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the audible voice of god instructed him to establish a banking-anti banking institution, who like Aaron’s rod shall swallow up all other banks and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” Painesville Republican, February 22, 1838Kirtland_Safety_SocietyThis is bad news for Joe. If Warren is telling the truth, Joe was lying and is a “false prophet”, which, of course, is what the dissenters have been saying all along. Joe’s people try to discredit Parrish any way they can. (And, btw, they’re still at it.)

Kirtland’s Methodist meeting-house burns down. (2/22/1838) Since the well rope was cut, the bucket stolen and the only nearby pump had its handle broken, it was probably arson. On the same day, someone attempted to burn down the temple. The Methodist fire could have been a diversion to keep the people occupied while the temple blaze got started. Whoever knows, ain’t sayin’ nuttin’.

for_sale_sign_3-296x300 copyBy this time, most of the major players have deserted Kirtland for Far West. They’re followed by a good portion of the flock.

Because of the exodus, the market drops for Kirtland lots. They’re now basically worthless.

The Far West high council sends a couple of wagons along with money to Joe & Sid. (2/24/1838) A week later (3/3/1838) they decide to give Joe & Sid lots in Far West. (Free of charge, of course. No $2,000 lots for them.)

A Letter from Parley P. Pratt (P.P.P.) that he had sent on May 23rd of the previous year is leaked to “Zion’s Watchman” (3/6/1838) In part, it reads: “And Being as fully convinced that you and President [Sidney] Rigdon; Both By presept and Example have Been the principle means In Leading this people astray in these particulars and haveing myself Been Led astray and Caught in the same snare By your Example and By false Prophesying and preaching from your mouths; yea haveing done many things Rong and plunged my self and family and others well nigh in to distruction, I have awoke to an awful sense of my situation and now resolve to retrace my steps, and to get out of the snare and make restitution as far as I can And now Dear Brother If you are still determined to persue this wicked course untill your self and the Church shall sink down to hell; I Beseach you at least to have mercy on me and my family and others who are Bound with me for those certain 3 lots which you sold to me at the Extortionary price of $2;000 which never cost you $1:00; for if It stands against me it will rewin [ruin] Myself and a helpless family as well as those Bound with me.”Click on the last link to read the whole missive. It’s pretty scathing.

Willie Wine and John Whitmer are excommunicated by the council. (3/10/1838) Willie comes back and gets re-baptised later down the timeline.

Apostle Tom, still head of the council, files charges against Ollie. (4/11/1838)

Ollie is excommunicated. (4/12/1838) He’s charged with “seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith jr by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultery.” (i.e.calling out Joe about the Fannie Alger affair) and counterfeiting. (The KSSABC scapegoat stench is getting stronger and stronger.)

The council excommunicates Lyman Johnson and kicks David Whitmer out of the church for breaking the “Word of Wisdom”, (4/13/1838) although Joe is opening a hotel/saloon right there in downtown Far West. (But, as I’ve said before, rules don’t apply to “prophets”.) Interestingly, they don’t formally excommunicate Dave.

Joe tries to blame Lyman for the collapse of KSSABC, (4/15/1838) although by the time Joe & Sid gave up the reins, the “anti-bank” was already a hollow shell, drained of whatever money and credibility it originally had. (The Scapegoat Express keeps on a rollin’.)

J.C. has a “true church” again. (4/26/1838) The church is renamed “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”. Or maybe he has two “true churches”? Around this time, David Whitmer and Warren start their own “Church of Christ” and claim the temple property as payment for the KSSABC fiasco. Joe says that Big D wants another temple built, this time in Far West.

Joe has a “revelation” from Big Daddy “Let the properties of Kirtland be turned out for adebts, saith the Lord. Let them go, saith the Lord, and whatsoever remaineth, let it remain in your hands, saith the Lord.” D&C 117:5

So, B.D. says to dump everything in Kirtland, pay what ya gotta and keep the rest. First of all, the property would be confiscated anyway to pay the debts. At this point, there are claims totaling $30,206.44 (Nowadays that would be about $634,000.) Plus, the Kirtland property, including the temple, is in the hands of the “dissenters”. Since Joe and his cohorts don’t have much to say about it anyway, it sounds like this “revelation” is of the face-saving variety.

Another way to look at the “revelation” is that it fully involves the church in the whole mess. This comes in handy when it’s time to pay up. The church has already raised $38,000 (about $800,000) as a bond against future judgements. KSSABC may have been started by individuals as a personal piggy bank, (off-the-book loans and all that garbage) but those individuals are using the church to clean up their shit. Somehow, I have the feeling that if the venture had been a success, those individuals wouldn’t be quite so generous with the church.

Apostle William McLellin is excommunicated. (5/11/1838)

On top of having their debts paid, Joe & Sid each want $1,100 pay per annum. (There goes the “unpaid clergy” myth.) The council not only agrees, they throw in 80 acre lots for each. (5/12/1838) This does not go over well. There’s enough outrage, that the $1,100 is rescinded the next morning. (But, not the 80 acres?)

This brings up something that’s been bugging me. Eight short years ago, Joe had to extort Marty for the money to pay for printing the BoM. In the ensuing time period he seems to have gotten a hell of a lot wealthier by doing nothing but “spreading the gospel”. He had land holdings and sales in Kirtland. (Remember those $2000 ($42,000) lots near the temple location that he picked out.) He amassed enough money and land to help finance a bank and then buy another one. And, he is about to build that hotel/saloon. I think I understand the outrage.

But, enough of the ecclesiastical power plays. It’s time to dig up some dirt.


Masons, Mormonites & Mrs. Harris

Lucinda Pendleton leads a very interesting life.

At 19, she marries William Morgan, a stone cutter’s apprentice in his mid-40s. He claims he was a Virginia Militia Captain in the War of 1812, and while there were a number of Willie Morgans serving in the Virginia Militia, none of them were Captains.

Two years later they move to York, (now Toronto) Ontario and Willie opens up a brewery. By all accounts, he has a huge hankerin’ for his own product and is a big fanboy of the speckled cubes. Unfortunately, the brewery goes up in flame, wiping them out, and they return to the U.S. to settle in Batavia N.Y..Illustrations of Masonry

In Batavia, Willie tries to join the Masons. There are a couple of versions of the story, but they both end with him being rejected.

In retaliation, he writes a book, “Illustrations of Masonry, by One of the Fraternity“. Morgan claims it’ll expose their innermost secrets and rituals.

Some local Masons get a tad upset about the whole thing. They run ads denouncing Willie. Then “someone” tries to burn down the publisher’s office. The episode finally ends with Willie “pulling a Crater“.

Some Masons claim that Willie has welched on a debt and has stolen a shirt and a tie, so they have him arrested. (9/12/1826) A few hours later, an unidentified “friend” posts bail and the two of them take a carriage to Fort Niagara. End of story. (And end of Willie?)

The Masons claim that they pay Willie $500 to skip the country. Others claim that Willie is given a boat ride half way across the Niagara River. In any case, hide or hair of Willie is never seen again.

But fear not for Willie. In a few years (1840) he will be one of the first to be posthumously baptised into the Mormonite church. (By proxy. They don’t really dig up the dead and dunk ’em.)

Life goes on! (Well, maybe not for Willie.) Fortunately, Lucy finds a shoulder to cry on in George Washington (no relation) Harris. G.W. is an old acquaintance, they had 1st met when she was 14.lucindaharrisThree years later (11/30/1830) Lucy marries G.W. Like Willie, G.W. is a couple of decades older than Lucy. (What can I say? Lucy likes “experienced” men.) A couple of years later, they move to Terre Haute, IN. (The Urban Dictionary describes Terre Haute thusly: There is a horrible smell in the air, a prostitute on the corner, and a meth lab down the street….I must be in Terre Haute!” But, that’s in 2013, back in 1835, it’s a one-horse county seat. (pop: 1000))

In 1834, Orson Pratt (P.P.P.’s younger bro) comes to town selling the gospel according to Saint Joe.

He must have a heck of a sales pitch. G.W. and Lucy not only buy it ‘hook, line and stinker”, they decide to pull of stakes and move to Missouri. Since “Zion” is off-limits to Mormonite habitation, they settle in Far West.


Polyandry Time!lucinda

“On the lam” from Kirtland, (3/1838) Joe moves in with G.W. & Lucy for a couple of months when he gets to Far West.

Sometime during that two months, Horny Joe beds and supposedly weds Mrs Harris. (Of course, Mrs Harris is still married to Mr Harris, but heyyy, Joe’s a prophet, so rules don’t apply unless he likes ’em. Besides, Big D probably told him to play “hide the pickle” with Mrs Harris.)

There is a bit of controversy over the date of the supposed wedding. There’s no record of it anywhere, however even the church says they are “married”. Although they can’t be “sealed in the temple”, because Joe has lost control of the one in Kirtland, and Far West’s isn’t built and the “plural marriage” revelation is still five years in the future.

There is a proxy (Mrs Harris isn’t there and Joe’s feeding the worms.) sealing after the Nauvoo temple is built. (1/22/1846) However, I think the proxy falls under the CYA column.

So, this is either a case of bigamy and polyandry (female bigamy) or Joe’s a serial adulterer. (My bucks are on the latter.)

Then there’s the statement Lucy makes to Orson Pratt’s wife Sarah, a few years later. Evidently Horny Joe is puttin’ the moves on Mrs. P.. Confused as to how to react, she goes to Lucy with her problem.

This is how Mrs. P. recalls it: “Mrs. Harris was a married lady, a very great friend of mine. When Joseph made ​​his dastardly attempt on me, I went to Mrs. Harris to unbosom my grief to her. To my utter astonishment, she said, laughing heartily: “How foolish you are! Why, I am his mistress since four years.” Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal: Mormon Portraits: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family , and His Friends, p 60 Tribune Printing and Publishing Company (1886)

Unlike most of his previous conquests (I’m only listing the “official” ones.), Mrs Harris isn’t a teenager, she’s actually about 5 years older than Joe.

No one knows if G.W. is aware of being a cuckold, but the “arrangement” has benefits for him as well. Over the next few years, G.W. rises higher and higher in the power structure. (High Priest, High Council member, Nauvoo City Alderman, Nauvoo City Chairman, Bishop.) However, in the end, he gets excommunicated. (Why should he be any different?) When the Mormonites are kicked out of Missouri, Joe reserves a home for G.W. and Lucy (right across the street from his) in Nauvoo. By ’44, G.W. is head of the Nauvoo City Council, and as such, he gets a resolution passed that ultimately results in no more Joe. (The usual tease: “More info coming up down the timeline.”)

After the Carthage jail gunfight, when they bring Joe’s body back to Nauvoo, Lucy stands by Joe’s head “her face covered, and her whole frame convulsed with weeping”

Lucy dumps G.W. and the whole Mormonite thingy (1850) and, according to several sources, converts to Catholicism (aka “The Church of the Devil” to Mormonites) and joins the Sisters of Charity as a nurse. Some reports claim she’s a Union nurse in the Civil War. Todd M. Compton: In Sacred Loneliness The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, p 43 Signature Books (1997)

Since I’m becoming addicted to ending these posts on a high note, (musically speaking) talking of “the War of the Rebellion” (Civil War) gives me an excuse to sneak in the #1 hit of the war. And, no, it wasn’t “Dixie” or “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

To bring this tale sort of full circle, before he dies, Joe and some buds start their own Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo. (3/1842) This has ramifications that shape a number of church rituals into what they are today. (All together now: “More info coming up down the timeline.”)

Next episode, the Uncivil war heats up BIG TIME. Before the year is out, it spreads to Joe and his goon squad battling the state of Missouri. (It doesn’t end well for Joe, his “Daughters of Zion”, or the rest of the Mormonites.)

Until then, take care of yourselves, and just as important, take care of others.


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did.It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 6: Onward Christian(?) Soldiers

You’re not supposed to do this, but I’m going to start off with an apology.

I normally try to keep my posts under 3000 words. And, most times, I actually manage to do that. This isn’t one of those times.

Though at its core, the 1838 Mormon War is very simple, (a conflict of two cultures) it’s also very complex, with too much “he said, she said” bs to sort out in 3000 words. Plus, to be honest, there are a couple of side trips thrown in to make it easier to understand.

Therefore, this one time only (I hope) this is going to be a double length post (around 6600 words). I’ll try not to do it again, but then again, I didn’t try to do it this time.

So, chase the cat off your favorite comfy chair, help yourself to a bit of liquid libation, sit back and enjoy the episode.

Onward Christian(?) Soldiers

Once upon a time, Christianity was all about peace, love and brotherhood. Then it became the state religion of Rome and pulled a 180. Now it was an instrument of state power. As the Roman empire disintegrated, the church took over many of the aspects of government. The church can be bad-mouthed (and deservedly so) for a millennium of stymieing scientific process, but that must be leavened a bit with the fact that they did manage to keep some threads of civilization intact in an otherwise barbarian Europe.

Conversion by conquest

Conversion by conquest

One governmental item the church didn’t possess was an army. But who needs an army when there’s a shit-load of big, bad-ass tribal warlords “kings” out there that once converted, can carry the word on the tip of a sword? (That’s one way to make a point!)

Æthelberht and Clovis come to mind, as does the biggest bad-assiest of all: Charlemagne. Upon capturing a pagan village, Charlemagne (and the rest) would give survivors a choice. Convert or be cut to pieces. Need I mention, the conversion rate was astronomical.

Btw, these “Christian” kings had absolutely no problem torturing and killing anyone they perceived as being a threat, or even in their way. That included family members and relatives. (So much for the 6th Commandment, as well as a couple of others.)

Then there were the crusades. These “knights of God” ended up raiding, raping and killing about as many Jews and fellow Christians as they did camel jockeys. And, of course, there was all that booty (both varieties) to be had.

But that was back then. Those Christian knights were about a level or so above basic barbarian. This is now. (1838) Christians are much more civilized. That would never happen in this modern age. Right?


Mormon ChronologyCONTINUED

The Rise of the Danites

Charge of the Danites

Charge of the Danites

(6/17/1838) Sid (Sidney Rigdon, for all you new readers) goes all “rabble-rouser” and delivers his now infamous “Salt Sermon”. He says that dissenters (people who have gotten sick and tired of Joe’s scams) would be “trodden under the foot of men” and calls upon his “Gideonites” (holy warriors) to “drive out the dissenters”. Then Joe gets up and says anyone who criticizes the church leadership (i.e. Joe & Sid) “should be driven over the prairies like a deer by a pack of hounds”. (Ahh, sweet megalomania, how intoxicating thy fragrance.)

On the other side of the divide, Dave Whitmer says Big Daddy personally told him to leave Joe’s church. Why is it, no matter what the cause or contention, all sides seem to claim that Big D is their ally? (Well maybe not the old U.S.S.R., but almost everybody else.) Second question: Why would Big D chose any of these clowns to chat with, let alone use them to establish his “true church”?

(7/25/1838) The Kirtland temple is leased to Nelson Slater for use as a “temple of science” dba Western Reserve Teacher’s Seminary and Kirtland Institute. When Mr. Slater abandons the lease, Ollie takes it over, giving him control of the temple.

(7/4/1838) Speaking of temples, the Far West temple cornerstone gets laid. At the ceremony, Joe says building the temple must begin within the year and be finished quickly. It never is!

At the same ceremony, Sid gives another one of his “rile up the rubes” speeches, declaring a “war of extermination”. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them until the last drop of their blood is spilled; or else they will have to exterminate us, for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed…” Stephen C. LeSueur: The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, pp 37-43 University of Missouri Press (1990)

It should be no surprise that all the aforementioned resulted in action. It’s around this time, that the Dannites come into focus. Most people who have even heard the word, associate it with all the Mormonite paramilitary hit squads. But actually, the Danites are the Missouri version. And technically, they’re not the Danites. They are organized as “The Daughters of Zion”. (A little gender bending going on here, or is the closet just not big enough?) “Danites” is Joe’s pet name for the group. For you to really appreciate the “Daughters”, I need to do a few flashbacks:

  1. (7/1833) Joe claims that Big D stopped by to pass along something that had been on his mind. (B.D.’s or Joe’s?) “And now verily I say unto you, concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe all things whatsoever I command them. And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.” D&C 98:4-7 In other words, if there’s a law B.D. Joe likes, you have to obey it. If he doesn’t like the law, you don’t. And, neither does he! (Ain’t megalomania grand? I call this the “It ain’t a law, unless I like it” revelation. In “propheting” circles, this one’s an oldie, but a goodie.)
  2. (4/1834) Then, there’s the rave that started the Zion’s Camp fiasco: “Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm.” D&C 103:15-18(Doesn’t sound much like J.C.’s “Turn the other cheek” to me.)
  3. (1/1834) On the “Zion’s Camp march”, Joe organizes a militia called the “Armies of Israel”. This is a precursor to the “Daughters” with more than a little common membership. As the readers of episode 3: Marching to Zion & Fancying Fanny’s Fanny know, the Missouri folks had a bigger militia waiting, but in the good ol’ “nick-of-time”, B.D. called off the entire affair (after they’d already come 1000 miles) and rewarded them with a cholera outbreak.
  4. (6/9/1837) There’s Orson Hyde’s testimony in Joe’s murder conspiracy trial: that he “seemed much excited and declared that Newell should be put out-of-the-way, or where the crows could not find him; he said destroying Newell would be justifiable in the sight of God, that it was the will of God, &c.” So Big D wants somebody “rubbed out”? Why the hell doesn’t he do it himself? He’s had a shit load of experience in that area. Just give the dude a heart attack. Problem solved! Hmmmm, could it be that our boy Joe is lying about B.D.’s thoughts on the matter?
  5. (10/14/1838) And, of course, Joe’s “Second Muhammad” speech. 118_23
  6. And finally, there’s Joe’s proposal to confiscate the property of any Mormonites that refuse to take up arms against the citizens of Missouri. Anson B. Call “Statement, December 30, 1885,” p. 2; Albert P. Rockwood “Journal,” pp. 7-8 (In other words, if you don’t put your life on the line for him, he’ll steal your property.) Fortunately this did not go over any better than his attempt to establish “small c” communism (The United Order) and gain access to the saints suckers’ wallets back in Kirtland. (And, that one went over about as well as a punchbowl turd at a Sunday social.)

(6/1838) The “Daughters of Zion” is officially organized to rid Caldwell County of dissenters.Missou3It’s supposedly the mutual brain child of Sampson Avard, Jared Carter & George Robinson. (And it’s one UG-ly kid.) Btw, George is 1st Secretary to the First Presidency and Sid’s son-in-law.

I say “supposedly”, because according to Avard’s testimony, backed up by several others, Joe is the prime mover behind the scenes. Beside the upcoming trial testimony, there are a number of other links to Joe and the inner circle.

For instance, the day after the Danites are organized, Sid composes “The Danite Manifesto” for them to deliver to the dissenters, particularly Ollie, (Oliver Cowley) David & John Whitmer, Willie Wine Phelps and Lyman Johnson. D. Michael Quinn: The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books (1994)

After attacking their character and actions, and giving them 3 days to get out, it states “We have solemnly warned you, and that in the most determined manner, that if you do not cease that course of wanton abuse of the citizens of this county, that vengeance would overtake you sooner or later, and that when it did come it would be as furious as the mountain torrent, and as terrible as the beating tempest; but you have affected to dispise our warnings, and pass them off with a sneer, or a grin, or a threat, and pursued your former course; and vengeance sleepeth not, neither does it slumber; and unless you heed us this time, and attend to our request, it will overtake you at an hour when you do not expect, and at a day when you do not look for it; and for you there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you, which is depart, depart, or a more fatal calamity shall befall you.

The letter is signed by 83 Mormonites, including Joe’s bro Hyrum, a member of the church’s First Presidency. Anyone who keeps their mouth shut, won’t be hounded out of the territory. But, if you bad mouth Joe, Sid or any of their various scams, you’re excommunicated, exiled and if you’re not quick enough, executed. Within the 3 day dead-line, almost all the “dissenters” have split for safer locations.

So, that’s Sid’s son-in-law as a founder, Sid as the manifesto writer and Joe’s bro as a signatory. And then, of course, there’s court testimony that Joe’s a back stage operator in all this. If that doesn’t reek of “officially sanctioned”, I don’t know what does. (So, the 1st Presidency is condoning murder? hmmmm)

When asked about the manifesto, Sid replies “When a country, or body of people have individuals among them with whom they do not wish to associate and a public expression is taken against their remaining among them and such individuals do not remove it is the principle of republicanism itself that gives that community a right to expel them forcibly and no law will prevent it” Reed Peck: The Reed Peck Manuscript, (1839), Modern Microfilm Co. (published 1965) (That sounds an awful lot like the justifications for the Jewish pogroms in Europe.)

Now that those evil, nasty, despicable, vile, not nice, dissenters are almost all exiled out of the area, the Daughters’ goal has been accomplished in one fell swoop. (The threat of death is a tremendous motivator!) The whole raison d’être for the Daughters has been accomplished. Time to disband, right?

Weil, now that they’re up and organized, there is this one other group that Joe & Sid hate almost as much: Missourians.

It has to be said, that there is some justification in Joe’s attitude. At this time in church history, Joe and the gang welcome blacks into the church and they even hold the priesthood. (Brigham, the bigot, hasn’t taken over yet.) As you may recall from school, or from episode 3, Missouri is a “slave state” and they don’t cotton to “nigger-lovers”.

On the other side of the coin, Missourians have some legitimate complaints as well. When the Mormonites are kicked out of Zion, (11/7/1833) they are offered temporary refuge in Clay County, across the river. Three years later, as temporary turns into permanent, Clay County residents feel their hospitality is being abused. Vigilante groups form and the situation starts to turn nasty.

In order to avoid conflict, Alexander Doniphan introduced a bill splitting up Clay County and creating Caldwell County. Caldwell County was designated specifically for Mormonites. That portion of Clay county was sparsely populated so there would be less friction between Missourians and Mormonites. That would also leave Clay county and the rest of Missouri free of the Mormonite infestation. (At least that’s what the legislature had in mind.) Richard L. Bushman: Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, pp 343-45, Vantage, (2007)

dc-116-1For a time, the compromise worked. Caldwell county life was much more peaceful and friction with non-Mormonites lessened considerably. However, as we have learned, a law (or for that matter, a compromise) isn’t legal unless Joe likes it. And, he doesn’t care for this, one bit.

For one thing, it constricts his “kingdom” (After all, Big D has promised the entire state of Missouri will be the Mormonites inheritance. D&C 57:1); for another, the new county doesn’t include Adam-ondi-Ahman. You may recall, back in episode 4, that I teased Adam-ondi-Ahman and mentioned that it was very important in Mormonite mythology. This may be the place to tell the tale.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (*)

In the last several episodes, a lot has been said about Independence being “Zion”, the city of God and the abode of the elect. What hasn’t been said, is why it’s Zion.(You may want to sit down for this.) Independence is the location of Zion, because Independence is the location of the Garden of Eden!(Well, that’s what Joe says Big D says anyway.) Andrew Jenson, Historical Record of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7:438–439 (1888)

The Garden of Eden (aka Independence, MO)
The Garden of Eden (aka Independence, MO)

Remember the biblical flood that dumped Utnapishtim Noah and all those animals on Mt Ararat? (Btw, how did the platypi get back home to Australia? Or the penguins to Antarctica?) Well, that self-same flood transported Noah and the gang 6000 miles from the old “New World” to the new “Old World”. (And B.D. hadn’t even invented dramamine yet)

Nagging question time. If we are all the children of A&E, then according to Joe, everybody who lived before Noah, lived in the western hemisphere. If that’s the case, who (or what) built all those eastern hemisphere pyramids and ancient ruins that were constructed pre-flood? (2150 BCE, according to Jewish scholars.)

Ok, that’s Zion. So what is Adam-ondi-Ahman? Well, when Adam and Eve were shown the garden gate, and told not to let it hit their backsides, they traveled north and settled in Adam-ondi-Ahman.



As you can see from the above pic, Adam-ondi-Ahman is rather pretty. Plus, it sure beats the fate that Big Daddy told A&E they would suffer. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17 So, either B.D. is non-prescient, or he’s a liar. (Your choice.) But that’s history(?). In the future, A-o-A is where J.C. is supposed to make his big comeback. According to Joe, you get extra points if you’re there when he shows up, and he’s due any year now.

Just like the Millerites, Joe’s a postmillennialist, and he has good reason. On Christmas back in ’32, Joe’s praying when J.C. drops by. He said……… No, you might not believe me. I think I’ll let Joe tell it. “I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, (1890) thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.” D&C 130:14-15

There’s a few weasel words in there that the church tries to hide behind, but according to Joe, this is J.C.’s response when he asks a direct question about the 2nd coming.

And then there’s this Joe quote from a Mormonite General Conference. (4/6/1843)There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death til Christ comes.” The Words of Joseph Smith, p.179 (Available on Amazon for just $401.90) I googled it, but I can’t find one person in the world who’s 170 years old. If you know of any, let me know. (Right after you call Guinness.)

(*) According to Iron Butterfly, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is what “In the Garden of Eden” sounds like after chugging a gallon of cheap red wine. (And, they should know.)

Ok, back to the narrative.

Joe’s “Muhammad” FAIL (aka “The 1838 Mormon War”)

All this brings us to the 1838 Mormon War (The 1st of 3 “Mormon Wars”. Upcoming are the Illinois Mormon War (1844-46); and the Utah War. (1857-58) This is one of those wars in which there are next to no “good guys”, other than perhaps one Missourian, Alexander Doniphan. (He of the earlier Caldwell County compromise, and several upcoming events.) Basically, it’s just a clash of two competing cultures, both sides replete with “bad guys”.

Now, the Mormonites claim that they’re doing this because there’s a conspiracy to drive them out of Missouri. As for their proof of the claim????????……….. Besides, Big Daddy promised Missouri to them. So there!

As for the Missourians’ take on the events, historian Stephen LeSureur writes “Missourians viewed the Mormons’ theocratic rule in Caldwell County, the secret teachings and oaths of the Danite band, the unwillingness of Mormon leaders to submit to local authorities, and the military operations of their soldiers as evidence of Mormon intentions to overthrow the government in western Missouri and supplant it with one of their own.” Stephen C. LeSueur: The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, pp 101-110 University of Missouri Press (1990)

1838 Mormon War Map

1838 Mormon War Map

(6/25/1838) A Mormonite settlement is established on Spring Hill (Adam-ondi-Ahman) in Daviess County. Not only that, but the church has bought the town of De Witt in Carroll County and is proceeding to colonize it. (There goes the compromise!)

(6/28/1838) A-o-A is formed as a stake. (Mormonite equivalent of a diocese.) It’s the 3rd one established by Joe. The 1st two were Kirtland and Far West.

(7/6/1838) The settlement in A-o-A is bigger than Gallatin, the Daviess county seat. (There goes the balance of power.) Missourians are NOT pleased! Plus, there’s an election coming up and Mormonites tend to vote in lock-step to Joe’s command. Seeing their power structure threatened, the county politicians do what politicians always seem to do in these situations, they demonize the opposition. In this version, Mormonites are “robbers & horse thieves”.


The Battle over the Ballot Box

(8/6/1838) Election Day! This day marks the 1st fight of the war. (It really isn’t near big enough to call it a battle.)

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 Missourians show up in Gallatin, determined to keep the Mormonite “horse thieves” from voting. Speaking of the “horse thieves”, about 30 of the Danite variety come to vote.

At first they are told that Clay County Mormonites had been allowed to vote “no more than negroes.”When this is called the BS that it is, a brawl breaks out. As it starts, one of the Mormonites yells “Oh yes, you Danites, here is a job for us!” Stephen C. LeSueur: The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, pp 55-64 University of Missouri Press (1990) gallatThe Danites must be prepared, not to mention, pretty tough, because they manage to fight off the 200 “gentiles” and escape. No one is killed in the fight, but you can’t tell that from the rumors (on both sides).

Another rumor circulating says that Judge Adam Black is assembling a mob near Millport. Joe grabs 100 well-armed Danites and surrounds the Judge’s home. Joe demands that Judge Black sign a document disavowing any connection to the vigilantes, or else! Joe and his gang also visit the sheriff and several other local leaders and force them to do the same.

While this is going on, in Carroll County there is a question on the ballot as to whether Mormonites should be allowed to settle in the county. The result isn’t even close.

(9/20/1838) A 150 man delegation is sent to De Witt to tell the Mormonites they’ve got 10 days to get out. If they don’t, the delegation threatens “to exterminate them, without regard to age or sex.” Stephen C. LeSueur: The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, pp 101-110 University of Missouri Press (1990)

The Mormonites reply that they will fight to keep their colony. They also send a message to Governor Boggs, asking for help. The Mormonite refusal isn’t taken lightly. The county appeals to the adjoining counties for help in expelling the Mormonites. They get lots of response. Vigilance committees are called up in several other counties to help clear out the infestation

(10/1/1838) In a bit of a 19th century siege, Carroll County forces seal off De Witt.

(10/9/1838) The Mormonites get a response to their request for help from the governor. (It isn’t the one they want.) Governor Boggs has decided that the “quarrel was between the Mormons and the mob” and may the best side win.

(10/11/1838) Mormonites agreed to abandon the settlement and leave Carroll County. (Guess they weren’t “the best side”.)

(10/14/1838) With the state militia’s help, Mormonites form their own official state militia. However, it can only operate legally in Caldwell County. This is another law Joe doesn’t like so he has a Mormonite judge declare the law void.

George M. Hinkle (1801-1861)

George M. Hinkle (1801-1861)

(10/18/1838) Under Joe’s direction, High Councilman (now Colonel) George Hinkle leads the county militia, mostly composed of Danites, into Daviess County. “On the 18th of October about 150 Mormons came to Gallatin, and finding but a few men in the place, took possession of the town. Removing the goods from the stores, the business houses were burned. According to Major McGee, “We could stand in our dooryard and see houses burning every night for over two weeks. The Mormons completely gutted Daviess County. There was scarcely a Missourian home left standing in the county. Nearly every one was burned. Their flight from the county had been so precipitated that they left all they had behind, taking only their families and teams.”John C. Leopard, Buel Leopard, R.M. McCammon & Mary McCammon: History of Daviess and Gentry Counties, Missouri p 98, Hillman Illustrated Historical Publishing Co. (1922)

(10/23/1838) General Atchison, the state militia commander, orders Captain Samuel Bogart to take a company and patrol the border between Ray and Caldwell counties, a 6 by 24 mile area known locally as “Buncombe’s (or Bunkham’s) Strip”. They are to “prevent, if possible, any invasion of Ray county by persons in arms whatever”.

(10/24/1838) The next day, Thomas Marsh (Apostle Tom) and on-and-off Apostle Orson Hyde have finally had enough. (Scams are one thing, bloodshed’s another.) They exit the church and the county and head for Richmond in Ray County. Upon arrival, they compose an affidavit confirming the Gallatin looting and burning. They also state “On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons, they had a meeting at Far West at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the destruction company, for the purpose of burning & destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell & committed depredations on the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe & if the people of Clay & Ray made any movement against them, this destroying company was to burn Liberty & Richmond. This burning was to be done secretly by going as incendiaries. In addition, they claim that Joe is using the Danites to murder people and that he’s trying to take over Missouri, the U.S., and eventually the world. (Another megalomania driven fantasy? Or, is it just possible that maybe Big D had promised it to him?)

Within two days, both are excommunicated.The church claims Apostle Tom is just pissed off because of a dispute his wife has over a cow. George A. Smith: Journal of Discourses Vol. 3, pp 283-84 (In Mormonite legend, this is referred to as “the milk & strippings story”.)


The Battle of Crooked River

Unfortunately, the captain put in charge of patrolling Buncombe’s Strip is an anti-Mormonite with a history of vigilante raids. First he kicks out any Mormonites living in the strip, then he takes the company into southern Caldwell county and tells the Mormonites to get out of the area, while confiscating any weapons he finds. On their way back to Ray county the militia grabs three Mormonites.

David Patton ("Captain Fear-naught") (1799-1838)

David Patton (“Captain Fear-naught”) (1799-1838)

According to the rumors that hit Far West almost immediately, the prisoners are going to be executed. By midnight, Apostle David Patton (“Captain Fear-naught”(*)) assembles his Danite militia and heads south to rescue the prisoners.

(*) He’s called “Captain Fear-naught” for his “bravery” in his previous adventures in Gallatin and the rest of Daviess county, burning down all those buildings after the residents had fled and then stealing everything not nailed down. (Evidently the 10 commandments are null and void for Apostles too.)

(10/25/1838) Around 5 am, Captain Fear-naught and his Danites locate Captain Bogart’s camp along the shores of the Crooked River about 12 miles south of Far West.


Battle_of_Crooked_RiverAs the sun is rising, a firefight breaks out between the two camp sentries and the Mormonites. Both sides claim the other side fires first, but I really don’t think that makes any difference. Both sides are spoiling for blood.

In the initial skirmish, Mormonite Pat O’Bannnion is mortally wounded by one of Bogart’s sentries. The guards then retreat to the camp and take up defensive positions with the rest of the company.

The gun battle continues with Bogart’s men in a better strategic position. Captain Fear-naught splits his group into three columns, and taking command of one of them charges Bogart’s position. Evidently, the Mormonites bring along their swords, and the Missourians don’t. Once past the rifle volleys, the Mormonites have the upper hand (or sword, if you will) and the Missourians are routed.

Just because the Missourians are fleeing doesn’t mean that the Mormonites stop firing at them. (Backs make such good targets.) This results in the only Missourian death. On the Mormonite side, there were three fatalities: Pat O’bannion in the initial skirmish, Danite leader Gideon Carter, and our guy, Captain Fear-naught.

Can’t quite leave our dear Captain without relating my favorite David Patton story.

You may remember from back in episode two, Marvelous Marty Harris’s walk-and-talk with J.C. disguised as a dear (J.C., not Marty) or his meeting the devil “a very sleek haired fellow with four feet, and a head like that of a Jack-ass.”.

Well, David Patton must have sprung from that same banana hatchery. He never met J.C. or the devil (that we know of) but he did bump into Cain (Yah, that Cain!)one day in Paris. (The one in Tennessee.)

Cain? Is that you?

Cain? Is that you?

“As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me… His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the holy priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight…” Spencer W. Kimball: Miracle of Forgiveness p 127, (1969)

Some Mormonites claim that Bigfoot is Cain. (Or is that Cain is Bigfoot? If I ever meet him, I’ll ask. While on the subject of Cain, if he was born in Adam-ondi-Ahman, how is he still alive? Did he stowaway on the ark or can he breath underwater? Inquiring minds want to know!)

After the battle, the Mormonites do what they do best, they steal or confiscate (same difference) anything left by the Missourians.

Despite greater casualties, the Battle of Crooked River is a victory for Mormonites. The battle is a victory, but the war is lost. It won’t last another week.

(10/27/1838) Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues his Missouri Executive Order 44,

Headquarters of the Militia, City of Jefferson, Oct. 27, 1838.

Gen. John B. Clark:

Sir: Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Reese, Esq., of Ray county, and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids [sic], information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this state. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operation with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary. I have just issued orders to Maj. Gen. Willock, of Marion county, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with Gen. Doniphan, of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express, you can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead therefore of proceeding as at first directed to reinstate the citizens of Daviess in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the Mormons. Brig. Gen. Parks of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred of his brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.

I am very respectfully, yr obt st [your obedient servant],

L. W. Boggs, Commander-in-Chief.

As a result of this order, it is technically legal to kill Mormonites in Missouri for the next 137 years until Governor Christopher Bond rescinds the order in 1976.

The extermination order is soon taken advantage of.


The massacre at Haun’s Mill

HaunsMillHaun’s mill in eastern Caldwell county was built by Jacob Haun (or Hawn) in 1835-36. Mr Haun isn’t a member, but there are about 30 Mormonite families living in the immediate vicinity.

(10/28/1838) 28 Mormonite men are organized into a defense force in case trouble comes to the mill. The same day, a truce is negotiated between the Haun Mormonites and one of the Missourian militias.

(10/30/1838) A militia led by Livingston County Sheriff William Jennings rides into the mill. Alerted to the militia’s presence, most of the women and children run into the woods and hide. The men decide to make a stand in the blacksmith shop. BIG MISTAKE!Haun's Mill MapThe blacksmith shop is a log building with big gaps between the logs, allowing the militia to fire over 100 rounds into the deathtrap. On entering the shop, the militia find 78 year old Thomas McBride who surrenders his weapon and is promptly shot and then hacked up with a corn knife while still alive. Several other men who are wounded or surrender are also killed.

The militia also find three children hiding, an 8-year-old girl and two boys, 9 & 10, The militia shoots the girl and the 9-year-old boy, who dies later. Then Sheriff Jennings blows off the top of the 10 year old’s head. When asked about it, Jennings replies “Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.” Andrew Jenson; Historical Record p 163 (1888)

None of these assholes are ever prosecuted for this atrocity. (Well, Gov Boggs did declare open season on Mormonite hunting.)

When it’s all over, there are 17 Mormonites dead and 13 wounded, including a woman and another 9-year-old child. The dead are buried in an unfinished well.

After the massacre, Joe claims he had sent word to Jacob Haun to tell the Mormonites to leave and seek safety in Far West and that Haun had never passed on the message. (Smells like a hot, steaming pile of CYA to me.)

Why would Joe send word to Haun, who is not a church member, and not directly to the Mormonites? And, why would Haun not relay the message if he actually got it? It wasn’t in his interest to have his mill shot up and people killed.

The music’s over.

(10/30/1838) Far West is surrounded by militias commanded by General Samuel Lucas and General Doniphan but 200 Danites avoid interception and join the 600 armed Danites and other Mormonites in defensive positions in the town.

(10/30/1838) Joe’s getting a tad bit nervous so he sends out Colonel Hinkle, John Corrill and our old buddy, W.W. Phelps to negotiate a peace treaty. (I guess Willie Wine is back in Joe’s good graces. I’m losing track of all the in and out actors in this black comedy.) Several witnesses say that Joe says to “beg like a dog for peace”. Colonel Hinkle is more circumspect in his recollection. He simply states that Joe wants a peace treaty “on any terms short of battle.” Meanwhile, Big Daddy is strangely silent on the whole fiasco. No nick-of-time “revelations” or miracles in sight. (You’d think he’d at least try to help his “saints”.)

The negotiated terms are “short of battle” but long of retribution:

  1. “To give up their leaders to be tried and punished.”
  2. “To make an appropriation of their property, all who had taken up arms, to the payment of their debts, and indemnity for damage done by them.”
  3. “That the balance should leave the state, and be protected out by the militia, but to be permitted to remain under protection until further orders are received from the Commander-in-Chief.” Upon hearing this, Joe replies that he doesn’t care. He’ll be glad to get out of this “damnable state”. (But Joe, what about all those promises Big D made about Missouri belonging to his Mormonites? And, where’s J.C. going to make his big comeback if A-o-A is off-limits to his “true church”?)
  4. “To give up the arms of every description to be receipted for.”

Joe accepts the terms and rides out to the militia camps with several other church leaders. As we know, Joe thinks that being a “profit prophet of the Lord”, exempts him from laws he doesn’t like, let alone “being tried and punished”. Imagine his surprise when he’s arrested.

In Joe’s mind, Colonel Hinkle has betrayed him, even though the colonel told him the conditions of the peace treaty. Hinkle’s reaction to the accusation: “When the facts were laid before Joseph, did he not say, ‘I will go’; and did not the others go with him, and that, too, voluntarily, so far as you and I were concerned?”Nevertheless, Hinkle, along with John Corrill and Willie Wine are all excommunicated the following April. (This is getting monotonous.)

(10/31/1838) Joe tries to negotiate better conditions, to no avail. At 8 am he sends word for Far West to surrender. Bro Hyrum tells Crooked River veterans to get out of Missouri as fast as they can. “If found, they will be shot down like dogs.” The Mormonite militia is marched out of town and gives up their weaponry. General Lucas’ men are given orders to ransack the town, searching for weapons. (wink, wink)

Alexander Doniphan (1808-1887)

Alexander Doniphan (1808-1887)

(11/1/1838) Joe and his gang are put on trial for treason and convicted. (That was quick!) General Lucas gives orders to General Doniphan: “You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West and shoot them at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.”

General Doniphan refuses the order: “It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty to-morrow morning, at 8 o’clock, and if you execute those men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God!” (I told you he was one of the few “good guys’ in this scenario.)

(11/8/1838) Adam-ondi-Ahman is surrounded by a Militia commanded by General Robert Wilson.

(11/10/1838) The residents of A-o-A are told they have 10 days to get out of the county.

(11/12/1838) A court of inquiry is convened in Richmond. The charges are treason, murder, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny and perjury. Most of the leaders are released, but Joe, Sid, Hyrum, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin and Alex McRae are imprisoned in the Liberty jail.


Executive Order 44, having been accomplished, the militias are disbanded in November.

The Mormonites are given till spring to clear out. As Judge Austin King puts it “If you once think to plant crops or to occupy your lands any longer than the first of April, the citizens will be upon you: they will kill you every one, men, women and children.”
By the deadline, 12-15,000 (estimates vary) Mormonites have left Missouri for hopefully greener pastures in Iowa and Illinois.

Governor Boggs mishandling of whole situation, particularly his EO 44, gets him into some political hot water with a number of Missourians. On May 6, 1842 he’s shot in the head (Lots of “juicy” on this when we get to ’42.)

in 1840, George Hinkle founds his own Mormonite church called “the Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife“. It doesn’t survive.

Joe stays in jail until spring. During a transfer to prison, he escapes. Some say that he bribes the guards, others that his escape is “politically convenient” for Governor Boggs.

Rail RidingI go with the former explanation for two reasons. One is that it fits Joe’s character with his history of lying, scamming and general moral turpitude. The other reason is the reaction to the escape by Missourians. One of the guards, William Bowman is dragged by his hair across the town square, and Sheriff Morgan is treated to a rail ride. The sheriff dies from injuries he receives during the ride.

In any case, Joe’s long gone. We’ll meet up with him again in the next episode: “Oh, You Can’t Go to Quashquema Anymore”

The eventual costs of the Mormon War, for both Mormonite and Missourian, amounts to over $1 million (over $21,236,720.13 in today’s plastic money), not counting lost and shattered lives on both sides.

As usual with these posts, I’ll leave you with a song. This one really doesn’t have much to do with anything other than (very loosely) the next episode’s title. However, I think you’ll like it. I mean, who doesn’t like little green ducks?


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, I’ve got a FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might enjoy. Better yet, you might “like” it. It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 7: You Can’t Go to Quashquema Anymore

Well, here we are at episode #7. Believe it or not, this was originally supposed to be a single segment in “The Religious Wrong (pt 3: The Great(?) Awakening)“. However as I was researching, (Yes Virginia, I research before I rant!) I kept running into more and more interesting little tidbits.

As I said back in episode 1, “Joe & the Magic Hat Stone“, I used to be one of those Mormonite critters. Some of this stuff, I’d heard before, but with a very Mormonite slant. A lot of it, the church didn’t want to discuss at all.

After reading the other side’s take on the situation and doing a bunch (and I mean a BUNCH) of fact checking, the church version started leaking like a sieve.

So far in this series, we’ve explored con jobs, fake translations, phony “revelations”, a bank scandal, adultery, more adultery (or maybe polyandry), infighting that would make congress look like Sunnybrook Farm, and a war. And, we haven’t gotten to the really “fun stuff” yet.

Polygamy, when it becomes an official “revelation from Big Daddy”, is going to get a post all its own. (Until that happens Joe keeps lying about his bed bouncing with women not named Emma.) Plus, we’ve got the further adventures of Joe’s hit squad (the Danites morph into the “Nauvoo Legion”), two more wars, the myth of Joe’s martyrdom, the breakup of the original church and of course, Brigham the bigot hasn’t made his power play yet.

I’m planning on finishing up the series with the Mountain Meadows Massacre. How many more episodes it’s going to take, I’ve quit trying to estimate. I really do want to wrap up the series fairly soon though, it’s an election year and there are all those Repugnuts to skewer.


Mormon Chronology


The Great Escape

When last we left our dear Mormonites, they were in a bit of a pickle. They had just lost their war against Missouri and had been given 4 months to “GIT!!!” If that wasn’t bad enough, their leadership was in jail on charges of murder, treason, and several other naughty no-no’s (burglary, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing).

Yup, ol’ Joe’s “in the jailhouse now”. (CUE THE MUSIC.)

Over the winter, the Mormonites split in different directions, with the majority heading to Illinois. Of those, about half settled temporarily in Quincy, a town known for its tolerance of alternative ideologies. (Sort of a San Francisco of the middle west.) Plus, the Mayor’s a friend of Joe.

The church spins this story as the saga of displaced saints being forced to cross the Mississippi in the dead of winter. If there’s one thing the church is consistent at in their history spinning, it’s always “poor us” against the wicked, wicked world. Never mind that they cause a great deal of their “suffering”, themselves.

A number of Mormonites do cross the river in boats or across the ice when the river freezes up. Of course, this is exactly the same way everyone else crosses the river in winter! (What? You thought cross-river commerce and transportation ceased in winter?) And, since they have until April to go across, those that do it in the “dead of winter”, do it because they want to do it in the “dead of winter”, not because they’re chased.

(3/17/1839) The church gets its revenge on Thomas Marsh (Apostle Tom) for spilling the beans about the Daviess County arson and looting. They excommunicate him in absentia! Of course, he’d already quit, so it was mostly to salve their own ego.

A funny thing happens on the way to jail

(4/6/1839) Joe and the gang are transferred to Gallatin for a Grand Jury hearing. As a result of the hearing, they are indicted on all charges. (That’s treason, murder, burglary, arson, larceny, theft and stealing, for ye of the short attention span.)

His lawyers are fighting to get a change of venue out of Daviess County and over to Marion County (Just a hop, skip and a yippee across the Mississippi from Quincy, Illinois.) Not that Joe has ideas of escaping or anything like that, he’s just heard that they serve incredible cuisine at the county crowbar hotel. (Ok, I lied about that last part.)

(4/15/1839) Joe’s granted a change of venue, but not to Marion County. Instead, the trial will be held in Boone County. (More or less, smack dab in the middle of the state.)

In Joe and the boys’ previous jaunts from jail to hearings and back again, they’ve been “escorted” by up to 70 armed men. This time the destination is about 100 miles away. You’d think that there would be at least a platoon or two going along for the trip. But, it’s just the sheriff and four deputies. (At least one or more of whom were friends of Joe.)

Now, here’s where it starts getting weird(er): A good horse can travel 100 miles in a day if there aren’t a lot of hills. But, let’s say that there are a few speed bumps on the way and the hay burners aren’t of the highest quality. Plus, a pair of the horses are pulling a wagon. So two, maybe three days for the trip if they lose a shoe or two.

The first day they travel 5 miles before bedding down for the night.

Before they leave in the morning, Joe buys a couple of horses. (This is the loosest prisoner transfer I’ve ever heard of, and we haven’t even gotten to the good part yet.)

The next day they travel a few more miles. But the following day is rainy and there’s no sense getting all wet and miserable.

The day after the rain, they go another 7 miles. This time, when they stop, Joe buys some whiskey to share with the group. (The church dances around whether Joe drinks any, but despite the “word of wisdom“, Joe’s a documented drinker Millennial Star, vol. 23, no. 45 p. 720 & History of the Church (January 1836), vol. 2, 369 and former saloon owner Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844, p. 191.

When everybody has had a few and the pink pachyderms start peeking around the corner, the prisoners saddle up some horses and ride off into the night. (Good thing Joe bought those extra nags.)

Joe “takes it on the lam” to Illinois. (“Lam”, in case you are curious, comes from the Old Norse “lemja” meaning to cripple by beating or flogging. Not sure what that has to do with escaping, but whatever.)

As I said last episode, there are two theories on the escape:

  1. Joe bribes the guards.
  2. Governor Boggs wants this whole mess in the rear view mirror. (Did they have those back then?)

The church more or less, chooses door #2, (Saint Joe would never stoop to bribery!) but with circumstances as they are, I’m still sticking to a version of #1. Things seem mighty friendly between the accused traitorous murdering thieves and their guards.

In any case, the fix is in and Joe is gone. A couple of days later he’s in Quincy.

(4/26/1839) William Woodruff and George A. Smith are made apostles. G.A. is Joe’s nephew. (Nepotism LIVES!)

(5/4/1839) Orson Hyde and Joe’s younger bro Willie are kicked out of the Quorum of the (some of the time)12 Apostles. (Nepotism SUFFERS!)

Evidently, Willie and Joe don’t always get along too well and at times it gets a bit physical. It’s said that at the time of his death, Joe is still suffering effects of a 9-year-old beating Willie gives him. Willie’s out of the picture temporarily, but he’ll return soon. (Blood’s thicker than water and all that jazz.) Both he and Orson are back as apostles by November. (Sometimes I get the feeling that this is all a Mormonite version of “musical chairs”.)

While we’re on the subject of nepotism, Joe at some point decides the position of “Presiding Patriarch” belongs to the Smith family. At this time, Joe Sr. holds that position. When he dies (9/14/1840), the position goes to Hyrum, Joe’s older bro. When Hyrum kicks it in ’44, it goes to Willie. Of course, Willie also petitions to be the patriarch of of the “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”(*) after the coming schism. From that point on, it continues with those Smiths still in the church until Elbert A. Smith (Joe’s grandson) in 1958. After that, they must have run out of Smiths. None of the eight since Elbert have been family members. (Oh, and it’s now called “Presiding Evangelist”.)

(*) The RLDS church is now called “The Community of Christ”. (A LOT more on them down the timeline, of course.)

Which brings us to Nauvoo

Nauvoo, “The Beautiful” (swamp)

While Joe is in the pokey and the flock mostly scurrying off to Illinois, the church leaders not in jail are offered some land along the Mississippi about 47 miles north of Quincy. Of course, it’s mostly swamp land overlooked by a bluff, but it’s cheap and the owner will even take a note for it.

When Joe gets to Quincy, he likes the deal. He can buy on credit and then jack up the price of the lots to pay off the debt and make a bunch of bucks in the process, just like in Kirtland and Far West.

(5/1/1839) Joe buys the property.

In the early part of the 18th Century the area was primarily inhabited by Sauk & Weskwaki “Indians”. (I prefer the Canadian term, “First Nations”. I mean, come on, not one of these people ever bathed in the Ganges. That was Columbus’s ignorance showing.) It was a good-sized settlement with around 500 lodges. The area was named after the chief at the time, Quashquema.

By 1827, white settlers moved in and took over. Within a couple of years there were enough “white eyes” to need a post office. By 1832, the town was called Venus (Don’t ask me why.) and competed to be the county seat. However, another town, Carthage, beat them out. In 1834, Venus became Commerce (Again, don’t ask me why.) So, technically, it’s the town of Commerce (such as it is) that Joe buys.

Nauvoo Region

Nauvoo Region

As I said earlier, a lot of it is swampland, ripe with cholera, malaria and typhoid. Over the first two years, quite a few Mormonites get sick and several die. Of course, Joe does what he can to help. He goes around performing the “laying on of hands” ritual on the sick and claims to “cure” many.

"Hands on" religion

“Hands on” religion

(Sorry to burst their bubble, but that procedure only works with psychosomatic illnesses.)

It takes a couple of years, but the swamp is drained and the cholera, malaria and typhoid go away.

There are a few buildings in the community of Commerce, but not nearly enough for the expected influx of Mormonites, so a major building boom commences. Homes, businesses and industrial buildings are laid out on a grid Joe calls the “plat of Zion”.

 The diagonal grid on the map is the community of Commerce's original location.

The diagonal grid on the map is the community of Commerce’s original location.

(5/10/1839) Joe and Emma move to Commerce and into a 2 story, 4 bedroom house (The Homestead) they’ve just bought.nauvoo-j-smith-home

(It’ll do nicely until the mansion is constructed.)Nauvoo_Mansion_HouseI’ll have more to say about the mansion when it’s finished in ’43 and Joe has a bar installed.

(8/30/1839) “Nauvoo” is used on a city plat for the first time. The following April, “Nauvoo” becomes official as the town is renamed.


Enter: Dr. John

No, unfortunately, not that “Dr. John”. Although, this Doctor is rather amazing himself.


"Dr. John" Cook Bennett (1804-1867)

“Dr. John” Cook Bennett (1804-1867)

  • He’s a doctor (a real one).
  • He’s ex-head of a medical school.
  • He’s a military man, (Brigadier General in the Illinois Invincible Light Dragoons.)
  • He’s very politically connected Democrat, being buds with Stephen A. Douglas. (He of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and Lincoln’s opponent in 1860.)
  • He’s a former Campbellite preacher. (Like Sidney Rigdon.)
  • He’s a poultry expert. (He created the “Plymouth Rock” chicken strain.)
  • He’s a former college president. (And, a pioneering advocate for women’s educational rights.)
  • He’s the man mostly responsible for the popularity of tomatoes in the American diet. Unknown fact that almost everybody knows #7,397: Tomatoes are a fruit, not a veggie. Bonus irrelevant fact: Most people used to think tomatoes were poisonous. My older daughter still does. ;-))
  • He’s a 5’5″ Napoleon fanboy. (Notice the hand) And, he seems to have a very bad case of Napoleon Complex. (Btw, at 5’6″, Napoleon was actually 4 inches taller than the average Frenchman of the time.)

As if all those accomplishments weren’t enough, on top of everything else, Dr. John’s a world-class scam artist, not to mention a wife and child deserter. And, like Joe, he has a problem keeping it in his pants.

Meet Dr. John Cook Bennett, late of Christian College (A 19th Century “degree for a fee” diploma mill.) And that tomato thingy is the result of a scam promoting the “magical” curative powers of tomatoes, particularly when encapsulated in a little pill. People buy the scam, but who needs the pills when you have the tomatoes. (Oh, and the tomato pills turn out not to have any tomatoes in them anyway.)

Without a doubt, Dr. John is one of the more remarkable characters in a century full of remarkable characters. The church has a bad tendency to exaggerate the foibles and faults of their opponents. With Dr. John, they really don’t need to.

As I said, he and Sid were at one time, preachers following Alexander “If the bible doesn’t mention it favorably, it’s a sin” Campbell. (Disciples of Christ (Campbell Movement)) Interestingly, among his other attributes, Alex Campbell is very anti-Mormonite, and very vocal about it. Although, that never stopped Sid from switching horses, and it won’t stop Dr. John.

Joe and the doctor first met up back in ’32. Nobody knows what was discussed, but I’d lay you odds the topic centered around flock fleecing. (And I ain’t talkin’ quadrupedal, ruminant mammals here.) At the time, the doctor seemed to be fairly unimpressed. (However, that was back before Joe hit the “mother lode”.)

By the time of the Missouri Mormon War, Joe’s financial fortunes have improved considerably. With an eye “for the main chance“, Dr. John sees an opportunity amidst all the internal and external conflicts.

(7/1840) Dr. John writes three letters to Joe. In them he claims that he’s looking for happiness not wealth and would like to join Joe and the gang. (I have a pretty good idea as to why wealth seeking comes up in this con man to con man conversation.)

(8/8/1840) Joe writes back, “It would afford me much pleasure to see you at this place, and from the desire you express in your letter to move to this place, I hope I shall soon have the satisfaction”

(8/15/1840) While this is going on, Joe introduces “baptism for the dead”. (No Virginia, they don’t “dig ’em and dunk ’em”. Too messy, too expensive and too gross a P.R. image. They do it all by proxy so the dead don’t even have know about it, let alone be there.)

(9/1840) Dr. John moves to Nauvoo. In fact he moves in with Joe as a house guest for the next nine months. From all reports Joe and the doctor get along famously.


That about blows it for this episode. It’s been a pretty quiet transition from Far West to Nauvoo. A few minor events like getting thrown out of Missouri: church leaders in jail on treason and murder charges, Joe’s “great escape”, fighting cholera, malaria and typhoid, draining a swamp, and starting a new town. Oh, and of course, we got introduced to Dr. John. A LOT more on Joe’s reputed “evidence eliminator” next time around.

Also, next episode, there’s an assassination attempt that Joe may or may not have initiate, and Joe gets back in the “translating” business, with hilarious results.

In the meantime, and in between time – Seeya later alligator.


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did.It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 8: The Year of the Doctor

Welcome back, or if this is your first visit, welcome to the madness.

Those of you who have been following this series, know it’s mostly based around a timeline. I say mostly, because for the sake of clarity, I’ve modified that a couple of times. This is going to be the third.

1841 & ’42 have a lot going on, with three stories dominating and a hell of a lot of crossover. One story centers around Dr. John Cook Bennett, (as do quite a bit of the next two). The second story is the attempted assassination of Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs (of Extermination Order fame) and the aftereffects. The third story is on “plural marriage”, “celestial marriage”, “spiritual wifery”, or whatever you want to call it. There are also, some minor events, such as Joe’s latest “translation”.

So, I’m going to split it up the separate stories and try to avoid another 6000 (or more) word post. No guarantees on the “spiritual wifery” episode, though.

This post, I’m going to concentrate on the doctor, with small sides of Joe screwing up another “translation”, and an apostle clearing the way for the aliyah (return of the Jews)

Next time around, we’ll delve into the attempted assassination. Whether or not Joe has something to do with the assassination, the assassination will have a lot to do with Joe.

The last episode in this sort-of-trilogy covers the “official” start of Mormonite multi-marriages. Sort of like the “Grand Opening” after a bunch of “soft openings”.


At the end of the last episode, we had just been introduced to “Dr. John” Cook Bennett, “The Saintly Scoundrel” as one book calls him. This is a man with many talents, and more than a few faults. (Kinda Joe’s “brother from another mother”.) He’s…….well, you’ll see as we go along.

In the meantime, teasing Joe’s “Dr. John”, gives me another very thin excuse to play my favorite “Dr. John”, so I’m gonna do it.


Mormon ChronologyCONTINUED

Doctor, Doctor

(12/16/1840) The Illinois General Assembly approves Nauvoo’s charter and grants corporate city status.

It’s actually three charters in one. Besides the city charter, there’s a charter to establish a college (The University of the City of Nauvoo), and a charter that allows the city to establish its own hit squad er… militia (The Nauvoo Legion). In retrospect, that third charter is not a good idea. (More later. yadda, yadda, yadda.)

The church claims that the charter is Joe’s “own plan and device” and “concocted for the salvation of the church”. I think this comes under the heading of “Minimizing Dr. John’s Influence”. (That’s Dr. John Cook Bennett, for those of you who’ve just joined us.)

Dr. John

Dr. John

It’s far more likely that the Charter is mostly Dr. John’s. He’s the one with multi-state (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio & Virginia) experience in writing passable bills. He’s also the one who shepherds the charter though the Assembly. Andrew F. Smith: The Saintly Scoundrel – The Life and Times of Dr. John Cook Bennett, p 60, University of Illinois Press (1997) As I said, the doctor is a man of many talents, not to mention political connections.


(1/5/1841) Joe calls the good doctor “active and diligent, always employing himself in doing good for his fellow men”. Later in the month, in his “Proclamation to the Saints Scattered Abroad“, Joe gives a written “shout out” to the doctor “He is a man of enterprize, extensive acquirements, and of independent mind, and is calculated to be a great blessing to our community”.

Over the next couple of months, Joe makes Dr. John Mayor of Nauvoo, Chancellor of “Nauvoo U”, and Inspector General of the Nauvoo Legion. (A reward for each section of the charter?)

There’s an old saw that states “You can’t con a con man”. Well, Dr. John is proof that you can! To be fair to Joe, he’s competing with a world-class grifter. This dude is so awesome, he makes Big Daddy his “mark“.

(1/19/1841) Big D drops by for one of his frequent chats. Again, let my servant John C. Bennett help you in your labor in sending my word to the kings and people of the earth, and stand by you, even you my servant Joseph Smith, in the hour of affliction; and his reward shall not fail if he receive acounsel. [sic] And for his love he shall be great, for he shall be mine if he do this, saith the Lord. I have seen the work which he hath done, which I accept if he continue, and will crown him with blessings and great glory.” D&C 124:16-17 Kinda makes Big D look his usual non-precient, not to mention GULL-E-BULL!

While he’s there, Big Daddy tells Joe he needs a new temple. (Probably because he’s been kicked out of his first, and his second was never built.) This one is mostly completed and dedicated in 1846 as the Mormonites are getting kicked out of the area. At first, they try to lease it to the Catholic church, but the Catholics don’t want it. They finally sell it in 1848 after it’s been heavily vandalized.

Not the "El Hotel"

Not the “El Hotel”

He also wants Joe to build a boarding house. Not only that, but it has to be named after B.D.. “And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation.” D&C 124:56 Hmmm. The YHWH Hotel? Well, it has a nice ring to it. Or maybe he’s referring to his original name (El) from his earlier incarnation as head of the Canaanite Pantheon. Then it would be the “El Hotel”, with an even better ring. Although, some people might expect to see strolling mariachis in the lobby.

However, four verses later, B.D. decides maybe it should be called “Nauvoo House“. He even names the people he wants to construct it. Talk about micro-managing. Where was he during the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company fiasco? (Oh yah, he was telling Joe his anti-bank would dominate the world’s financial system.)

(NOTE TO SELF: One of these days, I’m going to have to do a post on the evolution of God. That should piss off a hell of a lot of “true believers”. But, as my dear departed grandpappy used to say, “Better to be pissed off than pissed on.”)

Oh, and one last thing (Busy chat!), B.D. tells Joe that he doesn’t have to build that temple back in Far West. Which is probably a good thing, since it’s technically open season on Mormonites in Missouri. (And, will be until 1976, when Chris Bonds rescinds the “Extermination Order” aka Missouri Executive Order 44)

(1/19/1841) Joe Sr. dies and Hyrum is immediately made “Presiding Patriarch”. Like I said last episode, Joe has decided to keep this job in the family. And, it stays in the family until 1958.

(2/5/1841) Joe appoints Dr. John Inspector General of the Nauvoo Legion. Joe’s already made himself Lieutenant General. (George Washington’s old rank.)

(2/6/1841) Joe intervenes in the Nauvoo High Council excommunication trial of “Elder” Theodore Turley. Ted stands accused of “unchristian conduct”, “romping and kissing the females”, “dancing”, oh yah, and “sleeping with two females”. Joe doesn’t think “sleeping with two females” is all that egregious. Certainly not grounds for excommunication. All Ted really needs to do is publicly confess his “sins”. Minutes of the High Council of the Church of Latter Day Saints (2/6/1841) (If he was a “prophet”, he wouldn’t even have to do that.)

By this time, Joe’s practice of bedding and wedding(?) is beginning to spread among upper management. Joe, of course, keeps denying he’s “porking” anyone but Emma.

As far as the hoi polloi are concerned, multiple bed buddies is still an abominable NO! NO! But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” Jacob 2: 23-24

Over the next three years, Ted, who is already married, “marries” three additional women, all sisters. (Kinkeee!)

(2/1841) Hearing some rumors about Dr. John, Joe sends George Miller to investigate.

(3/2/1841) George reports back that Dr. John is a serial adulterer whose wife and child have left him. Not only that, but he moves around a lot and is a shameless self promoter. He concludes that the doctor is “an impostor, and unworthy of the confidence of all good men”. (I probably should mention that George is the doctor’s primary rival at this point in time.)

(4/6/1841) Joe makes Dr. John assistant president of the church. Heady territory. That’s up there with Ollie, Sid and Hyrum. (Olliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon & Hyrum Smith, for you newbies.)

So, at this point, Dr. John is Mayor of Nauvoo, Inspector General of the Nauvoo Legion, Chancellor of “Nauvoo U” and Assistant Church President. All-in-all, not a bad first six months for the doctor.

Still, you do have to question Joe’s judgement and/or motivation. His reaction to the Miller report was to give Dr. John a huge leap in authority? This along with several other factors leads me to believe that Joe already knew of the doctor’s predilections.This also partially explains why they get along so well. (Birds of a feather and all that.)

In addition, rumors of the sexual proclivities of Mormonite leadership may have been a factor in the doctor’s request to come on board the previous summer.

(6/15/1841) Bro Hyrum and William Law write Joe a letter backing up George Miller’s original infidelity report. Joe shows Dr. John the letter and the doctor acknowledges it.

The following is strictly my opinion. However, based on the character traits Joe has demonstrated in the past, this is what I think is going down. And remember, Joe already knows this stuff and he still keeps promoting Dr. John. On the other hand, this is the second report and rumors are starting to raise their ugly heads. Plus, Dr. John’s conduct with the ladies is also starting to raise eyebrows. A LOT more on that in pt 10: “Here Come the Brides“.

Since Joe is still butt-deep in denying that he’s a serial adulterer, he gets a bit nervous. If the word spreads about the doctor and everyone knows they’re good buddies…….

Joe decides it’s best if the doctor finds another abode. Other than that, nothing much changes. Dr. John is still Mayor, Chancellor, Inspector General and Assistant Church President. I’ll explore some of the possible reasons for that in the next couple of posts.

However, there are storm clouds on the horizon. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, Apos

!!!!!NEWS FLASH!!!!!

We interrupt this narrative for an important breaking story:

Dateline: (10/24/1841); Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Palestine, Asia, Earth, Solar System, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Universe, Mind of God.

Mormon Apostle clears path for rebirth of Jewish state of Israel!

On a hill overlooking the sleepy city of Jerusalem, Apostle Orson Hyde has dedicated Palestine for the return of the children of Abraham.

Word of this shocking turn of events is spreading through the Jewish community like an Antarctic wildfire.

We’ll keep you informed as developments develop (in about 105 years).


That’s the way the church tells the story, anyway. (Well, maybe not the “Antarctic wildfire” bit.) D&C 68: 1-3; 124: 128-29

The story is mostly true. Joe has sent Orson to proselyte (that’s not a naughty word) in Palestine. And, Orson does dedicate the area for the return of the Jews. There’s even a memorial garden to commemorate the event.

Orson Hyde Memorial Garden

Orson Hyde Memorial Garden

As to whether it has any effect, physical or spiritual, is a hay burner of an entirely different hue.

And now back to our narrative, already in progress.

ne will ever know.


Emma Smith (1804-1879)

Emma Smith (1804-1879)

(3/7/1842) The Female Relief Society is organized. This is the blossoming of an idea of Sarah Kimball and Margaret Cook.

At its start, it’s initially a church sewing circle organized “after a pattern of the Priesthood.” This quickly expands to “looking to the wants of the poor”, so the men don’t have to.

The first meeting draws 20 ladies, mostly the wives of church leaders, and eight more join later. By 2014, there will be six million members in 170 countries.

Emma is elected General President. (Natch.) There are also two counselors selected and a secretary, assistant secretary and treasurer elected, none of whom are Sarah Kimball or Margaret Cook. (Hmmm.)

Several women make donations and Joe, who was invited to attend, kicks in five bucks to get things rolling.

It’s Egyptian to Me

“I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet.” D&C 124:125

(4/18-19/1842) Professor Henry Caswall, an Episcopal Clergyman by trade, and anti-Mormonite by inclination visits Nauvoo. He’s brought along a psalter. (A psalter, for all of you non-medieval Christianity freaks er…enthusiasts out there, is a manuscript containing the book of Psalms.)

Prof Caswall approaches Joe and tells him he has this ancient manuscript, and he really doesn’t know what it is. Since Joe is “famous” for his translating ability, the Professor asks him if he would kindly translate it for him.

I’ll let the professor pick up the story:

“He led the way to his house, accompanied by many elders, preachers, and other Mormon dignitaries. On entering the house, chairs were provided for the prophet and myself, while the curious and gaping spectators remained standing. I handed the book to the prophet, and begged him to explain its contents. He asked me if I had any idea of its meaning. I replied, that I believed it to be a Greek Psalter; but that I should like to hear his opinion. “No he said; “it ain’t Greek at all, except, perhaps, a few words. What ain’t Greek, is Egyptian; and what ain’t Egyptian, is Greek. This book is very valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said: Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics; and them which follows, is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.” Upon this, the Mormons around began to congratulate me on the information I was receiving. “There,” they said; “we told you so — we told you that our prophet would give you satisfaction. None but our prophet can explain these mysteries.” The prophet now turned to me, and said, “This book ain’t of no use to you, you don’t understand it.” “Oh yes,” I replied; “it is of some use; for if I were in want of money, I could sell it for something handsome.”Greek Psalter Incident“…Having exhibited the book to the prophet, I requested him in return to show me his papyrus, and to give me his own explanation, which I had hitherto received only at second hand. He proceeded with me to his office, accompanied by the multitude. He produced the glass frames which I had seen on the previous day; but he did not appear very forward to explain the figures. I pointed to a particular hieroglyphic, and requested him to expound its meaning. No answer being returned, I looked up, and behold! the prophet had disappeared. The Mormons told me that he had just stepped out, and would probably soon return. I waited some time, but in vain: and at length descended to the street in front of the store. Here I heard the noise of wheels, and presently I saw the proophet [sic] in a light waggon, flourishing his whip and driving away as fast two fine horses could draw him. Henry Caswell: The City of the Mormons or Three Days at Nauvoo in 1842, pp 35-7 (1843) You can read the book here, or you can download it here. It’s free and rather interesting.

The church has two responses to this:

  1. Never happened!
  2. It happened, but Joe declined to translate.

I think I’ll go with the professor’s side on this one. Mainly because it’s far more logical, knowing what I know about Joe and his “translating” abilities. (Quick question: Why doesn’t Joe use his magic hat stone to translate? Did he leave it in his other jacket?)

The church, on the other hand, would be a smidgen (half a skosh) more credible if they could settle on one story and stick with it. (But, only a smidgen.)

Still to come: The Kinderhook Plates in 1843. (Stay tuned, fantasy fans.)

Well, that wraps up another episode. Next time, we’ll continue along the timeline and examine the Boggs assassination attempt and it’s aftermath. Dr. John will be here, and we’ll be joined by “God’s gunslinger” himself, Orrin Porter Rockwell. While we’re at it, we’ll explore the perks of ruling a theocracy, particularly the judicial division.

So, til we meet next time, remember “Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.”

Couldn’t find a group called “Weasels”, so I went with “Eagles”


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it. I’d love it if you did.It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).


pt 9: Who Shot Governor Boggs?

Hello and welcome.

This time, we’ll take a look at an attempted murder that Joe may or may not have something to do with. (My money’s on “may”.) We’ll meet another “interesting” Mormonite: “God’s gunslinger”: Orrin Porter Rockwell, the “holy hit man” himself. (I call him “Opie”.)

We’ll explore more than a bit of legal maneuvering and discover at least one of the perks of being “head honcho” in a theocracy. Dr. John will be here. And we’ll have guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Elvis and some nice Mormon girls.

If you’re new to the series, you might want a bit of background to fully understand what the hell’s going on:

Who shot Governor Boggs?

Closest public official I could find. Plus, it’s Eric fuckin’ Clapton!


Mormon Chronology



Lilburn Boggs (1796-1860)

Lilburn Boggs (1796-1860)

(5/6/1842) Someone shoots Missouri’s ex-Governor, Lilburn Boggs through a window of his home in Independence, MO. (Aka Zion, aka Garden of Eden)

The governor is shot in the head, but he survives. (Hey, he’s a politician. There’s nothing vital to hit up there.) Whoever shoots him gets away.

The sheriff finds a revolver outside the window, still loaded with buckshot. The gun is identified as having been stolen from a local store owner. The owner believes the gun was stolen by a man named Brown, “that hired man of Wards”.

By the time the sheriff gets out to talk to Mr “Brown”, he’s high-tailed it out of the area.

Mr. “Brown”, it turns out, is Orrin Porter Rockwell. (O.P.R. or Opie for short) Mr. Rockwell is not only a Mormonite, he’s also a former Danite leader and he’s Joe’s bodyguard and reputed hit man. He’s been called “God’s gunslinger”. (Well, I just did, anyway.)

Not quite sure why Big D would require a hit man, but Joe seems to think he needs one. And, don’t hand me that “instrument of God’s justice” or “the Lord’s righteous avenger” bullshit. If B.D. wants somebody rubbed out, he’s damn capable of doing a little DIY.

Before we go farther, let me make a couple of points clear. There are other suspects with motive and opportunity. And, there’s evidence of anti-Mormonite skullduggery in the investigation.

For one thing, General Samuel Lucas (He’s the one that ordered Joe’s execution after a sham trial back in episode 6.) is heavily involved in the investigation.

Since no one saw the shooter, there’s no physical evidence other than the gun, and it’s still 15 years before the British start using fingerprints for identification and 60 years before the U.S. really gets around to it, this is going to be a tough nut to crack.

On the other hand, Opie is in the area and then out before anyone comes looking, and he’s one of them thar nigger-lovin’ Mormonites who’ve vowed revenge on the governor. He’s bound to be guilty! Hang the son’a’bitch!Porter Wanted PosterThe wounded ex-governor thinks whoever did it, Joe has something to do with it. He signs an affidavit stating that he thinks Joe “was accessary [sic] before the fact of the intended murder” State of Missouri, Affidavit of Lilburn W. Boggs, Jackson County, Missouri, July 20, 1842

As for yours truly, do I think Rockwell is guilty? For a number of reasons, including the fact that it fits his pattern, I do. You’ll see what I’m referring to over the next several episodes.

However it is entirely possible it was someone else. In any case, I’m not here to make or break the case against Opie. I’m just here to tell the story, with snarks, both appropriate and un.

I’ve seen claims that the only reason that Opie was in Missouri in the first place, was so that his wife could be with her family when she gave birth to her 4th child. There’s one itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny little problem with this explanation. His wife gave birth to Sarah, her 4th child, on March 25, 1841, and he didn’t go to Independence until May of ’42. (On a totally unrelated(?) side note, Opie’s wife, Luana, dumps him in 1845.)

(5/11/1842) Just after the news of the attempted assassination reaches Nauvoo, the church announces that Dr. John is being disfellowshipped. (kicked out) I’ll explore the charges next episode, “Here Come the Brides“. (Told you there was some crossover.) Orson Hyde refuses to sign the announcement. I’ll explain that next time as well.

Due to the timing of the disfellowshipment, as well as other reasons, it’s my opinion that the items that get Dr. John “the boot” aren’t in the charges. I think it’s partially his personal reaction to the Boggs shooting. Like Apostle Tom, back in the 1838 Mormon War, he seems to come to the conclusion that scams are one thing, murder is another. I’ll pontificate on the other possible reason(s) next episode.

Dr. John is also stripped of his religious, education, military and political offices as well.

The doctor doesn’t take his dismissal lightly. Thus begins a battle (make that a WAR) that Joe will ultimately lose. (Not entirely because of the doctor, but he is definitely a major player.) Joe’s beaten back challenges from people like Apostle Tom or Ollie, but Dr. John is in a whole ‘nother league.

I’ll be sourcing the good doctor a bit in this and the next few posts. Why? You ask, knowing that I know he’s a grifter. Well, yah, but so’s Joe. A lot of this gets collaborated by other parties. For the rest of it, I went with the logical scenario based on what we’ve found out about Joe since before the days of Big Daddy and the “holy spooks”. Also, either the doctor and all the rest of those former insiders aka “apostates” are out to get Joe, or just maybe Joe has a good deal of culpability.

(5/19/1842) Joe makes himself mayor and forms a 20 man cadre of bodyguards (the “Lifeguards”). The cadre is composed of ex-Danites and headed by our Opie.

In a conversation with David Kilbourne, Dr. John says Joe prophesied at a meeting that Boggs would die violently. When Opie left Nauvoo in early May (before the disfellowshipment) Dr. John asked Joe where his bodyguard was. Joe is said to reply that he had “gone to fulfill prophecy that Boggs would not die in his bed.” Postmaster David Wells Kilbourne to Missouri Governor Thomas Reynolds, July 12, 1842

The first week of July, Opie gives the doctor a visit. He tells him that he has nothing to do with shooting the governor and “If you say that Joe Smith gave me fifty dollars and a wagon to shoot Boggs, I can whip you, and will do it in a crowd.” St. Louis American Bulletin, July 14, 1842

(7/5/1842) Joe gets the Nauvoo City Council to pass a habeas corpus ordinance, stating that no Nauvoo citizen “shall be taken out of the city by any writs without the privilege of investigation before the municipal court, and the benefit of a writ of habeas corpus.” (Very convenient, since Joe picked the court judges. Not only that, JOE IS THE CHIEF JUDGE!)

(7/22/1842) In response to ex-governor Boggs, current governor Reynolds signs an requisition for extradition stating “one Joseph Smith is a fugitive from Justice, charged with being accessary [sic] before the fact, to an assault with intent to kill, made by one O. P. Rockwell on Lilburn W Boggs in this State, and it is represented to the Executive Department of this State, has fled to the State of Illinois.” State of Missouri, Requisition of Thomas Reynolds, Jackson County, Mo., July 22, 1842,

Let’s all play “Looking for Loopholes”! There’s a slight error in the statement that Joe’s “legal beagles” quickly find. (Mistake #1) See if you can figure out what it is. If not, Emma will point it out shortly.

(8/8/1842) Undersheriff Tom King and a posse arrive in Nauvoo to arrest Joe & Opie. They’re worth $1,300 ($30,505 in our inflated funds) back in Missouri. They’re both lodged in Nauvoo’s “Iron Bar Inn”. Joe immediately applies for a writ of habeas corpus.

The idea that a municipality could declare superiority to a claim by a sovereign state, surprises King, and he heads back to Missouri for more instructions, taking the warrants with him. (Mistake #2.)

When he gets back, a very pissed off governor lets him know in no uncertain terms that municipal courts do not have the authority to override a warrant signed by a state governor. Plus, in this particular case, since Joe’s alleged crime had nothing to do with any city ordinance, habeas corpus doesn’t apply. The council’s counter-argument is that ‘habeas’ covers the arrest if not the crime.

While King is gone, the city council passes another “habeas” ordinance, broadening it even farther. Now, even if everything is legal and proper, the court can deny extradition if the action is brought through “private pique, malicious intent, or religious or other persecution, falsehood or misrepresentation.” Nauvoo City Council Minutes, August 8, 1842 Guess who gets do decide that? (If you didn’t say “Joe’s judges”, have your doctor check you for ADD.)

The non-Mormonite press blasts the expanded “habeas” ordinance. The Warsaw Signal prints the ordinance and writes: “We copy the above ordinances in order to show our readers the barefaced affrontery [sic] with which the holy brotherhood at Nauvoo set at defiance the civil authorities of the State.”

Also, while King is away, Joe’s lawyers challenge the incarcerations. They argue that without the warrants, the marshal has no authority to hold Joe or Rockwell. The court agrees. (Surprise! Surprise!) Joe is released and pulls his patented “urgent business elsewhere” routine and heads out “on the road, again” before King gets back.

(If you’re a regular reader, you knew that was coming.)

Joe keeps on the move for several months, hiding out in “safe houses” in Illinois and Iowa.

Rockwell heads for Pennsylvania and then on to New Jersey. He tries to find work, but I guess there isn’t much call for gunslingers. (In New Jersey???) He gets depressed and he misses his Joe.

Emma appeals to Illinois Governor Carlin on the grounds that the Missouri order states that Joe has fled to the State of Illinois.” (See mistake #1) Since Joe was already in Illinois when the crime was committed, ipso facto, (Although, I really don’t think she said “ipso facto”.) he couldn’t have “fled”. The governor replied that Joe was entitled to a writ by the circuit court, but not any Nauvoo court: “…to claim the right of a hearing before the municipal court of the city of Nauvoo is a burlesque upon the charter itself.” Jessee: Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:476–77

This doesn’t work for Joe at all.

Don’t start thinking “If Joe is innocent, why doesn’t he just go to Missouri and clear his name?” There is no possible way Joe would get a fair trial. This is Missouri! To much bad blood and too little healing time. Plus, according to Executive Order 44, a Missouri Mormonite, is a dead Mormonite. General Lucas would finely get his wish. (I don’t much care for Joe, but I’m a huge fan of court neutrality.)

Be that as it may, from a p.r. standpoint, The Nauvoo City Council, Joe’s judges and his loophole loving lawyers are not doing the Mormonite cause any favors. “No termination of the affair could be less satisfactory than the one which has taken place. If [Smith] had resisted, we should have had the sport of driving him and his worthy clan out of the State en masse, but as it is we are mortified that there is no efficacy in the law to bring such a scamp to justice.” “Recent Attempt to Arrest the Prophet,” Warsaw Signal, p 3; (7/13/1842)

(9/9/1842) The council passes an ordinance that allows the municipal court to make writs of habeas corpus “returnable forthwith”. That means the court can issue the writ and immediately adjudicate it. (No sense wasting time before you throw out the extradition requisition.)

(11/14/1842) The council adds a $1,000 fine and a one year jail term for anyone who dares arrest Joe or anyone else the court doesn’t want arrested. So, in essence, Nauvoo has placed their “laws” above that of any other government entity, municipal, state or federal. (The constitution has more than a word or two to say about this.)

In December, there’s a new governor in Illinois, largely because of a solid Mormonite voting bloc in the election. (Joe decides – they vote!)

(12/9/1842) Joe’s bro Hyrum leads a delegation to Springfield to argue that the extradition requisition should be dumped.

Governor Thomas FordTom Ford, the new governor, tells them that he thinks the extradition requisition is shaky, but he doesn’t want to second guess the previous gov. He tells them that he’ll consult with the state supreme court judges and see what they think.

The judges agree that Joe is not a fugitive from justice. Since he wasn’t in Missouri at the time, he couldn’t have fled. However, they’re split as to whether governor Ford has any standing to intervene in the case.

Ford writes a letter outlining the judges’ opinion and gives it to the Mormonite delegation. The U.S. attorney also writes a letter agreeing with the court. In the letter he tells Joe to “come here without delay and you do not run the least risk of [not] being protected while here and of [not] being dis-charged by the Sup. Court by Habeas Corpus.” He goes on to state “I have also a right to bring the case before the U.S. [District] Court now in Session here, and there you are certain of obtaining your discharge—I will stand by you and see you safely delivered from your arrest.” Jessee: Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:505-6

(12/26/1842) Joe turns himself in to the Nauvoo Legion (of which he’s the commander). Arriving in Springfield with his entourage on the 30th, he moves in with a Mormonite judge (James Adams) for the duration of the legal proceedings.

While lodged with the judge, one conversation turns to slavery. Orson Hyde asks him what he would tell a slave owner that joined the church? Joe replies, “I have always advised such to bring their slaves into a free country, set them free, educate them & give them their equal rights.” Smith: Journal, December 30, 1842 (Which just goes to prove, that like a busted clock that’s right twice a day, even Joe is right some of the time.) When Brigham (the bigot) takes over in a few years, he’ll have an entirely different take on the subject.

(12/31/1842) Joe receives a writ of habeas corpus from the federal court and his bail is set at $4,000 (Nowadays, that would be about 93,900 simoleons.) Joe’s boys immediately post bail. (Joe has come a long way financially since having to extort Marty Harris for BoM publishing money.)

The extradition hearing becomes the 19th century version of “must see tv”. The courtroom is packed. Mary Todd Lincoln even has a choice seat up next to the judge.

(1/5/1843) After ruling on jurisdictional and other arguments, the judge hands down his decision: Since Joe wasn’t in Illinois, he couldn’t have fled from Illinois, so the extradition requisition is refused. Joe is free to go.

This is a thin victory for Joe. He wanted to be freed based on the merits of the case. Instead, it was a win by technicality.

Hearing that Joe “beat the rap”, Opie decides it’s safe to come home to Nauvoo. BIG MISTAKE!

(3/4/1843) Bounty hunter, Robert A. Fett (*), spots Rockwell boarding a boat in St. Louis and grabs him. ((*) Just yanking your chain, Jedi wannabees. Live long and prosper and may the schwartz be with you!)

Opie gets a free trip to Independence and an all expense paid, nine month vacation in the local “stoney lonesome” awaiting a grand jury hearing.Cell blockHe tries to bust out a couple of times, but no luck. (I’m surprised he wasn’t shot while “escaping”.)

Once the hearing does commence, the state of Missouri has a slight problem: There’s no evidence connecting Rockwell to the crime. The mere fact that he was in the area doesn’t quite cut it.

And then there’s Opie’s statement on the stand: “I never shot at anybody, if I shoot they get shot! … He’s still alive, ain’t he?”, Which begs the question, how many people has he shot through a window? (The glass would slightly shift the image.)

(12/13/1843) The grand jury refuses to indict and Rockwell is released.

(12/25/1843) Joe’s throwing a Christmas bash and someone knocks on his door. “A man apparently drunk, (Doesn’t anybody practice “The Word of Wisdom”?) with his hair long and falling over his shoulders come in and acted like a Missourian. I commanded the Capt[ain] of the police to put him out of doors. In the scuffle, I looked him full in the face and to my great supprize [sic] and Joy untold I discovered it was Orrin Porter Rockwell” Smith: Journal, December 25, 1843 Opie’s back with his Joe, and all’s right in his twisted little world.Porter PosterWith that we come to the end of another saga in the life of Joe. Whether he gave the assassination order or not will be argued as long as its important enough to be argued about. However, to my way of thinking, the bigger question remains: WHY THE HELL DOES BIG DADDY NEED A HIT MAN?

Make no mistake about it. Whether or not Opie did this particular deed, that’s what he is.

We’ll cross paths with “God’s gunslinger” again as we travel down the timeline, but next episode we segue from violence to sex as Joe and the gang sorta come clean about their extra-marital diddling, and start practicing it BIG TIME! This one’s got bunch of fun stuff: poligamy, polyandry, sibling sex, pissed off first husbands, and at least one pissed off first wife. (Things haven’t changed that much since Fanny Alger.) Speaking of old bed buddies, remember Marinda? She’s baaack!

In the meantime, have you heard the one about the bigamist with two failed marriages?

His first wife left him and his second one won’t! (RIM SHOT)


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, I’ve got a FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might enjoy. Better yet, you might “like” it. It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).

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