Part C



    In Chapter 3 I discussed a document which Mark Hofmann represented as being part of the McLellin collection. Hugh Pinnock, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, testified that Hofmann showed him this document and allowed him to make a photocopy. It "was a deed or some legal document...between Asa and Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon and some other parties." As I pointed out, the appearance of the names Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon on the same document would prove they knew each other and go a long way toward confirming the story that Rigdon stole a manuscript of a novel written by Spalding and that this manuscript was later transformed into the Book of Mormon. I indicated also that Hofmann's connection with such a document "supports the accusation that he was engaged in 'an attempted blackmail of the Mormon Church itself.' "

    Experts who have examined the Spalding-Rigdon document agree that it is an authentic document written in 1722. The date, however, has been altered to 1822 and the signatures of Spalding and Rigdon have been added. Charles Hamilton pointed out that "A favorite trick of fakers is to add the signature of a famous person to an otherwise genuine document of little or no value. The forged signatures of Gwinnett and Lynch are often found on authentic old documents, usually as witnesses on a deed." (Great Forgers and Famous Fakes, page 267)

    Kenneth Rendell, who only made a brief examination of the Spalding-Rigdon document, testified that the 8 in the date "1822" appeared to be in a "different ink" and "also the ink is run, and to me it seems to be clearly written over the 7. There was a perfectly genuine 1722 document where the date was changed to make it 1822." Mr. Rendell also noted that the Sidney Rigdon signature "could have been added in." William Flyn, who did a more detailed examination of the document, confirmed Kenneth Rendell's observations:

Q—And as a result of your examination, were you able to make any findings concerning that document?


Q—What are those findings?

A—The Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon signatures that appear on that document were written with a different ink than the other text of the document and the other signatures that appear on the document.

Q—Were you able to determine if they were the same inks themselves?

A—Yes. It appears that the Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon inks are the same inks within themselves but different than the remainder of the ink on...that document.

Q—Were you able to notice any other alterations or changes on that document?


Q—What was that?

A—The date, anno Domini 1822, had been altered.

Q—Can you tell us from what to what?

A—It had been altered from anno Domini 1722 to 1822.

Q—Now,...among the signatures that you have mentioned, too, are several signatures. Let's see. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Is that correct?


Q—And out of those eight signatures you mentioned, there are two that appear to be of a different ink.


Q—And that is Spalding and Sidney Rigdon?

A—That's correct.

    In his testimony George Throckmorton brought out the fact that the ink used on the alteration of the date and the two signatures was cracked (indicating, of course, that it was artificially aged):

Q—Now, did you have occasion to look at the writing, the actual ink, in the date of 1807, 1 believe it is?

A—It's got 1892 on this document....1822, I guess, is what it is...

. . . . .

Q—And out of that 1822, did you look at the ink specifically on that date?


Q—And were you able to make a determination with respect to the cracking phenomena that you had observed in other documents as to whether or not that date exhibited it?


Q—What was that conclusion?

A—The number eight exhibited not only a cracking effect but also a diffusing or running effect, which was not found on the one or the other twos.

. . . . .

Q—...Looking further down, to the signatures at the bottom, we have one of Asa Spalding and Solomon Spalding. Looking at the Solomon Spalding signature, were you able to make a determination as to whether or not that ink exhibited characteristics of the cracking that you had observed in other documents...that came from Mark Hofmann?

A—The Solomon Spalding signature also exhibited that characteristic cracking.

Q—...And the Solomon Spalding signature, how did the cracking compare to the cracking seen in the ink of the number eight on the date?

A—The number eight is such an accumulation of ink. It was actually built up, it looks like maybe two or three times, I'm not certain, and hence we have a slightly different cracking effect. But it's still that and one other place, is still the only place on the document where...I was able to observe that cracking.

Q—...What about the Sidney Rigdon signature?

A—That was the other place I observed the cracking.

Q—...And you observed cracking through what part of the signature...there being two words—Sidney, the other, Rigdon?

A—It was throughout the signature itself, as I recall.

Q—And that for the record, is located in the lower left hand corner?

A—Yes. In the left hand corner, at the bottom, there's several different names written. The name Sidney Rigdon was different because of the ink than all the rest of the document. It was consistent with the type of ink found in the Solomon Spalding signature and also a lot of appearances in the 1822 date.

Q—Now,...the remainder of the body of the document, do you consider that to be authentic, the top part of the document?

A—Other than the change of the date—that's not an accurate date by any means—and also the two signatures, the rest of it appears to be a genuine document.

Q—...Now, taking the remainder of the document besides the Solomon Spalding, the Sidney Rigdon and the date that you just testified to, do you have an opinion with respect as to the signatures of Asa [Solomon?] Spalding and Sidney Rigdon, as to their authenticity regarding this remainder of a 17th or 18th century document?

A—I do.

Q—And what is your opinion with respect to those two signatures, Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon, in comparison to the remainder of the document?

A—I do not believe that those signatures nor the date as we discussed was originally put on that document, nor is it from that time period.

    This document is certainly one of the crudest forgeries that Mark Hofmann ever sold. As I pointed out in an earlier chapter, even the altered date of 1822 does not fit historically because Solomon Spalding died in 1816! Another problem with this document is that it locates Spalding and Rigdon together in Connecticut at the time of the transaction. The evidence shows that Spalding spent his last years in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Sidney Rigdon became a pastor in a Baptist church in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1822. Even if Spalding had been alive in 1822, the only logical place for the two men to sign such a document would be in Pennsylvania. Another serious problem with the document is that the signature of Solomon Spalding does not resemble that found on a deed he signed in 1811. From all this it is obvious that the creator of this document did not do any real homework on the subject.

    The reader will remember that Steven Barnett testified that Mark Hofmann offered him this document for "$2,000." After Barnett told Mr. Hofmann that Solomon Spalding died in 1816, Hofmann allowed him to buy the document for $400.

    When I learned that Mark Hofmann had been involved with a document supporting the Spalding-Rigdon theory concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon, I recalled a series of events that occurred in 1983. A reporter from one of the largest newspapers in the United States asked us if it were true that the Mormon Church had bought the long-lost Spalding manuscript for $6,000,000. We replied that we had no information to support such an accusation. Some time after this, we received a phone call which seemed to explain the source of the rumor. The woman on the phone told us that if we would call a Mr. D_____ in St. James, N.Y., within half an hour, he could give us the details concerning the discovery of the Spalding manuscript. The number we were given was 516-862-6448. At first Mr. D. seemed rather indignant about the intrusion and was reluctant to talk about the matter, but with some prompting, he finally told us that he had discovered the lost manuscript. In this and other phone conversations he revealed that he had found the 339-page manuscript in an old piano. He not only claimed he found the manuscript, but he maintained that he also had a sixteen-page document written by Sidney Rigdon in which he confessed the part he played in the whole deception. This was not all, however; he also found an 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon which was marked to reveal the portions which were plagiarized from the Spalding manuscript!

    We, of course, concluded that these fantastic claims were ridiculous and published an article concerning this in the Salt Lake City Messenger in November 1983. Later we discussed the matter with Mark Hofmann. He told us that Mr. D. was a "kook" and no credence should be given to his story. Hofmann said that the noted document dealer Charles Hamilton could tell us all about Mr. D.'s bad reputation. Some time later we heard that Mark Hofmann had found the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon—also known as the book of Lehi. We were told that the contents of the book of Lehi were "dynamite." The manuscript was supposed to contain information about money-digging interwoven with material that reads like the book of Nephi—one of the books appearing in the published Book of Mormon. When we discussed the matter with Mark Hofmann, he admitted that a manuscript purporting to be the 116 missing pages had been found in Bakersfield, California. He claimed, however, that it was a forgery. In telling about this manuscript, Mr. Hofmann said that a Book of Mormon was found with the manuscript which was marked to reveal which parts of the printed Book of Mormon were the same as those appearing in the unpublished book of Lehi. Mr. Hofmann's story concerning the marked Book of Mormon sounded strangely similar to Mr. D.'s claim that he found a Book of Mormon which was marked to show the portions which were plagiarized from the Spalding manuscript. We felt that the two stories were so similar that we were almost forced to the conclusion that one was borrowed from the other. This, of course, also raised the question of whether there was some connection between Hofmann and Mr. D. We later wondered if Mr. D. was trying to get us to print an article on the matter so that the Mormon Church would become concerned and try to buy up the purported Spalding manuscript.

    It is also interesting to note that about that same time Church Archivist Donald Schmidt called me on the telephone. He seemed very concerned that I might have the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon and was preparing to print them. He claimed that he had been told that I had boasted in the library of the Utah State Historical Society that I had the missing pages. I, of course, assured Mr. Schmidt that there was no truth in the statement. In retrospect, I wonder if someone told Schmidt this story to stir the Church leaders up so that they would pay a higher price to buy a forged copy of the manuscript.

    In his interview in Sunstone, vol. 10, no. 8, p. 13, Mark Hofmann's friend, Lyn Jacobs, told of the report of the discovery of the book of Lehi manuscript in "southern California": "Mark decided not to attempt to go after the stuff when he found out exactly what it is. It may have something to do with a fictional account supposedly written in the nineteenth century by Sidney Rigdon called 'The Book of Lehi.' I suspect that's what it is. It is certainly not the 116 pages, or Mark would have gone after it."

    It is possible that someone could have had plans to forge as many as three important manuscripts relating to the Book of Mormon. The first is the long-lost Spalding manuscript. The second might be Sidney Rigdon's rewritten version of the Spalding manuscript, which Jacobs refers to as "The Book of Lehi." The third, of course, would be the lost 116 pages of the book of Lehi in the handwriting of Martin Harris and Emma Smith. Any one of these three manuscripts would be worth millions of dollars. While at first glance it would seem unlikely that the Mormon leaders would be gullible enough to buy more than one of these manuscripts, if a common thread ran through all the manuscripts, such a swindle might be rather convincing. For instance, the Spalding manuscript could be more of a secular history of the Nephites. The Rigdon version of the "Book of Lehi" might contain a great deal of the same material with some religious information interspersed. The final product (the lost 116 pages in the handwriting of Martin Harris) could contain essentially the same material as Rigdon's manuscript with changes made to fit the vocabulary and style of Joseph Smith. While this all may be just a matter of speculation, an individual who talked privately with one of Mark Hofmann's close associates just before the bombings informed us that he was told that a manuscript "like" the 116 missing pages of the Book of Mormon had been discovered. Moreover, the fact that Hofmann sold a Spalding-Rigdon forgery makes me even more suspicious.

    As I have shown in the chapter concerning the McLellin collection, Allen Roberts and Fred Esplin claim that "Police sources indicate that Steve Christensen's personal journal records that Elder Hugh Pinnock asked Hofmann to find for him two important items: the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon and something 'too sensitive to mention,' that the late 'Elders Mark E. Petersen and G. Homer Durham were most involved in prior to their deaths.' " (Utah Holiday, January 1986, page 58) I have pointed out that the item which is "too sensitive to mention" could be "evidence" that Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon wrote material which Joseph Smith used for his Book of Mormon.

    With regard to Hugh Pinnock's desire that Mark Hofmann locate the 116 missing pages of the Book of Mormon, It is interesting to note that Pinnock himself claimed he had a lead as to their whereabouts, and I have been told that Hofmann was supposed to be following up on this matter. Mr. Pinnock, who is currently serving as a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, claimed that "during the years of 1973 to 1976" he served as "mission president in Pennsylvania." He maintained that while he was there, "two of our missionaries claimed to have tracted out a lady that said she had them, or that her brother had them." (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 27, 1985) The mission president who succeeded Pinnock "did some looking around for those 116 pages" but never found them. Hofmann was supposed to have picked up the trail after he found the Anthon transcript. In any case, it is possible that Hofmann could have discussed these missing pages with Pinnock. While I do not know that the book of Lehi or a Spalding-Rigdon document had anything to do with the murders, such a document would be worth a tremendous amount of money. This, combined with the secrecy that would surround its transfer to the Mormon Church, could very easily lead to disagreements and perhaps even to violence. In another chapter I have suggested that before their financial problems, Steven Christensen and Gary Sheets would have been good candidates to buy expensive manuscripts. As I indicated earlier, however, I have no evidence to show that such a transaction ever took place. Nevertheless, I still find it hard to forget the question Apostle Oaks directed to Mark Hofmann: "Do you know anyone in your documents business who would enforce his contracts with bombs?" (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 24, 1985)

    However this may be, as early as 1982 Mark Hofmann publicly stated that he was searching forthe missing Book of Mormon pages:

REVIEW: Is there anything you know exists that you are looking for specifically?

HOFMANN: I'm hoping the lost 116 manuscript pages exist.

REVIEW: Do you have any evidence that they exist?

HOFMANN: I've heard a lot of rumors, and I've tracked down lots of leads. In fact, I have spent thousands of dollars in the pursuit of them, phone calls, research, and trips back and forth to the East." (Sunstone Review, September 1982, page 18)

    As I have already stated, Mr. Hofmann told me that he had located a forgery of the 116 pages in California. When I pressed him as to how he knew it was a forgery, he replied that it quoted verbatim things that were peculiar to the "Wright" edition of the Book of Mormon—an edition published after Joseph Smith's death and used by at least some members of the early RLDS Church. Later, when I began to feel that the 116-page manuscript in California might be nothing but a figment of Hofmann's imagination, I began to realize that if Hofmann ever did create the 116 missing pages and used any quotations from the book of Nephi, he would probably take into consideration readings obtained from the original manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon. Since changes were made in the text between the manuscript and the first printed version and even more changes were made in later additions, it would be very wise to consult the original manuscript before making any quotations. Actually, there are two handwritten manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. The original copy is housed in the Mormon Church Archives. Richard Howard says that this manuscript is very fragmentary: "Only pages 3-22 plus about one hundred smaller, partially legible fragments exist today (Restoration Scriptures, 1969, p. 27) The second manuscript is in the possession of the Reorganized Church. Richard Howard refers to it as the "Emended transcript"—the manuscript which was prepared for the printer. Since there are some variations even between these two manuscripts, it would be important for a forger to know about these changes. From information I have been able to obtain, it appears that Mark Hofmann did, in fact, have a great deal of interest in the original manuscripts of the book of Nephi. He told one scholar who was making an exact typescript from the printer's manuscript that he, Hofmann, was having someone else make a typescript of the very original manuscript pages in the Church Archives. Mr. Hofmann said that when the two typescripts were completed, an exchange would be made. Hofmann, therefore, would end up with an exact typescript of the early part of both manuscripts—i.e., with material which was supposed to have been written by Nephi. The trade never actually took place, but Mark Hofmann told the scholar that the whole thing should be kept confidential.

    If a manuscript came forth which purported to be the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon and it contained portions similar to the book of Nephi, a comparison of these portions with the original manuscripts would become very important. If the long-lost manuscript strictly followed the printed version, it might be declared a forgery. If, on the other hand, it contained peculiarities found only in the original manuscript, this would probably be interpreted as evidence for its authenticity.

    As I have already pointed out, Mark Hofmann came up with at least three documents which had Martin Harris' signature on them—i.e., the Grandin contract, the 1873 letter of Harris to Conrad and the 1830 Salamander letter. The Salamander letter, of course, is by far the most important because it is supposed to have over 600 words in the actual handwriting of Martin Harris. With the authentication of Harris' handwriting in the Salamander letter, the stage was well prepared for the ultimate discovery—the book of Lehi. The reader will remember also that Mark Hofmann's discovery of the Lucy Smith letter provided us with our first eyewitness view of the possible contents of the book of Lehi.

    Although I have no evidence to verify the accusation, it has been claimed that sheets of paper were found in Hofmann's home which appeared to have been used to practice the handwriting of Martin Harris and Emma Smith. If attempts to imitate Emma Smith's handwriting have indeed been found, it would fit very well with the idea of a plan to forge the 116 pages. It is believed that Emma Smith was Joseph Smith's scribe for some of the first pages of this manuscript. It would be very convincing to have the manuscript begin in Emma Smith's handwriting and then switch to that of Martin Harris. With respect to Emma Smith's handwriting, it is interesting to note that the police found a photograph of her handwriting in Hofmann's possession and it was traced to a museum owned by Mrs. Wilford C. Wood. This photograph would prove helpful to anyone trying to imitate Emma Smith's handwriting.

    The day following the explosion in Mark Hofmann's car, the Deseret News printed the following:

    "After media reports said Hofmann would be charged Thursday, an observer theorized that the Harris letter is a forgery—and provides the only extensive sample of Harris's handwriting. Thus it could be a prelude to a forged copy of 116 pages dictated by Smith to Harris but lost by Harris.

    "The lost document's fate has long been a source of speculation. Hofmann has often said he wanted to be the person to find those pages, the observer said. But if the 116 pages were discovered, they could not be authenticated without an extensive sample of Harris's handwriting—provided by the 'white salamander letter.'

    "The 116-page document would be extremely lucrative, the theory goes, if authenticated." (Deseret News, October 17, 1985)

    It appears that the police feel that there may be something to the theory that Hofmann was at least planning a forgery of the book of Lehi. The Deseret News for Oct. 23, 1985, reported:

    "One of the scenarios Willoughby admitted police are seriously investigating is the possibility that the Martin Harris letter, called the 'white salamander' letter, may be forged and that it may be part of an elaborate scheme to set up a much larger forgery or scam....

    "Police are investigating the possibility that the letter was forged by someone who later intended to forge pages from the 116 pages of missing Book of Mormon manuscript, known as the Book of Lehi—something police say would be worth millions of dollars. Many of those 116 pages are in Harris' handwriting.

    "Because there are only fragments of Harris' handwriting on file in church archives, historians seeking to authenticate it would have a difficult time determining absolutely its authenticity.

    " 'If (Hofmann) should just happen to come up with pages from the missing manuscript, they would be tested for authenticity against the Salamander letter,' said one police source. If the letter was forged, the manuscript 'would be easier to authenticate. It would be worth millions.'

    "Police say physical evidence has been recovered that may corroborate that theory.

    " 'You bet your bottom dollar,' said Willoughby when asked if police were seriously considering such a scenario.

    "Police are not the only ones to consider that possibility. A.J. Simmonds, curator of special collections and archives Utah State University, presented a similar hypothesis shortly after the three bombings.

    " 'If the salamander letter is a forgery, the only basis I see for it is to set up a possible sale for the Book of Lehi,' Simmonds said Tuesday. 'We know that the bulk, at least, of the Book of Lehi was written by Martin Harris. Emma apparently wrote part of it and her brother Reuben may have written part of it. But a substantial portion, at least, was in Martin's handwriting. Heretofore, we've never had much of an example extant of Martin Harris' handwriting. There have been four, five or six words and a couple of signatures. Those were the only things that could ever be verified of his handwriting.'

    " 'If it is in the same handwriting as the salamander letter and the salamander letter has been verified, you're a leg up on verifying the 116 pages.

    "When asked if Hofmann had ever expressed an interest to him about finding the 116 missing pages, Simmonds said: 'He just indicated to me on a couple of occasions that that is what he was after. Any Mormon collector would be after that. It is the ultimate find.' "

    In his lawsuit filed against Mark Hofmann, Brent Ashworth has made a charge which could throw some additional light on the question. In his suit Mr. Ashworth alleges that Hofmann sold him forged sections of the original Book of Mormon manuscript. Since over two-thirds of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon is believed to have been lost or destroyed by the elements, this would give a forger ample opportunity to bring forth an almost unlimited supply of pages or fragments which could be sold for a great deal of money. The text for these fragments could be obtained from the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon (Mr. Hofmann bought a xerox copy of this entire manuscript in 1983). All one would have to do is make a few minor changes in spelling (and perhaps in grammar), and the fraud would be very hard to detect. At one point Hofmann even claimed that he found "a half page of the original Book of Mormon manuscript" which matches with another half page preserved at the University of Utah:

REVIEW: Where is the rest of the manuscript?

HOFMANN: Only about a third of it is known. You see in October of 1841 Joseph deposited the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House. It laid there until about 1882 when Emma's widower, Major Bidamon, dug it up. It was really in poor condition from being in the ground all that time, with water and soil seeping into it. In fact, most of it fell to pieces when it was touched. The ink was also quite faded, difficult to read. Nonetheless, Bidamon gave away parts of it to visitors as he wished. Because it was in such bad shape, I am pretty sure that most of it is no longer in existence. The Church has nearly a third of it, and there is some in private hands still.

REVIEW: So you found a half page in someone's private collection?

HOFMANN: Actually, I have had three fragments at various times. That half page is the largest piece I've found. Incidentally, that half page matches the half page the University of Utah has which was acquired by Joseph W. Summerhays from Bidamon. Interestingly, there are word variations between the manuscript fragment and the first printed version of the Book of Mormon. I'm not sure who was responsible for the change: the printer or Joseph later revised it or perhaps Oliver Cowdery when he was making the printer's manuscript. (The Sunstone Review, September 1982, pages 17-18)

    While the discovery of an entire half page of this deteriorated manuscript would be quite a feat, Mr. Hofmann went even further; at one point he came forth with almost an entire page. He sold this page to Brent Ashworth in "April, 1983" for "25,000." (BRENT ASHWORTH, Plaintiff, vs. MARK HOFMANN, Defendant, Exhibit "A") The Church publication, The Ensign, printed photographs of both sides of this page in the December 1983 issue (see pages 37-38). It was noted at that time that this sheet was in a "remarkable state of preservation":

    "This dictated manuscript was placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House on 2 October 1841, where it remained until 1882. When the manuscript was removed, it was found that water had seeped in and destroyed the majority of the pages, especially those farther down in the stack. For this reason, most of the extant pages are from the earlier part of the manuscript; in fact, no pages are known to have survived from the books beyond Helaman....

    "Two...pages from the dictated manuscript appear on page 37 and at right. They are from a recently discovered leaf containing the text of Helamam 14:20 through 15:12...No text farther along in the original manuscript is known to exist. This leaf is in a remarkable state of preservation, considering that it was positioned low in the water-damaged manuscript." (p. 38)

    Utah State University purchased about one-third of a page from Hofmann which was even a little farther into the manuscript (Helaman 16:1-4 and 18-21). A. J. Simmonds, who was one of the first to suspect forgery, became suspicious of this fragment and asked if he could inspect the portion of the manuscript which is in the Church Archives. After making a comparison, Simonds determined that this fragment was probably too well preserved to be authentic.

    In addition to these portions of the manuscript, Brent Ashworth's complaint against Mark Hofmann says that he bought a "Mosiah 2:17 Fragment, original Book of Mormon manuscript (1829)" from Hofmann in the fall of 1982 for "$5,000." Since there are only ten words on the fragment, Mr. Ashworth was paying $500 for each word. This fragment was published in The Ensign, December 1983, p. 38. Although it is not listed in the complaint, it has been claimed that Ashworth also obtained two other fragments from the book of Nephi from Hofmann. There is really no way to determine how many other fragments purporting to be from the original manuscript Hofmann may have sold to others. In any case, if one accepts the charge that Hofmann was selling forged portions of the original Book of Mormon manuscript, it is easy to believe that he would consider creating the missing 116-page book of Lehi manuscript. This manuscript would certainly be worth far more than the original Book of Mormon manuscript, and the reader will remember that Mr. Ashworth paid $25,000 for just one leaf from this manuscript. Obviously, the missing 116 pages of the book of Lehi would be worth millions of dollars.



    In the list of documents the Mormon leaders admitted they had obtained either directly or indirectly from Mark Hofmann, we find the following: "...a promissory note dated Sept. 11, 1837, also signed by I. Galland." (Deseret News, April 12, 1986) Document experts felt that this was a genuine document with a spurious portion concerning Joseph Smith added at a later date. Kenneth Rendell testified as follows concerning this document:

    "You could see [on the documents] where the ink was running in one constant direction, as well as the handwriting problems...I pointed out that on this particular document here, which is the September 11, 1837 document, that the chemical only appears in the area supposedly written by Joseph Smith. The entire document had not been dipped."

    George Throckmorton said that "Portions of that note contained characteristic cracking of the ink. Others did not." He noted that the part concerning Joseph Smith "had that characteristic cracking effect." William Flyn also found the cracked ink only on one portion of the document: "...there was cracking of the ink in the portion of the note that obligates Joseph Smith as a trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That ink down to the word[s] his agent...were in a different ink than the rest of the document, and only that portion that obligated Joseph Smith had the cracked ink on it."



    On page 597 of his book, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Dean Jessee says: "At daybreak on June 23, [1844] Joseph crossed the Mississippi River westward with his brother Hyrum and Willard Richards with the ultimate anticipation of heading east. The place of William Jordan in Montrose was evidently the 'Safety' whence he wrote these letters to Emma and to Maria and Sarah Lawrence." Mr. Jessee published the purported letter of Joseph Smith to the Lawrence girls on page 598 of his book. The letter reads as follows:

Montrose, June 23,1844.
9 O Clock A.M.

    Dear Maria & Sarah:—I take opportunity this morning to communicate to you two some of the peepings of my heart; for you know my thoughts for you & for the City & people that I love. God bless & protect you all! Amen. I dare not linger in Nauvoo Our enimies shall not cease their infernal howling until they have drunk my lifes blood. I do not know what I shall do, or where I shall go, but if possible I will try to interview with President Tyler. Perhaps California or Austin will be more sy[m]pethetic. Speak of this to no one I want you two to make arrangements with R. Cahoon for passage at your earliest convenience. I want for you to tarry in Cincinnati untill you hear from me. Keep all things treasured up in your breasts. burn this letter as you read it. I close in hast. Do not dispare. Pray for me as I bleed my heart for you. I remain your loyal friend and companion.

            Joseph Smith

    Maria and Sarah Lawrence

trackingp109_mariaandsarahthumb.jpg (8603 bytes)
(click to enlarge)

A photograph of a letter Joseph Smith was supposed to have written to his plural wives, Maria and Sarah Lawrence. Document experts claim it is a forgery.

    In the list of documents the Church admitted came through Mark Hofmann the letter to the Lawrence girls is printed as No. 45: "A letter, dated June 23, 1844, from Joseph Smith to Maria and Sarah, including family information." (Deseret News, April 12, 1986) This seems to be a rather innocuous description of a letter which Joseph Smith purportedly wrote to two of his plural wives concerning his desire for a rendezvous in Cincinnati. In a footnote on page 697 of The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Dean Jessee says that "Maria and Sarah were sealed to Joseph Smith in 1843."

    If the handwriting in this letter is supposed to be Joseph Smith's, it is a very poor imitation. Dean Jessee felt that it was a copy made after Joseph Smith's death. Even though he believed in the authenticity of the letter, Mr. Jessee admitted that the handwriting could not be identified: "Tr. In an unknown hand, Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Archives. Handwritten characteristics suggest that the letter is probably a copy made at a later time, after the reason for burning it had passed."

    Before the Church obtained the letter, Mark Hofmann tried to sell it to A. J. Simmonds at Utah State University. Mr. Simmonds examined the document and came to the conclusion it was a forgery. He even told Mr. Hofmann that he did not believe the letter was authentic. Mr. Simmonds, however, had no reason to believe that Hofmann had forged the letter. He felt, in fact, that Hofmann had innocently obtained a 19th century forgery. Although Mr. Simmonds feels the contents of the letter are the same, he believes that the copy that the Mormon Church obtained may not be the same one that Hofmann showed to him. Mr. Simmonds told investigators that he remembers that the letter was hand printed, whereas the copy obtained by the Church is in cursive handwriting. In any case, this forgery could have been made even before the Anthon transcript. Hofmann told one scholar that he knew about this letter a couple of years before he found the Anthon document.

    When George Throckmorton testified at Mark Hofmann's preliminary hearing, he was asked if the ink on the Lawrence letter exhibited signs of cracking. He replied: "Yes, sir."

    The idea for a letter from Joseph Smith to his plural wives undoubtedly came from an authentic Joseph Smith letter to the Whitneys. We published a typed copy of this letter in 1967 in our book Joseph Smith and Polygamy, page 40. In 1973 Michael Marquardt included this letter in a pamphlet we published for him. The pamphlet is entitled, The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, Joseph C. Kingsbury and Heber C. Kimball. Mr. Marquardt found a photograph of this letter in the "George Albert Smith Family Papers" in the "Special Collections, Western Americana, Marriott Library, University of Utah." In this letter, dated August 18, 1842, Joseph Smith begged Bishop Newel K. Whitney and his wife to come with their daughter, Sarah Ann Whitney. In his book, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, which was published eleven years after Marquardt's pamphlet, Dean Jessee photographically reproduced the original letter which is in the possession of the Church. In introducing the letter, Mr. Jessee freely admitted that Joseph Smith had recently taken Sarah Ann Whitney as a plural wife:

    "When the practice of plural marriage was introduced at Nauvoo in the early 1840s, the Whitney family were among those involved. Seventeen-year-old Sarah Ann Whitney was sealed to Joseph Smith on July 27, 1842, her father performing the ceremony. Three weeks later Joseph wrote the following letter to Newel, Elizabeth Ann, and Sarah Ann."

    Michael Marquardt gives this interesting information concerning the letter:

    "While Joseph Smith concealed himself in the house of Edward Sayer, he wrote a letter to his first wife Emma, to whom he had been married for more than fifteen years. At the close of this letter to Emma Smith, dated August 16, 1842, he wrote: 'Yours in haste, your affectionate husband until death, through all eternity; for evermore.

    "It was reported that Joseph Smith then 'went to Carlos Granger's.' While he was hiding at the home of Carlos Granger...he wrote a very revealing letter to three of his closest friends. They were Bishop Newel K. Whitney, his wife Elizabeth Ann and the person whom he refers to as 'and &c'—Sarah Ann Whitney whom he had been married to for twenty-two days. The letter refers to this event in his life in the words 'Since what has pased lately between us'

    "From the reading of this letter one can gain an insight into the thought pattern of Joseph Smith, especially what he thought of his wife Emma Smith. In this letter written by Joseph Smith in his own hand, dated August 18th 1842, he wrote the following remarks concerning Emma: 'the only thing to be careful of, is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be Safe, but when She is not here, there is the most perfect Safty' also 'I think Emma wont come tonight if she dont dont fail to come to night.' " (The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney..., pages 4-5)

    This letter not only seems to have provided the forger with the idea for another letter, but it even contains some of the same words. For instance, the letter to the Whitneys contained the following:

    "I take this oppertunity to communi[c]ate,...burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts,...your...companion, and friend. Joseph Smith"

    The reader will notice how similar this is to the wording found in the letter to the Lawrence girls:

    "...I take opportunity...to communicate...Keep all things treasured up in your breasts. burn this letter as you read it....your loyal friend and companion, Joseph Smith"

    It is interesting to note that in his interview published in The Sunstone Review, September 1982, page 18, Mark Hofmann shows that he was familiar with the letter to the Whitneys:

    "We know of a couple of letters that be wrote to plural wives. One was to Sarah Ann Whitney. (The Church now owns this document; it is in the First Presidency's vault.) In it Joseph says that he wants Newell Whitney, his wife, and his daughter, Sarah to visit him. Then he says something about not coming if Emma is around. Also at the conclusion he says to burn the letter which probably accounts for the lack of material on this subject. There's also the letter written to Mary [sic] and Sarah Lawrence along similar lines. Joseph was planning to leave Nauvoo (this was at the end of his days) and the letter indicates he was thinking of going to Texas or out west. In the letter, he asks the Lawrence sisters to meet him in Cincinnati, which probably indicates some sort of relationship there."

    The reader will remember that Dean Jessee said that Joseph Smith also wrote a letter to his first wife, Emma, the same morning (June 23, 1844) that he wrote to the Lawrence girls (see pages 597-98 of Jessee's book). These two letters also have some similarities. Both letters speak of "Cincinnati" and use the phrase, "Do not dispair." The letter to Emma says: "My heart ble[e]ds," and the Lawrence letter says "I bleed my heart." In the letter to his first wife, Joseph Smith wrote: "I do not know where I shall go, or what I shall do, but shall if possible endeavor to get to the city of Washington." The Lawrence letter contains a similar statement: "I do not know what I shall do or where I shall go, but if possible I will try to interview with President Tyler."

    As I have pointed out before, the discovery of parallels between two works purported to be from the same author does not prove that one of them is a forgery. It could, in fact, be taken as evidence that they came from the same hand. In the case of the Lawrence letter, however, we have hard evidence that the ink was artificially aged. On the basis of this evidence, the parallels seem to provide strong circumstantial evidence that this letter was created from the two genuine letters of Joseph Smith.

    In his master's thesis, written at Brigham Young University, the Mormon writer Andrew Ehat indicated that Joseph Smith was acting as guardian for the Lawrence girls and that his plural marriage to Maria led to the belief that he "committed adultery with the eldest child of whom he was personal guardian":

    "...he knew his responsibility as guardian to the Lawrence Estate could be misunderstood given the fact that he was sealed to Maria Lawrence—a fact that made him particularly vulnerable to William Law.

    "In June 1841, Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith and William Law had assumed the responsibility of the deceased Edward Lawrence's estate valued at $7,750.06. Joseph was named as guardian of the Lawrence children. Somehow during his period of indecision, William Law found out that Maria Lawrence was sealed as a wife to Joseph; in fact, Law, as he later stated, found Joseph in a compromising situation with Maria on 12 October 1843. Two weeks later, 26 October 1843, Joseph ostensibly sealed Maria for time to John M. Bernhisel, an outsider to the Lawrence estate arrangements. But in January 1844, Joseph apparently felt this would no longer calm the angered William Law. The day after Joseph and William's final confrontation, Joseph began arrangements to relinquish the estate affairs entirely. From the ninth to the twenty-third, William Clayton was working with the Prophet preparing the transfer of the estate affairs to John Taylor. Undoubtedly, if William Law, one of the appointed trustees of the estate, I 'claimed' that Joseph had not only extorted the funds of the estate, but had also committed adultery with the eldest child of whom he was personal guardian, that would make an explosive expose.... Law appeared before the first sitting of the Grand Jury of the Hancock County circuit court to swear out charges against Joseph. Law filed charges and presented such evidence that the Grand Jury authorized an indictment against Joseph Smith for 'adultery and fornication.' While Law made oath that Joseph 'live[d]...an open state of adultery and fornication' with 'certain women,' the only woman he named was Maria Lawrence. Law testified of two dates when Joseph Smith allegedly committed the illegal acts—specifically the one date already mentioned, 12 October 1843, and the other date 1 January 1844, the day Law began his diary." ("Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question, M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, Dec. 1982, typed copy, pages 132-135)

    The William Law Diary, which Mr. Ehat speaks of at the end of the quotation above, seems to be a very mysterious document. In footnote 268 on page 270 of his thesis, Ehat claims it is in "private custody": "William Law, 'Record of Doings at Nauvoo in 1844,' undated entry after 28 June 1844 entry, in private custody. I am extremely grateful to Lyndon W. Cook for his generosity in permitting me to use his copy of this significant diary."

    In an article published in Brigham Young University Studies, Winter 1982, Lyndon W. Cook quoted extensively from the William Law Diary, but, like Andrew Ehat, he refused to reveal its location: "William Law, 'Record of Doings at Nauvoo in 1844,' 8 January 1844, in private custody; hereafter cited as Dairy of William Law."

    In the lawsuit that the Mormon scholar Andrew Ehat filed against us, we learned that Lyndon Cook had given Mr. Ehat a typed copy of the William Law Diary at the same time Mr. Cook received the extracts from the William Clayton Journals (the extracts Ehat sued us for printing). At the trial, Lyndon Cook was unwilling to reveal where his typed copy of the William Law Diary had come from:


Q. Did you give Mr. Ehat anything in exchange for receiving from him his portion of those Clayton notes? Was it a matter of trading?

A. Was it a matter of trading?

Q. Yeah, was it a matter of you giving something in return for his sharing those extracts from the William Clayton journal?

A. I don't—I didn't feel that I had to give him anything.

Q. Did you in fact give him any specific document or copy of a manuscript?

A. Yes, I remember almost simultaneous I believe I gave him a copy of my typescript of the William Law diary at the time.

. . . . .



Q. You mentioned that you have notes or extracts from the William Law diary?

A. Yes.

Q. And where is the original of the William Law diary?

MR. MADSEN: Your Honor, again I object as to materiality here, going on a—

THE COURT: Overruled. If you know.

THE WITNESS: I do know but I received them in confidence.

MR. MADSEN: May I ask on voir dire, your Honor?

THE COURT: What do you claim for this?

MR. BARNARD: Simply again, the practice, your Honor, Mr. Cook acquired access to a historical document. He doesn't want to reveal the source and he is sharing those with Mr. Ehat. It's the situation that I think is the construction of the case, that there is this sharing of secret documents. Once Mr. Cook gains access to them he has no problem giving them to Mr. Ehat.

THE COURT: You may ask whether the original is in the archives of the church.


Q. Are they—

A. It's not in the archives, it has never been owned by the church and is not in the state of Utah.

Q. You gained permission from the owner to make the extracts; is that correct?

A. No, that's not true.

Q. Okay. How did you gain permission to make the extracts?

A. From someone else who had had that permission.

Q. So, did you make the extracts from that other person's notes?

A. I received a copy from another person.

Q. A copy of what?

A. Of a typescript of the original.

. . . . .

Q. You made a complete copy of that typescript?

A. Yes, I did.

. . . . .

Q. Did you get permission from the owner of that document to give Mr. Ehat a copy of that typescript?

A. I had permission from the individual who gave it to me to do it.

THE COURT: By "him" you don't represent that the one that gave it to you was the owner?

THE WITNESS: I do not.

(Andrew F. Ehat, v. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Case No. C83-0593C, pages 282-285)

    When I began to question the authenticity of some of the documents, the thought came into my mind that Mark Hofmann could have been the person who was circulating the typescript of the William Law Diary. This might account for the secrecy with regard to the location of the original document or who the person was who gave the typescript to Lyndon Cook. (I do not mean to imply that Mr. Cook was involved in anything that was improper. It is possible that he received strict instructions to never reveal where he obtained the typescript.) Mr. Cook seemed to be very deeply troubled when Judge Christensen asked him to tell where the diary was located, and it was obvious that he was very relieved when he did not have to reveal the source.

    Since the purported dairy begins on the same day that Joseph Smith is accused of committing adultery with Maria Lawrence, and we now are aware that there is a spurious letter by Joseph Smith to the Lawrence sisters, I have some doubts concerning the authenticity of the William Law Diary. At the time we were preparing for the Ehat lawsuit, I asked Mark Hofmann if he knew where the William Law Diary was located. He responded that it was now in the vault of the First Presidency.

    If Andrew Ehat and Lyndon Cook are going to continue to maintain that the William Law Dairy is authentic, they should reveal where it is located and whether it has any provenance. At the present time I suspect that it could be either a forged document Hofmann was using to blackmail the Church or that it may not really exist at all. I would be very pleased to learn that there is an original of the diary and that it can be traced to someone besides Mark Hofmann.

    Although the letter of Joseph Smith to Maria and Sarah Lawrence is clearly a forgery, the fact that Joseph Smith had a relationship with them is supported by a great deal of historical evidence. Andrew Jenson, who was Assistant LDS Church Historian, included the Lawrence sisters in his list of 27 of Joseph Smith's wives:

"Maria Lawrence, a sister of Henry W. Lawrence of Salt Lake City, married in 1843....

"Sarah Lawrence,...married to Joseph in 1843." (Historical Record, May 1887, vol. 6, page 243)

    While Maria Lawrence was nineteen years old at the time of her marriage to Joseph Smith, Sarah was only seventeen. According to Fawn Brodie, William Law told W. Wyl about the Lawrence girls in 1887: "Soon after my arrival in Nauvoo the two L____ girls came to the holy city, two very young girls, fifteen to seventeen years of age. They had been converted in Canada, were orphans worth about $8,000 in English gold. Joseph got to be appointed their guardian....Emma complained about Joseph's living with the L____ girls, but not very violently...she used to complain to me about Joseph's escapades whenever she met me on the street." (No Man Knows My History, 1957, page 457)

    The fact that William Law accused Joseph Smith of adultery is obvious from the entry that appears in the History of the Church under the date of May 23, 1844 (vol. 6, p. 403): "A.A. Lathrop came to my clerk, Dr. Richards, and told him an officer was on his way with an attachment for him, and that the grand jury had found a bill against me for adultery, on the testimony of William Law; he had come from Carthage in two hours and thirty minutes to bring the news."

    Under the date of June 4, 1844, the following is attributed to Joseph Smith in his History: "At 6 p.m. I was in council...on the propriety of prosecuting the Laws and Fosters for perjury, slander, &c. Counseled Taylor to go on with the prosecution in behalf of Maria Lawrence. I concluded to go to Quincy with Taylor, and give up my bonds of guardianship as administrator of the Lawrence estate." (History of the Church, vol. 6, page 427)



    One of the most unusual stories I encountered in my research with regard to Mark Hofmann's documents is that concerning the purported letter of Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham. This is a document that seems to have been created specifically to fill a request that Brent Ashworth made of Mark Hofmann. At the preliminary hearing, Mr. Ashworth testified that he had once examined two letters Joseph Smith had written from the Carthage jail just before he was murdered. Ashworth became fascinated with these letters written by the Mormon Prophet from the jail and became obsessed with the desire to obtain such a letter. According to his testimony, he asked Mark Hofmann if he ever had a letter written by "Joseph Smith from Carthage jail or do you know of any?" Ashworth went on to say: "And I told him, I said,...I can't think of any LDS item that would be more of an honor to own than a letter of Joseph Smith from Carthage jail, and I asked him...would you agree to sell me a Carthage jail Joseph Smith letter if you ever acquire one. And he agreed that he would do that."

    It did not take Mark Hofmann long to come up with the desired letter. Brent Ashworth testified: "Within about three to four months thereafter, Mark indicated to me that he had located a Carthage jail letter;..." Mr. Ashworth went on to say: "...I felt like this was—had to be one of the greatest finds of Mormon documents, and right then and there I again renewed my agreement or he did with me that I would have a first option to purchase that letter were he able to...finalize the transaction on it." Ashworth felt that he just had to have the letter: "...I couldn't get it out of my mind. I kept thinking about it, being a collector that would be the ultimate in Mormon collecting, in my opinion..."

    At this point in the story a very extraordinary thing happened. Instead of selling the letter to Brent Ashworth, who wanted the letter so badly that he would have been willing to pay up to $30,000 for it, Mark Hofmann sold it to Dr. Richard Marks for $20,000. Brent Ashworth soon became aware of the fact that Hofmann had sold the letter out from under him and became extremely upset:

A—...I was disgusted, quite frankly, and...got in my car and drove straight to Mark's house...I didn't get there till after 10:00 o'clock at night, and I must have got Mark out of bed or at least he was dressed in his pajamas with a robe on...I was extremely angry, and I just said, "Mark I received a phone call an hour or so ago that the Carthage jail letter was sold to Dick Mark[s]," and I expressed great dissatisfaction over that. I said, "You lied to me." And he didn't really respond to that much. And—

Q—Did he say anything?

A—He really didn't at that point. In fact, I was so upset over not really getting an answer or a response that I got up to leave his home. And as I did so Mark said, "Oh, come on back. Sit down Brent....get it off your chest. You'll feel a lot better." I said, "Mark I just got it off my chest and I feel worse than ever."...this was kind of a disgusting...meeting to me, and I was really distraught over the whole thing."

    Mr. Ashworth still could not get the letter off his mind: "...I never gave up on the Joseph Smith letter to Dunham. I felt that it was my letter or should have been my letter and that it was stolen from me..."

    The story becomes even more bizarre as it goes on. Ashworth claimed that in April of 1985 he was "still hot" over the fact that Mark Hofmann had broken his agreement with him. At that point Hofmann may have realized that if he wanted to continue victimizing Brent Ashworth, he would have to do something to rectify the matter. Mr. Ashworth testified that Hofmann finally called him and said that the letter was available to him again, but this time the price would be $60,000! Ashworth told Hofmann that he was not interested at that price and the conversation was terminated. Ashworth went on to say: "And, in fact, I was still fuming, even though I wanted to get that letter...I told Brent Christensen, I said, 'of all the gall...after all this time—we had originally agreed...that I would pay up to around $30,000 for that letter. I sort of got robbed of it, I felt, and here I was being offered it by Mark...at twice the price.' "

    Mr. Ashworth's obsession to obtain the letter finally got the best of him: "I loved that letter so much that I got over my pride for a moment or two and decided that I better try and go after it." On July 29, 1985, Mark Hofmann finally turned the letter over to Brent Ashworth for $60,000. What Mr. Hofmann did not tell Ashworth was the price he had to pay to get the letter back. Hofmann had prearranged for the Church's bookstore, Deseret Book, to obtain the letter for him. Curt Bench, of Deseret Book, testified that he bought the letter back from Richard Marks for "$90,000" and resold it to Hofmann for "$110,000 plus tax. It came to $116,000 plus." Mark Hofmann later had a discussion with Curt Bench concerning how much Mr. Ashworth was paying for the letter. Mr. Bench probably would have been very suspicious of the deal if Hofmann had told him he was reselling the letter for only half what he paid for it. According to Bench's testimony at the preliminary hearing, Hofmann claimed he was receiving about one hundred thousand dollars more than Ashworth actually paid him: "Mark told me that it would be around 150 or 160,000 thousand in cash and trade." According to Brent Ashworth's testimony at the preliminary hearing and the complaint he later filed against Hofmann, the actual price was $60,000. Just why Hofmann would take such a loss to get back in favor with Brent Ashworth is not known. Perhaps he was planning on setting Ashworth up for a much larger deal like the "Oath of a Freeman."

    When the document examiners looked at the letter of Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham, they noted the same signs of forgery found in the other documents. George Throckmorton was asked if the ink was cracked in this letter. He replied, "Yes." William Flyn also noticed the cracked ink: "This is another document that I believe was extensively washed and perhaps washed and fixed...the surface of the ink is pretty well—has been removed. The portions of the ink that remain...are cracked." Mr. Flyn also testified that "The General Dunham letter did have ink running...visible under ultraviolet." Flyn compared the letter with two authentic letters written from Carthage jail the same day. At the preliminary hearing he was questioned concerning this comparison:

Q—Was there any differences in the letters.


Q—What were those differences?

A—The two letters...were written on the same paper. The questioned document before me...was written on a different paper than the other two.

    William Flyn also pointed out that "There was no indication of the cracking on the other two Carthage jail letter documents." Mr. Flyn concluded: "I don't believe it is genuine either."

trackingp115_dunhampwjsthumb.jpg (11721 bytes)
(click to enlarge)

A photograph of a letter purported to have been written by Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham just before Smith was murdered in the Carthage jail. This photograph appears in The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, page 618.

    To most people the text of the letter of Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham would not appear detrimental to Mormonism. In fact, Brent Ashworth, who seemed to have no interest in obtaining anything which would tend to injure the Mormon position, seems to have been very proud of it. A careful examination of the text, however, reveals that it flies in the face of a statement attributed to Joseph Smith just before his death. This statement is canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 135, verse 4: "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter;..." In the letter to Dunham, Joseph Smith is actually calling for the commander of the Nauvoo Legion to come and rescue him from the jail. Given the intense feelings on both sides, such a move could have set off a conflict that could have resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths. The text of the letter reads as follow:

Carthage Jail June 27th 1844
Major General Dunham

Dear Sir

    You are hereby ordered to resign the defence of the City of Nauvoo to Captain Singlton and proceed to this place without delay with what ever numbers of the Nauvoo Ledgion as may safely and immediately come. Let this be done quietly and orderly but with great hast[e] we are in the hands of our sworn enemies.

        Joseph Smith

    Although I do not believe that the Hofmann document is genuine, it is certainly possible that Joseph Smith could have panicked and written such a letter. We know that when it came right down to it, Smith was unable to go "like a lamb to the slaughter"—i.e., die without putting up a struggle. The actual truth is that he died in a gun battle. John Taylor, who became the third president of the Mormon Church, made these statements concerning the death of Joseph Smith:

    "Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock came in to see us, and when he was about leaving drew a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother Joseph immediately replied, 'Yes, give it to me.' whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket....I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail, when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming around the corner of the jail, and aiming towards the stairs.... the mob,... fired a ball through the keyhole;... almost instantly another ball passed through the panel of the door, and struck Brother Hyrum...

    "I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, 'Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!' He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed died." (History of the Church, Vol. 7, pages 100, 102 and 103)

    The idea for creating such a document as the Dunham letter could have come from a number of books. For instance in Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? page 259, we wrote the following:

    "There is some evidence that just before his death Joseph Smith sent for the Nauvoo Legion to rescue him from the Carthage jail. Harold Schindler states:

    " 'Because Ford had permitted Joseph to use the debtor's apartment in jail and allowed several of the prophet's friends access to him, it was possible to smuggle messages out of Carthage. Realizing time was precious, Joseph dictated a note to Major General Jonathan Dunham ordering him to call out the Legion and march on the jail immediately. Dunham received the communication in Nauvoo but failed to carry out the command. One of the Legionnaires, Allen Stout, said, 'Dunham did not let a single man or mortal know that he had received such orders and we were kept in the city under arms not knowing but all was well.' " (Orrin Porter Rockwell; Man of God, Son of Thunder, p. 130)"

    In 1873 T.B.H. Stenhouse told the story of the letter to Jonathan Dunham. Mr. Stenhouse implied that Dunham was later assassinated because he did not follow Joseph Smith's order:

    "...it is understood that he managed to send from prison a communication to the Mormon officer in military command at Nauvoo, to bring with all possible dispatch a portion of the Legion to protect him from treachery, and from that assassination which he had then so much cause to apprehend. This military commander put the Prophet's communication into his pocket and gave no heed to the call for help. No one was acquainted with the contents of the paper, and the officer was, therefore, he presumed, safe in disregarding it.

    "After the Prophet's death, by some accident or other, this communication was lost and was picked up on the street and read. The intelligence that Joseph had called for aid and none had been rendered him was soon bruited among the Saints and excited their deepest indignation, as they were not only ready to march at a moment's notice, but were eager for the opportunity.

    "Some time afterwards, when all was quiet, this 'coward and traitor' as some of the Mormons called him, or 'fool and idiot' as others said, was sent on a mission to the Western frontiers, accompanied by a faithful elder. While travelling alone with his companion, he fell ill and died, it is said of dysentery. His companion buried him." (Rocky Mountain Saints, page 164)

    Dawn Tracy wrote the following in an article published in the Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 6, 1986:

    "Wade Lilywhite of Deseret Book's rarebook division said Mr. Hofmann told him that Mormons accused Dunham of abandoning the prophet. Mr. Lilywhite said Mr. Hofmann said the commander was later found dead with his throat slashed. Historians generally agree that Dunham died a violent death from unknown causes."

    One thing that must have influenced Brent Ashworth to pay $60,000 for the letter was the claim that it was written just before Joseph Smith's death. Dean Jessee commented that it "was probably his last written communication (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, page 616)



    In his lawsuit against Mark Hofmann, Brent Ashworth claims that on Nov. 30, 1984, Mr. Hofmann sold him an 1835 "Emma Smith Hymn Book" for "$10,000." Mr. Ashworth claimed that Hofmann told him it was "one of the most beautiful copies he had ever seen. He said it was better than the two copies which the Church possessed."

    When investigators examined this volume, they found that the last page was spurious. It was, in fact, printed in November 1984 on old paper. The Deseret News for April 17, 1986, reported that Jack Smith, of DeBouzek Engraving, testified that on "Nov. 1 of the same year [1984], Mike Hansen ordered an engraving that police found reproduced on the back page of a hymn book belonging to Emma Smith, wife of the founder of the LDS Church."

    At the preliminary hearing George Throckmorton testified that he compared the negative obtained from the engraving company with the last page of the hymnal and concluded: "The negative in Exhibit No. 71 was used to make a plate and a plate was then used to imprint on the very last page of the fly leaf of the Emma Smith hymnal, which is Exhibit No. 87."

    While the counterfeiting of one page might not seem too important, Lyn Jacobs testified that without this page, the book—which was sold to Ashworth for $10,000—was only worth "about a thousand dollars." As I have shown earlier, Brent Ashworth testified that Mark Hofmann claimed this book was "originally from the McLellin collection." Ashworth also said that Hofmann told him he would give him an affidavit to that effect but he "never received it." Investigators found that the book actually came from the Mormon Church Archives. Former Church Archivist Donald Schmidt testified:

Q—And it was sold...by you?


Q—To a person named Lyn Jacobs?

A—That's correct.

Q—And the condition of that volume when you sold it?

A—It was missing the last page.

    Lyn Jacobs confirmed the testimony of Donald Schmidt. He said that at one time the book "belonged to the Church and subsequently by me." In his testimony, Jacobs claimed that he had originally made a xerox copy on one of the original end sheets of the book and temporarily glued it into the book:

Q—Did you do anything concerning the last page while you possessed it?

A—Not the last page, but the last free end sheet. Yes, I did do something with [it].

. . . . .

Q—And did that end sheet have any printing on it_____?

A—It did not. It is blank. As is the front end sheet.

Q—What did you do with that last end sheet?

A—I decided that, aesthetically, it might be interesting if there was some printing on it and so I ran the page through a Xerox machine, using the reprint of the hymnal that was made by the Reorganized Church, sometime in the 1970's, as my model for it.

. . . . .

Q—So now you have a page, the last page, on the hymnal on the end sheet. Is that correct?

A—Yes, I have xeroxed onto it. Yes.

Q—Then...actually the xerox is on the actual paper from the book. Is that correct?

A—That is correct. However, it didn't stick very well.

. . . . .

Q—What did you do?

A—I placed it back in the book.

Q—Tipped it back in?

A—Um hum. Just a few dabs, however, because it was obviously a temporary page. I would have liked to have found a real page eventually, of course.

    Mr. Jacobs said that Mark Hofmann later claimed that he found an original page in the possession of "an older lady," but Jacobs could not "remember the name." He claimed, however, that he sincerely believed that Hofmann bought "a real last printed page, an actual page." Lyn Jacobs emphatically testified that he had no knowledge of the forgery:

Q—Did he ever tell you at that time or any other time that that was a modern printing?

A—He certainly did not.

Q—Did he ever tell you that he had had a plate made of that particular—

A—I've never heard of such a thing.

    Mr. Jacobs said he received some items in trade when Hofmann sold the book. The value was "somewhere around seven or eight thousand" dollars. When he was asked if he could remember what the items were that he received, he responded: "I do not."

    The testimony of Lyn Jacobs (one of Hofmann's closest friends) with regard to this hymnal is very important because it links Hofmann directly to the printed page that came from the engraving ordered under the alias of "Mike Hansen."



    Wilford Cardon, who was Shannon Flynn's mission president in Brazil, testified that Flynn and Hofmann got him to invest in a letter purportedly written by Betsy Ross. He said they represented to him "that there are no written documents...no letters of Betsy Ross in existence, and therefore this [is] the only letter of Betsy Ross in existence, and therefore it's valuable." Shannon Flynn testified at the preliminary hearing that he had received his information about the Betsy Ross letter from Mark Hofmann: "Mr. Flynn said that in October 1984, Mr. Hofmann said he had found a valuable Betsy Ross letter, but needed money to purchase it. Mr. Flynn testified that he arranged a meeting with Mr. Cardon in Mesa, Ariz., where he convinced his former LDS mission president to contribute $12,000 towards the purchase — $6,000 as his investment and another $6,000 loaned to Mr. Flynn." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 1986)

    Like the Spalding-Rigdon document, the Betsy Ross letter is an extremely crude forgery. Whoever produced it certainly didn't take the time to do the homework required to fool the experts. In summing up the evidence against Mark Hofmann at the preliminary hearing, the prosecution pointed out that the man whose name appears on the letter as postmaster could not possibly have been serving in that capacity at the time the letter was supposedly written:

    "...the research that we got from the archives division of the post office...shows that the William B. Smith—when you turn over the Betsy Ross letter on the address portion—the postmaster, apparently, has written his name, William B. Smith. Well, those documents...given the court by the Post Office authority shows that William B. Smith was not the postmaster in 1807. He was not the postmaster until 1834 through 1844. So that's why the letter is an 1837 letter,...because that's when William Smith was postmaster. And so they got an 1837 letter, change[d] it [to] an 1807, added the Ross, now we have a genuine supposed Betsy Ross letter..."

    Kenneth Rendell said that when he examined the so-called Betsy Ross letter, he came to the conclusion that the handwriting "Just didn't hit me as being the same at all...I said that the postmark should be pursued to see if that postmark was consistent with 1807 because it appears to be a much later postmark."

    George Throckmorton testified concerning the alteration of the date on the letter: "Aside from the letter being cut, the date in the upper right hand portion under microscopic examination by use of the fiber optic light I was able to detect where some type of a sharp instrument had been used to pluck away the date and alter that date...some individual with a very sharp instrument actually removed the ink from the surface of the paper and then changed the lower loop of the 3 and connected it, which made it a 0." Mr. Throckmorton went on to say: "The date that is presently visible is 1807. Under the microscope you see where the upper portion has been picked away and later on something that appears to be different ink...has been added to change the lower loop of the 3 into a 0." The evidence concerning the alteration of the date from 1837 to 1807 fits very well with the discovery that William B. Smith was actually postmaster in 1837.

    It was felt that the first name of the person who originally signed the letter was Betsy but that the last name had been eradicated and the name Ross inserted in its place. George Throckmorton testified: 'The name Ross, in Betsy Ross, appears to be a different ink than the rest of the body of the letter, and also the writing itself appears to be a different style than the rest of the body of the letter."

    William Flyn's testimony agreed with that given by Mr. Throckmorton:

Q—And can you tell us the results of your examination?

A—Yes. The...name Ross is written in a different ink, in my opinion, than the signature Betsy appearing on that document....the name Ross, in my opinion, is in a different handwriting than the rest of the text on that document.

Q—Were you able to look at the date?


Q—Did you make any findings concerning the date?


Q—What was that?

A—The date, November 24, 1807, had been altered.

Q—-Can you tell us from what to what?

A—Yes. It had been altered from November the 24th, 1837, to November 24th, 1807.

Q—Based on those examinations, were you able to conclude whether or not that was a genuine letter?

A—In my opinion, it is not a genuine document.


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