Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism
John Phillip Walker, editor
33. To Marguerite Sinclair
Salt Lake City, Utah
17 February 1949
After separating from you last night I kept revolving in my mind the possibilities of a [Utah State Historical] quarterly built around the theme of pioneering by women. I believe a most effective volume could be made on this basis. Four possibilities occur to me for inclusion.
The first of course is the Wenner story. If printed as an integral part of this larger theme, it would be desirable to call Mr. Miller’s introductory remarks to the Wenner memoirs not “A Short History of Fremont Island,” but simply “Introduction.”
The second is the Martha Spence Heywood journal, which would be the piece de resistance of the volume. I looked through this again after arriving home last night, and am more than ever persuaded of the importance and great human interest of this journal. It contains quite a full diary of the overland journey of 1850, thus making it of interest to collectors of overland diaries; it is one of the best documents of the women’s side to Utah life that has come to light; it is a picture of polygamy by a plural wife that is most affecting in its simplicity and pathos; and it is or will be the first diary of pioneer life in Nephi [Utah] and the building of that community that has ever been published. If this journal is published, I think it imperative that it be edited by someone who will edit it as a labor of love, appreciating it for its distinction. I hesitate to become a candidate for the job, what with all my other obligations, but I should feel very badly if this were published with only a perfunctory editing by someone.
The catch about this journal is that I don’t know where the original is. The Writers’ Project copied it from a typewritten copy in the B.Y.U. library, the provenance of which was not indicated. If the Society seriously is to consider publishing it, you should immediately write Professor M. Wilford Poulson at B.Y.U., who may have been the one to dig it up, asking if he knows where the original is, and whose sanction should be had for its publication.
With these two documents can be published one or two more, depending on how your space runs. One of these is the life story of [p.167] Mary Ann Hafen, who as a six year old child was a handcart pioneer of 1860. LeRoy R. Hafen is her son, and if this autobiography is to be published, it would be a nice courtesy to invite Hafen to edit it for you. However, in the back of my mind is a vague idea that this autobiography may have been printed by the Hafen family. Perhaps I am wrong. But if you write Hafen, raising this possibility, you might inquire of him whether the document still is unpublished. If Hafen himself did not, for various reasons, want to edit the autobiography, Juanita [Brooks] would be a very good person to do so, as she was long very close to “Grandmother Hafen,” and in fact Mrs. Hafen, without being named as such, was one of those described by Juanita in her 1934 Harper’s article, “A Close-Up of Polygamy.” Grandmother Hafen lived a long, full life and died so recently as about 1944 or 1945.
The fourth possibility for such a quarterly is the autobiography of Mary Minerva Dart Judd, who moved to southern Utah in the very early fifties, was involved in the life with the Indian missionaries (her husband being Zodak Knapp Judd) and the first efforts at cotton raising. If this is published, Juanita of course would be mandatory as the editor, having dug up the journal in the first place, and knowing more about the subject than any other living person. On space considerations this document may be preferable to Grandmother Hafen’s autobiography. Or if all four documents could be published, you would have a varied and fascinating volume of the Quarterly.
In case there should be any hitch about the Martha Spence Heywood journal, a fine one in its place perhaps would be that of Eliza M. Partridge Lyman, which Juanita turned up for Huntington, and of which there is now a typed copy at B.Y.U. She had been Joseph’s wife, later married [Amasa] Lyman, and her journal of Utah pioneering is as affecting in its way as that of Martha Spence Heywood.
34. To Fawn Brodie
Salt Lake City, Utah
7 April 1949
The very fact that you should write me at Hollywood Avenue shows how far behind I am on my correspondence, for I have been in [p.168] a place of my own on 10th East ever since the first of the year. I guess one reason I have been so slow is my reluctance to admit how slowly my book itself is coming along. I seem to work all the time without ever having much to show for the time put in.
One reason, of course, is that a high proportion of my time goes into writing and research not immediately connected with my book. The University of Utah Press has appeared as a candidate for publisher of my enormous bibliography of Mormonism, 1830-1849, so I took time out from other pursuits to sort out my bibliographical sheets chronologically, and begin typing up a sample section of the bibliography. This has now been done to the end of 1836—with notes, requiring 21 pages to deal with the first 46 entries—and I have delivered this, with a title-page and six-page preface to the U of U for their consideration. Harold W. Bentley, the guy imported from Columbia a year ago to run their publishing activities, is in New York at the moment, and when he returns I expect an answer one way or the other. If he has the money, I think he will take it on, but the governor managed to cut the University’s appropriation by half a million dollars, and it remains to be seen where this leaves Bentley and their press. When you see this bibliography, I think you will be as amazed as I was when the titles began to roll in on me. There are about 700 titles for the period 1830-1849, and literally dozens neither you nor I had ever heard of before I started this little job.
But this has required a vexing amount of work, because I had to type up a checklist for the whole thing, alphabetically by author, to send to various libraries I couldn’t visit in person, and this in turn has turned up more titles requiring time and attention from me. At the moment the Library of Congress is making a final check in the Union Catalogue against a copy of the checklist, and I have suspended any work on the bibliography until this census work is done. If I get one penny out of that bibliography I will be amazed, but it is something I happened to get started on and then became responsible for, and I think it will be a lasting thing, and something of a revolutionary force in Mormon history, or at least the writing thereof.
I have also been concentrating on extracting as much information as possible from the various factions, as I suspect some of them may clam up on me once my first book is published. I believe you would be surprised to see what I have now, probably several hundred pamphlets relating to the factions. When I can afford the time, I mean to publish a series of bibliographical contributions on the publishing history of each of these. I have prepared a preliminary bibliography of the Cadmanite or Bickertonite Church of Jesus Christ (the one at Monongahela, Pa.) which I may offer this fall to the [Western] Humanities Review. I have managed to gather practically all the publications of this church, except their early hymn books, and also of the “Re-Organized Church of Jesus Christ” which split off from this in 1908 and is now nearly extinct. When I get through with this faction, I will bibliographically tackle the Strangite church, which however is a far more difficult proposition. Needless to say, the Utah [p.169] and Reorganized Churches will be left to the last, and in fact I doubt that I will ever publish a bibliography of this sort for the Utah Church; it would have to be instead a continuation of my major bibliography from 1850, and I am just as willing that somebody else should cover the later era.
Eberstadt [Booksellers] in New York has just bought [Milo] Quaife’s collection of Strang MSS, and it will be interesting to see who acquires them. I hope to God Coe does, or some other public institution. I spent three days in these papers in December, 1947, and extracted most of the information I wanted down to 1849, but I didn’t have time to cover the MSS relating to Beaver Island, and had hoped to do this enroute east this spring. But I am in no position to set off for the east as yet, and am extremely doubtful of having things in shape before July, if then. Maybe by the time I do get east again, these things will be permanently located.
Stan Ivins is expecting to get off on a two-month trip to your parts about Saturday or Sunday, and we have been going over things he might look up for both of us. He is going to Independence [Missouri] first, and with a letter of authorization from the U of U, is hoping to be allowed to have some things microfilmed. Then to Jefferson City, Cedar Rapids, Chicago, and points east. He is going to have a look at the county records at Lyons, N.Y., to see if he can find record of the imprisonment for “juggling” of our Walters the Magician [a contemporary of Joseph Smith], of Reflector [newspaper] fame. I went to the [LDS] Genealogical Society today hoping to check the census returns of 1820 and 1830 at Sodus, and thus prove him a person of undoubted historicity, but they haven’t filmed those records yet, and there was no Walters on the list of persons buried in cemeteries in that area.
The letter from this fellow Stokes is a curiosity. One of these days I am going to write an article on “Mormonism’s Suppressed Books” which aside from discussing the half dozen or so which actually have been suppressed will also discuss the several dozens which by booksellers’ folklore are supposed to have been suppressed. You can buy copies of Josiah Gibbs’ book like any other Mormon book—if you are willing to pay the price asked for it these days. I myself have a copy which once belonged to B. H. Roberts and has some entertaining marginalia by him—didn’t I show it to you once? The Gibbs book is all right in its way, but the only substantial thing it adds to Mormon history is to clear the Saints of complicity in the Gunnison Massacre of 1853—and this was reprinted a few years ago in the Utah Historical Quarterly. Gibbs’ pamphlet on the M[ountain] M[eadows] M[assacre] is much more important.
I have been following [John A.] Widtsoe’s radio series with a good deal of enjoyment, looking to the time when he will find us exploding some of these comfortable assumptions. And this reminds me of something else amusing. You recall the letter I wrote [Francis W.] Kirkham from Fort Leavenworth [Kansas] about your book, seerstones, etc. Well, he didn’t reply immediately, but just [p.170] before I left there for St. Louis, I got a letter from him saying he was coming east to Chicago for an insurance conclave and would like to talk to me. He arrived after I had set out, and tried again to catch me at St. Louis, but I was held up at Columbia by work and icy roads, and didn’t get there until he had left. No more was heard from him for months thereafter, though once, late last spring, when I was in the Historian’s Office, I saw him there. We had never “met,” so I didn’t say anything. But then last fall while I was out of town, he called my mother, saying he had just learned I was in town, and would like to see me. He didn’t then call up for a couple more months; as it happened, I was out at the time, and he was going to call back but apparently did not. However, one day about six weeks ago I had lunch with Madeline [McQuown] at the Lion House, and just as we were getting up from our table, he came in with a tray. I nodded to him without reflecting that he didn’t “know” me, and he nodded back, then said to Madeline, “Mrs. Morgan, I presume?” She disclaimed the honor, and we smiled pleasantly and parted. But this has amused me. Also I wonder what he will think about seerstones when he reads my book. Why, even Emma [Smith] tells of writing to Joseph’s dictation while he sat before her, nothing between them, staring into “the stone” in the depths of a dark hat.
After our long, hard winter we have had a fine beginning on spring, at least ten days earlier than the season a year ago. I have thought of you often the last couple of weeks, wondering how you were enjoying the season at Bethany. I bought a book on North American trees a couple of months back, to fill in a long-standing vacancy in my common knowledge, and when I finally come to visit you, I am going to wander around identifying every tree you have on the place. Ornithology is agreeable too, but so much depends on the sound the bird makes and the quickness of one’s eye that I will leave this department of knowledge to you.
Now, Sister Brodie, don’t you fret about your new book. Your new subject has this importance, that it is about a national figure, not merely a regional one, as Joseph was. Your work with Joseph Smith was as notable as [Arthur] Schlesinger’s on Andrew Jackson, but look who got the huzzas and the financial rewards. Jackson’s role in national affairs, and the continuing significance his “revolution” has for American life accounts for this. This is true also of [Thaddeus] Stevens. You have a man of great national importance, central to an American revolution, and you may find ultimately that he will reward you better than Joseph did. Not that this can be guaranteed, of course, but don’t be unmindful of the possibilities.
You might be interested to see the new book, Rocky Mountain Cities, which came out ten days ago and includes a piece on Salt Lake City I wrote for it in June, 1947. So far there have been no squawks by the Church here, but that may be simply because the apostles haven’t got around to reading it. The Salt Lake Library squawked long and loud before the book came off the press, in re[gard to] the next to last paragraph. I had a conference with the [p.171] librarian, which boiled down to this, that they would mend their ways and I would alter the paragraph. It turned out to be too late for the first edition, which made them very unhappy, but the change will be made in the second edition, if any. I will tell you about this at greater length when you have read the book, which by the way was published by W. W. Norton, which makes the sixth different publisher to put something of mine in book form. Tell Dean Brimhall1 that my remarks about the [Salt Lake] Tribune in that article are in remembrance of a discussion we had several years ago about a speech by J. Reuben [Clark] to the woolgrowers here.
I have just sent the Saturday Review [of Literature] my copy for Virginia Sorenson’s The Evening and the Morning, coming out April 22.2 By all means read this, her first wholly satisfying novel and from any view point a highly distinguished one, with the exception of [Wallace] Stegner’s Big Rock Candy Mountain, probably the best novel by any writer of Utah associations. I understand that it is autobiographical in a small way, that the small girl is more or less Virginia herself, and the grandmother founded to some extent on Virginia’s own. Be this as it may, it is a damned fine novel, and one I would like to have written.
I understand Juanita [Brooks] is in town, but we have missed connections yesterday and today. She was named to replace Cornelia Lund on the [Utah State] Historical Society’s Board of Control a few weeks back, in every way a good move, because Mrs. Lund simply was an axman for the D[aughters]. [of the] U[tah]. P[ioneers]. I think maybe Stanford [University] is going to take her MMM book but negotiations were in progress when I last heard from her several weeks ago, and I don’t know what the upshot is. There were a number of bugs that had to be ironed out, in the contract, not the manuscript.
Happy Arbor Day!
1. Dean R. Brimhall, a cousin to Fawn Brodie, had met Morgan at the Works Projects Administration. He was later named to the Board of Trustees of the Utah State Historical Society. His and Morgan’s correspondence is housed at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, Special Collections division.”
2. During the 1940s and 1950s, LDS writer Virginia Sorenson authored several novels with Mormon themes, including Little Lower Than the Angels, On This Star, Evening and the Morning, and Proper Gods. Her correspondence has been published in Where Nothing is Long Ago.
35. To Elizabeth Lauchnor 1
Salt Lake City, Utah
19 August 1949
This is between you and me and the lamp post, but I would like to ask you, acting for the [Utah State Historical] Society, to try and do something for me. There are things in the [LDS Church] Historian’s Office I would very much like to be able to study in detail, things I haven’t found elsewhere. As they are printed items, it may be that the Church would accede to a request by me to have them microfilmed, but because of the attitude the Church took officially toward my Mormon history, I don’t want to be officially beholden to them. These are, however, items the Historical Society might very appropriately desire to own in microfilm form, hence I would appreciate it if you would write the Church Historian, Joseph Fielding Smith, formally asking on behalf of the Society microfilms of the items I list below. The letter might run something like this:
Dear Mr. Smith:
We wonder if it would be possible to make arrangements with the Church for the filming of certain rare pamphlets and periodicals which relate to the history of the various lesser churches which lived and died in the late forties and early fifties. We should like to obtain for our own files microfilms of some of these works, if possible, and perhaps it would be excellent insurance for the Church to improve upon this opportunity for having microfilms made for itself.
Voree Herald, vol. I, 1846 (or such issues as you may have of it).
Reuben Miller, James J. Strang, Weighed in the Balance of Truth, and Found Wanting. Burlington, Wis., 1846.
James C. Brewster, The Words of Righteousness to all Men. Springfield, Ill., 1842.
James C. Brewster, Very Important to the Mormon Money Diggers. Why do the Mormons rage, and the People imagine a Vain Thing? Springfield, Ill., 1843.
[p.173] Lyman Wight, An Address by way of an Abridged Account and Journal of my Life from February 1844 up to April 1848, with an appeal to the Latter Day Saints.
Gladden Bishop, An Address to the Sons and Daughters of Zion. Kirtland, 1851.
We learn also that your file of the Nauvoo Wasp, the Nauvoo Neighbor, and the Salt Lake City Mountaineer were microfilmed several years since for the Huntington Library, and that the negative film remains in your possession. Would it be possible for us to obtain a print of these films for our own archives?
Sincerely, &c &c
And if hereafter you should be asked what in hell the Society wants with things like this, you could say that many queries come to the Society about such early publications from local historians in the various states, so that it has become desirable for the Society to obtain microfilms if possible. All of which is true enough, and will be even more true when my bibliography is published.
36. To Stanley Ivins
Salt Lake City, Utah
29 August 1949
I have been closely examining the Waiters [the Magician] stories in the Palmyra Reflector, and I observe something that has escaped my attention before. It has been assumed that those “Gold Bible” articles of 1831 were written by Dogberry[,] i.e., Abner Cole, and we went on this assumption in searching the criminal records at Lyons [New York]. But on examining them now, I see some mason to think that either the articles themselves or the specific reference to Walters’ jail sentence may have been written by the Reflector’s correspondent in Farmington, Ontario County [New York]. If this is the case, we may have been looking in the wrong records.
[p.174] Just a day or so ago I wrote the County Clerk at Canandaigua asking him to search for the writ of ejectment concerning the [Joseph] Smith [Sr.] farm, hence I am reluctant to write him immediately again on a matter of Mormon research; maybe we would get better results if you were to write on this second query. You need not even mention that it is a Mormon matter, saying simply that you are seeking to establish the facts about a jail sentence for “juggling” apparently served in Ontario County sometime between 1820 and 1830 by one Walters, perhaps Luman Walters, then or later residing in the township of Sodus; can the facts concerning this jail sentence be obtained?
37. To Fawn Brodie
Salt Lake City, Utah
8 September 1949
My book is coming along slowly, a hell of a lot more slowly than I like to contemplate, but at least it is moving along and eventually will be published. I am trying to get it as far advanced by November 1 as possible, because I am now bending every effort toward returning permanently to Washington [D.C.], and would like to be there by Thanksgiving Day.
This decision to clear out of Utah has finally crystallized in the last month. Anything else is plain foolishness. Last year, about 60 percent of my income came from outside the state; the percentage will be higher this year, and after my book is published, any local income at all will be strictly accidental. When you combine this with the grave handicap of trying to write our kind of history without the resources of a great research library, the answer becomes plain enough. To write the kind of books I want to write, I must have an income to make me independent of local sentiment. Accordingly I have written the Library of Congress and the Civil Service Commission to see what I can stir up in Washington, and meantime I am pressing my book on toward completion as fast as possible.
All of which is preliminary to some questions I want to put [to] you. Your book [No Man Knows My History] makes an awkward pre-condition for mine, since you got into the subject much as I would [p.175] have done had I written mine first, and I don’t want mine to be a carbon copy of yours. So I have begun the story with the settlement of the Smiths upon the farm near Palmyra (incidentally, I am persuaded that they squatted there for two years before they began to buy it). In your book on pp. 10, 11 you say that the Smiths made 7,000 pounds of Maple sugar or syrup one season, and won the fifty-dollar bounty for top production in the county. I have not seen this in the sources, and wonder if you remember where you picked it up. It shows rather more industry in the family than the other sources testify to.
In cross-checking your book and my sources, I note a couple of slip-ups which you might correct in your copy for the eventual revised edition I am sure you will publish. On p. 18 your citation should be to the Palmyra Herald, and Canal Advertiser, July 24, 1822. The Wayne Sentinel story you cite has to do with money-digging in Vermont, all right, but it is not the one from which you quote. On p. 20, line 18, it is Joseph Capron, not Willard Chase, you are quoting from; and in the footnote on this page, Joseph exhibited his seerstone December 27, 1841, not 1842. On p. 26, Pomeroy Tucker as well as O. Turner is a non-Mormon authority who treats of Joseph early religious ideas.
Last week I had Francis Kirkham underfoot much of the time. I permitted him to study the fruits of my research from the contemporary newspapers and religious press, and he was struck with the fact that the First Vision was on vacation or something. I challenged him to find out some things in the [LDS] Church archives—what they have done with their seerstones, whether the original manuscript of Lucy Smith’s history has a variant version of the First Vision instead of the quoted version printed, whether anything at all can be found in the contemporary Mormon diaries to support the First Vision, etc. He is a nice guy and honest according to his lights; and I have no doubt that another edition of his book will try more directly to grapple with the seerstone hypothesis. But since he told me he was convinced that the world would be better off if everyone in it belonged to the Church, we cannot expect wonders of objective scholarship from him.
A week ago I also had an unexpected letter from [LDS apostle John A.] Widtsoe asking for any pro and con references bearing on the question of whether the First Vision was invented in 1838. I replied that there was absolutely no evidence for it before 1840, said that the closed policy of the Church made it impossible to search for affirmative evidences, and placed the responsibility upon him for having such a search made. I am glad this came up in advance of the publication of my book, so that I will be on record as having challenged the Church to prove its claims. I suppose Widtsoe is publishing his radio addresses and that his expressed desire to publish all the evidence pro and con proceeds from this.
The Eberstadts in New York have acquired the Oliver Olney MSS, and Charles Eberstadt sent them out here for my use in my [p.176] history, in return for which I will give him some notes on the content for their purposes in marketing the MSS. The papers are as fantastic as Olney’s published pamphlet, extending between April, 1842, and February, 1843. One thing I get a kick out of. Commenting on the Joseph-Bennett-Mrs. [Orson] Pratt embroglio [over polygamy] and the accusations made against Bennett, Olney remarks that he knows nothing of his own knowledge, but report had it that Bennett was in clover up to his eye-brows with wives who felt themselves abused by the husbands! There is an entirely new slant on the early reverberations of plural marriage.
When I return the Olney papers, Eberstadt promises to send copies of material lately acquired which sounds even more extraordinary. “They relate at great length to the persecutions and are of the first interest. One outstanding document was a very full journal by a Mormon who became one of the Generals of the Nauvoo Legion (but not [Reuben] Miller or [John C.] Bennett) whose name excapes me for the moment (sounds like one of the Laws [William or Wilson]), and another important document was the epistle written by Joseph Smith from the Liberty jail. There are other interesting documents in this collection and the great problem to me was trying to identify the handwriting, for the epistle from the Liberty jail had much of the appearance of Joseph Smith’s handwriting, although perhaps somewhat more refined, so that it might have been Hyrum’s, and all of the other documents were close enough in character to indicate that the whole business was written by the same hand. Since Joseph and Hyrum and Lyman Wight and Parley Pratt and several others languished in the jail for some months, it seemed logical to me that if they were not in Smith’s own hand they probably were copied in the jail by one of his associates.”
It will be interesting to see those documents. Thank God there are Eberstadts in this world to counterbalance church libraries.
I hope you had a restful and zestful time at Santa Monica and have got back to Bethany recovered from your hard experience here. I have been looking for some word from you, and now you will have to buckle down to some correspondence. Incidentally, I mailed you yesterday a reprint of an article from the April [Western] Humanities Review.
Best wishes to Bernard and the boys,
[p.177]38. To Stanley Ivins
14 January 1950
The [Oliver] Cowdery stuff arrived some days back. I didn’t know Ray Kooyman had made three prints of one specimen of his handwriting, and since one is all I require, I am pleased to send you one back to retain in your own files.
I have delayed writing you for several weeks hoping to hear from the New York State Library on a point of some interest and maybe even importance. In going through the Evening and Morning Star for August, 1834, I was struck by Oliver Cowdery’s letter to his brother Warren which makes it evident that some affidavits from the Susquehanna Country had been published months before Mormonism Unvailed appeared. If I draw the correct inference from Cowdery’s language, these were first published in the Montrose Susquehanna Register and then picked up by the New York Baptist Register, published at Utica. No file is known for the former paper, but it appeared that the New York State Library might have the appropriate volume 10 of the latter. After long delay, they advise me to the contrary. But I have just discovered volume 8 of this paper in the Library of Congress, which makes it evident that what I want is volume 11. The State Historical Society of Wisconsin is credited with this volume, so I have just finished writing them, asking that a search be made for me and photostats made of anything found. I suspect that this will prove to be the Isaac Hale affidavit and the other stuff in Howe, but I am also hopeful that some of the affidavits only mentioned briefly or quoted briefly in Howe will here appear in full. I am even hopeful that some mention of the trial will appear, because Cowdery’s history of the Church in the Messenger and Advocate was clearly provoked by these affidavits in the Register, and his remark about a trial in that country I suspect may have been made to answer these affidavits. Anyway, it will be interesting to find out.
This last week I have been giving a lot of concentrated attention to the pattern of revivalism in and around Palmyra, and what I have found amply confirms my conclusions based on my research in the Palmyra papers, that there was no revival at Palmyra after 1817 until [p.178] the big revival of 1824-25, and that it is this revival Joseph antedates to 1820. Lucy and William Smith in their accounts fully corroborate this. And you will be interested in the enclosed fruits of my researches in the Methodist sources, which even include George Lane’s own account of the revival. I have also been able to establish that 1824-25 was the only year, from the time the Ontario District was established in 1819, that Lane was its presiding elder. All the rest of the time he was in charge of the Susquehanna District, making his home in Wilkes-Barre.1
Returning to the Cowdery microfilm, no, this is not restricted. But as far as [Francis W.] Kirkham is concerned, I warmly recommend that you try to work out a quid pro quo arrangement. I very much want to know the content of the brief pamphlet James C. Brewster got out in 1843, Very Important to the Money Diggers! which I know from the brief look I got at it in the Historian’s Office has something to say about the involvement of Hyrum Smith and the Beman family in New York in the early money-digging. Kirkham can get access to this pamphlet and make notes from it; O.K., challenge him to do so, and let us see what its bearing is on the last edition of his book. I tried to interest him in it myself last summer, with what success I don’t know. But I hate to let any possible source of information go uninvestigated.
Israel Smith hasn’t yet kicked through with any specimen pages from the Book of Mormon. I’ll write him again and see if anything is forthcoming. I’ve felt somewhat better since the turn of the year, but without entirely shaking off this cold, Virus XYZ, or whatever it is, and this afternoon it feels as though it were ready for a return engagement. I hope you have things under better control at your end!
[p.179]39. To Madeline McQuown
18 December 1950
As you see, this is a letter of the genuine, dyed-in-the-wool, aged-in-the-vat birthday persuasion. Also, to this point, this has been one of the damnedest birthdays in some time.
I worked until 1 A.M. last night, as I have for several weeks, so didn’t climb out of bed until about a quarter to nine. When I opened my door to pick up the morning paper, I was amazed to find lying on it the card of Israel A. Smith, the president of the Reorganized [LDS] Church, with a scrawl on it to the effect that he had called at 8:30 and would come back at 9. Although I spent a lot of time and energy yesterday cleaning up the apartment, I myself didn’t even reach the point of shaving. So I promptly retreated into the bathroom with all my clothes, and when I emerged in a condition to be seen, sure enough not only Smith but Francis W. Kirkham were seated in my front room looking with interest at the copy of Juanita’s book [The Mountain Meadows Massacre] which I received yesterday afternoon from Stanford.
Well, it was quite a session, and they didn’t leave so I could have breakfast until almost 11. It was all remarkably cordial; you would have thought I was a high priest under favorable consideration for elevation to the [Quorum of the] Twelve [Apostles]. Smith of course is extremely interested in my book, which is bound to affect the vital interests of his church one way or another, and Kirkham has been dying to see it published to find out what I will have to say about the trial of 1826. I told them once more what I have said many times, that before I deliver the book finally to Rinehart, I shall send copies of the manuscript to the presidents of the two churches. Not, as I said to Kirkham, that I owed this to the Utah church, which had not cooperated in any way, but that I owed it to myself, and I wanted the two churches to have the opportunity to express their point of view on the book in advance of publication so that I might take this into consideration, although the book was going to express my judgment on Mormon history, not theirs. Well, this was very well received by both; in fact, Kirkham regarded it as rather momentous news; he wrote it all down as a memorandum (1) I would finish the [p.180] book; (2) I would send a copy to [LDS church president] George Albert Smith; (3) I would then deliver it to the printer. I showed them the photostat Eberstadt sent me in August of the John Whitmer license, and Israel Smith thereupon volunteered to send me a photostat of a still earlier example of Joseph’s handwriting, on a Bible bought at E. B. Grandin’s bookstore in Palmyra, I think he said on October 9, 1828, but which I believe was October 1829 instead. Something also was said about a History of the Hebrews Joseph had owned, whether of this period I didn’t get straight; he remarked that at that time Joseph apparently did not realize that there was a distinction between Hebrews (I think he said) and Judah.
Among other pleasantries, I suggested that if they were going north, they might dig up and send to me the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. I also told Smith why I had not pressed him for photostats of specimen pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript for study of the handwriting, which was because I had emphatically made up my mind that their copy was the secondary rather than the original copy, and pointed out to him the internal evidence of two of Joseph’s revelations going to show that the first quarter of the Book of Mormon as it was finally published was not written until a time beginning in May, 1929. He was much struck with this and asked me please to write him a letter giving him the documentation I had given him verbally and [my] reference to the Book of Commandments. (In case you’re having difficulty following me here, what I am getting at is that the evidence goes far to show that most of the rest of the book had been written before Joseph reconciled himself to the necessity of replacing the lost text.) I also told him frankly that I had demonstrated, conclusively I thought, that the revival which converted Joseph, or turned his thoughts to religion, occurred in 1824-25 rather than in 1820.
A piece of sad news from Smith is that S. A. Burgess, the kindly old fellow to whom I will always be indebted for courtesies shown me while visiting the Reorganized Church, died in November. I last heard from him in September in connection with my Strangite bibliography; he said then that he had had a serious heart attack a few months ago and was quite inactive now.
Well, with all this, it wasn’t until 11 that I reached your birthday present. I thank you very much for it, my dear, and will take pleasure in reading it. I am all the more pleased with it because the jacket is a detail of one of the paintings I saw in the Corcoran show Friday. The original is perhaps more striking than the reproduction, because, as I recall, the original has a rather dark sky with an unearthly blue breaking out just above the skyline. The jacket seems to have cropped the painting so that this blue, which appears in consequence more normal, makes up all of the sky as represented. Anyway, it was a thoughtful present and one I am glad to have.
I haven’t yet had an opportunity to study Juanita’s book, but substantially it seems to have been published as I last saw it in [p.181] manuscript, with, however, a more thoroughly worked out bibliography. It is evident either that Stanford has no staff to give its book a professional copyreading, or their copyreader is just about incompetent, for there are inconsistencies in style and such, here and there, which always get past the author and which it is the business of the copy-reader to clean up before the printer gets the book. Juanita did not add to the acknowledgements as they were before, on the principle, I imagine, that she did not want to embarrass anybody who helped her in the light of the uncertainty she has been under of how the book will be received.
While on all this birthday—historical gossip, let me say that I don’t exactly understand your recent question about the Deseret News and the [multi-volume] Journal History, and perhaps you had better re-phrase it. Maybe, on the other hand, you can find your answer in the following general information: The Journal History contains many typed transcripts from the Deseret News, sometimes appearing in the J.H. according to the date of publication of the News, sometimes according to the date of a certain happening, of a letter or document, or something else of the kind. Ordinarily, if the Church has the original letter itself, the J.H. would cite the original, or maybe the H[istory of]. B[righam]. Y[oung]. source, rather than the News source. However, there may be some cases where a piece of information is credited to the Deseret News, say, “7:234,” with a parenthetic notation following: “(Original on file).” I can’t answer you about any given case without knowing the exact case you are inquiring about and what my note on it was.
It is still cold here—by Washington standards, that is—with temperatures ranging from the middle twenties to the middle forties. Today is at least sunny, however.
I’ve been hellishly occupied with the Korns manuscript, involving nothing less than a translation of the Lienhard manuscript from the original German, a job so difficult that Darel [McConkey]‘s German reading friends threw up their hands at it. I’ve been making progress nevertheless, having now translated one-seventh of it, some 6 typewritten pages. I’ll tell you all about it later.
Meanwhile this must serve as my reverse-English birthday remembrance—and certainly my vehicle of appreciation. I will write again soon.