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Sidney Rigdon at Palmyra before 1830?


Uncle Dale

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There are numerous early witnesses who testified to having

seen Sidney Rigdon in the Palmyra-Manchester area prior to

1830. One of these eye-witnesses was Sarah Fowler a friend of

the Smith girls who lived a few miles north of them.

But there is another, even less known claim to witnessing

Rigdon's secretive cooperation with Joseph Smith in New York

before 1830, and that was written down by J. F. Peck in 1887.

Before we totally dismiss Peck as having provided an anti-LDS

attack which has no historical basis, it is important to note

here that Mark Ashurst-McGee relied upon his testimony (albeit

through indirect means) in his 2000 documentation of Joseph

Smith's early use of a divining rod.

McGee quoted from a secondary source, which was also anti-LDS

and which shows some signs of dishonest manipulation -- but the

recollections McGee relied upon, in examining evidence for Smith's

mineral rod operations was basically the same recollections

communicated by J. F. Peck in 1887.

I'll excerpt the relevant sections, and link to the full article:

... Joe in his excursions after gold carried a "divining" rod to tell him where

there was hidden treasure, and he left many holes in the ground about that region...

Before long, however, a new party appeared on the scene in the person of one Sidney Rigdon,

and thenceforward a new aspect was put upon the whole matter.

Rigdon was one of those keen, sharp fellows... Very soon after his advent it was given out

that the plates were a new revelation, and were a part of the original Bible, while Joe Smith

was a true prophet of the Lord, to whom it was given to publish it among men. Rigdon, who

from his first appearance was regarded as the "brains" of the movement, seemed satisfied to

be the power behind the throne. Not only were pretended copies of the engraved plates

exhibited, but whole chapters of what were called translations were shown: meetings were

held, which were addressed by Smith and Rigdon, and an active canvass for converts was

inaugurated.

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NE/miscne03.htm#101887

Sidney Rigdon is not known to have visited the Palmyra area in company with Joseph Smith

until (perhaps) January of 1831. Rigdon departed New York ahead of Smith, and had arrived

in Kirtland in time to greet Smith upon his eventual first-known arrival in Ohio.

This sequence appears to limit any identifiable joint activities of Rigdon and Smith

in the Palmyra area to a few days in January of 1831. But it is not even certain that

the two men passed through Palmyra or Manchester on their respective travels to Ohio.

Thus, J.F. Peck's recollections of Rigdon and Smith together holding "meetings" in the

Palmyra area are elsewhere undocumented. What few meetings they did hold, while together

in New York, would have been in the Waterloo area, the Colesville area, and at Canandaigua.

Uncle Dale

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Thus, J.F. Peck's recollections ...

Interesting read. A few things popped out. Other than this interview I wonder if there are

- other descriptions of a translation process that includes the use of an "other deep receptacle, like a wooden grain measure"?

- other accounts of Martin Harris - or others in the circle of Jos. Smith friend - describing an ability of "the faithful [who] were permitted to visit the celestial regions"?

- any corroboration of a "board shanty erected in a remote field"?

In other words, how well does Peck's information hold up in areas not related to Rigdon?

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Interesting read. A few things popped out. Other than this interview I wonder if there are

- other descriptions of a translation process that includes the use of an "other deep receptacle, like a wooden grain measure"?

- other accounts of Martin Harris - or others in the circle of Jos. Smith friend - describing an ability of "the faithful [who] were permitted to visit the celestial regions"?

- any corroboration of a "board shanty erected in a remote field"?

In other words, how well does Peck's information hold up in areas not related to Rigdon?

I am still trying to locate additional information which would shed

some light upon Peck's recollections.

He claims to have known Lucy Mack Smith, and to have worked in the same

building where the Book of Mormon was published. I think that Peck's

statements place him in Palmyra in 1829-30, and perhaps as early as 1827.

By 1833 he was back in West Bloomington.

By inspecting the various civil and church records for Palmyra during

this period, I expect that we might find at least a few mentions of Peck.

If Peck met his future wife (Clarissa Miner) in conjunction with her

being related to the Miner family who owned "Miner's Hill," then that

connection would establish a proximity to Lucy Smith (who lived near

Miner's Hill).

If Peck had visited "Miner's Hill," then he might also have obtained

some knowledge of "Miner's Cave," reportedly excavated by Joseph Smith.

The "board shanty erected in a remote field" may have been at Miner's Hill.

As for Peck knowing Martin Harris -- that is not unlikely. Also probable

is Peck's recollection of Martin Harris claiming to have visited the moon.

The Rigdon-at-Palmyra part of the account is what might be most disputed.

Peck's version does not contain enough unique information for us to

attempt its verification.

For the time being, I suppose all we can do is to add Peck to the list

of eye-witnesses who place Rigdon in the Palmyra area before Dec. 1830.

UD

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I seem to remember someone who gives an account of a visit of Rigdon to Palmyra prior to 1830, and he remembers the date because it was near his birthday. Sound familiar?

Yeah -- that was Saunders.

There are about 5 or 6 such recollections, none of which

have been independently verified.

The great problem being -- that Rigdon actually did visit

Palmyra and preach from the Book of Mormon at one or more

meetings. However, at that time (Dec. 1830) he was in the

company of Martin Harris and had not yet traveled to Waterloo

to meet up with Smith.

The 1831 newspaper account of Rigdon having been in Palmyra

at an early date is possibly a conflation of Rigdon's known

Dec. 1830 appearance there, and the earlier activities of

"Walters the Magician."

Until some undeniable proof of Rigdon's pre-1830 presence in

the Palmyra area can be exhibited, all of the other testimony

of his being there, fall into the category of "unverified."

UD

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I am still trying to locate additional information which would shed

some light upon Peck's recollections.

Peck, in the linked article, states, "I have frequently referred to its incidents, more or less fully among friends, and have often been solicited to write out my recollection of the events of that time" Are there earlier known writings, letters, or newspaper accounts by Peck?

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UD wrote:

Where did he speak? What was the most Campbell-friendly church in Palmyra?

Martin Harris contracted with a Palmyra men's club for the

use of their meeting room, for one of the Rigdon discourses.

Rigdon reportedly slammed the Bible and Book of Mormon together

in his hands, as if to join them into a single scriptural work.

What other venues Martin Harris may have arranged for Rigdon

at Palmyra in Dec., 1830, remain unknown. Rigdon reportedly was

also in neighboring Manchester, conferring with Hyrum Smith at

that time. The local newspaper mentions a letter that Rigdon

failed to pick up at the Manchster post office. --- So somebody

(perhaps Rigdon's wife, back in Ohio) knew that town was one of

his intended destinations in New York.

Sidney Rigdon and Hyrum Smith may have conducted one or two

public meetings at Manchester, before Rigdon moved on.

UD

.

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