Saturday, June 14, 2014

They Share the Same Date

It’s not uncommon for radio stations to read celebrity birthdays every day of the year. It’s interesting as it gives you an idea of who you share your birth date with. But what about events? Zillions of events have taken place since Adam and Eve. Obviously, events are no different than humans. They too share common dates.

What other important event in Church History took place on May 24, 1845, the first day of trial for the indicted murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith?

A)                 Brigham Young preaching to the residence of Nauvoo both sounding and appearing as the Prophet Joseph Smith.

B)                 The first company of Saints left Nauvoo for the Salt Lake Valley.

C)                 The laying of the capstone on the Nauvoo Temple.

D)                 The trial of Orin Porter Rockwell for the attempted assassination of ex-Missouri Governor Boggs.

Yesterday’s answer:

(C) The original copy of the Book of Mormon

Not only were the 116 pages lost by Martin Harris, but the entire original manuscript was also lost. Hyrum Smith gives us the following:

   Hyrum said that the manuscript, “once fell into the hands of an apostate (I [Hyrum] think one of the Whitmers) and they had to resort to stratagem to get possession of it again.”

Letter from John Brown to John Taylor, December 20, 1879.

   It is this manuscript that eventually found its way into the corner stone of the Nauvoo House. Lewis Bidamon, second husband of Emma Smith, tore down the Nauvoo House and came across the box containing the original manuscript. Over time he gave portions of this manuscript away, although in poor shape (placed in the Nauvoo House in 1841 and recovered in 1882), to a number of individuals. Who were these people that received portions of this manuscript from Mr. Bidamon?

Sarah M. Kimball (she received 1 Nephi 2:2 to 1 Nephi 13:35 on September 7, 1883).

  “I asked the lady friend with whom I was riding to call with me on Mr. Bidamon a former acquaintance; after learning where I was from, he recognized me and seemed pleased, we talked a little of times that were, and of persons gone. . . . I referred to his home which is a temporary four room building on the southwest corner of the foundation laid for the Nauvoo House. I asked why the heavy and extensive foundations around him were being torn up, he replied, that he had bought the premises, and the rock was torn up to sell, as he was poor and otherwise would not have been able to build I said, I am interested in this foundation, because I remember there were treasures deposited under the chief corner-stone. He said, yes, I took up the stone box and sold it . . .  It had been so long exposed to the wet and weather that its contents were nearly ruined, I gave the coin to Joe and told him he could have the pile of paper. He said it was the manuscript of the Book of Mormon; but it was so much injured that he did not care for it. While we were talking, Mr. Bidamon’s wife brought a large pasteboard box and placed it on my lap. It contained a stack of faded and fast decaying paper, the bottom layers for several inches, were uniform in size, as they seemed to me larger than common foolscap, the paper was coarse in texture and had the appearance of having lain a long time in water, as the ink seemed almost entirely soaked into the paper, when I handled it, it would fall to pieces. I could only read a few words here and there just enough to learn that it was the language of the Book of Mormon. Above this were some sheets of finer texture folded and sewed together, this was better preserved and more easily read, I held it up, and said, ‘Mr. B. How much for this relic?’ He said, ‘Nothing from you, you are welcome to anything you like from the box.’ I appreciated the kindness, took the leaves that were folded and sewed together. . . .

Letter from Sarah M. Kimball to George Reynolds, July 19, 1884.


Franklin D. Richards (he received 1 Nephi 15:5 to 2 Nephi 30 and Alma 2:19 to Alma 60:22 on May 21, 1885).

   “. . . .We were quite willingly shown all that remained of the Book of Mormon manuscript: . . . The paper is yellow with age and from the moisture sweated from its own hiding place. It is brittle to the touch. Many of the leaves crumble like ashes and some of them are broken away. It is necessary to handle them with the utmost care. The writing is faint, and is not legible on many continuous lines, but fragmentary clauses, and even whole verses are occasionally discernible. . . .

   “When the proprietor saw the profound interest with which we regarded these things, he spoke to us about them with great respect and generosity. We talked with him upon the subject of the writings at considerable length, and through his complaisance, when we came away we brought with us all of the manuscripts . . . and have them now in our possession.”

Deseret News, July 1, 1885, p. 380-381.


Joseph W. Summerhays (he received one page, 1 Nephi 15:26-29 on October 3, 1884).

   “I was introduced to Major L.C. Bidamon. . . . I said to him Major they tell me over in Missouri that you have found the manuscript of the Book of Mormon in this house. How is it? He answered: In 1882 I made some alterations in the house and in taking down the east wing in the southeast corner I came across a stone box about 10 x 15 –6 inches deep. The box was sealed with a stone cap in it. I found a Bible. Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Hymn Book, Times and Seasons, a letter addressed to the Pres. of the United States written by Lyman Wight, setting forth the wrongs of our people, some manuscript and less than one thousand dollars in cash (a joke), all in a bad state of preservation. Then turning to his wife he said to her, ‘bring the papers.’ Which she did. I examined them, especially the manuscript. I cannot tell what it is, for it is very rotten and the ink is faded but from the more visible, I make the following extracts: ‘And again I say unto to you that it is my will that my servant Lyman Wight should continue to preaching in Zion in the spirit of meekness confessing me before the world and I will bear him up as on Eagles wings and he shall beget glory and honor.’ I think this is from the Doc. and Cov. I quote further, ‘And they said unto me what meaneth the river of water which our father saw and I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water. I said unto them that it was an awful gulf which separated the wicked from the tree of life and also from the saints of God and I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful Hell which the Angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked.’ I think this is from the Book of Mormon. Some of the Manuscript was, I think, extracts from the Book of Mormon, and some from the Doc. and Cov. Some of it was in printers takes and had been corrected. The pencil marks being plain and the ink faded. I asked the Major for some of the manuscript. He refused, but when he left the room his wife gave me one leaf and a few leaves of the Bible. . . .”

Diary of Joseph W. Summerhays, October 3, 1884.


Edward Stevenson (He stated that he “a small portion as a relic, which I now have. . . .” This was received in September of 1888).

Edward Stevenson, “Diary,” September 12, 1888.


Andrew Jenson (he received a hat full of pieces that had broken off from the badly damaged manuscript on October 6, 1888).

Statement of Andrew Jenson, March 18, 1938.


Others having portions of the original manuscript are:

A.B. Kesler of Salt Lake City

Deseret News, August 8, 1931

Community of Christ (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day)

Richard P. Howard, Restoration Scriptures: A Study of Their Textual Development (Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House, 1969), 27.

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