Statement of Matilda Spalding McKinstry to Arthur Deming on November 2, 1886
On pages 184-187 of “The True Origins of Mormonism” (1914), Charles A. Shook summarized evidence that Manuscript Story and Manuscript Found were 2 separate manuscripts:
Description of Manuscript Story
- About 1809, Solomon Spaulding, a retired Congregational or Presbyterian preacher … wrote a small manuscript which he claimed to have found written in the Latin language on twenty-eight rolls of parchment in an artificial cave on Conneaut Creek, and which purported to be the historical account of a party of Romans who were thrown upon our shores in the time of Constantine the Great.
- This manuscript he abandoned and placed in an ‘old hair trunk,’ which at his death in 1816 was taken to the home of his wife’s brother, W.H. Sabine, of Onondaga Valley, New York.
- The manuscript remained in the ‘old hair trunk’ until 1834, when Dr. Hurlburt, from Ohio, with the permission of Mrs. Spaulding-Davison, took it to Painesville, of that State, and turned it over to E.D. Howe, author of “Mormonism Unveiled.”
- It was in the possession of E.D. Howe until 1839 or 1840, when it was inadvertently transferred to L.L. Rice, who bought Howe’s printing establishment. Rice took it to Columbus, Ohio, where for years he was the State printer.
- After this, Rice removed to Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, and, though unaware of it, carried this manuscript with him. In 1884 it was accidentally discovered by him, and later placed in the Oberlin College Library, Oberlin, Ohio.
- The Mormons have published copies of it, which they erroneously entitle “Manuscript Found.”
- In 1809, after he had thrown aside his “Manuscript Story,” Spaulding began a new romance in the Scriptural style, which he entitled “Manuscript Found.” This romance, which he often read to his neighbors, purported to be the history of a Jewish colony that came to our shores in early times under the leadership of Lehi and Nephi.
- In 1812, Spaulding removed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of having this manuscript printed, and placed it in the printing establishment of Robert Patterson.
- In 1814, Spaulding left Pittsburgh and went to Amity, Pennsylvania, where he died in October, 1816.
- While Spaulding’s relations with Patterson existed, the latter had in his employ a young man by the name of J. Harrison Lambdin, who, in turn, had a friend by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who lived a few miles in the country on his mother’s farm, but who frequently lounged around the printing-office.
- Before Spaulding’s death, his manuscript came up missing, and he told two intimate acquaintances, Joseph Miller and Dr. Cephas Dodd, that he suspected Rigdon of the theft.
- In 1822 or 1823, and again in 1826 or 1827, Rigdon exhibited such a manuscript to Dr. John Winter and Mrs. Amos Dunlap, his wife’s niece, which he told the former had been written by a man by the name of Spaulding.
- Between the years 1826 and 1830 he told Adamson Bentley, Alexander Campbell, Darwin Atwater and Dr. Rosa a number of startling things, among them that a golden book had been dug up in New York which gave an account of the ancient inhabitants of this continent and stated that the Christian religion had been preached here in early times just as it was then being preached by Campbell and his coadjutors.
- During this time, Rigdon was seen at Palmyra, New York, or vicinity, at three different times: in March, 1827; in the fall of 1827, and again in the summer of 1828.
- In the late fall of 1830, Rigdon was converted to Mormonism, after only a few days’ investigation, and later became one of its most prominent leaders.
In 1820, this trunk, with the manuscript, was removed to Hartwick, New York, where it was later placed in the care of Jerome Clark, a cousin of Mrs. Spaulding, now Mrs. Davison.