26022

Appendix: Orson Pratt, A[n] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, 1840

Appendix: Orson Pratt, A[n] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, 1840

appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. This volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters or letters upon the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found “a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in the two rims of a bow. This was in use, in ancient times, by persons called seers. It was an instrument, by the use of which, they received revelation of things distant, or of things past or future.”
In the mean time, the inhabitants of that vicinity, having been informed that Mr Smith had seen heavenly visions, and that he had discovered sacred records, began to ridicule and mock at those things. And after having obtained those sacred things, while proceeding home through the wilderness and fields, he was waylaid by two ruffians, who had secreted themselves for the purpose of robbing him of the records. One of them struck him with a club before he perceived them; but being a strong man, and large in stature, with great exertion he cleared himself from them, and ran towards home, being closely pursued until he came near his father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

View Full Bio
’s house, when his pursuers, for fear of being detected, turned and fled the other way.
Soon the news of his discoveries spread abroad throughout all those parts. False reports, misrepresentations, and base slanders, flew as if upon the wings of the wind in every direction. The house was frequently beset by mobs and evil designing persons. Several times he was shot at, and very narrowly escaped. Every device was used to get the plates away from him. And being continually in danger of his life, from a gang of abandoned wretches, he at length concluded to leave the place, and go to Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

More Info
; and, accordingly, packed up his goods, putting the plates into a barrel of beans, and proceeded upon his jour [p. 13]
appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven by  eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick  as common tin. They were filled on both sides with en gravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a  volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge  with three rings running through the whole. This vo lume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of  which was sealed. The characters or letters upon the un sealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The  whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its con struction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving.  With the records was found “a curious instrument, called  by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of  two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in the two rims  of a bow. This was in use, in ancient times, by persons  called seers. It was an instrument, by the use of which,  they received revelation of things distant, or of things past  or future.”9

In this paragraph, Pratt quotes from and paraphrases Parley P. Pratt, “Discovery of an Ancient Record in America,” LDS Millennial Star, June 1840, 1:30. Other similarities between the two works indicate that Orson Pratt relied on his brother Parley’s article for his summary of the Book of Mormon.  


In the mean time, the inhabitants of that vicinity, having  been informed that Mr Smith had seen heavenly visions,  and that he had discovered sacred records, began to ridicule  and mock at those things. And after having obtained  those sacred things, while proceeding home through the  wilderness and fields, he was waylaid by two ruffians, who  had secreted themselves for the purpose of robbing him of  the records. One of them struck him with a club before  he perceived them; but being a strong man, and large in  stature, with great exertion he cleared himself from them,  and ran towards home, being closely pursued until he came  near his father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

View Full Bio
’s house, when his pursuers, for fear of being  detected, turned and fled the other way.
Soon the news of his discoveries spread abroad through out all those parts. False reports, misrepresentations, and  base slanders, flew as if upon the wings of the wind in  every direction. The house was frequently beset by mobs  and evil designing persons. Several times he was shot at,  and very narrowly escaped. Every device was used to get  the plates away from him. And being continually in dan ger of his life, from a gang of abandoned wretches, he at  length concluded to leave the place, and go to Pennsyl vania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

More Info
; and, accordingly, packed up his goods, putting the  plates into a barrel of beans, and proceeded upon his jour [p. 13]
PreviousNext
Orson Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

View Full Bio
was twenty-three years old when he was appointed to the newly organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835, and along with others of the Twelve, he served as a proselytizing missionary to the British Isles from 1840 to 1841. While traveling to his mission, he stopped for a number of weeks in the eastern United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

More Info
and spent time in the company of JS, who was in the East petitioning the federal government for redress for the Latter-day Saints’ Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
losses. Pratt attended speeches that JS delivered during his stay in the area and accompanied him on a journey from Philadelphia

Port city founded as Quaker settlement by William Penn, 1681. Site of signing of Declaration of Independence and drafting of U.S. Constitution. Nation’s capital city, 1790–1800. Population in 1830 about 170,000; in 1840 about 260,000; and in 1850 about 410...

More Info
, Pennsylvania, to Monmouth

Area claimed by Dutch, 1609. English rule established, 1665. County formed, 1675. County government organized, 1714. Battle of Monmouth fought in county, 28 June 1778. First LDS missionary, Benjamin Winchester, preached in county, summer 1838. First branch...

More Info
, New Jersey, in December 1839.1

Orson Pratt, New York City, NY, to Sarah Bates Pratt, Nauvoo, IL, 6 Jan. 1840, Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, 1:61.  


He likely heard JS recount his early visions, a subject JS publicly addressed while in the eastern states.2

See Benjamin Winchester, Philadelphia, PA, to “Dear Brother in the Lord,” 10 Feb. 1840, Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:104; and Pratt, Autobiography, 330.  


As a member of one of the Latter-day Saints’ governing bodies, Pratt had earlier opportunities to hear JS speak of his early visionary experiences, but JS’s lectures on the East Coast may have left those visions fresh in Pratt’s mind as he journeyed across the Atlantic. The next year he published the pamphlet A[n] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, which focused on JS’s personal history and included the earliest printed account of his first vision of Deity.3

Similarity of phrasing, especially in describing JS’s rudimentary education, suggests that Pratt may have had access to JS’s unpublished circa summer 1832 history.  


Pratt published the pamphlet in Edinburgh, Scotland, in late September 1840, and he informed fellow apostle George A. Smith

26 June 1817–1 Sept. 1875. Born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York. Son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. Baptized into LDS church by Joseph H. Wakefield, 10 Sept. 1832, at Potsdam. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833. Labored on Kirtland temple...

View Full Bio
, “I shall be at conference [in Manchester, England] on the 6th of Oct. if the Lord will. I shall bring about 2000 pamphlets with me which are now in the press.”4

Orson Pratt, Edinburgh, Scotland, to George A. Smith, London, England, 24 Sept. 1840, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL.  


Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

View Full Bio
began his thirty-one-page pamphlet by describing JS’s first vision of Deity and the later visit JS received from “the angel of the Lord.” In relating how JS obtained the gold plates of the Book of Mormon, Pratt quoted extensively from the historical letters by Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
printed in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
, Ohio, in 1834–1835.5

Cowdery’s letters were copied into JS History, 1834–1836, 46–103.  


He summarized the contents of the Book of Mormon, reprinted the statements of two groups of witnesses who saw the gold plates, and concluded with a fifteen-point “sketch of the faith and doctrine of this Church.”
In his description of the Book of Mormon, Orson Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

View Full Bio
superimposed his understanding of Book of Mormon geography onto the Western Hemisphere by placing the Nephites in South America and the Jaredites in North America. Pratt’s association of Book of Mormon peoples with the history of all of North and South America matched common understanding of early Latter-day Saints. Shortly thereafter, when John Lloyd Stephens’s Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan became available in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
in about 1842, JS greeted it enthusiastically and church members used it to map Book of Mormon sites in a Central American setting.6

John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1841); see also “Facts Are Stubborn Things,” Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1842, 3:921–922; “Zarahemla,” Times and Seasons, 1 Oct. 1842, 3:927–928; JS, Nauvoo, IL, to John Bernhisel, New York City, NY, 16 Nov. 1841, JS Collection, CHL; and Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, chaps. 4–5.  


Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

View Full Bio
’s Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions proved to be one of the more influential Mormon tracts to come out of this period. The first American edition was printed in New York

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

More Info
in 1841, and reprints appeared in Europe, Australia, and the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

More Info
.7

Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, 1st American ed. (New York: Joseph W. Harrison, 1841); Orson Pratt, Remarkable Visions (Liverpool: R. James, [1848]); Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records (Sydney: Albert Mason, 1851); Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, 2nd American ed. (New York: Joseph W. Harrison, 1841); see also Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:160–161; 2:63–64, 262–265.  


Pratt’s work was a principal source for Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

View Full Bio
’s German-language pamphlet Ein Ruf aus der Wüste [A cry out of the wilderness], the earliest church publication in a language other than English, and for the first French-language pamphlet, John Taylor

1 Nov. 1808–25 July 1887. Preacher, editor, publisher, politician. Born at Milnthorpe, Westmoreland Co., England. Son of James Taylor and Agnes Taylor, members of Church of England. Around age sixteen, joined Methodists and was local preacher. Migrated from...

View Full Bio
’s Aux amis de la vérité religieuse [To friends of religious truth].8

Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde (Frankfurt: Im Selbstverlage des Verfassers [by the author], 1842); John Taylor, Aux amis de la vérité religieuse. Récit abrégé du commencement, des progrès, de l’établissement, des persécutions, de la foi et de la doctrine de l’Église de Jésus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours (Paris: Marc Ducloux et Compagnie, 1850); see also Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:205–208; 2:166–167.  


Pratt’s pamphlet was later translated into Danish, Swedish, and Dutch.9

Orson Pratt, Mærkværdige syner (Copenhagen: F. E. Bording, 1851); Orson Pratt, Märkwärdiga syner (Copenhagen: F. E. Bording, 1860); Orson Pratt, Merkwaardige verschijningen (Amsterdam?, [ca. 1865]); see also Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 2:240.  


Interesting Account is not a JS document, because JS did not write it, assign it, or supervise its creation. However, two JS documents in this volume, “Church History” and “Latter Day Saints” (a later version of “Church History”), quote extensively from Pratt

19 Sept. 1811–3 Oct. 1881. Farmer, writer, teacher, merchant, surveyor, editor, publisher. Born at Hartford, Washington Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Moved to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, 1814; to Canaan, Columbia Co., fall...

View Full Bio
’s pamphlet. These documents made use of Pratt’s language to describe JS’s early visionary experiences and built on Pratt’s summary of the church’s “faith and doctrine” for the thirteen-point statement of church beliefs that came to be known as the Articles of Faith. (The summary of beliefs in Interesting Account was in turn based on an earlier statement composed by Orson Pratt’s brother, Parley P. Pratt

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

View Full Bio
.10

See Pratt and Higbee, An Address . . . to the Citizens of Washington; compare Pratt, Late Persecution of the Church, iii–xiii.  


) Interesting Account is therefore included as an appendix to allow convenient comparison with JS’s histories.

Facts