3. THE MCLELLIN DECEPTION
"Utah is third in the nation for business loan defaults, and last year had 11 major business frauds. It's bizarre, but it's true," said Elder Hugh W. Pinnock a member of the LDS First quorum of Seventy...Elder Pinnock called Utah's white collar crime an overwhelming embarrassment and said it can and should be stopped. (Sunstone Review September 1982, page 10)
An attorney representing Hugh W. Pinnock has filed a suit...seeking to recover more than $170,000 from Mark W. Hofmann. (Deseret New, April 1, 1986)
In the August 1985 issue of the Salt Lake Messenger, we related that Mark Hofmann claimed he had obtained some documents known as the McLellin collection. He had mentioned these documents to Sandra on August 23, 1984. (Sandra made some notations concerning this conversation with Hofmann on the day it occurred. This paper is now in the possession of the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Office.) Four months later we received an anonymous letter (postmarked Dec. 20, 1984). The letter contained this information:
"I am writing you anonymousely to tip you off to a cover up by the Mormon church and the document discover[er] Mark Hoffmann.
"A few days ago Mark showed me the original actual Egyptian Papyrus of the round facsimile of the P. of G.P. It is in many pieces and is pasted onto a piece of heavy paper. There are pencil and ink drawings filling in the missing parts. There is another square piece of papyrus pasted on the same piece of paper. Mark told me not to tell anyone about this. He told me it would never be seen again after the church go[t] it. He is keeping a large color photograph."
We turned this letter over to the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Office shortly after the bombings. Although I believed that it was a genuine letter at the time I received it, I now feel that it is possible that it was written by Hofmann or one of his friends for the purpose of giving publicity to the McLellin collection and driving the price up.
(click to enlarge)
A photograph of an anonymous letter and the envelope in which it was sent. This letter was probably written in an attempt to deceive us so that we would give publicity to the so-called McLellin collection.
In the January 1985 issue of the Messenger, page 15, we wrote:
"It has recently been reported that Mark Hofmann has obtained the original Egyptian Papyrus which Joseph Smith used as Fac. No. 2 in the Book of Abraham. It is also claimed that Hofmann plans to secretly sell the document to the Church so that it can remain hidden from the eyes of the public."
Dawn Tracy, a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, began working on the story of the McLellin collection. She soon learned, however, that it was difficult to get any meaningful information and found that it was very hard to get in touch with Mr. Hofmann. Finally, on July 6, 1985, she was able to write an article which contained the following:
"One of the most famous relics in Mormonconsidered by the faithful to be sacred scripturehas been located and sold in Texas. But the manuscript's location and name of the buyer are secret, according to a collector who discovered the relic and other significant documents.
"The relic, called Facsimile No. 2, is part of a collection containing papyrus fragments that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints believe church founder Joseph Smith translated into the Book of Abraham....
"Mark Hoffman, a Salt Lake seller of historical autographs and manuscripts, said be located a collectionincluding Facsimile No. 2that at one time belonged to William McLellin, an early Mormon apostle....
"Mr. Hoffman said other items in the latest find are diaries of William McLellin, including 'day-to-day and weekly activities, and papers, letters and affidavits written around the 1830's.'
"The collection is of considerable historical value in regards to the early [Mormon] church,' he said." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 6, 1985)
While we found evidence from letters written between 1872 and 1901 that Apostle McLellin did have a collection of documents, in the Messenger for August 1985, we wrote: "So far we have not found anything concerning McLellin having the original of Fac. No. 2. Although it has been alleged that McLellin may have stolen it from Joseph Smith in 1838, there is evidence that Smith still had it [in] 1842." Although I cannot say for certain that Mark Hofmann never had any of Apostle McLellin's papers, his claims now appear to be doubtful. Furthermore there is strong evidence that he fabricated at least a portion of the so-called McLellin collection. As strange as it may seem, Kenneth Rendell, the man who authenticated the Salamander letter, appears to be the strongest witness against Hofmann with regard to this attempt to deceive.
Just before the bombings occurred, I had become very suspicious that Hofmann did not really have the McLellin collection. I felt that the documents which he claimed to have might be forgeries. I knew, however, that it would be very difficult to forge the fragments of the Joseph Smith Papyri which Hofmann claimed were part of the McLellin collection. I decided to discuss the matter with the Mormon Egyptologist Edward H. Ashment. I told Mr. Ashment that we would have to be very careful about accepting the original of Fac. No. 2. I theorized that it might be possible for a person to obtain a real Egyptian hypocephalus that looked somewhat like the one Joseph Smith used for Fac. No. 2 in the Book of Abraham. The areas which did not agree with the drawing could be broken off or damaged. In this way, I reasoned, another piece of papyrus could be palmed off for the one owned by Smith. Mr. Ashment agreed that it might be possible to buy a hypocephalus, although it would be rather expensive.
While I do not know whether Mr. Hofmann ever actually obtained a hypocephalus, evidence now shows that he did, in fact, obtain some pieces of genuine Egyptian papyrus which be tried to palm off as part of the Joseph Smith Papyri in the McLellin collection. According to the Deseret News, Oct. 28, 1985, Kenneth Rendell "said he also sent two pieces of Egyptian papyri to Hofmann on a $10,500 consignment....He said he found it strange that Hofmann wanted something from the first- or second-century A. D. containing hieratic script rather than hieroglyphics, which are much more desirable to collectors. He said Hofmann stressed how secret this transaction had to be."
At the preliminary hearing, Kenneth Rendell "definitely" identified the papyrus which Hofmann represented as being from the McLellin collection as being material he had let him take on consignment: "...the two came to a total of [$]10,500. I told him that if he took both of them I would knock the 500 off. It would be 10,000 for the pair. They were clearly on consignment. It wasn't a sale." Mr. Rendell also testified concerning Mark Hofmann's request that the matter be kept "very confidential":
QNow, pursuant to the conversation between Mr. Hofmann and Leslie Kress, was there a memorandum circulated around your...office?
AYes, there was.
QAnd...what that memorandum said was approximately what, to the best
A...the memorandum basically said that Mark Hofmann had called and he wanted to make certain that we understood that this transaction was to be considered very confidential and no information given out to anyone about the transaction.
The Salt Lake Tribune for October 28, 1985, printed this revealing information:
"Detectives removed pieces of papyrus from Mr. Hofmann's home and burned-out automobile. Officers, acting on a search warrant, also took a piece of papyrus from a safe deposit box used by Mr. Christensen....
"Detectives believe that Mr. Hofmann, 31, fragmented either one or both of the 30-inch by 9-inch papyrus scrolls lent to him on consignment by Mr. Rendell in mid-September, and then showed the pieces to various investors, telling them that they belonged to the missing McLellin papers. Some investigators feel that Mr. Christensen, hired as an 'authenticator' of these documents by an anonymous buyer, may have told Mr. Hofmann he intended to go to Mr. Rendell for authentication of the Egyptian script, thus threatening to expose the scam."
The papyrus was apparently broken in such a way that it would make it very difficult for an Egyptologist to read the text. This, of course, would help disguise where it came from. In any case, the Deseret News for Oct. 31, 1985, revealed that Mark Hofmann took the fragmented papyrus to the very man with whom I had discussed the possibility of a papyrus switch:
"Ashment said he was first contacted by Hofmann in July about the papyri fragments in the McLellin papers. Ashment later photographed one fragment during a meeting in the Church History Library. But Ashment said the fragment did not match previous descriptions of the four papyri purported to be in the McLellin papers....Rendell said the fact that the papyrus was fragmented suggested some sort of illicit dealings. He said there could be no legitimate reason for fragmenting the papyrus because the individual pieces would be worth dramatically less than the whole, which he valued at about $6,000.
"The document in pieces is worth 10 percent of what it is as a complete unit,' Rendell said. 'The piece that now remains is worth well under $1,000.' "
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A photograph of the papyrus Mark Hofmann said he found in the McLellin collection. It was identified by Kenneth Rendell as coming from his collection.
It is certainly ironic that the very man who authenticated the Salamander letter would turn out to be one of the first to speak of fraudulent dealings with regard to the McLellin collection. Mr. Rendell's statement that breaking up the papyrus greatly diminishes its value is certainly true in any regular transaction. In Mr. Hofmann's case, however, this would not necessarily be true. The fact that he represented it as a part of the Joseph Smith Papyri greatly enhanced its value. Wade Lillywhite claimed that Mark Hofmann contacted him before the killings "and offered to sell for $100,000 a papyrus document purported to be an ancient papyrus facsimile from the McLellin papers." (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 22, 1985) From this it would appear that Mr. Hofmann was greatly inflating the price of common Egyptian papyri by claiming it was part of the McLellin collection. Brent Metcalfe, who was doing some work for Mark Hofmann, acknowledged that Hofmann even deceived him by telling him that the papyrus once belonged to Apostle McLellin.
In The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 15, the following information appears:
"Your affiant has been informed by police investigators and reports that Curt Bench, a representative of Deseret Book, that on or about September 19, 1985, Mark W. Hofmann showed Mr. Bench a piece of papyrus, claiming it to be a part of the McLellin Collection' and that Mr. Bench could purchase it for $40,000.00."
At Hofmann's preliminary hearing, Curt Bench testified as follows:
AMark showed me a piece of papyrus encased in plastic that he wanted to sell to us for a figure of $40,000.
QAnd what did you say about that?
AI asked him specifically if it was from the so-called McLellin collection, and he indicated that it was.
In The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 15, we find this information:
"Your affiant has been informed by police investigations and reports that Wade Lillywhite, a representative of Deseret Book, that on or about (September 30, 1985) Mark W. Hofmann showed Mr. Lillywhite a piece of papyrus, claiming it to be part of the 'McLellin Collection'. Subsequently, on (September 30, 1985), Mark Hofmann and Wade Lillywhite contacted Hugo Gardner and Jack Wignall in an attempt to obtain $150,000.00, part of which was to be collateralized by the papyrus which Mark W. Hofmann maintained, to Jack Wignell was part of the Joseph Smith collection used to translated the Book of Abraham for the Pearl of Great Price."
Wade Lillywhite confirmed these statements in the testimony he gave at the preliminary hearing: "...on the 30th when we were reviewing the items to be used as collateral, he said...that the papyrus came from the McLellin collection; that it was [a] piece of papyrus that had been in possession of Joseph Smith and probably one of the items used in production of the Book of Abraham."
This information is found on page 16 of The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann:
"Your affiant has been informed by police investigators and reports that Brent Ashworth...between the dates of September 23 through September 26, 1985, Ashworth had negotiations with Mark W. Hofmann in which Mr. Hofmann showed Ashworth a piece of papyrus representing it to be a part of the 'McLellin' Collection', and offered to sell it to him for over $10,000.00. These negotiations were precipitated by a phone call from Mark Hofmann."
Brent Ashworth was also called upon to testify at the preliminary hearing. He said that Hofmann told him that the fragment of papyrus he showed to him "came from the Joseph Smith Papyrus from the McLellin collection." He further testified that Hofmann told him he had "kept back" this piece of papyrus when he sold the McLellin collection. Ashworth asked Hofmann if he could show the papyrus to Dr. Hugh Nibley but Hofmann responded, "no, I don't want you showing it to anybody. This has to remain absolutely quiet."
According to The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 16, Leslie Kress and Kenneth Rendell maintained that the papyrus actually "came from a European Collection which was consigned to defendant for an expected sum of $10,000.00. Rendell positively identified the papyrus as having never been part of a 'McLellin Collection' nor known as a Joseph Smith Papyrus."
Mr. Hofmann's attempt to make the contents of the McLellin collection seem very sensational must have been motivated by a desire to extort more money from those who wished to keep it hidden from public view. His claim that some of the Joseph Smith Papyri were in the McLellin collection undoubtedly stems from a rumor that some of the papyri had been found in Texas. We had reported this in the Salt Lake City Messenger in May 1971. We quoted from a letter which related that Dr. Hugh Nibley had told someone that "there was more papyri found and that it was discovered in Texas....Mention was made by Nibley that Facsimile No. 2 was among the papyri."
At first Mark Hofmann only claimed that he had the original of Fac. No. 2 in the Book of Abraham and some fragments of papyri. After the bombings, however, I learned that he also asserted that he even had the original of Fac. No. 3. As I have stated earlier, the Tribune reported that Hofmann offered to sell Wade Lillywhite "an ancient papyrus facsimile from the McLellin papers." Mr. Hofmann wanted "$100.000" for this document. I assumed, of course, that this was Fac. No 2, but when I called Mr. Lillywhite, he informed me that it was really Fac. No. 3 that Hofmann offered him! At the preliminary hearing, Wade Lillywhite testified that he received a telephone call the day before the bombings: "He [Hofmann] indicated that he was in need once again of raising some money; that he had an item that he wished to sell, which was Facsimile No. 3 from the Book of Abraham..." Mr. Lillywhite confirmed that Hofmann wanted "$100,000 for it." He also testified that Hofmann said it "came from the McLellin collection, and I asked him once again how that could be seeing I thought the collection had been previously sold, and he once again indicated that was one of those items that he had retained from the McLellin collection."
Although Kenneth Rendell indicated that the papyrus Mark Hofmann broke up was "worth well under $1,000" because it was damaged, Hofmann tried to sell it for over forty times its value by representing that it was part of the McLellin collection. When a list of collateral was prepared for a loan Mr. Hofmann was planning to obtain, the value was listed as $100,000over 100 times the amount Rendell said it was worth. As I have already shown, Hofmann even told his friend, Brent Metcalfe that this fragment was part of the McLellin collection. The Deseret News, Nov. 30, 1985, reported that "Ashment said, that Metcalfe had offered that papyrus fragment to a West Coast investor for about $30,000."
Steven Christensen's belief that Mark Hofmann was a "crook" may have partly come from the fact that he learned Hofmann was trying to sell this piece of papyrus, which was supposed to be part of the McLellin collection to someone else. The whole collection, of course, was supposed to eventually end up in the hands of the Mormon Church through a donation by an investor. In his testimony at the preliminary hearing, Curt Bench claimed that he informed Steven Christensen of this duplicity on Hofmann's part:
QDid you have an occasion to tell a Mr. Steven Christensen about this papyrus transaction or attempted transaction with Mr. Hofmann?
AI did. Mark had asked me to not tell anyone about it and I was keeping it confidential, but when Steve had been talking to me about some matters concerning Mark, I felt it best, at that time, to tell him that Mark had offered that piece of papyrus to us and indicated that Mark had said it was from the McLellin collection
Curt Bench said that Mark Hofmann later "asked if I had told anyone about the piece of papyrus and I told him that I had." Hofmann then indicated that Steven Christensen had discussed the matter with him and he was "curious" how Christensen "found out." Mr. Bench went on to testify:
AAt some point...I had indicated to Steve the fact that Mark had offered a piece of papyrus, and that, of course, made Steve curious because he was wondering where the McLellin collection was and why would there be a piece offered for sale if indeed it was supposed to go to the church.
QYou conveyed that information to him?
A...Yes, I told him...that Mark had attempted to sell that to me because I felt in light of the seriousness of the situation, Steve should know that.
The information that Mark Hofmann was trying to sell a part of the collection out from under the Church must have come as a real shock to Steven Christensen.
Up until the time of the bombings, Hofmann's friends were leaking out all kinds of information concerning what was in the McLellin collection and how damaging it would be to the Mormon Church if it fell into the hands of the public. The Church leaders apparently became very concerned that the material be suppressed.
The Chicago Tribune for Oct. 25, 1985, printed this interesting information:
"SALT LAKE CITYAfter questioning a leading authority on rare documents, police here are piecing together a theory that the wave of bombings that hit this city last week was part of a daring scheme to conceal an attempted blackmail of the Mormon church itself.
"The scenario revolves around a plan to threaten the church leadership with a collection of artifacts deliberately concocted to appear particularly damaging to the credibility of Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith."
At Mark Hofmann's preliminary hearing, Wilford Cardon testified that Hofmann asked him for "$185,000" so that the McLellin collection could be obtained. According to Cardon, Hofmann claimed that he was trying to keep the collection from falling into the hands of critics of the Church: "...Mr. Hofmann told me it was important that they be given to the Church. That others who were not friendly to the Church also 'knew of the documents; that it was important that be purchase the documents...and give them to...President Hinckley,...it was important that the Church not purchase the documents outright or that they not be donated to the church, but that they be...put in the Church's possession for safe keeping." Fortunately for Mr. Cardon, he became suspicious of Hofmann's story and did not provide any money for the project.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Oct. 25, 1985, document dealer Kenneth Rendell claimed that "in repeated interviews with the Salt Lake City Police Department, officers told him they believe Hofmann had planned to use those papyri as part of the so-called McLellin collection.
"Then, according to this scenario, Hofmann would try to sell the collection to somebody in the church or affiliated with the church who would want to keep the items from public view to avoid embarrassment."
Just two months before the bombings we had printed some important information about the purported McLellin collection and condemned Mr. Hofmann's attitude with regard to the Church suppressing documents. We said that this behavior was "deplorable, to say the least." (Salt Lake City Messenger, August 1985, p. 10) In the Los Angeles Times for Nov. 8, 1985, we read: "According to Flynn, who often worked with Hofmann on deals, church officials and Hofmann had heard that anti-Mormon groups were 'hot on the trail' of the McLellin Collection. Flynn said Hofmann told him the papers were being held by a Texas bank as loan collateral.
" 'I was told by Mark that President Hinckley was anxious to get this stuff,' Flynn said in an interview. 'Evidently, they had caught wind the 'antis' were after it, and they were anxious to get it here to Salt Lake as soon as possible.' "
Mark Hofmann made it clear to Wade Lillywhite that the McLellin collection contained material that would cast doubt on Joseph Smith's story of the First Vision of 1820 in which both God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him. Furthermore, it was supposed to have information about Smith's practice of polygamy. In his testimony, Mr. Lillywhite related that he had learned from Hofmann that the McLellin collection included affidavits: "Some of the affidavits such as Emma Smith's affidavit concerning the First Vision of Joseph Smiththat his first experience with the divine was to have been the visit from the Angel Moroni, other affidavits regarding Joseph Smith's plural relationships with women, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and so forth." Mike Carter reported that Hofmann told Shannon Flynn that "President Hinckley...'was nervous' to have the collection" so that it would not fall into the hands of "the anti-Mormon group, Saints Alive" (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 28, 1986).
In the Salt Lake City Messenger for April 1986, we printed the following:
"Allen Roberts and Fred Esplin reveal that 'Police sources indicate that Steve Christensen's personal journal records that Elder Hugh Pinnock asked Hofmann to find for him two important items: the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon and something 'too sensitive to mention,' that the late 'Elders Mark E. Petersen and G. Homer Durham were most involved in prior to their deaths (Utah Holiday, January 1986, page 58) It has been suggested that the item that is 'too sensitive to mention' may be the gold plates of the Book of Mormon or a 'seer stone.' Both of these suggestions appear unlikely. One thing that might qualify, however, is evidence that Solomon Spalding or Sidney Rigdon wrote the material which Joseph Smith used for his Book of Mormon. Although we have never put a great deal of stock in the theory, many critics of the Mormon church have maintained that Sidney Rigdon stole a manuscript written by Spalding and that this was used to create the Book of Mormon. If this idea could be proven, it would destroy the claim that the Book of Mormon was divinely inspired. Any hard evidence on this subject would certainly be 'too sensitive to mention.' Like the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon, such 'evidence' might be sold to the Mormon church for millions of dollars. This, combined with the secrecy that would surround its transfer to the church, could very easily lead to disagreements and perhaps even to murder.
"We have recently learned that investigators have been looking into a document which was in the possession of Hofmann or Jacobs which has the signatures of both Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon on it. The document apparently bears clear evidence of falsification."
At the Mormon Church's press conference concerning the bombings, Apostle Dallin Oaks stated: "Mark Hofmann has shown Elder Pinnock a letter that he said was part of the [McLellin] collection..." (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 27, 1986) When the preliminary hearing was held, it was revealed that the "letter" which Hofmann showed to Mr. Pinnock was actually the mysterious Spalding-Rigdon document which links the two men together. Hugh Pinnock, a member of the Church's First Quorum of Seventy, testified as follows:
QCould you tell us what transpired at that meeting?
A...well, he reported he'd been able to get the collection...and showed me...a document that he reported was from that collection.
. . . . .
QDo you know what that item was?
AIt...was a deed or some legal document...between Asa and Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon and some other parties. It dealt, if I remember correctly, with the transfer of property.
QDid he tell you anything else more about that particular item?
ANo. I asked him if I could have a copy and he said, 'Yes, as long as we wouldn't distribute it." So we made a copy.
QWas there anything of significance, that you noticed about this document?
AWell,...in the Church we've all heard of...Solomon Spalding and...that document would have established the fact that Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon knew one another.
. . . . .
QWere you told anything about keeping that document or confidentiality or anything like that?
AJust to keep it confidential. That there would be a number of other people interested in the collection and its location and it should be kept...secret.
Hugh Pinnock seemed to believe that this document was genuine, and he probably realized that it could have a devastating effect if it became known by critics of the Church. That Hofmann would show this particular document to Pinnock certainly supports the accusation that he was engaged in "an attempted blackmail of the Mormon church itself."
As it turns out, the document is a very obvious forgery. Document experts have testified that the names Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding were not on the document when it was originally written and that the date has been changed from 1722 to 1822. (We will have more information on this later in this book.) Even the altered date, however, presents a serious problem to those who are informed concerning the Spalding-Rigdon theory concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon. Solomon Spalding could not have signed any document in 1822 because he died in 1816!
In any case, although Hofmann represented to Pinnock that the document was part of the McLellin collection, he turned right around and sold it out from under the Church. Steven Barnett gave some very interesting testimony concerning the Spalding-Rigdon document:
QLet me show you what's been marked State's Exhibit 114. I'll ask you if you can identify that exhibit.
AYes, I can.
QWhat is that exhibit?
AIt...is a document with the signature of Sidney Rigdon and a Solomon Spalding.
QWhen did you first come in contact with that document?
A...about the 18th of September, last year.
QTell us where you were and who, if anyone, brought that document to your attention.
AI was at my desk in the rare book room and Mark Hofmann brought it into me.
Q[Was] that the first time you'd ever seen such a document?
AYes, it is.
QWhat did he do with the document when he brought it in to you?
AHe put it on the counter and asked me if I'd like to look at it.
QDid he make any other comments about it?
A...he had invited me to come over and look at it. I did and it appeared to have two signatures on it that were rather unusual as far as Mormon history is concerned.
QTwo signatures that you recognized?
AWell, I recognized Sidney Rigdon...as a witness on the item but I'd never seen a item signed by a Solomon Spalding.
QSo those two names caught your attention?
QNow, did...Mr. Hofmann say anything about...the document to you?
A...[he] commented that it was probably going to be a controversial item. It had the possibility of being.
QWere there discussions about you purchasing the item.
QNow, would this be for yourself or...
ANo. For the store.
. . . . .
QOkay. What were those conversations?
AWell,...we discussed the fact that it apparently was signed by both Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding and so at that particular point, since I'd never seen anything signed by Spalding, I decided I'd better do some research on it.
QWas there any figures, monetary figures, discussed?
QWas that the price he wanted for the document?
QYou wanted to do a little research?
QWhere did you want to research?
AWell, I wanted to find out if I could...find some handwriting of Solomon Spalding to compare it with.
. . . . .
QWhat did you do?
AI researched that evening and found out that the Solomon Spalding had died several years prior to the date on the item.
QOkay. What did you do with that information?
AMark called me the following day and I just informed him of the discrepancy of the date.
QWhat happened then? Did he respond?
AYes. He said that he'd check back with me later in the day.
QDid he do so?
AYes, he did.
QTell us about that conversation.
AWell, what he told me was, would I be interested in the item as a Sidney Rigdon autograph?
QAnd your response?
AI thought that could be arranged but I wouldn't be able to pay as much money for it as such.
. . . . .
QDid...you come to a figure you could pay for it simply because of the Sidney Rigdon signature?
AMark, I believe asked four hundred, at that point, based upon the value of the Sidney Rigdon autograph.
QDid you subsequently...pay him some money?
QAnd what did you pay him?
ATwo hundred dollars in two payments.
QA total of four hundred dollars?
QAnd that is from Cosmic Aeroplane?
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A photograph of a document supposed to have been signed by both Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon. Document experts testified that the two names were added to the document and that the date has been altered from 1722 to 1822. Hofmann misrepresented it as being part of the McLellin collection.
Mark Hofmann's attempt to make it appear that William E. McLellin left a collection that would be very embarrassing to the Mormon Church was certainly a success. A number of prominent Mormons became concerned about helping Hofmann. About the middle of November, 1985, it was reported to me that KSL, a television station owned by the Mormon Church, had run a brief story at noon concerning Hugh Pinnock offering Mark Hofmann an armored car, an airplane and cash to obtain the McLellin collection. I discussed this matter with an employee of KSL, who told me that the information came from the diary of Steven Christensen. Mr. Christensen claimed that when Mr. Pinnock said he would provide an armored car and an airplane, Mark Hofmann declined the offer saying that this would not be necessary. Pinnock said that since the transaction was to be made on a day when the banks were to be closed, the individual receiving the cashier's check would not be able to call and verify that the check was legitimate. He wondered, therefore, if Hofmann would prefer to take cash from a fund that was available. Hofmann, however, thought that this would not be necessary. The fact that Hugh Pinnock felt that an armored car might be necessary to carry out the transaction may show that he was very concerned that the documents not fall into the wrong hands. In any case, I certainly would like to know more about this cash fund. In a paper prepared for the 1986 Sunstone Theological Symposium, John Heinerman and Anson Shupe gave this information: "Also, KSL-TV news reporter, Lynn Packer, told one of us late last year that when Hofmann met with Pinnock and explained he needed the money right away, that Pinnock reassured him that if the bank loan didn't go through that he (Pinnock) could get some from the Nielsen Trust, a private trust fund administered by the Church through their Deseret Trust (Packer, 1985)." ("Mark Hofmann and the Mormon Manuscript Bombings: Fraud and Deceit in a Religious Context," pages 6 and 7)
Before Hugh Pinnock began helping Mark Hofmann obtain the McLellin collection, Hofmann had approached Alvin Rust about the matter. Mr. Rust testified:
QSometime in the first part of April or March of 1985 were you approached by Mr. Hofmann concerning a McLellin Collection?
AYes, I was.
QAnd can you tell us approximately when this occurred and where it was?
AWell, his first approach on the McLellin collection was possibly February or March, indicating to me there was a very important collection in New York called the McLellin collection.
Alvin Rust said that Hofmann told him that the McLellin collection was "twenty times more important than anything we had ever purchased before." Mr. Rust went on to testify that, "The one thing he stressed was that this had to be very confidential. The collection was only known by he and two or three of the hierarchy of the Mormon Church....Gordon B. Hinckley being the agent that he was dealing with and...he stressed emphatically that I couldn't tell a soul and that no one was supposed to know about the transaction."
After Mr. Rust invested in the collection, Hofmann pretended that he obtained it. Later he told Rust that he had actually "sold the entire collection to the LDS Church for $300,000." Hofmann, however, did not repay Alvin Rust's investment and began to give Mr. Rust a number of different stories about what was happening with this mysterious collection. Rust claimed that Hofmann gave him four different accounts about what was going on:
QFrom April 23rd through October the 12th, how many different accounts of what was transpiring with the McLellin collection did Mr. Hofmann give to you?
AWell, it'd be four different accounts.
QDid he ever return your money?
ANo, he has not.
Alvin Rust said that in the "latter part of AugustI think it was August 25th or soMark came into my store and gave me a check for $132,000..." Mr. Rust said he deposited the check in the bank "and it didn't clear." When Rust was asked if he ever got his "funds from the check," he replied, "No, I did not." Mr. Rust finally filed a lawsuit against Hofmann in which he claimed "he was defrauded of $132,000 in the deal for the McLellin papers." (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 15, 1985) Hofmann had repaid Mr. Rust $17,900, leaving a balance of $132,100.
The Mormon Church's involvement in the McLellin transaction was discussed at the Church's press conference held Oct. 23, 1985. Gordon B. Hinckley, a member of the Church's First Presidency, admitted that Mark Hofmann had approached him about the McLellin collection but said that Hofmann "wanted to donate the collection to the church. There was no discussion of our purchasing it." (Salt Lake Tribune, October 27, 1985) However this may be, Mr. Hofmann not only obtained $150,000 from Mr. Rust, but he also approached the Church claiming that he needed $185,000 to buy the collection. Apostle Dallin H. Oaks revealed the following:
"In late June, Mark Hofmann and Steve Christensen told Elder Pinnock that Hofmann bad an option to buy the McLellin collection from a man in Texas for about $185,000....
"Elder Pinnock asked me if I thought the church would loan Mark Hofmann $185,000 for this purpose. I said, emphatically not. President Hinckley was in Europe at the time of this conversation. No one else could or would approve such a transaction....to have the church involved in the acquisition of a collection at this time would simply fuel the then current speculation reported by the press that the church already had something called the McLellin collection or was trying to acquire it in order to suppress it....We discussed whether the church would be interested in receiving the collection as a gift. It was my judgment that the church probably would at some future time, but in that event it had to be a genuine gift from a real donor....Elder Pinnock inquired whether it would be appropriate to put him in touch with banking officials. I said I saw no harm in that provided it was clearly understood by all parties that the church was not a party or a guarantor and that Hugh Pinnock was not a party or a guarantor to such a loan....The bank made the loan to Hofmann. Hofmann said he had acquired the McLellin collection in Texas and shipped it to Salt Lake City where it was stored in a safety deposit box. The loan came due and it was not paid by Hofmann....Mark Hofmann at that point said or implied, he would have to sell the collection entirely or a piece at a time. This information reached me sometime in September;...Elder Pinnock mentioned at that time that he knew of at least two individuals who might be interested in purchasing the collection. Was there any harm in calling its availability to their attention?...
"I was later informed that a buyer was interested but he wanted to remain anonymous....
"Sometime about the time of October Conference, the potential buyer phoned me....He also asked whether the church would be interested in receiving it as a gift at some future time if he purchased it and later saw fit to give it. I said I supposed so (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 27, 1985)
During the press conference, Apostle Oaks was asked the name of the potential buyer. He replied, "He wished to remain anonymous and the police are aware of his identity and I think it would not be ethical for me to make it aware [sic] except to say that he is a person who is a member of the church." (Ibid.) The name of the potential buyer was a real secret. Donald Schmidt, formerly Church Archivist, testified that the man's lawyer "said his client wanted to remain anonymous." The Salt Lake Tribune found out the buyer's name, but he would not let his lawyer talk about the transaction unless the paper agreed to "maintain his anonymity." (Tribune, Oct. 25, 1985) At the preliminary hearing, Hugh Pinnock had to reveal the name of the anonymous buyer:
A...I called a friend of mine and he said, yes, he would purchase it.
QWho was that you called?
QAnd where was he at the time?
AHe's a mission president in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Hugh Pinnock became very concerned when the loan for $185,000, which he helped Hofmann obtain from First Interstate Bank, became due. According to Pinnock's testimony, Hofmann did take a check to the bank to pay off the loan but he understood "the check bounced." A month later Mr. Hofmann visited Pinnock at his home:
A...on October the 3rd, about 10:30, I got
QIn the evening?
AIn the evening...I got home and...Mr. Hofmann and Mr. Christensen were in my front room.
QAt that time, did you have a discussion with them?
QTell us...what that conversation consisted of?
AMr. Christensen said to Mr. Hofmann, "You've got to let Elder Pinnock know the situation." And at that time, Mr. Hofmann mentioned that the Library of Congress was not able to authenticate or validate the Oath of a Freeman, at least at that time, and that he owed a doctor some money, and that he was now concerned about being able to donate the McLellin collection to the Mormon Church.
From Curt Bench's testimony, it would appear that just before the bombings Hugh Pinnock was pressuring Steven Christensen to relay to Mark Hofmann that he was headed for serious trouble if he did not fulfill his promises. In his testimony, Mr. Pinnock told of a brief encounter he had with Hofmann in the underground parking lot at the Church Office Building after the bombings: "Yes. One thing that I said is that it appeared as if the bombings were related to the business that Mr. Christensen and Mr. Sheets had shared together, and we also talked about...going ahead with the closing of the McLellin collection."
Apostle Dallin Oaks met with Mark Hofmann about seven hours after Steven Christensen was murdered. They discussed the possibility of completing the transaction with the anonymous buyer:
"Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Council of the Twelve, said in a memorandum about his meeting with Mr. Hofmann the day of the homicides that he had a conversation 'from a potential buyer' referred to him by Elder Hugh W. Pinnock....
"Elder Oaks also suggested to Mr. Hofmann that he 'ought to get in touch with the buyer's attorney, who undoubtedly would be wondering what would be happening in view of the news reports about Christensen's death,' and reminded Mr. Hofmann that another person would have to be found to verify the authenticity of the documentsa task that was to be Mr. Christensen's, according to Mr. West and the church reports." (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct, 25, 1985)
In the Mormon Church's press conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that the Church has a "mandate" to obtain important historical documents. Apostle Oaks, however, indicated that the Church was "intent on not getting" the McLellin collection:
"FRED MOSS: Fred Moss with KBYU News. I just have a question. Why is the church so intent on getting the papers? Is it to secure them in the right hands so that they are not taken advantage of and make the church look bad? And where does the money come to purchase these letters?
"ELDER OAKS: Can I answer the first part...
"PRESIDENT HINCKLEY: Yes, go ahead.
"ELDER OAKS: Again, why, you say, is the church so intent on getting the papers? I thought it was clear from my statement that the church was very intent on not getting the papers, so that there would be no misunderstanding about this. Could you rephrase that question?" (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 27, 1985)
From all I can learn about the McLellin transaction, it appears obvious that while Church leaders may have been "intent on not getting" the McLellin collection in a way that would become known to the public, they were working behind the scenes to see that the papers were acquired secretly. On Nov. 15, 1985, KUTV News did a story concerning the discovery of Steven Christensen's diary. Christensen was quoted as saying the following about the McLellin collection: "Elder Pinnock has saved the Church time, money and effort in countering an avalanche of negative publicity should the collection have fallen into the wrong hands."
If the Church leaders bad not continued to engage in secret dealings with Hofmann, they would not have found themselves in the embarrassing situation they are in today. The McLellin fraud cost Hugh Pinnock a great deal of money. He claimed that although he was not "legally obligated to the bank," he felt morally responsible to pay back the balance of the $185,000 loan that Hofmann owed to First Interstate Bank. On Oct. 26, the Deseret News announced that he had repaid the loan out of his own money. In the Salt Lake City Messenger for January 1986, p. 13, we commented that Pinnock's actions "avoided the sticky situation of the bank taking Hofmann to court and the embarrassing testimony that might follow. It is also obvious that neither Pinnock nor the church would want Hofmann to become an enemy." Mr. Pinnock may have felt that his action in paying off the loan made him appear a little too generous to Hofmann. In any case, a few months later he turned right around and filed a lawsuit against Mark Hofmann: "An attorney representing Hugh W. Pinnock has filed a suit in 3rd district court seeking to recover more than $170,000 from Mark W. Hofmann." (Deseret News, April 1, 1986) Since this suit was filed just before the preliminary hearing, one wonders if it was an attempt by Pinnock to put some distance between himself and Mr. Hofmann. In any case, it certainly appears to be an exercise in futility since it is very unlikely that Hugh Pinnock will be able to collect anything from Hofmann. I doubt very much that Mr. Pinnock will allow this suit to actually end up in court.
A COLLECTION FOUND
On November 28, 1985, the Salt Lake Tribune reported: "The Tribune has located what may be the McLellin collection,..." The discovery of this collection was made possible because of research done by Wesley P. Walters some years ago. Mr. Walters obtained a copy of a letter written by J.L. Traughber on August 21, 1901, from the New York Public Library. Mr. Traughber lived in Mobile, Tyler County, Texas. Michael Marquardt made a typed copy of a portion of this letter, and we printed it on page 10 of the August 1985 issue of the Salt Lake City Messenger: "I have some little manuscript books written by Dr. W.E. Mclellin. I also have his journal for parts of the years 1831-2-3-4-5-6. I have over thirty letters compactly written by Dr. McLellin containing much on the subject of Mormonism."
We felt that it was possible that the collection could have been preserved in the "area of Texas" where Mr. Traughber had lived. Dawn Tracy, a reporter for the Tribune followed up the lead furnished by Mr. Traughber's letter and found at least a portion of the McLellin collection in the possession of his son, H.O. Traughber. While the collection does not appear to have the 1831-36 diaries, it does have the "little manuscript books written by Dr. W.E. McLellin." I have compared the handwriting of the documents shown in the photographs published in the Tribune with copies of letters written by McLellin. Although I am no expert, it does appear to me that the documents bear the handwriting of McLellin. Furthermore, the contents of the material appears to be exactly what one would expect from the hand of McLellin. For example, in his list of 55 reasons he could not be a Utah Mormon, McLellin wrote: "35. Polygamy. Mrs Joseph Smith, the widow of the Prophet, told me in 1847 that she knew her husband, the Prophet practiced both adultery and polygamy." This agrees with a letter McLellin wrote to Joseph Smith's son. The letter is dated July, 1872, and is preserved in the RLDS Archives. This letter agrees in stating that McLellin talked with Joseph Smith's widow concerning adultery in 1847:
"Now Joseph I will relate to you some history, and refer you to your own dear Mother for the truth. You will probably remember that I visited your Mother and family in 1847, and held a lengthy conversation with her,...I told her some stories I had heard. And she told me whether I was properly informed. Dr. F.G. Williams...told me that at your birth your father committed an act with a Miss Hilla hired girl. Emma saw him, and spoke to him. He desisted, but Mrs. Smith refused to be satisfied. He called in Dr. Williams, O. Cowdery, and S. Rigdon to reconcile Emma. But she told them just as the circumstances took place. He found he was caught. He confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him. She told me this story was true!! Again I told her I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. she went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!!! She told me this story too was verily true." (Letter from William E. McLellin to Joseph Smith III, dated July 1872, typed copy)
Unlike most of the documents discovered by Mark Hofmann, the documents Mr. Traughber has in his possession have a good pedigree stretching back to McLellin himself. There seems to be no reason, therefore, to doubt that the documents are genuine. While most of the material in H.O. Traughber's possession is in the handwriting of his father, it still throws important light on the subject because it quotes from the original papers of Apostle McLellin. For instance, Traughber quoted McLellin as questioning the restoration of the priesthood by angels: "I joined the church in 1831. For years I never heard of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver. I heard not of James, Peter and John doing so. These things were gotten up in after years in order to sustain them in their false priesthoods." (Salt Lake Tribune, December 4, 1985)
The reader will notice the similarity between this quotation and a statement that appears in the letter McLellin wrote to Joseph Smith's son in 1872: "But as to the story of John, the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver on the day they were baptized: I never heard of it in the church for years, altho I carefully noticed things that were said. And today I do not believe the story."
J.L. Traughber's papers are extremely important in showing how unlikely it is that Mark Hofmann could have found the large collection of McLellin material he spoke of in the hands of one person in Texas. In one of the documents, Mr. Traughber indicated that the McLellin collection was scattered and some of it was even burned by his wife: "After the death of Dr. McLellan, his widow broke up housekeeping and left Independence, Mo., where they had been living from 1869 to 1883. As she had no particular use for them, she burnt a great many of the Doctor's papers, and gave away others to persons who asked for them."
I believe that Mr. Hofmann undoubtedly made up the idea of a large and important McLellin collection after reading some of McLellin's letters located in the RLDS Church Archives. On August 23, 1984, Hofmann told Sandra that he was aware of papers concerning McLellin which were possessed by that Church. In McLellin's letters he speaks of some items he had in his possession. In the July 1872 letter, for instance, McLellin stated: "Now all L.D.Sism claims that Joseph Smith translated the Book [of Mormon] with Urim and Thummim, when he did not even have or retain the Nephite or Jaredite Interpreters but translated the entire Book of M. by means of a small stone. I have certificates to that effect from E.A. Cowdery (Oliver's widow,) Martin Harris, and Emma [Smith] Bidamon. And I have the testimony of John and David Whitmer." From information obtained from Mark Hofmann, Brent Metcalfe helped an LDS Institute teacher compile a list of the material found in the McLellin collection. This list mentions the identical items contained in the McLellin letter: "d. Affidavits be collected about translation of Book of Mormon process: Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and Emma Smith."
The evidence provided by the papers in Mr. Traughber's possession seems to show that although Mr. Hofmann knew from McLellin's 1872 letter about these statements concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon, Hofmann never actually obtained them. Brent Metcalfe said on KUED that it was his understanding that some of the affidavits dated back to 1831 and that the one by Emma Smith cast doubt on Joseph Smith's story of his First Vision. (Metcalfe's statement agrees with Curt Bench's testimony on the content of the Emma Smith affidavit.) Another report given by a local television station claimed that Steven Christensen wrote in his diary that the Emma Smith affidavit was very damaging to the Mormon Church. The Traughber papers seem to demonstrate that Hofmann did not know what the Emma Smith statement contained and that he was probably trying to raise the price of the collection by claiming that there was embarrassing information found in it. If Mr. Hofmann really had a document with Emma Smith's name on it which was exceptionally damaging to the Church, I would be inclined to believe that it was a forgery created within the last few years. In any case, Dawn Tracy reported that at some point J.L. Traughber was shown the Emma Smith affidavit by William E. McLellin and copied it "for a book." The entry originally written by Emma Smith reads: "The first that my husband translated was translated by the Urim and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris lost. After that, he used a small stone, not exactly black, but was rather of a dark color. March 29, 1870." (Salt Lake Tribune, December 3, 1985)
When I read Emma Smith's statement in the Tribune, I felt that it had a familiar ring. In discussing the matter with Michael Marquardt, he correctly identified it as being a quotation out of a letter Emma Smith wrote to Mrs. Emma Pilgrim. We had printed this statement many years ago from an article by James E. Lancaster in the Saints' Herald, an RLDS publication. It is found in MormonismShadow or Reality? page 42:
"Now the first that my husband translated, was translated by the use of the Urim and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris LOST, and that he USED A SMALL STONE, not exactly black, but was rather a dark color...."
The reader will see that the statement is essentially the same as Traughber's copy made from McLellin's collection. Michael Marquardt gives the date of the letter as March 27, 1870. Richard Van Wagoner and Steve Walker give the same date in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1982, p. 67, n. 78. Dawn Tracy's article lists the date as "March 29, 1870" but it is very likely that someone has just misread a seven for a nine. William E. McLellin seems to have copied the item from Emma Smith's letter to Mrs. Pilgrim. Traughber, in turn, copied it into his manuscript and Dawn Tracy recopied it for publication in the Tribune. In the letter to Mrs. Pilgrim, Joseph Smith's widow even asked about Mr. McLellin. This would indicate that Mrs. Pilgrim was in touch with McLellin. In his letter of July 1872, McLellin referred to the statements he had collected concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon as "certificates." It may be that when he copied the material from the letter, he had Mrs. Pilgrim certify that it was a correct copy. This might explain why Emma Smith's statement was later referred to as an affidavit.
While it is true that the statement that Joseph Smith used "a small stone" to translate the Book of Mormon is damaging to the Mormon position because it links Joseph Smith to magic the fact that it had already been published in MormonismShadow or Reality? and other publications would make it of very little value. That Steven Christensen was so worried about the "affidavit" seems to show that Mr. Hofmann had misrepresented its contents.
The statement of Oliver Cowdery's widow, which Hofmann claimed he had found, was quoted by McLellin himself in a letter written in February 1870. It has already been published by Van Wagoner and Walker in their article in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1982, page 51: "I cheerfully certify that I was familiar with the manner of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon. He translated the most of it at my Father's house. And I often sat by and saw and heard them translate and write for hours together. Joseph never had a curtain drawn between him and his scribe while he was translating. He would place the director in his hat, and then place his face in his hat, so as to exclude the light."
The Mormon scholar Michael Quinn says that he told Mark Hofmann about the possibility of McLellin material surviving in the Traughber family. It appears, however, that Hofmann was not very interested in the matter. H.O. Traughber insists that Mark Hofmann never even contacted him.
AN IMAGINARY COLLECTION
The inconsistencies found in Mark Hofmann's statements about the McLellin collection cast serious doubt upon its existence. For instance, according to Hugh Pinnock's testimony, Hofmann claimed "he had located the collection down in Texas." He told many other people the same story. However, when he approached Alvin Rust, he informed him the McLellin collection was in New York:
QWhere was the collection?
AIt was in New York City.
At one point Hofmann told Rust that a potential buyernot the sellerwas in Texas: "...the Church had decided not to purchase the collectionthat he had a buyer in Texas that was going to purchase the collection and he was going to in turn donate it to the LDS Church." When Alvin Rust originally gave the money to Mark Hofmann to purchase the McLellin collection, he made it clear that he wanted his son to go back to New York with Hofmann to obtain the papers. Although this must have caused Hofmann some concern, he found a way to trick Mr. Rust's son into believing he had obtained the collection without actually showing it to him:
"In April, Hofmann borrowed $150,000 from Rust to buy the McLellin papers, which he told Rust were in New York City. On April 23, Hofmann and Rust's son, Gaylen, flew to New York City to get the papers.
"Gaylen Rust accompanied Hofmann to New York because of the size of his father's investment. 'I was going back as a safety precaution,' Gaylen said. 'This had been the largest amount we had given Mark, and my father and I felt it was critical that Mark not go alone.'
"Gaylen said he and Hofmann planned to carry the more valuable documents back on the plane with them. The rest were to be shipped back to Rust's Coin and Gift for inventory. They would later be sold by Rust and Hofmann.
"It didn't happen that way. On the morning of April 26, Gaylen went to Hofmann's hotel room to go with him to buy the papers. Hofmann had already left.
"Hofmann met Gaylen later in the day and told him he had bought the papers and shipped them back to Salt Lake City. He showed Gaylen three shipping receipts for $75,000 each.
"Hofmann didn't send the papers to the Rust store, as agreed, but instead shipped them to himself.
" 'At that time, he told me he felt it was safer to ship everything back registered than to carry it around New York City until Monday,' Gaylen said. When they got back to Salt Lake City, Hofmann told Gaylen he would come to the Rust store the next day with the documents. He didn't show.
"Gaylen didn't doubt Hofmann because Hofmann had been scrupulously honest in several other business deals with Gaylen's father. 'We trusted him implicitly.' Gaylen said. 'If I had doubted the (purchase of the papers), I would have made sure I had been there, even if it had been against his wishes.' " (Deseret News, Oct. 23,1985)
At the preliminary hearing, Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Robert Stott argued as follows:
"The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence is that...there is no so-called McLellin collection, [it] just doesn't exist. Or if by some chance it does exist, it certainly isn't what Mark Hofmann claimed it to be....No one's ever seen this McLellin collection, not his creditors [to] whom he promised to show it. Promised Al Rust he'd show it, promised Hugh Pinnock of First Interstate Bank, never showed it to them. His business associatesWade Lillywhite, Curt Bench, Brent Ashworthnone of those ever saw it. His close friends didn't see itLyn Jacobs, Flynnthey never saw it....I think kind of important, even Wilding never saw it. And you know how muchhow important it was for Mark Hofmann to please Mr. Wilding and his friends those last couple of weeks. He was attempting to placate them and to satisfy them in any manner he could. But they never even saw the McLellin Collection. Mark Hofmann gave a variety of versions and conflicting stories as to the whereabouts of the McLellin collection. He told Al Rust in April that it was in New York, but yet in June, he told Hugh Pinnock it was in Texas. Directly conflicting stories. He told Wade Lillywhite clear back in March before Al Rust that he, Mark Hofmann, had already bought the collection and had given it to or sold it to a third party who [would] give it to the Church. Then he told Wilford Cardon in June that he, Mark Hofmann, had located the collection and had deposited it with President Hinckley. And then he told Brent Ashworth in September that he had sold it to a Salt Lake City businessman. A variety of stories inconsistent with each other."
After the bombings, Mark Hofmann still maintained that the McLellin collection was a reality. The following appeared in Utah Holiday in January 1986: "[Brent] Metcalfe was telling Utah Holiday in early December that within days Hofmann would reveal his own ties to the McLellin collection of early Mormon documents, and would, in fact, produce the papers as proof of his long-standing connection to the sought-after materials." (page 42) Some people believed that Hofmann would produce the McLellin collection at his preliminary hearing. As it turned out, however, neither Hofmann nor his lawyers mentioned anything about the location of the collection. A number of people felt that Hofmann's friend, Brent Metcalfe, had seen the collection. The Deseret News, Nov. 30, 1985, reported:
"Many in the historical community attribute to Metcalfe their belief that Hofmann had the McLellin collection and was about to sell it. A number of people told the Deseret News that Metcalfe had told them since January that he had seen photographs of the collection or that he knew that the contents were controversial.
"Metcalfe told the Deseret News after the bombings that he had believed Hofmann had the collection and that it was valuable. However, he said, all his information came from Hofmann and he had never seen the collection or photographs of it himself."
When Brent Metcalfe appeared on the television station KUED, Nov. 19, 1985, he acknowledged that he had "never seen it [the McLellin collection] in his possession." Ed Ashment had listened to Lyn Jacobs give such a detailed description of the papyri (apparently including the original of Fac. No. 2), that he felt Jacobs must have had access to them:
"Jacobs had described four papyri fragments in meticulous detail over the telephone, said Ashment, who took notes at the time. 'Lyn gave a physical description of the fragments. Three only had writing. The largest was about three square inches. The fourth had a detailed design and had been cracked and glued. Someone had patched papyrus in. The outer edge had been damaged. It sounded like it was really there in front of him.'
"Recently, Ashment said, Jacobs told him he had only repeated Hofmann's description to him, but had never actually seen the fragments.
"After Jacobs' description, Ashment arranged last July to meet Hofmann and Metcalfe in the LDS Church Historical Library to photograph the four fragments. Instead they showed him a fifth fragment, he said, and allowed him to photograph it." (Deseret News, November 30,1985)
As I have already shown, Lyn Jacobs was a very close friend of Hofmann's and worked with him on selling the Salamander letter. In Sunstone, vol. 10, no. 8, p. 13, Jacobs was questioned about the McLellin collection:
"SUNSTONE:...Did you work with Mark at all on the M'Lellin collection?
"JACOBS: No, I didn't. Anything I have ever understood concerning the M'Lellin papers has simply been what Mark has told me about it in passing.
"SUNSTONE: Have you seen any part of it?
"JACOBS: No, not to my knowledge.
"SUNSTONE: Do you believe it exists?
"JACOBS: I have no reason to doubt the collection exists as Mark has described it to various individuals."
There appears to be three items that Mark Hofmann actually showed to others which he claimed were from the McLellin collection. In every case, however, it can be shown that he was not telling the truth. We have already shown that the papyrus he broke up and represented as being part of the Joseph Smith Papyri which survived in the McLellin collection was in reality purchased from Kenneth Rendell. The Spalding-Rigdon document, which Hofmann told Hugh Pinnock was part of the McLellin collection, is clearly a forgery. The third item is the Emma Smith hymnal. Brent Ashworth testified that when Hofmann sold him this book he told him it was from the McLellin collection:
AHe also indicated to me that it was originally from the McLellin collection, and I was impressed by that fact and I asked him, I said...Mark its unsigned...can you give me an affidavit to that effect, and he said he would do that, but I never received it."
QDid he ever tell you where Lyn Jacobs got it? From whom Lyn Jacobs
AJust from the McLellin collection.
According to the testimony of both Lyn Jacobs and Donald Schmidt, the Emma Smith hymnal actually came from the Mormon Church Archives. Furthermore, document experts have testified that Hofmann falsified this book to make it worth approximately ten times as much as when Lyn Jacobs originally showed it to him. (I will have more to say about this later in this book.)
Since all three items which Hofmann showed or sold to others as pieces from the McLellin collection can be shown to be either forgeries or obtained from some other source, it does not instill a great deal of confidence in the remaining pieces he claimed to have but never showed to anyone else. All the evidence, therefore, points to the inescapable conclusion that the McLellin collection was only a figment of Mark Hofmann's imagination.
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