Confession letter of Wilburn W. Fugate; says Joseph would not translate the plates until authenticated.

Apr 8, 1878
Wilburn W. Fugate
Scribed Verbatim

Wilburn Fugate, Letter to James Cobb, April 8, 1878, Theodore Albert Schroeder Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society

Martha Fugate
W. P. Harris, Bridge Whitton, Martha Fugate, James T. Cobb, Wilburn W. Fugate, Joseph Smith, Jr., Robert Wiley
James T. Cobb


Mound Station, Illinois.

Apr., 8. 1878

Mr J. T. Cobb:–

I received your letter in regard ¦ to those “plates”, and will say in answer they ¦ are a humbug, gotten up by Robert Wiley, ¦ Bridge Whitton (a blacksmith) and myself. B– ¦ Whitton is dead. Wiley may be living, he was a ¦ Missourian. None of the nine persons who signed ¦ the certificate knew the secret excepting Wiley and ¦ myself. There were two Mormon Elders present ¦ when the plates were found. Their names were ¦ Marsh & Sharp. A man by the name of ¦ Savage (of Quincy) under an assumed name ¦ borrowed the plates of Wiley to show to his friends ¦ there and took them to Jo Smith, after they ¦ were returned Wiley gave them to Prof. ¦ McDowell of St. Louis Mo. for his Museum but ¦ since McDowell’s death, we heard they ¦ were taken to Chicago Medical College and ¦ placed in the museum, {B}by visiting to Prof. [p. 2] John Hodges of St. Louis Mo. you may find out ¦ where they are, and also if Wiley is still living ¦ he was a graduate of that college – Wiley

Dr Harris was not a Mormon he was a chemist and ¦ he took the rust off the plates when found – Dr is dead ¦ Wiley was not a Mormon. The plates were cut <out of copper> ¦ by a blacksmith (Bridge Whitton) Wiley and myself ¦ made the hieroglyphics a man by the name ¦ of Neuman (?) saw the plates before they were put in ¦ the ground but whether he is living or not; I do not ¦ know. I do not know any man by the name of ¦ Roberts. I will say in conclusion that the plates ¦ were made simply for a joke. I believe I have ¦ answered all your questions and given you ¦ the particulars concerning this.

Yours Resptly,

W. Fugate

P.S. As father is too old and nervous to write, he ¦ requested me to answer, and the above is written ¦ as he directed.

Mattie Fugate.

[p. 3] Your letter came to Mt Sterling and as we had ¦ moved from there several years ago, we did not ¦ get it until a few days ago, consequently the delay in answering.

I will give the reason or cause of the joke ¦ we were reading “Pratt’s prophesy”, that truth ¦ yet was to spring up out of the earth and as ¦ they were digging at Kinderhook we concluded ¦ to make the plates, and dug down about 8 feet ¦ and came to a flat rock and put them under it ¦ they were fastened together with rust made of ¦ nitric acid, lead, and rusty iron. The Hyeroglyphics ¦ were impressions made in beeswax and filled ¦ with nitric acid, and placed on the plates. ¦ We understand Jo Smith said they would ¦ make a book of 1200 pages but he would not ¦ agree to translate them until they were sent ¦ to the Antiquarian society at Philadelphia ¦ France, and England. They were sent and ¦ the answer was that there were no such [p. 4] Hyeroglyphics known and if there ever had ¦ been they had long since passed away ¦ then Smith began his translation

W. Fugate

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