A Man Named Spaulding
by: Eric Miller
Many century-old cemeteries are some of the most beautiful places to visit, especially
when they are situated in the midst of urban America. Some use them for picnics, and places to
take wedding photographs, and some simply enjoy quiet afternoon strolls in them.
Tombstone tourists, on the other hand, go looking for the graves of interesting people. This visit
on The Cemetery Trail brings us to a small town in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Though his name might not ring a bell, buried outside of a Church in the town
of Amity lies the man once thought to be the author of the most influential book in
the history of the United States. Yet most visitors walk by his headstone without notice.
Solomon Spaulding was once thought to be the author of the Book of Mormon, but you wouldn't know
that from his headstone that simply reveals he died on October 20, 1816 at the age of fifty-five.
Years before his death, Solomon had ambitiously set out to write a fanciful history of ancient races showing that
American Indians were descended from one of the ten lost tribes. Though he never saw his book
published, he called it "The Manuscript Found."
Later Amity residents familiar with Spauldingšs tale were struck by the resemblance to the
Book of Mormon. Believing the books were one in the same, Cephas Dod, a minister in Amity
purchased a copy and inscribed inside "I fully believe that this Book of Mormon is mainly and
wickedly copied from it." Years later, the Mormon Church published his work to show the
two were not related.
This story is but one of hundreds that lie waiting to be discovered in our country's
cemeteries. Recently, the number of tourists visiting cemeteries and searching for the
graves of people like Spaulding continues to grow each year.
Please visit with us next month as we make another stop along The Cemetery Trail.
Return to the Cemetery Trail home page
Eric Miller writes frequently on urban issues and lives in San Francisco. He
is the webmaster of http://home.earthlink.net/~urbancentury and is a partner
in the soon to launch New Colonist (newcolonist.com), a web publication for
urban residents. His articles have appeared in San Francisco Downtown, The
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other publications. He can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.