Saturday, January 12, 2008

Old Copy of the Book of Mormon

Once every three or four weeks I help my shut-in neighbor pick up groceries and other necessities. I also help him empty his cat litter and do other chores that are difficult for him. He lives with chronic pain and requires lots of medication due to numerous physical ailments that I won't detail here. When I help him shop, etc. he usually insists on paying me or buying me something. Previously he had showed me this old copy of the Book of Mormon that he owned so one week I told him that instead of paying me he could give me the book--and he agreed! I haven't done any careful research but according to this article it is probably a variation on the 1879 edition with Orson Pratt's verses and footnotes. It's definitely not the 1920 edition because it lacks the double column format introduced in that edition.
This page was included. I can't decipher it. It looks like it says "Mrs. Watson from some guy Utah. June(?) 16, 1917." What do you think?
Tucked inside the cover were some old Christian tracts decrying the evils of alcohol and tobacco. The poem above is the cautionary tale of one Tom Gray. "Tom Gray lay down on the barroom floor, Having drunk so much he could drink no more; So he fell asleep with a troubled brain, To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train." He sees how he is going to suffer in Hell and wakes up and prays "to be saved from drink and the devil's power . . ." If you click on the picture it is large enough to read the whole thing.

Another tract entitled The Bar. The tracts were printed here in North Carolina and I imagine they made their way into the book after it's time with the Watsons in Utah--or a Watson brought it here. The book also contains the birth dates of the Watson family:

James H? Watson, March 3, 1888
Marth R. Watson July 19, 1895
Ethel Watson Dec. 15, 1912
Baby James Watson Feb. 10, 1914
Kathleen B. Watson May 16, 1913

I'll have to see if these folks are in Ancestral File. It's fun to hold a piece of history. I will show this book to my gospel doctrine class tomorrow as we are just starting our study of the Book of Mormon.
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  1. That's awesome, Rob.

    My little sister just graduated from Indiana University with a violin performance degree. When I went out there to attend her senior recital, we went to the special collections library on campus to see their 1st edition Book of Mormon. They let us handle it, and that was pretty cool, but probably nothing like having your own early edition.

    They also had a "Double Elephant Folio" (i.e. big - 27" x 40") 1st edition Birds of America by Audubon, which was almost as much fun as the BOM.

  2. I would love to see an original Book of Mormon. I've always wanted one of those replica editions that they sell. It would be fun to read it in the original single column format where the verses and chapters were longer. Royal Skousen has analyzed what remains of the original Book of Mormon manuscript and explains the old chapter designations in his article here. Apparently at certain times Joseph would stop receiving text through his seerstone and would have Oliver or whoever else was acting as scribe write down "chapter."

  3. Dude, that is awesome.

    Indiana University you say? What's your sister's name?

  4. Her name is Amanda Benson. She just married Brian Baer, who was in the singles ward in Bloomington, but is now at Purdue. Have you spent any time at IU?

  5. Oh wow. I know both of them. More Brian than Ammanda though. Yeah, I'm in my last year of grad school at IU.

  6. so, on my way back from the dead, i saw your plea for more attention to this lovely blog from the likes of me. and i promise to do so.

    we should share gospel doctrine ideas if we are both teaching. i'm excited abt teaching BoM this year and it'd be fun to have an arsenal of outside material (even though these lessons are dense and it's hard to get through what's written in the manual).

    here's my word: a legitimate (if possibly inappropriate) post is forthcoming.

  7. Boo yeah, I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sharing GD material would be great. For outside material I sometimes use info from Feast Upon the Word Blog. They have regular posts on each lesson. The posts are usually pretty insightful and they make my class think I know more than I actually do (mua-ha-ha!).