TPL_BEEZ2_NAV_VIEW_SEARCH

TPL_BEEZ2_NAVIGATION

TPL_BEEZ2_SEARCH

Sidney Rigdon (1793 - 1876).  It is difficult to choose the outstanding indi­viduals in the long history of Friendship, but certainly Sidney Rigdon is a name to be remembered. Although his life was lived, in part and the most important part elsewhere, he lived for some 30 years in the Town of Friendship and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery. Even in death his connection to the founding of the Mormon religion is not forgotten. Annually members of that faith from Utah visit his grave here.

Sidney Rigdon was born in Pennsylvania and from an early age showed great interest in religion. He became associated with a sect called Campbellites and in 1821 he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. This association was short for he was expelled for expressing doctrines of which the church did not approve. He continued to preach in other churches and became a noted orator. In 1830 he was baptized in the Mormon religion which was founded by Joseph Smith. It was believed by many that Smith and Rigdon had known each other for some time and that while Rigdon was working as a printer in Pittsburgh a book written by a man named Spaulding was brought to him to be printed. This book depicted the American Indians as having been the Lost Tribes of Israel and told a fantastic tale of their settlement in America. Some historians believe that Rigdon provided Smith with a copy of the book and it became the translated version of the "golden plates" which Smith said he discovered buried in a hill near Palmyra. These plates are the basis of the Mormon religion.

Although Rigdon denied all connection with the Spaulding book he became an ardent worker in the Mormon cause. He and his family and friends fol­lowed Joseph Smith to Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. They endured great hardships and persecutions. Once Rigdon was stoned and dragged over frozen ground by horses until near death. He became, next to Smith the highest in authority in the Mormon Church. At one time he and Smith were nominated for Vice President and President of the United States by the Mormons.

The adoption of polygamy and the desire of Smith to make Rigdon's daughter one of his plural wives angered Rigdon and he left with his family for the east. On hearing that Smith and his brother had been murdered he hurried back to Illinois but he was too late as Brigham Young had gained control. Rigdon tried, in a brilliant oration, to influence the members to overcome his rival but Young was even a more powerful speaker and the people voted in his favor. Young excommunicated Rigdon who returned east. After living for a time in Pennsylvania where he attempted to start a new church, he came to Jackson Hill near Cuba and later to Friendship where he and his family became prominent citizens.

One of his sons-in-law, George Robinson was the founder and first president of the First National Bank. Many stories were told about Robinson and his fear of someone or something. He was supposed to have had a bullet proof room in the bank and his house on the corner of Main and East Water Street — the Hatch house — has bars on the lower windows. There have been stories that Mr. Robinson might have bettered his financial state with the aid, of pur­loined Mormon money and feared reprisal.

After Rigdon's death representatives of the Mormons requested a grandson, Edward Hatch, permission to inspect papers left by Rigdon for a clue to a secret which he had said he might reveal but never did. The request was refused. Some believe that Rigdon had intended to reveal his connection with the Spaulding book. A son, John Rigdon, was asked by Mormon officials to come to Salt Lake City and write an account of his father's connection with the Mormon religion. There is no record that he did so.

Sidney Rigdon was one of the charter members of the local Masonic Lodge.

TPL_BEEZ2_ADDITIONAL_INFORMATION