[John H. Gilbert]
In the forepart of June, 1829, Mr. E. B. Grandin, the printer of the "Wayne Sentinel," came to me and said he wanted I should assist him in estimating the cost of printing 5000 copies of a book that Martin Harris wanted to get printed, which was called the "Mormon Bible." It was the second application of Harris to Grandin to do the job.--Harris assuring Grandin that the book would be printed in Rochester if he declined the job again.
Harris proposed to have Grandin do the job, if he would, as it would be quite expensive to keep a man in Rochester during the printing of the book, who would have to visit Palmyra two or three times a week for manu=script, &c. Mr. Grandin consented to do the job if his terms were accepted.
A few pages of the manuscript were submitted as a specimen of the whole, and it was said there would be about 500 pages. ...
When the printer was ready to commence work, Harris was notified, and Hyrum Smith brought the first installment of manuscript, of 24 pages, closely written on common foolscap paper,;--he had it under his vest, and vest and coat closely buttoned over it. At night Smith came and got the manuscript, and with the same precaution carried it away. The next morning with the same watchfulness, be brought it again, and at night took it away. This was kept up for several days. The title page was first set up, and after proof was read and corrected, several copies were printed for Harris and his friends. On the second day--Harris and Smith being in the office--I called their attention to a grammatical error, and asked whether I should correct it? Harris consulted with Smith a short time, and turned to me and said; "The Old Testament is ungrammatical, set it as it is written."
After working a few days, I said to Smith on his handing me the manuscript in the morning; "Mr. Smith, if you would leave this manuscript with me, I would take it home with me at night and read and punctuate it, and I could get along faster in the day time, for now I have frequently to stop and read half a page to find how to punctuate it." His reply was, "We are commanded not to leave it." A few mornings after this, when Smith handed me the manu=script, he said to me:--"If you will give your word that this manuscript shall be returned to us when you get through with it, I will leave it with you." I assured Smith that it should be returned all right when I got through with it. For two or three nights I took it home with me and read it, and punctuated it with a lead pencil. This will account for the punctuation markes in pencil, which is referred to in the Mormon Report, an extract from which will be found below.
Martin Harris, Hyrum Smith and Oliver Cowdery, were very frequent visitors to the office during the printing of the Mormon Bible. The mansucript [manuscript] was supposed to be in the handwriting of Cowdery. Every Chapter, if I remember correctly, was one solid paragraph, without a punctuation mark, from be=ginning to end.
Names of persons and places were generally capitalized, but sentences had no end. The character or short &, was used almost invariably where the word and, occurred, except at the end of a chapter, I puncutated [punctuated] it to make it read as I supposed the Author intended, and but very little punctuation was altered in proof-reading. The Bible was printed 16 pages at a time, so that one sheet of paper made two copies of 16 pages each, requiring 2500 sheets of paper for each form of 16 pages. There were 37 forms of 16 pages each,--570 pages in all.
The work was commenced in August 1829., and finished in March 1830,--seven months. Mr J. H. Bortles and myself done the press work until December taking nearly three days to each form. ...
Joseph Smith Jr had nothing to do whatever with the printing or furnishing copy for the printers, being but once in the office during the printing of the Bible, and then not over 15, or 20 minutes. ...
Sometime in 1828, Martin Harris, who had been furnished by someone with what he said was a fac-simile of the hyroglychics [hieroglyphics] of one of the plates started for New York. On his way he stopped at Albany and called on Lt Gov Bradish, --with what success I do not know. He proceeded to New York, and called on Prof C[harles]. Anthon, made known his business and presented his hieroglyphics.
This is what the Professor said in regard to them:--1834--
"The paper in question was, in fact, a singular scroll. It consisted of all kinds of singular characters, disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets; Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sidewise, arranged and placed in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, arched with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calendar, given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, in as much as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject since the Mormon excite=ment began, and well remember that the paper contained anything else but "Egyptian Hieroglyphics."
Martin returned from his trip east satisfied that "Joseph" was a "little smarter than Prof Anthon."
Martin was something of a prophet:--He frequently said that that "Jackson would be the last president that we would have; and that all persons who did not embrace Mormonism in two years time would be stricken off the face of the earth." He said that Palmyra was to be the New Jerusalem, and that her streets were to be paved with gold.
Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,--(Harris--Cowdery and Whitmer--) I said to him,--"Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, "No, I saw them with a spir[i]tual eye."
[Source: John H. Gilbert, "Memorandum, made by John H. Gilbert Esq, Sept[ember]. 8th, 1892[,] Palmyra, N.Y.," Palmyra King's Daughters Free Library, Palmyra, New York., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: John H. Gilbert Memorandum]