There is a group in South America that claims to have access to the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. What proof do they have? Is this a recycled Hofmann forgery? Dr. Casey Griffiths, author of 50 Relics of the Restoration will tell us more.
Casey: If you go back and look through the Ensign in the early 1980s, I mean, there’s a lot of mentions of Hofmann forgeries that are in there. Those forgeries in and of themselves have become part of the tableau of the restoration, part of the history of it. In fact, that Anthon transcript, just in a weird twist, one of the restoration factions in Independence, had a guy contact them from South America, who said that he had the plates, and that the angel had given him the plates, and that he was going to translate the sealed portion. He was trying to raise funds from these people in Independence.
GT: This is recently?
Casey: This is recently. This is within the last two or three years. Everybody in Independence is like, “Well, take a picture of the plates and send it to us.” And he was like, “Well I can’t take a picture of the plates, but I can send you a transcript of what’s on the plates.”
GT: Oh, brother.
Casey: So, he sent the transcript, and somebody took a look at it and realized, “Well, this is Hofmann’s forgery.”
GT: Really? I hadn’t heard that.
Casey: The guy in South America wasn’t aware that Hofmann had made this forgery, and he must have found it on the internet somewhere or something like that. He said it was legitimate proof that he had the plates. Well, a well-informed person in Independence, produced a document basically comparing what Hofmann had produced with what this guy from South America had sent. That sort of really impinged the movement.
GT: I did not know that, I had not heard that.
Did you know there was an official swimsuit of the Los Angeles Temple?
Casey: The temple swimsuit, which like I said, those two things seem a little incongruent. This is the temple swimsuit, for those of you that are out there. There was a lady named Rose Marie Reid, who was a member of the Church. She grew up in Idaho, and moved to Southern California, married a guy who was Jewish, and became the top swimsuit designer in the world and she ran this business where she…
GT: This was in the 50’s, probably.
Casey: This was in the 40’s and 50’s, yeah. So, she designed swimsuits for Hollywood stars for high profile people, and was very, very well known.
GT: Marilyn Monroe would have been one of them.
Casey: Yeah, and, basically, in the early 1950s, they’re raising funds for the Los Angeles temple. Rose Marie designed the swimsuit, specifically to raise money for the temple. For whatever reason, it became known by the name the temple swimsuit. Apparently, this was so popular that someone stole a version of it and got caught and there was a whole scandal in the news relating to it because her swimsuits were so desirable. But Rose Marie Reid, eventually, she had the Relief Society women in her ward sew the sequins on the on the suits that they sold to raise funds for it.
Did you know that the first pioneers that entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 received a gold medal, including a black man in the company of Brigham Young?
Casey: This is an object that’s in this book that’s never been photographed before. But everybody that was in the vanguard pioneer company of 1847, they rounded up in 1897, the 50th anniversary and gave them a gold medal, basically, to say, “This person was part of the vanguard company, and we want to recognize and honor them.” Well, in the middle of those celebrations, a guy shows up at the Deseret News office, a black guy and said, “Hey, I was part of the vanguard company, too. His name was Green Flake. They gave Green Flake a medal and honored him as part of the vanguard company.
GT: He was the one that drove Brigham Young’s wagon, right?
Casey: Yeah, Green’s background is fascinating. When you dive into it, like I said, it kind of shows the complexities linked to race and the Church in the 19th century. For instance, Green is a slave owned by the Flake family, the Isaac Flake family that owns a plantation in Mississippi. Missionaries come, they convert the Flakes, and there’s variants in the sources, but the general story that’s told is that when the Flakes converted. They decided to migrate to Nauvoo, and they freed their slaves. But Green is 16 years old at the time, and he elects to stay with the Flakes. At that point, there’s some question as to, is he a family friend or is he a slave?
At that point, Brigham Young intervenes and says, “Look, Green has a wife and Green has kids. He can’t just pick up his life and move down there because you guys need him to,” which suggests that in Brigham Young’s mind, Green was not a slave. This is all in the 1850’s before slavery is outlawed, but it kind of does show that Brigham Young’s attitudes towards slavery, servitude and black members of the Church was more complex now than we depict it.
Dr. Casey Griffiths, author of 50 Relics of the Restoration, will tell us more about some of these relics of the restoration. What do you think of how Brigham handled the Green Flake situation? Were you aware that the Hofmann forgery was being re-used? Do you have any thoughts about a swimsuit being used as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Temple?