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I Work at the Darabont County Archives - Part Six F History Section

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six A
Part Six B
Part Six C
Part Six D
Part Six E
Part Six F (Hunt Section)
Part Six G (History Section)
Part Six G (Hunt Section)
Part Six H
---
Sorry this one took so long to post, some really difficult work was put on my plate the last few weeks and the MILF wants at least one of the storerooms finished by November. This one is big so hopefully that makes up for it! This really is a huge entry so I had to break it up into 'History' and 'Hunt' sections.
---
To get from Morgan Hollows to Bleak Hill you have to take Route 12A North for about 20 minutes through a desolate stretch of flat open ground. Route 12A is itself a newer road, replacing Tractor Lane, and reaches straight North between Chatum and Lynchberg before splitting to head West to Precipice Bay and East towards Enfield. An odd stretch about halfway between the Hollows and Bleak Hill is the remains of Lowfield.
I’m not going to waste a lot of time researching Lowfield (at least with the rest of our itinerary to go) but the long and short of it is this: Lowfield was originally a group of 4 farmsteads with no name that slowly grew into a pop-up village when Bleak Hill was a prison in the 40s. Miss Angie says there’s nothing important about it, just an odd block of residential housing on either side of what used to be called The Warden’s Rows. When 12A was being constructed in the 80s Lowfield had already been abandoned for almost a decade so they just plowed straight through.
This unique circumstance makes the drive eerie. Almost like driving in the wake of a tornado. You essentially drive through the joined backyards and concrete-filled pools of the abandoned homes; looking in the large, glassless patio doors while passing rotted treehouses and severed sandboxes. The fact that the road is only used to access Bleak Hill makes it even more isolating since we didn’t pass a single car on the drive. Just silence and the gathering dark while you drive.
---
Bleak Hill Asylum, Lynchberg/Chatum town line
The Bleak Hill Asylum is an imposing structure made of large rough-hewn brownstone with sharp tarred roofs black as pitch. Vaguely rectangular with large rounded towers jutting from the walls like blisters, it sits atop Bleak Hill on the Lynchberg/Chatum line in the middle of the broad fields between the Southern Hollows State Forest that surrounds The Tall Men and the Northern Lamplighter Trail around Mount Brigham. The low plains run from the East, separating the two forests from Enfield to Precipice Bay. In the middle of that flat expanse is the hillock long called ‘bleak hill’ by the Abenaki, Micmac, Mohawk, and white settlers. The plains were once home to lush farmland, but the hill has forever been barren, devoid of anything save the hardiest weeds.
On April 3, 1878, ground broke on the foundation of the Hezekiah Litzinger Lunatic Asylum. Litzinger was a former Quaker, architect, and British ex-pat who firmly believed in moral treatment but held severe misgivings regarding the Kirkbride curative system. The Kirkbride architectural style (or Kirkbride Plan) extoled the virtues of sunlight and clean air circulation for curative effects on the mentally ill; this was accomplished by its distinctive ‘bat-wing’ design that left each ward’s central corridor open to sunlight and ventilation from either end. Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts was built upon the Kirkbride Plan, as were the Trenton State Hospital, Worcester State Hospital, and Eastern State Hospital (I hope you’re seeing the pattern here). Such architecture has since grown a insidious reputation as many of the state hospitals ended up with notorious reputations for patient abuse and other such dark shenanigans.
Litzinger believed that rather than look to nature to cure the mentally ill, a religious approach was needed. Looking to esoteric religious texts, he developed an asylum layout based (loosely) upon the Jewish Kabbalah’s Sephirot. Litzinger’s theory adapted the Kirkbride’s ‘wings’ into large multi-floor buildings joined by corridors where the patients lived based upon their level of severity. I’ll see if I can dig up or draw out a rough layout but for the moment hopefully this explanation will do: Bleak Hill is an imposing brownstone hexagon divided up into 10 circular ‘towers’ each with a corresponding purpose based on the Sephirot and connected by crossed corridor ‘wards’ with guard walkways along the edges.
It is a fully enclosed system with no open-air areas, only huge skylights running along the center of the building from the entrance tower all the way to the administration clock tower and narrow windows lining the outer walls. A chain link fence runs from the clocktower out in a square to 3 tall guard towers, fully surrounding the main building, work fields, guardhouse, and graveyard. Oh yes, Bleak Hill has its own graveyard – an unfortunate result of the facility being so remote. Patients were taken outside for exercise and/or work detail in the fields cultivating vegetables, tubers, and some fruits to supplement the standard supplies. Barracks for the guards, a modest parking lot, a separate hospital/infirmary building, and the Physician-in-Chief’s residence are clustered outside the fence well away from the patient areas. Each tower of the main building has 3 floors with the connective walls are only 2 floors but it’s the basement areas that are really interesting…
As the area is known for heavy snowfalls and harsh winters, the basement of the asylum is connected to the outlying structures via a series of claustrophobic tunnels – ensuring that even in the harshest weather personnel would be able to access the barracks, infirmary, and PIC’s residence. The tunnels curve to ensure that in the event of a breakout or riot the access areas to outside buildings would be easily defensible. Despite the ‘enlightened’ attitude of its creator, the basement held larger communal cells for the most ‘irredeemable louts’ resistant to therapy.
Litzinger died of kidney failure due to gout complications before the asylum was completed on August 21, 1879. His close friend and fellow believer Dr. Norton Highwaist was the first physician-in-chief. Under Highwaist, the Asylum seemingly paid off on Litzinger’s beliefs as patient turnaround was above expectations and the rate of ‘full’ rehabilitation steadily grew. This success continued until 1886 when Highwaist left his position. The next PIC was one of the patriarchs of Precipice Bay, Dr. Joseph van der Voort. Van der Voort continued the upward swing and when he left the PIC position in 1898 the Asylum was well in the black and had started getting the state’s attention. Eustace Weatherall, PhD was appointed by the state to oversee the Asylum in 1899 following a transitional period where van der Voort’s deputy took over. Despite his name, Weatherall virtually sunk the Asylum in 3 years and necessitated its absorption it into the state system.
The newly rechristened Bleak Hill Asylum for the Criminally Insane opened its doors on March 13, 1902. Now run by the state, Bleak Hill’s wards were completely restructured to accommodate male and female patients and prisoners. The basement ‘looney’ rooms were modified into solitary confinement cells, the small infirmary floor of the intake tower was repurposed into a guard station (since the compound had a separate hospital building the infirmary was deemed superfluous), and the corridors leading into the administration tower were bricked up so there was only 1 straightforward access point.
In some ways it seemed that Bleak Hill was made to be a prison, from its imposing solid stone walls, to its remote location, and the neat little trick that the very barrenness of Bleak Hill made it impossible for escapees to avoid the eyes of the four guard towers. Nothing higher than crabgrass grew within a mile diameter of the hill providing absolutely no cover.
Bleak Hill continued as an asylum/prison from 1902-1919 until the Ferber Cuttle riot caused the facility to close for repairs. In those 17 years the facility went through 2 asylum head administrators and 1 prison warden. Now not much is verifiable regarding the riot since fire and water damage destroyed most of Bleak Hill’s records but here are the facts (with thanks to Mr. Berry!):
On February 6, 1919, New Stickney Constables Klein Alpert and Warren Goode responded to a disturbance on Fulton Ave. Fulton Ave was home to several flophouses and was a slum near the train station. At approximately 5 am, they passed a narrow alley running from Fulton Ave to Wilde St and investigated strange noises. They found Feber Cuttle (age 32) hunched over the remains of Anna Cascogne (age 21) with a sharpened piece of metal. Cascogne had a wide, fatal, cut running from her navel to her sternum – severing several lengths of her large intestine and liver – and Cuttle was pulling her organs out with his bare hands and “voraciously biting the viscera”. When confronted, he snarled and bit at the constables until breaking free with “superhuman strength born from sheer madness” and fled down Wilde St. He was captured 2 streets away by no less than 6 constables.
Incarcerated in New Stickney’s constable office, he reportedly bashed against the bars of his free-standing cell until his hands and head were bloody and wood planks had to be fitted against the sides of the cage to prevent his violent actions from freeing him. He raved and screamed but formed no articulate words. Several constables, Alpert and Goode among them, were treated for scratches and bites. Cuttle was the bastard son of Irish/Welsh parents and had a long record in the county from Brahms to Birkinsfield, mostly petty thievery and public indecency with several fugues of madness in the past 8 years. To the constables it was clear that Cuttle’s madness had finally gotten the better of him to the detriment of Anna Cascogne. The magistrate declared him mad in short order and the horrific murder of Cascogne the result of spurred advances; Feber was processed and sent to Bleak Hill under heavy guard.
The wagon arrived at Bleak Hill on the morning of February 7, ushered in by a late winter rainstorm that pelted the region with hail and sleet off and on for the next 2 weeks. The Warden at that time, Christopher Meekus (the longest serving head in the facility’s history at 17 years) was present during the transfer, as was the head administrator of the asylum staff, Dr. Topher Callahan. Cuttle was moved into the basement ward for solitary confinement, cage and all.
Callahan was eager to begin treatment but was forestalled by Meekus, who (rightfully) warned that Cuttle was a dangerous murderer driven into a frenzy by the trip and should be sequestered until he calmed. Meekus posted extra guards in the basement and forbade Callahan or his staff from any contact for at least 48 hours.
Callahan ended up waiting until Monday, February 10. As soon as the day shift began, Callahan and his second, Dr. Thomas Kader, ordered Cuttle chained and brought up to the main ward for interview. Orderlies entered the cell and quickly contacted Meekus. Meekus, bolstered by 6 guards, met the 2 orderlies in the basement along with Kader.
Cuttle had been busy over the weekend. Six food trays sat untouched and/or overturned near the slot at the bottom of the door. The man himself was a horror. According to one of the guards he had bitten off and eaten his lips, leaving a horrific red smirk, and gnawed off his fingertips to the bone. Crazed, he attacked the group until being beaten down and succumbed to liberal doses of ether. By some accounts the orderlies just threw the ether bottles into the cell.
Cuttle was transferred to the hospital building under constant guard and fitted with thick rubber gloves chained to his clothes behind his back. A rubber surgical mask was fitted over the ruin of his mouth to stop his near-constant biting. Meekus suggested letting him expire in solitary, an idea that Callahan overruled, but following a day in the hospital he was released back to his cell.
Callahan continued attempting to treat the lunatic through the bars of his cell for the next 3 days. Meekus washed his hands of the situation and turned his attention back to his prison duties. Unfortunately, not much is known of the events that led to the riot that erupted on Thursday, February 13 (coincidentally a full moon).
The events of the riot itself were well reported, however, and roughly are as follows:
  • Guards and orderlies were doing their morning rounds and discovered Cuttle lying on the floor of his cell – seeming unresponsive around 7 am. They quickly alerted Meekus and Callahan.
  • Bolstered by a group of 4 guards and 6 orderlies, Meekus and Callahan oversaw Cuttle being bound to a stretcher and carried to the hospital. He had been busy mutilating himself again, this time scraping flesh from his back and arms against the stone walls of his cell. Secured in chains once he reached the hospital, his unresponsive body was plied with ether to be on the safe side and left to await the doctor’s arrival at 9 am.
  • Sometime around 10 am, hospital staff discovered Cuttle had degloved the skin from his hands and feet in order to slip his irons. Meekus rang the alarms and requested assistance from Lynchberg and Chatum. Shortly thereafter an explosion occurred in the chemical storage of the hospital building and the chaos began.
  • Cuttle ambushed and killed a guard, Trevor Gregson, roughly around 10:15 before using his keys to unlock the surrounding fence and freeing prisoners in the exercise yard. From there the chaos and fire spread.
  • Meekus and Callahan ordered a lockdown at 10:34, bringing most of the staff into the administration building (the clocktower). Unfortunately, 7 guards were unable to reach safety before Callahan ordered the doors sealed. The rampaging prisoners freed even more cohorts and went about raping and attacking each other. The riot continued for nearly four hours until reinforcements arrived at approximately 2 pm.
  • Constables and firemen from Chatum and Lynchberg systematically went through the facility putting down any resistance and securing cellblocks until they reached the main atrium connection to administration. Cuttle was ‘holding court’ as one rescuer described it – sitting in the middle of the room in the center of a ring of fellow prisoners, every one eating the bodies of their brethren. Several had similarly mutilated themselves in emulation of their ‘leader’.
  • Meekus lifted the lockdown and personally shot at Cuttle’s head, his aim going wide due to Callahan’s intervention, ending up piercing the insane man’s back and shattering his left clavicle. This ended up being a mistake on Callahan’s part as even bleeding and unable to use his left arm, Cuttle lunged at the doctor and bit his eye with such ferocity and strength that the deranged lunatic cracked Callahan’s supraorbital process and temporal bone. The doctor’s eyeball popped like a grape. Then, thrusting forward before Meekus could fire, Cuttle drove his sharp fingerbones through Callahan’s submaxillary area. Curling the talons, he then tore off Callahan’s jaw.
  • Meekus fired again but Cuttle’s movements resulted in a glancing blow off his temple. Cuttle was immediately knocked out and restrained by no less than 3 men.
By 4 pm the riot had ended and the fires were put out. The final body count was 47 prisoners, 8 guards, 4 hospital nurses, 2 hospital doctors, 6 administrative staff (including Callahan), and 31 asylum patients. The hospital building and the left side of the main facility were the most damaged due to chemical explosions, but the basement was beginning to flood due to several broken pipes and virtually every window and pane of glass had been shattered. Cuttle’s emulators from the atrium, all prisoners in the beginning, were moved to the secure mental ward and restrained.
Cuttle himself was locked in irons, fitted with crude metal gloves, straightjacketed, and had a steel muzzle locked over his face. He was unable to move or speak.
The sheer enormity of the destruction was enough to give Meekus a mental breakdown. The state immediately transferred the prisoners and patients to other facilities and the deputy warden, Dagan Poole, was given control over what remained of Bleak Hill. It was Poole who took the raving Cuttle to Dr. Friedrich Guehring at the Weiland-Guehring Institute and the state was all too happy to shuttle Cuttle to the private sector.
Bleak Hill reopened on August 15, 1920 as a state penitentiary and functioned as one until 1956. The prison was a great source of income for the county in the beginning, resulting in the creation of Lowfield, but following World War II the state had other concerns and the budgets became smaller and smaller. There is little to say other than the prison went through 7 wardens during those 36 years.
Miss Angie said that it was the isolation of the facility and the sense of hopelessness that contributed to the high turnaround. She has a very narrow view of Bleak Hill but that is mainly due to more recent events. Eventually, plummeting arrest counts and skyrocketing costs led to the state closing the penitentiary for good and switching the entirety into a state mental hospital.
Rechristened ‘Bald Hill State Hospital’, it was in operation from May 1957 to December 1972. If the term ‘State Hospital’ makes your skin crawl you’d be correct in your assumption that horrible things happened during those 15 years.
With funding cut to the absolute bone and the system in various states of denial regarding adequate care for the mentally ill, Bald Hill became a house of horrors. If you’ve seen Titicut Follies you’ve got some idea of the squalor and depravity that occurred before the facility closed in 1972. Horror stories about the facility abound but Miss Angie gave me some first-hand accounts from the end of the 60s:
It turns out that Miss Angie’s mother, Camella, was committed to Bald Hill in 1966. Just to clear the air as well: I vastly overestimated Miss Angie’s age when I started posting my experiences. She’s had a…hard life…and she looks older than she is (thank god she isn’t going to be reading any of this!) – she’s actually only 62! I obliquely asked her age when she was telling me about her mother since it didn’t seem like she could be as young as she claimed in 1966. Anyway…
Miss Angie’s full name is Angela and she has 2 siblings, an older sister, Laura, and a younger brother, Joseph. Her father – he who disowned her following a party at the Glory Whole – played little role in his children’s lives by all accounts. Her mother was committed to Bald Hill in 1966 after she tried to down Joseph in the bathtub. As Joseph struggled, Camella slipped on the bathroom tile and smashed the back of her head into the porcelain sink.
Whatever happened, whether it was psychological or purely physical, left her a hollow shell of a person virtually catatonic. She was ruled mentally incompetent and sent off to Bald Hill in the winter of 1966. Miss Angie was 9 years old. Her father, Malcolm, was by all accounts a bit of a bastard and routinely left his three children at the hospital during summer days to ‘visit’ Camella.
Miss Angie’s entire attitude changes when she talks about the hospital. Her normally happy expression draws down into a stormy scowl and her voice gets a gravelly rasp.
“I was only a child, mind you, but I think my memories of those visits are as clear as my memory of what I had for lunch today. I can’t even remember the names of my elementary school teachers, but I remember the names of the staff there: Constance Bauer, Mary Stein, Morton Goode, Taylor Hampstead – these names are burned into my memory forever. I’ll never forgive them for what they did. Now I’m not going to go window-dressing it or giving in to bastardization – I don’t have enough time or hatred in my heart for that – but I’ll tell you about my ma and what happened.
“My mama wasn’t a dangerous sort, so she was allowed to sit outside in her wheelchair. That’s how we spent most of our summers for 2 years, Laura shielding Joey from the worst of it while I sat beside my mama as she shit and pissed herself. The staff were no good, not any of them, and there isn’t any amount of window-dressing you can put on the stories out of that place to make it any worse than it truly was…we were children, yes, but even then I knew that place was hell.
“Constance was the ward nurse at the time and used any excuse she could to have us removed from the building. The head doctor at the time was Hampstead and he was a crooked as a wooden nickel and twice as useless. He had some kind of deal with my pa and overruled Constance’s decisions about us enough that her resentment grew to the point I think she deliberately stopped caring for my ma. No evidence, mind you, but I remember enough of the sullen glances and angry twist of her puckered lips to know she had something to do with ma’s death.
“When Constance wasn’t on duty it was Mary – a nice enough woman but as flimsy as snotty Kleenex. She’d sneak us pudding and sandwiches when we were in the ward. Morton, “Goody” we called him, was an orderly who pushed the patients in and out. He was a nice enough guy, as far as I remember, but he only took care of ma when he had to move her, otherwise she just sat in filth until it was time to go somewhere. She couldn’t speak and never moved, so to them I guess she was just a vegetable but how would you like it visiting your mama and finding her covered in piss and shit overnight?
“And it wasn’t just mama like that, the whole place stank of bleach and shit all the time. Big rooms, the sunrooms they used to call them, just had filthy naked screaming people stumbling around at all hours. We preferred when it wasn’t raining and we could sit outside…those sounds they made were inhuman. I’ll never forget the noise. Papa just dropped us off so he could work and trusted we would fend for ourselves. Not a good way to grow up, not at all, and I still can’t believe little Joey is as well-adjusted as he is with that kind of childhood…
“Mama died in ’68 from a stroke – if you can believe it – but I know she probably died from starvation. A lot of long-term patients died like that. Papa sued the state for negligence, but it didn’t get far before the state just paid us off…a lot of money for a carpenter back then even with 3 kids. Pa took the money and we never talked about it again, especially since he married Jennie the next year. Laura blocked it all out, probably for the best, and Joey refuses to talk about it; I’m the only one who remembers mama now for the husk she was at the end, rather than the vibrant woman who’d tried to drown Joey in our bathtub.”
Following Massachusetts State’s attempts to block the film Titicut Follies and their equally rapid attempt to clean-up the hospital cesspools it should come as no surprise that Vermont followed suit. From 1970-1972 all patients were transported to other facilities, even incoming people were swiftly diagnosed and sent to other institutions, and Bald Hill closed before any public inquiries could be made.
One horrible story to come out of the place from that last period dovetails nicely (or morbidly) with other tales from Darabont County. It was related by a nurse named Marcus Joslin to the Enfield Bulletin in 1971 before the state sued him out of existence.
In the spring of 1971, Bald Hill suffered higher-than-normal rainfall that resulted in what officials stated was minor flooding. Joslin says the flooding was anything but minor. The basement solitary cells from the building’s prison days had been converted into 1 large steel-caged looney bin affectionately referred to as ‘The Pit’ where the staff threw all the mentally unstable, disabled, or problem patients.
Joslin stated that the staff didn’t oversee The Pit, just put food through the bars and ushered the patients out weekly to hose down the room. Apparently the flooding was worst in The Pit and about 12 patients were left there over a weekend. What occurred reminds me of a tale from Newgate Prison in London except here there are traceable names and news accounts.
According to Joslin’s statement, given to the Sherriff’s Department and printed in The Bulletin, all 12 patients were violent, disorderly, ‘retarded’, and incurable. Staff (including Joslin) were told to leave them in The Pit without food or water over the weekend to see if hunger and thirst could be used to control their behavior. The weekend staff reported shouts and screams from The Pit on Friday night into Saturday morning but virtually no sound thereafter.
Joslin was on the morning shift that Monday and took 3 orderlies with him down to The Pit for a deep clean. When the elevator descended into the fluorescent-lit space it showed them a view from hell.
“The smell was what hit us first,” Joslin was quoted in the article, “it was shit – that was expected – but also blood and a sour smell like wet beef jerky. Everywhere was red, the floor was covered in it and the walls as well with little clean stripes where splashes had hit the bars. It looked like when you spray paint stencils. It was easier to see where the walls weren’t red than where they were, you know?”
Flooding had been enough to put about 5 inches of standing water across the basement and it was blood red. Inside the cage were what remained of the 12 patients. Viscera and strips of skin floated on the surface of the water along with other unsavory bodily excretions. Everything was quiet and nothing was moving. In the middle of The Pit, clustered around a large drainage grate were lumps of misshapen flesh unrecognizable as humans.
Of the 12 patients left down there that lonely weekend, only 7 were identifiable: Joseph ‘Norty’ Northern, Joe Beals, Tom Christopher, Alan Levy, Mike Thompson, Marty Clearwater, and Creedence Shea. There were no records kept of who went in or out of The Pit and the bookkeeping in general of the hospital was spotty at best. The rest of the patients, those 5 unknown souls, were just obliterated into shards of bone and bites of flesh in the gory soup.
It became clear to Joslin as they reached the larger pieces that the patients had cannibalized each other and then themselves rather than starve (although rational humans can live without food for a far extended period of time these were not rational humans). Pieces of human flesh were found in the stomachs of all 7 identified bodies. Joslin also believed – although it was impossible to prove – that the patients performed necrophilia during their insane bacchanal. Of the 12, four had been females, and given the sexually naïve or depraved behavior of the 7 identified it was not outside the realm of possibility that Joslin was right…
Joslin’s interview hit the final nail into Bald Hill’s coffin and the court of public opinion found the state and administrators guilty. The hospital closed within a year.
Miss Angie doesn’t find Joslin’s story too outlandish.
“The place was a mess, even back when Mama was alive, you’d see naked men jerking themselves in the halls and furious couples going at it in alcoves. The nurses and staff didn’t do anything about it, I mean why would they care, right? I remember Laura had some crazy man ejaculate on her in the days before Mama died…can you blame her for blocking out everything from those 2 years?”
The hospital closed on January 11, 1972, although the state dragged their feet transferring their records, so activity was still going on until March but then the building was shuttered and the county tried to forget it ever existed.
There were bids to demolish the building but despite its dark reputation it was a historic landmark of the state and that status ensured that the state controlled who went in or out. Miss Angie says there was some bad business in the late 90s where some teens (we’d call them urban explorers today) snuck in and were found dead some three days later but she was scanty with details. Mr. Berry couldn’t find anything about that so it either didn’t happen (unlikely given who Miss Angie is) or the state/press didn’t report on the deaths (more than likely). Aside from that Bald Hill State Hospital simply sat and rotted away.
Until, that is, 2012, when an enterprising man named Gunner Racerock purchased the land for several million dollars. Racerock was born Gunner Thorson in Flåm, Norway. Flåm is a little village around the center of Norway among the fjords with a population in the double digits. Thorson left Norway for France in his university years and quickly became quite popular as a musician and DJ – whereupon he legally changed his name to Racerock. Obsessed with ghosts and the paranormal, he took the name of a supposedly haunted lighthouse in New York state, Race Rock Light, and moved to the US in 2001.
He invested wisely, unlike some other DJs and entertainers who fritter away their paychecks almost as soon as they get them and is worth somewhere around 120 million dollars at present. In other words, Racerock has money and a fondness for the paranormal. This fondness drove him to purchase Bald Hill in 2012 and renovate it back into its original incarnation – that of Bleak Hill.
The Bleak Hill Museum and Ghost Tour opened to grand fanfare on February 13, 2012. Along with the full renovations and historical tours, the big draw are the ghost tours that take place every night from 4 pm to 12 am. Not that the ghost section of the tour takes the full 8 hours, guests get the normal historical tour from 4-6, followed by dinner and cocktails from 6-8, then ghost hunting from 8-12.
For a small fee, ghost tour members can sleep in the guard barracks following the tour, but we weren’t going to take advantage of that since Precipice Bay is only 30 minutes away. Several ghost hunting TV shows have visited Bleak Hill and have caught some startling evidence, including shadow people, noises, doors slamming shut, voices, and orbs. Since the building is a historical site all amateur ghost hunting must be done as part of the tour and the costs of renting the site for an overnight hunt are astronomically high.
submitted by JenniKinoShimatta to nosleep

11

I'm not sure I can continue this..tl;dr email chain pt 3.

pt1: https://www.reddit.com/exmormon/comments/8di1m5/advice_request_sorry_long_tldr_trying_to_compose/
pt2: https://www.reddit.com/exmormon/comments/8ecjnj/help_me_respond_tldr_im_wondering_how_i_should/
There have been a few emails since then with no significant progress. I thought you might enjoy it regardless if you care to respond or not. Shoutout to bwv549 for some great input on the last post. I'm ready to cut my losses.
TO DEER: An attempt to justify wrong action because someone else does it is not an acceptable answer to me. Avoiding or ignoring the deep and troubling problems in every religion also makes each one divine.
https://github.com/faenrandia_careful_examination/blob/6eadb074c6e0bee6c64220942720643efd99d583/documents/questions/the_all_powerful_partition_algorithm.md
The argument against America isn't valid because it doesn't have the same implications as a religion. Additionally, if the history of the LDS Church is morally problematic, it potentially undermines its truth claims in a way that US History does not undermine citizenship. America hasn't proclaimed itself as the only true and living country and people can easily live here with or without a full knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses and still make a difference.
What religion does it better than the Mormons? Is that a valid question? What parameters are you using to define best? What are the best things that a religion could do in this day and age?
I also don't understand why you assume that I am reading unreliable and anti-Mormon sources when it comes to the blood atonement. What sources do you think I am looking at? The core principle is that there are crimes heinous enough to not fall under the umbrella of Christ's atonement. The best source for this is the Journal of Discourses. This doctrine grew during the reformation during the 1850s and was at it's climax in 1857. Brigham Young strongly believed the 2nd coming was nigh at hand and trying to institute a theocracy in the territory.
I don't mean to define your experiences for you. I also had great experiences and guidance on my mission and afterwards from the Holy Ghost and I continue to work towards it. I can appreciate your experience while simultaneously weighing the evidence.
I would like to follow truth wherever it will lead me. I didn't come to these conclusions because I wanted to dig up negative aspects of church history, I came to these conclusions after actively seeking out truth. The hardest part is sifting through the antagonistic anti-Mormon slants and the apologetic pro-Mormon propaganda. A sad reality is that when I try to read apologetic material, I am told ignorant ideals such as "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."
“The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead. Truth is often found in the most unexpected places. He must, with fearless and open mind "insist that facts are far more important than any cherished, mistaken beliefs, no matter how unpleasant the facts or how delightful the beliefs.’” -Hugh B Brown
What are your goals? To follow truth or be loyal? I feel that the majority of your emails are just spent trying to convince me of the wrong viewpoints I have and that yours are the right ones. Would you be more open to an interesting undergraduate study at BYU? It compares the JST to Adam Clarke's Bible commentary. http://jur.byu.edu/?p=21296
Quoted from the 3rd paragraph:
Our research has revealed that the number of direct parallels between Smith’s translation and Adam Clarke’s biblical commentary are simply too numerous and explicit to posit happenstance or coincidental overlap.2 The parallels between the two texts number into the hundreds, a number that is well beyond the limits of this paper to discuss. A few of them, however, demonstrate Smith’s open reliance upon Clarke and establish that he was inclined to lean on Clarke’s commentary for matters of history, textual questions, clarification of wording, and theological nuance.
After having carefully and near-comprehensively analyzed the source data and both apologetic and antagonistic explanations of the foundational truth claims of the Church, I am convinced that the foundational truth claims of the Church do not stand up to scrutiny.
Ultimately, I believe that the more closely our internal understanding aligns with reality, the greater our capacity to help others and to find happiness. Even though the Church does much good in many people’s lives, because I believe it is based on false pretense, and because that pretense is used as the prime justification for the activities and direction of the Church, then I will always be skeptical. To say I am antagonistic because I am looking for negative things about the church is grossly simplifying a very complex issue. I think that a member can continue believing in facets of the Church even while disagreeing with other substantial portions of it. Once I was convinced that the foundational truth claims do not stand up, then the following thoughts seem accurate.
He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. —Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, Pages 188-189
Our whole strength rests on the validity of that [first] vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.—President Gordon B. Hinckley
Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud. If it’s true, it’s the most important thing in the world. Now, that’s the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. —President Gordon B. Hinckley
If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed. —President J. Reuben Clark
from President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon is the keystone of [our] testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. . . ”
It sounds like a “sudden death” proposition to me. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward.
Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from his lips, eventually receiving at his hands a set of ancient gold plates which he then translated according to the gift and power of God—or else he did not. And if he did not, in the spirit of President Benson’s comment, he is not entitled to retain even the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, and he is not entitled to be considered a great teacher or a quintessential American prophet or the creator of great wisdom literature. If he lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he is certainly none of those. I am suggesting that we make exactly that same kind of do-or-die, bold assertion about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. We have to. Reason and rightness require it. Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and the book as the miraculously revealed and revered word of the Lord it is or else consign both man and book to Hades for the devastating deception of it all, but let’s not have any bizarre middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically. —Jeffrey R. Holland, “True or False,” Liahona, June 1996
Also, if you made it this far and would like to read more, I feel that this person's experience slightly resembles mine... it is very long. https://40yrmormon.blogspot.com/2017/08/thoughts-on-mormonism-after-40-years.html
I have also attached an outline of beliefs that I also agree with for the most part, I didn't come up with them. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https://github.com/faenrandia_careful_examination/raw/6eadb074c6e0bee6c64220942720643efd99d583/documents/my_beliefs/summary_of_my_beliefs.pdf
Sincerely ME
TO ME: Blood Atonement: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mormonism_and_doctrine/Repudiated_concepts/Blood_atonement
Dad has the full set of Journal of Discourses. You can use them to determine if your sources on Blood Atonement are taking Brigham Young out of context or not. I expect that your source on that particular doctrine are taking Brigham Young's quotes out of context. The above fairmormon link provides some examples of this. I believe this doctrine is especially dangerous because it has a tendency to ignite great anger towards the church in those who ascribe to or believe the anti-mormon viewpoint on it that I consider to be incomplete.
I was not aware of the particular link between Adam Clarke and JST. However, I am not that surprised. Joseph Smith brought in outside language scholars and other biblical teachers to instruct in School of the Prophets.
I would expect that Joseph would have referenced whatever scholarly materials he could get his hands on. It is also, based on timeframe, probable that Joseph Smith used what he learned from Masons to augment/finalize the Temple Ceremony. I don't have the official reference, but Susan Easton Black talked about this extensively in my religion class, and it is discussed elsewhere. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Freemasonry
Soon after this, Joseph Smith began giving the endowment to women, which was forbidden by Masons.
You ask what my goals are. To me, the church is as 1. Matthew 13:45-46 "...when [I] had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that [I] had, and bought it." 2. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon," I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. —Joseph Smith, 1843
In other words, I value the church highly, but I also respect your right to worship as you please. Any attempt to convince you of wrong thinking stems from believing that I do not think you can long study the negative aspects of anything and long remain involved in any appreciable way. And your children will adopt your attitude, whether you intend for them to or not. In my opinion, the crux doctrines of the gospel are faith, hope, and charity. Don't let your issues with Joseph Smith and BoM cause you to lose sight of this.
I appreciate your attachment on moral views. I think those are pretty safe. I was more interested in: 1. Do you believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God? 2. Do you believe His Priesthood is on the Earth? 2. What church, if any, do you believe best represents the teaching's of Jesus Christ?
SINCERELY stokerfam
TO DEER: I can access the full set of the Journal of Discourses online. They are definitely a primary source. Apologetics and Anti's use similar tactics in either exaggerating or minimizing issues. Source material is absolutely important.
  1. I do believe in Christ.
  2. I am skeptical of the restoration of the priesthood. D&C 13 shows the date being restored as May 15th 1829. It was first recorded in October 1834 in Joseph Smith's History 1:68 as a certain day in May. No mention of it was in the 1833 edition of the book of commandments or the 1835 version of the D&C. In the 1833 Book of Commandments section 52:3-4 Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained apostles by Jesus Christ. D&C 13 was recorded in the Times & Seasons August 1, 1842, which is just taking JSH 1:69 and setting it apart as a section in the D&C along with a heading clarifying the date as May 15th.
  3. I'm not qualified to answer this question. I'm not really looking for another church. My hope is that the LDS church will continue to gradually change over time and be perfected like we are all trying to do.
SINCERELY stokerfam
TO ME: Fair enough. Thanks for bringing me up to speed on where you are spiritually. I hope that you continue to make positive progression in your journey. Feel free to share with me at any time.
I don't know that this will change your opinion of the priesthood restoration. However, if you are collecting facts then you will be interested to know that the first record of the priesthood restoration is found in the 1832 account of Joseph Smiths First Vision.
SINCERELY DEER
TO DEER: Yes, I remember finding it in the 1832 account as well but forgot to put it in the last email. The 1832 description says that the priesthood was received by the ministering of angels. My skepticism lies in the different accounts. I did start reading the Articles and Covenants of the church, which were published June 1830, which is the original source for the 1833 Book of Commandments. Articles and Covenants: which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, jun.4 who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and also to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and ordained under his hand,...
What I'm not sure of is when he wrote "ordained under his hand." I think that I misinterpreted this earlier as being ordained by Jesus Christ himself, but I think it actually means Oliver Cowdery was ordained by Joseph Smith, and Joseph Smith was ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, but no details on exactly how?
1830 - ordained an apostle by Jesus Christ, then Joseph Smith ordained Oliver Cowdery - Articles and Covenants 1832 - restored by the ministering of angels - Joseph Smith History v1 1833 - ordained an apostle by Jesus Christ, then Joseph Smith ordained Oliver Cowdery - Book of Commandments - same as the Articles and Covenants 1834 - ordained by John the Baptist and Peter James and John - Joseph Smith History v2
What I haven't been able to find is any mention of it before 1832 in Joseph Smith's words or from contemporary accounts. There are a few news articles talking about authority, but nothing specific enough. Also, the 1832 account tells of a distinction between the Holy Priesthood and a Higher Priesthood, but until the 1834 account, there is no naming distinction.
SINCERELY stokerfam
TO ME: John the Baptist, as well as Peter, James, and John were/are angels. Therefore to generally describe the priesthood bestowal from a 'ministering of angels' and then later name those angels is not a conflict to me at all. Wouldn't the inclusion of priesthood ordination as part of '1830' Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ be sufficient to establish that Priesthood was there from the very beginning of the church organization here? I'm confused about your hang ups here. In fact this original document goes so far as to describe a separate level of responsibilities and authority between Elders vs. priests, teachers, and deacons etc. Document also describes need to carry 'line of authority' document proving ordination to be able to perform priesthood duties. What else do you want?
https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/you-shall-have-my-word/commissioned-jesus-christ-oliver-cowdery-and-dc-13
SINCERELY DEER
TO DEER: Yes, they are considered angels and that could possibly construed as no conflict. What bothers me is that the experience evolves from vague and unclear to more precise in later versions. The D&C 13 reference was written in 1835. Priesthood ordination was not indicated in the 1830 Articles and Covenants, only "ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church. This does not necessarily establish the priesthood and does not mention a lower or higher priesthood. From your link:
Although Joseph mentioned receiving authority from angels in an 1832 account, [6] the first documented time he shared the circumstances surrounding receiving priesthood authority with others was on April 21, 1834, when he, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and others gathered fifty-one miles south of Kirtland in Norton, Ohio, at the home of local gristmill operator and member Benjamin Carpenter. Joseph elected to share his experiences with the priesthood in the context of discussions about building a temple in Kirtland. When Sidney Rigdon addressed the congregation after Joseph, he discussed, among other things, “the Endowment of the Elders with power from on High according to former promises.” After this, both Joseph and Sidney spoke to the congregation on the endowment of power and shared revelations about the proposed Kirtland Temple. [7] Joseph delivered these sermons after he “gave a relation of obtaining and translating the Book of Mormon, the revelation of the priesthood of Aaron . . . [and] the revelation of the high priesthood.” [8]Unfortunately, Oliver, who kept minutes in that meeting, did not record the content of Joseph’s account of priesthood restoration. When Oliver returned to Norton five months later, however, he sat down on September 7, 1834, in the evening after Sunday meetings, and wrote a letter describing what happened. His account was intended for readers of the Church-owned Missouri newspaper Evening and Morning Star who did not have regular access to Joseph’s sermons, but “owing to a press of other matter” it was held over and published in the first issue of the Kirtland newspaper Messenger and Advocate. [9]
Even in this description the first time Joseph Smith discussed the priesthood with the members it wasn't important enough to be in the minutes of the meeting until recorded in a letter 5 months later.
Similar discrepancies occur in the different first vision accounts. 1. At 16 years of age - saw the lord, no mention of an attack by satan. http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/3 2. At 14 years of age - he heard noises of someone walking behind him and it was hard to speak. 2 beings appeared, one testified that Jesus Christ is the son of God and he saw many angels. http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/25 2a. (As recorded by Warren Parrish is almost an exact copy of 2) 3. 1838 version - official LDS version - 15 years old - could not speak, thick darkness, etc. You are probably very familiar with this one. http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-june-1839-circa-1841-draft-2/3 3a,b Copies made by Howard Coray
There are a few more made by other contemporaries. I gathered all of the information on it here: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/site/accounts-of-the-first-vision SINCERELY stokerfam
TO ME: The Articles and Covenants (1830) very specifically lay out that Elders preside over priests, teachers, and deacons. It is also very clear that Elders have the power to bestow the Holy Ghost and baptize; the Priests only have power to baptize, Teachers and Deacons may not baptize...so there is clearly a division of powers and responsibilities consistent with current model of Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods: one has spiritual administration, the other for outward ordinances only. Is your hangup that they were not explicitly named in the document? I think that is a stretch. This document clearly establishes the need for priesthood authority from day one of church organization. It states that Joseph was ordained, which as you mention doesn't explicitly say angelic bestowal at that point, but it doesn't rule it out either. It does say called of God, and that Joseph and Oliver were ordained according to the grace of God. Joseph explicitly record the angelic bestowal of authority by 1832. SINCERELY DEER
TO DEER: It certainly can be shown that the document establishes a line of authority from day one, but it never says the word priesthood. It leaves many things open to interpretation in the origin of authority. The sentence " which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, jun.4 who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ," could just as easily be defined as a self proclaimed ordination. It certainly doesn't match up with specifically saying John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John came to ordain them. Backdating later revelations, histories, or definitions to fit into an earlier narrative is just as big of a stretch. Joseph Smith was constantly improvising. After the Book of Mormon came out he had to continue building a compelling narrative. The Book of Abraham, Kinderhook plates, and JST have been proven to not be what he said they were, but at the time they were very compelling. It is the same with the translation of the Book of Mormon. He received the plates in September 1827, and it was published in March 1830, yet the backdated narrative is that he translated them in 90 days. On top of that, he used his original seer stone he had been using for treasure hunting since 1822 to translate the majority of the book of Mormon while the plates were hidden elsewhere. He read one sentence at a time and could not move on until the scribe had written it correctly. Yet how many changes has the book of Mormon had since the original version? Still, it is the most correct book on the face of the earth? Changes are often brushed off as grammatical in nature, but there are several that imply actual doctrinal changes and clarifications. How many free passes does a man get before warranting a closer look?
SINCERELY stokerfam
TO ME: Your email is a bit aggressive, so I will respond in kind. In truth, a big question i have with your recent investigation is why did it take you until you were in your mid 30s? I was aware of this stuff as a missionary. In college much of this was discussed openly for anyone that signed up for an honors religion class. In graduate school i had to constantly defend the church from various professional and social criticisms. And the anti was rampant. The church doesn't hide any of this stuff for anyone interested. So when you say "warrants a closer look..." the only place you can point a finger at is back at yourself. I absolutely have given Joseph Smith a close look. Your attitude is that of a typical newb just exposed to something for the first time, looking around wondering why everyone else isn't as fired up as you. Well, everyone is at a different stage in their journey. In my case, I was exposed at 18 to what you have brought up, plus a lot more from Lance Richardson that you haven't even scratched the surface of. Now it's 21 years later! So who is late to the investigative party?! YOU! It's just nice that by age 36-37 you have finally matured enough to care about the details of the religion you have dedicated your family to. In my investigations, i determined that the sum total of evidence is in favor of the Book of Mormon originating from divine origin. A more detailed look at the translation timeline for the Book of Mormon actually puts the length closer to 60 days. However, even if Joseph took the full 3 years this would not change my mind. How do you explain Martin Harris's motive to mortgage, and ultimately sell part of, his farm to fund the printing of the BoM? Was he in on the charade? So he lost money on the deal and lost his wife, political office, and social standing in exchange for what? I bring Martin Harris up as part of the BoM proof, but also as a second witness that Joseph was party to angelic visits well before April 1830. The fact that Joseph was visited multiple times by angels, with other witnesses testifying to the same, suggests either a widespread charade, or truth. If it was all a charade, what was the motive of all these men? They certainly didn't gain money or prestige from association with Joseph. Yes there have been clarifications and changes to the Book of Mormon, some substantive. As a missionary I was invited into a home with 4 or 5 men. They pressed 'record' on their tape recorder and proceeded to grill me about every one of the substantial changes! Get off your high horse bro. It's about time you got exposed to this stuff and had to make the decision of your life. I would like you to apply the same standards of proof you require of Joseph Smith to Jesus Christ. You realize that the New Testament was pulled together many, many years after the death of Christ. A very straightforward reading of the 4 gospels demonstrates that the writers grew to understand the prophecies about Christ and then cherry-picked many experiences Christ had to demonstrate to readers the fulfillment of prophecy. (Matt. 1:22, Matt. 2:15... Just gave you 2 examples with in the first 2 chapters of New Testament!) If you condemn back-dating brother, then you have to throw out much of the New Testament!
In a previous email you stated you had experiences with the Holy Ghost. However, it is well established in the New Testament that the Holy Ghost is given by priesthood authority (John 20:22, Acts 8:15-19). So which is it for you? Did you get the Holy Ghost from someone else in authority? Are you remembering wrong? do you need to do some backdating to change your story? Or are you just saying you felt the Holy Ghost as a preparatory step to eventually receiving the gift (Acts 2:3-4, 37-38). If you felt a preparatory guidance of the Holy Ghost, then please share for maybe that was in the presence of someone who had power to bestow the full gift! SINCERELY DEER
submitted by stokerfam to exmormon