Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bigfoot = Sasquatch = Cain?

I'm preparing for my Sunday School lesson and one of the things that immediately struck me was that we talk about Cain and Abel this week.  I typically just look over the lesson, get a basic idea of the doctrines presented, scriptures needed, stories told to emphasize the points, etc.  This week Cain stood out to me on first glance.  There's some interesting things that can be done with him and his sin.

When I was younger I heard a story where someone actually claimed to have met Cain.  Now that is interesting, and I wanted to find it again.  My first source was the Miracle of Forgiveness by President Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 127-128.  I knew this book had the basic quote about it.  This was good, but wasn't good enough.  I wanted the source.  Thankfully President Kimball put a reference to his source, and a few clicks on the internet brought me right to the actual book itself.  I love technology.  The PDF was downloaded and now I can read the whole chapter where the quote was pulled from; context is important.

The source of President Kimball's quote is David W. Patten as told by Abraham O. Smoot (the father of Reed Smoot).  David W. Patten is the apostle that was killed at the Battle of Crooked River in Missouri on October 25, 1838.  The Prophet Joseph Smith called Brother Patten the first martyr of this dispensation.  As a side note, it is this battle that "inspired" then Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs to issue the now infamous "Extermination Order" against all Mormons living in Missouri.

Lycurgus A. Wilson wrote a book entitled, The Life of David W. Patten.  It was apparently first published in 1900, by Deseret Book.  There is a letter at the beginning of the book addressed "To the Reader" from President Lorenzo Snow talking about a few of his memories of Brother Patten.  I point this out only so that we can assume that the source is legitimate.  Chapter 5 of this book has the following story.  I quote the letter from this chapter as found on pages 45-47.

Mr. Patten was living in Tennessee, near the town of Paris, with the step-father and mother of Abraham O. Smoot (1815-1895).  This was Brother Patten's second mission to the state.  Before the death of A.O. Smoot, Joseph F. Smith inquired of him about this specific event, and the following letter was written, addressed to President Smith (a member of the First Presidency of the Church; therefore, the title of 'President' is appropriate.)

President Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City :

     Dear Brother:  -  In relation to the subject of the visit of Cain to Brother David W. Patten in the State of Tennessee, about which you wrote to me, I will say that according to the best of my recollection it was in the month of September, 1835.

     It was in the evening, just twilight, when Brother Patten rode up to my father's house, alighted from his mule and came into the house.  The family immediately observed that his countenance was quite changed.  My mother having first noticed his changed appearance said:  "Brother Patten, are you sick?"  He replied that he was not, but had just met with a very remarkable personage who had represented himself as being Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel.  He went on to tell the circumstances as near as I can recall in the following language:
"As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me.  He walked along beside me for about two miles.  His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle.  He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair.  His skin was very dark.  I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro.  He said he was a very miserable creature that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men.  About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight.  When he left me I found myself near your house."
     There was much conversation about the circumstances between Brother Patten and my family which I don't recall, but the above is in substance his statement to us at the time.  The date is, to the best of my recollection, and I think it is correct, but it may possibly have been in the spring of 1836, but I feel quite positive that the former date is right.

     Hoping the above will be satisfactory to you and answer your purpose, I am with the kindest regards, as ever,

                                        Your friend and Brother,
                                                            A. O. Smoot

The book's author does take issue with the date, and says that it was in the spring of 1836.  Other than that minor detail, the author doesn't correct or embelish any of it.  It stands on its own for review.

I don't know exactly what to make of this description.  Does this mean that Cain is the mythical Bigfoot that we've been searching for?  Sasquatch killed Abel?  This hairy beast, a devil of a man, has been living for ... a long time running around naked trying to destroy the souls of men?  Maybe.  That is essentially what the scriptures tell us about him.  Maybe this was just some wild man living in the wilderness of Tennessee that had long hair, stood a good 8 feet or so tall and kept up for a couple of miles with a walking mule.  Oh, and he had dark skin.

Whatever or whomever it was, the story was interesting.  I won't quote the scriptures from Genesis or Moses about him.  I'll leave that as an exercise for the interested reader (Genesis 4; Moses 5).

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