John Hajicek on the Hidden Sacrifices Behind the Printing of the Book of Mormon

One of the really remarkable friends of the Church is John Hajicek (pronounced “high-check,” I believe). John is an expert in documents and LDS history with vast resources of knowledge and treasures of documents and artifacts, with an abiding love of history. You can learn more about him at and on his Facebook site ( He shared the following post on Facebook, and kindly gave me permission to share it here. It’s a fascinating and painful reminder of the sacrifices that have been made to bring forth the printed record of the Book of Mormon. Something to ponder!


Book of Mormon. The greatest American grassroots work of literature,
and most compelling Christian tale printed in America. The sacrifice
was incalculable, and the book is priceless. The cotton-rag paper for
the first edition was made in the town of Manchester, in the same town
with the Hill Cumorah. The lead type was set one character at a time,
from a manuscript without punctuation. One thousand sheep gave their
lives for binding the first edition. But also, the printers of each of
the first three editions (Palmyra: 1830, Kirtland: 1837, Nauvoo: 1840)
gave their own lives so that you could read this book.

ink was made of oil and charcoal, and caused “black lung” and
tuberculosis among printers in the 1800s. (See James Alexander Miller,
“Pulmonary Tuberculosis Among Printers”, 1908; and Margaret Cairns and
Alice Stewart, “Pulmonary Tuberculosis Mortality in the Printing and
Shoemaking Trades”, 1951.)

1. E. B. Grandin, the printer of the
first edition Book of Mormon, was born in 1806, so he was 23 when he
began printing 1830 publication. He died in 1845 of “pneumonia” at age

2. Oliver Cowdery, the printer of the second edition Book of
Mormon was also born in 1806, so he was 30 years old when he undertook
to print the corrected edition of 1837. He died in 1850, at age 43, at
the Whitmer home in Richmond, Missouri. For years, he was coughing up
blood, diagnosed as “consumption” (pulmonary tuberculosis).

Nauvoo printers Don Carlos Smith and Robert B. Thompson both died in
August 1841 from tuberculosis after printing runs of the third edition
Book of Mormon, a revised version. “Consumption” is the cause given by
mother Lucy Mack Smith. Don Carlos was the youngest brother of Joseph
Smith Jr., born in the spring of 1816 (the year without a Vermont
summer), and so he died at only 25 years of age. Thompson was born in
England like John Taylor, emigrated to Toronto like John Taylor, and was
baptized alongside John Taylor in Toronto in 1836—he died at age 29
(John Taylor lived to be a half-century older).

Nobody has ever
told you what I tell you. Think about those young lives, if you think
that the Book of Mormon is too much work to read. This is why I bought
an original of one of these editions, when I was just a teenager—and I
still work to discover, acquire, preserve, and share exemplary copies of
these versions and other rare Mormon books from New England, New York,
and the Midwest.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

14 thoughts on “John Hajicek on the Hidden Sacrifices Behind the Printing of the Book of Mormon

  1. Good grief.

    Pretty much everything Hajicek says here about the Book of Mormon could also be said about The Last of the Mohicans or The Scarlet Letter or any other book printed in those days (except of course that The Scarlet Letter is a far more “compelling Christian tale” than the BoM).

    It’s also pretty silly to say that, because work like bookmaking involved health hazards that accumulated over time, the printing of a single book cost a printer his life. Meatpacking is also a hazardous occupation, but I doubt we’ll hear Hajicek haranguing anyone about how that one particular steak you’re eating cost some poor immigrant slaughterhouse worker his life — much less citing said sacrifice as evidence of the greatness of the steak!

    This is quite possibly the most ludicrous Mormanity post ever.

    — OK

  2. From a believer’s point of view, one could also assume from the evidence that there was a curse put on those who participated in its publication so that they all died early. Maybe it wasn’t God’s will after all. . .

    1. Excellent point, Anon 8:53. Some other kind of believer could interpret these completely unremarkable facts to mean something different, though equally ludicrous.

      At this point it’s just reading entrails.

      — OK

  3. Every time Jeff is cornered, he will resort to it is just faith even ignore canonized scripture.

    A person asked me the other day how Jeff responds to the fact that God's supposed statement to Joseph Smith that other religions "professors were all corrupt", I explained that Jeff dismisses this canon, falsely suggesting that it must be referring to just the local yokels around Joseph Smith at the time. The person said Jeff claiming that proves he is not a believer and just making everything up for sport.

  4. John's point is interesting and worth considering, but yes, lots of jobs are hazardous. I could add that we should be grateful for the subways we ride, the tall buildings we work in, and the roadways for drive on, for many lives may have been lost to make those possible. To recognize the solemn hazards of the printing profession is not to devalue all the others whose work involves serious risk, but few of us have understood that printing was such a hazardous business. And yes, John's point can and should encourage people to value the written word in general. But I appreciate his recognition of the unique treasure of the Book of Mormon, regardless of what one thinks of its origins.

  5. Off-topic Anon at 4:50, what?? I don't recall saying that the Lord's declaration only applied to those right around Joseph.

    The word corrupt can mean, per the 1828 Webster Dictionary, "infected with errors or mistakes" as in "The text is corrupt." That doesn't mean there isn't great good therein at the same time. Parts of the Bible, for example, are clearly corrupted due to missing or unintelligible content, but that does not mean that the rest of the text does not have sacred value. From the Lord's perspective, if the covenants of the Gospel have been altered or lost, if authority has been lost, if erroneous teachings like infant baptism have been introduced, shouldn't God be able to express His concerns over such loss? Good, Christ-loving people can at the same time be professors of some corrupt doctrines requiring correction.

    The real issue is not whether other religions have corrupt teachings and practices, but how we can best reduce our own corruption in our own lives, our practices, and our beliefs. The Restoration is still underway and what we do and teach may still have a long ways to go before the Lord can fully accept the Church, or, as President Nelson says, when the Lord comes again, will he recognize His Church?

  6. There you go again with your sport. Your playing dumb, that was the person's point about you. As you know, your false spin was not how "corrupt" was presented by God, nor interpreted by Mormons for over century.

    1. "Corrupt" was presented as "drawing near with their lips, far with the heart" which obviously is the opposite of the sincere dearly-held-though-errant spin you are presenting.

    2. Your redefinition of corrupt then would have Mormons also corrupt because you have declared Mormons full of dearly-held-though-errant believes.

    3 "shouldn't God be able to express His concerns over such loss" Strawman. You are the only one claiming God was merely expressing concern in this episode. That was the person's point about you, because he as an elderly ex-Mormon says you can lie only all you want, but he KNOWS what Mormons were taught. This is something you have been caught red handed in many times, for example pretending you taught your own children that Joseph Smith "translated" the BoM with a rock in a hat, when everyone knows Mormons did not previously (or currently?) teach this to their Children.

    4. "The real issue is not whether other religions have corrupt teachings and practices, but how we can best reduce our own corruption in our own lives" NOw you are agreeing with the "critics"

    5 "Restoration is still underway" This contradicts all the missionaries at which insist over and over that the FULLNESS of the gospel is incorporated in the Mormon church. They insist just because we do not have the answers to trivial items like evolution, etc, and will yet learn more, doesn't mean the restoration is incomplete.

    6 "when the Lord comes again, will he recognize His Church?" We know that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young would not recognize it as it is today.

    Other topics

    1 " if the covenants of the Gospel have been altered or lost" Mormons always say lost covenants without explanation. What covenants?> That was Hyrum Smith's original argument to JS and Oliver Cowdery when they first invited him to be baptized in their new church, that he (Hyrum) already covenanted with God when he got baptized Presbyterian, and to do it again would be like saying he was insincere in the first time he covenanted with God.

    2. Not only was the the later invention of improper authority not original used with Hyrum Smith, it violates the assertion that God is no respecter of persons.

    3. The idea that I need anyone's permission to make a covenant with them is absurd. I can covenant to quit calling Jeff anti-Christian no matter how hatefully Jeff chooses to behave without authority from Jeff to do so. If Jeff and I come to a mutual agreement, that he will cease his hateful behavior of calling others anti-Mormon and I will quite calling him anti-Christian that is perfectly fine, but if Jeff only makes such mutual agreements with people because of who they are related to, then he is a respecter of persons.

  7. Yep, the above proves Jeff is just playing. Like Jeremy Runnels Stake President, he spits on his covenants with God and makes them a thing of dross and naught. If the Mormon version of heaven exist, then Jeff and Jeremy's Stake President will be required to personally apologize for their behavior for admittance into heaven.

  8. Jeff – Thanks for finally clarifying above. Professors = text and all = hyperbole for some. When did you receive this divinely inspired revelation of revelation given to JS and can you hunt down some official references for us?

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