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 Mormonism.com and on his Facebook site (facebook.com/johnhajicek/). 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.