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This publication is suitable for readers of sixteen years and above. The storyline contains first hand reported accounts of sexual practices such as onanism, adultery, and fornication. To present the full unrestricted horrors endured by the innocent and the self-deluded the unforgettable details of claimed demonic encounters require investigation and presentation. If you have a genuine fear or even a concern regarding the reality of possible demonic possession or communications, please do not read this book, as we present detailed evidence showing the claimed battle between the forces of both good and evil spirit entities.
If you suffer from depression, mental ill health, or if you are currently on medication which affects your ability to correlate information rationally, please do not read this book!
If you are thinking of leaving or investigating the L.D.S. Church, then this book may be of some interest to you as it presents difficult to find information which you may find of some interest. This book is not interested in either promoting or demoting any church, religion, or organization. The prime objective is to present a balanced presentation on a story embedded within the pages of recorded modern history for almost two hundred years.
Out of necessity the brutality of violence, death, and destruction are contained within the pages of this book. Please do not read this book if details of violence and persecution upset or adversely affect you. This disclaimer warning is intended to promote honesty and full disclosure regarding potential information which some may find disturbing!
Synopsis & Prologue.
Within the pages of this book, you will find disturbing evidence for claimed evil spirits or demonic possession! The first official miracle of the L.D.S. Church (Mormons) involved evil spirits or claimed demonic possession.
No religious viewpoint, or intention to represent any proselyting into Church, organization, or lifestyle is intended or presented in this book. This book contains the unforgettable, emotional, melodrama involving SOJOURNER-TRUTH, MATTHIAS, JOSEPH SMITH and many of their close friends.
We present the unique connections between Robert Matthews (Prophet Matthias) and the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. Surprisingly, Prophet Matthias continually claimed to be able to know the difference between good, and evil spirits: he even said that he could control them!
You are about to read a story which gives you the opportunity to experience the emotions of love and lust, as you glimpse into the corruption of real bodies, minds, and spirits. The manuscript is perfect for readers who enjoy a true story. Additionally, college and university students will find facts presented in a readable, enjoyable manner, with all of the required historical references thoroughly presented. The book is a foundation for study, debate, and end of term essays involving Sojourner-Truth and her New York years. If you are interested in Sojourner-Truth, then we have endeavored to record her actions and words alongside those of her companions. She was a woman who had much to say about her New York Years. She was searching for a better way of life; she wanted freedom and justice. Sojourner-Truth was a Christian light shining in the darkness of wealth, immorality, and delusion within the Zion or New Jerusalem which Prophet Matthias was attempting to build. Within this book, we read Sojourner-Truth‘s record of her time with the wealthy and powerful members of New York Society. Additionally, we elaborate on what Margaret Matthews, the legal wife of Prophet Matthias, had to say about Sojourner-Truth
The complete original work has 44 Chapters, revealing the life story’s of the Folger and Pierson families: as they interconnect with Sojourner-Truth and Prophet Matthias. Interestingly the interconnection between the families dramatically spins out of control, as they struggle with the realities of exposure from interested neighbors: family, friends and the long arm of the law!
This true story is full of mystery, sadness and surprising sexual immorality as a daughter: wife, and husband; the young and old, wealthy and poor all engage in sexual behavior more becoming of the prostitutes of the Five Points, than the respected members of New York Society!
You may be interested in Joseph Smith or Matthias who both claimed to be prophets of God: during the period of the Second Great Awakening in and around New York. Perhaps you are wondering why these two prophets had so many of the same teachings and doctrines. The unique connections between them present challenging questions! Maybe you would like to know which Prophet was the trailblazer. One believed that he could walk on water: then in his attempt to perform this miracle, almost killed himself! Interestingly we examine the violence which was perpetrated upon these two prophets as they endeavored to proselyte their doctrines. Eventually, they would meet up for a three-day conference, and this was no casual meeting between men or friends, as both religious leaders claimed to be prophets: this was genuinely the clash of the prophets!
Unlike most other books we tell the full, true story of Robert Matthews and his band of ‘Dupes.’ We journey with him from his youth into manhood then experience his transformation from man into Prophet and learn why he is called Prophet Matthias!
Surprisingly you will find challenging evidence showing the real possibilities of demonic possession, as claimed by the afflicted persons involved, or those who witnessed these events unfold! We shall examine the original historical records as we consider the continued struggle between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness. Interestingly these real life-changing experiences were endured, even possibly enjoyed!
In this shocking, never to be forgotten, reading experience, I will present the different viewpoints of real people who lived and experienced the effects of walking in the shadows of men, who claimed to be living Prophets of God!
SOJOURNER-TRUTH: There are curious connections. Prophet Matthias called himself the spirit of truth. When he and Isabella eventually parted company she, after experiencing an epiphany, began calling herself Sojourner-Truth.
THE MORMON PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH. If you are an active member of the L.D.S. church or a Mormon in transition, then perhaps you, like me have wondered why the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith shared information on his First vision with the notorious expelled and rejected Prophet Matthias, formally named Robert Matthews. As a Mormon, perhaps you need to understand more about the first claimed miracle of the Mormon Church, which surprisingly was the casting out of declared demonic spirit entities.
Inside this book, we explore the lives of the pure in heart and the self-deluded; their story is interesting as we can learn many valuable, helpful lessons regarding the importance of honesty in communication, as opposed to self-delusion through religious fanaticism
Informatively the official position of the L.D.S. Church confirms Prophet Matthias as the contemporary of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. In this shocking story, we find similarities in doctrines, actions, and communications.
As a faithful Mormon or a Mormon in transition, the chances are that you have questions which require answers. As you read this book, the curious connections between the two American Prophets are exposed for consideration, investigation, and debate. There are unusual connections between Joseph Smith and Prophet Matthias, together they walked and talked with each other. I present the facts and the curiosities.
Additionally, this book exposes the full unrestricted connections between Sojourner-Truth and Prophet Matthias from a variety of historical reports. All the facts are presented in a storyline readable formate. We trust that you will enjoy your reading adventure.
Title Page Copyright © Michael Wilkins 2018
The right of Michael Wilkins to be identified as the Author of this work has been assured by him in agreement with the Copyright, Designs Act 1988. The pen name of Mike Wilkins asserts his moral right as the author of this work. All rights are reserved. All text and artwork including front, side and back covers, along with all chapters, index and acknowledgments are copyrighted under the full protection of the law. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of any organization, church, or religious viewpoint. Every point of the storyline within this melodrama involves real persons who have left their indelible mark within the annals of American recorded history. All files have been registered, marked and listed with individual numbers. The full index is located at the rear of the work.
E-Book Product Account Number: D.T.S.B.-20-03-2018-S.B.V5.
FREE AUTHORIZED CHAPTERS.
Occasionally, if we are at the right place at the right time, we can experience events which emotionally inspire us. These memories tend to stay with us; they help mold our character, or even change our lives! They can help us face new and exciting challenges, or they can force us to retreat into a world of isolation, and despair. Life-changing events tend to happen when we least expect them; perhaps we meet a stranger then fall in love, or maybe we find ourselves challenged with the news of family bereavement. Whatever the emotion experienced; whether happy, or sad, good or bad, right or wrong, lucky or unlucky, the outcome remains the same: we are all human, and we interact with each other emotionally; physically and spiritually, after experiencing these events.
If you, as the careful reader, are looking at or thinking about reading this book, perhaps you also are on the verge of one of these life-changing events! Within the chapters of this book, you will find challenging evidence showing the real possibilities of demonic possession within the struggles of the Christian faith. The lives of the pure in heart and the self-deluded are investigated from original hard to find historical records; showing the battle between the forces of good and evil! These accounts take us from the war-torn Europe of the 16th Century to the Second Great Awakening on the American frontier.
We will investigate the full story of the notorious Prophet Matthias from the second great awakening in 19th Century. Additionally, we shall present the Prophet Matthias of the 16th Century; who like the infamous Prophet Matthias from the 19th Century; experienced similarities which are shocking and unforgettable! We shall investigate, present, and examine all the evidence; as fact is a lot stranger, and more challenging than fiction! These coincidences are spectacularly alarming, due to the possible existence of demonic evil spirits, interfering in the lives of real men and women!
Christians, Jews, and Moslems, along with all religious faiths, and organizations acknowledge the existence of right and wrong, God and the Devil; as it is impossible to believe in a God, or spiritual, heavenly entities, without accepting the reality of evil spirits, or the Devil. The acceptance of evil spirits, or the Devil; does not mean that a person believes in following them. For a person to believe in a God, or a supreme divine power requires the existence of faith; it is the power of this religion which enables the same individual to accept the reality of both good and evil spirits.
We shall examine the evidence from within historical documents: within these documents we shall read the reports on Prophet Matthias, and his murderous sexual immorality around the city of Munster. As we gather information, we shall correlate this information via the use of reference numbers. This information is a foundation for the main story between the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith: and the convicted notorious Prophet Matthias: (a.k.a. Robert Matthews.) The main story is full of shocking surprises, involving Sojourner-Truth: and many other famous characters from the American frontier.
Surprisingly this is not another boring history book full of dates! We have the unforgettable investigation into the lives of people, who were adversely affected by men, who claimed to know the difference between demonic and heavenly spirit entities!
Contained within the pages of this book are the shocking details of death, destruction, and sexual immorality, as three claimed prophets attempt to establish their Zions in the hearts and mind of their converts! The three men who claim to be prophets are.
The Matthias of the 16th century flourished in a time of changing religious ideas, and dogma. The reformation is in its evolution; with the translated Bible causing the traditional Roman Catholic Christian church to struggle, and fight for its survival!
In parallel to this, in the 1800’s we see a revolution in the newly-formed American constitution. Entering the fray is Matthias of the 19th century, bringing with him ideas and religious mania! Within the Norfolk Advertiser dated Saturday 27th December 1834, we read a most interesting newspaper article talking about the Prophet Matthias in New York City. We read under the title of ‘Matthias the Prophet’ the following. ‘Those who have heard of the fanatic knavery of this wretch pretending to wield the sword of Gideon will be surprised that just three hundred years ago a fellow by the same name assumed similar preternatural power and imposed upon the incredulous. It presents a curious coincidence. Matthias, who has excited so much attention in this community for a few months past, is not without a prototype in history. There are some striking coincidences between him and the person whom we are about to quote, which will not fail to arrest the attention of the reader.’ (Ref: 95)
We have just read information about two prophets; having the same name, living half a world away from each other, with three hundred years separating them! Interestingly the New York newspaper is claiming a potential connection between these two prophets. So could there be a connection, or is this just a wild claim to sell more newspapers!
Proselytising for converts, all three prophets have made wild claims regarding their visions, doctrines, and communications with spirit entities from heavenly realms. Undaunted each prophet has a lot to say regarding celestial and demonic spirit entities. Searching for answers, we start our story with Prophet Matthias, Sojourner-Truth, and the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith.
Finally, welcome to chapter one, I trust that you will enjoy your reading adventure.
The Early Years.
Please remember, all newspaper and historical documents are presented in their original format in a bold blue-print, with no corrections for spelling or grammar.
From the horrors of war to the joys of peace and prosperity; historians have endeavored to write each event as they unfold. History recalls significant events involving nations and continents; it records their expansion into societies along with their demises. History also tells us about natural disasters of all kinds, ranging from great earthquakes to interstellar collisions of heavenly bodies. History is all around us we cannot escape it; we are part of it each day that we live and breathe. History also continues long after we are dead, and our actions on this earth will either bless or curse the lives of those family members or nations that remember our deeds. One Viking war prayer talks of our lives and the eternities: part of the prayer reads. ‘Lo, there do I see my father. Lo, there do I see my mother. Lo, there do I see my brothers and my sisters. Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me; they bid me take my place among them in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever.’ The Vikings taught that their actions upon this earth would echo down throughout the eternities. In many ways, we are also like the Vikings as many of us believe in the afterlife, along with believing in the importance of leaving an account of our actions within diaries and family records such as photographs.
Another way of keeping records while upon this earth is via the newspapers; where we record births, marriages, and deaths. So what do the historical documents tell us of the man called Robert Matthews? If we lived in the early half of the 19th Century; we would be very familiar with Robert Matthews or the Prophet Matthias. The newspapers were full of his adventures, and activities however for the most part, in today’s modern world, we have forgotten all about this intriguing man: in one paper we read. ‘Matthias and his dupes have long since taken their place in the silent world, and the very story of the imposter has faded from general recollection and knowledge.’ (Ref: 114)
Interestingly who was this man and what made him so memorable in his day? Let us start by looking at a few small newspaper quotes regarding what appears to be a fascinating house-guest who wants to talk with the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith.
In all newspaper quotes I will use the exact spelling and grammar as presented in the papers of the day: also I will use bold and blue print. In the Alexander Gazette dated the 14th September 1835, we read that Matthias is ‘sixteen miles from Harrisburg preaching to an assembly of Dunkards, a sect inhabiting that part of Pennsylvania. The Dunkards are famous for their inoffensive manner and their long beards, and we should judge that they are just the people to be influenced by so cunning a rascal as Matthias.’
Moving on from the Dunkards we then read in the same paper ‘Let him go among the Mormons, there he will find ready listeners and unfaltering believers.’ (Ref: 39)
Surprisingly Robert Matthews has a reputation: the same paper then continues by saying. ‘Give him, but the privilege of locomotion, and freedom of speech, and he will gather new wondering worshipers around him, and obtain crowds of new followers.’
In the month of November 1835, many of the newspapers throughout the USA reported the information: ‘Matthias the Prophet is not dead, but gone to Ohio to join the Mormons.’ As presented, we learn two interesting facts; firstly the newspapers are calling Robert Matthews, Matthias the Prophet, and secondly, they are announcing that he is not dead indicating that he may have been dead! (Ref: 50)
Curiously the American population was very aware of Robert Matthews, or Prophet Matthias. In this book, we shall rediscover the story that made Robert Matthews or Prophet Matthias so notorious! In the Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics dated the 7th November 1835 we read; ‘Matthias, alias the Prophet has, it is said, reached the land of the Mormons in Ohio, where his doctrines meet with general favor.’ (Ref: 42)
Surprisingly as we shall discover, these statements were incorrect in their assumptions. In hindsight, throughout America the interest regarding Matthias was extraordinary; many citizens found his adventures, and activities intriguing, and disgusting: for example, we read. ‘Matthias, the Prophet was traveling in Virginia at the last accounts, with a beard so long that it frightened the natives. We should like to know how he squared accounts with Jo Smith.’ (Ref: 153)
The purpose of this investigation is to present facts from history, showing the many so-called curious coincidences between two American Prophets: Joseph Smith and Matthias. Our study will extend hundreds of years back into the annals of history; before the arrival of Matthias, and Joseph Smith. Here we will examine evidence, which presents dramatic similarities between Matthias and his actions in the 19th century; to similar historical events halfway around the world, hundreds of years previously! Shockingly this evidence presents the possibility of Demonic entities communicating, or even interfering in human affairs!
There is a famous saying which informs us; ‘fact is stranger than fiction.’ By the end of this work, the careful reader may choose to ponder the question regarding the existence of both a God and a devil.
If we so desire we can opt to ignore history; however as all wise men and women know; if we choose this option, then we normally do so at our peril!
Under the title of ‘Two of a trade can never agree’ we read the following; ‘Matthias the imposter has made a visit to the temple of the Latter Dayites, the followers of the equally famous Joe Smith. After a conference of two days, the Prophets departed, each declaring that he had miraculously discovered a Devil in the other!’ (Ref: 41)
Questionably who was this so-called Prophet Matthias, and why was he worthy of such an announcement in the newspapers? Was this going to be the clash of the prophets, which would sell more papers, or could there be more to this announcement! Within one article, we read; ‘we have no fear that the Mormons will swallow up all other sects…….. A Joe Smith, a prophet of the Mormons, found a greater prophet than himself in Matthias the Prophet of the retrenchment men.’ (Ref: 157)
You as the careful reader are about to uncover a fascinating story full of mystery; madness, and sadness, which as we shall discover, has a deep dark history behind it. Prepare to witness a most unusual set of circumstances as recorded by those who experienced and endured walking under the long shadows of men, who claimed to be Prophets of God!
The story starts off with this man introducing himself as ‘Joshua, the Jewish Minister.’ Understandably it is safe to say that Joshua the Jewish Minister was born as a result of the religious excitement which prevailed in this location. In November 1835 we know Joseph Smith had a two-day houseguest in the form of Robert Matthews: who used a variety of names, including Joshua the Jewish Minister.
By way of information, I will use his given name Robert Matthews from his birth, up until the first time that we have a record showing his name as Prophet Matthias: then I shall switch Robert to his chosen name of Prophet Matthias. I will not use any of his other aliases of which he had many!
Robert Matthews was born in 1778 into a poor honest family. In the American Advocate, we have a statement from Robert informing us that he ‘was born in Cambridge, Washington County, State of New York.’ (Ref: 51) As stated by Robert, he came from Scottish ancestors. With the death of his mother and father at the age of seven; he found himself living in the town of Cambridge, Washington in the home of Mr. John Maxwell, a respectable farmer who was also an elder in the Associate Church. (Ref: MW 5)
Hard work and Church went hand in hand with this young boy. As he grew up, Robert started to experience the harsh realities of life with the death of both his natural parents. We know Robert received a blessing by the hands of a visiting preacher: we read. ‘The Rev Mr. Bevridge who was visiting the family after the manner of the Church, and being pleased with Robert, put his hand on his head, when a boy, and pronounced a blessing.’
Surprisingly Robert after this blessing felt that he was to be a distinguished man. (Ref: N37) A good example of this is when Robert recalled his memoirs under his nom-de-plume Matthias in the New York Journal: he said, talking about his school days, that ‘he conceived himself to be in possession of divine powers at the age of eight or nine.’ (Ref: 25)
Robert attended the local school in the neighborhood of Hebron, Washington County: and at the age of eight or nine started to stand out from the rest of his schoolmates. One early incident happened when the school children received gifts of fruit and confectionery. After each child had received their fair share, they were free from studies of the day; and the afternoon was theirs to enjoy with pockets full of fruit and confectionery. Not satisfied with his fair share Robert proceeds to approach each classmate demanding they give him their share of the bounty. The response is negative; no classmate will succumb to his demands. Not satisfied with the outcome Robert decides to increase the pressure on his classmates: he tells them if they do not comply with his demands that he will ‘make the man of the thunder speak’ to them. With laughter and scorn, his classmates demand to know; ‘where this man of thunder was?’
Robert, refusing to back down, and without hesitation; looks towards the black clouds, and boldly points to the sky saying: ‘there he is I will make him speak in a few minutes!’ The classmates continue their mocking, and refuse to give in to his demands, then out of the darkness of the storm clouds comes a flash of lightning, and a crash of thunder. Taking advantage of this natural occurrence, and with Robert not wishing to lose his control, he continues to build up the pressure on his young classmates, by saying ‘do you know the man of thunder?’ There is no record of any response, however, what we do know is that Robert continued pressing his advantage by saying the man of thunder was his uncle! His classmates were terrified, the man of thunder had spoken, and astonishingly; this man of thunder was Robert’s so-called uncle. Standing his ground, he wins and eventually, the classmates handed over their bounty to the fear monger Robert! From this point on Robert had changed. He had a real attitude of ‘Supreme divine powers, and he would bark orders and commands at his classmates.’ (Ref: 25)
He has learned how to manipulate, and deceive for his own gain. For Robert, school was starting to prepare him for even bigger and more extreme examples of manipulation, and he is starting to express himself in his independent manner.
At the age of fourteen Robert’s surrogate parents Mr. & Mrs. John Maxwell; wanted to send him into the world as an apprentice cordwainer. A cordwainer is a cobbler or shoemaker who makes excellent soft leather shoes, and other luxury footwear articles.
In defiance of his surrogate parents, Robert refused to work as an apprentice cordwainer. Two years later he decided that he wanted to work with wood. At the age of 16, he apprenticed himself to a local carpenter. There is a small discrepancy regarding the age at which Robert commenced his apprenticeship: according to his wife, Robert started work as a carpenter at the age of eighteen. Once asked as to why he became a carpenter; Robert responded by saying that it was the ‘only calling that been adopted by a supreme being.’ (Ref: N37) Apparently, Robert took the viewpoint that if it were acceptable for Jesus Christ to be a carpenter, then it would be acceptable for him to be one also!
While working as a carpenter, and with the experience of being brought up a farmer, he learned the principal of hard work at a tender age. Surprisingly Robert did not finish his chosen apprenticeship, as city life was beckoning him! Before we leave for the big city, and the adventures that lay in wait, we should take a few moments to look at some of the Presbyterian religious doctrines that the young Robert received during his formative years. Most Presbyterian organizations can retrace their roots back to Scotland; when the Acts of Union in 1707 created The Kingdom of Great Britain. (Ref: 27)
Within this law, and within the Kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland ensured Presbyterian Church Government. Moving further back in time to August 1560, we find the Scottish Parliament adopted the Protestant confession of faith as the creed of the Scottish Kingdom. Over time the different denominations of the Presbyterian faith have evolved producing localized doctrines and methods of worship. Scottish and Irish immigrants took most Presbyterian denominations to North America. The general understanding of the word Presbyterian translates from the Greek word ‘PRESBYTEROS’ which means ‘Elder.’ (Ref: 80)
The Presbyterian Elders of the Associate church influenced Robert. The office of Elder within the Presbyterian government is vital; they have a variety of responsibilities: they are specially ordained non-clergy, who are responsible for all decisions required within the community. Other offices such as Deacon and Pastor are appointed to work together within the community. Once a person is ordained to the office of Elder, Deacon or Pastor that person retains the position for the rest of their life, while actively engaged within the Presbyterian community. Growing from youth into manhood for Robert Matthews is both surprising and challenging. For now, he must follow his promptings, and move from village life in Washington County; to city living in New York. Arriving in New York; we find Robert working as a journeyman, the term Journeyman referring to, a skilled worker who practices some trade or handicraft. The year is 1805, and Robert is now 28 years of age. While in New York he once again renews his acquaintance with Margaret Wright who was a woman of charm, and beauty from a good respectable family: she informs us. ‘I had never heard anyone speak ill of him. I knew him to be strictly temperate, careful in his observance of the Sabbath and regular in his attendance of the Associate Church, of which he became a member.’ (Ref: mw6)
Approaching middle age, Robert is the epitome of respectability: he has started to spread his wings within his employment and religious life. Although he had an air of respectability: Robert Matthews never stayed long with any given employer; he had a reputation for being overbearing towards his fellow workers. Robert was trying to treat his fellow workmates in the same way as his school classmates: which resulted in him struggling to fit in with his peers yet again.
We are now in the year of 1810: and after a few years working in New York, Robert was able to save funds which enabled him to return to Cambridge and start a business as a country merchant.
Interestingly with Robert things are never quite as they seem, as we have another version of the story to look at, which after consideration, may appear more believable.
The second version recounted began with Robert working as a carpenter, then with the passing of his ‘uncle Robert Thompson’ he ‘obtained property, and then went into business as a storekeeper.’ (Ref: N37)
Robert did receive funds from his uncle Robert Thompson; however romantic storytelling has weaved its magic! He has been portrayed as a self-made man, forging his way in the wilderness of a brave new world, and this has become the story to which most people subscribe! Whichever version of events you believe, the outcome is still the same: Robert is single, and a proprietor of a small business.
While attending to his business or working activities in Cambridge; he was most particularly noted for the manner in which he dressed; consequently he was often viewed as being vain! Life appears to be good for him; all he requires to complete the picture is a wife and family.
Two years after setting up his mercantile business and while collecting stock items, Robert solicited Margaret’s hand in marriage, after which he obtained consent to the union from her parents; who were also in the mercantile business. Robert and Margaret in the year of 1813 were married. Margaret said: ‘by the Rev Hamilton, the pastor of a Church in Nassau Street; after which, myself and my brother returned with him to Cambridge.’ (Ref: mw6)
For the next three years, Robert and his wife Margaret worked hard together building up their business. Around 1814 they decide to build a large extension onto their small country mercantile store. In 1815 ‘the building expansion was disastrous, the funding dried up, and the business failed.’ (Ref: C20)
Finding themselves destitute and in dire need of a new direction: with his dreams of business enterprise shattered: Robert and his family once again turn their attentions towards the big city of New York. Traveling together, they arrive and settle down in the Manhattan area.
At 38 years of age, Robert is working for Mr. Burroughts of Canal Street. The year is now 1815, and he has acquired the name of ‘Jumping Jesus’ due to his disposition of being quiet one moment: then without warning flying into a rage of anger, pushing his opinions on religion, and his understandings of its doctrine, onto his co-workers. (Ref: 25)
New York City has not been the success that Robert desired, he has moved from job to job upsetting and annoying his workmates. Roberts disillusion with city life is upsetting for his family; this is possibly due to his lack of success trying to manipulate his fellow workmates, or perhaps it’s Robert that has started to change! While reflecting on this period of their life together; Margaret informs us of her viewpoint, we read. ‘In 1815, in consequence of his failure in business there, we returned to New York. He immediately after commenced working at the carpenter’s trade, and was then said to be a good and faithful workman’.
Robert and Margaret over the next three years endured many trials and tribulations; during which period she informs us that Robert ‘had been a kind and affectionate husband, attentive to his family.’ Although Margaret has fond memories of the time spent in New York: it was also tinged with much sadness. While in New York; Robert and Margaret experience the death of two sons, which happened in the years 1815, and 1818. After these tragic deaths, Margaret for the first time indicates that something may be wrong with her husband. From this point onwards, unfortunately for Margaret, she is about to learn more about the dark, wild side of life.
In 1825 all the family was suffering from smallpox; after which sadly another son died. Margaret informs us that her son’s ‘sufferings were extreme for about thirteen days, with Mr. M. appearing to feel but little for anyone saves himself; although after his child’s death, he remarked, that my faithfulness and unwearied attention to little George, he should never forget. I told him that if I were able, I would do the same for him or any other member of the family; but he did not seem to remember it long; for happening to offend him a short time afterward, he chastised me with his favorite weapon, which he called a rawhide.’
Almost as a side note to her life’s story, Margaret informs us about the first time that she saw the rawhide, she said. ‘I well recollect the night he first brought home the rawhide the ordinary chastisement was 5 or 6 strokes up to 10 or 12.’ (Ref: mw11)
Interestingly Margaret also tells us, Robert has what she calls; ‘his strange monthly turns, but few of what I now know maybe the trials of a married life.’ (Ref: mw7)
The implications of these words point us to conclude that Robert was highly active in his marital bed. It appears that he did not like any times when these sexual activities were stopped or restricted, due to the course of nature each month, in most women. These so-called turns that afflicted Robert must have been significant, or else why would Margaret have reported them! From the records, this is the earliest of Robert’s misunderstandings of the opposite sex. The restriction of sexual activity each month, are part of Roberts degrading views on the females within his life. In yet another incriminating statement, Margaret reiterates the position clearly regarding Roberts feelings each month. We read; ‘and these spells of enthusiasms and fits of insanity, occurred every month, at which period, whatever happened to displease him, I was in his opinion the whole cause of it.’ (Ref: MW 11)
Interestingly, in 1819 Robert was sick for some months. We do not know what kind of sickness he suffered: however we do know the inability to work would have produced difficult times within the family. After his sickness, Margaret tells us, ‘we left the city for the country and found as we had anticipated a change of air truly beneficial to him.’ (Ref: MW7)
Moving out of New York with his family, Robert finds himself traveling towards Argyle where his brother George is living with his family. The time spent with his brother is not a successful, happy one, and like roaming gypsies, they continue their search for a new home. From 1819 to 1824 Robert and Margaret have five homes at different locations.
|1819||New York City.|
|1819||Moved from New York City to Argyle, the family lived at Anthony Street.|
|1821||Moved from Argyle to Fort Miller.|
|1824||Moved from Fort Miller to Sandy Hill, April of 1824.|
|1824||Robert moved from Sandy Hill to Albany, June of 1824.
Margaret moved to Albany in the fall of 1824.
The Argyle Period 1819 to 1825:
Living in Anthony Street Argyle was a challenging time for the Matthews family. Married for seven years, Margaret has started to experience personal and family challenges while living as wife to Robert and mother to his children. In Argyle, Robert begins to attend the African Church. Upon his return from this church, his interest in religion has changed, as he informed Margaret; ‘it was the first time that he had ever seen the spirit of religion.’ (Ref: mw8) The change in Robert should not be dismissed or ignored: Unfortunately for him, this will be one of many moral crossroads that he will soon encounter, some of which will result in utter misery and condemnation for all concerned!
Interestingly Margaret recognized the significance of this event. She informs us of her feelings regarding Robert and his connections with the religious opportunities, which seem to present themselves with ever-increasing intensity and regularity. In Margaret’s words, we read; ‘He now began to have more and more of his strange notions of religion. He said the Methodist was the purest church.’ Roberts’s ideas of religion included his fascination with the Jewish traditions and beliefs. Repeatedly Robert ‘inquired of me (Margaret) if I did not believe that he (Robert) was a Jew I replied, no. He said anyone that had seen his grandmother would know that she was a Jew, for she had the spirit of prophecy, and at her death, it rested upon him, for she blessed him on her dying bed. I enquired of him why the spirit of prophecy did not show itself. He said our Saviour had worked at his trade till he was forty years of age, and thus it will be with me.’ (Ref: mw9)
Surprisingly this is a critical point to remember, as in later years the Jewish connection will become a major part of Roberts’s life: however, for now, it is only like a mustard seed, planted, watered, and ready to start growing!
Sadly many hardships befell the struggling Matthews family as they attempted to settle in Argyle. Robert experienced recurring ill health, while Margaret suffered ever-increasing violence and challenges from within the walls of her rented home at Anthony Street. Unfortunately, the violence experienced by Margaret at the hand of her husband started after he attended the African church in Anthony Street. Curiously as he matures, Roberts’s interest in Judaism continues to grow stronger.
Above you will see a drawing of Mr. Mordecai M. Noah from the inside cover of his book published in 1819. Robert Matthews or Prophet Matthias, as he will soon evolve into had a real interest in the words and actions of Mr. Mordecai M. Noah, and his Jewish connections!
Wisely we should not ignore the direct and indirect connections that influenced Robert during his Jewish religious period in Argyle; during 1819 through to Albany in 1831. Turning to the words of Margaret Matthews; we read. ‘He said he intended to make a model of Solomon’s Temple, and dwelt on it much. His idea of being a Jew, and of making a model of the temple, I believe, were gathered from Mr. Noah’s proclaiming himself to be King of the Jews. These schemes please him very much. He wanted to go and join Noah in his new city of Ararat and said Noah could not get along without him. He continued possessed with this idea for a long time. Whether Mr. Noah failed for want of my husband I do not say.’ (Ref: mw9)
The idea implanted within Roberts mind is clear: and the establishment of the New Jerusalem is paramount. In his mind, he was the chosen one; the sole and absolute ruler of this kingdom. He genuinely believed that his admiring followers would bring all their riches and wealth of this world and lay them at his feet. There seem to be no bounds to his delusions, Robert is teaching that he is the embodiment of both God the Father and Jesus of Nazareth, he is in his own eyes the incarnation of heavenly beings requiring an earthly kingdom. According to Robert, the destiny of the New Jerusalem; was upon this earth. He alone would rule this Kingdom, with a sword upon his hip or in his hand. Strangely Robert believed that he would conquer all his enemies, until his garments were red, like those who had trodden the winepress alone.
In 1824 the Matthews family moved from Argyle to Fort Miller; then onto Sandy Hill, but this was not to be his home. Unable to find suitable employment within Sandy Hill, and after only two months Robert decides to look for a job elsewhere. He travels back to Albany alone looking for decent carpentry work and a place to live. This move, seen through Margaret’s eyes, is not a happy one. Shortly after settling himself in Albany; Robert sent a letter and money to Margaret, who was struggling alone with her little family.
The money desperately needed is accepted; however, the request for them to move to Albany received no enthusiasm! Margaret informed us of her innermost feelings when she said. ‘I set out with fear and trembling, but scarcely knew why.’ (Ref mw10) According to the Salem Gazette, the move to Albany was due to Robert becoming ‘restless and dissatisfied with life in New York.’ (Ref: 25)
In Albany Robert is working as a carpenter for Mr. Meeds; and all seems quiet at this period: the sleeping giant has not yet awoken. With his religious roots unearthed Robert finds himself no longer firm in the Presbyterian ministry or faith. His confusion and conflict regarding his doctrines and his chosen lifestyle have resulted in him starting to attend the North Dutch Church, Pearl Street Albany. The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church building and its congregation began in Albany in 1720. (Ref: w132)
Roberts’s doctrine was for baptism by immersion; however, he believed that it was not valid without circumcision, as practiced by the Jewish faith. Amazingly there is no record that he ever engaged in such a practice for himself. The ability to say one thing, and do something different himself is a principal that Robert understood very well, and practiced to perfection!
In the fall of 1824, religious conflict has arisen: Robert is attending ministries while working as a carpenter, along with trying to be husband and father. Religiously the call of the Dutch Reformed Church under the local leadership of the Rev Dr. Ludlow appeals to Roberts’s spiritual side.
The Albany Period 1825 onwards:
The Matthews family have suffered the loss of two children while they endured the hardships of attempting to establish a life for themselves and their family. With the present challenges of life besieging them on all sides; Robert and Margaret are now on the verge of yet another life-changing event. As we know, death was no stranger to the Matthews family. The loss of their children to smallpox significantly challenged both Margaret and Matthias, especially when their youngest child George succumbed to the disease and was laid to rest! Unfortunately for all concerned, Robert in this year became more; ‘wild in his ideas than he had been any time before. In the fall after he went to hear the Rev Mr. Kirk preach, and was very much affected by his truths; after which he became exceedingly zealous for the welfare of the Church, and devoted the most of his time to religious meetings.’ (Ref: mw11)
The connection between Robert, and Rev Mr. Kirk between the years 1825 through to 1830 is a most challenging episode for him. He was inordinately interested in the preaching’s and doctrines of Kirk, he attended Kirks meetings at every opportunity, often at the expense of his employment, which then caused his family to suffer.
1826 onwards in Albany:
The Rev Mr. Kirk went out of his way to contact Margaret the faithful, beautiful, long-suffering wife of Robert. In the winter of 1825 to 1826, we find a ray of hope and light within the memoirs of Margaret: we read. ‘Mr. Kirk’s favors to us during the winter are still remembered with gratitude; and notwithstanding I suffered much about this time, both in body and mind, still I could not unbosom myself to anyone, my pride made me prefer to suffer.’
With Robert out of work during the spring of 1826: times are difficult for Margaret and her family, they suffered deprivation in food and clothing. When Robert worked he was able to command a good wage; however, the challenge seems to be the underlying problem of health, and the will to stay focused upon the necessities of life.
In the summer of 1826, Robert was able to find employment, which according to Margaret made them ‘comfortable as to provisions.’
1827 onwards in Albany:
During the years of 1827 and 1828, we find Robert experiencing increased religious activity: he is attending a variety of meetings and is unexpectedly developing a good reputation for honest hard work. In words of kindness and acknowledgment, Margaret said. ‘It was remarked by others, that there was much appearance of true sincerity in what he (Robert) said.’ (Ref: mw14)
In the year of 1827, the newspapers were reporting the murder of Morgan the Mason. With the reporting of the crime: there appeared a most remarkable attack on the Masonic organization within the western states of America. (Ref: 44)
Surprisingly the Masons could do no good in the eyes of most religious leaders, teachers, and preachers. Extraordinary attacks on this organization happened in the newspapers, and from the pulpits. Inevitably Robert is involved with increased zealous activity. He starts enthusiastically attacking the Masons institution during his sermons in Albany, and its surrounding districts. Roberts’s battle cry was ‘dissolve at once forever.’ From this onslaught, and continuing for the rest of his life, he attacked any and all organizations, institution’s, groups, courts, or any human sect that he considered to be secret, as he continued with his battle cry of ‘Dissolve; dissolve; dissolve.’ During his sermons, he would boldly declare in a loud, clear voice that ‘All secret institutions were to be dissolved.’ (Ref: 25) In personal certainty, he thought he had the authority to dissolve these secret institutions: Robert believed he was ‘The Lord Jesus Christ himself.’ While in the throes of this fervor Robert traveled to Batavia, which is near the city of Chicago. At Batavia, he met Mrs. Lucinda Morgan the beautiful widow of Morgan the Mason. In a short space of time, she became a very devoted supporter of Robert and his teachings. Lucinda Morgan also had a direct and genuine connection with the Prophet Joseph Smith. The historical records of the time provide information confirming that she became one of the many wives of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith! Undoubtedly this is the first of many connections between these two men who claim to be prophets of a living God! From this point onwards Robert was a man on a mission, he had in his possession clothes and possibly other items that previously belonged to Morgan the Mason.
Strangely he is also encouraged by the support and adoration of the widow Mrs. Lucinda Morgan. Firmly Robert moves onto his next course of action: he increases his preaching, to dissolve all secret institutions, especially the Masons!
This is a period of intense interest in Robert, as he is starting to become a local celebrity: not yet a superstar, more like a shooting star! Returning home to Albany, Robert deluded himself into believing that all the secret institutions were dissolved. Robert was evolving, following his destiny, becoming stronger each day as he preached on the street corners, or in the workplaces around Albany.
1828 onwards in Albany:
The next challenge was the coming winter of 1828 through 1829 as Margaret: ‘feared that we should suffer from cold, as our room was very large, and he (Robert) would not allow us to have a stove because he said they were unhealthy.’ Surprisingly Robert came up with his alternative method of keeping warm during the cold winter months: he told Margaret to ‘keep warm by exercise.’ According to Margaret; exercise was something that she ‘could not very well do, as she had a babe to take care of; and when I had time to earn anything, I had shoes to bind.’ Margaret, during these hard trying times, changes her mind about accepting help from the Presbyterian evangelist preacher Dr. Edward Norris Kirk: she informs us. ‘Mr. Kirk was very friendly to us all, and when he found out that I did not go to church for want of clothing, he gave me a cloak and bonnet, and gave each of the boys a suit of clothes.’ (Ref: MW13)
From Rev Kirk’s viewpoint, we read. ‘But finding his family in want of suitable clothing, we provided for them, that they might attend the services of public worship.’ Once again controversy continues to build around Robert and his family. ‘It was objected to by many of our church because he was a very ingenious, skillful carpenter, who could command the highest wages; and therefore, by our charity, we were said to be sustaining him in idleness.‘ (Ref C344A)
Being in poor health Margaret was able to find a small chamber in State Street to let. Fortunately, Robert agreed to move into the smaller accommodation. To present the full viewpoint of Margaret: we shall read this account in her words. ‘Accordingly, we removed to it in December, in full anticipation of being warm and comfortable; but again I was disappointed, for the chimney smoked so bad that we could have no fire in it. Then I pleaded again and again for a stove, but he would not get one.
We had two furnaces in which we burned charcoal, about seven bushels a week; these were placed in the middle of the room, one for cooking, the other to sit by. We suffered much at different times from gas, and the smoke so colored our clothes, which for want of changes could not be changed, that our appearance soon became that of the truly miserable and destitute.’ (Ref: mw14)
As we move through the winter of 1828 through 1829 the influence and help that the Rev Kirk has extended towards Robert, Margaret, and their children, encourage Robert to return to his Presbyterian roots.
1829 onwards in Albany:
Dr. Edward Norris Kirk was only 27 years of age when he formally interviewed Robert regarding his desires and connections towards his Presbyterian church in Albany.
Rev Kirk was accepted and advancing within the Presbyterian Church: he was the assistant pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church. However, after the controversy, caused in part by Kirk’s friendship with fellow evangelist Charles Grandison Finny: Kirk found himself moving on and organizing the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Albany. In the ways of the world, Kirk was advancing with each passing year. Robert, on the other hand, was 51 years of age with a life of trials, disappointments, and hardships. Perhaps now is the time that Robert wants and needs to conform to the mainstream of life and society!
Within a letter written by the Rev Edward Norris Kirk: we find remarkable information regarding his involvement with Robert Matthews, who later was to transform himself into the Pseudo-Prophet Matthias: we read. ‘Dear Sir, your communication came to me in the pressure of business. I would not add to the obloquy already resting on the wicked man to whom you refer. But if I can state any facts which may help to guard others against his vile impositions, I will cheerfully contribute them. He called upon me about the time when the church under my care was organized, which was in February 1829. In our first interview, his conversation was sensible, scriptural, and in the highest tone of the reforming spirit. But there was nothing very remarkable to make a favorable or unfavorable impression. He subscribed a small sum towards the erection of our church edifice. He applied for admission to our church, and at the same time made severe and unfounded charges against two of its most respectable members.’ (Ref: C343A)
Rev Kirk then informs us; ‘Every inquiry we made satisfied us that we should not bring a firebrand into our society if he were admitted. We accordingly rejected his application I saw but little of him from the time of his rejection by our session. But the more I saw, the more I suspected the purity of his zeal, and the more manifest it was that his disposition was exceedingly unlovely and unchristian.’ (Ref: C344A)
In yet another bold statement from Margaret: we read. ‘Mr. Kirk would not receive him into his church because of his bad treatment of his family, and of his wildness and headstrong disposition which he manifested in his zeal for religion. True to his character, Robert slowly pulls away from Kirk and his doctrines. He spies an open door, as he considered it, into the Methodist church. If Robert believed that the Methodists would accept him into their congregation, then once again he was very mistaken, as Robert was isolated from what many would consider the realities of life! Once again, from Margaret, we read. ‘The Methodists would not receive him for the same reasons. (Ref: MW13)
At home, Robert was wild and violent; resulting in confusion, and fear for Margaret and the children. This confusion also continued to impact on Robert, as like a moth to a flame, he finds himself continually drawn to the Rev Kirk. On the first Sunday in June 1829: Robert once again found himself in the presence of the Rev Edward Norris Kirk. This year saw Rev Kirk rise to assistant pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany. (Ref 213)
The advancement of Rev Kirk may well have influenced Roberts’s decision to enter his church. Early Sunday morning Robert seated in the Gallery prepares himself for the Sunday sermon. Looking directly at Robert sitting in the gallery Rev Kirk said. ‘How dare you sit there and be ranked with the enemies of God.’ Leaving Church about 11 am Robert walked home, then informed his wife Margaret of Rev Kirk remarks, he said. ‘Mr. Kirk knew better that he knew him to be a friend of God and not his enemy, but as I (Robert) have not the loaves and fishes, he speaks to me with great boldness and freedom. He then said that there was a great work of reformation soon to commence, and that the country was oppressed by professed Christians, and that the judgments must begin in the house of God.
From this point onwards Robert is a changed man: he neglects his employment as a journeyman carpenter. In his mind, he starts to have dreams and visions of what was soon to befall the inhabitants of the earth: he spends much of his time talking and preaching. As his preaching became more successful his family life continues its downward spiral, Margaret informs us that the ‘heaviest blows’ fell upon her. Ever the loyal wife, she then tells us. ‘But as I thought him to be respected by them who knew him not, I tried to suffer without complaining.’ (Ref: MW15)
In the year of 1829, there is a massive general movement towards the Temperance Society: and the total abstinence of drinking spirits and alcohol. This movement had a profound effect on Robert as he began to see a way that he could expand his ability to preach to a much larger audience. Not wishing to let this opportunity pass him by he sets off on his mission to teach his doctrine and that of the temperance movement. The preaching of these combined doctrines elevates Robert in Albany, and its surrounding towns and villages.
In one statement from the Rev Kirk, we find inside information from the established Presbyterian Church: we read. ‘And being a staunch advocate for temperance, he would go to workshops and irritate the men by his dogmatic and injudicious mode of urging that important cause. It was frequently said, at that time, that he would stay in grocery stores at night, proclaiming the doctrines of temperance, until he was turned out.’ (Ref: C44A)
The interest in the temperance movement according to Margaret started back in 1824 during a period in which Robert ‘was now calm on the subject of religion, but was much engaged in the temperance cause.’ (Ref: mw10)
As with all things in his life, excess and dogma started to become the regular way of thinking, and acting on any given subject. The principal issue of the temperance movement became no exception to this rule. Robert abstained from all alcohol: however this was not enough for him, he wanted to take it further; he started to believe and teach that humans should not consume pork, neither should they drink alcohol. Undoubtedly Robert is showing self-restraint and strict moral codes of conduct; however, action speaks louder than words.
One small interesting point is; Robert circumcised his son, which coincided with his strong beliefs on his Jewish connection regarding circumcision!
Out of necessity, Robert is still working periodically as a carpenter along with preaching his doctrine. Income from both activities provided limited support for his wife and family.
With time on his hands Robert increases his preaching on street corners, he makes a giant white flag and inscribes the words ‘rally round the standard of truth.’ Religiously Robert attended ‘the young men’s Bible teach of Albany,‘ and according to Dr. Proudfit he appeared ‘very devout and much engaged in the cause.’ (Ref: C24)
In 1829 Robert was ‘Well known, if not for street preaching, for intense discussions and pavement exhortations, but he did not make set sermons. At the beginning of 1830, he was only considered zealous.’ (Ref: N38)
The words of Rev Kirk sum up Robert extremely well when he said; ‘And this proved to be true. He would neither work nor let others work. He was an incessant talker.’ (Ref: C344A)
With Robert considered zealous by what Kirk calls his incessant talking: he is preparing himself for the storm, which is fast approaching on the horizon of his life!
Within the next chapter, we shall discover further involvement between the two friends and fellow evangelistic preachers Kirk and Finney.
Robert Matthews however, like a phoenix, is preparing to rise from the ashes of rejection, frustration, and destitution into the powerhouse known as Prophet Matthias.
Chapter 2. Unsound Judgements.
Please remember, all newspaper and historical documents are presented in their original format in a bold-blue print, with no corrections for spelling or grammar.
1830 onwards in Albany:
It appears, from the newspaper reports that Robert preached to almost two thousand children. In May 1830 we read: ‘The Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, celebrated its third anniversary yesterday. The children attached to the schools in the city amounted to nearly 2,000, and by four o clock in the afternoon, the church at Duane-Street was filled in the galleries and below, with the scholars presenting a most delightful and animating appearance. Their singing was fine, and the addresses to them by the Rev Mr. Matthias, of Albany, and the Rev Mr. Mafit, happy and appropriate.’(Ref: 79)
Within the Spectator newspaper dated the 9th July 1830 we find what appears to be information confirming the activities of Matthias and Mr. Kirk: we read. ‘At Albany, as the evening journal has informed us, additional interest was given to the day by the annual Sunday School exhibition. Upwards of thirteen hundred pupils, with their teachers, assembled at the South Dutch Church, where they formed a procession, and marched through several streets to the second Presbyterian Church, where the exercises were opened by the Rev Mr. Ferris. The children were addressed by the Rev. Mr. Matthias and the teachers by the Rev. Mr. Kirk. The services were closed by the Rev. Mr. Green.’ (Ref: 180)
The newspaper reports above are interesting; either the reporter was incorrect, or it’s a case of miss information surrounding the name of Matthias in Albany: let’s investigate shall we. Within the Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, we find 100% confirmation regarding the information of Matthias in the church. In the same month of July 1830, we have newspaper and official church reports regarding Matthias and the Rev Kirk preaching to thousands of children in Sunday school. Undoubtedly the event happened; the reporting of such activities is 100% correct; however, there are inconsistencies in these reports!
From June 1830: Robert Matthews has changed his name to Prophet Matthias. Reading the statement from Rev Kirk, we find no evidence showing Robert and Rev Kirk preaching together. (Ref: C344A & C345A)
Additionally, the idea of the Pseudo-Prophet Matthias teaching within either a Methodist or Presbyterian Church’s is hard to comprehend! Within the book entitled: The African Repository and Colonial Journal Vol 6, we gather information which clears up this curious coincidence. In the contributions section from the 18th October to 15th November 1830, we read. ‘Rev Mr. Kirk, Pastor 4th Presbyterian Church Albany, $35.00 Rev Mr. Matthias, Methodist East Church Albany $4.00.’ (Ref: 206)
‘Rev Mr. Matthias is the author of the; Sabbath School Teachers’ Second Book, Containing a Harmony of the Four Gospels and Questions on the History, Miracles, Discourses, and Parables of our Lord, With Explanations of the Most Difficult Parts of the Text. Rev. J.J. Matthias. This book is a rare Sunday school lesson book from 1832, written by Reverend J.J. Matthias, and published for the Sunday School Youth Library of the Methodist Episcopal Church.’
Rev J.J. Matthias was a Methodist Episcopal minister of the Philadelphia conference, who served as Governor of Bassa Cove during the 19th-century African colonization. (Ref: 212)
By coincidence; the Rev Matthias referred to, was the ordained Methodist preacher assigned to the Methodist East Church Albany. Unquestionably our Robert / Prophet Matthias was refused membership into the Methodist Church; therefore, we can say, in all confidence; that Rev. Matthias is not the Prophet Matthias whom we are investigating.
Over the years much speculation has arisen as to why Robert Matthews changed his name to Prophet Matthias. The conclusions are.
1. It was due to his Jewish influence, actions and continued desired connection.
2. It was as a result of his reading of the scriptures and his fascination with Matthias in the New Testament.
3. Robert was just utterly insane.
4. It was a result of Robert’s possession by demonic spirits.
5. It was due to Robert wanting to have a new religious name.
All of the above reasons are probable: however, there is yet one more reason to consider! Part of Roberts’s character is his ability to take any idea, from any situation, and manipulate it for his gain. He is in many ways a self-deceiver and a master manipulator of all who will fall under his spell.
Could it be possible or even probable that Robert with his connections and fascination with the actions of Rev Kirk finds himself influenced by the Rev Matthias who preached with Rev Kirk in Albany? In all probability, the above information confirms the foundation for the birth of the notorious Prophet Matthias of the Second Great Awakening.
In conclusion, we can safely say: Robert Matthews changed his name to Prophet Matthias due in part to the preacher Rev J.J. Matthias: who was connected with the Rev Kirk in Albany, during the year of 1830.
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (1)
As presented in Chapter one: Roberts mission over the previous few years had been to convert all of Albany, however early in 1830, finding that the ‘city would not be converted; he declared to his wife that it would be destroyed.’ (Ref: C24)
The destruction of Albany plays no part in life’s concerns for Margaret and her children, as they have bigger challenges and problems to overcome; Margaret said. ‘About the 10th June, we were again out of provisions, and I feared much that we should starve. I became very weak in consequence of it; we were without decent clothing.’ (Ref: mw16)
Not content to keep the impending destruction to himself and his family, Robert starts walking the streets of Albany, declaring to its citizens, that destruction was knocking at their door. It is unclear whether he made a flag or a board to show the impending destruction of Albany; however, it is clear that he preached its destruction with fiery sermons!
Monday 14th June 1830:
Working and providing for his family did not seem to occupy Roberts’s thoughts or actions for most of the first half of 1830. With winter and spring now behind him; he spasmodically worked, providing a meager existence for his family.
Early on the morning of Monday 14th June Robert left his home and walked to work, this was a most important day for him, as he desperately required cash funds to pay his outstanding grocery bill, which was past due from the previous week. Unwisely Robert had taken payment for work not yet completed. In the building and construction world, this is a sub on wages.
On Saturday 12th June Robert after having worked hard all day came home and informed his long-suffering wife ‘he had got no money, for he did not ask his employer for any. He said that he had worked very hard that week, and nearly finished the job, but did not know certainly as there would be anything owing to him; but that he would try on Monday to settle his account with the grocer.’ (Ref: MW16)
Burdened with outstanding debt owed to the grocers; and with little to eat for either herself or her children, Margaret watched Robert return home on Monday morning. Concerned to find Robert at home, Margaret enquired; ‘if Robert had finished his job; he said no, but that he had made all the lights for that building that he should make….that someone else must finish it.’
Margaret asked him why someone else had to finish his work, he responded. ‘The chisel fell from his hands and stuck in the work, and the spirit told him that his work was done there. He said that he had been the means of letting in some light into that hall but that someone else must complete the work, and so it was in the great work in which he was engaged; his was the roughest work on the stones, others must polish them for the building.’ (Ref MW16)
Surprisingly by coincidence, or was this by design there just so happened to be a church service that Robert wanted to attend that very same afternoon. Preparing for the service, Robert asked Margaret for some warm water so that he could shave. With the water on the boil and Robert reading his Bible, this is what many may call the quiet before the storm! Without saying a word to Margaret, he ‘suddenly put his razor and other shaving apparatus into his trunk.’ Turning to Margaret, Robert then stated that he had found scriptures declaring ‘no man that shaves his beard can be a true Christian.’ (Ref: C24)
From this point onwards he is convinced that he should not shave his beard. Understandably out of curiosity or perhaps concern, Margaret wishes to know why he would not shave his beard. She received her answer when he said; ‘that it was wrong for him or any other true man to shave, quoting texts of scripture to prove it. I was somewhat alarmed at the wildness of his manner and his strange ideas.’ Much to the consternation of Margaret, Robert left the house on time and attended church. Upon his return, and in the words of his wife he was; ‘pleasant and calm, and spent much of the day in reading Macleod on the revelations, which seemed much to encourage and strengthen him in his belief.’ In poverty and hunger, the children require food, which motivates Margaret to send one of them down to the grocers for much-needed provisions. Sadly the grocer does not fulfill her shopping list, as Robert has still not yet paid his outstanding bill. When Margaret informed her husband of the inability to purchase food and provisions from the grocery shop, he responded with a ‘never mind; there will be another way opened for us to get plenty to eat.’ (Ref: MW 17)
Tuesday 15th June 1830:
After his breakfast of ‘one teacup full of boiled beans,’ shared between the family, Robert gave thanks in prayer, then set off on his mission. His mission this time was around the city of Albany.
Inside the Mayor’s office, he saw a Bible upon the table, picking it up he asked the men within the sound of his voice if they believed that it was the word of God: the response was positive. Robert in his particular manner told them to ‘act accordingly, for this day all the institutions of men are to be dissolved.’ (Ref: MW 18)
With his domestic and financial problems showing no sign of dissipating, Robert now has extra religious challenges of preaching boldly to business and workmen. Under pressure, the strain upon Roberts mind, body, and spirit are starting to become self-evident. For example; upon returning home from his preaching, Margaret who was inside her home, looked out through the window and saw Robert approaching, he was different; something had changed; in her words, we read. ‘I was at the window seeing him coming and noticed that he walked lame, and when he came to the foot of the stairs, he called for me to assist him in getting up. His look was so wild that I was afraid of him; and told him that I could not help him up, for the stairs were not wide enough for us both. When he got up, which he did alone, he was displeased with me and said that I should not receive a blessing. I took but little notice of what he said apparently, and he soon lay down and went to sleep. When he awoke, he appeared to be calmer, and I asked him for the cause of his lameness. He said that whenever he attempted to enter a house where they were not ready to receive the blessing, a lameness immediately seized him in the right leg, for that reason he had to pass the house of the rich and all those where there were high steps.’
While trying to rest Robert would close his eyes; however, he would not sleep, and on this occasion, as he said. ‘The spirit was showing him wonderful things, and that there was a destroying angel soon to come and sweep off all the inhabitants of this country.’ The details of the pending destruction of Albany were according to Robert; to be connected with a flood, which would spread ‘from the north and the west, and that it would run rapidly through Washington and State Streets, sweeping all before it; but that we (his family) should escape.’ (Ref: MW 19)
Sensing that something was wrong, Margaret kept the children and herself away from Robert in the hopes that he would rest his mind, body, and spirit: after all sleep is nature’s way of attempting to heal human weaknesses, which can on times affect us all.
During the afternoon of Tuesday 15th June 1830, Margaret encounters more unusual behavior from her husband. These events provide us with the perfect foundation for our investigation; as seen through Margaret’s eyes, in the words of Margaret we read.
‘In the afternoon he arose, went to the door and locked it, then he took a bowl of water and came to me. I was somewhat alarmed and asked him what he was going to do. He said I must be baptized by him, and receive the Holy Spirit. I told him not to attempt to do any such thing, for I did not believe that he could bestow that blessing upon me. He said that I must obey him. I told him positively that I would not. I had rather lose my life than do anything against my conscience; and that in my manner of worship he might control me, but not in my belief. He said that I had no God, that the husband was the savior of the wife; and that as the man was not whole without the woman, she would be found with him; and he was a holy man, it was necessary for me to receive the Holy Spirit by him. I still resisted telling him to keep back, for if he attempted to put one drop of water upon me, I would jump out of the window.’(Ref MW 19)
In her desperate situation, Margaret is attempting to stand her ground risking injury even death rather than submit to the religious demands of her husband, Robert Matthews. The situation is desperate: the family has no food, no money, and no internal harmony even upon the subject of religion. On her own and without hesitation, Margaret verbally distracts Robert by reminding him of the dream which she had received and shared with him the previous day. Once again returning to Margaret’s words and statements we read. ‘It was that Mr. Finney, then preaching at the mission house, came to me with a bible in his hand, and after reading a verse to me asked me if I believed it. I said yes. He then read to me again and again, asking me each time if I believed; to which I answered in the affirmative; and he then told me that I must read it for myself, for the time had come when I must no longer believe what other people said to me, but that I must read for myself.’
At the conclusion of this conversation, Robert surprisingly reacts by lying down on the floor: we are not sure if he went to sleep; however, we do know that he was quiet. Perhaps he was reflecting on the words of his long-suffering wife: or could it be that he was on the verge of exploding, as this appears to be the quiet before the storm. Robert still lying on the floor heard the church bell from the mission house ring: after which he enquired of Margaret, which bell was ringing, the answer was that ‘Mr. Finney was going to preach.’ (Ref: MW 20)
We should not overlook the meetings between Matthias and Mr. Kirk: as Kirk was a friend of Mr. Charles Grandison Finney: who had the reputation of driving his congregation mad.
Finney was a most powerful preacher with dark piercing eyes; a long beard, and a high forehead. Charles Grandison Finney also preached with his friend and fellow Minister Mr. Kirk.
After hearing the preacher’s Finney and Kirk, Matthias: ‘declared that though he had professed religion twenty years, he never had any till then.’ Amazingly Matthias ‘did not, however, become a follower of them.’ (Ref: N38)
The Rev. Charles Grandison Finney and Rev Edward Norris Kirk had a profound influence upon Robert Matthews, due to him being ‘ frequently much excited on religious subjects, and especially on one occasion by Mr. Finney, now of Chatham Street Chapel.’ Isabella Van Wagener believed. ‘The preaching of Mr. Finney and a Mr. Kirk seems to have assisted in forming his character,’ while Robert attended their services he received from them ‘new direction in his thoughts.’ (RefN38)
The idea that Robert received new direction in his thought is worthy of some examination due to the controversy which undoubtedly surrounds the personage known as Charles Grandison Finney. From his writings, Charles obtained his license to preach as a Presbyterian minister. Part of the conditions in receiving his license involved his understanding of the Westminster Confession of Faith. From his words Charles G. Finney informs us. ‘Unexpectedly to myself they asked me if I received the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church. I had not examined it;—that is, the large work, containing the Catechisms and Presbyterian Confession. This had made no part of my study. I replied that I received it for a substance of doctrine, so far as I understood it. But I spoke in a way that plainly implied, I think, that I did not pretend to know much about it. However, I answered honestly, as I understood it at the time.’(Ref: 152 & 80)
Charles G Finney was the kind of preacher that you would never forget. He was strong in his opinions and would preach with an attitude of spirit that could and did, as stated previously, drive some members of his congregation into madness.
There is a lot of interest in Charles G Finney, as he had the power to convert many thousands of investigators into his theology of the Presbyterian Church. For this work, I will only state for the record that Robert Matthews was involved at least once with Rev Finney: and several times with Mr. Kirk, during 1825 to 1830. This period is at times referred to as the revival preaching’s from the New York area. The relationship between Matthias and Rev Charles G Finney was not a good one. There is evidence from Margaret the wife of Matthias confirming her view that Matthias did not like Mr. Finney: she stated. ‘Mr. Matthias did not like Mr. Finney. He (Matthias) said that he could not go with Mr. Finney.’ (Ref: mwA43)
Returning to our foundation story; surprisingly on hearing the church bells ring Robert prepares to attend Rev Finney’s sermon at the local mission house. Prior to his departure Robert turned to his wife Margaret and asked her if she ‘and the children would go with him. I (Margaret) told him no; and he said, very well, then I must go on with my work alone; for I will address the people there this night; so taking his Bible in is hands he set out for church.’ (Ref: MW 20)
Arriving at the Church; Robert took his seat and waited for the sermon to start. Surprisingly during this period of his life, he had an ambiguous reputation; many of the citizens respected him, as there was no indication amongst the general populous of any wrongdoing or impropriety of any kind. Even Margaret, his wife, was silent regarding her sufferings, and hardships at home. Robert could appear eccentric, or even fanatical; however, for most citizens, his actions were not dangerous. After Rev Finney had finished his sermon; Robert made his move: he requested his opportunity to address the congregation; which the trustees duly granted. At this juncture, the careful reader will have noticed that it was not Mr. Finney who gave permission for Robert to speak! Once in the pulpit, Robert launched into a tirade of wild ranting and ravings, after which he informs the congregation that ‘vengeance was at hand,’ and that he must ‘take possession of the world in the name of the King of Kings.’ (Ref: N38)
During this outburst the congregation was dumbfounded, and before Robert could finish his remarks, the lights were turned off.
Coincidentally Margaret’s version of events coincides with most of the other historical information; however as to be expected she has additional information worthy of reporting: we read. ‘He commenced a discourse on the millennium. It was soon suspected that all was not right with him, and he was requested to stop, but did not until the lights were extinguished; after which he came home and related the circumstances to me, and then said, as they had blown out the lights against the spirit, so their lights would also go out.’ (Ref MW 20)
As events continue to escalate in intensity, we once again witness Roberts’s actions from Margaret, his wife. Due to the importance of her information, her full statement as written in 1835 becomes vital to our investigation: we read. ‘He then came to me and spoke my name; I did not answer him. He then took hold of me, and I asked him what he wanted. He then inquired for the children. I told him that they had all gone to bed but Isabella. When he began to read the Bible, I interrupted him, by telling him that the children were hungry, and he also stood in need of something to eat. He answered; did I ever refuse to provide for the wants of the family? I told him that I thought he appeared to be very stupid with regards to our wants and that something must be done, for we had but few mouthfuls to eat since Saturday. He then said that he would go and get something. Immediately the clock struck, and he asked what time it was? I told him ten o’ clock. He said then it was too late to go out and began again to read. I then knew that we should have nothing to eat that night, so I lay down with my clothes on, leaving Isabella to sleep by the window. Mr. Matthews arose about eleven, went to Isabella and whispered something to her, supposing me to be asleep. She answered I cannot do it. He said you must. She then began to cry. He told her to mind him and be still. He said, you must arise, and prepare yourself and the children to follow me, for we must leave this place tonight. He then took one of the children from the bed. I asked what he was going to do; told him that it was dark and rainy, and that we were hungry, and had no clothes to wear, and that he must be crazy. I then went downstairs to our landlord, and told him I thought that Mr. Matthews must be deranged, and requested him to go up and try to prevent his going out with the children that night, which he did, but all to no effect. We told him that he must be either crazy or possessed of a devil, but he said that the city was to be destroyed that night, and whoever wished to be saved must follow him.’ (Ref: MW23)
Sadly Robert and Margaret continue to self-implode as they succumb to poverty, rejection, and the pressures of Roberts religious excitement. Isolated, he is totally on his own spiritually, as no church will accept him into their congregation.
Margaret and her daughter Isabella have both found the courage and strength to say no to Robert: they refuse to accept his religious doctrines, and his demands to accompany him on his flight from Albany. Surprisingly Margaret has called into question publicly and privately Roberts’s sanity. Additionally and perhaps more importantly; she has also raised the possibility of Robert being possessed by a devil.
Sadly in these desperate times, Robert is isolated from his family and friends, due to his actions which were at times frightening!
He has struggled with his visions of the temples and kingdom that he wishes to establish. Confusion has caused him to believe in his adoption into a Jewish line of ancestors via his grandmother’s side of the family. During all her trials and tribulations Margaret has endeavored to hold her family together, she is working hard, and has been attempting to help her husband in any way possible. In these dark days, it must have been a challenging decision for Margaret to present the possibility of her husband being possessed by a devil
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (2)
Feeling rejected, alone, and possibly depressed Robert ‘declared his purpose of escaping himself, with his children, leaving the mother to destruction.’ (Ref: C26)
In this crucial, pivotal moment Robert, appears in both word and deed, to believe in the impending destruction of Albany. His wife Margaret, and his eldest daughter Isabella have rejected Roberts’s demands and prophecies. Together as mother and daughter, they are not going to leave their home and wander in the wilderness. True to his character, Robert refuses to back down from his stated position as he continues his preparations to leave his family. Margaret, perhaps understanding the dangers attempts to remove the children away from her husband. Unfortunately, ‘the boys wishing to follow their Father slipped into the back room of Mr. A…. and ran through the front room into the street’ (Ref: mw24)
Reunited with their father the boys experienced the chill of the cold, wet evening. Gathering his sons aged between six and two, Robert puts the youngest one on his shoulders and disappears into the darkness. Immovable in their decision; Margaret and Isabella remained in the house. Walking into the darkness with his children: Robert truly believes that his wife Margaret and his daughter Isabella; along with the other inhabitants of Albany, are about to be destroyed by the hand of God! Sadly we are now starting to see the self-destruction of a deluded man, and the effects on his loving family.
Margaret informs us that she expected him to return the following day and when this did not happen, she became even more distressed: running to her neighbors and friends informing them of her concerns for the children. With the passing of each agonizing minute, ‘Margaret’s anxiety now became intense, as also was that of the citizens to whom she communicated the circumstances.’ (Ref: C26)
Eventually, the news spread like wildfire, and the Mayor of the city Mr. John Townsend interceded due to real concerns for the safety of the children. (Ref: 63 & 80)
For days Robert and his sons wandered in the wilderness of the woodlands in the northeast portion of Albany. Back home in Albany the children’s mother was distraught; resulting in a community outcry of rage and concern. Rage towards Robert; with concern directed towards the children and the distraught mother. In the Albany Daily Advertiser dated the 25th June 1830 we read the following. ‘Notices were distributed yesterday requesting the citizens to assemble at the capital at five o’ clock in the afternoon to search for three lost children of Robert Matthews of this city. We have been told that a dear relative took them away in a fit of insanity and that he and they were seen on Thursday wandering near the Buttermilk Falls.’ (Ref: 32)
Hundreds of volunteers assembled: and the community of Albany and its surrounding districts rallied to the call. The volunteers searched in every direction; the task seemed impossible: however, the city became united in their endeavor to find the children, either dead or alive, we read. ‘The people turned out in great numbers to search for the wanderers. It was believed that the father might have put them to death and destroyed himself. The unhappy mother’s distress increased with every succeeding hour; the press sounded the alarm, and the Mayor issued a proclamation announcing the facts, and offering a reward for the return of the children.’ (Ref: C26) With the arrival of the ‘Sabbath there were notices read from the pulpits of different Churches in the city.’ (Ref mw23)
Mr. Rev Kirk in his letter to Mr. Stone informs us. ‘The next peculiar information I had concerning him, was a note sent to my pulpit one Sabbath morning from the mayor of the city, calling on the citizens to turn out and search for Matthews, who had gone off in a strange manner with his children, and left his wife in great distress and alone. His account of the matter was, that Albany was Sodom, and to be immediately destroyed; and he had fled with his children for safety.’ (Ref: C344A)
There are two versions of the ensuing events. In the first general release, we have Robert and the children walking in the woods living in a wooden hut and eating roots and berries. We can safely call this the urban legend version. In other reports, we have a different story; with Robert and his children walking the 40-mile trail from Albany to Argyle.
Tuesday 15th June 1830
The exodus from their home was around midnight of Tuesday 15th June. Together they walk a short distance towards the city of Albany: sleeping in a schoolhouse which was but a few short miles away from their home.
Wednesday 16th June 1830:
After what must have been a restless attempt to sleep within the schoolhouse, Robert and his children departed early in the morning, walking towards West Troy, a distance of about seven miles.
Upon entering the village hungry, Robert and his children had a small stroke of good luck, as one of the sons found a sixpence coin. With cash in hand, Robert purchased some bread for breakfast. Continuing with their journey, they travel to the village of Stillwater, which is a distance of sixteen miles; where they can pass their second night on the road with some of Roberts associates.
Thursday 17th June 1830:
Robert and his children continued their journey: they walked from Stillwater to Fort Miller. From the limited evidence available, it appears they may well have spent Thursday evening at Fort Miller. The distance from Stillwater to Fort Miller is approximately seventeen miles.
Friday 18th June 1830:
Traveling the remaining eleven miles; Robert and his children arrive in Argyle. In total the children have now walked a staggering minimum of approximately forty-two miles without any of the additional detours that are usually undertaken by boisterous boys!
Regarding the forty-two mile forced march, we read the following report. ‘Under any other circumstances, the children would have sunk midway from fatigue; but the terror in which they were kept by their father seemed to invest them with supernatural strength.’ In Argyle Robert and the children stayed as house guests with his sister. Can you stop for a moment and consider what this must have been like for Roberts’s sister? Imagine you hear a knock at your front door, you open the door, and your brother is standing there with his children. To your surprise, he is ranting and raving about the destruction of Albany. Shockingly he informs you that his wife and remaining family members are dead, as are the entire population of Albany. In amazement you then have to make a decision; do you welcome your brother warmly, or do you send him away with his children? What would you do in this situation? Roberts’s sister chose to allow him and the children into her home; she wanted to feed the children, clean them up, and put them to bed. Robert had different ideas; he wanted to read with them from the Bible. Dogmatically he required them to pray, after which he preached some more, in all probability about the destruction of Albany. (Ref C27)
Unfortunately for the children, Robert and his sister were unable to accommodate each other’s point of view: like rolling stones they took their leave the following day
Saturday 19th June 1830:
Robert and his boys walked but a few short miles towards the home of yet another one of his sisters. Unfortunately, with his customary ability to set the cat amongst the pigeons, Robert causes yet another uproar at his sisters: we read. ‘When they arrived there some of the family were preparing for church. It was on Saturday, and a lecture preparatory to the sacrament was to be preached. Mr. Matthews (Robert) entered the house at the time of singing, leaving the boys without, he requested the singers to stop, saying that such confusion was blasphemy. Perceiving that he had very much disturbed the congregation, he said, lest there should be uproar on the feast day.’ (Ref: MW24)
Eventually, Robert and his sons enter as the singing of hymns and the preparations for the Sabbath day conclude. After a well-deserved sleep, they awake to face yet another day.
Sunday 20th June 1830:
Arriving at Church, Robert and his family take their seats. Standing up in Church Robert commences his sermon, which involves verbally attacking the ordained ministers, and congregation.
This is the second Sunday in a row that Robert has preached his sermon of destruction and mayhem, against organized church authority. We are informed he ‘interrupted the minister,’ along with ‘declaring the congregation in darkness, and warning them to repent.’ (Ref: N39)
Standing before the congregation and Minister, Robert directly announces to the minister ‘that he was preaching falsehoods, and that he (Robert Matthews) had come to take away his commission.’ (Ref: C154)
After being ejected from the Church, the results are the same, only this time he is not allowed to walk home. In the New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper, we read. ‘The children have been since found. The man wandered to Washington County, entered a church and ordered the minister to desist. He with the children were taken to an asylum and secured.’ (Ref: 33)
What a sad situation we now behold. Undoubtedly Roberts’s teachings and beliefs were unstable and unhinged. His course of action has resulted in him endangering himself, and his children; due to his overzealous thoughts and alarming actions. No wonder Margaret is back in Albany concerned for the welfare of her children and her husband. In Margaret’s words, we read. ‘They put him in prison. His friends gathering around him, some of them asked him if he knew them; he said, yes I know you to be an enemy to God.’ (Ref: mw26)
Whilst in Argyle prison, Robert recalled a most alarming incident, which cannot be overlooked or ignored; Robert’s words are challenging; he informs us. ‘The spirit was with him, to teach him and fit him for the work he had yet to accomplish. In that prison, the spirit of a man yielded to, and delivered him a cloven tongue, with the power to bless with the one, and curse with the other.’ (Ref: C155)
As reported by Mr. Stone; we have Robert while in prison receiving some visitation, either in reality or within his mind. The spirit was according to Robert, preparing him for work that he had yet to accomplish. This written information informs us that Robert received some unearthly teacher, who visited with him while incarcerated. Interestingly Robert ‘Yielded to’ this spirit. The general understanding of yield is.
Robert in either a real or imaginary way has yielded to the spirit that has visited with him. After he had submitted to the power of this spirit, a verbal power via a cloven tongue rested with him. With this power, he would ‘bless with the one, or curse with the other.’ (Ref: C155)
From this point onwards, the ability to either bless or curse was a talent which Robert excelled in at all times! In hindsight and on many occasions Robert would talk about the experiences of state prisons, asylums, and other places of confinement. During these recollections he would testify of the wickedness, and oppression of these locations: his doctrines regarding these places were. ‘Offenders seldom if ever, obtained forgiveness of the Gentile world, however, sincere their repentance, but that though their bodies were confined, they could not lock up the spirit, for it went abroad, took possession of others, and committed the same deprivations. But he, Matthias, could control the spirit.’ (Ref: C182)
All over the world upon each continent; we find warnings, and examples of demonic possession. As we look back through ecclesiastical history, we repeatedly read about demonic spirits entering the hearts and minds of their victims. In a general sense, the history books do not use the term ‘hearts and minds,’ as the term used is possessed or having their souls taken over. In the spiritual sense, possession involves demons from the unseen world. The understanding of the word soul is the union of the body and its spirit. In overview, the spirit and the body constitute the soul of man. Within the King James Bible in the book of Revelations: the devil and his angels were cast out of heaven into the earth: in Revelations 12:7-9 we read.
Repeatedly, within the Christian text, the existence of demons is not imaginary. Christians and all logical, reasonable persons accept opposition in all things. Generally speaking, there is light and darkness, in Christian terms, there is God and the Devil, good and evil. Unquestionably the world and the universe have opposition in all things! Faithfully Christians accept the doctrine of demonic possession. Stories of demonic possession also prevail from continent to continent: from the beginnings of human existence; this is nothing new to humanity or religion.
Perhaps the modern medical profession would deem a possessed person as clinically insane. There are many kinds of insanity, all of which have different names and characteristics. Undoubtedly, from a Christian viewpoint, many of these insane persons are mentally ill requiring the very best of healthcare by the medical profession.
Additionally, Christians believing in the word of God: will accept on faith the principle of demonic possession by evil entities from the unseen dark spirit world. The question we now need to consider is quite simple: was Robert Matthews insane (mentally ill) or was he listening to spirits from the unseen world?
As the story continues to move forward, the evidence will continue to build: the picture will become clear.
The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed that Robert Matthews (Prophet Matthias) was ‘in possession of a wicked and depraved spirit.’ Also, the Mormon Prophet Smith informed Robert (Prophet Matthias) that ‘his doctrine was of the devil.’ Was Joseph Smith correct in his prophetic pronouncement?
The purpose of this book is to present the facts as contained in the historical documents and newspapers of the time. We have the opportunity to experience in part some of the emotions, concerns, and involvement that the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith endured and suffered, while he walked, talked and extended his hospitality to the notorious Prophet Matthias. Let us remember Joseph Smith was in the company of this imposter within his home at Kirkland in November 1835. The Mormon Prophet Smith and Robert, the so-called Prophet Matthias sat face to face: they shared meals together, along with conversing openly about their doctrines: their positions exposed for each to see and understand! Amazingly the Mormon Prophet Smith shared his testimony of his claimed first vision which occurred over fourteen years previously. By the end of this investigation, we will know the connections between these two so-called American Prophets.
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (3)
For now, we go back to Roberts return to his wife and family from his sojourn in the wilderness and Albany prison. Margaret, the wife of Matthias then informs us of the following. ‘They took him and the children to the alms-house.’ (Ref: mw26)
After a short stay with their father in the alms-house at Argyle, the children and Robert travel back to Albany. Happily, the boys are reunited with their mother Margaret, while Robert continues his confinement within the Albany alms-house. It appears that no family member visited with Robert while incarcerated.
Perhaps Margaret and the children were better off without him: or maybe they were praying that he would just disappear into thin air!
Confined and stripped of his liberties; Matthias refused to cooperate with the authorities, we read. ‘When in the Almshouse at Albany, Mr. Matthews (now calling himself Prophet Matthias) was told by the overseer that he must go to the shop and go to work, but he replied, I was put here for an insane pauper, and you must prove that I have reason before you trust me with work. As they refused to do anything they confined him in an unwholesome cell for about forty-eight hours; after which he was released, although in a very enfeebled state of health; and they advised him to take a walk, to which he readily consented, and walked home.’ (Ref: mw24)
Perhaps Robert was possessed by some demonic spirit. All we know from this point onwards is that Robert ‘assumed the name of Matthias,’ and ‘called himself a Jew.’ (Ref: N39) Robert Matthews in his mind no longer exists, as Matthias, the self-proclaimed Prophet has now been born into the world!
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (4)
Prophet Matthias is about to walk his road that is full of dangers and pitfalls. Each day he moves closer to Sojourner-Truth, and the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. Interestingly these three American trailblazers will eventually develop curious connections forged in both direct and indirect contact with each other. Historically this is their story, which they have experienced and recorded for us to read, and try to comprehend!
Additionally, Rev Kirk preached in Albany during which time he knew both Charles Grandison Finney and Robert Matthews who has evolved into Prophet Matthias. Kirk while living in Albany received a letter from his fellow friend and preacher Charles Grandison Finney. Within this letter dated the 1st Nov 1830 Finney attempts to draw Kirk away from Albany, he wrote: ‘Dr. Kirk, you can tell how much I want your help, write me immediately whether you will come and help me. Take a trip out here and see me at all events and we will talk the matter over.’ (Ref: 203)
With Kirk and Finney considering their options to move forward with their doctrines: we have Matthias at home on his own, contemplating his future!
The story of the notorious Prophet Matthias starts from this point onwards.
The Birth of a Prophet.
Please remember, all newspaper and historical documents are presented in their original format in a bold blue-print, with no corrections for spelling or grammar.
After a few days Robert is at home with his family: he is not the same man, something has changed, his outrageous claims have deepened, and his physical actions have become increasingly dangerous. We are aware Margaret was apprehensive; she said. ‘When I saw him approaching the house, I was in doubt whether to admit him or not. Some said, let him come in, others said no, but a compassionate feeling towards the father of my children would not permit me to bolt the door against him. I received him with kindness.’ (Ref: mw25)
At home with his wife and children, the transformation was complete: from this point onwards, I shall refer to Robert as Prophet Matthias. Back in Albany, Prophet Matthias continued his doctrines: he started to teach and preach that he was the incarnate personification of. ‘God the Father – The First Adam – Noah – Abraham – Moses – John the Baptist, and Jesus of Nazareth.’ The outward appearance of Matthias also changed; he grew his hair long, with his beard growing wildly. Repeatedly Matthias talked about the imminent destruction of the wicked. Nothing would or could stop him from preaching on the streets, and within the parks of Albany: even after being arrested for disturbing the peace. Confining Matthias after his arrest for any prolonged period proved extremely difficult, as he was cleverly able to convince the authorities of his sanity! As the weeks turned into months, Matthias and his preaching on the streets intensified, as his demands of his wife and family resumed. He wanted his wife and children to go on a mission with him to convert the world to his understanding of the Bible, and the imminent coming of the father’s kingdom. Undoubtedly the New Jerusalem also played a big part in his preaching and mission call!
Standing firm Margaret wants nothing to do with Matthias’s so-called divine mission to convert the world: she said. ‘He soon returned acting worse than ever. I then thought it best to submit, if possible, to his remaining with us; so he continued with us the remainder of the summer and until late in the fall when he went north for a few weeks.’ The journey north was in all probability his mission to save the world, as the citizens of Albany also wanted nothing to do with the notorious Matthias the Prophet. We are informed. ‘The minds of the public were at this time, so prejudiced against him, that whenever he remained with us, we suffered exceedingly.’ During this period of proselyting away from his family and the citizens of Albany; Margaret and the children’s distressing, pitiful, mortal condition was ‘relieved by a few benevolent ladies.’ (Ref: mw26)
Receiving help from her neighbors and friends Margaret is able to survive on her own, along with endeavoring to look after her children. Incredibly, all the facts prove the absence of her husband has helped garner support for Margaret!
Winter of 1830 through to1831:
Returning like a bad penny, Matthias lumbers through the winter, then on into the spring, and summer of 1831. With hunger, and desperation being a constant companion; times were challenging due to the sullying of the family’s name, and reputation. Once again unsurprisingly Matthias is the sole focus of this displeasure emanating from the citizens of Albany.
The work opportunities for Matthias are now insufficient; perhaps nonexistent, as the inhabitants of Albany have closed ranks, firmly locking all the doors of opportunity. Matthias is isolated, rejected and despised, and his family and religious life are disastrous. Legally and morally the Sheriff and the Mayor, because of the several arrests, are intimately acquainted with Matthias; but for all the wrong reasons! Faced with so much opposition, Matthias has limited options; and he chooses to leave his wife and family, striking out on his own, in the month of June 1831. Interestingly Matthias starts his divine mission attempting to convert the world; as he travels west towards his brother in Rochester. After two weeks a major argument ensued resulting in Matthias departing from his brother, and heading east through the forests, and mountains of the western state. Eventually, he ended up in the wilds of Arkansas; with his beard and hair at a considerable length. Alone and wandering back through the states of Mississippi, and Tennessee, he arrived in Georgia, where according to Mr. Stone: he found himself arrested perhaps for preaching to the Indians in the Cherokee County. Confused, the authorities did not know what to do with him, as he was wild in both his appearance and mannerisms. After a short incarceration once again the prison doors opened wide, and he departed a free man.
Approximately five months after abandoning his wife and children, Matthias returns to Albany. The reunion is not a happy one; there is no warm welcome awaiting this so-called prophet: in the words of Margaret we read. ‘In November Mr. M. again returned to us; I supposed that he had come to spend the winter, and told him that he must do something for the support of his family. He said he should do just as he pleased about it. I then told him that he had better leave us, for if he was idle I intended it to be so too, and that I would not suffer as I had done from being in the family, and when he saw that I was determined and that when I got bread for the children I got none for him, thought it not best to stay with us any longer, he left us in three days and went out to the west.’ (Ref: mw27)
There are many rumors about Matthias’ travels and his so-called missions: the story about him preaching to the Indians may well be yet another one. For our investigation, I have decided to include it due to the possible curious connection to the Prophet Joseph Smith! One of the first official missionary endeavors of The Church of Christ established by the Prophet Joseph Smith was to send his missionaries to the Indian Nations.
Interestingly, Joseph Smith and his missionary efforts amongst the Indians were also not satisfied. The attempt and failure of both Prophets to convert the Indians are only a minor coincidence. Surprisingly as both Prophets mature and gain experience, some of their ideas and doctrines run parallel. If you as the careful reader are a Mormon or a person who is interested in Sojourner-Truth, then this is your opportunity to learn more about the amazing, curious coincidences between these American trailblazers!
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (5)
With his success and then failure in and around Albany: and after his wild missionary wanderings, it was now time for Matthias to move into the city once again. The driving force may have been the establishment of the New Jerusalem, along with the wealth, and power that this kingdom promised to bring. On the other hand, it could have been the opportunity to continue his fight against secret institutions, organizations or groups.
Moving forward, Matthias again has the city in his sights, and arriving in New York he ‘visited his brother-in-law, Mr. Andrew White, on the corner of Duane and Broadway.’ (RefN39)
In New York, Matthias is maturing in the experience of the world: shockingly he is a married man who has abandoned his wife, and children in Albany. On her own Margaret is struggling; in her words, she tells us. ‘I was very much debilitated, having been days at a time without nourishment, and my children being not one of them of a sufficient age to assist me in gaining anything for our subsistence. I should have put them out, as often requested to do, but they were already forsaken by their father, and I could not bear the idea of their becoming estranged to one another and me. Frequently, during the summer, did I send to one and another to beg the crumbs that fell from their table, and by some was I refused this humble pittance, while others, whom I will remember, never refused to share with us in the bounty of their store.’ (Ref: MW 26)
We are now in the year of 1832: Matthias is 55 years of age and living in New York City near the Five Points. Charles Dickens described the Five Points in 1842 in his book American Notes for General Circulation: he said. ‘What place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points. This is the place; these narrow ways diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here bear the same fruit as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home and all the world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken forays. Many of these pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright instead of going on all fours, and why they talk instead of grunting?’ (Ref: 46)
The Five Points in the 19th century was one of the slum locations of the civilized world. Within this place, we have a vast amount of immigrants trying to start a new life. Excitedly expectations are high as the new arrivals step off the boats. Within the history books, the general understanding of the Five Points is summed up in the Petition to Have the Five Points Opened: Board of Assistant Aldermen documents: dated 24th October 1831: within this petition we read the following. ‘Merchants owning property along the periphery of Five Points petitioned the municipal government in 1829 to demolish the heart of the slum by widening and extending Anthony and Cross Streets. That the place known as Five Points has long been notorious as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.
[They] are abridged from enjoying themselves in their sports, from the apprehension… that they may be enticed from the path of rectitude, by being familiarized with vice; and thus advancing step by step, be at last swallowed up in this sink of pollution, this vortex of irredeemable infamy. In conclusion, your Committee remark, that this hot–bed of infamy, this modern Sodom, is situated in the very heart of your City, and near the center of business and respectable population…. Remove this nucleus—scatter its present population over a larger surface—throw open this part of your city to the enterprise of active and respectable men, and you will have effected much for which good men will be grateful.’ (Ref: 76)
In this mixing pot of expanding human endeavors, Matthias simmered just under the surface, under the radar, mostly on his own, waiting and looking for his opportunity. Exploiting all the possibilities, Matthias was no ordinary New York City citizen, as he would stand out amongst the crowd at all venues. No matter whether he was in the slums of the Five Points or attending some high society event; the outcome was the same; people noticed him, and on most occasions were amazed at what they saw and heard him say! Walking down a street, he would be noticed. When he entered into a shop or walked in the park, he would be seen and remembered: so why is Prophet Matthias such a memorable character? This is not an easy question to try to answer; however, I am sure that some, if not all of the points presented below, will help contribute to the overall impression of this imposter of a Prophet.
Firstly, Matthias did not dress as a poor man would dress; he would not wear his working clothes as a carpenter, or his day clothes as a man. Secondly, Matthias was unique in his appearance. He never from this point onwards would conform to the typical attire of the day.
He would wear clothes that were so colorful and expensive; requiring garments specially created for him, by his tailor or artisan of choice: for example, he would have.
A large key around his neck:
This was no ordinary key; it was a golden crafted key, with inscriptions and patterns engraved into it. The key according to Matthias; was the emblem of his power. With this gold key and the power which he held, Matthias believed that he was able to open the gates of the New Jerusalem. Additionally, Matthias also thought that he could shut the gates, which if closed by him no man would be able to open. In his delusion, the golden key represents his emblem of power as he stalks the streets of New York, preaching of his future role within the city of the New Jerusalem!
A Graduated Rod:
The rod was about six feet high, graduated from the bottom to the top. Inscribed into the rod, we find the markings of mysterious numbers; which according to Matthias, are required during the laying down of the dimensions for the New Jerusalem; as contained in the Holy Scriptures. Amazingly he believed in his power to mark the length and breadth of the city himself!
A Two-Edged Sword:
As a symbol of authority, Matthias kept his double-edged sword clean, he enjoyed exhibiting the inscribed astronomical star signs of the sun, moon, and stars. Possession of the sword was supreme power over the heavens, and earth, as he was, in his mind’s eye, the authority over the hosts of heaven! Undoubtedly the possession of any sword, gives the owner the feeling of power, due to its ability to both protect and destroy. Robed in his claimed authority as Prophet Matthias is under the illusion of his God-given mission to either protect or destroy!
Even Matthias’ bed clothes are worthy of a few words; he liked to wear linen nightcaps, richly embroidered. Two such nightcaps were found to have names written upon them, on the one cap we have the name ‘Jesus Matthias’ while on the other we find the names of the twelve apostles.
Costly robes and finest fabric
Prophet Matthias’ wardrobe was eye-catching as he would have only the most beautiful fabrics of silk and delicate lace; with leather belts and hats. Most of his garments exhibited elaborate embroidery in gold or silver. His clothes were fabulous; they required a lining of either velvet or silk of the finest quality; nothing was either cheap or inconsequential. With his pantaloons tucked into his boots, his attire from head to toe was finished off with a gold embellished leather cocked hat.
On some occasions, he would wear twelve silk tassels around his waist, which would represent the twelve tribes of Israel. He enjoyed wearing linen shirts, and silk stockings, even his handkerchiefs were silk.
Matthias loved having many fashionable outfits to choose from, and with others funding his lifestyle, he was able to have what he liked, whenever he wanted it.
Additionally, he would also put on gloves, and owned a costly gold watch: which resulted in him adorned from head to toe in a colorful display of wealth, power, and authority. (Items 1 to 5 Ref: 26 & 31)
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (6)
Matthias certainly believed in dressing to impress! For a detailed description of Matthias’ attire at the time that he visited with Joseph Smith, please refer to Joseph’s description as contained within this work.
Dressed in his eye-catching attire and self-professed divine authority, Matthias would frequent the streets, shops, businesses and churches of New York City. As he moved around the city; dressed in his spectacular clothing, Matthias repeatedly had the opportunity to spread his doctrines, and talk with the curious New York members of society. Will you for a moment put yourself in the position of any person in New York City. You can be either a poor working immigrant or a wealthy prominent business person within a busy shop on the high street of New York. While you are shopping Matthias walks in with his rod in one hand, and his sword around his mid waist. With long flowing hair and a long bushy beard he walks up to you, and starts talking; he tells you that he is a prophet on a divine mission, and his name is Prophet Matthias. Amazingly you are told that his mission is to build up the New Jerusalem and that he has the power to open the gates and let you enter; if you but follow him, and do his bidding. What would you say and do? Would you challenge him by asking him questions; or would you simply say nothing, turn and walk away?
With the power of hindsight, how did Matthias attain this fantastic wardrobe, two-edged sword, iron rod, gold watch, and wealth? Arriving in the city of New York presented many profitable opportunities for Matthias; which he was happy to exploit. He met a man called Mr. Sylvester Mills: a wealthy member of high society located at Pearl Street New York: as recorded in the Commercial Advertiser newspaper, dated September 26th, 1832.(Ref: 70)
Almost immediately Matthias moved into the mansion home of Mr. Mills: after which he set about using the wealth of Mills to purchase beautiful new furniture for the house; and clothing for himself. Surprisingly within a short period, the home of Mr. Mills became the unofficial meetinghouse for the disciples of Matthias the Prophet. Unfortunately with his finances reduced, and his home invaded, Mr. Mills started to feel the pressure: both in the world and in his mind. Mills, fortunately, had some very loyal family members, and friends, who became concerned with the change in his lifestyle. Wishing to help in any way possible, these family members and friends considered it their duty to request help from the local authorities. With a social scandal brewing, the private financial affairs of Mr. Mills will be investigated by a Magistrate of the City Courts. Undoubtedly the involvement of Prophet Matthias in the life of Mills; was at the heart of the investigation. Mr. Mills was the potential victim, suffering from a nervous mental breakdown. Shortly before the official judicial inquiry, we find Matthias preaching around the dinner table. This sermon was one of the most disastrous sermons ever preached by Matthias.
On this occasion, ‘Matthias preached against the earliest commandment’ of ‘increase and multiply’ as given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Within his sermon: Matthias declared. ‘God had never authorized wicked people to multiply, and that preachers who in the marriage ceremony said that God had joined them together, were sent of the devil.’ We read that Matthias was ‘repeatedly interrupted during this discourse, for as he admitted none righteous but his party.’
Apparently, most of the congregation were males, and they took great offense to the sermon, because those in attendances ‘understood themselves as being meant for the wicked, and disliking the doctrine.’ As Matthias continued preaching his doctrines, the male congregation became more and more vocal, up until the point in which Mr. Mills stepped forward and ‘used his authority by insisting on peace in his private house.’
According to Isabella Van Wagener: ‘violence would have been committed’ upon Matthias; however, this did not prevail due to the intercession of Mr. Sylvester Mills and his petitions for peace within his house. (Ref: N48)
With his ability to continually annoy wealthy members of New York society Matthias has drawn attention to his activities. In desperation and requiring justice, the family and friends of Mr. Mills are seeking help from the magistrates. As the long arm of the law reached out seeking justice, surprisingly both Matthias & Mills are arrested. (Ref: 31)
From the New York Mercury under the section Courts in the matter of Sylvester H Mills, we read the following. ‘The Vice-Chancellor on the 20th of September last H Mills was committed to the lunatic asylums a deranged person. It was done under the warrant signed by the recorder and another magistrate. This warrant was given upon the application of a brother of Mr. Mills; and was grounded upon affidavits some of which were made by medical men.’ (Ref: 160) After all the legalities Mills ‘was sent to the Bloomingdale Asylum, quite out of his mind.’ In his condemned position Prophet Matthias is ‘sent to the lunatic hospital, at Bellevue’ as he was judged to be both an ‘imposter and a vagabond,‘ as reported in the Nantucket Inquirer. (Ref: 31)
With Mr. Mills forcibly residing at Bloomingdale Asylum: we find Isabella Van Wagener (Sojourner-Truth) making her first visit: we are informed. ‘Mr. Mills saw her coming up from his window and came down to meet her. At this meeting, he expressed the same faith as before and gave her an order on his brother’s house for twenty dollars, which money was to be given to Matthias. Mr. Mills exhorted her to continue in the faith.’ (Ref N52)
One can only but pause in amazement, as Mills even while incarcerated within the Bloomingdale Asylum still believes in the doctrines of his prophet and teacher Matthias.
During his incarceration, many differing opinions are forthcoming, due in part to Mills social standing. We have medical professionals confirming that Mills was insane; while on the other side of the fence, we have equally qualified medical doctors and friends claiming that he was sane; and of no danger to either himself or others!
Dr. Bailey was a medical man working in the Bloomingdale Asylum: in his report, he concluded that; ‘Mr. Mills continues in his insanity,’ within the same article we read. ‘Another professional person proves he went three times to the asylum and had conversations with Mr. Mills; then he concluded that Mills was insane—dangerously insane.’ (Ref: 160)
Additional evidence of insanity was presented by; Captain Richardson, Dr. Vanderburg; and Dr. Metcalf. These men were sincere in their conviction regarding the insanity of Mr. Mills. On the other side of the fence, and once again within the same report as presented through the court system, we find the following remarks by Dr. Bailey. This time Dr. Bailey had experience of working with Mills at the asylum and formed a different conclusion. Dr. Bailey said: ‘there was nothing to show insanity save in the manner of religion.’ Additionally, he also admitted ‘Mr. Mills would not be dangerous to himself or others if he were allowed to go at large; also that if he (Dr. Bailey) was the governor of the asylum, he would not keep him confined.’ Evidence was also presented by Mr. Joseph Ganahi the Australian counsel residing in Georgia, George Matthews the brother of Matthias, Joseph Galloway a servant of Mr. Mills, and Mr. Walter Hunt a business partner and friend of the Folgers. All of the above were also sincere in their belief and understanding of Mills mental health.
A few words recording Mr. Walter Hunt’s position may be of interest to the careful reader as it shares information regarding Matthias and his influence over Mills. According to Hunt: he attended the meetings at Mills home, and after attending several meetings, Hunt gave his affidavit in which he stated that: ‘Sylvester H. Mills is no more insane than other religious people.’ Furthermore, Hunt maintains that Mills is ‘labouring under a maniac –but still a maniac in which he is very happy—which is connected immediately with the supposed millennium.’ Legally the outcome of this hearing was: ‘It is therefore ordered that Sylvester H Mills be remanded and remain in the custody of the keeper of the asylum; and that the application upon the habeas corpus be denied, but without cost.’ (Ref160)
Eventually, Mills received his discharge from the so-called care of the asylum. From all the evidence at hand, there was no difference in Mills upon his release.
Like fish in a small bowl, Mills is happily swimming in circles with Matthias. Incarcerated, Matthias continued to fight against the authorities; making solemn protests against receiving a more protracted incarceration as reported in the Salem Gazette. (Ref: 26)
From the New York Mercantile, we read the following. ‘The brother of Matthias, a respectable bootmaker in the city, hearing of the arrest, brought the prisoner by a writ of Habeas corpus before the Recorder yesterday. D.W. Bucklin Esq appeared for the counsel for the prisoner and Robert Sedwick for his accusers. After the grounds on which the arrest took place were stated, and the law explained by both council, Mr. Bucklin, called two witnesses to prove that Matthias was not insane or if insane, he was not so in the meaning of the act.’ The first witness called was Mr. Walter Hunt. ‘He testified that he had known the prisoner five or six weeks—had conversed with him—supposed at first that he was insane—and after hearing him speak, thought he was deranged—but when he explained his meaning and expounded his doctrines, he changed his mind—is convinced that his first impressions arose from the prisoners interpretations of the scriptures –is not a medical man—has seen nothing to convince him that Matthias is deranged—considering him perfectly harmless, conscientiously so—heard that he professed to be the Holy Ghost—the trumpet or instrument through which God spoke to man—believes him to be an enthusiast, though less excited and less violent than many Methodists are—had seen nothing in Matthias that would lead him to the opinion he would harm anyone.’
The second witness was Mr. C. Fellows who gave the following testimony. ‘He first saw Matthias about four weeks ago—dinner with him at Mr. Mills’ house—has heard him lecture—on Sunday for three hours—he is very enthusiastic and sincere. Heard him say that he was God in the Judgement seat, where he would remain till 1836, when the world would be destroyed—that one of his disciples (Mr. E. Pierson) was John the Baptist.’ Matthias more like a defense attorney than a lunatic then explained. ‘This was merely a figure—I am as a prophet—I am as a trumpet merely, and the spirit makes use of my personage to speak through; I say that I am merely an instrument or a trumpet, for it is necessary to speak against evil.’ After Matthias finished with his remarks Mr. C Fellows resumed his testimony; he said. ‘Matthias did not have the appearance of a maniac—but there was a deviation in him from a sound mind—I think he is partially deranged.’
Another person who testified was Mr. Jameson Cox: in a nutshell, he said. ‘From all he had seen or heard of the prisoner, he did not think he would harm anyone.’ The situation could be summed up in the following words. ‘If Matthias is mad, there is a method to his madness.’ (Ref; F127)
After a short stay in the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital: Matthias is discharged, after which he was arrested and ‘immediately carried before Mr. Justice Lownds.’ The charge was ’blasphemy,’ and a trial is arranged for the next Grand Jury. Mr. ‘Walter Hunt, Daniel Beeman, and D.W. Buckling’ providing securities of bail at $300.00 for Matthias. Mr. Thomas M. Hooker and Mr. Alexis L. Dias make the accusation and charge of blasphemy. Coincidentally these men were merchants and associates of Mr. Mills. The charges are based on Matthias being ‘in the habit of using, under the pretense of being a messenger of God,’ language which was ‘profane in the extreme.‘ (Ref: 127) Matthias was charged with blasphemy and bailed on this charge; however, no trial proceeded! Upon close examination of many newspapers, it appears evident that the educated members of society questioned the legality of such a course of action. Towards the end of many articles reporting on the arrest of Matthias on the charge of blasphemy, we read the following. ‘We presume there is some punishment provided for blasphemy by the revised laws; and that this latter proceeding may be legal.’ (Ref: 81)
Sensibly Matthias was never brought to trial on the case of blasphemy ‘as he merely asserted no more than other clergymen who say they are directed by Gods spirit; the difficulty, of course, was to prove that he was not, as he could offer the same proofs which others who are not called blasphemous could.’ (Ref: N51)
In conclusion, while held in the lunatic asylum Mills was in the eyes of the medical profession, relatives and friends judged to be insane when it came to anything in connection with religion, while at the same time sane regarding everything else in life! He was in their terms a ‘Religious Maniac!’
Following in the footstep of Matthias: Mr. Mills eventually received his discharge, after which he once again resumed his chosen lifestyle. Finding each other Matthias and Mills once again continued their attachment: only this time it was deeper, darker, and even more depressing for all concerned! Mills’ mansion home became once again the gathering place for the disciples of Matthias. Within its walls cooks prepared the fabulous meals from the finest of food items. Preaching, teaching and eating intermingled within a lifestyle of ever-increasing desperation, and intensity.
Once again Matthias and his disciples eat both physical, and spiritual food, at the expense of Mr. Mills and his deep pockets. We are informed: ‘Matthias preached frequently and on every Sunday, and introduced a curious practice of providing a dinner for any of the company who chose to stay.’ Interestingly Matthias is teaching ‘the good things of this life were for enjoyment, and that the time of abundance had come….he ate everyday good food, but not pies, and drank no wine; he also abstained from pork.’ (Ref: N44) Sadly the once respectable mansion of Mr. Mills is now falling deeper into a scandal. Regrettably, his relatives and friends are once again forced into action as they no longer can stand idly by watching everything dissolve into utter chaos
With a pending second magistrate court case on the horizon: Matthias decides to slip away from his now demoralized religious fanatical disciple Mr. Mills. Before leaving Matthias wants a parting gift from the unstable shadow of a man: he requests a present of money to purchase some keepsake, as a memento of their alliance. With cash in his hand, he buys a beautiful French snuffbox. Upon the box, we find the fable of the monkey and the two cats. The fable is a most interesting one: from the interpretation McGuffey’s Third Reader, c 1836; we read. ‘Two hungry cats, having stolen some cheese, could not agree how to divide it. So they called in a monkey to decide the case. Let me see says the monkey with an arch look, this slice weighs more than the other. With that, he bit off a large piece, in order, as he said, to make them balance. The other scale was now too heavy. This gave the upright judge a fine pretense to take a second mouthful. Hold! Hold! Cried the two cats, give each of us his share of the rest and we will be content. If you are content, says the monkey, justice is not. The law my friends must have its course. So he nibbled first one piece, and then the other. The poor cats, seeing their cheese in a fair way to be eaten up, most humbly begged the judge to give himself no further trouble. Not so fast, I beseech you, my friends, says the judge. We owe justice to ourselves as well as to you. What is left is due to me in right of my office. So saying, he crammed the whole into his mouth, and very gravely dismissed the court.’ (Ref 24)
The moral of this fable teaches us that it is better to bear a slight wrong rather than to resort to the law for trifles. Perhaps Matthias viewed his time with Mr. Mills as a small affair not worthy of interference from the long arm of the magistrate’s court!
After Matthias received his parting gift from Sylvester Mills, the two were never seen together again.
In time, and we are only talking of months or weeks, not years or decades, we find Mr. Sylvester Mills recovering from his encounter with Matthias: he is vocally active trying to distance himself from his Matthias connections. The American Advocate dated the 8th October 1834 presents a remarkable insight, we read. ‘Mr. Mills under the strange delusion became a lunatic. His friends removed him to the country, and from the society of Matthias, and his reason soon returned. He is now convinced of his error and has abandoned his delusion.’ (Ref: 51)
In time, and we are only talking of months or weeks, not years or decades, we find Mr. Sylvester Mills recovering from his encounter with Matthias: he is vocally active trying to distance himself from his Matthias connections. The American Advocate dated the 8th October 1834 presents a remarkable insight, we read. ‘Mr. Mills under the strange delusion became a lunatic. His friends removed him to the country, and from the society of Matthias, and his reason soon returned. He is now convinced of his error and has abandoned his delusion.’ (Ref: 51)
On his own, once again the self-proclaimed Prophet, like a predator, stalks the churches, shops, and businesses looking for his next victim. With the criteria set, Matthias has started to enjoy the luxuries of life, and he has an insatiable appetite for clothes and food: his disciples follow him, and he likes wealth, along with the sound of his voice. What or who will he find next.
The Folger Connection.
Please remember, all newspaper and historical documents are presented in their original format in a bold blue-print, with no corrections for spelling or grammar.
Mr. Benjamin Folger is one of the most respected successful businessmen on Pearl Street, New York: Unfortunately, he looks dejected, depressed, and very annoyed. In obvious distress, he is requesting assistance from the legal authorities; due to the horrifying events of the past few years, which have left their mark on his family, home, and Business Empire. Unfortunately, the reputation of this handsome young successful businessman now lies in ruin. Benjamin has walked with the devil in the form of Matthias; he has paid the price and suffered the consequences: now it’s time to tell his story. Surprisingly Benjamin wants the world to know what he has experienced; he has attempted to be a Christian: now he wants and needs to repent of his actions. Eventually, he is prepared to speak his version of the truth for the entire world to hear, and try to understand! As a defeated sorry man Benjamin wants his former friends in the higher echelons of New York Society to forgive his fall from moral and spiritual respectability. Surprisingly he wants Matthias arrested. We read in the Albany Evening Journal that Matthias ‘had left New York having in his possession a large amount of Mr. Folger’s property.’ In the same newspaper, we read that Matthias faces charges of ‘many other mal-practices, some of them of the blackest character, and worthy of the most severe punishment.’ (Ref: 31)
Continuing with our investigation, we will discover the challenging, emotional, immorality and manipulation, which Matthias exerted upon the Folger family and empire!
As part of his repentance, Benjamin makes a public announcement. In the Commercial Advertiser newspaper dated 8th November 1834 we read Benjamin’s very public announcement and repentance.
‘Messrs Editors; I am informed by my friends that the notice in one of the morning papers of the proceedings in court in reference to Matthias, has led some to suppose that I have relapsed into a belief in him and his blasphemous doctrines. Least it should be so supposed, will you do me a favor to state, distinctly, in your paper of this evening, that I have long since renounced his doctrines entirely, and believe him to be one of the most base and deceitful beings on earth. This is likewise the opinion of every member of my family-and my object is, now, to rid myself of him and those connected with him, with as little trouble as possible. Mr. Pierson, myself and family have been deeply, very deeply, deluded, deceived, and imposed upon; and I regret exceedingly that the former could not have been spared to witness the deep deception. We are sensible of our error. We repent of it sincerely; and although we cannot expect to recover at present the situation we held in society previous to our acquaintance with this vile creature, yet, in time, we shall be able to show, that we are enemies to him, and all who undertake to sustain him in his wickedness and plans to destroy us.’ Benjamin H Folger. (Ref 62)
Under oath at the Upper Police Office New York, Mr. Benjamin Folger informed the Police of the following events as recorded in the New York Man newspaper.
The first meeting between Benjamin and Matthias was in the month of September 1832. The meeting was at the house of his friend Mr. Elijah Pierson in the city of New York. Benjamin and Elijah had for several years previous been intimate friends within business, family, and religious matters.
A short version of the very moving emotional encounter between Elijah Pierson and Matthias is available in chapter thirteen entitled The Pierson Tears.
For now, let us move forward with the Folger delusion. Matthias continually visited with Benjamin, at his place of business, then privately at his home. Matthias always affirmed that he was the ‘spirit of truth,’ and that he knew all things from the beginning to the end. On one occasion he put a sheet of paper in a cupboard draw then closed the drawer: Matthias then told Benjamin that he could only see the end of the paper, but Matthias because he knew everything could ‘see the whole length of it,’
Continually Matthias informed Benjamin that there was ‘no truth but in him.’ Interestingly in his statement, Benjamin tells the Police that he believed all that Matthias said; after which he started to supply Matthias with money. Having procured additional funds from Benjamin, Matthias begins to inform Mr. Elijah Pierson and Mr. Benjamin Folger that he Matthias has ‘commenced the religion of God on earth.’ Unsurprisingly Benjamin and Elijah are ‘called into the kingdom.’ Financially Benjamin is required to contribute of his substance so that Matthias can overcome the devil; and establish the kingdom of God upon this earth. Under emotional, sexual, religious pressure, Benjamin commences providing Matthias with all that he requests!
For the past eleven months, Matthias has continually been in contact with Benjamin Folger. He has infiltrated his business empire and private dwelling at 8 Third Street, New York. Incredibly Benjamin Folger and Elijah Pierson are both financially supporting Matthias: Working together they decide to purchase a building lot and ‘build him a house in Greenwich Village.’ Not content with his building lot and expanding his control, we see the master manipulator spring into action. He informs his two devoted disciples that: ‘he (Matthias) must have the house built of stone, for bricks were particularly offensive to the spirit, as the children of God had been much oppressed by the Egyptians in the making of them.’
Remarkably, both Folger and Pierson agreed to this demand: in their minds perhaps it made perfect sense; hence, we see the continuation of the delusion in Matthias and his disciples. Ironically before the workmen are able to start work building the stone house, Matthias becomes aware that Benjamin has purchased a mansion on the ‘precise day on which the Gentiles had broken up the kingdom at Mr. Mills’ house,’ consequently Matthias regarded this as the ‘influence of the spirit providing a residency for him.’ (Ref: C184)
With bigger and better opportunities on the horizon, a stone house in Greenwich Village is no match for a new mansion and empire in the country!
In the month of August 1833, a most remarkable continuation of events unfolds as Matthias decides to visit with Benjamin at his new mansion home in Sing- Sing, West Chester County, which is about 35 miles from New York. Regarding this visit, we have a fascinating statement from Isabella Van Wagener (Sojourner-Truth), which after consideration sheds new information on the Folger involvement with Matthias.
This information is from her perspective: she said. ‘We believe Mr. Folger had not seen much of Matthias before. For he (Mr. Benjamin Folger) had retired into the country about the time that Matthias introduced himself to Mr. Pierson, and Mr. Folger’s business had led him much out of town, so that he had heard little about him (Matthias)’ (Ref: N55)
We are not sure if Matthias took the ferry boat up the Hudson River, perhaps he traveled via coach over land: however, we are confident that he arrived at Mount Zion, Sing-Sing with his baggage. (Ref: 70)
Amazingly it should be remembered that Benjamin and his wife Ann were not in residence at the time of Matthias’ arrival at their mansion home: in their words, we read. ‘About the 20th August 1833, on our return from a short visit to New York, we found Matthias at our residence. He had been there two days. He was an unexpected visitor, but we soon heard from his own lips an account of his sufferings for the cause of truth, as he termed it; and our minds having been prepared by Mr. Pierson’s instructions, with the oft reputed caution not to reject him when he did come, but to receive him in the character he announced himself, that it was dangerous to reject truth as to receive error, referring to the words contained in Exodus, twenty-third chapter, commencing with the twentieth verse, and including the twenty-second, the way, we repeat, being thus prepared, we invited him to stay over the Sabbath, expecting him to leave us on the Monday afternoon following.’ (Ref: C154)
Never missing his opportunity to talk and teach, Matthias shared many of his doctrines with Benjamin and Ann. After about a week Matthias is not happy with the idea of sharing accommodation with Benjamin and Elijah Pierson!
Interestingly we see the master manipulator at work; he informs Benjamin ‘that he (Benjamin) and Pierson ought to hire a house for his special use.’ The friends Benjamin, and Elijah consulted together, reviewing this most unusual request. After much deliberation, they concluded and ‘agreed to comply with the very reasonable request of Matthews.’ Like good servants obeying their master: Benjamin and Elijah attempted to set up the approved plan to move Matthias into his required rented home. Incredibly this is the second time in which private accommodation has been requested and approved! Interestingly Matthias on the other hand, is at work changing the plan, as his ambitions were significantly expanding: he said. ‘A hired house would no longer content him, and he intimated to his two friends that it would be improper for a person of his character to reside in a hired house and that they ought to purchase a house for him.’ Amazingly we are told: ‘This also Messrs Folger and Pierson agreed to.’
Looking at these events unfolding is like looking at the layers of a large onion: eyes water at first, with pain and loss of vision a pending probability.
Once again, Benjamin and Elijah set off to find a house for Matthias, only this time, the demands of Matthias are increasing. United in their endeavors Benjamin and Elijah are attempting to serve their prophet: unfortunately for them, the master manipulator Matthias is at work changing the plans exponentially as he informs Benjamin. ‘The house which Mr. Folger (Benjamin) purchased some time previous at Sing- Sing, and in which he then resided, had been purchased for him, (Matthias) and that the spirit of truth had directed Mr. Folger (Benjamin) in making the said purchase.’
From this point onward, Matthias has completely taken over Benjamin’s house. ‘As the house had been thus miraculously purchased for Matthews (Matthias), he had a clear course to remain in it, and he did remain in it without further ceremony until October 1833 when he required that Messrs Folger and Pierson who then resided with him should give up the house to his own charge, which they accordingly did.’ (Ref: 70)
Astonishingly in a private letter between Elijah Pierson and Benjamin Folger, we find confirmation of their agreement and intentions. The letter was dated the 2nd November 1833 and reads as follows.
‘Sir, Your letter of this date I have received, which informs me that you have in agreement with our verbal understanding executed a deed of your mansion home and farm, lately known as Heart Place, to Mr. Robert Matthias, for the setting up and establishing the Fathers House. This act has my cordial approbation, inasmuch as it is intended to advance the establishment of the kingdom of God. I agree to bear one-half of the charge, and hereby authorise you to debit my account with my proportion, deducting the same from any monies you may receive of mine, and charging me with one half of the mortgage, when you may see fit to discharge it, together with interest, making a total debt to me of from three thousand seven hundred and fifty, to four thousand dollars, for this purpose. Yours with real esteem: Mr. Elijah Pierson.’ (Ref: C187)
Surprisingly the deluded followers of Matthias believed all that he had said and done. Matthias thought he was;
Ultimately Matthias was in control as the earthly, and heavenly Father, to all his flock.
Being both earthly and heavenly father, gave Matthias the power to execute either rewards, or wrath upon those who pleased, or displeased him.
Amazingly the power of Matthias at this time increased at exponential rates as ‘Mrs. B Folger (Ann) informed Isabella that all the property the house and farm at Sing -Sing belonged to Father (Matthias) given at her (Ann’s) request.’(Ref N; 62)
Not satisfied with being the father of all he surveyed; Matthias also claimed to have powers to cast out evil spirits: according to Matthias, he was also.
As Father and executing angel Matthias believed that he had the true spirit which would guide him in all aspects of his life. With this true spirit guidance, Matthias was determined to enforce his will on his followers, regardless of their ideas, or opinions on any subject!
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (7)
Having this true spirit became vital in the eyes of Matthias: as he would instruct his followers in all things! If they followed his instructions, then they also had the true spirit; however, if disobeyed they were, according to Matthias: then in possession of evil spirits. Once in possession of evil spirits, Matthias, and his disciples, considered such persons as being ‘lost creatures.’ Incredibly Matthias felt that he was personally able to cast out any and all ‘evil spirits.’ Apparently, he would become annoyed, controlling, and violent if he felt evil spirits had entered into any of his followers! In his delusion Matthias preached the idea of evil spirits entering into the bodies of all mortals: he continually said. ‘All diseases were termed, devils.’ For example: ‘A blind man was possessed by a blind devil, a lame one by a limping devil, and so on; those who were afflicted with deafness, toothache, headache, he professed to have the power to cast out.’
Isabella Van Wagener (Sojourner-Truth) informs us. ‘Our family was remarkably preserved from sickness during his stay with us; it was no doubt owing principally to the healthy atmosphere in which we lived for the last fifteen or eighteen months. The use of warm and cold baths, and a strict attention to diet, under the instruction of Dr. P……, one of the finest physicians of New York City.‘ (Ref: C164)
Incredibly Matthias believed that he could give any person possessed of an evil spirit a better spirit: to this end, he would preach for hours at a time.
Perhaps this prolonged period of preaching was his way of attempting to give, as he saw it, ‘the true spirit’ to his believers. Violence, immorality, and confusion were some of the tools used by Matthias; to imprint his doctrines into the hearts, and minds of his disciples.
WITH THESE FACTS PRESENTED AT THIS JUNCTURE LET US REMEMBER THEM AS POINT NUMBER (8)
The community was working and living at the house and farm of Mr. Benjamin Folger: at Sing-Sing, on the banks of the Hudson River. The house once called Heart Place had been re-named by Matthias and was now known to all as Mount Zion.
Within Mount Zion, Matthias taught his doctrines. Part of this theory was concerning the condition of marriage, as he believed the institution of marriage was evil; he said that it was not an authorized institution and that he, Matthias should declare all marriages void.
Around this period Ann Folger became attracted to Matthias: she found his authority, doctrines, and physical abilities irresistible as they spent time together often seen talking and walking alone in the house, gardens, and fields.
According to Matthias; he could and would spiritually match make for his disciples. Matthias taught ‘all marriages were made by the devil unless the parties were married by him’ (Ref: 23) The above statement requires further examination, as most careful readers consider the institution of marriage central to society! Shockingly Matthias had strange opinions on marriage! He ‘regarded the marriages within the gentile world as illegal, in as much as they were performed by ministers who confessed they were sinners even in their prayers to God, and sometimes calling themselves the chief of sinners, and yet saying in conclusion to the marriage ceremony, What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. He advanced many arguments to show the illegality and the insufficiency of ministers, upon Bible principals, to preform so important and holy an ordinance.’ (Ref: C170) ‘Matthias’ objection was to the want of the proper order in the present regulations of the Gentile world. God he said, had nothing to do with the marriage of the wicked, or to use his words, with the marriage of devils. Nor was it acceptable in the sight of God for an unholy person, a devil to marry people.’ (Ref: C171)
Apparently, Matthias objected to everything remotely connected to the Christian marriage ceremony. In Matthias’ world, no couple was married unless he married them!
Today we may have used the term Alpha male or narcissistic to describe Matthias. Ultimately he held power over the doctrine of marriage, and ownership over their worldly chattels. In Matthias’ world, he was the master of all he surveyed.
In the late fall of 1833, Matthias has control over the homes and property of both the Folger and Pierson households. Interestingly, although the property was never legally conveyed into the hands of Matthias, he still managed to take control over them, as if they were his homes, coaches, gardens, and farm fields. Everything was under his jurisdiction as he was going to build a temple, and then eventually the New Jerusalem.
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