“How a Mormon Preacher Tried to Walk on Water.” Livingston Register (Geneseo, NewYork) 16, no. 784 (15 January 1839).
HOW A MORMON PREACHER TRIED TO WALK ON THE WATER AND HOW HE GOT “SUCKED IN.”—Some time ago, in a town in western New York, where the Mormon delusion had made numerous converts, the disciples were summoned to assemble in a wild place, circumjacent to a pond, on the water of which the gifted elder announced that he should walk and preach. The believers notified their doubting friends, and great things were anticipated. But it seems there were a few wicked Lamanites, who secretly set themselves to make mischief. Choosing their opportunity just before the apponted day of miracles, they ascertained by means of a raft, that the pond to be traversed was extremely shallow; a thin sheet of water covering a common swamp mire. This mire was found to be of a consistency nearly strong enough, except within a small central space, to sustain the weight of a man. They soon discovered a line of plank laid in a particular direction completely across the pond, sunk about four inches under the surface of the water.—They were so fastened down and locked together, and so daubed with mud as to be quite imperceptible from the neighboring declivities. They resolved on preventing the miracle by sawing the concealed bridge in pieces, just where it crossed the deepest and most dangerous part of the pond. This was done and every thing left apparently as they found it. The expected day arrived, the congregation placed themselves in an amphitheatre on the surrounding slopes, and the preacher appeared at the edge of the water. Presently he raised his stentorian voice, and as he passed his invisible bridge with a step apparently unearthly, taught and warned the people. All ears were open, and every eye strained from its socket with astonishment. But alas! just as the miracle worker seemed to have wrought conviction of his divine power in the wondering hearts of the multitude, he stepped upon one of the detached pieces of plank, sallied sideways, and instantly plunged, floundering, and sinking in the watery mire. The mingling shrieks, screams and shouts of the spectators, all in a rush of commotion, were appalling. The scene was indescribable. Even those who had spoiled the miracle were filled with horror when they actually saw the imposter finally disappear. They had not dreamed that their trick would cost him more than the fright, discomfort and disgrace of being submersed and afterwards struggling ashore; all along taking it for granted that the plank would enable him to swim, however it might treacherously fail him to walk.—But the tale closes with the close of life, and the consequent close of Mormonism in that vicinity. He sunk, and long before the confounded assembly were in a condition to afford him relief, perished a victim to his imposture.— N. O. Sun.