Nineteenth Century Mormons Had A Secret Code. What Were They Hiding?


Was Mitt Romney Hiding Something?

The name Deseret is taken from a word in the Book of Mormon and means “honeybee”.  It reflects the Mormon use of the beehive as a symbol of co-operative industry.  The Deseret language is a very unique alphabet system based on phonetics.  It was devised as an alternative to the Latin alphabet for writing the English language.  The alphabet was developed during the 1850s at the University of Deseret, now the University of Utah, and was created for use by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon or LDS Church, under Church President Brigham Young (1801-1877).

Brigham Young’s personal secretary, George D. Watt, was among the designers of the Deseret alphabet and is thought to have used the Pitman English Phonotypic Alphabet of 1847 (a form of shorthand) as the model.

The Mormon Church published four books using the Deseret alphabet.  The Church-owned Deseret Newspaper also published church passages using the alphabet.  Also, some historical records, diaries, and other materials were hand-written using this script, and it had limited use on coins and signs.  However, the alphabet failed to gain wide acceptance and was not actively promoted after 1869.

Today, the Deseret alphabet remains of interest primarily to historians and hobbyists.  Or so they say!

Jeff Meldrum is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and reportedly writes books, according to published reports he spends considerable time, “defending the historical veracity of the Book of Mormon, in essence saying he thinks American Indians are decendents of Jews who emigrated here thousands of years ago.”  A cryptofiction version of his thoughts can be found in Clan of Cain: The Genesis of Bigfoot by Shane Lester.

Sunn Classics Pictures, a Mormon-owned documentary production company, did produce films in the 1970s, on Bigfoot, Noah’s Ark, and other mysteries outside the mainstream. Of course, they made one on Lincoln’s assassination too, and the company happened to be located in Utah, where Mormon ownership might be expected.

The Bigfoot-Cain connection traces its origins back to a story told by an early elder of the Mormon church, David W. Patten.  Patten claimed that in 1835 he encountered Cain walking along the side of the road.  He wrote: “He walked along beside me for about two miles.  His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark.” 

In a letter published in Lycurgus Wilson’s biography of Patten.  A man named Spencer Kimball wrote of a letter, written in Deseret code.  Evidence, including a poem referencing the event by Eliza R. Snow supports this claim and some records of a Quorum of 12 or so meetings also confirm it.

that this story was not widely circulated in the 19th century is not a surpise because the Deseret alphabet never widely caught on.  However; in Church Archives a similar story was found; a page marked “from the papers of E. Wesley Smith,” mission president in Hawaii in the 1920s and brother of Joseph Fielding Smith, described Wesley’s meeting with Cain, and explaining that his brother told him of David Patten’s encounter.

Was the Deseret alphabet really created as a code to coverup the origins of Big Foot?  We may never know.