The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

work (as it did that of the Texas Women's History Project) abounds in
the presentation. It is a pity no reference is made to her in the acknowl-
edgments or bibliography.
Austin RUTHE WINEGARTEN
A Gathering of Saints: A True Story of Money, Murder, and Deceit. By Robert
Lindsey. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. Pp. 397. Prologue,
photographs, epilogue, index. $18.95.)
Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders. By Linda Sillitoe
and Allen D. Roberts. Forensic analysis by George J. Throckmor-
ton. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988. Pp. xiii+556.
Preface, photographs, index. $17.95.)
In the space of two days, on October 15 and 16, 1985, citizens of
Utah were stunned by three separate bombings occuring in different
parts of Salt Lake City, which killed two individuals and seriously injured
a third. Almost immediately, the victim of the third bomb, Mark W.
Hofmann, a well-known local dealer in historical documents, was tagged
as the prime suspect by law enforcement officials in what emerged as a
bizarre case of murder, forgery, and fraud.
After an exhaustive investigation and preliminary hearing, Hofmann
confessed to the two murders, and in the process, revealed his own il-
licit operation of producing and selling forged historical documents.
His forgeries were so diverse and skillfully produced that one qualified
observer labeled him as "unquestionably the most skilled forger this
country has ever produced." Hofmann's documents included hand-
written letters of prominent Mormons such as Joseph Smith and Brig-
ham Young, as well as letters of such outstanding Americans as Jim
Bridger, Daniel Boone, Betsy Ross, and Emily Dickinson. Hofmann
even forged printed materials, including rare nineteenth-century paper
money and an extremely scarce document known as the "Oath of a
Freeman," which, with its alleged 1638 date, stood as the first printed
document in America. Hofmann sold his forgeries (which were de-
clared "authentic" by a number of highly respected document experts)
to unsuspecting collectors, many of whom, like Hofmann himself, were
Latter-day Saints (Mormons). He even sold a number of forgeries
to the Mormon Church itself! Hofmann's fradulent operation ran
smoothly for five years, from 1980 to 1985, providing a lucrative in-
come. By October 1985, however, Hofmann found himself over his
head financially and felt that the only way out was to kill Steven Chris-
tensen and Kathy Sheets in order to avoid detection. The third bomb,

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed July 5, 2015.