Of this event, Dale Broadhurst has written:
‘On February 12th, 1832 Elders Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde approached the outskirts of what Hyde, in his missionary journal, calls “Salem Village”. Although Mormon missionaries had no doubt passed through this part of northern Ashtabula Co. prior to Smith and Hyde’s visit, they were the first Mormons who are known to have lingered in the area long enough to preach and search out potential converts. According to Elder Hyde’s journal, the two missionaries “Tarried all night with a Mr. Sawtril” and at his house were “kindly entertained”. Quite likely this was the home of Mr. Daniel Sawtelle, an old Ashtabula pioneer who had lived in New Salem back in the days when Solomon Spalding was a resident there.
On the next day Smith and Hyde “Visited two or three families in the vicinity of Salem” preaching Mormonism and attempting to locate possible candidates for baptism. They generated enough interest in the village that they were able to hold a meeting that evening and announce the Mormon gospel to “a large and attentive congregation”. Hyde also stayed that the preaching elders “sold two Books of Mormon” that day. Then they “Tarried all night with Col. Fifield”, probably Edward Fifield — another old pioneer from Spalding’s time.
Samuel H. Smith also kept a missionary journal and his account says that the two elders “went into the village again”, where they “held a meeting in the school house”. This latter “meeting” appears to have been conducted in the evening on February 14th. The only “village” of any size in the immediate vicinity was Salem itself. Here is where Aaron Wright said (in 1833) that Orson Hyde “preached” in “the school house” and was heard by Nehemiah King, another local resident who had known Solomon Spalding. Orson Hyde said himself (in 1841): “In the spring of 1832 I preached in New Salem, Ohio the place where Rev. Mr. Spaulding resided at the time he wrote his romance”.
If it was on the 14th that Nehemiah King attended the missionaries’ preaching service — and was there reminded of Solomon Spalding’s tales, when he heard the Book of Mormon read — then Orson Hyde’s sales of the book on the previous day were probably made to genuinely interested persons and not to residents merely curious to see if the Book of Mormon read like Spalding’s old fiction. Henry Lake (yet another of Spalding’s old friends in the village) did not have a copy of the book and was forced to borrow one in order to peruse its contents. He said (in 1833): “Some months ago I borrowed the Golden Bible… About a week after, my wife…commenced reading it aloud… I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spalding had read to me, more than twenty years before, from his ‘Manuscript Found’. Since that, I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible”. Probably Mr. Lake “borrowed” one of the two copies of the book Orson Hyde sold in the village on Feb. 13, 1832. A question that might be asked here is, why did Lake obtain the Book of Mormon and from whom did he get the copy he read “some months” before the summer of 1833? Although it is by no means provable at this late date, it is possible that Henry Lake was loaned that particular book by the Hon. Aaron Wright. At the very least, it can be said that Aaron Wright owned an 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and that he may have purchased it from Orson Hyde (or from Hyde’s original buyer) early in 1832.’