Obadiah Dogberry Residence

Journalist Obadiah Dogberry (real name Abner Cole) lived in a house on this site while in Palmyra.
Type: Unmarked Location Involved: Dogberry, Obadiah
Location: W Main St and Stafford St
Palmyra, NY
Cause: Freethought / Atheism / Secular Humanism

Rochester freethinker Abner Cole, who wrote and published under the pseudonym Obadiah Dogberry, edited a regional freethought newspaper, The Reflector, from 1829 to 1831. The Reflector was printed in the shop of E. B. Grandin, who at that time was also assembling the first edition of the Book of Mormon. Dogberry rented the print shop on evenings and weekends; while working alone on his paper, Dogberry was able to read fresh-printed "forms" of the Book of Mormon as they lay about the small printer’s shop. He found the future scripture ridiculous. To Joseph Smith’s great displeasure, over several issues in early 1830, Dogberry’s paper published a lengthy critique of the Book of Mormon, complete with long unauthorized quotations. Dogberry’s was the first lay critique of Smith’s "Golden Bible," and many of its objections are upheld by contemporary scholars.

Shown here are two views of West Main and Stafford Streets in Palmyra. Historical records show that Dogberry’s house stood at this intersection; exactly which corner it occupied is unknown.

Circa 1816, the ten-year-old Joseph Smith would have been a near neighbor of Dogberry, who would then have been about thirty years old. It is possible that the two became acquainted at that time.

After Dogberry left Palmyra and sold the house, it was moved to another location. Consequently, this is the intersection where Dogberry lived though none of the structures now there is his former home.