Was William Morgan ‘The Man’?
By Bruce Walton
Earth enthusiasts, I believe, are unfamiliar with the fascinating story of “I
Am The Man”, as it appears on John Uri Lloyd’s book Etidorhpa.
The original manuscript was allegedly given to a Cincinnati man named Llewellyn
Drury by a mysterious being who materialized in his room on a cold November
night in the mid-1800s over 30 years before the volume was eventually published
by a friend of his, John Uri Lloyd, also of Cincinnati.
strange being claimed to have formerly been a freemason who had, through some
unusual encounter with destiny, undertook a remarkable journey into the center
of the earth and eventually into the hollow interior itself, some 800 miles
beneath the outer surface of the earth. This mysterious being handed
Llewellyn a large stack of old, yellowed paper, which he learned recorded the
fantastic story of this strange visitor known only as “I Am The Man.”
The story recounted his experiences from his early days as a mortal, and a Mason
to his fateful journey into the unknown and eventual transformation into an
immortal being. Llewellyn Drury had promised the visitor that he would
hide the manuscript, and as instructed, he would publish the manuscript after an
interval of 30 years. After the agreed upon interval Llewellyn uncovered
the manuscript and, evading his responsibility, he gave the manuscript to a
friend of his, the author John Uri Lloyd, who, after hearing his story of the
visit by the mysterious man, enthusiastically set upon the task at hand.
Also, as the being instructed, he hired an artist, J. Augustus Knapp, to
illustrate the volume.
after the book was first published in 1896, it became quite popular and widely
read, as well as highly controversial. Most people considered, and perhaps
still do, that the story was the work of the imaginative mind of John Uri Lloyd.
However, due to the descriptions of the earth’s interior, which parallel so
closely with other accounts of the Inner Earth, Lloyd must have either done a
great deal of research on the various “hollow earth” theories of the day, or
the story of the visitation of “I Am The Man” to Llewellyn Drury was in fact
a true occurrence.
in the book is there a mention of the true identity of “I Am The Man” or his
hometown or state. This may lead some readers to wonder whether or not the
occurrences which are mentioned in the first few chapters did actually happen.
believe that such a man existed, and that the events mentioned in the opening
pages are based on fact, and I have good reason to believe that after the
readers look at the evidence I am about to present, they will have to admit that
this is the case.
description of his whereabouts before his adventure begins do not specifically
identify his location, but it does provide some clues from which we may be able
to determine his hometown. Page 44 of Etidorpa, first edition
states as follows: “In a section of the state in which I reside, a
certain creek forms the boundry line between two townships, and also between two
counties. Crossing this creek, a more traveled road stretches east and
west, uniting the extremes of the major state.”
the great state he refers to is the state of New York, and the west-east running
road being the one which runs from Buffalo on the shore of Lake Erie to
Rochester N.Y. on the shore of Lake Ontario. On page 72 we find perhaps
the most significant clue. On that page we find a reference to Seneca
Lake, which the young man knew quite well. Seneca Lake is the name of a
body of water in northwest New York. So, we can assume that this was the
state where his story begins, although in the manuscript it was “forbidden to
give the names of the localities.”
begins when he receives a strange letter in the mail. Previous to this he
had done some searching and delving into the mysteries of life and the Masonic
science. A translation of Gerber’s “De Claritate Alchemiae” by
chance came into his possession and afterwards an original version from the
Latin Boerhaave’s “Elementa Cheniae,” published and translated in 1753 by
Peter Shaw. It was these volumes more than anything else, which introduced
him to a brotherhood of adepts, with whom he eventually gained membership
through initiation. But it was before being initiated that “I Am The
Man” received the strange letter. The letter was from an anonymous
source who was apparently well-versed in masonry; it carried a history of the
secret order from ancient times preceding the days of Hermes Ytismegistus.
The letter began with the following cryptic title;
BROTHER ADEPT WHO DARES TO DISCOVER ZOROASTER’S CAVE
THE PHILOSOPHER’S INTELLECTAL ECHOES,
MEANS OF WHICH THEY COMMUNICATE TO ONE ANOTHER FROM THEU CAVES
forth instructions for the reader, if he be willing, to become a member of the
secret order of masons, if they were not already, and learn it’s most hidden
secrets and reveal what they had learned to the world, thereby enlightening
mankind to the ancient mysteries which have for so long been guarded by the
elect few. He noticed that the letter had been passed through the hands of
many other masons and scholars, but the very fact that the letter was passed on
to him made it clear that none who received the letter dared to undertake such a
After contemplation, he made up his mind that he would be the one to undertake this task and immediately began writing an expose on the secret rites of the masons and reveling their inner most secrets. Shortly after this was begun he found himself being harassed by outside force, and was sent to prison for failing to pay a ridiculously small debt. When he regained his liberty the persecutions continues. Page 47 Etidorhpa states:
arson was resorted to, and the printing offices that held my manuscript was
fired last night, that the obnoxious revelation which I persisted in putting in
print, must be destroyed.”
thereafter he again found himself in prison, separated from his wife and child,
due to further minor debts, this time amounting to only $2.00. This was to
be the last time he ever saw his wife and child again. On august 12th
1826, he was abducted from his jail cell and put into a closed coach. In
answer to his queries as to why he was being abducted he was told: “Have
you not bound yourself by a series of vows that are sacred and should be
inviolable, and have you not broken them as no other man before you? Have
you not betrayed your trust, and merited a severe judgment?”
aware of a man next to him in the coach, which he soon found to be a corpse, a
drowning victim he was told, who was to be used to cover-up his abduction, as
that upon it’s discovery all outsiders would believe that the corpse was that
of himself, if need be. He was then taken on a long wide and became
totally lost to his surroundings, not knowing whether he was still in his home
state, or in another one altogether. He was taken out of a boat at night
onto a river, along with the corpse, which he witnesses being dumped overboard
by those with him. After this he has taken to a secluded cabin and
subjected to a fantastic ceremony which suddenly aged the young man into an old,
white haired feeble man by the application of a strange liquid which was applied
to his skin by a group of masked men in robes. He was then taken back to
his home town by another guide in order to prove to himself that no one could
recognize him for who he really was, although he did not convince them that he
had been prematurely aged, they just looked at him with strange expressions as
though they considered him some kind of lunatic. His guide then guided
“I Am The Man” to his final destination, the Cave of Zoroaster!
the evidence I mentioned earlier, which I happened to come across just a few
days prior to the writing of this article. I was in the process of
glancing through the pages of a book titled No Man Knows My History by
Fay M. Brodie. This boo k is the history of a young man named Joseph
Smith, better known as the founder of the Mormons. On page 63-64 I came
upon some paragraphs that hit me out of the blue. They read as follows:
there was no monarchies or dictators threatening American democracy, and no
invaders on the borders. Yet the country was seized by a swiftly spreading
fear that the Republic was in danger. The terror began in western New York
in September 1826.”
Batavia, on the road to Buffalo, a printing press was burned and it’s owner
beaten by a group of masked men. In the press office were fresh prints of
a new book, an expose of the secret rites and oaths of Freemasonry. The
author, William Morgan, was abducted some days later and carried to Canandaigua,
nine miles from Joseph Smith’s house, for a mock trial. He was then
taken secretly to Fort Niagara on the Canadian border, where he disappeared.
prominent Masons in Canandaigua were tried for his murder in January 1827.
The whole countryside moved in to hear the proceedings. When three were
acquitted and the other two received sentences of less than a year, the public
trials were held in February and Anti-Masonry spread with each acquittal.
Morgan and the Masons became the standing theme of conversation in the field and
dismissed pastors who would not renounce Masonry, and deacons who would not
resign their memberships were forbidden the sacrament.
politicians saw in the rising fever the makings of a political party.
Although the Palmyra newspapers maintained a measure of objectivity for a time,
this eventually broke down and the local lodge was forced to disband.
October 1827 a bloated corpse was washed up on the shores of Lake Ontario.
The turf had scarcely been planted on the grave when someone suggested that the
corpse was Morgan’s. “The whole country thereafter,” wrote one
observer “rang with the exclamation, “Morgan is found!” Mrs. Morgan
had not a particle of doubt that the identity of the body, fully believing it to
be that of her husband. Only one difficulty remained and that was a mere
trifle: there was not a single article of the clothes found upon the deceased
that belonged to Morgan. Since an election was approaching, the funeral
show was delayed until shortly before the voting. Then hundreds of
thousands of people poured into Batavia to join the obsequies of the great
Masons now found evidence in Canada that the corpse was not Morgan’s but that
of Timothy Monroe, who had been drowned some weeks earlier. For the second
time the body was disinterred, and Mrs. Morgan positively identified it.”
outstanding evidence like this, we must assume that the events described in Etidorhpa,
at least the first few chapters are true. But what about the rest of the
story? That the readers must decide for themselves, as further
confirmation of facts becomes increasingly difficult as the story progresses.
is historical fact that William Morgan lived in Batavia, New York, a town on the
road between Buffalo and Rochester, New York, undoubtedly the same road
mentioned in Etidorhpa, “a much traveled road stretching east, and west
uniting the extremes of the state.
is historical fact that William Morgan was abducted shortly before September
1826, while Etidorhpa gives the exact date of August 12, 1826.
is historical fact that William Morgan had a wife, which is also confirmed in Etidorhpa.
was probably the city where William Morgan was imprisoned before being abducted.
John Smith, leader of the Mormons, and believed by many researchers to also been
an initiate as a Freemason, lived just 9 miles away. There are unconfirmed
reports that the widow of William Morgan, Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris, after
her husbands death remarried, first to George Washington Harris, and then to
Joseph Smith. In 1838, becoming one of the Mormon leaders’ first wives,
who witnessed the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in 1844. Ironically, Joseph
Smith was a firm believer in “the land beyond the pole” as in one of his
first assemblies in Kirkland, Ohio, he gave the whereabouts of the “Lost Ten
Tribes, revealing that they lived in a land “contiguous to the north pole,
separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow.”
is believed that William Morgan was last seen in Fort Niagara next to the
Niagara River on the New York-Canadian border, and just a short ways above that
river’s joining of Lake Ontario, the lake which the body of “I Am The
Man”, was found.
Am The Man”, or rather William Morgan mentioned in Etidorhpa the great
stir that his disappearance caused throughout the whole area, and also all of
the anti-Masonic activity that his disappearance created and it’s effect on
the politics of the day, as it was well know that the Democrat Andrew Jackson
was a Mason of high rank.
XI of Etidorhpa, “I Am The Man” becomes more specific in naming the
route of travel which he and his unusual guide, a mason of extraordinary
standing, travel on their way to their final destination in Kentucky. From
the description their starting point would most likely have been in western New
York, as was stated previously. From Fort Niagara he was taken in closed
carriage for nearly two days travel, though the exact route here is hard to
trace. He was then subjected to the mysterious ceremony mentioned earlier
which caused him to prematurely age, thereby removing all signs of his former
Although he could not recognize the route that was taken because of the windows in the carriage, which were draped to exclude any light, his guide told him that they took a round about route from Fort Niagara to Wheeling Virginia. From there they went to the Ohio River, where they boarded a keelboat and made their way down to Cincinnati. They stayed in this city for several days, eventually taking passage on the steamer “George Washington,” leaving Shipping-Port Wednesday, December 13, 1926. They landed in Smithland, Kentucky and made their way east along the north side of the Cumberland River. On their way they passed two bluffs on the northern shore of the river, the second one being a large, dark outcropping which was at that time called Bissell’s Hill. (On topographical maps of the area the name ‘Bissell’ bluff is given to the second hill located on the northern most point of the Cumberland. It is most likely the same hill). After passing this second bluff they turned north and headed into the heart of Livingston County, Kentucky. All along the way they noticed several sinkholes, most of them largely unexplained. After approximately three days travel on foot northward from the Cumberland River. Although he is not too specific in his description of the cave through which he enters into the underworld, the descriptions that he does give may be of help in finding it’s general location. Pages 93-93 of Etidorhpa states the following:
“ … After a few days of uneventful travel, we rested, one afternoon, in a hilly country that before us appeared to be more rugged, even mountainous. We had wandered leisurely, and were now at a considerable distance from the Cumberland River, the aim of my guide being, as I surmised, to evade a direct approach to some object of interest which I must not locate exactly, and yet which I shall try to describe accurately enough for identification by a person familiar with the topography of that section. We stood on the side of a stony, sloping hill, back of which spread a wooded valley.
just remember to have passed along a creek in a valley,” I remarked looking
back over our pathway. “It appeared to rise from this direction, but the
source ends abruptly in this chain of hills.””
stream is beneath us,” he answered. Advancing a few paces, he brought to
my attention, on the hillside, an opening in the earth. This aperture was
irregular in form, about the diameter of a well, and descending perpendicularly
into the stony crust. I leaned over the orifice, and heard the gurgle of
here that he met a strange being from the earth’s interior, who was to become
his new guide. They went a short ways down the hill until they came to a
cave from, which flowed the water of the subterranean stream he had heard
beneath the opening higher up the hill. Here they entered and “I Am The
Man, William Morgan, left the world of sunlight for good. It would not be
until many years later that he would see the light of day again. I will
not go into details of his journey into the depths of the earth, but suggest you
read the book (Etidorhpa) your self.
[For those interested in seeking the entrance used by William Morgan to go into the underground, Bruce Walton narrows your search area with this information, Look on a Geographical map for the Lola quadrangle of Livingston County, Kentucky. This is the quadrangle just north of the Burma quadrangle that indicates the location of Bissell bluff and north Cumberland River. The Lola map shows a large field of sinkholes about where I calculate the entrance to the Cave of Zoroaster to be. Some investigation of the stream sources and of springs in this area may turn up some very interesting things. Perhaps one day some young adventurer will discover this cave and follow in the footsteps of William Morgan, The Man Who Did It!