Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Dr. Jonathan Cowdery and the Heroes Of Tripoli
Dr. Jonathan Cowdery is the second most famous Cowdery in history. No, I'm not #1. That honor belongs to Oliver Cowdery, the Second Elder of the Mormon Church, Mormon founder Joseph Smith's right hand man during the church's earliest days.
Oliver and Jonathan were first cousins from a large family. Another of the first cousins was Jacob Cowdery Junior, my great great great great grandfather.
On September 5, 1804, the bodies of 13 men of the USS Intrepid washed ashore and were buried at Tripoli, Libya. (September 5 also happens to be my birthday.)
The U.S. Navy was there to fight pirates.
The unmarked graves of the 13 officers and sailors are 720 feet south-southeast of the Red Castle's walls, a few feet below Green Square. The officers were identified by Jonathan, who was ship’s surgeon for the Philadelphia, whose Captain Bainbridge and his 300-man crew were being held in the castle dungeon. Jonathan and a party of prisoners from the Philadelphia buried the men together, marking the graves one cable’s length south from the castle walls.
According to sailing manuals of the day, one cable length is listed as 720 feet.
Jonathan and the other prisoners were eventually released. The story of the Heroes of Tripoli is largely known through the journal Jonathan kept and published upon his return.
Oliver's most famous work is also a book, The Book of Mormon, for which he was the principal scribe.
As a writer, I have a lot to live up to.