As recently as 1969, LDS Apostle and soon-to-be Prophet of the LDS Church, Spencer W. Kimball, relied on the “instructive” story of Cain, who was cursed “to be a fugitive and a vagabond” as a cautionary tale of the negative consequences of sin. Kimball expanded the traditional Biblical narrative in his orthodox work, Miracle of Forgiveness, by relying on the experience of David W. Patten, an original member of the Restored Quorum of the 12 Apostles (ordained to that position by the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon), who claimed to have met Cain. Before Patten’s death as a martyr at the Battle of Crooked Creek in 1838, he related as follows (which excerpt was quoted in full by Kimball in MoF):
As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me…his head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight….
The recurring myth of the wandering Cain also was accepted by Eliza R. Snow, a Relief Society President and wife of Prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who related Patten’s story in verse. Additionally, Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith identified a menacing creature that attacked his brother, E. Wesley Smith, as Cain. Wesley Smith’s alleged encounter with Cain occurred the evening before the Laie Hawaii Temple was dedicated in 1921, while Smith was serving as the President of the Hawaii Mission.
The repeated encounters by LDS leadership with the wandering Cain, including the modern retelling of Patten’s story by Kimball, has spurred a common belief in LDS folklore that Cain is in fact the crypto-creature known as Bigfoot. Despite a heated debate as to the orthodoxy of “Cain is Bigfoot” mythology, there continue to be many reported Bigfoot sightings in Utah every year and the LDS folklore persists.
- Wikipedia – David W. Patten
- Of Cain and Bigfoot – Chad’s Random Musings
- Bowman, Matthew. 2007. “A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore”. Journal of Mormon History 33 (3)
- BCC Zeitcast 74: Matt Bowman, Bigfoot, Monsters, & Mormons (By Common Consent audio)
- MormonThink – Bigfoot
- FairMormon – Cain as Bigfoot, or Cain “Translated”
- Bigfoot: a search in Utah – Deseret News
- Amazon.com – The Miracle of Forgiveness
Image Copyright- LostMormonism.com