Latter-day Saint Life

When Cain Appeared to Joseph Fielding Smith's Brother & Talked with an Apostle


Bigfoot stories are often the theme of many spooky tales among nonbelievers and believers alike.

But Mormons have their own intriguing stories of an imposing, hairy creature—Cain.

While some Mormon myths try to combine the two, saying that Cain is Bigfoot, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that is true. 

► You'll also like:Is Cain Bigfoot? The Truth Behind 5 Mormon Folklore Stories

There are, however, accounts of Cain appearing to apostles, missionaries, bishops, and even the brother of President Joseph Fielding Smith. 

Perhaps the most well-known story is that of Apostle David W. Patten's alleged encounter with Cain in 1835. According to an account found in The Life of David W. Patten, The First Apostolic Martyr, Patten was on his way to Abraham O. Smoot's home when he encountered a very unusual individual.

"I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me . . . for about two miles. 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. . . . He [said] that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth. . . . He said that he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death . . . but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. (Lycurgus A. Wilson, The Life of David W. Patten, The First Apostolic Martyr (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1900) 45–47)).

In the account, Patten says the stranger introduced himself as the Cain who murdered Abel. In order to get him to leave, Patten says he, "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."

While this story has definitely made its rounds among Mormons, there is another story that may not be as well known. 

E. Wesley Smith, son of Prophet Joseph F. Smith, was serving as a mission president in Hawaii when he had his own encounter.

According to Matthew Bowman's article published in the Journal of Mormon History, "A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Concept of Evil in LDS Folklore," the night before the Laie Hawaii Temple was dedicated in 1921, E. Wesley experienced the following events:

"A man came through the door. He was tall enough to have to stoop to enter. His eyes were very protruding and rather wild looking, his fingernails were thick and long. He presented a rather unkempt appearance and wore no clothing at all. . . . There suddenly appeared in [Smith’s] right hand a light which had the size and appearance of a dagger. . . . A voice said, “This is your priesthood.” He commanded the person in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to depart. . . . Immediately when the light appeared the person stopped and on being commanded to leave, he backed out the door" ("Experiences with Cain,” n.d., MSS 5273, Archives, Family and Church History Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter LDS Church Archives).

Thoroughly disturbed by the encounter, E. Wesley wrote to his brother, the then-Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith, about his experience.

According to Matthew Bowman's article, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote to his brother that the strange visitor was "Cain . . . whose curse is to roam the earth seeking whom he may destroy.”

Joseph Fielding Smith went on to say that there was "always unusual evidence . . . for a period just prior to the dedication of every temple" and Cain was representative of the "spirit of the adversary." 

While these are not the only stories that claim Cain still roams the earth today, they are among some of the most well-documented Cain encounters.

And they definitely are intriguing stories to share the next time you want to impress your friends with Mormon folklore.  

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