In November, friend Batson sent his text to an Egyptological journal in Oxford, enclosing a photocopy of what purported to be its debut in print, back in 1875 in an obscure journal in New Orleans. He mis-translated it from top to bottom. In January, the text was translated correctly, apparently as sayings ascribed to Jesus, most of them known in other sources. After submitting his text, Batson failed to answer further inquiries.
In mid-January, he sent a second letter, giving forwarding addresses from Montana to Iowa, at various academic departments. When we contacted them, they had not heard of him. 'Bisy Batson,' I began to imagine, remembering the infamous note from Christopher Robin in Winnie-the-Pooh. A spotted or herbaceous Batson would have been nearer the mark. The curious text was first brought to my notice by chance in late March; mysterious suspicions still surrounded its origins. For scholars, these suspicions centred on the text: nobody could trace the journal in New Orleans which was supposed to be its source. Yet, Batson's photocopy was impressive, using different type-faces. Without the text's original transcript, who could be sure?
In other words, almost the entire argument for forgery is the fact that the person who sent this photocopy to Oxford University assumed a pseudonym - 'Batson D Sealing.'
There is no manuscript. There is no original article. It is difficult to determine who the author of the alleged article was - 'R S Walker.' But let's consider for a moment the alternative. If the article is a forgery, the forger has to be very familiar with the New Orleans Academy of Sciences. We have some knowledge of the activities of the Academy between its founding in 1853 - 1870. We have better information about the Academy when it 'restarts' in 1887 and again flourishes. But for the seventeen years between 1870 and 1887 we know next to nothing about the organization except for the fact that it existed in some form.
So Depuydt's article emerges from this 'black hole period' - something which we would have to assume the forger knew in 1990, long before the widespread use of Google. But then he also chose as the name for his publisher of this fake journal 'the Picayune Steam Job, 66 Camp St, 1875.'
But just look at the results of a Google search of those terms. On the first page we get:
1873, 1876, 1874, 1876, 1873, 1876, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1873
Indeed it is important to note that the 'Picayune Steam Job' was a division of the Daily Picayune, the largest daily newspaper back then and survives to this day. But what are the odds that a forger would be able to translate the Gospel of Thomas into Demotic, date his forgery to the time when we don't know anything about the New Orleans Academy of Sciences and most importantly identify the publisher as 'the Picayune Steam Job of 66 Camp St' within the limited time frame that this publisher published private jobs.
And most importantly, for what purpose?
In any event, here is another 'supplement' associated with the New Orleans Academy of Sciences, a J R Walker from 1869 which was published by 'the Picayune Steam Job of 66 Camp St' in 1873. It is the only text that I can find which the 'the Picayune Steam Job of 66 Camp St.' Let's also assemble all known witnesses to the existence of activities related to the Academy in the 'black hole' period:
Merrick, E. T., One-time Chief Justice Supreme Court of Louisiana “The Laws of Louisiana and Their Sources. Read before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences in 1871.” American Law Register 38, no. 1, new series, vol. 29 (second series, vol. 3) (Jan. 1890): 1–21.
Koontz, W. B, Lecture Read Before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences, Dec. 11, 1871, on the Calcasieu Sulphur Mine. Author, Length, 10 pages.
King, V. O. Lecture on the formation of language. Read before the N. O. A. S. Oct. 9th, 1871. 8°, pp. 22. New Orleans, 1871.
Avery, Geo. A., M. D. A lecture upon the progressive spirit of the medical profession delivered before the N. O. A. S. April 10, 1871. 8°, pp. 22. New Orleans, 1871.
Copes, J S, Annual Address Before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences: 1872 (no known publisher)
Kohn, Gustave, Lecture on "friends of Horticulture" Read Before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences. 1872. Nov 11, 1872, L. Graham; Company, job printers, 1872
Thompson, Meriwether Jeff. Lecture on the Subject of the Levees: Read Before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences. January 16, 1872. Printed at the Republican Office, 1872 - Louisiana - 19 pages
The Charter of the Polytechnic and Industrial Institute of Louisiana. This movement received its initial impulse in the New Orleans Academy of Sciences, on the 12th day of February, 1872. James Buckley, Stationer and Job Printer
Only one publication - New Orleans Academy of Sciences : Annual Report of the Board of Health of New Orleans for 1873 Interestingly we read elsewhere that "the supposition that the epidemic of 1878 has had its origin in New Orleans is strengthened by what took place in 1873. During that year an epidemic prevailed in Shreveport. Hundreds of refugees came to New Orleans without having been subjected to quarantine regulations; some of them died after their arrival. The disease did not spread here ..."
Also it would appear that the Academy opted to support, along with other societies in New Orleans (the St Andrew's Society) in the publication of the New Orleans Monthly Review. We read:
At a regular meeting of this Society, convened at the University Buildings Dec. 29th, 1873, the following Preamble and Resolution, offered by Prof. C. G. Forshey, and seconded by Dr. R. J. Walker, were unanimously adopted:1874
WHEREAS, The design has been formed of publishing a Monthly Review in this city, devoted to literature, science, commerce, industry, government and the fine arts ;
and WHEREAS, No periodical is published at the South-West suitable for the utterance of the proceedings of this Academy, or such of its papers as demonstrate the advancement of science;
and WHEREAS, The editorial management of the proposed periodical is announced to be under the charge of a Fellow of this Academy, our honored Secretary; be it Resolved, That the Academy receives with satisfaction, this announcement, and does earnestly commend to the Fellows personally, and to the public generally, the encouragement and substantial support of the New Orleans Monthly.
It is hard not to see that things have changed at the Academy. First of all we see a great number of female writers and more importantly a lower quality of subject matter - i.e. creationism, religious themes, attacks against evolution and science. The only papers I can find were published in the New Orleans Review:
Dorsey, Sarah A. On the philosophy of the University of France. 8°, pp. 24. New Orleans 1874.
Dorsey, Sarah A. "The Origin of Species" Read before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences by Mrs. Sarah A. Dorsey, a Corresponding Member
The reference to a 'corresponding member' is interesting. Does that mean that the Academy attempted to expand its reach beyond New Orleans?
Williams, Marie B, False Deductions of Science - A Lecture read before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences.
Fontaine, Prof E, Evolution Tested by Embryology. Read before the New Orleans Academy of Sciences, Oct. 26th, 1875.
Forshey, C G, Animal Volition a Creator, New Orleans Academy of Sciences. 1875.
We learn that Joseph S Copes is President. We read:
At New Orleans, on his return from Port Eads, on the Gulf of Mexico, he was met by Dr. J. S. Copes, President of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences, who expressed warm interest in the results of the expedition, and did everything in his power to show the high estimation in which he held his guest. The Mayor tendered him the freedom of the city, and the Academy of Sciences gave him a public reception, at which resolutions were passed of a congratulatory and highly complimentary character. The following account is extracted from the New Orleans Picayune of November 21, 1881 : "The termination of the exploring expedition and canoe trip of Captain Willard Glazier, extending from his new-found source of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, culminated, after a voyage of one hundred and seventeen days, in a very general and complimentary recognition and ovation on the part of the officials and citizens of New Orleans. In company with Dr. J. S. Copes, President of the Academy of Sciences, Captain Glazier was presented to His Honor, Mayor Shakespear was warmly welcomed, and the freedom of the city tendered him.
In appreciative recognition of the hospitality extended him the distinguished soldier, author, and explorer, felt it a pleasing as well as an appropriate opportunity to present his beautiful canoe, which had safely carried him through his long and perilous voyage, to the New Orleans Academy of Sciences. The occasion of the presentation and acceptance was one of high order and much manifest interest. In presenting the canoe Captain Glazier tendered the following letter:
"St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, _November 21, 1881_.
Joseph S. Copes, M. D. President New Orleans Academy of Sciences:
Dear Sir:--I have just concluded upon the border of the State of Louisiana, a voyage of observation and exploration; and as you have expressed considerable interest in the results of my expedition, and manifested a desire to possess the canoe in which the explorations were made, I find pleasure in presenting it to your honorable society as a souvenir of my voyage and discoveries.
During this canoe journey of over three thousand miles, beginning at the headwaters of the Mississippi and extending to the Gulf of Mexico, I had the satisfaction of locating the source of the Great River which we have traversed, and feel a pride in having corrected a geographical error of half a century's standing.
I will not now enter into a detailed account of my explorations on the Upper Mississippi, but shall take the earliest opportunity of transmitting to your secretary a complete history of the voyage, which will be issued in book form as soon as the matter can be prepared for publication.
Very respectfully yours, Willard Glazier.
"A special meeting of the Academy of Sciences was held at No. 46 Carondelet street, Dr. J. S. Copes, president, in the chair, for the purpose of receiving from Captain Willard Glazier the handsome cedar canoe 'Alice,' with which he navigated the Mississippi River from Aitkin to the Gulf.
"By invitation Captain Glazier gave an account of his explorations on the Upper Mississippi and especially of that section of country beyond Lake Itasca, which body of water has hitherto been considered the fountain-head of the Great River.
"Dr. Copes in the name of the Academy thanked Captain Glazier for his valuable gift, which would be highly prized, and then congratulated the explorer upon his contribution to American geographical knowledge, comparing him with De Soto, Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, and Joliet, whose highest fame was connected with discoveries relating to the Mississippi.
"In the course of his remarks the learned doctor said that De Soto penetrated the continent of North America in pursuit of gold and accidentally discovered the Mississippi. Marquette, the zealous missionary, traversed the river from the mouth of the Wisconsin to the mouth of the Arkansas. La Salle pursued his explorations from the mouth of the Illinois to the Gulf, his sole aim seeming to be the conquest of North America in the name of the King of France. Hennepin explored but a small section of the stream, extending from the mouth of the Wisconsin to St. Anthony's Falls, while Captain Glazier has made the important discovery of its primal reservoir and traversed its entire length from source to sea.
"The members of the Academy listened with great interest to Captain Glazier's graphic account of his discovery, and also to the intellectual and historical address of Dr. Copes.
"Dr. J. R. Walker then offered the following resolutions:
_Resolved:_--That the thanks of this Academy are due and are hereby tendered to Captain Willard Glazier for the donation of his beautiful canoe "Alice," and for the brief narrative of his explorations at the source of the Mississippi River, and of his voyage thence to the Gulf of Mexico.
_Resolved:_--That this Academy not only gratefully accepts this handsome gift, but promises to preserve and cherish it as a souvenir of Captain Glazier's high qualities as an explorer and contributor to the increase of American geographical knowledge.
"Mr. H. Dudley Coleman moved as an amendment thereto that a copy of the resolutions be appropriately written and framed, and presented to Captain Glazier, and that a committee of three be appointed to prepare the same in accordance therewith.
"The resolutions as amended were unanimously adopted, when Dr. Copes appointed as the committee, Messrs. Coleman, Walker, and Blanchard.
"The suggestion made by Mr. Coleman that the canoe remain at the arsenal of the Battalion Washington Artillery until such time as the Academy prepare a suitable place for it was acceded to.
"At the conclusion of the meeting Mr. Coleman escorted Captain Glazier to the Washington Artillery Arsenal, and introduced him to Colonel J. B. Richardson, commanding the battalion, who accepted for the command the care of the canoe, and extended to Captain Glazier the hospitalities of the battalion during his stay in the city. Colonel Richardson and Mr. Coleman then took him around the arsenal and showed him its attractive features."
It will be readily seen from this letter that the members of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences were much impressed with the importance of the discovery Captain Glazier had made. The resolutions which they passed were afterwards handsomely framed and sent to him at St. Louis.
Among the many courtesies which were tendered the Captain during his stay in New Orleans, he perhaps felt most deeply the royal welcome which was given him by the Old Guard of the Louisiana Tigers. In his own words "they could not do too much" for him, and when we remember that only twenty years have passed away since these brave men and the gallant Union soldier fought on opposite sides on the battlefields of Virginia, it cannot be wondered at that he was much impressed with the cordiality of his reception by his former foes.
At the headquarters of the Washington Artillery, too, he found many who as Confederate officers and soldiers had formerly been his opponents in the war, but nothing could exceed the heartiness of their welcome and the good-fellowship which they displayed. They showed him their old battle-flags still religiously kept, but a moment afterwards pointed to the Stars and Stripes which occupied a prominent position in the room. Altogether Captain Glazier found it difficult to realize that there had ever been other than the most cordial feeling between the North and South, and this as much as anything else tended to make his stay in New Orleans a pleasure which he will long remember.
In the speech that follows we learn that Glazier gave the Academy his canoe Alice. I wonder where that canoe is now?