Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Enigma”: A Puzzle from 1875

“Enigma”: A Puzzle from 1875

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 08, 2013

Thomas Cott Griggs (1845-1903) was baptized as a child in England, crossed the plains by wagon in 1861 after some harrowing encounters with soldiers in the early days of the Civil War, and eventually became a noted Mormon musician. Two of the hymns (“God Is Love” and “Gently Raise the Sacred Strain”) for which he wrote the music remain in our hymnbook. In 1875, he was writing puzzles for the Juvenile Instructor.

The solution to this puzzle comes in two parts: A 38-letter proverb, and six words (each accompanied by a clue) made up of the same letters used in the proverb. Answer one of the clues (for example, the sixth one, the three-letter tree, might be O-A-K or Y-E-W or E-L-M, or something else), then transfer those letters into the right numbered spaces in the proverb.

Easy for me to say — I typed up this puzzle in September 2009 and no longer have the answer key. I’ll be in awe of Keepa’ninnies who contribute correct answers. Maybe the place to start would be offering possibilities for the clue words, as I’ve done with the sixth clue.

As usual with our puzzles, if you can solve this, please offer the solution to only one part, leaving the rest for other readers to play along.

I am composed of 38 letters.

My 34, 36, 7, 38, 4, 31, 11, 35, 22, 14 and 17, is what we should all seek for.

My 21, 1, 5, 12 and 33, is a color.

My 23, 3, 18, 27, 10, 11, 2, 20 and 32, is the name of an ancient religious sect.

My 19, 29, 6, 24, 30, 16, 11, 8, 37, and 9, is what President Young is and has been to this people.

My 15, 25, 26, 18 and 10, is a bird.

My 30, 13 and 28, is a tree.

And my whole is one of the proverbs of Solomon.



  1. So, a number equals a letter, but not always the same letter? Like if the second clue is GREEN for color, then 5 and 12 are both E? Yes?

    Comment by Carol — July 8, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  2. Blast it, Ardis! I have work to do this morning! All I need is a distraction like this.

    But, note that the last letter in the bird (#10) is also the fifth letter in the name of the ancient religious sect. That makes both SADDUCEES and PHARISEES unlikely, unless you can come up with a five-letter bird ending in either I or U.

    NAZARENES also fits, but the Z seems an unlikely fit.

    And what five-letter colors are there besides WHITE, GREEN, BROWN, BLACK or TAUPE? OCHER? OCHRE? Something obvious I’m forgetting? And are black and white really colors?

    Comment by Mark B. — July 8, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  3. Arrgh!!!

    Comment by David Y. — July 8, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  4. Well, “Dear Leader” is the right number of letters for President Young, since “prophet” and “president” are too short. :)

    Comment by HokieKate — July 8, 2013 @ 9:35 am

  5. Yes, Carol, if the color is GREEN, then both of those numbers would be E in the proverb’s solution.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 8, 2013 @ 9:43 am

  6. Okay, I went and hunted up the puzzle and its solution.

    Mark B. is right — the ancient religious sect is SADDUCEES (the bird, ending in U, is not a bird I’ve ever heard of). The color is one of those I suggested (but not GREEN).

    Is that enough of a clue for any puzzler to take hold of?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 8, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  7. I don’t think I deserve a “Mark B. is right” since I mentioned SADDUCEES but then rejected them. We’ll have to find a bird-man to help us with that bird!

    Comment by Mark B. — July 8, 2013 @ 10:14 am

  8. “Smaller of two tall fast-running flightless birds similar to ostriches but three-toed; found from Peru to Strait of Magellan.” Not even Google had heard of that bird without an assist!

    Comment by Mark B. — July 8, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  9. I can hardly believe my eyes in reading Mark’s email, but he has solved this very tough puzzle!

    Rather than post the answer, though, I think I’ll leave this up indefinitely, ready to heap laurels upon anybody else who sends in the solution.

    Note that Mark has given an additional clue, in giving a Google-able description of the bird.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 8, 2013 @ 11:52 am

  10. The bird name is obscure because it’s known today as the “rhea”

    Comment by The Other Clark — July 9, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  11. I haven’t heard of THAT one, either, TOC! Everything about this puzzle is obscure … but apparently it can be solved.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 9, 2013 @ 11:56 am

  12. I got it, but it would have been impossible without Ardis’s confirmation of Sadducees. Even so, it took Wikipedia (to get the bird name) and a brute-force search through Proverbs.

    I wasn’t very impressed with the clues — they’re kind of like the puzzle equivalent of the “guess what the instructor is thinking” sort of questions in Sunday School.

    And the answer to the first question shows that Griggs had a particularly sadistic streak in him.

    Comment by lindberg — July 10, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI