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Joseph Smith Treasure Digging - MS Truth Claims Essay

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

When I was young, I worked on a water-well drilling rig for a while in the Wichita, Kansas, area.  I recall a farmer who contracted for our services witching the location for the well before we arrived.  Of course we had geologic maps of the aquifer, and we knew where we would hit water.  It didn't matter where we drilled.  So we drilled where he told us to, and it all went just fine.

When I was even younger, I had my little brother (5 years old) witch the location of underground water pipes in our yard in southern California.  He was spot on each time.  I used a straight shooter shovel to check each place in the lawn.  I myself was very skeptical, so didn't think that I would be able to witch freely.  That's why I used my credulous little brother.

In many parts of Western New York the water table is not very deep because there are streams and creeks everywhere which is common and other areas of the Midwest. They call Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes but it's more like probably 10 million.  Every little depression is full of water and that is how it is as well in certain parts of New York. When the glaciers receded due to global warming ;) they left a lot of such little pockmarks.

In many of these areas, you could dig a well almost anywhere.

My BIL just bought a piece of property in the southern California desert, with its own well of perfectly potable water.

In the desert?

Yes but it's only about a quarter mile from a river. That desert soil soaks up water like a sponge.

I often ride my bike around a "spreading zone" in a flood control district. The purpose of those districts are strictly to literally spread what river water there is over a wider area to replenish the wells, by allowing it to percolate into the soil instead of simply running off into the ocean. They protect against flash floods and provide nice little recreation areas in the middle of a huge metropolis.

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, PacMan said:

I liked this precious gem:

This is typical Vogel--grasping at the most absurd, lunatic, and salacious conspiracy theories without support.  Indeed, what makes this "probable" other than Vogel's own perverse imagination?  What's more probable is that Joseph Smith Sr. and his friends--three days AFTER the plates were purported to be received--exhumed his son for the express purpose that Joseph Smith Sr. said--to make sure that Alvin was still buried, contrary to reports that he had been "removed" and "dissected."

Until Vogel discerns between facts, assumptions, and conclusions, and responsibly delineates between the three, no one should ever rely on his work, let alone consider him a legitimate, responsible, or trustworthy historian.  I find others that I disagree with, such as Quinn, useful for the factual information they provide.  But Vogel's factual information is so conflated with undisclosed assumptions and ridiculous conclusions that his work holds very little academic value.

I previously articulated my reservations about Vogel just a little while ago on this board.  Of course, Vogel did not respond.

I think you got this wrong, Mr. Packman, with all due respect. The letter to the newspaper occurred in 1824 and J.S. supposedly didn't get the plates until years later. Supposedly, the guardian spirit told J.S. that he was to bring Alvin with him and that is why he supposedly didn't get the plates in 1823. Unfortuneately, Alvin died shortly after the 1823 attempt and so wasn't available for the 1824 attempt, unless exhumed perhaps.

I don't see why it is problematic to say that all J.S. Sr. had to do was superficially look at the grave to see if some other person or persons had disturbed the grave.  Broken ground remains so for some time. So, it would be easy to see if digging at Alvin's grave had been done.

So, why did J.S. Sr. go to the lengths of digging the body up? One would think he would not want to disturb his son's grave. Maybe other money diggers had heard of the requirement for Alvin to be there and dug it up? But merely seeing the disturbed gravesite would show him that something happened. So, why completely dig up the body? To see if it had been dissected? Perhaps. However, given J.S. Sr.'s belief in treasure lore, and J.S. Jr.'s relating the excuse of not getting the plates to not having Alvin there with him in 1823, it seems Mr. Vogel's interpretation is more likely.

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4 hours ago, mapman said:

The practice of divination or scrying was pretty universal around the world from what I've read. I don't know much about Biblical scholarship, but I think it stands to reason that they would use seer stones or other reflective surfaces like Joseph in Egypt's chalice. Mesoamerican people used obsidian mirrors for divination.

No comment about the similarity with Joseph seeing the words in the stone in his hat - Urim and Thummim and Nephite Interpreters?

In his book Power and Place: Indian Education in America, Native American scholar Vine Deloria approvingly (meaning he holds to their veracity) discusses "traditional technologies" of the Native American tribes:

Quote

Medicine rocks abounded and certain kinds of crystals were used for divining future events.  (p.59)

 

3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

When I was even younger, I had my little brother (5 years old) witch the location of underground water pipes in our yard in southern California.  He was spot on each time.  I used a straight shooter shovel to check each place in the lawn.  I myself was very skeptical, so didn't think that I would be able to witch freely.  That's why I used my credulous little brother.

The LANL scientist who taught us dowsing was infallible at finding the hidden sprinkler heads. I suppose he was credulous, or maybe we were. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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20 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

When I was a teen, a scientist from the Los Alamos laboratories taught several friends and me how to dowse for buried lawn sprinklers with bent wire coathangers.

When my husband was a young man he was an Agricultural Rep/Pump Tester for a utility company, and he routinely went out to farms and ranches in the district to test new wells (southern Calif high desert)... the ranchers/farmers were often wanting to drill additional wells... they swore by another company employee (one of the managers) as a dowser and most wouldn't consider starting to drill until this man came out and walked their property and made recommendations on where to drill.  He used wires... and would write up a report, making recommendations on location,  expected drilling depth to water, output in acre feet etc., etc.  They would drill where indicated and eventually my husband would end up testing the well.  The results were uncanny and estimations spot on... they made a believer out of my husband.  I knew the dowser and he was a perfectly normal person... a company manager...   I know that dowsing is scoffed at, but I became a believer also because I could see the results...

GG

Edited by Garden Girl
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Jefferson's wife Martha had asked him not to marry again if she died. If Sally had married Jefferson then she would slept in his bed and not in some recently uncovered little room. Amazing after all the attacks on Brodie from historians even Mormon ones accept the facts on the relationship.  

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On 1/25/2019 at 3:15 PM, CA Steve said:

I am not exactly sure what the issue is here. Is it a question of whether or not Joseph was engaged in these types of activities, a question I think has been answered in the affirmative over and over again or is it simply quibbling about how much he was involved and how it carried over into his religious practices?

Who is claiming that Joseph's involvement in magic, the occult and treasure hunting are just made up lies? 

I attended a regional leadership training near the temple with Elder Renlund and a few 70's back in 2016.  During the lunch break, I sat at the table with the stake president over the area which has the Priesthood restoration visitors center near the Susquehanna maple grove.  A friend of mine who I served on the HC with was in a branch presidency and I in a bishopric at the time.  He and I both familiar with Joseph's treasure digging and scrying history began talking about the restoration site, the brown seer stone, and some about Josiah Stowell and the silver mine cave.  The stake president over this area (younger fellow) was utterly disgusted with our conversation and kept checking our name tag which had our church calling under our name -  he was taken back by our discussion of Joseph's treasure digging.  He told us emphatically in a defensive manner, that "Joseph was not involved in treasure digging - that is a lie!"  He then abruptly stood up and left the table.  He was really put out over our discussion of seer stones and treasure.  

Edited by blueglass
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7 hours ago, PacMan said:

I liked this precious gem:

This is typical Vogel--grasping at the most absurd, lunatic, and salacious conspiracy theories without support.  Indeed, what makes this "probable" other than Vogel's own perverse imagination?  What's more probable is that Joseph Smith Sr. and his friends--three days AFTER the plates were purported to be received--exhumed his son for the express purpose that Joseph Smith Sr. said--to make sure that Alvin was still buried, contrary to reports that he had been "removed" and "dissected."

Until Vogel discerns between facts, assumptions, and conclusions, and responsibly delineates between the three, no one should ever rely on his work, let alone consider him a legitimate, responsible, or trustworthy historian.  I find others that I disagree with, such as Quinn, useful for the factual information they provide.  But Vogel's factual information is so conflated with undisclosed assumptions and ridiculous conclusions that his work holds very little academic value.

I previously articulated my reservations about Vogel just a little while ago on this board.  Of course, Vogel did not respond.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to respond to since you gave no counter to the interpretation, only ad hominem. I think Quinn or I would have been irresponsible scholars for not making the connection of Alvin’s exhumation with the messenger’s (treasure guardian’s) demand to bring Alvin to get the plates. The fact that you label that “grasping at the most absurd, lunatic, and salacious conspiracy” shows you are biased. Anyone who really knows my work knows that I dismiss many favorite “anti-Mormon” interpretations if I think they are unsupported by the evidence.

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20 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Quoting Vogel?

BEWARE!

Note this:

Look it up.

Oak Island is off Long Island, near New York city.   It is over 200 miles from Palymyra as the crow flies and 314 miles as the NY State Thruway runs.  We are talking about a drive at freeway speeds of over 5 hours, and I might guess it was just a tad longer in those days.  I know the geography of NY State having driven from Buffalo - the city in which I was born- past Palmyra - to NY many times.  The route the freeway takes is the most practical due to mountainous geography.  (ok- big hills to Utahns- a couple of thousand feet ;))

It is on the same little spit of land off the coast of Long Island on which Fire Island is located.

It is hardly "not far from the Smith's Palmyra roots"

What kid does not like to read pirate stories??  But the implication that somehow close proximity to Captain Kidd historical sites had anything to do with the Smiths treasure digging- a popular pastime of the age since baseball on TV was not quite yet in vogue- is totally ridiculous.

To me this reveals the polemic nature of what is being said.  He is pulling evidence out of thin air to prove his case- and that is not a scholarly approach to history.  Why would he even say this if he was being impartial??

I don't know where this quote comes from, but it's not me or from my book. However, it was evidently believed by some that Kidd or pirates may have traveled up the Susquehanna as far as Harmony, Pennsylvania, or even near South Bainbridge, New York. 

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In the new book "Saints" which all latter-day saints are encouraged to read when dealing with the 1826 trial it takes Oliver Cowdery's position.

Ch4.  "In the end, the hearing produced no evidence that Joseph had deceived him, so the judge dismissed the charge."  (8)  Yet if you click on the footnote and read the other historical topic essay on the 1826 trial it is not so definitive on the outcome. 

https://www.lds.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smiths-1826-trial.html?lang=eng

He had never solicited such work and “had always rather declined having anything to do with this business.”3
The outcome of the hearing remains a puzzle. A purported court record indicates the judge found Joseph guilty. A neighbor of Josiah Stowell claimed the court “condemned” Joseph but allowed him to escape on account of his youth.  Oliver Cowdery,  "Joseph was acquitted of being a disorderly person."5

For those more familiar with the 1826 trial, is it sustainable to definitely declare in the official church history book that Joseph was not a treasure digger, i.e. "declined having anything to do with the business", and that he was acquitted from the charge for glass looking?  I can see this stake president I met at the luncheon a few years ago feeling vindicated by the new Saints book.

Edited by blueglass
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3 hours ago, Dan Vogel said:

I don't know where this quote comes from, but it's not me or from my book. However, it was evidently believed by some that Kidd or pirates may have traveled up the Susquehanna as far as Harmony, Pennsylvania, or even near South Bainbridge, New York. 

Looks like its a paragraph from the Mormon Stories article. Whoever wrote it seems to confuse Oak Island in New York with Oak Island in Nova Scotia, 650 miles away.

One interesting fact is that Maroni or Marong is the name of a legendary and preternatural warrior-chief of the Quedah kingdom in Malaysia. Captain Kidd's captured treasure ship was called the Quedah Merchant. What better name to give the preternatural warrior guardian of the Quedah treasure?

https://www.evernote.com/l/AAiwscW09kNA642O1lWetlIsyhOVJujmVe4

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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10 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

...............................................

My BIL just bought a piece of property in the southern California desert, with its own well of perfectly potable water.

In the desert?

Yes but it's only about a quarter mile from a river. That desert soil soaks up water like a sponge.

I often ride my bike around a "spreading zone" in a flood control district. The purpose of those districts are strictly to literally spread what river water there is over a wider area to replenish the wells, by allowing it to percolate into the soil instead of simply running off into the ocean. They protect against flash floods and provide nice little recreation areas in the middle of a huge metropolis.

This reminds me of the practical methods developed in Australia by Peter Andrews and Tony Coote to regenerate and rehabilitate environmental wastelands (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4OBcRHX1Bc , ABC News [Australia], 2018), which is part of an environmental restoration "niche technique":

Quote

The technique consists of making a furrow and a ridge and establishing a "niche" on the ridge (Figure 6.3).  The furrow is intended to catch water and cause water to be stored in the subsoil close to the growing shrub to aid survival and growth. The ridge allows the planting site to be raised above the general ground level to avoid waterlogging or flooding problems and to help leach salt from the niche. The niche provides a sheltered planting site with compressed side slope for run-off to concentrate in the niche. The niche can be seeded or planted. When sowing is done, mulching can promote water penetration, salt leaching and reduce evaporation and soil crusting. [see figure 6.3 on page 60 for illustration of this procedure]  “Ecological Restoration,” FES Internal Sourcebook, Aug 2008, online at http://fes.org.in/source-book/ecological-restoration-source-book.pdf?file=ZG93bmxvYWQvd3AxOS5wZGY=?file=ZG93bmxvYWQvd3AxOS5wZGY= .

Ecologist John D. Liu has done something similar to reclaim deserts in China and Jordan:  2012, vpro documentary, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDgDWbQtlKI .

 

 

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5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

This reminds me of the practical methods developed in Australia by Peter Andrews and Tony Coote to regenerate and rehabilitate environmental wastelands (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4OBcRHX1Bc , ABC News [Australia], 2018), which is part of an environmental restoration "niche technique":

Ecologist John D. Liu has done something similar to reclaim deserts in China and Jordan:  2012, vpro documentary, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDgDWbQtlKI .

 

 

I am having flashbacks to Dune for some reason.

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14 hours ago, Dan Vogel said:

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to respond to since you gave no counter to the interpretation, only ad hominem. I think Quinn or I would have been irresponsible scholars for not making the connection of Alvin’s exhumation with the messenger’s (treasure guardian’s) demand to bring Alvin to get the plates. The fact that you label that “grasping at the most absurd, lunatic, and salacious conspiracy” shows you are biased. Anyone who really knows my work knows that I dismiss many favorite “anti-Mormon” interpretations if I think they are unsupported by the evidence.

Dan, just wanted to chime in and thank you for your MS interviews.  I admire your studies/info .  Thank you again!! I am ordering your latest book!

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5 hours ago, Calm said:

I am having flashbacks to Dune for some reason.

Hopefully those are flashbacks to the incredible Herbert book and not the horrible movie.

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7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Hopefully those are flashbacks to the incredible Herbert book and not the horrible movie.

What, you don't like Sting having a knife fight in his Speedos?

Edited by Gray

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8 hours ago, Calm said:

I am having flashbacks to Dune for some reason.

Aside from the Arabian desert-style life which Herbert chose to portray, there was also the prophetic hero-figure.

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17 hours ago, Dan Vogel said:

I don't know where this quote comes from, but it's not me or from my book. However, it was evidently believed by some that Kidd or pirates may have traveled up the Susquehanna as far as Harmony, Pennsylvania, or even near South Bainbridge, New York. 

The problem is that Dehlin's essay is incoherent and filled with claims not supported by professional historiography.  One of the best critiques of this wild-eyed approach to Captain Kidd and to New England treasure digging generally is (as you know) Larry E. Morris, "'I Should Have an Eye Single to the Glory of God’: Joseph Smith’s Account of the Angel and the Plates (Review of: Ronald Huggins, "From Captain Kidd’s Treasure Ghost to the Angel Moroni: Changing Dramatis Personae in Early Mormonism," Dialogue, 36/4 [2003]:17-42)," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005):11–82, online at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1597&context=msr .

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38 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The problem is that Dehlin's essay is incoherent and filled with claims not supported by professional historiography.  One of the best critiques of this wild-eyed approach to Captain Kidd and to New England treasure digging generally is (as you know) Larry E. Morris, "'I Should Have an Eye Single to the Glory of God’: Joseph Smith’s Account of the Angel and the Plates (Review of: Ronald Huggins, "From Captain Kidd’s Treasure Ghost to the Angel Moroni: Changing Dramatis Personae in Early Mormonism," Dialogue, 36/4 [2003]:17-42)," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005):11–82, online at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1597&context=msr .

I read the essay and wouldn't say it was "incoherent."  Perhaps it is incomplete and in need of editing.  However, it isn't incoherent.  Also, maybe you could give me a list of the claims that aren't supported by professional historiography? 

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I don't quite get the thread. JS was a treasure digger. I see no big deal in this. He was a young man working with his father to get some money for the family. Money digging or treasure seeking was an honorable job back in his time. And when a family is desperate for money, they will do anything possible to keep the family afloat. I see the money digging or treasure seeking as a prelude to the calling that he was to have: to bring the gold plates forward. We also see that other treasure seekers were interested in the gold plates when the word got out that he had them. And he was forced to hide them. I just don't see the big deal.

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4 hours ago, CA Steve said:

Hopefully those are flashbacks to the incredible Herbert book and not the horrible movie.

Definitely

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32 minutes ago, why me said:

I don't quite get the thread. JS was a treasure digger. I see no big deal in this. He was a young man working with his father to get some money for the family. Money digging or treasure seeking was an honorable job back in his time. And when a family is desperate for money, they will do anything possible to keep the family afloat. I see the money digging or treasure seeking as a prelude to the calling that he was to have: to bring the gold plates forward. We also see that other treasure seekers were interested in the gold plates when the word got out that he had them. And he was forced to hide them. I just don't see the big deal.

Using a seer stone to find treasure was a crime back in 1820's New York. Hence, the 1826 trial of Joseph Smith, the "Glass Looker." I guess the people of New York didn't see treasure digging as honorable back then? However, that was obviously mere opinion. What is a crime in some eras could be viewed as "honorable" in other times? 

How do you view J.S. Jr. never actually finding anything, yet still being paid for his failures? In fact, to this day there aren't any treasures that have been found in the New York area that I am aware. Also, the church still hasn't excavated the hill cumorah in order to find the stone box that allegedly contained the plates. The fact is that there were never any treasures around Palmyra or Harmony or along the banks of the susquehanna river and belief in such was simply delusion. I don't see how you can claim treasure digging was really much ado about nothing ....

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I don’t know what John Dehlin and anonymous authors hope to accomplish with this essay. It reminds me of the scandal that arose when it was discovered the Isaac Newton had been a dedicated alchemist his entire life. For a long time this knowledge was suppressed, or people tried to suppress it, but after a while it became impossible and now everybody knows Isaac Newton was an alchemist. For my part, I read about it all in “Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer”.

From this book a case can be made that, not only were Newton’s alchemical pursuits NOT incompatible with his scientific ones, but that these alchemical pursuits led to his great scientific discoveries.

I think the same can be said of JS's early treasure seeking and his later prophetic and revelatory career. For this reason, I find this MS essay to be a big yawn (and I also think it is filled with what Huck Finn would call “stretchers”).

Edited by bdouglas
Remove name of Dan Vogel ...

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32 minutes ago, bdouglas said:

I don’t know what  Dan Vogel et al hope to accomplish with this essay. It reminds me of the scandal that arose when it was discovered the Isaac Newton had been a dedicated alchemist his entire life. For a long time this knowledge was suppressed, or people tried to suppress it, but after a while it became impossible and now everybody knows Isaac Newton was an alchemist. For my part, I read about it all in “Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer”.

From this book a case can be made that, not only were Newton’s alchemical pursuits NOT incompatible with his scientific ones, but that these alchemical pursuits led to his great scientific discoveries.

I think the same can be said of JS's early treasure seeking and his later prophetic and revelatory career. For this reason, I find this MS essay to be a big yawn (and I also think it is filled with what Huck Finn would call “stretchers”).

So where are the huck finn "stretchers?"

Also, isn't the difference with Newton that his work can be proven regardless of where one is on the belief spectrum? I may say delusion or pious fraud and you may say preparation for prophetic work. But, with Newton, it doesn't matter what my religious belief is. Newton's laws are proven whether I am LDS or Agnostic.

Also, what is the difference between faith and fraud? Don't both require belief in the invisible? Most couldn't see the plates because of faith and financial statements are denied to the ponzi investor due to faith reasons too.

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5 hours ago, Jeanne said:

Dan, just wanted to chime in and thank you for your MS interviews.  I admire your studies/info .  Thank you again!! I am ordering your latest book!

Thank you.

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