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William Smith 1891 Interview in The Rod of Iron


Joseph Antley

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I keep seeing the following quote in various places around the web, attributed to an interview with William Smith and published in The Rod of Iron vol. 1, no. 3, February 1924:

Among other things we inquired minutely about the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate. We asked him what was meant by the expression "two rims of a bow," which held the former. He said a double silver bow was twisted into the shape of the figure eight, and the two stones were placed literally between the two rims of a bow. At one end was attached a rod which was connected with the outer edge of the right shoulder of the breast-plate. By pressing the head a little forward, the rod held the Urim and Thummim before the eyes much like a pair of spectacles. A pocket was prepared in the breastplate on the left side, immediately over the heart. When not in use the Urim and Thummim was placed in this pocket, the rod being of just the right length to allow it to be so deposited. This instrument could, however, be detached from the breastplate and his brother said Joseph often wore it detached when away from home, but always used it in connection with the breastplate when receiving official communications, and usually so when translating as it permitted him to have both hands free to hold the plates.

Can anyone educate me about what kind of publication the The Rod of Iron was, if the interview has ever been reprinted, etc.?

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I keep seeing the following quote in various places around the web, attributed to an interview with William Smith and published in The Rod of Iron vol. 1, no. 3, February 1924:

Can anyone educate me about what kind of publication the The Rod of Iron was, if the interview has ever been reprinted, etc.?

I can't, but this is the reverence I was trying to remember for another discussion about how the Urim and Thummim were attached to the breastplate, and could not locate it.

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I keep seeing the following quote in various places around the web, attributed to an interview with William Smith and published in The Rod of Iron vol. 1, no. 3, February 1924:
Among other things we inquired minutely about the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate. We asked him what was meant by the expression "two rims of a bow," which held the former. He said a double silver bow was twisted into the shape of the figure eight, and the two stones were placed literally between the two rims of a bow. At one end was attached a rod which was connected with the outer edge of the right shoulder of the breast-plate. By pressing the head a little forward, the rod held the Urim and Thummim before the eyes much like a pair of spectacles. A pocket was prepared in the breastplate on the left side, immediately over the heart. When not in use the Urim and Thummim was placed in this pocket, the rod being of just the right length to allow it to be so deposited. This instrument could, however, be detached from the breastplate and his brother said Joseph often wore it detached when away from home, but always used it in connection with the breastplate when receiving official communications, and usually so when translating as it permitted him to have both hands free to hold the plates.

Can anyone educate me about what kind of publication the The Rod of Iron was, if the interview has ever been reprinted, etc.?

The Rod of Iron appears to be an RLDS-oriented publication. Blake Ostler cites it in his 1987 Dialogue article "The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source" (v. 20 no. 1 [spring 1987], 66â??123), and that citation mentions that it was reprinted eight years later in the Saints Herald, the official RLDS newspaper.

The Marriott Library's holdings include the papers of James D. Wardle, a Salt Lake RLDS member, and the inventory has an entry for "The Rod of Iron (1924)", which seems to indicate that it was probably only published for a year or less.

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Can anyone educate me about what kind of publication the The Rod of Iron was, if the interview has ever been reprinted, etc.?

The Rod of Iron appears to be an RLDS-oriented publication. Blake Ostler cites it in his 1987 Dialogue article "The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source" (v. 20 no. 1 [spring 1987], 66â??123), and that citation mentions that it was reprinted eight years later in the Saints Herald, the official RLDS newspaper.

The Marriott Library's holdings include the papers of James D. Wardle, a Salt Lake RLDS member, and the inventory has an entry for "The Rod of Iron (1924)", which seems to indicate that it was probably only published for a year or less.

Yes, I'd run across both of these as well. I was surprised that Dale doesn't have that issue of the Herald on his site.

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The Rod of Iron account appears to be based on the statement of J. W. Peterson printed in Dan Vogel's Early Mormon Documents, vol. 1, as "William Smith Interview with J. W. Peterson and W. S. Pender, 1890" (pp. 507-509). The statement is a single typed page with handwritten corrections and signature by J. W. Peterson. Vogel cites it as "Statement of J. W. Peterson Concerning William Smith," 1 May 1921, Miscellaneous Letters and Paper, RLDS Church Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri.

If you're wondering about the apparent date discrepancy, Vogel transcribes the first part as: "Statement of Elder J. W. Peterson concerning his acquaintance of William B. Smith a brother of the first president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. On the fourth day of July 4.1. One Thousand Eight-hundred and Ninety I first met William B. Smith . . ." Compare the Rod of Iron account: "On the fourth of July, about 1891, in company with Elder W. S. Pender, I first met Elder William B. Smith" (The Rod of Iron, February 1924, 6-7).

Based on the passage you quoted, the Rod of Iron account seems to a cleaned-up version of Peterson's 1921 statement. Compare the following:

Explaining the expression as to the stones in the Urim and thummim being set in two rims of a bow he said: A silver bow ran over one stone, under the other, around over that one and under the first in the shape of a horizontal figure 8 much like a pair of spectacles. That they were much too large for Joseph and he could only see through one at a time using sometimes one and sometimes the other. By putting his head in a hat or some dark object it was not necessary to close one eye while looking through the stone with the other. In that way sometimes when his eyes grew tires [tired] he releaved them of the strain. He also said the Urim and Thummim was attached to the breastplate by a rod which was fastened at the outer shoulde[r] edge of the breastplate and to the end of the silver bow. This rod was just the right length so that when the Urim and thummim was removed from before the eyes it woul<d> reac<h> to a pocked [pocket?] on the left side of the breastplate where the instrument was kept when not in use by the Seer. (EMD, 1:508)
Among other things we inquired minutely about the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate. We asked him what was meant by the expression "two rims of a bow," which held the former. He said a double silver bow was twisted into the shape of the figure eight, and the two stones were placed literally between the two rims of a bow. At one end was attached a rod which was connected with the outer edge of the right shoulder of the breast-plate. By pressing the head a little forward, the rod held the Urim and Thummim before the eyes much like a pair of spectacles. A pocket was prepared in the breastplate on the left side, immediately over the heart. When not in use the Urim and Thummim was placed in this pocket, the rod being of just the right length to allow it to be so deposited. (The Rod of Iron [February 1924]: 6-7)
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From what I've gathered, the HBLL has the second volume of The Rod of Iron, but not the third. But i haven't yet been granted access to the Special Collections to take a peek at it...for some reason they seem hesitant to allow an ungrad to touch things.

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