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Joseph Smith and treasure seeking


robuchan

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The only treasure that Joseph is recorded (except for some wild tales about a constantly sinking trunk) was for Josiah Stowell. Mr. Stowell sought out Joseph because of a reputation Joseph had garnered for being able to "see" things with a certain stone that he had and was able to prove to it to Josiah's satisfaction.

Josiah had heard that there was some lost silver treasure somewhere on his land and wanted Joseph to help him find it. That endeavor lasted only about a mont, according to Joseph and resulted in no treasure being found, to this day. I suspect that it is pretty hard to find treasure where none exists. Of course I cannot prove that there is not treasure there so Joseph must have been a fraud.

Do you believe that there was any treasure to be found there? If so, let me draw you a map to the Lost Dutchman.

Glenn

There was treasure in Josiah's well. Joseph acquired his seer stone in that endeavor, about 25 feet down. I believe he was led to do the work there for a reason.

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I'm a believer and I don't see it that way. The teenage Joseph Smith Jr. practiced "folk magic", so what?

I kind of agree with this. If it is anything it is testament to the suggestion that Joseph believed deeply in the supernatural and that he believed that the supernatural could interact with the physical world that we live in.

It is also however easy for such people as Joseph or his family to have 'defrauded' others through use or misuse of this type of activity. It all depends on whether Joseph truly believed that he had 'the gift', or whether he felt it was a ruse and went along with it anyway.

It takes a particular type of person to scry though. I couldn't do it. I wonder if there is anything out there that can describe what happens to the brain when one is scrying. Does or can it have the potential to put a person in some kind of trance? I think Moody attempts to interact with the unseen world by similar methods.

Mary

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LoaP, read the review.

Also tried to find some kinder reviews (of which there are a good few..)

Found this article that also might be helpful to the opening poster

http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/dialogue&CISOPTR=28355&CISOSHOW=28149

It's by Clay L Chandler. Scrying for the Lord: Magic, mysticism and the Origins of the Book of Mormon.

I actually am finding Chandler's article more problematic, because he concentrates on the occult links without giving the wider religious context. At least from what I have read so far. Brooke seems to be much more sympathetic..

Let me correct that. Here is part of Chandler's closing comment.

'Joseph Smith lived in a time and a place where magic and religion often co-existed harmoniously and where religious leaders and magical practitioners could be one and the same'

Which came first 'chicken or egg'. I'm not sure, but I think that parts of the hermetic, the magic, the gnostic, the mysterious, the pagan if you like have survived into more recent history whether it be from the Celts or the Egyptians, Jews or the Greeks or from some other later medieval, German or Tudor (Edward Kelly for instance) source and have combined and lived alongside certain religious groups including Christian groups which in turn influenced Joseph's immediate kin and through them, him.

It's interesting stuff and understandable seen in the context of the times.

Mary

Frankly there is better work out there than Chandler or Brooke offers. (Brooke especially has some massive problems.) I recommend as a good first stop Mark Ashurst-McGee's thesis on Joseph Smith and Seers. Ron Walker has done some good work in this area in BYU Studies, as has Richard Lloyd Anderson. Bushman touches on it more responsibly than Brooke, as well.

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That stone was found in the Chase well, actually, using Sally Chase's stone, IRRC.

I probably confused the wells. But wasn't Sally Chase the one who was using her "green stone" to find the plates for the ones trying to steal them from Joseph, which is why he kept having to move them, being warned that they were in danger of discovery? Was it this same green stone that Joseph earlier to find his own seer stone when they were on better terms?

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Frankly there is better work out there than Chandler or Brooke offers. (Brooke especially has some massive problems.) I recommend as a good first stop Mark Ashurst-McGee's thesis on Joseph Smith and Seers. Ron Walker has done some good work in this area in BYU Studies, as has Richard Lloyd Anderson. Bushman touches on it more responsibly than Brooke, as well.

Loap, I've just been over to your blog

http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2009/08/brant-gardner-joseph-seer-or-why-joseph.html

to try and gain a little more understanding as to where you are coming from.

I've tried to find

Mark Ashurst-McGee's paper on line...

Are you referring to this..

Mark Ashurst-McGee, "A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet," (Master's Thesis, University of Utah, Logan, Utah, 2000), 65–66.

I don't have access to it, but it does look interesting.

In what way do you think Bushman touches on the subject more responsibly than Brooke?

Here's part of the IRR review of Refiners Fire. I don't think I disagree with it in the most part.

http://www.irr.org/mit/refiner%27s-fire-br.html

It can be argued that the religious context of the birth of Mormonism is substantially located within the framework of four primary influences: Jewish kabbalism, folk magic, Anabaptist biblicism/millennialism, and "hermeticism." While authors such as Lance Owens, D. Michael Quinn, Philip Barlow and Jan Shipps, among others, have illuminated especially the first three of these influences, the factor of "hermeticism" is the special focus of this important contribution by John Brooke. (Note: The term "hermetic" describes any religion which offers access to the "sealed mysteries" of the universe through esoteric knowledge and/or rituals, thereby offering the recovery of the divine powers of Adam which were lost in the Fall.) Brooke is the Arthur Jr. and Lenore Stern Professor of American History at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

In bold, their definition of hermetic.

The central thesis of the work is clearly stated in the preface: "Quite simply, there are striking parallels between the Mormon concepts of the coequality of matter and spirit, of the covenant of celestial marriage, and of an ultimate goal of human godhood and the philosophical traditions of alchemy and hermeticism, drawn from the ancient world and fused with Christianity in the Italian Renaissance" (p. xiii). The central thesis which occupies this study is intended by Brooke to stand in contrast, not so much with traditional LDS scholarship — although it does do that in some significant ways — but with those historians who would seek to identify Mormonism as the "quintessential American religion": "Rather than running from the Puritanism brought to New England in the Great Migration, firmly situated in the Magisterial Reformation of Calvinist theology and a state-supported religion, Mormonism springs from the sectarian tradition of the Radical Reformation, in fact from its most extreme fringe" (p. xv).

This is also, as a layperson, what I got out of the book. The church changed and developed in some pretty significant ways from its early inception in 1830, and I thought Brooke covered this well, particulary the Nauvoo period with the institution and regularisation of the temple endowment for instance. There are also some significant shifts in the way secret groups (the Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon) are viewed in terms of Joseph's practice as time went on. I also felt Brooke dealt with that quite nicely and sympathetically. Ideals such as those in the BoM are great until practical circumstances call for some difficult choices and decisions that Joseph and the early leaders would have had to have made in order to survive?

Just out of interest, during the Civil War here in the UK, many 'royalists' buried their treasures, 'parliamentarians did also. Some 'treasures' are only just being recovered. The Romans in or around 420ad were another group that buried their treasures. So I am not surprised that folk 'means' to find those treasures were being developed. Luckily we now have metal detectors!

I don't personally have a problem with Joseph's more secular and folk use of stones, I find it interesting, but he didn't do all of this in a vacuum, and he certainly didn't get the ideas and practice from the Puritans, as far as I can tell, unless you can tell me different.

Did his family have access to certain magical documents and occultic books as Chandler suggests? I found that particularly interesting. Some of the documents he referred to, I have never heard of... If they didn't have access to these books, could they have been taught by people like Walters the Magician , who perhaps did?

Ebeneezer Sibly's 1784 book,

The Pseudopigraphic book compiled from various medieval documents by Cornelius Agrippa

Francis Barrett's book 'The Magus'

The Key of Solomon the King

Reginald Scott's book

Are there any more I have left out? I know Brooke refers to Paracelsus, Edward Kelly and John Gee also and of course to Masonic practice, Hermes Trismegistus, the Philosophers Stone and to the Alchemical Marriage of Coniunctio.

To what extent do these books, characters and strands help us to come to this:

Quite simply, there are striking parallels between the Mormon concepts of the coequality of matter and spirit, of the covenant of celestial marriage, and of an ultimate goal of human godhood and the philosophical traditions of alchemy and hermeticism,

If at all, or can these doctrines be accounted for adequately elsewhere?

From what Chandler writes some of the folk magic practiced by Lucy, and Joseph Sr, as well as Joseph Jnr has echoes of the works contained in some of these books, even if the knowledge was gained by oral tradition?

From Brooke, we learn of the connections between alchemy and counterfitting, one being a divine or magical means to 'value' and the other a more practical and earthly means, and also how sometimes counterfitters used alchemy as a veneer to cover their activities.

We also learn that Joseph Smith Sr, seemed to believe that Copper 'grew' in the ground. Was he on the counterfitting side or the magical side or were both tied up to him and also to Joseph..?

I'm a layman here LoaP, just asking. So much to learn..

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For me it boils down to the actual evidence. Some folks corner JS by insisting that if something he said or did was similar to anything that preceded him, no matter how remote the chances that it could have actually influenced him, it means he borrowed it. OR if what he brought about finds no direct parallel it means he used his wonderful imagination to invent it. Either way you'll notice one missing ingredient: God's influence or revelation. With Brooke I see too much conjecture, too much parallelomania. The review I linked to earlier from FARMS is a good analysis. You might also check out reviews of Quinn's distorted Magic Worldview book. For instance, see Hamblin's "That Old Black Magic."

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I've tried to find Mark Ashurst-McGee's paper on line...

I don't have access to it, but it does look interesting.

I just put up the PDF here.

Bushman offers a characteristically perceptive and even-handed review of Refiner's Fire here. A version of this review also appeared in Journal of the Early Republic 15, no. 3 (1995): 501-508 (under the title "The Mysteries of Mormonism").

While I agree with Bushman that the book's central thesisâ??that early Mormonism was strongly influenced by hermeticismâ??remains unproven (and is probably flat-out wrong), I think it is nevertheless a fascinating and stimulating book. In book-jacket-blurb-speak, I think it is a work of deep erudition and historical imagination, and I can see why it won the prestigious Bancroft Prize. I especially appreciated Brooke's attempt to trace the various cultural streams of dissenting religion within New England. I note that Catherine Albanese has recently published a sequel of sorts to Refiner's Fire called A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (Yale, 2007).

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My first response to accusations of JS being a treasure seeker, and the money digging, glass looking, peepstone, all that magical stuff that he was accused of...was to assume it was an anti-Mormon's view of JS simply looking for the gold plates. It seems that might have been a bit too simple of an approach.

But I'm still not clear what came first. Joseph allegedly saw the angel Moroni first at the age of 17. Was Joseph accused of any of this stuff before then? Is it a possible explanation that ALL of the accusations of magical stuff was a result of that angel visit and likely never would have occurred without it? i.e. from a conservative standpoint, Joseph's accusers twisted what he was doing. The treasure seeking was actually him looking for the BOM. from a liberal standpoint, Joseph got the idea there were sacred gold plates buried nearby and Joseph was either told by Moroni or assumed he should use seer stone in association with it. so why couldn't there be other gold buried and find it with the same method? and that he probably made a mistake by seeking it through the same means Moroni taught him about the gold plates. And without Moroni sticking the idea in his head he never would have attempted any of the magical stuff.

Does this theory work from a historical standpoint?

Depends on what story you want to believe and from who:

Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass, p. 215

How it all began, or something

"The first venture made by young Smith in the line of mystification was as a 'Water Witch,' . . . gaining reputation thereby: and meeting with many failures, of which all mention was discreetly omitted by himself and [his] followers. . . . From locating subterranean veins of water he advanced to the discovery of hidden riches." In September 1819 he started looking for treasures with a peepstone. fn

Mahaffey: No, it couldn't have been 1819, "as his name appears in the criminal records of 1817. An old man testifies that Smith was about this time employed to locate wells and look for gold with his 'divining rods' of witch hazel and his 'seer-stone.' " fn

Tucker: You are both wrong! I have given a full account of his very first digging, which I had from Smith himself, and which took place in 1820. fn

Willard Chase: Wrong! It was not until 1822 or after that "Joe began to aver that with his stone he could discover treasure, and see all things both above and beneath the earth."

Chairman: So now it is not only water and treasure beneath the earth but "all things both above and beneath the earth." Just how far did his claims go?

Seibel: "Many people paid [smith] money for the exercise of his clairvoyant gifts," and when they failed, as they always did, "Joe had ever an ingenious explanation for the failure, and nearly always managed to placate the wrath of his disappointed dupes." fn

Blackman: He "was in the habit of 'blessing' his neighbors' crops for a small consideration"â??with disastrous results to the crops. fn

Chairman: So his hard-headed Yankee neighbors went right on paying him good money to ruin their crops, just as they paid him to find all those treasures which he never found? I find all this a bit far-fetched. What of those whom he did not placate? I must remind you again that people do not like being made dupes of, yet the neighbors testify that no action of any kind was ever taken against this much-publicized menace, operating with impunity in many counties. It has been said that Smith began as a "water witch" with a witch-hazel rod; is that so?

W. Stafford: There is a misunderstanding here. The family used witch-hazel sticks, to detect and drive away evil spirits, when digging for money. fn

Chairman: So it was not water but money after all, and it was a family affair?

Caswall: Yes. "When the worthless family engaged in their nocturnal excursions for money-digging," Joseph was always their conductor. fn

Chairman: If Joseph was always in charge, what of all the tales about Smith, Sr., running the show?

American Whig Review: The father trained the son, who was "constantly revelling amid the wildest fictions which the avarice-stimulated imagination of his parents could fabricate." fn

Caswall: It was his father who trained him, as Mr. Linn will confirm. fn

****inson: No, it was his mother; "very early Mrs. Smith instructed her son Joseph to set up a claim for miraculous powers, which he willingly adopted." fn

M. W. Montgomery: You are both wrong! "Even this 'peep-stone' humbug was an idea borrowed from a fortune-telling old woman who lived not many miles distant." fn

William Alexander Linn: Wrong again! Joe picked up "crystal-gazing" in Pennsylvania. fn

Chairman: Mr. Tucker does not think so.

Linn: "Tucker was evidently ignorant both of Joe's previous experience with 'crystal-gazing' in Pennsylvania and of crystal-gazing itself." fn

Chairman: Who told you about this previous experience in Pennsylvania? After all, since Mr. Tucker is intimately acquainted with all of Smith's activities from the time he was twelve years old, there could hardly have been much "previous experience"!

Linn: The key to the digging is Mr. Blackman.

Blackman: I was merely quoting Mr. J. B. Buck.

J. B. Buck: I never said I saw Joe dig. I only said he was in Pennsylvania "soon after my marriage, which was in 1818, some years before he took to 'peeping' and before diggings were commenced under his direction. These were ideas he gained later." fn

Chairman: So all Mr. Linn's prize witness can say is that Joe did not peep or dig when he knew him. It was only "some years" after 1818 that he gained those ideas, that is, not before 1821 at the earliest. When did Smith, Jr., learn about money-digging, Mr. Linn?

Linn: "The Elder Smith . . . was known as a money-digger while a resident of Vermont." fn

Chairman: Then how can you insist that "these ideas were gained later" if Smith was exposed to them from childhood?

Linn: Sir, may I remind you that to this day my book is hailed as the most "scientific" work in existence on the life of Joseph Smith. It explains everything. Please pay attention:

(1) The Elder Smith was known as a money-digger while a resident of Vermont.

(2) Of course that subject was a matter of conversation in his family, and

(3) his sons were of a character to share in his belief. . . .

(4) The son Joseph . . . professed to have his father's gifts, and

(5) . . . soon added to his accomplishments the power to locate hidden riches.

(6) It can easily be imagined how interested any member of the Smith family would have been in an exhibition like that of a 'crystal-gazer,' and we are able to trace very consecutively Joe's first introduction to the practice, and the use he made of the hint thus given. fn

To what hint do you refer?

Linn: To the hint picked up in Pennsylvania.

Chairman: Yet according to your only witness it took him several years to react to the hintâ??though the so-called witness was nowhere around when he did. Allow me a brief commentary on the scientific objectivity of your report, point by point:

(1) First you merely state that Smith, Sr., "was known as a money-digger" in Vermont, though you do not say by whom, when, and how that was known and reported;

(2) then you say the family discussed the businessâ??and your evidence for that is simply a casual "of course";

(3) next you say the Smith boys went along, not because there is any evidence that they did, but because in your estimation they "were of a character" to do it;

(4) then you say that Joseph Smith, Jr., "professed to have his father's gifts"â??when and where did he ever make such a profession? and

(5) that he "soon added" to it "the power to locate hidden riches." But what gift did he profess, if the treasure-finding was an added gift?

(6) Further, there is no evidence that the Smiths ever took to crystal-gazing, and your only proof for it is that "it can easily be imagined";

7) finally, you claim "to trace very consecutively Joe's first introduction to the practice" to a "hint" he received when he was eleven years old in Pennsylvania. But a hint is only a possible source, never a proven one.

Linn: He reacted to the hint, didn't he?

Chairman: But not until "some years" later, according to your informant. And how was he to know what particular hint Smith was reacting to far away and years later? But do you actually think this is a "scientific" presentation of evidence?

Beardsley: I consider myself quite as scholarly as Mr. Linn. Let me tell you what happened.

On the outskirts of a little village in New York State in the year James Monroe became President of the United States for the second time, a barefoot boy waded along a gravelly creek, looking for "lucky stones" when he should have been hoeing corn. Wearying of the search, he threw himself face downwards in the grass in the shade of a maple tree, pulled a precious 'lucky stone' from his pocket, and placed it in the crown of his battered old felt hat.

That's how it all began. fn

Chairman: Dr. Beardsley, did you ever read the story of Susannah and the elders? If you will recall, two vile old men accused the chaste Susannah of immoral practices which they claimed to have witnessed together in a garden. The youthful Daniel proved them both liars by asking each separately, "Under what kind of a tree and where in the garden did you behold her?" The one promptly answered, "It was under a schinon [a mastich tree]," and the other just as emphatically declared, "It was under a prinon [an evergreen-oak tree]." Now tell me, doctor, how do you know it was a maple tree under which the boy reclined, and who was there to report it?

Beardsley: That is, after all, a very trivial point.

Chairman: Not when your authority and Smith's reputation depend on it. Is there anything at all in your little story that is not fanciful?

Beardsley: Certainly there is. The peepstone and the hat. Those are realities. All the books tell about them.

Chairman: Then let us hear about the peepstone. How did Smith get it?

Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass, p. 220

J. Smith, peepstones for all occasions

Lapham: According to Joseph Smith, Sr., "his son Joseph, . . . when he was about fourteen years of age, happened to be where a man was looking into a dark stone and telling people therefrom where to dig for money and other things. Joseph requested the privilege of looking into the stone, which he did by putting his face into the hat where the stone was. It proved to be not the right stone for him; but he could see some things, and among them he saw the stone, and where it was, in which he could see whatever he wished to see. . . . The place where he saw the stone was not far from their house, and under pretense of digging a well, they found water and the stone at a depth of twenty or twenty-two feet. After this, Joseph spent about two years looking into this stone, telling fortunes, where to find lost things and where to dig for money and other treasures." fn

Chairman: But a number of other witnesses have already told us that Smith was in the peeping business years before that. Aren't you a bit late?

Chase: Lapham doesn't put the date too late, he puts it much too early! It wasn't until 1822 that they dug the well, and there was no "pretense" about it! I was digging it myselfâ??in fact there was no one in the well but myself when the stone was found. "After digging about 20 feet below the surface . . . we discovered a singularly appearing stone which excited my curiosity." fn

Chairman: There is no doubt but that this is the same wellâ??the "20 feet" line proves thatâ??but you say it was you who dug the well, not the Smiths, that you discovered the stone, and that yours was the first curiosity attracted by it. What did you do with it?

Chase: Smith asked to see it, "put it into his hat and then his face into the top of the hat." He borrowed it from me and "began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it. . . . He had it in his possession about two years." fn

Chairman: That disposes of Mr. Lapham's story. But there seem to be some objections. Mr. Tucker?

Tucker: "Joseph Jr." was at the well-digging "as an idle looker-on"; it was Joseph Sr., Alvin, and Hyrum Smith who were doing the digging; when they dug up the stone the "lounger manifested a special fancy for this geological curiosity; and he carried it home with him, though this act of plunder was against the strenuous protestations of Mr. Chase's children, who claimed to be its rightful owners." fn

Mrs. Eaton: That's almost right. "At the age of 15 while watching his father digging a well, Joe espied a stone of curious shape. . . . 'This little stone was the acorn of the Mormon oak."'

Chairman: Is that the way it happened, Mr. Chase?

Chase: No! What happened was that "the next morning he came to see me, and wished to obtain the stone, alleging that he could see in it; I told him I did not wish to part with it, on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it." After that "he made so much disturbance, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years." fn

Chairman: Did you get it back at the end of that time?

American Whig Review: Certainly not! "Smith could never be prevailed upon to give it up." This very stone was "used in the translation of the Book of Mormon." fn

Tucker: That's right. After he took it from the children, "Joseph kept this stone, and ever afterward refused its restoration to the claimants." fn

Chairman: What kind of a stone was it?

George W. Cowles: I can answer that. It was "such a pebble as might any day be picked up on the shore of Lake Ontarioâ??the common hornblende." fn

Chairman: So any kind of stone would do for this peeping business?

Ingersoll: Just about. Once after a conversation with Joseph Smith, Sr., in the fields, in which he urged me to become a money-digger, "on my return I picked up a small stone and was carelessly tossing it from one hand to the other. Said he (looking very earnestly), what are you going to do with that stone? Throw it at the birds, I replied. No, said the old man, it is of great worth; and upon this I gave it to him." fn

Chairman: What did he do with it?

Ingersoll: He put it into his hat, and after "sundry manoeuvres . . . took down his hat, and being very much exhausted, said in a faint voice, 'If you knew what I had seen, you would believe.' His son Alvin then went through the same performance, which was equally disgusting."

Chairman: Did you ever try to get the stone back?

Ingersoll: Of course not. It was just an ordinary stone.

Chairman: And we have heard that Mr. Chase's stone was also just an ordinary stone. Why was he so eager to get his stone back? Could Smith really see things in the stone, Mr. Chase?

Chase: Don't be absurd. It was all a hoax.

Chairman: Then why were you so extremely eager to get possession of this perfectly ordinary stone, which you or Smith could have duplicated with ease any day? Why did Hyrum and Joseph have fits when you asked them for it? If we are to believe our witnesses, they have drawers full of stonesâ??and every one phony. Why all the excitement about one stone?

Chase: "It excited my curiosity." I asked for it back the first time because "he made so much disturbance, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years."

Chairman: Couldn't he have caused just as much disturbance with any other stone, since he was only faking? If it was such a menace, why did you lend it to him again and again? If not, why was he so anxious to have it?

Tucker: Can't you see? It was Mr. Chase's children who clamored for the stone. Joe Smith, "an idle looker-on and lounger" at the well-digging, "manifested a special fancy for this geological curiosity; and he carried it home with him, though the act of plunder was against the strenuous protestations of Mr. Chase's children, who claimed to be its rightful owners." fn

Chairman: And where was Mr. Chase? Was he going to let a fifteen-year-old kid walk off with his property while his children howled in protest? Mr. Chase tells us that he found the stone while digging his well on his property, and that it excited his curiosity, and two years later, when he "ordered the stone to be returned," Smith gave it back to him. I think it rather obvious why Mr. Tucker told a totally different story fifty years after the event: it had to be the Chase children who got excited about the stone, because of the patent absurdity of having Chase, a grown man, get all worked up about a thing which he declared worthless, and which could be duplicated without any trouble.

****inson: I think if we study the matter we can give a more cautious and rational explanation of the whole thing. Let us put it this way: "While he [smith] was watching the digging of a well, or himself digging it, he found, or pretended to find, a . . . stone." fn

Chairman: That is the safe, conservative school, followed by some of Smith's latest biographers. Let me tell you a story: "While I was walking to work last week or today, or lying in my bed, I saw or heard, or my friend saw, a horse or a dog running or lying down in the street, or in a field." Notice with what exemplary caution I avoid the pitfalls of positive statement. Doesn't it give my story an air of modest objectivity? But can you tell me what happened? Did Smith find the stone or didn't he?

****inson: I don't think he did. "It has been said that this little stone . . . had been in the possession of Mrs. Smith's family for generations, and that she merely presented it to Joseph when he was old enough to work miracles with it: and that he hid it in the earth to find again when it was convenient." fn

Chairman: You realize, of course, that what you say makes a hash of Mr. Chase's Revised Standard Version? Mr. Linn says that Smith first looked into a second-class peepstone in which he saw not any treasures, but another peepstone, which was the one he finally used. Did he use more than one stone?

J. Stowell: He must have, for when he was tried for fraud, he displayed in court a stone "about the size of a small hen's egg, in the shape of a high instepped shoe. It was composed of layers of different colors passing diagonally through it." fn

Arbaugh: That "must have been the Chase stone, since it resembled 'a child's foot in shape' and was opaque"; it "was clearly not the Belcher stone." fn

Chairman: What is this Belcher stone?

Blackman: Oh, don't you know? That was "the stone he afterwards used."

Chairman: After what?

Buck: After he took to peeping; that is, after I knew him in 1818. "The stone which he afterwards used was then in the possession of Jack Belcher, of Gibson, who obtained it while at Salina, New York, engaged in drawing salt. Belcher bought it because it was said to be 'a seeing stone.' I have often seen it." fn

Chairman: In Smith's possession?

Buck: No. I told you I only knew Smith "some years before he took to 'peeping,' and before the diggings were commenced under his direction. . . . These were ideas he gained later."

Chairman: How do you know that Smith ever used that particular stone?

Buck: As I said, "I have often seen it. It was a green stone, with brown, irregular spots on it. It was a little larger than a goose's egg, and about the same thickness."

Chairman: Your description shows that Mr. Arbaugh is right. That cannot possibly be the stone that the other witnesses described. Also, there is no doubt that you saw the stone. But since that was years before Smith got interested in stones, I don't see how you connect it up with him since you last saw him use it.

Cowles: What do you mean, years before? Haven't we been told that his father practiced peeping already in Vermont, and that the Chase stone had been in the family for a long time?

Mahaffey: That is right: "It had been in the family for generations."

Chairman: Then how could Mr. Chase claim that he personally dug it up in 1822?

****inson: The contradiction vanishes if we realize that Smith planted the stone there. fn

Chairman: Why? Is a stone any more wonderful that is found by digging a well than if it has been in the family for years? Smith, we are told, was much too lazy to do any digging himselfâ??he was only a lounging onlookerâ??yet the men had to dig down twenty feet before they came to it. A nice bit of stone-planting by Smith, so that Chase could lay legal claim to his precious stone! All this rationalizing and explaining is obviously meant to reconcile conflicting reports that discredit each other at every step.

Cowles: Oh, there were earlier stones, all right. "Long before the Gold Bible demonstration, the Smith family had with some sinister object in view, whispered another fraud in the ears of the credulous. They pretended that in digging for money, at Mormon Hill, they came across 'a chest, three feet by two in size, covered with a dark-colored stone.' In the center of the stone was a white spot about the size of a sixpence. Enlarging, the spot increased to the size of a 24-pound shot, and then exploded with a terrible noise. The chest vanished and all was utter darkness." fn

Chairman: If I were giving prizes, Mr. Cowles, you should certainly get something for that one. There were no witnesses to the phenomenon?

Cowles: Of course not; the Smiths only "pretended" that it happened.

Chairman: And why would they pretend such a thing?

Cowles: "With some sinister object in view."

You can't even guess what the object might have been yet you know it was "sinister." And to achieve it, they claimed there was something there which really wasn't there, and then, boom! It really wasn't thereâ??and so they tell their story and prove their case. Are you sure there were any stones at all?

O. Turner: Yes, there were the stone spectacles. Actually they were the only stones Smith ever used. fn

Chairman: How do you know that, sir?

Turner: I was very intimately acquainted with the Smith family at Palmyra, where I grew up with Joseph Smith, Jr. I know all about his money digging and treasure hunting, and have given a lengthy deposition on the subject, but I know nothing of any stone except "a pair of large spectacles" found with the gold plates. "The stones or glass set in frames were opaque to all but the prophet." These were the only peepstones he ever used. fn

Chairman: More contradictions. Some important witnesses have stated that the Chase stone was actually identical with what Smith called the Urim and Thummim, is that not correct?

American Whig Review: That is correct. Chase tried to get the stone back, "but Smith could never be prevailed upon to give it up. It was afterwards used in the translation of the Book of Mormon and styled the mysterious Urim and Thummim." fn

Howe: Imagine it! Two of the sixteen stones that belonged to the brother of Jared! We are asked to believe that "two of these stones were sealed up with the plates, according to a prediction before Abraham was born. How, and in what manner they became set in the 'two rims of a bow,' and fell into the hands of the Nephites, has not been explained, nor what has become of the remaining 14 molten stones, is likewise hidden in mystery." fn

Thomas Gregg: One impeccable witness says they were "two small stones of a chocolate color, nearly egg-shaped and perfectly smooth, but not transparent . . . which were given him with the plates." fn

Chairman: Then they cannot have been the stones mentioned by Mr. Howe, which were perfectly transparent. It is marvelous, sir, how you, the most-quoted authority on these matters should blithely identify any stone that comes along with Smith's peepstone.

Howe: Does it make so much difference? The main idea is that Smith had an obsession for magic stones. Any stone would do, as Mr. Ingersoll's testimony shows. Mrs. Brodie has discovered clear evidence of Smith's stone mania in the Book of Mormon itself.

Chairman: Indeed, and what is the evidence?

Howe: Here it is (reads): "Joseph's preoccupation with magic stones crept into the narrative . . . " and here is the proof: God "had given the Nephites . . . two crystals with spindles inside which directed the sailing of their ships." fn There you have itâ??two crystals, Urim and Thummim!

Chairman: But what the Book of Mormon says is that the compass was given to Lehi, not Nephi, and that it consisted of a "round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles" (1 Nephi 16:10). For Mrs. Brodie a bronze sphere becomes without the slightest effort "two crystals with spindles inside." Now this is most instructive: in the middle of the twentieth century an expert pretending to high scholarly objectivity sits at her desk and unwittingly turns out a brand-new original peepstone story, as if there were not enough already. Having glanced at the text only long enough to sustain the trend of her own wishful thinking, she gives us two new crystals, bred of an airy word. After that performance, can anyone maintain that any of the peepstone stories are not or cannot be pure fabrication? Another point: Didn't you say, Mr. Howe, that the Book of Mormon was discovered by peeping in the first place?

Howe: I said that "the mineral-rod necromancy of Joseph Smith, Jun., searching after Robert Kidd's money . . . found the plates of Nephi." fn

Chairman: Then by peeping and dowsing the plates were discovered?

Arbaugh: It was search for buried treasure that gave Joseph Smith the idea of the "Golden Bible." fn

Emmons: You will recall, sir, that Smith led "a gang of idle and credulous young men, whom he employed in digging for hidden treasures. It is pretended that, in one of the excavations they made, the mysterious plates from which the Golden Bible was copied were found. Such briefly is the origin of the Mormon faith." fn

Howe: By this gang "many pits were dug in the neighborhood, which were afterwards pointed out as the place from whence the plates were excavated." fn

Walter R. Martin: Smith "was engaged for the most part of his youth in seeking Captain Kidd's treasure and in gazing through 'peep stones.' " fn

Hunt: Let a real old-timer get in a word, here! "In the course of time numerous excavations were made, but unfortunately, they never dug deep enough to find the object of their search. However, the good resulting from their labors overbalances their misfortunes, as Joe has since informed us that here the golden plates were found, containing the important facts upon which the salvation of the world depends." fn

Chairman: So it is very clear that Smith found the gold plates while he was digging for treasure. It is equally clear that he never dug without first using his peepstone.

Rev. John A. Clark: That is correct! "Long before the idea of a Golden Bible entered into their minds, in their excursions for money-digging . . . Jo used to be usually their guide, putting into his hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig." fn

Chairman: So we know that Smith always used a stone when digging. Some of the best and oldest witnesses insist that he only had one peepstone, and with that stone he discovered the buried plates, and with the plates were found buriedâ??guess what? The wonderful stone! Where did he get the stone? He found it with the plates. How did he find the plates? By looking in the stone! You see, gentlemen, how silly this all is. Now let's talk a little about that hat. Did Smith always use a hat in peeping?

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continued: who do you believe???

Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass, p. 229

. . . and that hat!

"The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers. With the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!" fn

Chairman: Why hid in the woods?

Hale: Because, as I explained yesterday, I would not allow the plates in my house. So they took them and hid them in the woods.

Chairman: But you were describing the translation as it took place at Smith's house, not at your house. Did they still have to keep the plates in the woods? This I am afraid is another example of the vagueness of your testimony and the eagerness with which you seize upon every opportunity to make Smith look ridiculous. Such things can backfire. But let's get back to the beginning. Smith always used a hat?

Beardsley: He did. When our history opens we see Joe, the "barefoot boy" looking at "a precious 'lucky stone' . . . placed . . . in the crown of his battered old felt hat." fn

Daniel Hendrix: That hat! "I can see him now . . . with his uncombed hair sticking through the holes in his old battered hat." fn

Chairman: Why did he put the stone in his hat?

Tucker: Because in his peeping for treasures his "discoveries finally became too dazzling for his eyes in daylight, and he had to shade his vision by looking at the stone in his hat." fn

Chairman: Indeed. I thought everybody knew that eyes are better accustomed to strong light in the daylight than at any other time, and that the one way to make an object brighter is to look at it in the dark. If you have ever driven a car, Mr. Tucker, you would know that oncoming headlights that are painfully bright at night are hardly noticed in the daytime. You have got it just backwards. How did the stone and hat operate?

Kennedy: "With a bandage over his eyes he would fall upon his knees and bury his face in the depths of an old white hat, where the stone was . . . hidden." fn

Chairman: How could he hope to see anything with a bandage over his eyes?

Kennedy: Don't you see? It was necessary to shut out every bit of light.

Chairman: But Mr. Hendrix, an eyewitness, tells us Joe's hat was full of holes.

Howe: It may have been another hat.

Chairman: No. Joe, it seems, was famous for a particular hat. An old hat.

Bennett: That's right. He was called the "Holy Old White Hat Prophet." fn

Chairman: And when did Smith start using the white hat?

****inson: From the very beginning. From the time when Mrs. Smith presented her son with the family peepstoneâ??"from that time on Joseph Smith fooled the credulous residents of the sparsely settled vicinity with the 'peeker' in his white stove-pipe hat." fn

Blackman: That is right. "He would sit for hours looking into his hat at the round colored stone." fn

Chairman: Do I understand that it was a stovepipe hat?

Mahaffey: That is correct. "In these ways, decked in his white stove-pipe hat, he fooled the credulous and superstitious and eked out a precarious subsistence." fn

Chairman: But we have been told most emphatically that it was a "battered old felt hat." Stove-pipe hats are not made of felt. The picture of a notoriously ragged and dirty teenager going about the country "decked out" in a white stove-pipe hat is a comical one, I will admit, but how could he keep it white all those years?

Howe: All those years?

Chairman: Yes, the old stove-pipe hat that Smith wore and used at the beginning of his peeping career was still in use at the time of translating the Book of Mormon, I believe.

Montgomery: True enough. While translating "Joseph kept his face in 'the old white hat.' " fn

Chairman: You see, it was old at that timeâ??he had not got him a new white hat. And later in Nauvoo, as General Bennett has told us, Smith was the "Old White Hat" Prophet. fn Now, Smith began treasure-peeping, some have told us, as early as when he was eleven or twelve years old, an amusing figure in the old white stove-pipe hat. In the year before his death we find him going about in the same old "white stove-pipe hat." fn Apparently his head never grew and the hat never lost its whitenessâ??which always caused commentâ??and being already ancient when he got it, never went out of style: it is invariably described as "old." The white hat is an interesting "control" for the reliability of a lot of stories about Joseph Smith. There is another such key, I believe, in the frequent and significant references to boxes in the stories of the Book of Mormon. To expedite matters let us hear from our witnesses in chronological order. Mr. Ingersoll, most writers give you priority in this matter. What is your story?

Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass, p. 232

The sand-box epic

Joseph Smith said to me: "As I was passing, yesterday across the woods after a heavy shower of rain, I found in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home. On my entering the house I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called 'the Golden Bible'; so I very gravely told them it was the Golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it; for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. . . . 'Now,' said Joe, 'I have got the dâ??d fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.' " fn

Chairman: When was this?

Ingersoll: In 1825, Joe at the time was being urged "to resume his old practice of looking in the stone. He seemed much perplexed as to the course he should pursue. In this dilemma, he made me his confidant, and told me what daily transpired in the family of Smiths." fn

Chairman: But at that time, Joe had barely begun his peeping. It was convenient that he made you his confidant instead of his family, with whom, until now, we have been told he worked most closely. Why did he turn to you for comfort and guidance in his perplexity?

Dr. Fairfield: He had other confidants.

Chairman: The dictionary says a confidant is "a confidential or bosom friend,"â??one who is by nature a unique friend, and certainly from his words Mr. Ingersoll claims to have been such a friend: "in his dilemma, he made me his confidant." There could be no others.

Fairfield: But there were! I talked to two of them. Here they are.

Witnesses Numbers Two and Three (together): "One day he told us that his 'Daddy' and 'Mammy' were very ignorant and superstitious and that he was going to play a trick on them. He said he would fill a little box with sand and set it on the hearth in the spare room. . . . He said that no one but himself could see one of the plates and live. . . . This trick was played several years before the finding of the Book of Mormon." fn

Chairman: But this trick is quite different from that reported by Mr. Ingersoll; yet I need only point out the element of premeditation in the two stories, and such details as the sand and the box to show that they are meant to be the same tale.

****inson: What really happened was that "in 1826 Joe Smith returned to Palmyra, and began to act his role [he had been spending his time until then with Pratt and Rigdon]. . . . At dinner-time, one day, he told his family that in crossing through a grove he found a book in some white sand." fn

Chairman: So it was his family he told about the white sand. From then on, he pretended to have the plates?

Ingersoll: Yes. He immediately got to work on Martin Harris. "I there met that damn fool Martin Harris," he said to me, "and told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it." fn

Chairman: Apparently Smith called everyone who supported him a damn fool, and made "confidential or bosom friends" of those who loathed him.

Jonathan Lapham: He and "Martin Harris, and others, used to meet together in private, awhile before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by the name of 'The Gold-Bible Company.' " fn

Chairman: So here we have a Gold-Bible Company going full-blast before Smith ever claimed to have found any plates, though the Gold-Bible idea did not pop into his head until the day he pretended to have found them: and here we have Smith "several years before finding the Book of Mormon" claiming to possess the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated; and here we have Smith using a peepstone for years before that identical stone was discovered buried with the plates. But how about the box? Witness Number One said it all began when Smith found some beautiful white sand, quite unexpectedly, and hid it in his coat. Witnesses Two and Three said he planned ahead of time to fill a little box with sand and then tell his family about the book. Number Four said he told them right off that he had discovered a book in some white sand.

Ingersoll: He put the sand in a box later. "He told me that he actually went to Willard Chase to get him to make a chest." fn

Caswall: Smith made the box himself after Chase refused to make it. Then "he put the sand in a pillow-case and then into the box." fn

Chairman: Why did Chase refuse to make the box?

Caswall: He did not want to be party to a fraud. fn

Chairman: So he knew it was a fraud. Joe was telling everybody in town about the trickâ??except his family.

Montgomery: But not for long! "The Smith family joined in the hoax and declared their firm belief in the story. They seemed to expect that their love for notoriety and for unearned money was about to be gratified from this stupid fraud. And they were not mistaken." fn

Chairman: "Stupid fraud" is putting it mildly, since insiders and outsiders alike were all in on the secret. So the "little box" was the one with the plates in it?

Bennett: It had a predecessor. Abigail Harris told Mr. Howe who told me that Mrs. Smith had told her that Joseph Smith had told her that "Joseph had also discovered by looking through his stone, the vessel in which the gold was melted . . . and also the machine in which they [the plates] were rolled." fn

Chairman: Thank you for your valuable firsthand testimony. Mr. Chase, what about that box?

Chase: Smith told me "that on the 22d of September, he arose early in the morning, and took a one horse wagon, of some one that had stayed over night at their house, without leave or license; and, together with his wife, repaired to the hill which contained the book. . . . He then took the book out of the ground and hid it in a tree top, and returned home. He then went to the town of Macedon to work. After about ten days, it having been suggested that some one had got his book, . . . he . . . went home . . . found it safe, took off his frock, wrapt it round it, put it under his arm and ran all the way home, a distance of about two miles. . . . A few days afterwards, he told one of my neighbors that he had not got any such book, nor never had such an one; but that he had told the story to deceive the dâ??d fool (meaning me) to get him to make a chest." fn

Chairman: And he couldn't simply have ordered a chest without telling your neighbor that wild story? If he didn't have the book, why did he want to have the chest?

Chase: Obviously, to fool people with.

Chairman: But he told other people that he had no book, and that he told the story to you only to get you to make a chestâ??that was as far as his interest in the deception went. He told you he had a book so you would make him a chest. Why a chest? To put the nonexistent book in, of course!

Chase: To make people think there was a book in it.

Chairman: After telling the neighbors that he only wanted you to think so? But this is too ridiculous. Incidentally, the frock and the dâ??d fool motif seems to be falling into a sort of pattern. But I believe the plates were already in a box.

W. S. Simpson: Yes, but they were taken out of it. It was a wonderful box. Smith said "the chest in which they [the plates] were preserved was exhibited to him, but shortly moved, and glided away out of his sight. 'Joe Smith,' however, and his father who had accompanied him, succeeded in obtaining another view of its dimensions; but then, as the account blasphemously relates, 'the thunders of the Almighty shook the spot, . . . lightning swept along over the side of the hill, and burnt around the spot' where Joseph had been excavating; 'and again, with a rumbling noise, the chest moved out of their sight.' " fn

Tucker: "Smith told a frightful story of the display of celestial pyrotechnics on the exposure to his view of the sacred book." That was when at the appointed hour "the prophet, assuming his practiced air of mystery, took in his hand his money-digging spade and a large napkin, and went off in silence and alone in the solitude of the forest, and after an absence of some three hours, returned, apparently with his sacred charge concealed within the folds of the napkin." fn

Chairman: If I may be allowed a comment, it has been agreed that Smith, the lazy lout, never did any excavating himselfâ??now you have him with his trusty spade; also you have him going alone, while our other witness said his father was with him.

Chase: No, it wasn't his father at all; it was his wife. fn

Chairman: And still another version of the cloth wrapping. What about the box?

Hale: I was shown a box . . . which had to all appearances, been used as a glass box, of the common[-sized] window glass." fn

Chairman: So it wasn't necessary to make a box after all: they just used a glass box.

Abbott: But Joseph Smith also displayed along with the plates the original chest in which the plates came.

Chairman: Really now, after all we have heard of wrapping up and trying to get a box made for the book?

Abbott: Absolutely. He "also showed a very highly polished marble box, which he said had contained the plates, and which in that case, must have miraculously retained its lustre for countless centuries." fn

Chairman: Then Smith had the original chest all along?

****inson: Indeed. "To his adherents Smith said he had been shown the box . . . and had tried many times to open it, but was struck back by an invisible blow coming from Satan." fn

Adams: "There is a storyâ??quite generally believed, but of course it cannot be true!â??that a party of Palmyrans were taken into the room, or at least obtained entrance into it, and were shown a box within which rested the precious plates decently covered with a cloth. They were not satisfied, and with speech more vigorous than reverent, raised the cloth, and, behold, nothing but a brick was seen! Either Moroni had substituted the brick for the plates while they were talking, or else had anticipated their visit. Both explanations are given." fn

Chairman: By whom?

Tucker: By no one! Mr. Adams has taken the story from my account: "An anecdote touching this subject used to be related by William T. Hussey and Azel Vandruver. They were notorious wags, and very intimately acquainted with Smith."

Chairman: Naturally. Proceed.

Tucker: Well, Hussey said, " 'Egad! I'll see the critter, live or die!' and stripping off the cover, a large tile-brick was exhibited. But Smith's fertile imagination was equal to the emergency." He said it was a trick; "and 'treating' with the customary whiskey hospitalities, the affair ended in good nature." fn

Chairman: And this is your dark, taciturn, unsocial Smith of 1825? What had happened to the sand?

Cowles: Smith's mysterious boxes were even earlier than that. His peepstone was "carefully wrapped in cotton and kept in a mysterious box." fn

Chairman: Now even the peepstone has to have its mysterious box.

G. Townsend: It was Joseph Smith, Sr.'s, dream about "the Magic Box discovered in a wilderness of 'dead and fallen timber' [that] suggested the finding of the Golden Bible; that of the Fruit Trees is incorporated in the Book of Mormon." fn

Chairman: But we have already been told that it was a story from Canada that suggested it. What about this dream of Joseph Smith, Sr.?

Townsend: You can read it in 1 Nephi 8. fn

Chairman (turning to the chapter): I find nothing here about a magic box, and no dream of Joseph Smith, Sr.

Townsend: How can you be so naive? Lucy Smith herself told of her husband dreaming of a wilderness of dead and fallen timber.

Chairman: But no such dream is mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Because Joseph Smith, Sr., has one dream, and Lehi has another, are we to assume as proven that dream number two is simply a copy of number one?

Hunt: The Book of Mormon itself proves that it was written by a money diggerâ??just read page 126 of the first edition! Here Jacob says explicitly: "Providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches." That absolutely proves the money-digging charges!

Chairman: Well, I will admit that the proof is as good as any we have had so far.

Cowles: "Long before the Gold Bible demonstration, the Smith Family . . . pretended that in digging for money, at Mormon Hill, they came across 'a chest, three feet by two in size, covered with dark-colored stone.' " I have already told about that stone and how it exploded and vanished. fn

Chairman: Just like the chest that vanished in a clap of thunder in another and totally different version.

Preston T. Wilkins: The Mormons were crazy about chests. "At the time of the Mormon excitement and while on a visit to a Mormon family" in Broome County, I "learned that there was a chest of Mormon Bibles in the barn, that it was guarded by an angel, and that it would be utterly impossible for anyone to steal one of them." So I "prepared a key that would unlock the chest, and taking one of their Bibles carried it home in the evening and placed it over the front door. . . . The Mormons declared that an angel had brought the book, and . . . would never acknowledge that one of their books was missing." fn

Chairman: Aren't you confusing the original gold plates with an ordinary printed edition, sir?

W. Wyl: I know where all this talk about sand and window-glasses came from.

Chairman: Indeed, sir, do you know anything about sand and window-glass boxes?

Wyl: Yes. When Smith was pretending to run a bank in Kirtland in 1837, "in the bank they kept eight or nine window-glass boxes, which seemed to be full of silver; but the initiate knew very well that they were full of sand, only the top being covered with 50-cent pieces." fn

Chairman: So the old motifs still crop up. That might explain something.

Clark: Only it is all wrong. It wasn't eight or nine boxes of sand at all: "he had some one or two-hundred boxes made, and gathered all the lead and shot that the village had or that part of it that he controlled, and filled the boxes with lead, shot, &c, and marked them $1000 each. Then, when they went to examine the vault, he had one box on a table partly filled for them to see, . . . and they saw that it was silver, and they hefted a number and Smith told them that they contained specie." fn

Chairman: The "hefting" is another familiar note. Why did he bother to fill all two hundred boxes with lead and shot, if only a few were to be hefted?

Ingersoll: A correction, please: "The prophet . . . filled one box with dollars, and about 200 others with iron and stone. Having called together his creditors, Smith pointed out to them the 200 boxes all marked '1000 dollars,' and showed them the one which contained the silver. The trick answered for a time." fn

Chairman: There seems to be some disagreement as to the real contents of the boxes.

O. H. Olney: There were all sorts of stuff in the boxes: "They got hold of a quantity of boxes, And nearly filled them with sand, Lead, old iron, stone, and combustibles, And covered it up with clean coin. That darkened the deception beneath, That showed they were not to be run, By the men of the world. But the skim on the top soon disappeared." fn

Alexander Campbell: But just the same they continued selling bogus moneyâ??and also stones and sand for bogus. fn

Reed Peck: "While the 'money fever' raged in Kirtland the leaders of the Church and others were more or less engaged in purchasing and circulating 'bogus' money, or counterfeit coin." fn

Chairman: "More or less"? Who are you, sir?

Peck: I was one of Smith's neighbors in Palmyra.

Chairman: But you are testifying to what happened years after in Kirtland. Did you know Smith in Kirtland?

Campbell: It was afterwards that they counterfeited. "It appears that counterfeiting has been the principal part of the business [in Nauvoo] for some years, and that it has been carried on by the heads of the Church. The amount counterfeited has been immense, and the execution has been so nice, as in many cases to prevent its being detected. The Prophet, Joe Smith, used to work at the business with his own hands." fn

Chairman: If the stuff can't be detected as such, how can you call it counterfeit? And how can you tell the source of this counterfeit money that is so nicely executed as to prevent detection? Do you, or does anyone else, possess or remember having possessed any of that clever counterfeit which you say was circulated in "immense" quantities as "the principal part of the business at Nauvoo for some years?" Don't you know that large-scale counterfeiting even for a month or two cannot possibly be concealed, and if the source is known invites immediate disaster? What you say is patently absurd, sir, but you are not the only one. How casually you drop the charge of counterfeiting against Joseph Smithâ??working "at the business with his own hands," forsooth! Have you or do you even pretend to offer one iota of evidence to support that terrible charge? You should all be ashamed of yourselves!

Howe: That does it! The time has come to call upon our star witnesses. Bishop Tuttle, will you . . .

Chairman: Just a moment please. Before these stars come out, does anyone else have anything to say about boxes?

H. C. Bartlett: Yes indeed! Smith's original Book of Mormon story was about an iron box, a dream he had of "an iron box, containing gold plates which he was to translate into a book over which stood a Spaniard having a long beard with his throat cut from ear to ear. . . . Smith at that time had no thought of God, angels, or divine revelations. He was simply the magical dreamer, beholding the ghost of a murdered Spaniard." fn

Linn: Hear, hear! That is just what I said: "In all this narrative there was not one word about visions of God, or of angels." They were all "afterthoughts revised to order." fn

Chairman: And what is the source of this narrative you both tell?

Bartlett: It was the Lewis boys. They wrote it in a letter.

Chairman: What is the date of the letter?

Bartlett: 23 April 1879.

Chairman: And those men both remember Smith telling them a dream before 1827â??fifty-two years before?

Linn: It wasn't told to them; it was told to their father, the Rev. Nathaniel Lewis.

Chairman: But that man, I believe, gave Mr. Howe one of his longest affidavitsâ??in 1833, not 1879â??and he knew nothing about the Spanish chest.

Bartlett: It didn't have to be so long before. After all, that stuff about heavenly visions leading to the Book of Mormon was first "written by Smith . . . some eleven years later when in Nauvoo." fn

Adams: That's right. "It is well for us to remember also that the story of these experiences and of the great discovery was not written before 1838." fn

Chairman: So you men all agree that the heavenly element in Smith's story of the Book of Mormon was a late interpolation . . .

Adams: "Others say positively that the story was revised from time to time, always gaining in its miraculous and mysterious character." fn

Chairman: In that case, how does it happen the affidavit swearers back in 1833 all accuse Smith of pushing the miraculous and the mysterious to their absolute limits from childhood? Why should this talented liar begin with a dream that anybody might have, when as a little child he was already imitating the exploits of Captain Kidd?

Linn: Well, it's "the heavenly visions and messages of angels" that are introduced lateâ??1838 at the earliest.

Chairman: Mr. Linn, when was the Book of Mormon published?

Linn: In 1830.

Chairman: And in case you gentlemen don't know it, the Book of Mormon is full of "heavenly visions and messages of angels" from the beginning to the end. If you would read a little of it you would see that it could not possibly have been written with "no thought of God, angels, or divine revelations," to quote Mr. Bartlett. It is a religious book and nothing else, from cover to cover. Just a novel to make money, forsooth! Tell that to Mrs. Brodieâ??she believes you.

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For me it boils down to the actual evidence. Some folks corner JS by insisting that if something he said or did was similar to anything that preceded him, no matter how remote the chances that it could have actually influenced him, it means he borrowed it. OR if what he brought about finds no direct parallel it means he used his wonderful imagination to invent it. Either way you'll notice one missing ingredient: God's influence or revelation. With Brooke I see too much conjecture, too much parallelomania. The review I linked to earlier from FARMS is a good analysis. You might also check out reviews of Quinn's distorted Magic Worldview book. For instance, see Hamblin's "That Old Black Magic."

LoaP, so what if he borrowed it. Joseph was a product of his time and culture just as Jesus was. Jesus talks of 'casting out devils', of pigs being possessed and so on. All of that is extremely alien to us (well to me, anyway), but I'm guessing it wouldn't have been alien to the culture and society that existed in Israel 2000 years ago. Can we truly understand Jesus, unless we understand the culture in which he lived? Can we understand his parables, unless we understand the economic and religious environment that gave rise to them? The difficulty with all that is that Jesus' family circumstances and his culture is buried under 2000 years of history and a dearth of primary sources.

Not so much Joseph Smith, and the fact that there was a deep belief in taking anything good from the surrounding culture is found and 'enshrined' within the articles of faith, (9 and 13 in particular) I would be surprised if Joseph didn't borrow from all that he saw as good from around him. I don't see it as a negative.

Like Nevo, I loved the first few chapters of Brooke's book because they attempt to give context from both within and without Joseph's family. I like Brooke, because many authors have an agenda that is either 'The church is or must be divinely true' or 'The church is or must be divinely false', Brooke's approach is that the church just 'is'. Though the book is filled with parallels and conjecture, overall I found his approach refreshing in attempting to show the church as it 'is'. If we get out of the religiously 'true/false' dichotomy, that is a truly mind-expanding approach.

I am reading Mark Ashurst-McGee's thesis (thanks Nevo), and I am noting that he 'must' present a view that is ultimately faith promoting. His statement that revelation from God gives the best account of Joseph's transition from village seer to prophethood, belies his agenda. He is writing mainly for a mormon audience I think. I'm only 25% through the thesis though (it's 400 pages long), so I may change my mind as I go on.

JKFrost, could you say in one sentence what your point is. I get that there are a variety of sources on the nature and timing of Joseph's 'village seer' activities, but do you think some sources are better than others? Some characters more reliable than others? What is your conclusion? Do you think that so many people said so many things that it can 'all' be discounted as useless gossip, or is there no smoke without fire? We know from the D and C and from Joseph himself that he later underplayed his own role in such 'village seer' activities. Perhaps there was good reason, in the context of the times for doing this?

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JKFrost, could you say in one sentence what your point is. I get that there are a variety of sources on the nature and timing of Joseph's 'village seer' activities, but do you think some sources are better than others? Some characters more reliable than others? What is your conclusion? Do you think that so many people said so many things that it can 'all' be discounted as useless gossip, or is there no smoke without fire? We know from the D and C and from Joseph himself that he later underplayed his own role in such 'village seer' activities. Perhaps there was good reason, in the context of the times for doing this?

Hope that you took some time to read how off these guys are from each other.

It is only from God that one can really know that Joseph Smith

or Moses or Muhammad etc. was and is one of God's prophets.

The Holy Spirit is the best source for any truth.

To answer your question we have

1. Joseph Smith's own writing to clarify what had happened.

He also has stated that there were many

false accusations against him.

false stories and wrote to set them straight.

2. There are Writings of loyal followers and friends

such as Parly P. Pratt.

Who has a very good book - his autobiography one who found JS to be a prophet.

3. Writings of Neighbors of Joseph Smith.

Both good and bad depending on who wrote it.

4. In my case I have my own family members who wrote about

what happened to Joseph and others and about my own family.

5. Newspapers have articles of the area where Joseph lived.

6. Writings of the enemies of Joseph Smith.

7. Writings of pastors in the area.

8. Writings of Historians and Politicians.

9. Authors of Books about him for various reasons.

The list goes on and on, who do you believe?

How do you know who is right?

Most people in the church have their answer from study and

prayer to God. a personal revelation from the Lord himself.

How else could you know for sure.

That is one reason I know that He was a Prophet of God.

The Bible itself needs to be confirmed by faith.

How would anybody know that men were not burned in a fire

as in Daniel or that there will be a second coming?

How do you know Noah really had an ark full of all these animals?

It is by faith and confirmation from God.

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My first response to accusations of JS being a treasure seeker, and the money digging, glass looking, peepstone, all that magical stuff that he was accused of...was to assume it was an anti-Mormon's view of JS simply looking for the gold plates. It seems that might have been a bit too simple of an approach.

But I'm still not clear what came first. Joseph allegedly saw the angel Moroni first at the age of 17. Was Joseph accused of any of this stuff before then? Is it a possible explanation that ALL of the accusations of magical stuff was a result of that angel visit and likely never would have occurred without it? i.e. from a conservative standpoint, Joseph's accusers twisted what he was doing. The treasure seeking was actually him looking for the BOM. from a liberal standpoint, Joseph got the idea there were sacred gold plates buried nearby and Joseph was either told by Moroni or assumed he should use seer stone in association with it. so why couldn't there be other gold buried and find it with the same method? and that he probably made a mistake by seeking it through the same means Moroni taught him about the gold plates. And without Moroni sticking the idea in his head he never would have attempted any of the magical stuff.

Does this theory work from a historical standpoint?

You have to understand the mindset of the time. In the Upper Great Lakes regions such as Upper New York there were plenty of mining industries occuring such as copper, silver, and even diamond.

It was not uncommon for people of these times who were farming, and on the side preforming mining duties, or partnerships into the mining enterprises for extra income. One of the unfortunate prejudices going around at the time was the views of these men. Well to do circles such as "New England Bluebloods", wealthy land holders, gentelmen farmers, and intellectuals, coined the term "treasure seekers". This term was a deragatory description to place upon the poor who were not up to par with the current caste system. It was to be described as to such was to place you on the same level as the illegals on the street corner today. I could coin the term but I don't look down on such.

Joseph Smiths family participated in the same mining oppurtunites to just try and stay ahead and keep themselves from starving and freezing, but nonetheless incurred that distinction. The upper class just tried to use that term more and spread it around to make them feel superior. After all why would the Lord look upon a commoner "treasure seeker" to spread his gospel. "Why not a well to do proper man such as myself instead of this wretched boy"? Which BTW was the philosophical thinking of the time. You were more close to God based on your wealth obtained through hard work which is a Calvanistic doctrine.

Concerning any talk of magic or seer stones. J. Smith was just like any other 14 year old teen at the time. Heck I wouldn't doubt it if he was running around in the neighbors yard with a devining rod looking for silver or gold. "Oh my, there goes that Smith boy again. Lordy I swear the devils got his soul". Boys and girls do have an imaginative mind. More than likely he was running around and probably had some run ins with the local law. He said so in his history. He also said he had also repented of his ill behavior before the Angel Moroni visited him. Unfortunately as he described earlier that he was aloof to other people; it comes back to bite you in the ***. Most people usually have long memories and most times remember the worst of a person more than the good. It is this that also contributed to his poor reputation as a teen.

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