Rough Stone Rolling


Joseph Smith; Rough Stone Rolling

by Richard Lyman Bushman


Mr. Bushman reveals a Joseph Smith that is unfamiliar to modern LDS. I have excerpted parts of his book and inserted quotes from LDS history that I hope will further illuminate the truth.


- “Stowell believed that he had located the site of an ancient Spanish mine where coins had been minted and buried.”-JSRSR, pg.48


-“Stowell enlisted the Smith’s help, and Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. agreed to join the diggers in Harmony. A set of “Articles of Agreement”, dated November 1, 1825, indicated that Joseph and his father were to receive two-elevenths of the ore in the mine or “the coined money and bars or ingots of Gold or Silver” reputed to lie hidden under ground. The articles created a company to share the profits and bear the labor and expenses of the mining.”-JSRSR, pg.48



-Stowell went to the trouble of bringing Joseph Jr. from Manchester, Lucy Smith explained, “on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.” Joseph had discover two stones, one in 1822 while digging a well with Willard Chase a half a mile from the Smith farm.” -JSRSR, pg.48


-Emma Smith described one of them as “a small stone, not exactly black, but rather a dark color.” -JSRSR, pg.49


Joseph Translated the Book of Mormon with his Seer Stone

“During this period from 1827 to 1830, Joseph Smith abandoned the company of his former money-digging associates, but continued to use for religious purposes the brown seer stone he had previously employed in the treasure quest. His most intensive and productive use of the seer stone was in the translation of the Book of Mormon. But he also dictated several revelations to his associates through the stone.”- D. Michael Quinn,  Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Signature Books, SLC, 1987, p. 143

Joseph Knight, Sr., an early member of the Church and a close friend of Joseph Smith, wrote the following in a document on file in the LDS Church archives: "Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and darkened his eyes then he would take a sentance and it would appear in brite roman letters then he would tell the writer and he would write it then that would go away the next sentence would come and so on. But if it was not spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite, so we see it was marvelous. Thus was the hol [whole] translated." (spelling preserved from original) -Cited in Dean Jessee, "Joseph Knight's Recollection of Early Mormon History," BYU Studies, vol. 17:1 (Autumn 1976), p. 35.)


Was Directed by His Seer Stone to Received Priesthood Keys

“One morning they sat down to their work, as usual, and the first thing that presented itself through the Urim and Thummim was a commandment for Joseph and Oliver to repair to the water and attend to the ordinance of baptism.” –Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, pg. 142

Seer Stone Warned Him of Danger

“That which I spoke of, which Joseph termed a key, was indeed, nothing more or less than the Urim and thummim, and it was by this that the angel showed him many things which he saw in vision; by which also he could ascertain, at any time, the approach of danger, either to himself or to the record, on account of which he always kept the Urim and Thummim on his person.” Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, pg.110

-In 1841 Joseph showed his other, whitish stone to the council of the Twelve in Nauvoo and told them, Brigham Young reported, “that every man who lived on earth was entitled to a seer stone and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness.”- JSRSR, pg.49


- In 1888, when Wilford Woodruff consecrated a seer stone upon a temple altar in Manti Utah, he wrote that it was the stone “that Joseph found by revelation some thirty feet under the earth (ground) and carried by him through life.”77- JSRSR, pg.49


 “In 1833, an excommunicated Mormon named Doctor Philastus Hurlbut collected affidavits in Palmyra and Manchester from people who remembered the Smith family. One of the alleged charges on the affidavits was that Joseph Sr. and his sons hunted for treasure and looked in stones. The aim of the affidavits was to discredit the Smith’s, but the reports reveal more than witnesses intended. The firsthand accounts of treasure seeking necessarily came from people who had gone on expeditions themselves and were participant observers. In exposing the Smith’s, the neighbors inadvertently described a culture of magic in which they and many others in nineteenth century New York were involved.” 79-JSRSR, pg.49

-“Willard Chase, one of the Smith’s neighbors and a friend of Joseph’s, found one of the stones.”- JSRRR, pg.49

-“After Joseph obtained the plates, Willard Chase led a group that searched Smith’s house, guided by Sally Chase and a “green glass, through which she could see many very wonderful things.”80 -JSRSR, pg.49

-“Stories of spirits guarding buried treasure were deeply enmeshed in the region’s rural culture. In Vermont, too, buried treasures and lost mines were detected through dreams, divining rods, or stones.”-JSRSR, pg.50

-“Buried treasure was tied into a great stock of magical practices extending back many centuries.”83-JSRSR,pg50

-“Ordinary people apparently had no difficulty blending Christianity with magic. Willard Chase the most vigorous of the Manchester treasure seekers, was a Methodist class leader at the time he knew the Smith’s, and in his obituary was described as a minister.”-JSRSR, pg.50

“. . . thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shalt not be found among you any one that . . . useth divination, or is an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits [demons], or a wizard, or a necromancer [one who communicates with the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.”                                                                 Deuteronomy 18:9-12

-“The so called credulity of the money-diggers can be read as evidence of their general faith in invisible forces. Christian belief in angels and evils blended with belief in guardian spirits and magical powers.- JSRSR, pg.50

-“In addition to the rod and stone diving, the Smith’s probably believed in the rudimentary astrology found in ubiquitous almanacs. Magical parchments handed down in the Hyrum Smith family may have originally belonged to Joseph Smith Sr. The visit of the angel and the discovery of the gold plates would have confirmed the belief in supernatural powers.”-JSRRR, pg.50

-“For people of a magical frame of mind, Moroni sounded like one of the spirits who stood guard over treasure in the tales of treasure seeking.85 The similarities may even have made the extraordinary story more credible in the Smith family. Lucy recognized the crossover in prefacing her narrative of the plates with the caution against thinking

“That we stopt our labors and went at trying to win the faculty of Acrac drawing Magic circles or soothsaying to the neglect of all kinds of business we never during our lives suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation but whilst we worked with our hands we endeavored to remember the service of & welfare of our souls.”

Lucy’s point was that the Smith’s were not lazy-thay had not stopped their labor to practice magic- bit she showed her knowledge of formulas and rituals and associated them with “the welfare of their souls. Magic and religion melded in the Smith family culture.”-JSRRR, pg.51

“Lucy Mack Smith practiced “palmistry, card-divination, and tea leaf reading as late as 1880’s.”36, pg 88, One Nation Under Gods.

“Martin Harris, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Josiah Stowell participated in money-digging and the witch craft that went hand in hand with the practice. Joseph Smith Jr, his father, Alvah Beaman, were rodsman-i.e., someone who uses a diving rod to find things”37, pg. 88, One Nation Under Gods

Brigham Young used a divining rod to locate the placement of the Salt Lake Temple. 51 He and Heber C. Kimball were given a divining rod by Joseph smith for their loyalty. 49, pg. 89, One Nation Under Gods

Brigham Young also owned two seer stones and a protective “blood stone” amulet that he carried “on a chain when going into unknown and dangerous places.52 pg. 89, One Nation Under Gods

 Joseph Smith’s family owned various occult artifacts;a magic dagger, three homemade magical parchments, a special pouch to hold the parchments, and a special “Jupiter” talisman, pg. 89, One Nation Under Gods

The “Holiness to the Lord” parchment

-was used to procure visits from good angels, reveals its probable date as September 1823-the very same month that Joseph allegedly received his first visit from the angel Moroni.56 Its many symbols include four pentagrams (necessary for invoking spirits) and the initials I.H.S. (i.e. In Hoc Signo, or “in this sign”(thou shalt conquer).57 pg. 90, One Nation Under Gods

The “Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah” parchment

-includes a magical symbol for another treasure seeking angel named “Jubanladace” This entity was supposed to protect individuals from “putrid infection” and sudden death”54 Smith’s sources for the symbol was Reginald Scot’s 1665 Discourse Concerning Devil’s and Spirit, which explained that Jubanladace also assisted in locating buried treasure.55

The “Saint Peter Bind Them” parchment

-contains the magic symbol for Pah-li-Pah, the second pf seven angels in ceremonial magic. If invoked properly, Pah-li-Pah helped find buried treasure for the parchment’s owner. The reverse side contains the inscription for Nalgah, the third angel in ceremonial magic, “devoted to the protection of those who are assaulted by evil spirits or witches, and those whose mind are sunk in fear and melancholy apprehensions of the assaults of the devil.53 pg. 90, One Nation Under Gods

 All these items, except the pouch, were inscribed with not only magical symbols, and incantations, but also with astrological markings. As it turns out the Smith, as well as many other early Mormon families were entrenched in astrology--so much so that Smith chose to organize his church on April 6,1830, a day known as the beneficial “DAY-FATALITY” in folk belief, which in 1830 coincided with a particularly positive alignment of Jupiter and the sun.” pg. 90, One Nation Under Gods

 Oliver Cowdery, received a revelation about his gift. 47 pg. 89, One Nation Under Gods


-Joseph Smith Jr. never repudiated the stones or denied their power to find treasure. Remnants of the magical culture stayed with him to the end. But after 1823, he began to orient himself away from treasure and toward translation. Martin Harris, another early supporter, remembered Joseph saying that “the angel told him he must quit the company of the money diggers. That there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal.” After 1823 he continued to be involved in treasure expeditions but not as an instigator or leader;” –JSRSR,pg.51