"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground." Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Page 188


"I will now say, not only to our delegate to Congress, but to the Elders who leave the body of the Church, that he thought that all the cats and kittens were let out of the bag when brother Pratt went back last fall, and published the Revelation concerning the plurality of wives: it was thought there was no other cat to let out.  But allow me to tell you, Elders of Israel, and delegates to Congress, you may expect an eternity of cats that have not yet escaped from the bag".

Brigham Young, Great Salt Lake City Tabernacle,
 June 19, 1853  Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, p. 188


"And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers," Malachi 3:5


Animal Sacrifice 


-Emma M. Austin


"there was a charm on the pots of money, and if some animal was killed and blood sprinkled around the place, then they could get it." So they killed a dog and tried this method of obtaining the precious metal...alas!how vivid was the expectation when the blood of poor Tray(the dog) was used to take off the charm, and after all to find their mistake...and now they were obliged to give up in despair."



-Hiel Lewis(Emma's Cousin)


Reported that the sacrifice of dogs, cats and other animals "was an indispensable part or appendage of the art which Smith, the embryo prophet, was then practicing."


-William Stafford

"They devised a scheme, by which thay might satiate their hunger, with the mutton of one of my sheep. They had seen in my flock a sheep, a large, fat, black wether. Old Joseph and one of the boys came to me one day, and said that Joseph Jr. had discovered some very remarkable and valuables treasures, which could be procured only in one way. That way was as follows:-- That a black sheep should be taken to the ground where the tresures were concealed---that after cutting its throat, it should be lead around a circle while bleeding. this being done the wrath of the evil spirit would be appeased, the treasures could then be obtained, and my share of them was to be four fold. To gratify my curiosity, I let them have a large fat sheep. they afterwards informed me, that the sheep was killed pursuant to commandments; but as there was some mistake in the process, it did not have the desired effect. this, I believe is the only time they ever made money digging a propfitable business." William Stafford, Howe,238-239,online at http://www.solomonspaulding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#237b


C.R. Stafford

"Jo Smith, the prophet, told my uncle, William stafford, he wanted a fat black sheep. He said he wanted to cut it's throat and make it walk in a cirle three times around and it would prevent a pot of money from leaving." C.R. Stafford, statement  of March 1885, on line at http://www.lavazone2.comdbroadhu/CA/natruths.htm


Richard L. Anderson Quotes a Wallace Miner as saying: "I once asked William Stafford if Smith did steal a sheep from him. He said no, not exactly. He said, he did miss a black sheep, but soon Joseph came and admitted he took it for sacrifice but he was willing to work for it."Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reappraised, BYU Studies, Spring 1970, Vol 10, 294.



“Martin Harris, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Josiah Stowell participated in money-digging and the witchcraft that went hand in hand with the practice. Joseph Smith, Jr., his father, Alvah Beaman, were rodsman-i.e., someone who uses a divining rod to find things”-Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, pg.39

“His parents admonished Joseph to be rigorously obedient to the messenger’s instructions, just as exact compliance with prescribed rituals was required for successful money digging.” -Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg.54

“Joseph Smith Sr. was not fully adequate. He was a gentle, disappointed man with an inclination to compensate for his failures with magic and drink.”  -Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg.54

“Joseph (Jr.) requested the priviledge of looking into the stone, which he did by putting his face into a 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, where it was, in which he wished to see.” Interview with Joseph Smith Sr. Historical Magazine 7, May 1870, 305-306

“Yet her husbands ingrained aversion to evangelical religion and the churches confirmed her own skepticism and alienation. She hovered on the edge of respectable religion, attracted and repelled at the same time.” Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, pg. 39

“Lucy Mack Smith practiced “palmistry, card-divination, and tea leaf reading as late as 1880’s.” -Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, pg. 294-295

“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 Abrae 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-they had not stopped their labor to practice magic- but 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.”- Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg.51

God’s Word says;

“. . . 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 (astrology), 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



Joseph Smith Jr.

“In those early years, Joseph considered himself a Christian, but he did not unite with any organized church. When others of his family attended church services he stayed home and pondered the scriptures in solitude. He would often say, “I can take my Bible, and go into the woods and learn more in two hours than you can learn at a meeting in two years.” –Buddy Youngreen, Reflections of Emma, pg. 5

This is an account given of Joseph Smith, Sr, and Joseph Smith, Jr., given by Willard Chase, as related in his 1833 affidavit. Rodger I. Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, Signature Books, 1990, pg. 121.   The value of this account, while from a non Mormon source, is the early date and the parallels it contains to the account given by Martin Harris. Both Chase and Harris were among the earliest people to hear the story from Joseph Smith and his family, both place the discovery of the golden plates with the story of money digging, and both were his friends.

“When his men failed to locate the cache, Stowell enlisted the Smith’s help, and Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith J agreed to join the diggers in Harmony. A set of “Articles of Agreement”, dated November 1, 1825, indicated that Joseph Smith and his father were to receive two-elevenths of the ore in the mine or “coined money and bars of ingots or Gold or Sliver” reputed to lie under hidden ground.” - Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg. 48

“As Joseph’s former partners, the treasure-seekers thought the plates were partly theirs. “The money diggers,” Martin Harris explained, “claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in the company together.” - Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg. 61

“It should be added, parenthetically, that Joseph Smith had belonged to a group of fortune seekers that also included Willard Chase. The members if this group made a pact, or articles of agreement: that if any of their members found buried treasure, it was his obligation to share the wealth of his find with the other members. Now, however Joseph was not sharing his find. Rather, from their perspective, he was secretly hoarding it, keeping it from them.” Brenton G. Yorgason, Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon, quoting Donna Hill from Joseph Smith, the First Mormon., pg.66

Willard Chase, one of the Smith’s neighbors and a friend of Joseph’s, found one of the stones.”- Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg. 49


Willard Chase Affadavit

“In the month of June, 1827, Joseph Smith, Sen. related to me the following story: ‘That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joseph his son, in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person that must obtain them, and this he must do in the following manner: On the 22nd of September, he must repair to the place where was deposited this manuscript, dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name, and after obtaining it, he must go directly away, and neither lay it down nor look behind him. They accordingly fitted out Joseph with the suit of black clothes, and borrowed a black horse.  He repaired to the place of deposit and demanded the book, which was in a stone box, unsealed, and so near the top of the ground that he could see one end of it, and raising it up, took out the book of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got it, he laid it down to place back the top stone, as he found it; and turning around, to his surprise there was no book in sight. He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. – Not being discouraged at trifles, he again stooped down and strove to take the book, when the spirit struck him again, and knocked him three or four rods, and hurt him prodigiously. After recovering from his fright, he inquired why he could not obtain the plates; to which the spirit made reply, because you have not obeyed your orders.

“… In the fore part of September, (I believe,) 1827, the Prophet [Joseph Smith] requested me to make him a chest, informing me that he designed to move back to Pennsylvania, and expecting soon to get his gold book, he wanted a chest to lock it up, giving me to understand at the same time, that if I would make the chest he would give me a share in the book. … “A few weeks after this conversation, he came to my house and related the following story: That on the 22nd of September, he arose early in the morning, and took a one horse wagon, of someone 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 left his wife in the wagon, by the road, and went alone to the hill, a distance of thirty or forty rods from the road; he said he took the book out of the ground and hid it in a tree top, and returned home. … He then observed that if it had not been for that stone [Joseph's money-digging seer stone], (which he acknowledged belonged to me,) he would not have obtained the book.  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 d—d fool, (meaning me), to get him to make a chest.  His neighbors having become disgusted with his foolish stories, he determined to go back to Pennsylvania, to avoid what he called persecution. His wits were now put to the task to contrive how he should get money to bear his expenses. He met one day in the streets of Palmyra, a rich man, whose name was Martin Harris, and addressed him thus; ‘I have a commandment from God to ask the first man I meet in the street to give me fifty dollars, to assist me in doing the work of the Lord by translating the Golden Bible.’ Martin being naturally a credulous man, hands Joseph the money.”


“The so called “Martin Harris letter”[Salamander Letter] is no repudiation of Joseph Smith, but rather probably is a further witness of the Prophets own account of the discovery of the gold plates.” Deseret News, Church Section, Sept. 9, 1984.


"Sir Walter Scott says that the old astrologers affirmed that they could bind to their service, and imprison in a ring, a mirror, or a stone, some fairy, sylph or salamander, and compel it to appear when called, and render answers to such questions as the viewer should propose."  -Theodore Besterman, Crystal-Gazing


 On August 16, 1985, Apostle Dallin Oaks tried to ease the fears of Mormon educators with regard to the Salamander letter by claiming that the words "white salamander" could be reconciled with Joseph Smith's statement about the appearance of the Angel Moroni:


    "Another source of differences in the accounts of different witnesses is the different meanings that different persons attach to words. We have a vivid illustration of this in the recent media excitement about the word 'salamander' in a letter Martin Harris is supposed to have sent to W.W. Phelps over 150 years ago. All of the scores of media stories on that subject apparently assume that the author of that letter used the word 'salamander' in the modern sense of a 'tailed amphibian.'

One wonders why so many writers neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of 'salamander,' which may even have been the primary meaning in this context in the 1820s.... That meaning... is 'a mythical being thought to be able to live in fire.'...A being that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the Angel Moroni:.. the use of the words white salamander and old spirit seem understandable.

    "In view of all this, and as a matter of intellectual evaluation, why all the excitement in the media, and why the apparent hand-wringing among those who profess friendship or membership in the Church?"

Dallin H. Oaks, 1985 CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium," pages 22-23


“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.”- Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg. 50


“Buried treasure was tied into a great stock of magical practices extending back many centuries.” -Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg. 50


“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. -Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, pg. 50


Interview with Martin Harris, Tiffany’s Monthly, 1859, New York: Published by Joel Tiffany, vol. v.—12, pp. 163-170.  This account is included because the source, Martin Harris, was a close associate of Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon, and one of the earliest non-family members to be introduced to Joseph’s claims.  His recollections are largely uninfluenced by later published accounts of Joseph Smith and therefore likely to reflect the earliest details provided to him by Joseph Smith and his family.

The Account

“The following narration we took down from the lips of Martin Harris, and read the same to him after it was written, that we might be certain of giving his statement to the world .… We did this that the world might have a connected account of the origin of Mormonism from the lips of one of the original witnesses, upon whose testimony it was first received. …

Mr. Harris says: “Joseph Smith, jr., found at Palmyra N.Y., on the 22nd day of September, 1827, the plates of gold upon which was recorded in Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Egyptian, the Book of Life, or the Book of Mormon.  I was not with him at the time, but I had a revelation the summer before, that God had a work for me to do.  These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village.  Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface.  In this stone he could see many things to my certain knowledge.  It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates. (p. 163)

“… Joseph had had this stone for some time.  There was a company  there in that neighborhood, who were digging for money supposed to have been hidden by the ancients. Of this company were old Mr. Stowel — I think his name was Josiah — also old Mr. Beman, also Samuel Lawrence, George Proper, Joseph Smith, jr., and his father, and his brother Hiram Smith.  They dug for money in Palmyra, Manchester, also in Pennsylvania, and other places. … (p. 164)

“After this, on 22nd of September, 1827, before day, Joseph took the horse and wagon of old Mr. Stowel, and taking his wife, he went to the place where the plates were concealed, and while obtaining them, she kneeled down and prayed.  He then took the plates and hid them in an old black oak tree to which was hollow. …

“Joseph did not dig for these plates.  They were placed in this way: four stones were set up and covered with a  flat stone, oval on the upper side and flat on the bottom. Beneath this was a little platform upon which the plates were laid; and the two stones went in a bow of silver by means of which the plates were translated, were found underneath the plates. (p. 165)

“… When Joseph had obtained the plates he communicated the fact to his father and mother. The plates remained concealed in the tree top until he got the chest made. He then went after them and brought them home. … (p. 166)

“… The money diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed Joseph had been traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them.  For this reason Joseph was afraid of them, and continued concealing the plates.  After they had been concealed under the floor of the cooper’s shop for a short time, Joseph was warned to remove them. He said he was warned by an angel. …

“These things had all occurred before I talked with Joseph respecting the plates.  But I had the account of it from Joseph, his wife, brothers, sisters, his father and mother. I talked with them separately that I might get the truth of the matter. (p. 167)

… “A day or so before I was ready to visit Joseph, his mother came over to our house and wished to talk with me.  I told her I had no time to spare … I waited a day or two, when I got up in the morning, took my breakfast, and told my folks I was going to the village, but went directly to old Mr. Smith’s. I found that Joseph had gone away to work for Peter Ingersol to get some flour. I was glad he was absent, for that gave me an opportunity of talking with his wife and family about the plates. I talked with them separately, to see if their stories agreed, and

I found they did agree. When Joseph came home I did not wish him to know that I had been talking with them, so I took him by the arm and led him away from the rest, and requested him to tell me the story, which he did as follows.  He said, ‘An angel had appeared to him, and told him it was God’s work.’”  Here Mr. Harris seemed to wander from the subject, when we requested him to continue and tell what Joseph then said. He replied, “Joseph had before this described the manner of his finding the plates.  He found them by looking in the stone found in the well of Mason (Willard) Chase.  The family had likewise told me the same thing.

“Joseph said 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. (“Joseph was the happiest in the company of plain men: “I love that man best who swears a stream as long as my arm and [is attentive to] administering to the poor and divivding his substance, then the long smooth faced hypocrites” –Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling) He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him.  That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him.  That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. ‘Well, ‘ said he, ‘I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.’ 

“While at Mr. Smith’ I hefted the plates, and I knew from the heft that they were lead or gold, and I knew that Joseph had not credit enough to buy so much lead.  I left Mr. Smith’s about eleven o’clock and went home. …

“The excitement in the village upon the subject had become such that some had threatened to mob Joseph, and also to tar and feather him.  They said he should never leave until he had shown the plates. It was unsafe for him to remain, so I determined that he must go to his father-in-law’s house in Pennsylvania. … I advised Joseph that he must pay all his debts before starting. I paid them for him, and furnished him money for his journey.” (pp. 168-170)

1827 First Vision Account
given by Martin Harris to the Rev. John D. Clark


1827 — Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark, as related in his 1842 book Gleanings by the Way, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff. [Microfilm copy].

The value of this account also is its early date, being related to Clark while he was a pastor in Palmyra in 1827. It contains many similarities to Harris 1859 testimony, demonstrating that Harris was consistent in what he related about Mormon origins. Like other early accounts, this one ties the discovery of a Golden Bible to Joseph's prior practice of money-digging . The Account

[page 222] “It was early in the autumn of 1827 that Martin Harris called at my house in Palmyra, one morning about sunrise. His whole appearance indicted more than usual excitement, and he had scarcely passed the threshold of my dwelling, before he inquired whether he could see me alone, remarking that he had a matter to communicate that he wished to be strictly confidential. Previous to this, I had but very slight acquaintance with Mr. Harris. He had occasionally attended divine service in our church. I had

[page 223] heard him spoken of as a farmer in comfortable circumstances, residing in the country a short distance from the village, and distinguished by certain peculiarities of character. He had been, if I mistake not, at one period, a member of the Methodist Church, and subsequently had identified himself with the Universalists. At this time, however, in his religious views he seemed to be floating upon the sea of uncertainty. He had evidently quite an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, and possessed a manifest disputatious turn of mind. As I subsequently learned, Mr. Harris had always been a firm believer in dreams, and visions, and supernatural appearances, such as apparitions and ghosts, and therefore was a fit subject for such men as Smith and his colleagues to operate upon. On the occasion just referred to, I invited him to accompany me to my study, where, after having closed the door, he began to draw a package out of his pocket with great and manifest caution. Suddenly, however, he stopped, and wished to know if there was any possibility of our being interrupted or overheard? When answered in the negative, he proceeded to remark, that he reposed great confidence in me as a minister of Jesus Christ, and that what he had now to communicate he wished me to regard as strictly confidential. He said he verily believed that an important epoch had arrived — that a great flood of light was about to burst upon the world, and that the scene of divine manifestation was to be immediately around us. In explanation of what he meant, he then proceeded to remark that a GOLDEN BIBLE had recently been dug from the earth, where it had been deposited for thousands of years, and that this would be found to contain such disclosures as would settle all religious controversies and speedily

[page 224] bring on the glorious millennium. That this mysterious book, which no human eye of the present generation has yet seen, was in the possession of Joseph Smith, jr., ordinarily known in the neighbourhood under the more familiar designation of Jo Smith; that there had been a revelation made to him by which he had discovered this sacred deposit, and two transparent stones, through which, as a sort of spectacles, he could read the Bible, although the box or ark that contained it, had not yet been opened; and that by looking through those mysterious stones he had transcribed from one of the leaves of this book, the characters which Harris had so carefully wrapped in the package which he was drawing from his pocket. The whole thing appeared to me so ludicrous and puerile, that I could not refrain from telling Mr. Harris, that I believed it a mere hoax got up to practice upon his credulity, or an artifice to extort from him money; for I had already, in the course of the conversation, learned that he had advanced some twenty-five dollars to Jo Smith as a sort of premium for sharing with him in the glories and profits of this new revelation. For at this time, his mind seemed to be quite as intent upon the pecuniary advantage that would arise from the possession of the plates of solid gold of which this book was composed, as upon the spiritual light it would diffuse over the world. My intimations to him, in reference to the possible imposition that was being practiced upon him, however, were indignantly repelled. He then went on to relate the particulars in regard to the discovery and possession of this marvelous book. As far as I can now recollect, the following was an outline of the narrative which he then communicated to me, and subsequently to scores of people in the village, from some of

[page 225] whom in my late visit to Palmyra, I have been able to recall several particulars that had quite glided from my memory.

Before I proceed to Martin's narrative, however, I would remark in passing, that Jo Smith, who has since been the chief prophet of the Mormons, and was one of the most prominent ostensible actors in the first scenes of this drama, belonged to a very shiftless family near Palmyra. They lived a sort of vagrant life, and were principally known as money-diggers. Jo from a boy appeared dull and utterly destitute of genius; but his father claimed for him a sort of second sight, a power to look into the depths of the earth, and discover where its precious treasures were hid. Consequently long before the idea of a GOLDEN BIBLE entered their minds, in their excursions for money-digging, which I believe usually occurred in the night, that they might conceal from others the knowledge of the place where they struck upon treasures, Jo used to be usually their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig.

According to Martin Harris, it was after one of these night excursions, that Jo, while he lay upon his bed, had a remarkable dream. An angel of God seemed to approach him, clad in celestial splendor. This divine messenger assured him that he, Joseph Smith, was chosen of the Lord to be a prophet of the Most High God, and to bring to light hidden things, that would prove

of unspeakable benefit to the world. He then disclosed to him the existence of this golden Bible, and the place where it was deposited — but at the same time told him that he must follow implicitly the divine direction, or he would draw (Angel came to him after a night of witchcraft, to tell himhe was going to be a Prophet?)

[page 226] down upon him the wrath of heaven. This book, which was contained in a chest, or ark, and which consisted of metallic plates covered with characters embossed in gold, he must not presume to look into, under three years. He must first go on a journey into Pennsylvania — and there among the mountains, he would meet with a very lovely woman, belonging to a highly respectable and pious family, whom he was to take for his wife. As proof that he was sent on this mission by Jehovah, as soon as he saw this designated person, he would be smitten with her beauty, and though he was a stranger to her, and she was far above him in the walks of life, she would at once be willing to marry him and go with him to the ends of the earth. After their marriage he was to return to his former home, and remain quietly there until the birth of his first child. When this child had completed his second year, (The child, Alvin, died a few hours after his birth. This is an example of Joseph being a false prophet.)he might then proceed to the hill beneath which the mysterious chest was deposited, and draw it thence, and publish the truths it contained to the world. Smith awoke from his dream, (I didn’t know Moroni was a dream!) and according to Harris, started off towards Pennsylvania, not knowing to what point he should go. But the Lord directed him, and gained him favour in the eyes of just such a person as was described to him. He was married and had returned. His first child had been born and was now about six months old. But Jo had not been altogether obedient to the heavenly vision. After his marriage and return from Pennsylvania, he became so awfully impressed with the high destiny that awaited him, that he communicated the secret to his father and family. The money-digging propensity of the old man operated so powerfully, that he insisted upon it that they should go and see if the chest was there

[page 227] not with any view to remove it till the appointed time, but merely to satisfy themselves. Accordingly they went forth in the stillness of night with their spades and mattocks to the spot where slumbered this sacred deposit. They had proceeded but a little while in the work of excavation, before the mysterious chest appeared; but lo! instantly it moved and glided along out of their sight. Directed, however, by the clairvoyance of Jo, they again penetrated to the spot where it stood and succeeded in gaining a partial view of its dimensions. But while they were pressing forward to gaze at it, the thunder of the Almighty shook the spot and made the earth to tremble — a sheet of vivid lightning swept along over the side of the hill, and burnt terribly around the spot where the excavation was going on, and again with a rumbling noise the chest moved off out of their sight. They were all terrified, and fled towards their home. Jo took his course silently along by himself. On his way homeward, being alone, in the woods, the angel of the Lord met him clad in terror and wrath. He spoke in a voice of thunder, and forked lightnings shot through the trees and ran along the ground. The terror which the appearance of the divine messenger awakened, instantly struck Smith to the earth, and he felt his whole frame convulsed with agony, as though he were stamped upon by the iron hoofs of death himself. In language most terrific did the angel upbraid him for his disobedience, and then disappeared. Smith went home trembling and full of terror. Soon, however, his mind became more composed. Another divine communication was made to him, authorizing him to go along by himself and bring the chest and deposit it secretly under the hearth of his dwelling, but by no means to attempt

[page 228] to look into it. The reason assigned by the angel for this removal, was that some report in relation to the place where this sacred book was deposited had gone forth, and there was danger of its being disturbed. According to Harris, Smith now scrupulously followed the divine directions. He was already in possession of the two transparent stones laid up with the GOLDEN BIBLE, by looking through which he was enabled to read the golden letters on the plates in the box. How he obtained these spectacles without opening the chest, Harris could not tell. But still he had them; and by means of them he could read all the book contained. The book itself was not to be disclosed until Smith's child had reached a certain age. Then it might be published to the world. In the interim, Smith was to prepare the way for the conversion of the world to a new system of faith, by transcribing the characters from the plates and giving translations of the same. This was the substance of Martin Harris' communication to me upon our first interview. He then carefully unfolded a slip of paper, which contained three or four lines of characters, as unlike letters or hieroglyphics of any sort, as well could be produced were one to shut up his eyes and play off the most antic movements with his pen upon paper. The only thing that bore the slightest resemblance to the letter of any language that I had ever seen, was two uprights marked joined by a horizontal line,that might have been taken for the Hebrew character l¯|. My ignorance of the characters in which the pretended ancient record was written, was to Martin Harris new proof that Smith's whole account of the divine revelation made to him was entirely to be relied on.

One thing is here to be noticed, that the statements of

[page 229] the originators of this imposture varied, and were modified from time to time according as their plans became more matured. At first it was a gold Bible — then golden plates engraved — then metallic plates stereotyped or embossed with golden letters. At one time Harris was to be enriched by the solid gold of these plates, at another they were to be religiously kept to convince the world of the truth of the revelation — and, then these plates could not be seen by any but three witnesses whom the Lord should choose. How easy it would be, were there any such plates in existence, to produce them, and to show that Mormonism is not a "cunningly devised fable." How far Harris was duped by this imposture, or how far he entered into it as a matter of speculation, I am unable to say. Several gentlemen in Palmyra, who saw and conversed with him frequently, think he was labouring under a sort of monomania, and that he thoroughly believed all that Jo Smith chose to tell him on this subject. He was so much in earnest on the subject, that he immediately started off with some of the manuscripts that Smith furnished him on a journey to New York and Washington to consult some learned men to ascertain the nature of the language in which this record was engraven. After his return, he came to see me again, and told me that among others he had consulted Professor Anthon,* who thought the characters in which the book was written very remarkable, but he could not decide exactly what language they belonged to. Martin had now become a perfect believer. He said he had no more doubt of Smith's divine commission, than of the divine

* In the following chapter the reader will find an account of this interview.

[page 230] commission of the apostles. The very fact that Smith was an obscure and illiterate man, showed that he must be acting under divine impulses: — "God had chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised — yea, and things that are not to bring to nought — things that are — that no flesh should glory in his presence." That he was willing to "take of the spoiling of his goods" to sustain Smith in carrying on this work of the Lord; and that he was determined that the book should be published, though it consumed all his worldly substance. It was in vain I endeavoured to expostulate. I was an unbeliever, and could not see afar off. As for him, he must follow the light which the Lord had given him. Whether at this time Smith had those colleagues that certainly afterwards moved, unseen, the wheels of this machinery, I am unable to say. Even after Cowdery and Rigdon were lending the whole force of their minds to the carrying out of this imposture, Jo Smith continued to be the ostensible prominent actor in the drama. The way that Smith made his transcripts and translations for Harris was the following: Although in the same room, a thick curtain or blanket was suspended between them, and Smith concealed behind the blanket, pretended to look through his spectacles, or transparent stones, and would then write down or repeat what he saw, which, when repeated aloud, was written down by Harris, who sat on the other side of the suspended blanket. Harris was told that it would arouse the most terrible divine displeasure, if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or look at Smith while engaged in the work of decyphering the mysterious characters. This was Harris's

[page 231]  own account of the matter to me. What other measures they afterwards took to transcribe or translate from these metallic plates, I cannot say, as I very soon after this removed to another field of labour where I heard no more of this matter till I learned the BOOK OF MORMON was about being published. It was not till after the discovery of the manuscript of Spaulding, of which I shall subsequently give some account, that the actors in this imposture thought calling the pretended revelation of the BOOK OF MORMON. This book, which professed to be a translation of the golden Bible brought to light by Joseph Smith was published in 1830-to accomplish which Martin Harris actually mortgaged his farm."


-Brigham Young used a diving rod to locate the placement of the Salt Lake Temple

Anthon H. Lund, Athon Lund Journal, under July 5, 1901. Lund's journal reads: "In the revelation to Oliver Cowdery in May 1829, Bro, B. H. Roberts said that the gift which the Lord says he has in his hand meant a stick which was like Aaron's Rod. It is said Bro. Phineas Young (brother in law of Oliver Cowdey and brither Brigham Young) got it from him (Cowdery) and gave it to Brigham Young who had it with him when he arrived in this (Salt Lake) valley and that it was that stick that he pointed out where the Temple should be,"- D. Michael Quinn,  BYU Studies, Fall 1978, vol 18, pg.82

"Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were given a divining rod by Joseph Smith for their loyalty."-Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon