i. The man who was never there
Scene: The same. Ten o'clock the next morning.
Dig for that crazy, mixed-up kid!
Clerk: The meeting will come to order.
Chairman: As we all know, the commonest, most uniform, and most damning charge against Joseph Smith is that he was a money-digger. This morning we want to look into that accusation. Let us first hear from those who assisted Smith in his treasure-digging operations. Will the diggers please come forward? (A long wait. Nobody moves.) Come, come; the charge is that Smith for some years was head of a band of diggers; there must be someone here who took part in those notorious activities. Did they all just vanish?
Pomeroy Tucker: No, sir. In 1867 I could still report that "several of the individuals participating in this, . . . and many others well remembering the stories of the time, are yet living witnesses of these follies."1
Chairman: So "several" of the diggers were still in town forty-seven years after the operation, and "many . . . living witnesses" were still around. But how can you call them witnesses to an activity they never witnessed?
Tucker: What do you mean?
Chairman: You call them "living witnesses," but to what? Will the clerk please read Mr. Tucker's first statement?
Clerk (reads): "And many others well remembering the stories of the time, are yet living witnesses."
Chairman: So all they can report is what they remember, forty-seven years after, not of the events, but of the stories "of the time." You, Mr. Tucker, claim to have been the most intimate associate of Smith during his digging period. How long did that period last?
Tucker: For at least seven years.2
Chairman: And do you in your book ever so much as hint at ever having witnessed any phase of those operations?
Tucker: I tell all about the digging in my book.
Chairman: But as an eye-witness to any of it?
Tucker: No. I got all my information from Smith himself. I report what I have "recollected from his own accounts."
Chairman: Exactly. In seven or eight years of secret conversations Smith told you everything. But in all that time you never saw a thing! Who were these diggers?
W. Stafford: The Smiths "had around them constantly a worthless gang, whose employment was to dig money nights."3
Chairman: Did you ever join in the digging yourself?
W. Stafford: Well, yes. Of course, all of Smith's wild tales "I regarded as visionary. However, being prompted by curiosity, I at length accepted of their invitations, to join them in their nocturnal excursions."4
Chairman: So that made you one of the "worthless gang."
W. Stafford: I resent that, sir! I was merely a curious spectator.
Chairman: Were these digging activities secret?
W. Stafford: Indeed they were. Once when I came by accident upon Joseph Smith, Sr., and two other men with hoes and shovels in the woods, "on seeing me they ran like wild men to get out of sight."5
Chairman: Yet they constantly invited you to witness their indiscretions. Did they invite others?
J. Capron: Yes, all the time. Smith "would often tell his neighbors of his wonderful discoveries, and urge them to embark in the money digging business."
Chairman: And did they accept?
Capron: They did: "A gang was soon assembled. . . . Some of them were influenced by curiosity, others were sanguine in their expectations of immediate gain."6
P. Ingersoll: "I had frequent invitations to join the company, but always declined."7
Chairman: But didn't you say something earlier about helping Smith, Sr., in such a project?
Ingersoll: Oh yes. I just did it for a joke. "The old man, finding that all his efforts to make me a money-digger had proved abortive, at length ceased his importunities."8
Chairman: Now Mr. W. Stafford has told us that the Smiths "had about them constantly a worthless gang" of diggers. And Mr. Capron gives us to understand that this gang was recruited among the neighbors, some of whom even admit their complicity. Not very nice neighbors, I would say.
Eber D. Howe: Oh, they weren't the regular gang. That was Joe's "phalanx," regularly designated as the "money-diggers."9
Chairman: And did they believe that Joe could lead them to treasures?
Tucker: Absolutely! It is amazing what complete trust they had in him.10
Chairman: Did the Smiths themselves believe there was treasure there?
Howe: The affidavits make that clear enough. Old Smith, Sr., was especially infatuated by the idea.
Ingersoll: Once he said to me, "You notice, said he, the large stones on the top of the ground . . . They are, in fact, most of them chests of money raised by the heat of the sun."11
Chairman: If he believed all these treasures were on top of the ground, why was the old man always urging you to help him dig?
Ingersoll: Ask him.
Chairman: I don't need to. There is one thing that everybody knows about treasure-hunters, and that is that they are desperately determined not to share their secrets.
Howe: Well, our witnesses say that the Smiths were very mysterious and secretive about the business.
Chairman: And also that they not only invited but constantly importuned all the neighbors to join in with them, welcoming them even as idle spectators. That was a necessary fiction to account for the presence of witnesses, but it won't do. Gangs of professional diggers who are sure they have their fingers on the loot don't go around inviting others to learn their secrets and share their swag. It just won't wash, as the saying goes. Who is the earliest witness to all this? You sir, what is your name?
Obadiah Dogberry: Dogberry, editor of the Palmyra Reflector.
Chairman: What can you tell us about this digging?
Dogberry: It certainly "did not originate by any means with Smith [Sr.]" At that time "the MANIA of money-digging soon began rapidly to diffuse itself through many parts of this country; men and women without distinction of age or sex became marvelous wise in the occult sciences, many dreamed, and others saw visions disclosing . . . rich and shining treasures."12
Chairman: You are not just describing Smith, Sr.'s, activities?
Dogberry: No. As I say, everybody everywhere had the mania.
J. B. Turner: Smith, Jr., simply followed the trend. "While he condemned all else as the work of the devil," he accepted "the stone mania" in his followers.13
Chairman: What is the "stone mania"?
Dogberry: "Mineral rods and balls . . . were supposed to be infallible guides to these sources of wealth—'peep stones' or pebbles, taken promiscuously from the brook or field, were placed in a hat or other situation excluded from the light, when some wizard or witch . . . applied their eyes, and . . . declared they saw all wonders of nature, including of course, ample stores of silver and gold."14
Chairman: Treasure-hunting and visions seem to go hand in hand.
Earnest S. Bates: Yes, Smith, Sr. "was much addicted to the popular frontier sport of digging for buried treasure and was also given to religious visions."15.
Chairman: So there was nothing unusual at the time in being a money-digger and even a visionary, after all. And yet these things were held as crimes against the Smiths?
Rev. Henry Caswall: The Smiths "spent much of their time in digging for money, which they pretended had been hidden in the earth during the revolutionary war. . . . Their whole object appears to have been to live without work, upon the industry of others."16
Chairman: They merely pretended there was buried treasure? How could they know whether there was or not, so as to be able to pretend?
Mrs. Cooley: I have often heard my relative, "Jeremiah Lyke, . . . say that Joe Smith, whom he knew well, was a lazy, shiftless fellow, hunting and fishing day times, and at night pretending to dig for treasures in that hill" in front of his house.17
Chairman: Apparently this lazy, shiftless fellow found no time for anything as tiring as sleep, and "to wrap his movements in a mystery," to quote Mr. Howe, he did his digging right in front of his own house. Now you say, according to your relative who knew Smith very well, that he only pretended to dig for treasures. Why did he pretend to do a disreputable thing like that if he did not actually do it?
Tucker: Oh, he did it, all right. "The fame of Smith's money-digging performances had been sounded far and near. The newspapers had heralded and ridiculed them. The pit-hole memorials of his treasure explorations were numerous."18
Chairman: Strange that none of the newspaper notices have ever turned up. It was you, sir, who stated that Smith's great cave near Palmyra, his greatest digging of all, "scarcely attracted the curiosity of outsiders," yet now you tell us that the newspapers even "heralded" his minor diggings. What are we to believe?
Mrs. Dr. Horace Eaton: I can explain that. "Little or no attention was paid to the performances of Smith near his home."19
Chairman: Then how did his digging make him so famous?
Tucker: Famous is hardly the word, sir.
Chairman: You said his fame went far and wide, and George Arbaugh, following W. D. Purple, tells that it was because Joseph Smith's fame had spread so that Josiah Stowell hired him to dig for money.20
Eaton: Well, it's true that "lovers of the marvelous" came from far away, and "visited the several excavations and wondered."21
Chairman: You mean that a few holes in the ground, which, according to all reports, never yielded a thing, actually brought sight-seers, "lovers of the marvelous" to your part of the country? What was marvelous about the holes?
Howe: It wasn't the holes themselves, but the idea of the treasure hunters.
Chairman: But Mr. Dogberry has told us that everybody was digging away all over the country before Smith ever got started. What could be less interesting than just another hole dug by just another treasure-hunter? And why would Joseph Smith get fame and a title for doing what everyone else was doing—only more secretly?
John Quincy Adams: It must have been the immense scope of his operations that distinguished him from the others.
Chairman: Mrs. Eaton mentioned only "the several excavations" near Palmyra, which did not sound like very much. Were there more?
Adams: Were there? "Acres of ground near Palmyra, and elsewhere, were dug over."22
George B. Arbaugh: "In 1822 . . . under Jo's direction fourteen men dug a great hole on the farm of Joseph McKune, which fifty years later was used as a swimming pool. . . . It seems that he superintended many similar diggings."23
Chairman: Dear me. In less than forty years "the lapse of time and natural causes" had completely obliterated Mr. Tucker's 165-foot cave and Smith's last digging; the original dimensions of these other digs must have been tremendous. Do you realize, sir, how much digging with picks and shovels it takes to make just one swimming pool? And what the chances are of keeping such an operation secret while you are doing it and after? And can you imagine the most lazy, shiftless man on earth, at the age of sixteen "superintending many similar diggings"? Oliver Cowdery has commented on this. Will the clerk please read Cowdery's Eighth Letter?
Clerk (reads): They say "that he was always notorious for his idleness," yet he has "been accused of digging down all, or nearly so, the mountains of Susquehannah, or causing others to do it by some art of necromancy."24
James H. Hunt: The indolent character of Smith is not incompatible with the accomplishment: indeed, it explains it. "Being withal too lazy to make a living by honest industry, their minds [the Smiths', that is] seemed entirely directed towards discovering where these treasures were concealed. . . . Our hero . . . gather[ed] a horde of idle, credulous young men to perform the labor of digging. . . . In the course of time numerous excavations were made."25
Chairman: And all that work was done by idle young men at the behest of a lazy kid who was "shunned by the boys of his own age"? What was the secret of his irresistible appeal?
Howe: It was money. He promised them wealth.
Chairman: And did he ever deliver?
Cooley: I can answer that. "Jeremiah Lyke [the one who knew Smith so well] . . . never for a moment thought that they ever found any treasure."26
Gen. John Eaton: That is right. Joe "found people who could be fooled; considerable digging was done under his direction, but he never discovered any treasures."27
Hunt: "In the course of time numerous excavations were made, but, unfortunately, they never dug deep enough to find the object of their search."28
C. Sheridan Jones: I must disagree with these witnesses. "The turning point in Smith's career" came when,
learning from a strolling Indian of a place where treasure was said to be buried, Smith had gone out to dig for it. On the way he met with another party of diggers, intent on the same object, and a dispute arose as to the locus of the treasure. Now Smith's father had claimed to be a "diviner," . . . and young Joe claimed now—perhaps not for the first time—to have inherited the power. He boldly located the treasure, and challenged his rival to test his belief as to where it lay. By a coincidence, one of the most fruitful in his life, it turned out that he was right. The treasure, a few gold coins, was found at the spot he indicated, and Joe Smith became a force! [From that moment the] ragged, ill-clad young man was a person to be reckoned with, and everywhere his services were in request.29
Chairman: A very remarkable story, sir, not the least remarkable thing about it being that you are apparently the only person who has ever heard of it. How does it happen that none of the earlier "witnesses" knows anything about this sensational and vastly publicized discovery that made Smith a real figure in the world? And what is this "perhaps not for the first time"? Don't you know whether this was Smith's first treasure-locating exploit or not? Here Smith is supposed to have been digging for years, yet you describe this as his first find.
J. S. C. Abbott: It was certainly not his first find. Smith "had seer stones, in which the illiterate had faith. He had already exhumed from the Indian mounds many mysterious antiquities, not a few of which, it was conjectured, were of his own manufacture."30
Chairman: So lazy Joe not only dug everywhere, but toiled away at forging antiquities—what a worker! And you say that this was before the great and sensational find which Mr. Jones reports?
Editor of the American Whig Review: Since "his childhood was spent following the occupation of a money-digger, . . . we find Smith, in his early youth, following his father, pickaxe on shoulder, digging eagerly into whatever might seem an Indian tomb . . . and subsisting by the plunder of henroosts, or upon whatever else fortune might throw in his way."31
E. C. Blackman: And it was "a straggling Indian" who told Joe of the buried treasure that Mr. Jones referred to. Only he didn't find anything. He "dug a great hole which can still be seen."32
Chairman: Another of his many swimming pools. Jones says the treasure was "found at the spot indicated," but if he had any divination at all, or if anyone believed he had, why would it be necessary to dig over the area of a swimming pool? Smith is supposed to have put his finger on the spot, isn't that so, Mr. Tucker? I believed you have described what you claim to be Smith's first digging.
Tucker: In a "dead hour of night . . . the work of digging began at his signal, . . . the magician meanwhile indicating, by some sort of wand in his hand, the exact spot where the spade was to be crowded into the earth."33
Chairman: Thank you. Here we have them digging over the area of a swimming pool after the exact spot has been indicated. Hunt says it was because they never went deep enough that the diggers never found anything—why didn't they dig more deeply and less widely? It is all too absurd. Your youthful Joseph must have been a phenomenally industrious boy.
Chorus of Voices: Oh, he didn't do the digging!
Chairman: But Mr. Abbott said he had exhumed lots of stuff from Indian mounds, and the American Whig Review said he followed his father with his pickaxe and dug eagerly, and Mrs. Blackman said he dug a great hole that can still be seen. Let's get this straight: did Joe dig or didn't he?
Hunt: He did not. "We cannot learn that the Prophet ever entered those excavations, to perform any portion of the labor, his business being to point out the locations of the treasures, which he pretended to do by looking at a stone placed in his hat."34
Howe: Mr. Hunt's statement is correct because it is stolen from me. What I wrote was that Smith "soon collected about him a gang of idle, credulous young men to perform the labor of digging. . . . In the process of time many pits were dug in the neighborhood. . . . But we do not learn that the young impostor ever entered these excavations for the purpose of assisting his sturdy dupes in their labors."35
Chairman: In other words, there is actually no evidence that Smith ever dug for treasure at all! But if I find it hard to believe that the lazy and shiftless Joe should have excavated many acres in and around Palmyra and dug many excavations similar to the swimming pool on the McKune farm, I find it just as hard to believe that he could have induced a number of "idle, credulous young men" to do the same. How did it happen?
The mighty band
John C. Bennett: The Smiths "kept around them, constantly, a gang of worthless fellows who dug for money at nights, and were idle in the daytime. . . . It was a mystery to their neighbors how they got their living."36
Chairman: So Joe inherited the gang from his family?
S. B. Emmons: Not at all! "He had the address to collect about him a gang of idle and credulous young men, whom he employed in digging for hidden treasures."37
Chairman: At least you agree on one thing: Joseph Smith "employed" these men to dig for him, and it was he who organized the gang, which he "collected about him." What did he pay them with?
Mrs. Eaton: He hired them "with cider and strong drink."38
Mrs. Ellen Dickinson: No, it wasn't that; they were after treasure. Joe "became the head of a band that slept during the day and wandered in the night-time to such places as they were directed to by their leader to dig for hidden treasures. Joe laid down certain laws to his 'phalanx' in their operations."39
Chairman: When was this?
Dickinson: It was well before 1819. There were fourteen in the band.40
Chairman: So Joe at the age of twelve rules his band with an iron hand and makes them work their heads off—for cider?
Lu B. Cake: Mrs. Dickinson is mistaken. "He first organized a society at the house of Joe Knight, on the South side of the river, near the Lobdell House, in Broome County. Excavations were made in various places for treasures, and rocks containing iron pyrites were drilled for gold." That was "somewhere about 1828 or 1829."41
Chairman: That, you say, was his first society. What about the gang of fourteen?
R. C. Doud: In 1822 I was employed, with thirteen others, by Oliver Harper, to dig for gold under Joe's directions.42
Chairman: So it was not Joe at all, but Mr. Harper, who hired the fourteen, and there was no "phalanx" at all. Did any others hire Joe?
Isaac Hale: "I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jun., in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called 'money- diggers'; and his occupation was that of seeing."43
Chairman: So it seems that the "money-diggers" employed Smith, and not the other way around. Now Mr. Doud says the others were digging "under Joe's directions." How did he direct them, Mr. Doud?
Doud: I don't know. Smith "was not present at the time."44
Chairman: So Joseph Smith, only it wasn't Joseph Smith, organized a gang, only it wasn't a gang, to dig for treasure, only it wasn't treasure, under his direction, only he didn't direct it. Perhaps Mr. Tucker, Smith's closest associate, can enlighten us.
Tucker: Smith claimed to spy out treasures in the ground. "Of course but few persons were sufficiently stolid to listen to these silly pretentions. . . . Yet he may have had believers."45
Chairman: So Mr. Howe's band of idle and credulous young men now fades to a mere conjecture. When would Smith have got these helpers?
Tucker: It was not until 1820 that he finally got people to help him dig on "the then forest hill, a short distance from his father's house."
Chairman: Then 1820 was his first digging, Mr. Tucker?
Tucker: Yes. "This was the inauguration of the impostor's money-digging performance, . . . [the] first trial," though as has been said, Joe didn't dig—he merely located the treasure.46
Rev. J. E. Mahaffey: But he had already been doing that for years!
Chairman: How do you know that, Mr. Mahaffey?
Mahaffey: Because "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 'seerstone' in that community. He was put in the Onondago County jail for 'vagrancy and debt.' "47
Chairman: But people went right on hiring the eleven-year-old criminal. It occurs to me that "sturdy dupes" and "indolent young men" no matter how "credulous" do not let a fourteen-year-old or twelve-year-old kid make fools of them night after night while they go on with their back-breaking toil. They want results. What did they do when the treasure failed to materialize? Does anyone remember?
Hale: I do. "When they had arrived in digging to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure would be found, he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed." That was on November 17, 1825.48
Chairman: That, at least, is a natural and understandable reaction—nobody likes to go on digging for nothing: "They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed." But how long did these pointless operations continue? What kept them going?
Howe: "Whenever the diggers became dissatisfied at not finding the object of their desires, his inventive and fertile genius would generally contrive a story to satisfy them. For instance, he would tell them that the treasure was removed by a spirit just before they came to it, or that it sunk down deeper into the earth."49
Chairman: And that satisfied them, after all their toil—those lazy young men?
Howe: I said it generally satisfied them.
Chairman: But if Smith was to stay in business—and keep his health!—he would have to satisfy them every time. "Whenever" means always but "generally" means sometimes. Which was it?
Mrs. Eaton: Smith always gave them the same explanation: Someone "always broke the spell by speaking—the riches were spirited away to another quarter, and the digging must be resumed another night. Thus matters went on for seven or eight years."50
Chairman: You mean the idle, credulous young men took this beating for seven or eight years?
Tucker: That is right: "The imposture was renewed and repeated at frequent intervals from 1820 to 1827."51
Chairman: And in all that time they went right on digging, though they never found a thing. And what kind of people were these?
Dickinson: " 'The diggers,' as they were called, consisted of a band of genuine vagabonds, with Joe as their leader."52
Chairman: One does not give orders to "genuine vagabonds" or get them to do a lot of hard work by "satisfying" them over and over again with the same lame, repetitious explanation. You expect us to be as credulous as they.
Tucker: "It certainly evidences extraordinary talent or subtlety, that for so long a period he could maintain the potency of his art over numbers of beings in the form of manhood, acknowledging their faith in his supernatural powers."53
Chairman: Yet this is the identical Smith, Mr. Tucker, whom you "distinctly remembered" between the ages of twelve and twenty as being "noted only for his indolent and vagabondish character." And now you want to attribute "extraordinary talent or subtlety" to him! It is hardly extraordinary, sir, that of the "numbers of beings" who for seven or eight years dug vigorously all about the landscape, neither you nor anyone else has ever given a single name, though the rascals must all have been as well known to you as Smith himself; it is indeed extraordinary that in seven or eight years of digging up "acres of ground around Palmyra and elsewhere" Smith never got arrested for trespassing on anyone's property, though he made holes as big as swimming tanks, and was never sued for damages; it is most extraordinary that of the hundreds of people he bilked out of their money in his digging projects, not one ever came forward either to sue him or complain of his practices. What did Smith have to gain by all of this?
J. D. Kingsbury: "He could see where there was lost treasure and guide people to find chests of gold. In this way he picked up many a penny, and he learned the credulity of man." This was before his vision at fifteen.54
Jones: "Joe did well on his 'peek stone.' . . . He raised money to enable him to dig for larger treasure. And if his failures were many and his successes few, still his reputation grew and he prospered."55
Chairman: Then he did have some success in locating stuff?
Tucker: Of course not! "It is . . . needless to add that no genuine discoveries of stolen property were made in this manner, and that the entire proceeds derived from the speculation went into Joe's pocket."56
Chairman: Why is it "needless to add"?
Tucker: Naturally, he never found anything.
Chairman: Then how did he stay in business through the years? How could his reputation grow if it was only a reputation for failure? What kind of customers did he have?
Dr. Harry M. Beardsley: "Gullible customers, seeking to recover lost articles, locate stray calves, etc., . . . contributed appreciable to the family exchequer. True, these customers found no chests of gold. . . . But there was always some plausible reason why the magic failed. The moon was not in the right phase, Joe explained."57
Chairman: So through the years what people paid for in making their substantial contributions to the family exchequer was not the finding of objects by Smith but a routine explanation of why he never found anything. Even Mr. Tucker has testified that the only action ever taken against Smith was one suit to obtain payment of a small debt (though he gave no evidence); yet now we are asked to believe that he openly, systematically, notoriously took people's money in a confidence racket which over the years never returned a penny to the victims—and got away with it! How did he do it?
Tucker: "Individuals were impelled, in their donations in this business, by the motive of ridding themselves of Smith's importunities." In this way he secured "a handsome surplus."58
Chairman: So they paid him to tell them where to dig for treasure, just to get rid of him and his "importunities"—this unsocial boy whose one outstanding trait, according to you, was his "taciturnity,"—who hid out in the woods and only spoke to his closest associates? How did he "importune" people to distraction—with sign-language? You say his power over his gang was extraordinary, but what was his secret with the general public, to compel them ("impelled" is a feeble attempt to dodge the issue) not only to tolerate a fraud, but actually to contribute their hard-earned money to support it? From all you have said, sir, you and your fellow citizens were either Smith's puppets or accessories to his crimes. Now if Smith pocketed all the proceeds from these operations, how did his gang stay alive—and satisfied?
Mrs. Eaton: They got cider for their work! "All who could be hired with cider or strong drink were organized into a digging phalanx."59
Tucker: Yes, he paid them with money and whiskey.60
Chairman: Then they were simply hired workers. They were neither idle nor credulous, since they worked hard not for promises but for pay. I believe some solid citizens are supposed to have paid a good deal.
Orvilla S. Belisle: That is right. Mr. Stowell "swallowed with avidity his [Smith's] monstrosities," and gave him "several large sums of money" to dig for treasure for him.61
Caswall: He told Stowell "that he had discovered a cave on the banks of Black River in New York in which he had found a bar of gold as thick as his leg, and about three or four feet long, . . . that if Stowell would convey him with his wife to Manchester, he would get a chisel and mallet and accompany him to the cave. . . . The old Dutchman gladly acceded to this arrangement."62
Mahaffey: You see how "he fooled the credulous and superstitious and eked out a precarious subsistence."63
Chairman: A "precarious subsistence" hardly sounds like Mr. Tucker's "handsome surplus." But since the credulous and superstitious were willing to pay, why were the operations conducted at night?
Adams: Because "midnight, with a full moon, was the most desirable time" to dig for treasure.64
Jones: "Certain weird ceremonies were invariably connected with the money-digging operations. Midnight and a full moon were held to be essential, and Good Friday was the best date. Joe Smith would direct operations with a wand, sternly enjoining silence, and the simple neighbors would stand around with chattering teeth, afraid to utter a word lest it should break the spell."65
Belisle: "Many a night between the witching hours of twelve and one, when there was neither moon, nor stars to spy upon them, had they stolen out to unearth the hidden treasure; but as often they averred, the gnomes that guarded it thwarted them, and they were forced to do as they always had, resort to their wits."66
Chairman: Was that the gang, or the Smith family?
Howe: It began with the family: "One night, when darkness had closed over the earth, and ghosts and spirits are supposed to leave their nooks, the elder Smith, followed by Joseph and Hyrum, wended their way . . . to a spot [where] . . . tradition said that, during the Revolutionary war, the British paymaster, while at New York had been robbed of three kegs of gold. . . . All through that night, the next, and many other nights, incantations were made, spirits called, but they refused to give any sign of their presence or reveal the spot of the precious deposit. As months went on, and even years, Joseph Smith, Sr., relinquished the sceptre to the more hopeful hands of his son."67
Chairman: And how did you find out about these ultra secret operations? They were very secret, weren't they?
Howe: We have agreed on that—"wrapped in secrecy."
Chairman: Yet according to Mr. Jones the operations were open to the public, with "the simple neighbors" standing around "with chattering teeth," in the light of the full moon, which we are also assured was "essential" to success, though Mrs. Belisle assures us that they dug "when there was neither moon, nor stars to spy upon them." Whom are we supposed to believe? We are told that certain weird ceremonies were "invariably connected with the money-digging operations," requiring among other things a full moon or, according to some, the dark of the moon. What were the ceremonies?
David Stafford: "Joseph Sen. first made a circle. . . . He then stuck in the ground a row of witch-hazel sticks. . . . He next stuck a steel rod in the centre of the circles. . . . After we had dug . . . [he] went to the house to inquire of young Joseph the cause of our disappointment."68
Chairman: Then Smith, Jr., was not on the scene?
Howe: As has been stated by me and others, there is no evidence that Smith, Jr., ever participated in the digging.
Chairman: Yet we have been told that he "would direct operations with a wand, sternly enjoining silence." Now it seems we can find not a single eyewitness who ever saw Joseph Smith at one of these diggings. These circles were essential?
American Whig Review: Yes. In their treasure digging they would form a circle of stones. The neighbor that described this "sagely concludes, 'that the business brought them more mutton than gold.' "69
The sheep story
Chairman: Why more mutton than gold?
George Seibel: Because once "one easy-going and superstitious farmer furnished a sheep for a blood offering."70
American Whig Review: That's right. There is a report that "once a black sheep was sacrificed to the evil spirit guarding the treasure, and when this too failed, the Smiths went home and ate the sheep."71
W. Stafford: So "the only time they ever made money-digging a profitable business" was when the Smiths ate the sheep. I furnished the sheep.72
Chairman: You, Sir?
W. Stafford: Yes. "To gratify my curiosity, I let them have a large fat sheep. . . . This, I believe, is the only time they ever made money-digging a profitable business."73
Chairman: If I remember correctly, Mr. Stafford, you accepted an invitation to join the "worthless gang," as you called them, in another of "their nocturnal excursions." Was this before or after you gave them the sheep?
W. Stafford: It was before.
Chairman: Was the first expedition successful?
W. Stafford: It was a complete fiasco, with a mystic circle, witch-hazel wands and all the rest, but no treasure.
Chairman: Just what did Smith, Jr., do on that occasion?
W. Stafford: I didn't see him. He stayed in the house.74
Chairman: Dear me. And what did Smith do on the second excursion?
W. Stafford: I don't know. I wasn't there.
Chairman: Is it possible! Why did you go the first time?
W. Stafford: I was "prompted by curiosity."
Chairman: And why did you give the Smiths "a large, fat sheep"?
W. Stafford: "To gratify my curiosity," as I said.
Chairman: So having satisfied yourself the first time that the whole thing was a fraud, you were still dubious enough to pay a high price for more of the same? And having paid a fabulous fee for a ringside seat at the second performance (wouldn't a small, skinny sheep have done just as well?), you failed to attend, in spite of urging!
W. Stafford: Oh, I knew it was a fraud. I just wanted to see what would happen—"to gratify my curiosity."
Chairman: And did they gratify your curiosity?
W. Stafford: "They afterwards informed me, that the sheep was killed pursuant to commandment; but as there was some mistake in the process, it did not have the desired effect."
Chairman: So they told you what happened after it was all over, and you were willing to pay a fat sheep for the routine explanation. Your story is fantastic, sir. It is a famous story for which you are the only witness, and it turns out that you are not a witness at all. You are a rustic yarn-spinner.
Cake: But there wasn't just one sheep. There were many. Before this, when Smith was drilling iron pyrites for gold, "previous to digging in any place a sheep was killed and the blood sprinkled upon the spot. Lot 62 was the seat of one of these mining operations."75
Chairman: So now it would seem that sheep were not killed just once but always, and that in the course, not of treasure hunting, but of perfectly legitimate mining operations.
Dickinson: "When Joe wanted fresh meat for his family he gave out that it would be necessary to insure the success of the 'diggers,' as these worthies were called, by having a black sheep killed, as a sacrificial offering before going to work."76
Chairman: Now our single sheep has grown into a regular meat supply.
J. H. Kennedy: No, that is wrong. Only one story of that character has been placed on record.77
D. Stafford: You are mistaken, sir. "At different times I have seen them come from the woods early in the morning, bringing meat which looked like mutton. I went into the woods one morning very early . . . and found Joseph Smith, Sen, in company with two other men, with . . . meat that looked like mutton. On seeing me they ran like wild men to get out of sight."78
Chairman: You are not consistent, sir. You say you saw this "at different times," and then clearly imply that you saw it just once, and by accident.
Blackman: It wasn't always mutton. When he was digging for Mr. Harper, Smith said he would have to have a perfectly white dog, though some say it was a black dog, since it was substituted for a black ram. But then he said a white sheep would do as well, and when the treasure failed to turn up, he said it was because a white sheep had been offered instead of a white dog.79
Chairman: So, being in the mutton business, Smith would not accept a white sheep for a black sheep, but insisted on a white dog—or a black dog, Mr. Tucker?
Tucker: There was only one sheep, and its flesh was eaten by the starving Smiths, for "meat was a rarity at his father's home."80
Emily M. Austin: When Smith was digging on Old Uncle Joe Knight's farm, "he told them there was a charm on some of the pots of money, and if some animal was killed and the blood sprinkled around the place, then they could get it. So they killed a dog . . . but again money was scarce in those diggings. Still, they dug and dug, but never came to the precious treasure. . . . And now they were obliged to give up in despair, and Joseph went back again to his father's, in Palmyra."81
Chairman: And this is the sort of thing that put his talents in such demand?
Dickinson: Yes. He would have the black sheep killed when his family wanted meat, "as a sacrificial offering before going to work. This state of affairs continued for some time, and his reputation extended to the adjacent counties, which he often visited."82
Chairman: And the Knight exploit was typical?
Austin: "While I was visiting my sister, we . . . walked out to see the places where they had dug for money, and laughed to think of the absurdity . . . in such a thought or action."83
Chairman: I am laughing too, but not at Smith.
Sidney Bell (indignantly, tears streaming down his face): It is no laughing matter, sir! You may find these stories very contradictory, and say there is not a scrap of evidence to prove them, but there was one piece of evidence which was grim enough, even if "but one evidence of the dark deeds of the night remained—the lifeless body of a little black dog."84
Chairman: How do you know it was little?
Bell: Haven't you any feelings at all, man? Haven't you any imagination?
Chairman: I have enough to see how you people have been playing with this legend as you pass it around. Now, is there any agreement among you tale-tellers as to how Smith got started in the peeping and digging business?
How it all began, or something
Kennedy: "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.85
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.' "86
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 1820.87
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."88
Blackman: He "was in the habit of 'blessing' his neighbors' crops for a small consideration"—with disastrous results to the crops.89
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.90
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.91
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."92
Caswall: It was his father who trained him, as Mr. Linn will confirm.93
Dickinson: 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."94
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."95
William Alexander Linn: Wrong again! Joe picked up "crystal-gazing" in Pennsylvania.96
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."97
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."98
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."99
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.100
Chairman: 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 hint—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 business—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"—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.101
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?
J. Smith, peepstones for all occasions
F. 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."102
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 myself—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."103
Chairman: There is no doubt but that this is the same well—the "20 feet" line proves that—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."104
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."105
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."106
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."107
Tucker: That's right. After he took it from the children, "Joseph kept this stone, and ever afterward refused its restoration to the claimants."108
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 Ontario—the common hornblende."109
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."110
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 stones—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."111
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.
Dickinson: 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."112
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?
Dickinson: 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."113
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."114
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."115
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."116
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?
Dickinson: The contradiction vanishes if we realize that Smith planted the stone there.117
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 himself—he was only a lounging onlooker—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."118
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."
Chairman: 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 there—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.119
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.120
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."121
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."122
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."123
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."124 There you have it—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."125
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."126
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."127
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."128
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.' "129
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."130
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."131
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 buried—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?
. . . and that hat!
Hale: "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!"132
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."133
Daniel Hendrix: That hat! "I can see him now . . . with his uncombed hair sticking through the holes in his old battered hat."134
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."135
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."136
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."137
Chairman: And when did Smith start using the white hat?
Dickinson: From the very beginning. From the time when Mrs. Smith presented her son with the family peepstone—"from that time on Joseph Smith fooled the credulous residents of the sparsely settled vicinity with the 'peeker' in his white stove-pipe hat."138
Blackman: That is right. "He would sit for hours looking into his hat at the round colored stone."139
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."140
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.' "141
Chairman: You see, it was old at that time—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.142 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."143 Apparently his head never grew and the hat never lost its whiteness—which always caused comment—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?
The sand-box epic
Ingersoll: 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 d—d fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.' "144
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."145
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,"—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."146
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.
Dickinson: 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."147
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."148
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.' "149
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."150
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."151
Chairman: Why did Chase refuse to make the box?
Caswall: He did not want to be party to a fraud.152
Chairman: So he knew it was a fraud. Joe was telling everybody in town about the trick—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."153
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."154
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 d—d fool (meaning me) to get him to make a chest."155
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 chest—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 d—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.' "156
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."157
Chairman: If I may be allowed a comment, it has been agreed that Smith, the lazy lout, never did any excavating himself—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.158
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."159
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."160
Chairman: Then Smith had the original chest all along?
Dickinson: 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."161
Adams: "There is a story—quite generally believed, but of course it cannot be true!—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."162
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."163
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."164
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."165
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 8.166
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 digger—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.167
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."168
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."169
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."170
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."171
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."172
Alexander Campbell: But just the same they continued selling bogus money—and also stones and sand for bogus.173
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."174
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."175
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 Smith—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."176
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."177
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 1827—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 affidavits—in 1833, not 1879—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."178
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."179
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."180
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 late—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. Brodie—she believes you.
Howe: That brings us back to our star witnesses. When I was so rudely interrupted, I was about to call on Bishop Tuttle and Mr. Purple. These are the gentlemen whose evidence, as Mrs. Brodie assures us, proves "beyond any doubt" the tales of Smith's early peeping.181 Could we hear from Mr. Tuttle first?
Chairman: Bishop Tuttle, did you know Joseph Smith?
Tuttle: Of course not. Smith lived before my day.
Chairman: Did you "unearth in southern New York" the original court record of a trial of Smith in 1826, as Mr. Adams (in 1916) and Mrs. Brodie (in 1947) say you did?
Tuttle: I did not. "The [manuscript] was given me by Miss Emily Pearsall, who . . . was a woman helper in our mission and lived in my family, and died [there]."182
Chairman: When and where did she give you the manuscript?
Tuttle: In Salt Lake City, in 1871. "Miss Pearsall tore the leaves out of the record found in her father's house and brought them to me."
Chairman: Who was her father?
Tuttle: "Her father or uncle was a Justice of the Peace in Bainbridge, Chenango Co., New York, in [Joseph] Smith's time, and before him Smith was tried."
Chairman: Before whom?
Tuttle: "Her father or uncle."183
Chairman: Which one?
Tuttle: She didn't say.
Chairman: Then it's plain she didn't know. Where is the document? Don't you want to present it as Exhibit A?
Tuttle: I do not have it. I "presented the original manuscript pages of the trial to the Utah Christian Advocate, which published them in January 1886."
Chairman: Published what? Will you say that again.
Tuttle: I am quoting Mrs. Brodie: the Utah Christian Advocate published "them"—that is, "the original manuscript pages of the trial."184
Chairman: But that is absurd. You can't publish original manuscript pages. You might publish a copy or even a photograph of them, but you cannot publish a unique document. Don't you mean that they published the contents of the manuscript?
Tuttle: Of course.
Chairman: Ah, that is something entirely different! Having seen the purported contents of the court record in print, we must determine whether they were correctly copied or not. That is no minor issue when Mrs. Brodie herself can turn a bronze sphere into two crystals just by sloppy note-taking. As soon as the document was published, in Utah, the Mormons had the duty and right to challenge the original manuscript. Where is it? What happened when it was "published" in 1886?
Tuttle (quoting Brodie): "At this point the manuscript seems to have disappeared."185
Chairman: Most convenient. No one has seen the document since 1886. How did you know it was genuine?
Tuttle: "Miss Pearsall tore the leaves out of the record found in her father's house and brought them to me."
Chairman: So you didn't see her tear them?
Tuttle: No. As I said, she brought them to me.
Chairman: Did she ask her father about them?
Tuttle: Obviously not. Her father was not available for consultation—she did not even know whether he or her uncle had been the justice. After all, the trial had taken place forty-five years before.
Chairman: Why didn't she bring you the whole book?
Howe: Obviously because it did not belong to her; it was an official document.
Chairman: Is it any worse to walk off with an official document than to disfigure it by tearing pages out of it? The former offense could well be an oversight, the latter never. Why wasn't the official document returned to the official archives where the Bishop and Miss Pearsall could have called the world's attention to it and made their case stick? Was it because there were no such archives and no such records before 1850?
Howe: Let us admit that it was foolish to tear the book. But people often do foolish things on impulse.
Chairman: We are not speaking of impulse, sir, but of very long and deliberate calculation, not only on Miss Pearsall's part but on Bishop Tuttle's part as well. For at least eighteen years he exploited this document. Miss Pearsall gave it to him in 1871: why didn't he, a high church dignitary and expert on the Mormons (he even wrote encyclopedia articles about them)—why didn't he publish it at once? Why did he arrange to have another person, who did not even give his name, publish it years later in a foreign country? Did he have some doubts about the manuscript?
Tuttle: But I did expose it to the world!
Chairman: Yes, ten years after "C.M." published it in England! Now, you are an intelligent man, sir. Between the time of your first coming into possession of the document and its first publication you had plenty of time to study it. You knew its immense value as a weapon against Joseph Smith if its authenticity could be established. And the only way to establish authenticity was to get hold of the record book from which the pages had been purportedly torn. After all, you had only Miss Pearsall's word for it that the book ever existed. Why didn't you immediately send her back to find the book or make every effort to get hold of it? Why didn't you "unearth" it, as they later said you did?
Howe: Bishop Tuttle may have done just that. He may have looked for it.
Chairman: In which case his researches were vain. The book never materialized. The authenticity of the record still rests entirely on the confidential testimony of Miss Pearsall to the Bishop. And who was Miss Pearsall? A zealous old maid, apparently: "a woman helper in our mission," who lived right in the Tuttle home and would do anything to assist her superior. The picture I get is that of a gossipy old housekeeper. Now, Bishop Tuttle, if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith. Why, then, was it not republished in your article in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge after 1891?
Howe: Why don't you ask the editors?
Chairman: Because they would have to have the author's approval. But to come closer to home, in 1906 Bishop Tuttle published his Reminiscences of a Missionary Bishop in which he blasts the Mormons as hotly as ever. Now bear in mind that he is the key witness to the existence of the Bainbridge court record, and that that record is the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered, yet in the final summary of his life's experiences he never mentions the story of the court record—his one claim to immortal fame and the gratitude of the human race if it were true!
So what is the evidence that proves to Mrs. Brodie "beyond any doubt" that Smith was a peeping rascal? In 1873 a certain A, who does not give his name, says that a certain B (Bishop Tuttle), told him that a certain C ("a woman helper [who] . . . lived in my family, and died there"—a euphemism, we suspect, for old-maid housekeeper) told him that some pieces of paper she gave him had been torn by her from a court record which she found in her father's house. She knew enough to recognize the value and authority of a court record when she saw one—and yet it was she who proceeded to destroy that authority by forcibly detaching the incriminating pages from the authentic binding that alone gave them authority! In the end, we have only Miss Pearsall's word, through Tuttle, that that document, the court record, ever existed, while the pages supposedly torn from it disappeared promptly after their publication in Utah, though completely in possession and control of the non-Mormons. No wonder Bishop Tuttle thought twice and dropped the whole business.
Some Purple patches
Howe: But that is not all. Here is a man who, as Mrs. Brodie says, "was an eye-witness to the trial, and took notes." I give you Mr. W. D. Purple.186
Chairman: When did you write your report of the Smith trial, Mr. Purple?
W. D. Purple: My report was published in 1877.
Chairman: Rather a suspicious year, I would say.
Howe: Why "suspicious"?
Chairman: For two reasons. In the first place, that is just a few years after 1873, when the Pearsall court record was first published both in England and America. That means that Mr. Purple could very well have heard of it from that source. If not (and this is our second point), why did he wait fifty-one years to report his sensational information?
Purple: But I didn't wait fifty-one years. Through the years I gave "public and private rehearsals" of the events described.187
Chairman: And were these "public rehearsals" given near the place where the events occurred?
Purple: They were given "in this County."188
Chairman: Then how does it happen that the affidavit-collectors and scandal-seekers know nothing of you or your story?
Howe: Perhaps they didn't get around to Mr. Purple.
Chairman: They didn't have to. "Public rehearsals" means that Mr. Purple's story got around widely enough, even if he didn't. There should have been many people in and around Palmyra who remembered those public recitations when the affidavits were taken—but there were none; there should have been eager souls to refer the investigators to Mr. Purple or at the very least have repeated bits of his story, whether they knew the source or not. Yet no bits or fragments of that all-important tale, which Mr. Purple says he circulated so widely and so long, are found floating about anywhere from 1830 to 1877! Doesn't that strike you as odd? Why do Mr. Purple's juicy tidbits never turn up in the local gossip of half a century?
Howe: Purple and the others might not have seen the significance of the thing at the time. It may well have been the article of 1873 that brought its true importance to their attention.
Chairman: But that is just the point. Purple did realize the importance of his information at the time, for he not only gave "public and private rehearsals [of it] . . . in later years," but actually took full and complete notes at the trial.189 That claim to have taken notes is another very suspicious circumstance.
Howe: I would say just the opposite. It is the one thing that places Mr. Purple's testimony "beyond any doubt."
Chairman: And that is just what it was intended to do. Anyone can see that without those notes the Purple testimony is the object of the very serious doubts and misgivings that naturally attach to a tale for which the only authority is an old man's memory more than fifty years after the event. Suspicion increases when one considers the great length and detail of that story. Mr. Purple simply had to add that touch about taking notes, but it is plainly nothing but a trick to disarm criticism.
Howe: How can you prove that, sir?
Chairman: Very easily, by the fact that Purple made no use of the notes in writing up his 1877 report. If he didn't use them, why bother to mention them, unless it was to give the impression of high reliability?
Howe: How do you know he didn't use them?
Chairman: Mr. Purple, you entitle your opus on the Smith trial "Historical Reminiscences." You were simply remembering all those things, I take it?
Purple: As I wrote, "The scenes and incidents of that early day are vividly engraven upon his [the writer's] memory, by reason of his having written them when they occurred, and by reason of his public and private rehearsals of them in later years."190
Chairman: There we have it. He states most explicitly that the taking of notes at the time and the repetitions of the story later served to make the whole thing "vividly engraven upon his memory." If he had the original notes, that would settle everything, and he would not need to convince us that his memory was adequate. Indeed the whole advantage to having notes is that one does not have to trust one's memory at all. So when Mrs. Brodie tells us simply that "Purple was an eye-witness to the trial, and took notes," she is up to her old tricks, since the casual reader would naturally assume that Purple's report was based on those notes; she is doing exactly what Purple himself has done—creating by implication an impression of high reliability in testimony which actually has every mark of being spurious. So we are back on the old familiar ground: Smith is shown to be a rascal not on the testimony of any prosecution witnesses, but by pouring out his soul in a gratuitous and foolish confession, for which the only authority is the word of one man who claims to have remembered it all years afterwards. If we are to get any farther with this evidence we must consider its internal consistency and inherent probability. It will not be necessary to have Mr. Purple repeat his long account at length; we will simply ask him a few questions referring to his written report. Mr. Purple, Mr. Josiah Stowell was not a child at the time Smith was working for him, or was he?
Purple: Of course not. "He had at that time grown-up sons and daughters to share his prosperity and the honors of his name."191
Chairman: Irresponsible fools do not achieve honor and prosperity. What kind of a man was he?
Purple: "Mr. Stowell was a man of much force of character, of indomitable will. . . . He was a very industrious, exemplary man."192
Chairman: Mr. Stowell had an established reputation and considerable wealth?
Chairman: How did the trial turn out?
Purple: "It is hardly necessary to say that, as the testimony of Deacon Stowell could not be impeached, the prisoner was discharged."193
Chairman: So Stowell's prestige overrode everything. And this Stowell hired Smith?
Chairman: Did Smith come to Stowell looking for work, or did Stowell seek him out? How did the two come together?
Purple: "Mr. Stowell, while at Lanesboro, heard of the fame of . . . Joseph, who . . . had become a famous seer of lost or hidden treasures. . . . [Stowell] harnessed his team, and filled his wagon . . . and started for the residence of the Smith family. In due time he arrived at the humble log cabin, . . . and found the sought for treasure in the person of Joseph Smith Jr. . . . He, with the magic stone, was at once transferred from his humble abode to the more pretentious mansion of Deacon Stowell."194
Chairman: So Smith went to live with the Stowell family after Mr. Stowell had sought him out and taken him into his employment. Did Stowell hire other men?
Purple: Of course. A Mr. Thomas said in court that "he and another man . . . always attended the Deacon and Smith in their nocturnal labors."195
Chairman: Would you say Smith was Mr. Stowell's favorite employee?
Purple: Yes. "The youthful seer had unlimited control over the illusions of" Stowell.196
Chairman: Did Stowell pay him well?
Purple: It wasn't a matter of mere pay. Things reached the point where, according to Mr. Stowell's sons, Smith "as they believed, was eating up their substance, and depriving them of their anticipated patrimony."
Chairman: This state of things had been going on for some time at the time of the trial?
Purple: Yes. The Stowell boys stood it for some time but at length "they made up their minds that 'patience had ceased to be a virtue.' "197
Chairman: How long had Smith been working for Stowell at the time?
Purple: It must have been several months at least, since Mr. Stowell went to fetch Smith in 1825 and the trial took place in March of 1826.
Chairman: And Mr. Stowell's sons had about all they could stand?
Purple: Yes, "in February, 1826, the sons of Mr. Stowell, who lived with their father, were greatly incensed against Mr. Smith."198
Chairman: It was high time to get rid of him?
Purple: It was. They "resolved to rid themselves and their family from this incubus, who, as they believed, was eating up their substance."199
Chairman: Did old Mr. Stowell stand up for Smith at the trial?
Purple: Absolutely. He swore that he not only believed all Smith had told him, but, he said, "I positively know it to be true."200
Chairman: Did he admit employing Smith, having him live at his house, and the rest?
Purple: Certainly. Mr. Stowell "confirmed all that is said above in relation to himself," that is, he confirmed everything I have said about his relationships with Smith.201
Chairman: Did Smith continue on at Stowell's after the trial?
Purple: Yes, after "the prisoner was discharged, and in a few weeks he left the town."202
Chairman: So Smith was living on the bounty of Stowell before, during, and after the trial, precisely as Mr. Stowell's own "grown up sons" were—that, in fact, was the very thing those men objected to. Now, what was the charge they brought against Smith to get rid of him?
Purple: "They caused the arrest of Smith as a vagrant, without visible means of livelihood."203
Chairman: And that was the grounds of arrest?
Purple: Yes. "The affidavits of the sons were read and Mr. Smith was fully examined by the court."204 I have given a long and detailed account of the trial.
Chairman: But isn't that all rather preposterous, since you have just stated that Smith was very securely and profitably employed at that very time? How could you accuse him of being "a vagrant, without visible means of support" if Mr. Stowell, a rich man, was paying him excellent wages and stoutly endorsing his honesty? I notice that you have not so much as hinted that the prosecution presented any evidence whatsoever to support their case, or that the defense did what they must have done if there ever was such a trial. Why were not Mr. Thomas and the other man who worked with Stowell and Smith arrested for being vagrants "without visible means" of livelihood? And why were not Mr. Stowell's grown sons arrested as vagrants "without visible means of support"?
Purple: The question is absurd. I have said that his sons "shared his prosperity" and "lived with their father."
Chairman: But that is exactly what Smith was doing—the very thing that angered the brothers, according to you. How old was Smith at the time?
Purple: He was "a lad of some eighteen years of age . . . "205
Chairman: So if the rich and respected Mr. Stowell wanted to hire Smith, that was his business. If he wanted to support him in style without doing any work at all (and Mr. Smith was still a minor), that was still Stowell's business. In either case, you should see that there was absolutely no case against Smith; on the contrary, he was in a perfect position to sue for false arrest. All the elder Stowell or Joseph Smith himself had to do to quash the whole thing would be to point out that Smith had a job. Mr. Purple says "the affidavits of the sons were read, and Mr. Smith was fully examined by the court." Since the affidavits were that Smith was a vagrant without visible means of support, how could such an examination fail to reveal that he had a very good job? Though the charge is vagrancy, not one mention is made in Purple's story of Smith's being a vagrant!
Purple: Not a vagrant at the time, maybe. But Smith told how he had wandered over the country far and wide looking for a seer stone "when he was a lad."206
Chairman: You can't arrest a man for having had no visible means of support years ago, when he was a mere child—not if he has a good job today. Now according to you, Mr. Purple, Smith was not convicted. You cite no evidence against him save the stories that he and his loyal employer, Mr. Stowell, told in court. All either man had to do to have the case dismissed was to show that Smith was employed. But instead of that, each of them gets up and tells long, lurid, and scandalous tales about himself! What a trial! How do you describe the testimonies of the two, Mr. Purple?
Purple: "What a picture for the pencil of a Hogarth! . . . It could have been done only by the hallucination of diseased minds, that drew all their philosophy from the Arabian Nights and other kindred literature of that period!"207
Chairman: And you call that Stowell's unimpeachable testimony?
Purple: I called it that?
Chairman: The clerk will read what you said of the outcome of the trial.
Clerk (reads): "As the testimony of Deacon Stowell could not be impeached, that prisoner was discharged."
Chairman: That is enough. But even that is not as preposterous as having the shrewd Mr. Stowell and the sly and canny Smith exhibit themselves as obsessed with "the hallucination of diseased minds," when all in the world either of them had to do was to show that Smith had a job. Now, Mr. Purple's account of the trial differs substantially from that of Miss Pearsall's missing document. That means that they cannot both be telling the truth, but both can be lying. In both cases the testimony is half a century overdue.
Howe: Well, sir, prepare for a shock. Here is a witness who told all about the trial of 1826 in 1831 ! Here is Mr. "A. W. B." who in that year wrote a letter to the Evangelical Magazine, and that letter proves that the trial did take place.
Chairman: To whom was your letter addressed, Mr. A. W. B.?
A. W. Benton: To a "correspondent in Ohio, where [as I explained], perhaps, the truth concerning him [Jos. Smith] may be hard to come at."208
Chairman: The paper, apparently, had a wide circulation, and though you would not sign your name you were willing to pose as something of an authority on Smith.
Benton: Not "pose," sir. I lived right in Bainbridge, Chenango County, where the trial took place. Let me tell you about it. "For several years preceding the appearance of his book, he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker; pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c. Although he constantly failed in his pretentions, still he had his dupes who put implicit confidence in all his words."209
Chairman: Why do you think he did all that?
Benton: "So that he might secure to himself," as I explained, "the scandalous honor of being the founder of a new sect, which might rival, perhaps, the Wilkinsonians, or the French Prophets of the 17th century."210
Chairman: There seems to be some commotion here. What seems to be the trouble, Mr. Dogberry?
Dogberry: I would like to ask Mr. Benton when he wrote all this to the paper?
Benton: It was on 9 April 1831.
Dogberry: I thought it sounded awfully familiar. I wrote all that stuff in the Palmyra Reflector two and three months earlier, and the Painesville Telegraph took it up a couple of weeks later; but that stuff about the Wilkinsonians had already appeared in the Rochester Gem in May of 1830.
Howe: But the part about the trial isn't there. That is what interests us! Tell us about the trial, Mr. Benton.
Benton: "In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure. At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice. But, considering his youth (he being then a minor), and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape."211
Chairman: But according to Mr. Purple he did not escape, but was acquitted and went right on living at Stowell's for "a few weeks."
Benton: Well, "from this time he absented himself from this place, returning only privately, and holding clandestine intercourse with his credulous dupes, for two or three years."212
Chairman: By your references to "this town" and "this place" it is plain, sir, that you lived on the spot. And now you tell us that Joseph Smith continued to operate there for two or three years?
Benton: Privately, I said—secretly, just with his dupes.
Chairman: But that is exactly what he was doing before! He was in a business in which, as you describe it, his communications with his wealthy employers could only have been very private and confidential at any time. You say "the public" became "wearied" of the spectacle of this youngster imposing on the ignorant and "sponging" off the rich. Since when does the public have such a tender conscience for the ignorant? Your expression, sir, is lifted right out of Dogberry. And who are the ignorant? "Josiah Stowell, together with others"—rich, respected, successful Squire Stowell. Was it the responsibility of his poor neighbors to see to it that he suffered no financial loss? But no, the public was not worried about what was going on, they were just "wearied" by it. So they "arrested him as a disorderly person." What could that have to do with his "clandestine" swindling?
Benton: Well, it was all that digging that was going on.
Chairman: But that wasn't Smith's doing; it was Stowell and the others who "spent large sums of money in digging." Smith was merely their hired help, and the whole responsibility was theirs, not only for digging but for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This is the silliest thing I ever heard of.
Howe: However silly, it does mention a trial—the trial of 1826.
Chairman: What was the date of the trial, Mr. Benton?
Benton: In 1831 I wrote that it was "four or five years ago."
Howe: But that wasn't the only trial! Tell them about the 1830 trial, Mr. Benton, the one you attended in person.
Benton: I didn't say I attended it in person, though I lived in the town. In the summer of 1830 Smith "was again arraigned before a bar of Justice . . . to answer a charge of misdemeanor. . . . During the trial it was shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic power by which he pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures, &c."213
Chairman: Most interesting. I have never heard of Joseph Smith himself ever stating that he had that power. Just how was it shown?
Benton: "Oliver Cowdery, one of the three witnesses to the book, testified under oath, that said Smith found with the plates, from which he translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows. That by looking through these, he was able to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates."214
Howe: Well what?
Chairman: That is exactly what Smith himself always said. We know all about those stones. Where do the peepstones come in?
Benton: Don't you see? The "two transparent stones [were] undoubtedly of the same properties, and the gift of the same spirit as the one in which he looked to find his neighbor's goods."215
Chairman: That is only your conclusion, sir, as that "undoubtedly" makes clear.
Benton: But "it is reported, and probably true, that he commenced his juggling by stealing and hiding property belonging to his neighbors, and when inquiry was made, he would look in his stone."216
Chairman: The fact that you must appeal to an unidentified and unverified rumor now makes it perfectly clear that nothing was said about any peepstones in the court. Did anyone else testify?
Benton: Yes, Josiah Stowell, Joseph Knight, and Newell Knight did, but their testimony "needs no comment" since they stoutly supported Smith. But we have Smith's "own confession, that he was a vile, dishonest imposter."217
Chairman: Now we are getting somewhere. Those were his words in court?
Benton: Not exactly. What he said when asked whether he could see this money or not was "To be candid, between you and me, I cannot, any more than you or any body else; but any way to get a living."218
Chairman: And he confessed that in court?
Benton: No. He said it once to Addison Austin when he "was in company with said Smith alone." Austin reported it in court.219
Chairman: Don't you know that such a report cannot be used as evidence? And do you really believe the ignorant farmboy used such urbane language? I am glad you have mentioned this trial of 1830, Mr. Benton, but if you had been wiser you would never have brought it up.
Benton: Why so?
Chairman: Because while it produced nothing whatever to incriminate Smith, it supplies the clue to the whole mythical trial of 1826. Consider. The only mention of peepstones in this 1830 story is what you yourself supplied in your own comments and reflections, made in 1831. Though the seerstones were actually described in the court by the Mormons, yet there was no discussion or mention of any other stones—which you, sir, would have been the last person on earth to overlook had there been such. Then in the spring of the following year the accounts of the seerstones widely circulated by the Mormons suggested to Mr. Dogberry what he thought to be a significant parallel, which he pointed out in a purely speculative and half-serious way in a series of articles in the Palmyra Reflector. Such information, "hard to come at" in Ohio, as you put it, was readily available to you, sir, where you lived. So I find it significant that a few weeks after these articles appear you write a letter to a correspondent in distant Ohio in which you show both by the things you say and the way you say them that you have most certainly read Mr. Dogberry's articles: you also show that you know a good deal about a trial of Joseph Smith, less than a year before, at which nothing damning was brought out—by the way, you never reported how that trial turned out. Or did you? Did you perhaps use it in the story you told of another trial, a wishful-thinking trial which took place in a safely vague and distant time four or five years before?
Howe: Are you insinuating, sir, that Mr. Benton invented the trial of 1826?
Chairman: Let me call your attention to a few peculiar facts, sir. In the first place the two trials, in 1826 and 1830, are so much alike that even the experts confuse them. In both cases the charges are vague and unconvincing, the accused is not found guilty, the only solid evidence for the prosecution is all given freely by the defense; in both cases Stowell is a star witness and puts on the same foolish defense of Smith. Notice further that Addison Austin has Smith making a damning confession to him in secret "at the very same time that Stowell was digging for money," yet still no mention of peepstones or of any trial of 1826! Now, I am wondering if Mr. Benton did not transfer this confession, freely embellished, to the trial of "four or five years ago"; if he did not combine the trial motif, which he had at firsthand, with the peepstone motif, which he got from Dogberry, in an imaginary trial for which he cannot or dare not even give the year. If there really was an earlier peepstone trial, why did not Mr. Benton himself, or anybody else for that matter, bring it to the attention of the prosecutor in 1830? Why did nobody in 1830 remember a case the recollection of which (Mr. Purple assures us fifty years later) was to electrify the countryside for years? Cowdery himself in 1830 actually brought up the issue of the seerstones in the court, and yet even that did not suggest to anybody Smith's supposedly notorious career in peeping. It is only a year later that Benton, having read Dogberry's surmise, sees in Cowdery's speech a clue connecting Smith with the old peepstone mania. Even in Purple's and Pearson's accounts of the trial of 1826 nobody shows up to tell about Smith's peeping and digging— instead he and Stowell must tell it all themselves, confessing to crimes of which no one had accused them, and baring all their secret past and present as they regale the court with their Arabian Nights tales.
Howe: But even though they don't agree at all, the Pearson and Purple stories show at least that there was a trial in 1826, and now Benton's evidence corroborates them.
Chairman: It only corroborates them if it is an independent witness. But I doubt that very much. I think all these stories are connected. The reports of Pearson and Purple both rest on documents purportedly written right in the court, but upon examination they turn out to be sham documents—the one is a page never openly exhibited, taken from a document never proven to have existed, while the other consists of notes taken in the court but not available to their writer at the time we are supposed to assume he was using them in preparing his long and detailed report fifty years later. Now, since Mr. Benton's letter was printed in a very popular sectarian journal that circulated far beyond the bounds of New York State (Mr. Benton's own correspondent is in Ohio), his story must have been spread abroad: and there is no reason why it cannot have been the ultimate source of the stories of Pearson and Purple. The wide disagreements between those two documents prove that at least one of them is corrupt, while their inherent absurdities show that both are—at best they do not have their information at firsthand, as they pretend. What they have in common they share with Benton's tale, and that is the scandal-story of how Joseph Smith, when he was still a minor, imposed on the rich Mr. Stowell, was hauled into court—and acquitted. But in view (1) of the improbability of the Stowell trial occurring twice, (2) of Benton's failure to get a peepstone into the trial of 1830 (which he could not fake, since it was less than a year away), and (3) of the close resemblance of his peepstone commentary to that of Dogberry and the Rochester Gem, we are inclined to regard Benton's story of the 1826 trial as fiction. Please remember that the two earlier peepstone essays were both admittedly guesses, purely theoretical reconstructions. So that part, at least, of Benton's story is made up. But without the reality of the peepstones, the whole legend of the 1826 trial collapses. The 1830 trial was real; the 1826 trial, unattested in any source but his for fifty years, was a product of Benton's own wishful thinking. By now it should be clear to all of us that people are not above such invention. The tall story was not unknown to early rural America, I am told, and I can believe it.
Howe: But as Mrs. Brodie herself observes, one must face not only "the reality but . . . the implications of this document."220
Chairman: I agree that Mrs. Brodie specializes in implications. But what are the implications of a fifty-year gap and drastic disagreements? Just consider these digging stories. It all began in Vermont, in Pennsylvania, in Broome County, in Chenango County, in Palmyra, in 1817, in 1819, 1820, 1822, 1828, 1829; the Smiths "kept around them constantly" a gang of diggers; Joseph "may have had believers," "he laid down laws to his phalanx," he hired them, they hired him; full moon was the best time for digging, or was it the dark of the moon? Smith himself dug, he never dug; he found stuff, he never found anything; he sacrificed one black sheep, a whole flock of them, a white dog, a black dog. What are we to make of all this?
And the stones! It was a glass Smith looked into,221 a "dark glass,"222 a "dark colored stone,"223 "a white, glasslike . . . opaque" stone,224 "a curious piece of quartz,"225 "a transparent stone,"226 "a glassy stone,"227 "a green stone with brown irregular spots on it,"228 a "peculiar shape resembling that of a child's foot229 which must have resembled the stone foot of Buddha at Bangkok, Siam,"230 Or it had colored stripes running through it diagonally,231 "two small stones of chocolate color,"232 "two large bright diamonds,"233 a couple of prisms,234 a little longer than a goose's egg,235 "a stone of peculiar quality [luminous],"236 a "stone of singular appearance,"237 "a curious stone,"238 a perfectly ordinary pebble, 239 a piece of "common hornblende;"240 we have been informed that the stone was nothing less than the Urim and Thummim found buried with the plates, we have been told by the most intimately close observers that Smith never had or used more than one stone, yet the same observers describe different stones.
". . . but their witness agreed not together," or who's lying?
Howe: Hold on here! We admitted from the first that the testimonies were full of contradictions, but can't you see the implications of that—that merely proves that the Smiths were lying! "We show by the witnesses, that they told contradictory stories, from time to time, in relation to their finding of the plates, and other circumstances attending it, which go clearly to show that none of them had the fear of God before their eyes."241
Chorus of Voices from the Audience: Hear! Hear!
W. Stafford: "Respecting the manner of receiving and translating the Book of Mormon, their statements were always discordant. The elder Joseph would say that he had seen the plates, and that he knew them to be gold, at other times he would say that they looked like gold; and at other times he would say he had not seen the plates at all."242
Hunt: "Various verbal accounts, all contradictory, false, and inconsistent, . . . were given out by the Smith family."243
Bennett: If all these stories about the Smiths conflict, the reason for that is obvious: it is because "their statements were always discordant."244
Clark: "The statements of the originators of this imposture varied. . . . At first it was a Gold Bible—then golden plates engraved—then metallic plates stereotyped or embossed with golden letters."245
Parley Chase: "In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told two stories alike."246
H. C. Sheldon: I think we must agree, gentlemen, that "the different stories which Smith himself told about the plates of the Book of Mormon impeach his honesty and veracity in the matter."247
Chairman: Thank you, gentlemen. I think we are agreed that the wide discrepancies among the stories about Smith are an indication of skulduggery, impeaching somebody's "honesty and veracity in the matter." But whose? The claim is that the various witnesses tell conflicting stories only because the Smiths told them conflicting stories. Is that right?
John Hyde, Jr.: Exactly. In my book I cited eight conflicting testimonies against Smith. These stories were all by his enemies, it is true, yet what do those conflicts prove? That "either they are perjurers, or Smith is an impostor. . . . Either they are all perjurers [I wrote], or they all tell the truth. The above [the eight] are but a selection from many. . . . They must be believed; Smith did contradict himself, and should therefore be rejected."248
Chairman: That is a remarkable line of reasoning, sir. Why must your conflicting witnesses be believed?
Hyde: Because, as I pointed out, "they are perfectly disinterested."249
Chairman: Can you say that seriously in view of what we have heard from them?
Hyde: Yes. Because "had they been disposed to assist in the imposture, they could have made a great deal."250
Chairman: Are you trying to tell us that the Book of Mormon was ever a profitable business in Palmyra? I think you will agree that since the prosecution has placed the whole responsibility for the conflicting stories on the shoulders of the Smiths, it is up to them to show that said stories actually did originate with the Smiths. How early do these contradictions begin? Do we have any witnesses from 1830?
Editor of the Painesville Telegraph: When the Book of Mormon was just six months old I wrote that "to record the thousand tales which are in circulation respecting the book and its propagators would be an endless task and probably lead to the promulgation of a hundred times more than was founded in truth."251
Chairman: Well, we have heard that the Mormons circulated a lot of conflicting stories, but did all these thousand tales come from them?
Editor of Painesville Telegraph: Of course not. Everybody was speculating on the subject—there was no law limiting wild stories to Mormons. As I said at the time, my own contribution on the subject would only add to the misunderstanding.252
Chairman: So we can be sure that at least some of the stories did not originate with the Smiths. But what about the others, those that are actually attributed to them? Is there any firsthand evidence incriminating the Smiths?
Benton: Indeed there is, and from Joe Smith himself. "We have his own confession, that he was a vile, dishonest impostor."253
Chairman: That's plain enough. And where may we find this vital confession?
Benton: Addison Austin testified that once when "he . . . was in company with said Smith alone," Smith told him, when asked whether he could really see money with his peepstone, "To be candid, between you and me, I cannot, any more than you or any body else; but any way to get a living."254
Chairman: Here we go again. I asked for Smith's confession, and you want to give me Mr. Austin's report of a secret conversation with Smith which of course can never be checked up on; and you call that "his own confession!" The really damning evidence of Chase, Ingersoll, Tucker, Stafford, and the rest all goes back to the same secret, private conversations. Smith is always brutally frank when he talks to these people—but there is never anyone else present. Mr. Howe sneers that the only Mormon reply to these tales was a categorical denial. What other reply is possible? Mr. Tucker can give us a good demonstration of what we are up against. Mr. Tucker, you gave, I believe, a full firsthand account of Joseph Smith's first digging venture?
Tucker: That is right, "and the description given of this first trial and of its results is as near exactitude as can at this time be recollected from his own accounts."255
Chairman: From whose accounts?
Tucker: From the impostor Smith's. "Such," I wrote, "was Joe's explanation."256
Chairman: So it is from him and him alone that you have the story. You did not witness the operation at all. You simply heard it all in a confidential confession by Smith. You wouldn't touch the Smiths with a forty-foot pole, to hear you tell it, yet they were always baring their souls to you. And you weren't the only one. Here is Mr. Harris, who can tell us what he and the community always thought of the Smiths. Mr. Harris?
Henry Harris: They were always regarded "as a lying and indolent set of men and no confidence could be placed in them."257
Chairman: So that was his opinion of Smith. Yet after the Book of Mormon was published, Smith in a private confidential discourse to Lapham told him a wild story about the plates that could only discredit everything else he had said about them.258 Why to Lapham? Why to him alone? What good could possibly come of a secret, damning admission to a man who had always hated him? Here are Messrs. Chase, Ingersoll, and Stafford, whose testimonies consist almost entirely of what Joseph Smith Senior, told them each in private. Willard Chase can spin out the old man's long account verbatim from memory six and a half years later. And after a long and unpleasant affair about the peepstone in which Chase seeks to thwart the activities of the Smiths, who in turn heap threats and abuse on him, we suddenly find Smith confiding in Chase alone and telling him privately the true story of the gold-plate hoax.259
Chase: But "I might proceed . . . by relating one transaction after another, which would all tend to set them in the same light . . . viz: as a pest to society."260
Chairman: So you might give us some concrete testimony, Mr. Chase, but all you do give is the wild stories which you say your detested enemy insisted on confiding to your hostile ear.
Howe: "Detested enemy?" "Hostile ear?" Mr. Chase and Mr. Smith may have been good friends once.
Chairman: Not if we believe Mr. Chase's original testimony. Will the Clerk please read it?
Clerk (reads): "I have regarded Joseph Smith, Jun., from the time I first became acquainted with him, . . . as a man whose word could not be depended upon."261
Chairman: That will do. So, Mr. Chase, from the time you first met Smith until you swore your affidavit you had only one opinion of him. And are we to suppose that Smith, with his uncanny insight into human nature, was not aware that you were hardly the man for him to confess to? Then there is your co-swearer, Mr. Ingersoll, who hates Smith as much as you do and whose testimony is the most lurid of all. What does Smith do when he is tempted to resume digging against his better judgment? Does he consult with his family or any of the "many warm friends" he has in Palmyra? Not a bit of it. How was it, Mr. Ingersoll?
Ingersoll: "In this dilemma, he made me his confidant and told me what daily transpired in the family of Smiths."262
Chairman: So during the most crucial days of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, Smith sought out and daily confided in one man alone—his mortal enemy Peter Ingersoll, who had been displaying his contempt for the Smiths ever since 1820. What a complete fool this Smith must have been, to let the cat out of the bag any time he could confide in an enemy, while consistently referring to his loyal supporters as d—d fools! Why did the ancient law insist on things being established "in the mouths of two or three witnesses"? Not as a check on the accused but as a direct test of the witnesses themselves. If their stories disagree it is the witnesses that must be suspect. But now we have an interesting theory of evidence, that when the witnesses for the prosecution all tell conflicting stories, that proves not that they are lying but that the accused is a rascal for giving so many false impressions.
Hyde: But Smith has "contradicted himself in his own words, but still more extensively in the statements he has made to his companions and neighbors; many of these testified to such contradictions."263
Chairman: What you are saying, Mr. Hyde, is that it is not the words of Smith but those of his "companions and neighbors" that are full of contradictions. You must realize that it is not enough for a person to say that the Mormons told him this or that, to prove that they actually did so. Here, for example, is a book printed as late as 1957, in which the baseless story of the Spaulding manuscript is told at length under the heading: "This is the Mormon Story of It."264 As if the Mormons had ever propounded or accepted the Spaulding theory! It is the easiest thing in the world when public opinion is on one's side, to pick up and repeat any absurd twaddle that is going around, and when questioned as to its authenticity, simply shrug one's shoulders and say, "Well, that's the way the Mormons tell it!" No other group on earth has done more journal writing and record keeping than the Mormons, upon whom a meticulous recording of events is imposed as a duty (cf. D&C 128). In all the mountains of material they have turned out there should be masses of evidence for these wild and conflicting stories if the Mormons were the authors of them.
Howe: Oh, but there is, plenty of it!
Chairman: In that case, why is it necessary to use any of this third- and fourth-hand hearsay at all? Why not convict Smith out of his own voluminous writings? If he is the absolute ninny these "witnesses" make him out to be his own recorded words are more than ample to prove it.
Howe: Well, as Mrs. Brodie says, "there are few men . . . who have written so much and told so little about themselves."265 He deliberately made himself mysterious, he "was well skilled in legerdemain. . . . He doubtless had become acquainted with mystifying everything."266
Chairman: Yet in all the stories about Smith we never hear of his legerdemain. A supreme exhibitionist, he never on any recorded occasion yielded to the natural temptation to display his sleight-of-hand. But he was mysterious, very mysterious. We have heard a lot of that.
E. G. Ferris: Yes, "he affected great mystery in his movements, . . . traveled about the country, appearing and disappearing in a mysterious manner." Many witnesses mention it.267
Chairman: Of course. When you say a man's doings are mysterious, you are simply admitting that you don't know what he is up to. It is a regular practice of writers on Joseph Smith to palm off their extreme ignorance about his life as useful information about the man himself. Latin, I am told, is a most mysterious language to those who can't read it. But is the mystery in the language or in the lazy student? Is the mystery of Joseph Smith, the enigmatic quality which Mrs. Brodie finds so conspicuous, in him or in his biographers? Of course, if you don't believe his story, then in view of his actual proven accomplishments, the whole thing becomes a whopping mystery.
Hunt: We must bear in mind that the Smiths covered up their contradictions. "The various verbal accounts, all contradictory, false, and inconsistent, which were given out by the Smith family," are contained in the affidavits and go back to an early time. "Since the publication of their bible, they have been less contradictory in their statements respecting it."268
Chairman: So they started to watch themselves in 1830?
Howe: Mr. Hunt is simply paraphrasing (without acknowledgment, as usual) what I wrote in 1834: "Since the publication of the book they have been generally more uniform in their relations respecting it."269
Turner: No, it wasn't until 1834 that they started exercising caution. Things were "related and varied to suit the exigencies of the case, until the year 1834, when . . . the whole story [was] new vamped, stereotyped, and given to the world."270
Chairman: So the Mormons went on all that time trying to convince the world that their story was true, yet apparently blithely unaware that it would not do to tell a thousand conflicting versions!
Kelly and Birney, Inc.: "The testimony relative to the actual origin of the Book of Mormon is conflicting, due to the Prophet's telling various stories before selecting one and deciding to stick to it."271
W. E. Biederwolf: "There are irreconcilable discrepancies between Joe Smith's earlier and later accounts of how the plates were discovered to him."272
Chairman: Where do we find the "earlier" accounts?
Biederwolf: "Willard Chase on affidavit swore that Joe told him he discovered the plates by means of his peepstone. Peter Ingersoll testified."273
Chairman: One moment, sir. Those are not Smith's affidavits you are referring to, they are the statements of Chase and Ingersoll, and there are "irreconcilable discrepancies" between them. But what are Smith's "later accounts" to which you refer?
Biederwolf: "The final version as set forth in Joe's biography written in 1838."274
Chairman: So Smith is a liar for not telling the same stories about himself that his enemies do. He certainly would have been a suicidal fool to repeat those stories—and an even greater fool to have told them to his enemies in the first place. Do you really believe he went about telling such damning things about himself to anybody, friend or foe? Now, some have said that Smith decided to stick to one story as early as 1827, others say Smith and the Mormons followed a consistent account only after 1830, others after 1834, 1838, or 1842. But while all admit that the Mormon story does become more or less consistent after this or that date, the stories of the anti-Mormons about them do not show any tendency to become less exotic and contradictory down through the years to the present time. Do you know what that means? It means that these wild contradictions are the critics' very own; they are not due to Mormon fabrication at all, it is the others who are lying.
Clark: But how about all those conflicting Mormon stories about the plates? "The statements of the originators of this imposture varied. . . . At first it was a Gold Bible—then golden plates engraved—then metallic plates stereotyped."275
Chairman: Indeed, I know of no Mormon source that mentions stereotyping, and I fail to see any necessary contradiction between a Gold Bible and golden plates, since a Bible can be written on any type of writing surface. From whom do you have your information?
Clark: From "several gentlemen in Palmyra" reporting what Harris and others told them.276
Chairman: Well, here we go again! Are these "gentlemen in Palmyra" the "originators of the imposture?"
Clark: Of course not.
Chairman: But it is their "statements" you are citing, while confidently labeling them "statements of the originators." What you have actually given us is a written report of other written reports (Mr. Howe's) of statements made orally by certain anti-Mormons regarding what they said "Harris and others" (not the Smiths) told them. Do you follow?
Howe: But you cannot rule out "the various verbal accounts, all contradictory, vague, and inconsistent, which were given out by the Smith family respecting the finding of certain gold or brazen plates."277
Chairman: Did the Smiths sign these statements?
Howe: No. I specifically said they were "verbal accounts."
Chairman: Then actually we have no check on them at all.
Howe: Fortunately they have been written down.
Chairman: Then they are not verbal accounts, but written accounts. Granted that the Smiths didn't write them, who did? You and Mr. Hurlbut. From whose dictation—the Smiths? No. What you wrote down were the "various verbal accounts" given out not "by the Smith family" at all, but by their gossipy neighbors years after they had moved away.
Dogberry: Leaving Smith out of it, there still "appears to be a great discrepancy, in the stories told by the famous three witnesses to the Gold Bible."278
Chairman: And in what does this discrepancy consist?
Dogberry: "Whitmer's description of the Book of Mormon, differs entirely from that given by Harris."279
Chairman: Entirely? Didn't both men say the plates were gold, that they were on rings, that they were written in strange characters?
Howe: I think I gave a more accurate estimate of the situation when I wrote, "this account is sometimes partly contradicted by Harris."280
Chairman: "Sometimes" and "partly" is certainly a comedown from "entirely." What is this entire disagreement, Mr. Dogberry?
Dogberry: Well, Whitmer says "that the leaves were divided . . . so that the front might be opened . . . while the back part remained stationary and immovable, . . . a sealed book. . . . On opening that portion of the book which was not secured by the seals, he discovered . . . divers and wonderful characters."281
Chairman: So, according to Whitmer, the back part of the plates was sealed by being soldered so as to form a single block. And what does Harris say that is entirely contrary to this?
Dogberry: "Harris . . . gives the lie to a very important part of Whitmer's relation, and declares that the leaves or pages of the book are not cut, and a part of them sealed, but that it opens like any other book, from the edge to the back, the rings operating in the place of common binding."282
Chairman: Does Harris specifically state that Whitmer was lying or mistaken?
Dogberry: No, he does not say he was lying, he "gives the lie" to his report by a different description of his own.
Chairman: Does he specifically say that the book is not cut into two parts or three or four, or that no part of it is sealed?
Dogberry: No, he gives the lie when he says that it opens like any other book.
Chairman: But Whitmer also gives us to understand that it opens like any other book.
Dogberry: Only the part that was not sealed.
Chairman: Harris chose not to talk about the part that was sealed, because it was sealed and secret. He was specifically asked to testify about the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. The two descriptions agree perfectly as far as they go, and the one man talks about something that the other discreetly omits. Ask any two people to describe a book to you, and I guarantee that their descriptions will not be identical—the one party will surely mention something important that the other omits. But that does not mean that he is giving the other the lie. Even Mr. Howe saw that. Haven't you a better case of conflicting reports?
Dogberry: Yes, there is one other. "In the first place, . . . Smith and Harris gave out, that no mortal save Joe could look upon it [the book] and live." Yet a short time after, we have three witnesses looking on it and living!283
Chairman: Where did Smith ever make that statement about no one seeing the book and staying alive?
Tucker: It was when he came in that day with the sand in his coat.284
Chairman: And Smith himself tells that story in his own writings?
Tucker: No. Peter Ingersoll is the authority for it.285
Chairman: And is he any more reliable than Willard Chase, who tells a very different story?
D. P. Kidder: The conflicting stories of those two only show that "as is usual, in such cases of fibbing, his [Smith's] stories were contradictory."286
Chairman: Then no matter who made them up, the stories were not true?
Kidder: Of course not.
Chairman: How then can they be used to incriminate Joseph Smith? Here he is telling all these awful things about himself, which show that he is a terrible sinner but they are not true! His crime is not that he did wicked things, but made up a lot of sensational crime stories (all false) with himself as the hero. And this brings up a fatal objection to the theory that the "various verbal accounts" reported by the affidavit swearers, "all contradictory, false, and inconsistent," were actually "given out by the Smith family." The most contradictory and inconsistent of them could not possibly have been given out by the Smiths.
Howe: Why not?
Chairman: First, consider that almost any of these stories standing alone makes Smith look pretty bad. Is it likely that Smith or his followers would go around telling such things against themselves? Did Smith spread abroad tales of his own "unspeakable lewdness?" Did his family tell how they were suspected of sheep-stealing? Was it they who claimed to have dug up acres of ground around Palmyra? Did Smith announce to the world that he used to forge Indian relics? Did he say he made a "handsome profit" by bilking his gang? Or that people paid him to get rid of his importunities? Or that he stole the Chase stone? Mr. Kennedy, you said something interesting about how the Smith crowd covered up his early fiascos. Do you remember it?
Kennedy: I said Smith gained a reputation, but met with many failures, "of which all mention was discreetly omitted by himself and his followers."287
Chairman: This nice bit of double-talk (do Smith and his followers ever mention their successes in the business?) tells us that the scandalous information regarding Smith's operations does not, as is charged, come from the Smiths, and indeed as we have just noted, it would be absurd to expect it to do so. Consider the most lurid digging stories. They all rest on what the neighbors claim they actually saw independently of what the tactless Smiths might have reported; yet no tales are more contradictory, wild, improbable, and inconsistent than they. Did Mr. Tucker and Mr. Dickinson get their description of the cave from the Smiths? Not a bit of it, yet they give totally different accounts. Did Joseph Smith tell one party that he was notorious for his drunkenness and another that he was a forger? Did he insist that he was an atheist or describe his own fervid preaching at the revivals? Did he tell one person that he was always scrapping and another that he never had a fight? Who told all those stories about the sheep sacrifices—the Smiths? No one pretends it, yet where can you find wilder contradictions? Take the descriptions of the youthful Joseph Smith: they are as contradictory as anything you can find—but did Joseph Smith supply the clashing details, or did the Mormons invent them? Not for a moment—they go back to the neighbors who knew Smith so well and recount what they maintain were their own experiences, yet they are in complete disagreement. Plainly in these cases there is an awful lot of lying going on that cannot possibly be laid to the charge of the Mormons.
W. Graham: But these people only seem to disagree; "these conflicting stories only appear to be at variance as to the origin of the much-discussed plates."288
Chairman: And if they appear to be at variance, it is only because they are. If not, why have such pains been taken to attribute their variations to the Smiths? Why should contradictory statements be damning when the Smiths make them and only apparent contradictions when their enemies make them? We have been told by Mr. Sheldon that "the different stories which Smith himself told about the plates of the Book of Mormon impeach his honesty and veracity in the matter." Now, if it can be shown that the people who report those stories, and who are the only authority for them, frequently tell different tales on their own authority in situations in which the Smiths cannot possibly be implicated, does not that impeach their honor?
Our experts on Joseph Smith would have no difficulty at all condemning Jesus. They could have been of real assistance to the high priest when he was embarrassed because his witnesses contradicted each other—"their witness agreed not together" (Mark 14:56, 59). The Sanhedrin could have used the useful theory that such disagreement was proof positive that Jesus had been deceiving all those people. And to what did the diligent perjurers bear witness? It was the old story: "We heard him say . . . " "Once he told me . . . " (Mark 14:58; Matthew 26:61). In vain the Lord pointed out that he did not make secret disclosures to individuals (John 18:20-21). They convicted him in the end for claiming he was the Messiah (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:63)—which was legally no crime at all.
Howe: Hold on a minute here! Badly garbled though these accounts may be, they still must have had an original. They may be widely ranging variations on a theme—but somebody or something furnished the theme in the first place. Say what you will, there must be something behind all this, and it must concern Joseph Smith!
Chairman: I am inclined to agree with you there, Mr. Howe. I think we should look more closely into the earliest digging stories. The court will take a ten-minute recess.
*The Myth Makers was originally published in Salt Lake City by Bookcraft in 1961.
1. Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: Appleton, 1867), 22.
3. Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed; Or, a Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion (Painesville, OH: the author, 1834), 239.
>4. Ibid., 238.
5. Ibid., 249-50.
6. Ibid., 259.
7. Ibid., 232.
8. Ibid., 234.
9. Ibid., 263.
10. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 22-23.
11. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 233.
12. Francis Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America: The Book of Mormon, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing, 1951), 2:69.
13. J. B. Turner, Mormonism in All Ages (New York: Platt and Peters, 1842), 29.
14. Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, 2:69.
15. Earnest S. Bates, American Faith (New York: Norton, 1940), 345.
16. Henry Caswall, The Prophet of the 19th Century; Or, the Rise, Progress, and Present State of Mormons or Latter-Day Saints (London: Rivingtons, 1843), 28-29.
17. T. W. Young, Mormonism: Its Origin, Doctrines, and Dangers (Ann Arbor, MI: Wahr, 1900), 16.
18. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 27.
19. Mrs. Dr. Horace Eaton, "Speech Delivered May 27, 1881," in Handbook on Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Handbook, 1882), 2.
20. George B. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932), 28.
21. Eaton, "Speech," in Handbook of Mormonism, 2.
22. John Quincy Adams, The Birth of Mormonism (Boston: Gorham, 1916), 16.
23. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism, 27.
24. Oliver Cowdery, letter to W. W. Phelps, in Latter-Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 2 (October 1835): 200-201.
25. James H. Hunt, Mormonism (St. Louis: Ustick and Davies, 1844), 5-6.
26. Young, Mormonism: Its Origin, Doctrines, and Dangers, 16.
27. John Eaton, The Mormons of Today (Washington, D.C.: Eaton, 1897), 5.
28. Hunt, Mormonism, 6.
29. C. Sheridan Jones, The Truth about the Mormons: Secrets of Salt Lake City (London: Rider, 1920), 10-11.
30. J. S. C. Abbott, The History of the State of Ohio (Detroit: New World, 1875), 697-98.
31. "The Yankee Mahomet," American Whig Review 7 (June 1851): 555-56.
32. Emily C. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger, 1873), 579-80.
33. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 21 (emphasis added).
34. Hunt, Mormonism, 6.
35. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 12.
36. John C. Bennett, The History of the Saints; Or, An Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism (Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842), 72.
37. S. B. Emmons, The Spirit Land (Philadelphia: Potter, 1857), 101.
38. Eaton, "Speech," in Handbook of Mormonism, 2.
39. Ibid., 31.
40. Ellen E. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885), 30.
41. Lu B. Cake, Peepstone Joe and the Peck Manuscript (New York: Cake, 1899), 13-14.
42. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 580.
43. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 262-63.
44. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 580.
45. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 21 (emphasis added).
46. Ibid., 21-22.
47. J. E. Mahaffey, Found at Last! 'Positive Proof' That Mormonism Is a Fraud and the Book of Mormon a Fable (Augusta, GA: Chronicle Job Office, 1902), 14.
48. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 262.
49. Ibid., 12.
50. Eaton, "Speech," in Handbook of Mormonism, 2.
51. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 22.
52. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 247.
53. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 22-23.
54. John D. Kingsbury, Mormonism: Whence It Came, What It Is, Whither It Tends (New York and Salt Lake City: Congregational Home Missionary Society, n.d.), 5.
55. Jones, Truth about the Mormons, 11.
56. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 20.
57. Harry M. Beardsley, Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1831), 18.
58. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 23.
59. Eaton, "Speech," in Handbook of Mormonism, 2.
60. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 23.
61. Orvilla S. Belisle, Mormonism Unveiled: A History of Mormonism from Its Rise to the Present Time (London: Clark, 1855), 20.
62. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 33.
63. Mahaffey, Found at Last!, 6.
64. Adams, Birth of Mormonism, 17.
65. Jones, Truth about the Mormons, 11.
66. Belisle, Mormonism Unveiled, 16.
67. Ibid., 17-18.
68. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 238-39.
69. "Yankee Mahomet," 557.
70. George Seibel, The Mormon Saints (Pittsburgh: Lessing, 1919), 16-17.
71. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 239.
75. Cake, Peepstone Joe and the Peck Manuscript, 14 (emphasis added).
76. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 31.
77. J. H. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo (New York: Scribner, 1888), 31.
78. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, 31; Bennett, History of the Saints, 72.
79. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 580.
80. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 24-25.
81. Emily M. Austin, Mormonism; Or, Life among the Mormons, Being an Autobiographical Sketch (Madison, WI: Cantwell, 1882), 32-33.
82. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 31.
83. Austin, Mormonism; Or, Life among the Mormons, 32.
84. Sidney Bell, Wives of the Prophet (London: Rich and Cowen, 1936), 6.
85. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, 19.
86. Mahaffey, Found at Last!, 14.
87. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 22.
88. Seibel, Mormon Saints, 16-17.
89. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 580.
90. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 238.
91. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 29.
92. "Yankee Mahomet," 556.
93. William A. Linn, The Story of the Mormons, from the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901 (New York: Macmillan, 1902), 15.
94. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 30.
95. M. W. Montgomery, The Mormon Delusion (Boston: Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society, 1890), 16.
96. Linn, Story of the Mormons, 21.
98. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 577.
99. Linn, Story of the Mormons, 15.
100. Ibid., 18.
101. Beardsley, Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire, 3.
102. Linn, Story of the Mormons, 19-20.
103. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 240-41.
105. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 19.
106. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 241.
107. "Yankee Mahomet," 557.
108. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 19 (emphasis added).
109. George W. Cowles, Landmarks of Wayne County New York (Syracuse, NY: Mason, 1895), 80.
110. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 232-33.
111. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 19.
112. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 30.
113. Ibid., 30.
114. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism, 28.
116. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 577.
117. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 30.
118. Cowles, Landmarks of Wayne County, 81.
119. Ibid., 77-80.
120. Ibid., 80.
121. "Yankee Mahomet," 557.
122. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 90.
123. Thomas Gregg, The Prophet of Palmyra (New York: Alden, 1890), 26.
124. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York: Knopf, 1947), 71 (emphasis added).
125. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 31-32.
126. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism, 26.
127. Emmons, Spirit Land, 101.
128. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 12.
129. Walter R. Martin, The Rise of the Cults (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1955), 47.
130. Hunt, Mormonism, 6.
131. John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way (Philadelphia: Simons, 1842), 225.
132. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 265.
133. Beardsley, Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire, 3.
134. From an interview with Daniel Hendrix in the New York Times, 15 July 1898.
135. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 20-21.
136. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, 20.
137. Bennett, History of the Saints, 220-21.
138. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 30.
139. Blackman, History of Susquehannah County, 580.
140. Mahaffey, Found at Last! 6.
141. Montgomery, Mormon Delusion, 23.
142. W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits; Or, the Truth about the Mormon Leaders (Salt Lake City: Tribune, 1886), 79.
143. R. W. Beers, The Mormon Puzzle; and How to Solve It (Chicago: Funk and Wagnalls, 1887), 28.
144. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 235-36.
145. Ibid., 235.
146. Samuel Fellows and Helen M. Fellows, The Mormon Menace (Chicago: Women's Temperance, 1903), 14-16.
147. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 34.
148. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 236; John Bowes, Mormonism Exposed (London: Edinburgh, 1849), in Tracts, 8-9.
149. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 251.
150. Ibid., 236.
151. Caswall, Prophet of the 19th Century, 36.
153. Montgomery, Mormon Delusion, 18-19.
154. Bennett, History of the Saints, 74.
155. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 245-46.
156. W. Sparrow Simpson, Mormonism: Its History, Doctrines, and Practices (London: Pigott, 1853), 11.
157. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 30.
158. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 245.
159. Ibid., 264.
160. Abbott, History of the State of Ohio, 699.
161. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 35.
162. Adams, Birth of Mormonism, 39.
163. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 32.
164. Cowles, Landmarks of Wayne County, 80.
165. George Townsend, The Conversion of Mormonism (Hartford, CT: Church Mission, 1911), 13.
167. Cowles, Landmarks of Wayne County, 81.
168. Cake, Peepstone Joe and the Peck Manuscript, 15.
169. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 36.
170. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 334.
171. Is Mormonism True or Not? (London: Religious Tract Society), 5-6.
172. O. H. Olney, Absurdities of Mormonism (Hancock Co., IL: n.p., 1843), 4-5.
173. Cf. Alexander Campbell and W. K. Pendleton, eds., "The Mormons—Counterfeiters," Millennial Harbinger 3 (March 1846): 180.
174. Cake, Peepstone Joe and the Peck Manuscript, 86.
175. Campbell and Pendleton, eds., "The Mormons—Counterfeiters," 180.
176. D. H. C. Bartlett, The Mormons or, Latter-day Saints, Whence Came They? (Liverpool: Thompson, 1911), 8.
177. Linn, Story of the Mormons, 28-29.
178. Bartlett, Mormons or, Latter-day Saints, Whence Came They? 8.
179. Adams, Birth of Mormonism, 20.
180. Ibid., 20-21.
181. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 440.
182. Utah Christian Advocate 2 (January 1886): 1.
184. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 440.
185. Ibid., 141.
186. Ibid., 418.
187. Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, 1:476.
189. Ibid., 1:476, 479.
190. Ibid., 1:476; Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 441.
191. Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, 1:476.
193. Ibid., 1:485.
194. Ibid., 1:477-78.
195. Ibid., 1:483.
196. Ibid., 1:479.
200. Ibid., 1:482.
202. Ibid., 1:485.
203. Ibid., 1:479.
205. Ibid., 2:364.
206. Ibid., 1:480.
207. Ibid., 1:484.
208. A. W. Benton, "Mormonites," Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate (9 April 1831): 120.
220. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 441.
221. Benton, "Mormonites," 120. [Cf. Dennis Rowley, "The Ezra Booth Letters," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Autumn 1983): 133-37.]
222. Ezra Booth, cited in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 187.
223. Orsamus Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchanse and Morris' Reserve (Rochester, Alling, 1851), 216.
224. Harry M. Beardsley, Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire (Boston: Riverside, 1921), 28.
225. Seibel, The Mormon Saints, 16.
226. Belisle, Mormonism Unveiled, 20.
227. Benton, "Mormonites," 120; "Oliver Cowdery, one of the three witnesses to the book, testified under oath, that said Smith found with the plates, from which he translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows."
228. Linn, Story of the Mormons, 18; Beardsley, Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire, 28.
229. Tucker, Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, 19.
230. Beers, Mormon Puzzle, 27.
231. I. W. Riley, cited in George B. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932), 28.
232. Gregg, Prophet of Palmyra, 26.
233. Book review of Caswall, The City of the Mormons in Visitor or Monthly Instructor (1842), 407: cf. Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons, or Three Days at Nauvoo (London: Rivington, 1842), 27.
234. William E. Biederwolf, Mormonism under the Searchlight (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman, n.d.), 6.
235. Linn, Story of the Mormons, 18.
236. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 237.
238. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 19.
239. O. Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement, 216.
240. Cowles, Landmarks of Wayne County, 80; Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement, 216.
241. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 232.
242. Ibid., 240.
243. Hunt, Mormonism, 12.
244. Bennett, History of the Saints, 66 (emphasis added).
245. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 228-29.
246. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 248.
247. Henry C. Sheldon, A Fourfold Test of Mormonism (New York: Abingdon, 1914), 15.
248. John Hyde, Mormonism, Its Leaders and Designs (New York: Fetridge, 1857), 243.
251. Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, 2:43.
253. Benton, "Mormonites," 120.
255. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 22.
257. Henry Harris cited in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 251.
258. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 252.
259. Ibid., 242-43.
260. Ibid., 247.
262. Ibid., 235.
263. John Hyde, Mormonism, Its Leaders and Designs, 241.
264. Biederwolf, Mormonism under the Searchlight, 5.
265. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, vii.
266. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 43.
267. Benjamin G. Ferris, Utah and the Mormons, the History, Government, Doctrines, Customs and Prospects of the Latter Day Saints (New York: Harper, 1856), 53.
268. James H. Hunt, Mormonism (St. Louis, MO: Ustick and Davies, 1844), 12.
269. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 17.
270. J. B. Turner, Mormonism in All Ages, 17.
271. Charles Kelly and Hoffman Birney, Holy Murder: The Story of Porter Rockwell (New York: Minton, Balch, 1934), 5.
272. Biederwolf, Mormonism under the Searchlight, 7.
275. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 228-29.
277. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 17.
278. Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, 2:75-76.
280. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 16.
281. Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, 2:75-76.
284. Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 22.
285. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 236-37.
286. Daniel P. Kidder, Mormonism and the Mormons (New York: Lane and Tippett, 1844), 23.
287. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, 19.
288. Winifred Graham, The Mormons: A Popular History from Earliest Times to the Present Day (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1913), 4.