Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
Privacy
 
    Mormonism.ca - Story Of

THE MORMON ORIGIN

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger








The elder Smith, as we have seen, was known as a money-digger
while a resident of Vermont. Of course that subject as a matter
of conversation in his family, and his sons were a character to
share in his belief in the existence of hidden treasure. The
territory around Palmyra was as good ground for their
explorations as any in Vermont, and they soon let their neighbors
know of a possibility of riches that lay within their reach.

The father, while a resident of Vermont, also claimed ability to
locate an underground stream of water over which would be a good
site for a well, by means of a forked hazel switch,* and in this
way doubtless increased the demand for his services as a
well-digger, but we have no testimonials to his success. The son
Joseph, while still a young lad, professed to have his father's
gift in this respect, and he soon added to his accomplishments
the power to locate hidden riches, and in this way began his
career as a money-digger, which was so intimately connected with
his professions as a prophet.

* The so-called "divining rod" has received a good deal of
attention from persons engaged in psychical research. Vol. XIII,
Part II, of the "Proceedings of the Society Of Psychical
Research" is devoted to a discussion of the subject by Professor
W. F. Barrett of the Royal College of Science for Ireland, in
Dublin, and in March, 1890, a commission was appointed in France
to study the matter.


Writers on the origin of the Mormon Bible, and the gradual
development of Smith the Prophet from Smith the village loafer
and money-seeker, have left their readers unsatisfied on many
points. Many of these obscurities will be removed by a very
careful examination of Joseph's occupations and declarations
during the years immediately preceding the announcement of the
revelation and delivery to him of the golden plates.

The deciding event in Joe's career was a trip to Susquehanna
County, Pennsylvania, when he was a lad. It can be shown that it
was there that he obtained an idea of vision-seeing nearly ten
years before the date he gives in his autobiography as that of
the delivery to him of the golden plates containing the Book of
Mormon, and it was there probably that, in some way, he later
formed the acquaintance of Sidney Rigdon. It can also be shown
that the original version of his vision differed radically from
the one presented, after the lapse of another ten years spent
under Rigdon's tutelage, in his autobiography. Each of these
points is of great incidental value in establishing Rigdon's
connection with the conception of a new Bible, and the manner of
its presentation to the public. Later Mormon authorities have
shown a dislike to concede that Joe was a money-digger, but the
fact is admitted both in his mother's history of him and by
himself. His own statement about it is as follows:--

"In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by
the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango County, State of
New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been
opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna County, State of
Pennsylvania, and had, previous to my hiring with him, been
digging in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went
to live with him he took me, among the rest of his hands, to dig
for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a
month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I
prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging for it. Hence
arose the very prevalent story of my having been a moneydigger."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt., p. 6.


Mother Smith's account says, however, that Stoal "came for Joseph
on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys by
which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye"; thus
showing that he had a reputation as a "gazer" before that date.
It was such discrepancies as these which led Brigham Young to
endeavor to suppress the mother's narrative.

The "gazing" which Joe took up is one of the oldest--perhaps the
oldest--form of alleged human divination, and has been called
"mirror-gazing," "crystal-gazing," "crystal vision," and the
like. Its practice dates back certainly three thousand years,
having been noted in all ages, and among nations uncivilized as
well as civilized. Some students of the subject connect with such
divination Joseph's silver cup "whereby indeed he divineth"
(Genesis xliv. 5). Others, long before the days of Smith and
Rigdon, advanced the theory that the Urim and Thummim were clear
crystals intended for "gazing" purposes. One writer remarks of
the practice, "Aeschylus refers it to Prometheus, Cicero to the
Assyrians and Etruscans, Zoroaster to Ahriman, Varro to the
Persian Magi, and a very large class of authors, from the
Christian Fathers and Schoolmen downward, to the devil."* An act
of James I (1736), against witchcraft in England, made it a crime
to pretend to discover property "by any occult or crafty science.
"As indicating the universal knowledge of "gazing," it may be
further noted that Varro mentions its practice among the Romans
and Pausanias among the Greeks. It was known to the ancient
Peruvians. It is practised to-day by East Indians, Africans
(including Egyptians), Maoris, Siberians, by Australian,
Polynesian, and Zulu savages, by many of the tribes of American
Indians, and by persons of the highest culture in Europe and
America.** Andrew Lang's collection of testimony about visions
seen in crystals by English women in 1897 might seem convincing
to any one who has not had experience in weighing testimony in
regard to spiritualistic manifestations, or brought this
testimony alongside of that in behalf of the "occult phenomena"
of Adept Brothers presented by Sinnett.***

* Recent Experiments in Crystal Vision," Vol. V, "Proceedings of
the Society for Psychical Research."

** Lang's "The Making of Religion," Chap. V.

*** "The Occult World."


"Gazers" use different methods. Some look into water contained in
a vessel, some into a drop of blood, some into ink, some into a
round opaque stone, some into mirrors, and many into some form of
crystal or a glass ball. Indeed, the "gazer" seems to be quite
independent as to the medium of his sight-seeing, so long as he
has the "power." This "power" is put also to a great variety of
uses. Australian savages depend on it to foretell the outcome of
an attack on their enemies; Apaches resort to it to discover the
whereabouts of things lost or stolen; and Malagasies, Zulus, and
Siberians" to see what will happen. "Perhaps its most general use
has been to discover lost objects, and in this practice the seers
"have very often been children, as we shall see was the case in
the exhibition which gave Joe Smith his first idea on the
subject. In the experiments cited by Lang, the seers usually saw
distant persons or scenes, and he records his belief that
"experiments have proved beyond doubt that a fair percentage of
people, sane and healthy, can see vivid landscapes, and figures
of persons in motion, in glass balls and other vehicles."

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.

Emily C. Blackman, in the appendix to her "History of Susquehanna
County, Pennsylvania" (1873), supplies the needed important
information about Joe's visits to Pennsylvania in the years
preceding the announcement of his Bible. She says that it is
uncertain when he arrived at Harmony (now Oakland), "but it is
certain he was here in 1825 and later. "A very circumstantial
account of Joe's first introduction to a "peep-stone" is given in
a statement by J. B. Buck in this appendix. He says:--

"Joe Smith was here lumbering 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. The stone which he afterward used was in the
possession of Jack Belcher of Gibson, who obtained it while at
Salina, N. Y., engaged in drawing salt. Belcher bought it because
it was said to be a 'seeing-stone.' I have often seen it. It was
a green stone, with brown irregular spots on it. It was a little
longer than a goose's egg, and about the same thickness. When he
brought it home and covered it with a hat, Belcher's little boy
was one of the first to look into the hat, and as he did so, he
said he saw a candle. The second time he looked in he exclaimed,
'I've found my hatchet' (it had been lost two years), and
immediately ran for it to the spot shown him through the stone,
and it was there. The boy was soon beset by neighbors far and
near to reveal to them hidden things, and he succeeded
marvellously. Joe Smith, conceiving the idea of making a fortune
through a similar process of 'seeing,' bought the stone of
Belcher, and then began his operations in directing where hidden
treasures could be found. His first diggings were near Capt.
Buck's sawmill, at Red Rock; but because the followers broke the
rule of silence, 'the enchantment removed the deposit.'"

One of many stories of Joe's treasure-digging, current in that
neighborhood, Miss Blackman narrates. Learning from a strolling
Indian of a place where treasure was said to be buried, Joe
induced a farmer named Harper to join him in digging for it and
to spend a considerable sum of money in the enterprise. "After
digging a great hole, that is still to be seen, "the story
continues, "Harper got discouraged, and was about abandoning the
enterprise. Joe now declared to Harper that there was an
'enchantment' about the place that was removing the treasure
farther off; that Harper must get a perfectly white dog (some
said a black one), and sprinkle his blood over the ground, and
that would prevent the 'enchantment' from removing the treasure.
Search was made all over the country, but no perfectly white dog
could be found. "Then Joe said a white sheep would do as well;
but when this was sacrificed and failed, he said "The Almighty
was displeased with him for attempting to palm off on Him a white
sheep for a white dog. This informant describes Joe at that time
as "an imaginative enthusiast, constitutionally opposed to work,
and a general favorite with the ladies."

In confirmation of this, R. C. Doud asserted that "in 1822 he was
employed, with thirteen others, by Oliver Harper to dig for gold
under Joe's direction on Joseph McKune's land, and that Joe had
begun operations the year previous."

F. G. Mather obtained substantially the same particulars of Joe's
digging in connection with Harper from the widow of Joseph McKune
about the year 1879, and he said that the owner of the farm at
that time "for a number of years had been engaged in filling the
holes with stone to protect his cattle, but the boys still use
the northeast hole as a swimming pond in the summer."*

* Lippincott's Magazine, August, 1880.


Confirmation of the important parts of these statements has been
furnished by Joseph's father. When the reports of the discovery
of a new Bible first gained local currency (in 1830), Fayette
Lapham decided to visit the Smith family, and learn what he could
on the subject. He found the elder Smith very communicative, and
he wrote out a report of his conversation with him, "as near as I
can repeat his words, "he says, and it was printed in the
Historical Magazine for May, 1870. Father Smith made no
concealment of his belief in witchcraft and other things
supernatural, as well as in the existence of a vast amount of
buried treasure. What he said of Joe's initiation into
"crystal-gazing" Mr. Lapham thus records:--

"His son Joseph, whom he called the illiterate,* 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 pretence 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 hidden treasures."

* Joe's mother, describing Joe's descriptions to the family, at
their evening fireside, of the angel's revelations concerning the
golden plates, says (p. 84): "All giving the most profound
attention to a boy eighteen years of age, who had never read the
Bible through in his life; he seemed much less inclined to the
perusal of books than any of the rest of our children."

If further confirmation of Joe's early knowledge on this subject
is required, we may cite the Rev. John A. Clark, D.D., who,
writing in 1840 after careful local research, said: "Long before
the idea of a golden Bible entered their [the Smiths'] minds, in
their excursions for money-digging.... Joe used to be usually
their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had, through
which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig."*

* "Gleanings by the Way" (1842), p. 225.


We come now to the history of Joe's own "peek-stone" (as the
family generally called it), that which his father says he
discovered by using the one that he first saw. Willard Chase, of
Manchester, New York, near Palmyra, employed Joe and his brother
Alvin some time in the year 1822 (as he fixed the date in his
affidavit)* to assist him in digging a well. "After digging about
twenty feet below the surface of the earth, "he says, "we
discovered a singularly appearing stone which excited my
curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were
examining it, Joseph put it into his hat and then his face into
the top of the hat. It has been said by Smith that he brought the
stone from the well, but this is false. There was no one in the
well but myself. The next morning he came to me and wished to
obtain the stone, alleging that he could see in it; but I told
him I did not wish to part with it on account of its being a
curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone, he began
to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in
it, and made so much disturbance among the credulous part of the
community that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He
had it in his possession about two years. "Joseph's brother Hyrum
borrowed the stone some time in 1825, and Mr. Chase was unable to
recover it afterward. Tucker describes it as resembling a child's
foot in shape, and "of a whitish, glassy appearance, though
opaque."**

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 240.

** Tucker closes his chapter about this stone with the
declaration "that the origin [of Mormonism] is traceable to the
insignificant little stone found in the digging of Mr. Chase's
well in 1822." Tucker was evidently ignorant both of Joe's
previous experience with "crystal-gazing" in Pennsylvania and of
"crystal-gazing" itself.


The Smiths at once began turning Chase's stone to their own
financial account, but no one at the time heard that it was
giving them any information about revealed religion. For pay they
offered to disclose by means of it the location of stolen
property and of buried money. There seemed to be no limit to the
exaggeration of their professions. They would point out the
precise spot beneath which lay kegs, barrels, and even hogsheads
of gold and silver in the shape of coin, bars, images,
candlesticks, etc., and they even asserted that all the hills
thereabout were the work of human bands, and that Joe, by using
his "peek-stone," could see the caverns beneath them.* Persons
can always be found to give at least enough credence to such
professions to desire to test them. It was so in this case. Joe
not only secured small sums on the promise of discovering lost
articles, but he raised money to enable him to dig for larger
treasure which he was to locate by means of the stone. A Palmyra
man, for instance, paid seventy-five cents to be sent by him on a
fool's errand to look for some stolen cloth.

* William Stafford's affidavit, Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p.
237.


Certain ceremonies were always connected with these money-digging
operations. Midnight was the favorite hour, a full moon was
helpful, and Good Friday was the best date. Joe would sometimes
stand by, directing the digging with a wand. The utmost silence
was necessary to success. More than once, when the digging proved
a failure, Joe explained to his associates that, just as the
deposit was about to be reached, some one, tempted by the devil,
spoke, causing the wished-for riches to disappear. Such an
explanation of his failures was by no means original with Smith,
the serious results of an untimely spoken word having been long
associated with divers magic performances. Joe even tried on his
New York victims the Pennsylvania device of requiring the
sacrifice of a black sheep to overcome the evil spirit that
guarded the treasure. William Stafford opportunely owned such an
animal, and, as he puts it, "to gratify my curiosity, "he let the
Smiths have it. But some new "mistake in the process" again
resulted in disappointment. "This, I believe," remarks the
contributor of the sheep, "is the only time they ever made
money-digging a profitable business. "The Smiths ate the sheep.

These money-seeking enterprises were continued from 1820 to 1827
(the year of the delivery to Smith of the golden plates). This
period covers the years in which Joe, in his autobiography,
confesses that he "displayed the corruption of human nature. "He
explains that his father's family were poor, and that they worked
where they could find employment to their taste; "sometimes we
were at home and sometimes abroad. "Some of these trips took them
to Pennsylvania, and the stories of Joe's "gazing" accomplishment
may have reached Sidney Rigdon, and brought about their first
interview. Susquehanna County was more thinly settled than the
region around Palmyra, and Joe found persons who were ready to
credit him with various "gifts"; and stories are still current
there of his professed ability to perform miracles, to pray the
frost away from a cornfield, and the like.*

* Lippincott's Magazine, August, 1880.





Next: First Announcement Of The Golden Bible

Previous: The Smith Family



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 1904