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The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901 by William Alexander Linn

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YEAR 1901



No chapter of American history has remained so long unwritten as
that which tells the story of the Mormons. There are many books
on the subject, histories written under the auspices of the
Mormon church, which are hopelessly biased as well as incomplete;
more trustworthy works which cover only certain periods; and
books in the nature of "exposures by former members of the
church, which the Mormons attack as untruthful, and which rest,
in the minds of the general reader, under a suspicion of personal
bias. Mormonism, therefore, to-day suggests to most persons only
one doctrine--polygamy--and only one leader--Brigham Young, who
made his name familiar to the present generations. Joseph Smith,
Jr., is known, where known at all, only in the most general way
as the founder of the sect, while the real originator of the
whole scheme for a new church and of its doctrines and
government, Sidney Rigdon, is known to few persons even by name.

The object of the present work is to present a consecutive
history of the Mormons, from the day of their origin to the
present writing, and as a secular, not as a religious, narrative.
The search has been for facts, not for moral deductions, except
as these present themselves in the course of the story. Since the
usual weapon which the heads of the Mormon church use to meet
anything unfavorable regarding their organization or leaders is a
general denial, this narrative has been made to rest largely on
Mormon sources of information. It has been possible to follow
this plan a long way because many of the original Mormons left
sketches that have been preserved. Thus we have Mother Smith's
picture of her family and of the early days of the church; the
Prophet's own account of the revelation to him of the golden
plates, of his followers' early experiences, and of his own
doings, almost day by day, to the date of his death, written with
an egotist's appreciation of his own part in the play; other
autobiographies, like Parley P. Pratt's and Lorenzo Snow's; and,
finally, the periodicals which the church issued in Ohio, in
Missouri, in Illinois, and in England, and the official reports
of the discourses preached in Utah,--all showing up, as in a
mirror, the character of the persons who gave this Church of
Latter Day Saints its being and its growth.

In regard to no period of Mormon history is there such a lack of
accurate information as concerning that which covers their moves
to Ohio, thence to Missouri, thence to Illinois, and thence to
Utah. Their own excuse for all these moves is covered by the one
word "persecution" (meaning persecution on account of their
religious belief), and so little has the non-Mormon world known
about the subject that this explanation has scarcely been
challenged. Much space is given to these early migrations, as in
this way alone can a knowledge be acquired of the real character
of the constituency built up by Smith in Ohio, and led by him
from place to place until his death, and then to Utah by Brigham

Any study of the aims and objects of the Mormon leaders must rest
on the Mormon Bible ("Book of Mormon") and on the "Doctrine and
Covenants," the latter consisting principally of the
"revelations" which directed the organization of the church and
its secular movements. In these alone are spread out the original
purpose of the migration to Missouri and the instructions of
Smith to his followers regarding their assumed rights to the
territory they were to occupy; and without a knowledge of these
"revelations" no fair judgment can be formed of the justness of
the objections of the people of Missouri and Illinois to their
new neighbors. If the fraudulent character of the alleged
revelation to Smith of golden plates can be established, the
foundation of the whole church scheme crumbles. If Rigdon's
connection with Smith in the preparation of the Bible by the use
of the "Spaulding manuscript" can be proved, the fraud itself is
established. Considerable of the evidence on this point herein
brought together is presented at least in new shape, and an
adequate sketch of Sidney Rigdon is given for the first time. The
probable service of Joachim's "Everlasting Gospel," as suggesting
the story of the revelation of the plates, has been hitherto

A few words with regard to some of the sources of information

"Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith and his Progenitors for
Many Generations" ("Mother Smith's History," as this book has
been generally called) was first published in 1853 by the Mormon
press in Liverpool, with a preface by Orson Pratt recommending
it; and the Millennial Star (Vol. XV, p. 682) said of it: "Being
written by Lucy Smith, the mother of the Prophet, and mostly
under his inspiration, will be ample guarantee for the
authenticity of the narrative.... Altogether the work is one of
the most interesting that has appeared in this latter
dispensation." Brigham Young, however, saw how many of its
statements told against the church, and in a letter to the
Millennial Star (Vol. XVII, p. 298), dated January 31, 1858, he
declared that it contained "many mistakes," and said that "should
it ever be deemed best to publish these sketches, it will not be
done until after they are carefully corrected." The preface to
the edition of 1890, published by the Reorganized Church at
Plano, Illinois, says that Young ordered the suppression of the
first edition, and that "under this order large numbers were
destroyed, few being preserved, some of which fell into the hands
of those now with the Reorganized Church. For this destruction we
see no adequate reason. "James J. Strang, in a note to his
pamphlet, "Prophetic Controversy," says that Mrs. Corey (to whom
the pamphlet is addressed) "wrote the history of the Smiths
called 'Mother Smith's History.'" Mrs. Smith was herself quite
incapable of putting her recollections into literary shape.

The autobiography of Joseph Smith, Jr., under the title "History
of Joseph Smith," began as a supplement to Volume XIV of the
Millennial Star, and ran through successive volumes to Volume
XXIV. The matter in the supplement and in the earlier numbers was
revised and largely written by Rigdon. The preparation of the
work began after he and Smith settled in Nauvoo, Illinois. In his
last years Smith rid himself almost entirely of Rigdon's counsel,
and the part of the autobiography then written takes the form of
a diary which unmasks Smith's character as no one else could do.
Most of the correspondence and official documents relating to the
troubles in Missouri and Illinois are incorporated in this

Of the greatest value to the historian are the volumes of the
Mormon publications issued at Kirtland, Ohio; Independence,
Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and Liverpool, England. The first of
these, Evening and Morning Star (a monthly, twenty-four numbers),
started at Independence and transferred to Kirtland, covers the
period from June, 1832, to September, 1834; its successor, the
Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, was issued at Kirtland
from 1834 to 1837. This was followed by the Elders' journal,
which was transferred from Kirtland to Far West, Missouri, and
was discontinued when the Saints were compelled to leave that
state. Times and Seasons was published at Nauvoo from 1839 to
1845. Files of these publications are very scarce, the volumes of
the Times and Seasons having been suppressed, so far as possible,
by Brigham Young's order. The publication of the Millennial Star
was begun in Liverpool in May, 1840, and is still continued. The
early volumes contain the official epistles of the heads of the
church to their followers, Smith's autobiography, correspondence
describing the early migrations and the experiences in Utah, and
much other valuable material, the authenticity of which cannot be
disputed by the Mormons. In the Journal of Discourses (issued
primarily for circulation in Europe) are found official reports
of the principal discourses (or sermons) delivered in Salt Lake
City during Young's regime. Without this official sponsor for the
correctness of these reports, many of them would doubtless be
disputed by the Mormons of to-day.

The earliest non-Mormon source of original information quoted is
"Mormonism Unveiled," by E. D. Howe (Painesville, Ohio, 1834).
Mr. Howe, after a newspaper experience in New York State, founded
the Cleveland (Ohio) Herald in 1819, and later the Painesville
(Ohio) Telegraph. Living near the scene of the Mormon activity in
Ohio when they moved to that state, and desiring to ascertain the
character of the men who were proclaiming a new Bible and a new
church, he sent agents to secure such information among the
Smiths' old acquaintances in New York and Pennsylvania, and made
inquiries on kindred subjects, like the "Spaulding manuscript."
His book was the first serious blow that Smith and his associates
encountered, and their wrath against it and its author was

Pomeroy Tucker, the author of "Origin and Progress of the
Mormons" (New York, 1867), was personally acquainted with the
Smiths and with Harris and Cowdery before and after the
appearance of the Mormon Bible. He read a good deal of the proof
of the original edition of that book as it was going through the
press, and was present during many of the negotiations with
Grandin about its publication. His testimony in regard to early
matters connected with the church is important.

Two non-Mormons who had an early view of the church in Utah and
who put their observations in book form were B. G. Ferris ("Utah
and the Mormons," New York, 1854 and 1856) and Lieutenant J. W.
Gunnison of the United States Topographical Engineers ("The
Mormons," Philadelphia, 1856). Both of these works contain
interesting pictures of life in Utah in those early days.

There are three comprehensive histories of Utah,--H. H.
Bancroft's "History of Utah" (p. 889), Tullidge's "History of
Salt Lake City" (p. 886), and Orson F. Whitney's "History of
Utah," in four volumes, three of which, dated respectively March,
1892, April, 1893, and January, 1898, have been issued. The
Reorganized Church has also published a "History of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" in three volumes. While
Bancroft's work professes to be written from a secular
standpoint, it is really a church production, the preparation of
the text having been confided to Mormon hands. "We furnished Mr.
Bancroft with his material," said a prominent Mormon church
officer to me. Its plan is to give the Mormon view in the text,
and to refer the reader for the other side to a mass of
undigested notes, and its principal value to the student consists
in its references to other authorities. Its general tone may be
seen in its declaration that those who have joined the church to
expose its secrets are "the most contemptible of all"; that those
who have joined it honestly and, discovering what company they
have got into, have given the information to the world, would far
better have gone their way and said nothing about it; and, as to
polygamy, that "those who waxed the hottest against" the practice
"are not as a rule the purest of our people" (p. 361); and that
the Edmunds Law of 1882 "capped the climax of absurdity" (p.

Tullidge wrote his history after he had taken part in the "New
Movement." In it he brought together a great deal of information,
including the text of important papers, which is necessary to an
understanding of the growth and struggles of the church. The work
was censored by a committee appointed by the Mormon

Bishop Whitney's history presents the pro-Mormon view of the
church throughout. It is therefore wholly untrustworthy as a
guide to opinion on the subjects treated, but, like Tullidge's,
it supplies a good deal of material which is useful to the
student who is prepared to estimate its statements at their true

The acquisition by the New York Public Library of the Berrian
collection of books, early newspapers, and pamphlets on
Mormonism, with the additions constantly made to this collection,
places within the reach of the student all the material that is
necessary for the formation of the fairest judgment on the

W. A. L. HACKENSACK, N. J., 1901.



Success--Effrontery of the Leaders' Professions--Attractiveness
of Religious Beliefs to Man--Wherein the World does not make
Progress--The Anglo-Saxon Appetite for Religious Novelties

CHAPTER II. THE SMITH FAMILY: Solomon Mack and his Autobiography
--Religious Characteristics of the Prophet's Mother--The Family
Life in Vermont--Early Occupations in New York State--Pictures of
the Prophet as a Youth--Recollections of the Smiths by their New
York Neighbors

Divining Rod--His First Introduction to Crystal-gazing--Peeping
after Hidden Treasure--How Joseph obtained his own "Peek-stone"--
Methods of Midnight Money-digging

the Early Descriptions--Joseph's Acquaintance with the Hales--His
Elopement and Marriage--What he told a Neighbor about the Origin
of his Bible Discovery--Early Anecdotes about the Book

The Versions about the Spanish Guardian--Important Statement by
the Prophet's Father--The Later Account in the Prophet's
Autobiography--The Angel Visitor and the Acquisition of the
Plates--Mother Smith's Version

Harris's Connection with the Work--Smith's Removal to
Pennsylvania --How the Translation was carried on--Harris's Visit
to Professor Anthon--The Professor's Account of his Visit--The
Lost Pages--The Prophet's Predicament and his Method of
Escape--Oliver Cowdery as an Assistant Translator--Introduction
of the Whitmers--The Printing and Proof--reading of the New
Bible--Recollections of Survivors

Career--History of "The Manuscript Found"--Statements by Members
of the Author's Family--Testimony of Spaulding's Ohio Neighbors
about the Resemblance of his Story to the Book of Mormon--The
Manuscript found in the Sandwich Islands

CHAPTER VIII. SIDNEY RIGDON: His Biography--Connection with the
Campbells--Efficient Church Work in Ohio--His Jealousy of his
Church Leaders--Disciples' Beliefs and Mormon Doctrines--
Intimations about a New Bible--Rigdon's First Connection with
Smith--The Rigdon-Smith Translation of the Scriptures--Rigdon's
Conversion to Mormonism

CHAPTER IX. "THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL": Probable Origin of the Idea
of a Bible on Plates--Cyril's Gift from an Angel and Joachim's
Use of it--Where Rigdon could have obtained the Idea Prominence
of the "Everlasting Gospel" in Mormon Writings

"Testimonies"--The Prophet's Explanation of the First--Early
Reputation and Subsequent History of the Signers--The Truth about
the Kinderhook Plates and Rafinesque's Glyphs

CHAPTER XI. THE MORMON BIBLE: Some of its Errors and
Absurdities--Facsimile of the First Edition Title-page--The
Historical Narrative of the Book--Its Lack of Literary
Style--Appropriated Chapters of the Scriptures--Specimen

John the Baptist--The First Baptisms--Early Branches of the
Church--The Revelation about Church Officers--Cowdery's Ambition
and How it was Repressed--Smith's Title as Seer, Translator, and
Prophet--His Arrest and Release--Arrival of Parley P. Platt and
Rigdon in Palmyra--The Command to remove to Ohio

GOVERNMENT: Long Years of Apostasy--Origin of the Name "Mormon"
--Original Titles of the Church--Belief in a Speedy Millennium--
The Future Possession of the Earth--Smith's Revelations and how
they were obtained--The First Published Editions--Counterfeit
Revealers--What is Taught of God--Brigham Young's Adam Sermon--
Baptism for the Dead--The Church Officers


sent out to the Lamanites--Organization of a Church in Ohio--
Effect of Rigdon's Conversion--General Interest in the New Bible
and Prophet--How Men of Education came to believe in Mormonism--
Result of the Upturning of Religious Belief

Commissions--Common Religious Excitements of those Days--
Description of the "Jerks"--Smith's Repressing Influence

CHAPTER III. GROWTH OF THE CHURCH: The Appointment of Elders--
Beginning of the Proselyting System--Smith's Power Entrenched--
His Temporal Provision--Repression of Rigdon--The Tarring and
Feathering of Smith and Rigdon--Treatment of the Mormons and of
Other New Denominations compared--Rigdon's Punishment

Tongues"--Seeing the Lord Face to Face--Early Use of Miracles--
The Story of the "Book of Abraham"--The Prophet as a Translator
of Greek and Egyptian.

the Prophet's Experience as a Retail Merchant--The Land
Speculation--Laying out of the City--Building of the Temple--
Consecration of Property--How the Leaders looked out for
themselves--Amusing Explanation of Section III of the "Doctrine
and Covenants"--The Story of the Kirtland Bank--The Church View
of its Responsibility for the Currency--The Business Crash and
Smith's Flight to Missouri

CHAPTER VI. LAST DAYS AT KIRTLAND: Pictures of the Prophet--
Accusations against Church Leaders in Missouri--Serious Charge
against the Prophet--W. W, Phelps's Rebellion--Smith's
Description of Leading Lights of the Church--Charges concerning
Smith's Morality--The Church accused of practising Polygamy--A
Lively Fight at a Church Service--Smith's and Rigdon's Defence of
their Conduct--The Later History of Kirtland


Missouri in the Early Days--Pioneer Farming and Home-making--The
Trip of the Four Mormon Missionaries--Direction about the
Gathering of the Elect--How they were to possess the Land of
Promise--Their Appropriation of the Good Things purchased of
their Enemies

of Zion and the Temple--Marvellous Stories that were told--
Dissatisfaction of Some of the Prophet's Companions

Mormons--Result of the Publication of the Revelations--First
Friction with their Non-Mormon Neighbors--Manifesto of the
Mormons' Opponents--Their Big Mass Meeting--Demands on the
Mormons--Destruction of the Star Printing-office--The Mormons'
Agreement to leave--Smith's Advice to his Flock--Repudiation of
the Mormon Agreement and Renewal of Hostilities--The Battle at
Big Blue--Evacuation of the County--March of the Army of Zion--An
Inglorious Finale

PEOPLE: A Fair Offer Rejected--The Mormon Counter Propositions--
Governor Dunklin on the Situation

the Mormons by New Neighbors--Effect of their Claims about
Possessing the Land--Ordered out of Clay County--Founding of Far
West--A Welcome to Smith and Rigdon

and Whitmer--Conviction of Oliver Cowdery on Serious Charges--
Expulsion of Leading Members--Origin of the Danites--Suggested by
the Prophet at Kirtland--The Danite Constitution and Oath--Origin
of the Tithing System

Domineering Course--Jealousy caused by the Scattering of the
Saints--Founding of Adam-ondi-Ahman--Rigdon's Famous Salt
Sermon--Open Defiance of the Non-Mormons--The Mormons in
Politics--An Election Day Row--Arrests and Threats

CHAPTER VIII. A STATE OF CIVIL WAR: Calling out of the Militia--
Proposed Expulsion of the Mormons from Carroll County--The Siege
of De Witt--The Prophet's Defiance--Work of his "Fur Company"--
Gentile Retaliation--The Battle of Crooked River--The Massacre at
Hawn's Mills--Governor Boggs's "Order of Extermination"

Terms to the Mormons--Surrender of Far West and Arrest of Mormon
Leaders--General Clark's Address to the Mormons--His Report to
the Governor--General Wilson's Picture of Adam-ondi-Ahman--Fate
of the Mormon Prisoners--Testimony at their Trial--Smith's
Escape--Migration to Illinois


History of the State--Defiant Lawlessness--Politicians the First
to Welcome the Newcomers--Landowners Among their First Friends

Illustrated--The Land Purchases--A Reconciliation of Conflicting
Revelations--Smith's Financiering--Shameful Misrepresentation to

Site--Rapid Growth of the Place--Early Pictures of it--Foreign
Proselyting--Why England was a Good Field--Method of Work there--
The Employment of Miracles--How the Converts were Sent Over

Suggestions--An Important Revelation--Church Buildings Ordered--
Subserviency of the Legislature--Dr. John C. Bennett's Efficient
Aid--Authority granted to the City Government--The Nauvoo Legion
--Bennett's Welcome--The Temple and How it was Constructed

CHAPTER V. THE MORMONS IN POLITICS: Smith's Decree against Van
Buren--How the Prophet swung the Mormon Vote back to the
Democrats--The Attempted Assassination of Governor Boggs--Smith's
Arrest and What Resulted from it--Defeat of a Whig Candidate by a

His Letter to Clay and Calhoun--Their Replies and Smith's Abusive
Wrath--The Prophet's Views on National Politics--Reform Measures
that He Proposed--His Nomination by the Church Paper--Experiences
of Missionaries sent out to Work Up his Campaign

Population--Treatment of Immigrant Converts--Some Disreputable
Gentile Neighbors--The Complaints of Mormon Stealings--
Significant Admissions--Mormon Protection against Outsiders--The

his Autobiography--Difficulties Connected with the Building
Enterprises--A Plain Warning to Discontented Workmen--Trouble
with Rigdon--Pressed by his Creditors--Transaction with Remick--
Currency Law passed by his City Council--How Smith regarded
himself as a Prophet--His Latest Prophecies

Bennett's Expulsion and the Explanations concerning it--His
Attacks on his Late Companions--Charges against Nauvoo Morality--
The Case of Nancy Rigdon--The Higbee Incident

Origin--Its Conflict with the Teachings of the Mormon Bible and
Revelations--Early Loosening of the Marriage View under Smith--
Proof of the Practice of Polygamy in Nauvoo--Testimony of Eliza
R. Snow--How her Brother Lorenzo shook off his Bachelorhood--John
B. Lee as a Polygamist--Ebenezer Robinson's Statement--Objects of
"The Holy Order"--The Writing of the Revelation about Polygamy--
Its First Public Announcement--Sidney Rigdon's Innocence in the

of the Revelation--Orson Pratt's Presentation of it--The Doctrine
of Sealing--Necessity of Sealing as a Means of Salvation--Attempt
to show that Christ was a Polygamist

Laws--Rebellion against Smith's Teachings--Leading Features of
the Expositor--Trial of the Paper and its Editors before the City
Council--Destruction of the Press and Type--Smith's Proclamation

Warsaw--Organizing and Arming of the People--Action of Governor
Ford--Smith's Arrest--Departure of the Prisoners for Carthage

his Arrival in Carthage--The Governor and the Militia--The
Carthage Jail and its Guards--Action of the Warsaw Regiment--The
Attack on the Jail and the Killing of the Prophet and his
Brother--Funeral Services in Nauvoo--Final Resting-place of the
Bodies--Result of Indictments of the Alleged Murderers--Review of
the Prophet's Character

CHAPTER XV. AFTER SMITH'S DEATH: The People in a Panic--The
Mormon Leaders for Peace--The Future Government of the Church--
Brigham Young's Victory--Rigdon's Trial before the High Council--
Verdict Against Him--His Church in Pennsylvania--His Ambition to
be the Head of a Distinct Church--A Visit from Heavenly
Messengers--His Last Days

Prophet's Eldest Son--Trouble caused by the Prophet's Widow--The
Reorganized Church--Strang's Church in Wisconsin--Lyman Wight's
Colony in Texas

CHAPTER XVII. BRIGHAM YOUNG: His Early Years--His Initiation into
the Mormon Church--Fidelity to the Prophet--Embarrassments of his
Position as Head of the Church--His View about Revelations--Plan
for Home Mission Work--His Election as President

Stealing--Significant Admission by Young--Business Plight of
Nauvoo--More Politics--Defiant Attitude of Mormon Leaders--An
Editor's View of Legal Rights--Stories about the Danites--Brother
William on Brigham Young--The "Burnings"--Sheriff Backenstos's
Proclamations--Lieutenant Worrell's Murder--Mormon Retaliation--
Appointment of the Douglas-Hardin Commission

Proclamation--County Meetings of Non-Mormons--Their Ultimatum--
The Commission's Negotiations--Non-Mormon Convention at
Carthage--The Agreement for the Mormon Evacuation

Preserver--The Mormons' Disposition of their Property--Departure
of the Leaders hastened by Indictments--Arrival of New Citizens--
Continued Hostility of the Non-Mormons--"The Last Mormon War"--
Panic in Nauvoo--Plan for a March on the Mormon City--Fruitless
Negotiations for a Compromise--The Advance against the City--The
Battle and its Results--Terms of Peace--The Final Evacuation
The Final Work on the Temple--The "Endowment" Ceremony and Oath--
Futile Efforts to sell the Temple--Its Destruction by Fire and
Wind--The Nauvoo of To-day


Destination--Explanations to the People--Disposition of Real and
Personal Property--Collection of Draft Animals--Activity in Wagon
and Tent Making--The Old Charge of Counterfeiting--Pecuniary
Sacrifices of the Mormons in Illinois

Crossings of the River--Camp Arrangements--Sufferings from the
Cold--The Story of the Westward March--Motley Make-up of the
Procession--Expedients for obtaining Supplies--Terrible
Sufferings of the Expelled Remnant--Privations at Mt. Pisgah

CHAPTER III. THE MORMON BATTALION: Extravagant Claims Regarding
it Disproved--General Kearney's Invitation--Source of the Initial
Suggestion--How the Mormons profited by the Organization--The
March to California--Colonel Thomas L. Kane's Visit to the
Missouri--His Intimate Relations with the Mormon Church

Mormons by the Indians--The Site of Winter Quarters--Busy Scenes
on the River Bank--Sickness and Death--The Building of a
Temporary City

Unexplored West--The First White Visitors to that Country--
Organization of the Pioneer Mormon Band--Rules observed on the
March--Successful Buffalo Hunting--An Indian Alarm--Dearth of
Forage--Post-offices of the Plains--A Profitable Ferry

Stopping-place in View--Advice received on the Way--The Mormon
Expedition to California by Way of Cape Horn--Brannan's Fall from
Grace--Westward from Green River--Advance Explorers through a
Canon--First View of Great Salt Lake Valley--Irrigation and Crop
Planting begun

--Young's Return Trip--Last Days on the Missouri--Scheme for a
Permanent Settlement in Iowa--Westward March of Large Companies


Explorers--First Mormon Services in the Valley--Young's View of
the Right to the Land--The First Buildings--Laying out the
City--Early Crop Disappointment--Discomforts of the First
Winter-- Primitive Dwelling-places--The Visitation of
Crickets--Glowing Accounts sent to England

--How the City appeared in 1849--Sufferings during the Winter of
1908--Immigration checked by the Lack of Food--Aid supplied by
the California Goldseekers--Danger of a Mormon Exodus--Young's
Rebuke to his Gold-seeking Followers--The Crop Failure of 1855
and the Famine of the Following Winter--The Tabernacle and Temple

joint Stock Company Scandal--Deceptive Statements made to Foreign
Converts--John Taylor's Address to the Saints in Great Britain--
Petition to Queen Victoria--Mormon Duplicity illustrated--Young's
Advice to Emigrants--Glowing Pictures of Salt Lake Valley--The
Perpetual Emigrating Fund--Details of the Emigration System

CHAPTER IV. THE HAND-CART TRAGEDY: Young's Scheme for Economy--
His Responsibility for the Hand-cart Experiment--Details of the
Arrangement--Delays at Iowa City--Unheeded Warnings--Privations
by the Way--Early Lack of Provisions--Suffering caused by
Insufficient Clothing--Deaths of the Old and Infirm--Horrors of
the Camps in the Mountains--Frozen Corpses found at Daybreak--
Sufferings of a Party at Devil's Gate--Young's Attempt to shift
the Responsibility

First Local Government--Adoption of a Constitution for the State
of Deseret--Babbitt's Application for Admission as a Delegate--
Memorial opposing his Claim--His Rejection--The Territorial

CHAPTER VI. BRIGHAM YOUNG'S DESPOTISM: Causes that contributed to
its Success--Helplessness of the New-comers from Europe--
Influence of Superstition--Young's Treatment of the Gladdenites--
His Appropriation of Property Laws passed by the Mormon
Legislature--Bishops as Ward Magistrates--A Mormon Currency and
Alphabet--What Emigrants to California learned about Mormon

CHAPTER VII. THE "REFORMATION": Young's Disclosures about the
Character of his Flock--The Stealing from One Another--The Threat
about "Laying Judgment to the Line"--Plain Declarations about the
taking of Human Lives--First Steps of the "Reformation"--An
Inquisition and Catechism--An Embarrassing Confession--Warning to
those who would leave the Valley

Parrishes--Carrying out of a Cold-blooded Plot--Judge
Cradlebaugh's Effort to convict the Murderers--The Tragedy of the
Aikin Party--The Story of Frederick Loba's Escape

CHAPTER IX. BLOOD ATONEMENT: Early Intimations concerning it--
Jedediah M. Grant's Explanation of Human Sacrifices--Brigham
Young's Definition of "Laying Judgment to the Line"--Two of the
Sacrifices described--"The Affair at San Pete"

Governor--Colonel Kane's Part in his Appointment--Kane's False
Statements to President Fillmore--Welcome to the Non-Mormon
Officers--Their Early Information about Young's
Influence--Pioneer Anniversary Speeches--Judge Brocchus's Offence
to the Mormons-- Young's Threatening and Abusive Reply--The
Judge's Alarm about his Personal Safety--Return of the Non-Mormon
Federal Officers to Washington--Young's Defence

Election Law--Why Colonel Steptoe declined the Governorship--
Young's Assertion of his Authority--His Reappointment--Two Bad
Judicial Appointments--Judge Stiles's Trouble about the
Marshals-- Burning of his Books and Papers--How Judge Drummond's
Attempt at Independence was foiled--The Mormon View of Land
Titles--Hostile Attitude toward the Government Surveyors--Reports
of the Indian Agents

CHAPTER XII. THE MORMON "WAR": What the Federal Authorities had
learned about Mormonism--Declaration of the Republican National
Convention of 1856--Striking Speech by Stephen A. Douglas--
Alfred Cumming appointed Governor with a New Set of Judges--
Statement in the President's Message--Employment of a Military
Force--The Kimball Mail Contract--Organization of the Troops--
General Harney's Letter of Instruction--Threats against the
Advancing Foe--Mobilization of the Nauvoo Legion--Captain Van
Vliet's Mission to Salt Lake City--Young's Defiance of the
Government--His Proclamation to the Citizens of Utah--"General"
Wells's Order to his Officers--Capture and Burning of a
Government Train--Colonel Alexander's Futile March--Colonel
Johnston's Advance from Fort Laramie--Harrowing Experience of
Lieutenant Colonel Cooke's Command

CHAPTER XIII. THE MORMON PURPOSE: Correspondence between Colonel
Alexander and Brigham Young--Illustration of Young's Vituperative
Powers--John Taylor's Threat--Incendiary Teachings in Salt Lake
City--A Warning to Saints who would Desert--The Army's Winter
Camp --Proclamation by Governor Cumming--Judge Eckles's
Court--Futile Preparations at Washington

President Buchanan--His Credentials from the President--Arrival
in California under an Assumed Name--Visit to Camp Scott--General
Johnston ignored--Reasons why both the Government and the Mormons
desired Peace--Kane's Success with Governor Cumming--The
Governor's Departure for Salt Lake City--Deceptions practiced on
him in Echo Canon--His Reception in the City--Playing into Mormon
Hands--The Governor's Introduction to the People--Exodus of
Mormons begun

Volte-face--A Proclamation of Pardon--Instructions to Two Peace
Commissioners--Chagrin of the Military--Governor Cumming's
Misrepresentations--Conferences between the Commissioners and
Young--Brother Dunbar's Singing of "Zion"--Young's Method of
Surrender--Judge Eckles on Plural Marriages--The Terms made with
the Mormons--March of the Federal Troops to the Deserted City--
Return of the Mormons to their Homes

Indicative of Mormon Official Responsibility--The Make-up of the
Arkansas Party--Motives for Mormon Hostility to them--Parley P.
Pratt's Shooting in Arkansas--Refusal of Food Supplies to the
Party after leaving Salt Lake City--Their Plight before they were
attacked--Successful Measures for Defence--Disarrangement of the
Mormon Plans--John D. Lee's Treacherous Mission--Pitiless
Slaughter of Men, Women, and Children--Testimony given at Lee's
Trial--The Plundering of the Dead--Lee's Account of the Planning
of the Massacre--Responsibility of High Church Officers--Lee's
Report to Brigham Young and Brigham's Instructions to him--The
Disclosures by "Argus"--Lee's Execution and Last Words

CHAPTER XVII. AFTER THE "WAR": Judge Cradlebaugh's Attempts to
enforce the Law--Investigation of the Mountain Meadows Massacre--
Governor Cumming's Objections to the Use of Troops to assist the
Court--A Washington Decision in Favor of Young's Authority--The
Story of a Counterfeit Plate--Five Thousand Men under Arms to
protect Young from Arrest--Sudden Departure of Cumming--Governor
Dawson's Brief Term--His Shocking Treatment at Mormon Hands--
Governor Harding's Administration--The Morrisite Tragedy

REBELLION: Press and Pulpit Utterances--Arrival of Colonel
Connor's Force--His March through Salt Lake City to Camp Douglas
--Governor Harding's Plain Message to the Legislature--Mormon
Retaliation--The Governor and Two Judges requested to leave the
Territory--Their Spirited Replies--How Young escaped Arrest by
Colonel Connor's Force--Another Yielding to Mormon Power at

Colfax's Interviews with Young--Samuel Bowles's Praise of the
Mormons and his Speedy Correction of his Views--Repudiation of
Colfax's Plan to drop Polygamy--Two more Utah Murders--Colfax's
Second Visit

of Gentile Merchants--Organization of the Zion Cooperative
Mercantile Institution--Inception of the "New Movement"--Its
Leaders and Objects--The Peep o' Day and the Utah Magazine--
Articles that aroused Young's Hostility--Visit of the Prophet's
Sons to Salt Lake City--Trial and Excommunication of Godbe and
Harrison--Results of the "New Movement".

Shaffer's Rebuke to the Nauvoo Legion--Conflict with the New
Judges--Brigham Young and Others indicted--Young's Temporary
Imprisonment--A Supreme Court Decision in Favor of the Mormon
Marshal and Attorney--Outside Influences affecting Utah Affairs--
Grant's Special Message to Congress--Failure of the Frelinghuysen
Bill in the House--Signing of the Poland Bill--Ann Eliza Young's
Suit for Divorce--The Later Governors

of his Dictatorial Power--Exaggerated Views of his Executive
Ability--Overestimations by Contemporaries--Young's Wealth and
how he acquired it--His Revenue from Divorces--Unrestrained
Control of the Church Property--His Will--Suit against his
Executors--List of his Wives--His Houses in Salt Lake City

Plural Wives--Home Accommodations of the Leaders--Horace
Greeley's Observation about Woman's Place in Utah--Meaus of
overcoming Female Jealousy--Young and Grant on the Unhappiness of
Mormon Wives--Acceptance of Fanatical Teachings by Women--Kimball
on a Fair Division of the Converts--Church Influence in Behalf of
Plural Marriages--A Prussian Convert's Dilemma--President
Cleveland on the Evils of Polygamy

introduced in Congress--The Act of 1862--The Cullom Bill of 1869
--Its Failure in the Senate--The United States Supreme Court
Decision regarding Polygamy--Conviction of John Miles--Appeal of
Women of Salt Lake City to Mrs. Hayes and the Women of the United
States--President Hayes's Drastic Recommendation to Congress--
Recommendations of Presidents Garfield and Arthur--Passage of the
Edmunds Bill--Its Provisions--The Edmunds-Tucker Amendment--
Appointment of the Utah Commission--Determined Opposition of the
Mormon Church--Placing their Flags at Half Mast--Convictions
under the New Law--Leaders in Hiding or in Exile--Mormon Honors
for those who took their Punishment--Congress asked to
disfranchise All Polygamists--The Mormon Church brought to Bay--
Woodruff's Famous Proclamation--How it was explained to the
Church--The Roberts Case and the Vetoed Act of 1901--How
Statehood came

CHAPTER XXV. THE MORMONISM OF TO-DAY: Future Place of the Church
in American History--Main Points of the Mormon Political Policy--
Unbroken Power of the Priesthood--Fidelity of the Younger
Members--Extension of the Membership over Adjoining
States--Mission Work at Home and Abroad--Decreased Foreign
Membership--Effect of False Promises to Converts--The Settlements
in Canada and Mexico --Polygamy still a Living Doctrine--Reasons
for its Hold on the Church--Its Appeal to the Female
Members--Importance of a Federal Constitutional Amendment
forbidding Polygamous Marriages--Scope of the Mormon Political




Summing up his observations of the Mormons as he found them in
Utah while secretary of the territory, five years after their
removal to the Great Salt Lake valley, B. G. Ferris wrote, "The
real miracle [of their success] consists in so large a body of
men and women, in a civilized land, and in the nineteenth
century, being brought under, governed, and controlled by such
gross religious imposture. "This statement presents, in concise
form, the general view of the surprising features of the success
of the Mormon leaders, in forming, augmenting, and keeping
together their flock; but it is a mistaken view. To accept it
would be to concede that, in a highly civilized nation like ours,
and in so late a century, the acceptance of religious beliefs
which, to the nonbelievers, seem gross superstitions, is so
unusual that it may be classed with the miraculous. Investigation
easily disproves this.

It is true that the effrontery which has characterized Mormonism
from the start has been most daring. Its founder, a lad of low
birth, very limited education, and uncertain morals; its
beginnings so near burlesque that they drew down upon its
originators the scoff of their neighbors,--the organization
increased its membership as it was driven from one state to
another, building up at last in an untried wilderness a
population that has steadily augmented its wealth and numbers;
doggedly defending its right to practise its peculiar beliefs and
obey only the officers of the church, even when its course in
this respect has brought it in conflict with the government of
the United States. Professing only a desire to be let alone, it
promulgated in polygamy a doctrine that was in conflict with the
moral sentiment of the Christian world, making its practice not
only a privilege, but a part of the religious duty of its
members. When, in recent years, Congress legislated against this
practice, the church fought for its peculiar institution to the
last, its leading members accepting exile and imprisonment; and
only the certainty of continued exclusion from the rights of
citizenship, and the hopelessness of securing the long-desired
prize of statehood for Utah, finally induced the church to bow to
the inevitable, and to announce a form of release for its members
from the duty of marrying more wives than one. Aside from this
concession, the Mormon church is to-day as autocratic in its hold
on its members, as aggressive in its proselyting, and as earnest
in maintaining its individual religious and political power, as
it has been in any previous time in its history.

In its material aspects we must concede to the Mormon church
organization a remarkable success; to Joseph Smith, Jr., a
leadership which would brook no rival; to Brigham Young the
maintenance of an autocratic authority which enabled him to hold
together and enlarge his church far beyond the limits that would
have been deemed possible when they set out across the plains
with all their possessions in their wagons. But it is no more
surprising that the Mormons succeeded in establishing their
church in the United States than it would have been if they had
been equally successful in South America; no more surprising that
this success should have been won in the nineteenth century than
it would have been to record it in the twelfth.

In studying questions of this kind, we are, in the first place,
entirely too apt to ignore the fact that man, while comparatively
a "superior being," is in simple fact one species of the animals
that are found upon the earth; and that, as a species, he has
traits which distinguish him characteristically just as certain
well-known traits characterize those animals that we designate as
"lower." If a traveller from the Sun should print his
observations of the inhabitants of the different planets, he
would have to say of those of the Earth something like this: "One
of Man's leading traits is what is known as belief. He is a
credulous creature, and is especially susceptible to appeals to
his credulity in regard to matters affecting his existence after
death." Whatever explanation we may accept of the origin of the
conception by this animal of his soul-existence, and of the
evolution of shadowy beliefs into religious systems, we must
concede that Man is possessed of a tendency to worship something,
--a recognition, at least, of a higher power with which it
behooves him to be on friendly terms,--and so long as the
absolute correctness of any one belief or doctrine cannot be
actually proved to him, he is constantly ready to inquire into,
and perhaps give credence to, new doctrines that are presented
for his consideration. The acceptance by Man of novelties in the
way of religions is a characteristic that has marked his species
ever since its record has been preserved. According to Max
Matter, "every religion began simply as a matter of reason, and
from this drifted into a superstition"; that is, into what
non-believers in the new doctrine characterize as a superstition.
Whenever one of these driftings has found a lodgement, there has
been planted a new sect. There has never been a year in the
Christian era when there have not been believers ready to accept
any doctrine offered to them in the name of religion. As
Shakespeare expresses it, in the words of Bassanio:--

"In religion, What damned error but some sober brow Will bless
it, and approve it with a text, Hiding the grossness with fair

In glancing at the cause of this unchanged susceptibility to
religious credulity--unchanged while the world has been making
such strides in the acquisition of exact information--we may find
a summing up of the situation in Macaulay's blunt declaration
that "natural theology is not a progressive science; a Christian
of the fifth century with a Bible is on a par with a Christian of
the nineteenth century with a Bible. The "orthodox" believer in
that Bible can only seek a better understanding of it by studying
it himself and accepting the deductions of other students.
Nothing, as the centuries have passed, has been added to his
definite knowledge of his God or his own future existence. When,
therefore, some one, like a Swedenborg or a Joseph Smith, appears
with an announcement of an addition to the information on this
subject, obtained by direct revelation from on high, he supplies
one of the greatest desiderata that man is conscious of, and we
ought, perhaps, to wonder that his followers are not so numerous,
but so few. Progress in medical science would no longer permit
any body like the College of the Physicians of London to
recognize curative value in the skull of a person who had met
with a violent death, as it did in the seventeenth century; but
the physician of the seventeenth century with a pharmacopoeia was
not "on a par with" a physician of the nineteenth century with a

Nor has man changed in his mental susceptibilities as the
centuries have advanced. It is a failure to recognize this fact
which leads observers like Ferris to find it so marvellous that a
belief like Mormonism should succeed in the nineteenth century.
Draper's studies of man's intellectual development led him to
declare that "man has ever been the same in his modes of thought
and motives of action, "and to assert his purpose to" judge past
occurrences in the same way as those of our own time."* So
Macaulay refused to accept the doctrine that "the world is
constantly becoming more and more enlightened, "asserting that
"the human mind, instead of marching, merely marks time. "Nothing
offers stronger confirmation of the correctness of these views
than the history of religious beliefs, and the teachings
connected therewith since the death of Christ.

* "Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. II, Chap. 3.

The chain of these beliefs and teachings--including in the list
only those which offer the boldest challenge to a sane man's
credulity--is uninterrupted down to our own day. A few of them
may be mentioned by way of illustration. In one century we find
Spanish priests demanding the suppression of the opera on the
ground that this form of entertainment caused a drought, and a
Pope issuing a bull against men and women having sexual
intercourse with fiends. In another, we find an English tailor,
unsuccessfully, allotting endless torments to all who would not
accept his declaration that God was only six feet in height, at
the same time that George Fox, who was successful in establishing
the Quaker sect, denounced as unchristian adoration of Janus and
Woden, any mention of a month as January or a day as Wednesday.
Luther, the Protestant pioneer, believed that he had personal
conferences with the devil; Wesley, the founder of Methodism,
declared that "the giving up of (belief) in witchcraft is, in
effect, giving up the Bible. "Education and mental training have
had no influence in shaping the declarations of the leaders of
new religious sects.* The learned scientist, Swedenborg, told of
seeing the Virgin Mary dressed in blue satin, and of spirits
wearing hats, just as confidently as the ignorant Joseph Smith,
Jr., described his angel as "a tall, slim, well-built, handsome
man, with a bright pillar upon his head."

* "The splendid gifts which make a seer are usually found among
those whom society calls 'common or unclean.' These brutish
beings are the chosen vessels in whom God has poured the elixirs
which amaze humanity. Such beings have furnished the prophets,
the St. Peters, the hermits of history." BALZAC, in "Cousin

The readiness with which even believers so strictly taught as are
the Jews can be led astray by the announcement of a new teacher
divinely inspired, is illustrated in the stories of their many
false Messiahs. One illustration of this--from the pen of
Zangwill --may be given:--

"From all the lands of the Exile, crowds of the devout came to do
him homage and tender allegiance--Turkish Jews with red fez or
saffron-yellow turban; Jerusalem Jews in striped cotton gowns and
soft felt hats; Polish Jews with foxskin caps and long caftans;
sallow German Jews, gigantic Russian Jews, highbred Spanish Jews;
and with them often their wives and daughters-- Jerusalem
Jewesses with blue shirts and head-veils, Egyptian Jewesses with
sweeping robes and black head-shawls, Jewesses from Ashdod and
Gaza, with white visors fringed with gold coins; Polish Jewesses
with glossy wigs; Syrian Jewesses with eyelashes black as though
lined with kohl; fat Jewesses from Tunis, with clinging breeches
interwoven with gold and silver."

This homage to a man who turned Turk, and became a doorkeeper of
the Sultan, to save himself from torture and death!

Savagery and civilization meet on this plane of religious
credulity. The Indians of Canada believed not more implicitly in
the demons who howled all over the Isles of Demons, than did the
early French sailors and the priests whose protection the latter
asked. The Jesuit priests of the seventeenth century accepted,
and impressed upon their white followers in New France, belief in
miracles which made a greater demand on credulity than did any of
the exactions of the Indian medicine man. That the head of a
white man, which the Iroquois carried to their village, spoke to
them and scolded them for their perfidy, "found believers among
the most intelligent men of the colony, "just as did the story of
the conversion of a sick Huguenot immigrant, with whose gruel a
Mother secretly mixed a little of the powdered bone of a Jesuit
martyr.* And French Canada is to-day as "orthodox" in its belief
in miracles as was the Canada of the seventeenth century. The
church of St. Anne de Beaupre, below Quebec, attracts thousands
annually, and is piled with the crutches which the miraculously
cured have cast aside. Masses were said in 1899 in the church of
Notre Dame de Bonsecours at Montreal, at the expense of a pilots'
association, to ward off wrecks in the treacherous St. Lawrence;
and in the near-by provinces there were religious processions to
check the attacks of caterpillars in the orchards.

* Parkman's "Old Regime in Canada."

Nor need we go to Catholic Quebec for modern illustrations of
this kind of faith. "Bareheaded people stood out upon the corner
in East 113th Street yesterday afternoon, "said a New York City
newspaper of December 18, 1898, "because they were unable to get
into the church of Our Lady Queen of Angels, where a relic of St.
Anthony of Padua was exposed for veneration. "Describing a
service in the church of St. Jean Baptiste in East 77th Street,
New York, where a relic alleged to be a piece of a bone of the
mother of the Virgin was exposed, a newspaper of that city, on
July 24th, 1901, said: "There were five hundred persons, by
actual count, in and around the crypt chapel of St. Anne when
afternoon service stopped the rush of the sick and crippled at
4.30 o'clock yesterday. There were many more at the 8 o'clock
evening Mass. What did these people seek at the shrine? Only the
favor of St. Anne and a kiss and touch of the casket that, by
church authority, contains bone of her body. "France has to-day
its Grotto of Lourdes, Wales its St. Winefride's Well, Mexico its
"wonder-working doll" that makes the sick well and the childless
mothers, and Moscow its "wonder-working picture of the Mother of
God," before which the Czar prostrates himself.

Not in recent years has the appetite for some novelty on which to
fasten belief been more manifest in the United States than it was
at the close of the nineteenth century. Old beliefs found new
teachers, and promulgators of new ideas found followers.
Instructors in Brahminism attracted considerable attention. A
"Chapter of the College of Divine Sciences and Realization"
instituted a revival of Druid sun-adoration on the shores of Lake
Michigan. An organization has been formed of believers in the
One-Over-At-Acre, a Persian who claimed to be the forerunner of
the Millennium, and in whom, as Christ, it is said that more than
three thousand persons in this country believe. We have among us
also Jaorelites, who believe in the near date of the end of the
world, and that they must make their ascent to heaven from a
mountain in Scotland. The hold which the form of belief called
Christian Science has obtained upon people of education and
culture needs only be referred to. Along with this have come the
"divine healers," gaining patients in circles where it would be
thought impossible for them to obtain even consideration, and one
of them securing a clientage in a Western city which has enabled
him to establish there a church of his own.

In fact, instead of finding in enlightened countries like the
United States and England a poor field for the dissemination of
new beliefs, the whole school of revealers find there their best
opportunities. Discussing this susceptibility, Aliene Gorren, in
her "Anglo-Saxons and Others," reaches this conclusion: "Nowhere
are so many persons of sound intelligence in all practical
affairs so easily led to follow after crazy seers and seeresses
as in England and the United States. The truth is that the mind
of man refuses to be shut out absolutely from the world of the
higher abstractions, and that, if it may not make its way thither
under proper guidance, it will set off even at the tail of the
first ragged street procession that passes."

The "real miracle" in Mormonism, then,--the wonderful feature of
its success,--is to be sought, not in the fact that it has been
able to attract believers in a new prophet, and to find them at
this date and in this country, but in its success in establishing
and keeping together in a republic like ours a membership who
acknowledge its supreme authority in politics as well as in
religion, and who form a distinct organization which does not
conceal its purpose to rule over the whole nation. Had Mormonism
confined itself to its religious teachings, and been preached
only to those who sought its instruction, instead of beating up
the world for recruits and conveying them to its home, the Mormon
church would probably to-day be attracting as little attention as
do the Harmonists of Pennsylvania.


Among the families who settled in Ontario County, New York, in
1816, was that of one Joseph Smith. It consisted of himself, his
wife, and nine children. The fourth of these children, Joseph
Smith, Jr., became the Mormon prophet.

The Smiths are said to have been of Scotch ancestry. It was the
mother, however, who exercised the larger influence on her son's
life, and she has left very minute details of her own and her
father's family.* Her father, Solomon Mack, was a native of Lyme,
Connecticut. The daughter Lucy, who became Mrs. Joseph Smith,
Sr., was born in Gilsum, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, on July
8, 1776. Mr. Mack was remembered as a feeble old man, who rode
around the country on horseback, using a woman's saddle, and
selling his own autobiography. The "tramp" of those early days
often offered an autobiography, or what passed for one, and, as
books were then rare, if he could say that it contained an
account of actual adventures in the recent wars, he was certain
to find purchasers.

* "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith and his Progenitors for
Many Generations," Lucy Smith.

One of the few copies of this book in existence lies before me.
It was printed at the author's expense about the year 1810. It is
wholly without interest as a narrative, telling of the poverty of
his parents, how he was bound, when four years old, to a farmer
who gave him no education and worked him like a slave; gives some
of his experiences in the campaigns against the French and
Indians in northern New York and in the war of the Revolution,
when he was in turn teamster, sutler, and privateer; describes
with minute detail many ordinary illnesses and accidents that
befell him; and closes with a recital of his religious awakening,
which was deferred until his seventy-sixth year, while he was
suffering with rheumatism. At that time it seemed to him that he
several times "saw a bright light in a dark night," and thought
he heard a voice calling to him. Twenty-two of the forty-eight
duodecimo pages that the book contains are devoted to hymns
"composed," the title-page says, "on the death of several of his
relatives," not all by himself. One of these may be quoted

"My friends, I am on the ocean, So sweetly do I sail; Jesus is my
portion, He's given me a pleasant gale.

"The bruises sore, In harbor soon I'll be, And see my redeemer
there That died for you and me."

Mrs. Smith's family seem to have had a natural tendency to belief
in revelations. Her eldest brother, Jason, became a "Seeker"; the
"Seekers" of that day believed that the devout of their times
could, through prayer and faith, secure the "gifts" of the Gospel
which were granted to the ancient apostles.* He was one of the
early believers in faith-cure, and was, we are told, himself
cured by that means in 1835. One of Lucy's sisters had a
miraculous recovery from illness. After being an invalid for two
years she was "borne away to the world of spirits, "where she saw
the Saviour and received a message from Him for her earthly

* A sect called "Seekers," who arose in 1645, taught, like the
Mormons, that the Scriptures are defective, the true church lost,
and miracles necessary to faith.

Lucy herself came very exactly under the description given by
Ruth McEnery Stuart of one of her negro characters: "Duke's
mother was of the slighter intelligences, and hence much given to
convictions. Knowing few things, she 'believed in' a great many."
Lucy Smith had neither education nor natural intelligence that
would interfere with such "beliefs" as came to her from family
tradition, from her own literal interpretations of the Bible, or
from the workings of her imagination. She tells us that after her
marriage, when very ill, she made a covenant with God that she
would serve him if her recovery was granted; thereupon she heard
a voice giving her assurance that her prayer would be answered,
and she was better the next morning. Later, when anxious for the
safety of her husband's soul, she prayed in a grove (most of the
early Mormons' prayers were made in the woods), and saw a vision
indicating his coming conversion; later still, in Vermont, a
daughter was restored to health by her parent's prayers.

According to Mrs. Smith's account of their life in Vermont, they
were married on January 24, 1796, at Tunbridge, but soon moved to
Randolph, where Smith was engaged in "merchandise, "keeping a
store. Learning of the demand for crystallized ginseng in China,
he invested money in that product and made a shipment, but it
proved unprofitable, and, having in this way lost most of his
money, they moved back to a farm at Tunbridge. Thence they moved
to Royalton, and in a few months to Sharon, where, on December
23, 1805, Joseph Smith, Jr., their fourth child, was born.* Again
they moved to Tunbridge, and then back to Royalton (all these
places in Vermont). From there they went to Lebanon, New
Hampshire, thence to Norwich, Vermont, still "farming" without
success, until, after three years of crop failure, they decided
to move to New York State, arriving there in the summer of 1816.

* There is equally good authority for placing the house in which
Smith was born across the line in Royalton.

Less prejudiced testimony gives an even less favorable view than
this of the elder Smith's business career in Vermont. Judge
Daniel Woodward, of the county court of Windsor, Vermont, near
whose father's farm the Smiths lived, says that the elder Smith
while living there was a hunter for Captain Kidd's treasure, and
that" he also became implicated with one Jack Downing in
counterfeiting money, but turned state's evidence and escaped the
penalty."* He had in earlier life been a Universalist, but
afterward became a Methodist. His spiritual welfare gave his wife
much concern, but although he had "two visions "while living in
Vermont, she did not accept his change of heart. She admits,
however, that after their removal to New York her husband obeyed
the scriptural injunction, "your old men shall dream dreams," and
she mentions several of these dreams, the latest in 1819, giving
the particulars of some of them. One sample of these will
suffice. The dreamer found himself in a beautiful garden, with
wide walks and a main walk running through the centre." On each
side of this was a richly carved seat, and on each seat were
placed six wooden images, each of which was the size of a very
large man. When I came to the first image on the right side it
arose, bowed to me with much deference. I then turned to the one
which sat opposite to me, on the left side, and it arose and
bowed to me in the same manner as the first. I continued turning
first to the right and then to the left until the whole twelve
had made the obeisance, after which I was entirely healed (of a
lameness from which he then was suffering). I then asked my guide
the meaning of all this, but I awoke before I received an

* Historical Magazine, 1870.

A similar wakefulness always manifested itself at the critical
moment in these dreams. What the world lost by this insomnia of
the dreamer the world will never know.

The Smiths' first residence in New York State was in the village
of Palmyra. There the father displayed a sign, "Cake and Beer
Shop, "selling" gingerbread, pies, boiled eggs, root beer, and
other like notions, "and he and his sons did odd jobs, gardening,
harvesting, and well-digging, when they could get them.*

* Tucker's "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," p. 12.

They were very poor, and Mrs. Smith added to their income by
painting oilcloth table covers. After a residence of three years
and a half in Palmyra, the family took possession of a piece of
land two miles south of that place, on the border of Manchester.
They had no title to it, but as the owners were nonresident
minors they were not disturbed. There they put up a little log
house, with two rooms on the ground floor and two in the attic,
which sheltered them all. Later, the elder Smith contracted to
buy the property and erected a farmhouse on it; but he never
completed his title to it.

While classing themselves as farmers, the Smiths were regarded by
their neighbors as shiftless and untrustworthy. They sold
cordwood, vegetables, brooms of their own manufacture, and maple
sugar, continuing to vend cakes in the village when any special
occasion attracted a crowd. It may be remarked here that, while
Ontario County, New York, was regarded as "out West" by seaboard
and New England people in 1830, its population was then almost as
large as it is to-day (having 40,288 inhabitants according to the
census of 1830 and 48,453 according to the census of 1890). The
father and several of the boys could not read, and a good deal of
the time of the younger sons was spent in hunting, fishing, and
lounging around the village.

The son Joseph did not rise above the social standing of his
brothers. The best that a Mormon biographer, Orson Pratt, could
say of him as a youth was that "He could read without much
difficulty, and write a very imperfect hand, and had a very
limited understanding of the elementary rules of arithmetic.
These were his highest and only attainments, while the rest of
those branches so universally taught in the common schools
throughout the United States were entirely unknown to him."* He
was "Joe Smith" to every one. Among the younger people he served
as a butt for jokes, and we are told that the boys who bought the
cakes that he peddled used to pay him in pewter twoshilling
pieces, and that when he called at the Palmyra Register office
for his father's weekly paper, the youngsters in the press room
thought it fun to blacken his face with the ink balls.

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," p. 16.

Here are two pictures of the young man drawn by persons who saw
him constantly in the days of his vagabondage. The first is from
Mr. Tucker's book:--

"At this period in the life and career of Joseph Smith, Jr., or
'Joe Smith,' as he was universally named, and the Smith family,
they were popularly regarded as an illiterate, whiskey-drinking,
shiftless, irreligious race of people--the first named, the chief
subject of this biography, being unanimously voted the laziest
and most worthless of the generation. From the age of twelve to
twenty years he is distinctly remembered as a dull-eyed,
flaxenhaired, prevaricating boy noted only for his indolent and
vagabondish character, and his habits of exaggeration and
untruthfulness. Taciturnity was among his characteristic
idiosyncrasies, and he seldom spoke to any one outside of his
intimate associates, except when first addressed by another; and
then, by reason of his extravagancies of statement, his word was
received with the least confidence by those who knew him best. He
could utter the most palpable exaggeration or marvellous
absurdity with the utmost apparent gravity. He nevertheless
evidenced the rapid development of a thinking, plodding,
evilbrewing mental composition--largely given to inventions of
low cunning, schemes of mischief and deception, and false and
mysterious pretensions. In his moral phrenology the professor
might have marked the organ of secretiveness as very large, and
that of conscientiousness omitted. He was, however, proverbially
good natured, very rarely, if ever, indulging in any combative
spirit toward any one, whatever might be the provocation, and yet
was never known to laugh. Albeit, he seemed to be the pride of
his indulgent father, who has been heard to boast of him as the
'genus of the family,' quoting his own expression."*

* "Remarkable Visions."

The second (drawn a little later) is by Daniel Hendrix, a
resident of Palmyra, New York, at the time of which he speaks,
and an assistant in setting the type and reading the proof of the
Mormon Bible:--

"Every one knew him as Joe Smith. He had lived in Palmyra a few
years previous to my going there from Rochester. Joe was the most
ragged, lazy fellow in the place, and that is saying a good deal.
He was about twenty-five years old. I can see him now in my
mind's eye, with his torn and patched trousers held to his form
by a pair of suspenders made out of sheeting, with his calico
shirt as dirty and black as the earth, and his uncombed hair
sticking through the holes in his old battered hat. In winter I
used to pity him, for his shoes were so old and worn out that he
must have suffered in the snow and slush; yet Joe had a jovial,
easy, don't-care way about him that made him a lot of warm
friends. He was a good talker, and would have made a fine stump
speaker if he had had the training. He was known among the young
men I associated with as a romancer of the first water. I never
knew so ignorant a man as Joe was to have such a fertile
imagination. He never could tell a common occurrence in his daily
life without embellishing the story with his imagination; yet I
remember that he was grieved one day when old Parson Reed told
Joe that he was going to hell for his lying habits."*

* San Jacinto, California, letter of February 2, 1897, to the St.
Louis Globe-Democrat.

To this testimony may be added the following declarations,
published in 1833, the year in which a mob drove the Mormons out
of Jackson County, Missouri. The first was signed by eleven of
the most prominent citizens of Manchester, New York, and the
second by sixty-two residents of Palmyra:--

"We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family
of Joseph Smith, Sr., with whom the Gold Bible, so called,
originated, state: That they were not only a lazy, indolent set
of men, but also intemperate, and their word was not to be
depended upon; and that we are truly glad to dispense with their

"We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family
for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we
have no hesitation in saying that we consider them destitute of
that moral character which ought to entitle them to the
confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for
visionary projects; spent much of their time in digging for money
which they pretended was hid in the earth, and to this day large
excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their
residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for
hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Sr., and his son Joseph were, in
particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and
addicted to vicious habits."*

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 261.

Finally may be quoted the following affidavit of Parley Chase:--

"Manchester, New York, December 2, 1833. I was acquainted with
the family of Joseph Smith, Sr., both before and since they
became Mormons, and feel free to state that not one of the male
members of the Smith family were entitled to any credit
whatsoever. They were lazy, intemperate, and worthless men, very
much addicted to lying. In this they frequently boasted their
skill. Digging for money was their principal employment. In
regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told
two stories alike. The Mormon Bible is said to be a revelation
from God, through Joseph Smith, Jr., his Prophet, and this same
Joseph Smith, Jr., to my knowledge, bore the reputation among his
neighbors of being a liar."*

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 248.

The preposterousness of the claims of such a fellow as Smith to
prophetic powers and divinely revealed information were so
apparent to his local acquaintances that they gave them little
attention. One of these has remarked to me in recent years that
if they had had any idea of the acceptance of Joe's professions
by a permanent church, they would have put on record a much
fuller description of him and his family.


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

* 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.

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.


Just when Smith's attention was originally diverted from the
discovery of buried money to the discovery of a buried Bible
engraved on gold plates remains one of the unexplained points in
his history. He was so much of a romancer that his own statements
at the time, which were carefully collected by Howe, are
contradictory. The description given of the buried volume itself
changed from time to time, giving strength in this way to the
theory that Rigdon was attracted to Smith by the rumor of his
discovery, and afterward gave it shape. First the book was
announced to be a secular history, says Dr. Clark; then a gold
Bible; then golden plates engraved; and later metallic plates,
stereotyped or embossed with golden letters.* Daniel Hendrix's
recollection was that for the first few months Joe did not claim
the plates any new revelation or religious significance, but
simply that they were a historical record of an ancient people.
This would indicate that he had possession of the "Spaulding
Manuscript" before it received any theological additions.

* "Gleanings by the Way," p. 229.

The account of the revelation of the book by an angel, which is
accepted by the Mormons, is the one elaborated in Smith's
autobiography, and was not written until 1838, when it was
prepared under the direction of Rigdon (or by him). Before
examining this later version of the story, we may follow a little
farther Joe's local history at the time.

While the Smiths were conducting their operations in
Pennsylvania, and Joseph was "displaying the corruption of human
nature, "they boarded for a time in the family of Isaac Hale, who
is described as a "distinguished hunter, a zealous member of the
Methodist church, "and (as later testified to by two judges of
the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County)" a man of
excellent moral character and of undoubted veracity."* Mr. Hale
had three daughters, and Joe received enough encouragement to his
addresses to Emma to induce him to ask her father's consent to
their marriage. This consent was flatly refused. Mr. Hale made a
statement in 1834, covering his knowledge of Smith and the origin
of the Mormon Bible.** When he became acquainted with the future
prophet, in 1825, Joe was employed by the so-called "money-
diggers," using his "peek-stone." Among the reasons which Mr.
Hale gave for refusing consent to the marriage was that Smith was
a stranger and followed a business which he could not approve.

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 266.

** Ibid., p. 262.

Joe thereupon induced Emma to consent to an elopement, and they
were married on January 18, 1827, by a justice of the peace, just
across the line in New York State. Not daring to return to the
house of his father-in-law, Joe took his wife to his own home,
near Palmyra, New York, where for some months he worked again
with his father.

In the following August Joe hired a neighbor named Peter Ingersol
to go with him to Pennsylvania to bring from there some household
effects belonging to Emma. Of this trip Ingersol said, in an
affidavit made in 1833:--

"When we arrived at Mr. Hale's in Harmony, Pa., from which place
he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself truly affecting.
His father-in-law addressed Joseph in a flood of tears: 'You have
stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have
followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for
money--pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive
people.' Joseph wept and acknowledged that he could not see in a
stone now nor never could, and that his former pretensions in
that respect were false. He then promised to give up his old
habits of digging for money and looking into stones. Mr. Hale
told Joseph, if he would move to Pennsylvania and work for a
living, he would assist him in getting into business. Joseph
acceded to this proposition, then returned with Joseph and his
wife to Manchester....

"Joseph told me on his return that he intended to keep the
promise which he had made to his father-in-law; 'but,' said he,
it will he hard for me, for they [his family] will all oppose, as
they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money'; and in
fact it was as he predicted. They urged him day after day 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.

"One day he came and greeted me with joyful countenance. Upon
asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the
following language: '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 up by the water. I took off my
frock and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home. On
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 about a history found in Canada,
called a 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 I had received a
commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it
with the natural eye and live. However, I offered to take out the
book and show it to them, but they refused to see it and left the
room. 'Now,' said Joe, 'I have got the d--d fools fixed and will
carry out the fun.' Notwithstanding he told me he had no such
book and believed there never was such book, he told me he
actually went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest in
which he might deposit the Golden Bible. But as Chase would not
do it, he made the box himself of clapboards, and put it into a
pillow-case, and allowed people only to lift it and feel of it
through the case."**

* The most careful inquiries bring no information that any such
story was ever current in Canada.

** Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 234.

In line with this statement of Joe to Ingersol is a statement
which somewhat later he made to his brother-in-law, Alva Hale,
that "this 'peeking' was all d--d nonsense; that he intended to
quit the business and labor for a livelihood."*

* Ibid., p. 268.

Joe's family were quite ready to accept his statement of his
discovery of golden plates for more reasons than one. They saw in
it, in the first place, a means of pecuniary gain. Abigail Harris
in a statement (dated "11th mo., 28th, 1833") of a talk she had
with Joe's father and mother at Martin Harris's house, said:--

"They [the Smiths] said the plates Joe then had in possession
were but an introduction to the Gold Bible; that all of them upon
which the Bible was written were so heavy that it would take four
stout men to load them into a cart; that Joseph had also
discerned by looking through his stone the vessel in which the
gold was melted from which the plates were made, and also the
machine with which they were rolled; he also discovered in the
bottom of the vessel three balls of gold, each as large as his
fist. The old lady said also that after the book was translated,
the plates were to be publicly exhibited, admission 25 cts."*

* Ibid, p. 253.

But aside from this pecuniary view, the idea of a new Bible would
have been eagerly accepted by a woman like Mrs. Smith, and a mere
intimation by Joe of such a discovery would have given him, in
her, an instigator to the carrying out of the plot. It is said
that she had predicted that she was to be the mother of a
prophet. She tells us that although, in Vermont, she was a
diligent church attendant, she found all preachers
unsatisfactory, and that she reached the conclusion that "there
was not on earth the religion she sought. "Joe, in his
description of his state of mind just before the first visit of
the angel who told him about the plates, describes himself as
distracted by the "war and tumult of opinions. "He doubtless
heard this subject talked of by his mother in the home circle,
but none of his acquaintances at the time had any reason to think
that he was laboring under such mental distress.

The second person in the neighborhood whom Joe approached about
his discovery was Willard Chase, in whose well the "peek-stone"
was found. Mr. Chase in his statement (given at length by Howe)
says that Joe applied to him, soon after the above quoted
conversation with Ingersol, to make a chest in which to lock up
his Gold Book, offering Chase an interest in it as compensation.
He told Chase that the discovery of the book was due to the
"peek-stone," making no allusion whatever to an angel's visit. He
and Chase could not come to terms, and Joe accordingly made a box
in which what he asserted were the plates were placed.

Reports of Joe's discovery soon gained currency in the
neighborhood through the family's account of it, and neighbors
who had accompanied them on the money-seeking expeditions came to
hear about the new Bible, and to request permission to see it.
Joe warded off these requests by reiterating that no man but him
could look upon it and live. "Conflicting stories were afterward
told," says Tucker, "in regard to the manner of keeping the book
in concealment and safety, which are not worth repeating, further
than to mention that the first place of secretion was said to be
under a heavy hearthstone in the Smith family mansion."

Joe's mother and Parley P. Pratt tell of determined efforts of
mobs and individuals to secure possession of the plates; but
their statements cannot be taken seriously, and are contradicted
by Tucker from personal knowledge. Tucker relates that two local
wags, William T. Hussey and Azel Vandruver, intimate
acquaintances of Smith, on asking for a sight of the book and
hearing Joe's usual excuse, declared their readiness to risk
their lives if that were the price of the privilege. Smith was
not to be persuaded, but, the story continues, "they were
permitted to go to the chest with its owner, and see WHERE the
thing was, and observe its shape and size, concealed under a
piece of thick canvas. Smith, with his accustomed solemnity of
demeanor, positively persisting in his refusal to uncover it,
Hussey became impetuous, and (suiting his action to his word)
ejaculated, 'Egad, I'll see the critter, live or die,' and
stripping off the canvas, a large tile brick was exhibited. But
Smith's fertile imagination was equal to the emergency. He
claimed that his friends had been sold by a trick of his."*

* "Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism," p. 31.

Mother Smith, in her book, gives an account of proceedings in
court brought by the wife of Martin Harris to protect her
husband's property from Smith, on the plea that Smith was
deceiving him in alleging the existence of golden plates; and she
relates how one witness testified that Joe told him that "the box
which he had contained nothing but sand, "that a second witness
swore that Joe told him, "it was nothing but a box of lead, "and
that a third witness declared that Joe had told him "there was
nothing at all in the box. "When Joe had once started the story
of his discovery, he elaborated it in his usual way. "I
distinctly remember, "says Daniel Hendrix," his sitting on some
boxes in the store and telling a knot of men, who did not believe
a word they heard, all about his vision and his find. But Joe
went into such minute and careful details about the size, weight,
and beauty of the carvings on the golden tablets, and strange
characters and the ancient adornments, that I confess he made
some of the smartest men in Palmyra rub their eyes in wonder."


The precise date when Joe's attention was first called to the

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