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Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture, Working Papers (2008)  >  Treasure and the Supernatural: Joseph Smith's Search for the Divine

Treasure and the Supernatural:
Joseph Smith's Search for the Divine

In the summer of 2008, eight scholars joined historian Richard Bushman in an effort to examine controversial issues surrounding the prophet Joseph Smith. Working papers are unpublished, unedited, unpolished drafts. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Maxwell Institute or BYU.

 

The Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelatory experiences were more varied, rich, and complex than any of us fully realize. We understand very little of how visions rolled “like an overflowing surge before [his] mind,”1 and may be at times surprised—or even uncomfortably shocked—as we learn of some of Joseph’s revelatory undertakings.

Evidence suggests that Joseph Smith and others in his family frequently engaged in supernatural practices, some of which were aimed at discovering treasure. The bulk of this activity seems to have occurred between the First Vision and the reception of the plates from Moroni in 1827. In affidavits collected from neighbors of the Smith family in the 1830s, both Joseph and Father Smith are pictured performing supernatural rituals to find treasure, including the gold plates. Among the supernatural aids employed was a seerstone that was later used along with the Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon.

For many, this puts into question Joseph Smith’s claims to have interacted with God and angels. Treasure-seeking is a “magical” practice seemingly out of keeping with prophetic revelation. Why would Joseph not be able to tell the difference between bona fide spiritual experiences and fraudulent ones? If he could not, are any of his spiritual experiences credible?

Truth vs Falsehood

“Was not Joseph Smith a money digger? Yes,” or so said the prophet himself in the Elders’ Journal[i]. However, Joseph was imputed with all manner of interaction with the supernatural in his pursuit of treasure that are not nearly so credible as the prophet’s above statement. Witnesses accused Joseph and his family of searching for gold and silver,2 sometimes in the form of bars,3 watches,4 plates,5 coins,6 candlesticks,7 etc.,8 by means of a seerstone,9 protective circles,10 protective swords,11 sacrificed sheep,12 divining rods,13 and fortune telling,14 all while paying attention to special days and the phases of the moon.15 Some believe that Hyrum owned magical parchments16 and a ritual dagger,17 and that Joseph utilized an astrological Jupiter talisman right up to his martyrdom.18 Others have claimed that Joseph originally described the golden plates as a treasure left by Captain Kidd that was guarded by a supernatural ghost, and that over time the story evolved into one of a religious record and the angel Moroni.19

What are we to make of these claims? How are we to determine what is reliable and what is not? Some assertions are almost certainly true and stem from those who were closest and most friendly to the prophet. Some claims are easily dismissed. Yet the veracity of others is so muddled and byzantine it is almost impossible to detect truth from falsehood among them.

What did Joseph Do?

Examples of critiques with little substance include allegations of a magical dagger, parchment, and talisman, and the evolution of a treasure Ghost into the Angel Moroni. While Hyrum may have possessed an ornate dagger (the ownership is not clear), many people in his day had something similar. None of those who accused the family of magical involvement say anything about a dagger in their detailed descriptions of treasure seeking, and there is no evidence it was seen as anything but a beautiful and useful knife.20 Attempts to demonstrate more than this have fallen short,21 and it makes little difference even if Hyrum held some superstitious beliefs about a knife. Similar ownership and application problems exist with assertions made regarding the parchment and talisman.22

Likewise, a careful analysis of the documents show that Moroni was represented as an angel in the earliest accounts.23 Statements by Joseph’s enemies describing him as a treasure ghost arose in 1830 and grew from there,24 revealing that it was these stories that evolved and changed over time, not descriptions of Moroni as an angel.25

While good research brings clarity to the above claims, such lucidity is elusive in other allegations where the evidence is so convoluted that no amount of study will yield a sure conclusion. The 1826 trial records and the 1833 affidavits collected from neighbors comprise the bulk of the allegations that Joseph trafficked in the supernatural while searching for treasure. Many things about these documents argue against their veracity while others support them.

In the fall of 1833, D. P. Hurlbut arrived in Palmyra seeking accounts of Joseph Smith’s early history and character.26 Hurlbut had been excommunicated, put under restraining order to prevent him from harming Joseph Smith, and hired by an anti-Mormon group to collect testimonies that would verify the views of that group. The people he interviewed told stories about Joseph Smith Sr. and Jr. using all kinds of supernatural aids in their quest for treasure. Some of the most bizarre of these tales include finding the treasure by means of a seerstone27 or divining rod;28 creating magic circles with metal stakes,29 witch hazel stakes,30 or even the blood of sacrificed sheep;31 and then finding treasure that kept moving through the ground of its own volition so that it was never quite grasped.32 Some also spoke of young Joseph using his stone to tell fortunes.33

While space does not permit a full analysis of Hurlbut’s recorded interviews, it must be acknowledged that there are a number of historical problems with these affidavits. They bear a striking resemblance to Abner Cole’s satirical, fanciful report of treasure seeking in the Book of Mormon,39 and to a newspaper account of a different Smith family from Rochester New York. 34

Moreover, inconsistencies among the statements and later interviews cast some doubt on the authenticity of the affidavits.38 For example, William Stafford claimed to have known the Smiths quite well. He provided stories about the Smiths using witch hazel stakes and the blood of a sheep.31 However, when asked about Stafford’s statement later, his son (who was Joseph’s age) claimed that his father was not connected with the Smiths in any way, and that he did not believe the story about the sheep was true.41 Many interviews and statements gathered from the Smith neighbors by less hostile interviewers paint a very different picture of the family than those gathered by Hurlbut. 44

Such problems with the sources make it difficult to know what we can trust from the affidavits. Yet confirming testimonies from Latter-day Saint witnesses lend validity to some of the Hurlbut reports. For example, Joshuah Stafford writes “Joseph once showed me a piece of wood which he said he took from a box of money, and the reason he gave for not obtaining the box, was, that it moved.”42 Later reports by Latter-day Saints in Utah spoke of Martin Harris and Porter Rockwell claiming to have grabbed the lid of a chest which slid away from them while treasure hunting with Joseph, but a fragment of the lid broke off and they kept it as a prized relic for years.43 Brigham Young believed this story.44 Other affidavits speak of Joseph finding gold watches.45 This was also held to be true by later Church members who knew Joseph.46 It seems then, that there is some accuracy in the affidavits. What are we to make of these contradictory ideas? Are the affidavits reliable or not? Can we use them as evidence?

Similar questions apply to the records concerning an 1826 trial in which Joseph Smith was accused of disorderly conduct—specifically for trying “to discover where lost goods may be found.” 38 The only fully original documents we have from the trial are the bills from the justice of the peace who heard the case and from the constable who brought Joseph to trial. There are

three main accounts of the proceedings: 1) An account published nearly 100 years later, purportedly from pages ripped from the Justice’s trial docket book by his niece—though no one has been able to produce the actual pages.  2) A publication in Fraser’s Magazine is similar to but not identical with the account produced by Justice Neely’s niece. 3) A reminiscence offered 50 years later by Dr. W. D. Purple, who writes that he was asked to take notes at the court by Justice Neely, also has distinct variations from the above documents. These accounts disagree as to the number, names, and order of the witnesses, and even as to the verdict rendered. The evidence from these accounts and the bills have been used to demonstrate both that Joseph was found guilty47 and that he was acquitted.48 Further, none of these accounts pretend to be objective, they all include judgments which convey the authors’ harsh perspective towards the Smiths. This clear bias, the contradictions between the accounts, the lack of original documentation, and the lengthy period between the trial and the creation of any of the extant annals casts doubt on the reliability of these records.

Yet the Justice’s bill and one of the later accounts both show that Justice Neely charged $2.68 for his services, a precision which indicates some degree of accuracy. Furthermore, while the three main sources are decidedly anti-Mormon, they all record the strong testimony of Josiah Stowell in behalf of Joseph. His testimony, and those of Joseph Smith Sr. and Jr., seem to accord with the actions of the men reported to make them. For example, Stowell avowed that he knew for certain that Joseph could see things in his seerstone. As proof he testified that when he traveled from Pennsylvania to Palmyra to enlist Joseph’s services, he tested Joseph’s seeric ability. Joseph looked into his stone and described Stowell’s house, outhouses, and a tree with a hand painted on it.49 When the Justice asked Stowell if he believed Joseph could use the stone to see 50 feet below the ground, Stowell replied, “Do I believe it? No, it is not a matter of belief. I

positively know it to be true.”50 Stowell’s actions—employing Joseph and following the Prophet faithfully throughout his life—seem congruent with this statement.

The informal trial notes describe Joseph saying that when he looked in the seerstone “time, place and distance were annihilated, that all the intervening obstacles were removed, and that he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye.”51 These statements are reminiscent of things Joseph said later in life.52

According to Dr. Purple’s trial account, Joseph Smith Sr. reportedly testified that, “both he and his son were mortified that this wonderful power which God had so miraculously given him should be used only in search of filthy lucre, or its equivalent in earthly treasures, and with a long-faced, ‘sanctimonious seeming,’ he said his constant prayer to his Heavenly Father was to manifest His will concerning this marvelous power. He trusted that the Son of Righteousness would some day illumine the heart of the boy, and enable him to see His will concerning Him.”53 The timing of the rise and fall of treasure seeking in the Smith family seem to confirm the accuracy of these sentiments. Undoubtedly there is much of truth to the notes of the trial, but how are we to know what to trust from these problematic documents?

Sifting the Evidence

Given the problems with the trial documents and affidavits, how can we determine what Joseph Smith did in regards to seeking supernatural aid while searching for treasure? The stories behind the documents are so complex that it seems impossible to use them to reconstruct an accurate picture. While the task may seem overwhelming, in actuality there is no point in quibbling over which lines from which documents are trustworthy. There is, however, evidence

enough from those close and sympathetic to the Prophet, and from the Prophet himself, to get a general impression of what he did.

Undoubtedly, Joseph helped Josiah Stowell search for treasure, and Josiah sought Joseph’s services because of his seeric abilities. We have already noted that friends believed Joseph found gold watches and was able to grab part of a treasure chest. There is also a great amount of agreement that Joseph used multiple seerstones for a variety of reasons.54 This is probably what Joseph’s mother was referring to when she said that Josiah Stowell sought out Joseph’s services because he had “heard that [Joseph] possessed certain means [she says “certain keys” in other editions]55 by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.”56 Martin Harris tells an interesting story about Joseph’s use of the stone. Harris was once picking his teeth with a pin when he dropped the pin into some straw. When no one could find it, he asked Joseph to use his seerstone. “He took it and placed it in his hat – the old white hat – and placed his face in his hat. I watched him closely to see that he did not look one side; he reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick, and there I saw the pin, which he picked up and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin.”57

Many accounts agree that Joseph could not obtain the plates for some time because he associated them with obtaining worldly wealth.61 Joseph himself describes his first attempt – a failure – to get the plates thus: “I had been tempted of the advisary and saught the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the comandment that I should have an eye single to the glory of God therefore I was chastened [sic.].”62 His mother and Oliver Cowdrey both recorded that Joseph could not obtain the plates because he wondered what other valuable things might be in the box.63 Martin Harris said that Moroni told Joseph he had to quit the company of the money diggers and have nothing more to do with them.64

Thus, while parsing through the trial documents and affidavits may be a worthwhile historical endeavor, in many ways it is just quibbling over the exact manner and extent of Joseph’s treasure seeking efforts. The sources agree that Joseph sought supernatural aid in seeking for treasure and other things, but that desire for treasure was something he had to overcome in order to receive the plates.

Joseph’s Situation

To properly assess Joseph’s activities we have to understand Joseph on his own terms. First, we must understand that Joseph and his family were desperately poor. They had suffered a series of devastating financial setbacks,65 and it was during the years Joseph was trying to obtain the plates that they lost their farm.66 The financial needs of the family must have pressed relentlessly on the minds of Father Smith and his namesake. For them, every event in life was evaluated in terms of how it impacted the survival of their family.

Second, Joseph was part of a culture that fervently believed experiences with God could be a part of their personal life, and that seeking and finding his help while searching for treasure was a viable part of Christianity. While this was a part of their religious heritage,67 it was also a folk-religion reaction against ongoing Protestant movements to largely deny personal interaction with God, especially in tangible forms.68 Joseph’s struggles to demonstrate that God continued to reveal himself in the lives of men began during this time period and lasted his entire life. Trafficking in the supernatural while searching for treasure was prevalent during his day and in his area,69 and the participants viewed their activities as a genuine expression of Christianity. 70 Ministers were frequently involved,71 as were prayer circles72 and other Christian activities,73 including the use of divining rods in establishing churches.74 Those whose religious bent was to

put God in a distant sphere castigated those who sought daily interaction with God through such practices, accusing them of magic and heaping disdain upon them.75 Many of the negative characterizations made of Joseph Smith reflect this cultural conflict.

Joseph’s means of interacting with the divine seem strange to us, but this is largely because we are more cultural inheritors of the Protestant movement to remove God from daily life than we are of the folk religion of Joseph’s day. However, as Joseph consulted the Bible, he would have found instances of divining instruments. They were far from unfamiliar in a biblical culture. If David enquired of the Urim and Thummim (seerstones) for directions concerning military strivings (1 Samuel 30:7), could Joseph not inquire of a seerstone regarding the financial struggles of his family? If Joseph of Egypt used a silver cup for divining (Genesis 44:5), and Revelation records the use of white stones, (Revelation 2:17, D&C 130:10-11) couldn’t Joseph use a seerstone to see things? After all, the Lord said he would prepare “Gazelem, a stone,” which would enable hidden knowledge to come forth (Alma 37:23).[i] If Jacob could use stakes to encourage the fertility of cattle, and Moses could use a rod to bring water to the Israelites, couldn’t divining rods be an appropriate means of communication with God for sincere seekers of Him? (Incidentally, appropriate interaction with God through rods was confirmed by God himself in his revelation to Oliver Cowdrey, wherein Oliver was told that he had communed with God through a rod).76 We can ask ourselves if there is a real difference between Nephi being informed where to hunt by means of a brass ball and someone who believes God will help him find lost cows through a rod, or a lost pin through a seerstone? Won’t God direct those who honestly turn to him in whatever manner they expect, or does it always have to be a fleece laid on the ground (Judges 6:36-40)?[ii]

In the end, the question that may bother us boils down to wondering if Joseph sought for treasure and if he used supernatural means for that purpose. And if the answer is yes, we must ask ourselves if that disqualifies him as a prophet. Is it possible that after seeing God in the grove, Joseph felt he had a special relationship with the divine? And what if, after this experience, he still found the destitute poverty of his family an oppressive need, and he thought that his proven ability to communicate with God might help his family out of their impoverished circumstances? Does such a hope make his later claims to translate by the gift and power of God unbelievable?

It seems to me that a different question is more important. Shouldn’t we expect the kind of youth who actually believes he can enter a grove of trees and receive an answer to his questions from God, to also be the kind of youth who believes that God interacts with His children in their daily lives? Isn’t the characteristic that drove Joseph to the grove, or to his knees the night Moroni came, the same quality that would lead him to seeking God’s help in all kinds of other things? Should we expect God to refuse interaction with such a youth because he was seeking God in ways not familiar to us? Is it possible that Joseph’s youthful employment of seerstones was a training ground for the great work he would later undertake? Could it have happened as Elder Oaks suggested when speaking of Joseph’s possible use of seerstones in seeking for treasure: “Line upon line, young Joseph Smith expanded his faith and understanding and his spiritual gifts matured until he stood with power and stature as the Prophet of the Restoration.”[i]?

It seems that the great tutorial and test for Joseph was to learn to use his gift only to build the kingdom of God, not for personal reasons. Did we expect him to pass this test at age

In the end, the question that may bother us boils down to wondering if Joseph sought for treasure and if he used supernatural means for that purpose. And if the answer is yes, we must ask ourselves if that disqualifies him as a prophet. Is it possible that after seeing God in the grove, Joseph felt he had a special relationship with the divine? And what if, after this experience, he still found the destitute poverty of his family an oppressive need, and he thought that his proven ability to communicate with God might help his family out of their impoverished circumstances? Does such a hope make his later claims to translate by the gift and power of God unbelievable?

It seems to me that a different question is more important. Shouldn’t we expect the kind of youth who actually believes he can enter a grove of trees and receive an answer to his questions from God, to also be the kind of youth who believes that God interacts with His children in their daily lives? Isn’t the characteristic that drove Joseph to the grove, or to his knees the night Moroni came, the same quality that would lead him to seeking God’s help in all kinds of other things? Should we expect God to refuse interaction with such a youth because he was seeking God in ways not familiar to us? Is it possible that Joseph’s youthful employment of seerstones was a training ground for the great work he would later undertake? Could it have happened as Elder Oaks suggested when speaking of Joseph’s possible use of seerstones in seeking for treasure: “Line upon line, young Joseph Smith expanded his faith and understanding and his spiritual gifts matured until he stood with power and stature as the Prophet of the Restoration.”[i]?

It seems that the great tutorial and test for Joseph was to learn to use his gift only to build the kingdom of God, not for personal reasons. Should we expect him to have passed this test at age fourteen, or should we expect it to have taken years to school himself to the point of only using his gift of interaction with the divine for seeking the glory of God? I think that Joseph Smith possessed a heartfelt belief that God cared about him and would be a part of his life. This caused him to seek God’s help in a variety of ways concerning a variety of things. It is this belief that led him to seek God in a secluded grove of trees, and thus I am personally grateful that Joseph possessed this quality, regardless of other ways it manifested itself.

  1. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1957), 5:362.
    1. Elders’ Journal, (1838) Vol. I, No. II, 29.
  2. See Joseph Capron Statement, Roswell Nichols Statement, and Peter Ingersoll Statement in Dan Vogel, ed. Early Mormon Documents, vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 24, 38, 41. Hereafter, Early Mormon Documents will be abbreviated as EMD.
  3. See William Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 60.
  4. See Joseph Capron Statement and Joshua Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 24-25, 28.
  5. See William Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 60.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. See Peter Ingersoll Statement, William Stafford Statement, and Willard Chase Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 41, 60-61, 65-66.
  10. See Joseph Capron Statement and William Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 25, 60-61.
  11. See Joseph Capron Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 25.
  12. See William Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 61.
  13. See Peter Ingersoll Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 40-42.
  14. See David Stafford Statement and Henry Harris Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 57, 75.
  15. See William Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 60.
  16. D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 97.
  17. Ibid., 70-71.
  18. Ibid., 71-83.
  19. See Ronald V. Huggins, “From Captain Kidd’s Treasure Ghost to the Angel Moroni: Changing Dramatis Personae in Early Mormonism,” in Dialogue 36, no. 4 (2003): 17-42; Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and New History, ed. John Phillip Walker (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986), 266-75; and Quinn, 136-177. Also see Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books,2004), 35-52; John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (New York: Cambridge UP, 1994), 152-156; Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: Appleton and Co., 1867), 19-26; Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, 2nd ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971), 16-21; and Marqardt and Walters, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 63-77, 89-106.
  20. See William J. Hamblin, “That Old Black Magic,” in The FARMS Review of Books 12, no. 2 (2000): 77.
  21. See Stephen E. Robinson, “Review of Michael D. Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View,” in BYU Studies 27, no. 4 (1987): 91; and Hamblin, Black Magic, 65-77.
  22. See Robinson, Magic World View, 91-92; and Hamblin, Black Magic, 95-99.
  23.  23.See D&C 20:6 (composed at least by early June 1830, and first printed in “The Mormon Creed,” Painesville Telegraph, 19 April 1831, 4); the “Testimony of the Three Witnesses” printed in The Book of Mormon, and composed mid 1829; and a hostile letter from Jesse Smith written in June of 1829 but referring to an account of the angel written in 1828, as reproduced in Larry E. Morris, “I Should Have an Eye Single to the Glory of God,” Farms Review 17, no. 1 (2005): 51, also printed in Mark Ashurst-McGee, “Moroni: Angel or Treasure Guardian?” in Mormon Historical Studies 2, no. 2 (2001): 52. For other early sources, including letters and articles, see Morris, 30 and 51-53 as well as Ashurst-McGee 50-53.
  1. See Morris, Glory of God, 27; Ashurst McGee, Moroni, 48-51; and Hamblin, Black Magic, 58-60.
  2. See Hamblin, Black Magic, 60; Ashurst-McGee, Moroni, 53; Morris, Glory of God, 33.
  3. Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised,” BYU Studies 10, no. 3 (1970): 2.
  4. See Peter Ingersoll Statement and Willard Chase Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 41, 65-66.
  5. See Peter Ingersoll Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 41-42; See also Mark Ashurst-McGee, A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Jodeo-Christian Prophet (Logan: Utah State U., 2000), 122-38.
  6. See Joseph Capron Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 25
  7. See William Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 61.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. See Henry Harris Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 75.
  11. Ibid.
  12. See Morris, Glory of God, 26; and Rochester Gem 15 May 1830 article as reproduced in Morris, Glory of God, 46-47.
  13. Hamblin, Black Magic, 61-62, 66.
  14. Ibid.
  15. John Stafford interview with William H. Kelley, as reproduced in EMD 2:120-22. See also Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation,” 10.
  16. See the Kelley collection in EMD 2:81-164; and Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation,” 2-3. For other problems with the affidavits, see Robert Woodford on the Smith family reputation, in this volume.
  17. See Joshua Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 27-28.

43.Jensen as cited in Walker, 444 and n. 90.

  1. Brigham Young, et al., “Trying to be Saints– Treasures of the Everlasting Hills– The Hill of Comorah, etc.,” Journal of Discourses 19, (1878): 37-39.
  2. See Joseph Capron Statement and Joshua Stafford Statement in Vogel, EMD, 2: 24-25, 28.
  3. See Charles C. Richards, “Address Delivered in Hawthorne Ward, Sugar House Stake, Salt Lake City, Utah,” 20 April 1947, as cited by Walker, 447.
  4. Revised Laws of New York (1813), 1:114, sec. I, as quoted in Gordon A. Madsen, “Joseph Smith’s 1826 Trail: The Legal Setting,” BYU Studies 30, no. 2 (1990): 93.
  5. William D. Purple Reminiscence in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, vol. 4 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996) 127-28. Also see Wesley P. Walters, “Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y., Court Trials,” The Westminster Theological Journal 36 (Winter 1974): 123.
  6. Madsen, “Joseph Smith’s 1826 Trail,” 91-108; Oliver Cowdery letter to William Phelps, Oct. 1835 in Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2, no. 1, p. 46; also see Kirkham, New Witness, 1: 105.
  7. See Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia entry as reproduced in Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 361.
  8. See account Historical Reminiscences of the Town of Afton by Joseph Smith, as reproduced in Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 366.
  9. See Purple as in Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 365.
  10. Teachings of Prophet Joseph Smith, 220.
  11. Purple as in Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 366.
  12. Vogel, EMD, 2:65-66; Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 365; for Wilfred Woodruff and Brigham Young accounts see Anderson, Mature Joseph, 538; See also Ashurst-McGee, Pathway to Prophethood, 182-192.
  13. Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Seeking,” BYU Studies 24 (1984): 492 and n. 7.
  14. Lucy Mack, History of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958), 92.
  15. Joel Tiffany, “Mormonism,” Tiffany’s Monthly, May 1859, as reproduced in Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 377.
  1. For an example, see Joseph’s own account in Joseph Smith History, 1:46.
  2. 62. 1832 History, as in Jessee, Personal Writings, 13.
  1. Lucy Mack, 83; Oliver Cowdery letter to William Phelps, Oct. 1835 in Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2, no. 1, 40; also in Kirkham, New Witness, 1: 97.
  2. Tiffany’s monthly as in Kirkham, New Witness, 2: 318, and Vogel, EMD, 2: 309.
  3. Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf: 2006), 46-48.
  4. See BYU Studies 46/4: 9; Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Chicago: U. of Illinois Press), 64-68.
  5. Stephen J. Fleming, “The Religious Heritage of the British Northwest and the Rise of Mormonism,” Church History 77, no.1 (March 2008): 75, 87, 92,.
  6. Fluhman 6; Fleming, Religious Heritage, 78, 81-82, 93-93, 103; Taylor and Context of Joseph, 141, 142; Walker, Early Mormonism, 430. See also Stephen Fleming’s article on magic in this volume.
  7. Walker, Early Mormonism, 448, 452; Alan Taylor, “The Early Republic’s Supernatural Economy: Treasure Seeking in the American Northeast, 1780-1830,” American Quarterly I38, no. 1 (Spring, 1986): 7, 9-10, 23.
  8. See Fleming, Rise of Mormonism, 87, 92-93; Richard L. Bushman, “The Mysteries of Mormonism,” Journal of the Early Republic 15, no. 3, Special Issue on Gender in the Early Republic (Autumn 1995): 505; Taylor and Context, 146; Taylor, Supernatural Economy, 17, 22; Walker, Early Mormonism 430, 434, 441, 452.
  9. Taylor and Context of Joseph, 147; Taylor, Supernatural Economy, 23-24; Walker, Early Mormonism, 450; Fleming, Religious Heritage, 95.
  10. Walker, Early Mormonism, 450, Taylor, Supernatural Economy, 18.
  11. Walker, Early Mormonism, 441, 450-51; Taylor, Supernatural Economy, 18; Anderson, Mature Joseph, 524.
  12. Walker, Early Mormonism, 450.
  13. Fluhman 6, 9; Taylor and Context of Joseph, 145; Gee, 3, 18.

[1] Moreover, Joseph intimates that God’s knowledge of all things stems at least partially from the fact that he resides on a great Urim and Thummim. See D&C 130:7-8.

  1. See D&C 6:10-17. In the original publication of these verses it spoke of both Oliver’s gift and of his use of a rod. See Anderson, Mature Joseph, 521, 524, 527-30; Bushman, Treasure Seeking, 6; and Morris, Glory of God, 35-37.

[1] Dallin H. Oaks, “Recent Events Regarding Church History and Forged Documents,” Ensign, (October 1987): 65, said, “It should be recognized that such tools as the Urim and Thummim, the Liahona, seerstones, and other articles have been used appropriately in biblical, Book of Mormon, and modern times.”

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.