In consequence of the worldly circumstances of his father, the Prophet was under the necessity, at times, of finding employment away from home. In the month of October, 1825, he hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, in the state of New York, and was put to work, with other hands, by the old gentleman, to search for a silver mine which the traditions of the neighborhood said had been opened by the Spaniards near Harmony, Susquehanna county, state of Pennsylvania. It was here that the Prophet made the acquaintance of the Knights, who were well-to-do-farmers and millers in that neighborhood. It appears from all the circumstances that the Prophet took Josiah Stoal and Joseph Knight into his confidence,i as to the time when he was to receive the plates of the Book of Mormon, and hence their presence at the Smith residence on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1827. Messrs. Knight and Stoal had business at Rochester, New York, and in leaving their home in Chenango county, so timed their journey that they arrived at the Smith residence on the 20th of September and remained there for a number of days;j and were not only present when Joseph Smith obtained the records, but were there when he brought them to the house a day or two later. And now the testimony of Mr. Stoal. Under date of December 19, 1843, a Mrs. Martha L. Campbell, writing to the Prophet Joseph Smith, at the request of Mr. Stoal, and for him, says:
Brother Smith:--By request of Brother Stoal I now sit down to write you. He is quite unwell, and is sometimes fearful that he cannot stand it through the winter, and wishes me to say to you that he Wants your prayers and the prayers of all the Saints for the recovery of his health to enable him to gather among the Saints; and he also wishes to know if you could receive him as a brother. He says he shall come out [to Nauvoo] next spring if he lives and has health to endure the journey. He says if he remains as well as [at] present he shall venture to start. He says he has never staggered at the foundation of the work, for he knew too much concerning it. If I understood him right he was the first person that took the plates out of your hands the morning you brought them in, and he observed, Blessed is he that sees and believeth, and more blessed is he that believeth without seeing, and he says he has seen and believeth. He seems anxious to get there [to Nauvoo] to renew his covenants with the Lord.The whole letter is of interest, but this is the only part bearing upon the Book of Mormon, and is referred to as testimony for this reason: It is a wholly undesigned incident in connection with the coming forth of the work, and is one which occurs under circumstances that render it of first rate importance as testimony. It is a fact directly stated in the history of Mother Lucy Smith that Josiah Stoal and Joseph Knight were guests at the homestead of the Smiths from the 20th to the 24th, or 25th of September, 1827; and now a letter written on December 19, 1843, sixteen years later, without any design whatever of corroborating the fact of Lucy Smith's statement, also says that Josiah Stoal was at the Smith residence, and that he received the plates from the hands of the Prophet, on the occasion of his bringing them home, remarking at the time, "Blessed is he that seeth and believeth, and more blessed is he that believeth without seeing." So there can be no question but what Josiah Stoal had the most palpable evidence that Joseph Smith had the Nephite record; and sixteen years afterwards, though he had neglected his privileges as a member of the Church, and had not followed her fortunes, yet he reaffirms his faith in the work which the Book of Mormon may be said to have inaugurated, and declares that he has "never staggered at the foundation of the work, for he knew too much concerning it." That is, he had too strong evidence of the reality of those facts in which the work had its origin to doubt their truth.