Mormons, p. p. 1557-6
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon sect, was born in Sharon, Windsor County, Vt., December 23, 1805. He had six brothers and three sisters. In 1815 his father moved to Palmyra, and afterward to Manchester, contiguous towns in Ontario (now Wayne) County, N.Y. In 1820 an unusual religious excitement prevailed in Manchester and the region round about. Five of the Smith family were awakened, and united with the Presbyterians. Joseph, in his own account of his early life, says he "become somewhat partial to the Methodist sect." He says he prayed to be guided aright; and that finally two heavenly messengers bade him not to join any sect, and three years afterwards, another celestial visitant outlined to him about the golden plates he was to find, and the prophet he was to be. This was on Sept. 22, 1823; and from this time on, he avers, his days and nights were filled, and his life was guided, by "visions," "voices," and "angels." The hill Cumorah was about four miles from Palmyra, between that town and Manchester. Here, in the fall of 1827, he claims he exhumed the golden plates. For more than two years, by the aid of the "Urim and Thummim" found with them, he was engaged in translating their contents into English. In March, 1830, the translation was given into the printer's hands. This is his history of himself. In what light he appeared to others may be gathered from the following extract, never before published from the records of the proceedings before a Justice of the peace of Bainbridge, Chenango County, N. Y.:--
"People of the State of New York vs. Joseph Smith. Warrant issued upon oath of Peter G. Bridgman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an imposter. Prisoner was brought into court March 20 (1826). Prisoner examined. Says that he came from town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of the time since; had small part of time been employed in looking for mines, but the major part had been employed by said Stowel on his farm and going to school; that he had a certain stone, which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold-mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and informed him where he could find those treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them; that at Palmyra he pretended to tell, by looking at this stone, where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra he had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was, of various kinds; that he has occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account its injuring his health, especially his eyes--made them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business.
"Josiah Stowel sworn. Says that prisoner had been at his house something like five months. Had been employed by him to work on farm part of time; that he pretended to have skill of telling where hidden treasures in the earth were, by means of looking through a certain stone; that prisoner had looked for him sometimes--once to tell him about money buried on Bend Mountain in Pennsylvania, once for gold on Monument Hill, and once for a salt-spring,--and that he positively knew that the prisoner could tell, and professed the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone; that he found the digging part at Bend and Monument Hill as prisoner represented it; that prisoner had looked through said stone for Deacon Attelon, for a mine--did not exactly find it, but got a piece of ore, which resembled gold, he thinks; that prisoner had told by means of this stone where a Mr. Bacon had buried money; that he and prisoner had been in search of it; that prisoner said that it was in a certain root of a stump five feet from surface of the earth, and with it would be found a tail-feather; that Stowel and prisoner there upon commenced digging, found a tail-feather, but money was gone; that he supposed that money moved down; that prisoner did offer his services; that he never deceived him; that prisoner looked through stone, and described Josiah Stowel's house and out-houses while at Palmyra, at Simpson Stowel's, correctly; that he had told about a painted tree with a man's hand painted upon it, by means of said stone; that he had been in company with prisoner digging for gold and had the most implicit faith in prisoner's skill.
"Horace Stowel sworn. Says he see prisoner look into hat through stone, pretending to tell where a chest of dollars were buried in Windsor, a number of miles distant; marked out size of chest in the leaves on ground.
"Arad Stowel sworn. Says that he went to see whether prisoner could convince him that he possessed the skill that he professed to have, upon which prisoner laid a book open upon a white cloth, and proposed looking through another stone which was white and transparent; hold the stone to the candle, turn his back to book and read. The deception appeared so palpable, that went off disgusted.
"McMaster sworn. Says he went with Arad Stowel to be convinced of prisoner's skill, and likewise came away disgusted, finding the deception so palpable. Prisoner pretended to him that he could discern objects at a distance by holding this white stone to the sun or candle; that prisoner rather declined looking into a hat at his dark-colored stone, as he said that it hurt his eyes.
"Jonathan Thompson says that prisoner was requested to look Yeomans for chest of money; did look, and pretended to know where it was, and that prisoner, Thompson, and Yeo-mans went in search of it; that Smith arrived at the spot first (was in night); that Smith looked in hat while there and when very dark, and told how the chest was situated. After digging several feet, struck upon something sounding like a board or plank. Prisoner would not look again, pretending that he was alarmed the last time that he looked, on account of the circumstances relating to the trunk being buried came all fresh to his mind; that the last time that he looked, he discovered distinctly the two Indians who buried the trunk; that a quarrel ensued between them, and that one of said Indians was killed by the other, and thrown into the hole beside of the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed. Thompson says that he believes in the prisoner's professed skill; that the board which he struck his spade upon was probably the chest, but, on account of an enchantment, the trunk kept settling away from under them while digging; that, not withstanding they continued constantly removing the dirt, yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them. Says prisoner said that it appeared to him that salt might be found at Bainbridge; and that he is certain that prisoner can divine things by means of said stone and hat; that, as evidence of fact, prisoner looked into his hat to tell him about some money witness lost sixteen years ago, and that he described the man that witness supposed had taken it, and disposition of money.
"And thereupon the Court finds the defendant guilty."
THE CHENANGO UNION