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Family and Ancestry of Joseph Smith
Maybe it was natural to try and discredit Joseph Smith. His neighbors would have to explain to themselves why they didn't follow and believe a prophet of God. They could not stay neutral. Joseph made bold and glorious claims and if his neighbors were honest they would either have to accept his testimony or have a reason as to why they rejected him. In this process of self justification they would be inclined to create an image of Joseph Smith which is not supported by the facts. Hurlbut and others who gathered affidavits, would use those statements which best served their purpose of discrediting the prophet Joseph and his family.

In the process of trying to undermine the image of Joseph Smith it is understandable that the statements we have received would make very strong statements about his family and ancestors. Hurlbut's goal was to gather information which would "completely divest Joseph Smith of all claims to the character of an honest man" (Anderson 1970, 284) and so he did not include any statements which might reflect positively on Joseph Smith. He was only interested in gathering affidavits which would achieve his purpose.

When Benjamin Saunders who lived near the Smith was later asked if Hurlbut had talked to them, Saunders replied, "He came to me, but he could not get out of me what he wanted; so he went to others." (Anderson 1991, 67)

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