A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

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A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _grindael »

So... My friends (and Lurkers) here at Mormon Discussions, I've been researching the Spiritual Wifeism of Brother Joseph for about five yeas now and here's how I think it all went down. This will be in two parts, I. Out of the Frying Pan, which will cover the New York, Ohio and Missouri Eras, and II. Into the Fire, will cover the Nauvoo Era. Since I am just writing this "off the cuff" (drawing from my voluminous research when it seems pertinent) I will put this down in chunks with a (to be continued) where I leave off until finished. Though this is called A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism, he did not begin to use that term until the Nauvoo Era. Prior to the use of this nom de plume (and rebranding such as marriages), [before 1842], what Smith did can reasonably be called adultery. After this, (1842-1843) what Joseph did was called his "Spiritual Wife System", (by him, his close associates and his Spiritual Wives) a term that was pinned on John C. Bennett in 1842 as a diversion. I hope to be able to show you why. ~johnny

PART ONE: OUT OF THE FRYING PAN (New York, Ohio & Missouri)


Jo it seems, was always infatuated with the ladies. From a young age he admitted to having problems with "unchaste conversation" (1828 Dictionary meaning: lewd conduct) in relation to the opposite sex. We have Jo's own confession to this:

“During this time, as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies; but as my accusers are, and have been forward to accuse me of being guilty of gross and outrageous violations of the peace and good order of the community, I take the occasion to remark, that, though, as I have said above, “as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies,” I have not, neither can it be sustained, in truth, been guilty of wronging or injuring any man or society of men; and those imperfections to which I alude, and for which I have often had occasion to lament, were a light, and too often, vain mind, exhibiting a foolish and trifling conversation.

This being all, and the worst, that my accusers can substantiate against my moral character, I wish to add, that it is not with out a deep feeling of regret that I am thus called upon in answer to my own conscience, to fulfill a duty I owe to myself, as well as to the cause of truth, in making this public confession of my former uncircumspect walk, and unchaste conversation: and more particularly, as I often acted in violation of those holy precepts which I knew came from God. But as the “Articles and Covenants” of this church are plain upon this particular point, I do not deem it important to proceed further. I only add, that I do not, nor never have, pretended to be any other than a man “subject to passion,” and liable, without the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that perfect path in which all men are commanded to walk!” (Letter to Oliver Cowdery, published in the Messenger & Advocate, 1834)

Jo mentions he did no harm or wrongdoing to any MAN or society of MEN, but he doesn't mention anything about WOMEN. Jo marries his first wife Emma at a young age, (22) but this doesn't seem to help.

Jo seems to be overly interested in his wife's lady friends, (like Eliza Winters) or the young daughters of acquaintances or friends. (The Stowell girls). Eliza Winters was born in Delaware in 1812 and was married in 1837 in Susquehanna County. She would have been thirteen when young Jo first came to Harmony and eighteen when Smith fled the area because of mounting legal actions against him.

“By now Joseph was a grown man, at the threshold of his majority. A lithe six feet in height, blonde hair darkened to light brown, his blue eyes curiously mild, even innocent, in his pale, expressionless face, he was a figure to bring a second glance from any woman. At Palmyra his name had not, so far as his contemporaries have left record, been coupled with that of any girl, but in Bainbridge there were curious eyes to note that he was keeping company with the Stowell girls, and malicious tongues to find fault with his association with Eliza Winters, to the point of saying, even, that he had attempted to seduce her. Presently it became apparent that it was not these girls but Issac Hale’s second daughter, the tall, dark, hazel-eyed Emma, who had caught his eye.” (Dale Morgan)

“LEVI LEWIS states, that he has "been acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. and Martin Harris, and that he has heard them both say, adultery was no crime. Harris said he did not blame Smith for his (Smith's) attempt to seduce Eliza Winters &c.;"-- Mr. Lewis says that he "knows Smith to be a liar; -- that he saw him (Smith) intoxicated at three different times while he was composing the Book of Mormon, and also that he has heard Smith when driving oxen, use language of the greatest profanity. Mr. Lewis also testifies that he heard Smith say he (Smith) was as good as Jesus Christ; -- that it was as bad to injure him as it was to injure Jesus Christ." "With regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him -- which was the reason he (Smith) did not show them." (1834 Affidavit, quoted in Mormonism Unvailed)

Two years earlier, Martin Harris goes to the trouble of standing up in a meeting in Springville Township, Pennsylvania, pointing at Winters and proclaiming in a loud voice "She has had a bastard child!" Writing from Springville, Pennsylvania in May of 1833, Emer Harris (Martin's brother) notes that,

“The 24th of Last January Bro. Martin was taken a prisenor on a fals charge of standen [slander?] went to prison a few days until we got Bail to answer to Cort the Last Monday in April, or we should probably have been to the Ohio before this time. But it is now put over until the next September tirm; therefore we shall take up our journey Westward ere long & go as the Lord shall direct until we arive in the Ohio.”

Winters was peeved at Harris and sued him for slander, but lost the case because she could not prove any "special damages" in the case. In A Treastie on the Law of Slander and Libel, published in 1830 it states,

In Ogden v. Turner (d), Holt, C. J. observed, “To say of a young woman that she had a bastard, is a very great scandal, and for which, if I could, I would encourage and action; but it is not actionable because it is a spiritual defamanation, punishable in the spiritual court.” (page 199-200)

Eliza’s brief to the court did not include any “special damages”:

Nevertheless the said Martin Harris not being ignorant of the premises, but continuing[?] and maliciously intending, the said Eliza Ann Winters not only of her good name, credit and esteem to deprive, but also to render her infamous and scandalous among her neighbors aforesaid. And also the said Eliza Ann Winters into danger of the penalties of the law against fornicators made to induce & bring—the first day of November, in the year one thousand, eight hundred & thirty two, at the county aforesaid, (and having discourse then and there with divers persons of & concerning the said Ann Eliza these false, feigned, and scandalous English words, in substance as follows, of and concerning the said Eliza Ann Winters, in the [illegible words] hearing of those persons, falsely & unjustly did say, speak, and with a loud voice proclaim & publish to wit, “She” (the said Ann Eliza Winters [illegible]) has had a bastard child,” by means of the speaking and publishing of which said false and scandalous words, the said Ann Eliza Winters not only in her good name and fame aforesaid is greviously hurt and injured. To the damage of the said Ann Eliza Winters of one thousand dollars. And therefore she brings her suit, &c.” See. https://byustudies.byu.edu/PDFLibrary/4 ... c93563.pdf page 118

There was no immediate causes of damage claimed by Winters, only the apprehension of such, (to her credit) which could not be proved, therefore were of no weight to the court:

“A mere apprehension of ill consequences cannot constitute a special damage; so that it has been held to be insufficient for the plaintiff to allege, that in consequence of the words, discord happened to him and his wife (n), and he was in danger of a divorce.”

Or, to allege that the plaintiff (o) was exposed to her parents’ displeasure, and in danger of being put out of their house.

Or, to say he lost the affection of his mother (p), who intended him $100.(Slander & Libel, page 203)

To conclude that because Winters lost her libel suit because “she had no good character to sully” or that “Eliza was known for her low morals” (as Mormon Apologists do) is clearly done to paint her in a bad light, and that her later silence on the matter somehow spoke to her guilt. For a woman trying to collect damages for slander in the 19th Century, it was virtually impossible. For example,

In Byron v. Emes (e). A young unmarried woman had been charged with gross incontinency. After a verdict for the plaintiff, it was moved, in arrest of judgement, that the words were not actionable, because they were of spiritual cognizance, and that no temporal loss had accrued: that to say,”a woman has a bastard,” was never actionable before the statute for the provision of bastard children; and that, since the statute, it had never been held actionable but where the party had been brought within the penalty of the statute, which is only where the bastard becomes chargable to the parrish; that these words were most scandalous of a young woman; and that, had it been res nova, perhaps an action would have lain, but that there were many authorities to the contrary. (ibid, page 200)

Even though a woman was defamed by the accusation of fornication, or of having a bastard child, as explained below, this was considered a “spiritual offense” and so not actionable without suing for “special damages”:

In the above case also, the court said, that if it were res nova, it were reasonable to make the words actionable, for no greater misfortune can befal a young woman, whose well doing depends upon her having a good husband, than to be reputed a whore; but the authorities are too many and great to run counter to them, the reason of them is, that fornication is a spiritual offence, not punishable at Common Law, and an action shall not lie for charging one with an offence of which takes no notice, without special damages…” (ibid, page 201, Online here, http://archive.org/stream/atreatiseonla ... 1/mode/2up)

Coupling the Lewis account with Martin Harris’ public accusation, one must ask why Harris would go to such lengths to denounce Eliza Winters, and do so in a public meeting? Since the Harris/Winter confrontation took place before Levi Lewis’ published statement, the question of where Lewis got his information from is important. Lewis states that “he has heard them both say, [Smith & Harris] adultery was no crime,” and that “Harris said he did not blame Smith for his (Smith's) attempt to seduce Eliza Winters”. Dan Vogel brings up an interesting point to support that these allegations were in fact being made against Smith at the time, and that Smith responded to them. In a speech delivered in Nauvoo on May 26, 1844 Smith told his audience that,

“Another indictment has been got up against me. It appears a holy prophet has arisen up, [William Law] and he has testified against me: the reason is, he is so holy. The Lord knows I do not care how many churches are in the world. As many as believe me, may. If the doctrine that I preach is true, the tree must be good. I have prophesied things that have come to pass, and can still.

Inasmuch as there is a new church, this must be old, and of course we ought to be set down as orthodox. From henceforth let all the churches now no longer persecute orthodoxy. I never built upon any other man's ground. I never told the old Catholic that he was a fallen true prophet God knows, then. that the charges against me are false.

I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.” (Smith, History of the Church)

As Richard Van Wagoner relates,

“Despite Smith's explicit denials of plural marriage, stories of "spiritual wifery" had continued to spread. Oliver Olney, a Nauvoo Mormon, wrote in his 1842 journal of rumors that "an introduction of principles that would soon be, that the ancient order of God that was formerly, would again have its rounds, as it was in the days of old Solomon and David. They had wives and concubines in abundance, as many as they could support. The secret whispering was, that the same will eventually be again". (Mormon Polygamy)

But what about the statement attributed to Martin Harris? Levi Lewis’ saying that he heard Harris state that “adultery was no crime” has been challenged by Mormon Apologists, who write incredulously, “ We are to believe that Martin, who risked and defended a libel suit for reproving Eliza for fornication, thinks that adultery is "no crime"?

To answer this, one must ask if Smith’s followers in Nauvoo ever thought that Jo's Spiritual Wifeism really was adultery. And was there ever a double standard used against the women who rejected Smith’s polygamous proposals? We know by the historical record that there was. Consider the first claimed “revelation” on “plural marriage”, given in July of 1831 which reads in part:

“it is [Jesus Christ's] will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites [i.e., Native Americans], that their posterity may become white, delightsome, and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.”

Harris supposedly knew about this “revelation”, for W. W. Phelps stated that Harris was there when Smith gave it. This “revelation” is important to Mormons, for without it, later events that took place between Smith and certain women in Kirtland would have to be portrayed in a wholly different light. But does it really make any difference? Not really.

Phelps would later relate that he approached Smith specifically with questions about adultery, and was told that taking additional wives was perfectly fine if it were done by “revelation”. Smith’s later pattern was to take additional “wives” by “revelation”. He would do so by going to a close relative, convincing them that it was “God’s will” that he take the particular woman as his “spiritual wife”, then have the close relative speak in confidence to the woman (or in many cases young girl) he had chosen. Many of the women that Smith “chose” either lived with him, or were close to him in some way, like his brother Don Carlos’ widow Anges Coolbrith Smith, who he took for a “spiritual wife” in January of 1842. Anges had joined the church in Kirtland in 1832 and boarded in the home of the Smith’s for a time before marrying Joseph’s younger brother.

After his 1826 “Examination” and subsequent guilty verdict, young Jo kept a low profile in the area of South Bainbridge, (Afton) New York. He would elope with Emma Hale and return to South Bainbridge to get married in January of 1827. Even his marriage to Emma had some significance to Smith in connection with his occult activities. [49] What we get from this period, is not young Jo touting his later, claimed “vision” of God the Father and Jesus in the spring of 1820, or even the nocturnal visits of the dead “Moroni”, but instead testifying at his examination that,

“he heard of a neighboring girl some three miles from him, who could look into a glass and see anything however hidden from others; that he was seized with a strong desire to see her and her glass; that after much effort he induced his parents to let him visit her. He did so, and was permitted to look in the glass, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light. He was greatly surprised to see but one thing, which was a small stone, a great way off. It soon became luminous, and dazzled his eyes, and after a short time it became as intense as the mid-day sun. He said that the stone was under the roots of a tree or shrub as large as his arm, situated about a mile up a small stream that puts in on the South side of Lake Erie, not far from the Now York and Pennsylvania line. He often had an opportunity to look in the glass, and with the same result. The luminous stone alone attracted his attention. This singular circumstance occupied his mind for some years, when he left his father's house, and with his youthful zeal traveled west in search of this luminous stone."

In a Blog Article titled “The Bainbridge Conspiracy” written in March 2008 “Keller” of F.A.I.R. states,

“It is clear to me that the Bainbridge conspirators were not really concerned about Joseph’s digging activities, given that they did not go after any of the leaders of their society that participated like Calvin and Asa Stowell. Instead they were more concerned at getting a conviction to discredit the religious claims Joseph Smith was making, even in 1826.” (F.A.I.R. Blog, March 27, 2008)

The problem with this reasoning is that according to contemporary accounts, young Jo Smith wasn’t making any religious claims while he was moneydigging in 1826. In addition, concerning the angel or ghost he claimed to see in 1823, he told his family “we must be careful not to proclaim these things or to mention them abroad”. Smith’s testimony at the 1826 examination, was all about his ability to “scry” with a peepstone, and he testified “that he had 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." And yet later, Joseph would translate the entire Book of Mormon this way and never complain about his eyes.

When Smith Sr. is sworn in, he “confirmed, at great length all that his son had said in his examination. He delineated his characteristics in his youthful days -- his vision of the luminous stone in the glass -- his visit to Lake Erie in search of the stone -- and his wonderful triumphs as a seer. He described very many instances of his finding hidden and stolen goods.”

The only mention of God is by Smith Sr. was that he and Smith Jr. “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.”

Instead of proudly testifying that his son was “chosen” by God, Smith Sr. “with a long-faced, sanctimonious seeming” display, tells the court that “his constant prayer to his Heavenly Father was to manifest His will concerning this marvelous power.” According to young Jo’s later History, he had already done so, on more than one occasion. Smith Sr. finished up his testimony with his hope that “the Son of Righteousness would some day illumine the heart of the boy, and enable him to see His will concerning him.”

Where is the mention of young Jo’s “first vision”, or “visitation of Moroni”? Smith Sr. instead confirms at great length “all his son said in his examination,” which has nothing to do with God and angels, but has everything to do with his father’s penchant for the occult or the more politically correct "folk magic", and young Jo’s involvement in it. For the “Bainbridge Conspirators”, Smith’s later admission that his peepstone was some kind of “urim and thummim” and that the “bleeding Spanish ghost” was an angel of God, would be sufficient to incite in them (and others) a desire to “go after” him again in 1830 for the “religious claims” Smith was then making after 1826. They thought it absolutely absurd that Jo was peeping and digging up slippery treasures (of which he was found guilty in an examination and then allowed to take "leg bail"), and subsequently making claims of being some kind of divine messenger but using the same means to communicate that message as he did when he was moneydigging. Though others may have been involved in some occult practices, they were not claiming to be divine instruments of God and declaring all other churches false.

As Martin Harris later related, this is exactly what young Jo was terrified of,

“"The money-diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed that Joseph had been [a] traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them. For this reason Joseph was afraid of them…” (Interview with Joel Tiffany, 1859)

Witnessing the metamorphosis of young Jo into “Joseph the Prophet”, with the publication of the Book of Mormon and the organization of the “Church of Christ” in Manchester, NY; Smith’s activities in and around the Bainbridge area came under greater scrutiny, as some of the locals of that area joined the Church, or were proselytized by the new members of Smith’s "restored" church. In July of 1830, Smith was again brought up on the same charges made in 1826, (being a “disorderly person”). As Justice Joel K. Noble wrote in 1832,

“The defendant was brought before me by virtue of a warrant on the 30th day of June, A. D. 1830, on a charge "that he, the said Joseph Smith, Jr., had been guilty of a breach of the peace, against the good people of the state of New York, by looking through a certain stone to find hid treasures, &c., within the Statute of Limitation.”

Since Smith had given up “moneydigging”, it was determined that “he had not looked in the glass for two years to find money,” and he was discharged. Smith instead, had used his peepstone to “translate” what he claimed was a record written on gold plates which he had dug up at the behest of an angel.

This was the only reason why Smith was not found guilty. The Statute of Limitations had run out. One of Smith’s recent converts, Newell Knight, was sworn and testified that

“"prisoner could see in a stone as stated by Stowel; that formerly he looked for money, &c., but latterly he had become holy, was a true preacher of the Gospel of Christ, possessed the power of casting out devils; he knew it to be a fact, that he, (Smith, the prisoner,) had cast a devil from him, (witness,) in manner following, viz. witness was in mind impressed; he and Smith did conclude and knew the devil was in witness; they joined hands, their faith became united, the devil went out of witness; witness knew it to be a fact, for he saw the devil as he departed; Smith did it by the power of God," &c.”

Abram Willard Benton of South Bainbridge, New York, would write shortly after the 1830 trial:

“This trial led to an investigation of his [Joseph Smith Jr.'s] character and conduct, which clearly evinced to the unprejudiced, whence the spirit came which dictated his inspirations. During the trial it was shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic power by which he pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures, &c. Oliver Cowdry, one of the three witnesses to the book, testified under oath, that said Smith found with the plates, from which he translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows. That by looking through these, he was able to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates.

So much for the gift and power of God, by which Smith says he translated his book. Two transparent stones, undoubtedly of the same properties, and the gift of the same spirit as the one in which he looked to find his neighbor's goods. It is reported, and probably true, that he commenced his juggling by stealing and hiding property belonging to his neighbors, and when inquiry was made, he would look in his stone, (his gift and power) and tell where it was. Josiah Stowell, a Mormonite, being sworn, testified that he positively knew that said Smith never had lied to, or deceived him, and did not believe he ever tried to deceive anybody else. The following questions were then asked him, to which he made the replies annexed.

Did Smith ever tell you there was money hid in a certain place which he mentioned? Yes. Did he tell you, you could find it by digging? Yes. Did you dig? Yes. Did you find any money? No. Did he not lie to you then, and deceive you? No! the money was there, but we did not get quite to it! How do you know it was there? Smith said it was! Addison Austin was next called upon, who testified, that at the very same time that Stowell was digging for money, he, Austin, was in company with said Smith alone, and asked him to tell him honestly whether he could see this money or not. Smith hesitated some time, but finally replied, "to be candid, between you and me, I cannot, any more than you or any body else; but any way to get a living." Here, then, we have his own confession, that he was a vile, dishonest impostor. As regards the testimony of Josiah Stowell, it needs no comment. He swore positively that Smith did not lie to him. So much for a Mormon witness. Paramount to this, in truth and consistency, was the testimony of Joseph Knight, another Mormonite. Newel Knight, son of the former, and also a Mormonite, testified, under oath, that he positively had a devil cast out of himself by the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, jr., and that he saw the devil after it was out, but could not tell how it looked!”

This was the probable reason those associated with (or part of) the “Bainbridge Conspirators” “went after” Smith. He might have made a profession of being religious (like some of them), but he was also saying that he was now a “prophet” and used the same means to bring forth the Book of Mormon (evidence of his “prophetic calling”) that he used in his moneydigging activities. This convinced many that he was still a fraud.

Smith himself would write later that,

“The court was detained for a time, in order that two young women (daughters to Mr. Stoal) [probably Rhoda and Miriam] with whom I had at times kept company; might be sent for, in order, if possible to elicit something from them which might be made a pretext against me. The young women arrived and were severally examined, touching my character, and conduct in general but particularly as to my behavior towards them both in public and private, when they both bore such testimony in my favor, as left my enemies without a pretext on their account.”

What would prompt the prosecutors to bring these two women to court? Could it have been over the allegations being made about his conduct with Eliza Winters? Rhamanthus M. Stocker would later write,

“Mrs. Eliza Winters Squires, now living in Oakland borough, was often at Smith’s house and much in Mrs. Smith’s company. The young women were on very intimate terms, and very many times did Mrs. Smith tell her young friend about the find of the “golden plates” or the “golden Bible””

As one defender of Smith put it,

“A fisherman may cast his hook into a pond whether he has seen fish in the pond or not. Therefore it would be incorrect to assume there is fish in a pond simply because someone is fishing there. Similarly, the Broome County prosecutor may have been fishing for “testimony” against Joseph Smith. Therefore to assert that “testimony” existed based upon the observation that the prosecutor questioned the two women is going beyond the evidence.”

Smith’s own statement years later, gives us some insight into what was behind this move by the prosecutors, that “it was reported I had seven wives”. Even if Smith was only making overtures to women at this point, what must be taken into account is Smith’s uncanny ability to persuade most of the women he approached of his “prophetic calling”, and that what he was suggesting was in no way “improper”.

In the case of Eliza Winters, we see a foreshadowing of the pattern of Smith’s behavior with women, approaching those in his service, or that were close to his wife or relatives or friends. We also see the result of her obvious rejection of Smith, in the subsequent attack on her character by one of Smith’s close associates. In the case of some of the women that Smith approached when he was younger, he would wait many years before approaching them again, as he did with Nancy Marinda Johnson, who it seems would play a central role in the attempt to castrate Smith in 1832.

(to be continued... in the next section on Ohio)
Last edited by Guest on Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _grindael »

Due to this thread originally being hijacked by a TROLL, I’ve begun it again here. This TROLL doesn't like that I use bolding and a larger font for emphasis. He wants to sidetrack this discussion with that issue. So I gave him that thread and reposted the Spiritual Wife History here. But this TROLL keeps following me and reposting his BS. So this thread could be redone at any time.

These are some of the comments that were made that are relevant to Spiritual Wifeism and not in answer to the TROLL:

Xenophon wrote:Excellent beginning, grindael. Lots to take in on the first pass and I look forward to another read-through later today when I can give it more time.

Mormonicious wrote:Ah, a written account of the Sexual activities of Horny Holy Joe. Well done.

Lemmie wrote:
By the way, thanks for your work here. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading through and taking it in. It will take me a while, but I'm looking forward to discussing it with you when I digest a little more!

Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:Mr. Grindael,

Your original post is a fantastic and well-sourced commentary on Joseph Smith's character vis a vis his philandering. Thank you. However, I wasn't sure if the 'to be continued' was continued in your back and forth with the board narcissist, or was there more?
- Doc

Thanks for the comments, people.

I will continue on to Ohio tomorrow, Doc.

Note: Since Shades is away and I will have to wait to get all this TROLL stuff resolved, I will be posting Part II as soon as that happens.
Riding on a speeding train; trapped inside a revolving door;
Lost in the riddle of a quatrain; Stuck in an elevator between floors.
One focal point in a random world can change your direction:
One step where events converge may alter your perception.
_Dr. Shades
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Dr. Shades »

Thank you for your time and research, grindael! You are truly a treasure to this board.
"Finally, for your rather strange idea that miracles are somehow linked to the amount of gay sexual gratification that is taking place would require that primitive Christianity was launched by gay sex, would it not?"

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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Lemmie »

Dr. Shades wrote:Thank you for your time and research, grindael! You are truly a treasure to this board.

Others agree with you! If you don't mind, I think this thread is a great time and place to give another congrats to grindael for this:
grindael wrote:Now I and Mike Marquardt just submitted an article to the John Whitmer Historical Association on Baptism for the Dead, which they accepted and will be published in their Spring, 2017 Journal. Here is what the editor said:

As you can see in the attached summary of reviewers' comments, the paper was favorably regarded and will be accepted for the Spring 2017 issue of the Journal.

Congratulations on an excellent manuscript, and I look forward to receiving a mild revision in the near future.

Some of what the reviewer said,

The writing is lucid, logical, consistent, and clean, and the notes are particularly easy to understand. ... this paper is impressively objective in its treatment of the sources it chooses to address.

Congratulations to grindael for his pending publication!!
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Lemmie »

No pressure, grindael, just wanted to bump this to remind you of how much we all enjoyed your first post and to let you know we're really looking forward to the next installment!
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _grindael »

Part I: Out of the Frying Pan [Continued]

(Ohio: Part I)


Out of what has been termed the Second Great Awakening which had been gathering momentum in places like the “Burned-Over District” of Central New York and the Western Reserve of Ohio and Pennsylvania that had so influenced the lives of the Smith family and many later converts to Mormonism; a young Baptist Pastor named Sidney Rigdon was struggling with questions of the day, as many others were – including Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Robert Owen. As Richard S. Van Wagoner writes:

“Throughout the Great Awakening, Baptists, the most thoroughly American religion of the period, envisioned themselves engaged in a great millenarian work. Members eagerly anticipated the exaltation of righteousness when the lamb and lion would lie down together. Alexander Campbell, a Baptist in name only, recognized this primal religious stirring and skillfully wove theories of Christian primitivism, developed during his Independent training in Scotland, into the fabric of the Mahoning Baptist Association. It was a process in which Sidney Rigdon was a key player. "We want the old gospel back, and sustained by the ancient order of things," Campbell said at the time, "and this alone, by the blessing of the Divine Spirit, is all that we want, or can expect, to reform and save the world." (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p.26)

In December of 1825 while young Jo Smith was up to his neck in moneydigging schemes, a young Sidney Rigdon moved to Bainbridge, Ohio, after having been ex-communicated by his congregation in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania because he "began to advance sentiments not in accordance with divine truth.” (ibid, p.30)

Rigdon’s “sentiments”, had been shaped by another Baptist (in name only), Alexander Campbell, who in all likelihood had gotten Rigdon appointed to the Pastorship of the Pittsburg Church. (ibid,p.27) As Van Wagoner relates:

“In 1825 Campbell wrote a series of articles entitled "A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things" in which he urged abandoning anything not a part of primitive Christianity-creeds and confessions, unscriptural words and phrases, and theological theories. He also urged adopting everything sanctioned by the New Testament such as the weekly breaking of the loaf, Christian fellowship, the simple order of public worship, and the independence of each church under the care of its bishops and deacons. Rigdon incorporated these innovations in his own preaching…” (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p.40)

This Restorationism was not a new idea, but it appealed to such as Campbell and Rigdon, and then later, Joseph Smith.

In June of 1826 Rigdon was offered the Pastorship of a church in Mentor, Ohio, and in 1827 Alexander Campbell called Walter Scott as an Evangelist in the Mahoning Association. Within three years, Campbell would separate himself from the Baptists and publish his Millennial Harbinger. Rigdon would later comment on the Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ in 1843 saying:

"The reason why they were called Campbellites, was, in consequence of Mr. Campbell's publishing the [Christian Baptist], and it being the means through which they communicated their sentiments to the world; other than this, Mr. Campbell was no more the originator of that sect than Elder Rigdon." (Times and Seasons 4 (15 May 1843): 193.)

As Van Wagoner explains,

“Rigdon visited Scott on a trip to Warren in March 1828. Although Rigdon had been with Scott on former occasions and had fully adopted his method of calling awakened and penitent believers to an immediate obedience of their faith for the remission of sins, he held to the Calvinist assertion that baptism, a symbol of acceptance of Christ, did not remit sins: such remission was connected to faith alone. Scott accepted converts on a simple confession of repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus after which they were baptized for an immediate acquittal from sins through the blood of Christ and for the Holy Spirit. His baptismal formula was: "For the remission of your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, I immerse you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!" "The missing link between Christ and convicted sinners seemed now happily supplied," Hayden added. "Rigdon was transported with this discovery."” (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p.46)

In September of 1828, “recognizing that Rigdon and most members of his congregation had departed from Baptist tradition, the Grand River Association, to which Mentor belonged, voted…to withdraw fellowship from the Painesville and Mentor Church.” (ibid, page 49) The withdrawal of fellowship would soon include the Mahoning Association at Warren Ohio. (ibid) But Sidney Rigdon’s star was on the rise:

“During the 1829 annual meeting of the Mahoning Association at Warren, Ohio, however, more than one thousand Reformed Baptists, including Sidney Rigdon, assembled in triumph. They were a people possessing one spirit and rejoicing in one hope.” (ibid)

In 1825 a secularist Welsh immigrant named Robert Owen started a Utopian Society in New Harmony, Indiana, but within two years it failed due to, as Owen’s son later explained, “"a heterogeneous collection of radicals... honest latitudinarians, and lazy theorists, with a sprinkling of unprincipled sharpers thrown in." Robert Owen’s view in 1816 was probably shaped by the millennial views of the Christians of the day,

"What ideas individuals may attach to the term "Millennium" I know not; but I know that society may be formed so as to exist without crime, without poverty, with health greatly improved, with little, if any misery, and with intelligence and happiness increased a hundredfold; and no obstacle whatsoever intervenes at this moment except ignorance to prevent such a state of society from becoming universal." (Extract from Robert Owen's "Address to the Inhabitants of New Lanark" New Year's Day, 1816)

In April of 1829, Owens and Alexander Campbell debated in the Cincinnati Methodist Stone Church, which attracted a large audience, including Sidney Rigdon. As Van Wagoner explains,

“Rigdon, taken with Owen's system of "family commonwealths," returned to Mentor, convinced that a "common-stock" society, as outlined in Acts 2:44-45, should be implemented among parishioners. The two leaders he convinced in February 1830 to put his communitarian ideas in motion were future Mormons Lyman Wight and Isaac Morley. Morley, who owned a large farm near Kirtland, three miles from Mentor, offered his farm for the collective experiment. Morley and Wight, along with Titus Billings and three other families, covenanted with each other to renounce private property and share all goods. They called their order the "Family" or "Big Family" after Owen's concept of "family commonwealth." By October 1830 the group numbered more than 100 individuals. In addition, Wight had converted five families at Mayfield, about seven miles up river from Kirtland, each of whom also covenanted to abide by the early Christian communal lifestyle.” (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p.50-51)

This was the beginning of the divide between Rigdon and Campbell, and during a three day Conference at Austintown at the end of August 1830, Rigdon

“introduced an argument to show that our pretensions to follow the apostles in all their New Testament teachings, required a community of goods; that as they established their order in the model church at Jerusalem, we were bound to imitate their example." (ibid, page 53)

Opposed by Campbell at the Conference, Rigdon was crushed and commented “"I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or Scott, and yet they get all the honor." (ibid, page 53) Thus came to an end the Regular Baptist Mahoning Association, to which Campbell would write, “"This association came to its end as tranquilly as ever did a good old man whose attenuated thread of life, worn to a hair's breadth, dropped asunder by its own imbecility." (Millennial Harbinger 2 (1830):415.)

Rigdon retreated to Mentor, but was soon to be swept up in the new Mormonite sect, as reports of a “Golden Bible” began to make their way to the Western Reserve. Just when Sidney became involved with Smith has been the subject of much debate, with “Rigdon's brother-in-law and fellow Baptist minister, Adamson Bentley, recalling in a 22 January 1841 letter to Walter Scott:

"I know that S[i]dney Rigdon told me there was a book coming out (the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates) as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance in this country or had been heard of by me." (Van Wagoner, pages 55-56)

See: http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH/painetel.htm

By 1831 there were already stories in Palmyra about young Jo’s connection to Sidney Rigdon before the publication of the Book of Mormon. In August of 1831 future newspaper mogul James Gordon Bennett penned an article for the Morning Courier-New York Enquirer called The Mormonites. Though the article itself has some inaccuracies, Bennett’s diary notes for August 8 are of great interest. He writes:

“Young Smith was careless, idle, indolent fellow -- 22 years old -- brought up to live by his wits--which means a broker of small wants -- Harris was a hardy industrious farmer of Palmyra -- with some money -- could speak off the Bible by heart -- Henry [Sidney] Rigdon -- a parson in general -- smart fellow -- he is the author of the Bible… Mormonites went to Ohio because the people here would not pay any attention to them” (BYU Studies, Number 3, Spring 1970, James Gordon Bennett's 1831 Report on "The Mormonites", by Leonard J. Arrington)

In 1838 Parley P. Pratt published a pamphlet called “Mormonism Unvelied” (Not to be confused with E.D. Howe’s earlier, 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed), and wrote about his activities prior to 1830 when he sold his prosperous farm and took a journey to New York:

“I became acquainted with Mr. Rigdon, and a believer in, and a teacher of the same doctrine. After proclaiming those principles in my own neighborhood and the adjoining country, I at length took a journey to the State of New-York, partly on a visit to Columbia, Co., N. Y., my native place: and partly for the purpose of ministering the word. This journey was undertaken in August, 1830.” (Mormonism Unveiled... NYC, 1838, pp. 40-42)

In his autobiography, Pratt writes,

“About this time one Mr. Sidney Rigdon came into the neighborhood as a preacher, and it was rumored that he was a kind of Reformed Baptist, who, with Mr. Alexander Campbell, of Virginia, a Mr. Scott, and some other gifted men, had dissented from the regular Baptists, from whom they differed much in doctrine. At length I went to hear him, and what was my astonishment when I found he preached faith in Jesus Christ, repentance towards God, and baptism for remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost to all who would come forward, with all their hearts, and obey this doctrine! … After hearing Mr. Rigdon several times, I came out, with a number of others, and embraced the truths which he taught. We were organized into a society, and frequently met for public worship. (http://www.gordonbanks.com/gordon/famil ... ttauto.htm )

Pratt actually sold his farm, and moved back to New York, and on the way wrote that he happened to see a copy of the Book of Mormon, then went directly to Palmyra to seek out Joseph Smith. He was baptized a member of the Church on September 1, 1830. (ibid) http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NY ... htm#040230

Though Bennett was told that the Mormonites left for Ohio because the people would not listen to them in Palmyra, many seeds had been sown that would reap a great harvest for the new sect. In 1829, Solomon Chamberlin came in contact with the Book of Mormon and went to see the Smith’s before they left Manchester. When Chamberlin departed, he carried with him some of the pages of the new Book of Mormon and shared them with the family of Brigham Young who shared his discovery with Heber C. Kimball. Two years later, Young joined the Mormonites and subsequently moved with his family to Ohio.

From their base in Ohio, the Mormonites would later send Missionaries back to New York and Upper Canada where converts like John Taylor and Joseph Fielding would be proselyted into the new sect.

After organizing the Church in Manchester, NY, Joseph was forced to flee to Harmony Pennsylvania, because of his ties with a Moneydigging Company he had become involved in. Martin Harris would later recall,

"The money-diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed that Joseph had been [a] traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them. For this reason Joseph was afraid of them, and continued concealing the plates. After they had been concealed under the floor of the cooper’s shop for a short time, Joseph was warned to remove them. He said he was warned by an angel. He took them out and hid them up in the chamber of the cooper’s shop among the flags. That night some one came, took up the floor, and dug up the earth, and would have found the plates had they not been removed. …

"Joseph said the angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers. That there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal. He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him. That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him. That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.’ I said, if it is the devil’s work I will have nothing to do with it; but if it is the Lord’s, you can have all the money necessary to bring it before the world. He said the angel told him, that the plates must be translated, printed and sent before the world. I said, Joseph, you know the doctrine, that cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh his arm; and we know that the devil is to have great power in the latter days to deceive if possible the very elect; and I don’t know that you are one of the elect. Now you must not blame me for not taking your word. If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want. (Harris, Joel Tiffany Interview) http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/ser ... onthly.htm

Lucy Smith would later recall that it wasn’t an angel who warned Smith, but his peepstone:

Joseph kept the urim and thumim constantly about his person as he could by this means ascertain at any moment whether <if> the plates were in danger … We had but a few days rest however for Joseph soon received another intimation of the approach of a mob and the necessity of removing the record & breasplate again from its hiding place he took it <them> up and carried it them out to a cooper shop across the road and took them out of the box and after wrapping them carefully in cloths laid them away in the midst of a quantity of flax which was stowed in the shop lof loft he then nailed up the box as before and tore up the floor and put the box under it—As soon as it was dark the mob came on and ransacked the place but did come into the house after mat a satisfactory research they went away the next morning we found the floor of the cooper shop taken <up> and the wooden box which was put under it Split to pieces [p.393]and in a few days we learned the cause of this <last> move and why their curiosity led them in this direction wi a young woman who was sister to willard chase had found an a green glass that <&> by looking thrugh the it she could see many wonderful things and among the rest of her discoveries she said she had found out the exact place where Joe Smith kept his gold bible hid so in pursuance to her directions they gathered their forces and laid siege to the cooper shop but went away disapointed But this did not shake their confidence in Miss chase for they still went from place to place by her suggestion determined to get possession of the object of their research… (Lucy’s Book, by Lavina Fielding Anderson, online here, http://signaturebookslibrary.org/lucys-book-03/ )

With the help of Alva Hale, Joseph and Emma made the move from Palmyra to Harmony Pennsylvania, where Smith would “translate” the gold plates he claimed to have found into the Book of Mormon. He would use Martin and his wife Emma as scribes, (and one of Emma’s other brothers Reuben) until Martin lost the first 116 pages of the manuscript. Alva Hale would later make this statement about Joseph Smith:

ALVA HALE, son of Isaac Hale, states, that Joseph Smith Jr. told him that his (Smith's) gift in seeing with a stone and hat, was a gift from God," but also states "that Smith told him at another time that this "peeping" was all d---d nonsense. He (Smith) was deceived himself but did not intend to deceive others; --that he intended to quit the business, (of peeping) and labor for his livelihood." That afterwards, Smith told him, he should see the Plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon," and accordingly at the time specified by Smith, he (Hale) "called to see the plates, but Smith did not show them, but appeared angry." He further states, that he knows Joseph Smith Jr. to be an impostor, and a liar, and knows Martin Harris to be a liar likewise.

With the addition of Oliver Cowdery, the project was continued and finished in the early summer of 1829. Joseph would travel back to Palmyra to see the manuscript printed. While there, he had a meeting with Stephen Harding, a twenty one year old attorney who had spent his boyhood in the Palmyra area, who became a future Governor of Utah, was given by Smith a copy of the title page of the Book of Mormon and who recounted his visit with the Smith family:

"Upon my return to Palmyra, and learning that Martin Harris was the only man of any account, as we say in the West, among all of his near associates, it was but natural that I should seek an early interview with him. I found him at the printing office of the Wayne Sentinel in Palmyra, where the Book of Mormon was being printed. He had heard several days before of my arrival in the neighborhood, and expressed great pleasure at seeing me. A moment or two after, I was introduced to Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, Sen., and then to the young 'Prophet' himself.

"Here was a most remarkable quartette of persons. I soon learned that at least three of them were in daily attendance at the printing-office, and that they came and went as regularly as the rising and setting of the sun. I have the authority of Martin Harris himself, who stated that some one hundred and fifty pages, more or less, of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon had been stolen, lost, or destroyed, by some evil-minded person, and that the angel of the Lord had appeared to young Joseph and informed him that the devil had appeared in the form of a man or woman, and had possessed himself of the sacred MS.; andJoseph had been commanded by the angel to thenceforth always have at least three witnesses to watch over it when in the hands of the printers. This was the reason given me at the time by Harris, why at least three persons should bring the MS. to the office immediately after sunrise, and take it away before sunset in the evening.

"After my introduction to Cowdery and the Smiths, I entered into conversation with them -- especially with Cowdery and the father of the prophet. But young Joe was hard to be approached. He was very taciturn, and sat most of the time as silent as a Sphynx, seeming to have no recollection of ever having seen me when fishing in Durfee's mill-pond. This young man was by no means of an ordinary type. He had hardly ever been known to laugh in his childhood; and would never work or labor like other boys; and was noted as never having had a fight or quarrel with any other person. But notwithstanding this last redeeming trait, he was hard on birds' nests, and in telling what had happened would exaggerate to such an extent, that it was a common saying in the neighborhood: 'That is as big a lie as young Joe ever told.'

"He was about six feet high, what might be termed long-legged, and with big feet. His hair had turned from tow-color to light auburn, large eyes of a bluish gray, a prominent nose, and a mouth that of itself was a study. His face seemed almost colorless, and with little or no beard.

"Indeed (in the language of Martin Harris): 'What change a few years will make in everything!' And what a demonstration of this truth was afforded in the life and career of the man before me. At that time his weight was about one hundred and fifty pounds, he had not a dollar in the world, and his character was such that credit was impossible. Let the mind pass over the career of this man to the date of his marriage with Emma Hale; his banking and temple-building at Kirtland; his flight as a fugitive from that place to Independence and Far West, Missouri; his forcible expulsion from that State to Nauvoo; the springing up of a city of 20,000 people as if by magic; and where, beside his divine appointment as 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,' he became Lieut.-General of a Legion that would make a respectable standing army, mounted on a blooded charger in all the military trappings, that filled with awe the thousands of his followers, and even the outside Gentiles. He had now reached the zenith of his glory; and fifteen years from the time I met him at the printing-office, he had become a millionaire, notwithstanding his harem of numerous spiritual wives and concubines.

"In the neighborhood of Palmyra there lived another prophet, older and wiser than the Mormon prophet. This was old George Crane, who had been born and brought up a Quaker. On one occasion Smith and Cowdery had gone to the house of George, who had manifested some interest in the pretended translation. It was in the evening, and when several chapters had been read, Mr. Crane, who had been an attentive listener, in his straightforward, Quaker soberness said: 'Joseph, thy book is blasphemous; and I counsel thee to mend thy ways, or thee will come to some bad end.' George Crane lived to see the fulfilment of that prophecy, when this greatest of all modern deceivers fell out of the back window of the Carthage jail riddled with bullets.

"I had arrived at the printing-office about nine in the morning, and after my interview with Harris, and introduction, as aforesaid, I spent an hour or two with E. B. Grandin and Pomeroy Tucker, proprietor and foreman of the Sentinel. From these gentlemen I learned many particulars that were new to me. I expressed a desire to read the manuscript then in process of being printed; but was informed by them that that was hardly possible, inasmuch as a few sheets only at a time were used as copy in the hands of the printers; and that probably Cowdery and Smith would have no objection to reading it to me, if I would give them an opportunity without interfering with their duties at the office.

"It was now noon, and I went home with my cousin (Mr. Tucker) to dinner. On returning to the office, I found Harris, Cowdery, and the Smiths had remained, substituting a lunch for a regular dinner. My intimacy with them was renewed, and Harris talked incessantly to me on the subject of dreams, and the fearful omens and signs he had seen in the heavens. Of course I became greatly interested, and manifested a desire to hear the miraculous MS. read; and it was agreed that I should go out with them to the house of the elder Smith, and remain over night. In the mean time, I remarked that but one at a time left the printing office, even for a short period.

"The sun had now got down to he roofs of the houses, and the typos had laid by their work. Each page of the MS. that had been used as copy was delivered to Cowdery, and we prepared to return to Smith's. We arrived at our destination a few minutes before sunset. The Smith residence consisted of a log house, not exactly a cabin. Upon our arrival, I was ushered into the best room in company with the others. In a few moments I was left alone, my companions having gone out on pnvate business. An interview with the family was being held by them in the other part of the house. It was not long before they returned, accompanied by Lucy Smith, the prophet's mother. She came close to me, and taking me by the hand, said:

"'I've seed you before. You are the same young man that had on the nice clothes, that I seed in my dream. You had on this nice ruffled shirt, with the same gold breast-pin in it that you have now. Yes, jest ezactly sich a one as this!' -- suiting the action to the word, taking hold of the ruffle, and scrutinizing the pin closely. It was not long till she left the room, and I, following to the door, saw two stout, bare-footed girls, each with a tin bucket of red raspberries. Soon after, the old

man announced that supper was ready. We went into the other part of the house, where supper was waiting, consisting of brown bread, milk, and abundance of fine raspberries before mentioned. There was no lack of these, and if any left the table without a really good supper, it was not the fault of the hostess. She, good soul -- full sister to all her sex -- began to make excuses, saying:

"'If I had only known what a nice visitor I was goin' to have, I would have put on the table flour bread, and not ryn' Injun.'

"I remarked that it needed no excuses; that the supper was good enough for a king, and that the berries on the table were better than could be bought in any city in America. Beside being true, this had the effect of quieting the feelings of the old lady.

"It was now time to begin the reading of the manuscript, and we retired to the room we had occupied. This was before the days of lucifer matches, and there being no fire, it took some time before a light could be brought into the room. This was done by our good hostess, who set upon the table a tin candlestick with a tallow dip in it, remarking: 'This is the only candle I can find in the house; I thought I had two, but mabby the rats has eat it up.'

"Cowdery commenced his task of reading at the table, the others sitting around. The reading had proceeded for some time, when the candle began to spit and splutter, sometimes almost going out, and flashing up with a red-blue blaze. Here was a phenomenon that could not be mistaken. To say that the blaze had been interrupted by the flax shives that remained in the tow wicking, would not do; but Martin Harris arrived at a conclusion 'across lots:' 'Do you see that,' said he, directing his remark to me and the old lady, who sat beside him. 'I know what that means; it is the

Devil trying to put out the light, so that we can't read any more.' 'Yes,' replied the old lady; 'I seed 'im! I seed 'im! as he tried to put out the burnin' wick, when the blaze turned blue.'

"The tallow dip shortened at such a fearful rate that the further reading had to be abandoned. It was now past ten, and the other members of the family retired. The MS. was carefully put away, and directions given as to where we were to sleep. In the mean time Mother Smith loaded a clay pipe with tobacco, which she ground up in her hands; a broom splint was lighted in the candle, and the delicious fumes issued in clouds from the old lady's mouth.

"She now began to talk incessantly for the little time that remained, and told me at some length the dream that she had, when I appeared before her, 'in the nice suit of clothes and ruffled shirt,' as she expressed it; and continued: 'You'll have visions and dreams, mebby, to-night; but don't git skeered; the angel of the Lord will protect you.'

"After breakfast, in the morning, Mother Smith followed me as I arose from the table, and plied me with questions as to whether I had had dreams, and whether I had seen a vision that 'skeered' me. I told her I had a dream, but so strange that I could not tell it to her or any one else. The fact was communicated to Harris and the rest. All saw that I looked sober, and I determined to leave them in doubt and wonder.

"We started back to Palmyra, Cowdery bearing in his hand the sacred scroll. Martin was exceedingly anxious that I should give him at least some glimpse of the strange things I had seen in my dream. I told him that was impossible, and I began to doubt whether I ought to tell it to any human being. They all became interested in my reply; and the prophet himself forgetting his taciturnity, said: 'I can tell you what it was. I have felt just as you do. Wait, and the angel of the Lord will open your eyes.' Here we parted, and I returned to the home of my brother."

"ABOUT two weeks after this I met Martin Harris. He was glad to see me; inquired how I felt since my dream. He told me that since he saw me at Mr. Smith's, he had seen fearful signs in the heavens. That he was standing alone one night, and saw a fiery sword let down out of heaven, and pointing to the east, west, north, and south, then to the hill of Cumorah, where the plates of Nephi were found. At another time, he said, as he was passing with his wagon and horses from town, his horses suddenly stopped and would not budge an inch. When he plied them with his whip, they commenced snorting and pawing the earth as they had never done before. He then commenced smelling brimstone, and knew the Devil was in the road, and saw him plainly as he walked up the hill and disappeared. I said,'What did he look like?'

"He replied: 'Stephen, I will give you the best description that I can. Imagine a greyhound as big as a horse, without any tail, walking upright on his hind legs.'*

"I looked at him with perfect astonishment. 'Now, Stephen,' continued he, 'do tell me your dream.' I dropped my head and answered: 'I am almost afraid to undertake it.' He encouraged me, and said it was revealed to him that another vessel was to be chosen, and that Joseph had the gift of interpreting dreams the same as Daniel, who was cast into the lion's den. I said, 'Mr. Harris, after considering the matter, I conclude that I ought not to repeat my dreams to you, only on one condition: that you will pledge your honor not to tell it to any one.' 'Oh, do let me tell it to Joseph. He can tell all about what it means,' 'Well,' said I, 'What I mean is, you may tell it to whom you please, only you shall not connect my name with it,; 'I'll do it! I'll do it!' said he, hastily. 'Joseph will be able to tell who it was, the same as if I told the name.'"

(Here the narrator proceeded to relate a wonderdul dream that never was dreamed, during the course of which, he took occasion to describe some characters that had appeared to him on a scroll -- presenting some of them with a pencil, a micture of stenographic characters and the Greek alphabet, rudely imitated. These were handed to Mr Harris.)

"Speechless with amazement, he looked at them for a moment, and then springing to his feet, and turning his eyes toward heaven, with uplifted hands, cried out:

"'O Lord, God! the very characters that are upon the plates of Nephi!'

"He looked again at the characters, and then at me, with perfect astonishment. His excitement was such that I became positively alarmed, for it seemed to me that he was going crazy. I began to have some compunctions of conscience for the fraud that I had practiced upon him; for I might as well say just here, as well as anywhere, that the dream had beem improvised for the occasion. He suggested that we go to the house of old Man Smith and there relate my dream. I told him that I would never repeat it again to anybody. He bade me good-bye, saying: 'You are a chosen vessel of the Lord.'
"There is but one excuse for my conduct on this occasion; that was, to fathom the depth of his credulity.

"For the next two or three weeks I did not meet Harris or any of the Smiths or Cowdery. About four weeks afterwards I again visited Palmyra, and spent part of the day in the printing-office, where I found the prophet, Cowdery, and Harris again. The latter took me by the hand with a grip and a shake that were full of meaning; even the prophet himself shook hands with me, looking me steadily in the eye as if new ideas possessed him in regard to myself; and it was evident that my dream had been repeated to these people, and that it was a puzzle to them all.

"In the meantime the printing of the Book of Mormon was proceeding. There was abundant evidence that the proof sheets had been carefully corrected. The printing was done on a lever press of that period; and when a suffcient number of pages for the entire edition of five thousand copies had been completed, the type had to be distributed. This was a slow process in comparison with what is done in a jobbing office of to-day. Mr. Tucker, the foreman, had just received from Albany a font of new type, and had set up with his own hands the title page of the Book of Mormon, and preparations were now ready for the first impression. About this time the prophet's father also came in. He, too, had evidently heard of my dream, and shook my hand most cordially. Mr. Grandin and two or three typos were present, as if curious in seeing the first impression of the title page. Tucker took up the ink-balls and made the form ready; then laying the blank sheet upon it, with one pull at the lever the work was done; then taking the impression, looked at it a moment, passed it to Cowdery, who scanned it carefully, and passed it to the prophet himself, who seemed to be examining every letter, and without speaking gave it into the hands of his father and Harris. It was then returned to Tucker. Of course we all looked at it with more or less curiosity, and the work was pronounced excellent. Tucker, who was my cousin, then handed it to me, saying: 'Here, Steve, I'll give this to you. You may keep it as a curiosity.' I thanked him, and put it carefully in my pocket.

"It was not long until rumors of the dream had reached the ears of many persons. Upon hearing this I felt some concerned, for I did not want to be mixed up or identified with this thing in the least. But all of my apprehension soon vanished, when I found my name had no connection with it, and that the dream had been a real vision of the prophet himsef! Of course this relieved me of all apprehension, and greatly increased my desire to make further experiments in this wild fanaticism.

"My next subject was Calvin Stoddard, a very clever man, who had been a kind of exhorter among the Methodists. He was a married man, and lived with his wife in a frame house with unpainted weather-boarding, that had become loose from age and exposure to wind and weather. I had met Mr. Stoddard on several occasions, and his conversation generally turned on the subject of the new revelation. He said that we were living in the latter days spoken of in the Bible, and that wonderful things would come to pass on the earth; that he had seen signs in the heavens that would satisfy any one that a new dispensation was coming. That young Joseph had had a dream that was more wonderful than anything he had ever read in the book of Daniel, and that if the village of Palmyra did not repent it would meet the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

"Mr. Tucker, in his book, has referred to the call that was given on one occasion, to preach the new gospel. In the main, his statement is substantially true; nevertheless, it does great injustice to the dramatic effect of the call that was given. Suffice it to say, that Stoddard and his wife were among the primitive members of the Mormon Church, and in obedience to the call, continued to preach the best that he could to the close of his life. * Requiscat in pace.

"It was now getting about time for me to return West, and in the month of September, 1829, I took passage on a canal packet for Buffalo. In the meantime marvellous stories were being circulated throughout the neighborhood, in regard to the strange dream of the prophet, and the celestial call of Calvin Stoddard to preach the new gospel. I had received from Harris and Cowdery the first and second chapters of the Book of Mormon. These, with the title page before mentioned, were carefully put away in my trunk. Three or four days before my embarkation, Martin Harris, in company with Cowdery, met me at the village, manifesting a great deal of concern at my intended departure, informing me that young Joseph had been having visions. The day was fixed when I was to leave, and we separated, and the reader may judge of my astonishment when Harris and Cowdery came on board the boat at the first lock below the village, and approached me very much excited, Martin particularly. He wanted to know if I was really starting West. I informed him that I was going directly home to Indiana. He said that the night before the angel of the Lord had visited Joseph, and informed him that I was a chosen vessel of the Lord, and they must pursue me at least as far as Rochester, and inform me of the commands of the angel, and that I must remain in Palmyra until the printing of the Book of Mormon was completed; after which I must go to the city of London and there remain until the Lord would inform me what to do. This, I confess, was a new phase in this wild fanaticism, and I felt very much puzzled and confounded. The first I said was: 'Where is the money to come from to pay my passage to London?' 'Oh,' said Martin, 'the Lord will find the money. The Book of Mormon will sell for thousands and thousands of dollars, and I can furnish the money any day, f necessary.'

"I confess that for a time I felt very much confused. I had bidden all my friends good-bye, and could not have returned to Palmyra in company with these men without seriously compromising myself. And yet, what a temptation was here presented to me to play the role of the hypocrite and villain! I had no complications, either of love or business, and was as free as the winds that sweep over the prairies. Many times, since Mormonism has become a most dangerous proselytism throughout all Christendom, have I asked myself: What if I had accepted the apple plucked from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, crucified my own sense of honor and manhood, and sold myself to the devil of ambition! It is hardly probable, notwithstanding all this, that the Dead Sea fruit would have turned to ashes on my lips.

"They continued with me until we arrived at Rochester, where we parted. In the mean time it seemed as if these messengers sent to intercept me would hardly take 'No' for an answer. Martin, with great earnestness, dwelt upon the danger of disobeying the commands of the Lord, and prophesied that I would soon be removed from the earth, and most probably before I reached my destination, quoting several passages of Scripture fitting my case. On leaving, they shook me by the hand most heartily, Martin warning me of the dangers ahead. The whole scene was worthy of the profoundest study. Here were two men, whose names will go down through the ages as witnesses to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, whose superstition and credulity were such as to unseat all confidence in what are termed miracles; and yet, at that time, the evidence of Martin Harris would have been received in a court of justice against all of the Smiths, Pages, and Whitmers, who have published to the world, in the presence of God, that they had 'seen and hefted' the miraculous plates! This, it will be remembered, was before Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, or John Taylor had ever heard of the new dispensation.

"In 1847, after the expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo, I came home one Saturday night from court, and found a stranger at my house. This was not remarkable, for it was generally understood that my doors had never been shut in the face of any human being in distress, black or white. He was a middle-aged man, an Englishman, named Campbell. He told me that he had come from the city of Nauvoo, and was going to some place in Ohio; had heard of me before he left Nauvoo, and hoped I would not consider it an intrusion if he stayed over until Monday morning. He was really an inoffensive-looking person, and was possessed of considerable intelligence. He had emigrated from England a few years before, and was, by trade, a copper-plate engraver. During his stay in my house, I informed him that I had the first title page of the Book of Mormon, that was ever printed, and briefly related to him how it came into my possession. I produced it, and as he examined the strange relic it was evident that a feeling of awe and veneration had come over him. 'Is it possible! Is it possible!' exclaimed he, his eyes still fixed upon it. 'The hand of the Lord is in it.' He continued to examine it with so much fascination, I said: 'You take so much interest in this that I will give it to you.'

"'Will you let me take it away?' said he.

"'Oh, yes, sir, you may keep it as your own,' I said.

"'Thank you, sir! God bless you. The angel of the Lord must have directed me to this house.' He said it would add greatly to the value of the relic, if I would write something over my own name. I told him I would do so, and wrote the following:

"'This is the first title page of the Book of Mormon that was ever printed. It was printed in the presence of Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph Smith, Sr., Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and myself, at the office of the Wayne Sentinel, Palmyra, New York, August, 1829, -- and which was examined and handled by all the persons above named, and the same is hereby respectfully presented to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. STEPHEN S. HARDING, of Milan, Ind.'
"It will be seen, hereafter, how a little crumb of bread cast upon the waters will be returned. This man was evidently as honest and sincere in his belief as any member of the most orthodox church. When I went to the territory of Utah as Governor, in 1862, Mr. Campbell was almost the first one to meet me. He held a clerkship in Salt Lake City. He was really glad to see me, and shaking my hand, said:

"'Governor, the hand of the Lord is in it. This is revelation.' The deep grief that was settled upon him was unexplained, until he informed me that his eldest son, a young man of promise, had been drowned a day before in the river Jordan, and his body had just been recovered, and was then lying at his house; that he and his wife were nearly overwhelmed with sorrow; but upon hearing of my arrival, he had left her in tears and came to pay his respects to me, and bid me welcome. Poor fellow! It would have been a hard heart that would not have gone out in sympathy for him.

"I soon learned that the first title page had been well preserved in the Historical Society and Museum. It had been placed between two panes of window glass in a stout frame. By this means it could be carefully handled and examined without danger of defacement. It has been examined by thousands and thousands; and after my arrival the number increased. I looked upon it one day myself, in company with a gentleman from San Francisco. I was soon surrounded by a large company of simple-minded people, who, after my appointment as Governor was known, had heard a thousand times from bishops and elders, that the hand of the Lord was in it. But, alas! the faces that I had known in Palmyra could not be seen. The prophet had been overtaken by retributive justice. Hyrum, his brother, had also paid the penalty. The father and mother had disappeared, and poor Martin Harris had been expelled, trampled upon, and insulted by the prophet himself in the zenith of his power, and was now a wanderer and a vagabond. Cowdery had fared little better. Sidney Rigdon was exiled. Unseen hands had been turning the wheel of fortune. 'My hand-maiden, Emma Smith' (referred to in the revelation that cost the prophet his life), was the wife of a Gentile and the third Joseph Smith, eldest son of the prophet, had to appeal to the Governor, asking for protection, before he dared enter the dominions of the new hierarch. The whole thing seemed to me more like a romance than a reality.

"In your second letter you ask me certain questions, which I will now briefly answer. Oliver Cowdery, the scribe of the prophet, was a young man of about twenty-four or twenty-five, about age of Smith. I had never known him previous to my return to Palmyra. He had been a school-teacher in country schools, and I am certain had little or no acquaintance with English grammar at that time. If this same Oliver Cowdery studied law and was admitted to practice in Ohio, it must have been after the time that I met him; and if he ever acquired a knowledge of the dead languages, it was certainly afterwards. I never saw, to my knowledge, either Sidney Rigdon, or Parley P. Pratt, the latter of whom was shot by Dr. McLane for proselyting his wife. I knew his brother, Orson Pratt, in Salt Lake City, and also Mrs. McLane, who had been 'sealed' to another man.

"As for 'Joe Smith,' the prophet, I have long been satisfied that his intellectual forces as a man have been greatly underrated. * In deception and low cunning he has had no peer. Mahomet was a much greater man intellectually; but he never could have played the part of Joe Smith, the Mormon Prophet. Ignorant as he is represented to have been, still he was familiar with the Scriptures, and never tired of reading the miracles in the Old Testament and in the New. The revelations that he pretended to have had, were composed and written by somebody, certainly not Solomon Spaulding. The most of them evince quite as much talent in composition as parts of the Manuscript Found. The question again recurs, Who was the author of these Revelations? His last one at Nauvoo, in 184-, authorizing Polygamy and spiritual marriages, wherein the Lord commanded the prophet not to put his property out of his hands, could hardly have been written by Oliver Cowdery, the 8eneca County lawyer, unless he put into the mouth of the Lord the language of a country justice of the peace. There is another reason, however, of much greater significance, that Cowdery had nothing to do with the revelation, for it was about that time that he and Martin Harris had fallen into disgrace in the Church -- had been excommunicated, and published in the court journal of the prophet as 'liars' and 'white niggers.'

"That Spaulding's Manuscript Found was the real foundation of Mormonism, I have no doubt. When he wrote his romance in Ohio, surrounded by evidences of a pre-historic race, the sight of canoes at that time in general use, would furnish the idea and model of the sharp-pointed ships, 'of the length of a tree,' constructed at the ship-yards of the Land Bountiful, mentioned in the Book of Mormon. All that he had to do, in the conception of his model, was to put one canoe on top of another, bottom-side up, and the idea supplemented with breathing holes, is almost complete. The bellows made from the skins of beasts, by boss ship-carpenters of Bountiful, his kindling a fire by striking two stones together, and making tools for the workmen out of crude iron ore, are so inexpressive of poetic imagery, that I agree with you, it seems improbable that a clergyman who had graduated at Dartmouth College had ever before been its author. These portions of the MS. fall below the dignity of criticism. There are other portions that might readily be attributed to Mr. Spaulding.

"When I was in Palmyra in 1829, I heard the particulars of the incident as related by Mr. Tucker, when the Smith family was out of meat, and the manner in which the black wether of William Stafford had been obtained. But I refer the reader to the account given in Mr. Tucker's book. The best part of the story, however, had been forgotten by Mr. T., as illustrative of the cunning of the young money-digger. When Stafford was told it required the sacrifice of a black sheep in order to reach the hidden treasure, it was not plain to him why the blood of one sheep was not as good as that of another. His black wether, that had been selected by young Joe, was large and in excellent condition for mutton. Stafford hesitated, and was loth to give him up, offering a white wether of smaller size, yet in good condition. But the coming prophet was not to be foiled in his purpose, and resorted to logic that confounded the objector. 'The reason why it must be a black sheep,' said the young deceiver, 'is because I have found the treasure by means of the black art.' This, of course, was unanswerable, and the black wether was given up.

"With malice toward none, and charity for all, I subscribe myself, "Respectfully yours,


The importance of the Harding visit to Palmyra in 1830 is crucial in showing the dynamic between Joseph, Martin and Oliver. Both of these “witnesses” would have their part to play in the rise of the new sect. Martin was the financier and an insider who was taught at the foot of the new "prophet" and believed his every word; while Oliver was Smith’s scribe and confidant who would take the new Book of Mormon and the “Restored Gospel” to Ohio and Sidney Rigdon on his way to the land of Zion, the location of which had been given to Joseph in a "revelation".

(To Be Continued)
Riding on a speeding train; trapped inside a revolving door;
Lost in the riddle of a quatrain; Stuck in an elevator between floors.
One focal point in a random world can change your direction:
One step where events converge may alter your perception.
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Xenophon »

grindael wrote: First Continuation of Part 1

Grindael, again thank you for taking the time to compile and post all of this. Your research is fascinating and I am glad you decided to continue posting. I found this portion most intriguing especially the writing of Harding. I had not read his recounting in full before so I really appreciate you sharing that, his insight into that group is quite enlightening. Can't wait for further continuations.
"If you consider what are called the virtues in mankind, you will find their growth is assisted by education and cultivation." -Xenophon of Athens
_Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Doctor CamNC4Me »

and published in the court journal of the prophet as 'liars' and 'white n*****s.'

Lol. Did anyone else catch that? Did Joseph Smith really refer to Cowdery and Harris that way? If so, he's a man after Ajax88's own heart!

- Doc
In the face of madness, rationality has no power - Xiao Wang, US historiographer, 2287 AD.

Every record...falsified, every book rewritten...every statue...has been renamed or torn down, every date...altered...the process is continuing...minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Ideology is always right.
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Xenophon »

Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
and published in the court journal of the prophet as 'liars' and 'white n*****s.'

Lol. Did anyone else catch that? Did Joseph Smith really refer to Cowdery and Harris that way? If so, he's a man after Ajax88's own heart!

- Doc

Just stop with all your presentism, Doc! It was a different time don't-cha-know :wink:
"If you consider what are called the virtues in mankind, you will find their growth is assisted by education and cultivation." -Xenophon of Athens
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Re: A History of Jo's Spiritual Wifeism

Post by _Chap »

Xenophon wrote:
grindael wrote: First Continuation of Part 1

Grindael, again thank you for taking the time to compile and post all of this. Your research is fascinating and I am glad you decided to continue posting. I found this portion most intriguing especially the writing of Harding. I had not read his recounting in full before so I really appreciate you sharing that, his insight into that group is quite enlightening. Can't wait for further continuations.

Agreed. Grindael uncovers material that sheds a great deal of light on early Mormonism.

He is one of the things that justifies the continuation of this board.

published in the court journal of the prophet as 'liars' and 'white n*****s.'

Hear the Prophet of the Lord! I testify that this is his authentic voice ...
I did not have a faith crisis. I discovered that the Church was having a truth crisis.
That's the problem with this supernatural stuff, it doesn't really solve anything. It's a placeholder for ignorance.
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