Hello, and welcome to episode 11 of the Naked Mormonism podcast. My name is Bryce Blankenagel and thank you for joining me.
I hope that everybody didn't mind having an episode that was a little bit of a divergence from the usual historical analysis. One thing I enjoy even more than learning crazy Mormon shit, is a good challenging debate. Even better than a debate, is a back and forth conversation wherein the socratic method is heavily applied, to challenge the knowledge and beliefs of both individuals. That's what I get every time I talk with Jesse, and I just figured I would record it and give it to everybody to enjoy. I would like to get some more feedback on what people think about the debate, if it's something that everybody likes enough, I'll make it a little more available, and engage in conversations with other people about a myraid of other topics, and continue to release them as special edition episodes, apart from the historical analysis. But, if enough people message me, and say they didn't enjoy the conversation, and that I should just stick with history, then that's what I'll do, and if I ever do have conversations, I'll just post them separately on youtube or something, and won't include them as episodes of this podcast. I may just make a separate podcast for the debates entirely, I'll just have to see how they're received after a few of them.
You guys may not have liked the extra long break between historical episodes, but I will admit, it was nice to have some extra time to do some deeper research about the BoM, as we edge ever nearer to the analysis of it. But we can't get into Joe's pride and joy just yet, because we need to talk more about Joseph Smith himself. He had the plates, and was getting ansty to translate them into what we now have as the BoM. There were social and family pressures constantly building into a heavier and more massive burden for Joe to shoulder, and he had to find the proper valve to turn, to release all of the building pressures.
Unfortunately, releasing the BoM was the wrong valve to turn, but Joe couldn't know that until he actually went to all the trouble of authoring, and printing it. So we'll have to analyze the BoM, in it's entirety, when it fits into the storyline. As for today's episode, we're going to jump backwards in the timeline just a little bit, to talk about Joe's court appearances. We'll specifically focus on the 1826 hearing that is so well known to have besmirched Joe's reputation. The hearing wherein he was called a glass looker, and was sued for being disorderly and an imposter.
There are so many moving parts to this hearing, and the evidence is unfortunately scarce at best. I'll start off this episode by reading the entire court document, then I'll talk about how we know about it, and where the evidence came from.
Let's start with setting the scene, and who filed the charges. Josiah Stowell, who we refer to as Bossman Joe, employed Joseph Smith in mid to late 1825, to do some treasure hunting, and occassionally do stuff around the farm to actually earn his keep. This was in Harmony Pennsylvania, basically right across the street from the Hale family ranch.
Can't you just picture the scene, Emma playing the part of beautiful and mysterious girl next door. Emma's outside hanging up the laundry, Joe's across the street with his shirt sleeves rolled up and showing off his strength, while he arduously digs a hole looking for buried treasure, in her neighbors front yard. How romantic right?
So Joe gets distracted from his work, and apparently his record of 0 treasure finds so far, under the employ of Bossman Joe, takes a turn for the worse. Bossman Joe believed everything Joe said, and considered Joe to be a friend, and seer coach. Unfortunately for Joe, Bossman Joe's family wasn't quite as approving, or credulous of Joe's activities, specifically fabricating unknowable information from his rock and hat, and considered Bossman Joe Stowell to be one more victim to this charlatans talonlike grip.
We have differing accounts of who filed the lawsuit, that come from different sources. We'll discuss why after reading the court document. For now I'll just say that the history of these court documents is a little polarizing and pretty challenging to nurse the real history out. A lot of these have been known about for a long time by church authorities, and were possibly covered up. The documents were sought for long after their creation, and are partially damaged. We'll try to uncover everything that happened surrounding the discoveries of these documents, and how heated the controversy is.
But for now, let's just jump right into the court notes.
State of New York v. Joseph Smith.
Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an impostor.
This Peter G. Bridgeman was Bossman Joe's nephew. In fact, most of the records indicate that it was primarily members of Bossman Joe's family that filed the suit against Joe. We'll find out why as we get further into the witness testimonies.
Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826. Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since (probably since summer of 1825); had small part of time been employed in looking for mines (meaning treasure seeking), 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 had informed him where he could find these 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 had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; 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 of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business.
That was Joe's statement, and therefore perspective of the situation. He doesn't posit any fantastic claims, doesn't offer an explanation for his actions, just basically states the facts timeline from how he remembers it. In this court hearing, like most, we get the charges, the defendant makes his/her statement, in this case Joe's explanation of events. Then we get the defendants witness' statment, followed by the prosecution witness' statements. During the prosecution statements, I'll examine the claims Joe makes about the situation in his statement, and reference them to try and tease out the real Naked history.
The only witness that explicitly came to Joe's defense, was Bossman Josiah Stowell. There was one other testimony that was favorable towards Joe, but it doesn't seem like much of a defense witness testimony, and I'll explain why later. For now, let's hear how Bossman Joe remembered what happened.
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;
Here Bossman Joe, as defendant for the prophet, explicitly says that Joe pretended to have a skill of telling where hidden treasures were. The one defending witness statement that Joe had, the only person that came to Joe's legal rescue, just told us everything we need to know about Joe, before he even gets to the meat of his testimony. But let's continue to find some more gems.
that prisoner had looked for him sometimes; once to tell him about money buried in 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 did 'possess the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone;
Unfortunately, we often see the elderly preyed upon when a private contractor is hired to do some work for them. Well, Joe had a way of swaying his elders to believe him, when so many people around the person that was Joe's target, that were younger, could see right through Joe's swindling facade. So far we only know this because the person that filed the lawsuit was Bossman Joe's nephew, who was looking out for the financial well-being of his uncle. Peter Bridgeman could see the writing on the wall and knew that his uncle was credulous enough to believe what Joe said. Peter was probably going to all the trouble to wake up Bossman Joe before he drank Joe's cool-aid, and sold his soul to the whims of the genius madman in training.
[that omitted for continuity] he found the [word illegible] at Bend and Monument Hill as prisoner represented it;
I'm not sure, but I believe this line is referring to where Joe found the stone that him and his older brother Hyrum stole from Willard Chase. I couldn't affirm this suspicion, but it seems to follow as a logical conclusion, because they probably would have asked Joe to show them the rock he had been using for his stoned sight. And the question that would immediately follow would be, "Where did you get that stone from".
that prisoner had looked through said stone for Deacon Attleton for a mine, did not exactly find it, but got a p— [word unfinished] of ore which resembled gold, he thinks;
The unfinished word is probably "a 'piece' of ore which resembled gold". I recommend doing a google search for iron pyrite. For those who can't or don't care to, if you were to see this stuff, it looks just like what a lay person would expect gold ore to look like. Gold ore is usually very small and panned for in mineral rich areas, or small chunks of lumpy raw ore can be found while mining it, and other ore veins. Iron pyrite frequently sits on top of gravel beds, or is buried very shallow in the ground, in areas that are rich in iron sulfide and cobalt or nickel. Well, when it oxidizes, it changes from grey to an iridiscent yellow, and is commonly called fools gold for its remarkable similarity to gold, to the untrained eye. I would be willing to propose that Joe probably found a piece of fools gold and told Bossman Joe that he found a piece of real gold while using stoned sight with his favorite little stone. You know what. I just decided on something. Joe uses this stolen stone as his favorite for a long time. He uses other ones later on as he becomes the cult leader known as the prophet Joseph Smith. But, from now on, on this show, whenever Joe is going to used stoned sight in his hat, he'll be pulling 'precious' out of his pocket, and putting it in Mr. Hat. Those are the newest nicknames to be added to the NaMo roster.
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 had said 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 said Stowel and prisoner thereupon commenced digging, found a tail feather, but money was gone; that he supposed the money moved down.
That was Bossman Josiah Stowell, saying in his witness testimony, on behalf of Joe, that Joe had duped him into digging for a treasure, and had convinced him beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the fuckin ground gnomes were fuckin with their treasure hunting again. It's probable to assume that Joe had planted the feather in the woods where he led Bossman Joe to, using precious and Mr. Hat. Joe probably even buried it a few feet down, and memorized exactly where it was buried, and returned with Bossman Joe during the night to dig up the same spot, only to find one article of what Joe supposedly saw, the planted feather, with no accompanying treasure to be found.
That prisoner did offer his services; that he never deceived him; that prisoner looked through stone and described Josiah Stowel's house and outhouses, while at Palmyra at Simpson Stowel's, correctly;
This is the first parlor trick joe pulled on Bossman Joe, with precious and Mr. Hat. When Bossman Josiah Stowell was visiting his brother Simpson Stowell's home in Palmyra in 1825, he met Joe for the first time. Somehow the conversation moved to Joe and his amazing ability to see anything he wanted with his rock in his hat. Bossman Joe probably challenged Joe's ability by asking Joe to tell him something that only a true Glass Looker could know, or see. Simply because Joe was such a charismatic stealth mindfucker, he was able to cold read a description of Bossman Joe's farm and outhouse, while some 130 miles away, thus venerating his supernatural abilities for Bossman Joe. This is just the first of many hooks that Joe cast into the flesh of Josiah Stowell, to slowly draw him closer, only to cast larger and more effective hooks until Bossman Joe had lost everything, given up everything, and had sold his soul to the Mormonite movement. Let's hear about the next convincing little trick that Joe pulled.
[that removed for continuity] he had told about a painted tree, with a man's head painted upon it, by means of said stone.
Apparently Joe somehow told Bossman Joe that there was a face painted on a tree in a forest, or maybe in the bark of a tree, it's not really clear from this description, and it's the only record we have of this trick leading to a treat. A naturalistic explanation would say that if there was a face painted on a tree in the woods, and Joe told somebody about it, and knew exactly where it was, maybe Joe just painted it himself beforehand. Most magicians or con-men put a fair amount of preparation into their tricks to make them more elaborate and believed as inexplicable, and Joe was no different. Even if Joe said that there was a face in the bark of a tree in the woods, Bossman Joe was bound to walk past a tree that has bark that looks like a face. I see them in quakie trees all the time when I'm camping. It's just a play on confirmation bias, and Joe was a master at the art of this. There is one more line to Josiah Stowell's testimony, and it is the most mind blowing of all.
That he had been in company with prisoner digging for gold, and had the most implicit faith in prisoner's skill.
Is that abso-fucking-lutely amaze-balls to anybody else but me? Bossman Joe starts off his testimony telling us about Joe's failed attempts to find treasure using a rock in a hat. Then moves on to tell us about Joe finding some gold ore that probably was just fools gold. After that, he tells us that Joe never decieved him, and he believed Joe because he did some cool tricks that Bossman Joe couldn't explain, and he concludes by saying that I was in his company of gold diggers, and I have no doubt in his abilities as a glass looker. Can we get an applause for Joe? What string or combination of words could Joe possibly have used to convince Bossman Joe that he was for real? I can scarcely believe that this was the best and only person that could witness on behalf of Joe, but there wasn't anybody else that was involved in the situation that didn't hate Joe, that could come to Joe's rescue. The burden fell on Bossman Joe, whose family it was that filed the lawsuit in the first place, to try and recooperate some of Bossman Joe's money. We have record of two other possible witness that came to Joe's defense, and that was Jonathan Thompson, which is included later in this account, and Big Daddy Cheese Joseph Smith Sr. But his testimony is only recorded in one of the accounts of court records, as opposed to all 3 we have record of, and it was recorded long after the trial happened. I'll get a little deeper into that later on, and I'll read as much of it as possible as well.
But for now, let's hear the prosecution witnesses statements, and see what they have to offer.
Arad Stowel sworn: says that he went to see whether prisoner could convince him that he possessed the skill he professed to have, upon which prisoner laid a book upon a white cloth, and proposed looking through another stone which was white and transparent, hold the stone to the candle, turn his head to book, and read. The deception appeared so palpable that witness went off disgusted.
Here we have Arad trying to imperically test the 20 year old prophet's real abilities. You see, when you watch a magic show, or even a movie, you are watching an orchstrated scene, that is designed to deceive, or convey a message that is manufactured. Houdini was a master at set and setting. He created these elaborate scenes where death or mortal injury was truly inevitable. Then, he did something behind the scenes, something that only he knew about, and jumped out of a whiskey barrel behind the crowd or something. Well, the problem with having to construct these elaborate scenes to convince people of your authenticity, is the inability to cope with a challenge on the fly. Much like the periodontitis from a ruptured appendix, was an unexpected outcome of a planned situation for Ehrich Weisz known as Harry Houdini, that eventually led to his fall from glory due to his death, somebody challenging Joseph on the fly, always resulted in disaster for Joe and his character.
I love the next witness testimony. Not only does it affirm the last one we heard, which counts as concurring 1st hand accounts of the same situation, but it also introduces a new claim that further speaks to the character of Joseph Smith, and isn't outside the scope of possibility as far as the claim itself goes, probably because it concurrs with Joe's testimony too.
McMaster sworn: says he went with Arad Stowel, and likewise came away disgusted. Prisoner pretended to him that he could discover 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 coloured stone, as he said that it hurt his eyes.
Like I said, concurring witness testimonies that are firsthand accounts and sworn to authenticity on judicial record, and all of it is recorded from original copies that we still have access to. This is historical gold, and it wasn't mined easily, but we'll get into that later. Let's get to the last one, because it's definitely my favorite.
Jonathan Thompson says that prisoner was requested to look for chest of money; did look, and pretended to know there it was; and that prisoner, Thompson, and Yeomans went in search of it;
Joe convinced Jonathon Thompson to go digging for a chest of money that he apparently knew about, or could see through precious and Mr. Hat. And Jonathan even says explicitly that Joe 'pretended' to know where to look for it.
that Smith arrived at spot first; was at night; that Smith looked in hat while there, and when very dark, 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 on account of the circumstances relating to the trunk being buried, [which] came all fresh to his mind.
I hope everybody's ready for this ride. Joe's about to turn the bullshit up to 11.
That the last time 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 the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed.
Jonathon Thompson and Joe were out treasure digging during the night, and while they were digging in the place Joe designated, they apparently struck a board with their shovels, and stopped digging for a second to assess the situation. Joe refused to look in [HAT NAME HERE] again to see what was in the chest they supposedly just struck. Of course, Joe was too afraid to do so, because he supposedly saw the two Native Americans that had buried the chest there in the first place. Apparently they got in an argument about the contents of the chest, and one of the Indians was struck dead and fell in the hole with the treasure, only to spend eternity as it's spirit guardian from pesky little treasure hunters like Joe and friends.
I simply can't wrap my brain around the perspective and world view these people must have had. I suppose that it's a world view filled with confirmation bias, and elaborate ritual behavior, but I just can't understand it from a current modern perspective. These people really believed in spirits that would sink the treasure they were digging for, further into the ground while they were digging for it. Look, if you are digging into the ground for something that might, or might not be there, wherever it is in the ground, it's going to stay there the entire time you are digging for it. That's because the crust of the earth isn't made out of fucking pudding. It's rock and dirt! Inanimate shit doesn't just move through the Earth's crust on it's own volition. That's not how things work! Whatever is underground, is going to be there, and stay there, whether somebody is digging for it or not. I say this because it's a disconnect in world views, and scientific knowledge. We have an account of Joe saying that all the rolling hills you see in Palmyra were actually constructed by the spanish forerunners, or Indian spirits, in order to conceal all the treasure they had looted throughout the ages. It doesn't have anything to do with scientific geological feature formation, it's all about how the ancient inhabitants wanted to fuck with the people that lived after them. It's so fucking crazy, and do you want to hear the bat-shittiest part of it, Jonathan's next line in his testimony.
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 when digging, that notwithstanding they continued constantly removing the dirt, yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them.
So when I said earlier that there was only one witness on behalf of Joe, I was not mistaken, I was designating them as such based on the evidence given by each account, and whether or not it was actually beneficial to Joe's case or not. Technically, Jonathon Thompson was a witness on the stand, on behalf of Joe and the defending side, but I honestly feel like it reveals more damning evidence against Joe, than it actually helps his case, which is what a witness on Joe's side of the court should have done. So the witness testimonies were balanced in this account of the trial, 2 for and 2 against, but when you take a step back and look at it, the evidence that's put forth is almost exclusively condemning of Joe's lifestyle choices, with the exception of 2 lines from 2 different people saying that they believed Joe no matter what he said.
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. That as evidence of the 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 the disposition of the money:
That concludes the testimonies in the Justice Neeley record of the court. There is a lot to talk about when we take a step back and examine them as a whole, but before doing that, we have to finish the last and most important part of the record, which is rife with current day controversy and debate.
And therefore the Court find the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, 19c. Complaint upon oath, 25 1/2c. Seven witnesses, 87 1/2c. Recognisances, 25c. Mittimus, 19c. Recognisances of witnesses, 75c. Subpoena, 18c. - $2.68.
So what does that last part mean? It clearly just convicted the defendant, Joseph Smith, as guilty of being an imposter and a disorderly man, but what exactly does that entail. By today's standards, disorderly conduct is basically a breach of the peace, or somebody who is speaking rudely to another to the point of it being a problem for the community. But in Joe's day and time, a disorderly person was anybody who practiced glass looking, crystal gazing, palmistry, pretending to tell fortunes, or pretending to discover where lost goods may be found. Well, based off the testimonies provided to the court, Joe was on the recieving end of a guilty verdict for just those reasons, and I would argue, rightfully so.
Now that we've read the court document, what can we surmise from the information, and what can be concluded based off the ruling of judge Neeley?
Let's hear what Fairmormon.org has to say about the ruling. For anybody unfamiliar with the site, it's a mormon apologist website that tries to justify Joseph Smith as a legitimate prophet, who is responsible for starting the best and most accurate religion on the planet.
This was written by Mormon apologist Russell Anderson in 2002 regarding the trial and verdict.
What we can obtain from the conclusions are first of all that it wasn’t a trial, it was an examination. It was likely initiated not so much from a concern about him being a money digger, as it was that Joseph was having an influence on Josiah Stowell. Josiah Stowell was one of the first believers in Joseph Smith. His nephew was probably very concerned about that and was anxious to disrupt that relationship if possible. It is likely that there were seven witnesses. It is also probable there was some editing of the witnesses’ testimonies. All witnesses however, testified that Joseph did possess a gift, though there is some variation about how strong that gift was. The key issue is that we can accept Joseph Smith. When we put him in this early 19th century culture, he is consistent with that environment. We can accept that what he did was part of that culture, his age and experience, and it doesn’t have any impact or discredit that fact that he was a prophet of God.
Does a court ruling discredit Joe? Not necessarily, because real truth isn't determined in a court of law. Especially when it comes to a case based solely on witness testimony, we aren't capable of saying that Joe was a fraud on the standing of the verdict alone. But I'll be completely honest, the facts surrounding this case have a bit of controversy attached, as can be understood when it comes to a trial convicting a prophet of god, to be nothing more that a con-man. But, the trial wasn't a real trial. Based on the order that the testimonies were given in, it more equated to a pre-trial, to determine if guilt could be established for a formal case, than an actual court case. That's why our prophet defendant was the first to give his testimony, and the witnesses followed after, as opposed to the prosecution making a case, and the defendant reporting an alibi, or some kind of evidence to remove the burden of guilt.
All of this being said and taken into consideration, I did also say that we don't determine truth in a court of law. We try to get as close to the truth as possible, and that's why we have multiple witness statements to compare against each other to tease out the truth. So, for the sake of historical analysis, if we simply ignore the verdict passed down by Judge Neeley, what can be deduced about Joseph Smith as a person, from the testimonies themselves?
Let me put it this way. When a group of children are playing on the playground, one bully child is inevitably going to hit or push the smallest, or weirdest child on the playground. So put yourself in the position of the counsellor that has to talk to the children after recess, to try and ascertain the truth. You don't listen to the bullies side of the story, then immediately take action against the little kid that was the victim of the violence. Likewise, you don't listen to what the kid with the black eye says, and immediately punish the bully accordingly. You have to hear both sides of the disagreement, then ask other children that were nearby when the incident happened, to see how they remember shit going down. Then you look for the recurring themes in each testimony, and take into account the character of both children that were involved, and eventually you can get pretty close to the truth, without being there to see it for yourself. One kid will say the little kid called the bully a dumb butthead, and another kid will say the big kid walked up to the little kid and hit him without provocation. Whatever you hear most frequently as a recurring theme from the people that actually saw it, is probably closest to what actually happened.
Well we can treat Joe and this court case with the same method of historical information extraction. We have 5 accredited witness testimonies, all saying that Joe pretended to have an ability that he didn't have. In fact the word "pretend/pretended" occurs 6 times throughout the entire document, meaning we can consider it a recurring theme.
When we examine what Joe claims about his treasure seeking and stone peeping, and reference it against all the other testimonies, we see that Joe used the stone in the hat trick either occassionally (as he reported), or frequently (as everybody else reported). He had been repeatedly unsuccessful by everybody's account, and had quit the business because it apparently hurt his eyes too much to stare into his hat with a rock in it.
The court document states 7 witnesses, but I only read 5 testimonies including Joe's. So what the fuck gives? Well, this is where the controversy starts to get heated, as we try to explain who the other 3 witnesses are. Before I get to those witnesses and their testimony, let me shed a little light on how we know about this trial, and where the court records came from.
This entire reconstruction of the trial with the defendant and 4 witnesses, was taken from a document that was obtained by a woman named Emily Pearsall, who was the Niece of Judge Neeley. She tore the pages from her uncle's docket book. One may ask why a person would do such a thing and tarnish these valuable documents into a form that wasn't their original? Well, because Emily was on a mission to proscelyte to the Utah Mormonites, under the authority of Episcopalian bishop Daniel S. Tuttle. Luckily the documents made it back to the hands of Judge Neeley, who was in possession of them when Emily died. That leads us to an unfortunate conclusion. We don't have the original document that we can examine and compare, to relinquish us of fraudulent copies, of which there are plenty. But, using a few historical tricks, we know these 5 testimonies to be accurate.
Luckily for us again, there were some other people in the courtroom that were taking notes, in addition to Justice Neeley, who was responsible for the most accurate and comprehensive account.
I'm going to read the other two testimonies that we have, and talk about how we got them, and why they aren't included in Neeley's account afterward. They are written from an active observers perspective, so we don't get to parse through raw court data, but the basic message still gets across. This is from William D. Purple.
Joseph Smith, Sr.(That's right, Big Daddy Cheese was there to defend his son's actions), was present, and sworn as a witness. 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. He swore that both he and his son were mortified that this wonderful power which God had so miraculously given him should be used only in search of filthy lucre, or its equivalent in earthly treasures, and with a long-faced, "sanctimonious seeming," he said his constant prayer to his Heavenly Father was to manifest His will concerning this marvelous power. He trusted that the Son of Righteousness would some day illumine the heart of the boy, and enable him to see His will concerning him. These words have ever had a strong impression on my mind. They seemed to contain a prophetic vision of the future history of that mighty delusion of the present century, Mormonism. The "old man eloquent," with his lank and haggard vissage--his form very poorly clad--indicating a wandering vagabond rather than an oracle of future events, has, in view of those events, excited my wonder, if not my admiration.
I'll address the claims in a second, but I have to get out the other testimony because it's short and almost useless.
Horace Stowel sworn. Says he see (sic) 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 leaves on ground."
Horace Stowell was just another person that was a witness against Joe, and basically told us more of the same that we already knew. But Big Daddy Cheese, tells us some useful and intersting shit. There's even some shit we've never heard before, concerning Joe's young life as a glass looker. Well, that's because William D. Purple's account of Joe's testimony, differs from that of Judge Neeley's account. This forces me to read Joe's first account again, but this time it's actively observed and recorded by Purple, with a little bit of bias.
Mr. Smith was fully examined by the Court. It elicited little but a history of his life from early boyhood, but this is so unique in character, and so much of a key-note to his subsequent career in the world, I am tempted to give it somewhat in entenso. He said when he was a lad, 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.
He took a few shillings in money and some provisions with him. He stopped on the road with a farmer, and worked three days, and replenished his means of support. After traveling some one hundred and fifty miles he found himself at the mouth of the creek. He did not have the glass with him, but he knew its exact location. He borrowed an old ax and a hoe, and repaired to the tree. With some labor and exertion he found the stone, carried it to the creek, washed and wiped it dry, sat down on the bank, placed it in his hat, and discovered that time, place and distance were annihilated; that all intervening obstacles were removed, and that he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye. He arose with a thankful heart, carried his tools to their owner, turned his feet towards the rising sun, and sought with weary limbs his long deserted home.
On the request of the Court, he exhibited the stone. It was about the size of a small hen's egg, in the shape of a high-instepped shoe. It was composed of layers of different colors passing diagonally through it. It was very hard and smooth, perhaps by being carried in the pocket."
That concludes Purple's account of Joe testimony, and I seriously don't even know where to go with all the goodies in there. So apparently Joe wasn't born a true glass looker, he had to get schooled in some scrying expertise from somebody else, before he could reach his full potential. If I had to make a guess, I would bet this was Sally Chase, sister of Willard and Mason Chase who have all made quite a few appearances in the last couple of episodes. Sally was truly renowned by her fellow treasure diggers as a venerated glass looker, and she may have been the glass looker that was responsible for helping the mob find the empty box that had once contained the plates, stored under the floorboards of the Smith's Cooper shop. Well, now we know that Joe drew first blood on that feud, because Joe thought he might be able to one-up her, if only he could see her technique, and get ahold of a stone that was better than hers. So he did just that. He peeped in her stone, and the only thing he could see was his destiny stone, precious, buried peacefully under some roots, and it's luminosity was beyond that of the noon-day sun. The stone apparently called to Joseph for years, and eventually was bright enough to seek out, and Joe did just that. Maybe. We don't really know, because there is strong evidence that the entire story was fabricated to hide the fact, that Joe had esentially stolen the rock from Willard Chase while they were digging a well on the Chase property. Joe didn't want rock theft to be one more incriminating strike against his character during the trial.
Well, what we have here, is another peek into the mind of the ever dynamic and constantly adapting mind of Joseph Smith. I have said countless times that Joe was a charismatic mutherfucker, and I don't mean that lightly. He was a smooth talker and a devious pathological liar, and there is no way around the facts about him.
When we harvest the nuggets of truth from this conundrum of historical hodge podge, we can see that Joe was an amazing and fascinating individual. TBM's often lose sight of the gravity of their founding father. He's revered as a holy prophet of god, and is basically seen as inehrent, nearing the level of Jesus. But that's such a cheap view, and sells the prophet short of his actual deeds. On the other hand, during historical analysis, often times Joe is counted as just another charlatan, who was looking to cash in on some human credulity, and did so successfully. The problem with both of these perspectives, is the fact that they completely ignore the human element, and portray a cardboard portrait of one of the most fascinating individuals in recent religious history. If we try to take in the complete picture of Joseph Smith, we can't be satisfied with the pixelated, incomplete, and one-sided portrait that is so often the only perspective we get of him. I want to know Joe the way his family members knew him. I want to know what he thought about, and what motivated his actions. It's truly a painful thing that we have to look at this genius anthropological anomoly, through historical eyes, because I really wish I could meet this guy walking down the street one day, or even have a simple conversation with him, to try and figure out the human that turns the gears behind the scenes of the mighty prophet Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself to the facts, and daydreaming about such a circumstance, but at least we can get close to Joe through the eyes of his friends and family.
When we examine the evidence around Joe, and what people said about him, and then take into account what people that supported him said, compared to what his dissenters claimed, we can start to see the psycholgical profile of prophet, seer, and revelator Joseph Smith, begin to unfold.
There's a lot that I didn't cover in this episode when it comes to the evidence and controversy of the trial. There are so many tangents to go on, and so many rabbit holes to chase, that it simply cannot be done in one episode. But the good news is, that's all the information we need to know about Joe from the 1826 trial itself, and I'll have to cover the controversy about the evidence in a later episode. I really hope you guys will push the show to the first patreon milestone soon, so I can make longer episodes, because apparently 14 pages of script, honestly doesn't contain enough information about this crazy shit. There's so much that I had to skip over surrounding this legal debaucle, but the show must go on. I just simply need to make longer episodes to include it all, but the listeners have to show me that you want to hear it, and that you think the show is worth while enough, for me to put the extra time into. As far as next episode goes, we will be evaluating Joe's actions, in the wake of the guilty verdict, and how his reputation suffered, becoming the catalyst for Joe to devise his ultimate plan. Get the gold plates, and get the fuck out of NY before the mob swallowed him up and made him disappear forever.
You may or may not have noticed that I jumped right into the historical analysis as soon as this episode started, without including patreon shout outs, or the fictional translation stories. Well, I have been thinking about it, and I realized that not everybody is going to give a shit about translation stories, or listener mail, and will shut off the podcast as soon as the historical analysis is done. So, instead of including my 2 minute commercial for patreon at the beginning of each episode, I'm moving it to the end, but I still encourage everybody to listen, as I put almost as much creative energy into the translation stories, as I do the episodes. Well, that isn't anywhere near true, but I still enjoy making them, and I hope it will encourage more people to be patrons. So I can make longer and better episodes.
Speaking of, I do have a few new patrons to add to the NaMo kingdom ranks.
First off is our first new NaMo Juvenile Delinquint, Andrew K. Thank you Andrew for your patronage, I greatly appreciate it. Your arduous path through NaMo depravity has officially commenced and I wish you luck.
Next, is our new Adolescent Rebels. Darren B., Lee P., and Lise D. Thank you all so much for supporting the show. Your willingness to give your hard earned money has earned you a nice warm spot in the heart of the podcast, and I'm forever grateful for the consistent acts of altruism.
Next, is our newest Apostate, Jay M. Being an Adolescent Rebel has it's benefits, but Jay has decided he doesn't want any part of that childs play stuff, he's a full on apostate and will forever be known across the land, as a great giver to the needy, and a great opposer to misreported history, and agenda based education. Thank you for what you're doing for the show Jay, I can't possibly express how grateful I am for you're recurring support.
This is all fun and happy in the earthly realm, but the portal to NaMo Outer darkness has been opened for a second time. George Greene has been a NaMo apostate for quite some time, but his journey has now led him to a moment of truth. Josh Crane hasn't been in the game long, but is capable of evaluating arguments quickly and changing his world view based on new evidence. George, as one of the most educated, and respected world class archeaologists, recently teamed up with Josh, an up and coming archeaology intern that graduated at the top of his class, to form the worlds premier archeaologist and ancient treasure hunter team. George wasn't ignorant to the dangers that exploring ancient ruins inherently brings, but Josh had a lot to learn. George and Josh were on one of their usual exploration missions in an underground temple with a small but highly qualified team. While George is usually very focused on his work, and rarely makes a false move, this day was a little bit different, but he didn't know why. Josh could see it on George's face, it seemed almost as if deep philosophical questions of morality, and existence, and even life itself were burdening his consience since they started exploring, for no explicable reason. George spontaneously began a conversation about life and death and nature vs., eternity with Josh, spreading his cancerous thoughts to this young intern, and creating an overwhelming distraction for both men. But, these ancient ruins, full of weak and aged hazards, and rife with danger, and elaborate life-threatening traps, set by the forerunners of the ancient structure, aren't forgiving to distractions. George was the point man on the exploratory crew having more wisdom and knowledge than everybody else on the team combined, with Josh walking right behind him, while carrying on this conversation. But unfortunately, George was off his game on this fateful translation day. Just as the exploration team entered a new room, George and Josh, lost in much deeper thoughts, haphazardly stepped on a shifting tile, that set off a deadly stream of events. As soon as George realized what his hasty move precipitated, and the danger he'd put Josh and the team in, he knew he needed to act quickly, or dire consequences would befall the entire team of noble scientists and archeaologists. Among bone-chilling noises of shifting tile and rock, all concealed by complete darkness, George ordered everybody to retreat back into the corridor that they arrived from, and hoped that their moment of distracted carelessness didn't cost everybody their lives. The entire team is running through blackness with only the light of flashlights, and previously dropped glowsticks, to illuminate their escape path. There's a disturbing, and approaching noise, that's getting louder and louder, in the darkness behind the fleeing group of frightened intellectuals. It was at this moment, that George realized his order to retreat had doomed everybody, as soon as the words left his mouth. The noise grew to a deafening level, and a quick glance over their shoulders, tell George and Josh, now running shoulder to shoulder, that they are fleeing from an unstoppable force; gravity and an expertly crafted massive rock sphere, wall to wall in the corridor, rolling at a deadly pace behind the helpless team. It all comes down to this final moment, married to the crux of a true sense of humanity. George and Josh both know what needs to be done. Sacrifice themselves, and save the entire team from inevitable destruction. They both enter a sense of higher understanding, and the world momentarily slows to a near dead stop. They have come to understand everything now, with inevitable death for them and their family of explorers bearing down on their collective psyche, the true realization of presence and mortality occurs in the minds of these soon to be heroic individuals. There is no meaning beyond life itself. In fact, the most important thing about life, is the fact that we are beings smart enough to contemplate, and appreciate our own existence. The simple fact that we can play and be happy and love or hate and despise our fellow humans, is all that life is, and that's what's so great about it. We don't need a overwatching eye, or eternal ultimatums as consequences for our worldly actions, we just need to be fucking decent and honest people to one another. And above all, we need to watch out for, and help each other every opportunity we get. Everything was moving so slowly from their perspective, that they could take in everything that was happening. As both men heroically turned to face their death in an effort to slow stone and save the team, there appeared a very small, glistening light from behind the stone. Demon Julie had come to soul reap her NaMo kingdom recruits. George and Josh were facing the rolling stone with full intent to sacrifice themselves, fighting a fundamental force of nature, but Julie won't have it end so catastrophically. With the glowing talisman in her hand, she determines George and Josh to be worthy enough to enter the NaMo realm, and become the second and third NaMo Demons currently ruling the outer darkness realm. A microsecond of calculation and foresight indicates the exact place on the massive stone marble, to place the translation talisman. As the stone is about to collide with the man made meat wall, George and Josh both see the glimmer of the talisman. And as the stone is colliding with their bodies and massive hearts, they barely touch the talisman with their tips of their fingers (dual voip sound), and there's nothing but silence. The act these two men performed was the most heroic act Demon Julie has ever seen, and she rewarded the two newly translated Demons, by translating the deadly, momentus rock sphere into some unknown time and place, and effectively rescuing the team of explorers left in the earth realm, just as a token of gratitude for the altruistic behavior to their fellow human beings. Welcome to being NaMo Demons George and Josh, I really do appreciate the support you provide for the show, and I hope you enjoy the extra content that NaMo outer darkness unlocks.
If you want a shout out, or a NaMo outer darkness translation story like Julie, George and Josh, or even something more elaborate, check out patreon.com and search for the Naked Mormonism Podcast.
I guess that concludes this episode. Join me next episode as we inch closer and closer to the BoM analysis that I'm so excited about. Talk at ya next time, here on the naked mormonism podcast.
W. R. Hine
Martin Harris introduced himself to
me, and said they were going to bring
the world from darkness into light.
Martin's wife cooked for them, and
one day while they were at dinner
she put one hundred and sixteen
pages, the first part they had
translated, in her dress bosom and
went out. They soon missed the one
hundred and sixteen pages and
followed her into the road and
demanded them of her. She refused,
and said if it was the Lord's work you
can translate them again, and I will
follow you to the ends of the earth.
Dr. Seymour came along and she gave
them to him to read, and told him not
to let them go. Dr. Seymour lived one
and a half miles from me. He read
most of it to me when my daughter
Irene was born; he read them to his
patients about the country. It was a
description of the mounds about the
country and similar to the "Book of
Mormon." I doubt if the one hundred
and sixteen pages were included in
the "Book of Mormon." After I came
to Kirtland, in conversation with
Martin Harris, he has many times
admitted to me that this statement
about his wife and the one hundred
and sixteen pages, as above stated, is
true. I heard a man say who was a
neighbor to the Mormon Smith
family, in Palmyra, N.Y., that they
were thieves, indolent, the lowest
and meanest family he ever saw or
heard of. Hyrum was the best of the
family. Many letters were received
from Palmyra, stating the bad
character of the Smith's.
Copyright Ground Gnomes LLC subject to fair use. Citation example: "Naked Mormonism Podcast (or NMP), Ep #, original air date 02/12/2015"